Monday, January 5, 2009

Hunan Green Beans and Pork

When browsing my new cookbooks and magazines for weekly recipes, I had marked this one. Kevin is always wanting pork chops but I am not the biggest fan of them. I decided to try this one because green beans are one of the only vegetables he likes, plus it had pork chops. I am glad I tried it because it was very good! I made 2 changes - one was using onion powder instead of the onions because I ran out, and the other was using red wine + an extra 1/2 tsp. sugar instead of the dry sherry, because that is what I had. One of the recipe suggestions was to serve it "southern-style" over cornbread, so I made a pan of cornbread (another one of Kevin's favorites) and we ate it with that.

Green Beans & Pork Hunan-Style

Source: Healthy Cooking for Two (Or Just You) by Frances Price

Ingredients (For 2 servings):
1 pound of fresh green beans
6 oz. lean boneless pork chops
1/2 cup dry sherry or apple juice
1/2 cup defatted chicken broth or water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 green onions, sliced

Snap the stem ends from the beans, then snap the beans into 2" lengths. Immerse them in lukewarm water, then turn them into a colander to drain.

Cut the pork chops into strips about the size and shape of the green beans.

In a large measure, combine the sherry or apple juice, broth or water, cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, and pepper flakes (if using); stir to dissolve cornstarch and sugar.

Place a heavy, 10" nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the oil, then the pork and ginger. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the beans and garlic; cook and stir for 1 minute.

Stir in the broth mixture. Cook and stir for 1 minute longer, or until the sauce is translucent and thickened. Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet and cook the mixture for 2-3 minutes, or until the beans are crisp-tender. Stir in the green onions and serve hot.

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

The other night I got a craving for some chocolate - not just any chocolate, but gooey, melty chocolate in the form of a just-baked cookie. I was specifically thinking of the triple chocolate chip cookies from Otis Spunkmeyer that we sell at the c-store where I used to work (those things are 6-8 WW points apiece, btw!!). I had some assorted partial packages of chocolate chips and baking chocolate left over from Christmas baking, so I took your basic Big Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and made them Big Fat Chewy Triple Chocolate Chip cookies! Even better! Mine didn't turn out very fat, probably because I was too impatient to eat them so I skipped the chilling step, which made them spread more than normal. But they were so delicious, and Kevin said he liked them better when they were thinner, so all was well. I made a batch of this dough, baked one dozen of them, and rolled the rest into a log in the freezer for some future use. Maybe the next batch will be fatter - we will see!

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Made by Melissa

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped dark baking chocolate
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

    Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

    In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended (do not over-mix). Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. I refrigerate the dough for a couple hours before baking. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart. I prefer smaller cookies, so I use my cookie scoop.

    Bake for 15 to 17 minutes (about 12 minutes if using cookie scoop size) in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Watch closely and pull out of the oven as soon as edges start to turn golden! Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

    Store in an airtight container and these cookies should stay soft for a couple of days, if they last that long! If cookies do start to become hard, add a piece of bread to the container.

    I know my un-pretty pictures do not make these look that great, but you are going to have to trust me when I say they are AMAZING and you need to go make them now!!

    Deep Dish Cherry Cobbler

    This dessert came from one of the healthy cookbooks I got for Christmas. I really like this book because it gives the amounts for the recipes for two different servings - either 1 or 2 servings, or 2 or 4 servings depending on the recipe. It is geared toward the 1/2 serving recipes, making it ideal for just Kevin and I, and it also gives nutrition information for a serving. Most of the ingredients are either items I usually have in my cabinets, or meat/produce that I buy weekly anyway, so the recipes are pretty low-cost and low-fuss.

    I wanted to make a dessert to end our "nice" New Years Day dinner and this sounded pretty good - and it was! Not the most decadent dessert out there (I mean, the fact that there is no chocolate rules it out automatically), but for a "light" fruit dessert it was very tasty. It was the perfect finish to our relatively heavy meal and took no time to throw together.

    Deep Dish
    Cherry Cobbler
    Source: Healthy Cooking for Two (Or Just You) by Frances Price

    Ingredients (for 2 servings):
    1 cup canned water-packed pitted tart cherries, with liquid
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 teaspoon cornstarch
    1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
    1/3 cup reduced-fat biscuit mix
    2 tablespoons 1% lowfat milk

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

    Drain the cherries, reserving the liquid. Measure the liquid and add water, if necessary, to make 1/2 cup, and set aside.

    Spread the cherries in the bottom of a 3-cup shallow casserole or baking dish.

    In a small saucepan, mix the sugar and cornstarch. Stir in the liquid reserved from the cherries. Place over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the almond extract (if using) and pour the thickened liquid over the cherries.

    In a small mixing bowl, stir together the biscuit mix and milk until just blended. Divide the dough into 2 biscuits and spoon over the cherries.

    Bake the cobbler for 15 minutes, or until the biscuits are browned and the cherries are bubbling. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Chicken Kiev

    I was looking for something a little special to make for New Years Day dinner - something that took a little more time and effort than a usual weeknight dinner. This chicken kiev from Alton Brown fit the bill. It was deliciously juicy and the panko crust was perfectly golden-brown and crispy. It wasn't really that difficult, either - just takes a bit of planning ahead because it needs to rest in the fridge for a few hours before cooking. I served it with roasted potatoes and peas. I also made a (healthy version of a) cherry cobbler for dessert - look for that in my next post!

    Chicken Kiev
    Source: Food Network (Alton Brown)

    8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
    1 teaspoon dried parsley
    1 teaspoon dried tarragon (I didn't have any so I subbed dill weed)
    1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning chicken
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning chicken
    4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
    2 large whole eggs, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
    2 cups Japanese bread crumbs (panko), plus 1/4 cup for filling
    Vegetable oil, for frying


    Combine butter, parsley, tarragon, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place mixture on plastic wrap or waxed paper and roll into small log; place in freezer.

    Place chicken breasts, 1 at a time, between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Squirt chicken lightly with water and squirt the top of the plastic wrap as well. Pound to no less than 1/8-inch thickness. Season each piece of chicken with salt and pepper.

    Lay 1 chicken breast on a new piece of plastic wrap and place 1/4 of the compound butter and 1 tablespoon bread crumbs in the center of each breast. Using the plastic wrap to assist, fold in ends of breast and roll breast into a log, completely enclosing the butter; roll very tightly. Repeat with each breast. Place chicken in refrigerator for 2 hours, or up to overnight.

    Place egg and water mixture in 1 pie pan and 2 cups bread crumbs in a different pie pan.

    Heat 1/2-inch of vegetable oil in a 12-inch saute pan over medium-high heat until oil reaches 375 degrees F.

    Dip each breast in the egg mixture and then roll in the bread crumbs. Gently place each breast in oil, sealed-side down, and cook until golden brown, approximately 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Remove to a cooling rack set in sheet pan and allow to drain for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. After reading a bunch of reviews saying that the chicken wasn't all the way done, I put it in the oven for an additional 15 minutes after it was nice and brown on both sides.

    Wednesday, December 31, 2008

    Luau Turkey Loaf with Pineapple Chutney

    One of my new Christmas cookbooks is Healthy Cooking for Two (Or Just You) by Francis Price. I immediately went through the entire book and marked recipes that I wanted to try, so when we were brainstorming the menu for this week I turned to the book and looked back at what I had marked. Kevin is always wanting meatloaf but I just don't care for it, but the flavors in this Luau Turkey Loaf actually didn't seem too bad. I had some leftover ground turkey in the freezer so on the menu it went. This dish actually was pretty good, though the pineapple chutney that accompanied it made the meal in my opinion. Kevin liked it pretty well so I have a feeling I will be making this again when the man wants some meatloaf.

    Luau Turkey Loaf and Pineapple Chutney

    Source: Healthy Cooking for Two (Or Just You) by Francis Price

    For 2 servings:
    1 tablespoon pineapple or orange juice
    1 1/2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
    1 tablespoon coarsely chopped onions
    1/8 small sweet green or red pepper, chopped
    2 quarter-size slices fresh ginger
    6 oz. lean ground turkey
    1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
    1 large egg white

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

    In a blender, combine the pineapple or orange juice, soy sauce, onions, peppers, and ginger. Process on medium speed until the vegetables are finely pureed. Pour into a medium mixing bowl. Add the turkey, bread crumbs, and egg.

    Lightly coat a small baking sheet with no-stick spray. Blend everything well with your hands and pat the mixture into a loaf shape on the baking sheet. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the loaf is brown on top with no trace of pink in the center when you pierce it with a sharp knife.

    Let the loaf stand for 5-10 minutes before slicing. Serve hot or cold.

    Pineapple Chutney

    1 can (8 oz) juice-packed crushed pineapple (with juice)
    2 tablespoons sugar
    2 tablespoons vinegar
    2 tablespoons chopped onion
    2 tablespoons chopped red or green peppers
    1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
    1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    2 tablespoons golden raisins (I omitted)

    In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the pineapple (with juice), sugar, vinegar, onions, red or green peppers, ginger, and pepper flakes. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Stir in the raisins and microwave on high for 1 minute. Let the chutney stand at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm or cold.

    MA! The meatloaf!!!
    ...sorry, couldn't resist ;-)

    Chicken Enchilada Soup

    One of my favorite snack foods every is Harry and David's Pepper and Onion Relish. Every year my mom and I split a case of the stuff and it usually lasts for a couple months. I usually just use it as a dip for chips, but there are 4 recipes on the jar I have always wanted to try. I finally got around to trying one this past week and while it was very good, I think I like the relish better just by itself! This recipe made enough for 2 bowls of soup, which we ate with warm crescent rolls.

    Chicken Enchilada Soup

    Source: Harry and David

    1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
    1/4 cup chopped onion
    1 clove garlic, minced
    3/4 cup Pepper and Onion Relish
    1 1/2 cups chicken broth or stock (I just used the whole can)
    1/2 cup cream (I used fat free half and half)
    Salt to taste
    3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese
    Optional: 1 cup cooked chicken breast, diced
    My addition: 1 or 2 chopped scallions for garnish

    Heat oil in a pot over medium heat and saute onion and garlic. Add relish and chicken broth and cook with pot covered for 15 min. over low heat. Add cream, salt, and chicken (optional) and simmer another 8-10 minutes over low heat. Stir in cheese and serve hot. Ladle into bowls and top with scallions.

    Roasted Potatoes

    I have had this Cooking Light recipe in a stack of "things to try soon" for about a month now, so I decided to make these for a side for my family's Christmas dinner at my grandma's house. There are about 30 people in the family so we eat a LOT! I made a 5 lb. bag of potatoes and they were gone in under 5 minutes... guess I didn't make enough because not everyone even got some! I know I for one could not wait to eat them, because for the hour drive to Grandma's house all I could think about was how my car smelled like Chicken Shack potatoes (which are amazing, for you poor people who never lived near Detroit and experienced them first-hand)!! I made the vinaigrette in a separate container and put it on the potatoes after I reheated them, right before serving. These were really good and I am making some for tomorrow night's dinner for Kevin and I to enjoy, since we only got a taste last weekend.

    New Potatoes with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette
    Source: Cooking Light, November 2008

    3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    7 garlic cloves, unpeeled
    3 pounds small red potatoes, quartered
    3 tablespoons minced chives
    2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (I omitted since I cannot stand any sort of mustard flavor, and used a dash of Worcestershire sauce and an extra dash of salt and vinegar instead)

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. Combine 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, garlic, and potatoes in a roasting pan or jelly-roll pan; toss well to coat. Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until tender, stirring after 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes.
    3. Squeeze garlic cloves to extract pulp. Discard skins. Combine garlic pulp, remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, chives, vinegar,, and mustard into a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add potatoes to bowl; toss well to coat.

    Yield: 8 servings (about 3/4 cup)