Quick Skillet Vegetarian Tacos

20170329_135414I had a really full day of hard core, nose in the books, studying today and needed something nutritious and filling, but really quick for lunch. I pulled from what I had in my pantry and fridge. Vegetarian tacos for the win!!

First things first, peel a sweet potato, cut into bite-size chunks and throw onto a sheet pan to roast. Add a little olive oil, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder and chili pepp!er and toss to coat. I used Ancho Chili Powder and oh man, the flavor this adds! Roast for 10-15 min or so at 400 degrees.

Open cans of corn, black beans (rinse well before adding). Chop a bell pepper (I used orange) and shallot (you want bite-size, not minces).

Saute the pepper & shallot. Add salt & pepper and let cook till just softened. Add the corn, black beans, garlic powder, chili powder & smoked paprika and let cook for a few minutes. I had some frozen green chilis that I just threw in and let melt in. Add the roasted sweet potato. I had a little bit of rice leftover from dinner the other night which I add and then I added a little chicken stock (you could easily use vegetable stock) to help reconstitute and soften the rice. Cook with the lid on a few minutes and taste for seasonings.

Put on your favorite tortillas and add cilantro and avocado. If you want a little kick add your favorite hot sauce. Spritz with some lime juice to add a nice bit of acid.

Back to the books for me!

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Jambalaya

We have had a cold snap here … as in 30’s and snow the last two days. It was a really wet snow and slushy. This morning’s commute was GROSS. Wet and cold and blustery … which is ok in February, NOT MAY! Last night was so cold and wet that hubby and I wanted a hot, hearty meal to comfort our disgruntled spirits from the weather. Hubby’s jambalaya was the perfect solution. Fairly quick and easy and so filling and comforting.

Spice Mix:
We make the spice mix and just keep it on hand for when we want jambalaya.
2.5 tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. onion powder
1/2 – 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (we use only a little cayenee because I don’t like it super hot. If it was just for hubby, he would put quite a bit more in.)
1 tbsp. dried, ground oregano
1 tbsp. dried, ground thyme


Rice:

3 cups of chicken broth
1 tbsp. spice mix
2 cups jasmine rice
Cook rice according to package directions. I use Golden Star or Mahatma brands jasmine rice.

Jambalaya Meat/Veggies:
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 packages Hillshire Farm turkey polska kielbasa
1 green pepper
1 shallot
2 cloves of garlic

Directions:
1. Cut each chicken breast into bite size cube. Toss in a few spoonfuls of spice mix or until it looks like it’s well seasoned (it took us a few times to find out the right amount).
2. Slice kielbasa into ½ inch rounds and then slice the rounds in half.
3. Cut green pepper into bite size pieces.
4. Add small amount of olive oil. Saute chicken until barely cooked. Remove from pan into a bowl.
5. Add a small amount more of olive oil. Add peppers. Saute until barely soft. Remove from pan into the same bowl the chicken is in.
6. Add kielbasa to same pan and brown. Remove from pan into chicken & pepper bowl.
7. Add garlic to pan, saute for a few minutes (too long and it will burn and be bitter).
8. Add ½ cup chicken stock to pan, allow to simmer and deglaze the pan for 5 minutes or so.
9. Make sure to taste for seasoning.
10. Add chicken, peppers and kielbasa back to pan. Let simmer for a few minutes just to get the flavors combined.
11. Serve over rice.

Variations 1: If we were still living on the East Coast, I would definitely make it with shrimp. Shrimp out here is expensive and so disappointing (no flavor) so we don’t use it. We did make this with my in-laws back in March (who DO live on the East Coast and can get delicious shrimp and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg) with shrimp and it was fannntastic. If you can get good shrimp and not break the bank, you should absolutely add it in! Just cook the shrimp until just done before saute’ing the garlic.

Variation 2: If I make this when hubby is not eating, I would add okra for sure. You could just add some frozen sliced okra. You can cook it with the peppers until just done. It is amazing.

risotto = deliciousness

wow it’s been a long time since i’ve written on here. must remedy that!

late last year i visited NYC with my mom, sister & a good friend. the first night we ate at a restaurant called “risottoria” … if you’re in NYC, you MUST try it! it’s amazing! and it’s gluten free! my mom has a gluten allergy and had eaten there with my other sister & a friend on a previous trip to NYC. i wasn’t sure b/c other things i’ve had that were gluten free were not so good. not horrible, but definitely didn’t taste “normal”. this however was the exception! we had gluten free breadsticks that were just incredible and risotto (which i had never had before) that was delicious! well, needless to say, i was inspired! and i finally acted on that inspiration!

life has been super busy since we were in NY that i hadn’t had a chance to do much exploring in my cooking lately! that was remedied this weekend! and i found out some interesting facts about risotto!

1) all liquids added must be warmed or the risotto will flake
2) you often need more liquid than the recipe calls for
3) you can add ANYTHING to risotto – it’s like pasta, only it’s rice!

what i made: risotto w/mushrooms, white wine, parmesan cheese & chives

how i made it:

ingrediants:

1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups aborio rice
6 cups meat/veggie stock (in this case i used chicken)
1 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1 tsp garlic
1/2 onion chopped fine
1 tbsp chives, snipped
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (add more or less according to your taste)
fresh ground pepper
olive oil
a medium to large sauce pan or skillet w/sides & a lid
another medium sauce pan

1) saute the onions, mushrooms & garlic in some olive oil until tender
2) while saute’ing the onions, mushrooms & garlic, put the wine & chicken stock in another sauce pan to heat. bring to a low simmer and leave heat on very low when it does start simmering.
2) melt 2 tbsp of butter in pan and add rice, cooking on medium heat for just a minute or two – stirring constantly.
3) add 1/2 cup of liquid and stir until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and begins to look “creamy”.
4) continue adding 1/2 cup of liquid at a time, stirring constantly and only adding more liquid when the previous liquid has been fully absorbed. continue until the liquid is finished.
5) continue cooking until the rice is tender (more liquid may be required, if no more stock, you can use water for this last part – just be sure it’s warm)
6) once it is tender, add cheese & chives and stir in. turn off the heat and cover for a minute or two and let the flavors meld … and VOILA! you have risotto!

add a seasoned grilled chicken breast or any kind of meat you like (let the flavors you add be your guide) or just eat it by itself (i could have made a meal out of it alone) and it will promise to be a warm, hearty & filling meal!