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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Grapefruit Shrimp

Grapefruit isn't just for breakfast.  Here is some delicious citrus shrimp goodness.  If you like, you can peel the shrimp first though they turn out less dry with peels left on if you're sauteing/grilling. 
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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Tacos

Given the choice of whole wheat flour tortillas, special low-carb tortillas or lettuce for making tacos/enchiladas/burritos, I'll generally choose whole wheat tortillas for their presumed whole grain "naturalness" (vs. whatever weird additives have to go into a flour product to make it "low-carb") and for their lack of filling spillage (vs. lettuce leaves). 

However, since I've lately been preparing meals for someone who does need to count carbs, I actually looked at the carb breakdown on these products and it was an enlightening experience.  Again, I am not a professional nutritionist, but I am following the recommendations of one for this particular set of meals.

1 Regular flour tortilla: ~30g carbs
1 Low-carb tortilla: 13g carbs
Endless Lettuce: 0g carbs

Those of us whose bodies are still in decent working order probably don't need to stress about exactly how many carbs we're consuming, and for my family, I still think real whole grain trumps Miracle of Modern Chemistry.  But if you do have to limit your carb intake for medical reasons...wow.  I am more grateful than ever for my pancreas and its secretions, and more thoughtful about how to keep it in good shape.  Off my soapbox now.

So in making this recipe, the choice of wrapper is up to you.  The nutritional information reflects the use of ground chicken for the protein and only represents the filling itself, not the wrapper.
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Gai Khamin

Turmeric is one of those super-foods Dr. Oz is always yapping about.  I've seen lots about turmeric as an anti-inflammatory/anti-rheumatic food for a decade or so, and in the last couple of years, it's getting looks for perhaps being a food that helps prevent Alzheimer's and other dementias.  Why not eat some more of it, I figure?  This dish has a LOT of turmeric.

This one does NOT pass the low sodium content test ::blush:: but it is so freaking good that it's worth it every now and then.  You could use less salt, especially if you use a food processor to grind down the garlic cloves instead of a mortar, pestle and elbow grease.

This absolutely has to be grilled.  Roasting will not get you the char, the carmelization, the crunch out of the spice paste on the skin which is what makes this dish.  I like using this mixture on cornish game hens because of the grilling...a spatchcocked CGH is easy to handle and cooks pretty quickly on the grill, though you could do a whole spatchcocked chicken, unspatchcocked chicken halves or bone-in chicken parts.

There are btw about a bazillion ways to transliterate the name of this dish out of Thai.  This is the one that seems to get the most hits on the interwebs. 
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Marinated London Broil and Carrots with dill butter

I hate the lack of standardized nomenclature for cuts of meat at the grocery store/butcher/farm processor.  Makes me crazy.  A "London broil" cut is basically a thick top round steak, but might be labeled "top round roast", "london broil", "round steak", "top round"...you'll know it when you see it though...about 1 1/4" thick and kind of rectangular.  This is adapted from the South Beach Diet cookbook.  The nutritional info is skewed a little high for calories, sodium content and carbs because the SparkRecipes website doesn't allow you to discount nutritional content from a marinade which doesn't get completely consumed as part of the final dish (or if it does, I don't know how to make it work).

I like this carrot dish (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens) since it jazzes up cooked carrots and can be frozen as a kit...no need for last-minute shopping to insure there's a vegetable side dish to go with your roast.  You can make this with fresh carrots, but if you plan to make a freezer kit, you'll still have to blanch the carrots to keep weird enzyme things from happening in the freezer.

Also, I don't know if I've ever mentioned that when I use butter, I use unsalted butter.  Makes a difference regarding sodium content and how strongly the dish tastes of salt if you add more.
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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pork Chops and Split Peas with nutrition info

I usually don't plan meals with an eagle eye on nutritional information.  I try to plan a balanced menu over the week that consists largely of fruits/veggies, whole grains and lean protein, but I don't count calories or carbs or fat grams per se.  However, I'm prepping some meals for loved ones with a constellation of health issues and food allergies, so I'm paying closer attention than usual to the nutritional details of my recipes.  I'll be including with the next several recipes the nutrional breakdown as determined by using the calorie calculator from http://www.sparkrecipes.com/.

A lot of the recipes I'm preparing are adapted from the South Beach Diet cookbooks.  While we are not strict SBD adherents any more, there's a lot to be said for these cookbooks and for the notion that eating well is not hard or tricky, but merely a matter of eating more nutrient-packed green and less nutrient-deficient white (though I do think SBD could be more attentive to sodium content and rely on fewer Miracles of Modern Chemistry to achieve its low-carb goal).  At least, that's what I take away from SBD. 

So, first up is Bolivian Pork Chops and Split Peas.  The menu is from the SBD cookbook, but the recipes have been significantly overhauled to make them easier to prepare, less killer-spicy and more freezer-friendly.
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Monday, April 18, 2011

Chinese Maple Chicken & Grilled Marinated Bok Choy

No fake maple syrup please.  Did you know that artificial maple flavor is derived from fenugreek seeds which are a dietary supplement commonly used by nursing mothers to boost milk supply?  Makes you wonder why Mrs. Butterworth is so curvy.  I'd personally substitute molasses for maple syrup here if no real maple syrup is to be had.

This marinade lends itself well to chicken in a variety of formats.  I had planned to spatchcock mine and freeze it in the marinade, but life throws curveballs and I wound up roasting the whole bird with only a brief marinating period.  I think it would be especially scrummy on grilled chicken parts, too. 

And the maple syrup concoction did double duty as a browning agent/dressing for grilled bok choy.  Love grilled lettuces! 
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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Asparagus Potato Lasagne

A neat trick to freezing lasagne without it drying out is to freeze a small amount of liquid like stock or wine in ice cubes and put one at each corner of the pan so that as it thaws and cooks, there's a bit of a steam room effect keeping the noodles and filling nice and moist.
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Chicken Francese cookery pictures

Pictures courtesy of Darling Hubbie!  I almost forgot to document the cooking of this dish.  It's been a long week.

Cutlets crammed into skillet...you'll space yours out more...do as I say, not as I do!

Browned cutlets, ready to wipe extra oil out of pan and add lemon juice-olive sauce to deglaze

Ready to serve
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Poppy Seed Chicken variation

Ground turkey was on sale this week, so I made a variant of the Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole with browned ground turkey instead of baked chicken.  I also used crunched up Ritz crackers for the topping since I couldn't bear to make another appliance dirty by making breadcrumbs in the food processor. 

Double batch, frozen in 2 8x8 disposable pans.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Freezer Meal Bust-out Update: All recipes posted

http://dinnerdoneyesterday.blogspot.com/2011/04/freezer-meal-bonanza.html Pin It

Fish Burgers and Veggie Croquettes

The common theme with these two recipes is that if you make them ahead to freeze, they need to spend some time in the freezer firming up before you squash the daylights out of them with a vacusealer.  Vacusealing will keep them both much fresher-tasting, but they're prone to going completely out of round if they don't freeze pretty solid first.

The veggie croquette is one of my faves for its dual vegetarian main/side dish status, its repurposing of leftovers that usually won't get consumed and its general old-fashioned-ness.  In fact, the original recipe came from a WWII-era home economics textbook that belonged to my husband's grandmother.  Reading old cookbooks and trying out vintage recipes is as close as I get to liking history, but I must say that it is such an insightful history lesson to cook as women did in another time and place.  There's a moment of connection across generations when you realize that the face your husband made about Meatless Monday Rice Patties with Flourless Cheese Gravy is the same face somebody's husband made about the exact same dish in 1944.  But I digress...
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Monday, April 11, 2011

Mango Poblano Quesadillas

Quesadillas are fast to put together even without prepping ahead, but if you do them in advance, you cut out chopping (5 minutes), cleaning up (5 minutes) and getting that blasted package of cream cheese open (5 minutes plus loads of aggravation).  Adding some black beans to the veg mixture makes these a heartier meal, but they're quite tasty without as well.
If you're going to freeze these, go ahead and vacuseal if you plan to serve all the quesadillas at once as a meal.  Don't freeze them first because they'll crack under the vacusealer pressure if they're already frozen (I screw up so you don't have to).  If you're going to put them away for a quick lunch for the kids or yourself and plan to pull them out 1 or 2 at a time, just ziptop bag them.
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Pork Adovado

This is a recipe adapted from the Frugal Gourmet for a chile-garlic-oregano marinade that looks crazy hot, but can be adjusted to suit your taste preferences.  How you apply the marinade to the meat also dials the heat up or down.  So no worries!

I used to use 3 dry ancho/pasilla chiles, 3 dry jalapeno/chipotle chiles and 1 dry habanero chile pod.  These days with the kiddos, I err on the milder side and use 4 anchos and 2-3 chipotles.  I also used to marinate thinly sliced loin chops so more marinade could work into the meat, but I tend to marinate whole cuts of pork now.  You can also choose to cook the meat in the marinade (hotter) or drain it off before cooking (milder).

Marinated pork shoulder makes an awesome crockpot meal.  If you marinate a loin roast, I'd cook that one in the oven.  Chicken would also be fantastic with this marinade.
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Chicken Francese

This is a quick and easy way to do chicken, unless you are starting with chicken breasts and have to pound them into cutlets.  Even then it's not too bad, but cutlet-making is definitely a prep-ahead chore for me.  I evidently didn't take any pictures of this one in prep-ahead process (oops), but I'll update with cookery pics when I make this dish.

If you've never done it, you take a chicken breast and cut it in half lengthwise.  Put one half in a quart-size ziptop bag and press all the air out.  Tip #1: Use the flat side of a meat mallet to pound...if you use the spiky part of the mallet or you'll puncture the plastic bag and it will be beyond messy.  Tip #2: Pound the chicken from the side the skin used to be on, not the "meaty" side.  Pound until the cutlet is about 1/4" thick.  Set aside to fridge or freeze, and repeat until all your chicken is nice and thin.

If you're making a freezer kit, you can get one of the small cans of sliced olives, label and store it in the pantry as part of the kit, or you can freeze a large handful of chopped olives with the rest of the ingredients.
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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Southwestern Egg Rolls

This recipe isn't so much as recipe as it is...guidelines (you have to imagine Captain Barbosa wearing an apron saying that).  It's a "throw together what's hanging around in your fridge and deep fry it" sort of an affair.  It's a really beautiful thing for leftover chicken, especially any dark meat that the Chicken Princess in your household won't eat unless it's buried in a bunch of other stuff.  Just sayin'.

You want to come up with about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of filling for a 1 lb. package of egg roll wrappers.  Meat, beans, fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables and cheese all contribute to that total.  I've made this with pinto beans, black beans, chicken, pork, turkey, corn, spinach, bell peppers, green onions, red onions, broccoli...it's all good. 
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Mushrooms on sale!

What to do with several pounds of mushrooms purchased on sale?  Slice them in the food processor and prep for roasted mushroom sandwiches and freeze mushroom casseroles, of course!

(By the by, I haven't gotten around to doing my mushroom cleaning science experiment because a) I'm easily distracted and b) my mushroom slicer broke.  Eventually...  So I'm still working with the assumption that a quick rinse and pat dry will be sufficient for cleaning and allowing prepped, sliced mushrooms to stand for a day or two in the fridge awaiting cooking.)

You'll need about 2 lbs of mushrooms for 4 sandwiches and 1 1/2 lbs. for each casserole.  I'm making one recipe of sandwiches and 2 casseroles, so I have 5 pounds of mushrooms.  All button-type mushrooms, cremini and white button.  Shitake, oyster, and any other fancy mushroom should be sliced by hand as the food processor will just tear them up rather than slicing them.  Use the slicing plate in your food processor, and you'll be done in no time flat.

For the mushroom casserole, you need to make a thick white sauce for the base of the dish.  I have recently discovered that this can be accomplished in the microwave!  Huzzah!  So fast, so easy and no extra heat in the kitchen.  You will need to use a container that is much larger than seems necessary because the mixture will foam up quite a bit.
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Eat it the way you found it: Pineapple

I think fruit gets unfairly ignored as a legitimate dinner side dish.  You and your kids need 2-3 servings per day...will dinner put you over that mark?

When fresh pineapple is on sale, do as much as you can with it!  It's delicious as is, or chopped finely and mixed into rice.  Or GRILL IT.  Oh jah.  A little butter-lime-rum marinade and lordy, stand back!  After you cut off the stem, top and peel, slice it into 1/2" slices and use a small biscuit cutter to take out the core for grill-ready slices.

Don't throw out the peel and core...for grownups, put all extra parts in a 2 quart pitcher with a 750-ml bottle of vodka for 7 days and strain.  You're very, very welcome.  Or use the same parts to create "fruit-infused water" for drinking plain or, check this, making kick-butt naturally sweetened iced tea.  Again, you're welcome!
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In case you're unfamiliar with scrippelle (as I was until just a few years ago), here's how you serve them:

3 scrippelle (crêpes) with 1 tbsp grated romano cheese folded in each, with hot chicken broth poured over top to melt the cheese.  Yum!
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Friday, April 8, 2011

Spatchcocked Chicken with Saffron Cornbread Stuffing

Quit giggling, it's a real word.  It basically means butterflying, but isn't "spatchcocking" so much more fun?   Chickens prepared this way cook faster and take up less freezer space so it's really a useful technique, whatever you call it.

You can do plain ol' cornbread stuffing if you want, especially if you're working with a boxed mix or store-bought cornbread to save time, but this is a superb cornbread recipe, if I do say so myself.  If you use a mix, do two boxes of a Jiffy-type mix or use 1 8"-9" pan of store-bought cornbread.
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Veggie-stuffed turkey meatloaf

This is adapted from a Better Homes and Gardens recipe.  I like using grits instead of breadcrumbs in turkey meatloaf.  Ground turkey can be, well, squishy and breadcrumbs just seem to amplify that quality.  Grits give a little more tooth to a slice of turkey meatloaf in my opinion.  If you don't have grits, just use breadcrumbs but I do think grits are worth keeping around if only as a breadcrumb-substitute.

The vegetables tucked inside the meatloaf help keep it moist and almost count as their own side dish.  You need 2 cups of lightly cooked, chopped vegetables.  Doesn't really matter what they are.  A brilliant plan would be to get some frozen mixed vegetables, nuke them a couple minutes and pulse them a couple of times in the food processor to chop them.  You'll wind up with enough vegetable stuffing from a 16 oz. bag to do two meatloaves in advance.

As far as the glaze, it's delicious but not really necessary.  Skip it if you want, or use whatever type of jelly/jam you have on hand.  I would avoid strawberry or grape, personally, but apricot, currant, apple, or blackberry would all be delish.

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Apple-soy glazed trout

This is a very easy meal to put together even if you don't do the prep-ahead/freezer thing.  But it does freeze ahead nicely, and that saves me the aggravation of discovering that I've run out of apple juice, struggling to open a new bottle of soy sauce while my children are tearing the living room to shreds, getting ingredients out, putting ingredients back, etc.  It's just one less thing to do at the craziest hour of the day...dinner hour.

Sorry I don't have a picture of this one being cooked, only a picture of the prepped freezer kit.  Like I said at the top of the week, it's been a busy week ergo the freezer meal bust-out and no daily picture-taking.  That's how life goes sometimes.
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Ancho Chicken, Coffee-Cocoa Beef Roast

A shout-out to Albuquerque's Fruit Basket whose chile-not-chili powder appears in a great many of my dishes.

Coffee-Cocoa Beef Tenderloin with
roasted asparagus and carrots
 Both the Ancho and Coffee-Cocoa dry rubs work well on a variety of meats.  Whatever you choose to do, try to get the spices on the meat and at least refrigerate it overnight.  The longer the dry rub sits on the roast, the better it gets IMHO.  Of course, if you're planning way ahead, go ahead and vacuseal and freeze the dry rubbed roast for a no-prep meal later.

The Ancho Chicken in particular is a rock-star leftover when sliced and added to a green salad.  Leftover Coffee-Cocoa pork or beef roast makes a tasty sandwich the next day, too.
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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Breaking News: Toddler Eats Vegetables

In case anyone thought I was exaggerating about E liking smoothies with spinach...

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Eat it the way you found it: 2 Chickens 4 Ways

Don't they look jaunty?
It's amazing how much mileage you can get out of a modest frying chicken--breasts, legs, carcasses, giblets, fat, it all gets used.  Whole chickens were on great sale at the grocery store, so I stocked up.  I'm turning two of them (~ 4 lbs. each) into four separate meals big enough for 2 adults and 2 kids, plus leftovers.
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No-recipe Stirfry

Clockwise from top left: Carrots (accessory veg),
ginger (aromatic), kung pao sauce,
cubed tofu (protein), snow peas (main veg)
I rarely use a particular recipe any more to make stirfry (as I type this, at least three exceptions spring to mind...but I digress).  Rather, I take a mix-and-match approach to the process, relying on frozen homemade sauces in combination with a variety of fresh veg and whatever protein is on sale at the store that week.

A basic stirfry recipe follows this format:
  • 8oz-16oz from Column A
  • 1-2 tbsp from Column B
  • 1 cup from Column C
  • 2-3 cups from Column D
  • 2/3-3/4 cup from Column E
  • 2 tbsp of cornstarch 
  • a sprinkle from Column G
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Big Batch Kung Pao Stirfry Sauce

With Orange-Sesame Stirfry Sauce, this sauce represents my arsenal of make-ahead no-recipe stirfry building blocks.  This recipe makes 3 portions of sauce that can be frozen. 

Kung Pao is typically finished with a sprinkling of peanuts (or cashews, when I'm serving peanut-free folks), so you can also freeze a cup of peanuts/cashews in a vacuseal bag for each frozen portion of sauce to ensure you have some on hand when you make the stirfry; a good idea at my house since nuts are prime snacking targets and I can't always guarantee that I'll have some for cooking purposes.
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Sardine Salad

This takes 5 minutes to prepare, start to finish.  No kidding.  No heating up the house with the stove or oven, and hardly any dishes to clean.  It's low-carb (even lower if you make your own dressing).  One serving is about 300 calories (if you are judicious with the salad dressing), and most of the ingredients live in your pantry.  The only thing you need to make sure to get fresh is the salad mix. 

But wait a minute...sardines??  I hear you in the Peanut Gallery.  Do you eat canned tuna?  Oh really, well sardines taste pretty much exactly like canned tuna, except not as dry.  And sardines are WAY better for you than canned tuna.  Sardines have more Omega-3 fatty acids than canned tuna, lower levels of mercury than canned tuna, more Vitamin D than canned tuna, and receive an uncomplicated "best choice" sustainability rating from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch versus the tiered rating canned tuna gets.

I highly recommend getting boneless, skinless sardines which are slightly more spensy than bone-in, skin-on but worth the savings in aggravation.  The kids didn't go bonkers for this, but they did eat some sardines.  I left the salad dressing off their plates.  The 1yo ate bites of sardine tucked into pieces of bread, and the 2.75yo ate it dunked in ketchup.  So don't skip this one just because you don't think the fam will like it...you never know until you try! 

No picture this time, since this was dinner after my extravaganza of prep-ahead cookery and I was just pooped.
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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Freezer Meal Bonanza

In anticipation of a busy couple of weeks, I spent my weekend busting out freezer meal kits.  I am stocked up and ready to do other things besides cook come dinnertime for the next few whiles.  It took about 8 hours total over 2 days, but I was working alone and had several significant interruptions for roof repair, utility line burial, birthday dinner, running out of ingredients, bread baking, brewing, and assorted requests for naps, snacks, lunch, toys, etc. from the short people who live at my house.

I think doing a freezer meal bust-out would be a great idea, btw, for a baby shower for someone having 2nd or subsequent babies.  With more hands helping, the work will go faster, and you can limit the number of recipes you make but make multiples of them.  Have the guests bring ingredients, and put them to work for the parents-to-be.

My freezer
Here's what I made (individual recipe blog posts to come, when I have time to write):
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Friday, April 1, 2011

Eat It the Way You Found It: Lemon

I am not a professional nutrionist, so what I propose is merely my own crackpot theory.  Disclaimer over. 

In general, I think food is better for you when you eat it the way it comes in nature...leave the peels on fruits and vegetables, leave the bran on grains, eat meat in the proportions it grows on the animals (fyi...there is shockingly little actual bacon on a pig despite the disproportionate number of appearances bacon makes in this blog), and so on. 

And so...lemons.  My grandmother ate citrus fruits peel and all.  I mean, she chomped into an orange and ate it like an apple.  It turns out that my 2.75 year old is the same way.  I'm not going to go that far, personally, but I do freeze the zest from citrus that I've peeled for eating or juicing.  I mix all types of citrus zest together, but you can keep them in separate zip-top bags as well.  Here are a few other ideas for ways to use the whole lemon.
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Go Dawgs!

Butler v. VCU, Saturday, April 2 at 6pm

It's not blueberry season, and I'm otherwise not a fan of blue food, but I do like a blue cocktail.  We will be supporting Butler with the following cerulean libation.

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Orange Sesame Stirfry Sauce

This is one of my two go-to stirfry sauces (the other is for Kung Pao, more on that later).  You can make up a large batch of this and freeze it in single-recipe portions for last-minute meals...just add a protein, and some veg, 2 tbsp of cornstarch, and voilà! Instant take-out. 
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