Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chicken Mole

Thank you Gojee for this delicious dish! Once upon a time there was a Sunday - a busy Sunday. Full of worthless busy errands, spending dollars on silly things like gasoline, a car wash, a cute new work outfit with accessories just because, and new candles. All of this followed by a long, hot yoga class and HBO programming galore. Knowing this all would happen early in the day, I decided while I wanted to make dinner, I needed something easy and effortless. Gojee gave me this crock pot recipe and it was the perfect meal for this "busy" Sunday. There's just something about entering your home to the incredible aroma of food waiting for you. It's like a puppy who is so excited to see you when you get home, but easier to clean up after and not as committal. Yes, just like that...

Grocery List:
  • 3 full chicken breasts (we are going for the full things this time, not the halves or cutlets)
  • 1 onion, chopped well
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 oz. can green chilies
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 oz. unsweetened dark chocolate
Set your crock pot to high heat and place your whole chicken breasts at the bottom. Top with the onion, garlic and green chilies...

Followed by the crushed tomatoes, cumin, chili powder and salt.

Stir it all up to nicely coat the chicken and now you can leave for 6-8 hours as it cooks!

When you return, you will have those aromas aforementioned above. You will salivate. Take a peak!

We continue with the rest of the food preparation process by taking two forks and shredding the chicken breasts. After the nice long stint in a foodie hot tub, the chicken will break apart rather easily. It's okay now to sneak a little taste. That way you can taste the depth and flavor the next two ingredients bring!

Now, take 1 square of your unsweetened, dark chocolate bar.

and chop it up good.

Add the chocolate and the balsamic vinegar to the crock pot and stir it into the chicken and mole sauce until....

It looks like this!

I served over a bed of organic brown rice and broiled sweet potato cubes, as suggested by the recipe author. I like her taste, it was a good pairing. We had plenty left over and turned it into tortilla wraps and sandwiches for leftover lunches!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Beef Fajitas

These fajitas didn't involve anything too innovative or crazy, just an answer to my personal question "how can I make some delicious, summer tasting fajitas with contents of my fridge?", resulting in exactly what I was craving. This is an easy-to-follow recipe that will make your taste buds sing! I chose to use a crock pot because I wasn't in a hurry to have dinner prepared by a certain time, I also felt it allowed the veggies to reach prime fajita form.

The inception of the recipe went something like this.... I wanted to use up some mango I had in my fridge, mango is tropical and when I think of beef and fruit, I feel like soy sauce should be involved. Then, I still wanted to keep it Texican so I had a tomato I added to the mix and the bell peppers and onions were a must. I didn't want to saute them, I wanted them to slowly cook and soften to perfection so crock pot it was! I prefer beef tenderloin (fillet) as my steak of choice so I thought, why not see how it fares as fajita meat? Then, I needed some heat in the flavor so I called on my handy ancho-chile powder to do the trick. Using a little garlic here, a little left over fresh lime and cilantro there, and veggie stock to help those onions and peppers reach the perfect state, this recipe was born.

Grocery List:
  • 8 - 10 oz. beef tenderloin, trimmed to 1/4 inch thick strips
  • 1 red, yellow AND orange bell pepper, chopped into strips
  • 1/2 of a sweet onion, cut into rings
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. ancho-chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp. Soy sauce
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 plum tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup of mango, diced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, minced
  • Sour cream
  • Tortillas
  • Shredded cheese
  • Avocado (I wish I had some!)

    With your crock pot setting on high, add the vegetable stock, onions, bell peppers and garlic to begin slow cooking.

    Take your strips of beef in a bowl and add the lime, Worcestershire, cumin and ancho-chile powder. Let marinade for about 20 minutes, while your crock pot veggies are cooking.

    In a skillet, saute your tomatoes in olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

    As you wait, check in on your crock pot veggies and give them a stir.

    Add your mango in with the tomatoes and saute together for another 3-5 minutes. If I had more mango, I would have used more, just for your reference if you want to include additional chunks!

    Now, add your steak and soy sauce - keep the stove on medium heat, the steak strips will cook too fast if on high heat.

    Now add the cilantro to the meat mix and stir in to combine.

    Once the steak is cooked to your desired perfection, add the contents of the skillet to the crock pot with the other veggies. Let sit on low/warm heat until you are ready to serve!

    To serve, take a tortilla (I prefer whole wheat), top with a dash of sour cream then lay your onion and bell peppers....

    Followed by strips of tasty steak....

    And finally, what's a fajita without some shredded Mexi-blend cheese?

    The mango and lime juice adds a fruity compliment to the natural sweet tastes of the yellow and orange bell peppers, while the beef has just a touch of heated spice for a combined sweet and spicy beef fajita. Roll it up and indulge!

      Monday, July 18, 2011

      Crab Cakes (lightened up)

      These are my immediate thoughts when someone says crab cakes: my 2004 family trip to Maryland, weddings, Wedding Crashers, and... fried food.

      This recipe, however, is figure friendly by replacing the frying method with a nice baked finish. I took the base of the recipe from Skinny Recipes blog and added in a few of my own personal touches, creating a wonderful homemade rendition of this seafood favorite. The use of the Ritz crackers not only provides the bonding adhesive needed to hold together, but as they bake, the crumbs create a crisp layer on top and bottom for a lite "crunch" that one would expect from a crab cake.

      I adapted this recipe slightly, preparing the crab meat in my own fashion and using a smaller scoop for the miniature cakes. Serving size is based on 1 patty, in the original recipe using a 1/2 cup measuring cup - so the nutritional facts below apply to two of my crab cakes.

      Contains 173.6 calories, 8.8g fat, 13.1g protein, 11.7g carbs, 1.3g fiber.

      Grocery List:
      • 8 oz. lump crab meat, already picked free of shells (easy to find at Grocery Store)
      • Juice of 1/2 a lime, divided
      • Old Bay Seasoning (about 1 teaspoon)
      • 1/2 cup low-fat Ritz cracker crumbs, crushed up well (about 13-15 crackers worth)
      • 1 large whole egg
      • 1 egg white
      • 2 tbsp. red bell pepper, finely minced
      • 2 tbsp. green onion, finely minced
      • 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, minced
      • 1 tbsp. lite mayonaise
      For Chipotle-lime sauce
      • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
      • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (if you like a milder flavor, only use 1/2 or just the sauce in the can)
      • 1 tbsp jarred roasted red-pepper (in oil)
      • juice of 1/2 a lime
      Start by lightly beating your egg and egg white in a bowl. In another bowl, combine your cracker crumbs, the lightly beaten eggs, the mayo, cilantro, juice from 1/4 of a lime, red bell pepper and green onion in a bowl. Mix well.

      In a separate bowl, combine your crab, juice from 1/4 of a lime, and Old Bay seasoning. Stir well to try and cover all the crab meat. Add more seasoning if you feel you need to.

      Gently fold the crab meat into the "cake batter" until well combined.

      Place a sheet of foil on a baking pan, cover with cooking spray. Using a measuring cup (original recipe suggest 1/2 cup, I used 1/4 cup) scoop the crab mix and plop onto the cooking sheet. 

      Press down a bit to slightly flatten, this will help the cakes cook and crisp better.

      Set in the fridge for 30 minutes prior to baking to help the mixture coagulate a little better. Go ahead and begin pre-heating your oven to 400 degrees.

      While your cakes cool into a more solid state, go ahead and make your chipotle-lime sauce. In a food processor, add all the ingredients together then blend until creamy and smooth - about 30 seconds.

      Pour into a small ramekin or bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

      When your 30-minute cooling timer goes off, remove the cakes from the fridge and pop them on in for 10 minutes.

      Then take out, carefully flip and cook for an additional 10 minutes on the flipside.

      When done........... look how good those look!

      ...Spoon your chipotle-lime sauce over top and you are ready to indulge!
      Served over bed of mixed greens, but I'd recommend a grilled or 
      roasted asparagus with summer squashes!

      Thursday, July 14, 2011

      Mexi-Texi Layer Salad with Shrimp


      Last month, I made a little side salad that I endearingly named my Mexi-Texi salad based on its contents of black beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes and other delights. Recently, I saw a fabulous layered salad with similar contents, topped with shrimp and decided to scratch the mango shrimp salad I had planned for that night to make this instead. I happened to already have all of the ingredients on hand so I took Skinny Taste's trifle presentation idea and made this tasty mid-week meal. If you are feeding a boy, this is plenty filling and dude approved. Because of the trifle concept, this salad made far more than what the two of us could finish. This version is sufficient for 4-6 people.

      Meal includes 288.4 calories, 10.6g fat, 28.7g protein, 25.1g carbs, 8.8g fiber, 55.5mg sodium

      Grocery List:
      • 1 lb. de-veined, peeled shrimp
      • Cajun Seasoning (Tony's)
      • 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
      • 4 cups chopped romain lettuce
      • 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
      • 1 cup corn (grilled, preferably for flavor)
      • 1/4 cup orange bell pepper
      • 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
      • 1 cucumber, chopped (I peeled and de-seeded mine)
      • 1 cup diced tomatoes
      • 1 ripe avocado, diced
      • Reduced fat cheese (I used reduced-fat shredded Mexican blend cheese)
      • Salad dressing of choice (I used a creamy low-fat smokey Ranch dressing)

      Start by adding water to a large pot and add the shrimp. Add about 3 tbsp. of creole seasoning and a sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning if you have some. Cook for about 15 minutes or until water is boiling, then drain your shrimp, set aside to let cool. Once cool, cut in half for smaller bites and toss in lime juice, adding a little more seasoning if you need to.

      To begin the layering process, add your lettuce to the bottom of the trifle bowl.

      Next, I decided to saute my corn because it was a bit frozen. I took this opportunity to also cook the bell pepper because they are just better softened. (not pictured)

      In a bowl, mix the black beans, corn, bell peppers and cilantro.
       Mix well....

      Add your second layer to the trifle made up of the corn, black bean, bell pepper mix.

      Quick how-to, this is how I de-seed my cucumber: cut in half and hollow out the middle with a spoon.

      Using one cucumber did not spread very far for this layer, so if serving more than two people, I would suggest using two. Now add your third layer.

      For the fourth layer, add your diced tomato mixed with diced red onion.

      The fifth layer is the tasty avocado - spread it across the top of the cucumber.

      Sprinkle cheese over the avocado and top with the chopped, seasoned shrimp.

      To serve, use salad tongs to reach down to the bottom, pulling up all the tasty layers of the salad. Top with your dressing of choice and enjoy!
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