gluten-free cooking

Shrimp and Zucchini Tacos

I started a new job today. I’m really excited for an entirely new challenge, meeting new colleagues, and using my brain in new ways. More to come on that front.

Anyway, they say you should take time off between jobs. I didn’t really follow that advice. I took a couple of days, and I played catch-up on errands, sleeping, and mostly boring things. (I would have included quality time at the pool, but Mother Nature had other plans.) But, I did get to use some of that extra time for berry picking, making and canning salsa, and doing some prep cooking for the week ahead.

Here’s a quick weeknight dinner I whipped up to take advantage of zucchini season, utilize other ingredients I had on hand or was purchasing, and to create a no-leftover meal (between welcome events, navigating a new commute, and various social outings, leftovers would otherwise go uneaten).

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Shrimp and Zucchini Tacos

Inspired by Bon Appetit

Per person:
2 teaspoons oil or fat of your choice
1 small zucchini, sliced into half-moons
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon diced onion, if desired
4 oz. cooked shrimp, cut in half if large
Salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, other seasonings, to taste
2 or 4 small corn tortillas, 2 flour tortillas, or 2 leaves Boston Bib lettuce

For serving, as desired: diced avocado, salsa, cilantro, lime wedges, etc

Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add zucchini, peppers, and onions; sauté until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add shrimp to pan; heat through. Season to taste with salt, pepper, chili powder, and/or cumin.
Meanwhile, heat tortillas (if using). Spoon filling into tortillas or lettuce leaves; serve with desired toppings.

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Chicken with Apple Brandy Sauce (Poulet Vallée d’Auge)

It’s apple season, and I’m in heaven. Last weekend I was finally able to get out to the orchards to pick apples, but I spent the next three days on the road. The apples have been taunting me ever since.

But  right now it’s raining, I have nowhere to be, and this recipe was calling to me from my to-do list.

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Poulet Vallée d’Auge is a traditional French recipe from the Normandy region (I say that as if I have any idea what that actually means…) combining apples and Calvados, or apple brandy, with chicken and mushrooms. I *love* apples in savory dishes, and this one did not disappoint.

You can pull it off on a weeknight — plan for about 90 minutes of cooking time — but I’d lean toward a crisp fall weekend. Serve with potatoes or rice (or skip the starch altogether, like I did), and green beans.

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Poulet Vallée d’Auge

(Chicken and Apples in Brandy Cream Sauce)

Adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 4

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 small to medium firm-tart apples, peeled, cored, quartered
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 chicken (3 1/2-4 lbs), quartered
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small leek, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise ¼” thick
2 small or 1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup Calvados (or other apple brandy)
2/3 cup apple cider
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 pound crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, trimmed, halved
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
1 large egg yolk

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add apples and cook, turning occasionally, until golden in spots, 10–12 minutes. Transfer apples to a plate and set aside.

Increase heat to medium-high and add oil to pot. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches, cook chicken until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to another plate; set aside.

Add leek and shallots to pot; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Remove pot from heat, add Calvados, and ignite with a long match or lighter. After flames die down, return pot to heat and add cider. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.

Return reserved chicken to pot and add thyme, bay leaf, and broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer, adding reserved apples back to pot halfway through, until chicken is cooked through, 20–25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, tossing occasionally, until browned and softened, 6–8 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Transfer mushrooms to a plate.

Whisk crème fraîche and egg yolk in a small bowl. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and apples to a baking sheet and remove pot from heat. Whisk crème fraîche mixture into cooking liquid in pot. Gently mix in chicken, apples, and mushrooms.

Grilled Citrus Chicken, plus leftovers two ways

It’s launch week at Gold’s Gym Corporate locations, and life is getting all crazy!

Say what?

Background: In addition to moonlighting as a food blogger, I also teach several Les Mills group fitness classes. Every three months, we throw a party to introduce a new set of routines — new music and moves to freshen up your workout and challenge you. I love launch week for all the energy and excitement, even if I do tend to overextend myself a bit (ahem).

Our quarterly launches are a great reminder for me to be a conscious eater. The choices you make to fuel your body have a huge impact on your fitness and performance. As much as this girl loves her desserts and wine, they don’t get her through tough workouts. High-protein with lots of vegetables is where it’s at.

The problem? I don’t eat to live, I live to eat. More often than not, the thought of boneless, skinless chicken breast on top of a pile of limp lettuce leaves triggers my gag reflex. I can’t choke down the same food meal after meal. If it isn’t interesting, I will pick at it all morning, then head straight for the vending machine around 3. Like clockwork, I’ll hit a wall about 40 minutes into my workout. No bueno.

The good news: chicken — even boneless, skinless chicken breast — doesn’t have to be boring. Take this “recipe” from this month’s Bon Appetit for grilled citrus chicken: chicken, citrus, oil, salt, pepper. Bam! The flavor is bright, but not overpowering, and it’s versatile enough to get a girl with a short food attention span through several meals. Fresh off the grill, in a salad, as tacos or lettuce wraps, in a sandwich… I won’t have to worry about tossing any unused leftovers.

For example, today’s lunch:

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Skin-on, bone-in meat is best — it’s more flavorful and less likely to dry out. The citrus juices help prevent flare-ups from the fat as the meat cooks. You don’t have to eat the skin if that’s not your thing. If you prefer, you can use boneless and/or skinless breasts or thighs. No grill? Try a grill pan or cast-iron skillet.

I’ve included two “recipes” I have made this week for lunch leftovers. I’d love to hear your ideas, too!

I hope to see your smiling faces at the gym this week. But even more, I hope that no matter what you’re up to this week, you eat well. Cheers.

Photo credit:  Peden + Munk for Bon Appetit

Photo credit: Peden + Munk for Bon Appetit

Grilled Citrus Chicken

Adapted From Bon Appetit
Serves 4

1 chicken (3 1/2-4 lbs), cut into 8 pieces
3 tablespoons your favorite heat-friendly cooking oil (e.g., vegetable, coconut), divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 oranges and 2 lemons, cut in half, divided (try substituting limes!)

Prepare grill for medium heat. Rub chicken with 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill chicken skin-side down, turning occasionally and squeezing the juice from 2 halves each oranges and lemons over the meat often. Cook until chicken is cooked through and an instant-read thermometer reads 165° in the thickest part of the thigh, about 25–35 minutes.

Meanwhile, brush remaining citrus halves with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. During the last 5-10 minutes of cooking, grill the fruit, cut side down, until lightly charred.

Serve chicken with grilled citrus fruits for squeezing over.

Chicken Club Salad

For each serving:
2-3 cups Romaine or your favorite salad greens
4 oz. diced or shredded grilled citrus chicken meat
1 hard-boiled egg
1 slice applewood-smoked bacon, cooked & crumbled
1/2 avocado, sliced or diced (douse with lemon or lime juice if not eating immediately)

Chicken Berry Spinach Salad

For each serving:
2-3 cups baby spinach or your favorite salad greens
4 oz. diced or shredded grilled citrus chicken meat
1/2 cup seasonal berries
1 T. slivered almonds, toasted if desired