Posts tagged Recipes
Dinner Tricks with a Side of Corn

Finding a groove with two munchkins in the house was (and is) not easy. One of the things that I noticed pretty quickly was that if I don't have a plan for dinner, we end up eating terribly. Too many attempts to "wing it" means too many days of pizza and Chinese take-out. Don't get me wrong, pizza and Hong Kong Garden have their time and place, but at one point I realized we were eating takeout or some variation of meat + pasta + cheese way too often. Unfortunately I had this realization because I started to just not feel good. I wasn't being mindful of our day-to-day. I've always put a high value on eating well, including eating fresh, balanced meals, and I paid the price when I lost track. Fortunately, I was able to turn the situation around pretty quickly with a few tricks.

1. Meal planning is a must. Ever get so frazzled trying to figure out what to cook for dinner that you end up just ordering pizza? Having a game plan for the week helps keep that from happening and removes the stress of trying to make magic at the last minute. Fun Fact: My meal plan includes a 'gimme' for takeout if we have a real hankering one night.

2. Stock the fridge. I get hungry. Really hungry. Like, grab-anything-in-sight to feed the beast levels of hungry. This goes hand-in-hand with being a breastfeeding mom. Nobody tells you that you should expect to be absolutely starving all the time if you chose to breastfeed. Great. It helps to have healthy options readily available so the "anything" I grab doesn't end up being the ice cream Bernie stashes in the freezer. Stocking the fridge with healthy options means I'm grabbing carrots and hummus, or throwing quinoa into a quick salad instead of sticking a spoon into a Ben & Jerry's container.

3. Another trick I have up my sleeve is that I piece together dinner throughout the day. Maybe I start the chicken marinating in the morning, or throw together the salad sans dressing during naps, so when dinner comes around all I have to do is throw the chicken on the grill and the dressing on the salad. This is way easier (and less stressful) than trying to pull everything together at once. For moms who work a 9-5, a lot of this prep could also be done in the morning or even days in advance.

4. Keep it simple. These days I have become the queen of easy recipes that pack a punch, and I'm looking forward to sharing those here, starting with...

Mexican-Style Street Corn

5 Ears of Corn, halved
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
1 Lime, cut into wedges
1/3 cup Cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp Ancho Chile Powder
1/4 cup Cojita Cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Brush the corn with olive oil and cook over high heat on a grill, turning every 3-5 minutes until the corn is cooked.

2. Lightly brush the ears of corn with mayonnaise.

3. Top with salt, pepper, chile powder, cilantro and cojita cheese. 

4. Serve with lime wedges.

Street corn takes a whole ten minutes to throw together, chopping included, and never fails to impress adults and children alike. Even my 2-year-old goes to town.

Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes

As soon as the weather cools off and we can tolerate having the stove or oven on inside, I make at least one one-pot meal a week. Big recipes that can sit simmering on the stove feed us throughout the week and completely slay the What am I doing for dinner? dilemma.

These meals (and I have a lot of them) are especially great on, say, rainy Mondays when you have a ton of work to do and you're home with the kiddo.

Remember that Punjabi Aloo Matar? 

This weekend I made a big pot of chili on Sunday night that has already saved me once today. I love this chili recipe. The ingredients are simple, the flavors are complex, and it only takes 20 minutes to throw together - 15 minutes if you're stronger than the leaky mess I become when faced with chopping onions. I leave out the beans to accommodate sensitive bellies, and add sweet potatoes to pack in the nutrients.


Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 45+ minutes | Serves: 6-8

1.5 lbs Ground Turkey
2 tbsp Coconut Oil
3 Garlic, Cloves minced
1 Yellow Onion, diced
1 Jalapeño Pepper, minced
1 Green Bell Pepper, diced
4 Poblano Peppers, diced
1 large Sweet Potato, cubed
3 tbsp Chili Powder
1 tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 tbsp Light Brown Sugar
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp White Pepper
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (if you like more heat)
4 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth

1. In a large heavy pot over medium heat, sauté garlic and onions in 1 tbsp of coconut oil until the onion begins to sweat. Add peppers and continue to stir until the peppers begin to soften (about 3 minutes). Transfer the garlic, onions, and peppers to a bowl and set aside.

2. Add the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil to the pot and brown the ground turkey.

3. Once the turkey is browned, return the vegetables to the pot and stir together. Then add the chili powder, cocoa powder, brown sugar, salt, white pepper, black pepper, crushed red pepper, cayenne, and paprika, mixing thoroughly.

4. Add the cubed sweet potatoes and broth. Place a lid on the pot and simmer on medium heat until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 15-20 minutes. Continue to simmer uncovered to evaporate excess liquid until the chili thickens like a gravy, about 30 more minutes.

5. Once it's the right consistency, you can continue to simmer the chili on low with a lid on. The longer this cooks, the better it's going to be.

Serve it up with corn bread or corn chips, your favorite cheddar, and some green onions. Add a dollop of sour cream if you're feeling wild, (or greek yogurt for the more conservative types).

Full disclosure: I had a bowl of this chili at 11 a.m. and it totally hit the spot. I am going to use daylight savings and a 5:30 a.m. wakeup as an excuse.

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Better Than Takeout: Punjabi Aloo Matar

I was sitting at my desk, editing hundreds of photos for a quick client turnaround, when I realized it was almost 2 p.m. and I was starving. This happens to me more than I care to admit. It was one-hundred-percent, brain flashing yellow lights, brink of not thinking clearly, straight up hanger coming on. The problem with pregnancy is that extreme hunger not only comes on suddenly, it is almost always accompanied by a craving that demands satisfaction - no substitutes. For me, that craving was Indian food, which presented two problems:

1. I'm trying (really trying!) to take the take-out option off the table, especially for lunch. I don't need to be ordering enough food and shelling out the cash to meet a restaurant's $20 delivery minimum.

2. Even if I caved and ordered takeout, it would take 45 minutes to get here.

After getting sad for a moment and then doing a quick mental inventory of the fridge, I realized that I at least had potatoes, frozen peas, and fresh ginger in the fridge. I google search followed by a rummage through the spice cabinet confirmed: I had what I needed to make aloo matar - a deliciously warming Punjabi dish of potato and peas cooked in a tomato-based sauce.

For a long time I thought Indian dishes MUST be tough to make, if only because the flavors are so unlike anything I grew up eating. In reality, Indian cooking is actually a lot of one-pot dishes. Plus, once you buy the basic spices (most of which are used below), you'll have them ready to go for your next Indian cooking adventure. Not only did I have all of the ingredients, but the dish took less than ten minutes to prep, and another 15-20 to cook. Served with rice, some fresh cilantro, and mango chutney, the flavor was authentic, the cost was minimal, and the gratification was off the charts. Nothing beats homemade Indian food (except leftover homemade Indian food).


Punjabi Aloo Matar

2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 red onion, minced
2 potatoes, diced
1 cup peas
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 28 oz. can peeled tomatoes
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro + 2 tbsp for garnish

1. In a medium-sized dutch oven over medium heat, heat the coconut oil and mustard seeds until the mustard seeds are toasted (keep a lid mostly on the pot so the seeds don't pop out).

2. Add the red onion, ginger and garlic. Sauté until the onion begins to soften and the garlic and ginger are fragrant.

3. Add the tomatoes to the pot, first crushing them with a fork or your hands. Cook down until the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 5-7 minutes.

4. Add the chili powder, coriander, turmeric, cumin, garam masala, peas, potatoes and water.

5. Place the lid on the dutch oven and cook for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are soft. I like to peek at 10 minutes to check the consistency. If it's too watery, cook the remaining 5-10 minutes uncovered.

Serve over rice with mango chutney. I happened to have some chutney leftover from the last time my Indian craving hit (it's a problem), but Patak's Sweet Mango Chutney is sold in most grocery and a solid go-to if you don't have takeout leftovers in the fridge.

Is leftover chutney in the fridge a thing for other people?
Does anyone else eat this much Indian food?
Tell me I'm not alone!