Batch Recipes · Big City Life · Easy recipe · International Cooking · Life Balance · Vegetarian · Veggies!

More than your average brunch

Before I moved to Brooklyn, I lived in the West Village in Manhattan for 5 years.  I absolutely loved living there.  Despite being in the heart of New York City, it really feels like a cute little neighborhood, with tree-lined streets and brownstones and families galore.  It was very similar to the neighborhood where I live now in Brooklyn, but the restaurant situation is on a whole different level.  Some of the best restaurants in NYC can be found in the West Village, and the variety of cuisines is incredible.  Italian?  Check.  Sushi?  Check.  Brazilian?  Check.  Ethiopian?  Check.  You get the picture.

Anyway, one of my favorite meals to eat out is brunch.  For me, there’s not much I would rather do on a weekend than get together with girlfriends at lunchtime to eat breakfast food and drink mimosas, especially on a patio on a nice day.  The only complaint I ever have with a girls’ brunch is that a lot of brunch menus look almost exactly alike.  You can pretty much predict there will be some sort of omelette, an eggs benedict or florentine, pancakes or waffles, potatoes, bacon, sausage.  You know, the classics.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the classics, but I really appreciate it when a restaurant thinks outside the box a little with their brunch menu.  Variety is a good thing.  One of my favorite brunch spots in the West Village, Joseph Leonard, mixes it up with some pretty unique regular menu items, plus every weekend they have a different brunch special.

One weekend, I went to brunch at Joseph Leonard and their special that day was a Moroccan chickpea stew topped with a poached egg.  I was intrigued, so I had to try it.  It was the absolute best brunch I’ve ever had.  The spices in the stew created a flavor bomb, and I am always in love with a perfectly poached egg on anything.  I wanted to bathe in the meal in front of me, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

MChkpeaStew1

In my quest to recreate that magical meal, I ended up with what has turned out to be my go-to batch recipe for busy weeks.  This Moroccan chickpea stew is so flavorful – you get complex Moroccan flavor with just a little spiciness, then there’s a little pop of sweetness from golden raisins.  Yum!  Not only do I eat it for breakfast or brunch with a poached egg and toast, but I also eat it for lunch with tomato & cucumber salad, tsatziki and pita bread, or for dinner I’ll eat it over basmati rice or couscous with a dollop of Greek yogurt.  You could also use it as a base for baked eggs.  It’s so versatile and happens to be really easy to make using your slow cooker, too.  Set it and forget it!

MChkpeaStew3

Moroccan Chickpea Stew
Servings: 8
Serving Nutrition: 180 calories, 6.1 g protein, 3 g fat, 772 mg sodium, 34 g carbohydrates
Ingredients
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ras el hanout
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 large or 2 small potatoes, diced
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes
1 large carrot, diced
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 (15 oz) can low sodium chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 bunch fresh kale, chopped, or 1 (8 oz) package frozen kale
1/2 cup low sodium vegetable stock
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper

Directions
1. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat, then add onions and sauté for 2 minutes.
2. Add garlic and all spices and cook, stirring frequently, for another minute or 2, or until mixture becomes really fragrant.
3. Add onion and spice mixture to slow cooker (3.5 quarts or larger).
4. Add all other ingredients to slow cooker and stir to mix well.
5. Cover and set to cook on high for 4 hours.
6. Come home from work to an amazing home-cooked meal that makes your house smell like heaven.
7. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro if you have it and enjoy!

Note: if in a hurry, you can skip steps 1 and 2 and just put everything in the slow cooker and go, but these extra 2 steps really open up the flavors in the spices and make them pop.

MChkpeaStew2

Chicken Recipe · International Cooking · Summer · Tasty Sides · Veggies!

It’s Like a Heat Wave!!

Anyone else have a constant jukebox running in their head? No? Just me? Alrighty then! For some reason, the song in the title of this post popped into my head today. Oh, I know why…it’s freaking hot outside! We are definitely in the midst of a heat wave here in New York and it is not so fun. Rather than going on another rant about how much I hate the heat, though, I’m going to tell you how I’m making this bearable. First of all, I’m trying to acclimate by going for a run three days a week. It’s way too hot to run for a really long time, but 30 minutes here and 45 minutes there has made me a little less of a sweaty mess when not running and it’s making my waistline a little less doughy. Win, win! I have also been known to take a cold pack from the freezer and put it behind my knees or neck. It works. Most importantly, we’re not cooking around here. Actually, I should say that we are doing the absolute minimal amount of cooking possible and under absolutely no circumstances are we turning the oven on. That would be grounds for getting banished from the apartment indefinitely.

In our quest to eat well without use of the oven and minimal use of the stove, we have had to get creative. We’ve come up with some really great meals that I think are worth sharing. I have big plans to go for a run then sprawl out in front of the fan for the rest of the day, though, so I’ll keep this post short and sweet and get right to the food.

Back when I was living and working in Dallas, my friend, Jessica, introduced me to a delicious Vietnamese spot and we would grab lunch there at least once a month. My favorite thing on the menu was a rice noodle salad that I only knew as bun…I couldn’t remember the rest of the name. Clearly my Vietnamese language skills are lacking. Anyway, I had a craving the other day so I went on a hunt for the noodles I remember so fondly and came across a recipe for bun with lemongrass chicken (bun ga nuong) from Nagi at RecipeTinEats (find it here). As with all recipes, I made some modifications. I don’t follow directions well. Anyway, here is the recipe as I made it. You can swap out the vegetables with whatever you like. Some recipes call for bean sprouts, some call for shredded lettuce, some don’t use mint. This really is adaptable and so incredibly refreshing for a hot summer dinner. Or, you can toss everything together for a nice side salad…it’s just so diverse!

IMG_0443

Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Lemongrass Chicken (Bun Ga Nuong)
Servings: 4
Ingredients
Chicken
1 – 1.5 lbs boneless chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp Asian fish sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 stalk lemongrass, outer layer peeled so you only use white part, bruised by pounding with side of knife, & cut into big pieces

Sauce (Nuoc Cham)
1 cup hot water
½ cup white sugar
½ cup lime juice
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/3 cup Asian fish sauce
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 Thai chili or serrano chili, finely minced (I had serranos on hand and they worked well)

Noodles
1 7-8 oz package rice vermicelli noodles
1 ½ cups shredded carrots
1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 handful fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 small or ½ large cucumber, thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced or julienned
5-6 green onions, sliced

Directions
1. Combine chicken and marinade ingredients and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
2. For sauce, whisk hot water and sugar together until sugar is dissolved. Once sugar is dissolved, add all other sauce ingredients and mix well. Set aside.
3. For noodles, boil enough water to cover the noodles. Once the water is boiling, remove from heat and place noodles in water to soak until al dente (3-7 minutes). When noodles are al dente, immediately drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking and prevent sticking.
4. In large skillet, cook chicken over medium heat until cooked through and golden brown, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Shake off any lemongrass bits and slice chicken.
5. In large bowl, toss noodles, cilantro, carrots, and about half of sauce until thoroughly combined.
6. To serve, portion noodles into bowls and top with vegetables and chicken. Garnish with lime wedges and side of additional sauce.

Enjoy, and stay cool!!!

IMG_0446
So many veggies you can’t even see the noodles!