Cauliflower rice will rock your world.

I do my best to avoid making wide-sweeping statements like “this cauliflower rice will rock your world” or “this cauliflower rice will blow your mind” but dangit, cauliflower rice DOES ALL OF THESE THINGS.  Since doing my first Whole30 in January, cauliflower rice has found a regular spot in my weekly meal rotation.  I cook a big batch once, if not twice, each week.  Did you know an entire average-sized head of cauliflower is only 150 calories?  Numbers don’t lie, guys.

cauliflower rice close up

Since no two cauliflowers are the same size, this is one of those non-recipe recipes.  I’m encouraging you to stand at the stove, and taste as you go; find the mix of seasonings and flavors that make you do a happy dance right there in the kitchen. (more…)

Kale Caesar Salad with Pan-Seared Shrimp

Back in 2010, I made a personal vow to focus on healthy eating (read all about it here). This was a challenge for me, the girl who considers bread, brie, and wine a square meal, so I started with small things, like packing a homemade lunch each day, instead of relying on Lean Cuisines and fast food. Slowly, I established a routine of making healthy choices whenever I was the one in control of the preparation (well, MOST of the time, anyway), which lets me enjoy eating at restaurants without worrying quite so much about all the salt and the butter and delightful carbohydrates I’m consuming.

One of my healthy eating goals for 2014 is to incorporate more kale into my diet, as part of the Kale Up campaign.  Kale is a green I’ve shied away from in the past, other than occasionally tossing a few handfuls into a nice bean soup. Kale is a very hearty green — you don’t have to worry about it going limp or getting soggy. I often find kale salads are even better when the kale has a bit of time to “marinate” in the dressing.

kale Caesar salad with shrimp

Pants-friendly Paella {recipe}

I vividly remember my mom sitting cross-legged in the pantry, furiously flipping through cookbooks and earmarked magazines, her disheveled auburn curls in disarray around her face as she searched for that one recipe she’d seen months ago and mentally filed away.  As far back as I remember, my mom was adventurous in the kitchen.  I helped her bake bread in recycled tin cans, wrinkled my nose as she savored caviar loaded crackers, and hesitantly obliged to mandarin oranges in our dinner salad (which was UNHEARD of at the time).  I remember raising my eyebrow and dramatically cocking my head to the side as she scraped this mysterious spaghetti squash onto her plate.  I gagged at the anchovies on her pizza, and I cried, yes cried, when she urged me to try her sushi.

Mom was always cooking something big, and when she made her Spanish paella she’d use this absurdly large dish–big enough to feed a family of four twice and a half over.  It took her hours to prep and cook the meal–well, at least it seemed that way to her teenage “mom, I swear to god I’m dying of starvation” daughter.

Pants Friendy Paella via Fervent Foodie

I hated peas and hated shrimp, but man did I love her paella.  How could I not with those huge hunks of sausage and pieces of chicken poking through the steaming bed of orange rice?

Pants Friendy Paella via Fervent Foodie

This is not my mom’s paella recipe because, according to her, she “doesn’t have one.”  Uh huh.  Surrrrrre mom.   This is my lightened-up version of paella, which uses chicken sausage rather than Spanish chorizo, simply because I wasn’t able to find any at the grocery store.  Traditional?  No.  Pants friendly?  Absolutely.

Pants-friendly Paella Recipe

Recipe inspired by my mom and Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Paella

Serves 8

  • 1.5lb chicken breast (cut into 1/2 inch chunks)
  • 3 Links hot chicken or turkey sausage (casings removed) (for more authentic flavor, use Spanish chorizo)
  • 2 cups yellow onion (diced)
  • 1 cup red bell pepper (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley (chopped, plus extra for garnish)
  • 14oz can whole tomatoes (drained)
  • 2 cups short-grain brown minute rice
  • 2.5 cups fat-free low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup dry white cooking wine
  • 1 large pinch Spanish saffron
  • 4oz shrimp (peeled, deveined)
  • 1 cup sweet peas (defrosted)
  • S&P (to taste)

Chicken rub

  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Note:  This pants-friendly paella uses chicken sausage. For a more authentic flavor, sub in a link or two of Spanish chorizo.  Spanish saffron can be quite expensive.  I’ve seen bottles for as little as $6 at Trader Joe’s, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls.

Step 1:  Combine chicken rub ingredients in a medium size bowl or large zip top bag. Add chicken breast, and toss or shake to coat evenly. Cover and marinate in the fridge for one hour.

Step 2:  Heat a large pot coated with cooking spray over medium high heat. Once hot, add the sausage. Break apart sausage with your spatula, and cook until no longer pink. Remove sausage from pot and set aside. Add additional cooking spray to pot, if needed, then add chicken pieces. Sear chicken on all sides then remove from pot and set aside.

Step 3:  Add onions, red pepper, garlic, and parsley to the pot, season with S&P, to taste, reduce heat to medium. Cook for 3 minutes, using your spatula to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and crush with your spatula. Season with S&P. Add uncooked rice to the pot and stir to combine. Once the liquid is absorbed, add chicken broth and cooking wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Step 4:  Add the sausage, chicken, and saffron to the pot and stir to combine. Add the shrimp, pushing them down into the rice. Simmer for 15 minutes then add the peas. Garnish with remaining parsley.

Per serving: 274 calories, 27g carbs, 4g fat, 31g protein, 3g fiber



Spaghetti Squash with Sausage, Pesto, and Tomatoes

Although it may seem like I eat meatballs at every meal, I occasionally opt for different meats of the non-ball variety.  (Like when I’ve run out of meatballs and don’t have the necessary ingredients to make more.)  Tonight was one of those nights.  With a grumbling belly and nary a meatball in sight, I decided to remix my usual spaghetti squash with some ingredients I had on hand.

Enter Spaghetti Squash with Sausage, Pesto, and Tomatoes:

Spaghetti Squash (8 of 14)

Brown Dump Chili

I love to cook, but sometimes all I want is to dump a bunch of ingredients in a pot and come back an hour later to a piping hot bowl of flavorful comfort.  I need my unproductive internet perusing and phantom shopping time, which means I can’t spend every ounce of my free time in the kitchen.  That’s what I love about this chili.  You simply brown the turkey then dump everything in the pot.

Dump Turkey Black Bean Chili (4 of 9)

Perhaps, at first glance, the name Brown Dump Chili is unappealing to some.  Given the two-step process behind the chili, I’m sure you wholeheartedly agree the name is appropriate (or, at the very least, foretelling).