Weekly Recipe: Tagine Chicken with Quinoa and Stewed Vegetables

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to cook a recipe each week that I haven’t cooked before.  This week my new recipe is tagine chicken with quinoa and stewed vegetables.  I found both recipes on Allrecipes.com – it’s a great website to visit for inspiration.  I followed the recipe for tagine chicken pretty closely, and I just used the stewed veggies recipe as a jumping off point for what I actually made.

I had all of the ingredients for the tagine chicken except for the couscous.  So I stopped in at the grocery store to pick some up.  Upon looking at the box and reading the ingredients list, I realized that couscous is highly processed.  *sigh*  So I looked around for 100% whole grain couscous to no avail.  I’m sure it exists, but not in that particular grocery store.  Then I caught site of quinoa.  It seemed healthier than the couscous, so I bought it.  It was pretty good! The main dish was easy to make and made my house smell delicious!

Then I realized that I’d be feeding a bunch of people and there probably wasn’t enough without some kind of side dish, so I did a search for Vegetables on allrecipes.  I found the recipe for vegetable tagine and used it as the basis for the stewed veggies I actually made.  So, here’s what I did with those:

Moroccan Inspired Stewed Vegetables

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 carrots chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped into medium-large pieces
  • 1 can sliced stewed tomatoes, low sodium if possible
  • 2 tbsp  tomato paste
  • 48 oz fat free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 15 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic and bell pepper.  Cook until onion is translucent.
  2. Add the carrots, potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth, coriander, cinnamon, garlic powder, turmeric, and cumin.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender.
  3. Add the garbanzo beans, salt and pepper.  Simmer until the garbanzos are warmed through.  Serve.

This recipe makes PLENTY of food.  And it goes very far as a side dish.  You could make a vegetarian meal out of it if you put it over couscous or quinoa.

So here’s the downside.  I forgot to take a picture.  That means you don’t get to see all the yumminess for yourself.  You’ll just have to make it and see!  DH really liked it.  Our friends liked it too.  I liked that most of the ingredients didn’t have weird stuff in it.  I mean, the apricots in the chicken dish had a couple of ingredients that protect the color, and the canned stuff all had extra salt, but other than that it was real food.

I’d totally make this stuff again.

DH Cooked: Egg Breakfast

DH and I thought that it wouldn’t be fair to discard a cookbook without trying to cook something from each section.  So, he chose to make an egg breakfast thing.  The cookbook called it eggs rancheros, but it didn’t look like any kind of eggs rancheros I’ve ever seen.

Jalapenos

This recipe required minced jalapeno, diced bell pepper, chopped tomato and chopped onion.  Saute everything except the tomato in a little oil until the onion is translucent.

Egg Mixture

Add the tomato, scrambled eggs (a lot of them!) and some cream. Finely chop a half a bunch of cilantro.  Toss it into the egg mixture.

Breakfast!

Scramble until the eggs are cooked.  This is almost impossible to do if you add too much cream, or if the liquid hasn’t cooked out of the vegetables.  Serve with some freshly fried corn tortilla strips.

This was a little too wet for me.  DH thought it was bland and added some tabasco sauce to it.  I could see us making it again, but only if we made it spicier and were able to cook all of the liquid out.

DH Cooked: Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf and 3 Kinds of Fudge

I’m still playing catchup with the blogs about my husband’s cooking.  Unfortunately, it means that I don’t exactly remember the recipes, or why he chose to make one particular meal over another.  I think we were watching TV – maybe Kitchen Nightmares? – and saw an episode where bacon wrapped meatloaf was one of the special dishes added to the menu.  The fudge came about because DH was tired of not being able to find rum raisin fudge anywhere.  And true to form, we went overboard, made three kinds and practiced plating.

Bacon wrapped meatloaf will work with any basic meatloaf recipe.  Ours always involves

  • 1-2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 chopped onions
  • 1-3 diced cloves of garlic
  • “a few shakes” of Worcestershire sauce
  • “a good squeeze” of ketchup (maybe 2 tbsp?)
  • “a handful or two” of bread crumbs or crushed saltines
  • 1 egg
  • salt, pepper, and any other spices we feel like throwing in to taste
  • A few tablespoons of BBQ sauce
  • Uncooked bacon

This time DH decided to saute the onions and garlic along with a mild chili pepper to give it a little kick.  Remember to let your onion mixture cool before adding it to the meat if you like to mix it with your hands.

Sauteeing onions

Mix together everything except for the BBQ sauce and bacon.  If it’s a little too wet, add some more bread crumbs or crackers.  If it’s too dry, add some more ketchup or Worcestershire. Shape the mixture into a loaf on a cookie sheet with sides so that the fat that cooks out of the meat loaf won’t end up in the bottom of your oven and cause a fire.  Spread the BBQ sauce on top of the meatloaf.  Drape the bacon over the top of the meatloaf.  Tuck the edges of the bacon under the loaf so that they won’t curl up.  Bake at 400-425* for 30-45 minutes or until done.  The bacon should be a little crispy.

Fresh Out of the Oven

For dessert we had 3 kinds of fudge.  I don’t remember which recipes we followed, but they were all made in the microwave.  We found the recipes online.  Keep in mind that your fudge needs to set in the fridge for several hours before you slice it.  If you don’t give it that time to firm up, you’ll be trying to serve a gloopy, yummy mess.

DH wanted to practice plating and pairing.  So with that in mind he made Rum Raisin (next to the strawberry, but supposed to pair with the grape), white chocolate orange (next to the grape, but supposed to pair with the strawberry), and basic milk chocolate (next to the raspberry).  We found a dessert wine in our liquor cabinet that had a caramelly taste to it, so he lined the edge of the plate in caramel to compliment the flavors.

Fudge, Fruit and Wine

I had a lot of fun helping him with this cooking night.  The meatloaf was really good, and was paired with baked asparagus and baked potatoes.  We had a couple of friends over who helped us make sure there weren’t any leftovers.  The fudge was creamy and dangerously delicious.  I had to take it to work to ensure that I wouldn’t eat any more of it.

We both learned that the portions we cut of the fudge needed to be smaller.  Having 2″ squares of each flavor on one plate seemed to be too much after such a hearty meal.

This was definitely a hit!

DH Cooked: Black Bean Salsa

My husband’s continuing quest to learn to cook resulted in a black bean salsa that was waaay to heavy on the onion…

Soak a half cup of dried black beans overnight, then drain, rinse and set aside.  Chop a red onion and add it to the bowl with the black beans.

One Chopped Red Onion

Meanwhile you’ll need to rehydrate a large dried chili and roast 2 fresh jalapenos.

Rehydrate the Chili

Seed and finely chop the chili and jalapeno.  Add both to the black bean mixture, along with a couple tablespoons of beer, a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Top with cilantro.  Refrigerate for a few hours and enjoy!

Black Bean Salsa

What we learned from this salsa: if you’re questioning the recipe, there’s probably a good reason.  DH said “a whole red onion?  But these are big!”  I said “Well, the recipe says to use it…”  This resulted in way to oniony a flavor.  It completely overpowered the black beans.  So the next time we make it, it’ll definitely have less onion and more beans!

DH Cooks: Tomatillo Cream Sauce and Avocado Butter

DH has realized that he needs hobbies that aren’t computer related.  He spends roughly 50-60 hours each week on a computer at work and then comes home to study and work on them some more at home.  Anyone who has worked with computers for very long knows how rough that can be on your hands, arms, neck, etc with all of the repetitive motions that requires.  So, he started his search for a new hobby and settled on cooking.

I don’t know if you know this, but DH is not a cook.  He can open a can of whatever and heat it up on the stove.  He can make a killer grilled cheese sandwich.  And his heart attach sandwiches are awesome!  We’ve even had some pretty good Swedish meatballs before.  Other than that, though…  DH doesn’t cook.  Don’t get me wrong; he can follow a recipe, but he admits to not understanding why someone would put salt AND pepper on meat that they’re cooking.  Well, his quest to understand cooking and food resulted in the purchase of a Mexican Cookbook from Half-Priced Books.  He planned to start at the beginning and work his way through.  Each week or so he’ll cook a different recipe.  This week it was Tomatillo Cream Sauce and Avocado Butter.

Tomatillo Cream Sauce

Tomatillos in Water

De-husk and quarter 11oz of tomatillos.  Put them in a pot with about 1/2 cup of water or stock.  Cook for 8-10 minutes or until the flesh is soft and transparent. (We used way toooooo much water, you’ll find out why it’s a problem later).  While those are cooking away, take de-seed 2 serrano chillies and smash 4 cloves of garlic.  Put the garlic, chillies, the cooked tomatillos and liquid in a blender.  Blend until almost smooth.

Blended tomatillo stuff

Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a skillet and add the tomatillo puree.  Cook gently, stirring non-stop until it reduces and thickens.  You want it to look like the green sauce you’d put on tamales.  (We put way more than 1/2 cup of water in the pot with the tomatillos so this took FOREVER to reduce). Chop a bunch of coriander or cilantro and add it to the sauce with salt to taste.  Cook for a few more minutes.  Stir in 4 oz of heavy cream and warm the sauce through – don’t let it boil!  Serve at once.

Avocado Butter

This recipe is by Alton Brown of the Food Network.

Into the Food Processor

Put into the food processor: flesh from 2 ripe avocados, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 tbsp chopped cilantro, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp ground cumin, 3 tbsp unsalted butter, salt to taste.  Blend until smooth.

 

Avocado Butter

Wrap the avocado butter in parchment paper (form into a log) and refrigerate for 3 hours or until firm.

Eat!

We cooked some tilapia in a tablespoon of butter with salt and pepper, then topped half with the avocado butter and half with the tomatillo cream sauce, and ate it with a side of brown rice.  It wasn’t attractive but it tasted good!

Dinner!

Our First Tequila Sunrise

Final Thoughts

The tomatillo cream sauce was surprisingly good.  I was really worried that it would suck hard, but when you pair it with the tilapia, it works.  The avocado butter was really good on its own, but not so good with the tilapia.  I think it would be great as a spread on a BLT or just on some toast as a snack.

We have some extra tilapia because a dinner guest got his nights mixed up, so we’re going to try cooking it differently tomorrow – put the avocado butter on top while it’s cooking (so it gets all melty) and then top the fillets with the cream sauce.  It should be awesome!

You know, we’re doing this so that DH can learn how to cook, but what it’s teaching me is how to step aside and let him cook.  Before, I’d step in and kinda kick him out of the kitchen instead of explain how to do things.  On DH’s cooking nights he figures it out with only a few comments from me.  If there’s a technique to learn, I show him on one part and let him take over from there.  It seems to be working well… even if I have a lot of trouble letting go of that control.

I Cooked: Basil Bread

One of the things I received from my sister when she moved in to take care of mom was her bread machine.  She never really used it, and I thought it would be fun to play with so I happily took it home.  I’ve used it a few times to make white bread, onion bread, egg bread and whole wheat bread.  I thought I’d try something different, so I searched the internet for a recipe that would work.  It was a bit of a challenge because I didn’t have any eggs in the house – do you know how many bread recipes require eggs?  I finally found a recipe for Rosemary Bread.  Small problem though…  I was out of dried rosemary.  What’s a gal to do?  Substitute with a different herb of course!  I used basil and it turned out surprisingly good.

I was a little concerned when I tried it because the directions say to proof your yeast before adding any of the other ingredients.  My bread machine directions say to add the yeast last and let the machine do the work.  I followed the recipe’s directions and I’m glad I did.  The bread turned out fluffy, soft, and delicious!

The original recipe from All Recipes is below:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F (43 degrees C))
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons crushed dried rosemary (I used Basil)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. Pour the water into the pan of a bread machine, then sprinkle in the yeast and sugar. Let the mixture sit in the bread machine until a creamy foam forms on top of the water, about 10 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle in the salt, then add olive oil, thyme, garlic powder, rosemary, and flour.
  3. Use the basic bread setting with light colored crust, and start the machine.

I’ll definitely try making this one again with rosemary.  I think it would be awesome cut into smaller slices, toasted with bruscetta on top, or even a regular slice dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Yum!

Caribbean Fish Stew

I made this for dinner tonight.  Man, does it make a lot!  I couldn’t follow the recipe exactly, mostly because my grocery store didn’t have the right fish, saffron or light coconut milk. I was a bit nervous because I don’t normally cook any kind of fish, let alone lots of different fish all at once.  It definitely turned out better than I expected.

Here is the recipe.  The things I did differently are in italics.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 1 cup canned light coconut milk (regular coconut milk)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp crushed saffron threads (I didn’t have any)
  • 3/4 lb. small red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 lb grouper fillet, cut into cubes (I used tilapia)
  • 1/2 lb red snapper fillet, cut into cubes (I used halibut)
  • 1/2 lb large shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 24 littleneck clams (I used a can of clams)
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig (I used 1.5 tsp dried thyme)

Directions

  1. Warm the oil in a large nonstick pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook for 5 minutes or until soft.
  2. Add the tomatoes, clam juice, coconut milk, water, saffron, and potatoes.  Cook for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  3. Add the fishes, clams, shrimp and thyme.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the clams have opened and the shrimp have turned color. Discard the thyme sprig and any unopened clams.

This makes a lot because it’s meant to serve six.  If you make it by following the original recipe there are 299 calories and 6 grams of fat per serving.

This recipe is from the Alli Diet Plan book, by Caroline Apovian, ISBN 978-0-696-23538-2.

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