Sunday, June 28, 2009

Quick and Easy Gazpacho

I think I'm going to attempt to keep gazpacho around for the summer. This version is quick, easy, fairly inexpensive, etc etc. And healthy. It is tomato juice based, with two eggs and a dollop of olive oil included. No bread. I think I could eat this with every meal no problem. And its quite filling and definitely versatile. Oh! And a poached egg makes it all creamy and even better for a quick meal.

I portioned this out, and it lasts decently long. Anyway, here goes!

1 quart tomato juice (store brands would be fine, as would just about any combination of tomato sauce & water, tomato puree & water, and tomato paste & water)
1/4 - 1/2 red onion
2-3 cloves garlic
1 small cucumber or 1/2 large one, ~1/4" dice
1 bell pepper, ~1/4' dice
handful of jalapeno stuffed olives, minced
2 hard boiled eggs
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

1. Finely mince / grate / process in a food processor, the red onion and garlic. Combine with the tomato juice.
2. Separate the eggs. Combine the yolks and olive oil into a paste. Mix into the tomato juice.
3. Finely dice all of the vegetables and the egg white. Add to the juice.
4. Stir, season to taste, enjoy!

Makes about 6x ~8oz portion.

Nutrition: 89 calories, 4.2g fat, 10.9g carbs, 7.7g sugar, 1.5g fiber, 3.7g protein
Vitamins: A 30%, C 95%, Calcium 4%, Iron 7%

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Chicken Cacciatore - bastardized

So I've gained about 5 lbs since my dear lovey sister moved down. That, on top of the 5 lbs through the holidays, means I'm really not happy with where I am right now. Granted, I'm still sub-135, but not quite fitting into clothes is not where I'd like to be.

So! I decided now is as good of a time as any to attempt a gluten-free, dairy-free trial run. The fact that I'll be eating more whole vegetables, no bread/pasta and no candy should help me get back to where I ought to be without going crazy about dieting. An all around healthier situation should probably make me feel better too. Possibly make my body feel alive sometime before 10am even?

Anyway. This recipe was adapted quite a bit from a old diet cookbook I picked up at the used bookstore downtown a while back. It has daily menus for about a year of 600 calorie days. Damn, right? Anyway, it says itself that no one should really go to those extremes unless on Dr's orders, and how the fat lil old lady it was originally designed for was sedentary and seeing her Dr once a week and all that. And that its easy to scale. Either with additions (particularly at breakfast where it has a list of items to add and the calories they'd add) or simple multiplication (you want 1200 per day? eat 2 servings!). That's all besides the point though. There are quite a few recipes in there that I'm probably going to modify. They tend to be heavy handed with vegetables, moderate on meat, and nearly nil on grains.
So! Here's the bastardized version of chicken cacciatore:

1 tbsp olive oil
1.5 lb chicken thighs (note, i removed fat first. they were boneless and skinless to begin with)
2 big cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 large red onion, diced
1 28 oz can tomatoes (diced here, cause its what i had)
4 oz tomato paste
3/4 cup chicken broth (using better than bouillon which has whey but has no gluten containing ingredients that i could discern confirmed gluten free)
1 tsp olive oil
7 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced (from an 8oz package that my sister ate about an ounce or so of)
'italian herbs'

1. Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a non-reactive heavy pan large enough to hold everything. I used a wok. Attempt to brown the thighs (please note that i'm terrible at this. however, all the bits that stuck to the bottom ended up helping the sauce a lot). S&P as you go. Set aside
2. Toss the onion into the pan, stir about until they start to lose the red color. Toss in the garlic. Cook a minute or two.
3. Add about half a cup of the chicken broth. Use a whisk to get the good browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
4. Return the thighs, add the tomatoes, paste and herbs. Simmer for about an hour or so? Stirring occasionally.
5. In a small pan, heat the additional 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add the mushrooms and a dash of salt. Cook through, then add to the sauce. Stir in. Simmer a bit longer.
6. Remove from heat.

Since I used 7 chicken thighs, I separated it into seven servings. Each got 1 thigh, then I added spoonfuls of sauce roughly evenly around until it was gone. I ate it on its own, but would be good over zucchini cut into long strips and blanched, spaghetti squash, rice, etc. Or pasta, if that suits you. :D

Nutrition facts per serving:
257 cal, 11g fat, 8g carbs, 4g sugar, 2g fiber, 29g protein

Today, I ate a serving with a over easy egg on top and it was pretty good. I shredded the thigh before putting the egg in. Its also a pretty cheap meal what with finding things on sale and chicken thighs being pretty cheap.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Revisited Garlic with Chicken

Second time around, still a great dish. I actually let my chicken pieces brown, which is a miracle in itself. I always play with food and flip it too soon and whatnot.
Anyway, some modifications this time around. Here's what went on:

- 1 5 lb chicken, cut into 6 pieces (leg+thigh, breast, wings. i got lazy before i separated the leg+thighs)
- 70ish cloves garlic (the rest of the container), little end sliced off and slightly smushed with the broadside of a knife
- ~1/4 cup olive oil
- dry white wine (i'd say about 1.5 cups or so)
- sprigs thyme

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Heat the olive oil in a good sized pan to medium-med high. I use the wok. Its lovely.
2. Salt and pepper the chicken decently well. Blot dry with papertowels. Brown pieces in olive oil, do not crowd pan. In the wok, 1 at a time is best. Put the browned pieces in a large casserole.
3. After the chicken's browned, turn heat slightly down and add in the garlic. Toss occasionally until golden. Drain off some oil, then put the rest and the garlic into the casserole.
4. Deglaze the wok with the white wine. I used a South African sauvignon blanc. It was rather flat for drinking, but worked alright. Add that to the casserole. If the chicken is less than half covered, pour in a bit more wine. Cover with foil. Bake until done, about an hour-hour and a half.
5. Let set for a bit, then enjoy! :D If you're feeling ambitious, you can return the liquid to the wok and reduce by half. But I was hungry. :D

Made this with the previous potatoes, and some frozen broccoli/cauliflower blend tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper that was baked. That got a bit overdone, but I liked it enough to finish it.

Modified Pommes de Terre Boulangere

Potatoes of the bakery! I had dinner planned tonight, and wanted to do a potato side dish beyond mashed potatoes. I thought about scalloped potatoes or a gratin, but realized I should be a bit healthier. This sounded easy and like it could work out amazingly! I wanted a bit of the creaminess of scalloped potatoes, so I subbed a cup of milk for some of the chicken broth. Also topped with a bit of parmesan cheese. For the hell of it.

Here goes:
4-5 small potatoes, peeled and diced THIN. I do not have a mandoline, so I just sliced very thinly and discarded the end, when I felt I might be in danger of losing fingertips
1 cup milk
1 cup water
2 tsp chicken base (better than bouillon. use however much bouillon/base it takes to make 2 cups!)
2 cloves, sliced (not minced or crushed. sliced means you can use more, subtly)
couple sprigs thyme (using them in chicken also) or whatever herbs you have on hand
couple grinds pepper

1. Preheat oven to somewhere between 325 and 400F (i started at 325 with the chicken and increased when that was done). Combine all in a saucepan Liquids should just cover potatoes. Cook until potatoes are just tender. Depends on your thickness and potato type.
2. Put potatoes into a oven safe casserole with a slotted spoon. Pour liquid in until just covered. Sprinkle with a bit of parmesan.
3. Pop in the oven uncovered for a while. Like 40 minutes? Til browned a bit and bubbly. Let rest for about 15 minutes and then slice and serve.

Should make about 6 servings.

Definitely can fill the void of scalloped potatoes.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Scallops with Pasta!

So I had some scallops I had to use (trader joe's frozen. i thawed the last 4oz yesterday, but didn't end up making dinner. so today). I knew I wanted something nice and simple flavors and whatnot. And the ingredients I had on hand.

Anyway, I decided to pan sear the scallops with a good dusting of salt and fresh ground pepper. Then I pan roasted some thick cut tomato slices in the same pan. Then I made a garlic spiked white sauce in the same pan.

Here's the ingredients and what I did!

- 4 oz scallops, thawed. about three large ones
- 1 roma tomato, sliced about 1/2 inch thick. i had cut two, but one was devoured before it hit the pan. and matthew stole one of the slices.
- salt & pepper
- 1/2 tsp or so finely chopped rosemary (from my nearly depleted freezer stash)
- 1 tbsp olive oil (does anyone ever measure that? it was probably closer to two)
- 2 oz angel hair pasta (penne would have been better. something sturdier to hold up to the sauce)
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 tbsp flour (heaping spoon)
- 1 cup milk (i have no idea how much i actually used)

1. Heat a pot of salted water for the pasta to boiling.
2. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. When nice and hot, toss in the salt and peppered scallops. Cook for a few minutes, to sear it nicely. Turn. Cook the other side. It should not be too firm. A little squishy is great. :D Remove from the pan.
3. Salt and pepper the tomato slices, toss on the rosemary. Put it in the same pan. Cook a couple minutes per side. Cook the pasta around now. Remove the tomatoes and set aside.
4. Reduce the heat to medium low. Add the butter. When its melted, add the garlic. Cook a couple minutes until translucent. Add the flour, stir.
5. Cook a minute or two. Add the milk. Whisk vigorously. Taste for seasoning. When its nice and thick, toss in the pasta to coat.
6. Place pasta in bowl. Top with tomatoes. Top with scallops. Enjoy. :D

Pros: easy good white sauce! garlic flavor was not overpowering! tomatoes disintegrated into sauce nicely! that combo would work well alone or with chicken.

Cons: scallops were a tad cold. skin on tomatoes had to be peeled off and eating first. but would not have cooked well with skin off. basil may have been better than rosemary.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Spinach Artichoke Dip

This is based on Alton Brown's recipe. And on what I had on hand. Note, his recipe only said it yielded a 'batch', so I doubled it. And made waaaay too much. Oh well. Easily halved.

3 cups frozen chopped spinach (i use the loose bags because I like the convenience. boxed would have to be thawed and squeezed dry)
1 box frozen artichoke hearts, diced small
3 jarred artichoke hearts, diced small
1 clove garlic, minced (would double next time)
12 oz reduced fat cream cheese (aka neufchatel)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup shredded parmesan
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt

Cook frozen artichoke hearts (before dicing) in a small amount of water until tender. Drain. Dice.
Microwave cream cheese with garlic, adding in a cup of spinach at a time and stirring between heatings.
Combine mayo, sour cream, parmesan, artichokes, red pepper flakes and salt. When cream cheese/garlic/spinach mixture is thoroughly warm and melty, combine with sour cream-mayo mixture.
Realize you made a whole lot, and put about half into a bowl. Microwave another 30 seconds or so, to meld everything together.

Can be topped with additional parmesan and baked, if desired. I didn't want to turn the oven on.

In addition to being a great dip, can be used as a pasta sauce, if thinned with milk. Or on baked potatoes. :D

Nutrition: I dont want to scare you! :D

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Penne with Spinach Cream

Tried once a while ago, cannot remember details, but it still sounds delicious. Posting to remind myself.

Penne with Spinach Cream

2 tbsp unsalted butter
6 cloves garlic
14 oz fresh spinach (or frozen. i usually have frozen.)
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
pinch of fresh ground nutmeg (yeah i dont have that..)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 lb penne (cook according to package directions)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 to 1 1/2 cups parmesan, grated

Cook garlic and spinach in butter. Squeeze dry, and reduce the resulting liquid by half. Return spinach to the pan. Add cream. Reduce by half. Pulse in a food processor (or likely, for me, use chopped frozen spinach and mince garlic to begin with). Adjust seasonings with s&p, nutmeg, lemon juice. Toss with hot pasta, oil, and parmesan.

Banana bread

There will be a few updates today, as I found one of my note pads with a few recipes. I'd like to not lose them, so I'm going to put them in now! This recipe is from an older recipe book, with slight adaptations. It is a family favourite (and everyone else who's had it favourite too).

Banana bread

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 medium bananas, mushed
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sour milk (usually achieved by a bit of vinegar and then milk to make up a full cup. let sit at least 5 minutes)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a loaf pan.
Blend dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, cream sugar and butter. Add eggs, beat well. Add bananas, beat a little. Add dry ingredients alternately with the sour milk, roughly in thirds.
Pour into loaf pan. Bake for about an hour, until it tests done.

It is amazing.


I love brownies. They're one of those desserts that can still taste alright if they're made low-fat, low-fun (a la No Pudge mix), but are only in their full glory if done right. I like my brownies on the fudge side, with a crackly top. Only achieved with plentiful butter.

Here's a recipe I haven't had issues with (scaled to a 8x8 pan):

1 1/4 sticks (10 tbsp) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour

Place rack in lower third of the oven, preheat to 350F.
Line pan with parchment paper.
In the top of a double boiler, combine butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt until heated to nearly 'untouchableness'.
Set aside until only warm.
Add eggs and vanilla, stir vigorously. Add flour and stir until combined. Beat for about 40 strokes.
Spread in pan. Bake 20-25 minutes.

Nutrition; Do you really want to know?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Garlic-Mustard-Rosemary Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Dinner tonight was great. Pork tenderloins were on sale at Ralphs, so I grabbed a 1lber.

Marinade ingredients:
1/2 shallot, minced fine
4 cloves garlic, minced fine
Handful rosemary, minced fine (dipped into my frozen herb supply)
3 tbsp white wine (used a 'california table white')
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey mustard (can easily do 3 tbsp of one kind, but i wanted a hint of the honey taste in there)
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 dash worchestershire sauce

Combine all, taste, realize it would make a good salad dressing (if thinned with more olive oil). Set in a glass bowl or a large ziploc bag.
Meanwhile, in another part of the kitchen, clean up the tenderloin. Remove the silverskin and any excess fat. I dont really like this part. But, its a necessity!
Put the now-pretty tenderloin into the marinade. Refrigerate and smush around every couple hours. I marinaded it for over 8 hours.

Heat up the grill! I used about medium high heat. Throw it on there. Flip it over every so often, preferably on the four different sides for a few minutes each. I only managed three sides and when I sliced it up, it wasn't done. The temperature reading was probably from the wrong place. :/ Oh well, a few minutes per side on the stove top and it was great!

Will update with the rice pilaf stuff that went with it. Also, roasted broccoli. Would have been excellent if I'd had fresh broc instead of frozen, but whatever. Good flavors.