Hacienda Chicken with Saffron Rice

Got a new recipe for you today! Aren’t you excited!!? It seemed blog worthy enough because it turned out looking so pretty. I mean, it tastes pretty good too, but I really fell in love with the colors!! Saffron is one of those spices that probably never gets touched in most home kitchens. Not only is it a hard to find ingredient, it is also highly expensive. I am not really sure what makes it so expensive. Regardless, it was one of those intriguing spices that would lure me every time I did run across it. I made a run to our local Indian food store a few weeks back and happened to see a small little box of red thread! Saffron! And it was affordable! I couldn’t resist that time.

I have to admit however, that even though the saffron was very pretty in the rice, I cannot vouch that it was entirely all that flavorful. Not sure what saffron is suppose to taste like?! Maybe I got a bad, cheap-o batch of the stuff? Maybe that’s why it is usually far more expensive? I did notice a subtle flavor, kind of earthy, but I am not sure I’d spend money on that flavor. All that to be said…feel free to make this dish without the addition of saffron…unless you really just want pretty rice to accompany it! In that case, I don’t judge either way. Just don’t blow your grocery budget on the stuff. And maybe I am wrong after all and saffron really does taste amazing. In which case, save up and buy some good stuff!

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On another note. Green olives. I know some love them and some hate them. My husband, as adventurous as he is and usually willing to try just about anything, really does not like olives. He did nearly freak out when he saw them in the pot. Lol. For this reason, I chose to keep the olives whole so they can easily be fished out by those who are less than enthusiastic about them. No problema…more for ME! However, I do think that you should add the olive brine irregardless of if you like olives or not. It adds a very subtle salty flavor that is unmatched. My husband had no problem with that flavor. I just fished out the green orbs before serving him his plate. No complaints after that 😉 If you positively cannot stand the olives, maybe add some capers and caper juice in place of them. If you love olives however, I would suggest chopping them so the flavor is more evenly distributed. Ok that’s a long enough spiel about olives.

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Hacienda Chicken

  • 3 T butter
  • ½ large onion
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (use two cups diced fresh tomatoes if you wish!)
  • 2 cups chopped baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 cup chicken broth or water
  • 1 T dried parsley
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 lb of chicken cuts of choice (we use boneless/skinless thighs)
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ½ cup green olives (sliced if everyone likes them or leave them whole if you have someone who doesn’t like them and wants to pick them out!)
  • ¼ cup of brine from the green olives (pour it out of the jar!)
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ cup feta cheese crumbled
  • Fresh parsley for serving


Heat butter in Dutch oven (or large pot) and add onions. Saute onions until translucent 3-5 mins. Add garlic and saute for one minute. Toss mushrooms in now and continue to saute for just a couple minutes. Add your diced tomatoes, broth/water, parsley, paprika and chicken. Bring to a simmer and let cook until chicken is done. If you are using chicken breasts or thighs, prob about 20-30 minutes. Near the end of the cooking time, add the white wine, olives and olive brine. Salt to taste. Turn burner off and sprinkle feta cheese over the dish. Serve over saffron rice if you really want to be fancy! A sprinkle of fresh parsley would be oh so lovely too. We ate ours with sauteed kale and garlic.

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Erica’s Quick-Easy Saffron Rice

  • 3 cups chicken broth or water
  • 4 T butter
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 ½ cups white basamati rice


Bring broth, butter, salt and saffron to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add rice and stir once. Cover pot and set timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, make sure all your water is absorbed and take pot off the stove and set aside for a few minutes. Fluff rice with fork and serve.

Photo Mar 03, 5 38 19 PMEnjoy!!

Red Lentils and Spinach in Masala Sauce

It’s been a while since I have posted a recipe. I guess I just lack self-confidence in feeling like my recipes are “blog worthy” ya know? I don’t want anyone to make something and be like, “ew”. Although, I suppose all taste buds are different. To each his own.

I had a craving for some kind of curry/Indian/spicy dish tonight. Baby decided it would be a good night for a spicy dish. When I use this word “spicy” I am really referring to a dish with a lot of spices, not necessarily heat. So, don’t freak out this won’t burn your buds (unless of course you want it to).

I had this recipe on my menu plan for the last like 4 months and I have had yet to make it. I was very pleased with the results even though I was missing a couple of ingredients. Shhh, no one will ever know….It ended up being delightful, despite having not had everything. A great throw together, light, weeknight meal that is vegetarian and superbly healthy! Give it a whirl and let me know what you think. I am going to try some more revisions on the recipe to see if I can make it even more epic, but for now, the simple will do. Oh and by the way…it’s really not a very beautiful dish…or at least my food photography skills are seriously lacking. Sorry bout that. It’s better than it looks I promise!

Red Lentils and Spinach in Masala Sauce

Adapted from: Naturally Ella

Ingredients-Listed in two parts below!
Masala Paste:
  • 1½ teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 0-1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (depends on how hot you want. I did not add any since my kids don’t like hot).
  • 1 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garam marsala
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped almonds or cashews
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Masala paste, that you made above
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (or approx 2 cups, chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 can of coconut cream (in a pinch use FULL-FAT coconut milk…don’t use low fat!)
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 3/4 cup red lentils (please only use red lentils, they are much different from your average brown or green lentil!)
  • 2 cups frozen spinach or a large handful of fresh spinach
  • Optional Garnishes: Cilantro, Limes, Yogurt
  1. To make masala paste, toast cumin and coriander seeds in skillet until fragrant and wisps of smoke start to come off. Be careful not to burn! Use a mortar and pestle (or a spice grinder) to grind spices.
  2. photo 1 (32)In a small food processor or with immersion blender, add the grated ginger,  red pepper flakes (if using), paprika, cumin, coriander, garam marsala, and salt. Next, add olive oil, nuts, and tomato paste. Pulse until paste forms and everything is well incorporated. Feel free to add a few tablespoons of water if your paste is not mixing well! Set aside.
  3. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat. Melt coconut oil and add diced onion. Cook until translucent and starting to turn golden 5-10 minutes.  Add in minced garlic and cook for one more minute.
  4. Stir in masala paste and cook for 1-2 minutes, then stir in diced tomatoes and coconut cream. Stir together and bring to a boil.
  5. Add in lentils and reduce heat to medium low. Cook, stirring often, until lentils are tender, 25-30 minutes. You may need to add up to a cup of extra water if the lentils start sticking to the pan. You want a thick sauce but no burning!
  6. Stir in spinach. If using frozen, let it cook for a few mins to bring temperature back up. If you are using fresh, just toss it in and turn the burner off…it will cook in no time!
  7. Serve with rice or your favorite grain (quinoa or even some naan bread would be good!). Spritz a bit of lime on top and add plenty of cilantro. Feel free to try with some plain yogurt as well! (I did’t try with yogurt but I imagine it would be lovely).

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So there ya go! I know some of those ingredients are scary. Rest assured you can usually find these spices in bulk at places like Whole Foods. So, you don’t have to buy a huge jar of coriander seeds if you have no idea how to use them! Also, in a pinch I am sure you could already ground spices (like the cumin) if you really wanted. The flavor just wouldn’t be as pungent, so maybe toss in a dash more!

PS- Did you know that coriander seed is really cilantro seeds? Cool huh!

Chicken Korma with Soaked Rice

I realized I haven’t posted a recipe in a while. Mainly because I have been in a cooking rut. I get in those every now and then where I am lacking motivation…or ingredients…or energy…or…or, I just make excuses. I usually get most creative and inspired at the beginning of the month, right after I go shopping. Times when my fridge is stocked with lots of butter, cream, herbs, and bacon. By the end of the month we are down to eating beans and rice. Anyways. I’ve been on a good week this week, and whipped up some yummy stuff like Real Chicken Spaghetti, Tamale Pie, Zucchini Lasagna, and Chicken Korma. We even got a bit of a chilly streak of weather (it feels chilly after such a blasted hot weekend) so we even made homemade hot chocolate for dessert and watched the sunset. Ah, I can’t wait for fall.

Oh yeah…the recipe I was going to post! Ok, here it is!

Chicken Korma

Adapted from http://appetiteforchina.com

  • 1/2 cup almonds (whole, or slivered if you have them!)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 5 whole cardamom pods, split open, seeds removed and crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like it hot)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced or grated ginger
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt,( homemade is delicious!)
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons organic sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more if needed
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Big handful of chopped cilantro
  1. Grind 1/2 of the almonds in a spice grinder. The other 1/2, chop into pieces and save  for step 4.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the ground almonds, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cayenne pepper, paprika, cinnamon, and cloves.
  3. Heat the butter or coconut oil  in a large skillet (cast iron or stainless steel are best) over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent and golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Add the chicken and sauté, stirring occasionally, until it’s mostly white, about 5 minutes. Add the almond-spice mix and stir to coat the chicken and onions. You may add a little bit of water at this point if things are sticking badly to the bottom.
  4. Add the yogurt, bay leaf, and sugar. Allow the chicken to simmer for another 7 to 10 minutes, or until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper as you like.
  5. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with the remaining almond slices and chopped cilantro, and serve. It is especially delicious over soaked brown rice. (*Recipe for that below!)

My food photography skills are not superbly refined…my apologies.

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Soaked Brown Rice

  • 2 cups organic brown rice
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 2 T raw apple cider vinegar (We use Braggs)
  • 2 T butter, coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  1. The day before you would like to eat rice, put the rice, water and vinegar in a glass bowl (metal bowls are best avoided here!). Cover with a tea towel or lid. Set aside somewhere will it not get knocked over!
  2. Allow this to soak from anywhere from 8-24 hours. The longer the better! (This helps reduce the phytic acid present in rice which blocks mineral absorption in your body.)
  3. Now you have options: 1. You can dump this entire mixture into a pan and cook as described below. OR 2. You can drain the liquid in the bowl (measure the amount) and add either fresh water or chicken broth in the same amount as drained water.  The rice will have absorbed some of the water, so you will drain a lot less than you originally put in the bowl. (*If the rice has been soaking for more than 12 hours I usually go with option 2…just because). It is safe either way! No worries!
  4. Bring the rice and water/broth along with the butter and salt to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 25-30 minutes. Because the rice is soaked it will only take 1/2 the cooking time of normal brown rice. Sweet huh?
  5. Turn the burner off when the time is up and let the rice sit for a few mins while you finish the rest of the meal!

Leftover Beans- 2 Ways

I made a large pot of beans the other night to eat with rice-cuz we’re trying to be all frugal-like…good ol beans and rice. It was good as always but by about the third day of beans and rice for lunch I’m ready for something new. So last night for dinner I whipped up some bean and rice cakes. Ate them with roasted broccoli and carrot soufflé. Fanshy smanshy. Not really. I just needed to add some color to the drab looking bean cake-ya know?

I don’t really have recipes for these, per say…just kinda throw whatever you have in…

Beans and Rice Cakes

  • Use about equal portions of rice and beans…maybe more beans if your rice is dry, mine is rather sticky so it was fine.
  • 1-2 eggs (depending on amount of beans and rice)
  • A couple handfuls of breadcrumbs, cracker crumbs, goldfish, whatever you have!
  • Any additional seasonings you want (I didn’t add anything because beans were seasoned well)

Mix up all these ingredients and form into patties. I sprinkled some flour on both sides to help it from sticking to the plate. Melt a few tablespoons of coconut oil in a skillet (cast iron if you have it!) and fry on each side until brown and crispy. I served with sour cream on top.


Bean Dip

  • A couple of cups of leftover beans
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa
  • Cheese
  • Etc etc etc…whatever you like!

Drain the liquid off the beans as best as you can. Whiz the beans in the food processor (or vitamix is what I used) until creamy with a few small chunks. Spread the beans out on a plate or in pie dish. Spread sour cream on top of that, then salsa, then top with cheese and as many toppings as you wish! Olives, avocado, etc. This is so simple, but I never would have thought to do this from leftover bean soup! I did find this idea with a quick google search, but I wanted to share with you my ah ha! moment! We ate with some blue corn chips!

This is not the lovelies of pictures…beans are hard to make beautiful. I was also lacking in toppings…so we did the basic sour cream, salsa and cheese. It was good!



Cajun Red Beans and Rice

A while back I got a hankering for some good red beans and rice. I love the super creamy beans over some sticky rice. It is hard to come by. I also had made a few attempts before but could never get it right. I thought I would give it another go. I don’t usually repeat recipes that I make up, but this one is a keeper. I love this recipe. Its creamy and spicy and filling. So good.

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Cajun Red Beans and Rice

  • 2 links of andouille sausage links (I get mine from Whole Foods-they are chicken, but work well)
  • 2-3 strips bacon, chopped small before cooking (its easier this way)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green or red pepper, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced 
  • 30 oz (2 cans, drained) of cooked red kidney beans *See note
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1 t thyme
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper (more or less depending on your spice likes
  • 1 t sea salt
  • Cultured Butter
  • Hot brown rice


Remove sausage from its casing and put in large pot (I like using my enamel cast iron dutch oven). Chop sausage up with a wooden spatula and add bacon pieces. Cook these until bacon is crisp over medium-high heat. Remove meat from pan. Leave the bacon/sausage fat in the pan (unless its an excessive amount-need about 2 T) and put in onions. Saute onions until they are starting to look translucent. Add garlic and peppers. Cook for a few more mins until the peppers soften up a bit. To this, add the rest of the ingredients, including the meat. Let this come to a simmer and turn down to med-low heat, then leave it simmering for a couple of hours until it starts to thicken up. I will leave the lid on for the first hour or so, then partially cover to let some steam out. When things are looking cooked, take a potato masher and mash the beans just a bit. We aren’t looking for a puree here, just a few smooshed beans. Let this simmer for a few more minutes and it will really start to thicken up. Be careful to not let it stick to the bottom of the pan! Just use your wooden spatula to scrape off anything that sticks. It shouldn’t be burnt because its a low temp. Hopefully! Once you are happy with the consistency turn burner off! It will stay hot for a while!!

Make your brown rice when things look like they are wrapping up. Brown Rice recipe below. Serve beans over the brown rice and add a pat of cultured butter on top (this DOES make a difference- it’s amazing). If you cannot get cultured butter, which I HIGHLY recommend, I would still use salted butter in its place. It makes it ridiculously creamy and decadent. The cultured butter tastes so good on its own (I would eat it plain…) and adds so much flavor. Yum. Ok, then I just sprinkle some parsley on top for pretty-ness. Ya know?


Brown Rice

  • 2 cups of brown rice
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar or lemon juice


In a glass jar or bowl mix rice, water and vinegar/lemon juice together the night before(or at least 8 hours) you want to cook rice. This method of rice preparation is wonderful for many reasons. One- because the soaking in acid environment helps break down some anti-nutrients (phytic acid) present in rice which can block mineral absorption.Two- it reduces the cooking time greatly! Win win! About 30 mins before you are ready for the rice put the rice with the liquid and a pat of butter, coconut oil or olive oil in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 25-30 mins. You can check it near the end to see if all water is absorbed. *Note: You MAY drain the soaking water if it bothers you- sometimes if it is really warm the liquid will smell kind of funny. If I let the rice soak for over 12 hours I usually drain the liquid into a measuring cup to see how much water is left. Add that exact same amount of fresh water and proceed with cooking. Do not add the full amount of water that you started with back as the rice absorbs water during the soaking process.


A note about the beans: Feel free to use canned kidney beans (but drain/rinse them first). I will make a huge batch of beans (dried) and then put 15oz in each freezer bag and freeze. 15 oz is the size of a normal can of beans, so anytime a recipe calls for a can of beans, I just grab a portioned bag out of the freezer and thaw it. Beans thaw really quickly. I usually have many types of beans available in the freezer. This is so cheap its not funny. But I have been known to use canned beans, so don’t fret if that is all you have. It will still be yummy.

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Not the prettiest looking stuff, but boy is it good. Especially on day two!