Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Energy Bars

With our quest to eat healthy, I have been trying to incorporate healthy snacks to keep our metabolism boosted through the day.  Gerry and I both work out every morning and most days I work out for two hours so by 10:00 a.m., I'm ready for a snack.  If I don't have a snack in the morning, I will definitely look for one in the afternoon.  Most times, I try to make it fresh fruit, or a combination of nuts and dried fruit, but sometimes it's nice to have something a little different.  Ellie Krieger's energy bars fill that little craving wonderfully.

Energy Bars
Makes 20 bars, each about 3 x 1 1/2 inches

cooking spray
1 cup oats, rolled, quick cooking
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, shelled, unsalted, raw
1/2 cup wheat germ, toasted
1/4 cup flour, whole-wheat pastry, or whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup apricots, dried
1/2 cup almonds, raw
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dates, pitted and whole, dried
1/2 cup milk, fat-free, powdered
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 9 x 13-inch pan baking pan with ooking spray.  Place all the ingredients, except the maple syrup and eggs, in a food processor and pulse entil everything is finel chopped.  add the syrup and eggs and pulse until the mixture is well combined.  It will resemble a coarse paste.

Transfer to the baking pan and spread evenly to cover the bottom.  Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes then cut into 20 bars.  Store in an airtight container for about 3 days or wrap individually and freeze.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Grilled Vegetables with Creamy Orzo

I relied on on a favorite tried-and-true recipe for tonight's Meatless Monday dinner.  I make it at least a couple of times per year and it never disappoints.  An assortment of grilled vegetables get dressed with a simple vinaigrette once they are cooked to perfection and served over a bed of creamy, cheesy orzo.  It is one of my favorite vegetarian meals based on the simplicity of the ingredients that all work together.

Grilled Vegetables with Creamy Orzo
Makes 4 servings

3/4 pound dry orzo pasta
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
Salt and black pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon each sugar, salt, and black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet onion, sliced in thick rounds
1 pound Roma tomatoes, halved and seeded
1 pound eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 1" thick planks
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise
Salt to taste

Preheat the grill to medium-high.

Make the Vinaigrette:  Combine the vinegar, 2 tablespoons oil, sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl; set aside.

Cook the orzo in a large pot of salted water according to package directions; drain.  Return pasta to the pot and stir in cream, Parmesan, butter, salt and pepper.

While the orzo is cooking, coat the onion slices, tomato halves, eggplant planks, asparagus spears, and zucchini halves with 2 tablespoons oil.

Grill onions, eggplant and zucchini, covered for 5 minutes, then add asparagus. Grill asparagus, covered 2 minutes.  Add tomatoes and grill all vegetables for 3 minutes more.

Remove from the grill and chop vegetables; transfer to a large bowl.  Toss vegetables with the vinaigrette while warm and season with salt.  Serve vegetables over Creamy Orzo.

Adapted from Cuisine at Home Grilling

My rating:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Kale and Shiitake Fried Brown Rice

 I have a growing affection for kale these days since it is so good, and so good for you which makes it a winning combination.  I also happen to love mushrooms and I was looking for something relatively simple to make for dinner and this meal did not disappoint either of us.  I did have to cook some brown rice earlier in the afternoon to have it on hand for this quick stir-fry.

Just before dinner-time, I sauteed the chopped kale and sliced mushrooms in a little sesame oil until tender.  I then added garlic and crushed red pepper and sauteed them until just fragrant.  Sliced scallions and the previously cooked brown rice joined the party next for a couple of minutes and finally a little bit of soy sauce flavored the entire pan.  The rice was garnished with more sliced scallions and some sesame seeds for serving.  This is a great vegan meal!

My menu for the day:
Breakfast - Cereal and Rice Milk
Lunch - Spinach Salad with Cranberries and Avocado with Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette
Dinner - Kale and Shiitake Fried Brown Rice

Kale and Shiitake Fried Brown Rice
Makes 2 servings

1/2 pound kale, thick stems discarded
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, and caps thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 scallions, thinly sliced on diagonal, plus more for garnish
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Sesame seeds for serving

Roll a few kale leaves into a tight cigar, and thinly slice to form ribbons.  Run your knife through the kale a few tines to chop it into smaller pieces.

In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering.  Add the kale and mushrooms, and cook stirring often, until they are softened and tender, about 5 to 8 minutes.  Season with salt.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and stirring constantly, cook until fragrant but not browned, about a minute.  Stir in the scallions and rice, and cook another 2 minutes, stirring often.  Add the soy sauce, cook another 30 seconds, and season to taste with salt, additional soy sauce, and/or red pepper flakes.

Divide among serving dishes and top each serving with more scallions and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

From Pink

Our rating:


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Almond Flounder Meuniere

I decided to try to cook dinner tonight since we seemed to have no scheduled showings for our house and was craving fish since we haven't had it in a while.  We did end up having a showing between 6:00 and 7:00 which slightly delayed our dinner, but I made it work.

I decided that a couple of flounder fillets, brushed with beaten egg yolk and covered with a ground almond mixture which I then sauteed in browned butter sounded like the perfect fit for tonight.  Once done, the fish fillets got a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of toasted sliced almonds and chopped parsley.  I served the fish fillets with simply boiled red baby potatoes which I tossed in butter and chopped chives when done.  I also served oven roasted broccoli which was a wonderful side to this meal.

Almond Flounder Meuniere
Makes 2 servings

1/3 cup ground almonds
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound flounder fillets
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons cold butter, preferably salted

Lemon wedges, for serving
Toasted sliced almonds, for garnish
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Whisk the ground almonds, flour, and zest together, then season the mix with salt and pepper.  Pat the fish fillets dry and, using a pastry brush, lightly coat one side of each fillet with a little of the beaten yolk.  (I coated the side that would have had skin.)  Dip the coated side of each fillet into the nut mixture.

Put a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and a small pinch of salt, if your butter isn't salted, and cook the butter until it turns light brown, about 3 minutes.  Slip the fillets into the skillet nut side down, without crowding, lower the heat, and cook for 3 minutes or so until the coating is golden and the fish is cooked halfway through.  Season the exposed side of each fillet with salt and pepper, add another 1/2 tablespoon cold butter to the pan, and very gently turn the fillets over.  Cook, spooning some of the browned butter over the fillets once or twice, until the fish is opaque throughout, about 2 minutes more.  If it looks like the pan is dry, add a little more butter.  (If you weren't able to cook all the fillets in one pan, keep the cooked fish warm while you saute the remaining fillets.)

Give each fillet a squirt of lemon juice, then scatter over some toasted almonds and parsley.  Have more lemon wedges at the table so you can give the fish another squeeze or two if needed.

Slightly adapted from:
Around my French Table

Our rating:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Orange Teriyaki Chicken Kabobs

It's been a while since I have posted anything, but I have been incredibly busy.  I have traveled the past five weekend for various events in various locations and we have put our house on the market to sell.  In the month since our youngest daughter's wedding, we totally prepared our house for sale and we have had several showings per day (which is good for trying to sell your house, but bad for cooking and photographing food every day).  Just before showings on the house started, I spent a day cooking about a month's worth of meals that I could stash in the freezer and tonight's dinner was one of those meals.  It was amazingly easy to prepare since most of the work was done before.  I served the kabobs over rice that I cooked in chicken broth.

Orange Teriyaki Chicken Kabobs
Makes 2 (2 person servings)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1" pieces
8 wooden skewers

Soak skewers in water prior to assembly.  Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the ginger, orange zest and garlic.  cook and stir 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the vinegar, soy sauce, orange juice and honey.  Bring to a simmer and cook 3-4 minutes.  Set aside to cool.  Skewer the chicken pieces. 

Cut the pointed tips off the chicken skewers and divide the skewered chicken in two gallon size freezer bags.  Pour half of the sauce over the chicken.  Divide the remaining sauce among two pint size freezer bags and freeze both bags. 

To serve:
Thaw.  Heat grill over medium high and cook chicken 2-3 minutes per side.  Serve with reserved sauce from the pint size freezer bags. 

Slightly adapted from Once a Month

Our rating:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chicken Parmigiana Burgers

I knew I had to try this recipe since I love the simplicity of a burger in the summer and I absolutely crave Chicken Parmigiana periodically.  The start of this recipe came from which is a blog I follow, however she used Trader Joe's already prepared chicken burgers.  I found a recipe on the Food Network to make my own seasoned chicken burgers which worked out very well.  I did make the Pomodoro Sauce recipe from Skinny Taste which was simply tasty.  I topped off the burgers with the Pomodoro sauce and shredded mozzarella which I melted on the burgers before placing the burgers on the buns.  I thought this recipe needed more seasoning with simple salt and pepper (or as my husband said - "I thought this would be spicier").  I have finally figured out that simply means more salt and pepper.  I have tried to make the adjustments with the seasoning in the recipe below.

Chicken Parmigiana Burgers
Makes 4 servings

4 chicken burgers (recipe follows)
4 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup pomodoro sauce (recipe follows)
4 rolls (I used Whole Wheat buns at 110 calories each)

For the Chicken Burgers
1 pound ground white meat chicken
2 cups coarse to fine fresh bread crumbs, divided (not canned)
1/2 cup low-fat milk
3 tablespoons grated sweet onion (or finely, finely minced)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon coarse grained salt
Cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil

For the Pomodoro Sauce
2 (28-ounce cans imported crushed tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup carrots, finely chopped
1/2 cup fat free chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 fresh basil
1/2 tablespoon sugar, optional

To make the burgers:
Be sure to use ground white meat chicken.  Use fresh bread crumbs.  It only takes a few extra minutes.  Remove crusts from good bread or don't remove the crusts, tear into chunks and pulse in a food processor. 

Place chicken in a mixing bowl.  Using a rubber spautla, fold in milk, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, onion, cayenne, salt and pepper.  The mixture will be very wet which means it will be a challenge forming it into patties, but forge ahead.  Place remaining 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs in another bowl or plate.  Divide chicken meat into 4 or 5 piles (you decide which portion size is best for you - I made 4) and using your hands, shape into patties.  Coat each patty with bread crumbs.  Heat olive oil in a large non-stick over medium heat and fry patties until golden and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.  Top with Pomodoro sauce and mozzarella cheese, cover pan and allow the cheese to melt (approximately 1 minute).  Serve immediately on buns.

To make the Pomodoro sauce:

Saute garlic in oil for a minute or so, add onions and carrots and saute on medium-low for about 4-5 minutes, until soft.  Add tomatoes, chicken broth and salt and pepper and simmer for 45 minutes on low.

Add fresh basil during last 10 minutes (herbs will become bitter if cooked more than 20 minutes).

Taste for acidity, if sauce is a bit tangy (acidic) then add the optional sugar. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Roasted Peppers

I love all bell peppers, but especially the red, yellow, or orange ones.  Don't get me wrong, a green pepper is wonderful in its own right, but if you are going to roast a pepper, it has to be a color other than green, since they are just a little too strong in flavor.

I served a platter of roasted peppers as an appetizer and I can't begin to tell you how scrumptious it was in its simplicity.  Perfect peppers, perfectly roasted, and simply dressed with a little salt and pepper, fresh herbs, very thinly sliced garlic and olive oil.  You can't believe how good this was.

Roasted Peppers
Makes 4 servings

5 large bell peppers, preferably not green
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh parsley, basil, rosemary or thyme leaves, or a combination, plus extra for serving
1-2 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced (optional)
Approximately 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat, parchment paper, or aluminum foil.

Wash and dry the peppers, put them on the baking sheet, and roast them, turning them every 15 minutes, until some of the skin on every side of the peppers is blistered, 45 to 60 minutes.  The peppers may collapse and some may seep some juice - that's fine.  Transfe the peppers to a bowl (be careful since the juice is very hot), cover the bowl with foil, and let the peppers rest until they are cool enough to handle.

In the meantime, pull out a Pyrex loaf pan, or if you plan to serve the peppers soon, a large platter, perferably one with a slightly raised rim.

Working with 1 pepper at a time and working over the bowl, remove the stem, let the liquid drain from the pepper, and separate the peel from the flesh.  You can suually do this with your fingers, but if a little peel sticks stubbornly, scrape it away with a paring knife.  Cut the pepper open along its natural separations - depending on the pepper, this will mean cutting it in half or thirds - and scrape away the seeds and ribs on the inside.  Place the pepper pieces cut side down in the loaf pan (or on the platter).

If you have time, cover and chill before serving, garnished with fresh herbs.

From Around my French Table

My rating:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Salade Nicoise

I have continued my trend in serving a salad everyday since our week at the beach where I made a different salad every day for lunch.  I made a classic Nicoise Salad for dinner tonight with Boston lettuce, boiled potatoes, green beans, canned tuna packed in oil, tomatoes, Nicoise olives and capers all dressed with a simple homemade vinaigrette.  It turned out to be a perfect dinner salad.  I have not ever used tuna packed in oil and was stunned to find the difference it made in this salad.  If you have never made a Nicoise salad, this is a classic one to start with.

Salade Nicoise
Makes 2 servings

4-6 small potatoes such as fingerlings or baby Yukon Golds, scrubbed
1/3 pound green beans, trimmed
2 hard-boiled eggs
2-3 handfuls Boston lettuce, rinsed and dried
1/2 shallot, finely chopped, rinsed and patted dry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Everyday Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1 5-6 ounce can tuna packed in oil, drained
2 tomatoes, cut into chunks, or about 10 grape tomatoes, halved
About 10 Nicoise olives, pitted or not
1 tablespoon capers, drained and patted dry

Everyday Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon wine vinegar (red or white)
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place all vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar, cover and shake vigorously until blended.  Set aside.

To make the salad:
Put the potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil.  Cook until the potatoes are tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife, 10 to 20 minutes (maybe even a little longer), depending on the size and age of your potatoes.  Scoop the potatoes out of the pot with a slotted spoon and put them in a bowl to cool.

Toss the green beans into the pot and cook them until tender, or crisp-tender - start checking them after 4 minutes.  Drain the beans and run them under cold water, or dunk them into a bowl of cold water and ice, to cool them and set their color.  Drain, then pat dry.

When you're ready to serve, depending on their size, halve, or quarter the potatoes.  Peel the eggs and cut them in half.  Choose a large platter (or bowl) and put the greens on it.  Sprinkle over the chopped shallot, season with salt and pepper and drizzle over a spoonful or so of the vinaigrette; toss.

If you chose the platter you can now compose the salad; otherwise divide the dressed greens between two plates and compose the salad any way you wish.  I chose a somewhat symmetrical patter by laying the potatoes and beans in a row.  I then added the tuna to a corner of the dish and then the  tomatoes and eggs.  I scattered over the Nicoise olives and capers and drizzled everything with a little more vinaigrette. 

Slightly adapted from Around my French Table

My rating:

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bacon and Eggs and Asparagus Salad

This past week has been very busy between the 10 of us vacationing together at the beach for a week at the same time the summer Olympics were happening.  It's really tough to divide your time time between 8 adults at the beach with two grandchildren learning about sand and waves and wanting to play board games at night AND not wanting to miss too much of the Olympics.  I will be the first to admit that I am an Olympics junkie usually taping everything that has Olympics in the title, so this past week was a challenge to find the balance of watching and naturally wanting to spend time with my family.  I am glad to see that my family won out and so it was a wonderful week.

We went back to the same beach house we had rented last year which was fabulous since we knew the layout of the kitchen and what they basically had which enabled us to create a menu and cook almost all our meals at home.  I knew I wanted to serve a different salad every day at lunch and made several different salad dressings and garnishes which came with us to facilitate lunch time.  We had a salad every day with either a sandwich or a combination of different left overs which worked out fabulously.

We kept dinners very simple with things like hamburgers and hotdogs with potato salad one night, Fajitas another night, Creamy Orzo with grilled vegetables, Barbecue Meatballs with Egg Noodles, and Kung Pao Chicken.  This was the first time that we actually took turns making dinners and I must say it was an absolute pleasure to watch the kids take their turn at making a delicious meal to serve all of us.  I am a huge fan of this new plan.

We got back late yesterday and I couldn't wait to try some new recipes from a new cookbook that I had received right before vacation.  Our lunch today came from this cookbook as well as our appetizer and entree for dinner tonight and all of them were superbly fabulous.

For lunch today I settled on this Bacon and Eggs and Asparagus Salad since I have been intrigued with many different options both at restaurants and recipes that have an egg with a soft yolk that creates another dimension of dressing on salads.  I was also curious about the combination of egg and asparagus since I know how good asparagus with a Hollandaise sauce is.  In addition to the creaminess that the egg yolk add to this salad, the cooked egg white with the asparagus was a surprisingly wonderful combination.  This salad was a very nice play on asparagus with Hollandaise but quite a bit healthier.  I would definitely make this again as well as not hesitate to serve it to guests since it was that good.

Bacon and Eggs and Asparagus Salad
Makes 2 servings

For the vinaigrette:
1/8 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons walnut oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the salad:
2 cold extremely fresh large eggs
10 asparagus spears, preferably thick, trimmed and peeled
3 strips bacon
1 1/2 handfuls mixed salad greens, rinsed and dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons toasted walnuts, chopped (I forgot to add these in my photo)

To make the vinaigrette:
Put all the ingredients in a small jar, cover, and shake to blend; or use a small bowl and a whisk.  Set aside and shake (or whisk) again before using.  (You can make the vinaigrette up to a week in advance and keep it in the fridge.)

To make the salad:
Bring a medium saucepan of heavily salted water to a boil.  One by one, put the cold eggs on a spoon and slowly and gently lower them into the water (saying a little don't-let-my-egg-break prayer on the way down).  Allow the eggs to boil for exactly 6 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat, lift the eggs into a strainer, and run then under old water to cool them quickly.  Fill the pan with cold water and leave the eggs in the water until needed.

Bring a large skillet of salted water to a boil.  Slip the asparagus spears into the pan and cook for 4 minutes, or until you can pierce the spears with the tip of a paring knife.  The asparagus should be cooked through but not at all mushy.  Carefully transfer the spears to a plate lined with a double thickness of paper towels and pat them dry.

Pour out the salted water, rinse the skillet to cool it, dry it, and lay the strips of bacon in the pan.  Cook over medium-low heat, turning as  needed, until the bacon is golden and crisp on both sides  Remove the strips and put them between a double thickness of paper towels; when the bacon is cool, cut into narrow strips of chop it into bits.  Leave 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat in the skillet - you'll use it for the eggs.

When you're ready to serve, very carefully shell the eggs.  It's a fussy job, because the eggs are so soft, and you might not get the shells off cleanly, but unles you break in the yolks, it will be fine.  Rinse the eggs to remove any bits of shell and pat them dry.  Warm the bacon fat over medium heat.

While the bacon fat is heating, assemble the salad.  You can put it together on a platter or arrange it on individual plates.  Either way, season the salad greens and arrange in the center of the platter or your plates.  Toss the asparagus with the remaining vinaigrette (I did this with my fingers) and lay the spears over the greens.

Now return to the skillet.  When the fat is warm, gingerly slip the eggs into the skillet and roll them around in the fat for a minute or two, just to coat the with fat, heat them slightly, and color them a little.

Lift the eggs out of the skillet and place them on top of the asparagus.  Scatter the bacon and toasted nuts over the salad and serve immediately.

Adapted from Around my French Table

My rating: