Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chicken Kebabs, Nectarine Salsa, and Quinoa

Well my foot seems to be fairing a little better today, but blogging is a good way to make me keep it elevated. This was a fun dinner straight from the July issue of Cooking Light. Ryan and I quite enjoyed it! Don't let the list of ingredients for the marinade throw's really very simple.

Chicken Kebabs, adapted from Cooking Light
Serves 2

1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp bottled minced garlic
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2" pieces
2 bell peppers, any color, cut into 2" pieces

Preheat broiler. Combine ingredients up to chicken.

Place most of the mixture in a shallow dish with the chicken and toss the bell peppers in a separate dish with the rest of the mixture. Let stand 15 minutes.

Thread pieces onto skewers and place on broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 12 minutes or until chicken is done, turning occasionally (be careful not to overcook!!).

Nectarine Salsa
Serves 2-3

2 cups diced nectarine (about 3)
1/2 cup red bell pepper
2 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp minced seeded jalapeno pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 diced peeled avocado

Combine all ingredients except avocado in a bowl. Gently stir in avocado. Serve with chicken.

Ryan said that this one was a keeper!

Herbed Quinoa
Serves 2-3

3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp salt

Combine broth and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Stir in quinoa and let simmer until all the water is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in parsley and salt.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ratatouille...the Local Way

Almost every ingredient in this recipe was either from our CSA basket or my herb garden. In fact, the only non-local ingredients were olive oil, mushrooms, a bay leaf, and salt and pepper.

Here is a picture of the garlic from our basket and the basil from my porch.

 I happen to be sitting on my bed with my left foot propped up on a pillow and swathed in a blah-colored ace wrap. Unfortunately, both my horse and I tumbled over a jump during my lesson this morning and my foot got caught under his belly. Lucky for me, my instructor is a physical therapist and she said I don't seem to have broken anything. But it still calls for crutches. And as if that isn't enough, I just got a letter telling me I have jury duty.

All that to say...the recipe I used for the ratatouille is in the kitchen and it might take me a few minutes to retrieve it.

Ah, here it is. It actually came from our CSA newsletter. And THEY got it from "The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook" by Maggie Green. I halved most of the ingredients (since it was supposed to serve 12!) and omitted the onions.

Chunky Ratatouille
Serves 4
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
8 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
2 medium zucchini, cut into chunks
1 small eggplant, diced
1/2 tsp salt
2 tomatoes, cored and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (Or if you must, 1 tbsp dried)
1 bay leaf
1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In a Dutch oven, heat 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and zucchini and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and the zucchini gets a little squishy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the eggplant and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook and stir until it is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, until the veggies are cooked and the juices are slightly thickened. Stir in the basil, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt, and the pepper.

I thought it was good. Ryan's not a big fan of eggplant in the first place. We're sort of trying to start Meatless Monday, but I softened the blow by making some turkey bacon to crumble on top. I also found that croutons are a nice addition as well. (By the way, croutons are as easy as tossing diced old bread with olive oil, sprinkling with Italian seasoning, and roasting for 10 minutes.)

The awesome thing about the dish is its nutrition info. Check it out. This dinner will let you eat dessert without guilt!

4 Servings

Amount Per Serving
  Calories 174.2
  Total Fat 9.3 g
      Saturated Fat 1.3 g
      Polyunsaturated Fat 1.1 g
      Monounsaturated Fat 6.3 g
  Cholesterol 0.0 mg
  Sodium 311.1 mg
  Potassium 1,147.0 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 22.2 g
      Dietary Fiber 7.7 g
      Sugars 4.1 g
  Protein 5.3 g

Friday, July 22, 2011

Heirloom Tomato Towers and Streusel-Topped Zucchini Bread

I had a lot of fun with our new CSA produce last night! First off, I made an Heirloom tomato starter salad for dinner. The Parmesan crisps were inspired by this blog. I layered them with the tomato slices, then drizzled with white truffle oil and sprinkled over chopped basil.

Heirloom Tomato Towers (serves 2)

about 1 cup grated Parmesan
various colors heirloom tomatoes
white truffle oil
2 fresh basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 375. If you are grating the Parmesan yourself, use the smallest setting. Spread in an even layer over a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden brown...about 8-12 minutes. Remove and let cool. (It's best if you can do this at least 30-45 minutes ahead of time so it can set up.)

Slice tomatoes into fairly thick slices. Chop basil. Break the Parmesan into pieces and layer in between tomatoes on the plates. Decorate as desired. Drizzle over truffle oil and sprinkle over basil. Voila!

Make sure you serve these right away so the cheese doesn't get soggy. The rest of the dinner was made on the grill. And even though Ryan claims not to like zucchini or yellow squash very much, he did a fine job grilling it along with the sweet potatoes!

I also made some deliciously healthy zucchini bread that is extremely simple! I've been experimenting with a new technique to achieve my eternal goal: making healthy food that tastes delicious. I've found that if I make basic desirable tastes, such as sweetness or saltiness, forefront in the dish by adding them on top or last in the cooking processes, this allows me to reduce the sugar or salt in the overall dish with no difference in taste.

Proof that it still tastes good:

The loaves when I got them out of the oven last night

What's left less than 24 hours later

Here's the recipe!

Streusel-Topped Zucchini Bread (adapted from A Full Measure of Happiness)
Makes 1 loaf...or 1 small and 1 medium loaf

1 cup AP flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp milled flax seed
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
generous 1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 egg
1 1/4 cup shredded zucchini
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 1/4 cup skim milk

2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350. Coat loaf pan with cooking spray.

Mix dry ingredients together. Shred zucchini and add to mixture along with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and pour into loaf pan. Use a fork to mix streusel ingredients then crumble over the batter. Bake for 45-60 minutes.

Told you it was simple.

*I just used some streusel I kept in my freezer. I like to make it in large batches and then freeze the rest so I have a super quick topping for muffins, quick breads, or cobblers.

Nutrition Information for 1/12 loaf:

Amount Per Serving
  Calories 171.2
  Total Fat 4.8 g
      Saturated Fat 1.4 g
      Polyunsaturated Fat 2.0 g
      Monounsaturated Fat 1.0 g
  Cholesterol 19.8 mg
  Sodium 258.4 mg
  Potassium 176.3 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 31.7 g
      Dietary Fiber 2.4 g
      Sugars 12.7 g
  Protein 4.9 g

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Homemade Jam and Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce

Yes, it's been a while. Being in Nicaragua for a mission trip is one of my excuses. Other than that, I honestly have not been cooking much. Ryan and I eat with other people a lot and I only end up making dinner 2-3 times a week. But last night I did make a yummy pasta with shrimp and a basic vodka cream sauce. And before I left for Nicaragua, my mom and I mixed up some raspberry jam with freshly picked raspberries straight from a friend's arbor. If you live in Lexington, you can find them for sale at the Alexandria Farmer's Market.

Just so you know, my secret recipe is the one in the box the pectin comes in. ;-)

Last night, I made this pasta. It's rather funny...the sauce was delicious. But the pasta itself was...undesirable. I used Ronzini whole wheat. I've used other whole wheat pastas before, but this one tasted obviously so. I would suggest reserving this brand for a dish that is supposed to taste healthy and will not be served to your husband.

I found the sauce recipe in my Pasta Bible by Jeni Wright. And modified it, of course.

Linguini with Prawns and Vodka

2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
scant 1/2 cup heavy cream
scant 1/2 cup 1% milk
6 oz linguini
12 oz precooked large shrimp
2 tbsp vodka
salt and ground black pepper

Bring water to a boil and cook pasta as directed on package.

Meanwhile, heat oil in medium saucepan, add garlic, and saute for about 30 seconds.

Add tomato paste and stir for about a minute, then add the cream and milk. Bring to a boil while stirring. Season with a little salt and pepper. Let it bubble until it thickens a bit, then remove from heat.

When the pasta is almost ready, add the shrimp and vodka to the sauce and toss quickly for 2-3 minutes.

Drain the pasta and pour into saucepan. Toss well and serve with crushed red pepper alongside.