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Chef E's Quarantine Recipes #2

Hi there! For this recipe round I wanted to share 3 of my go-to's that rely heavily on long-lasting/pantry items. That said, as we are grocery shopping less often right now, I also added notes on how they can be changed to be even more do-able. Check out Dr. B's notes on the health benefits of each recipe too - yes, that includes my favorite chocolate chip cookies! 

 Chicken Veracruzana variation on Rick Bayless Mexican Everyday


Parsley is a great garnish, but not essential. I also typically serve this over roasted cauliflower more like a stew instead of in tortillas. Since those changes eliminate 2 of the most perishable ingredients, with a bit of planning (and freezer stock of chicken) this is a great pull-from-the-pantry option. I also don’t always have garlic, but always keep shallots  – they can be used here in place of garlic.

What You’ll Need
  • 3 pounds (5 to 8) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • A 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted), drained
  • 4 to 6 canned pickled jalapeños, stemmed, seeded and cut into strips
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup coarsely chopped green olives (manzanilla olives are traditional)
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, thick bottom stems removed
  • 12 warm corn tortillas
Get Cookin’

Place chicken in your slow cooker.  In a medium bowl, mix together the tomatoes, jalapeños, garlic, Worcestershire, thyme, cloves, cinnamon and a scant 2 teaspoons salt. Pour evenly over the chicken.  Set the lid in place and slow-cook for 6 hours on low or 4 hours on high (the dish can hold on a slow-cooker’s “keep warm” function for 4 more hours or so).                

Remove the chicken and coarsely shred with a fork.  Stir the meat back into the sauce.  Taste and season with more salt if it needs it.  Set out the olives and parsley in small bowls for everyone to use as garnish. Serve with a dozen warm tortillas for making soft tacos.

Dr. B's Notes: Thyme isn’t just a culinary herb. This antioxidant-packed plant has a long history of use in natural medicine as an antimicrobial herb for ailments such as sore throat, cough, and ear infections. It has even been shown to boost mood!

Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts with Mustard-Caper Butter from Deborah Madison Local Flavors 

Brussel Sprouts

I first made this for Thanksgiving years ago using the lovely mix of vegetables as written, but in a pinch using just Brussels sprouts, just cauliflower, or even all broccoli works great. The vegetables are really a vehicle for the spunky sauce here. And, although fresh marjoram is delicious it can be hard to find even when grocery stores are well-stocked so leaving that out completely or substituting with fresh thyme still yields a great dish. I do think fresh lemon zest, Dijon mustard and capers are key – and super-handy to have all the time as flavor boosters.  This is another recipe where I have substituted shallots for garlic, too.

What You’ll Need
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup drained small capers, rinsed
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons chopped marjoram
  • Black pepper
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 1 small head ( 1/2 pound) white cauliflower
  • 1 small head ( 1/2 pound) Romanesco (green) cauliflower
Get Cookin’
To make the mustard-caper butter, pound the garlic with a half-teaspoon salt in a mortar until smooth. Stir the garlic into the butter with the mustard, capers, lemon zest and marjoram. Season to taste with pepper. (The butter can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Trim the base off the Brussels sprouts, then slice them in half or, if large, into quarters. Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook for 3 minutes. Then add the other vegetables and continue to cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, shake off any excess water, then toss with the mustard-caper butter. Taste for salt, season with pepper and toss again.

Dr. B's Notes: Cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are LOADED with nutrients. But their shining glory is their content of Sulphur-containing compounds, which have been studied and shown to have anti-cancer properties. This family of vegetables is ultra-important to include in your diet, but always cook them first if you tend to have problems with low thyroid function.


My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie from Rebecca Rather The Pastry Queen
Chocolate Chip cookie image

If I had to choose just one chocolate chip cookie recipe, this is IT. This last time I made them I didn’t have either enough nuts or any chocolate chips so instead I used 2 cups pecans, 2 cups shredded coconut, and 2 cups butterscotch chips. And, also gluten-free flour.  The cookies were not as stellar as the original, but pretty fantastic considering it was a pantry clean-out situation.  When I plan ahead, I like to use 2 cups semi-sweet and 1 cup dark chocolate chips. SO GOOD! 

What You’ll Need
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups chocolate chips

Get Cookin’
Preheat the oven to 350. Arrange the nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast them for *7 to 9 minutes*, until golden brown and aromatic. Cool the nuts and then coarsely chop.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats., or grease generously with butter or cooking spray. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars in a large bowl on medium speed about 1 minute, until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix on medium-l0w speed until incorporated. Stir in the walnuts, pecans, and chocolate chips. The dough is relatively stiff, so don't be surprised if this takes some muscle.

Drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets in golf-bowl sized scoops. Space the cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart as they will spread. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cookies are medium brown around the edges. (As long as the edges are brown, don't worry about a little bit of raw-looking dough in the middle. It will disappear as the cookies cool) The cookies will spread to about 3 1/2 inches in diameter.

Dr. B's Notes: I'm nutty (sorry, had to) about pecans because they are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals (such as immune-supporting zinc!) and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. They are a powerhouse of nutrition!


I hope you are continuing to stay safe and healthy. AND, that you are feeding yourself well – good food & good thoughts.

With love (and collagen),