arnold palmer chicken

I probably should mention that I’m going dairy free.

It’s just for two months (for now), and only for health reasons (recommended by my doctor). It totally stinks. I don’t eat that much dairy, but cheese is my weekend treat and a huge weakness in general…so I’m going to miss that. Also going to miss a splash of half-and-half in my coffee! But other than that, no big.

So in case you start wondering why all the recipes for the next two months are sans dairy – that’s why.

Anyway, so last night I made a recipe I’ve had on my list for a while: Arnold Palmer Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs. If you’re not into dark meat, you can stop reading now. Totally fine.

But if, like me, you know that the chicken thigh is the underrated, under-appreciated jewel of the chicken, read on.

So an Arnold Palmer is a non-alcoholic beverage of iced tea mixed with lemonade. Made famous by or named after, I suppose, the eponymous golfer.

The beauty of this recipe is the sweetened tea brine the chicken sits in for hours. It’s been a while since I brined chicken, and I love it! The meat is so tender, so flavorful. And that added sugar in the brine caramelizes when you cook the meat and just takes it to the next level. The skin crisps up and glazes – it’s a great dish. Definitely one I’m going to be keeping in my repertoire.

Do try it!

taco torte + green chile queso

For two and a half days last week, I babysat my sister’s three adorable children (ages 4 and under). Let me tell you: it was a crazy ride! Thank goodness, they are well-behaved and generally extremely obedient and also on the quieter, peaceful side, so it was actually kind of fun being “mom” for a few days. On the other hand, I didn’t do much cooking, because my sister had her menu planned and food provided.

However, on Friday, the evening my sister and her husband returned from a birthday trip in DC, I made a spicy Mexican fiesta to celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday. My sister doesn’t cook spicy very often because of her kids, so this was apparently a treat.

My menu included a taco torte (Mexican lasagna) from Smitten Kitchen and a deliciously creamy and very spicy homemade green chile queso from How Sweet It Is. We threw chips, pico de gallo, and guacamole into the mix as well, not to mention the margaritas…it was quite the meal. Both the torte and the queso deserve a mention in this post, as they were delectable and will definitely be reappearing on our table at some point!

Taco Torte

Green Chile Queso

Note: I used 6″ corn tortillas to make my torte, and placed the stacks side-by-side in a glass 13×9″ baking dish lined with foil. It worked perfectly, and served four hungry adults with plenty to spare.

marrakesh carrots

So! We are DONE! We made it through all ten days of the liver cleanse, *plus* a fast on the eleventh, finishing with cheddar chive waffles made into BLCATs (turkey bacon, of course). That is the best use for a savory waffle. You might want to try it.

Those ten days of liver cleanse did not pass quickly for me. They did not fly by. I did not feel extremely hungry throughout, as I might have expected. The protein shakes they had us taking really staved that off. But being kind of achy and having a slight headache for pretty much an entire week is not a recipe for time passing quickly.

I will say this: at the end of the fast on the eleventh day (something we specifically planned, so that we were not fasting during the cleanse, as that would be a mistake), when we had waffle sandwiches with turkey bacon (not part of the cleanse) and cheese (reintroduced cheese on Day 10) and also downed a full glass of wine (definitely not part of the cleanse), I felt fine. I ate *two* sandwiches (fasts make you hungry!) and had wine for the first time and I did not go to bed with that kind of alarmingly full feeling that I generally get after a fast (because your eyes are SO much bigger than your stomach at that point). I really feel like my digestive system is working better, more efficiently. I’m really hoping it keeps up the good work!

**This is the part where I tell you to ignore all of my ranting and moaning about the liver cleanse and do it yourself if you need/want to. It wasn’t that bad! I mean, not in hindsight.😀 And if you want my menus, you are welcome to them! Happy to share! Did so much work on them!

I asked the doctor today what I could be doing to keep this newly-cleaned liver in tip-top shape, since obviously I don’t want to trash it after putting so much effort into cleaning it up. She said we’d talk on Thursday………. hum.

Anyway, in the meantime, I will leave you with the Marrakesh Carrot Salad [from Joy the Baker] I made to bring to our congregational potluck on Saturday. It has feta in it, which is how Joshua and I reintroduced dairy that day (followed by several slices of white cheddar as a snack at home – yum!). It’s one of my go-to recipes for a time when I need a dish that doesn’t need to be kept hot or cold. Because of the preferences of my family (i.e., my mom doesn’t like cumin), I leave out the cumin.😀 Sometimes I replace it with coriander, but I didn’t this time, and I think I liked it better. So there’s that. Enjoy!

roasted cabbage with mustard sauce

Guess what! Well, two things. Last night’s dinner was actually delicious and I would make it again off the cleanse, AND tomorrow is kind of the last day of the whole cleanse and we are *so excited*!!

So last night’s dinner! It was cabbage. I mean, literally – mostly cabbage. I pulled from my memory and a few websites for inspiration, but this is mostly made up. Here’s the recipe:

Roasted Cabbage with Mustard Sauce

1 head green cabbage
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
2 small shallots, diced very small
6 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
3 small-medium Fuji apples, thickly sliced
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat oven to 450.

Cut the cabbage into 8 equal wedges (I cooked only 6 of my wedges, because that’s how big my pan was). Lay each wedge in the center of a square of aluminum foil (one square per wedge), drizzle with a little olive oil, and sprinkle generously with kosher salt and pepper. Wrap the foil and crimp the ends around the cabbage wedges so they are sealed. Lay the foil packets on a metal baking sheet and bake for 55 minutes, or until you can push gently on the top of a packet and feel that the cabbage is meltingly tender inside.

While the cabbage is baking, put the shallots and 4 tablespoons of the mustard in a small saucepan with 1/3 cup of water. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, and simmer uncovered until the water is evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in remaining mustard and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

When the cabbage comes out of the oven, combine the apples and onion slices in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, and thyme, mixing thoroughly – break up the onion slices, make sure everything is well-coated. Throw the mixture onto a baking sheet in an even layer and put it into the oven – same temperature as the cabbage was – for about 15 minutes, maybe a few more, depending on your oven. The red onion should be soft, sticky, and maybe a little charred, the apples should have golden brown spots on them.

Serve the cabbage wedges with a dollop of mustard sauce and a spoonful of apples and onions on the side. If you’re not cleansing, maybe a link of chicken sausage? And a beer?😉

there will be light

We are winding down day six of this cleanse. It has been a tough row to hoe. I really didn’t think I would say that! I mean, I’m a foodie, but…it’s just food. And it’s only 10 days. Really, how bad could this be?

Well, pretty bad.

On Saturday, Joshua and I were staring at each other, just reeling off all the things we were craving. Burgers, cheese, ice cream, pasta, rice, coffee, wine, cocktails…the list was kind of endless. And that was only day three!

No meal felt satisfying.

We were full, we didn’t need to eat more. We just weren’t satisfied.

And then on Sunday, we were kind of dragging all day. We helped a family move in the morning, which  took two hours, and I felt so worn out at the end of it. I didn’t even really do any heavy lifting, but for the rest of the day, I felt like I just needed to sit down. Standing up was work. All my bones felt tired. And achy.

Monday was day five, the start of the hardest days of the cleanse (with regard to food). More restrictions, more limitations. Lots of apples and beans and spinach, not a lot of anything else. Oh, except Metagenics protein powder. <gag> The berry one is not bad! But when you have two scoops four times a day………… And on top of that, more aching. Joshua said he felt like he had the flu, and I was like, “That’s good! That means it’s working!”, because that’s what they tell us. And I do believe that. We couldn’t feel like this and it not be doing anything. Right? Right???? Right.

My mom suggested we take an epsom salt bath to help draw out the impurities, and I abhor baths. I really hate them. It’s totally a mental thing, but I have a real aversion to the feel of a bath. Guess what I was doing on Monday night?

So yeah. The cleanse has pushed us to our limits in some ways. We had big plans of doing half-workouts for the week of the cleanse, but we quickly threw that out, once we realized what this was doing to us.

Today, we feel better. Maybe it’s the bath, maybe it’s that the toxins are almost out of our systems, who knows. More importantly, and more apropos to the subject matter of this blog, we are having one of my favorite recipes tonight, with only a few minor tweaks. Spiced Indian Lentils. Instead of serving them in tacos, as I usually do on Taco Tuesday, I’m doing a roasted cauliflower base. Most of the meals we’ve eaten during this cleanse have been very simple and usually just one dish.

So that’s where we are! Don’t think that the cleanse is horrible – it’s not, it’s just harder than I thought it would be. But we will survive! And in the meantime…

…dreaming of waffles.