Baked Sweet Potatoes

I saw it in a magazine so I thought I’d give it a go.

Take a couple of medium – large’ish sweet potatoes, scrub them, pop them in a 375 oven for an hour.  Eat like you would a regular baked potato.  We put bacon, broccoli, cheese, and sour cream on ours.  Pretty tasty!

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Published in: on February 3, 2009 at 1:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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Three Bean Chili

And while I’ve got the blog open, I may as well post another recipe I just tried tonight.  Once again, it’s from Cooking Light.  I’m loving all of the healthy recipes I’ve been making lately!

Grossman suggested doubling or even tripling this he loved it so much.  I’m thinking of making a triple batch and freezing part of it; I’ll report back on how that goes if/when I do it.  I also whipped up a quick batch of instant cornbread to go with this.  So good!

Three Bean Chili

Ingredients

  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 1  cup  prechopped onion
  • 1/2  cup  prechopped green bell pepper  (I don’t like green pepper so I skipped it)
  • 2  teaspoons  bottled minced garlic  (I minced three cloves of garlic)
  • 3/4  cup  water
  • 2  tablespoons  tomato paste
  • 2  teaspoons  chili powder
  • 2  teaspoons  ground cumin
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1  (15 1/2-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  (15 1/2-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  (15 1/2-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  (14 1/2-ounce) can organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)  (I used low-sodium chicken broth)
  • 1  (14 1/2-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1  tablespoon  yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh cilantro  (didn’t have it, didn’t add it)
  • 6  tablespoons  reduced-fat sour cream

Preparation

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup water and next 9 ingredients (through diced tomatoes); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. Stir in cornmeal; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro. Serve with sour cream.

Nutritional Information

Calories:
180 (25% from fat)
Fat:
4.9g (sat 1.5g,mono 1.7g,poly 0.3g)
Protein:
8.4g
Carbohydrate:
29.5g
Fiber:
8.6g
Cholesterol:
5mg
Iron:
2.3mg
Sodium:
714mg
Calcium:
86mg
Published in: on January 25, 2009 at 2:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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Chicken Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese

I’m getting a lot of use out of my Cooking Light magazines lately.  This one was dang tasty; so much so that I’ve now made it three times.  I plan on having some friends over for lunch soon and I just might have to make this for them.

Chicken Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4  cups  uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 3  cups  chopped grilled chicken breast strips  (I used thighs)
  • 1 1/2  cups  trimmed arugula  (I used spinach)
  • 1  cup  grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2  cup  chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4  cup  prechopped red onion
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh basil
  • 1  teaspoon  chopped fresh oregano
  • 2  tablespoons  red wine vinegar
  • 1  tablespoon  extravirgin olive oil
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 6  tablespoons  (1 1/2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese  (I thought I had it on hand but it turns out it was Feta.  Still tasted great though)

Preparation

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well.

2. Combine pasta, chicken, and the next 6 ingredients (through oregano) in a large bowl; toss well.

3. Combine vinegar, oil, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle vinegar mixture over pasta mixture; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with cheese.

Nutritional Information

Calories:
295 (23% from fat)
Fat:
7.7g (sat 2.9g,mono 2.8g,poly 1.1g)
Protein:
24.4g
Carbohydrate:
32.1g
Fiber:
2g
Cholesterol:
55mg
Iron:
2.4mg
Sodium:
788mg
Calcium:
40mg
Published in: on January 25, 2009 at 2:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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Thai Noodle Salad w/ Tofu

For as much as I love Asian food, I really don’t like tofu.  I keep trying it though, because I’m optimistic that one day I’ll get what Jamiesan and Grossman see in it.  Actually, I take that back.  There’s a noodle/tofu dish at a Thai place in LA that I absolutely loved, but that’s because the tofu didn’t feel like tofu (or at least what most tofus feel like).  See, it’s not really about the taste for me, it’s a texture thing.

Anyway, long story short, I saw this recipe in Cooking Light and thought I’d give it a whirl since we’re trying to be healthier.  As it turns out, this was really really good!  I used extra-firm tofu instead of firm, and I didn’t press it or marinate it for as long as the recipe requires because I’m lame and didn’t actually read the directions till I got home and then I was all “30 minutes?! what the hell?!” and “2 hours!!  Fuck!  Well, we’re gonna wing it”.  But even with my pressing of only 15 minutes and marinating for only 30, it turned out great!  It’s similar to the Vietnamese Noodles, but it has a slightly different flavor profile.  Also?  It’s spicy, and I only used about half of the recommended chili garlic sauce.

Thai Noodle Salad w/ Sauteed Tofu

Ingredients

  • 3/4  pound  firm water-packed tofu, drained  (I used extra-firm)
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lime juice  (I used from a bottle because I’m lame)
  • 1  tablespoon  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1  tablespoon  chili garlic sauce  (I used about 2 tsp.)
  • 1  teaspoon  sugar
  • 2  teaspoons  grated peeled fresh ginger (hello, from a jar)
  • 1/2  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  tablespoon  peanut oil (I used olive oil.  sue me.)
  • Noodles:
  • 3/4  pound  uncooked rice vermicelli
  • Dressing:
  • 1/4  cup  fresh lime juice
  • 3  tablespoons  chili garlic sauce (I used about half that)
  • 2  tablespoons  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2  tablespoons  peanut oil (olive again)
  • 1  tablespoon  Thai fish sauce
  • 2  teaspoons  sugar
  • 2  teaspoons  grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  crushed red pepper  (I just used a few sprinkles)
  • Remaining ingredients:
  • 2  cups  thinly sliced romaine lettuce
  • 1  cup  shredded carrot
  • 1/2  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt

Preparation

1. To prepare tofu, cut tofu into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange tofu slices in a single layer on several layers of paper towels. Top with several more layers of paper towels; top with a cast-iron skillet or other heavy pan. Let stand 30 minutes. Remove tofu from paper towels; cut into 3/4-inch cubes. Combine tofu, 2 tablespoons juice, and next 6 ingredients (through garlic) in a zip-top plastic bag. Seal and marinate at room temperature 2 hours, turning bag occasionally.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan, swirling to coat; heat 30 seconds. Remove tofu from bag; discard marinade. Add tofu to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until crisp, carefully turning to brown all sides. Remove from heat.

3. To prepare noodles, while tofu marinates, place vermicelli in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water. Let stand 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water; drain well. Set noodles aside.

4. To prepare dressing, combine 1/4 cup juice and next 8 ingredients (through 1/4 teaspoon red pepper), stirring with a whisk.

5. Combine vermicelli, lettuce, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add dressing; toss well to combine. Top with tofu.

Nutritional Information

Calories:
336 (26% from fat)
Fat:
9.8g (sat 1.5g,mono 5g,poly 2.8g)
Protein:
10.3g
Carbohydrate:
57.2g
Fiber:
2.4g
Cholesterol:
0.0mg
Iron:
2.5mg
Sodium:
794mg
Calcium:
132mg

As a side note, I prepare my noodles differently.  I boil them for 2-3 minutes and then rinse them for a couple of minutes with cold water.  I’ve tried the “put them in a bowl w/ boiling water” thing, and I think that they kind of turn out gummy.  Just my own preference though.

Published in: on January 14, 2009 at 3:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Mayonnaise FAIL

I was in the middle of making sandwiches for lunch when I realized I was out of mayo.  None in the fridge, none in the pantry.  Fuck!  But hey, I’m resourceful, I have recipes!  And supposedly homemade mayo is supposed to taste better than storebought.  Yeah, that’s a big negatory.

Mine looked NOTHING like mayo.  It was bright (almost neon) yellow, thin, and tasted like stale lemony olive oil.  So gross.

Mayonnaise recipe:

  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature 30 minutes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup olive or vegetable oil (or a combination), divided
  • 1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Whisk together yolk, mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until combined well. Add about 1/4 cup oil drop by drop, whisking constantly until mixture begins to thicken. Whisk in vinegar and lemon juice, then add remaining 1/2 cup oil in a very slow, thin stream, whisking constantly until well blended. If at any time it appears that oil is not being incorporated, stop adding oil and whisk mixture vigorously until smooth, then continue adding oil. Whisk in salt to taste and white pepper. Chill, surface covered with plastic wrap, until ready to use.

Published in: on January 13, 2009 at 12:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Since we’re cutting out a lot of butter, cheese, and booze next week to get “healthier”, I thought I’d go ahead and make some stuff that’s really bad for us this week. Enter: Jamie Oliver’s risotto. Oh.My.God. I got the Jamie Oliver’s Italy cookbook last year for Xmas, and I just haven’t gotten around to making much out of it because all of the recipes are so damn rich. But oh my GOD this was so good. You basically make the White Risotto recipe and then roast some mushrooms and garlic and add in at the end. Here’s the basic recipe which is simply FABULOUS on its own:

Risotto Bianco

2 pints stock (chicken, fish, or vegetable, as appropriate)
2 tablespoons olive oil
a dollop of butter
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 a head of celery, trimmed and finely chopped
2 cups risotto (Arborio) rice
2 wineglasses of dry white vermouth (dry Martini or Noilly Prat) or dry white wine
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons butter
4 oz. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Stage 1: Heat the stock. Put the olive oil and butter into a separate pan, add the onion, garlic, and celery, and cook very slowly for about 15 minutes without coloring. This is called a soffrito. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.

Stage 2: The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the vermouth or wine and keep stirring—it will smell fantastic. Any harsh alcohol flavors will evaporate and leave the rice with a tasty essence.

Stage 3: Once the vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and massaging the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes. Taste the rice to check if it’s cooked. If not, carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Don’t forget to check the seasoning carefully. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.

Stage 4: Remove from the heat and add the butter and Parmesan. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow it to sit for 2 minutes. This is the most important part of making the perfect risotto, as this is when it becomes amazingly creamy and oozy like it should be. Eat it as soon as possible, while it retains its beautiful texture.

So if you’re going to add mushrooms, you take about 6 oz of chopped assorted mushrooms along with about a head of garlic and saute them when you hit the end of Stage 3.  Saute for about 2 minutes in an oven-proof  pan with some olive oil, butter, and thyme, and then pop them in a 400 degree oven for about 6-7 minutes.  Chop them up and add about half when you hit Stage 4, and then add the rest over the top of each individual serving.  And then die and go to heaven.

Published in: on December 30, 2008 at 3:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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Chicken a la King

I’m not a big fan of Rachel Ray, but I tried this one years ago and actually liked it a lot.  I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand and it’s totally easy, so voila!  Dinner!

Long Live the Chicken a la King

1 tube jumbo bake-off biscuits (recommended: Pillsbury brand “Grands”), available on dairy aisle
A sprinkle cayenne (spicy) or sweet paprika (mild) (I always forget this part)
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used thighs)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 small white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons chopped pimentos (I didn’t have any so I didn’t use them)
1 cup frozen green peas
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf or curly parsley

Preheat oven according to package directions for biscuits. Arrange biscuits on nonstick baking sheet and sprinkle with a little ground cayenne pepper or sweet paprika then place biscuits into a preheated oven. Bake until golden, remove biscuits from oven and then cool.

In a medium skillet, bring 1 cup white wine and 2 cups chicken broth and 1 bay leaf to a boil. Slide in chicken breasts and gently poach them in simmering broth and wine for 10 to 12 minutes.

Preheat a second skillet over medium heat. Add oil and butter. When butter melts into oil, add mushrooms and onion and cook 5 minutes until tender. Add flour and cook another minute.

Pull chicken from broth and set on cutting board. Ladle cooking liquid into the mushrooms, whisking it in. Add 2 to 2 1/2 cups of liquid and discard the bay leaf. Add pimentos and peas to the sauce. Dice chicken into bite-size pieces and slide into bubbling sauce.

Split the biscuits, place bottoms on dinner plates and cover with ladles of Chicken a la King. Cap with biscuit tops and garnish with chopped parsley.

Published in: on December 18, 2008 at 2:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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Dutch Oven Pot Roast

It’s officially damn cold here in Texass and I’ve been craving some serious comfort food.  Enter: pot roast.  My friend Heather posted a recipe for it ages ago and it seemed easy enough, so I thought I’d give it a go.  Oh. My. God.  SO GOOD! And so EASY!  My alterations are in parenthesis:

Dutch Oven Pot Roast

5 lbs. round bone pot roast (I used about 3lbs)
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. shortening (I used butter, I wasn’t buying Crisco just for this)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup apple cider (I used Costco brand apple juice)
8 carrots, pared, peeled, and cut into 2 inch chunks (we used a half a bag of baby carrots)
6 large potatoes, peeled and quartered (Yukon Gold tates)
2 onions, sliced
8 oz. fresh okra (I’m not a fan, so I used a few handfuls of white mushrooms instead)

1. Rub meat with salt.

2. Melt shortening in Dutch oven; add meat and cook over medium heat, turning once. (I did about 3 minutes a side)

3. Reduce heat, pour barbecue sauce and cider over meat.

4. Cover and simmer on top of range or in 325° oven for 3-4 hours. (I put it in the oven)

5. Add carrots, potatoes, and onions 1 1/2 hours before end of cooking time.

6. Add okra (mushrooms) 15 minutes before end of cooking time.

I think I started it around 3 and we ate around 7, so it was in there for a good 3.75 hours or so.  And it was PERFECTLY done.  We finished off the leftovers tonight and I still want more!  Next time (oh, there WILL be a next time) I’m making a bigger roast.

Published in: on December 17, 2008 at 3:59 am  Comments (1)  
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Soba Noodles with Chicken

Grossman and I are trying to eat healthier (the Red Velvet Cupcakes and butter has kind of made us soft and lumpy), so I thought I’d try a new recipe.  I had some soba noodles on hand so last night I gave them a go.

Soba Noodles with Chicken

2 1/2 T. soy sauce
1 T. honey
Rice vinegar to taste
Sesame Oil (a few shakes)
3 or 4  boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 package of soba noodles
1 qt low-sodium chicken broth
1 T. lemon juice
1 1/2 cups mung bean sprouts
4 or 5 scallions, minced
Pickled ginger (optional)

Combine 1 1/2 T soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, and sesame oil in a bowl and mix well.  Add in the chicken thighs.  Let them marinate for about 10 minutes.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the thighs and marinade.  Saute for about 5-6 minutes till done.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot.

While that’s coming up to a boil, make the broth.  Combine the chicken broth, 1 T. soy sauce, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Get it to an almost-but-not-quite-boiling point and keep it there.

While the broth is “simmering”, add a few pinches of salt to the boing water and then add in the soba noodles.  Cook for about 5 minutes or till al dente.  Drain and rinse under cold water.

Assemble!  Put some noodles in a bowl, put some chicken on top, sprinkle with mung beans, scallions, and ginger, and ladle some broth over it all.  Eat!

Just a note, Grossman wasn’t a huge fan of the soba noodles.  I liked it, but I like him more, so next time I’ll do rice vermicelli instead of soba.

Also, the chicken with the marinade was good eatin’.  It would be really good served with rice or on top of a salad.  We had a lot of noodles left over so I’m going to try a cold soba noodle salad thing today.

Published in: on September 9, 2008 at 1:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Red Velvet Cupcakes and Cream Cheese Frosting

These are really really bad for you, just warning you now.  My mom gave me this recipe and I’ve no idea where she got it.  It might have been one of my grandma’s?  I’ve no idea.  All I know is, it makes me happy.

CUPCAKES:

2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 ounces red food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 oz water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon white vinegar

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
1 (8oz) package cream cheese
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

MAKE CUPCAKES:
–pre heat oven to 350
–grease 12 cupcake cups or line with paper liners
–cream softened butter and sugar together till fluffy
–add eggs and blend well
–in seperate small bowl combine cocoa and food coloring and stir. Once you have thick paste then add to mixture.
–sift salt and flour together into mixture
–add vanilla, buttermilk, and water to mixture
–in seperate small bowl combine vinegar and baking soda. Fold into cake mixture
–pour mixture into cupcake cups.
–bake 15 to 20 minutes or until a wood toothpick inserted into middle of cupcake comes out clean.
–let cool for 10 minutes. Then turn out onto rack and let finish cooling.

MAKE FROSTING:
–blend together cream cheese softened and butter softened.
–add powder sugar and vanilla extract
–blend till smooth

One thing I sometimes do differently is to make mini cupcakes.  You know those mini-muffin pans?  Yeah, I use those and make teeny tiny cupcakes that amount to one or two bites.  I find that they’re better for get-togethers because they’re so portable and less crumb-y than regular sized ones, and the frosting to cake ratio is better because I loves me some cream cheese frosting.

Published in: on September 9, 2008 at 1:06 pm  Comments (1)  
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