almond breeze Archives

Chicken with Eggplant & Creamy Tomato Sauce

Chicken with Eggplant & Creamy Tomato Sauce | Big Girls Small Kitchen

Show me the chicken stew. I was famous growing up for my love of falling-apart chicken, and to this day I adore meat that has been cooked long enough to soak in the flavors of cacciatore, Morocco, coriander, and New Mexico.

Even white meat.

When I go to the butcher, I almost always choose chicken thighs, usually bone-in/skin-on. Yes, dark meat is more flavorful and harder to overcook. It’s also cheaper. Then I roast the thighs, or I make things like this stew, where you have to pick out the bones and skin as you eat, but I never mind that though I know some people do, which is why those people (maybe you?) search the internet for boneless skinless chicken breast recipes, and, in the process, say no to bones, skin, and dark meat. If we’re being 110% honest, sometimes I scoff at you guys (I’m really sorry!), but today I’ve made you a really lovely flavorful stew that’s ideally suited to right now: the end of summer, but not the end of tomato season, or eggplant season, or herbs-from-other-people’s-gardens season.

“Creamy” Corn Soup with Crispy Bacon

Dairy-Free Corn Soup with Crispy Bacon

There should be a single word for the anxiety you feel when you know your CSA or farmers’ market vegetables might go bad in their picturesque bowl on the counter before you get a chance to cook something delicious with them. There are two possible upshots of this feeling: one, that the vegetables do go bad, which stinks; and two, that you force yourself to cook everything up into some hodgepodge hash or curry that’s good but possibly not as off-the-charts good as that perfect eggplant/herbs/tomato would have been had you had the time to treat each vegetable like a star.

And then, when my sister’s neighbor dropped off so much fresh produce from his garden that she sent me a desperate text, and when my mother-in-law’s small garden yielded pounds of string beans just in the time we were visiting, from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon, I realized that our urban what-do-I-do-with-this-produce anxiety (see, we need a single word), is a faint facsimile of what people with gardens or farms must experience.

If you’re a pro at this, let us know what you make to prevent any veggies from going to waste!

In the city, we choose to live on the edge, with respect to potentially rotting vegetables, by joining a CSA or allowing ourselves to overspend at the market. In the country, on the other hand, you might be the innocent victim of  a neighbor’s overzealous springtime planting.So I don’t come from a place of total vegetable-overload expertise. My apologies. Still, I can’t help but think that this soup, which turns a half dozen ears of corn into a delicate cream that you can ladle into your mouth, is an awesome solution to the problem of too much corn. Besides corn, there are just two ingredients in the soup, potatoes and Unsweetened Original Almond Breeze Almond Milk, both of which complement the corn with their sweetness and their substance. Add bacon on top and a chunk of buttered baguette on the side, and you’ve got a dinner so delicious I can promise you one thing: that you will never learn not to over-buy or over-plant. If this silky substance represents the untold third upshot of the the too-much-vegetable anxiety, I think the whole dance is worth it.

Toasted Almond & Cherry Custard Pie

Toasted Almond & Cherry Custard Pie | Big Girls Small Kitchen

Well, if we’re going on a cherry binge, we’re going to have to pair bunches of them with almonds.

They’re related, cherries and almonds, and that’s why their flavors complement each other so, so perfectly. In truth, I am not normally a pie person, but I make an exception for custardy pies, like lemon and shoofly, and especially for almond-y custard pies like this Toasted Almond & Cherry Custard Pie.

To make the almond-kissed dairy-free custard in this pie, I take inspiration from one of my all-time favorite summer desserts, the clafoutis. In a clafoutis, a small amount of flour added to the custard prevents the eggs from curdling. That means you don’t have to be a pie whisperer to win at this custard pie. You don’t have to be careful or precise, at all.

Almond Breeze Almond Milk jumpstarts the almond flavor; both almond extract and sliced almonds pump up the taste even more. (See all my Almond Breeze recipes here.)

Likewise, the crust: it’s press in! I know a lot of people detest rolling out pie dough, and hopefully there are quarter-lifers among you who don’t even own a rolling pin (hopefully, because I think that it’s sort of something to be proud of…minimalism and whatnot). No matter. Here, after moistening flour with oil and more almond milk, simply press the crust into your pan. It’s okay if the edges are a little rough.

Into that easy-to-make shell go pitted cherries and this famous almond custard–then, sliced almonds are sprinkled on top.

There is a similar pie in A Baker’s Dairy-Free Dozen–only that one’s made with coconut. Don’t miss either!

Mocha Choco Loco

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I’m going to trust you with this recipe, goofy title and all. Do you have sisters? I have two, and when all three of us put our heads (and cravings) together, amazing recipes emerge. This is one.

Of course, I can’t pinpoint exactly when it started, but it was a long time ago. I definitely remember a sunny Saturday in high school. Katie, my younger sister, and I were reading on the deck, and we experienced that late-afternoon desire that comes from neither hunger nor tiredness nor thirst alone, but a combination of all three. Those, and the call of our sweet teeth. We set down our books and raced into the kitchen.

Was that the first Mocha Choco Loco of all time? I can’t say. The evolution from plain chocolate milk to Mocha Choco is subtle indeed–but crucial. The update comes in the form of espresso powder, an ingredient we always had on hand for making mom’s famous chocolate cake but never used for actual drinking coffee. That day, and many after, we dissolved cocoa, espresso powder, and sugar in hot water in our glasses, then poured in cups of milk, added ice cubes, drank up. This miniature cooking session was followed by us running around the house for the rest of the day yelling about Mocha Choco Locos.

You, on the other hand, might be wise to think of this as a simple, not-too-sweet, homemade version of the Frappucino. That makes a lot more sense than the internal sister name.

Coriander Chicken

Coriander Chicken | Big Girls Small Kitchen

We have a lot of different chicken preferences in my family. White meat, dark meat, bone-in, skin on or off. Normally, I’d say that’s what roasting a whole chicken and dividing up parts are for, but there are some who don’t even like their meat juicy, so honestly, compromise is out.

But falling-apart chicken unites us. We’ve been raised on chicken soup and its offshoot, chicken fritz, for generations. But okay, so what is falling-apart chicken?

It’s a pot of chicken that’s been cooked forever, the chicken in the pot so tender you can fork over your knife. The too juicy problem certainly disappears with the long cooking time, but the chicken never gets dry, stewed as the pieces are in flavorful liquids like chicken broth, wine, and almond milk.

You could replace “falling-apart chicken” with chicken stew, chicken braise, or chicken tagine, if it helps. In some ways, Chicken Marbella qualifies as falling apart. Healthy Chicken Chili gets there too, as long as you help the process along by shredding the slow-cooked chicken thighs. Provencal Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Chickpeas is probably closest to a beloved childhood dish–the standard in falling-apart-chicken–only minus the butternut squash, the chickpeas, and the Provencal herbs. 


So, that one was plain. But as we all grew older and less afraid of flavor, Coriander Chicken entered the dinner rotation. Flavored with a whole lot of onions, a bunch of cilantro (cooked til mellow, for all you haters), cilantro’s dried cousin–ground coriander–and raisins that grow plump as the chicken cooks and cooks and cooks, the dinner was a one-pot pleaser. Mom used yogurt as some of the liquid and kept the pot on the stove the whole time. I didn’t have her recipe on hand, so I improvised a delightful new version of it, using unsweetened almond milk to keep the stew safe for dairy-free Alex.

Apple-Cinnamon & Almond Smoothie

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I love the feeling of a recipe developing in my mind. A little bit of this, a pinch of that–I can almost taste the combinations as I think them. They say if you imagine a yoga routine step by step in your head, you get a good fraction as flexible and calm as if you go through the poses with your actual body. Since I adore cooking and do its motions so much, when a recipe from my head comes into existence, the tastes and textures ordinarily resemble my unwritten, unmade version. Sometimes, though, the dishes come up short, like a lentil salad I made the other day to go with some crispy hake, where the lentils got overcooked and the toasted pine nuts didn’t add enough crunch to balance out the mush, and also the hake was barely crispy.

Sometimes, the actual preparation surpasses the fantasy, and that’s what happened with this breakfast shake, which I believed would taste like almonds, apples, and cinnamon and instead tasted like candy.

Candy! For breakfast! But I’m not actually talking Peeps and Peanut Butter Eggs.This is a drink whose added sugar content comes from a single teaspoon of honey and then just makes the most of all the natural sweetness of almonds, apples, ripe banana, and honey.