Friday, November 19, 2010

Quick and Easy: Beef Fried Rice

Years ago I won a silent auction item that contained a wok, Martin Yan's Chinatown Cooking cookbook and lots of staple Asian cooking ingredients like sesame oil, oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, black bean paste, etc. I used the wok once and because I have those stupid coiled burners on my range, it didn't really work out. I need a gas range. UGH. So I have to use a large skillet to stir-fry instead.

Back to the story. I'm not a great Asian cook. I think I do pretty well with lots of cuisines, but I don't feel confident in most Asian applications. But last night I was craving Chinese food. Knowing I had a great cookbook and the right tools at home, I purchase some a Petite Top Sirloin from the grocery store and some asparagus. I was going to try to make fried rice. I used this recipe as a base and it came out to be almost as good as I've had from some restaurants. Kudos to the cookbook!

Beef Fried Rice
2 cups uncooked microwavable brown rice (cooked according to package directions)
2 Tbsp chicken broth
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp freshly minced garlic
1 pound beef, appropriate for stir-fry (I used Petite Top Sirloin), cut into thin slices
1 package frozen vegetables, stir-fry mix, thawed
1 bundle fresh asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp macadamia nuts, chopped

Cook rice and set aside. Mix broth, sauces, sesame oil and salt in bowl and set aside. Add vegetable oil to large skillet (lots of surface area for a stir fry) over med-high heat. Add garlic and ginger and stir for 20 seconds until fragrant. Add beef, stir and cook until browned, about 4 minutes. Add vegetables, stir and cook until crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Move beef and vegetables to the sides of the pan. Add eggs in the middle and stir, until cooked through, about 1 minute. Mix all ingredients together.

Add rice to mix and stir. Pour sauce over mixture and stir. Serve with chopped macadamia nuts on top.

This made four very large servings.

We added a little Siracha on top, but it didn't really need it

Chimichurri Beef with Orange Cilantro Couscous

I love my job. I say that quite often. Not long ago we got some beef to take home since the freezers were being cleaned out for a new shipment. I got a mixed bag of items including a Schwan's Chimichurri "Marinate on Demand" product that is, sadly, no longer available. So I won't go into that too much, but needless to say, it was really good!

I wanted something to match the chimichurri sauce on the steak, so I opted for something fresh and citrusy. This is based off a Weight Watchers recipe but I used couscous instead of the quinoa they called for.

Orange Cilantro Couscous

1 cup(s) uncooked couscous
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup(s) carrot(s), shredded (I used my vegetable peeler to make ribbons)
1/2 cup(s) scallion(s), sliced
2 tsp ginger root, freshly grated
1/2 cup(s) orange juice, fresh
1/3 cup(s) cilantro, fresh, chopped

Cook couscous according to directions on box.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrot, scallions and ginger; cook over medium heat, stirring, until carrots are crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Stir in couscous; cook, stirring, until well mixed.

Remove from heat; stir in orange juice and cilantro and serve. Yields about 3/4 cup per serving.

3 WW points per serving (for couscous alone)

Random Weeknight Dinner: Steak and Eggs

New York Strip (aka Kansas City Strip, aka Strip Steak, aka Top Loin Steak) (one of the many lean cuts of beef) was on sale at my grocery store the other night so I bought it. When I got home my first thought was, "Yikes, I didn't buy anything to go with this!" Fret not, the fridge had plenty of items to work with! I had accidentally bought eggs when I didn't need them, so I needed to use some up. I also had spinach that was about to go bad. Perhaps the most random of all was a small amount of hashbrowns and frozen french fries. So how to use all this randomness up? Steak and eggs with potato hash and sauteed spinach. Sounds good to me!

I used a two-step cooking method on the steak. I started it on the stove top in an oven-safe pan. I browned it nicely on both sides for about 3 minutes on each side. Then I put it in a preheated (350) oven for about 10 minutes. It was a PERFECT medium rare and so juicy. I salted it after I let it rest for about 3 minutes. I only had one rather large steak, so I split it in two for our servings.

For the hash, I sauteed the frozen fries for a bit and then I added the refrigerated hashbrowns and some sliced red onion. Once I got some browning on them, I put them in a pan in the oven as well.

I then added the spinach to a saute pan with a little garlic salt and let that wilt.

I cooked the eggs over-medium and put it all together on a plate. Brent has requested it again, but I don't know if I'll ever be able to recreate it seeing how it was basically a bunch of leftovers and about-to-go-bad items. Either way, I call this a success.

Steak and Eggs with Random Hash and Sauteed Spinach

Catch Up Time: Mushroom Risotto

Being married is somehow keeping me really busy. Who knew that adding a person to a household would take so much time? Really though, being married is great. It's wonderful to have someone around to talk to, someone to laugh with and most of all, someone to share my meals with. I'm going to play catch up on our first meals as a married couple. I've taken pictures of almost all of them--even the terrible FLOP that you'll read about soon.

But this one is a winner. It's a mushroom risotto that I've made a couple times, but it hasn't been on the blog yet. Adapted from Weight Watchers, this is comforting and filling even with no meat. Risotto is a labor of love, so be prepared to stand over the stove top and stir for at least 30 minutes.

Mushroom Risotto

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tsp unsalted butter, divided
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced or shredded (I've used a mix of cremini, shitake and white)
1/3 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups uncooked arborio (risotto) rice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Parmesan-Reggiano is the best)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced

Place broth in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover to keep warm. You'll use this to cook the risotto. It needs to be warm or else your risotto won't turn out right.

Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray; place over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon butter and melt.

Add onion; cook, stirring, until onion begins to caramelize, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms release moisture, about 5 minutes. Add wine; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; reduce liquid by half, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove vegetables from pan; set aside.

Add remaining teaspoon of butter to same pan; cook until melted. Add rice; stir to coat with butter. Pour about 1/2 cup warm broth into rice; stir to keep grains from sticking to sides of pan. Keep stirring until all of broth is absorbed. Add another 1/2 cup warm broth and repeat process. Keep adding broth and stirring in this manner until all of broth is used and rice is just cooked but not mushy (should still be slightly chewy), about 18 to 20 minutes. At this altitude, I've found that I have to cook my rice a bit longer in order for it to be the texture I like--more like 30 minutes.

Stir in vegetables and cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper; stir in parsley. Makes about 6 servings if you do1 1/3 cups per serving.

5 WW points per serving.

Brent loves this too--always going back for seconds.

Served with a nice Pinot Grigio

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hawaiian Food Feature

Wow, it's been a long time since my last post. I guess planning a wedding, getting married, and going on a honeymoon will do that to a person. We're back home and finally starting to settle down (despite devoting at least an hour to P90X everyday) so I had a moment to update and figured there was no better place to start that to let you see all the delicious food we had in Hawaii. My mouth is still watering from so much of this food.

First bite of Hawaii was a papaya with lime. So simple yet so good!
Brent had his very first loco moco. For those that don't know, its basically Hawaiian comfort food (also good for hangovers). White rice topped with a hamburger patty topped with an egg and then brown gravy.

We got so lucky and found a sushi place that offers 50% off if you arrive before they open and get in line. We went a little overboard, but it was half the price and sooo good. This was a crab and mango roll. The sauce was a light yet spicy mango/siracha concoction.

Tuna roll with crunch on the outside and a sweet mango sauce underneath.
Our first Hawaiian Poke--very salty and tons of seasame oil, but yummy.
We made breakfast in our condo almost every day. The fruit was amazing. We've been spoiled forever.

Our first "plate lunch." I had the kalua pork and cabbage and Brent had the fried mahi. Every plate lunch comes with white rice and macaroni salad. Yup. Every one.

We stopped at our first Kona coffee plantation and had the best mocha ever. Those are chocolate covered mac nuts on the side.

I made dinner in our condo one night. We bought fresh mahi, which Brent grilled out on our lanai. I made a mango/tomato/avocado/cilantro salsa. On the bottom I made couscous with coconut milk and macadamia nuts. Oh my!

We stopped at the Hamkua Mac Nut processing plant. These are unshelled raw macadamia nuts.

Lunch at Bamboo. We got a sampler platter so we could try it all. Kalua Pork Quesadilla, Potstickers (with peanut butter inside), white rice and Thai Curry Shrimp. I could drink that sauce the shrimp was in.

We went to the tourist trap also know as a luau, but it was fun and I'm glad we did it. Kalua pork, lomi lomi (looks like chopped tomatoes in front), poi (can't see it in the pic), poke and lots more.

Brent loved it all!

Malasada with Bavarian Cream filling. Basically fried dough much like a sugared donut.
This is called Saimin--basically a brothy soup made with egg, spam, seafood and seaweed.

Oh the smoothies! Like you've NEVER had. I chose the peanut butter, banana version. We also had a pineapple muffin which was more like a mini pineapple upside down cake.

Our fancy dinner at Merrimans. Brent had the lamb special with creamy gnocchi.

I couldn't decide so I chose the trio. Ahi Tuna on the left, mini Filet Mignon with beet salad and Mahi with jasmine rice and an interesting corn salad.
We went all out for dessert. I had their flourless chocolate cake with Kona Coffee brittle and ice cream. I wish I could learn to make that brittle!
Brent had the strawberry shortcake. It was stacked shortbread, marscapone cream and strawberries. Hard to eat, but the perfect ending!
Our only breakfast out. I had a combo but only so I could try a pancake with coconut syrup. I wish I could buy the stuff here! WOW. You can also see Portuguese sausage on my plate.
Brent had a second loco moco. This one was more "gourmet" as you can see.
After a day of exploring we had a dinner, which wasn't that great. We stopped at a little Thai place for mango sticky rice and Thai Iced Tea for dessert. It was good!!!

We read about these and had to try them! They're baked fresh everyday in a convenience store near Volcano National Park. On the left is a coconut (gooey) bar and the right was an amazing macadamia nut bar. It was like a shortbread on the bottom with something like pecan pie filling and a crunch mac nut topping.

Cafe Pesto--we HIGHLY recommend this place if you're on the Big Island. This was the flatbread appetizer. Topped with blue cheese, rosemary and a little Parmesan. Sounds weird but the flavors went so well together.

Caesar Salad topped with blue cheese and some flowers for color.

Brent got the mushroom and artichoke pizza...

And I had the pesto BBQ chicken pizza.

I had to try their warm chocolate macadamia nut cookie!

On our way home we stopped at a little Thai place. Green papaya salad...
Brent's chicken and potato yellow curry...

And my pad thai. Some of the best Thai food I've had besides the very first I ever had near "Thai Town" in Denver.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Spicy Beef Kabobs and Minted Watermelon Salad

The August issue of Real Simple magazine was incredible. I was so inspired by the cover alone that I decided to replicate the two recipes on my own. I was even more pleased to find that the recipes came from a special "3 Ingredient Dishes" section, so I had to purchase very few items to get this beautiful meal.
I added more veggies with additional vegetable kabobs. Also, I couldn't find red jalapeno peppers so I used green ones--and they were HOT. Brent and I couldn't even eat them. Next time I think I'll use green chilies or maybe poblano peppers.

The minted watermelon salad was amazing. I've made it again since this and it was just as good. I'd recommend using a seedless watermelon so you don't have to mess with removing the seeds. It can almost serve as dessert if the melon is sweet enough.

Minted Watermelon Salad
Spicy Beef Kabobs

My finished product

Zucchini Chicken Couscous

The second zucchini recipe for the week also comes from Weight Watchers, but I adapted this a bit since I didn't have mint, but I did have basil leftover from an earlier soup I'd made.

This was also easy to make--I think I had the whole thing ready in about 10 minutes. I bought a rotisserie chicken from the store on Sunday night and used it as the shredded chicken this recipe calls for.

Zucchini Chicken Couscous
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 medium zucchini, sliced
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil
4 oz couscous
1 cup shredded cooked chicken breast
Salt and pepper to taste

Place medium stock pot over medium high heat. Add first five ingredients and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Add couscous, stir and remove from heat. Let rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork and gently stir in chicken. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 2 for only 6 points each.

Before the couscous step

This tasted light and it was really filling. Next time I think I'll try to find mint as the original recipe suggested since ginger and mint and lemon go so well together. You could also substitute lime for the lemon and add cilantro instead of basil or mint. Easy to mix and match as you please.
Generous helping of the finished dish

Zucchini Basil Soup

July and the beginning of August flew by for several reasons, but now I'm back and in full swing. Until the wedding and honeymoon of course!

Zucchini is in season right now and so I found two recipes highlighting the green squash this week. They both come from a Weight Watchers cookbook, but you'd never guess it. They're delicious.

Look at all my beautiful zuchhini!
Zucchini Basil Soup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp light butter
1 large white onion, chopped
5 cups chicken broth
1 8 oz potato, peeled and chopped (I used a yellow one)
6 medium zucchini, chopped
4 Tbsp fresh chopped basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, melt butter and olive over medium high heat. Add onion and cook about 2 minutes until soft. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cook about 8 minutes until potatoes are soft. Add zucchini and cook 5 minutes. Make sure not to overcook the zucchini or the soup will not turn out bright green. Add basil leaves. Remove pot from heat and let cool slightly. Puree with immersion blender (or you can use a food processor) until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or cold.

Serves 8
Only 1 point for 1 1/4 cups!!

Immersion blender in case you've never seen one

This was so easy! I have enough to last me through the week. I love basil so this was a home run for me. I'll add this to my arsenal of healthy, easy and affordable summer dishes.
Garnished with a sprig of basil...delish!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Green Onion Shrimp Curry with Brown Rice

I bought a large bag of peeled, deveined shrimp at CostCo the other day, so I've been eating a lot of shrimp dishes. This one is an adaptation from Weight Watchers.

Green Onion Shrimp Curry with Brown Rice
Cooking spray
2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp curry powder of your liking
1/2 tsp salt
4 green onion stalks, thinly sliced, green and white parts separated
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1 pound large peeled deveined shrimp
3 cups cooked brown rice

Coat a large skillet with a few sprays of cooking spray and add oil. Set over medium heat. When heated, add curry powder and salt. Stir constantly for about 1 minute until curry is very fragrant--don't burn!

Add white part of green onion and stir about 2 minutes until onions are just soft. Add coconut milk, stir to blend. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are pink through, about 4-5 minutes.

Serve 3/4 cup brown rice with 1/4 of the shrimp mixture on top. Garnish with green part of onions.

Serves 4 at 7 points per serving.

This was a really tasty dish, but the leftovers weren't that great. I'd recommend serving it when you know you can use all the servings.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fish Sandwich with Mango-Peach Salsa

I read something about the Fillet 'O Fish sandwich from McDonald's the other day. I do love those sandwiches, but the sodium content and lack of any real nutrition made me sad. However, I still wanted to eat a fish sandwich. I had one fillet leftover from the Tilapia with Zesty Tomato Sauce so I decided to make a quick fish sandwich after my late swim workout. Luckily I had all the components to make this tasty, healthy sandwich in a snap (sans breading and pickles like the original).

It doesn't really need a recipe. I took an Orowheat Sandwich Thin and sprayed it lightly with Butter-flavored Pam and then popped it in the toaster. While that was toasting I microwaved the leftover fish fillet. I spread 1 tablespoon of light mayo on the bread and topped with lettuce and tomato and then the fillet. I had some great Mango-Peach Salsa in the fridge so I place a large tablespoon of that on top. I served some Baked Scoops tortilla chips on the side to dip in the salsa that fell out of the sandwich while I was eating.

I counted 6 points for my whole meal. It filled me up, provided protein, whole grain, and vegetables in a matter of five minutes.
Not your normal fish sandwich

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tilapia with Zesty Tomato Sauce

Once again, I found a recipe on the Weight Watchers website for inspiration, but made it my own. I'd eaten a really healthy lunch at Panera Bread-try their seasonal Strawberry Chicken Poppyseed Salad (only 5 points for the whole thing!) if you get a chance. However, I couldn't resist the "deconstructed" S'mores that our culinary team made as a snack. I took a small piece of the sweet goodness and knew immediately that it was way too creamy and crumbly to be healthy.

So I had only 2.5 points left for dinner. YIKES! That meant I needed to:
a. workout, which I did after dinner, and
b. eat a light dinner filled with protein and vegetables

This recipe fit the bill.

Tilapia with Zesty Tomato Sauce
2 tilapia fillets (I found a half pound package, so each fillet was about 1/4 pound)
2 1/2 Tsp olive oil (divided)
1 tsp minced garlic
2 scallions, chopped
3 anchovy fillets, canned in oil (already cooked)
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
Very little salt
Pepper to taste

Brush tilapia fillets with 1 tsp oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat remaining oil in sauce pan over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, stirring until onion is just soft, about 1 minute. Add anchovies (they'll dissolve into the mixture on their own) and tomatoes. Increase heat slightly and cook until thickened, about 4 minutes. Stir in vinegar and parsley, cook about 1 minute longer.

Meanwhile, heat skillet over medium high heat. Place fillets in skillet and cook about two minutes on first side until browned. Turn over and cook another two minutes. Thin tilapia fillets should be done at this point.

Serve one fillet topped with 1/2 the tomato sauce and field greens on the side. 5 points per serving.

This whole meal took me about 10 minutes to make. It was light and delicious. The red pepper flakes added a bit of heat, but you can omit them if you don't want any heat. I know I've said this before, but don't be turned off by the anchovies. They're actually really good for you--providing Omega 3's, calcium and protein. However, they are high in sodium, so that's why I added as little salt as possible to the sauce--they provide a wonderful briny salt flavor on their own.

In my dish, I added too much parsley--I think I had closer to 2 Tbsp. It was too much! So I think 1 Tbsp should do just fine.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Vegetable, Herb and Goat Cheese Pasta

I found a recipe on the Weight Watchers website, which inspired a meal last week. Their recipe was for Tomato, Herb and Goat Cheese Capellini. However, I already had some angel hair pasta, asparagus, green beans and roma tomatoes. All I needed to complete the dish was goat cheese.

Vegetable, Herb and Goat Cheese Pasta
4 Tbsp reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup asparagus, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups roma tomatoes, diced
8 oz cooked angel hair pasta
3 Tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade
3 Tbsp fresh parsely, minced
1/4 cup semisoft goat cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 tablespoon of the broth in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add asparagus and green beans, saute 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook until just soft, about 2 minutes. Add remaining broth and heat through.

Place cooked pasta in large bowl and add vegetable mixture, toss to combine. Add herbs and goat cheese, toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or at room temperature. Each serving is about 1 1/4 cups.

Vegetable, Herb and Goat Cheese Pasta

I found a great Drunken Goat Cheese (cured with red wine) on sale at the store, so that's what I used this time. The fresh herbs make all the difference in a dish like this. The flavor of the basil carried most of the weight--the goat cheese just added a bit of tang and creaminess. It was perfect with a nice white wine and a Caprese Salad.

This made 5 servings and counted for about 5 points. Bonus--the addition of more veggies never hurt anyone!

Caprese Salad--a summer staple

Recommendation: Yuki Sushi & Robata

I know I've mentioned Yuki Sushi and Robata in Lone Tree a couple times already, but seriously it is one of our favorite places to eat. Sushi is a relatively healthy food, barring you can avoid tempura, cream cheese, and the mayo including in some popular rolls. If you stick with nigiri and "lighter" rolls, you're looking at a decent meal.

We love Yuki for so many reasons:

1. We love Charlie (really, his name is Chung Su but he answers to a more American name). He's the owner and is always behind the sushi bar, ready to make your rolls. Here he is making our Carmen Miranda Roll. His smile and laugh are contagious!

2. He hired Gary (American name for Goro Son) who will make us traditional Japanese dishes, even if they aren't on the menu. Case in point--the picture below shows a special Spanish Mackerel that wasn't on the menu. But Brent saw another regular, Chad, eating it and asked for it as well. I tried a little bit of it, but mackerel in general has a strong fish flavor that I don't love. When he was done all that was left on the plate was a small piece of the head and the very tip of the tail.

3. The prices are great! You can get $1 pieces of nigiri and sashimi all day, every day. Other sushi place charge around $4.75-$5.50 for two pieces.

4. We have gotten to know the other wait staff and they're just as wonderful as Charlie and Gary.

5. The Carmen Miranda (yes, the lady who wore the fruit on her head) Roll. Yellowtail, avocado and mango wrapped in rice and pink seaweed, topped with creme fraiche, strawberry and blueberry. Sounds weird, but it is like dessert sushi. Charlie will only serve it when the berries and mango are in season--so June through September. The picture I took of it didn't come out well, but the one I took of Brent eating it, shows the pink seaweed and the berries. :)