Friday, July 29, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie (Healthy Style)

One of Mike's favorite dinners is Chicken Pot Pie. Usually this is a calorie filled dish, but with the slight changes made in Bethenny's recipe from "Skinnygirl Dish" and smart choices, it can be very nutritious and satisfying!

I started out by boiling around 1lb of boneless/skinless chicken breasts in mostly water, with some chicken broth added. Once it was sufficiently cooked, I pulled it out and had Mike shred it with two forks, and set it aside (every once in a while he needs to have a job in the kitchen...).
Next, I pulled out 2 c frozen peas, around 2 stalks of celery chopped, 1 medium chopped onion, and 2 c of frozen carrots (recipe calls for 1 c of each frozen veggie but I like to double).

I preheated the oven to 400, and combined the chicken, vegetables, celery, and onion, then added a cup of chicken broth and cooked it around 10 minutes (until the carrots were soft); then I added some garlic salt and black pepper to season it to taste.

Next, I pulled out another saucepan (even though I really like one pot meals, this one is worth it) and combined 2/3 c of wheat flour (you can use oat or quinoa flour, too) and 1/3 c of chicken broth. I whisked it together then added 1/3 c of soy milk and kept whisking til it was smooth. Then I cooked it over medium until it turned out looking like this:
(It gets sticky)
I added 2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce, and some extra garlic salt and pepper. Then I added this mixture to the chicken and vegetables and incorporated it fully.

Next, I opened up the whole wheat pie crust I got from Whole Foods (in the freezer section by the desserts), and poured the chicken/vegetable mixture into the bottom one.
Then, I placed the second pie crust on top and pressed down on the edges to seal it. If you have a super hot oven, you can cover the edges with aluminum foil to prevent them from burning. I made some vents in the top of the pie (for authenticity's sake), and baked it for 35 minutes.

Once I removed it, I let it sit for 20 minutes (or longer, if you can stand it), sliced it into pie slices, and served with a side salad. It is so full of veggies, you don't even really need a side. I usually wrap it in individual servings and freeze for leftovers, too!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fish with Farmer's Market Finds and Lemon Risotto

We attended the Hollygrove Market on Saturday and I discovered their "Produce Box", which is full of the freshest selections from the week. You can log on and find out "What's In the Box" for the week, and this one included: peaches; okra; blueberries; pink eyed peas; radishes; tomatoes; watermelon; bell pepper; key limes; Japanese eggplants, and shiitake mushrooms. I wanted to grab it, a) because it was only $25, and b) because it had vegetables in it that I'd never tried to cook before.

I started by finding a recipe online to use the pink eyed peas, radishes, and tomatoes. This fresh pea salad seemed like the perfect fit, although I didn't have the mint that it called for, but it turned out fine. I just boiled the peas for around 25 minutes, rinsed and drained them, then tossed them with thinly sliced radishes and tomatoes in white vinegar (since I didn't have the rice vinegar), lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. I chilled it in the fridge while I prepared the rest of the meal.

Next, I started on the risotto. I found one of Giada de Laurentiis' recipes for Lemon Risotto, as a compliment the fish I was going to make. This was such a great side, and I had plenty left over for later meals! (I, however, did not cut out lemons and serve it the way she suggests...)
For this, I boiled 4 cups of chicken broth with some lemon juice. Then in another saucepan, I sauteed 1 medium sized onion, chopped (I forgot to buy shallots). I added the Arborio rice to that saucepan, along with the wine, and some extra S&P. Once the wine evaporated, I started adding the broth 1/2 c at a time, allowing it to be absorbed by the rice. Once I'd added it all, I removed the risotto from the heat, and added about 1/4 c Parmesan cheese, and about 1/2 the amount of "MascarPON-ay" that Giada suggests. A little lemon zest made it a little too zesty, so I added some Agave nectar to counter it.

Meanwhile, I pulled some fresh trout out of the freezer, defrosted very shortly, and placed serving sizes onto foil squares. I added all the seasonings I like on fish: lemon juice; thyme; olive oil; worcestershire sauce, and S&P.

Then I wrapped them individually on a cookie sheet, and baked at 350 for 30 minutes.

I sauteed some collard greens with olive oil, S&P and 1 tbsp of butter, and the were the perfect bed for the fish.
The juices that are made with the fish when it bakes should also not go to waste, I was able to pour them over the fish and the risotto, which added a lot of flavor.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Chicken with Beans and Broccoli Rabe

So yesterday, I forgot we weren't eating dinner at home, and marinated chicken breasts in garlic, white wine, olive oil, salt and pepper. I don't know how much of each, I didn't measure. I sliced them in half and made around 3 pieces from each breast so that they'd be thinner, and I poked holes in them throughout with a fork.
By accident, they marinated for almost two days... Um, I don't think this affected them...
I took them out and dried them off on a cutting board, then dipped them in wheat flour, then a Panko/Italian Bread Crumb/Garlic Salt concoction before simmering them in olive oil in a heated cast iron skillet.

After they were browned on both sides (around 6 minutes per side), I removed them from the heat and placed them into a casserole dish, tented with foil, and put them into the oven (on 350) for 15 minutes... This may have been a little too long, but I'm neurotic about cooking chicken...

Meanwhile, I chopped up broccoli rabe and steamed it...

After I removed the chicken from the cast iron skillet, I had all this leftover olive oil. I was inspired by this recipe from Food & Wine, so I kept the pan heated and added 1 small chopped yellow onion, and some garlic. I sauteed that for a few minutes (until the onion was clear), and added some leftover Canellini beans, 1 can of pinto beans, and a small can of tomato puree (because Mike doesn't like tomatoes).
I let that simmer for a little while, then I thought it was too thick, so I added a little water, as well as some rosemary, and 2 chopped, small Chipotle peppers.

I served myself a beet salad with goat cheese, walnuts, and a homemade lemon/balsamic vinaigrette dressing to start.

The finished product turned out quite nicely, although, only adding garlic salt and pepper to the broccoli rabe didn't do it justice. I've done the greens before and sauteed them with garlic, one tbsp of butter, and some olive oil and they came out much better. The chicken turned out great, and the bean mixture was a hit. Mike, in fact, described it as having a slight "barbecue taste"...When I mentioned that was not really what I was going for, he proclaimed, "Well, Christopher Columbus was not setting out to discover America, either..." Chomp on that knowledge nugget... I think it was the chipotles that made the slight smokey flavor, but they were a great addition. I was also able to save the leftovers so that I can maybe mix it with the chicken and make a lunch out of it tomorrow.

Egg White Frittata

I really love having taco night because it gives me an excuse to season and saute a mound of vegetables and use them in different ways later.
This morning, I had a lot of chopped zucchini, red pepper, and onion (both yellow and red), and decided to make a frittata.
I used the mini chop to grind up the vegetables so that they mixed better with the egg whites.

I preheated the oven to 350, then heated a nonstick skillet and sauteed my chopped vegetables and 2 slices of turkey. At the last minute, I added 4 egg whites, salt and pepper, then sprinkled feta cheese on the top.
I baked for around 10 minutes (because it was a little thicker), and it turned into a great breakfast!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ripe Bananas

Ever buy bananas only for them to get mushy, squishy, and brown really fast? I buy them constantly in an effort to get my husband to eat some fruit, but usually I wind up with a few that bite the dust. I like making banana bread, but every once in a while I'll make Bethenny Frankel's Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from her book "Naturally Thin". They substitute bananas for butter, making it a slightly healthier cookie option.

I used:
1 1/2 c oat flour
3/4 c rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c raw sugar
1/3 c chocolate chips (I use extra dark)
1 tsp canola oil
1/3 c soy milk
1/2 c banana puree (1 medium banana)
1 tsp agave nectar (I didn't have vanilla extract like the recipe called for, so I used agave instead- it turned out fine)
**I've also added craisins, walnuts, and lots of other types of dried fruit instead of chocolate chips**

I preheat the oven to 375 and covered a cookie sheet with some wax paper.

Then, I combined all the dry ingredients in one bowl and all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl, then mixed them together. I don't see the point in dirtying an extra bowl, but that's what the recipe called for...I've done everything in one bowl and it's worked out fine.

Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, I put the batter onto the cookie sheet.

I like soft cookies, so I baked them for 12 minutes total, and rotated the pan halfway through.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Handwritten Recipes and Comfort Food: Roast

There are few things more special in my kitchen than the handwritten recipes I have from family members. This particular one happens to be one of my husband's favorites: my mother-in-law's roast recipe. She has a very simple way of making this comforting dish, and I've taken to putting my spin on things.

I used:
A Roast (whatever looks best at your grocery, I got a tender chuck roast, but regular chuck/sirloin will do)
Garlic Salt/Black Pepper/whatever herbs you like
Olive Oil
Beef Broth
Red Wine
Whatever veggies you have in your fridge
A Dutch Oven (Or roasting pan)

I started by heating the olive oil in the roasting pan or dutch oven (just enough to halfway cover the bottom of the pan); then preheated the oven to 325
Then I covered the roast in garlic salt (not too much, you can always add), black pepper, and dried herbs (I used only Thyme this time because it's all I had). I browned the roast on all sides, then added around 1 cup of beef broth and 1/2 cup of red wine (add whatever will come up about 1/3 to the top of your roast). Next, I covered the roast and placed it in the oven for 1 hour

After an hour, I took it out to check it- I like to flip the meat over to make sure the broth and wine get into every little crevice! You may also want to add more beef broth at this point if you like a lot of sauce.

Meanwhile, I chopped up vegetables (organic carrots, onions, and new potatoes)- If you want to get super healthy, go with chopped sweet potatoes; you can substitute any vegetables you want, green beans, parsnips, etc.; then set them aside

After the second hour, I added the vegetables into the roasting pot or dutch oven, and kept cooking for another hour (or until the meat is done **this means fork tender**)
I had to bump my oven up to 375 for an extra half hour since I didn't put the vegetables in until later.
Note: if you like super soft vegetables, add them when the roast has 2 hours left to cook

This is even better as leftovers!

Tuna Salad with Cannellini Beans

A friend and I dined at the little neighborhood restaurant called Il Posto last week, and their tuna salad special had cannellini beans included. This, and a 4:30pm hot yoga class, inspired me to use what I had in my kitchen to make my lunch salad both healthy and filling.
I started by using a chopped red bell pepper, 1/2 chopped cucumber and some lettuce. In a separate bowl, I mixed together a packet of Starkist Tuna with about 1/4 can of Cannellini beans, juice from 1 lemon, and some olive oil.

To give the tuna some flavor, I added my all-time favorite spice, Spike, as well as some sea salt.

After I seasoned the tuna salad to my liking, I tossed the lettuce, pepper, and cucumber in a light lemon/olive oil dressing (use favorite salad dressing), and placed the tuna mixture on top. I like to add a few Snap Pea crisps for some extra crunch- and because I'm addicted to them...
Those of you packing for work lunch, make sure you store your tuna mixture in a separate, small container to prevent the lettuce from getting soggy (ew).

Just Getting Started

First things first, I am NOT a chef, cook, culinary expert, or anything else in that category. I don't know how to chop well, and some days I feel like I could burn boiling water. BUT, on other days, I can actually add to and carry out recipes! That said, if you ARE a culinary expert, best you don't follow, I make a lot of mistakes and take a lot of shortcuts...Just do yourself a favor and stop here.
Inspired by Bethenny Frankel's "Naturally Thin" mentality and "using what you have" in the kitchen, I wanted to post some of my "use what you have" adventures. I like to make use of leftovers or vegetables and other ingredients that I may have otherwise thrown away for lack of ideas. I also will "spice up" a recipe by adding a few things that may or may not have been included before. But, as my husband can confirm, I'll throw in extra vegetables wherever I can! Our challenges come in because he's meat and potatoes, and I'm fish and vegetables.
I hope to document the small changes I make whether it's a half and half meal (half healthy, half not so much...), a substitution, or addition of something more nutritious.
This blog is not for the culinary geniuses out there, just for the basic person who enjoys healthy cooking and needs a little inspiration every once in a while! Hope you enjoy!