While my friends + fam were anticipating Hurricane Irene’s wrath in the Northeast, I was in sunny, hurricane-free Florida… oh, the beautiful irony! Sunshine, my dear friend and the amazing creative behind Blog Full of Jelly, moved to Sarasota this past spring and I was stoked to finally make a visit down to see her new home. Kelly, a baker at Whole Foods + Philly friend of Sunshine’s, was visiting at the same time so we had a killer trifecta of creative food lovers. We did our share of eating out, but Sunshine upped her wonderful hostess status by making her version of Martha Stewart’s Summer Corn Chowder. I’m glad I had my camera and the beautiful Florida sunlight to shoot our way to a delicious bowl.
Now that I’m armed with an immersion mixer and a bountiful harvest from my farm share, I’ve been a soup-making maniac. From a lower-carb version of 101Cookbook’s ribollita to 2 rounds of butternut squash + leek, my favorite creation of the fall was a bowlful of cumin-mint cauliflower soup. It was a one pot, minimal ingredient, flavorful blend of cheddar cauliflower via Greensgrow, toasted cumin powder, onion, chicken stock, fresh mint from my herb garden, and S&P.
What’s soup for dinner without a sandwich? My sister, Kerry, gave me a fragrant curry powder that had been taunting me from the spice cabinet and seemed like a curry chicken wrap was the right match. As the weather cools, this meal definitely warmed my belly.
Cumin-Mint Cauliflower Soup
Serves (6). Makes approx. 1.5 quarts.
- cheddar or standard cauliflower – one head, chopped into florets
- chicken stock – 3 cups, about 1.5 small cans
- yellow onion – medium, chopped
- butter or olive oil
- ground cumin – 1tsp or to taste
- fresh mint – 2T, chopped
- Bring chicken stock to a boil in a heavy stock pot. Add chopped cauliflower, cover, and bring back to a boil. Simmer for about 10 min or until cauliflower is fork tender.
- While cauliflower is cooking, heat a deep saute pan on medium. Add butter/olive oil, chopped onion, & cumin. Sweat for approx 8 min. until tender & translucent, making sure to turn lower heat if they begin to brown.
- Add onion & cumin mixture to the pot of cauliflower & stock. Combine and simmer for 10 min on medium heat.
- Turn off heat and stir in mint and S&P to taste.
- Blend mixture in the stock pot with an immersion blender or in batches in a standard blender. Thin as needed with water or additional chicken stock.
- Serve with shredded cheese, fresh mint garnish, and your favorite sandwich.
Chicken Curry Wrap
- boneless, skinless chicken breast – 2 breasts, trimmed & cut into strips
- yellow onion – 2 medium, sliced
- dry wine – 1/2 cup
- yellow curry powder – 2 tsp
- sour cream – 3/4 cups
- lettuce – chopped or shredded, your preference
- tomato – chopped or sliced, your preference
- tortillas – 2 burrito-sized flour wraps
- Heat olive oil in a saute pan on medium heat. Season chicken breast with 1 tsp of the curry powder and S&P. Add to hot pan and toss regularly, until browned & cooked through, approx. 10min. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Keep pan on medium and add 1/2 cup of white wine to deglaze. Scrape brown bits from bottled to pan with a spatula. Allow to evaporate until minimal amount of liquid remains in pan.
- Heat 2 T of olive oil in the same pan over medium until shimmering. Add onions and saute for about 5 min.
- Add remaining 1 tsp of curry powder and sweat for approx 4 min longer until tender and browned.
- Return chicken to pan and add sour cream. Combine ingredients and warm over medium-low heat for about 3 minutes.
- Lay out tortillas. Add chicken, lettuce, & tomato. Wrap like a burrito and enjoy with a toasty bowl of cumin-mint cauliflower soup.
On Day 4 of my staycation between jobs, I whipped up an umami-packed dinner for Dre & me. On Day 2, I took an Asia Mart adventure with Sarah in search of fun ingredients for the meal. I try to be somewhat adventurous each time I go to an ethnic market, so I picked up some bunashimeji (aka beech mushrooms), fresh vegetable noodles, & a new jar of hoisin. The beech mushrooms are so tiny and too cute! I filled them out with sliced creminis and enhanced them with the depth of fresh thyme from my Slug City.
I begin by sweating shallots with a bit of olive oil in a pan and added the mushrooms & thyme. I tossed them as they sauteed for about 10 min and finished it with white truffle oil. I love truffle. I love the smell. I love the taste. I LOVE TRUFFLE!
While my mushrooms cooked, I heated an awesome new grill skillet that Sunshine passed along to me. I marinated some chicken breasts in hoisin, ginger, & soy and seared them for deep grill marks on both sides until cooked through. The noodles took a quick dip in boiling water and were a perfect pillow for a pile of savory truffled mushrooms. This may be one of my favorite dishes I’ve made… and 5 years ago you couldn’t dare get a mushroom near my plate!
Sunshine turned me on to this awesome how-to video on how easy and rewarding it is to make flavored finishing salts. Eric Gower, the handsome personality behind Breakaway Cook, introduces diverse suggestions for ingredients to flavor moist sel gris. I’m beyond envious of his spice shelf and could watch his videos over and over and over.
Sunshine suggested and I agreed that this was a great inspiration for a crafty foodie collaboration! She had also found some mini jam jars that would be perfect vessels to store our new seasonings. We chose an afternoon during my week of leisure between jobs and got to planning our approach.
In the video, Eric Gower makes 4 different salts with lavender, matcha, smoked paprika, & saffron. We couldn’t get our hands on any of those ingredients, so we thought of great flavorings of our own. Sunshine finally located the sel gris at Trader Joe’s that is suggested as the base for our blends and we prepared our ingredients for blending. We heated the oven to about 275degrees and started drying our lime wheels, herbs, mango, & bacon:
While our fresh ingredients dried in the oven, we set up the food processing attachment to the Cuisinart stick blender Dre got me for VDay. Quickest way to my heart is through a kitchen gadget! First up was some crystallized ginger we located on a last minute trip to the Asia mart. We ground it and added in about 2 T of the sel gris. A few more seconds of blending and we had so simply made our premier flavored salt.
Luckily, we saved some fresh mango slices to sample the salt on. It was a perfect pairing!
We still had some time to kill while our items dried in the oven. Sunshine found some really fun Victorian-inspired banner designs that we printed out as labels for our jars. We cut and arranged them on the lids with pencil-written names. One already filled and four more to go!
The fresh herbs were first to be fully dried so we ground up the basil, thyme, oregano, & parsley. The result looked like a bowl of emerald-speckled diamonds and tasted amazing on fresh tomato slices.
We whirled up our lime batch next, but I somehow missed getting a decent pic of it. Once the mango was crispy, we added it to two separate batches: one with just mango and another with the addition of bacon for a sweet & smokey approach. Both looked and tasted beautiful.
By this point in the afternoon, we’d downed quite a few Absolut Boston (elderflower & black tea vodka) and Arizona Lemonade cocktails. We moved the party to the patio to snack and focus on sampling all of our salts. I pan-fried chicken breast and sliced some more tomato as simple hosts for the variety of salty tastes.
They were all amazing but our stand-out favorite was definitely the crystallized ginger. We finished up our meal with sliced fresh strawberries… with salts, of course! I’m sure our cholesterol levels were staggering by the end of the day.
Even the Baby Kitty joined us for a great afternoon on the patio. She loves to stalk flies from the edge of the garden.
I’m so glad Sunshine stumbled upon this project as it is one of my favorites to date. We have alot of fun ideas on using our salts, so keep an eye out for exciting updates.
Check out Sunshine’s blog post on our crafty flavored finishing salts project on Blog Full of Jelly!
I got alot accomplished today considering I spent Monday sick in bed, so I needed something quick & healthy for tonight’s dinner. A “buy one get one” spinach sale had left me with a whole bag to get through before it spoiled. I’ve been trying to get more protein, less carbs into my diet so lean chicken breast & white beans seemed like perfect accompaniments. I poked around the pantry for some added flavors and got to cooking. With the richness of balsamic vinegar and the aroma of thyme, I came up with a delicious, filling dish that was rich in iron, protein, & fiber and only 550 calories per serving. Enjoy!
Balsamic Chicken w. Sauteed Spinach & White Beans
2 Servings – 550 Calories each
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast - (2) breasts, about 4 oz each
- Olive Oil - (0.5) T + (0.5) T
- Balsamic Vinegar – (2) T
- Dried Thyme - (0.5) tsp
- Chicken Stock – (0.75) cup
- Garlic – (2) cloves, minced
- Onion – (1) medium, sliced thin
- Fresh Spinach – (1) pre-rinsed bag or (0.5) lb
- White Beans – (1) 15.5 oz can, drained & rinsed
- Worcestershire Sauce – (1) tsp
- Sriracha – a few squirts of your fave hot sauce
- Heat (0.5) T of Olive Oil on medium in a non-stick saute pan (with lid for later).
- Rinse chicken breasts under cool water & pat dry. Sprinkle one side with S&P.
- Place seasoned side down in hot pan. Sprinkle other side.
- Brown for about 4 min. Flip & brown other side.
- Add Balsamic & Thyme to pan. Bring to boil & flip chicken to other side. Reduce liquid for about 3 min.
- Add Chicken Stock. Bring back to boil. Reduce liquid to half for about 5 min.
- Remove chicken from pan & set aside.
- Add (0.5) T of Olive Oil to pan & heat on medium. Add garlic & saute for 1 min.
- Add onion & reduce heat to medium low. Allow onions & garlic to simmer for 5 min, stirring occasionally.
- If you want to add chopped tomato or bell peppers, this would be a good time. Saute for about 5 min before moving on to the next step.
- Add a few handfuls of spinach & place lid on top. Return heat to medium.
- Once spinach reduces by half, stir & add more handfuls. Return lid.
- Continue adding handfuls of spinach until all is wilted
- Add Worcestershire & Sriracha. Add White Beans. Stir.
- Simmer on medium for about 5 min.
- Place chicken on top of Spinach & White Bean mixture. Return lid & heat for about 1 min.
- Serve & Enjoy!
I grew up with the luck of enjoying my Grandma’s home-cooked dinners every night. My favorite of her dishes was the Chicken Divan – a casserole of broccoli, pulled chicken, & a cheesy sauce. If she wasn’t making it fresh for dinner, she was always sure to have portions frozen to indulge my divan requests. Not too long ago, I finally convinced her to share her recipe.
We had a serious surplus of broccoli in the fridge so I had to get creative with ways to get rid of it. A giant casserole of my Grandma’s Chicken Divan seemed perfect. The first direction on the recipe was to blanch broccoli and layer it in a greased casserole.
I thawed half a chicken worth of white & dark meal STILL hanging out from my Rustic Roasted Chicken dinner. I can’t believe how many Leftover Lightning! meals came out of it!. I pulled it & layered it on top of the broccoli.
I was missing some ingredients from the next step, so I improvised with what my pantry staples could offer. I only had (1) can of Cream of Broccoli & Cheese Soup, so I combined it with mayo, lemon juice, & some water to loosen it up. Grandma’s recipe called for smoked paprika, but all I could dig out was some chili powder. My spice cabinet is really a disaster right now. Once the cheesy mixture was combined, I spread it on top of the pulled chicken & broccoli layers.
I melted some butter, combined it with seasoned bread crumbs, & sprinkled it over the whole casserole.
And then I realized I missed a step in the recipe. What’s new. But this was an important step. The CHEESE! How could I FORGET THE CHEESE? I quickly shredded mild & sharp cheddar cheeses and had no choice but to layer it on top of the breadcrumbs. It was only a minor mistake, just a good thing that I caught it. The casserole looked & tasted so delicious. I know I did my Grandma’s recipe proud!
P.S. Follow along with my steps & feel free to recreate, but my Grandma’s actual recipe will remain a secret among family
Wow, I’m one lucky girl! Dre made me a delcious breakfast two days in one week. First, were his savory Bacon, Egg, & Gruyère Toast Cups for our VDay breakfast. This time around, he embarked on a Leftover Lightning! adventure of his own. He sauteed red bell peppers & onions and scrambled them in eggs, melting the sliced Gruyère atop the last two whole wheat tortillas. He finished the wrap with crispy bacon & leftover fried chicken breasts from his VDay Dinner for another sunny breakfast a la Dre <3