Cilantro Lime Chicken

– johanna | April 30th, 2010

Filed under: RECIPES - Main Dish

I found this really great Cilantro Lime Chicken recipe in the Eating Healthy section of Woman’s Day magazine. Normally I glimpse over the section and toss because they rarely have any recipes, that although I might enjoy them, I feel my kids would not eat it. This time I found a few recipes to try Cilantro Lime Chicken being one of them.

A couple summers ago I had this obsession with cilantro and limes. I could not get enough. I tried several Cilantro Lime Chicken recipes but was never impressed. In this particular recipe the hint of sweetness from the honey, the pungent cilantro and tart lime build upon one another creating a nice mingling of flavors making this my go to recipe for fajitas. I doubled the marinade and used it to baste the chicken while cooking. The flavor was perfect.

Source: Woman’s Day 2010
Cilantro Lime Chicken:
1 tbsp
1 honey
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 chicken breasts

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, lime juice and cilantro. Pour this mixture over the chicken breast and marinate for 20 minutes. Discard marinade.

Grill or broil chicken for 6-8 minutes per side until it is cooked through and no longer pink.

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Grilled Vegetables with Pasta and Sausage

– johanna | April 28th, 2010

Filed under: BUDGET MEALS, RECIPES - Main Dish

Grilled vegetables with Pasta

Grilled vegetables with pasta is one of my favorite ways to use up vegetables and left over meat. Except in winter when they all go in a pot for soup. This dish is a throw back to my days in college. It is cheap, quick, easy and the variations are endless. Back then I used Top Ramen onions and peppers. On a college budget 10 for $1.00 for Top Ramen was not bad. The grilled vegetables seemed to turn an ordinary plate of noodles into an elegant meal. Throw in some black beans and I had a sustainable meal for all those hiking trips in the mountains.

6 ounces Italian Sausage, chicken, pork, steak or 1 can of black or garbanzo beans,
1 small red onion, sliced
2 zucchini, halved then chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium bell pepper, sliced
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
Pepper
1 pound pasta of you choice

Boil pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the grease. Add the vegetables. Let cook a few minutes before stirring. Continue sauteing a few minutes longer. The vegetables should be tender but still have a bite to them.

Drain pasta. Dish pasta onto plates or bowls and top with a serving of vegetables.

Serves 4

Variations:
Meats: chicken, steak, pork chops, bacon, black beans, garbanzo beans, Kidney beans, tofu, ect.
Vegetables: eggplant, squash, tomatoes, peas, asparagus, artichoke hearts, bok choy, broccoli, ect.

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Setting a Table and Dinning Etiquette

– johanna | April 26th, 2010

Filed under: THE BOOKSHELF, THE DISH ON PARENTING

place-setting-guide

If we want to have an enjoyable and civilized dining experience with our kids we have to take the time to teach them. That means eating together as a family and practicing good habits at home. Etiquette is defined as the rules for socially acceptable behavior. Bad table manners are a form of disrespect. If you want to make a great first impression on a first date, land a job interview or be ready for Thanksgiving at Aunt Bertha’s practice makes perfect.

Consider dinnertime as an intimate social event. You are not only there to eat but to enjoy each other’s company. Etiquette helps us know what is expected of us and what we can expect from others. It is like a coordinated dance from the placement of the dinnerware to the movements of the dinner guests. Knowing and understanding table manners (the dance steps) allows everyone to enjoy the meal and avoid embarrassment.

Younger children require constant reminders. Over time if we stick to it they will surprise us. Avoid saying “do not do that” and never scold them when they slip up. Small children lack the coordination therefore; meals are going to be messy. Making negative comments or yelling at them only embarrasses them and encourages them to misbehave. Instead use positive reinforcement to explain what they should be doing and why. When a glass of water is unintentionally spilled quietly help them clean it up. The same rule applies when adults tip a glass. We would use our napkin to calmly and quickly stop the spill from running over to the persons next to us. Withholding our agitation at the mess teaches them by example how to handle the situation properly. Should a child want to purposely cause mayhem remind them of the rules; food belongs on the plate not on the floor. If they insist on making a mess they can eat dinner alone in the other room or take their meal away.

It is important to explain to children and teenagers precisely why we have rules of etiquette at the dinner table.
–Always wash your hands before eating.
— We wait until everyone is served or the hostess says to start eating because that is the polite thing to do. It is rude to eat in front of someone especially when we are a guest in someone’s home.
— Always place a napkin in your lap so that food lands in the napkin and not on the floor. You also do not want your napkin to invade your neighbor’s eating space.
— We don’t put our elbows on the table, because it crowds others and you could knock something over.
— We don’t burp out loud, because it is unpleasant and offensive to those around you.
— Chew with your mouth closed because no one wants to see your chewed food, it is gross.
— Take small bites because you could choke.
— Ask brother to pass the peas. Reaching for things far away on the table could knock something over.
— Always say please and thank you to show gratitude.

For everything you ever wanted to know about dinning etiquette visit EtiquetteScholar.com. The following videos will cover setting an informal dinner table and touch on a a few basic principles of etiquette.

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Warm Spinach Salad with Ginger-Soy Vinaigrette

– johanna | April 23rd, 2010

Filed under: RECIPES - Sides, RECIPES - Soup / Salad

I am amazed that so many recipes have withstood the test of time. Take roasted chicken, green beans and mashed potatoes. A traditional dinner menu that has not evolved much over time. Add a few herbs to the chicken, a little garlic to the beans and some butter and milk in the potatoes and you have yourself a tasty dinner. Cooked spinach and liver on the other hand needed a serious overhaul and with today’s culinary artists spinach is finding its way into our homes once again. Warm Spinach with Ginger Soy Vinaigrette is not your Grandmother’s slimy  flavorless spinach. For picky kids pair with a side of fish or pasta.

Source: Clean Eating Magazine
Vinaigrette
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup light or blended olive oil

Salad
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup shelled edamame beans
4 cups baby spinach leaves, washed and stemmed
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup unsalted dry roasted cashews
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan, combine all vinaigrette ingredients. Simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes; set aside.

To prepare salad heat a large saute pan over medium heat, add oil and mushrooms; saute until cooked through. Add edamame sauteing to heat through, about 2 minutes. Add spinach; heat until leaves just begin to wilt, about 1 minute.

Pour spinach mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add cilantro and cashews. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss with just enough vinaigrette to coat. Serve immediately.

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Cilantro

– johanna | April 21st, 2010

Filed under: THE GARDEN

cilantro-leaves

The Coriander plant originated in 5,000 BC Greece, where it was first cultivated and used as a spice to flavor meats and breads. Its popularity grew throughout the Asian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions as its medical and culinary properties began to gain appeal.  By the mid15th century cilantro, the leaves of the coriander plant, became an essential part of Latin cuisine in Mexico and Peru through the culinary influence of the Spanish conquistadors. The entire Coriander plant is edible including the roots which are featured in traditional Thai and Chinese cuisines.

coriander-roots

Cilantro leaves are derived from the coriander plant and bear a strong resemblance to Italian flat leaf parsley. In fact I often have to smell the two to tell them apart. Cilantro, although highly aromatic, has the ability to subtly enhance the other flavors in a dish. Cilantro is an elegant delicate herb often used sprinkled on salads, soups, mixed in sauces and salsas and as tenderizer for meat. Select cilantro that is deep green and vibrant, without signs of wilting or yellowing. To store, rinse well, dry and place moist in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Coriander the spice refers to the fruit of the coriander plant that contains two yellowish-brown seeds that are ground into powder. It is best to buy whole coriander seeds instead of coriander powder since the powder loses its flavor more quickly. Coriander seeds can be easily ground with a mortar and pestle when needed to season soups, meats and sauces.coriander seed

The health benefits of the coriander plant have been used since Hippocrates.
(Use daily in cooking or essential oil form)

  • Anti inflammatory. Often used to alleviate arthritis.
  • Prevents nausea. Safe for pregnant women.
  • Aids in healthy digestion by preventing indigestion and relieves intestinal bloating.
  • Is known to lower blood sugar levels in diabetics by stimulating the secretion of insulin.
  • Protects against of urinary tract infections
  • Lowers bad cholesterol levels while increasing good cholesterol levels reducing the effects of hyperglycemia.
  • Has antimicrobial properties. Effective antibiotic.
  • A natural cleansing agent.
  • Kills the bacteria that causes salmonella.
  • Treatment of skin diseases.
  • Cold and cough remedy.
  • Used to remove toxic agents and other heavy metals from the body.
  • A good source of iron, magnesium, flavonoids and phytonutrients.
  • Fight against the free radicals protecting cells from oxidative damage.
  • Immune booster. Helps fight chronic infections.

*Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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A love of the Earth

– johanna | April 19th, 2010

Filed under: CREATING MEMORIES, THE BOOKSHELF, THE CRAFT CLOSET

mother-earth

Photo By: Unknown

It was a beautiful clear day in Southern Florida. The date January 28th 1986. I was in fifth grade at the time and a member of the Jr. Science Academy. I joined the club with the promise that one day I would be the one looking out the window back at earth. I doubt anyone was more excited than our Science teacher as we stood on the lawn with our faces to the sky. We watched as the speck of light ascended upward our teacher radiant with anticipation for this monumental occasion. The mood changed from delight to horror in what seemed like an instant. I heard the words “Oh no” muttered and turned to see tears blinding my teachers eyes. I like many of the other students were confused. These were not tears of joy. Something was amiss. With eyes turned upward we gathered together as our teacher pointed out the scene before us. The boosters ejected but the brilliant star in the cloud of smoke dropping from the crystal blue heavens was not normal. The Challenger Space Shuttle had exploded.

The months following the Challenger disaster brought clarity and closure. Extensive investigations revealed the failure of an O-ring on one of the boosters that allowed gas to leak out upon take off. Fingers were pointed and the blame passed from department to department and person to person  until the country moved on and forgot. Cities, schools and clubs did their best to honor those fallen through memorials. Our group of Jr. Scientist banned together with our fearless leader to ensure that no one would forget the crew on board the Space Shuttle Challenger that frightful day. The press was called. The dignitaries invited. The school witnessed as we each stood around a young newly planted tree and dedicated it in the memory of Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis and Judith Renick. In

In 1993 I took a summer job with the City of Parks and Recreation Department in West Palm Beach teaching art and drama at different summer camps throughout the county. My last week of summer camp took me to the Christa McAuliffe Middle school in Lake Worth Florida. Being there reminded me of that day we placed plaques for each member of the Challenger team around the base of young tree. Last I knew the tree was torn down by a hurricane but the vegetable and herb garden at the middle school was vibrant and thriving.

Earth Day and Arbor Day reside in the month of April. It is only fitting as Basho told Annie and Jack in The Dragon of Red Dawn, “After something is destroyed by fire, a good new thing often takes its place…just as after the bleakest winter, beautiful flowers return with the spring.” When I think of Earth Day I am reminded of all the bounties Mother Earth gives us. The towering trees for shelter and shade. A babbling brook for respite and thirst. Flowers for beauty. Clouds for the rain that cleanses the dusty fields. It is our job as caretakers of this world to minister to the land. We each are charged with the task of keeping the grounds clean and beautifying the planet. The thing that moved me most about the memorials for the Challenger astronauts was the thoughtfulness of planting a tree and garden. It was not just an hour of band music and crafted speeches that die off with the close of the ceremony. I believe these seven men and women cared deeply for the earth and the galactic space around it. What better way to pay tribute than to plant a life that in return can help sustain us.

Caring for the earth should be an everyday mission. On April 22 the world will come together to celebrate our amazing planet. Many will join with local groups and organizations to plant, clean and educate. Here are just a few ideas to teach your family and friends about caring for our home and to usher in the glorious spring.

Trash Duty: Clean up the trash around the neighborhood, school, park, beach and highways. It is important to keep our beaches clean. Trash can be deadly to the native animals that live near and in the water. In addition to picking up trash along the shoreline we can plant grass and plants that aid in the building up of the dunes to deter erosion.

Graffiti Patrol: In the city where we used to live there was a graffiti task force that went out every morning at the crack of dawn looking for tags to clean up. Where we live now the city is not so concerned about vandalism. If your town does not have a system in place local volunteers can work together to keep the signs and fences free of graffiti.

Green Thumb: Plant a garden, trees, flowers or herbs. Use egg cartons as pots to start seeds. Learn how to compost. Composting is a way to recycle kitchen scraps and and yard waste. When done properly compost becomes a healthy chemical free fertilizer.

Earth Friendly: Switch to earth friendly cleaners such as the Shaklee brand of chemical free products. Spruce up the home with energy efficient light bulbs and appliances. Always ask if antibiotics are necessary. Dispose of harmful chemicals, batteries, cell phones, appliances and paint at designated depositories.

Conservation: Use less water by turning the water while brushing your teeth and taking shorter hot showers. Monitor the sprinkler system to avoid over watering the lawn. Start the dish washer when there is a full load. Adjust the washing machine to the size of the load. Quickly change loads as soon as the dryer stops. The dryer will not have to work as hard to heat back up again. Turn off the lights when leaving a room that is not occupied and unplug appliances when not in use.  Change out air filters. Make repairs to leaky faucets and toilets. Carpool, take the bus or ride a bike.

Declutter: Vow to live within your means. Buying less unnecessary items equals less stuff in the land fill. Sell, donate or freecycle unwanted items.

Recycle: If you do not have a recycling service help implement one or take your recyclables to a local school that has a recycling program. The money they earn goes right back into the school for programs and supplies.

Recycled art: Milk jug bird houses, pine cone bird feeders, paper necklaces, cardboard doll house, Egg cartons space ships, kids clothing and tote bags from t-shirts. Family Fun, Kaboose,

Ways to Celebrate: Enjoy a hike or picnic. Relax, connect with nature and enjoy the little things around you. Host an Earth Day Party. Have booths set up to teach your guests how to compost, seasonal cooking, plant a garden and recycle clothing and toys into something else.

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Classic Carrot Cake with Variables

– johanna | April 16th, 2010

Filed under: RECIPES - Treats

Classic Carrot Cake

Carrots were used in Europe as an inexpensive sweetener in cakes and puddings dating far back as the Middle Ages. It is no surprise baked goods sweetened and flavored with vegetables and fruits remain a favorite commodity. The Classic Carrot Cake arrived in America in the 20th century as a “healthy alternative” to traditional desserts. The beloved carrot cake can be found in tea houses throughout Britain and cafes across the American continent. The contents of the carrot cake vary with the region and the person making it. For some folks additions like coconut, raisins, nuts and pineapple are a must have. There are those who prefer a spongy moist cake, others a dense cake, a light cake, a plain cake, wheat-free cake, a sugar-free cake, less oil and the list goes on.

For the past three months I have put in countless hours researching this iconic dessert. My question? What makes the perfect carrot cake? Conclusion? There isn’t one. At least not a perfect carrot cake recipe to satisfy the majority of the masses. We all have our own taste. I could post a recipe from the internet with a following of rave reviews but where is the fun in that. I was curious if I could come up with a base recipe that would support the amount of substitutions people would want to make and still be pleasing.

One note I do want to expound on is substitutions. Often times we make the rationale when replacing part of the oil with applesauce that we are making the cake healthier. Fact is the opposite is true. While it is correct that applesauce reduces the fat content it inadvertently increases the sugar content. Ideally if you choose to replace the oil with applesauce or buttermilk, remember to reduce the sugar by 1/2 cup.

Be sure to scroll down to the Variations section for alternative suggestions.

4 eggs
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon powder
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
3 cups carrots, finely grated (about 6-7 medium sized)
Cream Cheese frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan.

Spread walnuts on a baking sheet. Bake for 6-8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Finely chop nuts; set aside.

Wash and peel carrots. Using a box grater or food processor finely shred carrots; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together eggs and sugars until completely incorporated. Drizzle oil in a steady stream while mixing constantly to emulsify.

In a small bowl sift flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Add chopped nuts; mix to incorporate. Gently fold dry ingredients into egg mixture until just combined. (Ribbons of flour are still noticeable.) Fold in carrots until completely combined. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 40-50 minutes until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Variations:
— Replace 3/4 cup of oil with 3/4 cup buttermilk.*
— Reduce the oil to 3/4 cup to 1 cup.**
*The proteins in milk can produce a tougher crumb in cakes.
**Reducing the oil this much will result in a drier cake. We recommend reducing the oil no more that 1 cup.
— Substitute all-purpose flour for: 1 cup wheat, 1/4 flax seed meal and 3/4 white. OR substitute all wheat, spelt or a combination or whole grain flours.
— Reduce the sugar by 1/2 cup.
— Replace sugar with equal amount of Xylitol or 1 1/2 cups honey or 2 cups applesauce.
— Use equal parts white and brown sugar or all white or all brown.
— Add 2 teaspoons vanilla. (add with eggs)
— Add 1 cup toasted coconut. (add with carrots)
— Add 1 (8-oz) can pineapple, drained and squeezed. (add with carrots)
— Add 1 cup raisins or sultanas – soaked in orange juice or rum. (add with carrots)
— Add 1/4 cup chopped Crystallized ginger. (add with carrots)
— Substitute allspice or pumpkin pie spice for nutmeg and cloves.

Notes:
— Our carrot cake was baked using a glass 9X13 baking dish. Dark metal or ceramic pans may vary baking time.
— If you live in a higher elevation you might need to make adjusts. Click here for helpful hints.
— To make cupcakes reduce baking time to 20-25 minutes.

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The Science of Baking Cakes

– johanna | April 14th, 2010

Filed under: KITCHEN SCIENCE, THE BOOKSHELF

Photograph by: Romulo Yanes

Photograph by: Romulo Yanes

It is said that baking is not only an art but more importantly it is a science. First let’s take a look at the science of baking a cake for each main ingredient in a recipe serves an important purpose. The basic carrot cake recipes are all pretty much the same, 2 cups sugar, 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups oil, 4 eggs and 3 cups carrots.

  • Every carrot cake recipe I found called for 2 to 2 1/2 cups of flour. Flour is the primary structure builder in most cakes. The gluten in the flour reacts with the leavening agent (baking soda and baking powder and oil) during baking to make the cake rise.
  • The second ingredient is sugar. The first rule in baking states that the sugar should weigh slightly more or equal to the amount of flour used. This is because the sugar is needed to tenderize the gluten in the flour and acts as a sweetener and preservative to keep the cake moist for several days. About 50 percent of the sugar may be replaced with a liquid substitute; although, when replacing granular sugar for the liquid form, the liquid content of the recipe must be reduced slightly by a couple of tablespoons to a ¼ cup to compensate. The combined weight of the liquid (eggs, fats, milk water, fruits, vegetables, ect) should equal or exceed the weight of the sugar.
  • The third ingredient is oil. Oil like sugar acts as a tenderizing agent to keep the cake from drying out while baking. Oil is also used in correlation with baking soda and powder as a leavening agent. When the oil is mixed into the batter it helps to incorporate air into the cake giving it volume.
  • The fourth main ingredient is eggs. Eggs react with the flour and oil in providing structure and strength. Because of the tenderizing properties of oil the proteins in eggs are necessary to give the cake support. Therefore, the weight of the eggs should equal or exceed the weight of the oil.

Other things to consider:
It is necessary to consider the amount of fat, eggs and liquid used in a recipe. The liquid in the cake (milk, water, milk, eggs, vegetable, fruit, vanilla) serves to develop the gluten, dissolves the sugar, ignites the baking powder and regulates the temperature of the batter while in the oven. Liquids should always equal or exceed the weight of the sugar. If not enough liquid is used to dissolve the sugar, the cake will collapse in the center. If there is too much flour there will not be enough liquid to dissolve the sugar. The amount of liquid is partially controlled by the type of fat used as oils, margarine and shortening vary in the amount of water they contain.

In our carrot cake recipe we need 50-60 percent as much oil as flour. The weight of the eggs should equal or slightly exceed the weight of the oil. The combined weight of the eggs plus the liquid (fats, milk water, fruits, vegetables, ect) should equal or exceed the weight of the sugar. The weight of the sugar should equal the weight of the flour.

On to Substitutions:
I have just given you the rules based on the science of baking a cake. Now let’s discuss the exceptions to the rules. Theoretically the sugar and oil can be reduced slightly without a replacement in most recipes. Substitutions are not ideal especially when baking delicate foods such as pastries. Quick breads like banana bread or carrot cake offer a little more room for error.

baking science

Cake Baking Science Project:

Put science to the test with this cake science project. Learn about chemical reactions by baking 4 small cakes leaving one important ingredient out of 3 of them. The ingredients are only for 1 cake, so you’ll need to measure and mix 4 times.

What you’ll need:
• A small soup or cereal bowl
• Several layers of aluminum foil
• A pie pan
• Cooking oil to grease the “cake pans”
• Measuring spoons
• A cup or small bowl for the egg
• A small mixing bowl
• Your science journal

Ingredients:
• 6 tablespoons flour
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• Pinch of salt
• 2 or 3 pinches baking powder
• 2 tablespoons milk
• 2 tablespoons cooking oil
• 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
• Part of an egg
(Break egg into a cup, beat until mixed.
Use 1/3 of it. Save the rest for 2 of the other cakes.)

What to do:
1. Wrap several layers of aluminum foil around the outside of a cereal or soup bowl to form a mold.
2. Remove your foil “pan” and put it in a pie pan for support.
3. Oil the “inside” of your foil pan with cooking oil so the cake doesn’t stick.
4. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees.
5. Mix all of the dry ingredients together. Add the wet ones (only use 1/3 of the egg). Stir until smooth and all the same color.
6. Pour batter into the “pan.”
7. Bake for 15 minutes.
8. Bake 3 more cakes:
Leave the oil out of one.
Leave the egg out of another.
Leave the baking powder out of the third.
Cut each cake in half and look at the insides.
Do they look different?
Do they taste different?
9. Write about, or draw pictures of, what you see and taste.
Heat helps some chemical reactions to occur as the cake bakes:
It helps baking powder produce tiny bubbles of gas making the cake light and fluffy (this is called leavening).
It causes protein from the egg to change and make the cake firm.
Oil keeps the heat from drying out the cake.

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Add the Final Touch to the Dinner Table

– johanna | April 12th, 2010

Filed under: CREATING MEMORIES

Dinnertable Flare

In many a household dinner has become a rush of events. From mine own experience with little ones crying from hunger, the baby begging to be held and the chaos that ensues now that mom is not looking can dampen any attempt for a peaceful family dinner. In a rush to console the masses plates, cups, silverware and napkins are piled on the table followed by a weary call to come to dinner.

Make dinnertime special by adding a little flare to the table.

– Use fun tablecloths to add color.

– Arrange a small bouquet of flowers for a centerpiece.

– Move dinner outside on a blanket or enlist a couple helpers to carry the table outdoors.

– Pull out the cloth napkins.

– Put away the plastic kid-proof plates once in a while.

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Moroccan Tajine Chicken & Lentils

– johanna | April 9th, 2010

Filed under: RECIPES - Main Dish

Moroccan Chicken and Lentils

Morocco is located at the northern tip of East Africa spanning from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea to the Sahara desert. Morocco is largely mountainous with a great expanse of coastal plains and desert.
It is noted that Morocco has the the most diversified cuisines in the world sharing a mix of Berber, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and African influences. Saffron, mint, olives, oranges and lemons in addition to imported spices are used extensively in Moroccan cuisine. The most commonly eaten foods are chicken, beef and couscous with meat pie (pastilla), stew (tajine) and soup (harira) and mint tea.

If you have never tried Moroccan cuisine this Tajine recipe for Moroccan Chicken & Lentils is the perfect introduction. Chicken and lentils is one of my favorite ethnic dishes. The spices are similar to a curry but those with an aversion to the strong flavor should find the combination a bit more pleasing.

Source: Stolen Moments Cooking
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, sliced thin
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts
1/2 pound baby carrots or sliced carrots
1 1/4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dried lentils

In a small bowl, combine the paprika, cumin, coriander, ginger, turmeric and black pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil. Add onions and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Stir in spice blend and cook for an additional 3 minutes, stirring frequently so that the spices do not burn.

Add chicken, carrots, lentils and chicken stock to the skillet. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked, about 20-25 minutes. Check chicken for doneness. If fully cooked remove from pan, shred. Return to skillet when lentils and carrots are tender. Stir to combine.

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