Monday, February 27, 2012

Weeknight Mu Shu Chicken

For some reason I had it in my head that my mother loved Mu Shu Chicken. I had big plans of impressing her with this make-over. BIG PLANS.
All the ingredients were purchased when I told her about my incredibly awesome dinner plans. "What's Mu Shu Chicken?" was her response.
REALLY?!  After all these years you'd think I'd know her favorite Asian meal.
Fail Melissa.

Mega mega fail.

At least the dish didn't fail.

Weeknight Mu Shu Chicken

1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons hoisin
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 14 ounce bag coleslaw
3/4 cup chopped scallions
2 cups leftover chicken, shredded
10 small whole grain tortillas
Combine soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and hoisin in a small bowl. Whisk in cornstarch.  Set aside. In a large frying pan or wok stir-fry the ginger and garlic in the sesame oil for about a minute. BEWARE OF GARLIC MISSILES AND GINGER BOMBS. Add coleslaw mix scallions and stir-fry until wilted. Add chicken and soy sauce mixture. Cook until heated through. To serve spread this heated mixture over some small tortillas and drizzle with hoisin.

Nutritional Info Makes 10 Servings
Calories: 176.1, Total Fat: 4.6 g only .5 g Saturated Fat, Cholesterol: 21.1 m, Sodium: 316.3 mg, Total Carbs: 21.2 g, Dietary Fiber: 3.4 g, Protein: 11.5 g

Nothing beats super good, super nutritious and super fast. Nothing.
Oh hey, mom? If you're reading this can you please tell me your favorite dish so that I can redeem myself here? Pleeeeease?

Checkout other great recipes at Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Roasted Cajun Broccoli

One question... why do roasted vegetables taste soooo much better than  un-roasted vegetables?!
Ok, fine, two questions...why didn't I learn about this sooner?

With Mardi Gras around the corner I've been on a bit of a Cajun kick. This was inspired by the Cajun Green Beans I made for Mardi Maigre. It's an amazingly quick side dish that can be thrown together during the week.

Roasted Cajun Broccoli
3 cups broccoli, chopped
Olive oil spray
1 tbs garlic
1.5 slices turkey bacon, chopped
1/2 to 1 tbs Cajun Seasoning (depending on your preference)
1/2 cup water
Arrange broccoli in a single layer in a baking dish. Toss with garlic, spray lightly with olive oil. Place under low broiler until broccoli tops are browned. The time varies depending on size of the broccoli cuts, fresh or frozen and your particular oven. Just keep an eye on it. While that is cooking add the turkey bacon to a large saute pan and cook until crisp. Add roasted broccoli to the saute pan along with Cajun seasoning and water. Simmer until all the water has evaporated.

Check out more tasty deliciousness at Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cajun Green Beans

I had my first experience with Cajun Green Beans at a friends house. This is the same friend who sparked The Great Smoked Cream Cheese Obsession of 2011. I'm not sure if she is evil or wonderful for introducing me to these things, but I will SURELY keep her around to find out.

I decided these NEEDED to be made at our Mardi Maigre blogger night. We enjoyed them along side delicious open faced Po Boys and Kings Cake that Bree made and the Gumbo I wrote about earlier this week.

Cajun Green Beans
1 large family size can of french sliced green beans
1.5 slices turkey bacon, chopped
1 tbs garlic
1/2 to 1 tbs Cajun Seasoning

Cook turkey bacon until crispy, add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Drain almost all the liquid from the can of beans. Add beans to the sauce pan along with Cajun seasoning. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated.

It's kinda like the taco meat procedure. I always hated adding water along with the seasoning and having to wait FOREVER for it to evaporate. I didn't understand the purpose until the day I got lazy and didn't add it. The depth of flavor just isn't there, so trust me. Let it cook for a bit.

These beans were so good it inspired a very similar creation.
I'll tell you more about Roasted Cajun Broccoli next time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Gumbo with Habanero Chicken Sausage & Shrimp

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I LOVE blogger nights. I know I sound like a broken record but I don't care. Seriously, if you take ANYTHING from my blog it should be that cooking healthy foods together with a friend is good for the heart, soul and tummy.

This month we avoided all that mushy gushy Valentine's stuff and went straight for a New Orleans Mardi Gras Celebration. Mardi gras is French for Fat Tuesday, which is basically the practice of gorging yourself one last time before Lent. We chose some terrific, but traditionally high calorie, dishes to makeover for Mardi Maigre (Skinny Tuesday) and they all turned out amazing. No gorging needed because they are all healthy and delicious year round.

Check out the Cajun Green Beans, Po Boys and of course, delicious nutritious Gumbo we made!
Gumbo with Chicken Sausage & Shrimp
1/3 cup flour
3 slices turkey bacon, chopped
1 pound peeled and de-veined raw shrimp
1 package Spicy Chicken Sausages (I used a Habanero Monterrey Jack type), sliced in bite size pieces
2 tbs olive oil
1 green bell pepper
1 red or orange bell pepper
1 large onion
5 stalks celery
3 tbs garlic
1 bag frozen okra
28 ounces chicken broth, divided
1 cup water
1 tablespoon Tony Chachere's® Famous Creole Seasoning
5 cups cooked brown rice
Dice all the veggies.  Add flour to a dry saute pan and cook until it appears brown, stirring constantly. Place browned flour in a bowl to cool. Saute turkey bacon in oil until bacon is crisp, add veggies. Cook until they are tender then add the water. Bring to boil. Whisk 14 ounces of chicken broth into the cooled flour. Add this mixture to the veggies slowly. Also add in the seasonings, remaining broth and okra. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add shrimp and sausage, simmer until shrimp are cooked thoroughly.  Serve 3/4 cup gumbo over 1/2 cup cooked brown rice.

Makes 10 Servings.
Each serving is 310.9 calories, 10.5 grams of fat total but only 3 grams of saturated fat.
Here's a little more info in case you were wondering:
Potassium 475.3mg; Total Carbs 35.1; Sugars 3.5; Protein 19.5. And it's loaded with vitamins!

Isn't okra nasty? Why should I eat that stuff?

  1. First of all, it is very low in calories (only 18 in half a cup) and it contains no saturated fats or cholesterol.
  2. It's considered by many to be a superfood. (Am I the only one that envisions people getting super powers from eating a superfood?)
  3. It is a rich source of dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins so it's often recommended in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
  4. The pods are loaded with vitamin A and it is one of the green vegetables with highest levels of anti-oxidants such as beta carotenes, xanthin and lutein which helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
  5. Excellent source of vitamin-C.
  6. Rich in B-complex group (niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid).
  7. Good source of many important minerals such as iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium.
Moral of the story:
Make gumbo.
Eat okra.

PS: Do you observe the Lenten practice of giving things up? If so what are you doing this year?

Check out more tasty deliciousness at Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Indian Style Mashed Cauliflower

    A while back I had the honor of treating my best friend to an Indian cooking class. I went in with grandiose ideas of what we would learn and how my cooking would magically evolve into something worthy of a show on the Food Network.
    Those dreams were crushed when I discovered we'd be cooking Mashed Turnips and Paneer. REALLY!?
    Turns out I can't technically eat either of those things because of the high fat content in their preparation. Despite the disappointment, I went into it with an open mind and a determination to have fun and learn something.
    After sampling the dishes, we went back to her place and recreated the Mashed Turnip recipe for the boys and lil' monkey. They loved it. I made a healthier version for myself which was surprisingly good. At the end of the day we were happy and content with the new knowledge we had gained.

    Then a few days later it hit me. You know how a craving can come out of nowhere and really take over? Well for me it was the Mashed Turnip. I wanted them so badly that every other meal was like prison slop in comparison. Finally on day 3 of the craving I went on a hunt to find turnips. After several turnipless stores it occurred to me that I had a gallon sized bag of frozen cauliflower at home... I wonder if I could fool this craving into submission.
    Turns out I could.
    And I did.
    And I also remade the recipe several other times because it was delicious.

    Indian Mashed Cauliflower
    3 cups cauliflower
    1.5 tbs tumeric
    1 tbs garlic
    1 tbs olive oil
    4 tbs fat free sour cream
    salt and pepper to taste
    1 dash of cayenne
    Boil cauliflower with tumeric until soft and mushable. (Yes, I realize mushable isn't a word, but it's an accurate description and I'm keeping it.) Next, add oil to a small pan and saute garlic for 1-2 minutes. Lug out the food processor and dump in the mushable cauliflower, the garlic and olive oil combo, sour cream, and cayenne. Don't forget to add salt and pepper, go easy at first. You can't Edit-Undo or Control -Z on the spices.
    Pulse and blend and pulverize until it resembles mashed potatoes. If your isn't processing well you can add a few tablespoons of milk.  Sometimes I toss that mushed concoction back on the stove and re-warm it for a few minutes. Other times I eat it straight out of the food processor.
    I really like to make it along side Chicken Tika Massala. I know you can make Chicken Tika Massala from scratch, but I've found delicious simmer sauces at both Trader Joes and Target that make my life much easier. 

    Now it's time to get nerdy:  
    Being from Meat and Potatoes Land (aka the Midwest) I had never had tumeric, nor had I eaten anything that had that fake tan hue. Here are a few things I've learned about this spice that deserves much more recognition:
    • Curcumin, the active component of tumeric, may help the immune system eliminate protein that is suspected of accumulating to form damaging plaques in the brains of people who develop Alzheimer's disease. Only 1% of the elderly in India develop Alzheimer's - this is one-quarter the rate of Alzheimer's development in North America. This difference is thought to be due in part to regular consumption of curry in India.
    • Daily intake of curcumin may decrease the risk of developing polyps in the colon, which in turn, decreases the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
    • Regular consumption of tumeric may help to ease pain and inflammation that accompanies arthritis.
    • Curcumin may be helpful in the treatment of some cases of cystic fibrosis.
    • Curcumin can help to effectively treat skin cancer cells.
    • Tumeric may help to prevent the spread of breast cancer cells.

    The medicinal properties of tumeric are so significant that the National Institutes of Health is conducting  trials to determine if curcumin should be a treatment recommendation for Alzheimer's disease, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, and multiple myeloma.

    So the moral of the story: find a way to incorporate tumeric into your diet. It's delicious and good for you. Oh yeah... the cauliflower is pretty good too.

    PS: Tumeric stains.... it stains everything. Read here, here and here to learn more about removing these stains, or let me know if you have any tricks for making that orange hue go away.

    Check out more tasty deliciousness at Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.
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