Wanting us to be independent, my parents taught my brother & I how to cook from an early age. We each were tasked with cooking a meal a week… which came with meal planning, so we could make sure we got everything we needed from the grocery store for said meals. I think my favorite to make was probably sweet & sour pork.
It’s something I always appreciated… especially as it led to my love of baking & cooking now.
But I was having a conversation with friends on Thanksgiving about the landscape of how we cook or what we cook. We realized it becomes predicated on the tastes of who taught us… & realistically on who taught them as well.
If the person in your family who does the cooking doesn’t use a lot of spices beyond salt, pepper & garlic, that’s unintentionally going to be your comfort zone too. If your mom hates fish or cooked spinach, you never grow up having to eat it. But unless you push yourself out of your food comfort zone, you may never know if you like it or not.
But because my parents laid the foundation of us learning to cook, it planted a seed that would burst through the ground of comfort zone. As I started to take more risks in my baking, playing with cupcake flavors, I began taking more risks in my cooking too.
This blackened chicken spice mix started as a risk, but became something I use all the time. Like every single time I buy chicken, at least some of it gets the blackened treatment. I also knew it would be outside my parents’ comfort zone, but for a present one year, I made the mix blend for my mom & mailed it to her with the recipe. Same with the base for a chili recipe I will share soon! 😉
Though I’ve made my own edits, the original recipe came from:
Blackened Chicken Spice Mix:
1 tsp. Paprika
1 tsp. Ground Cumin
1 tsp. Black Pepper
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
½ tsp. Cayenne Pepper
½ tsp. Pink Himalayan Salt
½ tsp. Turmeric*
*Tumeric is something that got added later. I know it’s good for you, but I wasn’t necessarily comfortable knowing how to use it on its own. And too much of the flavor on its own didn’t agree with me. This is a great way to get the benefit without worrying about it impacting taste!
The original recipe uses this for 1 lb. of chicken… but I usually make a bigger batch at a time & just stick it in a spice jar so it’s ready any time I want some.
And, like I told my mom, if the spice blend is new to you, you can start with a light sprinkle on the chicken & then build up to a pretty thick layer like I do.
The original recipe has it with an avocado sauce, which is super good; but I usually do it less frequently. Just depends on if I have plain Greek yogurt at the time because vanilla just doesn’t work. Trust me. 😝
¼ c. Plain Greek Yogurt
1 ½ tsp. Lemon Juice
¼ tsp. Pink Himalayan Salt
¼ tsp. Minced Garlic
Put all the ingredients into a Magic Bullet or food processor & blend. I usually transfer to a Ziploc bag, cutting off the corner to put it on top of the chicken. But I’ve seen others spread the sauce on top in a thick layer, no bag required.
Sweet Potato Cranberry Quinoa:
This is where I take a couple recipes & incorporate them together!
2 c. Chicken Stock [recipe, if needed: Slow Cooker Chicken Stock]
1 c. I Heart Keenwah Quinoa
1 med. Sweet Potato, diced
⅓ c. Cranberries
1 sprig Fresh Rosemary
1 tsp. Paleo Powder “Pink”
1 TB. EVOO
⅛ c. Pine Nuts
Cook quinoa according to package.
Cook sweet potato mix according to: Sweet Potato with Cranberries & Rosemary
As soon as quinoa is done, for proportion reasons, I set aside half the quinoa to save for another recipe. Using the remaining quinoa, I add the sweet potato mix right in.
Add pine nuts RIGHT BEFORE serving, to retain the crunch! 😉
As always, if you try it, let me know how it goes!!