I’m welcoming myself back! Trying to get better at my time management, forcing myself to cook blog worthy meals, and actually blogging them. Wish me luck!
At work (Kaia FIT Lafayette) we are finished up week four of our current six week Brik, or boot camp program. I decided to really clean up my diet during this time. No sugar, no alcohol, no wheat, no grain, no dairy. I’m not doing a strict Whole30 but I’ve stayed pretty close to being on track. I was with my dad during his birthday last week so I had a few beers with him and cake to celebrate. But afterwards I jumped right back in. No regrets but motivation to keep on keeping on. And so far it’s been a great and easy experience. I don’t focus on what I am not eating but instead focus on all the good stuff I am eating.. veggies, lean protein, and some fruit pretty much makes up my daily diet. Typically I do eat a clean diet but the chocolate consumption was out of hand. I’m too embarrassed to admit how much I was eating! Amazingly it was no struggle to give it up. In fact there are bars sitting in the cabinet that I haven’t touched. Go me!
Now for this meal! I love a good tomato sauce. We eat plenty of tomato sauce with ground beef over cauliflower rice. It’s a weekly staple for quick and easy cooking. This is along those lines except I used ground turkey and braised a whole cauliflower. Really there is nothing to it. And it looks pretty fancy. If you have the time go ahead and make your tomato sauce from scratch. I used a jar that I love (sugar free) and added capers, kalamata olives, red wine vinegar, parsley, and smoked paprika. The cauliflower is pushed into the sauce and simmered until tender. My kids happily gobbled this up without question to where the pasta was. I’m pretty happy to know there are leftovers waiting for dinner tonight!
Tomato Sauce Braised Cauliflower
Whole cauliflower braised in a puttanesca style tomato sauce. A beautiful presentation for a simple meal!
- shallot, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced/pressed
- 1 crook neck squash, chopped (substitute zucchini)
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 32 oz jar tomato sauce (sugar free- read your labels!)
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- splash red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 cup capers
- 1/4 cup pitted & chopped kalamata olives*
- 1 whole head cauliflower, leaves removed from bottom
- olive oil
- fresh basil, to serve
- pecorino romano, fresh grated to serve (if you are not dairy free)
- In a large pot heat up a bit of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and squash. Saute 5 minutes until starting to soft. Add the garlic and ground turkey. Continue to cook until turkey is browned. Drain off any excess liquid.
- Add the jar of tomato sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, parsley, smoked paprika, capers, and olives. Bring to a simmer. Season with s&p.
- Place the head of cauliflower into the sauce pressing down so it is 2/3 of the way submerged.
- Turn heat down to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes until cauliflower is tender crisp.
- Serve with plenty of fresh basil and pecorino romano.
I recently discovered dried kalamata olives from trader joes. They are AMAZING. I love the intense olive flavor they offer.
Leave the ground turkey out for a vegetarian meal.
Oh my oh my summer is about over! Time is flying. It’s been a summer of fun and work all wrapped into one. I can’t believe Cia is about to go back to school. Part of me loves that we will fall back into a more routined schedule. But at the same time.. summer how much we all love summer and are sad to see it end.
This year I have left our garden to Josh. Literally. I’m super busy and wasn’t fully inspired to take on all the responsibility and time. I love putting lots of energy into gardening and didn’t want to deal with the frustration of time management. I will say even though we only planted a few things we are getting some nice produce – cucumbers, beets, squash, carrots, cilantro, basil, tomatoes, eggplant. It’s all pretty happy out there being wild. Our chard and kale keeps getting chomped so there is little of this but I’m not complaining.
I say it every season of fresh produce and here it goes again – I love cooking with garden ingredients. The flavors are vibrant and require minimal seasoning. So much better than anything store bought!!! I sautéed two crooked necked squash from our garden with local green beans, tomatoes, and homemade bone broth. The only seasoning I used was fresh basil also from our garden and some s&p. That is all! For protein I added in rotisserie chicken (plain – no extra seasoning here). And it was awesome! The kids gobbled it up as did Josh and I. Simple easy cooking. My absolute favorite way to cook! Just a reminder cooking does not have to be complicated!! The intention behind eating is to fuel our bodies!
- 2 crook neck squash (or any other summer squash/zucchini variety)
- 1.5 pounds green beans
- 1/4 cup broth or water
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- handful fresh basil leaves
- 2 cups rotisserie chicken, lightly shredded or chopped
- Slice ends of squash and green beans; discard ends. Slice squash lengthwise and cut down into 1/2" half moons. Slice green beans lengthwise and cut down into 2" pieces.
- Heat up a large skillet over medium heat with a bit of olive oil. Add the squash, green beans, and broth (or water). Season with s&p and cover skillet. Allow veggies to steam for about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile half the cherry tomatoes.
- Remove the lid from the veggie once they are tender but definitely still crisp. Stir in the chicken and tomatoes. Cook just a few minutes to heat through.
- Lastly toss basil in and serve.
Serve with fresh grated pecorino romano is desired.
Cheers to this meal, one I threw together on a whim. I had a loose plan in mind.. chicken tenders, tarragon, zucchini, mushrooms, broccolini, and coconut milk. I was leaning towards baking everything in the oven for lazy cooking but the thought of the oven heating the house led me to keep it on the stovetop. Tarragon is one of my favorite herbs. Typically it’s not commonly used due to it’s distinctive and somewhat overpowering flavor. It doesn’t mix well with a lot of herbs and so I don’t buy it all the time. But I love anise and anything anise like so for me tarragon is a winner!
As I cooked this dish I debated whether my kids would enjoy it. Tarragon is not a flavor you can hide and I always use more than enough. But when I cook a meal I cook enough for us all. And you know what? My kids ate and ate and ate. Three servings each! The veggies were a hit, the chicken was a hit, and tarragon, well they are my kids so no surprise they do love the distinct flavor. I grew up on licorice, my brother and I being the ‘weird’ kids who like the black jelly beans, licorice snaps (my favorite), wheels, and pastels. My grandfather loved all things licorice as does my dad and my uncle. I guess it’s a Driscoll thing.
Tarragon, white wine, and coconut milk create a perfect flavor profile and sauce for this chicken sauté!
- 1.5 lbs chicken tenders
- 1 shallot, sliced thin
- 5 garlic cloves, sliced thin
- 1 globe zucchini, chopped into 2" pieces (or regular zucchini)
- 1 bunch broccolini broken down into smaller pieces
- 8oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 8 sprigs tarragon
- 1/4 cup flour
- garlic powder
- dry white wine
- 5 oz can coconut cream
- Place the flour in a bowl and season with garlic powder, and s&p. Heat up a large skillet over medium heat with a pat of ghee. Dredge each chicken tender with flour, shaking off the excess, and add to the warmed pan.
- Meanwhile heat a tablespoon of ghee in another large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic, zucchini, broccolini, and mushrooms. Season with s&p and add the tarragon leaves from the sprigs.
- Once the chicken tenders have browned on one side, 3-5 minutes, flip over and brown the other side.
- The veggies should be about tender crisp at this point. Deglaze the chicken pan (tenders still in it) with a bit of white wine (~1/4 cup). Add the veggies and coconut milk. Allow to simmer another 5 minutes until chicken is fully cooked through and sauce has thickened.
- Season with a bit more s&p.
I’m sitting here bribing my children with whipped cream to eat this dinner. Granted it’s homemade very lightly sweetened whipped cream, but yea yea I know this isn’t the smartest way to get your kids to eat. In all honestly I have no idea why. Well the bribing part I know why but the complaining about the dinner part I don’t get. This meal is really good. It’s flavorful without being too overpowering and this is a meal they would normally eat. Cia is even trying to pull out some tears to get out of it. But when I ask her what’s wrong she says “nothing’s wrong” in her pity me voice. Actually we figured it out, she’s not a fan of the feta. Easy fix and she’s happily eating. Much better :). At least for one. Cash is eating while chugging water after every bite. He’s getting it down though right? Haha life with kids!
This is an easy dinner to throw together on any night. Chicken thighs, fre.. oh wait now it’s “Mom I don’t like this chicken and green stuff. Just make it for yourself.” Haha. Anyway chicken thighs, fresh dill, baby san marzano tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, kalamata olives, garlic, and sheep’s milk feta. I love few ingredient dinners that come together to make something delicious! And my kids ended up being part of the clean plate club.
Baked Dill and Tomato Chicken
Fresh dill and lemon juice flavor this easy baked chicken dish!
- 1 1/2 lbs bonesless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- 2 cloves garlic.
- few sprigs of fresh dill, plus more to serve
- 10 oz baby san marzano tomatoes (I get these at Trader Joe's)
- 1/4 pitted kalamata olives
- 2 oz feta cheese, sheep's milk
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Coat a large 9x13 pyrex dish with oil, I use coconut oil spray. Season both sides of the chicken with s&p and place in a single layer in the dish.
- Zest the lemon with a microplane over the chicken thighs. Do the same with the garlic cloves.
- Mince dill and sprinkle a bit over the chicken thighs. Reserve some.
- Halve half of the marzano tomatoes and layer throughout the chicken. I like mine to roast cut side up. Halve the kalamata olives and add to the dish.
- Juice the whole lemon over all the ingredients.
- Blend the remaining half of the tomatoes with a tablespoon of dill. Top the chicken with this sauce.
- Lastly crumble on feta.
- Bake dish uncovered for 30 minutes. Broil another 5 to lightly brown.
- Serve topped with a bit more fresh dill.
Serve this over mashed cauliflower! (Steam cauliflower until tender and blend with a bit of ghee, coconut milk, s&p, and seasoning of your choice)
These are the perfect enchilada for me. No corn tortillas, lots of veggie, and not too saucy. Yeah yeah it’s different but it’s really good. My only advice, don’t make this when it happens to be the warmest day of the year. Nothing like having the oven heat up the house on an 78 degree day.
- 2 small/medium sweet potatoes
- 1/2 lb ground turkey
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed/minced
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 3 scallions, chopped
- small can sliced black olives
- smoked paprika
- chili powder
- salsa, I used Frontier red tomato salsa mexicana with mild green chile + cilantro
- cheese, I used Manchego
- cilantro to serve
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Stab whole sweet potatoes with a fork a few times and roast whole for ~45 minutes until soft. Set aside to cool.
- In a skillet heat up a bit of olive oil over medium heat. Add the zucchini and cook 5 minutes until starting to soft. Add the ground turkey and garlic cloves. Season with cumin, smoked paprika, and chili powder. Cook until meat is browned. Stir in scallions and set aside.
- Slice sweet potatoes in half and peel off skin (if you can). Take a fork and lightly mash the center of the sweet potatoes to form them into 'boats'. Place in a greased pyrex dish. Top each sweet potato with the ground turkey mixture. Spoon salsa over each ‘enchilada’ and sprinkle on cheese.
- Bake 20 minutes until warmed through.
- Serve with more salsa and cilantro leaves.
Dairy is not something I consume often and when I do I choose to use sheeps or goats milk. I used a 6 month aged Manchego cheese. Use what suits you!
This is the perfect meal to make extra to enjoy for lunches or another dinner!