Archive

Archive for the ‘Food/Recipes’ Category

Ready for a snack attack

SoupI’m not sure what’s been going on with me lately….I’ve been SERIOUSLY hungry.  Maybe it’s the cold temp.  Maybe it’s the increase in exercise.  Maybe it’s really hunger.  Not sure.

What I do know is that if I don’t have good things to eat on hand, we could have a situation – one that I won’t feel good about when it’s over.

So for the last few days I’ve been getting my house snack-ready and stockpiling goodies of all types.

I made veggie soup (my fav veggies, chicken stock, fresh herbs) I can eat when I want without guilt.

I prepped snack-size portions of good-for-me treats – fruits, veggies & hummus, nuts, and cheese – that I can grab when I’m hungry.

Snacks

And, I picked up a few healthy indulgences to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Having done all this, I feel good about being able to handle my next snack attack responsibly.

Sometimes, a little planning and elbow grease can give you peace of mind – and a happy belly.  ūüôā

Advertisements

Sweet & Sour Chicken, Italian-Style

Most of us are familiar with Sweet & Sour Chicken that’s served up on your local Chinese Food restaurant’s menu.¬† Hunks of deep-fried chicken.¬† Coated in a sticky, sweet sauce.¬† Throw in a¬†side of fried rice.¬†

Well, this is nothing like that.  -No offense to those who dig the Chinese food version. 

Instead, this recipe borrowed from my Sicilian Momma gives you a contrast of sweet, sour and salty bites through a mix of flavor-packed ingredients.  Relatively easy to pull off, the dish is ready in about an hour and is well worth the wait. 

You’ll need (for 4 servings):

  • 1¬†lb chicken (mix of dark and white pieces)
  • 12 green olives, pitted and sliced
  • 2/3 cup flour (wheat or white)
  • 1/8 c capers
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 stick celery, diced
  • 1/2 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil & cooking spray
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Making the dish:

  1. Preheat frying pan with oil over medium-high heat
  2. Roll chicken through flour & place in pan. 
  3. Cook 3-4 min per side.  Then pour in vinegar & sugar.
  4. Simmer until liquid evaporates.  Cover & set aside.
  5. Heat saucepan over medium-high heat with cooking spray.
  6. Saute onion, celery, olives & capers for 5 min.
  7. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
  8. Once veggies have softened, add chicken mixture to pan.
  9. Cook through for 20 minutes.
  10. Pour white wine in and cook it off for 2-3 min. 
  11. Your dish is ready to serve

This entree goes well alongside either a side of simple mashed potatoes or a rice of your choice.¬† And, if you’re feeling adventurous, the sauce also tastes great over wide noodles or pasta.

The Nutritional info per serving:

  • Calories – 360
  • Fat – 13.9 g
  • Fiber – .8 g
  • Protein – 29.7 g
  • Carbs – 19.3 g

Hope you get a chance to try this out.¬† It’s mighty tasty!

Categories: Food/Recipes

Mock Oven Roasted Potatoes

I enjoy having the occasional oven roasted potato but¬†find that I’ll pass up on this side out of sheer laziness or a lack of time.

I mean… you have to turn on and preheat the oven… prep the potatoes…. and then wait¬†30 + minutes for them to crisp up.¬†

I don’t know about you but when it comes to something that requires patiently waiting around or precision timing…I’m not that good at it.¬† I consider myself a cook.¬† Not a baker.¬†

Plus, this multi-tasker needs to be doing several things at once.¬† I’m not known for hanging out.¬†

So based on all this, should I plan to give up on a delicious, roasted potato fix? 

Nope.  I can just use a crockpot.  Really.

Here’s how:

  • coat your crockpot with 1 Tbsp olive oil (or your preferred oil)
  • cut and quarter 6 medium potatoes
  • season them with salt, pepper and garlic powder
  • place them in a single layer on the bottom of your crockpot
  • throw in a sprig of rosemary or dried rosemary leaves
  • and let them cook for 3-4 hours on high

Believe it or not, they crisp up just like if they were in the oven.  Bonus Рyour house will smell heavenly from the rosemary.  Mmm.

And for those of us watching our figures, this recipe makes 6 servings with the following nutritional stats:

  • Calories – 163
  • Fat – 2.6 g
  • Carbs – 36.5 g
  • Fiber – 3.6 g
  • Protein – 3.6 g

I’m thinking I just gave you a few reasons to try this dish out.¬† Enjoy!

Categories: Food/Recipes

The One Latin Dish I Can Make

I’m not afraid to admit that when it comes to types of cuisine I pretty much stick to Italian (surprise surprise)¬†and American Grill.

What’s funny is that I like most foods but¬†cooking them is¬†a different story.

  • I’m overwhelmed by Indian.¬†¬†You need more spices than I have on hand and the prep steps¬†seem longer.
  • I’m squeemish¬†about Thai and Asian.¬† Though I like the end result, I can’t get¬†over the fish sauce.
  • I just plain stink at Mexican/Latin meals.¬† Not sure what it is, but these dishes just don’t turn out right.¬† Even the simplest¬†foods like Fajitas and Tacos are typically fails.

But, I finally have a Latin dish that I can make that comes out delicious EVERY time.   And I can thank a coworker for walking by my desk with it after heating up his lunch.

I made some comment about how good it smelled and how hungry it made me…and come to find out ..he was a cooking fanatic too.¬† He went on to tell me it was¬†a recipe he found by watching Rachel Ray 30 Minute Meals.¬†

He was kind enough to print and drop off a copy of the Latin Chicken recipe that same day.  I have to admit that my husband was the first one to make it.  And it was phenomenal. 

It has the consistency of Jambalaya, Paella, or Risotto – nice thick, sticky rice.¬† And the¬†sides –¬† all the things you love about Mexican food like¬†avocados, salsa, sour cream, olives – put it over the top.

Just seeing them makes you want to eat them.  See:

 Green olive & tomato salsa

Avocado sour cream

I can’t say enough how much we enjoy eating this.¬† And, even better, I can make it and it still comes out great.¬†

Anyway, if you’re challenged by Mexican/Latin food or are just looking for the perfect dish for entertaining, you gotta give this a try.¬† You won’t regret it.

 Any cuisines that intimidate you? Or any other fool proof recipes you want to share?

Cooking In Season

When I was still working, I planned out my meals for the week and would prep in advance of making recipes.  I found that it helped me to eat a healthy balance of foods that were in line with my nutritional goals. 

Now that I’m on leave and I have a bit more time, I’ve taken¬†a more casual approach to cooking.¬†¬†I keep the house stocked with everyday¬†food staples, have all types of meats in my freezer, and have been buying seasonal fruits and vegetables – since they’re at their prime.¬†

With all of this stuff on hand, I can decide what I’m making the night before or the day of based on the mood that strikes.¬† But, I have to say that I’ve really been enjoying the veggies and fruits of the season.¬† They taste fresh, are ripe/at their peak, and are an easy way to add flavor and freshness to our meals.¬†

Foods that are¬†out of season and imported in from places like Mexico just don’t taste the same and usually spoil much quicker in my experience.

If you’re curious about what veggies & fruits are in season, you can check out¬†a site like this one that has them listed.¬†

Some of what Summer offers:

Apricots, Bell Peppers, Blackberries, Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Cherries, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Figs, Fresh Herbs, Garlic, Grapes, Green Beans, Honeydew Melon, Limes, Nectarines, Peaches, Peas, Plums, Radishes, Raspberries, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Yukon Gold Potatoes, & Zucchini

I stock my fridge with a mix of these and keep a list on my whiteboard so I use them before they go bad. 

  • the fruit makes for a great mid morning or afternoon snack
  • and the veggies are perfect for pulling together a quick side

A few dishes that I made this weekend with in season veggies include:

Green Bean Salad (Olive Oil, Garlic, Salt & Pepper, Dash of Lemon (optional)

Black Bean Salad Рwhich was inspired by my neighbor making us a very yummy batch on the 18th (Mix Black Beans, Diced Onion, Peppers РGreen & Red, Fresh Sweet Corn, Juice of a Lime, Cilantro, Cumin, Salt & Pepper)

Oregano Teriyaki Marinade Рwhich is excellent on chicken wings or chicken breast/thighs and then grilled (Teriyaki Sauce, Fresh Oregano sprigs, 2 cloves minced garlic.  Marinate chicken and place in fridge for at least an hour before grilling)

Besides tasting great, all the in season fruits and veggies are good for you Рlow in calories and a way for you to hit your 5 fruit/veggie servings per day. 

If you’re not getting yours in, now you can with all of these fresh options.¬† Enjoy!

Taste of Fall (& Beer)

It’s been hot around our neck of the woods.¬† Real Hot.¬†

We’ve had many days in the 90’s and high 80’s with humidity on top of it.¬† Perfect conditions for the beach if you’re lucky enough to go.¬† If not, it’s just too hot to do much of anything else for my liking.¬† Perhaps, hide out in various air-conditioned joints.¬†

Maybe that’s why my mind has been drifting¬†to thoughts of Fall.¬† And with thoughts of the cooler weather, there soon came thoughts of the flavors that go along with it.¬† Then, I found myself fantasizing about comfort foods – and a new recipe was born.¬† Beer Braised Chicken.

It’s simple really.¬† You throw a bunch of ingredients in a pot and let them do their thing until they’re so tender that they fall apart when touched by your fork.¬† And, did I mention the beer?

What’s funny is I’m not a drinker and I can’t stand the taste of alcohol on its own.¬† But when it’s in food, it adds a ton of flavor and depth to your other ingredients.¬† This is definitely a case where the beer makes the sauce for this dish.¬† It’s rich, it’s tangy, and it’s layered with sweet and sour tones.¬† D.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s.

Plus, I’m always looking for new ways to make chicken.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • 8 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs or legs
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 large piece of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 4 oz, bacon or cubed ham ( I used ham this time)
  • 1 bottle beer, dark
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • salt & pepper to taste

Now for the cooking part:

  1. Heat a large pot or dutch oven with your olive oil to medium heat
  2. Add bacon or ham. Cook 1-2 mins until crispy.  Remove from heat.  Set aside.
  3. Place your chicken in the pot & sear each side 2-3 mins.  Remove from heat.  Set aside.
  4. Add in the onion, carrot and celery and saute several minutes until tender. 
  5. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for a minute or so.  This is the base for your sauce.
  6. Pour in your beer and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the brown bits into your gravy
  7. Nestle the chicken and ham/bacon back into the pot and add your chicken stock.
  8. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
  9. Reduce heat to low-med. Cook 1 – 2 hrs until meat is fork tender & falls off the bone.

Now you’re ready to serve the chicken on top of a mound of rice or mashed potato.¬† Or, you can eat it as-is and dip some good italian bread in the gravy (that’s what I did).¬† Sooo good.

The layers of flavor in this dish are fabulous.¬† You taste the chicken, the veggies, the beer…and it comes together so easily.¬† And your house will smell absolutely wonderful while cooking this up.

So if you want an escape from summer and summer meals, try this fall recipe or hold on to it until the weather turns cool and you’re looking for a bit of comfort.

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Meat on a Stick

Oh yeah, that’s what I said.¬† Peanut. Butter. Meat. on. a. Stick.

The inspiration for this creative attempt came from my Little Sis during our visit this past weekend.  She was filling me in on the end of the school year and how it wrapped up with cultural day in her elementary school. 

This is a day where every student talks about their¬†family’s heritage and culture and brings something in to share with the class that represents it.¬†¬†¬†She was so excited about the Mexican food she tasted, the huge pieces of fried dough her classmate made, and wasn’t thrilled with the boy who brought in tomatoes.¬† ūüôā

When I asked about her dish, she mentioned bringing in a yellow rice recipe which the kids seemed to like.  But, that was just the beginning.  She then got on a roll about her very favorite African dishes Рmeat on a stick which is often eaten at get togethers and peanut butter soup which includes meat, onions, and peanut butter. 

Because the flavor combinations intrigued me, I decided to bring them together to create a peanut butter marinade that I used on beef and onions and then skewered them. 

Whisk the following ingredients together to make the marinade.¬† It’ll have a creamy consistency once ready:

  • 1/4 cup reduced fat, creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ginger finely grated

Then, what you’ll need are:

  • 1 lb beef, cut into 1 -2 inch cubes¬† (I’m planning on chicken or pork next time)
  • 1 large onion, cut into 1-2 inch chunks
  • 2-3 skewers
  1. Mix the beef, onions and the marinade together in a large bowl and allow them to rest covered in the refrigerator for about 30-45 minutes
  2. Then, assemble your skewers – alternating chunks of beef and onion
  3. Grill for a total of 15-20 minutes on medium-high heat, flipping them every 4-5 minutes
  4. Remove from heat when done to your preferred meat temp & allow to rest for 5 min

These skewers sear up really nicely and have charred bits of peanut butter on the outer edges when done.  The marinade also has a creamy, salty texture that keeps the meat tender and moist. 

For a random attempt at making this, I have to say it came out pretty good.  Next time, I plan to add a hint of sweetness to mellow it out Рwith either honey or juice. 

I have to thank my Little Sis for sharing her family’s favorite treats so I could come up with this treat of my own.

%d bloggers like this: