I had the most fantastic time in Dallas this past weekend! I spent lovely quality time with my daughter, and I enjoyed getting to know her sorority sisters and their moms. We had a very full weekend with lots of good food, karaoke (no comment!), yoga, and shopping for everything from mattresses to paleo snacks to new clothes for her to wear to her internship this summer. Believe people when they tell you that kids grow up too fast!
I’m sure you all pushed away your keyboards and ran into the kitchen to poach chicken after Monday’s post, right? Perfect! Now let’s do something healthy and delish with your chicken. I have a recipe for the BEST curried chicken salad I have ever eaten! Even my family, which to my chagrin prefers more “simple” flavors, loves this salad.
I thought it would be a great time to post this curried chicken salad since you might be looking for some new options for school and/or work lunch. At it’s most basic, curried chicken salad is just what it sounds like — chicken salad with curry mixed in. I use a yellow curry powder, which is a blend of different anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, fenugreek and many others. But as opposed to basic, standard chicken salad to which I add celery and onion, I like to add a little something sweet to balance the curry. My husband and I disagree on whether diced apple or halved grapes is better. I think they’re both good, but since I am a sucker for crunch, I usually add apples.
I used to make Ina Garten’s version with Major Grey chutney and white wine, but the chutney is not something I usually use and it was taking up space in the fridge. So I created my own blend of ingredients, including apricot preserves, to mimic the sweet, hot, tart flavor of the chutney. This is the best part of the dressing. So, so good and flavorful! I also like to use shredded, as opposed to cubed or diced chicken, because I think the nooks and crannies of the shredded chicken pick up more of the dressing.
You can make it the day before and tuck it inside of a pita or 2 slices of hearty, whole grain bread. Or, as I like to do it, eat it in a lettuce cup. A little avocado would put this over the top! Feel free to make this spicy or change up the preserves. I think any variation of orange, apricot, peach or kumquat would be great. I like the St. Dalfour brand which is sugar-free and without added preservatives. I think this might become your new favorite chicken salad! For you vegheads, I may try to do a tofu version of this. How does that sound?!
Since my oldest child started college this past fall, it’s been hard not to compare everything at her school to what I had when I was in college. I do my best not to sound like, “When I was in college, we had to use quarters in the washing machines and we had to wait for our laundry to be finished. No text alerts back then!” Although now that I think about it, I met my future husband in the laundry room while we were both waiting for our laundry to finish! Ha! Of course, I am so food-centric, I pay close attention to dining hall options and food choices in the area around my daughter’s campus. And let me tell me you, back when I was in college, there was no juice and smoothie bar in the dining hall for breakfast. There was, however, an all-you-can-eat supply of Quaker granola, sugar cereals and hydrogenated peanut butter! It’s no wonder I gained about 20 pounds in college.
My roommate freshman year blew my mind with this instant noodle soup concoction that she made in our room every day. I could not believe, especially coming from an Italian home where we ate fresh pasta multiple times each week, how she could just pour hot water into a cup and it would turn into a tasty noodle soup. She called it ramen noodle soup, to be exact. Many years later I discovered that this instant meal was probably one of the worst things anyone could eat. (I really should check up on this girl to make sure she’s still ok!) Between the myriad of MSG and MSG-derivatives, the seasonings in the mixture also contain preservatives, chemicals, food coloring and other inexplicables. To make things worse, I just found out recently that instant ramen noodles are deep fried and dehydrated. Deep fried foods are also among the worst things you can eat. Therefore, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to deduce that instant ramen noodle soup is a DISASTER.
So, since I have a lot of college kids following my blog and Instagram now, I thought I should share my version of a quick ramen noodle soup recipe. I looked at some seasoning packets from “healthier” soup packets and saw a few ingredients that showed up regularly — onion powder, garlic powder, miso powder, shoyu powder, and ground ginger. I could do that! So I played around with a few proportions and came up with the recipe here.
I also did a little research into authentic ramen noodle soups (like the kind that use fresh, homemade noodles), and learned that most of the broths are pork, veggie or a seaweed and bonito (fish)-base. But I think if you want to use chicken stock, you should! When I taught the soup in my classes, I used homemade vegetable stock. I found a great ramen noodle called Koyo that is baked, not fried. But feel free to use any noodle you want. Lotus Foods makes a gluten-free noodle which is good. I also kept it simple with toppings, but really the sky’s the limit. You can add cooked chicken, pork or shrimp. I love adding a halved hard or soft boiled eggs. Veggies that are great include bean sprouts, spinach, green onions, shredded carrots, bok choy or whatever you have on hand recently. You can really make this into a meal!
I think what many of my students found appealing though, was how fast this came together and that it is quite kid-friendly. I know so many of you are struggling with rather cold temperatures and I think this would be the perfect thing to whip up for lunch or dinner to warm up!
3 Tablespoons shoyu or gluten-free tamari (I like Ohsawa brand)
¾ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon + a pinch garlic powder
¼ teaspoon + a pinch ground ginger
2 Tablespoons dry wakame flakes
2 Tablespoons white or yellow miso
handful of baby spinach leaves
¼ cup scallions, green and white parts, sliced
other suggestions: thinly sliced mushrooms or bok choy (add to pot with noodles), bean sprouts, halved hard boiled egg, cooked shredded chicken or pork, cooked shrimp (add to the soup bowl), chili garlic sauce
Place the vegetable stock in a large pot and bring to a boil.
Add the noodles, shoyu, sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, ground ginger, and wakame flakes and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the ramen noodles are soft.
Pour a ladle-full of stock into a bowl and add the miso*, whisk until smooth and then pour back into the stockpot.
Stir in a few handfuls of baby spinach leaves until wilted.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with scallions. Serve as is or with additional accompaniments as suggested above.
Feel free to adjust measurements based on your taste. I originally taught the soup with more seaweed because I really like it, but I don't think everyone liked it as much as I do, so I reduced the amount. Of course you can leave it out altogether if you wish! Also, some noodles are starchier than others, which means they will thicken up the soup a bit. If you want to avoid that, cook the noodles separately and dived them up between the bowls and pour the soup on top.
Miso is a live food. In order to preserve its beneficial enzymes, do not boil it.
*Try to buy a brand where the noodles are baked, not fried, like Koyo or Ka-me. If you use gluten-free noodles, boil them in a separate pot since they’ll make the soup too starchy.
I just returned from Dallas, one child and many suitcases lighter. Sigh…. My daughter has officially opened her wings and flown from the proverbial nest to plant her roots at college. The whole thing is quite surreal as many of you may or may not know. One minute they’re spinning around in a pink tutu drinking from a sippy cup and the next you’re renting a mini fridge and lecturing them about why beer is the devil.
I actually met my husband freshman year of college. So we couldn’t help but reminisce about our move-in experience and our crummy, old and unrenovated dorm. I think my daughter was a little tired of my exclaiming every five minutes how her new dorm is “like the Four Seasons compared to where we lived!” Of course you can’t furnish the Four Seasons with cinderblocks and plastic milk crates. So we channeled our inner Nate Berkus and coordinated duvet covers with cork boards. Funny, I do not remember my parents making two trips to Bed Bath & Beyond, two trips to The Container Store, a visit to the campus bookstore, Whole Foods, and, of course, amazon.com for anything and everything we didn’t find in the oasis of Dallas and that could be delivered in 2 days flat. As another student’s exasperated father said to me after his ninth trip up the stairs with the umpteenth box, “My parents sent me to school with a towel.” Yep.
Even the food is better at college than it used to be. My daughter’s school has a smoothie and juice bar in the dining hall. I knooooow!!!!!! So I kinda had to stick my fingers in my ears and sing a little “la-la-la-la” song when my sweet girl started to complain about what she was going to eat. Not listening!
In the week after we returned from Europe and before she left, I did indulge her with all her favorites though. And it was my pleasure. We had pasta with pesto, caprese salads, spanakopita, oatmeal-butterscotch chip cookies, veggie frittatas, acai bowls and on and on. All for my daughter who was pickier than Mr. Picky and at 17 now craves fresh-pressed juices and veggie tacos. Certainly, nothing beats food cooked by your mom who loves you to the moon and back. I will miss cooking for my baby to be sure, but I am already planning cookie and granola bar care packages.
This corn and zucchini frittata is one of my daughter’s favorites and a perfect way to enjoy summer’s last gifts before they slip away. I very often make frittatas on Fridays or the weekend to use up whatever’s left in the fridge and that’s exactly how this one came about. I had leftover sautéed corn and zucchini from dinner to which I added some beaten eggs and voila! Our newest favorite frittata was born.
Surprisingly, corn goes so well with eggs and adds a beautiful sweetness, but more importantly, the perfect texture to the soft eggs. Sometimes I add goat cheese or feta to the top and I’ve even made this for a big crowd by doubling everything and baking it in a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Summer’s bounty is still here, but only for a few fleeting moments longer. Enjoy every last morsel while you can, because it will slip from your fingers before you’re ready to let it go.
3 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), ends trimmed and sliced ¼-inch thick by hand or by the slicing disk of the food processor
Fine grain sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 large eggs
1 ½ cups of organic corn kernels, from 2-3 ears (frozen, defrosted is fine)
½ cup grated cheddar or mozzarella or a few crumbles of feta or goat cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a 10-inch skillet, warm the olive oil. Sauté the scallions until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the zucchini slices and a generous pinch of salt and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir the cooked zucchini mixture and the corn (and grated cheese if using) into the eggs and combine well. Pour the mixture back into the skillet. If using feta or goat cheese, scatter the pieces across the top of the egg mixture.
Transfer skillet to the oven and bake until firm, about 40 minutes.
Alternatively, bake in a larger skillet for less time for a thinner frittata.
Or, cook gently over medium-low heat, covered until slightly set on the bottom, 15-20 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and broil until the top is slightly puffed and golden, about 3-5 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.
I am at the end of my summer visit with my family on Long Island and I am starting to pout. “I don’t wanna go home!” Believe me, home, which is Manhattan Beach, California, is not so shabby. But it’s not getting out of bed at 7:30 am (instead of 5:30.) It’s not wine at lunch AND dinner. It’s not lingering at the table outside without a sweater for hours. It’s not falling asleep to crickets at night.
I love summer and I love it more on the East Coast. It’s the way I think we should all be living regularly – present, in the moment, grateful for what we have. I associate summer produce with this emotion, too. Strange, but true. When I think of tomatoes and corn, I always think summer. And therefore I think of freedom and happiness and relaxation and good times. That’s what comes to mind when I see real, seasonal, local tomatoes and corn. They make me HAPPY! When summer rolls around, I am jumping for joy every week when I come back from the farmers market. “Guess whaaaaat, kids?! Corn is baaaack!” They are a little over it.
What I know for sure is that this corn salad is a winner. It’s simple and nutritious and darn delicious and it screams “Hey there, summer!” You can do most of it ahead of time which is the way I like to operate. I personally love corn with a little char on it. It’s a bit smoky and goes really well with the touch of smoked paprika or ground chipotle in the recipe. But, if you are lucky enough to get just picked (as in, a few minutes ago) corn, go ahead and cut it raw. Such a treat! I know corn is controversial because most of it is genetically modified, but if you can find certified non-GMO or organic, I say go for it! Add a little protein, like a veggie burger or some grilled shrimp and you have the perfect summer meal. Hope you have a safe and fun July 4th!
2 green onions, sliced (thinly sliced red onion can be substituted)
1 large tomato, chopped
1 avocado, cubed
2 ½ Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder or a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Heat your grill to medium-high. Grill the corn directly on the grill, turning frequently, until the corn has nice char marks on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from grill. When cool enough to handle, cut kernels from cobs and transfer to a large serving bowl.
Add remaining ingredients to corn. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if necessary and more lime juice, if desired.
The corn can be made 3 hours ahead of time and kept at room temperature. The salad can be assembled 1 hour ahead of time and kept at room temperature.
Even though I’m a big football fan and I love a good game (especially when my team wins), when it’s over, it’s over. Whether the outcome of the game is favorable or unfavorable, life goes on and so do I. So football is finished until next year, but eating happens multiple times a day everyday. And today I am much more focused on what to do with Super Bowl leftovers!
Quinoa cornbread became breakfast. Chili went into thermoses for lunch. And topping bar items can make their way into frittatas, quesadillas or soup for dinner. This particular soup was not my brain child, but as often happens in my life, my kids leave the house and are amazed by what they’re “missing.” A while back my mother-in-law took them to Cafe Rio, a “fast casual dining establishment,” and they went bonkers for the Tortilla Soup. It’s is a brothy and flavorful chicken stock-based soup with some vegetables and whatever add-ins you choose. Whereas the younger two kids asked me if we could go there for dinner some night and have it again, my older daughter knew me better than that and suggested I try to copy the soup at home. Great idea!
So one day my friend Cheryl and I went on a secret reconnaissance mission to the local Cafe Rio to check out the famous soup and see exactly how they do this thing. Truthfully, their method is pretty genius and it’s the perfect soup to make at home for a family or a group. The server adds into a cup your choice of chicken, guacamole, salsa, cheese, cilantro, and tortillas, and then ladles a flavorful chicken soup on top. Yep, that’s it. And except for being unbelievably salty, the soup was rather tasty. You know how much I love a do-it-yourself situation (less work for me!) Can you picture how easy this is if you have cooked chicken and salsa already made? This comes together in minutes, I tell you, and everyone makes it the way they want. You want it to be vegetarian? No problem! Just sub a great vegetable stock for the chicken stock and add in some pinto beans for protein.
Even though my intent was to copy Cafe Rio’s soup, I ended up making a couple of my own tweaks, such as using chopped avocado instead of guacamole (but definitely use the guac if you have it) and adding a squeeze of lime at the end. I used poached chicken the day I took these photos and give you directions for that in the recipe, but I have used leftover grilled chicken or the meat from a whole roasted chicken, too. And sometimes I add quinoa to mine if I’m not in the mood for chicken, and I love that, too. But the method behind this soup is giving me all sorts of ideas for how to use up some tasty leftovers. If you make the soup base as directed here, I have chopped up leftover enchiladas and added them for an “enchilada soup,” but I bet you could add in taco meat and some tortillas for a “taco soup.” I’m excited by the possibilities, plus I think I just made my meal plan for the week!
1 or 2 large bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves (depending on how much chicken you want in your soup)
½ large onion, peeled
1 Tablespoon additive-free kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
A few peppercorns, crushed
A few garlic cloves, crushed
2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
½ large onion, diced
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced
3 medium carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded (if you don’t want too much heat) and diced (optional)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
8 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 teaspoons sea salt (double this if you use unsalted stock)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup pico de gallo (fresh tomato salsa)
1-2 avocados, peeled and cut into chunks or guacamole
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges (my favorite part!)
Other possible add-ins: tortilla chips, chopped cilantro, shredded cheese
Poach the chicken: Place the chicken breast, onion half (halved again), salt, pepper and garlic into a medium saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil over high heat and lower heat to a simmer. Simmer chicken for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and allow chicken to sit in the liquid until cool enough to handle.
In a large pot, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, scallions, carrots, celery and jalapeno. Sauté until onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cumin and cook for 1 minute.
Add the chicken stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until carrots are tender, about 4-5 minutes.
Pull chicken from liquid and remove skin and bones. Shred chicken into bite-size pieces. You can divide chicken amongst the 6 individual bowls or add it all to the pot.
Put a heaping spoonful of pico de gallo and avocado chunks/guacamole in each individual bowl and ladle soup on top. Squeeze lime on top and sprinkle with corn tortilla chips and fresh cilantro, if desired.