Sunday, March 27, 2016

Chicken Cacciatore

Learning to cook is one of the best skills anyone can learn; in fact, I think it's one of those life skills that should be mandatory! But what if no one you know cooks? Not even your parents? What if you do know how to cook, but have little equipment or little money to spend on an extensive spice rack and pantry? 

Good news! Companies like Blue Apron and Plated are trying to make cooking as simple and convenient as possible for anyone craving home-cookin'! They literally send everything you need for a great meal right to your door--exact ingredients, pre-measured with a colored sheet of paper picturing each step--this is perfect for anyone on a busy schedule or who may not have time to stop by the store! 

In fact, parents could make this a really cool gift for their college students who enjoy cooking over microwaving, but don't have time to shop.  Young professionals and grads might consider this option with one of these companies, because it is actually quite cost-effective (especially Blue Apron)--3 meals for two people with leftovers, delivered to your door for $60/week--so, if you are on your own, this translates into at least 2 servings per meal! All you do is come home, unpack the ingredients and assemble!  

If you like the recipe, you now have a copy of the recipe for future use! One such recipe we tried is featured below!

(Adapted from Blue Apron meal service delivery)

Chicken Cacciatore

Large skillet--non-stick or not
Large saucepan, for boiling pasta

2 Chicken Breasts, seared, cooled and diced
8 oz white mushrooms, cleaned & sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes (according to spice preference)
2 (15 oz) Crushed Tomatoes plus 1 cup water
Salt & Pepper

12-16 oz of fettuccine or linguini, cooked and drained.
Parmesan, for garnish

1. Wash your hands
2. Sear the salt & peppered chicken breasts in 2 tsp olive oil and 1-2 tsp butter.
(If you have large chicken breasts, you may need to finish them in an oven at 350F degrees for 15 additional minutes to ensure they are adequately cooked)

3. Remove chicken breasts and set aside to cool before chopping and dicing.
4. Add 2 tsp of olive oil to skillet and sear mushrooms x 5-6 minutes.
5. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook until fragrant.

6. Add tomatoes plus 1 cup water and simmer on low heat until sauce begins to thicken.

7. Cook your pasta and drain.
8. Add chopped chicken and pasta to the mushrooms and tomato sauce.

9. Serve it up with parmesan and basil or a sprinkle of parsley.

Invite a friend--you will have more than enough and then some!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

White Bean Winter Stew

The sun may be shining today, but Chicago is still lingering in the 30s again! Plan to warm up the house tonight with this incredibly delicious tomato-based stew--another recipe featured at Healthy Kitchens Healthy Lives conference last month--invite the roommates to dinner and have them bring a loaf of crusty bread and butter! 

That's really all you need for a fantastic meal and good times on a cold winter day!

This is an easy, super cheap, but hunger-quenching recipe simple enough for even a dorm kitchenette and college cooking. Trying to live healthy while being frugal wont get any easier than this for low-income college living!!

(Adapted from The Bean Institute recipe vault)

White Bean Winter Stew

5-quart saucepan
Handheld Immersion Blender (optional)

1/4 c bacon, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 small shallot, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano
1/2-1 tsp smoked Chipotle Powder (optional and spicy)
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
2-3 cups of a white bean (prefer Cannelini Beans)
1 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Olive oil to drizzle
Parmesan cheese, grated

1. Wash your hands.
2. Cook the bacon in a large 5-quart sauce pan until slightly crispy and browned.

3. Add onions and garlic and cook until translucent.
4. Sprinkle oregano and chipotle powder onto the onions and stir.

5. Add the can of diced tomatoes and broth. Simmer on low heat x 30 minutes.

(if you have an immersion blender use it to make soup smoother...or not!)

6. Add 2 cups of beans (if you like beans add 3 cups total).
7. Add the marjoram, salt, and pepper to taste.

8. Simmer on low x 2-3 minutes.
9. Serve with a little olive oil, parmesan and basil.
10. Don't forget the crusty bread!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Breakfast Frittata

Living on a 'very-tight' budget and trying to stay healthy and eat right is challenging indeed! But...possible with the right recipes and ingredients! 

I am just returning from an incredible conference on cooking for health (Healthy Kitchens Healthy Lives) which also addressed practical solutions for many surviving on government dollars and food supplements--I would argue that many college students fall into this quadrant and thought I could share some ideas!! Recipes demonstrated during this conference were meant to be easy, affordable, nutritious, and most importantly, delicious--with the goal of encouraging everyone to cook more not only for savings, but also for nutrition, health and community! 

Over the next few weeks I plan to feature many of these tasty options as well as some of the organizations who developed these recipes purposefully to address a much bigger issue in America: hunger! 

  • First up? Frittatas
  • Why? Versatile. 
    • Base recipe + ingredients to your liking. 
    • Mix and match. 
    • Make ahead. Freeze and reheat.
    • Convenient
  • Health? Protein + Veggies. Low-fat.
  • Cost? < $ 5-7
  • Skill? Easy
  • Feeds? 4-6 servings
Anytime Frittata
(Adapted from Healthy Kitchens Healthy Lives)


Iron Cast Skillet (or oven-proof skillet and handle up to 400F degrees)
Regular Skillet (for sautéing), or do everything in the cast-iron skillet

6 eggs
2 egg white
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Black pepper 
2 Tbls parsley, fresh (or 1 tsp dried parsley)
2 Tbls water

4 Tbls Olive oil
1/2 cup onions, diced
2 Tbls Shallots, minced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced and sautéed
1 cup zucchini, 1/8" sliced and sautéed
1 cup Great Northern Beans (or cannellini beans), drained and rinsed
1/2 cup artichoke hearts, chopped (optional)

Parmesan cheese, shredded

1. Wash your hands.
2. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. 
3. Beat the eggs, egg whites, salt, pepper, and water until egg whites just incorporated. 

4. Heat olive oil in skillet to saute shallots and onions until translucent. 

5. Add zucchini rounds and saute until golden. 
(If using mushrooms I would saute mushrooms separately to remove the excessive water content first before adding to onion mixture.) 

6. Add drained beans and chopped artichoke hearts (if using these).

7. Add the egg mixture to skillet and stir in the cheese, then let cook over LOW-MED heat for one minute.

8. Bake entire skillet in pre-heated oven x 10-12 minutes until center sets.

9. Allow to cool in skillet and slide a knife around the edges.
10. Use a plate to flip the entire frittata out of the skillet. If it does not separate easily, simply remove individual slices from the skillet.

Add a salsa verde or tomato salsa or hot sauce or ketchup!
Set the rest aside for breakfast or after school snack.