Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Hearty (and healthy) Breakfast

Today I went to bootcamp for the first time in over a week and Matt went swimming this afternoon. I don't eat much before exercising - I find it helps keep the nausea at bay when I am pushing myself so hard. However, Matt likes to eat before his swims, it makes for stronger strokes.

We're also leaving on Monday for Seattle for the holidays.

Last night as I was somewhat meal planning and trying to keep both of these elements in mind, I was searching online recipes that could use up what we have in the fridge. Like those 12 dozen eggs that expire on Christmas Eve.

I found a wonderful recipe from Cooking Light. It's got everything you need to start your day or replenish what you've lost during that tough morning workout! Matt doesn't like to combine strong salty and sweet flavors, so unfortunately we left out the mango chutney. But I think you could use that, or even some apricot or raspberry jam instead. I don't like soy ham, so we used canadian bacon instead, and I scrambled the eggs because that's the way Matt & I like our eggs. All in all this recipe was a huge hit and kept me full for most of the day. Matt even commented that it's a much healthier (and tastier) version of a certain breakfast sandwich at a certain fast food restaurant. Bonus: It's from Cooking Light so you know that a) it's going to taste good; b) it's not bad for you and c) Cindy will be totally intrigued! :)
And yes, I will definitely be making this again, probably as soon as tomorrow morning!

Ham and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich with Mango Chutney

This sandwich packs protein from egg and soy ham, calcium from cheese, and fiber and B vitamins from the whole-grain muffin. If you can't find soy ham, use Canadian bacon or ham.

Cooking spray

8 (1/2-ounce) slices soy ham (such as Lightlife) or Canadian bacon

4 large eggs

4 whole-grain English muffins, split and toasted

8 teaspoons mango chutney

3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat broiler.
Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add ham; cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove from pan; keep warm. Reduce heat to medium; recoat pan with cooking spray. Break eggs into hot pan; cook 1 minute on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

Place muffin halves, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Spread 2 teaspoons chutney over bottom half of each muffin; top with 2 ham slices, 1 egg, and 1 tablespoon cheese. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese over top half of each muffin. Broil 1 1/2 minutes or until bubbly. Place top halves of muffins over the bottom halves.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Featured Ingredient: Hoisin Sauce

Don and I are both big fans of Hoisin Sauce. During my pantry cleanout, I went looking for a new recipe that could incorporate this wonderful ingredient that has now become a staple in our pantry and we found this winner below. Garlicky Hoisin Beef, is packed with all the flavours you could ask for - salty, sweet, and mildly spicy. In fact, it's so flavourful that it's a good way to use up the old meat in your ice box. No freezer burn detected here! Don and I used some old strip steaks, but you really could substitute any meat and it would work just as well (chicken, pork, or even shrimp). The sauce alone might even make a nice glaze for a Grilled Salmon Fillet. Another thing to mention is not to be scared away by the entire full teaspoon of red pepper flakes that the recipe calls for. The spice level is still only moderate, enough to detect the heat but not feel the burn. You can definitely control the level of spice by decreasing or increasing the amount of red pepper flakes you add. Even for weak-spice folks, I would go no less than 1/4 teaspoon since it is an important component of the flavor. I think next time Don and I make this we might try 1 1/2 teaspoons and see how it comes out.

Along with the sauce, the featured recipe incorporates a nice array of vegetables that you don't get in your every day cooking including snow peas and sweet potatoes. I don't think I've ever heard of putting sweet potatoes in a stir fry before but it really works here. The trick is to steam them in a little bit of water first to soften them up before adding the other vegetables as it says in the recipe. Don and I both enjoyed this recipe quite a bit as is, but our thoughts for next time we make this will be to increase the amount of scallions and also to add some sliced mushrooms as well. We served over Brown Rice which not only is healthier but I think really works with the recipe. It stands up to the strong flavors better and compliments the dish well. Other than that, I don't have any further recomendations except to TRY THIS ONE! You will not be disappointed. Additionally, this recipe comes from Real Simple Magazine which I know Camille will love!

Garlicky Hoisin Beef

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound flank or boneless sirloin steak, thinly sliced
1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/3 cup water
1/3 pound (1 1/2 cups) snow or sugar snap peas
3 scallions (green parts only), cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
1 recipe Garlicky Hoisin Sauce
Cooked rice

Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add the steak and stir-fry until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Wipe out the pan. Reduce heat to medium-high, add the remaining oil, and heat for 30 seconds. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring constantly, for 10 seconds. Add the sweet potato and water. Cover partially and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes. Add the peas and scallions and cook for 1 minute. Add the Garlicky Hoisin Sauce and increase heat to high. When it starts to bubble, add the steak. Stir-fry until warmed through, about 1 minute. Serve immediately over the rice.

Tip: Pork or turkey cutlets can stand in for the beef, and green beans for the sugar snaps.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

CALORIES 463.88 (42% from fat); FAT 22.13g (sat 4.94g); CHOLESTEROL 46mg; CALCIUM 76.25mg; CARBOHYDRATE 39.15g; SODIUM 1213.56mg; PROTEIN 27.25mg; FIBER 4.34g; IRON 3.59mg

Real Simple, OCTOBER 2005

Garlicky Hoisin Sauce

This recipe goes with Garlicky Hoisin Beef

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons minced scallion (white parts only)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
3/4 cup hoisin sauce (available in the Asian-food aisle of most supermarkets)
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Heat a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add the scallions, garlic, and pepper flakes, if using, and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 1 1/2 minutes. Pour into a bowl.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

CALORIES 180.38 (33% from fat); FAT 6.73g (sat 0.96g); CHOLESTEROL 1.44mg; CALCIUM 27.88mg; CARBOHYDRATE 27.97g; SODIUM 1153.88mg; PROTEIN 2.65mg; FIBER 1.61g; IRON 0.82mg

Real Simple, OCTOBER 2005

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Home Cooked Goodness

Tonight's dinner was inspired by a pantry clean out. I decided to go through the fridge and cupboards and see what kind of recipe I could throw together that would use up as many items as possible from my overstocked shelves. This recipe was inspired by the Gnocchi, Chicken Stock, Frozen Chicken, and Leftover Celery in my fridge. Gnocchi is a finicky thing. It's difficult to find a recipe for store bought prepackaged Gnocchi that keeps the potato dumplings from getting too dry without using a sauce with a catastrophic calorie count. The solution is soup. While this is definitely no Cooking Light Recipe, it's a good compromise and a little lighter than the normal doughy biscuits that go with the classic version of Chicken and Dumplings. In Rachel Ray's version of this ultimate comfort food, she substitutes gnocchi for the traditional dumplings, and adds a little homeade pesto to the broth for a unique flavor. I think this would be good without the pesto too if you are in a hurry, however, the general consensus was that it definitely added something special and took the recipe up that one extra notch.

Italian Chicken and Dumplings

  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 20 min
  • Level: Easy
  • Serves: 4 to 6 servings
  • If you love Chicken Fricassee, Chicken and Biscuits and Chicken and Dumplings here's a flavorful, Italian take on the classic. Here, basil pesto - a kid favorite, is stirred into the light gravy. For the dumplings, fresh potato gnocchi tossed in lemon butter. WOW!

    5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    2 pounds chicken tenderloins, diced into bite-sized pieces
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    4 tablespoons butter, divided
    12 large white mushrooms, sliced
    1 cup shredded carrots, store bought
    4 ribs celery from the heart, very thinly sliced
    1 to 2 fresh bay leaves
    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    3 cups chicken stock, divided
    1 cup basil leaves
    1 clove garlic
    A generous handful parsley leaves
    A handful pine nuts, lightly toasted
    A couple handfuls grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
    1 lemon , zested
    2 (10 to 12-ounce) packages, fresh gnocchi

    Place a large pot of water on to boil for gnocchi.

    Heat a pot with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, a turn of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add chicken, season with salt and pepper, and lightly brown. Remove to a plate and add another tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter and heat. Add mushrooms, carrots, celery, and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper. Soften 5 minutes, sprinkle in flour and cook 2 minutes. Whisk in 2 1/2 cups stock, slide the chicken back into the pot and simmer to allow sauce to thicken.

    Place the remaining 1/2 cup stock in food processor with basil, parsley, garlic, pine nuts and cheese, salt and pepper. Turn processor on and pour in the remaining few tablespoons oil.

    Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat with the zest of 1 lemon.

    Salt cooking water and drop gnocchi in the water, cook until the gnocchi floats, drain and add to the lemon butter and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss the gnocchi 2 to 3 minutes in lemon butter until light golden at edges.

    Turn heat off chicken and stir in pesto sauce. Serve the chicken in shallow bowls and top with lemon butter dumplings.