Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Meet Lauren!

Hey there! I’m Lauren and I love to cook (and eat!)

I've been cooking for as long as I can remember. When I was a little kid, I would always follow my mother around the kitchen and “help” as much as I could. Starting when I was about 10, it was one of my chores to completely plan and cook dinner one night every week. The dinner had to be a balanced meal – no getting away with saying we were have ice cream sundaes for dinner! At first, this was a little overwhelming – I still remember the first time I tried to manage a stovetop full of boiling pots – and there were failures when mom had to come to the rescue, for sure. But the excitement and pride that came with pulling off a successful meal couldn't be matched.

These days I live in the capital region of New York with my husband and our two dogs. I work in politics during the day and spend most of my evenings cooking and photographing new recipes for my blog, Healthy. Delicious. I also work as a
freelance recipe developer and food photographer. Needless to say, it keeps me pretty busy! But, I love it so I have no complaints. I’m sure my husband wishes I spent less time working, but well...I keep him well-fed, so he doesn't complain too loudly.

I try to keep my recipes on the healthier side, with lots of whole grains and fresh produce, but I’m not one to shy away from things like butter or cream – I’d personally rather have a smaller portion of something that tastes drop-dead awesome than a larger portion of something made with sub-par ingredients. I also like big, bold flavors and love dabbling with international cuisine. I’ll almost always order the spiciest option on the menu!

Baked Chicken and Spinach Flautas
by Lauren

These baked flautas are by far the most popular recipe I've ever created, and it’s for good reason – they’re fantastic and one of my personal favorites. By baking instead of frying, sneaking in some vegetables, and doing a neat trick with the tortillas, they’re definitely a fresher take on a classic dish.

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 4)
16 ounces beer (or chicken broth)
2 cups water
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
3 cups baby spinach, chopped
5 burrito-size flour tortillas (9 inches)
6 ounces Queso Quesadilla or other melting cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon olive oil, or cooking spray
Salsa, for serving

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Put the chicken thighs in a deep-sided saute pan and cover with the beer and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the liquid and shred it. Mix together the chicken and seasonings.

Pour out all but 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the jalapeno and spinach and cook over low heat until for 2-3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted.

Cut the tortillas in half. Spoon 1/10th of the chicken (about 1 Tablespoon) along the long edge of a tortilla. Repeat with the spinach and cheese. Roll the tortilla up, starting with the straight edge. Place seam-side down on an oiled baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Brush the flautas with olive oil or spray with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn them over and bake for until 10 minutes, or until crispy. Serve with salsa.

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