Thyme, Honey & Dijon Glazed Chicken Drumsticks

Thyme, Honey & Dijon Glazed Chicken Drumsticks by My Little Jar of Spices

I had an interesting experience today. My yoga instructor and his wife invited me to spend the day with them and their kids. We went on a lovely hike in Otuzco, about twenty minutes outside of Cajamarca where there are beautiful ruins, a river and a couple of farms, and then back to their house for lunch. They are vegetarians. While I have nothing but profound respect for anyone’s dietary preferences and choices, vegetarianism is always problematic given my own diet choices. Case in point: on the menu – whole wheat soup, peppers stuffed with rice, sweet potatoes, corn cobs and fruit, homemade mango ice-cream and quinoa-oatmeal cookies for dessert. A seemingly perfectly healthy lunch, but the total absence of fat or protein and the abundance of carb-dense vegetables and grains took me aback. In fact, 100% of the food on the plate was carbs, and what’s more, I completely forgot that this is what almost all of my meals used to look like before. Aside from the wheat soup and cookies, I ate everything else. I steer clear of gluten as a non-negotiable principle because even very small amounts can prevent your gut lining from repairing and keep your symptoms going. But on the other hand, I’m at a place where I feel that my digestive health is good and I have a pretty squeaky clean paleo lifestyle the rest of the time that I don’t need to freak out about the occasional small portion of grains, sugar or dairy as much as I used to. There are moments when it just seems senseless to reject delicious food that people have prepared for you because you follow a grain-free diet, and one carb-dense vegetarian meal with whole grains will not kill you or “screw up” everything you’ve been following. I can completely feel the effects of eating a bit of rice and milk ice-cream on my body though, which confirms that this can only be on an exceptional basis. My stomach has not been in a happy place all afternoon, rumbling, struggling and grumbling and trying to recognize how the hell all this rice got here. It’s ok, it was a delightful day, and I realized I’m almost never around children so this was a pleasant change of routine. Continue reading

Creamy Chicken, Cauliflower and Broccoli Bake

Creamy Chicken, Cauliflower and Broccoli Bake

This recipe confirms the theory that the simpler the recipe, the more delicious. I threw this casserole together with what I had on hand the other night without imagining I could make a blog post out of this recipe, but it hit such a big home run and was so I-can’t-believe-my-tastebuds amazing that I photographed what was leftover to publish the recipe. Continue reading

Smokey Chicken and Rainbow Vegetable Saute with Crunchy Almonds

Smokey Chicken, Rainbow Vegetable Saute and Crunchy Almonds

Sometimes, food is like art, and cooking like painting it. Beautiful, colorful, meditative. You assemble your material, take out your cutting board and knife, chop your vegetables one by one in a repeated, patient, practiced gesture, select the spices, herbs and condiments that will allow for the flavors to burst and intertwine. And with perfect synchronicity, you then turn up the heat, drizzle the olive oil, stir in the onions, then the vegetables one by one, let it smoke, sprinkle some salt, crack in some pepper, bring it back to a slow simmer, take a few risks, contemplate with satisfaction as your ingredients sizzle in the hot oil, release their wonderful flavors and come together in the most beautiful of meals. Every time I cook something, I look at it and think it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve made. Until the next meal comes around of course. Continue reading

Honey, Ginger and Sesame Chicken

Honey, Ginger and Sesame Chicken by My Little Jar of Spices

Have I mentioned how cheap meat is in Brazil? Like, ridiculously, and even almost suspiciously cheap. Suspiciously in the sense of, “am I sure I’m not buying a piece of meat that’s one week old and has been dropped on the floor a couple of times at this price?”. Did I mention it’s also grass-fed, because all cows in Brazil graze happily about in big open pastures? I know, I am living in the dream country of every paleo follower on a budget. To give you an idea, 1 kg of ground beef costs around…wait for it… less than 3€, with this wonderful exchange rate that we’ve been having lately. That’s about 3.8 USD. I know! Protein for everybody! It’s funny how chicken and turkey have almost become pricey sources of protein next to all this super affordable red carne. Or maybe it’s just because I am tempted to leap more often for the super-duper prime steak and have left the everyday old chicken for more boring meals. I take that back, chicken is never old or boring, we love our chicken too.  Continue reading

Tajine-Style Chicken

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Despite the title, this recipe does not call for a Tajine dish, nor any particular knowledge of Moroccan cuisine for that matter, although in my case, I know a little about North African cuisine from my mother’s side of the family who comes from Algeria. This recipe is pretty special to me because, although we never ate Tajine in my family, we did eat a lot of Couscous. My grandmother’s couscous recipe is really something, and the idea of passing on this dish when I go to visit this Summer because I stear clear of gluten and grains is a little heart-breaking. I might make an exception just for it, because it’s THAT good.

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Asian-style Chicken-Squash Meatballs with a Sweet & Spicy Kumquat Dipping Sauce

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I’ve made these meatballs twice in the past week. The first time, I made regular meatballs as a main course dish for a dinner that my roommate, Lea, and I hosted at our place with about 8 other girlfriends. The second time, I made a mini-meatball version that you could eat using a toothpick, when we hosted a welcome home and happy graduation party for Freddy with about 20 people. Let’s do some quick math: I fed meatballs to about 30 people, rolled 3 kg of ground chicken meat between my hands and made a hundred or so meatballs in less than a week. If the validity of my recipes is based on the experience I have making them, then this one takes the cake (note the little cooking pun right there). Continue reading

Balsamic Roasted Chicken with Rosemary and Cherry Tomatoes

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This story is about life transitions, not getting things done, and making flavorful meat (sounds interesting right?), and it starts with: So I bought some chicken on Saturday. It was a lovely, sunny, Saturday morning that made chicken feel in the perfect order of things. All of my roommates were out of town and I was looking forward to a nice afternoon of quiet working, blogging, and hair-salonning (it’s not a word, but it should be!) that would end with chicken-roasting. But life took its own course and decided otherwise. Continue reading