Tuesday, April 12, 2011


That was the fear anyway...Hubby's dealing with some health issues that require a bland diet for a couple of weeks. This may be good news for any of you tired of spice, red meat, citrus/acid, high fiber/no fiber, dairy, or anything else I normally cook with. But lucky you, cause I'm gonna cook all the braised chicken and rice you/we can stand.

Basically, I've been handed a challenge I didn't ask for and am going to do my best. Cause my baby's gotta eat, and I'm damn sure not cooking two meals a night, and even he can't eat chicken noodle soup every day.

So here we go. This should be interesting. Today we went with Braised Chicken with Apples, Shallots and Sage, adapted from some recipe I found on my Epicurious app while getting my hair cut (There's hardly ever a bad time to multi-task, in my opinion.)

Pretty easy, pretty "bland," and yet, pretty darn tasty. Can't argue with that. The risotto was my favorite part, especially since I had no idea if apple would work with rice...it worked. I recommend having both together.

Braised Chicken with Apples, Shallots and Sage
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Cooking Spray
2 medium Gala or Braeburn apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
2 shallots, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
1 tbsp light butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp sage

Set aside about 1/2 a sliced shallot and 1/2 a chopped apple for the rice.

Sprinkle chicken with salt & pepper. Coat pan with spray and heat over high. Add chicken and brown about 2 minutes a side. Remove to a plate.

With heat at medium high, add apple and shallot and saute about 5 minutes or until apple starts to brown. Add butter, sugar, broth and sage. Bring to a boil for about a minute, then add chicken back in and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook about a half hour, adding more broth if necessary, til chicken is soft enough to be cut with a fork.

Apple Shallot Risotto
Leftover shallot and apple (see above)
splash olive oil
1/2 cup arborio rice
2 cups broth (or so)

Heat oil over medium high. Add shallots and apple. Let carmelize down a bit. In other words, ignore it until it starts to brown/burn just a bit. Then stir, reduce heat a bit, and stir in rice and cook another 30 seconds or so.

Add about a 1/2 cup of broth and let cook down until liquid is all absorbed. Repeat, adding about a 1/2 cup at a time until the rice is tender to the bite. Add a bit of salt to taste.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Almost summer...and you know what that means...

Summer food! Bright colors and flavors, oven-free cooking, sitting outside...I loooove cooking this time of year. And I have got a new one just for you, courtesy a little gem from Cooking Light.

It's vegetarian (and could easily be vegan if you swapped out the cheese and mayo), but got a big thumbs up from hubby, though I shouldn't be surprised—he's usually a good sport with meatless meals. We both thought it was crazy tasty...plus minimal clean up is always a plus. I used the Il Fornaio burger buns from Fresh & Easy, which are hands-down my favorite kind, even though they're pretty hearty and therefore not the lowest in cals. But I figured we made up for it by going meat-less, so I got over it.

Served with microwave-roasted sweet potatoes (wrapped in damp paper towels and cooked about 6 minutes, flipped over and cooked 6 more). Color and flavor (and fiber!) galore, let me tell you.

Portabella Cheese Burgers (for two)
1 large clove garlic, minced or finely sliced
cooking spray
2 large Portabella caps, gills and stems gently removed
Worcestershire Sauce (Or balsamic would also work)
2 tbsp mayo
2 tbsp blue cheese crumbles
1 roasted red bell pepper, sliced thinly (Use jarred to save time)
thinly sliced red onion
Arugula, washed and trimmed
2 sets of burger buns

Drizzle worcestershire over cleaned mushroom caps, sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat large saute pan over medium, coat with spray. Add garlic, stirfry til softens a bit, less than a minute. Remove to small bowl. Add cheese and mayo to garlic, stir well to combine. Set aside.

Coat pan with spray again, and add mushrooms. Cook about 4 minutes a side or until tender. Turn off heat.

Toast buns (if you like), spread mayo mix onto the bottom buns. Top with mushroom, cap side down, and top with arugula, onion and peppers, and top with other bun. Or do it whatever order you want—Cooking Light says to put the mushroom on top of the veggies. I don't follow directions either...

Roughly 250-300 cals a serving, depending on bun type and mayo brand.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sorry, Borders.

Bankruptcy sucks, it really does. But I'm not above taking advantage of your misfortune...

All the important stuff-especially since we're currently searching for a new car and a new puppy (compact SUV and boxer/and or lab...we're open to suggestions on each). Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed in the cookbook options-first of all, they were only marked down like 20%-and kind of picked through. (As to be expected for a going-out-of-business sale) I did, however, find this beaut:

I'm a sucker for the Sandra Lee cooking philosophy, and chicken is pretty much my go-to meat, so it was an easy sell.

Unfortunately, the first shot wasn't the best. Probably my fault, since I read the directions wrong and used too much sherry, but even still, it required far too much post-recipe Sriracha and honey to make it work, and I honestly wasn't paying enough attention to actually give a recipe for all the fixes, so I choose to pass on tonight's attempt until I get to call a re-do. Cause Kung Pao needs some practice...

Good, not great. Once it's great, I'll let you know. Until then, here's the actual recipe for you to play with.

Kung Pao Chicken
Food & Wine Books
24oz chicken breast, cut into 1/2 in cubes
5 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sherry
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp white wine/rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp cooking (canola) oil
1/2 cup peanuts or cashews
4 scallions in 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Toss chicken with 1 tbsp each of cornstarch, soy sauce, and sherry.

In small bowl, combine sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, water, 4 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp sherry, 2 tsp corn starch.

In a wok or large frying pan, heat 1 tbsp oil over high heat. Add nuts and stir fry until light brown, about 30 seconds. Remove.

Add remaining oil. Add chicken mixture and cook til almost done, about 2 minutes. Add sou sauce mixture and scallions and simmer until chicken is done, about 1-2 more minutes. Stir in peanuts.

-posted out of laziness from my iPhone.