Friday, March 30, 2012

Cilantro Scallion Pesto

1 bunch green onions, whites and greens
1 bunch cilantro, leaves pulled from stems
1 clove garlic
juice of 1/2 lime
1/8-1/4 cup olive oil
optional: 1 TBSP sunflower kernals

Rough chop onions, cilantro, and smash garlic. Combine in food processor with kernals (if using) lime juice and 1/8 cup oil to start and pulse until it forms a paste. If it is too thick, slowly stream up to another 1/8 cup of oil.

This is delicious over grilled fish or chicken, and mixed into sour cream  for a quick condiment or mixed with a little mayo for a sandwich spread.

Store in a container in the fridge for a week or two, or freeze small portions (like ice cubes) in the freezer.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My Pumpkin Spice Muffin in a Minute

So I was recently exposed to this whole "Muffin in a Minute" thing... and I am blown away. I have been on a much lower carb diet these days, and found this as part of a recipe for an alternate grilled cheese. With the basic foundation of micro-baking flax based bread, the possibilities are endless. Not to mention I have always been a flax-fan.
Just a disclaimer, this idea is not mine at all and while I did tons of googling, I'm still not sure where the original credit belongs. I made one of the basic recipes exactly as stated, and then experimented with my own creation this morning. Still smiling!

Basic Muffin in a Minute (per each)
1/4 cup flax seed meal (milled flax)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 packet sweetener (or 1/4 tsp granulated)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg, 2 whites, 1/4 cup egg substitute
1 tsp oil or melted butter

Mix all in a mug, microwave 1 minute, and BAM! Delicious muffin that you can butter, jam, cream cheese as you like.
Having some leftover pumpkin in my fridge, I decided to add that in and make it my own.

Mom's Pumpkin Spice MIM (per each)
1/4 cup flax seed meal (milled flax)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 packet sweetener
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 egg
1 tsp melted butter
1 generous tsp pumpkin puree
1 TBSP cream cheese

Mix cream cheese and HALF sweetener packet and set aside. Mix remaining ingredients in a custard dish or mug and microwave for 1 1/2- 2 minutes (depending on how hot your microwave runs).
Remove muffin from dish and cut in the center, smear cream cheese "frosting" on each half.

I don't do stats a lot because they vary so much... but the stats for my generous size muffin made exactly are:

293 calories
19 g fat
450 mg sodium
13g total carbs
10g fiber
3 g net carbs
.6g sugar
13 g protein

Friday, March 23, 2012

Chinese Chicken and Vegetable Soup

1 TBSP oil
2 cups celery, sliced thin
2 cups cabbage, shredded
2 cups bean sprouts
2 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1 bunch green onions:
           whites thinly sliced
           greens cut into 1"pieces
1 tsp grated ginger
1 pinch Chinese Five Spice powder
salt and pepper

In a stockpot or dutch oven, heat oil over high heat. Add celery and cabbage and cook until softened. Add bean sprouts, chicken breast, stock, and enough water to come 1"over the vegetables. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Add the white part of the green onions, 5 spice and salt and pepper and cook about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the green part of the green onions.

This makes 8 servings, each with 119 calories, 2 grams of fat, 10 grams carbs, 4 grams fiber, 14 grams protein.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Quick Chicken Poaching

People ask me all the time where I find time to cook SO much that almost everything we eat is homemade. Most of the time, it is stealing a couple minutes of time during other chores and projects to get something started that doesn't need much attention, but yields enough to make a couple meals. One of the EASIEST things to do is to poach up a chicken and they are always on sale for less than $1/pound if you are a stocker.

1 whole chicken (about 4-5 pounds)
1 small onion
Salt and pepper

** You can use anything fresh that you have or any combo: a handful of parsley, sprig of sage leaves, thyme, rosemary OR a teaspoon of their dried counterparts. Pictured was 1 sage sprig and 1 rosemary.

If your chicken is thawed, remove any gizzard bags from the cavity. Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, remove as much of the skin from the bird as possible and discard. Its ok to leave a little, but you don't want your stock (aka poaching liquid) greasy. Optional: Use a large cleaver to cut the bird in half through the middle of the breast (making a right and left half) to help chicken cook faster and easier to separate.

If your chicken is frozen, fill your kitchen sink with very hot tap water and thaw for about 15-20 minutes. Once it has softened enough to move its parts, remove the gizzard bag and trim off the skin as directed above. You probably won't be able to cut it in half, but its not a big deal. You can also skip the thawing step by prepping all of your chickens when you get home from the store. Just remove the wrapping and rinse well, remove the bag and place the chicken into a gallon freezer bag. If you use the organs, wrap the bag in wax paper and throw it into the freezer bag.

     Place the chicken into a large stock pot with the onion (quartered), herbs, and salt and pepper. Add enough water to cover the chicken by a couple inches and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for about 2 hours.

Carefully remove the chicken from the liquids into a strainer and set the strainer over the stockpot to drain the juices for a few minutes. Then remove the chicken to a cutting board and remove the easily accessible meat, screening for small bones. You can use this meat for chicken salad, sandwiches, tacos, wraps, salads, soups and TONS of casseroles like Mexican Lasagna.
Discard any leftover skin, and return the bones and undesirable pieces of meat to the stock pot. Bring to a boil, and simmer another hour on medium heat. Strain through a colander lined with paper towels and refrigerate stock so that any remaining fat will solidify on the top.

If you want to really stretch it out, sort through the remaining bones and remove meat to make some quick chicken soup. Rinse pot and add back chicken, chopped onion, sliced carrots and celery and some of the broth once the fat has been removed. Cook until vegetables are softened and turn off from heat. Add a handful of tiny pasta for soup like orzo, rings, ABC's, etc and let stand for about 20 minutes so the pasta cooks, but doesn't bloat.

It takes a few hours, but only minutes of that is actually spent cooking and the rest its taking care of itself.

Pumpkin Curry Soup

I have been trying to watch my carbs lately for weight loss and some overall health issues, so vegetables are on the main stage.  This soup is very filling and tastes like Fall in a bowl.

1 TBSP olive oil
1 large red onion (softball size)
6 stalks celery (about 8" long)
1 1/2 cups chopped bok choy or other cabbage
1 6oz package sliced white mushrooms
4 cups chicken broth
1 15oz can solid pack pumpkin
1 tsp dried coriander
1 tsp dried curry powder
1/2 tsp dried ground sage
2 TBSP butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

In a stockpot or dutch oven, heat oil and saute onions and celery. Once they have softened, add cabbage and mushrooms and cook until they are wilted. 
Add chicken broth and bring to a boil, adding water to cover vegetables if needed. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour until everything is mushy soft. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth and add pumpkin and spices. Cook another 10 minutes and add butter and cream and salt and pepper soup to taste. Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt and a few toasted pumpkin seeds to garnish.

**If you are more concerned with calories and fat than carbohydrates, you may want to reduce the butter to 1 tablespoon and use 1/2 cup milk or half and half instead of the heavy cream.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sesame Chicken Nuggets

I had a major craving for takeout a couple weeks ago and made these for the fam instead. They were scrumptous, and I was even told they preferred them over their heavy-sweet sauced competitors at our local spot.

Heat oven to 400 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Cut 1 pound of boneless chicken breast or breast tenders into 1" pieces. If the chicken is thick, pound it out to be about 1/4"thickness before cutting into nuggets.

Set up a breading station with the following:

Bowl #1
1/2 cup flour
1/8 tsp Chinese five spice powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garlic powder

Bowl #2
2 eggs
1 tsp soy sauce
1/8 cup water

Bowl #3
Pulse in a food processor until broken up, but still coarse:

3 cups crisp rice cereal
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds

Bread the nuggets by dipping each piece of chicken in bowl 1, 2 and then 3. Lay them on a baking sheet close but not touching each other and spray tops with cooking spray. Bake for about 20 minutes until the coating is crispy and chicken is cooked throughout.

If you would like a quick dipping sauce, combine in a small saucepan over medium heat:
2 tbsp apricot preserves
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp honey
1 clove garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
dash Siracha chili sauce

Mix corn starch and cold apple juice until dissolved. Pour into sauce and stir to combine. Once the mixture reheats and begin to bubble, remove from heat.

These are also great as chicken tenders (I cut the tenderloins in half) or as whole chicken breast (pounded thin) AND make a perfect salad topper.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Best Mac Yet (chorizo mac and cheese)

After a week working hard on a Mission Trip to Joplin, MO, Tia came home with one request on her mind: mac and cheese, homemade, with Velveeta and crushed tortillas on top. I wasn't sure exactly which recipe she was asking for, so just whipped up something new with some of her favorite elements. It was a hit, and my family said it was their most favorite yet. They also reminded me that I was long overdue for a blog post :)

4 ounces raw chorizo
1 small onion (about 2" diameter)
1 mild green chili pepper or jalapeno
1 lb whole wheat rotini or other short cut pasta
2 cups cooked cauliflower, chopped (fresh or frozen)
16 ounces Velveeta (small block) cut into 1/2 " chunks
1/2 cup half and half
1 cup crushed tortilla chips
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

A break from trash pickup to plant trees
Butter or spray a 13x9" baking dish and heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions (I use my Microwave Pasta Maker). You can either cook your cauliflower along with the pasta, or you can add frozen cauliflower to the pasta pot for the last 3 minutes to thaw. Drain and return pasta and cauliflower to the pot, but do not rinse.

While the pasta is cooking, brown chorizo in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once it has rendered its fat, add onions and peppers (* with or without ribs and seeds depending on preferred heat level) and cook until they are tender. Reduce heat to low and add the half and half and Velveeta.  Stirring frequently, cook until the cheese has melted and forms a smooth sauce.

Pour 1/2 of the sauce over the pasta and stir to combine. Pour pasta into baking dish and pour the remaining cheese sauce over the top. Sprinkle tortilla chips on top and the shredded cheddar over them.

Bake casserole for 20 minutes until the top is browned.

For the pasta maker and TONS of other amazing products, check out my Tupperware site: