Chicken, Farro, Avocado Bowl

This chicken, farro, avocado bowl makes it easy to eat healthy. It has all the flavor and nutrition that you are looking for. You can easily get creative with this dish by using your favorite ingredients. A vegan version is also simple to accomplish; just replace the chicken with tofu or beans of your choice.

Start with a grain that you like. I chose farro, but you can use rice, quinoa, or couscous. Next, choose a protein such as chicken, beans, tofu, pork, beef, shrimp….anything your heart desires. However, if you want to keep it light and healthy, I suggest you use chicken, beans, or tofu. Add some sautéed or roasted vegetables, and top it off with a fresh garnish, such as avocado and/or homemade salsa.

The concept of the “bowl” reminds me of a deconstructed casserole. All the ingredients are put in one bowl and enjoyed together. It’s not baked like a traditional casserole, but it is just as comforting. My family and I like casseroles and “bowls”. They are not only fun and easy to eat, but they are also healthier than a traditional casserole, and delicious too.

Let’s get started. . .

Ingredients for farro:
2 – cups farro
1 – tsp. salt
1 1/2 – tbls. olive oil
1 – tsp. Herbs de Provence
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add salt and farro and cook until al dente or according to the package directions. Once the farro is cooked, drain it and place in a bowl. Add the olive oil, herbs de Provence and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and set aside until the rest of the meal is ready.

You don’t have to worry about the farro getting cold, because it is delicious at room temperature.

Now let’s make the chicken . . .

Ingredients for chicken:
3 – lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 – tsp. oregano
2 – tsp. chili powder
1 – tsp. corriander
1/4 – tsp. cayenne pepper
1 -cup chicken stock
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 – tbls. tomato paste

Directions:
Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and black pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large skillet. Once it is hot, add the seasoned chicken and brown on both sides. This should take about 2–3 minutes on each side.

While the chicken is browning, mix the oregano, chili powder,  corriander, cayenne pepper, and chicken stock in a small bowl.

Remove the chicken when it is browned, take a fork and knife and shred the chicken into strips then return it to the skillet. Pour the spice mixture over the chicken and stir well. Turn the flame to medium low and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

Next, add the tomato paste and mix through the chicken thoroughly. Continue to cook the chicken about 10 minutes more, then remove from the heat.

Chicken and spices

While the chicken is cooking you can prepare the vegetables.

Ingredients:
3 – zucchini cut into bit sized pieces
3 carrots sliced on the diagonal
2 – bell pepper diced
1 – jalapeño pepper
1/2 – tsp. salt
1/4 – tsp. ground black pepper
1 – tsp. oregano
2 – cloves garlic
1 – tbls. olive oil

Chopped vegetables

Directions:
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and garlic cloves to a large skillet. As the oil is heating, let the garlic sauté and start to brown and soften, then add the chopped vegetables and seasonings. Stir and cook until tender crisp. Try not to over cook the vegetables. They should have a little crunch to them. When they are done, remove them from the heat and set aside.

Toppings . . .

Ingredients for Salsa:
2 – cups finely diced cucumber
1 – cup diced grape tomatoes
2 – tbls. finely diced onion
1/2 – tsp. salt or to taste
1/4 – tsp. black pepper
2 – tsp. olive oil

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Cucumber, tomato salsa

Slice two avocados to top off the bowl.

Assembly . . .

Start by placing about one cup of the farro into a bowl, add the chicken, sautéed vegetables, then top off with salsa and a few slices of avocado.

Makes about 6 servings.

Enjoy!




Farro Vegetable Casserole

Farro, Cheese, zucchini, cannellini beans

You may have noticed by now that I like Farro. I am always trying to come up with new ways to serve it. My family likes casserole dishes because they are all-in-one meals, and easy to eat.  So I decided to create a casserole using Farro as the star.

This farro vegetable casserole is packed with flavor. It has everything that you could want.  The nutty flavor of the farro, combined with the vegetables, cannellini beans, and melted mozzarella cheese will delight your taste buds. It is truly a comfort food without all the guilt.

Ingredients:
1  1/2 – cups farro
1 – red bell pepper
10 -oz. white mushrooms
3 – cups diced zucchini
1 – can cannellini beans
1 – medium onion
2 – cloves garlic
3/4 – tsp. salt
1/2 – tsp. Herbs de Provence
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/3 tsp red pepper flake
1/2 – tsp. black pepper
1/2 – cup pecorino romano
2 – cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 – cup chicken broth

Directions:
Cook the farro according to package directions, but do not over cook (be sure to add salt to the water). When the farro is ready, drain and place it in a medium sized baking dish, and add a little olive oil and the chicken broth so it does not stick together.

While the farro is cooking, dice the red bell pepper, mushrooms, zucchini and onion, and peel the garlic. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook on a medium-low flame about 2 minutes until the garlic starts to brown. Now add the diced vegetables and season with the salt, black pepper, oregano, Herbs de Provence and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.

When the vegetables are ready it is time to assemble the casserole. Add to the farro in the baking dish the pecorino romano cheese and 3/4 cup of grated mozzarella cheese, and mix well. Next, add the cannellini beans (drain first) and sautéd vegetables. Stir to distribute the vegetables evenly.

Top off the casserole with the remaining grated mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 375° for 30 minutes, until the cheese starts to become golden brown.

Serves 6

Buon appetito!




Farro and Tuna Salad

Farro, Tuna, Tomatoes, Capers

Farro and Tuna Salad
This is a great any time meal that is healthy, hearty, and delicious. This recipe is easy to make and packs a lot of nutrition. Farro is my favorite whole grain. It has a nutty flavor with a nice bite to it. Not only is it delicious, but it is also high in fiber and protein and is a good source of vitamins and minerals.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1 cup farro
6 oz. can Italian tuna in olive oil
1/3 cup diced shallot
1/3 cup diced celery
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 tbls. capers
1 tsp. fresh thyme
2 tbls. fresh parsley
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. oregano
salt
ground black pepper

Directions:

Bring a small pot of water to a boil, add 2 teaspoons of salt, and cook the farro according to package directions. Do not over cook. It should be al dente. In the meantime, dice the shallot, celery and set aside. Chop the parsley and thyme, and slice the tomatoes in half.

When the farro is ready, drain it and place it in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and set aside to cool for about 15-20 minutes.

When the farro is cooled, add the rest of the ingredients and another 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Mix well. Taste it to see if it needs salt. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Buon appetito!

Farro, Tuna, Salad, Capers, Tomatoes




Quinoa and Baby Kale Salad

Kale, Quinoa, Avocado, Salad

It is not always easy to eat healthy, especially with our busy schedules. Luckily for us, there are several ancient grains, including quinoa that have become popular over the last several years that offer us great health benefits. Quinoa is considered a super food because it is packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and it is also gluten free. It is one of the most versatile ancient grains. It can be used in both hot and cold recipes such as, pancakes, cookies, stuffing, meatballs, and salads.

The nutty flavor of the quinoa is a delicious and hearty addition to this simple salad. I used baby kale, but you can use spinach, arugula, or mixed greens if you prefer.

Ingredients for Dressing:
4 – tbls. olive oil
2 – tbls. orange juice
2 – tbls. red wine vinegar
1/4 – tsp. cumin
1 – tsp. honey
1/2 – tsp. salt
1/8 – tsp, ground black pepper

Ingredients for Salad:
3/4 – cup quinoa
1 – can black beans
1/2 – cup red bell pepper
1/3 – cup red onion diced
5 – oz. baby kale
1/3 – cup walnuts
1 – avocado
Feta cheese

Directions:
Cook the quinoa according to the package directions. Be sure to add salt to the water.

While the quinoa is cooking, make the dressing by whisking together all the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Next prepare the rest of the ingredients. Drain and rinse the black beans and place them in a large bowl. Dice the red onion and pepper, and rough chop the walnuts. Add them to the beans.

When the quinoa is ready, drain it thoroughly and add it to the bean mixture. Pour the dressing over the quinoa and mix thoroughly. Next add the kale and mix. Top off with slices of avocado and feta cheese. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Makes 4 servings

 




Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

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It must be 20 years since I have made these oatmeal cookies. I came across the recipe recently and decided to give it a go. When I was first married I made this recipe regularly. After all these years, these cookies did not disappoint me, they are moist, chewy, and delicious. The combination of raisins, walnuts, and cinnamon gives them the perfect balance of sweetness, texture, and spice.

Ingredients:
1 – cup raisins
1 1/2 – cups water
3/4 – cup unsalted butter (softened)
1 1/2 – cups sugar
2 – eggs
1 1/2 tsp. Pure vanilla extract
2 – cups raw oats
2 1/2 – cups all purpose flour
1 – tsp. Baking soda
1/2 – tsp. Baking powder
1 – tsp. salt
1 – tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 – cup walnuts (chopped)

Directions:
In a small sauce pan, add the water and raisins. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

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Drain the raisins, reserving the liquid in a small bowl. You should have about 1/2 cup of liquid. If it is less you can add water to bring it up to 1/2 cup.

Mix the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl, mixing on medium speed about 1 1/2 minutes.

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Add the eggs and vanilla, and mix another minute.

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Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl, mix together the dry ingredients–oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon.

Pour the 1/2 cup of reserved raisin water into the butter, sugar, and egg mixture. Mix briefly (it will look curdled, but do not worry this is normal).

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Now add the dry ingredients and mix until all incorporated, about 2 minutes.

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Add the raisins and mix briefly to incorporate them into the dough.

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Place rounded spoonfuls of the dough about 2 inches apart onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.

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Bake in a pre-heated 375° oven for about 15-18 minutes or until golden brown on bottom.

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Makes about 3 1/2 dozen

Enjoy!