Cauliflower-Rice Stuffed Peppers

Well, the time has come.
I must lay aside my mixing cups, my sugar and flour, the almond and vanilla flavoring—it’s time to set aside the pastry and fruit, the chocolate, and cinnamon glaze. It is nearly September and this summer saw a bakery style transformation occur in my kitchen.
And somehow my closet also transformed.
All of my clothing shrunk.

Ahem.

But cooling evening temperatures and achingly blue skies are bringing out a desire for roasted root veggies and sage, soup, baked eggplant and zucchini, and a cleaner approach to life in the kitchen. It’s time.

Last September I did my first round of Whole 30. —For those unfamiliar with this, Whole 30 is essentially a month’s reprieve from processed food, grain, sugar, and alcohol. A reset. A month of whole-food eating. A gastronomical rest. It was the best thing I did for myself last fall. And I’m ready to do something good for myself again.
If you’re interested in jumping on that sort of bandwagon for a short period of time (read: do-able period of time) stick around. Most of the recipes you find here for the next thirty days will be Whole 30 compliant. But even if that’s not your jam, I promise the food you find here will be nourishing, tasty, and not overly-complicated, as always.

To get things off to a rolling start:

CAULIFLOWER-RICE STUFFED PEPPERS

IMG_1698

1 head of cauliflower
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/4-1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to your taste preference
3-4 chicken thighs, cooked and diced fine
2-3 cups of baby greens
3-4 sweet peppers, color of your choice

Start with a batch of cauliflower rice.
I use a food processor for this, but you can also use a hand grader.
When whirled in a food processor or run over a grade, cauliflower transforms into ‘grains’ that resemble rice in texture, but of course, without the grain aspect Whole 30 and other clean eating methods avoid.

Take one head of cauliflower and whirl, or grate one small batch at a time, until the entire head has been transformed into “rice.” In a large sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat and cook diced onion and diced garlic until transparent. Add the cauliflower rice and work gently with a soft spatula over the heat until it cooks through. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the rice and then add the diced chicken thighs (or omit, if you prefer to avoid meat), and finally, add the baby greens. Continue mixing over heat until the greens begin to wilt and all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
Remove from heat.

Slice the tops off the peppers and remove seeds from inside. Fill each pepper with cauliflower rice, place in a baking dish, and bake at 350-degrees for 25 minutes.

Serve warm.

cauliflower rice with fresh guac and cucumbers

Lunch is hard.

By lunch I’ve usually exhausted any energy my coffee addiction provided, the kids are clamoring for something super healthy like Kraft MacNCheese, chips, and bread, and all I can think about is eating something that will make the noise stop for just a few minutes. That, or a second to pee by myself.
Ahem.
Lunch is hard.

But sometimes, lunch can be less hard—and this usually happens when you thought to plan ahead, or when whatever you made for dinner last night can ride in on a sliver spoon, reimagined as something new and tasty.

And thusly lunch rode in today. It was quick, easy, whole30 friendly (!) and while it didn’t make any of the clamoring cease, it did give me a little extra energy where coffee failed. Winning. Happy lunching friends!

CAULIFLOWER RICE WITH FRESH GUACAMOLE AND CUCUMBER SLICES

IMG_0240

Cauliflower rice is a staple I try to have on hand all the time. It’s a great vegetarian base for almost any meal and it goes with everything. It’s a little odiferously strong, but the flavor is fantastic and it keeps in the fridge for about three to four days—though my batch rarely lasts that long.

CAULIFLOWER RICE:
1 head of cauliflower
3 tablespoons (or more as needed) Olive or Avocado oil
1 tablespoon Sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt (+ additional to taste)

Chop a head of cauliflower into bite-sized pieces, and then in a food processor, pulse into rice-sized bits. I have a 7-cup processor and it takes several batches to get the whole head of cauliflower processed. This is the messy part of the recipe.

1442067677985

In a large wok or deep skillet, heat olive (or avocado) oil on med heat. You’re not going to fry the cauliflower, you’re going to cook it, so make sure your pan isn’t too hot or it will splatter and burn. (Believe me, I learned this the hard way!) Add the cauliflower to the oil, sprinkle in salt, and mix thoroughly with a spatula. Feel free to taste and adjust salt as desired. Continue stirring occasionally until the rice begins to soften a bit and stick together. It will not be as sticky as actual rice, but it will clump a bit when moved around the pan. You don’t want it too soft or mushy (like a paste) so be careful not to overcook.

Once cooked through, remove the pan from heat and set aside. For this recipe, the rice can be served either hot or cold, your choice.

GUACAMOLE:
2 ripe avocados
3 tablespoons chunky salsa
1 teaspoon diced garlic
1 teaspoon diced onion
1 teaspoon lemon juice

In a food processor, pulse the ingredients until combined but not soupy. You’ll want to be able to tell what the ingredients were, before they were combined. So, kinda chunky. (Good foodie terms there, I know).

In a bowl, spoon cauliflower rice (hot or cold) and top generously with fresh guac. Throw on handful of fresh cucumber slices (the baby ones are my fav!) for a nice fresh crunch and call it good. Good lunch.
Enjoy!

 

 

 

pan-grilled chicken breast on a bed of cauliflower rice with balsamic-glazed baby carrots

Sundays are the one day I give myself permission to basically abandon the kitchen to the forces of nature (my kids) and I cook only one meal. They are on their own for breakfast and lunch. Except the baby, of course. I’m a good responsible parent. She gets fruit snacks and a bottle. Kidding. Totally kidding. Mostly.

Anyway. Sundays. One main meal in the middle of the day. Something everyone will eat. Something relatively easy and quick to put together (because the after-church hanger is real). So often that ends up having something to do with chicken. —Soup, occasionally. Or a pot-pie. Today it was pan-grilled chicken, cauliflower rice (because whole30) and baby carrots. I fancied things up a bit for the adults with balsamic glaze on the carrots and a few avocado slices to finish it off, but everyone else requested ketchup, no cauliflower rice. (“Ewww that’s gross Mom!” Whateves), and carrots “with no black stuff.” So much for cultivating culinary taste and appreciation for presentation. Oh well. At least this meal has the benefit of mix-and-match so that we can appease ALL THE TASTE PREFERENCES. Hooray for Sundays.
Enjoy!

PAN-GRILLED CHICKEN BREAST ON A BED OF CAULIFLOWER RICE WITH BALSAMIC-GLAZED BABY CARROTS

1451851219388

4-5 chicken breasts
1 lb baby carrots
1 head of cauliflower
4 tablespoons clarified butter
2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
¼ cup diced onions
a dash of Italian or poultry spices
salt and pepper to taste

CARROTS:
Start by steaming the baby carrots as they will cook away while you prepare the rest of the food. Use an in-pan steam-colander if you have one, or another steaming method you are comfortable with. When done, the carrots should be fork-tender.

CHICKEN:
While the carrots are steaming, heat 2 tablespoons of clarified butter in a large flat-bottomed pan over med-high heat. Sauté onions until caramelized, spread evenly across the bottom of the pan and lay the chicken breasts on top. Sprinkle with Italian or poultry spices, along with salt and pepper to taste, cover and allow to cook for 5-7 minutes. Flip and repeat for another 5-7 minutes. You can check for doneness by gently slicing through the middle of one breast. The meat should be white all the way through. If it is still pink, allow it to cook for a couple more minutes. Remove the chicken from pan and set aside.

CAULIFLOWER RICE:
The ‘rice’ is the messiest part of this meal, but it’s so delicious that it’s definitely worth the hassle. You will need a food processor for this job or you’ll have to be handy with a dicing knife. I’ve used both and prefer the food processor method. Take a fresh head of cauliflower, pare of the greens, chop into small pieces, and then whirl in a food processor on the pulse setting until the cauliflower resembles rice grains. You can do the same thing with a large knife and a cutting board. It just takes a little longer.

Once the cauliflower is processed, warm another 2 tablespoons of clarified butter in the same pan you cooked the chicken. (Make sure you leave all the drippings and spices from the chicken! They flavor the rice perfectly). Add the processed cauliflower to the hot pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and turn with a spatula to cook evenly and mix in all those tasty spices left over from cooking the chicken. Once well-mixed, cover for 5-8 minutes and allow to cook. Turn again. The rice should not be mushy—careful not to overcook or you will just have made the most delicious baby food. So catch it before the mush state and remove from heat.

The carrots should be done by now, and everything is ready to plate—cauliflower rice, chicken breasts, carrots. Top the carrots with balsamic for a nice glaze (granted ketchup isn’t the condiment of preferable choice) and serve hot.