chicken and broccoli stir fry {20 minute meals}

pretty much every time i use broccoli in my recipes i think about the way i used to get my kids to eat it when they were little. we would pretend the broccoli florets were trees, and dip them into snow (aka ranch sauce), and they would eat them all up. my son preferred his “trees” raw with lots of “snow” and my daughter ate them  slightly steamed with out any snow at all-but they were eating a vegetable, and that made me very happy, so i bought lots and lots of broccoli and learned to use it every which way you can imagine (no snow covered trees for the grown ups, thank you)! one of our favorite brocco-dishes was this stir fry with chicken (or tofu or beef). i add the broccoli to the wok almost at the very end because we prefer our trees green (almost raw). as always, my stir fry is rather spicy, so please adjust the heat to your preference. this delicious dish comes together easily in a matter of 20-30 minutes. go ahead, eat some brocco-trees….they’re good for you.
 
for the marinade (4 small chicken breasts~about 4-6 servings):
  • 1-2 tsp freshly grated ginger root (use a microplane grater)
  • 1-2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 finely minced chili pepper (or 1 tsp cayenne pepper)-SPICY
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or braggs liquid aminos (gluten free)
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon or lime zest (use the microplane grater again)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

other ingredients:

  • 2 tbs vegetable oil (or virgin unrefined coconut oil)
  • 4 organic chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally, then sliced into thin strips
  • about 1.5-2 cups organic broccoli florets (and peeled stems)
  • 10-15 mushrooms, thickly sliced (optional) or quartered
  • 6-8 scallions, sliced in about 2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • sesame seeds and mung bean sprouts for garnish

~marinate the chicken strips in the marinade above for at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour before cooking the stir fry

1. heat half or slightly more of the oil in a wok, then add the chicken to the hot wok and stir fry on high heat (stirring) until the chicken is thoroughly cooked (about 7-10 minutes) -add a few drops of chicken broth or water if necessary (sticking). remove the chicken from the wok and set aside.

2. add the mushrooms (and more oil) to the wok and stir fry on high for 3-4 minutes, then add the broccoli florets and scallions and stir fry for just a few minutes (3-4)  before adding a small amount of soy sauce (2 tsps or so) and the cooked chicken back to the wok and combining it with the vegetables.
3. as soon as the chicken is hot again (just a minute or two while stirring on high heat), add the broth, combine and allow the sauce to bubble and thicken (a minute or two) before serving with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and sprouts on top over steamed brown rice, soba noodles, or quinoa. you will likely repeat this process many more times….it’s that good:-)
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a fresh look at barley: a deliciously grainy salad with mint & feta cheese

cooking minette's barley salad with mint and feta cheese

i’ve always thought of barley in terms of a soup ingredient, as in the thick and creamy barley soups my grandma used to make on cold winter nights. she cooked the barley for so long it almost melted into the soup before folding in freshly chopped chives and a squeeze of lemon juice (or a small spoon of red wine vinegar). once in a while, just to make it extra delicious, she would also add a dollop of cream or a small chunk of sweet butter (come to think of it, i’ll have to make barley soup to share here soon). the other day i was exploring one of our local korean markets, walking down the aisles like a kid in the candy store when i came upon the huge selection of grains and beans: many varieties of rice (including a sweet brown rice i’ll be exploring soon), mung beans, red beans, and to my surprise,  a lot of barley in small & large packages, whole, rolled, organic, and not. the package i finally settled on has a lovely picture of fluffy barley in a bowl served like rice. last night I finally had the opportunity to make the salad i’ve been imagining since i brought home my bag of barley. i cooked it until it was just tender with a nice bite to it, and the rest of the salad came together easily based around ingredients i had on hand. it tasted just as I had imagined it would: chewy, grainy, fresh, and super satisfying-go ahead, try it-you won’t be disappointed!

ingredients for  4-6 servings of barley lentil salad:

cooking minette's barley rice salad

  • 1/2 cup small lentils
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 small shallot (or about 1 tbs finely minced)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (set aside a few smaller leaves)
  • 1-2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turkish red chili (pul biber) or red pepper flakes
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 3-4 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice (or sherry vinegar)
  • 3-4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large ripe tomato, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup french feta cheese (crumbled)

rinse the barley in cold water, then cook (simmer) in a medium saucepan with plenty of water for about 30 minutes until tender (but still with a bite to it). cook lentils the same way, until tender and fully cooked. drain both grains and add to a bowl while still hot. add oil, shallots, lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper, and cumin. stir well, and allow it to cool off. when cool, add fresh herbs, red pepper flakes, and tomatoes, stir, then add feta cheese and stir again. taste and adjust seasoning to your taste, sprinkle with fresh mint leaves, then serve.

barley and lentil salad

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how to make a silky & delicious cream of broccoli soup in a matter of minutes

cooking minette's broccoli soupwhat do you do when you are feeling completely overwhelmed with the {cooking} work and preparation you have ahead of you (yes, thanksgiving, with all it’s glor{y}ous food, lovely visiting family and many gatherings is moving in fast and furious), but you still have to feed your family (and your hungry self) before you can tackle the beast? you make a quick, easy, creamy, and super comforting soup that not only gives you a good dose of nutrients and energy, but reminds you of how much fun you’ll be having preparing and enjoying the grand feast (rhymes with beast, but more appropriate) you look forward to every year! now that’s the attitude (change i was looking for)-thanks to the most satisfying bowl of soup i’ve had in a while. time to pull up my sleeves and prepare for giving thanks. what a beautiful thing. a happy thanksgiving to you and yours!

cream of broccoli & leek soup for 4-6:

easiest broccoli soup

  • 2 cups organic broccoli, rough chopped (stems peeled and cut in small pieces)
  • 1 large or 2 small organic leeks, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced and washed by soaking in water (in a colander within a larger bowl of cold water works well)
  • 1-2 tbs olive oil (or virgin unrefined coconut oil)
  • 3-4 cups good quality (preferably homemade) chicken broth (or vegetarian)
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • juice of 1 lemon (adjust amount to your taste)
  • optional: 2 tbs cream or coconut milk
  1. heat the oil in a deep soup pot or dutch oven, then add the washed & drained leeks and broccoli with a touch of sea salt and sauté on medium heat allowing the vegetables to reduce while stirring for about 5-7 minutes.
  2. add chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes (up to 30 minutes)
  3. add freshly ground pepper and lemon juice. blend carefully with an immersion blender (or transfer to blender or food processor and blend, then return to pot and bring the heat back up before serving).
  4. serve with a touch of cream or coconut milk (thicker is better).

cooking minette soups

 

 

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back to basics: simple zucchini & tomatoes with walnut pesto

a simple dish, a small compromise, and a most beautiful october sunset over the ocean:

La Jolla fall sunsets

in preparation and anticipation of the fast approaching holiday season with all the glorious food consumption it entails (it’s bad! already can’t stop thinking about what sides and pies to serve this thanksgiving) i’ve made the decision to feed us a lighter, simpler, and predominantly vegetarian diet for the next few weeks. after a few nights of different vegetable soups and a nice salad nicoise, it was time for a non liquid meal on the warmer side. lately i’ve been trying to cook with what i have as opposed to shopping for specific recipes, so i wanted to use the beautiful light green zucchinis i had picked up at the farmers market along with a large sweet onion, tomatoes (always abundant in my kitchen), garlic, and fresh basil. the plan was to serve the dish with yogurt and flat bread, sort of in line with a persian “borani kadoo”, but i realized i had a slight problem.

cooking minette's zucchini with tomatoes & pestowe have a dear visitor staying with us, and he doesn’t  like garlic at all, nor basil, for that matter. the dish would survive without the garlic, but my basil was starting to become slightly wilted and had to be used: pesto! dinner would be a simple “borani” (a typical persian appetizer served with yogurt) with an optional drizzle of lemony walnut pesto. everyone was happy. oh, and the sunset picture? i just had to share the magical moment i snapped with my phone a few nights ago-there are few things more beautiful than the special light of an autumn sunset over the pacific!

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                                          for 4 servings:

  • 4-6 light green zucchinis (peeled or not, your choice), sliced lengthwise in two or three portions
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced in rounds
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced (or omit and use pesto)
  • sliced ripe tomatoes (amount depends on what type of tomatoes you are using), sliced to about same thickness as zucchini
  • 1 tbs olive or avocado oil (best not to use olive oil for high heat cooking)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (optional if serving with yogurt without pesto)
  • for pesto see recipe

borani kadoo with pesto

in a heavy skillet or frying  pan, heat the oil, then add onions and allow them to caramelize (cook while stirring occasionally on med/low heat until they become light brown and glassy) before adding the zucchinis (and turmeric & garlic if using) and frying on both sides (turn carefully with kitchen thongs). season with salt and pepper. cover with tomatoes, and allow them to cook  (stirring very carefully if necessary because the zucchinis break easily- or cut zucchinis in halves before frying ) on medium/low heat for about 15-20 minutes. serve when any liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated and thickened.

 

 

 

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