Friday, August 31, 2012

Coconut-macadamia chicken tenders with mango dijon dip


I was intrigued by a recipe on Once A Month Mom because, according to the directions, you can freeze it ahead of time but then reheat it without defrosting first. This ended up being a moot point because it was so tasty that everything got eaten the night I made it. The original recipe uses panko bread crumbs. Since panko is basically grated bread, I thought that I would try running macadamia nuts through the shredding disk of my food processor to get a similar texture. It worked GREAT and was visually almost indistinguishable from panko! It didn't have quite the same degree of crispness but it was a great substitute and didn't clump the way that almond flour does when you use it as a breading.

I served it with a dip made from pureed mango, Dijon mustard, and curry powder. You could probably substitute any pureed fruit for the mango; if you don't have a food processor, you could use canned crushed pineapple and finely chop the macadamia nuts with a knife. Strict low-carbers can use a little sugar-free marmalade instead of the mango. As it is, the dip isn't super sweet. If you want it to be very sweet either add a bit of honey or reduce the amount of mustard.

These do not get quite as crunchy as fried chicken tenders. The original recipe poured half a cup of melted butter over the whole thing, which perhaps helps, but that is a bit much for me. If you want them to get really crunchy I would just fry them in coconut oil. As it is though, they still get a nice crispy coating.

COCONUT-MACADAMIA CHICKEN TENDERS WITH MANGO DIJON DIP
Serves 4 

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I used Let's Do Organic)
  • 2 oz (weight; about 1/2 cup) macadamia nuts (I used unroasted unsalted ones, from the baking section, though roasted and/or salted should work)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 beaten egg or 1/4 cup egg whites (I actually prefer using just egg whites for breading, I think it gets crispier)
  • Oil spray or about 1 Tbs melted coconut oil
  • 1 ripe mango
  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp sambal oelek, Sriracha, or red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Sandwich the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap and use a meat mallet to pound to an even thickness. Cut into uniform strips (I got 12 strips from 2 lbs of chicken). 
  3. Set the shredding disk in your food processor. Load the macadamia nuts into the feeding tube while the machine is off and set the pusher sleeve inside. This will prevent the nuts from flying out when you turn the machine on. Turn on the food processor and feed the macadamia nuts through. Combine on a large plate with the coconut, salt, and garlic.
  4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (if you use foil instead, the chicken strips may stick). Pour the egg or egg white into a shallow bowl. Dip each chicken strip in the egg, then the coconut mixture, shaking off the excess. Set them on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Spray with oil or use a pastry brush to dab a bit of coconut oil on top. 
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, turn them over, spray or dab with more coconut oil, then continue baking for another 20 minutes. Serve.
  6. Meanwhile, make the dip. Peel and cut the mango into large chunks. Put it in the food processor and blend until smooth. Add the mustard, curry, sambal (or substitute), and cinnamon. Blend until well-combined. Chill until ready to serve.
Freezing Directions:
Cool chicken and divide among freezer bags until ready to serve. Mustard sauce should keep in the refrigerator for about a week, or alternately, freeze it in ice cube trays. TO SERVE: Do not thaw. Bake chicken from frozen at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Zucchini boats stuffed with coconut curry lamb


Around this time of year, there is always an abundance of oversized early-autumn zucchini. So, it's always good to have some zucchini boat recipes handy. As a bonus, this recipe freezes really well, so if you need to use up a harvest you can keep these around for a while.

Be sure that your coconut milk is the real stuff, and not a mixture of water and coconut extract. If the can lists coconut extract as an ingredient, use a different brand. I used Thai Kitchen, which contains no dairy, sugar, or sulfites. I would not use a "lite" version as it will be too thin. If you want to slash calories, just use less coconut milk. As it was, I ended up not spooning all of it into the zucchini and I had quite a bit left in the pan. If you'd like, just add a little at a time until you get an acceptable consistency.

ZUCCHINI BOATS STUFFED WITH COCONUT CURRY LAMB
Serves about 4

INGREDIENTS
  • 4 medium zucchinis
  • 12-16 oz ground lamb (can substitute ground beef; I used 16 oz but I had a bunch left over so next time I will use 12 oz.)
  • 1 tsp ghee or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 can coconut milk, stirred (see recipe description for more info)
  • 1 Tbs curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne (optional; depends on how spicy you like it)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (you might be able to leave this out if your curry powder is heavy on the cumin)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a spoon or melon baller, scoop out the seeds and reserve. The shell should be about 1/4" thick. 
  3. Sprinkle the zucchini shells with salt and microwave, covered, for 3 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Chop the reserved zucchini innards.
  5. Heat the ghee or oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until onion is translucent but not brown. Add the ground lamb and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned. Drain off the fat (it's easiest to suck it out using a turkey baster while the meat is still in the pan). 
  6. Add the zucchini innards and saute for a minute or so or until it just starts to soften. 
  7. Add the curry, garam masala, cayenne, and cumin. Stir to combine.
  8. Pour in the coconut milk, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened and creamy. Stir in the cilantro.
  9. Spoon the lamb mixture into the zucchini shells, ensuring not to add too much liquid. 
  10. Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes.
  11. If making and freezing ahead of time, omit step 10. Set the zucchini boats on a cookie sheet and freeze them overnight. Individually wrap each one and store in a lidded container in the freezer. To serve, defrost overnight or in the microwave defrost setting, then follow step 10 for baking. You can alternately heat them in the microwave though they will get a bit mushy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Apple butter BBQ drumsticks (slow cooker), guacamole slaw


I made a fruit-sweetened barbecue sauce once before on the blog, strawberry pulled pork, and I loved the results. So, I thought I'd try one which uses unsweetened apple butter. I got the idea from a recipe in It Starts with Food which adapted a Cook's Illustrated recipe to use applesauce instead of sugar and tomato puree instead of ketchup. Apple butter is thicker than applesauce and has a molasses sort of flavor so I thought that it would be ideal for this sauce; I also added some spices and used balsamic vinegar for some complementary sweetness. This is not candy-sweet like conventional barbecue sauce. In fact, I think that unsweetened apple butter on its own is less sweet than bottled BBQ, so do not expect it to taste like the barbecue that you are used to. But, if you want a subtle, natural sweetness, you will enjoy this recipe. I made chicken drumsticks in the crock pot and then ran them under the broiler before serving with an extra coat of sauce. This served to crisp up the skin as well as caramelizing the sauce for some additional sweetness.

I served this with a quick guacamole slaw. I wanted to devise a creamy cole slaw recipe that did not use mayo, since storebought brands have some dodgy ingredients and it's kind of a pain to make it yourself. I like the idea of using prepared guacamole because it keeps well in the fridge and already has seasonings like cilantro, lime, and onion. Wholly Guacamole is a good brand without added sugar. I actually did end up using a tablespoon of mayo but I think you can leave it out if you'd like. If you are watching calories, you can try using Greek yogurt instead of oil and mayo, or even just try using water instead. Just add water a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency. Using prepared guac and bagged cole slaw veggies made this a snap to whip up.

APPLE BUTTER BBQ CHICKEN AND GUACAMOLE SLAW
Serves about 4

INGREDIENTS
  • BBQ seasoning/dry rub. I used Penzeys BBQ 3000, also any cajun/blackening seasoning would work. If you want to make your own, combine 1 Tbs paprika, 1 tsp dry mustard, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, and 1/4 tsp cayenne.
  • 3-4 lbs chicken drumsticks (I used skin-on, skinless is fine too)
  • Salt to taste
For the barbecue sauce:
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • Fat of choice for sauteeing the garlic (I used bacon grease)
  • 1 cup canned tomato puree
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened apple butter (no spice added)
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs coconut aminos (or Worcestershire sauce, or soy sauce)
  • 1 Tbs yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp hot sauce such as Tabasco
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder (or 1 tsp chili powder + 1/4 tsp cayenne)
  • 1/8 tsp ground coriander
  • Pinch allspice
  • Pinch ground ginger
For the guacamole slaw:
  • 10 oz bag shredded cole slaw mix (if all you can find is a 16 oz bag, that is fine; you just may not use all of it)
  • Half a red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 cup guacamole 
  • 2 Tbs cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs mayonnaise (or just use more olive oil)
DIRECTIONS

For the chicken:
  1. Stir together all of the barbecue sauce ingredients except the oil and garlic.
  2. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant and straw colored. Add the barbecue sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until thickened. Set aside to cool.
  3. Dump the chicken drumsticks in a slow cooker and coat them on all sides with the barbecue seasoning. Add salt unless you are using a pre-made barbecue seasoning which already contains salt.
  4. Measure out 1/2 cup of the sauce and coat the chicken with it (I used a basting brush). Cook for 4-6 hours on low.
  5. When ready to serve, set the oven rack 10" from the broiler and heat the broiler on high. Set the drumsticks in a single layer on a lightly oiled slotted broiler pan. Coat them with half of the remaining sauce and broil 10-15 minutes until charred and crispy. Flip them over, coat with the rest of the sauce, and broil again for 10-15 minutes to crisp the other side. Serve immediately with guacamole slaw or side dish of choice.
For the guacamole slaw:
  1. Stir together the guacamole, vinegar, oil, and mayo (if using)
  2. Add the cole slaw veggies and red bell pepper. Toss to combine.
  3. Let chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Variation -- pulled pork: Use a pork roast instead of chicken drumsticks, preferably a fatty cut like shoulder. Rub with BBQ seasoning and put it in the crock pot, pour half of the sauce over the top, and cook for about 8 hours on low. Shred with two forks and serve with the rest of the sauce.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Green chile chicken taco meatballs with chipotle sauce




I've seen lettuce leaves used as a taco shell swap. A romaine leaf is shaped kind of like a taco shell and it provides some crunch, but I can't imagine serving that to people. "I made tacos!! *hands you a lettuce leaf*". I feel like that would lead to disappointment. So, instead I took the same flavors and made them into meatballs. This way, I think it feels more intentional to be shell-less.

For the longest time I HATED making meatballs. Really, I hate making anything with lots of tiny little pain-in-the-ass components that need to be shaped individually. However, I got a great tip from Cook's Illustrated: use a cookie scoop to shape the meatballs. Now it takes me just a couple minutes to whip up a whole batch.

I don't like adding binder to meatballs, as I think it makes them tough and dry. All it does is make them easier to shape. So these are a little soft, but I prefer them being just meat without any fillers. If you chill the meat mixture for an hour or more it should firm it up a bit for easier shaping. If you want to add a binder, try 1/3 cup of almond meal, or a snack-sized bag of crunched-up plantain chips (easiest do do this in a food processor).

For the tomato sauce, I used a recipe that I got from Rick Bayless' chipotle shrimp recipe from Mexican Everyday. It is so unbelievably flavorful, you'd never guess how simple it is: just a can of tomatoes pureed with chipotles and some sauteed garlic. Additionally, I've seen a lot of "pasta" recipes that use an avocado sauce, presumably instead of a cream sauce, such as this, this, and this, so I thought it'd be nice to top it with guacamole. It also provided a nice foil to the heat from the chipotles. However, you could use any taco fixins that you like.

These were so, so, so good. A definite keeper.

GREEN CHILE CHICKEN TACO MEATBALLS WITH CHIPOTLE SAUCE
Makes about 24 meatballs

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 lb ground chicken (or ground meat of choice)
  • 1 can (4 oz) diced green chiles
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 Tbs minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbs taco seasoning (you can use a pre-made blend such as Penzeys Arizona Dreaming, or make your own. I like this recipe for homemade.)
  • 1 tsp salt (omit if your taco seasoning contains salt)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (preferably fire roasted), drained
  • 2-3 canned chipotle peppers + 1 Tbs of the adobo sauce from the can (scale this way back if you don't like spicy food, as it is quite hot). Or, use chipotle powder to taste.
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • Fat of choice for sauteeing (I used olive oil; avocado oil would be ideal!)
  • Guacamole for serving (I used storebought)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Saute the onions in a bit of oil over medium-high heat until translucent but not brown. Add the green chiles and cook until liquid has mostly evaporated. Set aside out of the pan to cool (I put the mixture in the freezer to cool quickly).
  3. Thoroughly combine the ground chicken, taco seasoning, cilantro, salt, eggs, and the chile-onion mixture. If you are using a binder (see recipe description), add it now as well. If you have time, refrigerate an hour or more to firm up.
  4. Lightly oil a slotted broiler pan or cookie sheet. Form the meat mixture into balls using your hands or with a cookie scoop, mounding the tops to be dome-shaped. You should have about two dozen meatballs in total.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until done.
  6. Meanwhile, puree the drained tomatoes with the chipotles and adobo sauce. 
  7. When the meatballs are done, saute the garlic in the bottom of a Dutch oven or large saucepan until fragrant and straw-colored. Add the tomato-chipotle puree and simmer for a minute, stirring to scrape the bottom of the pan. Add the meatballs to the sauce and turn to low. Simmer for a couple minutes just so that the flavors meld. 
  8. Serve with guacamole atop your favorite veggie pasta substitute (spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, or sauteed broccoli slaw) or Mexican cauli rice.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The perfect pre-workout coffee



If you like to drink coffee before your workout but you hate the resulting tummy ache and reflux, you are going to LOVE this post! The secret? Cold brewing. This method yields a delicious cup that has about 70% less acidity than conventional heat-brewed coffee. According to Scott Rao, hot brewing produces a higher amount of chlorogenic acid whereas cold brewing does not. Moreover, as it sits, the chlorogenic acid breaks down into qunic acid which tastes sour. Cold-brewed coffee is smooth, sweet, and delicious. If you like your coffee hot, you can always heat it up directly before drinking and still get the benefits of cold brew.

You can purchase a Toddy system if you'd like, which is expressly designed for cold brewing. However, I prefer to just use my French press. It works just as well and makes for easy straining. Plus, I can also use it for hot-brewing if I want, and it takes up far less counter space than the Toddy. How does it work? Let's get started!

Step 1: Select your coffee beans



You can use any coffee you want; if you're only after the low acidity and don't particularly care about taste or freshness, go ahead and use pre-ground Folger's. I am pickier, though, and I want a cup of coffee that I can really appreciate. I buy all my beans from Buddy Brew which is a local coffee roaster. They display a "roasted on" date on their retail beans, and usually they were only roasted a day or two prior to my purchase. Try to find a local coffee roaster if you're into that sort of thing; additionally, Buddy Brew sells some of their beans for shipping. I like to experiment, but I've had consistently good results from Columbian or Brazilian beans. Columbian coffee has kind of a nutty, caramel-y flavor and Brazilian beans have some chocolatey notes.


Step 2: Grind your beans


I like to grind my beans immediately prior to brewing. A cheapie whirly-blade grinder is fine for cold brewing because the grounds have all sunk to the bottom by the time it is done anyway (for regular French press brewing, you need a special coarse grind from a burr grinder or the resulting coffee is very muddy). I grind it to a pretty fine powder for this.


For a regular-sized French press (mine is 1.2 quarts) I use 2/3 cup of coffee beans. This makes a very concentrated brew to which I add additional water before drinking. So grind up about 2/3 cup of beans and then dump the grounds into the bottom of your French press.

Step 3: Add water and stir


Pretty self-explanatory. Fill it up most of the way with water. Use filtered water if you hate the taste of your tap water. If you like the taste of your tap water then it will be fine in coffee. Stir it up well; I use a chopstick.

Step 4: Stir again

After 10 minutes or so the coffee will have formed a raft of grounds at the top, like this:


Just stir those in. If you are using very freshly-roasted beans, this will yield a thick tan layer on top called the crema.


At this point I like to rinse off any grounds that have stuck to the carafe above the coffee, but that's up to you.

Step 5: Let it sit overnight (I like to steep for 12 hours)


I just put the plunger on top but I don't press it down. If you lack vertical space, you can just cover it with plastic wrap or buy a cold press that comes with a seperate lid.

Step 6: Filter and drink!

With a French press, you filter simply by depressing the plunger. If you used my suggested amount of coffee beans, you will want to dilute at a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio of water or milk to coffee. I use my homemade So Delicious coconut milk, particularly because I like to get some MCTs pre-workout! I use a 1:1 ratio of coconut milk to coffee, but then I also add ice cubes which dilute it further.

Enjoy, and train hard!


Friday, August 17, 2012

Philly cheesesteak stuffed peppers


I got the inspiration for these from a recipe at Peace Love and Low Carb. Her version looks awesome, but I wanted to make it a bit differently with shaved steak instead of deli roast beef and everything bound together in a creamy cheesy sauce. I recently made my healthier alfredo sauce and I thought that I could do something similar for this. I made a creamy sauce with melted provolone which kind of reminded me of sauce Mornay. The original recipe is probably more sandwich-y and I feel like mine is more stuffed-pepper-entree-y (hey, it's my blog and I'll turn anything I want into adjectives, m'kay??). These had a really great Philly cheesesteak flavor and I didn't miss the bread at all.

PHILLY CHEESESTEAK STUFFED PEPPERS
Serves 2-4

INGREDIENTS
  • 4 green bell peppers, tops sliced off and seeds removed
  • About 1 lb shaved steak (I used about 12 oz but I feel like I could have used more)
  • Half an onion (I used Vidalia), thickly sliced
  • 4 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Tbs unsalted butter, ghee, or olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp tapioca flour or arrowroot
  • 1 cup unsweetened unflavored almond milk
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt + additional to taste
  • 2 Tbs cream cheese (full-fat or Philadelphia brand low-fat) or labneh
  • 3 oz (weight; about 3/4 cup) shredded provolone cheese
  • Fat of choice for sauteeing
  • Seasoned salt or salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS
  1. Pre-cook the peppers. I seasoned the inside with salt and pepper then placed them in a sillicone muffin tray to hold them upright, then covered them and nuked for 7 minutes. If you don't have a sillicone muffin tray you can just stand them up in a microwave-safe bowl. Alternately you could blanch them in boiling water until soft.
  2. Make the cheese sauce: Heat the tablespoon of butter or oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute the garlic until fragrant and straw-colored. Add the tapioca or arrowroot and stir for about a minute until combined. Pour in the almond milk and turn heat to high. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then turn heat back down to medium and cook for another minute or so until thickened and bubbly. Stir in the cream cheese or labneh, provolone, and 3/4 tsp salt. Cover on low heat to keep warm.
  3. Heat oil or butter in a large skillet over medium high. Add the mushrooms and onions and saute until soft. Set aside, and tent with foil to keep warm. Cook the steak in additional butter or oil until browned. Add the vegetables to the skillet with the meat, season with seasoned salt or salt & pepper, and ladle in the sauce (you may not use all of it). Stir briefly to combine.
  4. Stuff the peppers with the meat mixture and serve.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Spiced reuben burgers


First things first: I'm REALLY miffed that my DSLR camera battery was dead when I made these. I just took a stupid cell phone picture and picked some random filter from Photoshop Express. It's called "vignette blur" and I think it's supposed to make it look artsy or something. So now I can at least pretend that the excessive blur and shadows are part of my food photo styling. WHATEVER. These were tasty enough that I will probably make them again and re-photograph, but I couldn't bear to keep the recipe all to myself!

I was at Penzeys over the weekend (hi, I'm Erica and I'm a Penzeys-aholic) and on a whim I picked up some of their corned beef spice. I had an idea that instead of going through the long process of making corned beef (for now ;) ), I could just spice up some ground beef with their seasoning mix and make burgers. I used it like you would use a blackening seasoning: I heavily seasoned the outside of my burger patties and then seared it on a hot stove. I topped it with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese and served it with Thousand Island dressing for dipping.

SPICED REUBEN BURGERS
Serves 2-4

INGREDIENTS
  • About a pound of ground beef (you can use a bit more, like 1.25 lbs, for larger burgers)
  • 1 Tbs Penzeys corned beef spice or regular pickling spice, ground. Most supermarkets have pickling spice. If not, you can make your own; there is a good recipe for pickling spice at the bottom of this page.
  • 1-2 cups sauerkraut, rinsed and thoroughly dried
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • Thousand Island or Russian dressing, for dipping. I used Annie's Organic Thousand Island but you can make your own as per this recipe.
  • Fat of choice for cooking the burgers (I used ghee)
  • Salt and pepper
DIRECTIONS
  1. Generously season the ground beef with salt and pepper. Form into four patties. Coat both sides of each patty with ground corned beef seasoning or pickling spice.
  2. Heat oil or ghee in a skillet over medium high. Sear one side of the burgers until well browned, then flip and do the same. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until desired temperature.
  3. Top each burger with sauerkraut and a slice of cheese. Cover and cook until cheese is melted.
  4. Serve with Thousand Island or Russian dressing for dipping.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Vietnamese-style caramel pork...minus the sugar



I know that I've hit on a really great recipe when the meal is eaten in complete silence. The husband ate three of these pork chops without speaking at all, except to ask, "Are there any more of these??"; then when he was done, he just said, "Those have a really good flavor". So, I feel that I can confidently pronounce these a success.

I've had grilled pork chops (suon nuong) at Vietnamese restaurants several times and it's one of my favorite menu items. However, it is usually made with lots of sugary caramel sauce. For my version, I used some Torani sugar-free caramel syrup in the marinade. I'm not usually a fan of this stuff because it lacks the gooey texture of real caramel sauce but it worked perfectly for achieving the flavor I sought. I also added a spoonful of real sugar to help it caramelize on the grill, but this does not raise the carb or calorie count too much, particularly given that most of the marinade is discarded. If you do not eat Splenda (and I usually avoid it as well), you can try making your own sugar-free caramel syrup. Just follow my recipe for sugar-free maple syrup using the sweetener of your choice, and substitute 1/2-3/4 tsp caramel extract for the maple + vanilla extracts. I have not tried this myself but I think it would work, and Silver Cloud is my favorite brand for extracts (their vanilla and almond are the best I've ever tried!).

I served it with cauli rice, a fried egg, and some salad veggies. I also passed Sriracha and crushed peanuts at the table. Next time I will also serve with extra nuoc cham for dipping.

VIETNAMESE CARAMEL PORK CHOPS
Serves 2-4

INGREDIENTS
  • About 1 lb of thin-cut bone-in pork chops (I used center cut)
  • 1/4 cup lemongrass, roughly chopped (I used two stalks, tough parts removed)
  • 1/2 cup shallots, roughly chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce (can substitute soy sauce in a pinch but the flavor will not be as good)
  • Juice of two limes
  • 1/2 cup sugar-free caramel syrup (see recipe description for more info)
  • 1 Tbs coconut palm sugar or light brown sugar
  • Roasted salted peanuts or cashews, chopped
DIRECTIONS
  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients except for the pork chops and nuts. Process until smooth.
  2. Cover the pork chops evenly with the marinade and refridgerate overnight.
  3. When ready to cook the pork chops, wipe off the marinade with a paper towel but do not rinse. Cook on a hot grill until done. I used a George Foreman grill; I cooked them for 6 minutes, flipped them over, then cooked for an additional 2 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts or cashews and serve, passing Sriracha sauce at the table. If desired, also serve with a fried egg.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Salmon salad with strawberries, goat cheese, and pecans



I had a leftover piece of salmon so I decided to use it in a simple lunchtime salad. I loved the flavor combination of pecans, goat cheese, and strawberries, and I also added in some cucumber for crunch. I served it atop a huge mound of kale because that's what I had in the fridge, but baby spinach or other greens would be just as good. I dressed it with a basic vinaigrette to which I added rosemary and poppy seeds. This recipe makes a single salad, but of course you can scale it if your are cooking for multiple people. Additionally, feel free to play with the proportions. I only measured everything so that I can give you all a recipe but you can just eyeball it and add as much or as little as you wish.

I just used leftover salmon that I had previously cooked sous vide at 125 F with a coating of Northwoods seasoning. I'm not sure how long I left it in there, probably 1-2 hours. You can use leftover salmon from virtually any recipe, though if you want to make it specifically for this salad, I really like this recipe. You can use any seasoning you like if you don't have chipotle powder, and lemons would work just as well as lime.

SALMON SALAD WITH STRAWBERRIES, GOAT CHEESE, AND PECANS
Serves 1

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cooked salmon fillet (see recipe description for more information), hot or cold, whichever you prefer.
  • Salad greens such as baby spinach, kale, or lettuce
  • 1 oz (weight; about 1/4 cup) crumbled goat cheese
  • About 3 strawberries, sliced
  • 1 oz (weight; about 20 halves) pecans, chopped, preferably toasted
  • A third of a large cucumber, seeded and diced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs vinegar such as sherry, balsamic, or red wine
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary (or 1 tsp fresh minced rosemary)
  • 1/4 tsp poppy seeds (optional)
DIRECTIONS
  1. If using kale, massage the greens with a bit of salt and olive oil to tenderize it. Set aside.
  2. Combine the oil, vinegar, mustard, rosemary, and poppy seeds. Whisk it in a small bowl or shake it up in a jar until emulsified.
  3. Top the greens with goat cheese, pecans, strawberries, and cucumber. Drizzle with dressing (you will probably not use all of it). Lay the salmon fillet on top, drizzle with a bit of additional dressing, and serve.
     

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Slow-cooker buffalo chicken drumsticks with blue cheese yogurt dip


This is a super easy recipe for a weeknight supper, and it makes for a lower-calorie alternative to buffalo wings. It's still a finger food and you get all the hot sauce yumminess, but these are slow-cooked instead of fried and drumsticks have a much more favorable meat-to-skin ratio than wings. You can use skin-on or skinless drumsticks, but if you use skin-on you will have to broil them afterward to crisp up the skin. I didn't feel like heating up my kitchen, plus I'm lazy, so I just took the skin off before cooking. You can do this easily by grasping the skin with a paper towel and pulling it off toward the bone. As I said, I am lazy, so I used bottled buffalo wing sauce but you can easily make your own if you'd prefer.

By the way, I created a visual recipe index on Pinterest, so you can view all of my slow cooker recipes here.

SLOW-COOKER BUFFALO CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS
Serves 4 to 6

INGREDIENTS
  • About 4 lbs chicken drumsticks, skin-on or skinless, your choice
  • 1 cup bottled buffalo wing sauce such as Frank's Red Hot or homemade (make your own by combining 1 cup hot sauce such as Crystal with 1/2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce and 3-6 Tbs melted butter or ghee. Use less butter if you like a hotter, more concentrated sauce; use the higher quantity for a more mild sauce.)
Spice mix (optional; you can just use salt & pepper, or a premade mix of choice such as seasoned salt, adobo, or chili seasoning)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (increase if you like super spicy wings
  • Salt to taste
DIRECTIONS
  1. Combine the ingredients for the spice mix in a small bowl.
  2. Measure out 1/2 cup of wing sauce. Pour a small amount of it into the bottom of a large slow cooker. Arrange the drumsticks in the slow cooker (keeping them in a single layer if possible). Sprinkle with the spice mix and cover with the rest of the sauce. Shake the pot or stir them around a bit to coat evenly.
  3. Cook for 4-6 hours on low. If you will be out of the house for a while and will have the pot sitting on the "warm" setting for a while, set the timer for 4 hours.
  4. Remove the drumsticks from the crock pot.
  5. If using skinless drumsticks: Microwave the remaining 1/2 cup of wing sauce for about a minute to heat it through. Brush or spoon the remaining sauce over the drumsticks and serve.
  6. If using skin-on drumsticks: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position. Place drumsticks, skin side up, on a wire rack set on a rimmed pan or a slotted broiler pan that has been sprayed or brushed with oil. Brush chicken with half of the remaining wing sauce (1/4 cup) and broil until skin crisps up and chars lightly, about 10-15 minutes. Flip it over, brush with remaining sauce, and broil for another 10-15 minutes. Serve.

I served this with homemade blue cheese and Greek yogurt dip. I know that a lot of my readers do not eat dairy. I think you just want some kind of cool, creamy dressing to provide a foil for the hot sauce, so I think that an avocado-based dip would work. Something like this dressing would work well, though I think I would substitute 1 Tbs minced chives or scallion greens for the herbes de provence, and perhaps some fresh or dried dill for a bit of a ranch dressing flavor. Or, if you eat dairy, this is a great recipe. If you want a bottled alternative Marzetti Simply Dressed has a decent ingredient list.

BLUE CHEESE GREEK YOGURT DIP
Makes about 2 cups

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 6-oz container plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 oz (weight; about 1/2 cup) crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 Tbs mayonnaise (I used olive oil mayo)
  • 1 Tbs cider vinegar
  • Juice of half a lemon (about 1 Tbs)
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp honey, agave, or other sweetener of choice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste (I like LOTS of fresh black pepper in this)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Mash the blue cheese with the mayonnaise.
  2. Stir in the Greek yogurt, then the other ingredients. Serve cold.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Country Benedict over fried green tomatoes

I tried a new egg poaching technique and it was a failure, just imagine that the eggs are nicer.
I've seen "Country Benedict" on the menu in several diners around here. According to this Wikipedia article, it is:
Country Benedict, sometimes known as Eggs Beauregard, replaces the English muffin, ham and hollandaise sauce with an American biscuit, sausage patties, and country gravy. The poached eggs are replaced with eggs fried to choice
So, I decided to attempt my own version of these. I already had developed a healthier sausage gravy recipe. The rest is fairly straightforward. Typically, when I order eggs Benedict, I request tomato slices instead of an English muffin to eliminate the grains from my meal. In keeping with the Southern American theme, I decided to replace the regular tomato slices with fried green tomato, breaded in almond flour. I used the trick in my chicken parmesan recipe to only bread one side, which reduces the amount of oil and almond flour needed.

COUNTRY BENEDICT
Serves 2, with leftover gravy

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 lb breakfast sausage meat, in a roll shape (pork or turkey would work; you can make your own if you'd like)
  • 2 oz cream cheese (full-fat or Philadelphia brand low-fat)
  • 1 cup unsweetened original almond milk
  • 1 Tbs coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • Seasoned salt, to taste (storebought or homemade)
  • 4 eggs
  • Liquid egg whites or an additional beaten whole egg
  • 4 slices of green tomato (from 1 medium green tomato)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of almond flour (use the smaller amount if only breading one side of the tomato slices, the greater amount for breading both sides)
  • Fat of choice for cooking tomato slices
DIRECTIONS
  1. Poach the eggs and set aside in an ice bath. This looks like a good method (not what I used), or if you have a sous vide machine, you can make perfect eggs. Alternately, you can fry the eggs; if so, do this step last.
  2. Cut the roll of sausage in half and set one half aside. Brown the other half of the sausage over medium-high heat, crumbling it with a wooden spoon. Do not drain, just add coconut flour a tablespoon at a time and stir until it has soaked up all of the drippings.
  3. Reduce heat to medium, add the cream cheese. Kind of mash it against the bottom of the pan to melt it while combining it with the meat.
  4. Add the cup of almond milk, stir, and bring to a simmer. Evenly sprinkle the xanthan gum over the top, using a tea ball or sieve to sift it out (this will prevent clumping). Stir well and add seasoned salt to taste. Reduce heat to low and cover to keep warm.
  5. Slice the other half of the sausage log into four patties and cook over medium heat until cooked through, turning as necessary.
  6. Meanwhile, season the almond flour with salt and any other seasonings to taste (I added a pinch each of garlic powder and chipotle powder). Dredge one or both sides of the tomato slices in egg white or beaten egg, then dip in almond flour, being careful to knock off the excess (almond flour likes to clump). Fry in a tablespoon of hot oil over medium-high heat on both sides until golden brown. Add more oil as necessary. Set aside on paper towels.
  7. To serve, place a sausage patty on top of the tomato slice, then top with an egg, and spoon the gravy on top. Add hot sauce if desired.

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