Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Walnut Salad Dressing

I made a fun salad for our picnic lunch today with iceberg, strawberries, cucumbers, thin slices of carrot, feta cheese, toasted walnuts and baked chicken sliced on top. Figuring it needed a special salad dressing, I reserved half of my toasted walnuts and whipped together a tasty dressing in my Magic Bullet. I know the photo isn't the best... but this was a picnic afterall, I'm just glad I remembered to snap the photo before I dug in!!

Walnut Salas Dressing - 1 portion
2 tbsp toasted walnuts
2 tsp real maple syrup
1 tbsp balsamic dressing
pinch of salt
1 - 1.5 tbsp olive oil
water to thin

Put all ingredients (minus the water) in your Magic Bullet or other small food processor and pulse until smooth. Drizzle in a bit of water at a time until you get the consistency you want. This dressing is sweet and tangy!

Edited to add... this salad was so delicious that I made a second one for dinner tonight!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Simple Chicken Parmesan & Easy Tomato Sauce

My dear hubby, John, has been out of town for a couple of nights for work, and so upon his return tonight I wanted to make him his favorite dish of all time. Chicken Parmesan. Since he is watching calories too, I made a simple skillet version that isn't as caloric as the traditional method.

Simple Chicken Parmesan

1-2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 tsp dried basil
3 tsp dried oregano
salt, pepper
olive oil
Mozzarella sliced thin, enough to cover chicken breasts
tomato sauce (I make my own, see below.)

With a very sharp knife, cut chicken breasts into 'scallopini.' Meaning, cut lengthwise across the chicken to make very thin pieces. I had a very huge chicken breast and was able to get 4 pieces! In a shallow bowl, mix the flour, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Dredge chicken very lightly through the flour. You don't need an egg wash or anything, the moisture from the chicken will be enough, this is a very light coating.

Lightly grease a large skillet with olive oil and get it hot. Place the chicken breasts in the skillet, do not crowd them. Do it in two batches if necessary. Do not try to move them once you set them down. If you are using a non-stick skillet it will feel like they have stuck. Do not panic. Wait a few minutes and gently nudge with your spatula. If you feel it start to give, flip them over. If they still feel stuck, give them a few more seconds. When the meat "releases" it should be browned and you can flip them. When you flip the chicken, cover the browned side with the thin mozzerella slices, lower the heat and cover. Cook for another 5-6 minutes. The chicken won't take too long since you cut it so thin to start with.

Serve with pasta and tomato sauce.

My Easy Tomato Sauce:
1 large can of whole tomatoes (or crushed tomatoes)
1 small onion
3-4 cloves of garlic minced
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

In a saucepan, heat olive oil. Add garlic and onion and saute until translucent. Add tomatoes, sugar, basil, oregano and chili flakes. Let simmer covered for 15 minutes. Uncover and let simmer for 15-30 minutes longer. The longer you simmer the thicker the sauce will be. If using whole tomatoes, mash with a potato masher or use an immersion blender to blend the tomatoes smoother. Season with salt to taste.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cabbage Egg Rolls

This is an old Weight Watchers recipe that is so good that you don't have to be on Weight Watchers to enjoy them. I took them to a pot luck dinner last night because they are fine at room temperature. I only made about 30 of them, but they all disappeared, I should have made more!

Baked Cabbage Eggrolls

1 small head of cabbage, shredded
3-4 carrots, shredded
4 scallions, sliced thin
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp sesame seed oil
1 tsp (or more if you like it hot) Asian Chili Garlic Sauce

3 tsp grated fresh ginger
3 tbsp corn starch
25-30 wonton wrappers 
cooking spray

Put shredded cabbage in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave 8-10 minutes until cabbage is wilted. Drain any excess water and return to bowl. Add shredded carrots and scallions. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame seed oil, chili sauce and ginger. Add cornstarch and mix until the cornstarch has dissolved. Drizzle over cabbage mixture and stir until well mixed. Taste your cabbage at this point to make sure it has enough flavor. You may need to mix up a bit more of the sauce an add it, depending on how much cabbage you have and how strong you want your eggrolls to be.

Take one wonton wrapper, and place about 2 tbsp of cabbage mixture in the lower bottom corner. Roll the bottom corner up towards the middle of the wrapper. Fold the left side in and then the right side. Continue rolling, wetting the top corner with a bit of water to make wonton stick. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Continue with all of your wrappers. Keep about 2 inches space between each eggrolll so they will get crispy. Spray each eggroll with cooking spray and bake at 350degrees for about 25 minutes or until golden and crispy on the edges. For an easy dipping sauce I make another batch of the soy sauce mixture leaving out the cornstarch. Float a few sesame seeds & cut scallions on top for a nice finish. Makes about 25-30 rolls depending on the size of your cabbage. 

If I'm making these for myself at home, once they are completely cool, I store them in the refridgerator in a large ziplock back with a papertowel to catch moisture. I either eat them cold or toast them in my toaster oven for a minute or two.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mango Bar-B-Q Pulled Pork with Apple-Lime Coleslaw

I've mentioned before that I love watching Food Network shows. Rarely do I actually do one of the recipes I've seen on tv, using the shows more as inspiration instead. Recently a lady named Aarti Sequeira won the Next FoodNetwork Star. Her show, Aarti Party has an Indian flare to all the recipes. So far most of her dishes have really inspired me. When I saw her making this the other day, I just knew I had to try it though! It was supposed to be pulled pork sandwiches on brioche bread, but I had these homemade wheat tortillas left over from the other night so I figured turning the sandwiches into wraps/tacos would be a terrific idea. I added cheese on the girls portions and called them pork quesadillas, a dish they love. The apple-lime slaw that went with these pulled pork wraps was perfect. By the way, this would make a great crockpot meal.

Mango Bar-B-Q Pulled Pork
(Original recipe here)

1 boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt) about 3 lbs, excess fat removed
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp paprika (I didn't have any, so I used chili powder)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt

BBQ Sauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 onion finely minced (I used a yellow sweet onion)
  • 2 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 serrano pepper (I ended up using chili flakes since my serrano pepper didn't make it home from the grocery store!)
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 2 cups of mango puree (I bought frozen mango, thawed it and pureed in my blender)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

Brioche rolls or wheat tortillas

Rub: Combine the rub ingredients, in a small bowl and massage it into the pork shoulder until well coated. Set aside while you make BBQ sauce. You could do this a day ahead and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
BBQ sauce: In a large saucepan, warm the oil, over low heat, until hot and shimmering. Add the cumin and fennel; they should splutter upon contact - be careful! Once the spluttering subsides, add the onions, ginger and serrano and a little salt, to taste. Saute until they soften but don't let them get any color. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients. Simmer about 5 minutes. Taste and season.
Add the pork shoulder to the saucepan, coating it with the sauce. Cover, and gently simmer until the pork falls apart easily, stirring and turning often, about 3 hours.
Remove the pork from the saucepan and shred it using 2 forks. Return it to the sauce and stir to coat with the sauce. Put a generous spoonful of the pork inside a brioche bun, top with a few slices of pickle and serve.

 (Original recipe here)

The orignal recipe makes 4-6 servings, I reduced it down to make just enough for our wraps this evening, and I didn't add the peanuts since I wasn't using it as a side, but as a topping.

drizzle of honey
1/2 lime, juiced
smidge of ground cumin
smidge of curry powder
1/2 tsp olive oil
salt & pepper
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1 small apple sliced into thin matchsticks

Whisk the honey, lime juice and spices together in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in enough extra-virgin olive oil to emulsify the dressing. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Combine the cabbage and apples a bowl. Add the dressing and toss well. Serve.

I made Maddie and Izzie's into quesadilla's so it was easier for them to hold.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Thai Inspired Chicken Curry Soup

So I bought this new cookbook last time I was at Half Price Books. I couldn't help it, it had a photo with EVERY single recipe. (I only buy cookbooks with lots and lots of photos!) Which would lead one to think that the recipes had been tested. Apparently I was mistaken. There was a Thai Curry soup listed that looked tasty so I thought I'd try it out. When I looked closer and saw it wanted FOUR bell peppers, I got suspicious. That is a lot of bell pepper. Then for this 5 quart soup it called for one itty bitty tsp of brown sugar. Might as well leave it out! So I took the recipe and photo as an inspiration and turned out a pretty decent soup!

Thai inspired Chicken Curry Soup

1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp oil
2-3 tbsp curry powder
salt/ soy sauce
3-4 carrots
2 cups shredded cabbage
zest of lime
1 cup shredded pre-cooked chicken
2 cups chicken stock (I used homemade!)
1 cup water
1 can coconut milk
juice of two limes
1 tbsp fish sauce <- I'm not too familiar with this ingredient, so I could have probably used more>
1 (um, heaping...) tbsp brown sugar
cilantro leaves would have been great, but I didn't have any
cooked rice to serve over (I used brown)

Saute diced onion and garlic and lime zest in oil, keeping onion translucent. Cut bell pepper into thin strips. Cut carrot into thin strips. Add curry powder and salt to oil and onions. Then add the carrot and bell pepper. Stir in can of coconut milk, chicken broth and water. In a small bowl mix the lime juice, fish sauce and brown sugar, stir to dissolve the sugar. Add to soup. Add cooked chicken and cabbage and simmer until cabbage is done. Serve over rice.
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