Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chicken with Apple and Bacon Sauce

Last night was my own take on this Cooking Light recipe for Chicken with Cider and Bacon Sauce. The original looked delish, for sure, I just need a few tweaks to make it work for us.
Here is what I did:

- I cut one very large b/s chicken breast into finger-sized chunks, and browned the chunks in a skillet with a little Canola cooking spray before removing them from the pan.
- In the same pan, I crisped up two pieces of diced extra lean turkey bacon with another spritz of Canola spray.
-Then into the pan went 1/2 can low sodium chicken stock, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, and 6oz of Apple Juice, I cranked the heat to high and scraped the bottom of the pan, using the liquid to deglaze all that goodness from cooking the chicken and turkey bacon.
-When the liquid had reduced by half, I added the chicken chunks back to the pan , dropped the heat and let the whole thin simmer uncovered about 10 minutes, turning the chicken occasionally until the chicken was done and the liquid reduced to a nice sauce consistency.

While that was all shaping up on the stove, I roasted a medium potato and two carrots in the oven at 400 degrees with a drizzle of Olive Oil until tender when pierced with a fork.

When everything was ready, the veggies went down first, followed by the chicken and a couple tablespoons of the pan sauce.
Big Thumbs Up from The Hub on this one! By chopping up one smaller potato into lots of pieces, mixing it with another veggie, and dividing it between us, I kept the portions under control.
But what I noticed right away was that no additional salt was needed, even by salt-a-holic me, for the meal. The sauce was the perfect mix of sweet from the apple juice and salty and hearty from the turkey bacon. Great sauce to keep in mind, for sure. It would be really good on pork tenderloin too!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Marinated London Broil

I'm siiiiiiick... As in "What up, funky cold that has me even disgusting myself" kind of sick.
Gross. Serious.
Be that as it may, after cheating on Sunday night and feeding The Hub a pizza-cicle, I wanted to cook something heart and waistline healthy last night. I had a London Broil that I had taken out of the freezer on Sunday, so I marinated it for about 3 hours in this marinade , trimmed all visable fat, and then cooked it on the George Foreman (it was about 1 to 1 and 1/2 inches thick, so I cooked it a total of 10 minutes.)
I let it rest wrapped loosely in foil while I broiled some asparagus I had sprayed lightly with canola cooking spray and sprinkled with pepper. (I cooked it about 7 minutes total, turning once.)
The steak got cut thin against the grain, the asparagus got cut (The Hub only likes the tops, I prefer the stalks, so we are perfect to share this veggie) and drizzled with lemon juice and dinner was served.
Tasty marinade, for sure!! (I am at a point with Cooking Light recipes where I know if I follow them pretty closely, I am going to have a good meal.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Shhh, don't tell the Cholesterol police.

I waited until The Hub fell asleep last night and then baked him a little "Happy 5th Anniversary" breakfast treat to wake up to this morning. They are just Jiffy-mix muffins, but what can I say? If I love something, I want to feed it. :)

Happy Anniversary, Hub!

Garlic fry goodness!

Reluctantly, I have been searching Ellie Krieger's recipes at, looking for ideas to keep dinner yummy while we battle this "Cholesterol issue". I have great luck with Cooking Light Recipes (hello, Sweet and Spicy Chicken!) but wanted other options. I admit, I am not the biggest fan of Ellie's - something about her just strikes me as not genuine, or something... anyway, what do I know.
Last night I made Ellie's Garlic Fries and was very pleasantly surprised! Really good flavor, no salt or ketchup needed at the table, crunchy on the outside. Pretty darn fantastic, I'd say.

I made them along with some herbed chicken breasts:
2 teaspoons of oregano, dried
1/2 teaspoon thyme, dried
1 teaspoon minced garlic (I use the pre-minced refrigerated variety)
1 teaspoon canola oil
Mix all ingredients together in small bowl and rub into 2 b/s chicken breasts, each cut in half.
Bake loosely covered at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, turning midway through cooking.
And since veggies are THE thing all the cool kids are eating at our house now, I also steamed some broccoli for 2 minutes in the microwave and sprinkled in some crushed red pepper flakes. I did get a "where's the cheese?" from The Hub as he took his first forkful, (preach to the choir much, buddy?) but he ate it all anyway.
I get leftover chicken and garlic fries for lunch today. Is it time to eat yet?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Aunt Keri's Kitchen - Mac and Cheese with Chicken

Sooner or later you KNEW I would bust out the Mac and Cheese for an Aunt Keri's Kitchen offering, and Ta-DA! Here it is.
However, man (and breast-feeding woman, for that matter) cannot live by pasta and liquid cheese alone (do as I SAY not as I DO, people.)
So I began my sauce with 8 oz of b/s chicken breast chopped into big bite-sized hunks. I seasoned them with a very light dusting of flour spiked generously with Beau Monde seasoning and pepper, with just a touch of cayenne, and then sauteed to brown on each side until the chicken was just cooked through. I added that to the finished Mac and Cheese, and included washed, spun-dry and cut-for-salad green leaf lettuce, a nice big ripe tomato, and a chopped carrot so they could have a salad too.
(That salad might have to wait for another night, that mac and cheese got devoured by the busy parents right after I delivered it. Flattery of the highest form, I assure you.)
The cookies are butterscotch-chip, made from the recipe off the back of the Safeway butterscotch-chip bag. Everyone else seems to dig them, but I didn't think the dough of the cookie was sweet enough. Still, a cookie is always a good thing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Now THAT is a challenge.

Now The Hub has high cholesterol. Probably should have seen that coming, but that means I have to put the dietary smack down on him - which is like wrangling a pissed off jelly fish... maybe harder...

So, I made acorn squash last night, with maple syurp and a pat of benecol (mmmm, chemically... but whatever helps) and it went OK.
When I got home with the specimen, I made a beeline for the kitch and began cutting and seeding, hoping to get it in the oven and smelling good before he could see what was going on. To no avail!!
"What's THAT?" I heard him exclaim from his seat on the living room sofa.
I told him what it was, and his response was "I don't know if I want any of that."
Death Ray Crusty Powers ACTIVATE!!! From the kitchen I turned and shot him a whopper through the door way (probably could have gone through solid brick with that look.) and told him "we gots to take some cholesterol off yous" (doing my version of the kid from the Cheerios commercial).
The good news is, it did smell really good once it was cooked, which he noticed right away, and as he ate it (hesitantly, but completely) I explained that I had been working hard to find different ideas that he might like, and this came highly recommended for picky eaters, which he is the first to admit he NO DOUBT is.
So, one night of veggie consumption down.... a life time to go

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

The Hub was raised North of Houston, but he lived in New Orleans for a bit, and he LOVES creole cooking. So since I have mastered the Roux (and since reading Consuming Passions has left me wanting to cook all kinds of Southern specialties) I decided to try making this Chicken and Sausage Gumbo recipe after it was pointed out by a fabulous interwebz friend.

I stuck to the recipe (with the one exception of using b/s chicken breast for ease and to cut cooking time) because while The Hub is a gumbo aficionado, I can't say as I have ever had the stuff, and (as the above-mentioned book discusses at length) the whole "Okra vs No Okra" heated battle between various friends and family members has kept me on the gumbo sidelines. (Personally, I only like okra when it is fried, so this recipe appealed to me since it is okra-less). the only thing I did WAS kind of a biggie tho... I only used half the onion and I full-on grated it in to the pot. I did this to conceal the actual onion from The Hub, while still salvaging the flavor (since it is part of the "Holy Trinity" that is the creole version of a Mirepoix and the basis of the flavor that he really does love, tho he would fixate if he saw a chunk in anything I cooked).

It was very tasty - good flavor, not too spicy (we both actually added some hot sauce, but then we were sniffling and crying as we ate, in a good way, of course). The Hub let it be known quickly that he would like to see this return often in our dinner menus - he was one happy displaced Southern boy last night!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Shrimp Boil!!

Into a pot last night went the following:

2 cans of beer
2 beer cans of water
1 generous palmful of Old Bay seasoning
and when boiling:
2 large potatoes, cut into 10 pieces each
2 ears of corn, cut into 4ths
when corn and potatoes were tender in went
1 lb peeled de-veined shrimp

the whole thing cooked for about 4 more minutes until the shrimp were done, and then was drained and served on a big platter with plenty of butter and Tabasco available, in the center of the table for The Hub and I to share.

Tasty and fun!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

With appologies to Carbonara..

I love pasta Carbonara, but I don't make it at home because I am not great at it.. But I was craving something like that last night, so I dug around in the fridge and cabinets and came up with this:

-I tossed some spaghetti in a pot of WELL salted boiling water and then,
-I cooked 4 pieces of turkey bacon in a deep skillet, and then removed the bacon and deglazed the pan with a cup of vermouth (Why vermouth? because Julie Powell used it a lot during the Julie/Julia Project and I just read that book, so when I saw the bottle, I just went for it.)
-I added a cup of chicken stock and let it reduce and concentrate a bit while I chopped up the bacon and then thickened it a bit with a quick roux (that's right, I said a QUICK roux.. how times have changed).
After it thickened a bit (It was the consistency of a thick syrup almost, not too thick, but not watery) I added an extra tablespoon of butter for flavor, removed it from the heat and added a couple handfuls of frozen peas.
-The drained pasta got mixed in with the sauce, along with the bacon, and when I plated it everything got a grating of Parmesan Cheese.

It was good.. that sauce was GOOD!! Crazy good - sweet and velvety, mixed with the salt from the bacon and parm, and the fresh little POP from a pea every little while.
Oh yeah.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Now I can't stop...

Confession, on my way out the door to class today, I made The Hub homemade mac-n-cheese.. totally threw it together in like 20 minutes, roux and all, from the ground up, and left it baking in the pot I had boiled the pasta in (which I also used to cook the roux, and added everything into that pan),
Somebody stop me, now I am just showing off.

Pizza night!

So I used the left over grilled flat-breads I made to whip up some little pizzas for The Hub and myself last night... Turkey pepperoni for him, basil and tomato for me (yum). With a Cesar salad, it was perfect, and that Jiffy dough is no harder to use and WAY better than dough in the refrigerated cylinders (besides - I HATE having to "pop" those things open, too scary!) The Hub really, really liked the crust.. a lot.
I see myself keeping a box of Jiffy Pizza Dough in the house at all times from now on!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stolen Moments, our favorite Nutritionist

Megan over at Nuts For Nutrition gifted us with a blog update today!! She is one of my faves, so be sure to check out her ideas for awesome, flavorful, original, packed-with-goodness salads!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Flat-bread in a Jiffy!!

Several weeks ago I bought a box of Jiffy Pizza Crust mix. My whole family worships at the altar of Jiffy mixes of all kinds, and this seemed like a cheap and easy way (seriously, they are like 33 cents or something crazy like that) to make some fresh pizza for grilling at home.
Except last night, with The Hub no where in sight for dinner, I got a hankering for something a bit different. So, with apologies to LaLa's (BTW, whoever does their website, are you serious? I have NEVER seen it actually load right with no funny spacing or pics over words.. bummer) and their Tramezzinos (or in homage to them, perhaps,) I broke out the Jiffy Box and followed the directions (all you do is add 1/2 cup hot water mix, cover and let rise for 5 minutes, then kneed just a bit).
After rising, before kneading:
Then I split it into 4 sections, and rolled each one nice and thin (BTW, the stuff rolls out great, so easily - not sticky or dry) and used the good old George Foreman to grill each round for 6 minutes:
Meanwhile, for my Tramezzino filling, I sauteed some cubed up round steak with garlic and then tossed in some spinach to wilt.. the whole thing got a drizzle of balsamic and a good toss to coat it all:

Mmmmmmm - the crust was chewy and grilled and warm, the filling was delish. Perfection from a box!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Roux the day!!

As many folks know, one of the scourges of my culinary existence is the roux. I don't know why, but I developed total Roux block in culinary school (even resorting to sneaking in cornstarch in my pocket to thicken sauces with my trusty slurry.. I am not proud, I was desperate.)
It has long been my secret shame (or not-so-secret) that Keri can't thicken using a roux.

Screw it - I wanted to make The Hub some really good mac and cheese to have in the fridge while I am in Indy, and, bolstered by REPEATED viewing of the TiVo'ed lobster mac and cheese episode of The Barefoot Contessa (and two and a half glasses of vhino verde consumed in a hot bath,) I decided to give it one last go.
And praise Ina and the positive Roux-making vibes sent from my dear friend from New Orleans (who, of course, can work a roux like no body's business) - IT WORKED.. check it out:

Mise en place (Chef Jack Ass from school would be so proud) -flour measured, butter heating in big pot, milk warmed in small saucepan, cheese grated.

Flour and Butter cooking out that "floury" taste in the pan...

After all the hot milk was added to the pan, it actually reached "nape" consistency.. I kind of stood in awe that it was thickened.

Anyway, after the shock of the roux success (sorry if I woke you running around the house whooping about it, honey,) I proceeded with a version of Ina's Mac and Cheese recipe - she uses the same basic recipe over and over, but varies the cheese and adds other things as desired. For mine I halved the recipe, so I used 3 cups of sharp cheddar cheese and 1 cup of mild cheddar which I mixed into the Bechamel Sauce I created (yeah, that roux/milk mix is one of the "Mother Sauces" of french cooking.. so you see how the not-being-able-to-roux thing might have been a prob for me in school? M'Kay).

Here is what it looked like all incorporated:

And then I added the cooked elbow pasta:
Does that look good, or what? And let me tell you, IT WAS!! I did some "quality control" tasting before pouring it into the casserole dish and covering with Ina's bread-crumb topping (Pictured at top of post.) I labeled the whole foil-covered dish with heating instructions for The Hub. Lucky Bastard.
I created liquid cheese where none had existed... you can't know what this means to me.