Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day 52: Stupendous Salads!

Salads are what some people dread when deciding to choose a healthier life-style, and many men judge women who order salads on a date, but let's be honest: Salads are one of the most salubrious ways you can feed your body and get the right amount of nutrition at the same time! I love them, as you may remember from my "big salad" post. And they don't have to be a boring side dish with iceburg lettuce as the base (I don't even consider that to be real lettuce as it's basically like consuming water). Make salads more interesting using international flavors for a more exciting experience. I'll give you some inspiration with a couple recipes tonight (and don't be afraid of brussels sprouts--most people who claim to hate them have either had them overcooked or from the freezer aisle. If you buy them organic or freshly grown, they're actually quite tasty)! Sorry I didn't take a picture of the Israeli Salad--I put it in an ugly plastic container for lunch tomorrow and deemed it unworthy for a photo-op because of that. What can I say? I'm a little obsessive and I like my food photos to be as perfect as possible considering I'm not a professional food photographer. ;)

Italian Spiced Brussels Sprouts with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Mozzarella Cheese
Makes 1 serving

5-6 brussel sprouts
2 egg yolks
1 part-skim mozzarella stick
1 sun-dried tomato slices
1 tsp vegan pesto sauce
2 tbsp. low-fat ricotta cheese
red pepper flakes for garnish
oregano for garnish

1) Chop the brussel sprouts with a sharp knife to create a slaw (or they can be grated in a food processor) and mix them with the pesto sauce in a small bowl.
2) Slice the sun-dried tomatoes into small pieces and add to the bowl.
3) Whisk in the ricotta cheese and the egg yolks (or you can use whole eggs or even egg whites--despite the common belief, unless you already have a worrisome cholesterol count, you can eat an entire egg without any guilt).
4) Shred the mozzarella stick on top of the slaw and place bowl in the microwave.
5) Bake in the microwave on high for about 2 minutes, or until the cheese is melted on top.
6) Garnish with oregano and red pepper flakes and serve immediately!

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Israeli Salad with Lemon-Kalamata Dressing
Makes 2 servings

16 plum tomatoes (I used yellow tomatoes because of their lower acidity level)
1/2 red pepper
1/3 cucumber
2 stalks celery
1/4 c. chickpeas
1/8 block extra-firm tofu
lemon zest to garnish

Lemon-Kalamata Dressing
Makes about 1/2 cup dressing

3 tsp lemony hummus (I used Tribe brand--very tasty) OR plain hummus with 1 tsp lemon juice
3 tsp vegan sour cream (or to make this not vegan, you can opt for some 0% Greek yogurt)
1 tsp sesame oil (optional--I like the extra flavor of sesame)
1 tsp EVOO (olive oil) 
1 tbsp fresh cilantro chopped
8-10 Kalamata olives pitted and chopped
1/2 tsp dill
1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes

1) Chop the tomatoes, red pepper, celery and cucumber with a sharp knife into small pieces.
2) Slice tofu into 1/4" sticks and set aside with the chickpeas 
4) Rinse in a colander, tossing gently to get rid of excess water and to mix the salad.
5) Spoon out salad into 2 bowls and divide the tofu and chickpeas into the bowls.
6) Whisk together salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
7) Pour dressing over the salads and mix with a big spoon. 
8) Refrigerate salad for about 15 minutes (or can be left overnight) to let the dressing soak in.
9) Garnish salads with freshly grated lemon zest and serve immediately.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day 50: Quiche Just Sounds So Sophisticated, Doesn't It?

There was a debate on what to dub my dish that I created tonight: At first, I was going to call it a vegetable flan, but then I decided that it didn't really have a flan texture and my Puerto-Rican roommate versed me on the true meaning of the word 'flan,' and how it was a sweet dessert, not this crazy savory invention of mine.  Then I thought, how about a custard? But again, although it had an eggy texture, custard really does make it sound like a dessert, so then it came to me: What I just invented tonight was in actuality, a quiche, and that word really makes it sound much more sophisticated anyway, doesn't it? And who doesn't love quiche (crazy people, that's who)? Not only was my quiche vegan, but it was also gluten-free, so how about that? Care to be adventuresome and try it out? Look below for some culinary bliss--it looks really complicated, but it really wasn't, I swear and the reward in the end will so make it worth it:

Mini Thai Vegan Quiche Over a Bed of Arugula and Baby Bok Choy
Makes 8 mini quiches

Gluten-Free Green Thai Pie Crust:
½ c. ground dried green chickpeas (I ground up some by Dr. Snack Garden Gourmet brand)
1/3 c. ground black sesame seeds (I ground up some by Roland’s)
½ c. almond meal/flour
1/3 c. ground dry-roasted edamame (I ground up some by Seaport Farm’s wasabi flavor)
1/3 c. crumbled baked kale chips (I used New York Naturals spicy miso flavor)
1 tbsp ground sprouted sunflower seeds (I used Kaia Foods sweet curry flavor)
1 tbsp crumbled dried nori seaweed (I used Eden nori crinkled toasted seaweed)
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp unrefined peanut oil (or the oil that’s separated on top of all-natural peanut butter)
3 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
8 tbsp vegan buttery spread or margarine (I used Smart Balance)
1 ½ tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp flax powder
1 packet raw stevia
1/3 c. unsweetened shredded coconut

Vegan Tofu Filling:
3/4 c. silken tofu
½ c. light coconut milk
2 tsp peanut butter
1 c. frozen green chickpeas (same as the dried green peas in the crust only frozen)
1 tbsp gluten-free Szechuan hot and spicy marinade and stirfry (San J brand)
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
3/4 tsp Mrs. Dash fiesta lime spice
¾ tsp Chinese five-spice
1 tsp lemon or lime zest
1 packet raw stevia
2 dried kale chips (same brand as the crust) crushed into small crumbs
black sesame seeds to garnish
unsweetened coconut flakes to garnish
pickled ginger slices to garnish (optional--I forgot to purchase, and I didn't want to spend the extra time to make some, so mine didn't have any)

3 c. arugula
1 baby bok choy, leaves divided

Thai Salad Dressing:
2 tsp peanutbutter
¼ c. lemon-thyme tea
1 tsp. gluten-free Szechuan hot and spicy marinade and stirfry (San J brand)
1 tsp. vegan pesto sauce (Bear Pond Farm brand)
1/8 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 packet raw stevia
1 tbsp. Tofutti sour cream
¾ tsp. ginger paste

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Line 8 regular-sized muffin cups with aluminum cupcake liners.
3) In a food processor, grind up black sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, dried edamame, and dried green chickpeas. Place in a medium glass bowl.
4) Crush and crumble the kale chips and the nori seaweed with your hands and add to the bowl with the almond meal, flax powder, and coconut flakes and stevia. 
5) Pour in the sesame and peanut oils, along with the unsweetened almond milk and rice vinegar.
6) Spoon out chunks of the vegan buttery spread and mash into the mixture with a fork until it's all blended and soft.
7) Spray the muffin cups lightly with Pam olive oil and spoon in the crust mixture into each cup, using your fingers and a spoon to form little crusts.
8) Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes and then remove the muffin pan from the oven to cool.
9) While the crusts are baking, beat together all the filling ingredients except the chickpeas until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
10) Heat up the chickpeas in a small bowl in the microwave on high for 2 minutes.
11) Grease a small skillet with Pam olive oil and turn the burner to a medium heat level.
12) Dump the chickpeas into the pan and cover the pan with a lid, turning down the heat slightly. 
13) Let mixture bake in the skillet for 2-3 minutes and then turn off the heat.
14) Mash the chickpeas with a fork or put them into the food processor.
15) Add chickpea mash to the filling and blend with the mixer.
16) Divide filling into the muffin pan, sprinkling the unsweetened coconut and sesame seeds on top for garnish.
17) Bake in the oven for about 45-50 minutes, until the tops feel slightly firm to the touch (the filling will still be soft and somewhat creamy inside).
18) Remove from oven and whisk together salad dressing ingredients in a small measuring cup.
19) Rinse off some arugula and the baby bok choy and set aside.
20) Spoon some dressing on the center of a plate, topping it with the arugula and then the baby bok choy.
21) Remove the aluminum liner from one of the mini quiches and place on top of the bok choy. Serve immediately!

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day 49: It's Time For Lemon Thyme--Take Two!

My mom taught me not to waste food (there are starving children in China after all!) and sometimes, leftovers can taste even better than the original! Having some leftover lemon-thyme tea from last night, I thought of creative ways to use it in my dinner tonight. Not only did I marinate some chicken breasts in it, but I used it to saute some veggies as well as cooking some quinoa instead of using plain water, and mmmm, the tea-infused quinoa was SO tasty. Tantalize your taste buds with this delicious recipe:

Coconut-Almond Chicken With Swiss Chard and Sweet Quinoa Infused with Lemon-Thyme Tea
Makes 6 servings of chicken and 2-3 servings of Swiss chard and quinoa

3 large frozen chicken breasts
2 c. lemon-thyme tea
1/4 c. lime juice

Tropical Gluten-free Breading:
3 tbsp almond meal/flour
1 tbsp flax powder
1 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes

Indian Spice Mix:
3/4 tsp. tumeric
3/4 tsp. coriander
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp dried lemon peel
1 tbsp dried thyme

1/2 c. + 3 tbsp light coconut milk
1 c. lemon-thyme tea
1 tsp. ginger paste
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
2 packets raw stevia
3 c. chopped Swiss chard (I used red and white)
1/2 c. quinoa

1) Marinate chicken in the tea and lime juice for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator until it's defrosted or preferably overnight.
2) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking pan with aluminum foil.
3) Take the chicken out of the fridge and slice the breasts in half lengthwise.
4) In a small bowl, mix almond meal, coconut flakes, flax powder, and Indian spice mix.
5) Place each chicken breast in the bowl and shake it on both sides, coating the breasts with the breading.
6) Put the breasts onto the aluminum foil and close it around the breasts, making a packet.
7) Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes.
8) Pour the marinade into a large skillet, adding the 3 tbsp of coconut milk, ginger paste, 1 packet of stevia, and lemon zest and set the burner to medium-low heat.
9) Once the mixture starts to boil slightly, dump in the swiss chard and the fresh thyme, stirring it for a couple minutes and then covering it with a lid to simmer on a lower heat for 5-7 minutes.
10) Remove chicken from oven and open the packet of foil. Place chicken back into the oven and bake for 10 more minutes, until the breading becomes crispy.
11) After the greens start to wilt, spoon out the greens with a slotted spoon into a small bowl and set aside.
12) In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, pour the quinoa, topping it with 1 c. lemon-thyme tea and 1/2 c. coconut milk.
13) Stir in 1 packet of stevia and heat in the microwave on high for 10 minutes, until all the liquid has absorbed into the quinoa. Let it stand for a couple minutes.
14) Spoon quinoa into bowls, topping it with the Swiss chard and 1 chicken breast per bowl. Serve immediately!

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Day 48: When Life Give You Lemons...

...You make mousse! Or at least I did--creamy, low-fat AND low-carb ricotta mousse to be exact (yes, I just said that, you can stop staring at the computer in disbelief). However, as much as I love my sweet flavors, I also crave sour tanginess too sometimes. So, I whipped up a batch of simple low-fat vegan pesto gluten-free noodles for dinner! Feast your eyes and find thyme to try out these extremely tasty lemony recipes without any guilt. I know, that was a bad joke, thyme and time, but whatever, like Kate Winslet said in one of my favorite movies, The Holiday, "I'm looking for corny in my life."

Lemon-Pesto Tofu Noodles with Brussel Sprouts, Artichokes and Collard Greens
Makes 2 servings

½ package of tofu noodles
6-8 dozen brussel sprouts
1/3 c. frozen collard greens
3-4 artichoke hearts

Lemon Pesto Sauce:
Makes 1 serving (about 3 tbsp of sauce)

1 tbsp vegan pesto sauce
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 tbsp olive juice (from jar of Spanish olives) OR lemon juice (the Spanish olive jar has acetic acid in it so it's pretty sour like lemon juice
1 tsp pimento peppers (from jar of Spanish olives)
1 tsp capers (from jar of Spanish olives)
1 tbsp minced garlic

1) Bake brussel sprouts in a small bowl in the microwave on high for 3 minutes. 
2) Combine the tofu noodles, collard greens, and artichoke hearts in a bowl. 
3) Top with the ingredients of the pesto sauce and mix together with the noodles.
4) Add brussel sprouts to the noodle mixture and bake in the microwave on high for another 2 minutes. 

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Reduced-Fat Lemon Thyme Ricotta Mousse
Makes 6-8 servings

2 c. part-skim ricotta cheese
1 c. 0% Greek yogurt
1 c. low-fat coconut milk
1 c. brewed tea (I used Tazo’s White Cucumber tea, Bigelow’s Lemon tea and Yogi’s Lemon-Ginger tea and brewed them together in 1 small quart-sized teapot) with 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
½ tsp dried lemon peel or freshly grated lemon zest
½ tsp ground ginger
½ c. powdered stevia +2 packets stevia (I used Purevia brand)
½ tsp guar gum powder
2 egg whites
½ tsp vanilla

Low-Sugar Lemon-Tea Syrup with Thyme
Makes about 1/8 cup syrup

6 tbsp stevia/sugar blend (I used Sweet Leaf brand)
2 tbsp brewed lemon-thyme tea leftover from the mousse
1 tbsp lemon juice
couple pinches lemon zest or dried lemon peel
couple pinches ground ginger

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Blend ricotta cheese, coconut milk and 0% yogurt in a medium bowl with a hand mixer or a food processor (I had the hand-mixer) until the cheese isn't crumbly anymore.
3) Add lemon-thyme tea along with the lemon peel, ginger, vanilla, and stevia, and guar gum.
4) In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg until they are frothy and form peaks (use the mixer on medium setting for about 5 minutes).
5) Fold in the egg whites into the mousse until fully blended.
6) Fill a medium casserole or deep baking dish (mine's about 2 inches in depth) halfway with water.
7) Spoon mousse into porcelain ramekins or small baking dishes (I had some mini quick-bread pans leftover from the previous tenants in my apartment). 
8) Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes to an hour, until the mousse sets and bounces back slightly when you touch it.
9) Turn off the oven and let the mousse cool inside for a bit before removing it. 
10) Combine ingredients for the syrup into a small saucepan and stir until blended. 
11) Turn the burner onto a low heat and whisk together the syrup with a metal spoon until the sugar is melted.
12) Stir constantly for about 5 minutes until the mixture thickens and a syrup forms onto the spoon.
13) Let syrup cool for about 1-2 minutes--you don't want it to harden too much!
14) Drizzle some syrup on top of the mousse, and garnish with some fresh thyme leaves. 
15) Place mousse in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours or overnight before serving.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day 45: The Big Salad

Seinfeld was a show that you either watched religiously or didn't care for. To me, I watched it religiously even though it was a virtually a show about nothing, but that was what made it so hilarious in my opinion, and I believe that you can relate every day situations to certain episodes if not certain clips from various episodes of that show. There have even been multiple times where I've had to dodge pigeons from flying into me. Maybe there's a something strange about New York City pigeons or maybe I do have an apparently larger head, I don't know. Nevertheless, I thought of the episode regarding the 'big salad' that Elaine couldn't seem to order when she and the gang ventured into a new cafe in a seemingly alter universe, instead of their usual hangout. The waitress tells her that she can order two small salads, a concept which is pretty ridiculous, and what makes the whole encounter pretty funny. My salad, however, was the real deal--a normal, big salad, but I kept in mind the fact that I pay attention to portion control as you should too, even with healthy foods. You can also feast your eyes on two dessert/snack recipes for some quick protein fixes that'll carry you over until your next meal and take less than 5 minutes to prepare:

The Big Salad with Spicy Pesto Yogurt Dressing
Makes 1 serving

1 c. romaine hearts chopped
1 c. arugula
3 canned artichoke hearts, leaves separated
1/4 c. yellow cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 c. garbanzo beans
1/2 sweet bell pepper chopped (mine was orange)
1/4 c. kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

1 brussel sprout or cilantro sprig for garnish

Spicy Pesto Yogurt Dressing:
2 tbsp 0% Greek Yogurt (I like Fage the best but Chobani is a good alternative)
1 tbsp vegan pesto sauce (I used Bear Pond Farm's Spicy Vegan Pesto sauce from Whole Foods since Hannah loves pesto but can't handle the dairy found in non-vegan pesto, which is a larger amount than the sprinkling I've used on the pizzas and other dishes)
1 tsp Sriracha sweet chili sauce (optional depending on your desired heat level)
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk

1) Rinse off veggies before chopping them and arrange in a small bowl.
2) Top with garbanzo beans.
3) Mix together dressing ingredients and spoon some on top of the garbanzo beans
4) Toss salad with your fork to distribute the dressing and garnish with a brussel sprout and some red pepper flakes. Serve immediately!

Enjoy your big salad and Bon Appetit!

Home Brewed Coffee Yogurt
Makes 1 serving

1 c. 0% Greek yogurt
1 c. freshly brewed coffee (I used some from Taiwan, courteous of my sister who lived there for three years)
dash cinnamon
2 packets stevia (I'm not using Splenda anymore because it causes severe stomach distress and is basically just as bad for you as other chemically produced sweeteners--stevia comes from a plant and is all natural, but don't buy Truvia, which contains Erythritol, a sugar alcohol that can have a laxative effect--Pure Via is a better brand that's really pure and contains ingredients only from the stevia leaves.)

1) Brew 1 cup of your favorite coffee.
2) Stir coffee into the Greek yogurt.
2) Add the cinnamon and stevia cool in the refrigerator or serve immediately!

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Creamy Pumpkin Pie Puree
Makes 1 serving

1/4 c. canned pumpkin (unsweetened/spiced)
2 tbsp 0% Greek yogurt
2 packets of stevia
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cinnamon
chopped nuts for garnish (I'd recommend pecans or almonds)

1) Mix pumpkin and greek yogurt in a small bowl.
2) Add stevia and spices.
3) Garnish with nuts and serve immediately!

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Day 43: Gluten-Free Adventures: Pizza Edition

You may remember my first attempt with gluten-free pizza on Superbowl Sunday a couple weeks ago. I actually made socca, a garbanzo flour based flatbread. This time, I tried to make a yeast dough, but I was unsuccessful at getting the elasticity that pizza dough normally has--maybe because I didn't use any guar gum or xanthan gum, and I think I need to use more yeast next time too. Also, the dough didn't really rise that much so I ended up making some adjustments that made it better than the first time, but still not what I had wanted, boo. There will be a third attempt in the near future, though, that's for sure! Experimenting in the kitchen is what I like best after all! Either way, you can make this second version or wait until I can get the right gluten-free pizza-dough consistency, which will hopefully be soon (and not involve the easy-way out of buying Glutino's gluten-free pizza dough mix)! This pizza was yummy, don't get me wrong, just not what I had envisioned, and since I didn't have wings, I made some spicy, gluten-free oven-fried chicken instead! Disclaimer: I did not use meat substitute, so the chicken is NOT vegan, sorry! But you can use vegan chicken patties if you want!

Gluten-free Pizza with Pumpkin-Yellow Tomato Pesto Sauce, Veggies and Cheese
Makes 1 large rectangular pizza

Pizza Dough:

  • 1/3 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
  • 1 teaspoon dry yeast
  • 1 tsp beet juice
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2/3 cup + 1 1/2 cups (or more) garbanzo flour
  • 2/3 cup water, room temperature
  • 1/2 c. + 2 teaspoons EVOO (olive oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp garlic adobo sauce (Great Garlic Adobo brand)
  • 1/2 block silken tofu
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk

Tomato-Pumpkin Sauce:
1 c. yellow plum tomatoes chopped
1 c. canned pumpkin (plain--without the pie seasoning)
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp vegan pesto sauce (I used Bear Pond Farm's Spicy Vegan pesto sauce)
1/2 tsp dried basil
2 tbsp cilantro chopped into small pieces
1 tbsp Tofutti sour cream
1 tbsp whole grain mustard

4 c. grated cheese (I used a blend of lactose-free McAdams's brand of cheddar and Meunster cheese as well as 4 tbsp Parmesan cheese--Hannah doesn't really get affected by Parmesan cheese for some reason) **Note: use vegan cheese if you want to make this entirely vegan, or just omit the cheese completely for a plain, veggie pizza.
  • 1 orange pepper sliced thinly
  • 4 artichoke hearts, leaves separated
  • 4 brussel sprouts, leaves separated
  • 1 c. arugula
1 tbsp oregano
1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes

1) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
2) Combine 1/3 cup warm water with yeast, beet juice, and sugar; let the mixture stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
3) Mix 2/3 cup flour and 1/3 cup room-temperature water into yeast mixture. Cover and let stand 20 minutes.
4) Stir 2 tbsp olive oil, almond milk, and salt into yeast mixture. 
5) Mix with your hands 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until slightly sticky dough forms. Add adobo sauce.
6) Knead on floured surface until smooth and elastic, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is too sticky, about 10 minutes.
7) Oil large bowl, add dough; turning it to coat. Cover with plastic and let it rise on top of the stove until doubled, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours--I thought by then the dough would surely be doubled. It had risen, yes, but not nearly enough to fill my large rectangular baking pan, so I added the following:
8) Add in silken tofu and the rest of the EVOO,  mixing it with a hand-mixer until dough is fully blended.
9) Grease large baking pan with Pam Olive oil and then pour new pizza dough mixture into the pan, spreading it evenly with a spatula. 
10) Turn up oven to 350 degrees and bake the pizza dough for about 15 minutes until it's slightly firm to the touch.
11) Remove from oven momentarily, spreading the tomato sauce and topping the pizza with the veggies, and 2 c. grated cheese. 
12) Sprinkle oregano and red pepper flakes on top of pizza and spray with Pam olive oil.
13) Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven momentarily again.
14) Spread rest of the cheese on top (I added the rest to one half for my sister and put som shredded part-skim mozzarella from 2 cheese-sticks on my half) and turn up the oven to 400 degrees.
15) Bake in oven for another 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and slice with a pizza slicer. Serve immediately!

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Gluten-Free, Spicy, Oven-Fried Chicken
Makes 6 servings

Spicy Marinade:
1/2 c. Balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp Sriracha sweet chili sauce
1/2 tsp tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp Mrs. Dash's Fiesta Lime seasoning
1/2 tsp ground black peppercorns
1/2 c. EVOO (olive oil)

6 tbsp almond meal/flour
2 tbsp flax powder 
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

3 large frozen chicken breasts

1) Keep oven at 400 degrees from making the pizza.
2) Mix first six ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
3) Defrost chicken in microwave for 10 minutes. Divide breasts into 6 pieces.
4) Place chicken the sauce and let it marinade for about 1 hour (can prepare this while making the pizza). 
5) Carefully pour marinade into a large skillet and heat it at a medium heat level until it starts to boil.
6) Dump in chicken and cook it in the marinade for about 2-3 minutes on each side.
7) Sift together breading ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. 
8) Turn off the heat from the skillet, and coat each piece of chicken with the breading (you can achieve this by shaking the pieces in the bowl with the breading). Discard the leftover marinade.
9) Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the pieces of chicken on the sheet. 
10) Now, I would've made a packet out of the aluminum to seal in the heat more, but I didn't this time, resulting in the chicken being a little tough at the end of the baking process.
11) Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Check to see that the chicken pieces look crispy and bake a little longer if necessary, being wary of overcooking the chicken.
12) Remove from oven and serve onto the plates next to the pizza. 

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 40: The Spicy Sister Edition!

Since I have a pretty busy schedule with my internship and night classes, I try to fit in times to cook new dishes (that's why marinades have become popular because you can prepare it the night before and then just put it in the oven or on the stovetop the next night in no time), but I'm also thankful to have my sister, who can also cook up yummy dishes for the both of us--she's not just my personal taste-tester, haha. A couple nights ago, she made her famous Creole sauce which she usually serves with shrimp, but since we had the crab/shrimp falafel cakes on Monday night, she decided to make chicken. Note: this is also coming from someone who has a very sensitive stomach with many food allergies, so that goes to show you all that you shouldn't let your food limitations stop you from creating a flavorful, delicious dish that can also accommodate your dietary needs! She's also my inspiration because without her various restrictions, I may not have been able to even think up of my abundant recipes to showcase to the world (or at least those of you who read this blog)! So enjoy your dinner and try my sister's famous spicy (not like hot spicy, but spicy as in the use of many spices) Creole chicken:

  • Hannah's Spicy Creole Chicken
  • Makes about 6-8 servings

  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 pinches of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (not too much for sensitive stomachs, unless you can't handle any heat--in that case, this spice is optional)
  • 2 pinches of dried thyme
  • 4 chicken breasts, cut in half so they are reasonably thin. Pound them if they are too thick. 
  • 2-3 cups chopped Swiss Chard or any other leafy green--works well with Brussel sprouts as well, leaves torn apart. 

  • 7 tablespoons chilled unsalted margarine, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic

1) Combine first 8 ingredients in large bowl.
2) Add chicken breasts and toss to coat.
3) Melt 4 tablespoon butter in large skillet over medium heat.
4) Add Worcestershre sauce, lemon juice and garlic; sauté until garlic is tender, about 2 minutes.
5) Add chicken;sauté until brown on both sides.
6) Add remaining 3 tablespoons butter; stir until melted.
7) Add Swiss chard and stir into the sauce.
8) Cover the skillet and steam chicken breasts until cooked and the chard looks wilted--about 5-10 minutes--check the chicken after five minutes with a fork and knife to see. 

**Note: If you want to make this recipe with shrimp, cut the spices in half, use 28 shrimp, shelled and deveined, and you really only need about 4 tablespoons of margarine. Also, the shrimp only take about 3-5 minutes, after they've turned pink on both sides and then are steamed with covering the shrimp--they should be opaque in color when they are done. 

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Day 38: Valentine's Day Special!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! As there was a bake sale for the AIDS Foundation at Armani Exchange (where I intern), I decided to bake some healthy, gluten-free, vegan cupcakes for charity! It was a baking adventure this weekend, and I learned a lot not only about the challenges of gluten-free flours (for instance, coconut flour is a lot denser than other gluten-free flours and you have to add more liquids to make up for it, otherwise it'll come out with a crumbly, cookie-like batter, not smooth and light like a muffin/cupcake batter), but also the major challenge of not using eggs. I can pretty much handle dairy-free baking with ease, but man, I experimented with one type of egg replacer which I discovered through PETA's website, and decided that next time I bake vegan, I'm going to try another type because it didn't turn out quite the way I like my cupcakes, which are moist (sorry for those of you who hate that word). I also learned a lesson about chemistry and how it relates to color as I tried to make red-velvet cupcakes using beet juice instead of red dye (which incidentally, I ended up using with the red-hot candies). Mine didn't come out very red because apparently, baking soda is an alkaline which promotes browning when baking. To change the pH and counteract that browning, I'm going to try using lemon juice, an acid, which I've read helps the red maintain its color after baking. See examples here.  Either way, I'll post the recipe with the alterations I'm going to try next time for you to have fun experimenting in the kitchen as well! They at least looked pretty in the end as you'll see in the photos. 

Red Hot Coconut Cupcakes with Red Hot Coconut Buttercream Frosting
Makes about 4 dozen mini cupcakes or 30 regular cupcakes

2 1/2 c. gluten-free baking flour (I use Bob's Red Mill brand which is a combination of potato starch, tapioca flour, white sorghum flour, garbanzo bean flour and fava bean flour)
1/3+1/4 c. Sweet Leaf stevia/sugar blend--1/3 amount of sugar
6 tsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tbsp flax powder mixed with 3 tbsp boiling water (*Note: For more moisture, I'm going to try using 1/4 c. silken tofu next time--this egg replacer made my cupcakes a little dry)
2 teaspoons vanilla

1/3 tbsp vegan buttery spread (Best Life brand) + 1/3 c. coconut milk instead of oil OR EVOO (olive oil)

½ c. light coconut milk + ½ c. Tofutti sour cream
1 c. coconut water
3 packets of stevia
3 tbsp beet juice (*Note: next time, I'm going to add about 1/8 c. lemon juice)
1/2 c. ground red hot cinnamon candies (I'm going to omit this next time to see if I can just get the red color from the beets)

unsweetened coconut flakes for garnish
sugar-free conversation candy hearts (Smart Hearts makes them sugar-free--I couldn't find any so I just used the regular kind though). 

Red Hot Coconut Buttercream Frosting:
Makes about 2 1/2 cups of frosting

4 oz. tofutti cream cheese
1 tbsp tofutti sour cream
¾ c. ground red cinnamon hot candies
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 stick unsalted margarine (Earth Balance is the best brand but I just used Fleishman's)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, salt and stevia blend in a large mixing bowl.
3) Beat in vanilla and oil substitute (or EVOO), and egg replacer (flax powder/water mixture), and coconut milk-sour cream mixture. 
4) Heat up coconut water in the microwave for 2 minutes on high and stir into the batter.
5) Add beat juice and red-hot candies (*Note: you can omit the red hot candies if you want to have a red dye-free cupcake). 
6) Line mini cupcake trays (or regular sized trays) with paper liners and fill each about 3/4 the way with batter.
7) Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes, until the tops bounce back when you lightly press on them.
8) Mix up frosting in a bowl and refrigerate until all the cupcakes are made and cooled.
9) Fill a small plastic baggie with the frosting, and cut a small corner off the bottom of one side.
10) Squeeze the filling out from the bag, carefully frosting each cupcake.
11) Sprinkle some coconut flakes on top of the frosting and place one small candy heart in the center. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later.

Tropical Coconut Cupcakes with Orange Sherbet Coconut Rum Buttercream Frosting
Makes about 5 dozen mini cupcakes or about 3 dozen regular cupcakes

2 1/2 c. coconut flour (I'd decrease this amount to 2 cups next time)
2/3 c. Sweet Leaf stevia/sugar blend
2 tbsp flax powder simmered in 6 tbsp boiling water (egg replacer)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 c. coconut water + 1/2 c. light coconut milk
1 c. light coconut milk
1 c. EVOO (olive oil) + 1/2 c. melted vegan buttery spread
2 c. organic pomegranate juice (not concentrated)
3 tbsp beet juice
2 tbsp lime juice
1 packet of Orange-Strawberry Crystal Light (optional--I'll probably omit this next time) 
3 packets of stevia

unsweetened coconut for garnish
sugar-free conversation candy hearts

Orange Sherbet Coconut Rum Buttercream Frosting:
Makes about 2 1/2-3 cups of frosting

1 stick unsalted margarine
1/2 c. light coconut milk + 1/2 c. Tofutti sour cream
4 oz. Toffuti cream cheese
1 tbsp vanilla
3 tsp beet juice
1 packet Orange-Strawberry Crystal Light  
6 tsp Malibu coconut rum

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, salt and stevia blend in a large mixing bowl.3) Beat in vanilla and oil substitute (or EVOO), and egg replacer (flax powder/water mixture) EVOO mixture and coconut milk.
4) Heat up coconut water in the microwave for 2 minutes on high and stir into the batter.
5) Add beet juice, pomegranate juice, lime juice, stevia packets and Crystal Light packet.
6) Line mini-muffin tin with paper liners and fill with heaping spoonfuls of batter (they won't rise as much without the baking soda, which I'm going to add next time to see the difference in texture--these came out with a macaroon-like texture, which wasn't bad but didn't really remind me of a cupcake).
7) Bake in oven for about 40-45 minutes, until the tops are browned a bit and not too soft to the touch.
8) Mix together frosting ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use.
9) Once all cupcakes are baked and cooled, fill a small baggie with the frosting and cut a small corner off. 
10) Carefully frost each cupcake, topping it with some unsweetened coconut and a candy heart.
11) Serve immediately or refrigerate to keep the frosting from melting.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 37: Along the Silk Road

As readers may have guessed, I like to experiment with different cuisines from around the world. Lately, I've been really craving Indian food, which I ordered last night (I was going to order Chicken Dhansak which is a Persian-style spicy stew with lentils and spinach, but I ordered Chicken Sabzi, which I thought was going to be a spicy chicken stew with mixed vegetables, but I guess the restaurant's idea of vegetables was mostly potatoes with a little bit of broccoli and carrots...not what I was expecting although potatoes are a root vegetable, they're not the healthy green variety I was hoping for--I would've substituted more broccoli for the potatoes). Later this morning, I had leftover condiments from the restaurant, so I used them to prepare my Indian brunch. Tonight I think I will travel to the Middle Eastern section of the Silk Road and make a combination of a crab cake and falafel. We'll see how it turns out and please don't hate me for messing with a traditional falafel recipe, because messing around with tradition is part of the reason why I love cooking. wink!

Indian Poached Eggs in a Lentil-Chickpea Stew with Swiss Chard and Garlic
Makes about 3 servings

Leftover Indian Condiments From The Restaurant (I provided some links if you want to make them yourself):
1 tbsp dhaniya chutney (this is a spicy cilantro, green chili sauce)
1 c. gunpowder chutney (this does not contain actual gunpowder for those of you who are wondering--it's a lentil-garlic chutney and is delicious)
2 tbsp sweet tamarind chutney (I'd substitute with agave nectar or stevia for a healthier alternative)
2 tbsp onion chutney

Indian Spice Mix:
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp sage
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp seafood seasoning (La Flor brand)

3-4 large eggs
4 bunches white Swiss chard
4 bunches of red Swiss chard
1/3 c. canned chickpeas
1 tbsp minced garlic
3/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk
black pepper to taste

1) Spray a large skillet with Pam olive oil and heat up to a medium heat level.
2) Pour in Indian condiments with the chicken broth, almond milk and minced garlic and stir for a few minutes until it starts to boil slightly.
3) Add swiss chards and chickpeas, stir them around, saturating them with the soup and turn down the heat to a medium-low setting to let the stew simmer for about five minutes.
4) When the greens look wilted, crack the eggs into the skillet, turning up the heat to a high heat setting.
5) Cover the skillet with a lid and poach the eggs for a 2-3 minutes until they're white on top.
6) Turn off heat and ladle some stew with 1 or 2 eggs into some bowls.
7) Shake some black pepper on top for a garnish, break apart the egg, letting the yolk run out into the stew and serve immediately! (*Note: If you accidentally cook the yolk, just mash the eggs up into the stew for another 'non-poached' egg dish.)

Enjoy, Bon Appetit and आप का खाना स्वादिष्ट हो (that's Hindi

Falafel Crab Cakes with Creamy Dill Sauce
Makes 4-5 cakes

1- 6 oz. can crab meat (I used Bumble Bee Premium Select Fancy White Crab Meat)
12 frozen shelled raw shrimp
1 tbsp light mayonnaise
1 tbsp minced garlic

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 c. garbanzo bean flour
1 tbsp seafood seasoning (La Flor)

3 tbsp EVOO (olive oil)

2-3 c. chopped Romaine hearts (lettuce)

Creamy Dill Sauce
Makes 1 cup of sauce

1/2 c. Tofutti sour cream
1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk
1-2 tbsp light mayonnaise
2 tsp dried dill
2 tsp dried parsley or chopped cilantro
1 tbsp lemon or lime juice

1) Heat shrimp up in microwave on high for 3 minutes.
2) Shred shrimp with a knife and set aside in a medium bowl.
3) Add crab meat as well as the minced garlic and mayonnaise. Add more mayonnaise to bind it together if necessary.
4) In a small bowl, mix together garbanzo bean flour with the seafood seasoning, and red pepper flakes.
5) Form balls about half the size of your fist with your hands and roll the crab cake in the garbanzo bean flour, until it's covered in flour.
6) Heat up EVOO on high heat in a large skillet and place crab cakes in the skillet, pressing them down slightly with a spatula to flatten them a little.
7) Cook crab cakes on each side for about 3-5 minutes, or until they're browned on each side.
8) Whisk together sauce ingredients in another small bowl and set aside.
9) Once all the crab cakes are done, let them cool on a plate covered with a paper towel or napkins.
10) Rinse and chop romaine hearts and arrange on plates.
11) Place the crab falafel on the lettuce and spoon some of the creamy dill sauce on top. Serve immediately!

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!