Tag Archives: nuts

Lemon-Braised Chicken Tenders and Cauliflower

Sorry for the two week silence and no blog posts.  I’ve really tried not to talk too much about work here but my work situation has been so stressful the last several months, specifically the last few weeks, that I come home at night and don’t do much but lay around in the dark, watch television and eat take out or fried egg sandwiches.  My weekends, which is usually when I do my cooking, have been a lot more of the same.  I’m probably depressed but I’ll be changing jobs at the end of the month so I’m hoping things start to get better.  Usually cooking calms me down and helps me to decompress but I haven’t even been up for doing that much.  The only good thing that comes out of eating badly for two weeks and laying around is that finally I want something better to eat, something somewhat healthy and something that maybe includes a fruit or vegetable.  So I finally got off my butt and made some food, specifically these Lemon-Braised Chicken Tenders and Cauliflower.

Frozen chicken tenders (yes, frozen) are mixed with onion and cauliflower before sitting in a lemon juice-chicken broth bath until mostly cooked.  After finishing cooking in the oven, spinach and scallions are added as well as slightly sweet dates and nuts (I used pecans instead of pistachios).  This is a truly unique mixture of flavors which all works together wonderfully.  I’m shocked that I like cauliflower as much as I do considering I wouldn’t go near it as a kid.  Or spinach.  Or scallions.  Or onions.  Or dates.  Hmm, who is that in the mirror looking back at me?

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The ingredients:

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add frozen chicken tenders. Cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Transfer to plate.

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To the same Dutch oven add onion and cauliflower. Cook 2 minutes until lightly browned. Add garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper; cook 30 seconds more. Add lemon juice. Stir,  scraping up brown bit in bottom of pan. Add chicken broth and lemon peel. Bring to boiling; cover and transfer to oven.

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Bake 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink (170 degrees F). Add spinach and green onion; cover and let stand 2 minutes to slightly wilt spinach.

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In a small bowl combine olives, dates, and pistachios. Spoon chicken mixture over cooked rice, if desired. Top with date mixture and additional lemon peel, if desired.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:

  • Olives

Substitutions:

  • Pecans

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Better Homes and Gardens magazine

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Honey Cashew Chicken

I think I might have found the perfect meal.  For someone who didn’t eat much Asian food as a kid, I have identified Asian flavors as being my favorite thing to make and eat.  When I have nothing else to eat, my go-to is either chicken, rice, pasta or veggies with some kind of soy sauce-rice-vinegar-sriracha sauce.  This Honey Cashew Chicken is exactly right up my alley.  A little bit of protein, a little bit of veggies, a little bit of carbs in a sweet, spicy and salty sauce – Yes!

Bite-sized pieces of chicken are tossed in a light coating of cornstarch and cooked in a hot skillet with canola and sesame oil.  Fresh broccoli, red pepper and edamame are added and stir-fried until perfectly crisp before being mixed with cashews and a perfect concoction of soy sauce, honey and sriracha.  Served with a side of brown rice or quinoa, this will be a meal I will make again and again.

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The ingredients:

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Combine chicken, cornstarch, salt and pepper in a bowl; toss to coat.

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Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add canola and sesame oils. Add chicken mixture, and sauté for 4 minutes or until lightly browned.

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Increase heat to high, and add broccoli, edamame, garlic, onion and red pepper.  Cook 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and chicken is done, stirring frequently.  Stir in cashews.

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Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.   Add vinegar mixture to chicken mixture; toss to coat.

Serve with rice or quinoa.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:

  • Onion

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

Chunk Wild Cookies

It’s cookie week!  Christmas is just about a week away and we all want cookies for Christmas, right?  I can’t tell you how many people I talked to the last couple of days who spent their weekend doing the same as me – mixing, stirring, dropping, baking, cooling, cutting and eating cookie after cookie.  My entire dining room table is right now filled with plates of cookies, tins of cookies, boxes of cookies and there are even some cookies in my refrigerator.  This first cookie I’m sharing with you, Chunk Wild Cookies, I first made around Thanksgiving and loved them so much, I made a whole other batch again on Saturday.

Oatmeal and white chocolate chips are blended until ground and mixed into the batter giving every bite a white chocolate-oatmeal undertone.  The addition of peanut butter chips, semisweet chocolate chips, and walnuts make these cookies even more decadent.  If your preference is oatmeal cookies, peanut butter cookies or chocolate-chip cookies you’ll probably like these which are a combination of all three.  Just be warned, the dough is thick so be prepared to use some elbow grease mixing in all those chips and it makes A LOT.  I used a cookie dough scoop and it made about 4 dozen decent sized cookies.  Make them smaller and the dough will easily give you 5 dozen.  But don’t worry…these are soo good, they’ll all get eaten.

Just a warning – NONE of the cookies I post this week are healthy or lowfat…sorry!

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The ingredients:

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Beat together the butter, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

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Using a blender or food processor, process the oats with the white chocolate until the oats are finely ground, and the chocolate is mostly ground; a few small chunks are OK.

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Add the oats and flour to the butter mixture, then stir in the peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, and chopped walnuts.

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Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls, 2″ apart, onto the prepared baking sheets.

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Bake the cookies in a 375°F heated oven for about 12 minutes, until they’re just set.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  King Arthur Flour website

Ricotta-Spinach Pasta

I poured a bowl of cereal the other morning and suddenly realized just how different my eating habits are from when I was younger.  The cereal is the same but the teaspoons of sugar on top are no longer there.  The cartons of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream which I used to scarf down in one sitting doesn’t even make its way into my shopping basket anymore.  And the overflowing bowls of pasta I used to eat for dinner day after day are few and far between now.  But I still love pasta so the fact that I don’t eat it so often makes it all the more better when I do eat it.  I try to eat whole-wheat pasta whenever possible but since I’ve started this blog, I’ve been introduced to refrigerated pasta which cooks in two minutes and has a softer texture.  This recipe for Ricotta-Spinach Pasta uses refrigerated pasta which means it can be made in no time.

Fettuccine is tossed with sautéed red peppers, chopped walnuts and spinach before being topped with lemon-flavored ricotta cheese.  The walnuts, which I love, give the dish a crunch which is interesting with the pasta.  The ricotta provides a creamy element and the lemon provides a fresh brightness.  The is a light pasta dish that I liked but thought was missing something.  I ate all of it, so it was good enough to me.  But I kept thinking that a splash of balsamic vinegar would bring it to life.  If you try this, let me know what you think.

The ingredients:

Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.

In a small bowl, combine ricotta, lemon rind, salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add bell pepper; sauté 2 minutes.  Add walnuts, salt, and garlic; sauté 2 minutes.  Stir in remaining oil and lemon juice.

Add pasta, pasta water, and spinach; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts.

Top with ricotta mixture and rind strips, if desired.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Part-skim ricotta

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos

I haven’t been getting much cooking done lately with the hurricane and back-to-back trips out of state which have occupied my past few weekends. By the time I slept in my own bed this past Saturday night, all I looked forward to doing was settling down in my kitchen and making some food. Ahh, sometimes it’s nice just getting back into a routine, you know? Anyway, want to knock someone’s socks off tonight? Make these Kung Pao Chicken Tacos. I know, you’re thinking…huh?? Who mixes Chinese food and Mexican food? Well, I do. And trust me, you want to too. My friend Jodi benefits from some of the food I make for this blog and each time I make something new for her to eat, she always says it’s her new favorite. Well, this is now her new favorite. She says this is even better than her all-time favorite, Rustic Summer Squash Tart. I have to say that I think might have to I agree with her on this. These tacos are WOW.

Chicken is marinated in soy sauce before being lightly coated in cornstarch which gives it the subtle crispiness you find in Chinese food without it being too much of a guilty pleasure. A rich sauce of soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, rice vinegar and sambal oelek adds a sweet but spicy punch of flavor to the chicken which is wrapped in broiled corn tortillas and topped with celery, fresh red pepper, and peanuts. My only recommendation with this is to warm the tortillas rather than broil them because the broiled tortillas make these a little tough to eat. I made leftovers by just warming the tortillas and they were perfect. The sauce is so good that I fully plan on making it anytime I need a sauce for chicken or pasta in a pinch. Please, give these a try. You’ll realize that Chinese food isn’t just for take out anymore.

The ingredients:

Place chicken in a large zip-top plastic bag with 1 tablespoon soy sauce to bag; seal. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Remove chicken from bag and discard marinade. Place cornstarch in a shallow dish. Sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt. Add chicken to cornstarch in dish, and toss chicken to thoroughly coat. Shake off excess cornstarch.

Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of coated chicken and sauté for 6 minutes or until done, turning to brown. Remove chicken from pan using a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Repeat the procedure with remaining canola oil and coated chicken.

Combine remaining cornstarch, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, rice vinegar and sambal oelek in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Microwave at HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring twice. Stir in garlic.

Combine soy sauce mixture, chicken, peanuts, and celery; toss to coat chicken.

Toast tortillas under broiler or on a griddle until lightly blistered, turning frequently.

Spoon chicken mixture onto tortillas and top each taco taco with green onions and bell pepper strips. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light Magazine

Baked Chocolate and Banana Ravioli

I’ve been very good (and very disciplined) on my diet but since it’s Valentine’s Day, I think it’s okay to splurge a little and have something chocolatey, don’t you think?  I found a recipe for a fried version of Chocolate and Banana Ravioli on Food Network’s website so I decided to adapt it to something a little healthier.  These Baked Chocolate and Banana Ravioli are baked, not fried, and include nothing else but chocolate-hazelnut spread, bananas, and walnuts.  Simple.  Since bananas are already naturally sweet, I didn’t see any reason to include additional sugar.  These have a yummy banana flavor and the Nutella is creamy and rich making these taste decadent without being terribly fattening.  If you don’t like Nutella, you could easily swap it out with your favorite chocolate chips or regular peanut-butter.  Eat these as-is, with a little bit of chocolate or caramel dipping sauce or a light dusting of powdered sugar.

Baked Chocolate and Banana Ravioli (makes 16 ravioli)

Recipe adapted from Food Network

  • 1 medium banana
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup Nutella
  • 16 wonton wrappers
  • non-stick spray

The ingredients:

Cut up the banana into small pieces or mash it in a bowl.

Add in chopped walnuts.

Lay out a wonton on a flat surface.  Place one teaspoon of chocolate-hazelnut spread into the center of the wonton.

Add one teaspoon of the banana mixture into the center of the wonton.

Using your finger or a pastry brush, brush the edges of the wonton with water.  Fold one corner over to the opposite corner and press the edges together.

Place ravioli on a parchment-lined baking sheet coated with non-stick spray.  Spray the tops of each ravioli with non-stick spray also and bake in a 350ºF oven for 11 minutes until golden brown.

Waldorf Chicken Salad

I went a little crazy at the grocery store this weekend and bought nearly every fruit and vegetable I could get my hands on. So, this week’s recipes will be full of healthy ideas. (I hope you don’t mind!)

This recipe for Waldorf Chicken Salad was buried in a cancer-fighting meal plan on Self Magazine’s website. Don’t pass by meal plans like these in magazines when you see them because they are usually very easy, healthy and full of great ideas. I don’t normally eat Waldorf salads even though they are full of all kinds of things that I love like apples, grapes, celery, and walnuts. I suppose it is because they are dressed in mayonaisse, making them a wanna-be healthy girl’s enemy.

This version has a teeny-weeny bit of mayo but also uses plain yogurt which cuts the calories. I used non-fat Greek yogurt which is tangy but is complemented by the sweetness of the grapes and apple. This is a great use for any leftover chicken you might have on hand or if you’re in a hurry, use precooked chicken strips like I did (I love Perdue Short Cuts). I didn’t use walnuts this time (even though they are one of my faves) but instead used chopped pecans because I had them on hand. Since chicken salad usually just tastes better as flavors meld, make this over the weekend and keep it in the fridge for a few quick workday lunches.

The ingredients:

In a bowl, mix yogurt, low-fat mayonaisse, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Add in chicken, apple, celery, grapes, and onions and mix well. (I put the pecans in here too but you can wait and sprinkle them over the salad just before serving if you prefer.)

Serve over your favorite greens.

Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • Dijon mustard for yellow mustard
  • Pecans for walnuts
  • Non-fat plain Greek yogurt for low-fat plain yogurt
  • Light mayonaisse
  • Scallions for onion

Overall Rating: Like It

Source: Self Magazine

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