Monday, February 28, 2011

Chicken and Rice Soup

I wanted to have another chicken-based soup in my repertoire with more fiber than my traditional chicken noodle soup recipe.  That's how new recipes are born for me. I get an idea in my head; I start tinkering on paper after a little cookbook and internet research, then I go for it.  Sometimes I get it right in one or two tries.  Other times it will me a half dozen attempts or more.  The first time I made a chicken and rice soup I knew I was close.  My first try I used regular brown rice and edamame.  The result was pretty good.  The second attempt I decided to use a gourmet blend of brown rice for extra fiber and nutrition, plus zucchini and spinach as my added vegetables.  I've also been reading about the benefits of soaking grains.  Soaking grains in an acidic medium for 8 to 12 hours helps to neutralize phytic acids and enzyme inhibitors making nutrients more readily available to our bodies and more easily absorbed.  My husband said it was the best soup I ever made. I guess that means it's a keeper :-)

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Chicken and Rice Soup
1 small to medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium carrots or 8 baby carrots, sliced thin
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons of rosemary, crushed with mortar and pestle
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 zucchini, quartered with seeds removed
2 quarts of homemade chicken stock
1 quart of low sodium chicken broth
1 cup gourmet rice soaked fresh water and the juice of one lemon for 8 hours (I used Lundberg Countrywild)
2 shredded chicken breasts
1 cup chopped frozen spinach
pinch cayenne

1) Heat olive oil in a large pot and add the onions, celery, and carrots.  Saute on low to medium heat for 7 minutes.

2)  Add zucchini and garlic and continue to saute for another two minutes stirring often so the garlic doesn't burn.

3) Add stock, broth, rosemary and parsley to the pot.  Drain and rinse the soaking rice. Add rice to the chicken soup mixture.

4)  Bring to a boil, turn down heat, and simmer on low for 40 minutes.  Add shredded chicken, spinach, salt, cayenne and simmer for another 5 minutes.

5) Soup's on!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oven "Fried" Cod

There is nothing like a great deep-fried beer-battered fish and chip dinner.  I love it. My favorite local restaurant, Henry's Pub, serves amazing food and their fish and chips are fantastic. Truth be told, it is challenging to serve fish for dinner to my meat-and-potato-loving husband.  I'm still trying to learn how to cook fish without over cooking it, (my usual mistake).  This is the first fish recipe that my husband actually loves.  I realize it still not the healthiest recipe I could make, but the fact that my husband really loves this recipe is a huge accomplishment.  I'll take it, and I hope you like it.

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Oven "Fried" Cod
1 lb cod
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/4 cup potato flakes
1/4 cup parmesan
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon powdered garlic
1 tablespoon of olive oil

1) Set up first round stations: 1 small bowl of milk, 1 small bowl of flour. Thoroughly pat dry cod fillets with paper towel.  Dip cod in the milk then coat with flour and set pieces aside on cutting board.

2) Set up second round stations: Add egg to remaining milk bowl and whip with fork

3) Melt butter in a medium sized bowl, add bread crumbs to the melted butter and mix thoroughly.

4) Add potato flakes, parmesan, remaining flour from first round station, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper

5) Dip flour coated cod fillets into egg mixture and then coat with breadcrumb mixture.  Set aside again on cutting board.

6) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 12 inch skillet over medium heat for 4 minutes.  Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Wait 30 seconds, swirl oil around pan and add fish fillets.  Cook on side one for four minutes.

7) Using spatula flip fillets and immediately put into the oven to finish cooking for about 10 to 12 minutes.  I have new titanium bonded Scanpans which can go in the oven up to 500 degrees.  I love these pans - the best I've ever owned, bar none.

Goes great with Spinach Balls in Tomato Sauce!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spinach Balls in Tomato Sauce

I have been making this recipe for years.  I love it.  It's not as easy as throwing green beans in a pan to saute so I don't make it every week.  If I had extra freezer space I would make these by the dozens and freeze them -- sigh, some day.  Even still, I do make these little tasty cuties every few months when I get "vegetable burn out."  You know what I mean, right? When you're tired of all the usual suspects and want something different.  Well, this is it. The cure to "vegetable burn out." (Adapted from Reader's Digest Great Recipes for Good Health pg. 198, copyright 1988)

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Spinach Balls in Tomato Sauce
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (use alternative choice to adhere to South Beach principles)
1/2 of a large yellow onion, minced (about 1 cup, divided)
1 lb of fresh spinach or one 1 lb. package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained thoroughly
4 cloves of garlic, minced and divided
1 tablespoon of whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon of lemon rind zest
1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, divided
1 large egg
1 can (8 ounces) no salt added tomato sauce
1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon olive oil

1) Chop onion and divide in two 1/2 cup measurements.

2) Melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-low heat in large skillet; add half the onions, and cook uncovered until soft, about 5 minutes.

3)  Using a garlic press, add 2 cloves of garlic on top of the onions and add fresh chopped spinach or squeezed dried thawed spinach.  Stir and saute for 2 minutes, or until wilted (if fresh), and just dry.

4) Remove spinach from heat.  Grate lemon rind over the spinach; grate cheese over the spinach; add breadcrumbs, 1/8 teaspoon of pepper and 1 egg.

5) Mix all the ingredients until blended.  Make 16 balls by hand, dividing mixture in half, and those two halves in half, and those halves in half again, and so on until you have eight portions.  Divide each of the eight portions in half rolling each half into a ball and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Refrigerate uncovered for 15 minutes or until ready to bake.  (I have left them in the refrigerator up to 4 hours).

6) While the spinach balls are in the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-sized sauce pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the second half of onion, and cook uncovered until soft about 5 minutes.

7)  Add the remaining garlic and pepper.  Pour the tomato sauce into the sauce pan along with the beef broth and basil.  Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.

8)  While tomato sauce is cooking put spinach balls into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

9)  After 30 minutes add spinach balls to the sauce pan and serve.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Southwestern Frittata

One of my favorite weekend breakfasts (or light dinner) is this Zucchini Frittata. I've been experimenting with new ingredients in order to figure out another healthy low-carb frittata recipe.  I finally found a combination worthy to blog about, and to make again and again.

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Southwestern Frittata
1 tablespoon olive, oil
6 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 can of black beans, drained
1 can of tomatoes, drained
1 small can of fire roasted green chilies
1 small bunch of cilantro, plus more for garnish
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 eggs
1 cup mexican blend cheese or combination of 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/2 cup Monterey Jack
Sour cream for garnish

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a nonstick 10 inch skillet with an ovenproof handle, heat the olive oil over moderate heat for 1 minute.  Add the green onions and cook, uncovered, until soft -- about 5 minutes.

2)  Add the garlic, black beans, tomatoes, fire roasted green chilies, cilantro and pepper and saute for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.

3) In a small bowl whisk together the eggs. Pour the eggs into the skillet and gently blend with the bean and vegetable mixture.

4) Top the uncooked frittata with shredded cheese

5) Place the skillet in the oven and bake the frittata, uncovered, until brown and bubbly -- about 45 minutes (keep an eye on it -- ovens vary and I'm in the mile high city).  Serve with sour cream and cilantro.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Swiss Chard with Cannellini Beans and Bacon

Walking through Whole Foods the other day I noticed a giant display of gorgeous Swiss chard. I bought a bunch thinking that at the very least I could wilt them in olive oil with garlic, salt and pepper.  In reality, when it came time to cook these pretty green and red leaves I had a 1/2 a can of cannellini beans and a couple slices of left over bacon in the refrigerator. Eureka a new recipe was born!  I'm not so naive to think that this is the first time these ingredients have been used together.  But for was a first. Enjoy!

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Swiss Chard with Cannellini Beans and Bacon
One bunch of Swiss chard, stems and vein removed
2 tablespoons of olive oil (optional: a little extra drizzle before serving)
2 small to medium shallots, finely chopped
1/2 can of a 15 oz can of cannellini beans, drained
2 slices of bacon, crumbled
salt and pepper

1. Wash Swiss chard, pat dry with paper towels, and remove stems along with the thick part of the vein.

2. Chop Swiss chard into 1 inch by 2 inch strips. Finely chop shallots and heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil oil in a large frying pan.

3. Saute shallots in olive oil for 5 minutes, stirring often until soft.

4.  Add Swiss chard and stir until not quite wilted.

5.  Add cannellini beans, and continue to saute until greens are wilted and beans are warm.

6. Sprinkle with bacon crumbles, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.  (I served this with oven baked fish which turned out delicious - I'll post that recipe soon.  It was the first time I made that too and I want to make it one more time before posting).

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie - Family Style

Inspired by the Jan/Feb Food Network Magazine (pg. 58) I decided to make a chicken pot pie.  My version is fairly different, because I did not have all the ingredients in my pantry that were listed in the recipe.  However, using the the Food Network recipe as a guideline I took a chance that I had enough of the "right stuff" in my pantry to achieve success.  I'm glad I just "went for it" trying something close to the Food Network version of the recipe because I will definitely make this version again.

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Chicken Pot Pie - Family Style
2 single chicken breasts
2 small russet potatoes
3 1/3 cup chicken broth, divided
1 small onion
3 stalks of celery
2 tablespoons of butter
6 tablespoons of flour
1 1/2 cups of whole milk
1 1/2 cups frozen mixed veggies (peas, carrots, & corn)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 ready made pie crust (preferably organic, or all natural with no hydrogenated oils)
salt and pepper

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees and bake potatoes directly on the oven rack for about 45 minutes or until tender.  Cool for 15 minutes, then peel and break into small pieces.  Follow package instructions for bringing ready made pie dough to room temperature.

2) While potatoes are cooking, poach chicken breasts in 1/3 cup chicken broth in a covered pan for 30 minutes, flipping after 15 minutes.  Cool for 15 minutes and using two forks shred the chicken.

3) Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pot.  Add onion, celery and thyme and cook until soft, about 7 minutes.

4) Sprinkle in the 6 tablespoons of flour and and stir until lightly toasted.

5) Add the milk and broth to the onion celery mixture.  Stir and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Add frozen vegetables and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add potatoes and shredded chicken. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

7) Transfer filling to a deep pie dish. Place pie dough over the top of filling and sprinkle with salt (preferably kosher) and pepper.  With a sharp knife cut dough to let out steam as the pie bakes.  Bake at 425 for 25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.  Serve in individual bowls making sure to get a bit of crust on the top of each serving.


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