Green Chili Chicken and Kobucha Squash Enchilada Casserole

Green Chili Chicken and Kobucha Squash Enchiladas (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Are you feeling adventurous? Of course you are. It’s after Christmas and we are revving up for the New Year. It is time for those New Year’s resolutions…such as trying new veggies!!!!

Drum roll please……….First up is Kobucha Squash!

Green Chili Chicken and Kobucha Squash Enchiladas (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

This amazing and delightful winter squash looks like a green pumpkin and is actually referred to as a Japanese pumpkin. It is often used in Thai curry and is quite flavorful. In fact, I think it tastes better than butternut squash and WAY better than regular orange pumpkin.

*GASP* Yah you heard me.  I’ve just found the better pumpkin replacement. Get on it, friends.  It even packs a lower calorie count than butternut squash with only 40 calories in a single cup compared to 60 calories per cup for butternut squash. It also has half the carbs of butternut squash (7 grams versus 16 grams). This puppy is WAY healthier than sweet potatoes too!

Once you cut into this green pumpkin, you are greeted with bright orange flesh which provides a fabulous dose of beta-carotene and vitamin A! The Kobucha contains plenty of other awesome attributes such as being loaded with fiber, iron, vitamin C, and some B vitamins. Can I get an AMEN!

Green Chili Chicken and Kobucha Squash Enchiladas (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Green Chili Chicken and Kobucha Squash Enchiladas (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Well-stocked grocery stores or farmers markets will have Kobucha Squash. If you are unable to locate this awesome gem of a veg, you can substitute the Kobucha Squash for Butternut Squash.  If you don’t have butternut squash, you also could use sweet potatoes.

Now lets talk about this Green Chili Chicken and Kobucha Squash Enchilada Casserole. They are literally the best enchiladas I have EVER made. Literally. The roasted Kobucha Squash help make these comforting and creamy without being doused in tons of cheese. Also, I like making this dish more lasagna style with layers of tortillas, filling, cheese, and sauce instead of nice and neat rolled up enchiladas. To me, it is much easier and just as super tasty.

Green Chili Chicken and Kobucha Squash Enchiladas (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

These enchiladas do take some prep time.  However, most of the steps can be done ahead of time. You can marinate the chicken up to one day ahead of time. The Kobucha Squash can be carved and cubed several days in advance, placed in a container, and refrigerated. (Note – I recommend microwaving the Kobucha Squash for 2 minutes to make it easier to carve up.) You can even roast the chicken, shred it, and refrigerate it in advance too. To be honest, this whole casserole can be assembled up to one day in advance and cooked the next day, making it the perfect dish for entertaining or for an easy weeknight meal.

I hope you enjoy this amazingly flavorful, delicious, and nutritious dish. And give yourself a big pat on the back for branching out and trying a new veggie!

Green Chili Chicken and Kobacha Squash Enchiladas (Gluten Free)

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs chicken thighs or chicken breast (preferably organic)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • juice of 1 lime (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 3 cups cubed Kobucha squash (butternut squash or sweet potatoes could be substituted)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 4 oz canned diced green chilis
  • 16 oz gluten-free tomatillo salsa verde
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 8 to 10 gluten-free corn tortillas, cut into quarter sections

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray two rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Place chicken thighs in a medium bowl. Combine coriander, cumin, chile powder, and salt in a small bowl. Add half of spice mixture to chicken and reserve the other half.  Add half of lime juice to chicken. Toss chicken with spices and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes or refrigerate for up to 8 hours.
  3. Place cubed kobucha squash and diced onion in a separate large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Stir in remaining spice mixture. Place cubed winter squash as a single layer on rimmed baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Stir vegetables and place back in oven to cook for an additional 25 minutes. At this time, add chicken to a rimmed baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes. Remove both the roasted squash and baked chicken from oven. Turn down the oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Using two forks, shred baked chicken. Place shredded chicken, roasted squash and onions, juice of half a lime, 1/4 cup diced cilantro, canned green chilis, and 1/3 cup salsa verde in a large bowl and stir to combine.
  5. Spray or grease an 8X11 baking dish. Place 1/3 cup salsa verde in bottom of baking dish. place 10 to 12 quarter sections of tortillas in bottom of dish on top of salsa verde in a single layer, slightly overlapping each other.  Spoon out half of shredded chicken mixture and smooth over the tortillas. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of salsa verde and 1/2 cup cheese on top. Layer with 10 more tortilla wedges. Spread out remaining chicken filling on top of tortilla wedges. Top with remaining tortilla wedges. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded cheese and remaining salsa verde.
  6. Place baking dish into preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve with extra salsa verde, chopped cilantro, and greek yogurt.

Notes:

  • For dairy free version, do not use cheese.
  • For vegetarian version, replace chicken with 2 cups cooked black beans.
  • These enchiladas can be prepared up to 1 day ahead of time through step 5. Cover and refrigerate. When ready to cook, remove from refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before placing in middle rack of preheated oven. Cook for at least 30 minutes.

Advertisements

Paleo Curried Pumpkin Seed Crusted Chicken

Paleo Curried Pumpkin Seed Crusted Chicken

Things have been pretty busy for me lately. We recently traveled to Pittsburgh to see two of our dearest friends and our twin godsons that are 16 months old! So adorable. It was a fun-filled weekend that had me taking naps EVERY day. Twin boys…whoooosh. Then I was in Omaha for work. THEN my two awesome kid sisters came and visited me.

When I’m running around full steam, on the road, and on air planes, I need a good snack. I recently tried SuperSeedz, gourmet pumpkin seeds, and I absolutely LOVE them. I took them on the road with me and shared my new addiction with everyone. They are so delicious and have tons of different flavors. They are one of the best gluten free and paleo-friendly treats on the market.

Paleo Curried Pumpkin Seed Crusted Chicken

I’m typically not a big person on doing giveaways, but I am completely in deep smit with these pumpkin seeds.  So if you are looking for a tasty snack that is loaded with protein and nutrients, you have to try these!

Paleo Curried Pumpkin Seed Crusted Chicken

Paleo Curried Pumpkin Seed Crusted Chicken

For a sweet treat, try the chocolate flavored Cocoa Joe! ERHMERGERD! Or spice it up with the Curry Flavored seeds. I really liked these seeds so much that I used the curry flavored pumpkin seeds as a nut crust for a paleo version of chicken fingers! Super kid friendly and easy for the whole family to help prepare.

SuperSeedz and I are giving away a FREE box of all of the delicious flavors that SuperSeedz offers! It’s an amazing snack box full of tasty treats.  There are two different ways to enter this giveaway.

Receive up to 2 entries if you:

  1. Subscribe to Big Eats Tiny Kitchen blog by email. 
  2. Leave a comment below about your favorite way to use pumpkin seeds. Extra points for creativity!

The fine print: You have until midnight CST on Sunday, July 6th, 2014, to leave a comment or subscribe to my blog for chances to win the box of tasty treats. I will notify the winner by email on Monday, July 7th, 2014. To claim the prize, the winner must reply within 7 days with a valid mailing address or another winner will be selected at random. Good luck!

Paleo Curried Pumpkin Seed Crusted Chicken (Grain Free, Gluten Free, Paleo-Friendly)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Note – A food processor or blender is necessary for this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of chicken breasts or thighs, boneless and skinless
  • 1/2 cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds (I used Super Seedz Curry Flavor)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder (or any seasoning that you prefer)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray a roasting pan with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Process 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds in a food processor for 1 minute or until seeds resemble bread crumbs. Add coconut, curry powder, and salt and pulse until combined. Pour pumpkin seed mixture onto a large plate.
  3. Whisk two eggs in a medium bowl. Dredge chicken in egg to fully coat. Take egg-coated chicken and lay onto plate with pumpkin seed mixture. Coat chicken on both sides with pumpkin seed mixture thoroughly. Place coated chicken onto roasting pan.
  4. Cook chicken for 35 to 45 minutes at 400 F (until chicken is cooked through), flipping halfway through cooking time. Remove from oven when cooked through and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

 

Thai Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce Dressing

Thai Chicken Salad / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

One of my all time favorite salads that I make is my Spring Roll Salad with Thai Dressing. It is the perfect salad to make when herbs are springing forth from the ground in full force. It’s packed with fresh mint, fresh cilantro, and fresh basil.  I jam all of those fresh beauties in the salad and top with carrots, cucumber, and spring onions and just POUR that beautiful thai dressing in my mouth..I mean, on the salad. But seriously, I could totally gorge myself on that stuff.

If you don’t have fresh herbs growing, you can totally grab some at the farmers market in large beautiful bunches. But I recommend growing some in pots. Super easy and incredibly rewarding to be able to use fresh herbs in a flash. They are easy to grow from seed or purchasing starters at your local gardening store.

Thai Chicken Salad / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Thai Chicken Salad / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Anywho, I decided to take my amazing herbalicious spring roll salad to a new level. I topped it with grilled chicken that had been marinated in a thai flavored marinade for an hour. My husbands words after eating this salad were “This is the best salad I’ve ever eaten in my life.”  Who can’t love a great juicy grilled chicken and amazing peanut sauce! Heaven.

So this is seriously an easy peasy dinner, folks. Maybe not as easy as scrambled eggs but soooo much more tasty. Marinate the chicken for at least an hour or as long as overnight. You can use bone in or boneless, heck you can even go with breasts, thighs, legs, wings…whatever you want. I want judge if you’re a thigh person over a boob person. It’s cool. We are being super easy over here. Note: if you choose bone in breasts or thighs, it will take longer to grill than boneless. But who cares…we are grilling. Grab a brew, throw your meat on the grill, cheers to summer. That stupid winter is over. And here comes that ungrateful sticky humidity. Get ready!

Thai Chicken Salad / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

While the chicken is grilling, throw your greens, herbs, and veggies together in separate bowls or one massive bowl. Whip up the Spicy Peanut Dressing. Add water to the peanut dressing as needed to get it to the consistency that you want. Set it aside and let everyone pour the sauce at their leisure. You may want to make extra!

Pull the chicken off the grill, let sit for a few minutes, then cube it up. Add it to the salads.

Pour dressing. Pour some more. C’mon!

Done.

Eat.

Lick bowl.

Dream about peanut dressing until the time you get it. Or is that just me? Life sure is better with fresh herbs and peanut dressing!

Thai Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce Dressing (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Chicken Marinade Ingredients

  • 1.5 to 2 lbs chicken breasts or chicken thighs (I used 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts)
  • 2 Tablespoons nam pla (thai fish sauce) (I use red boat…great write up on it here)
  • 2 Tablespoons gluten-free tamari (or coconut aminos)
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon curry paste (red or green works)

Spring Salad Ingredients

(basically this Thai Spring Roll Salad of mine)

  • Mixed greens (lettuce, baby kale, arugula, etc)
  • shredded carrots
  • cucumber
  • green onions
  • red bell pepper
  • avocado
  • fresh limes
  • fresh mint, cilantro, and basil
  • Thai Spicy Peanut Sauce Dressing (substitute peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower seed butter in the dressing depending on your dietary needs)

Instructions

  1. Place chicken in a resealable plastic bag or shallow glass dish. Mix marinade ingredients in a small dish and pour over the chicken. Cover and allow to marinate in the refrigerator or an hour or overnight.
  2. Preheat the grill (or preheat oven to 425 F). Remove chicken from the marinade and allow excess marinade to drain. Place chicken on hot grill for 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until a thermometer reads 155 F within the thickest part of the chicken breast or thigh. If baking, place the chicken on a prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Remove cooked chicken from grill or oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Cut into bite sized pieces.
  3. Mix ingredients for the spicy peanut dressing together in a small bowl or small food processor. You can use almond butter or sunflower seed butter in place of the peanut butter based on dietary needs. Add water as needed to obtain the consistency that you desire for dressing. Set aside.
  4. Assemble salad ingredients in separate bowls or in a single bowl. Top with cubed grilled chicken. I like mine with extra herbs, sliced avocado, and a big squeeze of lime too. Then pour the peanut dressing on top. I even go for an extra dash of siracha to boot. Mmmm. Enjoy!

 

Paleo Thai Coconut Curry Soup

Paleo Thai Coconut Curry Soup - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

Holy cow…it’s February. Did you know this? It’s February. Crap. Days are passing by me like a freight train.  I’ve been having a tough time keeping up with posting delicious recipes. I’m so sorry. The truth is that I’m holding out on you. I’ve got tons of delicious treats that have been brewing up in this little kitchen of mine as I’ve been dealing with winter blues, cabin fever, and job stress. I just have to sit my butt down, and type them out. So here we go….

Paleo Thai Coconut Curry Soup - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

First, I will catch you up a bit. Recently I celebrated my 34th birthday. I made the mistake of working on my birthday…what? But my sweet man took me out on an unforgettable birthday dinner to a fabulous french restaurant in Kansas City, Le Frou Frog.  It’s a beautiful and quaint restaurant in the inside….the outside, eeeeh…well, looks like a defunct strip club. I kid you not. But don’t let that deter you like it did me for the past 5 years. If you are ever in KC and are in need of a great dinner and lively night, check it out. My husband got the biggest KC strip I had ever seen, dripping with drool-icious green peppercorn sauce. YUM. I had a chicken roulade stuffed with goat cheese, spinach, and sundried tomatoes. A winning combination. And of course some finger-licking fabulous french sauce poured on top. Love those french sauces. Why can’t I recreate them! Eeeeeerhmergerd. Oh and then topped the night off with my fave, creme brûlée. I died and returned to Paris. It was the best.

DSC_0328

Aside from my birthday and crazy work schedule, I’m in a daily battle and staring competition with my pour chocolate lab, Guinness. I typically take him on daily walks, but my poor sad old man dog hasn’t gone on a walk in over a week because wind chills are below zero in this crazy town. UGH.  WHO LIVES LIKE THIS! And how do people in Canada survive? Or even Minnesota! Seriously. I’m wearing two pairs of long underwear…TWO.

The main thing getting me through this crazy cold winter has been cozy and comfy soups. I constantly crave Pho, day in and day out. I love the fresh cilantro, basil, and bean sprouts that get stirred into the hot delicious bowl of goodness. There is an amazing little Vietnamese place that I frequent called Vietnam Cafe. It’s paradise on earth and in a bowl. But alas, I am no Pho master. So instead, I’ve created a love child soup between Thai curry and Pho…sort of.

Paleo Thai Coconut Curry Soup - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

This Thai Coconut Curry soup is set up like Pho: fill your bowl with “noodles”, pour in the broth curry soup, top with cilantro, basil, sprouts, and siracha. Instead of rice noodles, I use my favorite veg swap, spaghetti squash.  It’s healthy, nutritious, low carb, whole food. It’s good for you. Do it. But…with that being said, you could easily use rice noodles instead.

If you are a bit bored with your regular soup rotation, give this one a go. It’s comforting, lively, and will definitely brighten any gloomy day.

Paleo Thai Coconut Curry Soup - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

Paleo Thai Coconut Curry Soup

Inspired by Bon Appetit and Bev Cooks

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 large red onion, sliced thin (reserve some for garnish)
  • 2 Tablespoons green curry paste
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 15 oz cans of light or full fat coconut milk
  • 6 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken (breast or thighs)
  • Juice of 1/2 large lime
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 10 oz raw mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup snow peas, chop into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, leaves torn
  • Garnish: cilantro, basil, chile paste, lime wedges, scallions, bean sprouts

Ingredients

  1. Place spaghetti squash into microwave. Microwave for 5 minutes. Slice in half, remove and discard seeds. Place into a shallow glass baking dish with 1 inch of water. Place back into microwave. Microwave on high again for an additional 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from microwave and set aside.
  2. In a large dutch oven, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Place most of the sliced red onion into the pan. Reserve about 1/4 cup of red onions for garnish on top of the finished soup. Saute the sliced onion for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the curry paste, ginger, curry powder, coriander, and garlic to the onions. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add broth and coconut milk, stirring until mixture is combined. Add chicken and then bring coconut broth to a boil. Add fish sauce, lime juice, salt, and sliced mushrooms and combine. Cook covered for 15 to 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Stir occasionally. Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool so that you can shred it. Shred the chicken (I use two forks).
  4. Bring the soup back to a boil and add the snow pea pods, shredded chicken, cilantro, and basil to the pot. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Using a fork, pull the spaghetti squash “noodles” from the squash. Place about 1/2 cup of squash noodles in the base of each serving bowl. Ladle Thai soup over the squash noodles. Garnish with additional sprigs of cilantro, basil leaves, Thai chile paste, scallions, and/or bean sprouts.

Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Mushrooms (Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Paleo)

Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Mushrooms - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

I’m just going to say it. I really think pasta is SO over rated. Ya! I said it. There.

Is this just me?

When I gave up wheat and gluten over a year and a half ago, a lot of people said “but what about pasta? and bread?” Sure I miss bread, but pasta? Really? I just don’t get it. Unless you slather pasta in cheese or pesto or marinara sauce, it tastes like NOTHING. Think about it. What you really like is the sauce. Right? I’m a huuuuge sauce fan. The french were really onto something there. I could write a novel about my love for amazing sauces, dipping sauces, marinara sauces, cheesy goodness sauces, peanut sauces, mushroom sauces…mmmmmm. The list goes on! But there is no list of noodles. Bleh.

Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Mushrooms - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

Basically, all I need is something to put my sauce on…besides just a spoon.

There are a few awesome and wholesome ways to get your sauciness on without relying on the bland noodle man. Break free from those noodle chains!

Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Mushrooms - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Mushrooms - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

Today we are going to celebrate a little forgotten winter squash…Miss Spaghetti Squash. I don’t think she gets enough props. She works really hard and creates amazing vegetable noodle-like goodness that can be used sooooo many ways. Numero uno is that she is an amazing base for all your SAUCE love. I love that nature has created this amazing and beautiful vegetable that when cooked, the meat of the squash pulls away like noodles. But better. Because there are nutrients in them. NUTRIENTS. VITAMINS. Ya, these may not be the sexiest things, but they are real. And your body will love you for it and give you sexy thighs. Dudes and gals both. These nutrients are sexist. They benefit all.

Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Mushrooms - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

There are a few ways to cook the spaghetti squash. First you can always cut it in half, deseed it, and place it in an oven (cut side down) in a pyrex pan with about an inch of water and let it roast for about 30 to 45 minutes. Another way (and my preferred quick method) is to place the WHOLE squash onto a plate and microwave on high for 10 to 12 minutes (depending on the size of your squash). Remove carefully from the microwave and let it sit until you can handle it and cut it in half. Removing the seeds from method two is a bit more tedious because some of the cooked squash strands tend to hold on to the seeds and come out with it. But method two takes less than half the time of method one, so I prefer it. Do whichever floats your boat. The squash strands easily peel out with a fork and then can be added to whatever dish you choose. You can also put them directly into bowls with some salt and pepper and spoon your desired sauce over them.

Without further delay…drum roll please.

Let’s get SAUCY!

Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Mushrooms - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen
Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Mushrooms – Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

The possibilities are endless now.  I have used spaghetti squash as a base for pad thai and for marinara, but lately I have been craving something more comfy and creamy. I came up with this dairy-free pesto sauce that uses cashew cream as the base. The raw cashews should be soaked for at least 30 minutes in hot water. You will need either a high-speed blender or good food processor to puree the cashews and water into a creamy sauce. Fresh basil and garlic lend an amazing fresh flavor to the creamy base.  I prefer to use either shredded leftover chicken or sautéed chicken sausage, but it can be left out for a vegetarian or vegan meal. Mushrooms add a great meaty texture to the dish too. I have also used sun dried tomatoes and roasted garlic.

This is a pretty quick one pot meal that has quickly been added to the favorites list in our house. I hope you and your thighs enjoy it. 🙂

DSC_0296

Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Mushrooms (Grain Free, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Paleo-Friendly)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups of fresh basil (additional basil for topping)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 2 chicken sausage links (sliced) or 1 chicken breast diced and cooked (I used trader joe’s pesto chicken and turkey sausage)

Instructions

  1. Soak cashews in 1 cup of hot water for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Place whole spaghetti squash on a dinner plate in the microwave. Microwave for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from microwave and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Be careful, this puppy will be HOT. Cut in half and remove seeds carefully. After seeds have been discarded, use a fork to separate out the spaghetti-like strands.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender and begin to brown (6 to 8 minutes). Add chicken sausage slices or cooked chicken and warm through. Add spaghetti squash and stir to combine. Lower heat and allow to cook, stirring occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile for the creamy pesto, in the bowl of a food processor (or high speed blender), add soaked cashews and half of soaking liquid. Process on high and blend everything together until mixture is smooth and creamy. Add basil, salt, and red pepper flakes. Blend everything together. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add more water or olive oil to thin to your desired consistency.
  5. Add creamy cashew pesto sauce to the large skillet with the spaghetti squash mixture. Stir until the squash mixture is coated evenly. Serve with additional slivered basil on top.

Fiesta Time – Brunch Edition

Happy Quatro De Mayo!  This is the day to gather up all of your tasty recipes because tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo. Get started early with a brunch party!  I have collected and included a few of my favorite gluten-free mexican brunch recipes for a recipe roundup.

Make Ahead Mexican Breakfast Casserole

DSC_0192

Black Bean and Chard Breakfast Tacos

DSC_0175

Huevos Rancheros with Black Beans

DSC_0026

And for those egg haters, this Mexican Chicken and Lime Soup is a perfect.

DSC_0233

Or what about Carnitas??? seriously, this is always a winner plus you can cook it all day in the crock pot!

DSC_0231

And how can you not have a salsa bar???  The Rhubarb Salsa is amazing and the Basic Salsa is one of my favorites.

IMG_0075

IMG_0078

Paleo Pad Thai (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Paleo)

This past weekend, while a blizzard was slamming into KC, we visited my family in Oklahoma City. The only thing this cold weather is good for is staying inside, cuddling, and cooking.  However, my middle sister and I ventured into the cold blustery winds for a long training run in preparation for the OKC half marathon. Running with her made it worthwhile.  I was also able to get some great cooking time in with my brother (who makes the BEST salsa) and my youngest sister.  My youngest sister is such a great cook and she’s only 14! We made a butternut squash and lamb stew and some paleo cobbler.  MMmmmmm. The recipes should show up soon.   

But seriously…April is next week. Easter is this weekend.  Spring has not sprung.  It’s on vacation and evidently it is having a great time not showing up anywhere around here! Winter is sticking around like a cold-hearted and deceptive ex girlfriend that just WON’T GET THE HINT. 

No one needs your cold wind, 10-foot snow drifts, one lane roads, icy sidewalks, gloomy skies…

We’ve moved on. We want something new.

DSC_0380

I want green grass!

I want to grill out!

I want patio weather!

I want to see the tulips that I planted and not all this stupid snow! 

I want to show off my super dayglow white legs, people!   *STOMP STOMP STOMP* Gimme it!

DSC_0368

My grumptastic attitude was especially fueled this morning when I slipped and fell hard on my back, elbow, ass, and shoulder after getting home from an early morning workout.  This just added to my ailments. I was already walking around like a fight gone bad from shoveling 1,000 pounds of snow from the loooooongest driveway in the world and hauling half a cow (dead, butchered, and frozen into steaks, roasts, and other deliciousness) down into our basement and into my deep freezer. I hurt. So. Bad.

DSC_0364 

DSC_0360

I guess I should quite being such poop bomb and just embrace it. If only I could sit around all day and drink hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps, then I would be OK with crap weather. GRRR. 

If you are also fighting the persistent winter doldrums, then I suggest you embrace it and make some comfort food.  This Paleo Pad Thai is the best thing to amp up that attitude.  Using spaghetti squash in place of noodles turns this comfort food dish into a healthy anytime dish!  The Thai Nut Sauce is addictive and would be great as a dip.  Enjoy!

DSC_0389

Paleo Pad Thai (adapted from The Clothes Make The Girl)

Serves 6

  • 1 medium-sized spaghetti squash (yields 3 to 4 cups of squash noodles)
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 lbs chicken meat (breasts or thighs), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 4 to 6 cups of mixed veggies (such as broccoli, green beans, mushrooms, bell peppers)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions, green and white parts
  • Thai nut sauce (recipe below)
  • fresh lime slices for serving
  • salt to taste

Thai Nut Sauce

  • 1/3 cup almond butter (smooth or chunky)
  • 1/3 cup canned coconut milk (light or full fat)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 inch piece of fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons siracha sauce
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Microwave the spaghetti squash for 1 1/2 minutes. Cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the halved squash cut-side down into a large glass casserole dish with 1/4 cup water. Microwave for an additional 12 to 14 minutes.  Remove from microwave and allow to cool for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until you can handle it.  Once it has cooled, use a fork to scrape the inside of the squash and remove the squash flesh or “noodles” from the skin.  Place into a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine all of your sauce ingredients. Set aside or place in the refridgerator.
  3. In a dutch oven or large pot, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken pieces until no longer pink, stirring frequently. Add carrots and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add remaining vegetables and cook until warmed through (about 5 to 10 minutes). In the winter, I use an assortment of frozen vegetables.  Reduce heat to medium-low and add squash “noodles”, green onions, and Thai nut sauce, stirring to combine.  Allow to heat through and add salt/pepper/Thai chili paste to taste.
  4. Serve with additional lime wedges, green onions, and cilantro.

Curried Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup

In April, I will be running in the Oklahoma City Half Marathon with my sister Jill. This will be the fourth year that we have participated. The first year we ran the race was her freshman year in High School and now she is a senior!!!!  Valedictorian too!  Now that I live over 5 hours away and do not get to visit as often I would like, running in a long race with her is good quality time together…you know running in rain and sleet, loosing toe nails…the typical sisterly bonding type of stuff.  You can see in the picture below how much she enjoys our yearly tradition of running 13.2 miles for fun! She is so lucky to have me, right? RIGHT????

38982_145613598782297_1485931_n

April is creeping up fast and my training schedule is beginning to ramp up.  I do CrossFit at least 3 times per week, 1 small run mid-week, and 1 long run on the weekend. This means I need quick and nourishing meals throughout the week that provide nutrients to fuel and refuel my training schedule.

Long endurance training sessions (60-90+ minutes) cause inflammation and deplete our bodies of stored glycogen.  My old refueling routine was through breads, pasta, pancakes, and pizza…but NO MORE.  This will be my first endurance event to do while maintaining a strict Paleo lifestyle.  So, I am refueling with healthy fats, eating grass-fed protein, and incorporating plenty of whole foods and vegetables that contain complex carbohydrates: sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and other winter squash.

DSC_0166

I whipped up this Curried Chicken and Butternut Squash soup last weekend after I finished a cold 8 mile run.  It warmed my frozen fingers and buns. This soup was the perfect recovery meal full of muscle-building protein and glycogen-restoring butternut squash.  I used leftover shredded chicken from a roasted chicken that I had made earlier in the week. 

DSC_0185

Another perk of this meal is that this soup is easy on the pocket-book and nourishes your family.  It also freezes well!  Feeding your family healthy and unprocessed meals can add up, but it is important. My money-saving tip of the week is to buy whole organic free range chickens rather than chicken parts.  This will save you at least $3 bucks PER POUND.  Roast or poach the whole chicken, then shred the chicken for using later in multiple meals.

Wait…..DON’T THROW THAT CHICKEN CARCASS AWAY! Throw it in a crockpot on low with water and some onions, carrots, celery…whatever and make homemade chicken stock overnight as described here.  I’m not afraid to admit that I have actually taken a chicken carcass home (not for voodoo) from a friend’s house to specifically make chicken stock. Should I be afraid to admit this? Maaaaybe…but, folks, I am also the gal that proudly carries around a coupon book….so I am not ashamed. I stand proud…with lots of change in my pocket! And a full belly filled with healthy restoring soup. Mmmm!

Curried Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, butter, or ghee
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons curry powder (I used madras curry powder)
  • 3 cups diced butternut squash (about 1 small, or 1/2 large)
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 2 whole chicken breasts or 2 chicken thighs or 2 to 3 cups of leftover precooked shredded chicken
  • 2 to 3 handfuls of fresh spinach
  • 1/3 cup diced fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. In a heavy stockpot or dutch oven, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add onions, stirring often, and sauté until translucent (about 5 to 10 minutes).
  2. Add garlic, bell pepper, curry powder, and butternut squash and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often so that the mixture does not burn. Once the vegetables start to soften a bit, add the broth. Bring to a boil. Add chicken.  Lower heat and simmer covered for 15 to 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and squash is tender when pierced with a fork. 
  3. If you added whole chicken breasts or thighs, remove them from the soup and place them on a cutting board. Let them cool slightly (about 5 minutes). Shred the chicken using either your hands or two forks.  Add the shredded chicken back to the soup.
  4. Add spinach and cilantro.  Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the spinach becomes wilted. Serve with additional cilantro.

Mexican Chicken and Lime Soup

I came down with a horrendous cold last week. My head felt like it was in a vice grip.  Thinking about going on a walk made me too tired.  So all I did was lay on the couch, become a Pinterest addict, and watch guilty pleasures including Downton Abbey, Wes Anderson movies, Lady and the Tramp, and, of course, Varsity Blues.

DSC_0224

The two things I wanted to eat were tapioca pudding (a childhood comfort food) and chicken soup…warm brothy chicken soup.  I didn’t get the tapioca (boooh) but I did get chicken soup. I found this Mexican Lime Soup on Pinterest. This amazing brothy and spicy soup hit the spot. 

Note – Be sure to use fresh limes to obtain the 1/4 cup of lime juice. Oh and serve with a fresh avocado. Game changer! I can also see this easily being compiled into a slow cooker and cooked all day.  DSC_0227

Mexican Chicken and Lime Soup (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Paleo-Friendly, Whole30 Compliant) (slightly adapted from Williams Sonoma)

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 4 limes juiced to yield 1/4 cup lime juice, extra slices for serving
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 3 cups low sodium organic chicken broth (homemade is best)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 lb boneless chicken breasts and/or thighs
  • 1 teaspoon dried mexican oregano
  • 1/3 cup diced cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, red bell pepper, and jalapeño and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  
  2. Add broth, water, oregano, and lime juice and bring to a full boil. Add chicken. Bring back to a boil, lower heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink.
  3. Remove cooked chicken from pot with tongs and place on a cutting board. Shred into pieces with two forks. Add the shredded chicken back to pot. Turn off heat and add fresh chopped cilantro. Serve soup with diced avocado, fresh cilantro, and sliced limes.

Sausage, Kale, and Sweet Potato Soup

I love soup. I love soup like I love sweaters…and throws…and wool socks. I mainly love soup because they require little effort and you get a huge piping hot bowl of comfort. This soup is loaded with sweet potatoes and kale, which are both great fall/winter veggies.  It should be no surprise at this point of my infatuation with kale. So I shall skip forward to my utter love for the amazing sweet potato.

DSC_0172

I love roasting sweet potatoes, making them into sweet potato fries, throwing them into chili, or dumping them into soups and stews.  So I was über pumped when I came home from my family’s farm with a boat-load of home-grown sweet potatoes!

Sweet potatoes are planted in the summer and harvested in late October before the first frost.  The variety that my dad planted are amazingly sweet with red skin and bright orange flesh.  Sweet potatoes are naturally rich in antioxidants, and are great sources of both Vitamin A and Vitamin C.  They pack some powerful nutrients, dietary fiber, and are a great source of healthy carbs for athletes. So stock up on these in-season veggies. Store them in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place (not the fridge). They should keep for at least a month or two. Yay for food hoarding!

This is one of those soups that can be adapted from whatever you have on hand.  I used italian sausage, sweet potatoes, and kale.  If you don’t have sausage, try chicken…no sweet potatoes, try butternut squash or red skinned potatoes…no kale (weirdo), try spinach.  You can even add tomatoes or mushrooms.

The sausage that I had on hand was a spicy italian sausage from my CSA.  If you do not have access to local sausage and you are purchasing sausage from the store, read the ingredients on the package.  Some types of sausage contain preservatives, nitrates, and wheat-based fillers.  So just be aware of what you are buying. If you can not find a gluten-free or organic brand of sausage where you live/shop, then substitute shredded chicken (or a can of white beans for vegetarian version).

DSC_0174

Sausage, Kale, and Sweet Potato Soup (adapted from Bon Appetit)

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground sausage (gluten-free and nitrate free)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves cut into 1-inch strips
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  1. Heat large heavy pot or dutch oven or medium heat. Add sausage and cook until brown, breaking into pieces (about 5 to 10 minutes).  Transfer cooked sausage to a bowl lined with paper towels to drain.
  2. Add onions and garlic to pot and cook in sausage drippings until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir often.
  3. Add potatoes and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften.
  4. Add chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes (stirring occasionally), until potatoes are soft when stabbed with a fork. Using a potato masher, mash some of the potatoes in the pot. Add cooked sausage back into soup. Stir in kale (or spinach) and simmer for about 5 to 7 minutes, until greens are wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.