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Mushroom Cream & Chicken Pasta with “La Dulce Vida” Carrots

Ready for comfort food with some bright carrots? (Is that really a question?). We made this last night for a family Valentine’s Day dinner. My was in town visiting and we had just come home from a wonderful museum tour (if you’re ever in Louisville, check out the Conrad-Caldwell Castle). It was a cold day, and by the time we got back we were all a little wiped from being on our feet. We (ok Shoe) whipped up this meal and it was a crowd pleaser. It’s also an easy meal to make vegetarian if you cut the chicken.

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Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce and Grilled Chicken

When you want comfort pasta, but you aren't feeling like red sauce and you also don't want to eat a gluey-thick alfredo sauce... this is the perfect dish. 

Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 13 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 43 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

Cooking Instructions

  1. Coat chicken with olive oil and Finger Lickin' Chicken spice mix

  2. Star boiling water for pasta. Grill chicken until cooked, wrap in foil to keep warm, and set aside.

  3. Cook pasta as you make the sauce

  4. Saute mushrooms in 1 tbs of butter and Sizzling Steak spice mix until brown, set off to the side

  5. In hot pan, add flour and remaining butter and saute until browned

  6. Slowly add vegetable stock and half and half to the mixture and simmer until thickened. Stir constantly.

  7. Pour cream and mushrooms over pasta and top with sliced chicken

  8. Top with basil and serve

la dulce vida baked carrots
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Roasted "La Dulce Vita" (The Good Life) Carrots

Bright carrots with a tiny bit of kick

Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 33 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

Cooking Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425

  2. Mix carrots and olive oil with La Dulce Vita

  3. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes

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Low (Low!) Calorie Crunchy Tacos Packed with Flavor (The Bright Star Seasoning)

Watching calories but hungry and want tacos? Don’t we all?! This dish is super simple and VERY low calorie. We’re talking 500 calories for SIX tacos. AND you can have cheese. For real.

They taste amazing thanks to our “Bright Star” spice mix.

Here’s how the magic happens. (Yes, we use a veggie protein, but with our spice mix, you won’t miss the meat. This has received RAVING reviews from veggies AND meat-eaters alike, we promise.)

low calories crunchy tacos
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Low Calorie Vegetarian Tacos

You won't believe these are low calorie. These are very satisfying, yummy tacos perfect for days when you need a low calorie dinner. We're talking 500 calories for SIX tacos. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 12 tacos

Ingredients

Cooking Instructions

  1. Add water & The Bright Star seasoning to a pot and bring to a boil.

  2. Add in TVP, reduce heat to a low simmer and cover. Let simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed (about 20 minutes). Stir occasionally.

  3. Heat up a frying pan with a teaspoon of olive oil, add peppers and onions. Sauté until soft.

  4. Add TVP, continue to sauté for 5 mins.

  5. Heat tacos in oven on a cookie sheet at 200 degrees for 5 mins.

  6. Serve with guac, salsa and shredded cheese.

 

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Kathleen’s Organic Garlic & Parm Monkey Bread

Big thanks to our good friend Kathleen in Chicago for this recipe. Dese dough balls should keep yous warm up dere! Can you tell we miss our Chicago friends and family? (many of whom have that classic “Jewels” Chicago accent whether they admit it or not)…

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Organic Garlic (Buffy Slayer Helper) Monkey Bread with Parmesan

A warm, gooey, garlic drenched plate of goodness. Perfect pully-bread for parties or a treat for soup or pasta night at home.

Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 11 minutes
Cook Time 28 minutes
Total Time 39 minutes
Servings 14 people

Ingredients

Cooking Instructions

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees

  2. Mix garlic, butter & Buffy Slayer Helper in bowl.

  3. Roll out crescent dough, cut in little squares & roll into balls (about 48 per roll)

  4. Dip and roll dough balls in butter mixture & place side-by-side in a greased 9-inch pan

  5. Bake for 25-28 minutes

  6. Remove from oven, sprinkle parmesan on top (add optional salt) and place back in oven for up to 3 minutes for a quick melt. 

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Piri Piri Spicy Broccolini

Who says Piri Piri is just for chicken? Ramp up your veggie side game with this delicious broccolini dish full of heat and flavor. Plus, the name is super fun to say!

hot broccolini dish
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Piri Piri Spicy Broccolini

A full-flavor vegetable side dish for heat lovers. 

Course Side Dish
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Resting time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

Cooking Instructions

  1. Mix Piri Piri, lemon juice & olive oil

  2. Blanch brocolini in boiling water for 2 minutes and then quickly shock in cold water

  3. Drain water and mix brocolini & Piri Piri mixture in the bowl. Let sit for 10-15 mins.

  4. Saute on high heat for 3-5 minutes until browned & serve

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Easy Instapot Stew for Dogs (Meat, Veggies + Turmeric)

Here’s a simple dog food recipe we thought we’d share. We make this twice a week for our dogs and it’s a part of their overall meal plan.

Studies have shown that curcumin, a compound in turmeric, may reduce inflammation in humans and dogs. We’ve seen it help humans with our own eyes, and we want our dogs to reap the benefits, especially because Spot, our 12-year-old, has a history of mast cell tumors (he’s fine now!) and Tulip, our 8-year-old, was recently diagnosed with lymphoma (she’s on Week 6 of chemo and doing great, thankfully). Your pups will adore this!

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Homemade Easy Instapot Stew for the Dogs

A comfort meal for our best buddies. Make once in a while for special days, or you can start rotating this into their regular meal plans. NOTE: If you're removing kibble completely, you'll need to add supplements for full nutrition. We use Vegedog along with probiotics, but talk to your vet about the best solution for your pups. We cook this a few times a week as supplement to their regular dog food (we're currently transitioning from high quality grain-free kibble to raw food + homemade stews like these with vitamin supplements).

Course Main Course
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 37 minutes
Servings 10 meals

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon turmeric
  • 3-4 pounds meat of your choice, chopped We switch between beef, turkey & lamb
  • 1 can rised beans of your choice We use either kidney, chick peas, black, pinto or lentils. Beans MUST be cooked or they can be dangerous to dogs. Avoid fava, baked or refried beans.
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped
  • 1-2 heads broccoli, chopped
  • 3-5 carrots, chopped
  • 1-2 apples, chopped
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • OPTIONAL: green beans, blueberries, brussel sprouts, celery, cucumbers or peas Double check online if you are tempted to add anything else. Some foods can be TOXIC and even DEADLY for dogs, like onions, cherries, mushrooms, etc. Always "check before you chuck" in the Instapot

Cooking Instructions

  1. Chop all ingredients into dog-friendly chewable bites

    chopped meat veggies and fruit for dogs
  2. Add all ingredients except for kale to the Instapot, plus 1 cup of water. 

    add ingredients to instapot, dogs drooling
  3. Set Instapot to "stew" and pressure-cook it (takes about 30 mins)

  4. When it's done and beeps, add kale (or any other leafy green) on top so it wilts into the stew. Let it cool & serve. 

    ready to eat

Recipe Notes

We supplement with other food, but our 50-60 pound dogs usually get two big ladles for dinner

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Fried tofu nuggets that will knock your socks off

I’ve been working on a faux chicken nugget recipe for last couple of years.  One of Pinch’s is most popular blends is Finger Lickin’ Chicken.  It is great on chicken, but actually ends up being a great flavor for vegetarian cooking.  Though it doesn’t taste like chicken, it has a robust rich flavor that make everything taste great.  We always have a bag of morningstar nuggets in our freezer for those times when you just want to pop something in the oven and chill.  I’m one of those people that feels guilty for not making things homemade and these nuggets were really starting to bother me.  I’ve had great success frying tofu for Chinese american dishes like general tso’s using baking soda and corn starch, but not much luck with batter fried tofu.  Especially getting the texture right.  This recipe gets it right.  So what’s the deal?

What I wanted to do is make tofu nuggets using Finger Lickin’ Chicken as the base flavor like I do with fried chicken.  Recently I stumbled on to a video by Mary’s Test Kitchen that caught my eye.  Mary solves the biggest problem with tofu, excess moisture, by freezing the tofu not once but twice.  Here’s the thing, you can press tofu to get moisture out, but eventually the tofu will crumble and for nuggets we need it to stay intact.  When the tofu goes into the freezer the little pockets of ice form in the tofu then when thawed you can easily press the excess moisture out.  This gets all of the moisture out and leaves you with tofu the resembles a sponge that can be broken up into large pieces.  At this point they just need to be battered and fried.  Mary’s video is for making a vegan popcorn chicken, but this recipe will use eggs and milk for the batter. I recommend her video if you want to go vegan, or simply substitute for the egg and milk in this recipe.  Mary’s video is here

On to the recipe, which is still a working recipe by the way.  I’m still experimenting with the best time to add flavor to the tofu.  For today, we will add the flavor right at the start.  I will update this as I experiment a little further.

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Vegetarian Fried Chicken Nuggets with Tofu

Make amazing fried vegetarian nuggets that are as good, or even better than actual chicken nuggets.  

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Thomas "Shoebocks" McGee

Ingredients

  • 1 package firm tofu
  • 3-4 tbsp Finger Lickin' Chicken
  • 1 cup veggie stock or broth
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs optional
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups buttermilk you can substitute regular milk

Cooking Instructions

  1. mix 2 tbsp. of finger lickin' chicken with the veggie stock

  2. drain the tofu and add the finger lickin' veggie stock

  3. let this marinate for 30 minutes

  4. press the tofu to remove as much liquid as possible

  5. place the tofu in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for 2 hours

  6. remove the tofu from the freezer and let it thaw

  7. press as much liquid out of the tofu as possible, i use my hands and paper towel

  8. return the tofu to the bag and freeze again for at least 2 hours

  9. now let the tofu thaw again and press out all the liquid.  The tofu should now resemble a sponge.  

  10. add oil to pan suitable for frying.  I use a dutch oven.  I cast iron pan works great as well.  Heat over medium high heat.  The oil should reach about 375 degrees before frying

  11. now break up the tofu into nugget size pieces.  I found smaller is better in this case.  

  12. let's make some batter.... whisk the eggs and buttermilk in a bowl

  13. mix the flour, the rest of the finger lickin' chicken and the panko together in a separate bowl

  14. now we get our hands messy.  Dip a piece of tofu an coat in the egg mixture, then dunk in the flour mixture to coat.  You can put this down on a plate and do 8-10 pieces at a time.  

  15. add the tofu to fryer and cook until golden brown, flipping once during cooking.  should be 3-5 minutes, but you really just want to look for color here.  

  16. remove from oil and drain.  I put the nuggets on a cooling rack over a baking sheet.  

  17. serve with your favorite dipping sauce or make your own ranch dressing with our Pinch Valley Ranch.  

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Memphis BBQ Sloppy Joes

A fun and simple meal that everyone will love.  I often use veggie crumbles or tvp instead of ground beef with great results.

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Memphis Sloppy Joes

A weeknight sloppy joe recipe that uses Pinch Spice Market's Memphis Rib Rub as the base flavor.  

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 people

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp Memphis Rib Rub
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 can tomato sauce or puree
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 pound ground beef or veggie crumbles
  • 3 cloves garlic fine chopped
  • 1 tbsp salt optional

Cooking Instructions

  1. heat oil over medium high heat and sautee peppers, garlic and onion until soft

  2. add ground beef or veggie crumbles and cook until browned

  3. add tomato paste and stir to combine

  4. add brown sugar, salt, and Memphis Rib Rub. stir to combine

  5. add can of tomato puree or sauce

  6. reduce heat to simmer 

  7. let simmer for about 30 minutes until thickened.  this can cook longer and will get better the longer it goes

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Chicken Tikka Masala

 

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Chicken Tikka Masala

A recipe for Tuesday night tikka masala which uses Pinch Spice Market's Tikka Masala mix to simplify the process and still taste authentic and delicious.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Thomas "Shoebocks" McGee

Ingredients

Marinated Chicken

Tikka Masala

Cooking Instructions

  1. mix the yogurt, chicken and tikka spice in a bowl and let sit.  You can do this overnight but give it at least 20 minutes to marinate.

  2. heat a pan on medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter or cooking oil to the pan.  sautee marinated chicken pieces until browned.  chicken should be almost cooked through.  5 minutes depending on the size of the pieces.  

  3. set chicken aside and return the pan to medium heat

  4. melt butter in pan in the same pan and add the chopped onion.  

  5. cook onions until soft but not browned.  

  6. add tomato paste and stir into onions.  let this cook for a minute or two then add the tikka spice and sautee for an additional minute until the spices are fragrant. 

  7. add the crushed tomatoes and reduce the heat to medium-low.  

  8. add the chicken to the sauce and continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes.  you may need to reduce the heat to achieve a slow simmer.  

  9. reduce heat to low and add the cream.  stirring to incorporate and simmer for an additional 5 minutes

  10. congratulations, you are awesome and have just made restaurant style tikka masala from scratch.   Serve with a garnish of chopped cilantro and enjoy.  

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Baked Cauliflower with Pumpkin Pie Spice and Curry Powder

A friend recently posted a baked cauliflower dish on their Facebook page, and I was tagged by another friend indicating they like to make this with a mix of Pumpkin Pie Spice and Curry Powder.  I was inspired and decided to cook it immediately.

This is a super easy and very healthy dish that sure pleases one and all.  From the time I left the Pinch workshop to plating was less than two hours, making this is a perfect weeknight dish.  You could easily change the spices you use, but I urge you to try this dish in all it’s fall flavored glory.  One note, the original post called for panko breadcrumbs, which I didn’t have, so I  used all purpose flour.  I believe panko would make it a little crispier and I will be using it next time.

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Baked Pumpkin Curry Cauliflower

This is a tasty, super simple, and healthy side dish.  A perfect compliment to any fall dinner.  

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Indian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Thomas "Shoebocks" McGee

Ingredients

  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1-2 tbsp yogurt optional
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 head cauliflower cut into pieces
  • 4 tbsp flour or panko
  • 1 tsp salt optional

Cooking Instructions

  1. preheat the oven to 425F

  2. Cut up the cauliflower into bite size pieces and set aside

  3. Beat the egg, add yogurt if you are using it and beat together with a whisk

  4. Add the pumpkin pies spice and curry powder to the egg mixture and mix to combine

  5. toss the cauliflower into the mixture and coat evenly

  6. sprinkle with flour or panko again making sure to coat evenly

  7. spread on a lightly greased cookie sheet

  8. bake for 30-35 minutes until crispy and browned 

  9. I made an optional curry yogurt sauce for serving.  4 tbsp of yogurt, 1 tsp honey, 1 12 tsp of curry powder.  This is optional but was quite good.  Served with tandoori chicken and spinach this plate was well under 500 calories.

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Doro Wat Recipe (Spicy Ethiopian Chicken)

Ethiopian is one of my favorite cuisines. Most of the core Ethiopian flavors come primarily from the berbere spice blend, so it’s easy to make at home when you have Pinch’s Ethiopian Berbere handy. This is one of our more popular blends and it really highlights the quality of the spices I source.

Doro Wat is especially great in the fall or winter. The slow-cooked chicken absorbs all of the flavor, as do the eggs.  The rich spicy sauce will warm your heart and stimulate your mind.  This recipe doesn’t require much prep or active cooking time, so it works well as a weeknight meal.  It’s also one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day.

ethiopian doro wat organic chicken

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Doro Wat

Easy, Spicy, Delicious doro wat that will warm up your tummy and your spirits.  

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Thomas "Shoebocks" McGee

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds chicken thighs, leg quarters, bone in breasts
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp tomatoe paste
  • 6 soft boiled eggs
  • 2 tbsp Ethiopian Berbere add more if you like spicy
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth water can also be used

Cooking Instructions

  1. in a large pot heat oil over medium high heat

  2. add chicken and brown on all sides

  3. remove chicken and set aside.  you dont need to cook the chicken all the way through just want to brown it.

  4. heat butter in the same pot over medium heat

  5. add onions and sautee until browned.  stir to avoid burning, but you want the onions to carmelize

  6. stir in garlic and berbere and stir until fragrent about 30 seconds

  7. add tomato paste and allow to darken while stirring about 2 minutes.

  8. add water and stir to incorporate everything

  9. add the chicken and reduce the heat to low.

  10. cook for 40 minutes

  11. add the eggs and cook for an additional ten minutes