Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Seafood Gumbo and Apple Chicken - 1.28.09

I've been in a soupy mood lately, so here's what I ended up with:

Seafood Gumbo

This is seafood gumbo. The only changes I had to make to the recipe I used was substituting turkey bacon for regular bacon, which meant I had to add more vegetable oil to the roux. I will admit I should have cooked the roux a bit longer to turn more dark brown, but I was impatient. With the roux, I cooked onion, bell pepper and garlic. Then I added the fish stock, canned tomatoes, frozen okra, thyme, bay leaf, parsley, and scallions. After letting the vegetables cook, I added fresh shrimp, some canned oysters and lump crabmeat. It is my understanding that gumbo is served with a mound of rice, so I made my rice into an island in the center of a sea of the gumbo. This gumbo turned out nicely with seafoody goodness. It's a good thing I like it because it made about 10 servings worth of soup. It does make a nice lunch on cold days, though.

Apple Chicken with Moroccan Quinoa

My main meal of the week was apple and honey-glazed chicken. Like most of the chicken dishes I make, this one is pretty simple. Cook the chicken breasts in a pan with some salt and pepper. In a bowl, mix together some honey, Dijon mustard, cinnamon, salt, and apple jelly. While the chicken cooks, baste it with this sauce. Once the chicken is done, serve it topped with the sauce from the pan. The chicken comes out sweet, but not overtly so, with an interesting addition of the mustard to the sauce. As a side, I made red quinoa and mixed in some cumin, turmeric, lemon juice, toasted pine nuts, chopped dried apricots, salt, and green onion. The spices in the quinoa as well as the sweet apricot complimented the chicken pretty nicely, and the combination of the two seemed to improve each other by adding depth.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Grape Chicken, Shrimp Stir Fry and Juice - 1/19/2009

I decided to try some of my new kitchen toys with my cooking this week to very pleasing results.


My mom gave me a juicer that she doesn't use, so I thought I would give it a shot. I juiced 4 carrots, 3 pears, 3 Pink Lady apples (the juice actually had a pink tinge to it), and some cubed pineapple. I can't stand carrot juice by itself, but mixed with these other juices, it made a nice cocktail that lasted me the entire week, about 4 cups worth. My main hesitation with juice, though, is that you consume many of the calories you would normally get from fruit without any of the fiber, which not only has nice digestive properties but also helps to give you a feeling of satiety. Nonetheless, this ruthless little machine will serve me very well in the future.


This apparatus is a handy little set-up. The bottom portion is the main pan and the top portion has holes in the bottom to act as a steamer compartment. Using this, I cooked some wild rice in the bottom compartment and, about halfway through its cooking, I placed some broccolini with sliced lemons in the steamer compartment to let them cook until a crisp tender while the rice finished.

Grape Chicken

In a separate pan, I cooked up some thinly sliced chicken breasts. After they were done and out of the pan, I added a combination of grape juice, chicken broth and cornstarch to the pan, cooking it until it thickened. Then I added white grapes to the pan until they were heated through. This dish came out very nicely balanced on the sweetness and the flavor of the grapes really sang after they were warm.

Shrimp & Chives Stir Fry

This last dish does not have any Christmas gift element, but it was good nonetheless. After heating up some oil in a skillet-wok with some salt and a little sugar, I cooked some ginger until it was fragrant. Then I added a pound of shrimp, a little bit of rice wine, and a bunch of uncut chives. After the shrimp just turned pink, I added some cornstarch mixed into some seafood broth to thicken up the sauce. Serving this atop some baked spaghetti squash helped to cut down on the carbohydrates while still providing a neutral and hearty base to the dish. The pungent flavors of chive and ginger came through well. Not only that but this all cooked up in about 10 minutes.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Garlic Tortellini with Marsala Vegetables - 01.06.09

As delicious as my leftovers from the last post were, I was in the mood for something different. Luckily for me, I was in a creative mood and I keep a nicely stocked kitchen.


Initially I did not feel that creative. I thought I would just cook up some high-carb deliciousness and maybe some veggies, then call it a night. Nothing blog-worthy. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted something more from my spur of the moment repast. After looking through my fridge and freezer, the ideas started flowing, so much so I had to stop myself from putting everything together in a gamish of contradicting flavors. I decided to break it all up into two parts: main dish and veggie side-dish. The main dish (in the foreground) is from a pack of store-bought tortellini (chicken-prosciutto). After cooking them, I wilted some spinach in olive oil and lots of garlic (4 medium cloves). Then I mixed in the pasta and even let it brown a little bit on the outside (kind of like pirogi), then topped it with some shaved parmiggiano. For the side dish, I sliced a carrot and chopped up a bundle of broccolini, then cooked them in a saucepan with some butter until they were tender. I added a good dose of Marsala wine and let the sauce reduce. The tortellini's saltiness matched the heavy garlic flavors. The Marsala sauce went very nicely with the carrots and pretty well with the broccolini as well. I'm glad I took time to cook this all because by the time I was done with my first portion, I was too full to go back for another helping. It seems my own creativity helped save my New Year's resolution of eating healthier in tact.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Barley Soup, Flank Steak & Sweet Slaw - 1/3/2009

Happy New Year! Now that the holiday festivities have concluded, it's time to start cooking healthily again.

Barley Soup

I'm considering cutting down on the carbohydrates I eat at dinner, so the carb element of this meal is a smaller serving of barley soup. You cook raw barley in vegetable broth for half an hour. Then add two sliced carrots, 2 cups of sliced mushrooms, tomato paste, pepper, paprika, thyme, and salt. Let this simmer until tender, about 30 minutes more. To serve, you add a small splash of vinegar and some parsley.

Flank Steak & Sweet Slaw

The main feature of the day, though, is an Asian flank steak with sweet slaw. You start by marinating a flank steak in soy, vegetable oil, ginger, and garlic for 30 minutes. While this is marinating, thinly slice some cabbage and green onions. Dissolve equal parts sugar in rice vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. After removing from the heat, add some more fresh ginger. If you want to add some heat, add some thinly sliced jalapenos. Pour the vinegar mixture over the cabbage and green onions, then toss to coat. I grilled my steak using my cast iron skillet, then let it rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board before slicing it thinly. Serve the steak atop some of the sweet slaw. I really like this recipe because it was pretty easy and the flavors melded nicely.

Here's to a happy and healthy 2009!