Monday, January 30, 2012

Food Rule 34 and The Bomb Chili

True Story:  I once made this oh-so-delicious chili recipe for a group of friends, and as we began eating, I was raving about how healthy my recipe is.  Especially when I make it with the ground venison my dad packages just for me, without any fat added to it.  Venison?  You all are ok with venison, right?  I'd forgotten that I was sitting at a table with a group of people raised in an enormous city and who'd probably never even met someone who hunts.  To this day, my best friend teases me about "that time you served us venison and asked if we were ok with it after we'd already started eating."  Ha!  And sorry, guys.

But, really, as a red meat, venison is insanely healthier than the beef you typically find in grocery stores.  And that's because it is wild game.

Plants and animals that are left to raise themselves turn out to be healthier options for eating, because they've grown as nature intended.  Without bulking-up feeds and fertilizers.  They're hearty because they've survived nature.  And therefore, healthier for us to consume. 

Wild game is packed full of Omega 3s, Vitamin E, and antioxidants and is typically very lean.  Yes, it can taste "gamey," but I nearly always use it chili or taco recipes where the spices stand out as the main flavor.  For those who don't have dads who fly clear across the country with a cooler full of venison and dry ice, you can definitely substitute with ground beef.  Try to find some that's labeled "grass fed" and "free range" in order to get the greater health benefits.


p.s.  It was completely unintended, but that green towel in my photos looks like I'm trying really hard to be Superbowl festive!  I didn't even think about it looking like football turf until I uploaded my photos later.  But, I love it!

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The Bomb Chili

1 medium onion, diced
1 – 2lb. ground venison or extra lean ground beef
4, 16oz. cans beans, rinsed and drained
2, 28oz. cans diced tomatoes in juice
1/4 c. Dijon mustard
2-4 Tbsp. red chili garlic paste
3 cloves garlic
1/2 bottle beer
6oz. can tomato paste
Johnny’s season salt (or your favorite seasoning salt), to taste

Cook the onion and ground meat in a skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through and onions are translucent.  Drain any grease.  Stir all ingredients into a crock pot or large roasting pan.  Cook in crock pot on High for 4 hours or Low for 8 hours, or bake in large roasting pan at 250 degrees for 5 hours. Stir occasionally. Makes a vat (about 14 cups).

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Ingredient Lineup:
(MIA:  ground meat, beer, and tomato paste.  Whoops!)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Food Rule 68 and Banana Pudding

Attention, please!  Raise your hand if you're incapable of eating just one cookie off the still piping hot baking sheet.


Please tell me that I'm not the only one who has zero willpower when it comes to a tray full of warm cookies!  I can be utterly diligent with my meals and snacks all day, but put a tray of homemade cookies in front of me, and I'll inhale 7 of them before I've realized that my hand was even moving to grab them.  It's awful.  So, you can imagine how much I struggle with this food rule:

And I'm pretty sure that it doesn't mean I should grab all 7 cookies at once, haha.  One easy way to keep desserts portion controlled is to divide them into dishes as you make the recipe.  And what better portioned out - and pretty - dessert than a layered pudding?  Dividing this recipe into individual glasses keeps me from sneaking spoonfuls and not paying attention to how much I'm actually eating.  Perfect!

The other thing to note is that by using unsweetened almond milk instead of dairy milk, we shave nearly 200 calories off the recipe.  I use almond milk for a lot of things (ranch dressing, even), so I was excited to make a treat that was not only nondairy (aka "Sara-safe"), but one that saved me a few calories to boot.  You can go ahead and make this recipe using dairy milk or a mix of dairy and almond milk; it's up to you.


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Banana Pudding
adapted from Food Network magazine Jan/Feb 2012

2 c. plain unsweetened almond milk
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
pinch of kosher salt
1/3 c. sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large bananas
6 graham crackers, broken into 1-inch pieces (or Nilla wafer cookies)
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder or cinnamon

Heat the almond milk in a saucepan over medium heat until almost simmering, whisking often.  Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, salt, sugar, and egg in a medium heatproof bowl. Temper the egg mixture:  Pour about half of the hot milk into the bowl and whisk vigorously until smooth. Pour the egg-milk mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking vigorously, until thick and starting to bubble, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool, stirring occasionally.  The pudding will continue to thicken as it cools.

While the pudding is cooling, cut the bananas into thin slices. Layer a few banana slices, a few pieces of graham cracker and 2 tablespoons of the prepared pudding in each of 4 glasses; sprinkle with cocoa or cinnamon, then repeat to make 2 more layers. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for an hour. Makes 4 servings.

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Ingredient Lineup:

Tempering the eggs isn't as tricky as it may seem!
Just think of when your hands are frozen on a cold day, and the last thing you should do
is put them straight into hot water.  Ditto for eggs!

You'll put a little of the hot mixture into the cooler eggs, whisking to mix in evenly.  

Then you'll whisk the warmed up egg mixture into the pot on the burner
to bring the entire milk-egg liquid up to boiling. Tempering accomplished!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Food Rule 28 and 100 Flower Blossoms

Happy Chinese New Year!  Today marks the start of the Year of the Dragon, and I thought it'd be fun to pair a Chinese dish with our new food rule:

I picked this particular recipe, because, if I'm being honest, I can't remember the last time I ate cauliflower.  I love a million different vegetables, but I always skip over cauliflower.  Maybe because I've only ever had it raw (yuck!) or smothered in goopy cheese (yuck! plus, I stay away from dairy).  But in a light sauce, with some garlic and salt, it's pretty tasty.  I'm going to try incorporating more of this little powerhouse vegetable into my rotation.  It's high in fiber, vitamin C, and anti-cancer phytochemicals, and those are definitely welcome in my diet.


* My Chinese sign is a Snake :)  What's yours??

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100 Flower Blossoms
adapted from Steamy Kitchen

8 oz. cauliflower florets
6 oz. broccoli florets
6 oz. sliced carrots
salt to taste
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup vegetable broth
6 oz. crab meat, optional
1 egg white

In a large pot of salted water, boil the cauliflower florets for 1 1/2 minutes. Without removing the cauliflower, add the broccoli florets and the carrot slices to the same pot and cook for another 1 1/2 minutes, until fork tender at the stem. Rinse the vegetables with cool water to stop the cooking and drain. Lightly salt the vegetables.

In a small bowl or cup, stir together the cornstarch and the water to make a cornstarch slurry. Set aside.

Heat a wok or large frying pan until hot. Add the cooking oil and swirl to coat. Turn the heat to medium and add the garlic. Fry 15-30 seconds until fragrant, but do not burn. Pour in the vegetable broth and add the salt to taste. Let broth come to a boil.

Stir the cornstarch slurry one more time, and then pour into the broth. Stir and let simmer for 30 seconds until broth has thickened. Stir in optional crab meat. Slowly pour in the egg white and use a fork or chopsticks to gently swirl in one direction to create long tails. Immediately turn off the heat. Taste the broth, and add additional salt if needed. Pour mixture over the vegetables and serve.

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Ingredient Lineup:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Food Rule 37 and Baked Teriyaki Chicken

We all know by now that processed and fast foods contain loads of salt and sugar.  That's no big secret anymore.  But sometimes you just want some teriyaki chicken.  Some teriyaki chicken dunked in a super delicious sauce.  With a big pile of jasmine rice nearby to make everything feel cozy and right.

Cozy and right and perfect for today's food rule:

Instead of buying whatever teriyaki happens on your way home from work, you can make your own!  And this sauce recipe is so easy and so, so, so good!  We loved it drizzled over stir fried veggies, but it was especially good baked with the chicken.  Yum!!  This one's a keeper for sure.


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Baked Teriyaki Chicken
adapted from Allrecipes

12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. water
1 c. low sodium soy sauce
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger paste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a 9x13 baking dish with aluminum foil.

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the cornstarch, sugar, brown sugar, and pepper.  Whisk in cold water, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and ginger. Bring to a simmer, whisking frequently, until sauce thickens and bubbles.

Place chicken pieces into the foil-lined dish and pour 1/3 of the sauce over the tops.  Flip the chicken pieces over, and pour another 1/3 of the sauce over.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, flipping the pieces over at the halfway point.   Remove foil cover and bake for another 15 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear.  Serve with vegetables and remaining sauce.

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Ingredient Lineup:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Food Rule 75 and Three Salad Dressings

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Speaking of eating more greens... I bet you were wishing you had some yummy, homemade dressings to top your healthy green salads with, right?  Easy homemade dressings at that?  Consider it done, done, and done!  Here are three quick salad dressing recipes to help out with our new rule:

When I first saw this rule, I felt a little miffed and thought it was implying that everything must be homemade and from scratch.  Which is noble and all, but definitely tough in today's world where we're all so very busy. But, in actuality, it's about keeping advertising and propaganda off your dinner table.  And the more I think about that, the more I like the idea.

Because, oh my, how I loathe TV commercials.  I'm always asking Bo to mute them while I'm cooking, because I hate feeling like companies are yelling to get my attention with dumb tactics and persuasive words.  So, as I think about a meal with "no labels on the table," I really what that looks like.

Just food, dishes, and conversation.

No labels yelling at me with brand advertisements or claims of health.

Even if it means dumping takeout food onto a real plate to eat with real silverware, it feels that much more satisfying and good.  And that's what food is all about.


p.s.  Still want more dressing recipes?

Apple Vinaigrette Dressing is here

Asian Vinaigrette Dressing is here

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Raspberry Vinaigrette
adapted from Allrecipes

1/2 c. raspberry vinegar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
pinch salt

Add all ingredients to a jar or container with a tight fitting lid.  Shake well to combine and store at room temperature.  Makes 1 cup (8 oz).

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Creamy Two-Minute Dressing
adapted from The Kitchn

1/2 c. mayo or plain yogurt
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 c. Champagne vinegar

Whisk together the mayo, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper until combined.  Add the vinegar and whisk until smooth.  Keep refrigerated.  Makes 1 cup (8 oz).


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Greek Vinaigrette
adapted from Allrecipes

1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1/3 c. olive oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
3/4 tsp. pepper
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. onion powder
3/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
Pinch sugar

Add all ingredients to a jar or container with a tight fitting lid.  Shake well to combine and store at room temperature.  Makes 1 cup (8 oz).

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