Category Archives: Soups & Stews

Skinny Chicken Peanut Stew

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Skinny Chicken Peanut Stew

I remember the first time I heard about using peanut butter as an ingredient in soups and stews and thinking that it sounded incredibly nasty. I’m SO glad I threw caution to the wind and gave it a try!

The only downside to peanut butter is the high fat content. Total bummer. I’ve been buying powdered peanut butter lately and absolutely adore it as a low-fat alternative! I swear, you can’t tell the difference unless you’re eating it straight out of the jar. Which you shouldn’t do, because it is powder. I use a brand called “Just Great Stuff” but I’ve heard that PB2 has a nice version as well.

This stew is made with lots of spices to offset the creamy sweetness of the peanut  butter, while the chicken and vegetables add substance to bulk up the dish. Give it a try – you’ll be glad you did!

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You can eat this as-is, or do as I do and pile it on top of some rice. Mmmm. Savory food makes me happy!

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This recipe is for a “skinny” version of chicken peanut stew. I’ve lightened it up a bit to make it more waist-line and weight watchers friendly for those of us who have to care about such things.

Here’s how to make it:

Makes: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large orange pepper, sliced thin and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger root, minced
  • 3 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. fresh baby spinach leaves, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Grapeseed Oil
  • 1 tsp. Sesame Oil
  • 1/4 tsp. Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. Reduced-Fat Powdered Peanut Butter (you can substitute regular PB, but adjust nutrition information)
  • 2 c. fat free chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine the grapeseed oil with the sesame oil, a pinch of salt, lots of black pepper, the chili powder, minced ginger, brown sugar and garlic.
  2. Mix it with the chicken and let it marinate for 15 minutes.
  3. Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add the chicken mixture. Let it cook undisturbed for two minutes, then turn the mixture over and cook for another two minutes to let it brown. Stir, then cook for another five minutes while stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the powdered peanut butter, broth, and tomatoes. Bring it to a boil, reduce it to a simmer, and cook, 20-25 minutes uncovered.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings (salt, pepper, chili powder, brown sugar) as needed.
  6. Stir in the spinach, and turn off the heat as soon as it wilts.
  7. Serve over rice.

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Nutrition (per  serving):

266 calories, 11 g. fat, 26 g. protein, 19 g. carbs, 4 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 7

Latin Pork & Tomatillo Stew

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Latin Pork & Tomatillo Stew

One of our very good friends just turned 30 so we attended a shin-dig hosted by his girlfriend over the weekend. The theme was “Fiesta” so I decided to bring Elderflower Sangria and a big pot of Latin Pork & Tomatillo Stew with homemade corn tortillas. Bringing a hearty stew to a party in the middle of July may seem strange, but I was happy to have something filling to soak up the booze.

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At less than 350 calories per serving, this stew is the perfect choice for a filling meal without the guilt. I’d highly recommend taking the 30 minutes to make the homemade tortillas, as they just bring something special to the table compared to the store-bought variety.

The pork takes a little while to roast in the oven, but it is totally worth it to achieve that fork-tender fall-apart texture. Next to the heat from the Serranos and the bright flavor of the tomatillos, the pork tastes wonderfully savory.

Start by roasting some poblano chilies under your broiler, then set them in a bowl to steam under a cloth for fifteen minutes.

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Next, get your pork, cilantro, garlic, salt, cumin, Serranos, green pepper, and onions into a Dutch Oven and into the oven to roast for one hour.

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Meanwhile, take two pounds of tomatillos…

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…husk them…

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…and chop them into quarters.

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Grab those poblanos out from under the dish cloth and peel them under running water. Remove the seeds, and chop.

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Add the tomatillos and poblanos to the pot and return it to the oven for another hour and a half. This would be a great time to work on some homemade tortillas!

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Add in the corn, stir, and taste. Add salt and black pepper as needed.

Garnish with cilantro and cotija cheese. Serve with warm corn tortillas for dipping!

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Makes: 8 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 poblano chilies
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped, divided
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 3 serrano chilies, seeded and minced
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 lbs. tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and each cut into quarters
  • 1 can (16 oz). corn, drained

Directions:

  1. Preheat your broiler to High and line a broiling pan with foil. Place the poblanos on the pan and broil close to the source of the heat, turning occasionally, until charred all over, about 10 minutes. Wrap foil around poblanos and allow to steam until cook enough to handle.
  2. Turn oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a heavy 5-quart Dutch oven, combine garlic, salt, half of the chopped cilantro leaves, pork, green pepper, onions, serranos, cumin, and cayenne. Toss to combine. Cover and bake for 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, remove and discard skin and seeds from the poblanos. Cut chilies into 1-inch pieces.
  4. Stir  tomatillos and roasted poblanos into the Dutch oven. Cover and bake 1 1/2- 2 hours longer, or until the meat is very tender. Stir in corn and heat through. Sprinkle with reserved cilantro and cotija cheese.  Serve with tortillas.

Nutrition (per serving):

349 calories, 22 g. fat, 22 g. protein, 17 g. carbs, 4 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 9

Moroccan Chicken Stew

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Moroccan Chicken Stew

My Mom recently handed me a stack of cookbooks that my grandma had rescued for me from my aunt’s garage sale (my family knows that I love to cook). There was a recipe in one for Moroccan Lamb Soup which got me thinking about Moroccan food again, so I decided to put together a simple one-pot meal for those of us who don’t have a good source for lamb (seriously, where do I even buy that?).

Behold, Moroccan Chicken Stew:

morchickstew2I brought the leftovers to work and had to brag to my co-workers about this bowl of sweet, sweet deliciousness. I used chicken thighs, but if you’re a bit more particular about your meat chicken breasts or tenders would also work well in this dish.

I tossed the chicken pieces in a mixture of flour and Moroccan spices then added them a hot dutch oven that had been browning some onions for me. In went some garlic, canned tomatoes, chick peas, and raisins. I wanted to add some green olives, but the husband loathes such things so we went without.

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A sprinkling of fresh coriander leaves (also known as cilantro) brought just the right amount of freshness to this warm and hearty stew.

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I can’t believe how easy and scrumptious this was, especially because all of the ingredients are totally pantry staples. This dish would also freeze well if you wanted to make a big batch and save some for a rainy day (you know, like mid-June in Portland).

Serve it up with some sweet Moroccan Mint Tea and you’ve got yourself a meal that will transport you straight to Casablanca.

Here’s how I made it:

Makes: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts), cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 can whole tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup pimiento-stuffed olives (optional)
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/2 c. loosely packed fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves

Directions:

  1. In a  6-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add the onion and cook until light golden brown.
  2. Meanwhile mix flour with coriander, cumin, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon in a shallow dish or pie plate. Toss chicken with flour mixture to coat evenly.
  3. Add chicken to Dutch oven and cook 7 minutes or until lightly browned, turning chicken over as needed to prevent sticking. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
  4. Stir in tomatoes with their juices, beans, raisins, olives (if using), and water; simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Break up tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Served garnished with cilantro.

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Nutrition (per serving):

361 calories, 10 g. fat, 31 g. protein, 38 g. carbs, 9 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 9

Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew)

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Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew)

I mentioned in my previous Brazilian Mojito post that the husband and I honeymooned in Brazil. We had such an incredible time in Rio de Janeiro, but my favorite part of our trip was when we ventured a few hours north to the beaches of Buzios. We stayed in this beautiful little boutique hotel called “casas brancas,” which translates to “white houses.” These pictures show the door to our room – it felt perfectly tropical.

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In the morning we would wake up and walk out onto the most beautiful balcony with a truly incredible view of the bay.

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Here’s the husband checking out the boats early in the morning. Look how clear that water is!

On our second morning there we decided to rent a boat for the day and go check out some of the coves and beaches. This really lovely local couple took us out on their boat and told us all about the history of the town and beaches, and made us some lovely Caipirinhas to sip as we cruised around.

braz4The water was so incredibly warm, clear, and blue – we snorkeled around and saw all sorts of amazing plants and creatures. We laid out on the beach, had a few more cocktails, then headed back towards town to check out a restaurant we had heard of which was famous for Moqueca.

braz5Moqueca is a Brazilian specialty – fish stew. In the picture above it is the one on the right. It has a rich, salty broth, a robust tomato presence, and melt-in-your-mouth pieces of flaky, buttery white fish.

This past weekend I got a wild hair and decided to make a batch for the husband as an ode to our incredible honeymoon. Seriously, you guys – this was delicious! When we ordered the Moqueca in Brazil I didn’t think I was going to like it that much. I’ve really been exploring different tastes and cuisines lately and I’m so glad that this dish was one of them! Give it a shot, it’s totally scrumptious.

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While this dish is full of complex flavor profiles, it is very simple to make and takes very little active time. The fish needs to marinate for three hours in the fridge, so making this on a weekend may be your best bet. Conversely, you could put the fish in the fridge to marinate before you leave for work, then come home and prepare the rest of the Moqueca.

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I happened to have a bunch of tilapia on hand, but you could use any firm white fish. Snapper, sea bass, or grouper would be especially delicious!

Here’s how I made it:

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped, divided
  • 1 green onion (white and green parts), chopped, divided
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 4 Tbsp. chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1 1/4 lbs. firm white fish, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 c.  freshly chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/3 c. freshly chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 c. fat free, low-sodium chicken  broth
  • 1 c. light coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp.tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp.lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 c.canned or jarred hearts of palm, drained and diced (if you’ve never tired these, be aware that they are VERY yummy!)
  • 2 small tomatoes, seeded, and diced (you could also used canned tomatoes here)

Directions:

  1. In a shallow bowl, mix together half of the green onion, half of the yellow onion, half of the ginger, half the cilantro, half of the garlic, and 4 Tbsp. of olive oil. Add the chunks of fish and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
  2. 30 minutes prior to cooking, remove the fish from the fridge to let it come to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay out your fish on a large baking sheet and pour the lemon juice on top. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Bring the extra 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the remaining green onion and yellow onion to the pan along with the  bell peppers and cook about 3 minutes, or until softened.
  4. Add the rest of the garlic and ginger to the pan and saute for another minute or until it’s hot. Add the chicken broth and let it come to a full boil. Add the coconut milk and tomato paste and return to a boil. Immediately lower the heat to medium-low or so and gently simmer the sauce while you prepare the fish.
  5. Place your tray of fish in the oven and bake until the fish is almost but not quite cooked through, 10 to 14 minutes.
  6. Add the almost-cooked fish and cooking juices into the saute pan of sauce.  Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the fish is soft and tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
  7. Uncover the pan, add the hearts of palm and tomatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.
  8. Taste the moqueca and adjust salt and pepper seasonings. Serve topped with the remaining fresh cilantro.

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Nutrition (per serving):

361 calories, 23 g. fat, 23 g. protein, 9 g. carbs, 3 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 10

Moroccan Lentil & Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup

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Moroccan Lentil & Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup

When I got home from work tonight I felt kind of sad that my husband wasn’t going to be home for dinner and I didn’t have anyone to cook for. I was toying with the idea of hitting up the food cart pod near our house when the dog started whining to be let outside. I opened up the front door and found a package from Amazon addressed to me (!!)

I LOVE getting things in the mail. I think it all started last year when we registered for wedding gifts and packages started arriving at the house. Now, these packages full of amazing kitchen utensils, towels, and small appliances weren’t coming from our friends and family. They were coming from me. It is embarrassing to admit, but I am a *little* bit impatient.

I had followed the “guidelines” for such things and registered just a few months after we go engaged. The problem with that was I had many, many months to become attached to all of the objects on the registry, and over the weeks I found myself in need of some of the items. One by one, boxes from Macy’s and Amazon found their way to our house containing “necessary” items such as a butter dish, a gravy boat, and a bath mat (in green, of course).

It was even worse after the wedding – we received so many amazing and generous gifts from our loved ones, yet I had a nagging feeling like I had abandoned those poor, sad items that been picked over at the store. Back we went to Macy’s, where we completed our Fiesta-ware collection, picked up some more Pyrex, and brought home my oh-so-beautiful green stand mixer (which wasn’t even on our registry to begin with). As I write this post I may or may not have a separate browsing tab open logged into our (still) active registry at Macy’s.

Like I said, I have a problem.

So back to the Amazon box I found on my doorstep: I was so excited I let out a weird high-pitched squealing sound which freaked out the dog. I brought the box inside to discover that it was a gift from my parents in celebration of receiving my M.B.A. (THANKS, MOM & DAD!). Inside I found a creme brulee torch (hallelujah!), a mango splitter (which I already have BIG plans for), and a (green) immersion blender. I did a little jig in my kitchen to celebrate my bounty and then started tearing open the package containing the immersion blender.

I skipped over to the fridge and pantry and pulled out lentils (I’m on a lentil kick lately, so sue me), garlic, carrots, an onion, a yellow pepper, and some Moroccan spices and went to work.

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Into a pot went some oil, garlic, carrots, and onion and under the broiler went the yellow pepper. Next came the lentils and the Moroccan spices (nutmeg, cumin, coriander, allspice, ginger, cayenne, and cinnamon)…

lntlsp3… which I like to keep in this nifty little jar I found at an estate sale for fifty cents. Isn’t it cute?

At this point I noticed some smoke coming out of the back of my stove and thought, huh, that’s weird – OH NO THE PEPPERS!

Don’t worry, the peppers were fine. Just a little charred, which is what I was going for anyway. I chopped them up, added them to the mix, and brought the whole mixture and a few cups of water to a boil. I let it simmer until the lentils were practically mush and the carrots could be mashed with a fork, then used the immersion blender to puree it into a creamy soup.

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Okay, I know you’re probably looking at this picture thinking that it is the ugliest soup you’ve ever seen, and you probably aren’t wrong. Soup is notoriously hard to photograph, but you’ll just have to trust me that this DOES taste good! I’m thinking next time I might go with red lentils and red pepper instead of brown lentils and yellow pepper to try to get a better color. Maybe a bit of paprika and turmeric will help it out as well!

What’s that? The beautiful glass of breathtaking yumminess posing behind the soup? Oh that’s just some homemade Moroccan Mint Tea. I drank FOUR glasses of this stuff and then couldn’t sleep from all the sugar. I’ll post the recipe sometime over the next few days.

lntlsp5Oh, sorry, I thought I heard you say that you wanted to see more bad soup pictures. Well, it’s too late now. There you have it.

Here’s the recipe:

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, quartered
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Moroccan Spices, or to taste
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 3 cups of water

Directions:

  1. Place your quartered bell pepper on a baking sheet and place under your oven’s broiler for 3-5 minutes on high, turning once or twice. Once roasted, remove from oven and chop.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a 3-quart or larger dutch oven over medium-high heat and add your oil. Saute garlic for 30 seconds or until fragrant, then add your carrots and onion. Let cook for 3-4 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add chopped roasted bell pepper to the mixture.
  3. Stir in your lentils and Moroccan spices and stir to combine. Let cook for 60 seconds, stirring occasionally, to toast the spices.
  4. Add your water and bring the contents to a boil. Let boil for 2-3 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes or until lentils are very soft (they may break out of their skins). Check the lentils about 15 minutes in to see if they need more water.
  5. Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender), puree the contents until creamy and smooth.  You may need to add more water to get this the right consistency – you want it to be a soup, not re-fried lentils!
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings and salt. Serve with Moroccan Mint Tea and garlic bread (seriously, don’t skimp on the garlic bread!)

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Nutrition (per serving):

83 calories, 4 g. fat, 3 g. protein, 12 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 2

Thai-Style Sweet & Sour Fish Soup

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Thai-Style Sweet & Sour Fish Soup

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This soup is heavenly and comes together in under 15 minutes. I adore Thai cooking because nearly everything is very quick to put together. Once you get down the basic methods of cooking a stir-fry, a curry, fried rice, and soup, you can adjust recipes to your own preferences and explore your own combinations.

Many soup recipes call for a slow simmer for what seems like hours, but Thai soups are flavored with fresh spices which brighten up a broth in a matter of minutes rather than hours.

While this recipe calls for a few non-Western ingredients, I’ve included substitutes below so those that may not be near a grocery store with access to wild lime leaves, galangal root, or sweet Thai basil can still make this soup. For those following a vegan or vegetarian diet, this soup is also fabulous when made with vegetable broth and extra vegetables substituted for the fish. Try carrots, bok choy, or bell peppers!

The husband and I took a trip to Thailand back in 2011, which is where we got engaged.

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It was such an incredible trip – the main reason why I wanted to travel there was to try the food.

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It completely opened my world to new flavors and experiences, and I love Thai food now more than ever.

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As with most Thai cooking, be sure to prep all of your ingredients before you get started. The dish comes together so quickly you won’t have much time to dice or chop once you start.

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 12 oz. (about 2 filets) of white fish, cut into bite-size chunks (I’ve had good success with Tilapia, which is cheap and holds up well in the freezer)
  • 1 Tbsp. galangal root, cut into think matchstick (ginger root* works as a substitute)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass**, smashed and chopped into inch-long pieces
  • 2 wild lime leaves (substitute juice from half of one lime if you do not have access to lime leaves)
  • 2 small tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup mushroom, button or white, quartered
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh sweet Thai basil leaves, chopped (substitute regular basil if needed – you can also omit if you don’t have any handy)
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce (sorry, no substitutes! You can find this in almost any grocery store on the Asian foods aisle. It is called for in the majority of Thai dishes so it is a great pantry staple. The Red Boat brand has a paleo-friendly version)
  • 1 hot Thai chili pepper (Bird’s eye or similar**), seeded and sliced into rings
  • Juice from half of one lime

Directions:

  1. Bring the chicken broth, galangal (or ginger) root, lemongrass, and hot Thai pepper to a boil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Stir in the fish sauce, mushrooms, basil, lime leaves (or juice if substituting), and tomatoes then reduce heat to medium low. Let it simmer for about ten minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in your serving bowl (or divide among individual soup bowls, place the cilantro, green onions, and lime juice and give the bowl a little swirl.
  4. Add the chunks of fish and continue to simmer until fish is opaque and cooked through (just a few minutes).
  5. Remove the lemongrass stalks and lime leaves and discard.
  6. Transfer the soup to your serving dish (or individual bowls). The cilantro and green onions will rise to the top and maintain their fresh flavors.

Nutrition (per  serving):

176 calories, 6 g. fat, 21 g. protein, 11 g. carbs, 3 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 4

Okay, friends – what’s your favorite Thai dish? Give me some inspiration!

*Did you know that the easiest way to remove ginger peel is with a spoon? Seriously. Give it a try. I peel mine once I buy it then freeze it. I use my microplane zester to grate the frozen ginger directly into my dishes.

**You can usually find lemongrass among the other spices in your produce section. It freezes nicely if you have extra left in your pack!

** I buy these by the handful and keep them in my freezer. They are so little they thaw in just minutes. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling them, and avoid contact with your eyes!