Warm Brussels Sprout Salad

After a weekend of birthday celebrations (read: hot dogs), it felt good to restock my fridge and pantry this week and get back in my kitchen.

I find it slightly ironic that the time of year when I regularly expose my body parts (in a “I went to the beach” way, not a “I streaked down Michigan Avenue” way) to the elements and onlookers is also the time of year when I tend to eat the most- and least healthfully.

Sure, I eat my fruits and veggies, but I also eat my share of ballpark fare and bar food while enjoying the many beer gardens that Chicago plays home to.

So stocking up on healthy food and not having to rely on dining out felt good.

I pounded through a bag of brussels sprouts in pretty much no time, polishing them off last night with this awesome warm salad.  I’m pretty sure it would be more appropriate for winter, but I like to keep you all on your toes.

Warm Brussels Sprout Salad
serves 1-2

8-10 medium brussels sprouts, cleaned and trimmed
1/2 small onion
2 T sun dried tomatoes
1 t olive oil
2 T chicken or vegetable broth
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 t garlic powder

1. Thinly slice brussels sprouts, and roughly chop larger pieces.

2. Chop or thinly slice onion.  I chopped mine fairly fine, but slicing works depending on your preference.

3. Roughly chop sun dried tomatoes.  You can use the kind packed in water or olive oil (Trader Joe’s sells them in oil, so clearly that’s what I had on hand).

4. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add brussels and onions and saute for about 5-7 minutes until the sprouts begin to brown a bit.
5. Add tomatoes and saute for another few minutes.
6. Add broth and cover, steaming until the sprouts are tender to your liking.
7. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder and saute until all liquid is absorbed.

Served alongside grilled chicken topped with a hot sauce and a dollop or sour cream and sweet potato tots (which I also sprinkled with garlic powder- I’m addicted).

Yes, this recipe is almost embarrassingly simple, but it’s really more about the method than anything.  It would also be really good with pancetta or walnuts, and could even be mixed into pasta or rice for bulk+nutrients.

And those sweet tater tots?  Healthy. But still tots.

I love brussels sprouts, but tots will always have my heart.

Caribbean Chicken and Rice

I consider myself to be a fairly adventurous cook.

Grocery shopping makes me happy.  See here, here, here.

I like buying interesting ingredients like tempeh and achiote paste and creating recipes to fit them.

And while I appreciate my family’s old recipes as much as the next Norwegian (hello, lovers), I try to venture out and try new ones as often as I can afford.

Although, I don’t bake.  I don’t own a hand mixer, let alone a stand mixer.  I can only push my limits so far.

This twist on chicken and rice is nothing if not affordable, but the ingredients and method make it feel different than the ol’ rice/broth and grilled/baked chicken stand-by.

Caribbean Chicken and Rice
Serves 2-3

1 lb chicken drummettes, bone-in, with or without skin
1 medium onion, chopped and divided
1/4 cup flour (I used all purpose, but whole wheat is fine)
1 cup brown rice
1 can light coconut milk, divided
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup bell pepper (any color), chopped
1 t paprika
1/2 t cumin
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t turmeric
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 t + 1 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a saucepan, heat 1 t olive oil over medium-high heat.  Once shimmering, add 1/3 of the chopped onion.  Saute until translucent but not brown.  Add uncooked rice and cook until it begins to smell toasty (about 3 minutes).
2. Add 10 oz (about 2/3 of the can) of coconut milk and a cup of water to the rice and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 40 minutes.
3. Add peas to the rice once it’s almost tender and cover.  After 5-10, fluff with a fork and season with salt and pepper.

4. While rice is cooking, heat the remaining oil over medium heat in a medium to large skillet.
5. Sprinkle flour onto a plate and season with all spices, salt and pepper.  Dredge chicken lightly in flour and place in skillet.  Cook, turning occasionally until browned on all sides.  Remove to separate plate.
6. Add remaining onion and bell pepper to the skillet and saute until onion is translucent.  Add remaining coconut milk and chicken broth and bring to a bubble.

7. Nestle chicken back into skillet, cover and cook for about 15 minutes.

8. After 15 minutes, remove cover from skillet and allow liquid to reduce by half.
9. Serve chicken over rice, drizzling sauce and veggies over top.

I usually prefer white meat over dark meat, but this was dang good.  And that package of chicken drummettes only set me back $1.79 at Trader Joe’s.


I named this recipe “Caribbean” chicken, but honestly I make no actual claims to the authenticity of this dish.  But the heat from the spices and the velvety coconut milk made me feel like I should be swinging in a hammock on a white sand beach with a fruity drink in one hand.

Anyone have a deal on airfare to share?

Mindblowing Pantry Enchiladas

Some of my friends make fun of me when I complain about the fact that I haven’t made it to Trader Joe’s for 15 years and have nothing in my fridge besides a Miller Lite and some mayo, and then I go and whip up something healthy and satisfying for dinner.

Like this:

I’ve started crediting Holly for her “Project Clean Out” movement.  I like to stretch a load of groceries as far as is humanly possible before I start playing with fire (ie, looming expiration dates).

Last night’s dinner was a masterpiece.  I kid you not.

I was tempted to go back for seconds.  And maybe thirds.  Ok, I was tempted to polish the whole damn thing off.

Green Chili Black Bean Enchiladas

(for all my kosher, Mexican loving friends- this one’s for you.  You know who you are)

1 t olive oil
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 4-oz can green chilis (I used mild)
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t garlic salt
1 cup (or to taste) shredded cheese (I used white cheddar)
1/2 cup enchilada sauce (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
5 small corn tortillas

Serves 2 1/2 (in case you have a midget)

1. Preheat oven to 350°
2. In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add 1/2 of the black beans and onions until the onions begin to soften.  Add 2/3 of the can of chilis and all the spices.  If the mixture begins to get too dry, add a tablespoon or two of water and cook for 5 minutes.
3. While the veggies and beans cook, mash the other 1/2 of the beans with the back of a soup spoon until relatively smooth.

4. Once the veggies are softened, add the mashed beans.  Stir and remove from heat.
5. Shred the cheese yourself.  Don’t go buying the pre-shredded stuff.  You’ll break my heart.

6. Pour about 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce into a 9×9 casserole dish and spread it around until the bottom of the dish is coated.

7. Wrap the tortillas in a few damp paper towels and microwave for 20 seconds to soften them.
8. One at a time, add 1/5 of the bean mixture to a tortilla and top with cheese, reserving about 1/3 cup of the cheese.

9. Carefully wrap the tortilla and place in casserole, seam side down.

10. Once all tortillas have been filled, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, chilis and enchilada sauce.

11.  Bake for about 20 minutes, until all cheese is melted.  Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

These were amazingly good, considering I thought I had nothing in the house to make for dinner.

And now I want you to go to your pantry.  I bet you have most of these ingredients.

You know, besides that nearly expired bottle of enchilada sauce that seems to have been hanging out in your fridge since the Berlin wall came down.

So I say let’s all throw caution to the wind and make these.  Everyone deserves to have their mind blown on a Wednesday every once and a while.