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Monday, April 23, 2012

Low Carb Sunday Lunch and Dinner

Lunch on Sunday was supposed to be cooked on the grill, but we had some pretty serious April Showers with lightning, thunder, wind, in short, NOT a great day to cook out. I made our burgers and cooked them inside in my iron skillet. I made the patties low-carb by leaving out my usual addition of a 1/4 C of italian bread crumbs, 1 egg, and splash of milk. These burgers were lean, mean, carb banishing machines made with ground sirloin, finely diced onions, a squirt of yellow mustard, 1 pinch of salt, a generous sprinkle of pepper and a few good shakes of my favorite BBQ rub. Avoid the urge to squish your hands dramatically through the raw meat and cackle maniacally over it. First off, over-handling the meat makes for tough burgers and second, the laughing thing freaks out your family and can never be properly explained to the neighbor kid who just came by to see if the girls could play. I heated the iron skillet over medium high heat while I formed the patties. There was some residual oil left in the pan from the last time I had seasoned it, but if you are using a regular pan or a dry iron skillet add a 1/2 TB or so of oil to the pan to prevent sticking. Lean ground beef will stick if the pan is not lubed, fattier ground beef requires no such precautions. Form your patties, place them gently on the hot pan and then WALK AWAY!. Don't be lifting the edges to look at them, or flipping them over and over, don't smash them with a spatula, just walk away! DO IT! I busied myself by adding the macaroni to the boiling water for the kid's side dish, then I sliced half an onion and opened and drained a can of mushrooms to make some sauteed onions and mushrooms for the burger topping. Only then did I go and look at the burgers again. They were seared on one side and easy to lift and flip so I turned them and only then did I press them down lightly with the back of the spatula. I let them cook, but I lowered the heat to medium till they were done. I put the burgers on a paper towel lined plate and then put the onions in the pan, when they were browned, softened and fragrant I added the mushrooms and sprinkled them with a pinch of salt. When they were cooked through (3 minutes?) I took the mushrooms out and took a couple of handfuls of rinsed fresh baby spinach and added them to the same pan. Those wilt in less than a minute. Meanwhile I had some frozen green beans steaming in the microwave. So lunch went thusly, grown up burgers topped with a thin slice of low-fat cheese served on a bed of wilted spinach, topped with sauteed mushrooms and onions. Side of green beans and salad topped with sugar free vinaigrette (Actually I had a raspberry vinaigrette and a spoonful of the mac and cheese too!). Kids burgers one topped with cheese and one without, both with a side of macaroni and cheese and green beans, one kid opted for a salad, one kid wanted some grapes. All in all it was a pretty successful meal. The dinner schedule by SB Diet was supposed to be baked chicken, but we had enough
leftover rotisserie chicken so we got by with that. For a side dish I adapted a SB side dish recipe and it came out so well that I'd like to share it here. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty foil. Peel an eggplant, quarter it lengthwise and then cut the quarters into good-sized chunks (maybe 1/2 inch wide). Place on baking pan. Cut up a handful of miniature bell peppers of many colors or 1/2 of a red bell pepper and half a yellow pepper (or whatever you have on hand.) Cut up 1 whole onion by cutting in half and then cutting the halves in thick slices following the natural lines of the onion. Scatter these amongst the eggplant chunks. Pour over all 1/4 C of olive oil, just drizzled over and around the veggies. Season with a generous pinch of salt, several sprinkles of pepper and a goodly amount of Italian seasoning. Put it in the oven for 20 minutes, pull it out and flip over the veggies with a spatula. Return them to the oven to cook for another 15 minutes then pull them out again. Peppers should be brown and soft, onions starting to caramelize and eggplant softened and small. If they are still not to your liking you can place them under the broiler for a minute or two to finish. But don't walk away while they are under the broiler, unless you adore the smell of burning eggplant and the ambience of smoke in the dining room.
Hubby and I had eggplant and peppers, chicken and salad for dinner. Kids had chicken, macaroni and strawberries for dinner. Hubby had a sugar free Jello for dessert, kids had vanilla ice cream, and I had a hacked off piece of chocolate from the giant Hershey's kiss one of the kids got as an Easter present. I think I got the best dessert. :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Today's Lunch and Dinner

Rotisserie Chicken with Rosemary Steamed mixed veggies Tossed Salad Homemade No Sugar Vinaigrette So my husband has decided he wants to do the South Beach diet. I am not a dieter myself, but I want to be supportive of my husband whilst still preparing foods my kids enjoy and need. For instance in the first phase of the South Beach diet (hence known as SB) you aren't supposed to eat ant fruit, which would be terrible for children. Frankly I am not convinced it is awesome for adults either, but like I said, I want to be supportive. For example, today for lunch I made chicken breast tenderloins, dusted with BBQ rub and cooked in a TB of olive oil, in the same pan I cooked the chicken I wilted some baby spinach and seasoned it with salt and pepper. I served that with a big mixed green side salad and hubby had 2 TB of a sugar free vinaigrette while I had Raspberry vinaigrette (yum!) and the kids had strawberries and grapes. So he gets to diet and we get to eat and hopefully everyone will be happy. Tonight's dinner according to the SB plan is supposed to be Salmon with Rosemary. We don't have any salmon and frankly for what it costs down here, especially if you insist on wild caught salmon as I do, we're eating chicken and are glad to do so. Take a whole chicken and rub it all over with a mixture of 2 TB olive oil, 1 1/2 tsp. of salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper and half a teaspoon crushed rosemary. I usually place a half an onion, a bay leaf, a fresh rosemary sprig or two and a half carrot in the cavity of the chicken before I rotisserie or oven roast the chicken for added flavor. You could also use a pierced whole lemon, some celery or even a medley of fresh herbs such as sage, thyme and parsley. It usually takes anywhere from an hour to an hour and 20 minutes to rotisserie a chicken depending on how big it is of course, just make sure you cook it until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Hope you have a lovely dinner tonight too!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Overripe Bananas? We have you covered!

There are SOOO many things to do with a bunch of overripe bananas, of course there's banana bread, banana muffins, smoothies, banana pancakes, banana fritters, but here is a recipe that will knock your socks off!

Banana Pudding (made with ACTUAL bananas!)

I went looking for recipe for actual banana pudding, made from scratch using real bananas and it was
hard to find. Fortunately for all of us, my friend Jen, who lives on a vineyard in Chile has invented this luscious, creamy version. ENJOY!

My Mother-in-Law's Famous Banana Fritters

1 1/4 C Flour (I use whole grain all purpose)
1/4 t salt
1 t baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 C milk
1 t oil
As many bananas chopped up as you can manage :)
Oil for shallow frying

Sift dry ingredients together, make a well in the center, add wet ingredients and mix to form a batter. Add in your chopped bananas. Drop by large spoonfuls into hot oil in a heavy skillet. Cook only on medium heat so they don't burn on the outside and remain raw on the inside. It may take you a couple of fritters to get the temperature correct. When they are done transfer to a plate covered with paper towels to drain and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve hot with butter and syrup if desired.

You can tweak the batter to use 1/4 C of bran to it if you just need it to be healtheier.

Banana Smoothie/"Ice Cream"

Peel over ripe bananas. Keep in a freezer bag in the freezer until needed for smoothies where they add a creamy smoothness. Or simply blend with a bit of honey and yogurt in a blender until you get a consistency like soft-serve ice cream for a refreshing fruit dessert. Honestly, it is a delight.

Chicken Quesadillas

Quesadillas of all kinds are a healthy, quick dinner for nights when no one wants to cook much. You can go vegetarian by just using cheese and perhaps sauteed vegetables like peppers and onions or even roasted corn. You can have a vegan quesadilla by using vegan cheese of course (many tortillas are already vegan). You can have any type of thinly sliced and cooked meat inside of course, but I love a good chicken quesadilla. Here's how you make them. Heat a pan over medium high heat and add 1 TB of oil to the pan. Take strips of chicken and season them with adobo or if you lack that then use salt, pepper and cumin. Place them in the pan, not too many at one time or they will not brown properly. You can do the chicken in batches if you like, just do not crowd the pan. When the chicken is cooked through (will not take long since the chicken is cut up into strips, maybe 5 minutes. Do not stir the chicken, simply turn it over when it gets brown on one side. Set chicken aside when cooked and place sliced bell peppers, sliced onions, thinly sliced strips of carrot. If you'd like to add sliced fresh mushrooms, cook them last and cook them separately so they can get browned, taking care again not to overload the pan. Cook all the vegetables until they get some brown color on them and are uniformly soft. Turn down heat to medium and wipe out the pan and place a tortilla in it. Quickly add some shredded cheese to the center of the tortilla, add some chicken strips and cooked veggies, top with more cheese, but do not overload the tortilla or it will be difficult to flip. Add another tortilla to the top and let the bottom tortilla brown and cheese melt, then flip and let cook on the other side. Serve with pico de gallo, sour cream or plain yogurt, and a simple mixed green salad. YUM! As far as amounts go for my family of 4 we need about a dozen tortillas (we use the smaller 6 inch size), half an onion, one bell pepper, half pound of mushrooms (if using) 1 carrot thinly sliced, 1 C of shredded cheese and about 1 good sized chicken breast, pounded flat with a rolling pin and cut into thin strips.

Monday, April 16, 2012

How to Make Chiles Rellenos

Okay, so I decided to make a dish I had seen my Mom make a million times before, chiles rellenos! They were easy and delicious! Here's how you do it. Take several types of peppers, I chose some miniature bell peppers but you can use anaheim or poblano chiles. First things first you roast the peppers either over open flame on a gas burner or under the broiler on high for a few minutes. When the peppers are black and blistered all over place them in a bowl and cover with a plate or some plastic wrap and let them steam till the peppers cool enough to handle. The skins should slip right off. If the pepper has not already split from the heat cut a small slit down one side of the pepper, pull out the seeds and the membranes as best you can and set the peppers aside. In a small mixing bowl beat 2 egg whites till light and foamy then fold in the 2 beaten yolks. Heat an inch or two of vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. When a tiny bit of the egg batter dropped into the oil cooks and floats to the top immediately it means the oil is at the right temperature. While the oil is heating place some white mild cheese into each pepper, taking care not to over stuff. Possible cheeses you could use are queso fresco, queso blanco or even mozzarella. Take each pepper and place it into the egg mixture and then put the pepper into the hot oil. Turn the pepper once so that it gets browned on both sides, when cooked place pepper on a paper towel lined plate to drain. Sprinkle with a large grained salt like kosher or sea salt. EAT! Wash it down with a nice hard apple cider for maximum effect!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Meatless Monday: Pasta Primavera

Just threw together a primavera sauce over some whole wheat pasta for Meatless Monday. It was a busy night. Chopped up some multicolored bell peppers, onions, carrots, garlic and sauteed them in olive oil. I added a can of spaghetti sauce to the pan and then 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning and heated it up. I used whole wheat thin spaghetti and we served it with a side of green beans. Easy peasy dinner on a hectic school night.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tonight's dinner: Au Gratin Potatoes and Ham One Dish Main Course

Made some au gratin potatoes that I layered with thin slices of ham and baked for a hearty main course. We had steamed green beans on the side. I would post more but I worked today, did laundry, and cleaned out the car for our trip tomorrow, so I'm going to turn in early.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Enchiladas and rice and berries, oh my!

Made enchiladas tonight, using my usual technique, warmed up and re-flavored some leftover rice and made a quick strawberry shortcake from a children's book. Great night actually!

We had some leftover white rice from a weekend trip to a Japanese restaurant that I needed to use up, I put 1/4 C of water and 2 TB of butter, 2 threads of saffron and a pinch of salt into a sauce pan and then added in half of my rice and stirred it all together till it was warm and heated through then I added half a teaspoon of tomato paste and the rest of the rice (about 2 cups in all). It made a very nice side dish, flavorful but mild, perfect for enchiladas and you know it saved the rice.

I made a very nice oil and vinegar coleslaw too, nice and acidic and tangy to offset the cheesy enchiladas. I had about half a head of cabbage so I slivered it up finely and then grated some carrot, sliced some colorful bell peppers, thinly sliced half an onion and tossed it with 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of salt, 3 TB of red wine vinegar and about twice as much olive oil. Toss and let it sit and mingle while you make the rest of dinner.

And last but not least my favorite homemade strawberry shortcake recipe "Great-Granny's MAGNIFICENT Strawberry Shortcake" from the adorable children's book "Cook-A-Doodle-Doo" by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel. We picked up the book on a whim one day from the library and fell in love with it's charming adaptation of the story of The Little Red Hen. Of course the kids insisted that we make the recipe the same day and it was so good it has become my go-to for shortcakes.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My Husband Makes Dinner too, of course.

And he found a tasty recipe online last night. You can see it here at Deep South Dish. I love this website!