A COMPLETE RICE COOKER CHICKEN DINNER

Whether you’re in the process of moving, or just don’t feel like getting a lot of dishes dirty, I am going to show YOU how to prepare a deliciously flavorful curried chicken dinner that can be 100% prepared in YOUR rice cooker!

A COMPLETE RICE COOKER CHICKEN DINNER RECIPE
A delicious chicken dinner CAN be prepared in your rice cooker!

Turning a New Leaf

So far, these past 8 months of my life have been pretty darn eventful:

  • I quit my cushy Urban Planning job & changed career paths to teaching and pursuing this blog.
  • I got married!
  • I became a very proud cat momma…and…
  • WE MOVED!!

Us moving is a long story, but life gave us an opportunity to change pace and embark upon a new life chapter. So now, my husband, our cat Sweetheart and I recently relocated and are now establishing our roots in Lakeland, Florida. If you are not from Florida, Lakeland is a very charming mid-sized city nestled within the hart of Central Florida. Lush trees and hills amass the landscape, and breath-taking lakes dot the landscape. Lakeland is also located in Polk County, which, for a very long time, has had a long footing in Florida’s Citrus industry. There’s a whole lot of learning and exploring I will be doing around my new town, but I sure do look forward to sharing my new journey with you!

A Moving-Friendly Chicken Dinner?!

Let’s get back to the purpose of this post. For the majority of the month of May, our former apartment was surrounded by boxes that contained the tangible aspects of our life. As a result, most of our pots, pans and cookware were also packed. So what was I to do? As a way to address this dilemma, I turned to my handy-dandy rice cooker as one solution to help ensure that my husband and I could still enjoy a nice, home-cooked meal with a fuss-free touch. I used our rice cooker, because I knew that it would not only be able to cook our rice effectively, but due to its high cooking temperature, could also cook up some chicken pretty darn well. And also, who wants to do tons of dishes?!?

So folks, I bring you with a complete rice cooker chicken dinner recipe. This recipe is so delicious and easy to make, that you could probably even prepare this in a hotel (or even in your office!).

Let’s move onto the recipe, shall we?!?

A Complete Rice Cooker Chicken Dinner

Whether you’re in the process of moving, this delicious chicken dinner that can be 100% prepared in YOUR rice cooker!
Prep Time7 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Caribbean, Indian
Keyword: Chicken, rice cooker meal
Servings: 4
Calories: 540kcal

Equipment

  • Rice cooker

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken thighs
  • cups brown rice
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 lime juiced

Recommended Spices

  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder

Instructions

  • Dice the onion, pepper, and tomato into half-inch cubes. Set aside.
  • Dice the chicken into one-inch cubes. Set aside.
  • Place the following ingredients in your rice cooker in this particular order:
    a. Rice & water
    b. Diced tomato
    c. Chicken
    d. Lime juice
    e. Spices
    f. Onion
    g. Bell Pepper
  • Once all ingredients have been layered in the rice cooker, cover your rice cooker, press the ‘cook’ button and allow everything to cook until the rice cooker indicates that everything is ready.
  • Enjoy!

Video

Nutrition Information (Per Serving):

540 Calories/ 25.5g Protein/ 21g Fat/ 61.6g Carbohydrates/ 4g Fiber

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Did you create this dish? What do ya think? Please let me know in the comments, below! 😀

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100 MINI RAINBOW PANCAKES

A plate filled with 100 mini rainbow pancakes!
A plate filled with 100 mini rainbow pancakes!

This 100 mini rainbow pancake recipe is a fun & colorful way to sneak in some yummy fruits and veggies into some pretty adorable little cakes. Your kids will love these!

The Big 100

For those who don’t know, The Funky Spork has a cooking channel on YouTube. Recently, the channel hit the amazing milestone of gaining 100 subscribers!! As a way to celebrate this achievement, I wanted to come up with a very special celebratory recipe.

Rainbow Pancakes!?

After brainstorming, I finally hit an ‘a-ha!’ moment: As many of you know, breakfast is one of my FAVORITE meals. I also love color. So why not combine the best of both worlds? The result was to cook 100 mini rainbow pancakes. I wanted to take this one step further by substituting traditional food dyes with natural fruit and vegetable purees. Creating purees not only result in naturally-derived colors, but also add in some additional nutrients into each of the pancakes. For my fellow parents and guardians looking for ways to satisfy your kids huger and nutrition,I think this is a dish you will enjoy.

As a way to celebrate my special 100-subscriber milestone, I will show YOU how to create 100 miniature RAINBOW pancake cereal using easy-to-make colorful homemade purees. Thanks for the inspiration, TikTok! ;D

P.S. I also wanted to take this moment to wish each and every single one of you a VERY happy Pride month! I know that so far, with everything going on right now, this month has been pretty rough. But I truly hope that this recipe can bring a little happiness into your life. <3

100 Mini Rainbow Pancakes

This 100 mini rainbow pancake recipe is a fun & colorfulway to sneak in some yummy fruits and veggies into some pretty adorable littlecakes. Your kids will love these!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Blueberries, Breakfast, Brunch, rainbow food
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories: 561kcal

Equipment

  • Griddle
  • Chopsticks (for pancake flipping)
  •  4 medium bowls
  • Food processor or blender

Ingredients

Pancake Batter

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour divided into four ¾ cup servings
  • 7 tsp. baking powder divided into four 1.75 tbsp. baking powder measurements
  • 2 tsp. salt 4 portions of ½ tsp. each
  • 2 tbsp. white sugar 4 portions of ½ tbsp. white sugar

Natural Food Coloring Ingredients

  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 2 ½ cups milk 4 portions of 5 ounces of milk
  • 6 tbsp. melted butter divided into 1.5 tbsp. per serving
  • 2 eggs, beaten divided into ½ egg per batter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract divided into ¼ tsps. portions

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to the lowest temperature you have.While oven is preheating,  mix all of your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt) into large bowl.Then make sure to evenly divide that larger mixture and separate it into a total of four different bowls). Set aside.
  • Preparing the purees: add the 5 ounces of blueberries, along with 5 ounces of milk, 1.5 tbsp. melted butter and ¼ of the beaten egg mixture, and the vanilla extract into your food processor. Blend until the puree turns into a smooth, rich consistency. Pour puree into a small cup and repeat this step for the rest of the produce (the raspberries,blackberries, and spinach).
  • Gently stir in one puree mixture per bowl and mix until each of the respective batters takes on the color of each of the purees. You will have a raspberry batter, a blueberry batter, a blackberry batter, and a spinach batter (don’t worry, your kids won’t be able to detect the spinach flavor!)
  • Heat a griddle to medium heat and lightly grease. With a tablespoon, take one barter, and drop teaspoon sizes of pancake mixture into your skillet and gently flip over with a small spatula (or chopsticks!) once each mini pancake begins to bubble. Quickly remove from heat once finished. Each batter should make approximately 25 miniature pancakes.Repeat this step for each of the batters.
  • Enjoy your baby pancakes in a cereal bowl and eat ‘em with a spoon! 😀

Video

Nutrition information (per serving):

561 Calories/ 14g Protein/ 19g Fat/ 85g Carbohydrates/ 5.5g Fiber

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Did you create this dish? What do ya think? Please let me know in the comments, below! 😀


Savory Turkey & Blueberry Croissants

A picture of three very delicious croissants on a medium plate, filled with turkey, cream cheese and fresh blueberries.
Savory blueberry and turkey croissants will be a hit during your next brunch party

These savory turkey & blueberry croissants are so tasty, that this dish will surely be a hit during your next brunch meal. This is also a great way to introduce your kiddos into the kitchen, too!

When Savory Meets Sweet

Just because you may be staying at home, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a tasty brunch! In this video, I’m going to show you how to make an incredibly easy & delicious dish: Savory turkey & blueberry croissants! In the spirit of utilizing local seasonal ingredients, the blueberries for this particular recipe were sourced from Keel Farms, a local Plant City-based winery, blueberry & farming operation. These are so tasty, that this dish will surely be a hit during your next brunch meal. Even your mother-in-law may approve of these miniature bites! 😉

Drooling? Tag your favorite brunch buddy to this recipe post!

Savory Turkey and Blueberry Croissants

These Savory turkey & blueberry croissants are so tasty, that this dish willsurely be a hit during your next brunch meal.
Prep Time6 mins
Cook Time13 mins
Course: Appetizer, Breakfast, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Breakfast, Brunch
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 350kcal

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. Can of crescent roll dough sheets
  • 1/2 cup Cream cheese
  • 8 Thin slices deli turkey
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Blueberries
  • 1 Egg

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Roll out crescent roll dough from can onto large un-greased cookie sheet.
  • Take the cream cheese and spread it evenly throughout the entirety of dough mixture.
  • Slice dough into 8 even rectangular pieces, and then separate each slice about 1 inch a part. Then, place 1 turkey slice over each rectangle (fold each turkey slice in half for a better fit on each slice).
  • Afterwards, layer 4-5 blueberries (1 spoonful) over each rectangle beginning at one end. Then, carefully at one end, begin to roll all ofthe ingredients into each pastry dough, until they resemble croissants.
  • Next, take egg, scramble and lightly wash the egg batter over each pastry with a brush.
  • After egg-washing, place the pastries on the oven at 375 Degrees F, and allow to bake for 12-13 minutes, or until each pastry is golden brown.
  • Enjoy!

Video

4 Servings (3 turkey & blueberry croissants)

Nutrition Information per serving: 350 Calories / 17g. Protein / 14g Fat / 39g Carbohydrates/ 1.9g Fiber

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Three miniature vegan sweet potato she

Miniature Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pies

These sweet potato shepherd’s pie recipe may be small, but boy are these packed with comfort and delicious flavor!

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I love comfort food. There’s nothing more satisfying than for me to dig into a spoonful of buttery potatoes. But more than that, I have a bit of a weak-spot for any comfort meal that incorporates sweet potatoes. Maybe it’s the creaminess or sweetness of these tubers…maybe it’s just…magic!

Quarantine Cravings?

Am I the only one that seems to be a little extra hungry during these crazy times? I hope not! The Covid-19 pandemic has especially amped up my cravings for comfort food filled with wholesome carb-laden goodness. One dish that has always had a special place in my heart has been Shepherd’s pie. I remember my mother preparing shepherds pies for us growing up, and I always found them to be so delicious! I wanted to take advantage of two things: The existing ingredients in my pantry and fridge, and the local seasonal varieties of produce that came from the CSA that I am a part of.

An image of three of the Miniature Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pies on a plate.
Delicious Miniature Vegan Sweet Potato Sheperd’s Pies

Miniature Savory Pie Goodness

As I mentioned before, I had been trying to figure out a creative, yet familiar recipe which incorporated the items I readily had at home, while honoring my values of incorporating locally-sourced ingredients. Since Steed Farm, the CSA that I am a part of had an abundance of sweet potatoes to offer us, I knew what I was going to prepare. And out of all of that came this recipe!

I really think that you and your family will enjoy preparing and eating these miniature vegan sweet potato Shepherd’s pies. This is even a dish that your kids can help out with! Maybe they can assist by mashing the tater or layering each miniature pie. Oh, the possibilities!

A close-up of the texture of the lentils in the Miniature Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie
Miniature Vegan Sweet Potato Sheperd’s Pie Close-up

Alrighty folks, let’s move onto the sweet potato shepherd’s pie recipe now, shall we?!?!?!

Miniature Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pies

These sweet potato shepherd's pie recipe may be small, but boy are these packed with comfort and delicious flavor!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy shepherds pie, how to make homemade Shepherd’s pie, mini shepherds pie, Miniature Vegan Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie, Miniature Vegan Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pies, shepherds pie, shepherds pie recipes, Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pies, vegan shepherd’s pie, vegan shepherd’s pie sweet potato
Servings: 4 People
Calories: 241kcal

Equipment

  • Two medium saucepans
  • One masher or a fork
  • A cupcake/ muffin pan

Ingredients

  • 4 Sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely dices
  • 3 carrots
  • ¾ cup carrot greens (optional)
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 cup lentils
  • cups water
  • ½ tsp. salt

Spices

  • 1 tsp. crushed fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp. crushed black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. While oven is pre-heating, dice onions and tomatoes into ½” sized pieces. Set those veggies aside.
  • Preparing the sweet potatoes: Fill up a medium pot of water and water and heat to medium high and allow the water to come to a rolling boil. Next, while you are waiting for the water to boil, coarsely dice your sweet potatoes and carrots into large chunks. Next, add potatoes and carrots into boiling water and cook for 25-20 minutes covered, or until they are fork tender, drain and rinse with cold water so that you can easily unpeel the skin off. Afterwards, mash them until they have the consistency of a mashed potato puree with ½ tsp. salt. Later on, set aside.
  • Cooking the lentils: While your potatoes are cooking, in another saucepan, add the three cups of water and set the temperature to medium-high. Then, add in the tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrot greens, tomato sauce and spices, and allow all of that to heat to a  rolling boil. Next, add in the lentils, and then cover and reduce heat to low, and allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the lentil mixture has absorbed all of the water. Next, during the last 5 minutes, add in the spinach (which will wilt while the lentils are cooking).
  • Assembling the Shepherd’s pies: take a muffin pan (preferably a 12 muffin one) and lightly grease it. Divide the lentil mixture among each of the muffin cups. You will also take the mashed potato puree and divide the mixture equally among all of the muffin cups and gently spoon the mixture over each of the muffin cups filled with the lentils. I’d recommend that you spoon each cup so that the tops of the sweet potatoes resemble muffin tops. Feel free to gently run a fork along each ‘muffin top’ for some texture! Finally, you will place the miniature Shepherd’s pies into the oven and bake them for 35-40 minutes, or until the ‘muffin tops’ have lightly browned.
  • Enjoy the heck out of these mini pies!

Makes 12 miniature sweet potato Shepherd’s pies (6 servings)

Nutrition Information per serving

241 calories/ 12 grams protein/ 1.3 grams fat/ 47.5 grams carbohydrates/ 8.6 grams of fiber

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A photo of a creamy black bean and pasta skillet dish, served inside of a medium-sized bowl. The dish is topped with three slices of avocado.

Creamy Black Bean & Pasta Skillet

This creamy black bean & pasta skillet is the perfect dish you are looking to make whenever you are feeling too lazy to cook!

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Lazy Days

Folks, maybe it’s because I have been staying indoors so often, but I have something to tell you: I have been feeling incredibly lazy. Honestly? As much as I love cooking, I have not had much creative energy to barnstorm new meal ideas. Am I the only one who goes through this struggle?? I can’t be.

But alas, I had to come up with some meals to cook this weekend. Surely my husband could cook. But most of the time, due to our different work schedules, I take on this task. Either way, if no one cooks, no one eats. And we can’t have that.

Hmmm…

The other day, as I was looking through my pantry and fridge, weighing the limited variety of shelf-stable products and decaying produce, some pasta, back beans, and my wok, an idea come to me: Why not do a one-pot meal? So I figured, why not?

Carby goodness!

I pulled out my rotini pasta, black beans, tomatoes, and onions, and immediately began dicing my tomatoes, onions, and kale. Before I knew it, I whipped out my store-bought taco seasoning, and added it to the mix, along with the pasta and back beans, and voila! And you know what? This creamy improvisational black bean pasta skillet has been one of the most delicious meals that I have cooked in a while. Not only do the black beans give a level of richness and plant-based protein to this dish, but my impulsive decision to incorporate some coconut milk into this dish really brought this meal to a decadent creamy level. All of the ingredients and spices and flavors married beautifully. Moreover, even my very picky husband was a fan of this dish!

Did I mention that this dish is also vegan? If I haven’t, now you know!

And folks, this pasta skillet dish is not only delicious, but is super simple, contains basic pantry items, and can be ready in less than 20 minutes!

(Also, feel free to substitute the veggies in this dish for whatever else you may have!)

Now…let’s move onto the recipe!

Creamy black bean & pasta skillet: A medium bowl filled with rotini pasta, black beans, spinach, tomato sauce and coconut milk.

Creamy Black Bean & Pasta Skillet

This creamy black bean & pasta skillet is the perfect dish you are looking to make whenever you are feeling too lazy to cook!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pasta, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 671kcal

Equipment

  • Large skillet or Wok

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. Rotini pasta
  • 15.5 oz. Black beans
  • 4 oz. Full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 1 Cup Fresh Kale or spinach
  • 1 Medium Tomato
  • 1 Bell Pepper
  • 6 oz. Low-sodium tomato paste
  • 4 Garlic cloves, finely minced
  • Cups Water
  • 2 Tbsp. Cooking oil

(2 tbsp.) Taco seasoning made with:

  • ½ tsp. Red chili powder
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Smoked paprika
  • ¾ tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. Allspice

Instructions

  • Finely dice all of the veggies (tomato, kale, pepper &onion) until they are about 1 inch cubes. Set aside.
  • Heat up a wok or large skillet/ pot with cooking oil and heat tomedium-high. Gradually add in the veggies & garlic, and sauté for about 6-7minutes or until the onions and tomatoes have begun to sweat. Make sure tocover for the first three minutes.
  •  Once veggies are sweating, add the taco seasoning, water, tomatopaste, into the existing pot with the veggies. Then, increase the heat to highand allow to heat until the water mixture begins to rapidly boil.
  • Once the water begins boiling, reduced the heat back tomedium-high and add the pasta and boil for 10 min or until the water hasevaporated and created a thick sauce.
  • Add drained black beans and coconut milk and stir until mixturethickens and is creamy.
  • Enjoy!

Video

Nutrition Information per serving:

671 calories/ 17.6 grams protein/ 16.7 grams fat/ 118.4 grams carbohydrates/ 22.9 grams of fiber

RECIPES | ABOUT | FARM TO SPORK | VIDEOS


An image of an open-faced chipotle-lentil burger patty, topped with avocado and tomato slices

Chipotle Lentil Burgers

This Chipotle Lentil burgers recipe will be a smash hit during your next barbecue or game night!

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Happy April, everyone! From the bottom of my heart, I hope you and your families are doing well in this time. Staying hunkered down inside due to Covid-19 has made quite a few people feel stir-crazy, including me. Because of this many of us are trying to find ways to entertain ourselves, and our sanity.

Thank you!

Now, before I talk about today’s featured recipe, I want to take this moment to thank so many people, amidst the Coronavirus global pandemic. I would first like to thank all of the doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers risking their lives to keep us safe. I want to also thank grocery clerks and all of the essential workers working tirelessly to make sure that business continues to stay afloat. Finally, I would like to thank all of the factory workers who are either producing our food, or other essential supplies that our planet’s population is in desperate need of. With this being said, I would like to thank all of the farmers and farmworkers who continue to work day in and day out, in order to make sure that we still continue to have food on our plates. I cannot be more grateful for everything you all are doing.

The Burger!

Now, while many people are trying to figure out how to make the most of dwindling pantry supplies, I may have the perfect meal for you. I present you with my chipotle lentil burger recipe! These burgers are savory, delicious, and are jam-packed with flavor. Aside from the ease of this recipe, one of my favorite aspects about this meal is that the bulk of the ingredients may already be in your pantry. So there is no need to purchase any fancy ingredients.

An image of an open-faced chipotle-lentil burger patty, topped with avocado and tomato slices
An image of an open-faced chipotle-lentil burger patty, topped with avocado and tomato slices

Did I mention that this recipe is vegan? Well, it is!

Are your mouths watering? I sure hope so! Let’s move onto the recipe, shall we??

Chipotle Lentil Burgers

These Chipotle Lentil burgers will be a smash hit duringyour next barbecue or game night!
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Burger, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 6 Patties
Calories: 201kcal

Ingredients

  • cup dry lentils
  • 1 ⅓ cups water
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. canned chipotle peppers
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup chickpea liquid (aquafaba)
  • ¼ cup tahini

Instructions

  • After rinsing the dry lentils and removing anysmall stone or sediment material, place them in a small saucepan with thewater, heated to medium-high. Gradually add in the salt, pepper, paprika,cumin, and garlic powder. Allow the water to heat until it begins boiling. Atthat point, cover, and lower heat to low, and allow to cook for 25-30 minutes,or until all of the lentils have absorbed the water. Once finished cooking, setaside.
  • Once the lentils have cooled for at least 5minutes, transfer the mixture to a medium sized bowl. Smash lentils untilsemi-chunky, and then gradually add in the aquafaba and the oatmeal. Mix allingredients until everything is well-combined. Then cover, and place in arefrigerator for at least an hour-overnight, or place in your freezer for 30-45 minutes.
  • Preparing the Chipotle sauce: Place the cannedchipotle in a blender or small food processor, until all of the pepper hasbecome liquefied. Take the blended chipotles out of the blender, and place intoa bowl. Gradually add in tahini & mix until everything is well-blended. Ifyou do not have access to tahini, then sub tahini for mayonnaise. It will bejust as tasty!
  • Topeach patty with the chipotle-tahini sauce (or mayo), and assemble with all ofyour favorite fixins, and enjoy!

Video

Makes 6 patties

201 Calories/ 7.7 grams of protein/ 12 grams of fat/ 18.4 grams of carbohydrates/ 4.2 grams of fiber

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A closeup of creamy butternut squash rotini served in a bowl

Creamy Butternut Squash Rotini

This roasted butternut squash rotini pasta dish is warm, creamy, delicious, and oh-so-nice! If you’re looking for a yummy vegan pasta dish, here ya go! 🙂

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In case any of you weren’t aware…I love food. All types! But I’ve got to admit, nothing makes me happier than a warm serving of comfort food.

Here in Central Florida, we have been experiencing a “Winter” all weekend, with temperatures dipping down to the ‘40s (Fahrenheit)! Yes northerners, laugh all you want. But don’t come complaining to me, once you decide to move down here, and then eventually complain about our frigid 40 degree weather!!!

As many of you know, my husband and I try to eat as locally and seasonally as we can. Luckily, we have had some great produce shares from Steed Farm, our local Community-Supported Agricultural system (also known as CSAs). Among this week’s most recent share of seasonal goodies, we received a very large, 5 pound choctaw squash. Now-I know what you’re thinking. The recipe that I’m about to provide is for butternut squash, yet I used a different variety. Choctaws taste almost exactly like butternut squashes, and are very close cousins. If you do not have access to butternut squash in your area, please feel free to opt for choctaw-vice/versa. Trust me when I say that once I saw that beautiful squash, my taste buds became very happy.

Pieces of chopped butternut squash

After trying to figure out how I was going to prepare this lovely fruit, an ‘A-ha!’ moment came: Why not transform this into a delicious comfort pasta dish? And so I did.

Folks, I would like to present you with this creamy butternut squash rotini recipe. This dish specifically calls for rotini pasta, as it holds its shape and does nicely with absorbing the creamy butternut puree.  While you can technically opt for whatever type of pasta you’d like, I went for pasta enriched with protein. Because the squash (and garlic!) are roasted, this recipe takes slightly over an hour to prepare. But please trust me, it’s well worth your time. While the squash and garlic are roasting, you can even do other things, such as yoga, walking, reading, or catching up on Netflix 😉 -You do you! The moment your fork digs into the rotini which later lands onto the tip of your tongue, your taste buds will feel like you gave them one of the creamiest and most delicious bites of comfort food heaven, ever.

Chunks of roasted butternut squash with the skin

Did I also mention that this specific recipe is vegan and dairy-free? Well, in case I haven’t, now you know!

I can practically hear your stomach grumbling form here…so let’s move onto the recipe, shall we??

Creamy Butternut Squash Rotini

This roasted creamy butternut squash rotini pasta dish is warm, creamy, garlicky, delicious, and oh-so-nice! 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: pasta, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 5 Servings
Calories: 416kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 3 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 14 oz. rotini pasta

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Whileoven is preheating, carefully cut the squash in half, remove the seeded coreand then cut each of the half pieces, until the squash has been cut into largequarters. Take 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, to lightly grease the bottom ofa large sheet.
  • Take the remaining 2 tbsp. of olive oil andgently lather each quarter and place into the tray, skin side up. Place thegarlic bulb into the same tray. Allow to bake for 50-60 minutes, until the skinof each piece can be gently pierced with a fork. Allow to cool down for about 5 minutes.
  • During the last 10 minutes of roasting time,begin to boil a large pot of water. Once water is at a rolling boiling point,lower heat to medium-high, place pasta into water, and allow to cook for 7-9minutes until al-dente. Drain, and then place back into lot, with a cover. Setaside.
  • Once squash has cooled down, gently scoopsoftened squash and garlic, and place into a large food processor. Gently addin the almond milk, salt, pepper, and remaining spices. Puree the mixture for1-2 minutes until the blend has turned into a thick liquid consistency.
  • Once the puree has been created, gently mix intothe pasta until well-combined.
  • (Optional) Add in fresh spinach leaves.
  • Enjoy!

Nutritional Information per serving:

416 calories/ 7.4 grams protein/ 10.5 grams fat/ 76.7 grams carbohydrates/ 11 grams of fiber

*Substitute for any other milk of your choice

**Feel free to rinse, season, lightly oil and bake the seeds at 350 F for about 10-15 minutes, or until crispy!

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Smiling woman in front of a plate of spicy honey-baked chicken thighs

Spicy Honey-Baked Chicken Thighs

These spicy honey-baked chicken thighs are a beautiful dance filled with sweet, bold, and juicy flavors that you and your family will love!

A plate filled with spicy honey-baked chicken thighs
Spicy honey-baked chicken thighs

You may be similar to me in the sense that you do the best you can in order to consume ethically-sourced food, as often as humanly possible. This could include sourcing your veggies from a community garden, or making your own batches of vegan ice cream. Others, including myself, have been on a quest to find ethically-sourced meats.

Is that even possible?

While this specific question can certainly be seen as controversial, and filled with arguments from the sides of vegans and omnivores, I would like to take the argument and say ‘Yes!’ It is possible to find ethically-sourced meat.  The key is to find sources of meat that come from local, small-scale farmers. As an alternative to environmentally-degrading factory farm systems, there are many small-scale farmers what are intentional about raise their livestock in a free-range manner, free of any use of antibiotics or added growth hormones. Many of these farmers work to ensure that the animals are not only provided with ample space, but are raised with dignity.

Local Meat FTW

I recently had the opportunity to befriend John Roberts, the owner of Olivor Farms, a small-scale livestock operation based out of Dover, Florida.  John and his wife Chrysti raise free-range chickens and grass-finished beef cows on open pastures around the Dover area. This couple and their brand truly believe in the importance of transparency and honesty. I wrote a recent Farm to Spork feature about Olivor Farms, which can be accessed here.

Spicy honey-baked chicken thighs fresh out of the oven
Spicy honey-baked chicken thighs fresh out of the oven

After interviewing John, I knew that I had to try some of their chicken, for myself. And let me tell you…it’s delicious and worth every penny.  Being that I absolutely love eating dark meat, I developed a mouth-watering recipe that I believe you and your family will enjoy.

The Verdict?

The thighs turned out absolutely juicy, and had a lovely tangy-spigy-sweet flavor. But in my opinion, the heat was very tolerable, and not at-all unpleasant. I sourced the particular spicy honey that I used for this recipe from The Corner Store, a Plant City café and natural goods market that specializes in the sale of gourmet, organic, and locally-sourced items. If you have sensitivity to heat, you can definitely opt for a milder honey!

Describing the baked chicken sure is making me hungry…let’s move onto the recipe!


Spicy Honey-baked Chicken Thighs

These spicy honey-baked chicken thighs are a beautiful dance filled with sweet, bold, and juicy flavors that you and your family will love!
Prep Time35 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chicken
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 462kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 raw chicken thighs with skin

Spices

  • 2 tbsp. spicy honey
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. yellow mustard

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, combine the entire set of spicesby whisking with a fork until well-blended. Gently puncture each of the thighswith a fork until there are several small holes in each piece. Place each thigh in large bowl and gently mix marinade into chicken until each thigh iswell-coated. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes-overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Once oven has finished pre-heating, take a onoven-safe casserole dish, lightly grease the bottom of it, and place thechicken thighs in the dish. Allow to bake for 30-35 minutes, or until thejuices run clear. If you have a food thermometer, the internal temperatureshould be at 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Allow chicken thighs to cool for at least 5 minutes, and enjoy!

Video

Nutritional Information per serving:

462 calories/ 32.14 grams protein/ 32.24 grams fat/ 9.6 grams carbohydrates/ .3 grams of fiber

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Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil Bowl

Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil bowl: An Earth-Friendly Meal

This mesquite cauliflower and lentil bowl is a dish that is delicious, and planet-friendly!

Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil Bowl
Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil Bowl

You’re probably like me, in the sense that you are trying to live your best life possible. Maybe this effort includes giving back to the community by being physically active, and trying to eat as healthy as possible-on top of every other responsibility you may have.

What about this planet? Where does being a good environmental steward come into play with you trying to live out your best life? What steps are you making in order to make sure that your actions, and decisions have a good impact on the Earth, and everyone else who lives here? Then the effort of living your best life shifts to living our best life.

A Global Perspective

Let’s take a step back and think globally, for a second. According to a 2017 study conducted by the United Nations, by the year 2050, Planet Earth’s population will surpass 9.8 billion inhabitants-all fighting for the same diminishing resources. Trying to live your best life, while also trying to live healthily and being a mindful steward to our ever-crowding planet may not only seem heavy, but can also become an extremely overwhelming effort.

What if I told you can take the first step of living an equally healthy and sustainable life by choosing what and how you eat? It’s definitely a great place to begin. While attempting to adopt such a golden diet may seem daunting, there is one team of scientists and researchers which may have one solution to this dilemma. In 2019, The EAT Lancet Commission was formed as an effort to address this dichotomy. The EAT-Lancet Commission comprised of over 37 leading scientists and researchers from over 16 countries who work in the arenas of agriculture. Human health, environmental science and political science who worked together to develop scientifically-backed global targets for healthy diets and a sustainable food production system (“Summary Report of the EAT-Lancet Commission”, 2019).

A Planetary Health Plate

So what and how does the EAT-Lancet Commission reccomend we eat? The Commission developed a planetary health plate that consists of roughly half a plate of fruits and vegetables. The Other half of this plate would primarily consist of whole grains (such as rice and barley), plant-sourced protein, and unsaturated plant oils (such as olive and sesame). The Planetary includes minimal consumption of animal-based foods (such as meat, dairy, and eggs), sugars, and even includes a significant limitation of starchy vegetables and (“Summary Report of the EAT-Lancet Commission”, 2019).

A diagram of the EAT Lancet Commission’s Planetary Health Plate

Ever since I found out about the Planetary Health Plate, I have been intrigued. I definitely fall within the camp of folks who is trying my best to eat in a healthy manner while also being environmentally conscientious. I wanted to accept the challenge of eating in a way that complies with the principles of the EAT Lancet Commission, as best as I could. With that being said, I bring you my first Planetary Health Plate Dish-or should I say bowl, in this case?

An Earth-Friendly Meal?

With this, I bring to you a very delicious and hearty Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil bowl. This delicious bowl has a very rich set of flavors, which combine the natural meatiness of Lentils, with the versatility of rice. The roasted cauliflower with the homemade mesquite marinade gives this dish a burst of subtle smoke and heat-packed flavor. The incorporation of onion, garlic and generous amounts of kale help to ensure that at least half of this bowl comprised of vegetables-a recommendation of the Planetary health plate guideline. I will admit that while the guidelines recommend a minimal amount of starchy vegetables, I did incorporate a small sweet potato into my recipe, since I wanted to clean out my fridge in the process-therefore, reducing food waste. The incorporation of the sweet potato is entirely up to you! All in all, this dish took about 40 minutes to prepare, excluding the time you are preheating your oven. This may seem like a long time, but the dish was actually simple to prepare, since most of these ingredients cooked themselves, with minimal effort to watch over.

Planetary-health plate-complaint ingredients for the Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil Bowl

Ready to get cookin’?! Let’s move onto the recipe!

Mesquite Cauliflower and Lentil Bowl

This mesquite cauliflower and lentil bowl is a dish that is delicious, and planet-friendly!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gluten-free, vegan
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 407kcal

Ingredients

Black Rice

  • 1 cup Black rice (*or whatever other rice you have)
  • 2 cups water

Roasted Mesquite Cauliflower

  • 1 cauliflower large
  • 3 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Lentil Stew

  • 1 cup lentils uncooked
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups kale or spinach
  • 1 onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 sweet potato diced (optional ingredient)
  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil

Instructions

  • First, before moving forward withany other step, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cooking the Rice

  • [Method 1: Rice Cooker] Load the rice cooker with the rice and water, press the startbutton, cover, and allow for the rice to cook for about 25-35 minutes, or untilthe cooker indicated that the rice has finished cooking. Afterwards, fluff withfork.
  • [Method 2: Stovetop] in a medium pot, combine the rice and water, and heat onmedium-high and allow to boil. Once the rice reaches a rolling boil, reduce theheat to low, cover, and allow to cook for 25-35 minutes or until you see thatall of the water has evaporated. Afterwards, fluff with fork.

Whilewaiting for the rice to cook, begin preparing the roasted cauliflower:

  • Coarselydice cauliflower into pieces that are roughly 2”-3” in size. Place in anoven-safe casserole dish, and set aside.
  • Makingthe mesquite marinade: In a bowl, combine the maple syrup, the chili powder,smoked paprika, oil, and salt until well-combined.
  • Gently pour over the mesquite marinade over the cauliflower pieces, and gentlymix marinade with your hands until each piece of cauliflower is well-coated.
  • Placein center rack of oven and cook for 15-20 minutes. Afterwards, take out of theoven, flip each piece over, and place in the oven again for 15-20 minutes, oruntil each piece of cauliflower has lightly caramelized.

Whilewaiting for cauliflower and rice to finish cooking, begin preparing lentilstew.

  • In a fine mesh, rinse out lentils, until small rocks and debris have been removed.
  • In a medium pot, add the cooking oil, and let it heat up for about 10-30 secondson medium-high. Gradually, add in the onions and garlic and sauté for about 3minutes, or until the onions become translucent. At that point, add thelentils, vegetable broth, tomato sauce, turmeric, salt and sweet potato andallow to heat up until boiling. Once you see that the stew begins to boil,reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and allow the lentil stew to cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the lentils have absorbed the broth. During the last 10minutes of the lentils simmering, mix in the kale, and cover again.  
  • Addeach of these elements into a bowl or plate of your choice, and enjoy!

Video

Nutrition information per serving:

407 calories/ 9.5 grams protein/ 11 grams fat/ 71 grams carbohydrates/ 7.5 grams of fiber


References:

Willet, W., & Rockström, J. (2019). Summary Report of the Eat-Lancet CommissionSummary Report of the EAT-Lancet Commission. EAT; Wellcome Trust. Retrieved from https://eatforum.org/content/uploads/2019/07/EAT-Lancet_Commission_Summary_Report.pdf

World population projected to reach 9.8 billion in 2050, and 11.2 billion in 2100 | UN DESA Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2019, from https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/world-population-prospects-2017.html.

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