Grilled Eggplant with Caramelized Onions and Tomatoes

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This is such a simple recipe and I’ve made versions of it three times now in the last week. Eggplant grows very well here and they are in the height of their season right now. Grilling the eggplant in a healthy amount of olive oil does something just magical to them. Switch out the tomatoes for all sorts of other compliments – pesto, cooked figs, bacon. NOM.

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Grilled Eggplant with Caramelized Onions and Tomatoes

Ingredients:
2 eggplant, stems removed, sliced width-wise in 3/4″ slices
1/2 cup + 1 Tbs olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 large sweet onion

Instructions:

Instructions:
In a heavy skillet over medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and the onions. Cook and stir frequently until caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. If the onions start to brown too quickly, turn down the heat and salt them a little.

While the onions are cooking, heat a BBQ grill to medium. Aim for about 350-400 degrees. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the slices in a single layer on the hot grill, working in batches if needed. Grill for 4-5 minutes a side and remove.

Arrange the grilled eggplant on a serving platter and top with the soft onions once they’re perfectly done. Scatter the tomatoes over the top and drizzle with balsamic. Eat at any temperature.

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Hungarian Paprika – Beef Goulash

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This is such wonderful comfort food. Hearty, deep, savory, and yet, bright, delicate, and nuanced at the same time. It’s not a traditional or labor intensive version of the dish, but all the best reasons why it’s a classic remain. Easy weekday fare. I am definitely a meat and potatoes kind of girl.

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Hungarian Paprika – Beef Goulash
Adapted from Williams Sonoma

Ingredients:
2-3 lb. beef chuck roast
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs Hungarian paprika
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 cup beef or chicken broth
28 oz can diced tomatoes
8 red potatoes, about 2 pounds total, cut into 1″ cubes

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Instructions:
Place the onion and garlic into a large slow cooker. Season the beef generously with the salt, pepper, and paprika, and place on top of the onions in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove the meat from the slow cooker away from all the juices and soft onions and set aside. Back to the slow cooker of, add in the caraway, oregano, liquid smoke, tomato paste, broth, tomatoes, and potatoes. Cook on high for 2 hours.

Once the roast has cooled a bit, trim any big pieces of fat, the bone, if there is one, and then shred the meat roughly. Add the meat back to the slow cooker, where the potatoes should be soft and the sauce thickened up a bit. Stir to combine and serve! Better the second and third day, as all stews are.

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Summer Catch

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Darlings, it’s summer already! I am two months into a new (big, wow, hard) job and I’ve found my free time sponged up by the gym and dates with Aurelia.

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I’m in training for the Smuttynose Rockfest marathon, thanks to my bestest best Betsy and her powers of persuasion. Part of my training includes a half marathon next weekend and a 30 k Payette Lake Run in McCall September 1st. Thrilling! I am not an extraordinary runner, but pace is really relative and part of what makes running so awesome is that your competition is really only yourself and the hardest part isn’t in your legs, but in your mind. I am loving the solace I find through a great run, even on the treadmill. I added a Daily Mile widget to the right side bar with a link to my profile where I track my mileage. I enjoy the design of the site and recommend it if you want an easy way to keep track of your workouts (running, cycling, swimming, mostly). I’m still going to CrossFit 3-4 times a week and love it more than ever, but I don’t track those WODS.

I don’t have any new wonderful recipes to share because I’ve been eating very routine, calorie-and-macro-tracked, portable meals. I’m skipping breakfast 2x a week to train fasted with BCAA’s and eat eggs and meat or bulletproof coffee the other days. I pack a big lunch of starchy veg and/or greens + meat + cut veggies + fresh or dried fruit to work every day. My primadonna tummy has been annoyingly particular for a couple months, so I eliminated all added sugar, grains, legumes, and (most) dairy in June and besides 2 cheat meals, I stuck to it and noticed …. no difference. I’m trying to slowly whittle off 2-4% body fat without losing lean muscle so I can run easier/faster/lighter and even while cutting out my much missed oatmeal, chocolate, and fro yo, my weight has still maintained the same +/- 5 pounds. My point is that my food is very predictable and a little bit boring these days. We all go through phases of creativity and experimentation countered with phases of survival and maintenance.

I bought two sets of the pyrex snap ware dishes from Costco and fill 6-10 up twice a week for all my lunches and more dinners than I should admit. Aurelia doesn’t seem to mind and it’s actually pretty easy feeding a toddler with so many pre-cut/cooked/portioned meals. She noshes on cucumber, salmon, chicken, hard boiled eggs, and sweet potatoes. And I have sausages, popcorn, whole grain bread, cheese, gallons of raw milk, and dried fruit just for her and it’s convenient enough. It’s so impossibly hot right now (108F today) that it’s been a relief to pull a protein packed meal out of the fridge and not have to heat up the oven or stove each night.

Here’s a few pictures from a recent multiple meal prep:

Sweet potatoes and parsnips tossed with sea salt, herbes de provence, pepper, and coconut oil. Ready to be tossed and put on a baking sheet to be roasted at 400F for 30-40 minutes, stirring a few times.

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Before grilling chicken breasts, put them one by one into a large ziplock and pound with a rolling pin until the thickest part of the breast is about 1/2 – 3/4″, about the same as the thinner part of the breast. This will ensure even cooking time. No one likes dry chicken. Marinate for 2-24 hours in salt and spices, then cook on a grill that’s been preheated to 375-400F. Cook for 3-5 minutes per side and use a meat thermometer to check each breast. Done when the internal temperature reaches 165F. Rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

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Mid prep – pumpkin puree, spinach for salads, cut veg and strawberries, cooked chicken, cauliflower read to be riced.

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Assembly – chicken cut and paired with pumpkin, greens alone for canned tuna, cauliflower riced and paired next to remaining cut chicken, bowls of roasted sweet potato and parsnips. Not pictured: sausage spiced ground turkey for the roasted veg.

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Not really dinner party worthy, but practical and healthy enough. I’m going to be adding in some rice, quinoa, and oats over the next few weeks to help fuel my longer runs and see how I digest them with some encouraging thoughts.

I’m rambling. It’s definitely time to wrap the catch up, but I promised my wonderful friend M that I would share my best running mix. It’s full of fast, positive, workout-specific music that has kept me going the last two months. I have 3 more months to go, so send me your suggestions for other songs I should add!

In alphabetical order:

  • Anything Could Happen – Ellie Goulding
  • Between Two Lungs – Florence + The Machine
  • Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke
  • California Gurls – Katy Perry
  • Can’t Hold Us – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • Collide (Afrojack Remix) – Leona Lewis/Avicii
  • Cosmic Love – Florence + The Machine
  • Dead Sea – The Lumineers
  • Dog Days Are Over – Florence + The Machine
  • Drumming Song – Florence + The Machine
  • Easy (Extended Remix) – Mat Zo & Porter Robinson
  • The Edge of Glory – Lady GaGa
  • Everybody Talks – Neon Trees
  • Feel Again – OneRepublic
  • Feel So Close (Radio Edit) – Calvin Harris
  • Feel The Love – Rudimental & John Newman
  • Firework – Katy Perry
  • Flowers in Your Hair – The Lumineers
  • Forever My Friend – Ray LaMontagne
  • Free My Mind – Katie Herzig
  • Girl With One Eye – Florence + The Machine
  • Gone, Gone, Gone – Phillip Phillips
  • Heads Carolina, Tails California – Jo Dee Messina
  • Ho Hey – The Lumineers
  • Home – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
  • Howl – Florence + The Machine
  • I Love It – Icona Pop
  • I’m Not Calling You a Liar – Florence + The Machine
  • It’s Time (Kat Krazy Remix) – Imagine Dragons
  • Last Friday Night – Katy Perry
  • Lights (Fear of Tigers Remix) – Ellie Goulding
  • Little Lovin’ – Lissie
  • A Little Party Never Killed Nobody – Fergie, Q-Tip & GoonRock
  • Live It Up – Jennifer Lopez & Pitbull
  • Next to Me – Emeli Sande
  • The Other Side – Jason Derulo
  • People Like Us – Kelly Clarkson
  • Play Hard (Albert Neve Remix) – David Guetta
  • Pursuit of Happiness – Lissie
  • Put the Gun Down – ZZ Ward
  • Rabbit Heart – Florence + The Machine
  • Radioactive – Kings of Leon
  • Safe and Sound – Capital Cities
  • Shake It Out – Florence + The Machine
  • Storm Warning – Hunter Hayes
  • Submarines – The Lumineers
  • Teenage Dream – Katy Perry
  • Tonight I’m Getting Over You (Remix) – Carly Rae Jepsen
  • Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker
  • We Found Love – Rihanna & Calvin Harris
  • Wonder – Emeli Sande & Naughty Boy
  • You Are the Best Thing – Ray LaMontagne
  • You’ve Got the Love – Florence + The Machine

Unless I have a secret audience interested in “Train Low, Race High” methodology, 30/30/40 macro splitting, crossfit and endurance, and how to carb load like a lion without sugar, I’ll probably say hello again in August!

Be well, buttercups.

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Rogan Josh on Cauliflower Rice

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This is exactly the sort of food I love to make and eat. I picked up a pound of lamb meat at the Capital City Farmers Market from a local rancher and am so glad I prepared it this way.

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The spice blend is complex, but once you have it mixed up, you can keep it on hand for a year. If you can help it, make Rogan Josh, let it cool a bit, cover it and put it in the fridge until the next day. Reheat it then over the stove with a bit of extra water if needed and then serve. The extra time brings the flavors together gorgeously and allows you to plan ahead when you have a long weekend like this one for meals in busier times. Enjoy!

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Rogan Josh on Cauliflower Rice
Adapted from Melissa Joulwan at The Clothes Make The Girl

Ingredients:

for lamb:
1 tsp coconut oil or olive oil
1 lb. lamb or beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 large onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coconut milk (or full fat plain yogurt)
1/2 cup water
salt & pepper
3 Tbs homemade Rogan Josh seasoning (see below)

for cauliflower:
1 tsp coconut oil
1 head cauliflower, stem removed and cut into florets
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp lemon juice

for seasoning:
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cloves
3/4 tsp ginger powder
4 Tbs paprika
1 Tbs + 1 tsp chili powder
1 Tbs + 1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs + 2 tsp cumin
2 Tbs + 2 tsp coriander
1 Tbs + 1 tsp salt
cayenne: 1 tsp for very mild, 2 tsp for medium, 1 Tbs for hot-ish

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Instructions:
for the seasoning: First things first. Mix up the spice blend, take out just 3 Tbs and set aside. The rest can be stored in a glass jar with a lid for the next time you make Rogan Josh. Also just a wonderful spice blend to have on hand for a big impact on beef, chicken, spinach, carrots, etc.

for the lamb: Sprinkle meat generously with salt & pepper. Toss to coat. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat and brown well on all sides. (Here’s a tip from Melissa: respect the contact. Put the meat in there and let it be for at least 5 minutes so it gets a nice brown crust – resist the temptation to stir it around. Give it some private time and it will reward you for your generosity.)

When the meat is brown, add the chopped onion and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the rogan josh seasoning to the pan and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the coconut milk and water to the skillet. Mix well, turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Let the meat braise in the coconut milk for 1-2 hours. When time’s up, remove the lid and let the sauce thicken a bit… maybe 2 minutes or so.

for the cauliflower rice: About 15 minutes before the lamb is done, prepare the cauliflower. Heat the tsp of oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. In a food processor, put half the cauliflower florets. Use the pulse button to chop up the cauliflower to rice sized pieces. This should be about 15 pulses. Don’t over do it or you’ll get mush. Dump the cauliflower into the heated pan and repeat the steps with the second half of the cauliflower florets. Once it’s all in the pan, add the salt, and stir frequently until the cauliflower is soft and has given off some liquid, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley and lemon juice. Toss well and serve with the prepared lamb on top!

This is so much better the next day and the day after that. Make sure you have leftovers!

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Chicken Coconut Curry

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I wasn’t sure if I should share this recipe because I already have a Coconut Curry, Chicken Curry, Curry Meatballs, Curry Chicken with Sweet Potatoes, and Chicken Curry on Cauliflower Rice in the archives. Each are excellent and this is as different as the rest. Still curry, still chicken, still coconut, but independently magnificent. I suppose I just like curry. I’m not trying to be authentic because I generally turn to this sort of dish when I want a big healthy meal without a lot of fuss or time. There are tons of different curry blends out there, so test a few to find your favorite. I love the Lemon (Yellow) Curry from Frontier. It has turmeric, coriander, cumin, lemon peel, black pepper, freeze-dried whole lemon, cardamom, cinnamon, dehydrated garlic and cayenne. Yum!

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Chicken Coconut Curry
Adapted from The Clothes Make The Girl

Ingredients:
Sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 large onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup coconut milk
Chicken
1 lb. chicken thighs
3 Tbs coconut oil
Topping
1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

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Instructions:
Combine spices in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium high, melt the coconut oil. Season the chicken with a bit of salt and pepper and saute until it’s nicely browned and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes per side.

Take the meat out of the pan, turn the heat down to medium, and throw in the onion, garlic, and green peppers with a pinch of salt. Stir fry until the onions are tender, brown and starting to carmelize, about 10-15 minutes.

Add the spices to the veg and add the coconut milk. Simmer until the sauce thickens a bit.

In a small dry skillet over medium low heat, cook the flaked coconut until it just starts to brown, stirring well. This will only take a couple minutes.

To serve, pile the chicken over steamed veggies, squash, cauliflower rice, or brown rice. Or just a glorious pile of chicken in a bowl! Top with a scoop of sauce and sprinkle the coconut on top. Lime wedges on the side for bonus points.

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Asparagus Dijon Crustless Quiche

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I make these crustless quiches rather often as a delicious way to use up whatever leftover meat and veg are still in the fridge on a slow weekend morning. This one is a little special because it didn’t have anything to do with leftovers and really highlighted the asparagus in season. It’s such a short, blissful season when we can get local asparagus, and nothing says spring and gratitude for green better than the tender stalks.

I hate calling these crustless quiches, because I promise you won’t be thinking of the lack of crust when you eat a big slice. This is a healthier and simpler recipe than making a traditional pie crust cheese filled quiche to what is supposed to be a quick prep breakfast. Though, I hesitate to call it a frittata, because in my mind, a frittata is made specifically by starting to cook the whole thing on the stove and then finishing under the broiler in the oven. Perhaps one of these days I’ll make it that way just so I can stop calling it a crustless quiche.

But if you’ll pardon the name, the method of cooking couldn’t be simpler. Sure, it has to cook for a while, but that’s the perfect time to make a pot of tea and ease into the morning with a book or the paper. Just my sort of weekend.

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Asparagus Dijon Crustless Quiche

Ingredients:
6 oz canned boneless, skinless salmon, drained
1 Tbs butter
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 bunch asparagus, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1-2 Tbs grainy dijon mustard
1/2 cup whole milk
8 eggs
salt and pepper to taste

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Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter, onions, asparagus, and big pinches of salt and pepper. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the asparagus and onions are soft. Remove from the heat and use a spoon to spread out the mixture evenly on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add dijon mustard, eggs, milk, and more pinches of salt and pepper. Whisk together until well combined.

Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus mixture in the cast iron. Bake until the eggs are set, about 35-45 minutes. Remove from the oven, cut into wedges and serve.

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Best Meat Sauce

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“Replace your grains with greens” is the single most powerful dietary changes I’ve made in the last year, but I’ll admit, sometimes I really miss the bun, a heap of rice, a thick slice of sandwich bread, or starchy noodles. Usually these cravings come just when I’ve been indulging them already. Argh. (Three cakes and a batch of muffins have left my kitchen in the last week.)

I make this sauce regularly and instead of my usual spinach or kale, I cooked up a box of brown rice pasta, according to the package directions.

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I hated the noodles. What a disappointment. They weren’t bad, but talk about boring. The next day I roasted a head of cauliflower florets, tossed with olive oil, fennel, sage, and salt. I have now reheated the sauce and eaten it on roasted cauliflower twice. It’s heaven. So, I’m sharing the sauce recipe because it’s a keeper. Serve it on anything you like.

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Best Meat Sauce

Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound ground sausage
1/2 pound ground beef
1 – 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 – 6 oz can tomato paste
1 pint tomato sauce (I use a homemade marinara. Any favorite bottled sauce will do.)
2 Tbs dried parsley (or 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more!)
salt and pepper to taste

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Instructions:
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add ground beef and sausage and cook until brown, breaking up with fork, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer meat to a bowl. Discard all but 2 Tbs of the grease and return to the stove. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in herbs, salt, and pepper and continue cooking for a minute. Return beef and sausage to skillet; add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until sauce is thick, about 30 minutes. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before continuing.)

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Basil and Sun-dried Tomato Guacamole

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This is delicious, different, and easy. Start with a bowl of greens and in less than a couple minutes, you’ll have the most incredible salad, a meal in itself, full of everything your body will say thank you, thank you, thank you for.

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Basil and Sun-dried Tomato Guacamole

Ingredients:
2 avocados
1/2 bunch basil leaves, chopped
6 sun-dried tomato halves
2 cloves garlic
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

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Instructions:
In a food processor, blend the garlic and dried tomatoes until finely minced. Add the flesh of the avocados and pulse to blend until creamy. Add in the chopped basil and pulse a couple times, just until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Chicken Mole

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Ah! This is good! I’m a big fan of Jamie Oliver and his recipes usually become instant favorites. His unusual take on various regions of the United States is a thrill to read in Jamie’s America and I’m sure will continue to be a joy to cook from.

I simplified the chicken to gorgeously cooked thighs and amplified the mole sauce with some honey and tomato paste to bring some more sweetness to what turned out to be a complex, spicy sauce. It came together rather quickly but has the depth of a dish that took forever to simmer and develop.

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I hope you love it as much as I did! I only made 2 pounds of chicken thighs and saved half the sauce for the freezer. What a great back up meal to look forward to some tired night! Win win.

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Chicken Mole
Adapted from Jamie’s America

For the chicken
4 pounds chicken thighs
2 Tbs bacon fat or coconut oil
salt and pepper to taste

For the chocolate mole
5 large dried red chiles, such as New Mexico chiles
2 Tbs olive oil
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbs sesame seeds
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 Tbs cocoa powder
Salt and pepper
3.5 oz good quality dark chocolate, broken into chunks (I used 85% cocoa)
2 Tbs red or white wine vinegar
1 Tbs almond butter
3 oz (half a small can) tomato paste
1 Tbs honey

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Instructions:
To make the chicken, simply melt the bacon fat or oil in a heavy skillet (cast iron is perfect here) over medium heat. Generously season both sides of all the chicken thighs, and cook them slowly, so they develop a lovely crisp crust and remain juicy inside. This took about 5 minutes a side. Work in batches until all the chicken is cooked and set aside.

While your chicken is cooking, get your mole sauce going. Wash the dried chiles and cut them roughly. Discard the stems and any big pieces of seeds and membranes. Put the chile pieces in a bowl and cover them with 3 1/2 cups of boiling water. Let them soak in this for 20 mins until they soften.

Get a large pan on a medium heat and add olive oil, onions, sliced garlic, soaked chiles (save the soaking water), cumin and ground cinnamon. Slowly cook everything for about 15 to 20 mins, until the vegetables have softened and sweetened.

Stir in the sesame seeds and tomatoes, then fill the empty tin with some of the water (about 1/2 can) you soaked your chiles in and add this too. Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add your cocoa powder and a good pinch of salt and pepper, stir really well and cook for another 5 minutes.

At this point, add the chunks of chocolate, honey, almond butter, and tomato paste and stir gently until the chocolate is melted, then pour the sauce into a food processor or blender for a minute or two. Taste and add the red wine vinegar a tablespoon at a time and more salt and pepper if necessary, until it tastes amazing. The sauce should have a loose consistency, so add a splash of chili water if it looks too thick.

To serve, transfer the chicken to a plate, and pour the mole sauce over. Top with avocado or more sesame seeds. Yum!

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Sausage, White Bean, and Herb Soup

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I had some sausage leftover from a large package I’d opened for a ragu earlier and with some homemade chicken broth and hearty herbs, this soup came together so easily and it made the house smell wonderful as it simmered through a lazy afternoon last weekend. I stored the soup in jars for an easy to pack lunch and it’s been wonderful to eat through this week. Aren’t cold weather soups so comforting? This brothy, spicy, fresh combination of flavors will save any day you ask it to.

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Sausage, White Bean, and Herb Soup

Ingredients:
1 lb spicy Italian ground pork sausage
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups carrots, finely chopped or shredded
2 cups celery, finely chopped
8-10 cups chicken broth
1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh parsley leaves, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

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Instructions:
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the sausage until cooked through. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon onto a plate lined with paper towels to absorb some of the oil. Put the skillet back on the heat and add the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery to the drippings left in the pan. Cook until the onions are starting to brown and the vegetables are soft, about 8-10 minutes.

Add the sausage, cooked vegetables, tomatoes, beans, and broth to a slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed. Add the herbs and stir well. Cook for another 15-30 minutes before serving.

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