Posts Tagged ‘food’

Spring is here which means that bikini season is only 8 short weeks away. I know, that’s awful to say, but working in an industry filled with women, I here all kinds of things about the need for dieting or the need to “lose a few” before the summer. I myself will not be sporting a new bikini this year – the children would certainly be afraid – but I am always up for substituting the unhealthy with something equally tasty and 100X healthier.

Kale is a winter vegetable, but thanks to the age of modern farming, we have access to beautiful kale leaves year round. I mentioned in my braised kale post the vast health benefits fresh kale greens can have. Perhaps the idea of braising greens scared some people away because that post did not receive much attention. But ever the vigilant writer, I wanted to post a second way to use kale that I hope more people will try and embrace. Don’t let the name fool you, there is no frying involved in this recipe. Do take the gamble on this one and pick up a small bunch of kale the next time you are roaming through the grocery store. It’ll cost very little to experiment with and the results are simply unbelievable.

Ingredients (serves 4 happily)

  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

1. Rip the kale leaves off the stem and into chip size pieces. Some will be big, some will be smaller, but none should come close to being the size of your hand. Put the kale in a large mixing bowl and add the olive oil to it. Toss to coat the leaves in oil.

2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place a silicone mat on two large baking sheets (alternatively, you can grease a baking sheet, but I haven’t tried this). Arrange the leaves on the may so no two are overlapping. Sprinkle with salt and other spices as you desire.

Note: You can change the flavor of the kale chips by sprinkling any other spice mix on. This is your chance to experiment, just remember to use spices sparingly.

3. Cook for 30 – 45 minutes or until the tips begin to turn brown. Your looking for baked through and no floppy. Check your biggest leaves first to see if they are done.

Note: Other recipes out there change the temperature and cooking times. This version dehydrates the entire leaf leaving a crispy, crumbling edges with an in fast center. If you prefer more chip like, increase the temperature to 350 degrees and cook for 20 – 30 minutes.

4. Serve without any dipping sauce. These are great on their own.

 

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This was one of my dad’s favorite dishes that I can remember from my childhood. It was usually always served for his birthday and maybe one other time a year, but this was not something typically made in the home. For me, Chicken and Dumplings is comforting and healing the way Matzo Ball Soup is for my Jewish friends. I simply cannot get enough and there is no pot that can ever make enough dumplings.

I think it’s because the length of cook time can be incredibly long if you make your own chicken stock (which I cannot recommend enough). But if you utilize a pressure cooker, this dish can be put together in about 75 minutes from start to finish. And if you don’t have a pressure cooker, do yourself a favor and still make your own chicken stock ahead of time.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 2 lbs chicken, shredded
  • 2 c flour
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp thyme, fresh
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4c chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

1. Place the chicken stock and shredded chicken in a large stock pot. You can add some of the vegetables from the chicken stock or you can add some fresh celery, carrots, and/or onions to the pot. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. If adding fresh vegetables, allow 20 minutes or so to soften before eating.

2. Place the butter in the bottom of a medium size stock pot over high heat. When the butter has mostly melted, add the chicken stock and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and then add the flour, baking powder, and salt. The flour will immediately soak up the liquid and form a dough. Cook this until the color turns a mustard-ish yellow.

3. Place the dough in a mixing bowl with the two eggs. Mix with a hand mixer until the mixture just comes together. The batter should be thick like cake batter. You do not want to over mix this. Season with pepper if you wish. Add the thyme to the dough and fold in with a wood spoon.

3. Drop heaping tablespoons of the batter into the simming chicken stock. When you have filled the pot, cover with a tight fitting lid. Allow the dumplings to cook for 10 – 15 minutes until they are puffed, but firm.

4. Ladle the soup mixture into a wide mouth bowl. Ensure everyone gets a sufficient amount of dumplings. Garnish with more fresh thyme.

You have probably seen summer rolls before but with beautiful halved shrimp displayed on top. This recipe utilizes ground turkey to change the flavor profile a bit and be a bit more cost effective. This dish is full of Asian flavors and utilizes some ingredients people tend to be afraid of. Fish sauce is not something to fear, but something to embrace. The key is to use it sparingly in your Asian dishes. One bottle will probably last the typical household more than a year unless you tend to cook with it weekly.

Summer rolls may appear labor intensive, but once you get an assembly line going, they come together in no time and the results are beautiful and delicious. These would make a fantastic appetizer at your next dinner party or something you can put together with the kids.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/4 c golden raisins, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper
  • 1″ fresh ginger, diced
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • rice paper skins (I used 6″, but 9″ would be much easier)

1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp sesame oil over high heat. When heated, add the onion and ginger and continuously stir until the onions begin to be translucent. Then add the turkey to the pan and cook until the turkey has browned. Add the soy sauce, fish sauce, and vinegar to the pan. Stir to combine. Turn the heat down to low and simmer until the liquid has nearly evaporated.

2. Turn off the heat and allow the turkey to cool until easily handled. Add 1 tbsp parsley if you wish for some extra color. Cut the bell peppers and seeded cucumber into 2 inch matchsticks.

3. To wrap the summer rolls, dip the rice paper in warm water as indicated on the packaging. Lay on on a flat surface and pat dry with a paper towel lightly. Place 1 – 2 tbsp turkey mixture, and 2 – 3 matchsticks each of the vegetables. Wrap like a burrito.

Note: If the rice paper is tearing, you are either leaving it in the water too long or are being just way to rough with it. Rice paper is delicate, so be gentle. A little tear here or there is no big deal, but do not try to salvage one with a large tear in it. They are cheap enough to play around with until you get the hang of it. And don’t forget to replace your water frequently when it gets cold.

4. Serve the summer rolls with one or all of my trio of vietnamese dipping sauces.

Peanut Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar

1. Combine the vinegar and sugar in a mixing bowl. Whisk until the sugar has been dissolved.

2. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and whisk together. Allow to sit on the counter for 15 minutes before serving. If you plan to refrigerate this sauce before serving, allow 30 – 45 minutes to come to room temperature to make serving easier.

Sweet Vinegar Sauce (Nuoc Mam Cham)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 c coconut water
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1. Heat the coconut water in a microwave on high power for 15 – 30 seconds. The idea is to warm the water and not to bring it to a boil. Combine the water with the sugar and whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and whisk to combine. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

Chili Vinegar Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c sweet vinegar sauce (nuoc mam cham)
  • 1 tbsp chili paste
1. For those of you that like spicier flavors, combine the nuoc mam cham and chili paste in a small bowl. Whisk to combine.

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Serve dipping sauces in three small containers.

Enchiladas are a staple in my weeknight cooking rotation. They are full of flavor and incredibly easy to make. I make my life even easier by buying an already cooked rotisserie chicken from the supermarket. I use the breast meat to use as filling for the enchiladas and use the rest of the meat for another meal.

Ingredients (serves 3)

  • 1 1/2 lbs cooked rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 2 c Enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 c mozzarella, grated
  • 1/2 c cheddar, grated
  • 6 flour tortillas

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1c enchilada sauce in the bottom of 9 X 12 baking dish. Turn the dish to cover the entire bottom evenly.

2. Place a flour tortilla on the counter. Line 1/2c chicken down the middle running the entire diameter. Fold the end closest to you over the chicken and tuck under. Roll the rest away into a cigar shape.

Note: If your tortillas aren’t easily pliable, you can microwave the stack for 10-15 seconds.

3. Place the finished enchiladas into the dish until it is full. You may have to squeeze the last one in, but this is okay.

4. Pour the 2nd cup of enchilada sauce over the rolls. Spread the sauce with the back of a spoon to coat all of the tortilla. Cover with the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the inside filling has warmed.

5. Let the enchiladas sit for a couple minutes to set. Serve hot with refried beans or rice.

I will never buy enchilada sauce again. There is always too much salt, never enough spices, and I don’t appreciate the level of heat when I have to pick between mild (too little) and hot (too much). I prefer a more subdued, whole-mouth spice, whereas much of the current enchilada sauces utilize cayenne pepper to supply heat. Cayenne is just painful too me and not enjoyable.

Ingredients

  • 2 c chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp chile powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 6 oz water

1. Place a medium sized sauce pan over medium high heat. Melt the butter. When the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk together. Allow the roux to cook, constantly whisking, until the color changes from pale yellow to dirty blond.

2. Add the chile powder, cumin, sugar, and cinnamon to the roux. Whisk together. Add the chicken stock to the spiced roux and whisk together. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil.

3. When the mixture has thickened slightly, add the tomato paste and water to the sauce. Whisk until the tomato paste has been incorporated into the sauce. Bring the sauce back to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer. Allow the sauce to simmer for at least 10 minutes.

4. Use the sauce immediately or allow to cool. This sauce will keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week or you can freeze in an airtight container.

I hated Shepard’s Pie when I was a kid! Despised it even. And I could never figure out why. At first, my mom made it with a mix of peas and corn, which makes sense why I hated it because peas are gross. But then she started making it half with corn only – one of my favorite vegetables – and I still couldn’t stand it. Whenever it would come around in the dinner rotation, it was as if my world was ending (remember being a teenager and how that felt – ah, youth!).

I figured that Shepard’s Pie needed a second chance and in honor of the St. Patrick’s day next week, now was the right time. For this version, I’m not doing anything out of the ordinary except adding a thin gravy on top for some added flavor and cooking the sirloin in beer. Although in the end, I could have done with a thicker gravy, I can see that this old stand by is not nearly as bad as I remembered from my childhood.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb sirloin, ground
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 1 white onion, minced
  • 1/2 red or orange bell pepper
  • 8 oz middle of the road beer (drink the rest)
  • 12 oz frozen corn (never canned), thawed
  • 2 lbs red bliss potatoes
  • 1/4 c cream (substitute half and half or milk)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 green onions, cut thin

1. Start by placing the potatoes in a pot of cold water with 1 tsp salt. Cook until the potatoes are easily pierced by a fork.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet. When hot, add the onion, celery, and pepper to the pan and sauté for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Then add the beef and cook until you cannot see any more pink. Pour in 8 oz of your favorite beer. Reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated. Take off the heat and set aside.

3. When the potatoes done, drain and add to a large glass bowl. Add the butter, sour cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend with a hand mixer until you reach your desired consistency. If you find there is not enough liquid, add milk or cream slowly and blend until you get the consistency you desire. Add the green onions at the end and fold in.

4. To build your pie, place the meat at the bottom of a 9 X 13 baking dish. Add the corn and top, and then spread the mashed potatoes on top evenly. Cook in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until everything is warmed through and the potatoes begin to brown.

5. Serve hot out of the oven with a gravy.