Sunday, October 25, 2009

Garlic Chicken with Orzo Pasta

I love garlic. I love Parmesan cheese. And this dish makes me love spinach. Who knew that these three ingredients would go so well together? I was surprised by the extraordinary taste of this dish. It is delicious! All of the flavors and textures complement each other very well.

The Ingredients:

1) orzo pasta
2) olive oil
3) garlic
4) crushed red pepper
5) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite sized pieces
6) salt to taste
7) parsley
8) fresh spinach leaves
9) grated Parmesan cheese for topping

The Directions in a Nutshell:

You essentially cook the pasta, drain it, and set it aside. Then cook the chicken in small amount of olive oil; I always salt and pepper the meat to taste right before I put the meat into the pan. Then add the remaining ingredients, including the pasta. Cover the pan and cook for 5-10 minutes more, allowing the spinach to wilt a bit. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

The Changes I Made:

I made just two changes to the ingredients and both were based on what I had in my pantry.

1) I used a hot pepper sauce instead of the crushed red pepper. The particular brand is an Asian one, Sriracha, more commonly known as "the one with the chicken on it." Yes, I think it's pretty goofy to have a picture of a chicken on a bottle of hot sauce, but it's a common brand found in most grocery stores and it's certainly in every Asian grocery store. This is a very spicy hot sauce; I think it's spicier than Tobasco. A little bit of Sriracha goes a long way.

2) I used dried parsley instead of fresh. The rule of thumb for substituting dried herbs for fresh is to use 1/2 of the amount called for if using the dried herb.

Nutritional Information

Servings Per Recipe: 4
Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 351
Total Fat: 10.6g
Cholesterol: 38mg
Sodium: 164mg
Total Carbs: 40.4g
Dietary Fiber: 2.9g
Protein: 22.3g


One last thing...


I haven't had pictures on the blog for a while because my camera hasn't been working. It's a Casio Exilim Z75. At first I thought the camera was broken, which was very frustrating because the camera is less than 2 years old. And it was $350--for that amount of money it should last a lot longer than 2 years! However, after some "internet research," I learned that the particular battery on my camera is known to be defective; it completely loses it's charge if it hasn't been used for a while; so much so that the battery charger doesn't even recognize it. I was so relieved when I read this! Replacing the battery: $17 from Amazon.com. A much better prospect than buying a new camera!

So I have placed my order with Amazon.com and I am eagerly awaiting my new battery. Hopefully next week's blog post will have pictures once more!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Whole Wheat, Oatmeal, and Banana Pancakes

I felt very Martha Stewart-like as I made these pancakes. I made my own oat flour, as directed in the recipe. I didn't mean to do so and had I actually read the directions, I would have purchased freakin' oat flour. While it was truly frugal to make my very own oat flour, it wasn't worth the time it took to clean out the blender afterwards. The flour compacted into every nook and cranny of the blender--what a bear to clean.

These pancakes need some help with flavor. I added another teaspoon of vanilla but they still weren't quite right. They weren't quite sweet enough and they were a bit bland. Come to think of it, adding another banana would probably solve the problem entirely.

The shopping list for this recipe: one banana. Uber cheap. I love my well stocked kitchen.

I will probably try making these again, using the following recipe (inspired by the one at Allrecipes.com).

Whole Wheat, Oatmeal, and Banana Pancakes

Ingredients

1 cup oat flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp dry milk powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 egg
2 cups soy milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 bananas, mashed

Directions:

1. Sift together the oat flour, whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, brown sugar, and dry milk powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix together and set aside.

2. Whisk together the egg, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Stir in the mashed banana. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just moistened.

3. Heat a large, non-stick pan or griddle over medium heat. Lightly film the pan with oil, if needed. (I do this by dipping a tightly folded paper towel into a bit of oil, then wipe it over the pan.) Drop about 1/4-cup of batter onto the pan. Cook until the bubbles leave holes on the surface when they pop and the edges are dry, about 2 minutes. Flip, and cook until browned on the other side. Note: I find that I need to gradually lower the heat as I work my way through the batter, otherwise the pan gets too hot even over medium heat.

Keep the finished pancakes warm by setting them on a cookie sheet in an oven set to the lower temperature (This is 250 degrees in my oven.) Cover with aluminum foil to keep them from drying out in the oven.


Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving
Calories 363.3
Total Fat 8.6 g
Cholesterol 35.5 mg
Sodium 523.6 mg
Potassium 435.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 75.1 g (Dietary Fiber 7.6 g, Sugars 13.6 g)
Protein 11.2 g

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jumpin' Jimmy's Gumbo

Did you know that gumbo is traditionally served on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter? Since it is traditionally made with seafood, Catholics could eat it on Fridays during Lent. For those non-Catholics in the crowd, Lent is a 40-day period that ends with Easter. It is typically observed by abstinence from meat, except for seafood on Fridays. I was raised Catholic and during my childhood, I never thought of seafood as meat, since we could eat it during Lent. I had that weirdly literal childhood logic.

This gumbo swaps out the seafood for a small amount of chicken and sausage. It's just enough meat to give the stew a good flavor.

For this dish, I only had to the buy the onion, green bell pepper, celery, the turkey sausage, and the okra. Everything else was already in the fridge or pantry.

Here's the recipe, from the EatingWell.com website, along with my changes:

Jumpin' Jimmy's Gumbo

6 servings, generous 1 cup each

Ingredients:
1/3 cup of unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 cup of cooked chicken breast, chopped into 1-inch cubes
3 oz of smoked turkey sausage, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups reduced-sodium, reduced fat chicken broth
1 15 oz can of reduced sodium diced tomatoes
1 10 oz package of frozen, sliced okra, slightly thawed
Cajun seasoning or ground red pepper to taste
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp salt
ground pepper, to taste
3 cups cooked white or brown rice.

Directions:
1. Heat a large pan or wide pot over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring with a spoon, until it turns deep golden, about 7-10 minutes. You'll smell something like burnt toast as it browns. Turn the heat down if it is browning too quickly. Alternatively, you can toast the flour in a pie pan in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Once the flour is toasted, transfer the flour to a plate to cool.

2. Mist the same pan with olive oil or canola oil. (I use an oil mister, it really cuts down on the amount of oil I use in cooking. You can also use a paper towel to film the pan with a small amount of oil.) Increase the heat to medium high. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic; cook, stirring, until the onion starts to become translucent. Stir in the toasted flour. Gradually stir in the broth and bring to a simmer, stirring.

3. Add the tomatoes and their juice, the okra, the Cajun seasoning to taste, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring the stew to a simmer. Then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

4. Add the reserved chicken and sausage and simmer for 5 minute more. Discard the bay leaf. Taste the gumbo and add salt, pepper, and red pepper as needed. Serve over rice.

Nutritional Content Per Serving:

Calories 138.1
Total Fat 1.7 g
Cholesterol 28.1 mg
Sodium 452.0 mg
Potassium 308.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 17.0 g (Dietary Fiber 3.5 g, Sugars 4.2 g)
Protein 14.5 g