I am so excited for this month’s Secret Recipe Club reveal, the first one of 2013! If you haven’t heard of this great ‘secret santa’ type group, you should check out their site. Gurl, you wouldn’t believe who’s blog I got this month. That’s right it was steaknpotatoeskindagurl.
Not surprisingly, the first recipes I sought out were steak recipes. Okay, would you believe that Desiree, Desi, Des didn’t actually have any steak recipes on her site? She even joked about it, her only steak reference was a guest post that she did!
I about died laughing when I realized that! So I sought out her tag cloud and next to menu planning and restaurant reviews she had plenty of chicken recipes. Desi’s White Chicken Chili really stood out to me. It’s January, it’s cold, and chili is the perfect recipe to chase away cold snowy days in Montana.
One these days I’m going to count how many recipes that I’ve posted that have lemon as an ingredient? Perhaps I shouldn’t or I might find out exactly how freakishly obsessed I am with all things lemony. Sometimes is just better not to know.
I’m finally posting my the recipe that I eluded to in one of my photography school update posts. I was in my Food & Product class at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography, taught by Joe Lavine from when our assignment was to shoot pasta. Personally I can’t just set-up food for a photograph shoot and then throw it away (my girth is also proof of that). Plus, this was a perfect opportunity for me to do school work and get a little blog work done also. Don’t ya just love it when you get a two fer one?
I thought long and hard about what type of pasta to make, honestly my first thought was of asparagus and not the lemon. Asparagus are just so darn pretty, it’s hard not to have a good photo if you have asparagus. Naturally lemon and asparagus go together. What totally solidified it for me was a trip to the mall and a visit to the Oil and Vinegar store.
No, I’m not having any holiday confusion. I know it’s St. Valentine’s Day but it is also The Daring Cooks challenge for this month…patties! Get it…Saint Valentine’s Day, Patties…heart shaped patty? The Daring Cooks’ February 2012 challenge was hosted by Audax & Lis and they chose to present Patties for their ease of construction, ingredients and deliciousness! We were given several recipes, and learned the different types of binders and cooking methods to produce our own tasty patties!
After yesterday’spost I thought that I better post something a little more healthy than cupcakes. This is almost not a recipe, more of a gathering of ingredients that turned out, to me, a great healthy snack, and for my Weight Watcher’s friends it’s only 1 points plus value.
My inspiration came from buffalo wings. With the Superbowl just around the corner, my mind had definitely been on party snacks…the whole blogosphere is literally smattered with them. Although I probably won’t eat as healthy that day, I did want to have some healthier choices.
Confession time. My husband and I started Weight Watcher’s 1 1/2 weeks ago. I haven’t really talked about our change because so many people are on their New Year’s Resolution Band Wagon to get healthy and fit. The decision to do WW isn’t about any New Year’s resolution, it merely was about the fact that we need to shed some pounds, seriously need too.
We love Chinese food, lets face it, Chinese take-out is fun! Unfortunately the only Chinese offered in Great Falls is marginally good and most of it is deep fried and greasy. I still enjoy it though, however, the next day I have a fierce thirst. I need to drink a gallon of water to try and rehydrate myself form all the sodium that is hidden in there also. The Baby boy loves the Sweet and Sour Pork but McGyver and me, we love General Tso’s Chicken, the most famous Hunanese dish…or is it?
General Tso’s chicken is named for a 19th Century general, Tso Tsung-t’ang (now usually transliterated as Zuo Zongtang), he supposedly enjoyed eating the dish. Would you believe it if I told you that the dish is not generally known in Hunan? I read in an old NY Times Magazine article by Fuschia Dunlop that the notable Chef Peng Chang-Kuei first made the dish in the 1950’s. Peng opened a restaurant in NYC in 1973, during that time he adapted his original General Tso’s chicken to meet the American palate (note: he is not the only one to lay claim to the dish).
The Hunanese’s tastes tends towards the more sour, heavy, hot and salty. So it’s no surprise when Peng opened a restaurant in Changsha and served the American version of General Tso’s Chicken, it was not well received. Patron’s complained that it was “too sweet”. Ironically, the dish is now being adopted as a traditional Hunan dish by many influential Hunan Chefs. Dunlop’s article goes into much more detail and is well worth the read, you can find it here.
The recipe comes from one of my favorite ‘healthy’ cookbooks. Believe it or not, this recipe is so good as is that I have never changed a thing about it. Truthfully, I enjoy the non-fried version better and don’t wake up the next day parched.
1 pound skinless boneless chicken, cut into 1”chunks
5 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Asian (dark) sesame oil
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more to taste)
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
Combine the chicken, 2 tablespoons of the sherry, 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch, and the oyster sauce in a medium bowl; set aside to marinate for 5 minutes.
Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons sherry, the water, soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and the remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside.
Heat a non-stick wok or a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles. Swirl in the canola oil, then add the chicken mixture. Stir-fry until lightly browned, 2 – 3 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, scallions, and crushed red pepper, stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the celery and bell pepper, stir fry until crisp-tender, 2 – 3 minutes. Stir in the sherry mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens, and the chicken is just cooked through, 1 – 2 minutes. Serve over rice.
Wow, has it been a month already? It seems like just last week I was doing my first Secret Recipe Club post. It was so much fun that I came back for more. Not only did I have fun, so did the Baby boy. In fact he had so much fun making Southwestern Egg Rolls from The Freshman Cook, he wanted to cook for the next round.
Hey, if you can get a teenage boy interested in cooking through SRC, you are one lucky mom! I got my assignment and informed the Baby boy. He’s on the iPad and asks, “who is it”, I said Family Fresh Cooking. He starts to type in Family, then he goes, “Wow, she’s popular, it’s the first thing that came up”. Then he went rooting around the site, and stated “I don’t think I should cook one of her recipes, I mean, she has a lot of followers”. Kind of intimidating for a teenager, I mean what if they thought he did a bad job?
I assured him that this was about trying recipes from different sites and anybody with “family” in their title would be happy to see one of the kids cooking! He was convinced and set about immediately to find a recipe. He was sold on the Chinese 5 Spice Harvest Chili with Bison. He loves Chinese and he loves chili. The fact that we had temps in the high 80’s was no matter to him.
A little about Family Fresh Cooking, Marla is an amazing person! Not only is she a mom, she is also a food photographer, stylist and writer, she also does recipe development and somehow manages to travel. Oh, and guess who designed the badge at the top of this post? Yep, she’s one talented lady. What amazed me most about Marla is that she gets up at 4 am! Hello, I’m not such a morning person (you won’t see me until after 7 am). She seems to have boundless energy, maybe it’s all that healthy living. Looks like I have a few things I could learn from Marla.
Trying to get the Baby boys schedule and mine to mash (read he’s never home), took some finagling. I finally pinned him down on a cold rainy day…perfect for a bowl of chili! What luck. Only he started feeling sick, and pooped out on me after just a little prep time…
I pressed on. I made very few changes to the recipe (which you can see with the modified original below). I used one of Marla’s substitute ideas, and used ground turkey instead of bison. Bison was $8 a pound and the ground turkey was buy one get one free…what a deal (as long as we don’t get salmonella from it)!
This is also the first time that the Baby boy had parsnips, I mean “white carrots”. Really, I don’t know why I don’t use them more. I enjoy their flavor and they are popular in Montana due to our short growing season.
I also pulled out my three wimpy leeks that I planted year before last (they were a Farmer’s Market impulse buy at 10 cents each). I’ve never grown leeks and had no clue what to do. My leeks had kind of a bulbous end and upon peeling they broke off and there was my leek…which was more like a scallion. I tasted the bulb part and it was not good…can it be used to replant? Is that how it reproduces? Any gardeners out there know? Fortunately I had purchased some big girl leeks to supplement the meager 1/8 cup I ended with from my garden.
As far as the recipe goes…it was delicious. A unique and enjoyable flavor. The 5 spice hits you first and then it’s rounded out by the nice tomato and chili flavor. McGyver refused to call it chili and instead referred to it as stew, guess he’s too much of a traditionalist (he still loved it). Whether you call it a stew or a chili, call it wonderful and make it!
Thanks Marla for a great healthy recipe, I’ll be making more for sure!
Chinese 5 Spice Chili with Turkey
1 cup Chopped Leeks
A few cloves chopped Garlic or 1 tablespoon Garlic purée
1 cup chopped Mushrooms
5 large Carrots, chopped
5 Parsnips, chopped
28 2 14.5 ounce cans chopped diced Tomatoes
6 ounce can Tomato Paste
splash of Lemon Juice
1 2 cup Vegetable or Beef Broth or a few cubes of Bouillon with 1 cup water
1 tablespoon Chili Powder
2 teaspoons Cumin
1 tablespoon Chinese 5 Spice Blend
2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
Garlic Salt and Pepper to taste
splash of Olive Oil
2 pounds ground Bison turkey
*Add an additional pinch of the above spices to season the meat, use the above measurements to add to the pot of chili
In a large pot add a splash of olive oil, garlic and leeks. Over medium heat cook for a few minutes and add the measured spices. Cook until softened, fragrant and lightly browned. Stir occasionally. Add veggies. Cook to soften veggies for about 10 minutes while the meat browns. Stir occasionally.
In a separate pan, add splash of olive oil, cook and brown ground meat. Add pinches of the above spices, stir to combine. Add cooked meat, chopped tomatoes tomato paste, broth and lemon juice to veggie pot. Stir to combine. Bring to boil. Turn down heat to low and simmer for about 1/2 hour or until veggies are cooked thorough. Add additional broth or water if necessary to thin out. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Hop on over and check out all the other SRC recipes.
What a deal! I scored a nice piece of cod for $8, reduced more than 50%. Wow did I feel lucky! Timing is everything. Scoring a great deal on a nice piece of cod, my mind could not help to think of fish and chips. I wanted a nice beer battered piece, deep fried to a golden brown then wrapped in some newspaper, just like I used to get at the Tuesday fish truck in Hockham, England.
No can do when one is trying to be healthier. The thinking cap went on, and I thought to myself, how can I make a nice crispy piece of cod, one that would stand up well to a heavy dose of malt vinegar? Coating the fish with bread crumbs and baking it was a natural train of thought. Only I didn’t have bread crumbs and I was feeling way to lazy to make some. Hello Panko.
I cut the cod into serving portions, dipped them into egg whites and coated them with a flour/panko mixture simply seasoned with only salt. I used cooking spray to add in the browning. Baked for 15 minutes at 400°F, they were cooked perfectly, tender, flaky and moist. My only disappointment was the color. Sadly I wasn’t able to attain the beautiful golden brown of a battered deep fried piece of cod.
I may not have gotten the beautiful golden brown piece of fish I was craving, but I got a nice crispy, tasty, piece of cod and saved myself zillions of calories. Well worth it.
Crispy Panko Baked Fish
16 to 20 oz. fresh cod, cut into 4 fillets
2 egg whites, beaten
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. salt
Olive oil cooking spray
Preheat oven to 400°F, lightly spray a baking sheet with the olive oil cooking spray. Mix the flour, panko and salt in a small bowl. Dip the fish into the beaten egg whites and then the panko mixture, coating all surfaces. Place on the baking sheet, and lightly spray the tops with cooking spray. Bake the fish on the top half of the oven and bake 10 to 15 minutes, turning once half way between baking.
As soon as I get my Williams-Sonoma catalog I tear through it, looking at every item on every page. Devouring every recipe, exciting new product and then checking my account and once again realizing that I have the proverbial champagne taste on a beer budget.
I may not be able to afford everything I want from the catalog but I can certainly try out the tempting recipes snuck in between the spectacular kitchen items. The recipe that caught my eye in the latest issue, were the Potatoes Romanoff. It’s a comfort food like Mac-n-Cheese but made with potatoes.
As I drooled over the recipe, I realized it reminded me of another similar dish. A dish Lulu calls “Funeral Potatoes” because some one, in her home state of Utah, always brings a cheesy hash brown casserole to a funeral. The common version calls for Cream of Chicken soup, sour cream, onions, cheese and frozen hash browns. It is no less delicious but it doesn’t have that fresh made flavor.
The recipe in Williams-Sonoma is from Chef John Shenk of the Strip House. His original recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese and 1 1/2 cups of sour cream. I reduced the the cheese by 1/2 cup, used only two very large baking potatoes and replaced the sour cream with non-fat Greek yogurt. Even though I used only two potatoes we still got six very hearty servings. I also cheated and cooked the potatoes in the microwave and then put them in the freezer for a few hours since I didn’t plan to make this recipe..it was an impulse.
The substitutions were delicious, but the dish suffered in the creaminess department. the Greek yogurt was too thick, next time I might thin it out with a little non-fat milk or fat free half and half. Despite the lack of creaminess I wanted, the dish went on the families “must do again” list.
2 large baking potatoes (russets), baked and refrigerated overnight
3/4 cups minced shallots
2 cups grated good quality cheddar cheese
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 1/2 cups non-fat Greek yogurt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Using the large holes of a grater, grate the potatoes, including the skin. Transfer to a large bowl. Sprinkle the potatoes with the minced shallots and 1 1/2 cups cheese, salt and pepper. using your hands gently toss together. Then fold in the yogurt in two separate batches.
Spray a 1 1/2 quart casserole with no-stick spray, fill with the potato mixture being careful not to compress it. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over the top. Bake until the potatoes are hot and the cheese is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
McGyver sat me down last Saturday and said, “I need to lose some weight and I’m going to start Monday, right after the Super Bowl.” He told me this after I already made the menu for the week, after I just finished grocery shopping. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally supportive, more than supportive. I need to lose more weight than he does and he was my excuse for NOT doing it.
Thank you very much McGyver, now I don’t have any excuses or anyone else to blame.
On my menu for the week, was my award winning lasagna. Seriously, I’ve actually won a few lasagna cook-offs. My normal lasagna is made in a deep dish 9×13 pan and weighs in at a hefty 10 lbs. (including pan). No joke, 2 lbs. of meat, 3 lbs. of cheese, 1 lb. noodles add the sauce and pan and you have one serious lasagna.
There would be no better way to kill a fledgling diet then the monstrosity that I call lasagna. Now I had to switch gears and lighten the load. Fortunately I had purchased reduced fat cottage cheese and reduced fat ricotta cheese. That helped, the next easiest fat and calorie reducer was to cut out the meat, which for my carnivorous family meant cutting out the flavor.
Our family is a lover of bold and robust flavors, nothing subtle for us, we want to know it’s there! To boost the flavor of my basic marinara sauce, I added red, green and yellow peppers (minced finely so the boys wouldn’t know), extra garlic and a teaspoon of crushed red peppers.
To make the boys feel like they were getting a hefty lasagna, I used a standard 9×13 pan versus my deep dish pan. This also meant that I automatically had to cut down on the amount of pasta I used. I had already purchased my favorite lasagna pasta (2 boxes), otherwise I would have upped the nutritional value even more by using whole wheat noodles.
We eat with our eyes first and I wanted it to look especially attractive. Instead of using grated mozzarella in the body of the lasagna, I placed slices of fresh mozzarella on top, I then topped each one with a single basil leaf. Not only did this add visual pleasure, it created a natural portion control. Everyone cut around each slice of mozzarella without even thinking about, after all it was just to pretty to ruin. An unplanned benefit but I’ll take it.
Both McGyver and the Baby boy declared the lighter version delicious. However the Baby boy stated that my “real lasagna was a million times better”, I was crushed. Next he said “maybe not a million times better, more like a hundred thousand times better”, although I’m proud my boy was reducing the number I was still pouting. Then he said, “nah, it really like 10 times better”. I could live with that.
Although this lighter version is 10 times less better than my normal lasagna it’s a hundred thousand times more healthy, no a million times more healthy!
4 cups Marinara Sauce (or jarred spaghetti sauce)
24 oz. low fat cottage cheese
15 oz. light ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan
1/2 cup chopped parsley
9 lasagna noodles (about 4 oz.)
12 slices fresh mozzarella
12 fresh whole basil leaves
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix cottage, ricotta, Parmesan and the parsley leaves until well blended. In a standard 9×13 pan, ladle 1 cup of the marinara sauce onto the bottom and spread evenly. Place 3 lasagna noodles on top of the sauce, centering in the dish. Top the noodles with one 1/2 of the cheese mixture and spread evenly. Ladle one cup of the sauce evenly over the cheese mixture, top with 3 more noodles. Spread the remaining cheese mixture over the noodles, evenly coat with one cup of sauce. Finish by adding 3 more noodles and covering them with the last cup of sauce.
Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, set the foil aside and top with the 12 slices of mozzarella placing one basil leaf in the center of each slice. Return to the oven and bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes or until the mozzarella is melty and bubbly. Let the lasagna sit for 10 minutes before cutting.