florentine tortellini

Still continuing my quest for quick and easy meals that are healthy and low cal/low carb. This one met all my requirements, but I think I would have preferred the ravioli instead of the tortellini. I used Cheese Tortellini from Trader Joe’s, and it wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t that good either. No flavor. I liked the spinach bed–I used fresh instead of frozen–it was flavorful because of the red pepper. Next time I would add some lemon juice to it. And caramelized onions.

Florentine Tortellini (adapted from Eating Well)

Ingredients
1 20-ounce package frozen cheese ravioli, or tortellini (4 cups)
6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8-1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 bunches fresh whole-leaf baby spinach, washed, drained,stems trimmed
1/2 cup water, optional
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the ravioli or tortellini according to the package directions.
2. While the ravioli/tortellini is cooking, heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, salt, and crushed red pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, about 5 to 7 minutes. If the spinach is too dry, add a tablespoon of water up to 1/2 cup.
3. Divide among 4 bowls, top with the pasta and drizzle 1 teaspoon of the remaining oil over each portion. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Nutrition Per serving : 263 Calories; 13 g Fat; 4 g Sat; 6 g Mono; 28 mg Cholesterol; 28 g Carbohydrates; 13 g Protein; 5g Fiber; 660 mg Sodium; 730 mg Potassium

Advertisements

It’s gai yang, but where’s the khao neow and somtam?

We’ve been good, AJ and I. Since we’ve been back in New York City on the low carb-low fat diet we haven’t had skin, chicken skin that is, for the last four months. It was time for a treat. I figured if I’m going to break the diet, then I should make it worthwhile. I decided to make  gai yang or roast chicken, Thai style, because I found this recipe on America’s Test Kitchen. It didn’t disappoint; the flavors were authentic, the chicken juicy. It just wasn’t fiery enough!

Purists will know that gai yang is traditionally served with papaya salad (somtam)and sticky rice (khao neow). Well, I  committed a heresy. Instead of papaya salad, we had a spinach, strawberry, and hearts of palm salad with lemon-poppy seed dressing. Instead of the sticky rice, I made stir-fried baby bok choy in garlic and ginger and seasoned it with Maggi sauce. Thus, I assuaged the guilt with some low calorie veggie sides.

The original recipe called for grilling on an outdoor barbecue. But since I live in a city apartment, I have parted ways from the original and broiled/baked the chicken instead. I have also added two chilies to the dipping sauce. What’s a dipping sauce without some heat?

Gai Yang or Thai Style Roast Chicken

Ingredients

Chicken and Brine

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup table salt
  • 4 split bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts about 12 ounces each (I used 1 chicken breast and 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs)

Dipping Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 small cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice from 2 to 3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 chilies, chopped (optional)

Rub

  • 12 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (1/4 cup)
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (about 2 inches), minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup lime juice from 2 to 3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Instructions

1. To brine the chicken: Dissolve sugar and salt in 2 quarts cold water in large container or bowl; submerge chicken in brine and refrigerate at least 30 minutes but not longer than 1 hour. Rinse chicken under cool running water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. For the dipping sauce: Whisk ingredients in small bowl until sugar dissolves. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature to allow flavors to meld.
3. To make and apply the rub: Combine all rub ingredients in small bowl; work mixture with fingers to thoroughly combine. Slide fingers between skin and meat to loosen skin, taking care not to detach skin. Rub about 2 tablespoons mixture under skin. Thoroughly rub even layer of mixture onto all exterior surfaces, including bottom and sides. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces. Place chicken in medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate while preparing grill.
4. To broil the chicken: Cover the broiling pan with foil for easy clean up. Spray with cooking spray. Place the chicken pieces skin side up and broil 10 minutes or until the skin is golden or blackened. Turn the heat to 350˚F and put the pan in the oven to finish cooking, about 15-20 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F  160˚F on an instant read thermometer.

pictures of pretty (delicious) things to eat

I had such a busy week wrestling with the dissertation that I didn’t have time to post something, but I did have time to cook! What can I say? It’s therapy. So I made this Smilebox collage, and I  set it to Joni Mitchell because Chelsea Morning is all about food. What we’ve got here (clockwise from the top) is: black bean veggie burger on an iceberg lettuce “bun,” roasted sweet potato wedges, and cilantro dipping sauce; zucchini pie with chopped turkey ham; brown rice sautéed in coconut oil; chicken with vegetables; and finally, a simple spinach sauté with a poached egg hat.

Click to play this Smilebox collage
Create your own collage - Powered by Smilebox
Customize a free picture collage

Berghoff lentil soup

A friend in Chicago gave me a copy of the cookbook from this famous Chicago German restaurant, now closed. This recipe is from that book. I went straight to the soups.  I like lentils because unlike other dried beans, they don’t need to be soaked before cooking and they cook up fairly quickly. I halved the recipe because I am not feeding a crew of eight and I did want leftovers; just not that much. I used low fat turkey ham instead.

I also made my own chicken stock in a 3 quart saucepan using the bones from two chicken breasts, a two-inch piece of ginger, two chopped scallions, and 3 whole cloves of garlic. I cooked it for 1 1/2 hours on low heat, then strained the broth, discarding the solids. Then I set the pot aside. All this is prelude to

Berghoff lentil soup
2 teaspoons canola oil
¾ cup diced onion
2-4 teaspoons minced garlic
¾ cup diced celery
¾ cup diced carrots
4 cups chicken stock
¾-1 cup dried lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 large bay leaf
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup diced ham (use turkey ham)
1 cup canned diced tomatoes in juice
3 cups chopped fresh baby spinach
salt and pepper
grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

In a 3 or 4-quart saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute. Add the celery and carrots and continue to sauté for 1 minute. [Cook’s tip: since I am already using the saucepan for the stock, I used a large skillet, like my 12 inch Calphalon Everyday skillet to sauté the vegetables]

Add the stock, lentils, bay leaves, and red pepper. Bring to a boil. Decrease the heat and simmer 1 ½ to 2 hours or until the lentils are tender. [Cook’s tip: Instead of adding the stock to the skillet, I added the vegetables to the stock in the saucepan]

Stir in the ham and tomato and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add the spinach and adjust the seasonings; simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat and serve with grated Parmesan cheese for garnish, if desired.

strawberry, spinach, and hearts of palm salad

My cousin Cathy got a tin of hearts of palm so she wrote our cousins’ group wondering how to serve it. I had this recipe on my Wait List to try and her SOS just prodded me out of procrastination mode. This is Paula Deen’s recipe but I tweaked it. Now I’m not fond of hearts of palm. To me it has a metallic taste, which probably comes from the tin can.  Nevertheless, I found this salad to be quite delicious. The strawberries were tart and the salad dressing had just the right proportion of sweetness to tartness that totally disguised the metallic taste of the hearts of palm. So on St. Valentine’s Day, show you love somebody–but not with chocolate, with strawberries, spinach and hearts of palm!

Ingredients

For the salad dressing
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar (reduced from 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used EVOO and reduced the amount of oil  from 1 cup)
1/2 small red onion, grated
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika

For the salad
1 1/2 pounds fresh baby spinach (I added some mixed greens to the spinach)
1 can hearts of palm, drained and chopped
2 cups strawberries, stemmed and sliced
1 cup chopped walnuts or almonds (optional)

Directions
Prepare the dressing.  Combine the vinegar, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a small non-reactive saucepan and heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Remove pan from heat and let cool to room temperature. When cooled, whisk in the oil, onion, poppy seeds, dry mustard and paprika until thoroughly combined. Set dressing aside.

Assemble the salad ingredients. In a salad bowl, combine the spinach, hearts of palm, strawberries, and nuts, if using. When ready to serve, add some of the dressing, and toss gently. Serve the remaining dressing alongside the salad so diners may add more, if desired.

sirloin spinach burger patty with provolone

It’s  the first day of Cycle 2 on the 17 day diet. We can finally eat something other than chicken or fish. To celebrate I made these ground sirloin patties and served them without buns. This is an updated version of the Popeye Burger that I found in a kids’ cookbook. I seasoned the meat with a generous sprinkle of garlic powder, black pepper, and Montreal Steak Spice. I blanched the spinach and lightly salted it then squeezed out the excess water  before coarsely chopping it and adding it to the ground sirloin. I cooked the patties in a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet for 5 minutes on each side (each patty was  4 oz. of meat). I turned each patty once and topped it with a slice of provolone cheese.

Padma’s Bali Baked Fish with Coconut Green Beans

Padma's Bali Baked Fish with Coconut Green Beans

Want something spicy and flavorful? I never would have thought to add coconut to these green beans but it does counter the heat from the chilies and adds a flaky texture that’s quite a surprise outside a dessert. The Bali fish recipe itself is easy to make and cooks up in less than 30 minutes. In fact, I added a garlic-spinach sauté to the combination and it was delicious. These two recipes, Bali Baked Fish and Coconut Green Beans, both come from Padma Lakshmi via Glamour magazine.

Bali Baked Fish
2 pounds red snapper fillets (I used tilapia)
salt and pepper
1 onion, peeled and quartered
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon ginger root, sliced into rounds
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 tablespoons water
fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (I used chopped fresh cilantro and scallions)

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray cooking spray in a 9×13 inch glass baking dish.
Arrange the fillets in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In the work bowl of a food processor, add the onion, garlic, ginger root, tamarind paste, sesame oil, cumin, and 1 tablespoon water. Process. If the mixture is too thick, add another tablespoon water. Process until the mixture is puréed.

Pour mixture over the fish fillets. Turn to coat. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 5 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Squeeze on fresh lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle mint on top or cilantro and scallion if using. Serve with Coconut Green Beans and Garlic-Spinach Sauté.

Coconut Green Beans
2 tablespoons canola oil (I used cooking spray)
1 teaspoon mustard seed
2 tablespoons cashews
4 dried red chilies
1 1/2 pounds green beans, washed and trimmed
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
Salt

Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the mustard seeds. When the seeds start to crackle, add cashews and chilies. Once the cashews are toasted, add green beans and stir. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add coconut and salt. Cook another 8 to 10 minutes while stirring. When green beans are cooked through but crisp-tender, remove from heat.

[My variation: Instead of sautéing the green beans, I blanched them for 3 minutes in boiling water then rinsed them in cold water to stop the cooking process. This makes the beans tender as well as sets a deep green color. I returned them to the skillet to re-heat with the cashew mixture then added the coconut and salt. I cooked the green bean mixture for another 2-3 minutes and it was done.]

Garlic-Spinach Sauté
3-6 oz. fresh spinach
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Chicken stock
Salt and pepper

To make this low calorie, I used chicken stock instead of oil. Heat about 3 tablespoons chicken stock in a large skillet on high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach and toss to cook. Add more stock, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.