Friday, October 23, 2015

Banh Mi Chow Chow, Antioxidant Extraordinaire!!!

This recipe idea came about when I had a bunch of radishes remaining after a meal one night.  I wanted to utilize the phytochemical and sulforaphane* rich gems in a manner with ease of access and diversity.
I decided to create a pickled type condiment using most of the same ingredients as you would in a Banh Mi.  I enjoy that particular combination and I totally enjoy foods and condiments that are sweet but sour, spicy and tangy at the same time.
This chow chow starts with toasting a bit of pickling spice in a dry non stick pan and proceeding with the other pickling ingredients; salt, sugar, water and vinegar.  A pinch of hot pepper flakes bring on the heat.  Lots of small cloves of smashed garlic add depth and character to this version, and the cilantro and sweet peppers bring brightness and more flavor.
This recipe is crazy versatile and addictive.  It is not a sweet relish per se, but more on the lines of Saurkraut, with its acidic notes. During trials,  I enjoyed this on a regular hot dog with chili, a cheddarwurst dog, and even on a corned beef sandwich, which was spectacular!!!
My tasters included three of my sisters and mom, they rated it from liked to loved!  This recipe would pair excellently on a smoked brisket sandwich.  I am pleased with the outcome of this recipe because I consumed more radishes in 2 days, than I had in my life thus far...Score one for team eat more veggies!
2 c. radish matchsticks
1 c. thinly sliced mini sweet peppers, yellow, orange and red
1 tbsp. fresh petite cilantro leaves
1 c. water, divided
1/2 c. white distilled vineger
1/4 c. seasoned rice vinegar
5 very small cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. pickling spice
pinch of red pepper flakes
scant pinch of celery seeds
In a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, lightly toast the pickling spice.
Add 1/2 c. water, SEASONED rice vinegar, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper flakes and celery seeds.
Turn heat to medium high.
Stirring constantly, bring up to a boil for about 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool for several minutes.
Add remaining water and distilled vinegar at this point to aid in cooling. Stir.
Toss radishes, peppers and cilantro together.
Add veggies to an air tight jar or container with lid.
Once liquid is completely cooled, pour over veggies.
Turn vessel several times to distribute spices.
Let stand for about 10 minutes or let sit overnight in refrigerator for more developed flavors.
Use a fork to remove from container so it may drain and make sure you remove the larger pieces of pickling spice before each serving.
Makes about 1 quart.
*Sulforaphane is an antioxidant compound which  is suggested to help stave off certain cancers like prostate, breast, ovarian and colon.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Apple Cheddar Stacks, Military Style

Okay, so this beach trip was quickly approaching and I felt the need to lose a few extra pounds.  I had only about a week until departure, so I enlisted the aid of the surefire Military Diet to expedite my goal.  One  of the meals includes one small apple, a 1 oz. piece  of Cheddar cheese and 5 crackers.  At face value, the trio was a bit boring, so being the resourceful person that I am, I tweaked the ensemble just a bit.
Since the diet is calorie based, I could add the dollop, which is a Chile Garlic Sauce, no fat, no calories. I ended up with a rather tasty treat, interesting enough for your next super snack in less than 5 minutes. I used a mandolin to slice the cored apple. This process really added a sense of volume to the snack.   I stacked the slices into even piles.
 Coring provided the well for the cheese (which I grated and filled in the centers) and I microwaved them for about 35 seconds.  I garnished each with a tiny bit of the Chile Garlic Sauce and SPST for a sweet and savory, crunchy and chewy, slightly stretchy and spicy, satisfying snack/meal.
1 small apple of choice, I used Gala
1 oz. Cheddar cheese
5 saltine crackers
Slice off top and bottom of apple.
Core the apple.
Using a mandolin, slice the apple and make equal piles of them on a microwave safe dish.
Grate the Cheddar and fill the wells created by stacking.
Offset the base apple slice to aid in stabilizing the cheese well.
Microwave until the cheese just starts to melt, about 35 seconds.
Top crackers with Apple Stack.
Garnish with fresh cracked pepper and  Chile Garlic Sauce if desired.
Serves 1.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Gluten Free Banh Mi Romaine Boats

Bursting with color and fresh flavor, this recipe is a gluten free version of the Vietnamese sandwich called a Banh Mi.  Traditionally served on a crusty and rich baguette, this style cuts calories and fat tremendously.  I enjoy the super crunch the Romaine lettuce provides, mimicking a crisp crusted bread.  There is no harm in eating 3 or 4, and not having to worry about the fallout.
The protein for this dish is marinated overnight, so this dish comes together quite literally in minutes if the prep work for the veggies is done ahead of time as well.  A mandolin makes crazy light work of the English cucumber and the radishes( I stacked the radishes after using the mandolin and cut them into matchsticks)  Pork is used for this recipe, as is in the traditional,  but I marinate this in a Chinese BBQ marinade to give it that brilliant color and flavor profile. I have written an adaptation to this marinade below to achieve very similar and desirable results.
Chinese BBQ Marinade:
1/2 c.beet juice
2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 tbsp. Cane or granulated sugar
1 tbsp. Chinese 5 spice
1 tbsp. white distilled vinegar
2 tsp. fish sauce or Miso
2 tsp. onion powder
Combine ingredients in small bowl.
1-1 1/2 lbs. pork loin, cut into thin strips
Pour marinade over protein, press out air in resealable bag, refrigerate 4 to 24 hours for fullest flavor and color.
When ready, drain.
Saute over medium-high heat until desired done-ness, at least 145*F.
Serves 4-6.

Radishes, matchsticks
English cucumber
Romaine Lettuce

Spicy Sweet Chili Sauce:
1/4 c. mayo or Greek Yogurt
2 tbsp. Sweet Asian Chili Sauce
1 tbsp. Sambal Oelek or to taste
1 tsp. Miso
Combine ingredients in small bowl.  Serve along side Romaine Boats.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Spinach Beef and Bacon Stuffed Shells

This recipe is great for a week night meal, full of nutrients and relatively easy to make.  Considering on-hand ingredients, it is easy on the wallet as well.  The filling boasts a healthy dose of spinach and three cheeses, including Cottage, Mozzarella and Parmesan.  A small amount of cooked crumbled bacon adds depth to the flavor profile as well as subtle smokiness.  The sauce can be home made or store bought, depending on your time constraints and it can be prepped ahead of time and baked when ready.  The family received this recipe well, including my nephew and his little girl, Saniah, she is 9 months old!  My 8 year old Bronwyn loved them too.
1 12 oz. box jumbo shells
1 lb.ground beef
1/3 c. chopped onion
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 10 oz. chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed of excess moisture
3 tbsp. cooked and chopped bacon or turkey bacon
1 c. cottage cheese
1 c. Mozzarella cheese, divided
2/3 c. Parmesan cheese, divided
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 24 oz. can Roasted Garlic and Onion spaghetti sauce
1 15 oz. can your choice spaghetti sauce
sugar to taste, optional
parsley for garnish, optional
Sharp White Cheddar for garnish, if desired
Olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 375*F.
Prepare pasta in salted water,  according to instructions, cooking until just short of al dente, about 6 minutes.
Rinse and stop cooking process under cold running water.
Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, brown beef with onion over medium high heat until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic. SPST.
Drain beef mixture and set aside to cool slightly.
While mixture is cooling, combine spaghetti sauces and sugar to taste in medium pot and bring up to temperature.
In a medium bowl, fold together beef, spinach, bacon, cottage cheese, 1/2 Mozzarella and 1/2 of Parmesan and egg.
While sauce is heating, use a teaspoon to fill shells with beef mixture.
Divide heated sauce among two spacious baking dishes, and nestle shells evenly among the two.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 25 minutes or until shells are heated through and internal temperature reaches 180*F.
Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining cheeses and return to oven until cheese melts, about 5 minutes.
Let stand for several minutes before serving.
Garnish with white Cheddar.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Denese's Corn Flake and Buttermilk Biscuits

Two things inspired me for this recipe, a surplus of buttermilk and a cacophonous amount of corn flakes.  I initially processed the flakes into crumbs, as an add- in to breading and for various other fried or oven fried recipes.  Alas, fried foods are not a mainstay in our home, so they were more or less just hanging around. Regarding shelf life, I became curious as to how to utilize the crumbs in a way  I hadn't before.
I  love making homemade biscuits for my family, usually on a Sunday morning, at least twice a month.  I fiddled with the ratio of flour to crumbs and was satisfied with a 3 to 1, flour to corn flake crumbs.  The biscuits came out beautiful and with a unique flavor profile, accommodating sweet and savory fillings.
The corn flake crumbs lend a whole grain appearance to the bread.  The texture is supple and interesting.  The addition of the corn flake crumbs also add a plethora of vitamins and minerals like Vitamins A, D and C. These puppies also pack a mean punch of B vitamins, Iron, magnesium and potassium.   The family received them well and I have been making them in place of my usual buttermilk biscuits. So next time the box of corn flakes gets low and you crave something new and good for you, give them a try.  These may become you next favorite thing, perfect for slathering the jams and jellies you made from this summer's fruit and veggie harvests!
3 c. AP flour, sifted
1 c. corn flake crumbs, processed finely
1 tbsp. double acting baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. lard or vegetable oil
6 tbsp. frozen butter
1 1/2 to 1 3 /4 c. buttermilk, plus a little for brushing
Preheat oven to 450*F.
In a large bowl, sift flour and baking powder together.
Add salt and corn flake crumbs. Stir until well blended.
Cut in lard or vegetable oil with fork until flour seems grainy and takes on a pebbly appearance.
Grate in butter, bit by bit, tossing in flour blend, making sure gratings get singularly coated with flour.
Add buttermilk gradually, until stirring creates a loose sticky ball.
Pour out onto lightly floured surface.
Lightly flour hands.
Press dough out with hands, and fold in half. Repeat about 6 times.
With lightly floured hands or rolling pin, press or roll dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness.
*For thinner biscuits thus more biscuits, simply roll out to about 1/4 thickness.
Using a biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits and transfer to large un-greased baking sheet, about 1/2 inch apart.
*For a softer sided biscuit, place only about 1/8 inch apart from each other, so they will bake against one another and can be pulled apart when finished.
Brush tops of biscuits with buttermilk.
Bake until risen and golden, about 15 minutes, depending on oven.
Remove from oven and brush with butter if desired.
Transfer to paper towel lined vessel and cover loosely until ready to serve.
Makes around 1 dozen biscuits.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Asian Inspired Ginger Ale Grilled Chicken

Beer can chicken is all the rage these days. There's nothing quite like the smoky and delicious flavor of a well seasoned protein kissed with a charcoal flame alongside your favorite summertime sides.  This recipe is inspired by a hot summer's day, beer and chicken.  I used an all purpose Asian spice blend and ginger ale to accompany the smoky wonderfulness that is grilled meats.  I brine these birds in a seasoned rice vinegar tinged brine to facilitate some extra flavor and moisture elements. Try this version or maybe experiment with some other carbonated beverages to see what other awesomeness you can come up with.
2 3 1/2 to 4 lb. chickens
1 c. vinegar
1 c. ice water
1/4 c. kosher salt
1/4 c. sugar
pinch or two red pepper flakes
1/4 c. Asian spice blend
ginger ale sodas
olive oil for drizzling
Bring vinegar,salt, sugar and pepper flakes up to a boil.
Remove from heat and add ice water.
Allow to cool completely and pour over chickens. Turn to coat well.
Place in large air tight container or one that can be covered tightly with plastic wrap.
Marinate for 6 to 8 hours or overnight,turning several times during marination process.
Drain and rinse chickens, pat dry.
Rub with olive oil and about 1/4 c.spice blend each.
Oven roast or grill.
When charcoal is ready, pour about 1/3 of ginger ale from each can and carefully add slits towards the top of can.  Space equally around.
Slide chicken down over opening of can and grill until thermometer inserted in thickest part registers 165*F., about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on temperature of coals.
Let REST before cutting to serve.
Serves 8 to 10.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

South of the Border Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings are a classic and wonderful comfort food, filling and hearty, especially during a chilly night.  I enjoy making this dish for my family every now and then, but this time I wanted to add a different sort of flair to the old fashioned, deviating from my normal recipe, to create an equally palate pleasing one-dish and fantastic meal.
 I made the dumplings using a mixture of corn muffin mix and flour, and added Latin American commodities  like cumin, chili powder and diced tomatoes to bring the dish together. This dish was very well received by the family and I have since created yet another Latin inspired version, with a smoother, more cream soup like texture.  Stay tuned for the recipe in the near future.  I used bone-in skinless thighs for this version, but feel free to use the protein or chicken parts of your choice.
2 lbs. bone-in, skinless thighs
1 medium onion, small diced, about 3/4 cup
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 bay leaf
4 c. chicken stock or enough to cover chicken while cooking
3 stalks celery, one halved, 2 sliced on bias
3 carrots, sliced
1 12 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 box corn muffin mix
1/2 c. AP flour
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. sugar or to taste
2 tbsp.  butter
1/3 c. milk, or enough to moisten dumpling batter
1/2 c. fresh parsley, rough chopped
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
olive oil for drizzling
Drizzle medium pot with olive oil over medium heat.
 Add onions, halved celery and bay leaf.
Cook for several minutes until onions are translucent and fragrant and add chicken and garlic.
Turn heat to medium high and add stock enough to cover chicken.
Bring up to a boil and skim top of boiling liquid.
Reduce back to medium, cooking chicken until no longer pink and done throughout, about 15 minutes.
When done, remove chicken from liquid, drizzle with olive oil, cover and set aside.
Strain liquid and return to pot.
Add sliced celery and carrots.
In a small bowl, combine corn muffin mix, spices, sugar and flour.
Moisten with milk.
Stir until incorporated and batter can be dropped by tablespoonfuls into gently cooking liquid.
Cover and cook until dumplings are cooked through, about 8 minutes.
The dumplings will cook apart slightly and this will serve as the thickening agent  and add texture.
Carefully add chicken and tomatoes back to dumplings and reduce to low.
Stir in parsley and butter.
Serves 4 to 6.