Zoodles w/Cilantro Lime Chicken

garlic-chicken-zoodlesSo…this might be my new favorite recipe and it’s definitely being added to the weekly rotation. I’m slowly getting into a regular routine cooking wise, although still have a strong dislike for leftovers. I should probably see a therapist about that. I literally see leftovers in my fridge and want to throw it out, very few recipes like pelau make it past this limitation. This recipe is super delicious and worthy of leftover status. Also, cumin and chili powder might be my other favorite marinade combo next to garlic salt and tajin. Be prepared for some hefty sneezing while you whip this up. One more also: shoutout to Sprouts, my new favorite natural and organic grocery! My grocery bills have literally been halved and I’m still eating well. Hashtag score.

Base recipe is here, my mods for 2-3 servings are below. Slight twist: I marinated the chicken for about 30 mins in Trinidad green seasoning which is the holy grail of Caribbean cooking. I recently found shadow beni or culantro at a local asian market. So now I run in every other week, scoop all of it up (the owner has gotten used to it) and blend it with garlic, parsley, thyme and about 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar. DELICIOUS!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 small chicken breasts
  • 2-3 medium sized zucchini
  • 1 small jalapeno
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • Olive oil or avocado oil spray
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock

STEPS

  1. Slice chicken breasts into small pieces, marinate with garlic salt and/or green seasoning for about 30 minutes.
  2. Prep zoodles – you can use a potato peeler to slice it thinly, or use this spiralizer. I like the spiralizer bc it’s super simple and easy to clean up.
  3. Dice up jalapenos and squeeze lime juice. I like to get these ready in small prep bowls so it’s easy to add when cooking.
  4. Heat oil in skillet, add chicken, cumin and chili powder and cook on medium heat. Cook until chicken is browned (about 5-7 mins). Your kitchen will smell amazing! Once cooked, transfer chicken to bowl.
  5. Add chicken stock to skillet, scrape up the brown bits. Add zoodles and cook for about 3 minutes. I don’t like my zoodles to be mushy so I watch it carefully.
  6. Add back the chicken, lime juice and cilantro and let it simmer for about 2 minutes.
  7. Serve it up with a flourish!

 

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#LazyCookGuide: Cauliflower Fried Rice

CFR.JPGY’all, this is so easy and I’m very impressed with myself. Pinch of Yum has a great version which I modified for my inherent laziness and refusal to eat egg yolks. Growing up, Trinidad fried rice was a regular star at our dining table along with shrimp wontons. These are recipes I’ve made for my many fans, just kidding. I’ve made this for my very best friends because it’s such good food and sharing is caring. Normally I’d make this with white rice but decided to wild out since I saw the riced cauliflower at Trader Joe’s. So easy and delicious. Now I still love white rice, but this is a good enough dupe to be a regular on my menu. I think next round I’ll add some edamame for more crunch.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag Trader Joe’s riced cauliflower
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 2 bell peppers (any color), diced
  • 1 large carrot, cubed
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced finely
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • Garlic salt to taste

—–

Steps

  1. Veggie Prep: dice the bell peppers, peel and cube the carrot, and finely dice the garlic. You can also buy a bag of the tiny carrots and cube about 10 of those. I keep this bag on hand to eat with hummus.
  2. Chicken Prep: shred the rotisserie chicken, I usually get mine from Mollie Stones because Mary’s Chicken is so flavorful but today I stopped at Whole Foods and was pleasantly surprised to find their organic rotisserie is now $9.99. I shred the chicken and for a party of 1, half of the breast was plenty. I’ll keep the rest on hand during the week to snack on or add to salads. Maybe even some lettuce cups with ponzu dressing? I digress.
  3. Add some sesame oil to the pan, cook carrots for about 3-4 minutes. Then add the garlic, another minute or so and then the bell peppers. Let this saute for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the riced cauliflower, shredded chicken, soy sauce and saute for about 3-4 minutes. Taste to test, I usually end up adding some more sesame oil and garlic salt.
  5. Serve with a flourish!

No Beans About It

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My familia recently introduced me to the wonders of Shameless. While watching the cold Chicago weather scenes, and in between wondering how Frank manages to stay alive season after season, I got a hankering for some chili. But not just any chili. One without beans. I know, I know, heretical but that’s the charm of me.

I haven’t had chili for a LONG time. It’s one of the few foods I remember from the foster care days when we lived with Miss Nanton in Flatbush. One of the girls Ebony (who was maybe 11) taught us how to cook it, she’d been cooking for her family for some time and I loved the simplicity of the chili served with rice.

So off I went scouring the interwebs for a recipe and after cobbling together a few, landed on one that packs a punch heat-wise and is simply delicious. This recipe is great served by itself, over rice or pasta, and also freezes well. That last part is a miracle if you’re a lazy cook like me.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2lbs Ground Beef (I buy the 1lb grass fed packs)
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Tony Chachere seasoning
  • 1 can organic tomato paste
  • 1 can whole, peeled organic tomatoes (roughly chopped)

 

GET COOKING

  1. In a dutch oven, start browning the ground beef on medium heat. About halfway through, add the onions, peppers and Tony Chachere seasoning.
  2. Once the beef is browned, add the tomatoes and tomato paste and stir. I usually let it meld together for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the rest of the spices and let that come together for another 3-4 minutes. I then taste test (with another spoon!) and adjust the spices to the heat level I like.
  4. Cook on low heat for 25-30 minutes uncovered.
  5. Enjoy!

#TheStruggle (aka 2016 US Election)

xf8gmvvdwya-john-chavez.jpgI’ve been doing a lot of reading about rural and blue collar voters within the past week. Specifically, how Trump’s campaign honed in on this data insight almost immediately and how Hillary’s didn’t despite this strategy working in her Senate campaign. I’ve read tons of articles that shared themes of feeling ignored and disenfranchised as technology assumes an astounding role in our lives. I’m very much struggling with my bias towards this inaction to prepare for this technology invasion, but I also empathize with the high cost of this disruption to lives built on a different business model.

I spend a lot of time researching the implications to our society and work models brought about by the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and all those sexy tech topics. I wanted to share some hard truths we all need to face no matter how we classify ourselves:

1: Neither candidate presented a cohesive strategy, or even a basic roadmap, for how the Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing our lives, and how drastically different it will be within 10-20 years. There was very little attention paid to sharing a plan for our nations technology infrastructure and cybersecurity preparedness. The Internet of Things will unleash cyber attacks that will cripple our nation starting with disrupting health and financial services. The White House/DOT rolled out proactive federal guidelines for self-driving cars in September and neither candidate addressed how this will impact our infrastructure.

2: There is a coming displacement of the value of the blue collar worker by robots and automation. It is a great disservice to not prepare them for this shift by re-training them to think in new ways for new jobs. A BCG report on robotics said that industries generally ramp up automation when using robots become 15% cheaper per hour than employing humans (p.18)! FIFTEEN PERCENT. Why would a manufacturer pay a human welder $25/hr when they could pay a robot $2/hr? Self-driving freight trucks are being tested right now in CA, this could put 1.7 million truckers out of work within the next 10 years.

3: There is a coming displacement of the value of the white collar worker via artificial intelligence and automation. There is already disruption to the medical, legal and journalism fields. Although halted, Johnson and Johnson developed an automated way to deliver anesthesia, IBMs Watson can diagnose lung cancer faster than a doctor can and with higher accuracy, software solutions can scan millions of data points within minutes and create actionable reports, etc. We too need to re-train our brains to think in new ways for new jobs.

4: For-profit companies will choose automated business models over human ones because the economics will be favorable to their bottom line.

5: It is estimated that 65% of children in primary school will ultimately end up working in new jobs that don’t exist yet. How are we preparing for that?

I don’t know what the answer is, but the adoption rates for newer technologies has exceedingly outpaced previous innovations in many sectors and will disrupt our lives in beneficial *and* undesirable ways.

I want a POTUS that gets that.

Anniversary Stuffing

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Some of you may be surprised to know that I was pretty assertive in college. Just kidding. Anyways, one of my favorite stories is how the MC23 crew came about. Janine I’d known since youth group in HS, and Anna and I met on the very first day of college so they were part of the initial wolfpack. As our senior year loomed, we knew we needed to bounce the hell off campus and get an apartment but we needed a 4th member of the wolfpack so the budget was easy to maintain. Casey started attending SEC I think the second half of our freshman year and she was pretty wild for bible college, she had a belly ring and sometimes she wore shirts that showed it. After she and a group of friends were hauled in before the Peer Review Committee because they’d broken curfew and climbed back into their dorm rooms, I knew she was part of my tribe. We never really chatted before this, but lo and behold when we needed a 4th member to room off campus, I picked up the phone, dialed her room and barked “HEY YOU WANT TO LIVE WITH US?”. She always says that she has no idea why she said yes, but she did. Yelling, that’s the charm of me. Our senior year kicked off what has been an enduring friendship and I love her to pieces.

I’m not entirely sure of what kicked the kerfuffle off but at some point years later we got into an argument and I stopped talking to her. But in the spirit of thanksgiving, we reunited and she made us dinner. Ever since then, we’ve called this holiday our anniversary and really her stuffing  recipe is the glue that holds us together. This simple recipe really works and showcases the flavors and I absolutely love it. Happy anniversary Casey, I have no idea why you put up with me but I adore you for it!

MATERIALS: chopping board, saute pan, chef knife, baking pan

INGREDIENTS

  • Pepperidge Farm Stuffing (I prefer the Onion & Sage)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 2.5 cups organic chicken stock
  • 1 pack Jimmy Dean’s Premium Pork Sausage
  • 1 stick of Butter (I like Clover Stornetta Farms Salted Butter)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook the sausage over medium heat, making sure to crumble it while cooking. While this is cooking, dice the onion and celery.
  3. When the sausage is cooked, transfer to a bowl and melt a stick of butter in the same pan. Add the onions and celery and let that cook down to a crisp-tender state. I like to do this over low heat, takes about 5-10 minutes. Once you remove this mix, throw the stock into the pan and heat it up to boiling.
  4. Spread the stuffing mix into a baking pan (I have this one from David Burke). Add the sausage crumbles, onion/celery mix and the warmed up stock and mix well.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes while covered, then bake uncovered for another 10-15 minutes to crisp it up.

Easy Chicken Fried Rice

Trini Carnival_Kids.jpg

(Photo Credit)

Trinidadian culture, especially food, is heavily influenced by the Chinese. I grew up wearing the cutest Chinese dresses and pants suits (much like HRC!), eating chow mein, char siu pork/chicken, wontons and my favorite chicken fried rice. When I was a kid vetsin aka MSG was an ingredient, but obviously MSG has been banned. Here’s my quick and easy version whenever I want a piece of home.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-2 cups parboiled long grain rice (I like Uncle Ben’s)
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 cup red or yellow diced bell pepper
  • 1 cup sweet peas
  • 1 rotisserie chicken breast shredded w/o skin (love Mollie Stone’s chicken)
  • Soy Sauce (Gluten-Free alternative: Tamari)
  • Sesame Oil

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. I like to cook the rice the night before, and let it sit overnight with about 1/4 cup soy sauce mixed in. A rice cooker would be ideal here too.
  2. Add sesame oil to the pan, enough to coat the pan. This heats quickly so watch it carefully. I’ve been wanting to try avocado oil as that has a very high burning point, and coating the veggies in sesame oil but haven’t branched out yet. I alternate the sesame oil with hot chili oil too as I like it spicy.
  3. Add the carrots and bell peppers and let it cook for about 3-5 mins. The goal is to get it soft, but with a slight crunch. You don’t want soggy veggies in this.
  4. Add the chicken and warm up about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the rice and mix all the ingredients, I also add more sesame oil and soy sauce at this point to add flavor and color. I sometimes add a tiny bit of garlic powder (approx. 1 tsp.) depending on my taste test.
  6. Add the peas last and let that warm up and you’re done!

Options: you can substitute shrimp or even tofu for protein, and for veggies I sometimes add snap peas, edamame, white onion. Super easy right?!

Life Soundtrack: Summer 2016

85azoyt_u1i-pascale-amez.jpgWas I the only one waiting with bated breath to see what Riley Curry would do at the Game 7 press conference? That’s fine, Riley and I don’t care about opinions.

Life updates: incredibly happy at home, super happy at work, my nephew is still a menace and I am the most content I’ve ever been. I commute to work via a boat. That’s right people, a boat that lets you purchase adult libations after 5PM. I am WINNING at life.

Filed under annoyances: I felt like I understood Snapchat and then they decided to monetize it and now I am plum SOL bc yo no comprende how to use the Discover tab. But I am still hip and happening, as evidenced by this fun lipstick from my Sephora Play box. And also evidenced by The Mindy Project somehow featuring the happenings of my life on a weekly basis. I see you rolling around in that Lexus Mindy! I finally got to see Rudimental this year and I danced my way to 16k steps that day.

And last, last update: I tried Bumble for a night, got 3 matches and promptly chickened out and deleted my profile. That’s a pretty big step for me so maybe there will be a “Chris Martin goofy/Persil commercial man in a tux” date in my future! That last part is for Lucy in case she is reading. Somehow she signed up for gmail and we learned of this activity when she sent us google+ invites.

Ok, on to the tunes:

Tedeschi Trucks Band: Anyhow, Right On Time featuring the stellar vocals of Mike Mattison is the one I have on repeat the most, and Hear Me is exquisite. Really, the whole album is insanely good and I can’t wait to see them in September.

Major Lazer: I am so into this group, love how he makes sure his Trini buddies are not left out. Dance away to Light It Up and All My Love featuring Trinidad’s own Machel Montano, and Be Together makes the stars align, that video is a good one.

Skrillex & Diplo: Oh man, Jungle Bae gets me moving and features Bunji Garlin, another Trinidad massive. Take U There and To U are also faves.

Ari and the Alibis: EVERYTHING. I am loving their album Dirty Little Secret from start to finish. Whatever Lola Wants segues into Phantom of the Opera and I happily sigh each time because Gerard Butler. Faves include Evening Fades and See The Light, simply stunning songs. This is an album you want to open up a good bottle of Cabernet (Blackbird Vineyards 2012 Contrarian hint hint) and just chill out on the deck. I would die the happiest girl if this band played with St. Paul and the Broken Bones. I think they are just starting to hit their stride, and I hope bigger arenas are in their future!

Other ditties making me tap my toes: