Thursday, April 14, 2016

New Recipes this week include Thai Curry Chicken Stew and Roasted Zucchini

Original recipe for this "Authentic Thai Red Curry with Chicken" recipe came from food.com.  I used the whole jar of Thai Kitchen red curry paste which is what he recommended but thought others would think it was too spicy but this wasn't spicy so next time I will add Sriracha and try one of the brands of curry paste he recommended or more of the Thai Kitchen brand I used.  Original recipe suggested Pantai or Mae Ploy.  At first I wasn't sure if this was going to be right, the broth barely came over the chunky vegetables but as it cooked so did they of course so the veggies reduced but the broth did not.  I wish I would have sauteed the onions more to add sweetness since I reduced the sugar from ⅓ C.  I also forgot the celery which I will add next time along with more ginger, the fresh basil which I didn't have on hand, coconut oil vs. grape seed oil and double the tomatoes since I did grape tomatoes vs. cherry.  I liked it but it wasn't coco-nutty, spicy or sweet which I expected so I need to work on it to fit my tastes.  The items in red are changes I will make next time.  As for the chicken I used 2 breasts and 2 thighs but use what is cheapest or what you have on hand.  After looking up other recipes on the web I modified my process and have added a thickener to try next time just to see the difference.  The broth was thin but that was not a problem so I'm not sure if thicker will be better.  One surprise was the green bell peppers, they were not over whelming.  I typically omit green bell peppers or replace them with red but since I love my bell pepper soup I decided to keep this recipe as stated and I was not disappointed.

THAI RED CURRY CHICKEN STEW
Saute:
1 T. coconut oil
4 oz. jar (8 T.) red curry paste (not spicy enough, try another brand or more)
½ " small piece grated ginger (use more-1" or 1T.)
2 onions, chopped
4 green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 pieces boneless skinless chicken (breasts, thighs, mix)
Add:
3 (13.5 oz.) cans Imperial Dragon coconut milk (see note)
1 ½ C. chicken stock
1 sm. chicken bouillon cube
1 t. fish sauce
1 T. Sriracha hot sauce
¼ C. sugar
1 t. Kosher salt
1 T. lemon juice (try lime)
8 basil leaves
1 t. dried basil
2 (12") Japanese eggplants, quartered, sliced
20 grape tomatoes, halved
1 C. pre shredded carrots
Thicken:
1-2 t. cornstarch 
3 t. cold water
Serving:
4 C. cooked jasmine rice

Prep vegetables and set aside in separate bowls.  Cut grape tomatoes in half.  Chop onion, bell pepper, celery, eggplant and chicken into bite sized pieces.   If using whole carrots shred with a vegetable peeler.  In a large 5 qt. stock pot add coconut oil and heat till oil is hot but not smoking.  Add curry paste and ginger.  Saute 1 minute.  Add onion, celery and pepper, saute 5 minutes or till onions are translucent.  Add chicken, cook to brown 2-3 minutes.   Add remaining soup ingredients:  milk, stock, bouillon, fish sauce, hot sauce, sugar, salt, lemon, basil, eggplants, tomatoes, carrots and Kale.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.  Serve over Jasmine rice.

Notes:  Red curry should be spicy and the ratio is typically 1 T. paste to 1 C. liquid.  One can of coconut milk, which may have been Chaokoh Coconut Milk, had a layer of hard coconut milk/oil and a thin liquid under that.  The other two cans, all different brands were mixed and creamy.  I tossed the one with the layer of hard milk and used the creamy ones.

The other thing I cooked this week was roasted salmon, not new, only difference was that I added sliced zucchini and red onions to the grape tomato roast and on the plate finished it with a drizzle of maple balsamic.  It made zucchini great.

ROASTED SALMON & TOMATOES
Drizzle EVOO
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 ½ T. (5-6 5” sprigs) fresh thyme leaves, reserve ½ t.
Sprinkle garlic salt
¼ t. coarse black pepper
2-4 salmon fillets

Heat oven 425°F.  Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil.  Drizzle with oil.  Remove the thyme leaves from the stems.  On half the cookie sheet toss tomatoes with thyme, EVOO, sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Drizzle other side with oil, add salmon.  Sprinkle with more garlic salt and pepper and reserved thyme.  Roast another 10 minutes or until salmon is just cooked through.  Serve salmon topped with tomatoes.

Note:  You know you have over cooked your salmon if it starts to “cry” which is the white fat that will show up on top if your fillet if cook too long.  Don’t make you salmon cry.  You can still eat it it just may be a tad dry.

Serving Suggestions:  

  • Asparagus:  Add to roasting pan with tomatoes.
  • Zucchini:  Add zucchini and red onions next to grape tomatoes.  Finish with a drizzle of maple balsamic on plate
  • Sautéed spinach & white beans 

Variations:

  • Add diced green onions to tomato toss.  Shown here with the asparagus.
  • Add minced garlic to the tomato toss vs garlic salt.
  • Mexican Flare:  Add some fresh corn kernels to the tomato toss and stir cilantro after cooked in place of the thyme.
  • Drizzle cooked filet with Maple Balsamic for a sweet touch!
  • Foil Pkg:  Place veggies on bottom, salmon on top and close up foil.  

Thursday, March 31, 2016

New Recipe was a winner first try, Curried Parsnip Apple Soup

Although the house smelt like curry the soup was worth it.  Light but flavorful with my homemade stock from a rotisserie chicken bones.  I forgot to top it with a dollop of yogurt but I'll try that next time.  I served it with garlic ricotta pesto bread which was great but probably not the best pairing. Original recipe came from Eating Well Jan/Feb 2014 magazine.
CURRIED PARSNIP APPLE SOUP
Drizzle grape seed oil
1 ½ lb. parsnips, peeled, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 C. chicken stock
1 russet potato, peeled, chopped
1 granny smith apple, peeled, chopped
1 ½ t. curry powder
1 ½ t. ground coriander
1 t. ground ginger
4 t. lemon juice
½ t. Kosher salt
¼ t. coarse black pepper
Topping:  Dollop yogurt

Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add parsnips and onion.  Cook stirring occasionally until onions are soft about 5-7 minutes.  Chop garlic, potato and apple.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  Add broth, potato, apple, curry, coriander, cumin and ginger; bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer until vegetables are tender when mashed against the side of the pot, about 20 minutes.  Puree with an emulsion blender or in batches with a regular blender.  Add lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Makes 5 side dish servings or 3 meals.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Stew, Cold Weather and Lazy Days Fit Well Together

This week has been a bit unknown with later dinners so I tried two new slow cooker soups to make things easy.  I made Brazilian Feijoada (Beef Stew) and Chicken Guinness Stew.

The Feijoda was pretty good but I didn't like how the crispy kielbasa became soft from cooking all day and the flavor didn't stand out which made me wonder why add the extra fat.  I did like the hint of orange and that is something I'm usually not crazy about.  I didn't finish the dish with raw jalapeños, vinegar or oranges.  Next time I will but instead of raw jalapeños I'll saute them with the onion.  I loved the tip on pureeing one of the can's of beans.  It made for a thick stew.  After doing some research on "Feijoada" there are more changes I want to make (see my variations).  Original recipe came from Cusiine at Home #85, Feb. 2011.  Update:  The next day this was very good, more flavorful and spicy.

What I learned about Feijoada.  Feijoada means beans in Portuguese.  It is a dish made with beans, beef and pork. Feijoada is typically cooked in former Portuguese colonies such as Brazil, Macau, Angola, Mozambique and Goa (India). However, the recipe can differ slightly from one country to another.  NW Portugal uses white beans, NE uses kidney with tomato , carrots and cabbage.  Feijoada has been described as the national Brazilian dish with black beans and a variety of salted pork or beef products.

The chicken stew (shown here) was thick and very good with a ton of chicken, maybe too much.  I used 2 lg. breasts and 2 thighs because that is what I thawed but next time only thighs, less chicken.  It was totally shredded after 8 hours so next time I'll check at 7.  Since I added S&P to my bowl, I've added the salt and pepper to the slow cooker here.  I'm also thinking a bay leaf and ¼ t. ground dry chipolte pepper like my Irish Stew for a bit more flavor.  Original recipe came from Eating Well, Feb 2012.   Update:  The next day this was solid, too thick, too much chicken, no juice.  Will need to loosen it with some broth.  I also don't like when onions are not sauteed before putting in the crock pot.  They boil and can have some hard skins.  When you saute you notice these firmer skins and can pick them out.  Like a pot pie filling but needs work.

BRAZILIAN FEIJOADA (BEEF STEW)
Brown:
Drizzle oil
1 lb. beef stew meat, seasoned with salt and pepper
8 oz. kielbasa, sliced into ½" rounds, diced, set aside
Deglaze:
¼ C. OJ
Slow Cooker:
1 lg. onion, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded, finely diced
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
15 oz. can black beans, drained, rinsed, pureed
15 oz. can black beans, drained, rinsed
2 T. garlic, minced
1 T. hot chili powder
¼ t. coarse black pepper
1 bay leaf
Finish:
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 orange, zested, pealed, wedged

In a large skillet drizzled with oil, brown beef, 5 minutes per side.  Add to slow cooker.  To the same pan, drizzle more oil and add diced kielbasa and fry till browned, 3 minutes per side.  Set aside.  Deglaze skillet with orange juice by scraping up brown bits on bottom of pan, pour over meat in slow cooker.  Chop onion, jalapeño and mince garlic.  To the same pan add onion and jalapeño.  Saute till onions start to soften and are golden, about 8 minutes.  Add garlic and saute another minute.  Add to slow cooker.  Add canned tomatoes, chili powder and pepper.  Stir.  Cover and cook on high until steak is fork tender, 4 hours.  Stir in red wine vinegar and diced kilbasa.  Serve with orange wedges.

Serving Suggestion:  Serve over cooked brown rice and sautéed greens like collards or kale.

Variations:  
  • Try adding bay leaf, pepper, carrots, ham hock, thick cut bacon, scallion, dried chorizo, linguisa, diced ham, bell pepper.  Finish with cilantro.
  • Try using dried black beans, soaked overnight then cooked in slow cooker 6-8 hours.

CHICKEN GUINNESS STEW
Dredge:
6 T. flour
½ t. salt
½ t. coarse black pepper
Saute:
Drizzle oil
4 boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
6 slices bacon, chopped, cooked
Slow Cooker:
1 can Guinness
1 lb. baby carrots, cut in half
8 oz. pkg. baby portabella, halved or quartered
1 lg. onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ t. dried thyme
¼ t. Kosher salt
¼ t. coarse black pepper
1 C. chicken broth
2 C. frozen baby peas

In a shallow bowl, mix flour, salt and pepper.  Pat dry chicken, dredge in flour mixture.  Shake off excess.  In a large saute pan with a drizzle of oil add chicken.  Fry - minutes per side till golden brown.  Add to the bottom of slow cooker.  Cut up bacon, fry in same skillet as chicken.  Pour the dredge flour into a 1/2 C. measure and add fresh flour to fill measuring cup.  Pour into skillet with bacon and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the beer and with a wooden spoon scarp bottom of pan to remove any brown bits.  Cook until mixed and foam decreases.  Pour over chicken in slow cooker.  Cut carrots in half, chop onion, mince garlic and layer on top of gravy in slow cooker.  Sprinkle with thyme and pour over chicken broth.
Cover and cook until chicken is falling apart, 4 hours-on high, 7-8 hours on low.  Check to see if chicken is shredding if so pull apart.  Add frozen peas.  Stir.  Cover and cook another 10 minutes to thaw and heat peas.



Friday, January 29, 2016

Asian Cabbage Rolls

Although my sister in law would think I’m crazy these were actually really good.  My grocery store only  had one 3.5 oz. package of shitaki mushrooms so I used one plus half of an 8 oz. package of baby portabella mushrooms.  This didn’t make a difference so next time I’ll use all portabella mushrooms and save $2.00.  I also always use Braggs liquid amino acids vs. so but if you haven't switched over soy is the same.  Original recipe came from Cuisine at Home, #97, Jan 2013.  One thing I was able to do at my grocery store was to only buy 10 cabbage leaves.  When I weighted the cabbage it was heavy and $8 since it was $1.99/pound.  The grocery man said I could peel off the leaves I needed since it was sold per pound.  Check with your grocer but this was perfect, under $2.


ASIAN CABBAGE ROLLS
¾ C. cooked brown rice
8 oz. baby portabella mushrooms, chopped
½ C. fresh cilantro, scissor cut
½ C. carrot, shredded
1 lb. ground pork
¾ C. frozen shelled edamame
2 T. amino acids (soy sauce)
1 T. garlic, minced
1 T. fresh ginger, grated
1 t. kosher salt
½ t. red pepper flakes
12 large outer napa cabbage leaves
Sauce:
¾ C. low sodium vegetable broth
¼ C. rice vinegar
¼ C. soy sauce
2 T. chili garlic sauce
1 T. fresh ginger, grated
1 T. toasted sesame oil
1 T. brown sugar
2 t. cornstarch

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Cook rice.  Clean, slice then chop mushrooms, pick and measure cilantro leaves, cut with scissors in measuring cup and grate carrots.  In a large bowl combine raw pork, mushrooms, cilantro, carrot, rice, frozen edamame, amino acids, garlic, ginger, salt and red pepper flakes.  Mix to combine.  In a 2 cup measure add all sauce ingredients.  Whisk, set aside.  Remove outer cabbage leaves from head, wash, place each one individually on a cutting board and with a rolling pin roll to crush the leaf, especially the stem to make it pliable to you can roll it.  When you crush the leaf you release some of the water in the stem.  Place a ⅓ C. of the filling on the stem end of the leaf and roll up.  Place in a 9x13” baking pan.  If the leaf is large enough tuck in the sides like a burrito but if not or they won’t stay it doesn’t matter.  Do this for each leaf until you run out of filling.  Makes 10 rolls.  Pour sauce over rolls.  Cover with foil.  Bake 30-40 minutes or until thermometer inserted into middle of roll registers 160°F.

Serving Suggestion:  Serve with rice or roasted vegetables drizzled with the pan sauce.

Note:  I would suggest making the rolls and sauce in the morning and storing in the refrigerator. When ready to eat pour sauce over rolls and bake.  It is a bit time consuming on a busy evening.  The sauce was not thick which I expected because of the cornstarch but it is needed to cook the rolls.  I only put a couple of teaspoons of the sauce over the rolls and I didn’t serve it with rice so most of the sauce went to waste which is why I wonder if I should thicken the sauce after the rolls are cooked and use it more like a dipping sauce.  Maybe next time.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Getting Back on Track in 2016

After getting some inspiration from a friend we have decided to start doing better again.  We totally fell off the wagon during the holidays, which frankly is expected if you want to have fun, but it was just taking too long to get back on track.  Our last excuse was football season but  now that we are all out, it is time to do better.  I can't diet, even saying or thinking the word makes me binge.

I started back by eating breakfast everyday (avocado, 12 grain toast, Sriracha, EVOO), coffee or green tea and a fruit and eating lunch however these were not as well planned so not the best.  Two weeks ago we started Meatless Mondays, this upcoming Monday will be our third week.  Then after the inspirational Tuesday, I upped the game with consistent healthy dinners, we skipped our Thursday night out for a cocktail and are on the road to skip cocktails this weekend.   Hopefully no or less cocktails and eating better will shed some pounds before we have to be more drastic.   Wish us luck!

Hubby has already lost a few pounds, which is great but I wonder why not me too.  Men loose weight easier and does have more to loose but still.

I have been posting all my dishes to instagram, https://www.instagram.com/mckenziedianne/
First Monday:  Beet Burgers with a salad
Second Monday:  Spaghetti Squash Patty with a salad
Tuesday:  Mozzarella topped Chicken Tenders topped with a salad (see this on instagram)
Wednesday:  Baked Salmon with Roasted Broccoli (see recipe below)
Thursday:  Salsa Verde Burritos (blew it a bit since I had 2 because I forgot to plug in the crock pot with the actual dinner)

MAPLE CITRUS SALMON
2 salmon fillets
¼ C. raw almonds, coarsely chopped
Sauce:
½ oz. maple syrup
½ oz. OJ
½ T. lemon juice
½ T. amino acids (soy sauce)
1 clove garlic, minced

If using individually wrapped frozen salmon, place each fillet in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes to thaw, then remove wrapper.  Place on a piece of parchment paper.  Chop or grind almonds, sprinkle over fish.  In a small bowl mix sauce ingredients.  Pour over nuts.  Place on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake 425° for 10-15 minutes.

Serving Suggestion:  Place a broccoli florets on half the cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes while you prepare the salmon.  Then add the parchment paper with the salmon to the other half and bake another 10.

Note:  The individually wrapped frozen salmon fillets you get at Costco work great here.  They thaw in 5 minutes in a bowl of cold water.

For lunch on Thursday I tried a new salad:  Black Eyed Pea Salad with Fried Kalamata Olives and Parsnips from Southern at Heart.  Don't know if I have ever had black eyed peas, never fried kalamata olives but infusing the oil with them was a great idea for the dressing.  I think to bulk it up next time I'll serve the salad over lettuce.  

I also tried some Peanut Butter Energy Balls from a guest on the Rachael Ray show but I didn't care for the texture, too mushy, and they were just OK so I won't make them again.