cilantro lime rice

The best rice ever for a Mexican meal. Easy and quick to make, you’ll be saying good-bye to Chipotle with this rice. I’ve made this with brown and white rice, and the kids just love it! Perfect with Mexican food.

Servings: 12

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Basmati rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Juice from 2 limes (about 4 tbsp)
  • 1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth, or optional)
  • 3 cups water (if not using chicken/vegetable broth, use 4 cups water)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3 tbsp fresh finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat
  2. When oil is hot, add the bay leaf
  3. Add rice and stir so that grains are covered with the oil – about 1 minute
  4. Add chicken/vegetable broth, water, salt
  5. Bring to a boil
  6. Cover and cook for 15 mins (or check instructions on your rice packet)
  7. Turn off stove and keep covered for 5 minutes
  8. Uncover, sprinkle the cilantro over the rice along with lime juice
  9. Fluff the rice with a fork, mixing in the cilantro and lime juice
  10. Serve hot or at room temperature

SANTA FE Chicken (crock pot/ Ninja Foodi/ Instant pot)

At the end of a busy work day, I am usually too drained to cook a meal. Given that we try to eat low sodium, healthy meals, I’m constantly trying to figure out meals that are quick and easy to put together (easy enough that Nilesh can put it together too ;-)). And the Santa Fe Chicken comes to the rescue – made with corn, black beans, peppers, tomatoes and seasonings – all pantry staples. Put it into the crock pot, and 4 hours later, you’ll have a good, healthy meal. I served it over Cilantro Lime Rice, topped with low fat cheese, Greek yogurt (a great alternative to sour cream), chopped scallions and cilantro – your family will love this and you’ll be making this again!

Servings: 8

Ingredients:

  • 24 oz (1-1/2 lbs) chicken breast
  • 14.5 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 14.5 oz can fat free chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 poblano pepper, roasted and chopped (optional)
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 6 fat garlic cloves, minced fine
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp red chili powder (or cayenne pepper powder), or to taste
  • 1 tsp oil
  • salt to taste

Instructions:

  • Heat oil in a pan and add chopped onions and minced garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes till the onions soften.
  • Transfer this mixture to the slow cooker along with all the other ingredients.
  • Combine chicken broth, tomatoes, beans, corn, cilantro, poblano pepper, red pepper, half the scallions, cumin, chili powder, and salt in the crock pot / Ninja Foodi/Instant Pot
  • Season chicken breast with salt and lay on top.
  • For Crock Pot: Cook on high for 4 hours.
  • For Ninja Foodi: Cook with Slow Cook option on high for 4 hours
  • For Instant Pot: Cook with High Pressure option for 25 mins – quick or natural release
  • When cooked, remove chicken and shred
  • Return chicken back to the Slow Cooker/ Foodi/ Instant Pot and stir
  • Adjust seasonings to taste
  • Serving hot over cilantro lime rice or with tortillas, with your favorite toppings


Hummus

When Nilesh thinks of Hummus, it takes him back to his childhood in Dahran where his dad whipped up bowls of hummus that were wiped clean at parties. Even when his parents visit, we leave it to his dad to make the tastiest, most garlicky, finger-licking hummus around.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup roasted red bell pepper (Use only if you want red pepper hummus)
  • 2.5 cups soaked and cooked chick peas / garbanzo beans
  • 0.25 cup tahini paste
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 0.25 cup lemon juice (usually 1 lemon)
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic (chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder

Instructions:

  1. For Roasted Red Peppers:
    1. Move the over rack closer to the broiler, about 6 inches away. Turn broiler over
    2. Remove core of the red peppers and cut into large, flat pieces
    3. Lay flat on an oven tray with skin side up. Broil 5-10 mins until charred
    4. Remove from oven, when cool enough to handle, gently peel away the charred skin and discard
  2. For Hummus:
    1. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor
    2. Process of 2-3 minutes
    3. If the hummus is too thick, add a tablespoon of water at a time, until you reach the desired consistency
    4. To serve, put hummus into a bowl, make a little well and add a 1/2 tsp of olive oil, with a sprinkle of red chili power. Serve with pita chips, or vegetables like carrots and cucumbers.

Serving Suggestions

  1. Pita pockets – layer hummus, cooked and diced chicken, tahini, and greens in a pita for healthy pita pocket for school lunches
  2. Serve with cucumbers and carrots
  3. Wraps – layer hummus, long, thin carrot and cucumber slices, greens and deli meat for a school lunch or an on-the-go wrap


Pork Carnitas

Who doesn’t love Mexican food? Make a big batch of pork carnitas and I can freeze some for when we’re in a hurry. I’ll use the rest in a burrito bowl, or tacos or even in a sandwich. A hot corn tortilla with some pork, red onions, cilantro, a dash of salsa is so satisfying. Or try it in a burrito bowl with lettuce, salsa, guacamole, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), cilantro, black beans and red onions, to make for one delish, healthy meal!

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs pork shoulder (pork butt)
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Rinse and dry the pork shoulder
  2. Combine the salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, chili powder, olive oil, and rub all over the pork
  3. Place the pork in a slow cooker (fat cap up). Add in the jalapeno, onion, bay leaves, garlic, and pour the orange juice over it
  4. Slow Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours
  5. Pork should be completely tender and will shred easily with a fork
  6. Remove from slow cooker and shred using two forks
  7. To thicken the juices left in slow cooker, transfer into a pan and reduce it down to about 2 cups

To Crisp in oven:

  1. Place the shredded fork in a single layer on aluminum foil on a pan. Place the pan in a pre-heated oven, under the broiler on high heat. Let it crisp for 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven. Toss the pork using tongs, spoon 1/4 cup of the juices over the pork. Broil for another 5-6 minutes until the edges of the pork are crisp

To Crisp on stove:

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large nonstick pan
  2. Add pork to pan without overcrowding. Pour 1/4 cup of juices. Wait until the underside of the port is crisp. . Add pork to the pan, avoiding crowding, and drizzle with ¼ cup of the juices. Wait until the juice has evaporated and the underside of the port is crisp. remove from pan. Repeat with the rest of the pork in batches.

Just before serving, drizzle over more juices and serve hot, in tacos or burritos.

Serve with diced onions, black/refried beans, salsa, Greek yogurt/sour cream, lime squeezed over it, chopped cilantro, corn, lettuce, grated cheese


Pesto cavatappi (noodles & Company copycat)

We happened to stop at Noodles & Company for lunch with friends and Sophia ordered Pesto Cavatappi. She loved it so much, that we had to try and replicate it at home. We’ve made this recipe without meat, with chicken and even ground turkey. Each time, it was delicious. A quick, easy to make recipe, that’s been a hit with kids and adults.

Servings: 6 as main course

Ingredients:

Some ingredient considerations:

  1. Cavatappi – options include rotini, macaroni, or whatever pasta you have on hand
  2. Dry white wine – you can add more chicken or if you are going vegetarian, vegetable broth
  3. Greek yogurt – while the original recipe calls for heavy whipping cream, I use Greek yogurt as a healthier alternative
  • 1 pound cavatappi pasta or other small pasta (see note 1 above)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 ounces mushrooms diced
  • 1 large tomato diced
  • 1/2 chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (see note 2)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (see note 3)
  • 1 cup basil pesto
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Method:

  • In a large pan, bring 4 quarts of water with salt to boil. Add pasta and cooks until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain well.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan over medium heat. When hot, add mushrooms. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, until the liquid is released and almost dry
  • If adding meat, add it now and cook, stirring occasionally. For ground turkey, cook over medium heat, stirring to break up clumps, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes
  • Add tomatoes and cook for about 3 minutes
  • Stir in the broth, wine, and bring to a boil; stir in the yogurt, reduce heat to medium and cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 4 minutes
  • Add pesto and stir until heated through, about 2 minutes
  • Add pasta and toss until uniformly coated in the sauce
  • Turn off the stove
  • Serve while hot and garnish with Parmesan cheese and fresh, ground pepper