Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Quinoa and veggies

Believe it or not sometimes the ancient grains and food stuff are the best for us. Take Quinoa (pronounced Kin-wa) that originated in South America eons ago and has been adopted by us 21st century folks. Its very high in proteins and essential amino acids yet is easy to prepare and is a great flavor transporter.

Quinoa cooks up fast. Use a 2 part liquid to 1 part quinoa and simmer for 15 minutes and voila it is ready.

I like it mixed with a huge veggie saute as a side with my main protein to help get my diet better balanced and live in a healthier way.

Quinoa Vegetable Saute
  • 2 C chicken broth
  • 1 C quinoa
  • 1 bell pepper coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion coarsely chopped
  • 8 oz mushrooms sliced
  • 1 zucchini halved and sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Combine your chicken broth and quinoa to sauce pan and bring to simmer. Simmer covered 15 minutes. Turn off heat and keep it covered until needed.

Coat a large skillet with olive oil. Add mushrooms and pepper to taste. Saute over medium high heat until mushrooms start to brown. Add bell pepper, zucchini, onion and salt to taste. Saute until onion is translucent and the pepper and zucchini have begun to brown...about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir into cooked quinoa. Serve warm as side to meat, chicken or fish.

Friday, May 20, 2011

It was just chicken for crying out loud...

...and I didn't even bother to take a pic of it
Go figure, am not a fan of chicken and when I made this recipe the other day I didn't even bother to take a picture of it on the plate. Why? Because its chicken, not a fan of the stuff, I tend to think of it as just a flavor delivery mechanism. The Fam however loves the stuff but this particular recipe brought huge reviews. Actually they acted like they never had chicken before and just raved about how moist and good it was. So I'll add it to the repertoire of things to do with chicken as they liked it so much.

I use chicken breasts from Costco...you know the kind, the multi-pack that sells for $2.99 lb and gives one enough to make many meals. Breasts do want to dry out faster than the dark meat does. This recipe however yielded a very moist breast and I think its because of the marinade I used more than anything else.

Ranch Marinated Chicken
  • 1/4 c ranch dressing (I use Hidden Valley)
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 2 lbs chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1 .7oz Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix

Put chicken breast in a bowl. Add ranch dressing and lemon juice. Toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for 30 minutes.

In another bowl add flour and dry salad dressing mix. Toss to combine well. In skillet heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Dredge the chicken breasts in flour and add to hot skillet. Cook a couple of minutes per side until browned and crispy. Put chicken pieces on a baking sheet and bake in a 400F oven for 20 minutes to cook through.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Stupid Easy Peach Cobbler...the Video

Its my first official video...appeared on the Snacky Shack, a youtube channel that takes artists, their food and shares it with their audience. It is run by two really cool guys here in Monrovia (suburban LA), artist Joseph R Davis and musician Tommy "Mac" MacCarthy.

The recipe that I did for the show was my Stupid Easy Peach Cobbler which I have blogged here in the past. To save you the look up here it is again.

The homemade vanilla extract in the video is stupid easy to do as well. Take a small jar and fill it with 1 c brandy or bourbon. Take two vanilla pods and split them lengthwise then cut in half to fit into the jar. Let it sit a couple of weeks and voila...your own homemade vanilla.

Stupid Easy Peach Cobbler
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 15 oz cans sliced peaches
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • cinnamon
  • 1/2 c butter (1 stick I use unsalted)

In mixer with whisk attachment add the flour, sugar, salt and . Crack egg into a small dish and beat lightly to break yolk. Add egg to dry ingredients and whiz in the mixer at medium speed until it resembles sand.

Drain 1 can of peaches and add to 8X8 baking dish. Add the contents of the entire can of remaining peaches. Stir in vanilla. Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste. Sprinkle the flour mixture evenly over the top of the peaches. Do not stir to blend.

Melt butter and drizzle over the topping mixture. Bake in 375 oven until topping is browned and starting to crisp up...approx 55-65 minutes.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Salsa Fresca (Fresh Salsa in case you need some help)

OK there are prolly as many recipes for salsa as there are Mexican grandmothers, but my base recipe didn't come from one of them, rather the basic idea came from the LA Times somewhere around 1989. Their recipe included a secret ingredient...a splash of acidity from citrus to brighten it up a bit without really changing up the idea of it being simple salsa. It reportedly came from the kitchens of El Torito (A big chain here in the SW) according to my now brown tinged recipe.

It does include cilantro. I use the full amount, 1 cup as my household loves the stuff. If your family isn't a big fan of the green herbage feel free to cut back on it, but don't eliminate as it really is there for flavor.

The other thing that it needs you attention is the use of a jalapeno. I use the red kind, even though they are a bit more expensive, as they have a fuller sweeter flavor than the green kind. By all means swap out the green if that is all you can find, the red is purely my flavor choice.

The other flavor choice comes with the tomatoes. Again you pay a bit more than the usual grocery store stuff, but its worth it. I use the small cherry tomatoes as they are so much more flavorful compared to the regular 'maters in the grocery store. By all means use the large ones if you are growing your own this summer.

This could take FOREVER to do if you don't have a food processor. I can only imagine how long it would take to fine dice all the tomatoes, onions etc.,. By all means break out the machine as you have salsa literally in a few pulses with it.

Salsa Fresca
  • 12 oz cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 red jalapeno
  • 1 c cilantro - loosely packed
  • 1/4 t salt
  • juice of one lemon or lime (I use alternate depending upon if I have a huge crop or not)

Place ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times until you have a fine dice.
Serve with chips, in tacos, or where ever, how ever you use salsa.

Chinese Style Chicken Stir Fry

Its all about presentation too sometimes.
Its all about the veggies around here and getting more into our diet without really going out of our way to do so. Chinese, actually Asian food in general use a lot of veggies and sparse on the meat so its an easy way to get more of them into your diet.

This is one of those dishes that is labor intensive in the prep, but the actual cooking takes just minutes. Seriously, you will have mush veggies if you try to cut and add them as you go. Just do the mis en place and get it over with. Chop them roughly the same size and you won't have any issues with them not cooking at the same pace. The exception is the jalapeno which you really want a fine dice on as there is nothing worse than biting into a big chunk of it...a little goes a long way.

Salt is purposely omitted from the seasonings on this as there is ample in the soy sauce. Seriously if you try to salt the chicken of veggie to taste as you are cooking them you will wind up with way over salted dinner when the soy is added. Been there done that and bloated for a good day after that mistake.

Another tip I'd add is to mix the chicken broth and corn starch together before adding to the pan. Reduces the effort needed to make a smooth sauce.

Chicken Stir Fry
  • 2 large chicken breasts - 1/2" dice
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeno finely diced
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 2 T corn starch
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • crispy chow mien noodles.

Heat oils in large skillet over medium high heat. When oil begins to shimmer add chicken and black pepper. Stir fry the chicken until well browned 5-7 minutes. Move chicken to sides of pan and add veggies. Stir fry until tender crisp about 5 minutes longer.

Add soy sauce. Mix the corn starch and chicken broth until well blended. Add to skillet and stir until bubbly, thick and translucent about 1-2 minutes.

Serve hot over rice and garnish with crispy chow mien noodles

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pork Tenderloin Thai Curry

Curry is slowly becoming a favorite around here. Makes sense in a way since we are a big fan of Thai and other Asian cuisine that we drift towards curry and the food of India. Why may you ask? A lot of reasons, part of our eating in a healthier way mode it gives us another avenue of flavor and way to introduce some more veggies into our diet.

I think next time around I'll kick this up a notch in the veggie department by adding in some chopped red bell pepper...will help with the color aspect as well. Might even add a diced jalapeno or Thai red chili to kick the heat up a notch more...maybe. Stay tuned for a V2..this was plenty tasty, just see room for some improvement.

Pork Tenderloin Thai Curry

  • 1 - 1to 1 1/4 lb pork tenderloin
  • 1 t red pepper flakes
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 2 t yellow curry powder
  • 3 cardamom seeds crushed
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • 1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
  • 2 T peanut butter
  • 1 c water
  • 1 t chicken flavor better than bouillon
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1/4 c finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt
  • pepper

Heat oils in large lidded saute pan over medium high heat. Season pork tenderloin with salt and pepper. Add to the saute pan and sear all sides. Add onion and cook until tender and edges starting to brown.

Add spices, coconut milk, peanut butter, honey, water, bouillon and half of the fresh cilantro. Stir to blend. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 115-20 minutes until pork is cooked through.

Serve of rice or rice noodles and garnish with remaining cilantro.