Tag Archives: rice

Going Gluten-Free: Super-Easy One-Skillet Chicken with Cilantro-Lime Black Bean Rice.

Gluten-free | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free | Egg-free

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My middle daughter (the strawberry gelato aficionado from my last post) was recently diagnosed celiac just before her 5th birthday. Over the past couple of months, I’d noticed some changes in her that worried me: she was sleeping later than either of her sisters, but was still tired all the time, wearing out much more quickly than usual. She complained often of belly pain and growing pains, she had circles under her eyes, would often get unexplained low-grade fevers, and she was much more easily irritated. So I called our pediatrician’s nurse line and expressed my concerns, asking if we could get some blood work done before her 5-year checkup. The doctor wanted to see her right away after hearing the symptoms I was describing, and ran a full panel for everything from mono to anemia, diabetes to liver dysfunction, cancer to celiac. Her celiac numbers were astounding, and we were referred to a GI specialist right away. At that visit, she weighed in at 34 pounds. 5 days before her 5th birthday. Being in the 90th percentile for height. Her dot was 2 full inches BELOW the BMI curve. I knew something wasn’t right, but I wasn’t prepared for that shock.

As you know from my MSPI posts, we’re no strangers to accommodating dietary changes, but as hard as it was do avoid dairy and soy, I knew that it was temporary; I only had to cut them out for 6 months until my baby’s stomach was strong enough to get it through my milk, and my now-almost-3-year-old grew out of it at 18 months. Being told that celiac was a change for life–and an autoimmune disease, no less–and that she was so malnourished as a result of the malabsorption that we were one step away from a feeding tube, was a LOT to take in. (Keep in mind we’re also expecting baby #4 in 2 months, are getting a house ready to sell, and are building a house.)

But my pity party is over (for the time being) and now I’m setting to work researching recipes and finding gluten-free snacks that my pickiest eater (of course it WOULD be my pickiest eater) will eat so that she can catch up to her growth curve.

I’ve had some success adapting some of her favorites of my old standbys (I’ll do a separate post about those), but while I have the time before Baby comes, I’m trying to expand my repertoire of naturally gluten-free meals that are easy and don’t require the separate pots and pans needed to prevent cross-contamination (I told you it’s a lot to take in).

If you’ve been around for awhile, you already know what big fans we are of the many variations of chicken-and-rice dishes, but one of the challenges of gluten-free eating is finding ways to keep the fiber content up when we’re so used to eating whole-wheat almost everything. So I love that this easy one-skillet meal mixes the beans right in with no effort!

One-Skillet Chicken with Cilantro-Lime Black Bean Rice

Adapted from here

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or use skin-on thighs like in the original recipe)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (make sure it says “gluten-free”)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1-2 Tbsp (I used 1 1/2) fresh-squeezed lime juice (can be bottled; I add a drop of Lime essential oil to mask the bottled taste)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp dried cilantro (or 1/4 cup fresh chopped)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  1. Heat a wide, deep skillet with lid on medium-high and add the olive oil. Swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper, then lay them face down in the pan and brown 4 minutes–careful not to burn.
  2. Turn chicken breasts and brown on medium heat 2 more minutes. Remove to a plate (they won’t be done through yet).
  3. To the same skillet, add chicken broth, water, salt, cumin, garlic, and rice. Stir to incorporate and bring to a boil. Place chicken on top, making wells in the rice for each chicken breast, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook 15 minutes or until rice is tender, moisture is absorbed, and chicken is done through.
  4. Remove chicken to a plate and add lime juice (start with 1 Tbsp), cilantro, and black beans. Taste and adjust amount of lime juice. Then place chicken breasts on top to serve.
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Chicken Tikka Masala.

Gluten-free | Soy-free | Nut-free | Clean-eating option

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So I’m realizing that we eat a lot of variations on chicken and rice in our house. We have several curry versions, the NYC street cart version, and a few comfort food versions from my semi-homemade days, just off the top of my head.

This is the I-used-to-live-near-an-awesome-Indian-restaurant-but-I-don’t-anymore-but-I-really-don’t-need-to-leave-the-house-anymore-for-delicious-Indian-takeout version. It’s one of my husband’s favorite meals ever. And my favorite part about it–besides how delicious it is–is that odds are good you have all of the ingredients in your spice cabinet! I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to blog it!

Chicken Tikka Masala

Adapted from here

Marinade:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I use lowfat Greek yogurt)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • up to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • up to 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips

Masala:

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 oz. can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1 cup cream

Rice:**

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  1. For the marinade, combine all ingredients except chicken in a medium bowl. Add chicken and toss until coated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least a couple hours (I usually do overnight).
  2. Grill chicken (original way) or cook under a broiler on high on a broiler pan (my lazy easy way). Discard marinade.
  3. Meanwhile, for the masala, melt butter in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add jalapeno and garlic and saute one minute or until fragrant. Season with spices and salt and stir to toast spices.
  4. Add tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on medium-low until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Begin cooking rice (below). Add grilled (broiled) chicken and simmer 10 minutes.
  5. Rice: bring water to boil. Add remaining ingredients, cover, and reduce heat. Cook 15 minutes, fluff, and serve topped with tikka masala.

**A couple notes about the rice: first of all, yes, I know that Basmati rice is best suited. However, I find Jasmine more economical and versatile, if less authentic. If you want a clean eating version, use brown rice and cook 45 minutes instead of 15.

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Legendary NYC Street-Cart-Style Chicken and Rice–Clean!

Clean | Gluten-free | Soy-free | Nut-free | Dairy-free option

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EDITED 5/31/17 to add weeknight shortcut and include the option of using a combination of chicken breasts and thighs.

Half a decade ago, we lived just outside New York City, which meant we were just minutes from some of the most delicious and diverse food options in the world. When we moved to Tampa, I needed to learn to cook some of our favorites myself, and it wasn’t until just weeks ago that I found this gem. Finally our cravings for street cart chicken with yellow rice and yogurt sauce can be satiated!

Clean NYC Street-Cart-Style Chicken and Yellow Rice

Adapted from here

Chicken:

  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or combo of thighs and breasts)
  • juice of 1 lemon (1/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Yogurt sauce: (you only need half of what’s below if not everyone loves it with the sauce; omit for dairy-free)

  • 1 cup plain lowfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • juice of 1 lemon (1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Rice:

  • 2 Tbsp. butter, olive oil, or dairy-free buttery spread
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • 2 cups basmati, jasmine, or brown (for clean) rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • optional: additional water for jasmine or brown rice (see instructions below)
  1. Toss together chicken marinade ingredients with chicken; marinate an hour. Weeknight shortcut: my friend Chrissy found that cutting up the chicken breasts and thighs into 1-2 inch pieces prior to marinating saves a ton of time during both marinating and cooking, so that’s the only way I do it now!
  2. Whisk together yogurt sauce ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Heat a large saucepan on high heat with enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom. Add chicken pieces and cook in batches until done, making sure you get a good sear. Remove to a plate and keep warm.
  4. If there are burned bits of garlic in the bottom of the pan, remove those. Then in the same pan, add butter, rice, and spices. Stir to coat and cook on medium-high 1-2 minutes to toast the spices.
  5. Add chicken stock, and water if needed. Basmati: no additional water. Jasmine: 1 1/2 cups water. Brown: 2 1/2 cups water.
  6. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn heat down to low. Cook 15 minutes for basmati and jasmine; 45 for brown rice. Fluff when finished and remove from heat.
  7. When rice is done, dice chicken.
  8. Serve chicken atop yellow rice and drizzle with yogurt sauce. Sprinkle with harissa, sriracha, or other hot sauce if desired.

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Creative leftovers: Pressed Southwest Wraps.

Nut-free| Gluten-free option | Soy-free option | Clean-eating option

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Let’s talk leftovers.

My girls don’t like them. Nope, not one bit. Except for my toddler, whom I often hear grunting and “eeeee” (please)-ing as I’m trying to enjoy my leftover curry (or this one!) or chicken tikka masala for lunch in peace.

But who really wants to make a brand-new, from-scratch meal (that their kids are probably going to whine and complain about anyway) every single night?

So I’ve been trying to find ways to cut prep time while masking a few “reused” ingredients. Here are a few:

  • Always make extra. Extra rice, extra cooked and chopped chicken. And keep it in the fridge to use in a different recipe.
  • Always make extra (again). Extra enchilada sauce or enchiladas, extra filling for these wraps. And freeze it for another meal.
  • When I need a small amount of something, like tomato paste or green onions, I portion out the rest and freeze it.

These wraps do a great job of combining these odds and ends into something low-effort and really delicious. The best part is that you can add in whatever you and your family wants. I subbed in corn for the original recipe’s peppers and adjusted the spices a little bit so that my girls will enjoy it without complaining.

With the right tortillas and brown rice you can make this gluten-free and/or clean. Unfortunately, I don’t know if there’s a way to successfully make this dairy-free because the cheese and sour cream help hold the wrap together, but you could try it with vegan cheese and just really sticky rice. Let me know how it works!

Pressed Southwest Wraps

Adapted from here

  • 1 cup cooked warm rice
  • 1 green onion, finely sliced (or 1/2 Tbsp. chopped green onions- still frozen, even!)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. dry cilantro
  • up to 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 1-2 cups cooked chopped or shredded chicken
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, defrosted
  • shredded Mexican-blend cheese (I even used crumbled-up leftover cheddar slices once!)
  • sour cream
  • tortillas, gluten-free and/or soy-free if necessary
  • soy-free cooking spray
  1. Combine the rice, onions, spices, and lime juice in a medium bowl. Stir in chicken, beans, and corn.
  2. Dollop a spoonful of sour cream around the center of an open tortilla and sprinkle with cheese. Spoon a couple tablespoonfuls of the filling onto the tortilla, then roll like a burrito. Spray the cooking spray on the seam side and lay seam-side down on a plate.
  3. When all wraps are assembled, heat a nonstick griddle on medium to medium-high heat. Carefully lay a couple wraps at a time on the griddle, seam side down, and press down all over with a spatula. The cooking spray helps seal the seam shut. When browned, flip, press again, and remove to a warm plate until all wraps are finished.
  4. You can wrap each individually in foil to save and reheat in the oven later.

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Curry, cravings, & a cure for the weekly dinner rut.

What’s the weirdest food you craved when you were preggo? With both of my pregnancies, I’ve had an incessant, nigh-incurable craving for curry. The first time, that wasn’t a problem because we lived in a college town with a seemingly endless array of international restaurants in close proximity — read: walking distance — to one another, including what is still hands-down my favorite Thai place. (They also had an amazing Turkish place where we got to sit on cushions to eat at low tables & everything… but that’s another story.) This time around, however, I haven’t been so lucky. Living in suburban sprawl has its downsides, for sure, & restaurant choice is one of them, especially if I don’t want to drive 30 minutes each way. (Bakeries too… but again, another story.)

But then my friend Patty introduced me to Weelicious. In less than 15 minutes of perusal, my weekly dinner rut had disappeared completely. I was pinning & bookmarking dinner ideas faster than I ever have before! Catherine (what a nice name!) has everything from baby & toddler foods to family dinners, snacks, incredible lunchbox ideas, ways to get your picky eater to be less picky… Why was I just now finding out about this?!

Then I saw it. The cure for my curry craving (for the moment, anyway). It’s actually not one of Catherine’s, but a contest submission from a lady named Deb. & it rocks. Before I go back for thirds, let me share my version with you. The original recipe is here.

  •  2 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • dash ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 tsp. tomato paste
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 apple, cored, skin on, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces (UPDATE: we now use a diced sweet potato and like it even better!)
  • 1 cup carrots (about 2 large), peeled, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large Russet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 lbs. chicken (about 4 breasts), cut into 1/2- to 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. In a large, heavy-bottomed braiser or pot, heat oil on medium heat. Add onion; saute 3-4 minutes or until soft & translucent.
  3. Add spice mixture & saute 30 seconds more.
  4. Add apple or sweet potato, carrots, potatoes, & chicken; toss until evenly coated with spice mixture & onions.
  5. Add broth & bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer, covered, 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through & veggies are tender, stirring occasionally to keep curry from sticking to the bottom & to help the veggies cook evenly.
  6. Serve over basmati rice for the delicious authentic flavor, or brown rice for a clean option.

Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free | Gluten-free | Clean-eating option

Like the other Catherine, my family devoured this. Munchkin included. (Her affinity for curry may have something to do with the amount of it that I ate when I was pregnant & nursing with her…) It was flavorful without being spicy. I wondered about the apples, but decided to try it anyway & loved the touch of sweetness they added. If you look at the original recipe, you’ll see that I substituted potatoes for celery, simply because they were what was in my favorite curry at that one Thai place in Bloomington. I’m sure you could do both if you wanted to, but the whole family agreed that it was exactly perfect just like this.

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Copycat Cafe Rio.

When I was pregnant with The Munchkin, I craved Mexican food ALL THE TIME. We were living in Indiana, where the owners of Mexican restaurants seemed to hail from no further south than North Dakota, so when we headed west to visit family for Christmas, I gorged on as much as I could. One of my favorite places is Cafe Rio. No, not authentic Mexican, but at least they don’t try to pass off Italian tomato sauce as salsa. (I wish I were joking about that.)

Maybe we’ve been living without good Mexican — or at least a Del Taco — for too long now, but the Mexican cravings are much less frequent this time around.

Still, when Mommy needs her Cafe Rio, SHE NEEDS her Cafe Rio.

Now, like I said, it’s been awhile since we’ve eaten there, so I really couldn’t tell you how close this comes to the real thing. But the copycat J-Dawgs sauce has been such a hit among fellow former Provo-dwellers that I thought I’d put this one out there for more people to try. Tweaks from people who’ve had the real thing more recently are appreciated.

I’m lifting this almost exactly from Favorite Family Recipes. Go there to find her black bean recipe too; I didn’t have the energy to make one more component just to satisfy a craving, especially since I always order my salads with no beans anyway.

Sweet Pork Barbacoa:

  • 2 lbs. pork
  • 3 cans regular — not DietCoke (caffeine-free, of course! ;-)). Our local grocery store sells 2-liter bottles of caffeine-free cola for 98 cents! So I just do that.
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, divided
  • sprinkle of garlic salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 can diced green chilies
  • 3/4 can red enchilada sauce (Old El Paso, medium)
  1. Marinate pork inside a gallon Ziploc bag with about 18 oz. of Coke & 1/4 cup of brown sugar, a few hours or overnight.
  2. Drain marinade. Place pork in the bottom of a slow cooker. Add 6 oz. of Coke & the water. Sprinkle garlic salt over the top. Cook on high 3-4 hours, until it shreds easily.
  3. Remove the pork, drain liquid in the slow cooker, & shred the pork.
  4. In a blender or food processor, blend 6 oz. Coke with the green chilies, enchilada sauce, & remaining brown sugar. Add more brown sugar &/or Coke to suit your taste & ideal consistency.
  5. Add shredded pork & sauce to slow cooker. Cook on low 2 hours.

Cilantro-Lime Rice:

  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 1 can (15 oz.) chicken broth (I used low-sodium & had to add a little salt to get the taste to my liking)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro
  1. In a saucepan combine rice, butter, garlic, 1 tsp. lime juice, broth, & water; bring to a boil.
  2. Cover; simmer on low 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat.
  3. In a small bowl combine last 3 ingredients. Fold into rice as you fluff the rice.

Tomatillo Ranch:

  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch mix (NOT Buttermilk)
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 cup buttermilk (make your own by pouring 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar into the bottom of a measuring cup, then filling it up the rest of the way to the 1-cup line, then let it sit for a few minutes to curdle)
  • 2 tomatillos, husk removed, diced
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice of 1 lime (2 Tbsp. if you’re using bottled like me)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded, chopped
  1. Throw everything in the blender & blend it. Done.

Make your salad:

  1. If desired, place a tortilla in the bottom of your dish, sprinkle with cheese, & place in the oven for a few minutes to let it melt.
  2. Layer beans (if using), meat, rice, & lettuce. Top with dressing, guac, a sprinkle of cheese, & maybe some tortilla strips.
  3. Drool.
  4. Savor.

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The Ultimate Comfort Food.

When the weather gets cooler — & trust me, the 60-degree lows we’ve experienced around here the past few days have actually been sweatshirt-worthy — I start craving the comfort food. This is, as the title would suggest, the ultimate comfort food. It’s warm, creamy, savory, & you hardly even have to chew! How’s that for comfort?

My friend Kelli made this for us years ago, when we were first married. It was so delicious I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I’ve lightened it up just a tiny bit since. It heats up great for leftovers; just be sure to cook up enough rice to serve with it later!

Creamy Crock Pot Chicken

  • 4-6 frozen chicken breasts, depending on size
  • 1 pkt. powdered Italian dressing mix
  • 3/4 stick (6 Tbsp.) butter
  • 8 oz. Neufchatel cheese (1/3 less fat cream cheese), softened
  • 1 can reduced-fat cream of chicken soup (Campbell’s or Kroger brand)
  1. Place chicken in bottom of slow cooker.
  2. Sprinkle dressing mix evenly over top. Slice up butter into chunks & distribute evenly on top of that.
  3. Cook on low 5 hours or high 3 hours.
  4. Shred chicken with 2 forks.
  5. Add soup & cream cheese; mix well.
  6. Let sit in warm Crock Pot several minutes to allow cream cheese to melt.
  7. Stir again & serve over rice.

What is your ultimate comfort food?

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