Ever heard the saying, “winter meals make summer bodies?”. Yeah me too. And it’s stupid lol. Now if it were “spring meals help shape summer bodies”, I’d be a little bit more on board. Spring allows us to get outside, get active again, and (hopefully) eat lighter, healthier meals. Now, it’s supposed to feel spring like here in the Hudson Valley, but instead my three girls and I are hunkered down inside while a howling Nor’easter drops another foot of snow on us.
After playing dolls, arts & crafts, and watching movies, we decided to cook some delicious, and healthy recipes together. Up first, Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies. Note: none of my children are required to have gluten free diets, but I had almond flour left over from a previous recipe and needed to use it up. The results yielded a delicious and more nutritious result than expected.
Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies
- 3 cups almond flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp sea salt (I used Newport Sea Salt)
- 1 whole organic egg
- 2 organic egg whites
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup organic grade A maple syrup (I used Nature’s Promise)
- 1 cup organic semisweet dark chocolate chips (I used Nature’s Promise)
- 1/2 cup organic walnut pieces
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper
- In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer (or by hand if you’re stronger & steadier than I lol) beat the maple syrup and coconut oil on medium for about 5 minutes. (The mixture will give you creamy light brown result)
- Next, add the vanilla extract, followed by the whole egg, and 2 egg whites, mixing slightly to incorporate each egg.
Up next was a more substantial meal- a lemon chicken & orzo casserole. (In case you’re wondering: yes we do dessert first in this house on special days).
As soon as the word casserole is used, my kids tend to run in the other direction. So instead, I told the girls it was a magical pasta and chicken just like the Trolls love to eat. I also had to put on the Trolls movie soundtrack while we prepared it lol. Hey, whatever works, right?
Creamy Lemon Chicken & Orzo Casserole
- One 9″ x 13″ baking dish
- 2 cups orzo (NOT COOKED)
- 3 cups low sodium organic chicken stock
- 3 tbsp melted butter (unsalted preferred)
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 3 lemons: 2 of them zested and juiced, 1 lemon just sliced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 4 organic, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tsp dried coriander
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried dill
- Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease your baking dish with non stick cooking spray.
- Let’s work on the orzo first. (This will be the base layer of your casserole). Begin by whisking together the chicken stock, melted butter, lemon zest & juice from the 2 lemons, cornstarch, oregano, dill, and 1 tsp of the salt. Once combined, mix in the orzo and fully coat.
- Next we will work with the chicken. Rinse and pat dry the 4 chicken breasts. Sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and coriander.
- Assemble the casserole by placing the orzo mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Then, take the chicken and lay them on top of the mixture, but at an angle so they are “nestled” among the orzo. Top the chicken with the lemon slices
- Bake casserole for about 45 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving, then top with parsley. Enjoy!
***Sorry for not posting a picture- my hubby dug right into this dish when he got home from work. It was literally demolished in a matter of minutes once the kids got their hands on it too. My favorite part of this casserole is that the orzo becomes very creamy- almost like a risotto. The chicken was very tender and flavorful as well. Definitely a recipe I’ll make again. ***
I had plans to try out another recipe or two , but once my husband got home, we honestly needed a glass of wine. With full bellies from the casserole, and giddy from enjoying a local dry riesling, we decided to tackle the 14″ of snow that had accumulated outside. The snow is still falling, and you can most likely expect another recipe post tomorrow.
Hope everyone is staying dry, safe, and happy.