Monday, May 31, 2010

Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos

For this meal, I decided to utilize the greatness that can be pre-chopped or packaged food at Whole Foods. After an exhausting, yet fun, lake weekend and an aching sunburn, this worked out well for a quick and refreshing dinner.

Grocery List:
1 lb Mahi Mahi fillet
1 packet of Fish Taco Seasoning (I found a generic one in the spice aisle)
mango-corn salsa relish (stumbled upon it in the produce section, definitely took this one over attempting to create it myself this time around)
1 package of tortillas (I used Whole Wheat flour tortillas)
Cotija cheese
Shredded lettuce
1 can of black beans
1/4 cup of sweet onion

Additional needs...
Cutting Board
Vegetable Oil
Ziploc Bag
Large Skillet
Medium size sauce pan
Cheese Grater

I started by cutting the mahi mahi fillet down into 1 inch sections, trimming what I refer to as the scaley side on the bottom as I went along. Next, I took those sections and cut them to 1 inch squares. The seasoning packet I bought instructed me to pour 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil into the Ziploc bag, then put the fish in and add the seasoning. Let that sit for about 15 minutes.

Next I prepared the black beans. Use the food processor to chop up the onions, then sautee them in a medium sauce pan over 1/2 tablespoon of butter. Once fragrant, I added the can of black beans, cooking over high heat until ready then low heat until ready to serve.

To cook the fish, take the contents of the Ziploc bag and pour them into a large skillet over high heat. Use a spatula to flip the fish while it cooks, then add a lid if you have one to assist in the cooking process. This will only take about 10 minutes until finished.

Last, take the block of cotija cheese, which is a great, light-tasting, white cheese from Mexico, and grate it into a bowl. I heat the tortillas in the microwave on low heat for 30 seconds so they were soft and warm.

Add your desired amount of fish, mango-corn salsa relish, black beans, lettuce and cheese to your tortilla and you have one delicious dinner!

(still without a camera, iPhone pic of finished product)

I also used Spanish Rice Pilaf out of a box as a fabulous entree accessory - aka, side dish. I would recommend using sliced avocado for the fish tacos, but unfortunately the ones at the store were rock hard, and I just don't have good luck trying to cut into those, so I passed.

This amount of food was enough for the three consumed taco portions and there was enough left over for probably two more tacos.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Chicken breast stuffed with Asparagus and Gouda

I am incredibly sad to say that I do not have pictures to go along with this, as my camera has decided to break. Max was able to snap two photos of the finished product when he came over, but iPhone camera hardly does this justice. I will have to make this again with a working camera so that you can get the full effect another time. If you would like to donate to my new camera fund, please go to www.... just kidding. Always fundraising. Let's get to the point of this.

This is such a "sexy" little chicken dish - sounds good, looks good, tastes good. Simple way to spruce up the every day chicken breast into something that is 4-star restaurant menu worthy and flat out delicious. I came across this recipe on a website, and decided to substitute their provolone cheese for a tastier smoked Gouda for mine. Here we go.

Grocery List:
1/2 Cup of Light Mayonnaise (I use the generic Whole Foods 365 brand)
2 Tablespoons of Dijon Mustard
1 lemon juiced
Lemon zest (I personally do not zest my own lemon, I buy from the spice aisle, to each their own)
2 teaspoons fresh cut or dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
5 asparagus spears per chicken breast
4 boneless chicken breast halves
4 thin slices of Gouda cheese
1 cup panko breadcrumbs

Additional needs:
meat mallet
cutting board
medium sized mixing bowl
oven safe baking dish
pastry brush or spoon

Let's first go ahead and pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees and grease your oven safe baking dish.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together your mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, tarragon, salt, 2 shakes of pepper (or more for your personal taste), stirring until the mixture is well combined.

Next, steam your asparagus either in the microwave - as I used this time so that it would be faster - or by steaming in a skillet. If you use the microwave, put your spears on a safe plate with a little water on it for a minute and 1/2, or until bright green and tender.

For this next part, you need your meat mallet - another fun little toy that I now just love! I get more excited these days over new kitchen gadgets and home goods than I do for fabulous clothing and shoes. To quote the teen-angst phenomenon Blink 182, circa 1998-ish, "I guess this is growing up?" Back to this culinary creation... the meat mallet is such a handy tool to have. I tried to replicate prior to owning one by using the blunt force from the end of a big chopping knife (hands protected from blade of course, by thick oven mitt) or by using the bottom of a glass cup, until one day I just said - you know, I can get the $5.99 meat mallet. And that was that.

So take your cutting board and your meat mallet, or whatever you use in it's place, and pound your split chicken breast down to about 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with your other chicken breasts.

Place 1 slice of Gouda on each piece of chicken and top the cheese with 5 asparagus spears. Roll the chicken around the asparagus and cheese relatively tight, then place seam side down in your prepared baking dish. With a pastry brush, or you could simply use the outside of a spoon, apply a coating of your mayonnaise mixture to each chicken. Then sprinkle with panko bread crumbs.

Bake for about 25 minutes at 475 degrees, or until the crumbs are browned. I paired this with my perfect potato recipe and had a fantastic dinner with Mr. Max, having enough for his second helping and my lunch leftovers. One half of the stuffed chicken is rather filling!

a peek-a-boo shot of the inside!

Total calories of the prepared chicken is 350. The potatoes are of course guiltless as you can deduce from the butter and sour cream used, so calories do not exist in regard to them because I sucked them all out during preparation. Perfection.

Perfect Potatoes, aka, my best.

I call this one - simply amazing. Kate's perfect potatoes.

It's become a family joke that my fabled perfect potatoes are just a figment of my imagination. This statement is false, however. Max is the only one fortunate enough to have experienced them, and they are "my best". Why is this you might ask? Perhaps it is the larger quantity I suddenly need to account for when making for the entire family and my less than perfect calculating mind doesn't do it quite right; maybe it is the added pressure to have the Ta-Da outcome in anticipation for the perfect potatoes that we continue to build up at every family gathering - not helping guys. For me, it is all about the kind of potato you use. I am a fan of the waxy potatoes, those with red skins or the clearer light skin potatoes (Yukon gold) which happen to be healthier and low in starch, rather than the rough darker skin Idaho or Russet potatoes which is what my family always provides for me to cook. The natural consistency of these waxy potatoes is so smooth, and an additional bonus, you don't really have a need for using so many other ingredients... unless you just want to. Which for these mashed potatoes, we will do.

Grocery List:
4 large red skin potatoes
1 - 1 1/2 cup of sour cream (a great organic fat free sour cream works perfectly!)
1/2 stick of softened, salted butter
1 tablespoon of horseradish
Fresh chives, chopped

Additional supplies:
electric beaters/mixer
potato peeler
small boiling pot or large sauce pan

Skin your potatoes as much or as little as you prefer - while I know the nutritional value of the potato lies in the skin, I like my potatoes skin proof, which for me is a texture thing. Next, chop them into 1 inch squares and put your little tater cubes into the pot. I put the potatoes in first, then fill the water about 2 inches over the potatoes.

Boil on high for about 15 minutes or until the water runneth over creating that loud screeching noise that can't possibly be good for your stove - whichever comes first but seems to be a good indicator that they are done when that happens. When soft enough to crumble when you stick a fork through them, drain in colander.

Next, move your potatoes to an appropriate size mixing bowl. Soften the butter in the microwave for about 8 seconds, this just makes it easier to mix, then add with the sour cream. First use 1 cup of the sour cream and then add as needed while mixing, last add the horseradish. Now this can be a little potent so perhaps you would like to do the horseradish to taste, rather than the suggested measurement.

Now, I have more recently become a fan of chives. LOVE the chive. I get fresh chive stems from Whole Foods and chop it up myself, or sometimes I cheat and just add the dried chives that are in my cupboard. Either way, it adds a remarkably delicious flavor perfect for this recipe. I suggest you sprinkle away at this time and garnish your potatoes with chives. Salt and pepper to your liking and here is the TA-DA... you have my perfect potatoes. If you really want to splurge, cut 3 thin slices of butter, put them on top and set your potatoes in the oven on 300 degrees for 10 - 15 minutes. The butter will melt and form a crisp on the top. Holy moly, it's divine. Just don't add any more butter beyond that.

I prefer not to even look up what this would be on a calorie counter. Mashed potatoes have been my favorite since I can remember, a comfort food, a necessity. This is my cheat meal, my guilty pleasure. If this is my splurge, so be it, and for you, it shall be as well! I have been a mashed potato connoisseur, more recently including au gratin potatoes to the resume, but that's for another post... I've constantly worked to perfect my own version and this is that version, enjoy!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Alfredo Chicken Bake

This recipe I halfway stumbled upon and then researched various ways to make it better. The initial recipe called for a store-bought Alfredo sauce, so I decided to create a healthier version of that for only 80 calories!

Grocery List:
(for alfredo sauce)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 cup of fat free skim milk
1 cup of fat free half and half
1 cup of chicken stock
1 tbsp all purpose flower
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese

(for pasta bake)
1 box of whole wheat penne pasta
fresh broccoli
1 roasted chicken breast
1/4 cup of panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese

Additional supplies...
casserole dish
aluminum foil
sauce pan
large pot

In a large pot, pour the entire box of penne and boil. Chop the head of broccoli into small florets. Take a medium size skillet and fill with 2/3 cup water and steam the broccoli until softened. Drain in colander and set aside. Set your oven to 425 degrees.

Take the 4 cloves of garlic and mince them either by hand or food processor. In a medium sauce pan, use 2 tbsp of olive oil and roast the garlic on medium heat until fragrant and browning. Next, whisk in the flour to create a thickness. Next add the chicken stock, milk and half&half on high heat. Stir continuously as the mixture begins to thicken. Last, stir in the 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, add 1 tsp of nutmeg and use salt and pepper to taste.

roasting the garlic

the sauce!

I decided to use a roast chicken from the grocery store to add more flavor and cut back on cooking time. I used a garlic and herb rotisserie chicken and carved it to accumulate about 2 cups worth of chopped chicken.

After draining your pasta, arrange it in a large oven safe casserole dish, then add broccoli and chicken. Next, pour your homemade alfredo sauce into the dish and use a spatula to mix the penne, broccoli, chicken and sauce together. Once mixed, take the breadcrumbs and sprinkle them over the pasta, along with the smoked gouda. Last, sprinkle the paprika over top your culinary creation.

Step 1 Step 2 Step 3

Cover in tin foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes until golden brown.

hot and fresh out of the oven!

Let cool and then enjoy your feast! This recipe tastes great re-heated and I had it as lunch for the rest of the week!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Halibut en Papillote

My first recipe entry is from the Light and Healthy 2010 magazine that I got as I stood in line at Whole Foods last month. In this magazine, they take delicious recipes and cut back on the fat and calories to make it, I'm sure you can guess... light and healthy! Imagine that. Everything I get from this book, is under 500 calories. For these recipes, I always use them as a base and tend to make them my own in some way or another.

Tonight I played with foods that I've never cooked before: halibut, zucchini, quinoa. Let's get started.

Grocery List:
1 Zucchini, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
4 large cherry tomatoes (the recipe called for larger plum tomatoes but couldn't find them at Whole Foods, so I got the little crate of large cherry tomatoes)
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
2 skinless halibut fillets, 1 - 1 1/2 inches thick
2 tablespoons of dry white wine (the original recipe called for 1/4 cup, I said no thanks)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 cups of Quinoa
2 Lemon wedges for serving

First, heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Next put your sliced zucchini in a colander and salt it lightly (1/4 teaspoon). Let this sit for about 15 minutes, then spread the zucchini over paper towels and pat them gently to soak up extra moisture. Now, take your large cherry tomatoes and cut them in quarters, core and seed them, then cut each quarter vertically again.

(cherry tomatoes cored and seeded, cut in quarters)

Now, I play with the food processor - if you don't have one, go get one for under $40 at World Market, it's life changing. If you can't take that little errand right now, get your best knife and start chopping. I took about 6 fresh basil leaves and hit the "grind" button for about 6 seconds - it measured at right about 1/4 cup, then scooped it into a medium size mixing bowl. Then, I took about 3 sprigs of fresh oregano and did the same thing. Grind. Measure (right about at 1 teaspoon). Scoop into bowl. Repeat process for the 2 garlic gloves. Add your tomatoes, add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then 3 shakes of salt. You should have a delicious looking and smelling pesto-esque mixture as you can see below!

For this next part, I doubled the aluminum foil and used 2 for the base, about 12 inch squares. Take your zucchini and line them up as the pictures below indicate. Use 1 tablespoon of the white cooking wine and pour over them - I just could not imagine using more than that, which is why I decreased this measurement. Place the halibut fillet on top of the zucchini and then spoon the tomato-basil-oil-oregano mixture on top of the fillets.

Step 1

Step 2

Next, take a 3rd 12 inch square of aluminum foil and cover the halibut. Fold each side inward until you have closed it in.

Place on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 18 minutes.

While this is baking, take 2 cups of quinoa and put them in a medium size sauce pan. Add 1 and 3/4 cup of water, let it cook on high and come to a boil - treat like rice. This doesn't need to drain, it soaks up all of the water you cook it in! Do pay attention to this cooking, so that you don't burn it, as I have done with rice before and thought for a brief 3 seconds that I had done again...

Use the quinoa as a bed for your halibut en papillote, transferring the zucchini bottomed fillet with a long spatula. Then use a lemon wedge to squeeze over your meal for a little added flavor.

Fresh out of the oven!
Dinner is served! (Max's portion...looked better for the picture)

Best part? The Halibut en Papillote is only 290 calories! The quinoa adds around 500 per cup serving, but it also is the healthiest grain you can eat. My nutritionist gets the credit for the fact that I have tried this, and who taught me that it is the best grain you can eat. This serving of tiny little seed-like pasta contains more calcium than a glass of milk and 24 grams of protein!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hello World

I've never particularly been in favor of this whole "blog" thing. I didn't want to abuse cyberspace to talk about what exactly... myself? I guess I never found a reason for I, myself, to have one of these.

However, after posting several meals as my facebook status, I kept having people suggest I blog about the recipes I use as a way to share them - along with picture proof they actually exist and look edible. So here I am! I joke that someday I will have Kate's Kitchen, so this is my pre-cursor to that little number on the personal goals checklist.

I have a little cookbook that I like to make in "scrapbook" form and give as wedding presents so I'm taking that and putting it out for all to see. Welcome to Kate's Cure for the Common Cuisine. I hope that you will find this helpful when you want a change in your usual dinner combination. Cooking is not for everyone, I took it up as a way to relieve stress, which if you know me, happens to be my way of life. I've gone from cooking 1 -2 nights a week to cooking 4-6 nights a week and that is better for me than any anti-anxiety pill the doc could prescribe. It allows you to be creative as you get to know tastes, adding to already existing recipe measurements as you go. You can take out any aggression you may have as you chop the heck out of an onion or bell pepper. You feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when it's ready and you take that first bite to think "Yeah, I did good." See? Therapeutic.

I'll work on posting recipes as I make them, so I can include pictures. Bon appetite mon cheri!
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