Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Green Tea Chicken Expiriment

This was my second attempt - to be honest, it came out only about as well as my first. 

My neighbor told me that if you throw some chicken in on a bed of uncooked rice + water, you'll have a yummy dinner.   Well, I don't much care for white rice, so I never bothered.  But then one day I saw a lemongrass chicken dinner that I couldn't eat somewhere, and thought that maybe using green tea + brown rice, I could make a yummy "one dish" meal.  Well, I'd need vegetables (a nice steamed asparagas would go well). 

So, my theory was good - I brewed about a cup and a half of a lemon-grassy green tea, added it to 3/4 cup of my favorite short grain brown rice, threw some frozen chicken on it + threw it in the oven at 350F for about an hour.   The chicken was overdone and the rice was underdone.  And I had WAY too much liquid.  And too much rice. 

Tonight I tried it again.  This time it was 1 cup of tea to 1/2 cup rice, and I tried to thaw the chicken while pre-cooking the rice for about 20minutes.  Unfortunately, I think my still-mostly-frozen chicken kept some of the rice from cooking all the way through, even though I mixed it up a bit half way through.  The rice was still a little underdone, when the chicken was done, and there was still too much liquid even though I cooked it with the lid off for the last 20 minutes. 

The flavor seems pretty good though - even with the thighs I used this time.  

I think the brown rice is really the difficult bit here - it takes much longer to cook than white rice.  But I also think it's soo much yummier that I'm keeping it! 

Next time - 2/3 cup tea, 1/2 cup rice,  cook for ~20 minutes while thawing the chicken ENTIRELY, cook another 30, stir (leave lid off if needed), cook at least 20 more minutes. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

American chop suey and other beef thoughts

I tend to eat moderately seasonally, but often the day-to-day menu items are so un-noteworthy that I come around to the same season again and think "What DID I eat last Novemeber?".  

Tonight, I'm eating my take on:

American Chop Suey

~ 1 T garlic
~1/2 cup of chopped onion
~ 1lb ground beef
~1/2 box of whole wheat elbow macaroni (ziti works, too)
~ 2/3 c of tomato sauce*
~ 1/4 c chopped celery

Start water boiling for macaroni.  Saute the garlic, onion + celery in a large cast iron frying pan until the onion is translucent.  Add ground beef.  When the water is boiling, add the pasta + cook according to manufacturer's directions - err on the side of underdone.  When the ground beef is done, add the sauce, pasta and cheese + mix.  
*I use so little sauce in large part because sauce without vinegar and/or black pepper is REALLY hard to find and canned/jarred tomato products are a mold hazzard. So, I'm working off a relatively small stock of frozen sauce that I made when the tomatoes at the cheap farm stand near work were at their peak.  Next year, I want to hold a tomato sauce canning party... 

In other news, running into an old friend on Ravelry got me thinking about higher quality meat.  Supposedly, grass-fed beef is higher in omega-3, which I hear rumours is good for allergies.  

I usually buy the family pack of whatever % is on sale of ground beef + freeze it in roughly 1lb chunks.  Today, I thought I'd buy the higher-quality grass-fed stuff - but it was 9$/lb!! For ground meat!  And apparently, that's a fair price!  I bought the 3lb family pack of conventional for about 9$ total, instead.   Of course, it looks like my co-op has antibiotic/hormone free ground beef for $2.99/lb this week - I should stock up. 

I also looked into meat CSAs in my area - Chestnut Farms has a meat share that starts at 10lb/$80/mo for some regular and some high-quality cuts.  That's currently a bit too expensive for me, but it's better than $9/lb for the cheapest cuts!  

Oh well - that part of dinner was a little light on the vegetables, so I'm going to go have a "second course"!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Apple Pear Crisp and other fruit news.

I've been bad at keeping this up, once I got the OK to eat a wider variety.. but tonight was the second or third attempt at the perfect crisp, and that's the other thing I started this for - keeping track of what I did on various iterations of a recipie so that I don't have to start from the beginning each time! 

Apple-Pear Crisp

3 apples (2 Macouns and a McIntosh)
1 pear (bosc?) 
1/3 + 1/6 cup of ww flour
1/3 + 1/6 cup of white flour
1/3 cup of sugar(I know....)
6 T butter
2 t cinnamon
3/4 t ginger

Cut up fruit into 1 inch chunks and put evenly into a 8x8x2 pan. 

Add 1/3 cup of white + WW flours, 1 t cinnamon, scant t ginger, sprinkle of nutmeg + dash of clove to bowl.  Using a pastry knife, cut 3 T of butter into the mix.  Sprinkle over fruit, tapping dish to settle the mixture. 

Do the same with the remaining ingredients - covering the previous set. 

Bake at 350F for 45-50 mins.  (or until the fruit is mushy and bubbling, and the top is slightly browner)

This was based of The Joy ofCooking's apple crisp recipie - I don't use as much fruit (how would it fit?!?!) , I've cut down the butter and sugar, added some whole wheat flour and some more spices.   The "crisp" layer was too sugary and too thin for my taste, thus the layer with more flour than sugar (well, it was supposed to be, than I forgot the sugar all together... oops). 

We've liked this with plums, but I ran out.  Crisps, I've decided, are the perfect way to use up that fruit that you *thought* you were going to eat, but is now a little overripe. 

In other news, I've been eating apples at work - raw!!  I'd noticed that I didn't usually have my "Oral allergy syndrome" reaction at Samhian - which makes sense combined with the theory that it's a cross-reaction from tree pollen.  So, I decided to put it to the test - and it seems that I CAN eat raw apples in October!!   I'm excited. 

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hole Mole, Frijoles?!?

Sometimes, I stumble on a recipe so weird I just want to try it. That, coupled with a strong desire to raid the Hostess cart for the past week or so, led to me trying this recipe from Mothering.com.

Of course, I had to edit it some. I reduced the maple syrup, for one thing. The first time, I added the amount of "coffee substitute" in real instant coffee. And finally got to sleep at 4 a.m., with the distinct sensation of my skin vibrating. (That batch is in a freezer marked "ZOOM brownies"!) The second batch, I forgot the coffee altogether, which is probably good, because I'm not supposed to have it, anyway.

These aren't low in fat or calories (about 160 kcal for 1/16th), and at $5.65 a pan they aren't overly cheap, either. But, they're really, really, really good. And only one (teeny) brownie will fill you up + satisfy the worst chocolate craving! They also happen to be gluten-free. You'd never know. I also have a sneaking suspicion that they'd work with Splenda or Stevia instead of the maple syrup, because the flavor is so intense + a little bitter.

Fudgy dark chocolate brownies

1 can (~15 oz) of black beans, 1/2 to entirely drained
4 squares of unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 c. (= 1 stick) of butter
1/2 c. maple syrup
4 eggs
(optional - 1 t (+?) of Stevia-lactose blend)
(optional - 1 T of instant coffee (or more, if you need ZOOM))
(optional - 1 C. of chopped nuts, if you eat them...)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Melt the butter and the baking chocolate on low heat, stirring regularly. Grease a 8x8 or 9x9 pan with the butter wrapper. Puree the can of beans in a blender or food processor. Beat the eggs and the maple syrup together (and the stevia). Add the melted chocolate and butter. Add the pureed beans. Add any "optional" ingredients. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the middle is entirely "set" and a small dent remains when you press on it - do not overbake!

Other advantages? They're high in protein, at least for something that small! And if you're a student (or, say, a pagan keeping a Yule vigil..) they'll keep you up all night WITHOUT the blood sugar drop crash that regular brownies would.

The best part is that I liked it and DIDN'T want to eat the whole pan at once! It also gets the husband seal of approval, which means that "regular people" will enjoy eating it, too.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Fettuccine alfredo?

A little while back I noticed Hodgson Mill now makes whole wheat lasagna and fettuccine noodles. I picked up some of the fettuccine a little while back because I prefer my pasta thicker, and I noticed that they had a recipe for an alfredo I could ALMOST eat on the back! This was my variation, and it was SUPER yummy.

Fettuccine Alfredo with Spinach and chicken

1.5 T butter
1 T Whole Wheat flour
~1 t minced garlic
1 medium egg
1 c whole milk
~ 1/4 cup of Farmer's Cheese
1/2 t dried tarragon
1/2 t salt
1/2 c frozen spinach
2 c cooked chicken

Cook and drain about 1/2 box of Fettuccine noodles.

Melt butter in a small to medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic. Add the flour, stirring constantly (I love my silicone spatulas for this!), until you have a paste. Add the egg and the milk, keeping up the stirring. Add the tarragon and the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slighly. Add spinach, cheese + chicken, and continue to cook until the mixture is hot again. Add to pasta. Done!

This made about three "lunch" sized portions. It would have made a "dinner" with a veggie on the side. Don't mistake the spinach for a whole serving of veggies - if you're like me, any spinach you ENJOY eating is a wonder, but it really only breaks down to about 1/6 of a cup per meal. Maybe next time, I'll see if the recipe can absorb 3/4 or maybe even a whole cup?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Oven-baked "French Toast"

Sometime in the past decade or so, a new family holiday tradition snuck up on us - oven-baked pancakes on Christmas morning. My Dad found the recipe somewhere (probably in the hunt for the elusive Finnish Pancake Recipe) and it was good enough to "stick". The original oven-baked pancakes are a fluffy, eggy dish with no sugar in the actual recipe - just in the sauce. They puff up in the oven and are really a sight to see! And all the fluff is caused by the eggs - no yeast, and not even any corn-tainted baking powder.

Here's my first attempt at a revision that might make this even friendlier.

Oven-Baked French Toast
3 lg eggs
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 t salt
1 t ground cinnamon
dash of ground clove
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1 t Torani Sugar-free vanilla syrup
1/2 c milk
2 T melted butter

Pre-heat oven to 350F and grease a medium cast iron skillet or a 2-3 qt casserole. Beat the eggs. Add the flour to the eggs slowly. Add the remaining ingredients. Pour into the greased skillet/casserole and bake for ~ 20 mins, or until the sides are high and brown and the center is puffy and cracked.

2 T melted butter
2 T warm orange juice

Combine melted butter and orange juice.

To serve - cut at least in halves, place on plates or in bowls, top with sauce.

Assuming two servings (I ate the whole thing myself this morning- yum!), this contains about 450 Kcal, 15g protein, 28g carbs and only 5g of sugar - including the sauce! I might try this with less flour or another egg next time - most of the carbs are from the flour, and the texture might be better with less flour, anyhow.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Almost entirely unlike cookies

It's the holidays.

Holidays are *hard* with allergies. Anything social that involves eating is hard. And almost everything social involves eating or drinking!

I attempted several "dessert" recipes around Thanksgiving. You never heard about them because they didn't work. And I am STILL trying to get merainge off of the cookie sheet. The pumpkin custard never got off the drawing board, but the pumpkin + flour added to the merianges that never fluffed up made very good french toast! (Not very good pumpkin bread though - it didn't have nearly enough sweetener in it)

So this was another attempt at sugar-free cookies. Sugar-free Sugar Cookies, actually. I pulled the original recipe out of Diabetic Living, but what I'm posting here has been edited heavily - first to make it "cheat" less, then because the actual recipe doesn't seem to have had NEARLY enough liquid to actually make it work.

Sugar-Free Sugar Almost Cookies

1/2 c. butter (1 stick, softened)
1/2 c. sugar substitute - or, in my case, 1 t. stevia blend, 4 t. maple syrup. I should try at least 2t of the stevia-lactose blend next time.
1t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/3 c. canola oil
2 eggs
1 t. Torani sugar-free vanilla
a few drops of orange flavoring
13/4c white flour
3/4c whole wheat flour (the magazine suggests "white wheat" flour)

Beat butter for about 30 seconds on high. Add sugar substitute, baking powder and sale, beat until fluffy. add eggs oil, vanilla + orange flavor. Beat in flours. Divide in half, cover, chill for 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters, arrange on cookie sheets.

Bake for 6-8 minutes or until firm, cook on wire racks.

I had more luck if I left the dough a bit thicker - probably because it was still too dry (I've uped the butter and eggs in this copy). They *look* like cookies, but mostly taste like a maple whole wheat biscuit. My housemate insists they taste like nothing at all.

We both agree that they might work as "sugar cookies" if they had sugar or frosting on top of them. They also might make a good "graham cracker" crust for, say, a pumpkin custard pie....