Friday, August 17, 2012

Stuffed Peppers in the Crock Pot

Every Thursday night is raft night at our pool, but I wasn't really thinking about that when I prepped my dinner for the evening.  What I was thinking about was how I wanted something easy and tasty to make that I could put together in the morning, so I didn't have to cook later in the day. That is the perfect description for this recipe.  There is very little chopping and preparation is fast. What is really cool is that it looks like more time was spent on it.

But is it pool food? Well, after I started putting this together a friend called and mentioned raft night, which is one of my daughter's favorite pool events, so I decided we would go.  How to get our dinner to the pool?  Lug the crock pot?  Transfer the peppers to a Tupperware container, but how to keep it hot?  I have the perfect solution.  A few years ago my mom gave me an insulated dish with a locking lid. There are no markings on it anywhere, so I am not sure if it is this brand or not but check out these bowls by ThermoKing. When I first got it I wasn't sure how I was going to use it, but this summer I figured it out. This bowl has been a lifesaver for me when it comes to bringing dinner to the pool.  It keeps things hot for hours. So yes, these peppers are now considered pool food!

As for the recipe, I adapted this version from an old family recipe that I grew up with. It was a good recipe without tweaking, but since it used minute rice, which I don't have in my kitchen, I needed to make at least one revision.  So, of course further tweaking ensued. I started with brown rice, which I cooked in vegetable broth for additional flavor. I also added carrots, fresh parsley, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and Parmesan cheese.  My mom always made this in the oven and since I was going the crock pot route I wanted to kick up the flavor a bit. Plus the brown rice and carrots give it a nutritional boost.

I apologize for only having a precooked pic, in our rush to get to the pool I forgot to take another picture before pulling the peppers out of the pot.  Don' t worry it looked pretty much the same, only cooked.

Crock Pot Stuffed Peppers

Serving Size  : 4 (Note on serving size, this recipe is set up as one whole pepper per serving and that is what the nutritional analysis reflects. But I think a half of a pepper is more reasonable serving.)

4 large  green peppers
1/2 medium  onion -- chopped fine
1 1/2 pounds  ground beef, extra lean
8 ounces  tomato sauce
1 large  egg
1 1/2 cups  cooked brown rice
1/2 teaspoon  fresh parsley -- chopped fine

1/3 cup  Parmesan cheese -- shredded
1 teaspoon  Worcestershire sauce
2 medium  carrots -- shredded
1 clove  garlic -- pressed
6 ounces  tomato paste

  • Wash green peppers, cut tops off and remove ribs and seeds. Place in crock pot.
  • In a large bowl, mix the remaining ingredients except the tomato paste.
  • Stuff the peppers with the ground beef mixture.
  • Spread tomato paste on the top of each pepper.
  • Add about an inch of water to the bottom of the crock pot.
  • Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours.

Per Serving: 636 Calories; 34g Fat (47.1% calories from fat); 42g Protein; 43g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 176mg Cholesterol; 962mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 5 Lean Meat; 4 1/2 Vegetable; 3 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sunny Side Up Eggs and Veggies

Weekends at our house mean a big breakfast.  Not huge, but usually an omelet, maybe some bacon or sausage (turkey or pork), and toast, bagel or sometimes home fries.  At a certain point this gets boring.  I know you can put a zillion things in a omelet, so how can it get boring? Case in point, Saturday's mushroom, celery, asparagus and goat cheese omelet was quite tasty.  But I digress, yes, I get bored making omelets every weekend morning, I wanted something a little different. 

Some of my best ideas are free form, I wasn't sure what I wanted except that I wanted it to have sauteed veggies.  I knew the hubby wanted eggs, and the idea of potatoes sound good.  I didn't want to use an excessive amount of pans, so I decided one pan for home fries and one for the veggies and potatoes, are we wondering into omelet territory here?  Almost. I sauteed the veggies and then made space in the pan for four sunny side-up eggs.

Once everything was cooked, I wanted it to be a"dish" not three separate items, so I piled each item on top of the other.  This allowed the yolks to blend with the other ingredients.  Have fun with this, just like an omelet the possibilities are endless.

Sunny Side Up Eggs and Veggies

Serving Size  : 2 
3/4 teaspoon  olive oil
1 large  russet potato -- chopped into 1/2 inch peices
3 tablespoons  red onion -- chopped fine
seasoning salt
1/2 cup  water
1 tablespoon  coconut oil
1 stalk  celery -- sliced thin
4 ounces  mushrooms -- sliced
5 stalks  asparagus -- cut in 1" pieces
4 large  eggs
1 1/2 ounces  Havarti cheese -- sliced into strips

  • In a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, cook potatoes in olive oil for 2-3 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup water, lower heat to medium, cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until tender. Remove lid, add 1/2 the chopped onions, sprinkle with salt, pepper and seasoning salt and then brown.
  • Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet over medium to medium-high heat, saute celery in coconut oil for 2 minutes and then add the mushrooms for another 2-3 minutes.  Add the asparagus, cook one minute longer. 
  • Arrange veggies in a cross shape, creating four pockets for the eggs. 
  • Reduce heat to medium and crack an egg into each pocket. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and seasoning salt.  Cook until the whites are set.
  • To serve, split the potatoes between two plates.  Top each portion of potatoes with two eggs side by side.  Top the eggs with the sauteed veggiesnd then equal strips of Havarti cheese.

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Per Serving: 332 Calories; 22g Fat (59% calories from fat); 21g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 447mg Cholesterol; 315mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 2 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 2 1/2 Fat.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Cucumber and Avocado Summer Rolls

Spring rolls with Portobella Mushrooms

Today's post is more of a recipe review than a recipe posting.  This is not my recipe, although I am quickly finding ways to switch it up.  I found it on Pinterest, one of my new addictions.  I have found tons of new recipe ideas surfing through pictures of food that people have posted there. As I try new recipes I find that some flop, and I kick myself for it because I can see it happening as I prepare it, but I think I should follow the recipe to the letter.  My advice to myself, and everyone else with decent cooking sense, is to follow your gut.  If it looks like it needs something, forget what the recipe says and jump in and do something!

Fortunately this is not one of those recipes.  This recipe is perfect all on it's own.  Not that I won't mess with it, because summer rolls are these cute little collections of food rolled up in a rice paper wrapper, and the possibilities are endless.  The original recipe was published on the Williams-Sonama site titled Cucumber and Avocado Summer Rolls.  The only permanent change I made to the original recipe is to add fresh cilantro.  I also do not make the dipping sauce.  I prefer hoisin and peanut sauces, which I buy in the jar at my Asian market.

I do switch up some the ingredients for my family because I am the only avocado fan in the house.  In the picture above I replaced the avocado with sauteed portobella mushroom slices.  These were quite tasty, although they were better fresh than the next day.  I also want to try and make them the traditional way with shrimp and pork.  Before trying this recipe I had never made summer rolls, so I went to YouTube and found a few videos to get a visual on the process.  I think this helped tremendously.  You can check them out here: Vietnamese Spring Rolls at #141 and How to assemble a Vietnamese Spring Roll

All in all summer rolls are relatively easy to make and are really great healthy summer food option.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Chicken Chili

This has been one hot summer.  It started with a very warm spring, which at the time was very welcome.  The gardens sprouted up early and everything was so nice and green.  Now everything is dry and brown. So even though it is only the beginning of August, I find myself dreaming of fall, wearing boots and long sleeves, and cooking up good comfort food.

One of my go to dishes as the air starts to get crisp is chicken chili.  This recipe is a nice balance between comfort food and eating healthy.  The fat count is nice and low and the protein count high.  Plus if you use a rostisseree chicken, the prep time is pretty easy.  You could also use fresh chicken, just add a few hours to the crock pot cooking time.  You can always do this on the stove, but of course the crock pot is great because you can get this going early in the day and then later when you are tired your dinner is already made.

Chicken Chili

1 tablespoon  olive oil
1 Rotisseree Chicken, meat only
1/2 onion -- chopped
2 cloves  garlic -- minced
1/2 green pepper -- chopped
15 ounces  kidney beans, canned -- drained
14.5 ounces  tomatoes, canned -- diced
1/8 cup  chili pepper, canned -- diced
1/2 cup  chicken broth
1 teaspoon  cilantro -- chopped
2 teaspoons  chili powder
1/2 teaspoon  cumin
1 tablespoon  ketchup
3 ounces  tomato paste
1 tablespoon  barbecue sauce
1 teaspoon  Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon  oregano
1/2 teaspoon  garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon  garlic powder
1 tablespoon  salsa verde
1 tablespoon  salsa
  • Saute chicken meat in olive oil.
  • Add onion, green pepper and garlic and saute a minute or two longer.
  • Transfer to crock pot.
  • Add remaining ingredients.
  • Cook on low for 3 or more hours.

Serve over pasta (preferably whole wheat or brown rice pasta), or with bread, and variety of fixings such as shredded low fat cheese, chopped onions and minced chili peppers.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Red Curry Tofu Stir-fry over Rice Noodles

I love tofu, it's an inexpensive lean protein that is easy to use.  What makes it even more fabulous is that my daughter loves it.  Dinner time can be a real struggle, so I am amazed to find that that tofu works for her.  It makes sense, given that it is basically flavorless, but the texture can be hard for some kids to get past.  Although I have to admit I get stuck in a rut with it, meaning that I often use it for stir fry.  I love stir fry, it's quick and easy and a good way to put a lot of veggies into a meal.  One of my goals is to find other uses for tofu...
In the meantime, the stir-fry for this post is Red Curry Tofu Stir-fry over Rice Noodles. If you are not a tofu fan you can easily replace it with chicken, beef or pork.

Red Curry Tofu Stir-fry over Rice Noodles

Serving Size  : 4    

12 ounces  tofu, firm
8 ounces  rice noodles
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 small  red onion -- thinly sliced
2 cloves  garlic -- pressed
1 tablespoon red curry paste
8 ounces  mushrooms -- sliced
1 green pepper -- thinly sliced
10 stalks  asparagus -- cut into 2" pieces
1/2 teaspoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • Slice tofu in to 1/8 thick pieces and place on paper towels.  Then cover with paper towels and press to remove excess moisture.
  • Heat water and soak rice noodles as package directs, 8-10 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a wok, saute onion in oil over med-high to high heat for a few minutes, then add garlic and curry paste, saute for 1 minute more.
  • Add tofu slices and stir fry until beginning to brown.
  • Add mushrooms and stir-fry a few minutes.
  • Add ginger paste, green peppers and asparagus.  Stir-fry until heated through.
  • Serve over rice noodles with soy sauce.
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Nutritional Analysis from Mastercook.  Per Serving: 366 Calories; 10g Fat (22.9% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 62g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 1mg Cholesterol; 386mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 3 1/2 Grain(Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Seafood Stew

I've been thinking about getting this blog up and running on a more regular basis.  I cook most days of the week, some tried and true recipes and some new ideas.  Many times I am too busy to stop and write it down. Lately though, I have been trying to snap pictures as I go along, that way when I do have the time (and/or the motivation) to document the recipe I have a picture to use.  Of course, my pics are the iphone variety, sometimes glitzed up with a trip through Instagram, instead of the fancy food styling photos found on many of today's food blogs, but they will have to do.

Even though I am a little of this and a little of that type of cook with a loosey goosey measuring system, it's good for me to document my recipes. One, if I do it in Mastercook, it allows me to get an idea of the nutritional analysis and two, because it makes it easier to plan meals and filter the ingredients to a grocery list.   Planning meals = saving money.

So today I went through my on hand photos and found this one of a seafood stew that a made a few weeks back. This dish is a hearty favorite, it's one of those catch all dishes that you can throw anything into.  My version has evolved from a basic tomato base stew with fish in it, to a heartier, creamy version utilizing corn, potatoes and coconut milk. The beauty of this recipe is that you can make it mostly from items in your pantry or freezer, plus throw in a few items from the fridge that need to be used and you have a great meal.

Seafood Stew

Serving Size: 8

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion -- chopped
3 cloves garlic -- pressed
1 each jalapeno pepper -- minced
2 medium potatoes -- 1/2" cubes
1 ear corn
28 ounces crushed tomatoes
15 ounces chicken broth
1/4 cup red wine
1 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh parsley -- chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons basil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
12 ounces cod
1 pound shrimp -- shells removed
10 ounces clams, canned -- undrained
13.5 ounces coconut milk

·         In large pot, sauté onions in oil until they begin to soften, add the garlic and jalapeno and sauté 1 to 2 minutes longer.

·         Cut the corn off the cob and add it to pot with the potatoes. Add the tomatoes thru the black pepper and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender.

·         Cut the fish into large pieces and add to the pot, cook until it begins to break apart.

·         Add shrimp and clams and cook 5-6 minutes.

·         Add coconut milk and cook until heated through.

·         Serve with salad and crusty bread.

As calculated By Mastercook. Per Serving: 376 Calories; 18g Fat (41.6% calories from fat); 33g Protein; 22g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 128mg Cholesterol; 864mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 4 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 3 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Sour Cream Enchiladas

I've been craving enchiladas.  Real ones, not the low fat version.  Don't get me wrong, I can hang with the low fat version if I have to, but there is one thing I hate about the low fat version.  The tortillas are not fried and this causes a major issue, soggy tortillas.  They soak up the sauce and the liquid of the filling, and become mush.  In the interest of health I can usually make this sacrifice, since I have not come up with any other means of remedying the issue other than frying the tortillas. 
Well today, I wanted to make the long version of chicken enchiladas and soggy tortillas were not going make it worth my while.  Not that it is an overwhelming amount of work, but it does take some time. I decided the way to feel good about frying the tortillas would be to fry them in coconut oil.  This is an ingredient that I am constantly trying to get into my body for many health reasons, so even though it raises the fat count, it's a good fat.  I used organic coconut oil, which is flavorless, don't use extra virgin coconut oil for this dish, it is has too much coconut flavor. If this isn't your thing you can always heat the tortillas in the microwave or wrap them in foil and heat them for a few minutes in the oven to get them soft.
As always please note that my measurements are approximate, I rarely measure anything when I cook my own recipes, so adjust to your taste.  Also although I feel this is my recipe, I should give credit to the original recipe that I morphed my version from over time. It can be found in The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook Copyright 1980, on page 270.  It used canned chicken and mushrooms and not nearly as many other ingredients, but it is the basis for my recipe.
Laura's Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

1 whole chicken
1 each onion -- Chopped
4 each garlic cloves -- smashed
2 each bay leaves, whole
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 each red onion -- chopped
8 ounces mushrooms -- chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces canned chili peppers -- minced and mild
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
16 ounces fat free sour cream
16 ounces light sour cream
1/2 cup salsa verde
20 each corn tortilla
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 cup cheddar cheese, lowfat -- shredded
Prepare the chicken:
  • Add chicken, onion, garlic and following seasonings to a large pot.  Cover with water.  over med high heat bring to a boil, then cover pot and reduce to a simmer for 1 hour, or until chicken is tender.
  • Use two forks to pull chicken meat off the bone and shred in medium size pieces.
  • Return everything except the meat back to the pot, add more water and simmer longer for stock to use at a later time. After awhile, strain the broth and freeze it in soup containers for other recipes.
Prepare the filling:
  • Sauté the onion in olive oil until slightly soft.  Add mushrooms and sauté a few minutes longer.
  • Add the shredded chicken, 1 lade full of chicken stock, canned chilies, chili powder, salt, garlic, powder, and pepper to mixture.  Remove from heat and stir in about 1/2 cup of each type of sour cream.
Assemble the enchiladas:
  • Blend remaining sour cream with salsa verde.  Spray large casserole dish with nonstick spray and then spoon in 1 cup of so of sour cream mixture to cover the bottom of the pan.
  • Heat Coconut oil in small skillet over med heat.
  • Once oil is hot, fry tortillas one at in oil for 1 or two seconds on each side, put the tortilla on a plate and spoon 1/2 cup or so of chicken mixture onto the tortilla.
  • Roll up the tortilla and place seam side down in the casserole dish.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  • Top the enchiladas with the remaining sour cream mixture and then sprinkle with cheese.
  • Bake at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes or until bubbly.  If you don't want to cook it right away, cover the pan with foil and refridgerate it.  Pull it out about an hour before you are ready to cook it and then cook for about 20-30 minutes, uncover it for the last 10 minutes.