Yearly Archives: 2009
|December 14, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Asian, Fish and Seafood, Lent, Light, Quick Weeknight Meals, Soups and Stews|
Lately it seems like everything I’ve been eating is so heavy: cheese here, cookies there, puff pastry galore … and don’t even get me started on the fried stuff. I may have to start a second blog called “Fatty McFatterson Fries Things” to document those. After all of those heavy, greasy (and oh so tasty) meals, this snapper was like a breath of fresh air. The flavors were so bright and even though there was something that seemed almost summery about this dish, it didn’t seem out of season at all. There’s something inherently comforting about ginger and noodles that makes this dish perfect for the chilly weather.
I have to confess – I used frozen vegetables in this. I don’t know why, and I really don’t have a good excuse for it. Rookie mistake. The mix I used contained green beans, carrots, peppers, bean sprouts, and onions. While none of these vegetables are necessarily in season right now, they are widely available, and I’m sure they would have tasted a lot better than this mix which just had NO FLAVOR. Apparently eating fresh vegetables has me spoiled, but I also think I finally figured out why I hated vegetables a a kid. These didn’t taste bad, but they were boring and you really couldn’t distinguish one from the other, flavor-wise. In a pinch, I guess there’s ok but this would be so much better with fresh vegetables. As it is, it took me about 15 minutes to make this dish. Peeling a few carrots and blanching some beans would have added an extra 5 minutes or so? Totally worth it.
But its ok, because this dish isn’t about the vegetables. It’s all about the broth. Which makes sense, since I actually built this from the broth up. I really felt like a warm, gingery broth and I had some ponzu left from making Brussels sprouts so I set off from there. Fish seemed like a good idea, and vegetables. Up until the last minute I was planning to make rice but then I switched to noodles which was an awesome idea because is there anything better than slurping up delicious broth-y noodles? But yea, the broth… on their own each component of this dish tasted ok, but when the broth was added the flavors all popped and the dish really came together. I’ll be honest – snapper isn’t my favorite. I think it has a tendency to taste really strong and fishy. But in that broth? Perfection.
- 1 cup water
- 1 bag of Oolong tea
- 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup sake
- 1 Tbs sugar
- 1 3-inch pice of ginger, sliced into thick rounds
- 1/8 cup ponzu
- 1/8 cup fish sauce
- 3 4-ounce snapper filets
- salt and pepper
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 bag frozen stir fry vegetables*
- 2 servings (7-ounces) rice noodles
Bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the tea bad. Set aside and allow to steep.
In a second pot, combine the rice vinegar, sake, sugar and ginger. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and allow to reduce by half. Stir in the tea and keep warm.
Season snapper with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the snapper, skin side up. Cook 3 minutes on that side, then flip and cook 1-2 minutes on the skin side. Remove to a plate. Tent with foil to keep warm.
Add the vegetables to the pan. Stir fry briefly – just enough to fully defrost the vegetables. Add the noodles and stir fry for 2-3 minutes or until everything i heated through.
Mix the ponzu and fish sauce into the sauce. To serve, arrange noodles and vegetables in each dish. Top with a snapper filet. Spoon on the sauce.
Approx. 448 calories, 7.8 grams fat, 3.4 grams fiber, 36 grams protein
* I recommend using fresh vegetables instead – shredded carrot, blanched green beans, bean sprouts, onions, and some shitakes would be great.
|December 11, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Desserts, Shawn's Favorites, Special Occasions, Vegetarian or Vegan, Winter|
(Before I start talking about these cookies, I’ll let you know that there’s a great giveaway at the end of this post. Including FREE CHEESE!)
Ok, now that that’s out of the way…..
I’m not going to go on and on about how these are the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. I promise. Everyone thinks they’re recipe is the best and, honestly, few stand up to the one that printed on the back of the bag of chocolate chips. But sometimes you’re looking for something different. Something… crispier! Soft, gooey cookies have their place but sometimes I just want a little bit of crunch. They’re great for dunking in eggnog (I don’t like dunking soft cookies – they get too soggy) and they keep really well. They best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever? I’ll leave that up for debate. But let’s just say if I was Santa, whatever kid left me a plate of these would be written on the “nice” list in permanent marker.
Crispy or chewy, there’s a few things that make a great chocolate chip cookie: Lots of brown sugar, but not too sweet. LOTS of chocolate. And a light sprinkle of fleur de sel over the top. What’s that? Yeah, you read right. A small sprinkle of sea salt adds a delicate crunch to these cookies and is awesome against the chocolate. Now we’re not talking enough salt to actually make these cookies salty… just enough to make the flavors come alive. Try it, and you’ll see. I wouldn’t have my chocolate cookies any other way.
One other thing – I can’t stand when cookies have big chunks of walnuts in them. Ew. Until recently, I thought I actually just didn’t like walnuts. I was wrong. I do like them – just not in big pieces! I incorporated some ground walnuts into this recipe – it adds a subtle nutty flavor without being overpowering or interfering with the texture in the way that pieces of nut does.
Like I mentioned above, these cookies are crispy. Not overcooked or hard – I made them crispy on purpose! The texture is the same throughout, and its hard to find anything appropriate to compare it to. I guess you could say they’re like chips ahoy, but much, much better and with a much more delicate crumb. It took quite a bit of research to figure out how to get my cookies to be this texture! The answer is pretty scientific, but not at all complicated: use cold butter. That’s right! No waiting for your butter to come to room temperature! If you think about it, it makes sense… cookies spread and get soft when the butter melts (because once it’s melted, the butter stays soft once the cookies cool off). Butter that’s starting at room temperature will melt much faster than butter that’s starting out cold. So cold butter means it won’t melt as much in the oven, which means the cookies will be thicker and crispier. And there’s your science lesson for the day.
- 1 stick butter, chilled
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 3/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup walnuts, ground (pulse in your food processor until it has the texture of coarse flour)
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 8 oz. chocolate chips (I actually prefer pastilles if you can find them)
- fleur de sel
Preheat your oven to 350.
Use eggbeaters or a stand mixer to cream together the butter and sugars. Mix for about 5 minutes, or until mixture begins to look smooth and incorporated. Mix in the egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix the flour together with the baking soda and salt. Add half the flour. Mix to combine, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in the remaining flour and the ground walnuts. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Drop by the tablespoon-full onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment or a silpat. Sprinkle very lightly with fleur de sel. Bake for 13 minutes – cookies will look a little bit light, but should be cooked in the middle. They will darken a touch after they sit.
Yields about 3 dozen cookies.
Approx. 98 calories, 4.7 grams fat, 0.5 grams fiber, 1.3 grams protein
I’m sending this recipe to Jennie for her 12 Days of Sharing virtual cookie swap. The swap is being done to raise money for Share our Strength, a great organization that seeks to make sure no child goes hungry. They do some great work by going into lower-income communities and teaching people ho to cook cheap, nutritious meals. If you make a monetary donation through the swap, you’ll be entered to win some great prizes too.
The people over at President Brie saw my baked brie with cranberry and pear and generously offered to send one of you their Brie Home Entertaining Kit! They sent me one too, and I’m so excited for this because it’s awesome! You’ll get:
- a beautiful cheese board that had a little hidden drawer with a fork, knife, and spreader
- some place cards and place card holders
- a sharpie pen
- and THREE brie logs (packed inside a little lunchbox!)
Now that’s a giveaway! It comes wrapped up all pretty and it’s totally like Christmas came early.
Want one? All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite holiday cookie or appetizer. For an extra entry, you can tweet about this contest (reference @healthydelish in the tweet so I see it!).
I’ll enter all of the entries into excel and will use random.org to pick one winner at 9pm next Wednesday, December 16.
THIS GIVEAWAY IS LIMITED TO READERS IN THE US AND CANADA ONLY. (To those of you who live elsewhere, I apologize, but they’re doing the shipping so they make the rules on that one!)
|December 9, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Fruit, Italian, Lent, Light, Quick Weeknight Meals, Reviews, Sides, Special Occasions, Vegetarian or Vegan|
For me, the holiday season is pretty much synonymous with snack-like appetizers. So many of our traditions revolve around them! From holiday cocktail parties, to eating them while we trim the tree, to out annual New Year’s Eve appetizer feast. I’m also not a big stress eater – it makes me lose my appetite! December and January can be pretty hectic times for me at work, and I’ll often want to snack on appetizers rather than eat a full meal. The problem with appetizers is that unless you buy heat and eat ones (which get expensive fast!), they can be very time consuming to make. Which is why when my friends over at Mezzetta suggested I post ideas for having an “instant party” featuring fast and easy recipe ideas, I jumped on it.
With these ideas, you can have an elegant holiday spread served up in mere minutes. Aside from it all being delicious and fabulous, the best part is that the recipes are all made with ingredients that you likely keep on hand. I was sent some samples of olives, sun dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts to use but everything else came from my cabinets and fridge – no special trip to the grocery store was made in preparation of this post. (And if you’re anything like me, olives, sun dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts are kitchen staples that you would never be without anyway! I highly recommend the Mezzetta brand – they’ve been the only olives we’ll eat for a while, and I’ll definitely be buying the tomatoes and artichokes now too.)
First up, we have some Asiago-Stuffed Fried Olives! I had something similar to these when I was in Bermuda, and have been dying to recreate them ever since. There’s something about the combination of meaty olive, gooey cheese, and crispy beer batter that is simply irresistible. These do take the longest to make of all today’s recipes, so you’ll want to get started on them first.
Remove the pits from some good-quality olives, such as castelveltrano. Stuff each olive with a small piece of asiago cheese. Toss in some flour to lightly coat.
Meanwhile mix up a simple beer batter: 3/4 cup flour, 1 egg, dash salt, 2 Tbs oil, 1 cup light beer. Coat the olives in the batter.
Heat about 2 inches of oil in a deep pot. When the oil is heated, fry the oil in batches for about 45 seconds or until batter has crisped and turned golden. Remove from oil and cool on paper towels.
Next up is a crostini bar with two types of tapenade and some seasoned artichoke hearts. These are all super simple to make, and taste much more complex than they are. The first is artichoke and green olive tapenade. Basically just throw some artichoke hearts and some garlic-stuffed olives in the food processor along with some parsley and a few olives almonds. Pulse a few times to chop it all up, then drizzle in some olive oil and process until it comes together. I have to say that I wasn’t a huge fan of the garlic olives on their own – they were just too strong! – but mixed up in the tapenade, they were fabulous.
Next we have a sun dried tomato and feta tapenade. Just as super simple to make as the first – just blend some sun dried tomatoes in the food processor along with a little bit of onion and 1 clove garlic. Then gently mix in some crumbled feta cheese and season with a touch of cracked black pepper.
These tapenades were both amazing. We couldn’t decide which we liked better!
To round out the selection, serve up some Lemony Artichoke Hearts. Gently combine a jar of artichoke hearts with some parmesan cheese, a little lemon juice, some lemon zest, and salt and pepper. So simple, but so delicious! I really enjoyed the way the lemon make the flavor of the artichokes pop. The flavor is very delicate and refreshing and is a nic way to balance the heavier flavors of the tapenade.
Last but not least, what would ap arty be without drinks? I have to thank Mezzatta from the bottom of my heart for introducing me to this Rosemary Martini with Blue Cheese Olives – it’s hands-down my new favorite. When it comes to liquor, I’m usually a gin and tonic girl. But this martini has been my go-to drink recently. I LOVE the way the rosemary brings out the juniper flavor of the gin.
I also need to take a minute to gush about these blue cheese stuffed olives. I. LOVE. THESE! And I’m super bummed because they won’t be available on the East Coast until next summer (hint, hint West Coast friends… send me some more!). The first time I had blue cheese stuffed olives was a few years ago in a martini at the Cheesecake Factory. I’ve always wanted to have them at home, but have never been able to find good ones. I was getting really tired of spending money on jars that were too salty, or had nasty cheese that was too hard, not blue enough, or just tasted downright funky. But these are pretty much perfection. The olives taste fresh and not too briney, and the cheese is soft and sharp like blue cheese should be. I can’t recommend them highly enough.
So… for the martinis: combine 1 part gin (vodka if you must) with 1/2 part dry vermouth and about 1 teaspoon olive juice in a shaker with a few ice cubes. Rub a few dried rosemary springs between your fingers to release the flavors, then add them to the shaker. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Serve with three blue cheese stuff olives.
Obligatory FTC Disclaimer: Mezzetta provided me with samples of all above mentioned olives as well as with sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts. In addition, they provided the recipe for the martini, and several crostini recipes that I used as inspiration for my crostini bar.
|December 8, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Beef, Lamb, and Pork, Fall, Light, Quick Weeknight Meals, Sides, Winter|
Well, well, what do we have here? That’s right – a meal centered around vegetables! I feel like its been a while, but its just so hard for me to get inspired by veggies this time of year. This dish makes the best of what’s in season with cauliflower and chard. Yes, cauliflower. I know what you’re thinking, but trust me – that cauliflower is getting mixed with cheese and cream sauce. Because cheese and cream sauce can make just about anything taste good.
I’ll admit, I was a littler nervous about how this was going to come out: I figured it would either be totally gross or totally awesome. It was way better than I ever imagined it could be! We both loved it, and I happily gobbled it down while already looking forward to the leftovers. The cauliflower was tender without being mushy, and the chard was slightly bitter in a way that cut through the creamy sauce very nicely (it reminded me of the Brussels sprouts in this dish). If you must, think of this as a grown-up version of macaroni and cheese with cauliflower standing in for the pasta. You wont be disappointed. This is definitely a dish that I’ll be making again and again all winter.
At first I was planning for this to be a vegetarian dish, but I felt like it needed something to round the flavors out. I added just a tiny bit of cubed ham, and it was PERFECT. It added a touch of smokiness and saltiness and brightened the flavors just enough. Of course if you’d like this to be a vegetarian dish you can leave them ham out. In that case, I would add a few dashes of hot sauce to brighten the flavors.
My only other advice is this – this is not a dish to be gluttonous about. Think about it before you go back for that second helping that you know you really don’t need anyway (this stuff is filling!). If you eat a half head of cauliflower and an equal amount of chard in one sitting, you’ll regret it later. Trust me, I speak from experience.
- 1 small head cauliflower (about 1.5 lbs)
- 1 bunch chard
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 6 oz. ham steak, cubed
- 3/4 cup shredded gruyere
- 1 small hand full shredded Romano (about 1 ounce)
- 2 Tbs butter
- 2 cups nonfat milk
- 2 Tbs flour
- 1 tsp spicy mustard
- 2 Tbs panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350. Bring a large pot of salted pater to a boil.
Separate the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Add to the boiling water, and cook for 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain.
Tear chard into medium pieces. Combine chard, cauliflower, ham, nutmeg, and half the cheese in a casserole pan. Toss well to mix.
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk and mustard. Bring to a simmer and cook for a fe minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens. Season with salt and pepper, and Pour into the casserole over the vegetables. Top with remaining cheese. Sprinkle breadcrumbs in a thin layer over the top.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese and sauce is bubbly. If needed, broil for the last 5 minutes to help the breadcrumbs crisp.
Approx. 225 calories, 11 grams fat, 4.3 grams fiber, 18 grams protein
|December 7, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Beef, Lamb, and Pork, Weekend Meals, Winter|
Shepherd’s Pie. Soup, Lasagna, Soup, Stew, Soup, Soup, Soup. That’s been what dinner here has looked like the past few weeks. The colder weather just has me craving comfort foods, most of which are pretty boring and not worth posting about. But this pot pie is another story. For some reason puff pastry comes in packages of two so I had some left after making that baked brie. I’m not normally a pot pie fan, but I remembered seeing a recipe for beef and guinness baked under puff pastry when I was looking at Jamie Oliver’s web site not to long ago, and I liked the general idea. I’m sure his recipe is good, but it looked kind of boring to me so I took mine up a few notches by playing around with the cooking technique and adding lots of vegetables and more seasonings. The result is a stew of tender beef and potatoes swimming in a rich and flavorful broth that has just the slightest bit of bitterness (in a good way!) from the beer, all tucked nicely beneath a buttery crust. It was warm and comforting – exactly what I was looking for on a cold winter day.
Since my casserole dish is on the small side, the piece of puff pastry was a little more than I needed to for the lid. I trimmed the edges and cut the scraps into pieces that I baked and served along with the pot pit. It was nice to have the extra pastry to sop up the gravy with. I completely forgot to put an egg wash on my pastry, which would have made it brown nicely. I suggest brushing the pastry with a mixture of 1 egg yolk and 2 Tbs water just before baking fo a prettier final product.
When it came to the vegetables, for the most part I just threw in what I had on hand. It was a great way to use up little bits of things that I had leftover from other meals, but that weren’t enough to make on their own. I would look at the vegetables in this recipe as a guideline – feel free to add whatever you like or whatever you have on hand.
If you want to save on fat and calories, this would also be a delicious stew without the puff pastry – just serve after you add the mushrooms and reduce the gravy! Serving it this way will save you just under 200 calories and 10 grams of fat. You could also just bake up smaller pieces of puff pastry to serve on the side, as seen below.
- 1 Lb stew beef (preferably grass fed), cubed
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 2 Tbs flour
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 1 pint (16 ounces) Guinness
- 3 cups water
- 2 Tbs tomato paste
- 1 Tbs dried thyme
- 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tbs dried rosemary
- 3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
- 2 stalks celery, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup green beans, cut into thirds
- salt and pepper
- 1 Tbs butter
- 1/2 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
- 1 piece puff pastry
Heat oven to 400.
Pat the beef dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a dutch oven or large oven proof pot. Add the beef – a few pieces at a time – and allow to brown on all sides. Once all of the beef is browned, return it to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with flour. Move to the oven and bake for 4 minutes. Stir, and bake for another 4 minutes to allo flour to brown and form a light crust.
Remove and lower the heat to 325.
Add the garlic, Guinness, water, tomato paste, worcestershire, and herbs. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Add the vegetables (except mushrooms). Cover, and return to the oven. Bake for 90 minutes, or until the meat can be easily pierced by a fork. Remove from oven.
Heat butter in a small frying pan. When the butter is melted, add the mushrooms and cook until the are just softened. Add to the stew.
If needed, set the pot of the burner (uncovered) and bring to a boil to allow the gravy to reduce. If you have been cooking the stew in a pot, transfer it to a casserole dish. Cover with puff pastry and return to the oven for 20 minutes or until pastry is cooked through.
Approx. 555 calories, 28 grams fat, 6.5 grams fiber, 24.2 grams protein
|December 3, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Fruit, Indulge, Reviews, Sides, Special Occasions, Vegetarian or Vegan|
I can’t believe it’s December already – where has this year gone?! Thanksgiving totally snuck up on me this year, and I was scrambling at the last minute to come up with something to bring to my parents house. Since there are usually a million desserts, I didn’t want to bring anything sweet and since it takes us an hour to get there a side dish wasn’t really an option because it would get cold. Finally, I decided on cheese. We never have any appetizers, and thought it would be nice to have something to snack on before the main meal was served.
Bakes brie is one of my standard holiday recipes. It’s cheap and easy to make and it travels extremely well. And it always goes over well because who doesn’t like cheese? I’ve been loving cranberries lately – especially when they’re paired with pears – so I decided stuff my brie with a cranberry and pear chutney. I really liked the way that the tart berries played off the buttery brie. If you don’t like cranberries or can’t find fresh ones, raspberries are also fabulous in this recipe.
- 2 pears, peeled and cored
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 Tbs brown sugar
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1lb wheel of brie
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- 1 egg yolk
Preheat oven to 350.