Sausage, Veggie and Caulirice Fry-up

Sausage, Veggie and Caulirice Fry-up

I have a pretty lengthy commute to and from work. 114.4 miles, but who's counting? I'm used to it and on most days doesn't bother me much. I have uninterrupted time to think (a favorite pastime activity), listen to inspiring podcasts and of course music. 

So in my head I'm laying out the evening which goes a little something like this: Okay so I'll get home, make the recipe I've been trying to post for weeks, give kids a bath..errrr..suddenly all traffic comes to a complete halt and stays that way for well over an hour. Panicked and anxious, I try to listening to a podcast and fail. I can't recall a single word. Okay, let's try music, music is always good...calming, calm, relaxing. SHIT THIS ISN'T WORKING! So the intrusive thoughts continue. My family will starve, the kids are going to be sleep deprived, what will happen to my post? Damn it, everything is falling apart. 

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Shrimp in Tomato Sauce over Zoodles

Shrimp in Tomato Sauce over Zoodles

I know the name of my blog is calm eats, but lets face it sometimes life is anything but calm (sometimes??) okay most of the time. I try to keep up with organizing and planning as much as I can but some days it's just harder than others to stay on top of my game. Everyone has their moments and there are days when you just can't plan, think, etc. So when this happens, I just look in the fridge and quickly asses what can be made in under 20 minutes to get everyone fed and off to bed. 

This was a simple one I threw together with ingredients I have on hand most of the time. Having a bag of frozen shrimp is always a good idea, especially on those days when I'm less than prepared. I also got what seems like will be the last round of tomatoes for the year from my very generous giant plant. And so here is a quick recipe you'll be able to whip up even when you're strapped for time.  

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Chicken Thighs with Strawberries and Mushrooms

Chicken Thighs with Strawberries and Mushrooms

I know what you're thinking: "Strawberries, mushrooms and chicken?" I realize it's a very unlikely combination but I recently heard a chef talk about some unusual ingredient pairings and that piqued my interest. There are several compounds chicken, strawberries and mushrooms share, which makes this trio work quite well together. I'm intrigued whenever there is a deviation from the norm. Something that defies the standard way of cooking. 

I set out to try a recipe which would either be a disaster or would completely surprise me. I was stunned and delighted at how beautifully the ingredients worked. This recipe is quite quick to do and won't disappoint. The longest part is just marinating the chicken. If you're really pressed for time, 15-20 minutes will do but ideally an hour is best. 

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Salmon with Grilled Tomatoes and Zucchini Ribbons

Salmon with Grilled Tomatoes and Zucchini Ribbons

My recipe development often comes from one single ingredient. This time it was fresh dill. It's an incredibly versatile herb but for me I think it goes back to my childhood years in Romania. My grandma Lina used fresh dill in most of her dishes and whenever I pick up a bunch and smell it, I'm transported right back into her tiny kitchen. 

I'm also very fortunate to have an abundance of baby tomatoes at the moment. They're sweet, ripe and I wanted to use them a different way other than in sauce. Grilling tomatoes really brings out the flavor and drizzling them with extra virgin olive oil, brings their flavor out even more. 

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Paleo Instant Pot or Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

I feel the need to reiterate the fact that things are generally pretty hectic around my house, especially on work nights. The days of laboring over meals will return some day but they're not really happening at the present moment, unless for a special occasion. I think most people can relate to wanting to get dinner on the table for their families in a reasonable time. 

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This recipe is one I used to make in the crock pot frequently but if I failed to prep in advance (often the case), I would be forced to move on to plan B. This is not the case with the instant pot. I can have dinner ready in about 30 minutes from start to finish. This recipe is one I make unapologetically often, since it's simple, tasty and everyone enjoys it. 

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paleo instant pot or crock pot chicken tacos

  • Prep time: 5-10 minutes

  • Cooking time: Instant pot: 12 minutes active, roughly 10 minutes to get up to pressure and 5-10 for pressure release. Crock pot. 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low.

  • Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • roughly 1.5 lbs chicken breasts (2 large breasts) or chicken thighs

  • 1 tsp chili powder

  • 1/2 tsp cumin

  • 1/4 tsp coriander

  • 1/8 tsp smoked paprika

  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

  • pinch salt

  • 1.5 cups good quality salsa. I use mild but you can use whatever you like

  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Toppings: 

  • salsa of your choice

  • thinly sliced jicama

  • 1 avocado cut into cubes

  • roughly chopped cilantro for garnish

  • lettuce of your choice that will replace tacos or warm corn tortillas (if not grain free or paleo)

Equipment: 

  • instant pot or slow cooker

  • small mixing bowl

Directions: 

In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients aside from chicken, cilantro and salsa. Set aside. 

Remove chicken from package and rinse under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. This will ensure your spices stick. 

Rub each piece of chicken with spice mixture on both sides and place inside pot. Add salsa and make sure the chicken is covered well. If using Instant pot, lock lid, turn setting to Poultry, High Pressure, for 12 minutes. If you are using a crock pot put the lid on and cook for 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low, depending on your crock pot. 

Meanwhile, prepare your toppings. Cut avocado, jicama and cilantro and set aside. If using avocado cream sauce, prepare that now. 

If using the instant pot, after 12 minutes, turn pot to OFF SETTING and let it naturally depressurize for 5 or so minutes. Then QUICK RELEASE according to manufacturer instuctions. Remove lid carefully once it is safe to do so, and remove chicken. Place it on a cutting board and using two forks shred the chicken into the desirable pieces and return to the pot. Add cilantro and give a good stir. Let sit another couple minutes. If you're using the slow cooker, follow the same steps once the chicken is done. 

To plate, shake off excess liquid and add on top of your lettuce cups or corn tortillas. Add remainder of toppings, avocado sauce and serve.