Friday, November 20, 2009

Beef. It's not what's for dinner...

Chicken. It's something I'm pretty much always going to have in the freezer. Diced tomatoes. Something I'm always going to have in the pantry. Put them together and viola. Dinner. I had a meeting for the community garden on Wednesday night and I needed something that could sit on the stove and simmer away. I did chicken curry last week, so trying out a recipe for Country Captain chicken wouldn't work. Sour cream. Something I occasionally have in the refrigerator. I was in luck. Chicken paprika it is...

If you read my recipes you may have noticed that I always use chicken thighs. This is what we like to eat, but feel free to substitute a cut up chicken.

Chicken Paprika (serves 4)

4 chicken thighs
1 medium onion diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 t sweet paprika
1 t smoked paprika
1 t hot paprika
1/2 c. reduced fat sour cream (This is as low as I'll go. Fat free is icky.)

Heat large heavy pan over medium high heat. Salt and pepper chicken pieces on both sides. When pan is very hot, place the chicken skin side down in the pan. Let brown for several minutes. The skin will lift up from the pan surface when it's done enough. Don't pull the pieces up or they'll tear apart.

Meanwhile, back at stately Wayne Manor, I mean my kitchen, pull out the trusty sidekicks. The cutting board (I have one for meats and one for veggies) and a nice sharp knife.

Dice the onion and crush the garlic cloves. Traditional chicken paprika recipes don't call for garlic, but I think pretty much all chicken dishes should have garlic in them.

Turn the chicken pieces over and brown on the other side for several minutes.

When the second side of the chicken is nicely browned remove the chicken from the pan. If there's a lot of fat drain it out and leave a tablespoon or so in the pan.

Dump in the onions and the garlic. Make sure you scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. There's a lot of flavor in those little morsels. Cook the onions until they're translucent.

The hot and smoked paprika really make this dish. If you don't have any smoked paprika, I really think you should get some. It's crazy good.

I had a picture of just the paprika in the pan, but it kept uploading sideways. Imagine I've put the paprika in the pan, stirred it around to blend with the onions and garlic. Now put in your can of diced tomatoes.

Stir well, and then place the chicken pieces back in the pan, nestling them in the sauce.

Simmer for about 40 minutes or until the chicken is done. Take the chicken back out and add in the sour cream.

Stir well until all the sour cream is blended into the sauce.

Serve with noodles and green peas.

Nutrition for chicken, 1/2 cup noodles and 1/2 cup peas:

Calories: 482
Total fat: 23.9 g
Carbs: 39.2 g
Protein: 27.8 g

(Nutrition data comes from the GoWearFit recipe builder)

For the second part of this double feature, a couple of people asked for the recipe for the scallops I made the other day. It's my take on Coquilles St. Jacques A La Pariesienne. Here it is...

Scallops in Artichoke Mushroom Cream Sauce

1 lb large scallops
1 can quartered artichoke hearts
1 lb white mushrooms, sliced
1 cup dry white wine
bay leaf
1 small shallot, diced (I had small green onion from garden I used)
1 t herbes de provence
1 T butter
2 T flour
1/2 c. cream

In large pan simmer the wine and the herbs for a few minutes. Add the scallops and mushrooms to the wine. Add enough water to just cover the scallops. Poach until done. (I wasn't timing, sorry)

In second pan, over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the flour until smooth. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the flour is lightly golden. Reduce heat and add about 1/2 cup of the poaching liquid and stir, making sure there are no lumps. If it's too thick, add more of the poaching liquid. Stir in the cream. Add the artichokes, mushrooms and scallops and stir until everything's coated with the sauce.

Serve over spaghetti or rice. I served this over spaghetti, with a layer of steamed spinach in between. I'm sorry I don't have the nutrition data for this recipe. For some reason, the GWF website doesn't want to let me into my account. Check back with me on this if you like.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme

I bought my first acorn squash last week. Just because. It looked interesting. The only acorn squash I'd ever eaten had been dipped in tempura battered and deep fried to a golden crispy yummy goodness. (The Aussie always orders shrimp tempura and the chefs always include veggies. He eats the shrimp, I eat some of the veggies)

So I had an acorn squash sitting on my counter. What to do, what to do. I asked one of my twitter friends, Trish, how she'd cook acorn squash and she gave me a great recipe for maple roasted squash, which turned out lovely. So Sunday I got a second acorn squash. What to do, what to do. Stuffing! I started rummaging in the freezer and came up with the following for what I will call Scarborough Fair Acorn Squash. (You know, parsley, sage, rosemary... you can go put on the Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits CD now. I'll wait.)

Scarborough Fair Acorn Squash (serves 4)

2 acorn squash, split in half lengthwise, seeds scooped out
2 T pine nuts, toasted
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 rib celery, sliced
2 c cooked brown rice
2 Jimmy Dean turkey sausage patties, diced or crumbled
1/4 c. Craisins, chopped
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 t salt
1 t black pepper
parsley (1 t)
sage (1/2 t ground or 1 fresh leaf minced)
rosemary (1/2 t)
thyme (1/2 t)

Preheat oven to 375. Cook split acorn squash cut side down on baking sheet for 30 minutes. I know this looks a bit wonky. At first I was going to do a standing up acorn squash and then changed my mind. So I cut off more of the top than I should have.

Heat cast iron skillet over medium high heat and toast pine nuts until lightly browned. Remove pine nuts from pan and set aside.

Lower heat to medium and add olive oil to pan. Add in the onion, celery and garlic. Cook until translucent, about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in turkey sausage and lightly brown.

Spoon in cooked rice, cranberries, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. Stir to mix ingredients together.

When the squash has finished baking, remove from the oven and turn over so that the hollowed out section is facing up. Spoon in the stuffing mixture.

Put the squash back in the oven for 15-20 minutes until nicely browned on top.

Serve hot and enjoy!

Nutrition Per Serving

Calories: 276.5

Total Fat: 7.5 g

Sat Fat 0.9 g

Cholesterol: 13.75 mg

Sodium: 432.8 mg

Potassium: 512.9 mg

Total Carb: 43.65 g

Dietary Fiber: 4.7 g

Sugars: 5.35 g

Protein: 4.4 g

Saturday, October 24, 2009

She'd better leave a comment....

If my sister comes to visit this site, she'd better leave a comment. I'm just sayin'...(grin)

Friday, October 23, 2009

I'll never be a food stylist...

No, I'll never make it as a food stylist. This tastes really fantastic though, so I'm sure you won't mind the "rustic" appearance of my lunch made from the leftovers. (I was too hungry and was racing to a meeting to properly document the dish!)

I've recently become friends with my slow cooker. I had a medium sized round cooker years ago, but it was too small to become friends with. The last straw, before it was consigned to my Mom's house for her to use, was the attempt to make lamb shanks. They. didn't. fit. Needless to say, they didn't turn out well. (Note to self: covering the portions stuck out of the pot with foil doesn't work)

Last spring I invested in a large oval slow cooker. This thing is awesome! I got so slow-cooker crazy earlier this year that The Aussie made it clear he was getting tired of it. So I hid it back in the pantry... until this week. I'd pulled out a package of boneless pork shoulder ribs from the freezer that I'd bought on speculation (and reduced for quick sale). Hmmm. What to do with them?? I went browsing through several cookbooks until I came upon a suitable one to adapt. (For those of you who like to use slow cookers, the "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker" books are great.)

Country Style Pork Ribs with White Wine Sauce

1 large yellow onion, quartered
4 large carrots, cut into large slices/chunks
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1.5 lbs boneless pork shoulder ribs (they came cut in 1-2" wide strips)
3 T olive oil
3 T AP flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
1 T herbs de provence
1 t fresh ground black pepper
1/2 t salt
non-stick cooking spray

1. Spray inside of slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Layer the carrots, onions and garlic on the bottom.

2. Pat meat dry with paper towels. In large, heavy-bottomed pan, over medium high heat, heat the olive oil. (If your pan cannot do all pieces of meat at the same time, do in batches and use half of the olive oil at a time) Brown the meat on all sides. This will take a few minutes per side. Wait until the meat lifts up easily and isn't sticking to the pan.

3. Remove meat from pan. Sprinkle the flour in the pan, stiring to coat in the drippings. Cook for a minute and then deglaze with the wine. Stir to pick up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, making sure there are no lumps of flour. Add in the chicken stock, herbs, salt and pepper. Stir until smooth and lightly thickened.

4. Pour over the meat and vegetables. The recipe says cook on low for 7-9 hours. I started this at lunch time, so I cooked on high for 4 1/2 hours and then dropped it down to low.

5. Cook up the starch of your choice. I used mashed potatoes. (Yes, they were instant. I love
instant mashed potatoes). Spoon meat and vegetables over the potatoes and serve.

Nutrition (exc. mashed potatoes) based on 6 servings

Amount Per Serving
Calories 293.0
Total Fat 14.3 g
Saturated Fat 4.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.7 g
Monounsaturated Fat 8.0 g
Cholesterol 74.2 mg
Sodium 815.1 mg
Potassium 748.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 10.8 g
Dietary Fiber 2.1 g
Sugars 2.2 g
Protein 23.5 g

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Soup's On

Fall is definitely the time of year for soup. A grey, rainy day is the ideal day for soup. Lentil soup is the perfect healthy choice to make, and I had all the ingredients on hand.

Lentil Sausage Soup (serves 8)

3 links Aidell's Roasted Red Pepper and Corn Chicken Sausage
1 large onion, chopped
2 large or 3 medium carrots, sliced
2 cups dry lentils, rinsed
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 T Italian Seasoning
1/2 t powdered red pepper (I use House Shichimi Togarashi Red Pepper)
1 bay leaf
1/2 t fennel seeds
1 can diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken stock
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T olive oil
salt/pepper to taste

Heat dutch oven over medium high heat. Add olive oil. Slice the sausage links into rounds 1/4 " thick and add to pan to brown.

Peel and slice carrots and chop onion. (I didn't have fresh onion so I used dehydrated onion bits reconstituted in water) Peel and slice garlic cloves.

When sausage is browned add the carrots, onion, garlic, lentils and the herbs and spices to the pan. Saute for a minute.

Add the can of diced tomatoes with their juice and the balsamic vinegar to the pan. Stir.

Finally, pour in the chicken stock and stir.

Cover and simmer for 1 hour, or until the lentils are tender. Add water if soup is getting too thick. If you like, you can use an immersion blender to create a smoother textured soup.

This soup really hits the spot...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Eddie made me do it...

The other day I was asked by Eddie (@damanlovett) if I did cool breakfasts too. I had to admit that I really didn't make many cool breakfasts. I like something that can be taken out of the fridge and eaten. Sometimes I get into making the whole diner style breakfast, but not very often.

So, research geek that I am, I started looking around for breakfasts that I could bake once and have during the week. Breakfast In A Cup sounded promising. Unfortunately, it didn't deliver on its promises. It was dry and too rice-y. (I know, rice-y isn't a word.) It would almost be better as a side dish for dinner.
Then I thought about muffins. I was first thinking of a muffin version of carrot cake, but then the talk in my Twitter group of pumpkin spice lattes made me think of pumpkin spice muffins. Thanks for the suggestion! They were delicious.


2 cups whole wheat flour (I use white whole wheat flour)
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
2 t ground cinnamon
2 t ground nutmeg (use fresh if you can - it's amazing)
1/2 t salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup splenda
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 T vegetable oil
1 t pure vanilla extract
1 cup craisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 C). In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside. (Note: These aren't overly sweet muffins, so if you like sweeter muffins, adjust the sugar/splenda)

2. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, pumpkin, sugar, applesauce, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Slowly add the flower mixture to the large bowl until just blended. Mix in the craisins and the walnuts. (I should note that I "chopped" my walnuts in my silver bullet blender and ended up with ground walnuts with some larger pieces. I just dumped it all in the bowl.)

3. Spoon the batter into 18 non-stick muffin cups. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove muffins from the oven and let cool slightly. (I had no patience to let them cool because I was hungery. Please. Let them cool. They'll come out of the muffin tins much easier for you than they did for me!) Remove muffins from the pan and let cool completely. (I didn't wait for this part either. They were really good nice and warm.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Before and After (But Not The Last After)

The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single footstep. I am treating getting healthy and losing weight as a journey. There are places to go, people to meet, goals to reach. And milestones. Fitting into an old pair of jeans is a milestone. Not fitting into a not very old pair of jeans is even more of a milestone.

I came across these pictures recently. They were taken almost 2 years ago. If I wasn't at my heaviest weight here, I was pretty darned close. See the tan jeans. They were snug. See the green shirt. Not very good at concealing my spare tires.

Here I am in the same clothes today. (The jeans are fresh from the drier, so you know they're at their tightest)

Not too shabby, huh? Serious baggy britches. And the spare tires? Slowly getting the air let out of them.

Shortstuff wonders why I'm taking pictures, but she thinks it's all good. (Puppygirl is camera shy)

It's a worthwhile and serious journey. But for now, I gotta tell ya. I'm having fun clothes shopping in my own closet.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Workout Playlist and Missouri 60

For the last couple of weeks I have been tweaking my workout playlist for my walk around the neighborhood. Serious music-nerd time. Compiling songs, finding the bmp for each song, ordering the songs by bmp, changing my mind, re-0rdering them, swapping out songs .... on and on it went. Today's walk was PERFECT, so I'm posting my playlist.

Hella Good - No Doubt - 115 bmp - 4:03
I'm Too Sexy - Right Said Fred - 121 bmp - 2:51
What Is Love - Haddaway - 126 bmp - 4:29
Can't Get You Out Of My Head - 126 bmp - 3:51
I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas - 128 bmp - 4:49
Uprising - Muse - 128 bmp - 5:05
Mercy - Duffy - 130 bmp - 3:40
Days Go By - Dirty Vegas - 127 bmp - 3:43
Walkin' On The Sun - Smashmouth - 125 bmp - 3:27
Stacy's Mom - Fountains Of Wayne - 118 bmp - 3:18
Today I'm Goldilocks and it's just right. Until I change my mind again...

(As a side note, having I'm Too Sexy in your playlist can be dangerous. You don't know how tempted I was to do my little turns on the catwalk while walking down the sidewalk. Knowing me and my relationship with the side-walk monster, I'd trip and fall spectacularly.)

And here's my Missouri 60 pictures... (grin)
Here is the first picture.
And here's the latest picture.

These look like, but aren't, the same pants I wore in the first picture. They're a pair of 12s I haven't fit into in a couple of years!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It was a dark and stormy night...

It was a dark and stormy night. Rain was lashing at the windows and the wind was howling... Okay, so it was about 75 degrees out, but it was still dark and stormy and I wanted comfort food. In my house, that means curry.

Because I had the ingredients on hand, I decided to go for a hat trick. Curried sweet potato soup, curried cauliflower and lamb curry (one of The Aussie's favorite things to eat).

Curried Sweet Potato Soup (makes 8 one cup servings)
1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
1 T olive oil
1 T curry powder
1/2 t grated ginger
4 cups stock (I use chicken, but vegetable would be fine)
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and dice the sweet potatoes into a large dice. 1 1/2 pounds will give you about 8 cups of diced potatoes. Peel and chop the onion and crush the garlic through a garlic press.

This is a fun new vegetable peeler I got at the grocery store when I was buying the sweet potatoes.

Add olive oil to large pot set over medium high heat. Add in curry powder. We like spicy, so I tend to add more than the 1 tablespoon. Mix the curry and oil together to form a paste and heat for a minute. Toasting, or "blooming" the spices, helps bring out their flavor.

Next add the diced onion and the crushed garlic. Stir to incorporate the curry paste and cook until lightly softened, about 1 minute.

Add the diced sweet potatoes ...

... and the chicken stock. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For safety's sake, since I have been known to wear what I'm making, I let the soup cool down before I get out the stick blender. Puree until smooth. You can serve with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, but it tastes fantastic without it.

The sous chef taking a nap on the newly washed dog bed.

Next up, lamb curry. The Aussie's mother's family emigrated from Scotland to Australia, by way of India. My MIL was born and raised in India, and this is based on her recipe. It works very well with chicken and shrimp too.

Lamb Curry (4 servings)

6 round bone lamb chops
2 T olive oil
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
4 T curry powder (who am I kidding, I use twice that!)
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup milk (optional)
salt to taste

Trim and cube the lamb chops. This is the time intensive part of the recipe. If the chops are slightly frozen it makes it easier to cut the meat. You don't have to use round bone chops, but the bone does add extra flavor to the curry.
Peel and dice the onion and crush the garlic with a garlic press.

As with the soup, start out with a large pot over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and curry powder and bloom the spices.

Next you'll add the onions and garlic, stirring to incorporate the curry powder.

With the pot still over medium high heat, add the cubed lamb and brown the meat for several minutes.
Add the can of diced tomatoes and stir well.
Lower heat and cover. Cook for about an hour.
This is the curry after about half an hour. At this point, remove the cover. Stir well and continue to cook without the cover so that the liquid reduces.
This is the cooked down curry. Pour in the 1/4 cup of milk and stir well.

Curried Cauliflower (serves 4)
1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
1 T olive oil
1 T curry powder
1/2 cup water
The curried cauliflower is super easy. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 T olive oil and 1 T curry powder. Add in the cauliflower florets and stir to coat with curry mixture. Add water and cover. Reduce heat and cook for 8-10 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.

And here's dinner. Yes, with the cauliflower and rice it looks a bit mono-chromatic, but it doesn't taste mono-chromatic.