Sheet Pan Maple Dijon Chicken with Roasted Butternut Squash

Who expects to find butternut squash in summer, let alone summer in MEXICO? Walking into our favourite grocery store in Merida, Yucatan, there were TWO just waiting for us…at the door! No others in sight…was I dreaming? Nope, snatched ’emup fast.20200801_181203

You northerners can watch for them later. This recipe was a keeper. How can you say no to maple syrup and Dijon mustard?

Sheet Pan Maple Dijon Chicken with Roasted Butternut Squash

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 lb butternut squash, uncooked, peeled and cubed into 1- or 2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Prepare a large rimmed baking sheet (line it with aluminum foil, as it can be runny)
  2. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk maple syrup and Dijon mustard. 
  4. Dip each chicken thigh on both sides into maple-Dijon mixture and place on a prepared baking sheet, skin side up, leaving space between all chicken thighs.
  5. Add cubed butternut squash into the same bowl with the remaining maple-Dijon mixture, mix to coat, and add butternut squash on the baking sheet around the chicken, in one layer. If you run out of maple-Dijon mixture, whisk a little bit more.
  6. Roast for 30 or 40 minutes at 450 F, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through.

The original recipe called for adding Brussel sprouts, but I had some leftover fresh asparagus. They didn’t turn out as I had hoped….

Egg Roll in a Bowl #2

Second version of this recipe… we both liked the finer chopped vegetables.

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Egg Roll in a Bowl

  • 1-pound ground pork or chicken
  • 4 green onions whites/greens separated
  • 2 teaspoons ginger grated
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1-pound coleslaw mix (Mrt. Lucky Broccoli, Cauliflower and Carrot )
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil or to taste
  • cilantro & sesame seeds for garnish
  1. Brown pork in a pan until no pink remains. Drain fat
  2. Add the whites of the green onions, ginger, garlic, and coleslaw mix.
  3. Cook until slaw is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in soy sauce and sesame oil and stir until coated.
  4. Garnish with cilantro, greens of green onions, and sesame seeds and serve.

Optional additions:

  • Chopped mushrooms, water chestnuts or other vegetables
  • Sriracha or hot sauce to taste

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Egg Roll in a Bowl #1

I made this version of Egg Roll in a Bowl last year and have been using it ever since while we were on the Keto Diet. It is great, but I have recently come across this one which uses a Mr. Lucky Mini Flakes of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. It’s far easier than chopping up all that cabbage…LOL.

The original recipe from Tasha Metcalf with the cabbage is below.

Keto Egg Roll in a Bowl   Tasha Metcalf

Prep Time 5 minutes     Cook Time 15 minutes    Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1-pound ground pork OR chicken
  • 1 head cabbage thinly sliced
  • ½ onion medium, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • ¼ cup soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 stalks of green onion

Instructions

Brown ground pork in a large pan or wok over medium heat.

Ensure cabbage and onion is thinly sliced into long strands. Use a spiralizer to cut the vegetables for quickest results.

Add sesame oil and onion to pan with browned ground pork. Mix together and continue cooking over medium heat.

Mix soy sauce, garlic, and ground ginger together in a small bowl. Once onions have browned, add the sauce mixture to the pan.

Immediately add the cabbage mixture to the pan and toss to coat the vegetable and evenly distribute ingredients. Add chicken broth to the pan and mix. Continue cooking over medium heat for three minutes, stirring frequently.

Garnish with salt, pepper, and green onion.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories 268
  • % Daily Value*
  • Total Fat 18g 28%
  • Total Carbohydrates 10g 3%
  • Protein 15g 30%
  • * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Keto Taco Zucchini Boats

These really do not have to be labelled as KETO, they are just plain great for everyone, especially kids. I served them with a dollop of sour cream. You could also add guacamole as a garnish. My zucchini were medium size, hence I ended up with 4 halves. If you are using larger zucchini, you could get along with ONE half and a salad alongside.

*In lieu of the cumin, chili powder and salt, I used my homemade taco seasoning.

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Keto Taco Zucchini Boats

Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 4 Zucchini depending on how many people…
  • 1-pound Ground beef
  • ½ cup Bell Peppers mixed Red & Yellow, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ cup Water
  • 8 ounces Cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1/2 cup Salsa

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400°F

Prepare your zucchini by trimming off the stem end. To do this I just gently round the end of the zucchini with a knife, removing the stem. Then cut each zucchini in half lengthwise. Use a measuring spoon (teaspoon)or melon ball scoop, to hollow out the zucchini forming a boat.

Place the zucchini boats in a greased baking dish and sprinkle a small amount of salt over them.

In a skillet over medium high heat brown the ground beef.

Add bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, salt, and ¼ cup of water to the ground beef. Continue to cook until vegetables are softened and water has been absorbed.

Once the beef mixture is ready fill each zucchini boat with the beef and vegetable mixture.

Top the zucchini boats with cheddar cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until zucchini has softened and cheese is melted.

Pour salsa over boats before serving. Optional sour cream and guacamole?

Nutrition

Serving: 1boat | Calories: 242 kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 482mg | Potassium: 301mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 5400IU | Vitamin C: 38.8mg | Calcium: 2180mg | Iron: 1.4mg

Brown Sugar Carnitas

Carnitas, literally meaning “little meats”, is a dish of Mexican cuisine that originated in the state of Michoacán. Carnitas are made by braising or simmering pork in oil or preferably lard until tender. The process takes three to four hours, and the result is very tender and juicy meat, which is then typically served with chopped coriander leaves (cilantro), diced onion, salsa, guacamole, tortillas, and refried beans (frijoles refritos).

Pork carnitas are traditionally made using the heavily marbled, rich boston butt or picnic ham cuts of pork. The 6–16 lb (3–7 kg) sections are usually cut down to a workable (6–10 lb) size and seasoned heavily before slow braising or deep frying.

The traditional way to cook carnitas is in a copper pot (or any thick-bottomed pot), which disperses the heat evenly in a process similar to confit. Lard is used to cover the dish in proportion to the amount of meat being cooked. Once the lard has melted, pork and flavorings are added (usually salt, chili, cumin, oregano or Mexican oregano, marjoram, thyme, bay leaf, and crushed garlic cloves). Traditional carnitas are then made by a process of simmering the meat in the lard until tender over a very low heat. Once appropriate tenderness is achieved, the heat is turned up and the outside of the pork begins to crisp. At this stage, the collagen in the meat has broken down sufficiently to allow it to be pulled apart by hand or fork or chopped with a cleaver. (WIKIPEDIA)

Having read that, you are probably thinking TOO MUCH WORK! Indeed, my spouse made carnitas the traditional way, complete with the copper pan we bought in Quiroga when we visited that area of Mexico. It took hours and was incredible BUT….too time consuming and messy!

One of my favorite Mexican TV cooks is Pati Jinich, who has a program on PBS and on YouTube (Pati’s Mexican Table). The following recipe is her version and done on the stovetop in a Dutch oven. It was PERFECT and a lot less onerous.

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Brown Sugar Carnitas

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lard, vegetable shortening, or oil (I used oil)
  • 3 to 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder or butt, fat on, cut into 3” chunks
  • 4 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups milk, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or brown sugar substitute.

Heat the lard in a large Dutch oven or heavy casserole over medium-high heat. Season the meat with 2 teaspoons of the salt and the black pepper. Once the lard has melted, add the meat, brown on all sides, stirring and flipping as it does, for about 10 to 12 minutes.

In the jar of a blender, pour 1 ½ cups of the milk and add the garlic, onion and remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Puree until smooth. Pour over the meat and let it come to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, drop in the bay leaves, and cover. Cook covered for 1 hour and 15 minutes, flipping the chunks of meat a couple times in between.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining ½ cup milk with the sugar. Pour over the carnitas, stir, and let them continue to cook, uncovered, for another 4 to 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat.

With a slotted spoon, remove the meat and place in a bowl. Shred with a couple forks, add a couple tablespoons of the seasoned fat remaining in the casserole and toss.

This is normally eaten in  tacos with toppings like sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo salsa, etc. As you can see we skipped the tacos/tortillas and simply plated it with some rice and green beans.

Stacked Tomato and Goat Cheese Salad

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Stacked Tomato Salad with Black Olive Tapenade and Sweet Basil Dressing

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, (beefsteak, yellow, and heirloom), sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
  • Tapenade, recipe follows*
  • 1-pound goat cheese, thinly sliced (or use Mozzarella, but goat is better)
  • Fresh basil leaves and sprigs, for layering and for garnish

Sweet Basil Dressing, recipe follows below

Directions

Place a tomato slice on a plate and spread with some of the tapenade. Then place a slice of the goat cheese on top, add a few basil leaves, and finish with another tomato slice. You can add another layer to make Napoleon as high as you desire. Top with another small spoonful of the tapenade and then drizzle the Sweet Basil Dressing over the tomato and around the plate. Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil and repeat to make 4 to 6 plates. For a smaller version, use Roma tomatoes.

Tapenade (Honestly, I buy a small jar at the store…a whole lot easier)

  • 2 cups kalamata or niçoise olives, pitted
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 5 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine olives, garlic, anchovies and pine nuts in a food processor and process until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Sweet Basil Dressing

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 cup pure olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (roll the leaves in a little tube shape and slice across the leaves)

Whisk together vinegar, Dijon mustard, and honey in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and then stir in the basil.

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Black and Blue Steak Salad

Throw another steak on the BBQ and make this salad tomorrow! This is what you can do when you have a leftover steak.  Black refers to the blackened steak and blue refers to the blue cheese dressing which accompanied the finished salad. (Actually we love putting blue cheese on our steaks along with fresh sage.) So here goes…

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Black and Blue Steak Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 beef Top Sirloin Steak Boneless cut 3/4-inch-thick (about 1 pound)
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 cups spring mix greens
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles*
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 avocado thinly sliced
  • 1/4 red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dressing of choice OR blue cheese dressing in lieu of the crumbles*
  1. Place beef in plastic bag with Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Turn steak to coat evenly. Marinate for at least 1 hour in refrigerator.
  2. Remove beef from marinade. Place beef on grill, on medium heat. Grill, covered, for 7 to 11 minutes. for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness, turning occasionally.
  3. Remove from grill and slice steaks across the grain.
  4. Add cherry tomatoes to grill for 2-3 minutes or until burst.
  5. Fill platter or large salad bowl with mixed greens. Top with burst tomatoes, avocado slices, sliced red onion, and blue cheese crumbles. Top with steak and serve with dressing of your choice.

Korean Chicken Stir Fry and Zucchini Pancakes

Apologies for not posting sooner, but Internet was down here. Back in action with 2 great Korean recipes! First tried these pancakes at Korean Grill and Ice Cream and they were an awesome appetizer. To upgrade the pancakes to a dinner, I have prepared the Korean Chicken Stir Fry.

 

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Hobak Buchim (Zucchini Pancakes)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium zucchini about 8 ounces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 medium sweet onion thinly sliced
  • 2 green hot chili peppers thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup buchim garu (Korean savory pancake mix) or flour (see note)
  • 1 large egg (omit for a vegan version and add some water)
  • vegetable or canola oil for frying

Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch gochutgaru (red chili pepper flakes)
  • OPTIONAL baby shrimp and chopped green onions

Instructions

Cut the zucchini into matchsticks. Place them in a bowl, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Let sit for about 10 minutes until wilted and released some liquid. Squeeze the liquid out from the zucchini as much as possible, reserving the liquid in the bowl. Set the zucchini aside.

Add the egg and pancake mix (or flour) to the bowl with the zucchini squeezed mix. Mix everything well with a spoon, and then combine with the zucchini, onion and chili peppers. The zucchini mix may look stiff when mixing, but it will become more liquidy after a few minutes. If it’s still too stiff, mix in some water (2 to 3 tablespoons to start with).

Heat a skillet with two tablespoons of oil over medium high heat. Add about 2 heaping tablespoons of the batter and spread it evenly into a thin round shape. Depending on the size of your pan, you can cook 3 to 4 pancakes at once. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the bottom is light golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Repeat the process with the remaining batter. Serve hot with a dipping sauce.

Notes

Use 5 tablespoons all purpose flour with 3 tablespoons cornstarch if available.

This recipe makes 6 to 8 3-inch round pancakes, or two large pancakes.

Korean Chicken Stir Fry

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs chicken breasts boneless and skinless, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper or to taste

Korean Sauce

  • 3 tbsp butter unsalted
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger minced
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce low sodium
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. Red curry paste or sambal oelek

Garnish

green onions        toasted sesame seeds             red chilis sliced

INSTRUCTIONS

Toss the chicken pieces through the egg first, then dredge through cornstarch.

In a large bowl whisk together all the sauce ingredients. Set aside.

Add about 3 inches of oil to a heavy bottom pan and heat to 375 °F.

Add chicken to the pan and fry in batches about 3 to 4 minutes per batch. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel lined plate and repeat with remaining chicken.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Stir in the brown sugar and honey and cook for about 1 minute until the brown butter dissolves. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and gochujang sauce to the skillet and stir. Cook for 30 seconds then add the chicken to the skillet and toss well with the sauce.

Serve garnished with green onions, toasted sesame seeds and red chilis.

Mexican Chicken Mole (mollay)

If you have ever eaten in a Mexican restaurant, then this dish was certainly on the menu! This particular mole sauce is made with chicken as the base and is loaded with different kinds of chilies, nuts, seeds, spices, dried fruit, and chocolate. The taste is best described as somewhat spicy, and bittersweet with earthy undertones. In fact, there are at least seven different types of mole depending on what state you are visiting. Personally, I prefer Oaxacan moles. Starting from scratch can take hours to perfect these sauces. The simplest way to enjoy mole is using a packaged sauce under the Dona Maria brand.  A small box is enough to try the first time, by following the directions below. Once your sauce is ready, pour it over your  boiled chicken.

Chicken Mole

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. chicken pieces (boiled)
  • 1 box Mole sauce
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 6 to 8 pieces bay leaves
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

Place chicken and onion in a large pot and add enough water to cover the chicken. Bring it to a boil.

After the water comes to a boil and the release the scum, remove the scum with a ladle.

Add bay leaves and salt. Cover and let cook for 30 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.

To prepare the Mole sauce, open the can carefully as the mole will stain your clothes. Use a sharp knife to cut a ‘X’ into the mole so that you can get the mole out easily. Sometimes, the mole can be rather hard.

Cut up the mole into smaller pieces.

Add water or chicken stock (from pot where the chicken is cooking) to the mole in the ratio of 4 parts of liquid to 1 part of mole. If you intend to store the mole in the refrigerator for a few days, then you should just use water.

Use a potato masher to mash the mole so that it dissolves in the liquid.

Once the mole has dissolved completely, add the peanut butter and mix well. The addition of peanut butter is Rosa’s twist in the recipe. The peanut butter makes the sauce nuttier and thicker. Place the sauce on the stove and cook on medium heat until the sauce thickens. You have to constantly stir the sauce while cooking to prevent burning.

Serve the sauce over the chicken with Spanish rice.

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Elevated Campbell’s Tomato Soup

How to dress up a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup for company? This recipe turned out well, but alas, I did not take a photo. You will just have to trust me…LOL

Elevated  Campbell’s Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Fresh Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Cup Dried Bread Cubes (I use the ones meant for stuffing)
  • 1 Can Tomato Soup
  • 1 Can of Chicken Broth (I pour my chicken broth into the tomato soup can after pouring the tomato soup out.)
  • 1 teaspoon Fresh Chopped Basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fresh Chopped Thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper

Instructions

I recommend using 3 or 4 (depending on size) Ramekins

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl toss together bread cubes, 1/3 cup of the shredded cheese, pinch of salt and pepper. Set off to the side.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the tomato soup, chicken broth, basil, thyme, and vinegar until smooth.
  4. Evenly distribute the bread cube mixture among the ramekins or fill the entire bottom of the circular casserole dish you plan on using.
  5. Next you want to evenly distribute the soup mixture among the ramekins or slowly ladle over the bread cubes in a singular casserole dish.
  6. Use the rest of the remaining cheese to float on top of the soup mixture, by slowly sprinkling it onto the soup.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 10minutes, then switch to a low broil and allow to cook until the cheese becomes golden brown and bubbly (about 5 minutes in our oven, but this can happen quickly so watch carefully to be sure).