Dijon Chicken, Roasted Beet Salad, Roasted Potatoes May 20, 2013 6:41 pm : Dinner, Salad
Bay 2 Breakers kicked off another season of street festivals laced debauchery. After the Bay 2 Breaker’s race, San Francisco puts on a neighborhood street festival almost every other weekend until July. Since the days are long and fog season is out, this is MY favorite time of year. Forget Indian Summer, spring in San Francisco is perfect.
Peter’s mom was in town visiting so we went the spectator route instead of participating. I think it was pretty eye-opening for everyone. The naked people and the crazy costumes never get old. Well, maybe the naked people. I’ve heard that San Francisco has two favorite holidays, Halloween and Bay to Breakers. It definitely showed yesterday because San Franciscans’ creativity really came through for the 101 year old race. My favorite costume was a pregnant woman (she had to have been 8 months along) who painted the world on her belly. Her baby just got their first taste of Bay to Breakers right from the womb. Another amazing thing I saw was a man who sported a t-shirt with the message “this is my 44th Bay to Breakers in a row.”
So my recipe today actually has nothing to do with our weekend. My inspiration came from spotting these golden beets on sale. The beets make the salad so hearty that you can just eat it on it’s own without the added protein of the chicken.
Dijon Baked Chicken, Golden Roasted Beet Salad, Roasted Thyme Baby Yukon Potatoes
2 bone-in chicken breasts (I used boneless skinless chicken breast. It wasn’t the best choice but I was pressed for time. Bone-in will give you more flavor, plus you can use any leftover chicken for a recipe later in the week. I made bone-in roasted chicken a couple days later and shredded the leftovers to chicken salad for lunch the next day. I’ll share the chicken-salad recipe in a future post.)
Marinade recipe here
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Arrange the oven so that one rack is positioned at the very top and the second rack at the very bottom. You’ll put the chicken on the bottom rack.
Mix the marinade in the bowl and add chicken to coat.
You can remove the chicken after 20-25 minutes and keep warm by tenting foil over the baking dish.
*I was in a hurry this time, but in the future I would definitely choose bone-in chicken breast so you get juicier meat.
Potatoes and Beets
1 cup baby yukon potatoes
1 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
3 golden beets
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Cut baby potatoes in half. Line baking sheet with foil and add potatoes to sheet. Toss baby potatoes with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Arrange beets on the same baking sheet next to the potatoes:
Remove the tops and the roots of the beets and peel each one with a vegetable peeler. Cut the beets in 1 1/2-inch chunks. (Small beets can be halved, medium ones cut in quarters, and large beets cut in eighths.)
Place the cut beets on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, thyme leaves, salt, and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, turning once or twice with a spatula, until the beets are tender. Remove from the oven and immediately toss with vinaigrette. Toss baby lettuces and feta cheese with vinaigrette separately. Then combine warm, dressed beets to baby lettuces and feta cheese.
Panko-Thyme-Breaded Pork Chops with Quinoa, Kale and Cherry Tomatoes May 16, 2013 2:27 am : Dinner
Leftover kale, quinoa, feta cheese, green onions and cherry tomatoes. These are the usual suspects in my kitchen. I can’t believe I’ve never thought of combining all of these ingredients together to make a side dish. If you’ve made something similar already, I’m not surprised, but it’s always nice to discover something “new” even though it might be obvious to others.
Staying on Track
It’s been two months since my quest to get back into shape and start eating more healthy. I’ve been a yo-yo dieter my whole life (still haven’t had the will power to break the cycle) so I know it’s a long, arduous process. I’m disappointed that I’m not where I want to be with my weight but the bright side of all this is that I have made significant changes in what I consume. No matter how hungry you are when you get back from work, yoga class, from a walk, really make the extra effort to pull together a semi-healthy meal.
Panko-Thyme-Breaded Pork Chops with Quinoa, Kale, Green Onions and Cherry Tomatoes
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
1/2 cup of tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 bunch of kale, leaves removed from stocks and chopped
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 green onion stalks, chopped
Panko-Thyme Breaded Pork Chops
2 thinly cut boneless, center loin chops
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tbsps fresh thyme, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. One cup yields a lot of quinoa so I set aside a bunch to use in later recipes during the week. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet to medium heat with high heat oil like safflower oil, grapeseed oil or canola oil. Arrange the eggs and panko breaded crumbs, salt, pepper, and thyme in two separate shallow dishes. Pat the pork chops with a paper towel until they’re very dry (both sides). Dip each chop in the egg mixture and shake off any extra coating. Dip in the breaded mixture and immediate add it to the pan. Cook on each side until they’re lightly browned about 4 minutes per side. Remove the pork chops and place them on a cooling rack so that they remain crispy. I suppose you could place them on paper towels if you don’t have one.
2. Wipe the pan clean and drizzle with olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 2-3 minutes and then add the kale. Cook the mixture until wilted and add the quinoa. Stir to combine. Add the feta cheese and stir. Add chopped green onion for garnish. Arrange the side dish and pork chops on a plate and serve warm.
Kale – the trendy super food that everyone is telling you, you should eat more of. Like any good Northern Californian, I’m always looking for ways to incorporate kale into my diet. It’s not always easy though. I wish I could be the person to just scarf down some sauteed kale, but the truth is I need one or two comforting ingredients to help take it down. To find inspiration, I adopted this next kale recipe from Jess Thomson’s blog. I just added some pancetta for that salty, crunchy bite that makes any dish so delicious.
Kale and Spaghetti
1/2 bunch of kale, torn from stem and chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup pancetta, chopped
1/4 box spaghetti
Parmesan for granish
1 tbsp butter
1. Cook spaghetti according to package instructions. Heat a skillet to medium with a little bit of oil. Cook the pancetta until crispy about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and place the pancetta bits on a paper towel to drain. Add the butter to the skillet and melt. Add the onion and red pepper and saute until the onions are translucent. Add the kale and cook until just wilted.
2. Once the spaghetti is cooked, drain and add to the pan with onions, garlic, red pepper flakes and kale. Toss and mix well. Add some freshly grated parmesan for garnish.
It’s been two months since my diet of tacos, tostadas, quesadillas and more. Working in a restaurant and trying to eat healthy are two really impossible tasks. And for someone who likes to live a healthy lifestyle (yoga, running, hiking, and eating healthy) this was particularly challenging emotionally and physically to maintain. So for the past two months I’ve been happily cooking every day to bring balance and detox back into my life. I got my inspiration from a Food and Wine article, The Four Week Diet Plan and one dish from Pizzetta, a local pizza joint located in The Richmond.
Pizzetta’s Farro and Spring Pea Salad
3/4 cup farro
1/2 lb of English peas still in their shell
1/2 bunch of radishes
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup almonds, roasted
1 tbsp fresh dill
1. Preheat oven or toaster oven 350 degrees. When oven is heated, add the almonds. Heat through until you can just smell them and they are fragrant (about 5 minutes). 2. Cook the farro according to package directions. Meanwhile, shell the English peas, chop radishes and dill. 3. Once the farro has been cooked, combined all ingredients. Serve warm or at room temperature.
1 shallot, minced
1/2 lemon juiced (makes about 1/4 cup)
3/4 cup of grapeseed oil
Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake well.
Kale and Cabbage Soup*not pictured
Note: So I made this “soup” and right after I read the instructions I had a feeling the farro would soak up the water and stock. You can always add a more stock at the end and just heat through until warm.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
One 2-ounce piece pancetta, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ounce anchovy paste (4 teaspoons) or 4 anchovy fillets
3/4 cup farro
1/2 head Savoy cabbage—tough stems discarded, leaves torn into large pieces
1/2 bunch red Russian kale, stems discarded **I used lacinato kale
2 quarts chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water 6 thyme sprigs
1 small rosemary sprig
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano rind plus 3 tablespoons grated cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. In an enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat until the fat is rendered, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add the anchovy paste and cook for 30 seconds. Add the farro and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the cabbage and kale and cook, stirring, until just wilted. 2. Add the chicken stock, water, thyme and rosemary sprigs and cheese rind and bring to a simmer. Cover the soup, simmer the soup over moderate heat for 1 hour, until the farro and greens are tender. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Transfer the soup to bowls, garnish the soup with the parsley and grated cheese and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat gently. NOTES One Serving 305 cal, 36 gm carb, 12 gm fat, 4.2 gm sat fat, 18 gm protein, 7 gm fiber.
Curry Egg Salad
Note: Curry flavor is not something I’ve always enjoyed, however, I’ve now become obsessed with it. The flavor combined in this recipe is just perfect.
2 tbsp cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives **I used leftover dill from the farro salad!
kosher salt and black pepper 4 slices pumpernickel bread **I used whole wheat bread
4 large leaves Bibb lettuce **I didn’t use lettuce
1. Place the eggs in a saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, cover, remove from heat, and let sit for 12 minutes. Rinse the eggs under cold water, peel, and coarsely chop. 2. In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise and curry powder. Fold in the eggs and chives; season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Dividing evenly, top each slice of bread with lettuce, then the egg salad.
I just combined a cup of lettuce, cooked quinoa and leftover veggies from the farro salad like radishes, dill, cucumber, and feta cheese. I dressed the salad with the leftover vinaigrette.
Black Bean Burgers
I kind of new before embarking on this recipe that this would be really labor intensive. It’s one of those recipes I wish I would cook more often but you can only really save it for a weekend day when you have the time.
1 1/4 cups dried black beans, rinsed and picked over, then soaked for 4 hours and drained
3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup farro
1 small onion, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Vegetable oil, for sautéing
8 toasted buns
1. In a saucepan, cover the beans with 2 inches of water. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 1 hour; add water as needed to keep the beans covered by 2 inches. When the beans are tender, season them with salt and let stand for 5 minutes; drain. 2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the farro and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, 2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until the grains are al dente, 30 minutes. 3. In a small skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the diced onion and cook over moderate heat until softened. Add the crushed red pepper and garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes. 4. In a food processor, pulse all but 1/2 cup of the beans to a chunky puree; transfer to a bowl. Fold in the remaining 1/2 cup of beans, the farro, the onion mixture, eggs, bread crumbs, basil, cilantro, pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt. Form the mixture into 8 patties. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 5. In a large, nonstick skillet, heat 1/8 inch of vegetable oil. Add the burgers and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until browned and heated through, about 6 minutes. Transfer the burgers to the buns.
*I will probably use avocado next time as a spread to retain moisture.
MAKE AHEAD The burgers can be prepared through Step 4 and refrigerated overnight. NOTES One serving 436 cal, 68 gm carb, 11 gm fat, 2 gm sat fat, 17 gm protein, 11 gm fiber.
Open-Faced Egg Sandwich with Pancetta and Avocado
I used the leftover pancetta from the Farro and Kale Soup to snaze up my morning breakfast.
2% milk (eyeball it)
1. Cook pancetta until crispy, about 5 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, scramble eggs with milk. 3. Lower the heat to medium-low and combine with pancetta. Serve with sliced avocado on a piece of whole wheat toast.
Red Thai Curry Chicken Skewers with Minty Yogurt Sauce
I had a small amount of green thai curry paste in my fridge so I substituted the red thai curry paste for that.
2 1/2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
1. In a large bowl, mix the curry paste with the oil and 2 teaspoons of salt. Add the chicken cubes and toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature for up to 2 hours or cover and refrigerate overnight. 2. Light a grill. In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt with the mayonnaise, honey, lime juice and mint and season with salt. 3. Thread the chicken onto 10 skewers, leaving 1/4 inch between the cubes. Grill over moderately high heat, turning frequently, until lightly charred and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Serve the kebabs with the minty yogurt sauce on the side.
NOTES One serving 228 cal, 8 gm carb, 12 gm fat, 2.6 gm sat fat, 29 gm protein, less than 1 gm fiber.
I’ve always cautiously approached the philosophy, “everything happens for a reason.” It wasn’t until last Friday when I got gut checked and realized that nothing more could be true than this phrase. However, with the help of some guidance from a book that mysteriously appeared at my doorstep, – no joke, the package did not say who bought this book for us – I realized that things happen because we will them to happen. Of course, there’s a lot more detail in what goes into this philosophy but that’s not the point of this post. I realize that there was a lot negative thinking that lead me to where I am now. And as of a few days ago I’ve promised myself to always practice gratitude and positive thinking. So to relaunch the Basil Diaries, I’m going to start out with a list of things that I am grateful for:
- My husband. Peter is such an amazing partner. He’s selfless, spontaneous, compassionate, and more. And not to mention he’s very handsome :) I’m lucky to have found him and that he chose me to be his wife.
- My health. I finally went to the doctor to get my cholesterol checked and a tetanus shot among many other things. All results have come in and I’m as healthy as a horse. Or as Peter put it, “como un caballo.”
- My home. We live in a rent controlled, two bedroom, two bath, top-floor apartment that’s “technically” located in Pac Heights. For San Francisco, this is pretty darn good. Although it’s expensive now, in two to three years we’re going to be glad we moved here. Oh, and the view isn’t too shabby either.
- My family and friends. When all this funny business went down, I got an outpour of support from my family and friends. I guess I always knew that they would be there for me, but I’ve never been so grateful than I am now to have them in my life. I never want to take that for granted again.
It’s easy to lose sight of what makes our lives amazing. You may be thinking this list is so obvious but when you get lost in life you have to reign it back in by remembering why you are so lucky. I’m really excited for what’s to come because I know it’s going to be even greater than what I’ve already experienced.