In the Advent Kitchen -- December 18
Fresh Carrots with Red Pepper Hummus
Chicken and Chickpea Skillet Supper
Fresh Fruit or Greek Yogurt Cake with Honey-Apple-Nut Sauce
Tonight we have a one-dish supper—simple, quick, nutritious, and delicious! The chicken and chickpea dish includes warm spices, spinach, and feta, with a bit of lemon to freshen it. It would go well with some little carrots to dip in creamy red pepper hummus. Fresh fruit—perhaps some oranges—would be an easy and healthy dessert. Nonetheless, if you’d like something fancier, how about a low-fat Greek yogurt cake? The cake has a subtle orange tang and needs to be made ahead and chilled thoroughly. You can, however, make the topping—if you choose to use one—while you cook the chicken skillet supper. A mixture of honey, walnuts, green apple, dried cranberries, and spices, the topping is sweet and tart, similar to the Jewish Charoset. Serve the topping warm and let it ooze slowly, glistening with sweet abandon, over the cold, tangy yogurt cake.
Red Pepper Hummus – Serves 10-12
Serve this hummus with fresh vegetables, pita, or even French bread or crackers. It’s nutritious and so good and simple to make that you won’t want to keep buying the stuff from the store (which is loaded with strange preservatives with non-food-like names).
2 cans (15 ounces) of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
¼ teaspoon of garlic powder
2 tablespoons of tahini (or use olive oil)
½ teaspoon of salt
2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice
¼ - ½ cup of roasted red peppers, drained (from a jar is fine)
Heat the chickpeas in a microwave safe bowl until they’re warm. Place the chickpeas and the remainder of the ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until the hummus is thick and creamy. Taste the hummus and add more lemon juice if you think it’s needed. You also may want to add a bit of water (a tablespoon at a time) to get the consistency you’d like.
Chicken and Chickpea Skillet Supper – Serves 4+
This is good, fast, cheap, and easy. It’s a great one-pan dish to serve when you get home late and need something nutritious that will fill you up but not out. If you don’t have time to make the hummus (or just don’t want to wash the food processor!), slice some tomatoes and maybe some bread to serve alongside the skillet supper and you’ve got dinner in about 20 minutes.
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 teaspoons of minced garlic (from a jar is fine)
1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs) cut into 1-2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 can (15 ounces) of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Zest and juice of a lemon
½ teaspoon of cumin
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of pepper
¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
3-4 cups of fresh spinach (about ½ of a 10-ounce bag)
¼ cup of feta cheese
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat and add the olive oil. When the pan is hot, add the onion and sauté it for a few minutes until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and stir the mixture for about half a minute more. Move the onion/garlic mixture to the side of the pan and add the chicken to the center. Brown the chicken for a few minutes on each side. Add the chickpeas and sprinkle on the cumin, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Stir gently to combine everything. Continue cooking the mixture a few minutes more or until the chicken is cooked through. Add about half the spinach to the pan and stir it into the chicken mixture. After the first batch of spinach wilts down, add the other half of the spinach and stir everything again. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and feta and serve the skillet supper.
Greek Yogurt Cake With Honey-Apple-Nut Sauce – Serves 12
This is a low guilt cake. It’s similar to a cheesecake—light, creamy, and rich tasting—but made with thick Greek yogurt. The cake is great when you want dessert but don’t want to overdo the fat. The sauce is a splurge, but it’s a reasonably nutritious one, as long as you don’t eat the whole bowlful. Made with honey, chopped walnuts, a green apple, dried cranberries, and warm spices, the sauce is colorful and full of sweet-tart flavor. If you have extra, the sauce is great warmed and poured over low-fat vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.
1 cup of cookie crumbs
2 tablespoons of canola oil
¾ cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of orange extract
2 tablespoons of flour
3 cups (24 ounces) of plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
Zest of an orange
1 cup of honey
1 cup of water
¾ cup of chopped walnuts (preferably toasted)
1 large green apple (such as Granny Smith), cored and chopped
¼ cup of dried cranberries
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
½ teaspoon of allspice
¼ teaspoon of cloves
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a 9 or 10-inch spring form pan with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the crumbs and oil and press them into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crumb crust for 8-10 minutes and set it aside to cool. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, orange extract, flour, yogurt, and orange zest until well combined. Pour the batter on top of the prepared crust and bake the cake for 45-50 minutes or until it’s just a little jiggly in the center. Let the cake cool, run a knife along the inside edge of the pan, and remove the outer rim. Refrigerate the cake for at least a couple of hours before serving it with the sauce.
For the sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan and, while stirring, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer, stirring it occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until the apple is softened and the mixture thickens. Let the sauce cool for 15 minutes and serve it warm over the yogurt cake (or refrigerate the sauce and reheat it, or, if you’d prefer, just serve the sauce cold over the cake). Refrigerate any leftover sauce and cake.