Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cajun Basa and Swiss Chard

Go Fish!

This post represents Whats for Eats on Day 2 of Fish Challenge 2010, which fulfills this week's quota of vegetarian or pescetarian meals. Superstah! It's also a two-fer-one, fish and a side!

This was the yummiest meal! I crispy-coated the basa (you might recognize this technique from my crispy-coated chicken thighs post, works just as good here) using lots of spicy goodness and an egg-white wash for extra crispiness. This was the first time I've had swiss chard, and I was slightly underwhelmed. Not sure what I was expecting...I had just tried kale for the first time a few years ago and loved it, and two years ago discovered the AMAZING deliciousness of cabbage sprouts (they are only available for a few weeks in the spring - almost time!!) so I guess I was expecting to be blown away. It's so pretty, but turns out pretty does not mean yummy. Don't get me wrong, it was tasty and I felt very virtuous eating something so healthy, but to be honest the best part was the feta cheese. Heh. Anyway the fish was the real star of this meal. My portion was about double what's in the picture, and still came in under 300 cals including the breading. Cool eh! And it's just so yummy I could eat it every day, really makes me wonder why I haven't been eating more fish! The recipe below is for one person, so just multiply by however many people you are cooking for.

Cajun Basa and Swiss Chard

For the fish:
200g (one fillet) basa
splash of milk
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp hot sauce (any kind)
1 Tbsp egg white
1/2C mesa sunrise cereal flakes
1/4 tsp each cayenne, oregano, paprika, cracked black pepper
dash sea salt
olive oil cooking spray
lemon wedges

Cut the fish into four peices and dunk them in the milk. Let them soak while you prepare the crumbs: Combine cereal, 1/2 Tbsp flour, and spices in blender and pulse until desired crumby consistency is reached. Dump crumbs onto a plate. Then prepare your egg wash: combine egg white and hot sauce in a bowl and whisk. Pat your fish dry - not totally dry just not dripping wet. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 Tbsp flour. Dunk each peice in the egg wash, then roll in crumbs. Spray a baking tray (or cookie sheet) with olive oil, and place fish pieces on it not touching. Spray the tops of the fish pieces lightly with olive oil and bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes, depending on thickness of fish.

While fish is cooking prepare Swiss Chard:

1/2 bunch swiss chard (about 4 leaves, stems intact)
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/2 tsp olive oil
20g low-fat feta (about 1" square), crumbled
1 Tbsp currants
cracked pepper and sea salt

Wash and cut swiss chard into 1/2" slices. Heat oil in a wok on med-high heat and add garlic. When it begins to brown a little, add the chard and toss around to get the garlic on top. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add in the currants and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes more. The chard should be wilted and the stems cooked through but not browned. Add the feta and pepper, and maybe a tiny bit of salt but check it first because the feta is quite salty so you may not need it. Remove from heat and squeeze a bit of lemon over top.

Serve the fish and swiss chard with lemon wedges. Feel ever-so-healthy for eating both fish and dark leafy greens in same meal.

Nutritional values: Fish: 294 calories, 9g fat, 29.4g protein, 23.6g carbs, 2.3g fibre, 270mg sodium. Swiss chard: 138 calories, 8g fat, 8g protein, 11g carbs, 3g fibre, 272mg sodium.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Skull Valley Rice 'n' Beans

An awesome person I know has a much-loved recipe charmingly called Skull Valley. She has described it simply as taco meat and fixings on rice. I don't know why it's called Skull Valley but I love the name!

Rice and beans are an excellent vegetarian combo, as they make a complete protein together. It's a whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-the-parts thing. Rice n beans are great, but rice n beans with some ground bison and veggies thrown in? Now we're talking! This dish is my morphed version of Skull Valley and rice n beans, so happy together!

There's a lot of choppin', so watch your fingers!

Skull Valley Rice 'n' Beans

3/4C red and brown jasmine rice or some other whole-grain rice blend
olive oil cooking spray
350g ground bison (ground turkey would also work great here)
1 red pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 jalepeno pepper, finely minced
4 large mushrooms, chopped
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
salt and pepper
3/4C cooked black beans
hot sauces, to taste

Cooke the rice according to directions. In the meantime, heat a large frying pan or wok on med-high and spray with olive oil cooking spray. Add the onion, red pepper, jalepeno,and bison, using spoon to break up the ground meat. When the bison begins to brown, add the mushrooms and spices and turn heat to high. Cook, stirring constantly,until all liquid had evaporated and the meat is cooked through. Add the black beans, then season with hot sauces of your choice (I usually have about half a dozen on hand!) or just salt and pepper to taste. When the rice is cooked, toss that in too and combine.

Garnish with cilantro, Biobest plain yogurt, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, tomato, salsa,and whatever else tickles your fancy.

Nutritional values: For 1/3 of recipe (I like to make extra servings for lunches)not including garnishes, 379 calories, 5.5g fat, 32g protein, 54g carbs, 7g fibre, 400mg sodium.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pesto and Zuchinni Pizza with Multigrain Crust

Mmm CAN be healthy! I am so glad, because I could never have given it up.

In the interest of doing a little diet re-modelling, I've been reading about the Mediterranean diet and it's health benefits. One thing I have decided to do for myself is eat less red meat and more fish...thus my 2010 Fish Challenge! My idea is to eat vegetarian or pescetarian two days out of each week. This will be quite a feat, for a person who loves meat as much as I do. But,I loves me a good challenge!

This pizza, therefore, is representing What's for Eats on Day 1 of the challenge. All the toppings are vegetarian, and yum-yum delicious! While I do love a good pita pizza, sometimes I want a real homemade thin, crispy crust. This one is made from multigrain flour, besides being more whole grain it gives the crust a little extra crackle to bite into. The cheese is minimal, using a good sharp Swiss and Parmesan to supplement the melty mozza gives it a nice flavour. This recipe makes one big gorgeous serving, or two servings for people with delicate appetites ;).

Pesto and Zucchini Pizza with Multigrain Crust

1/2C multigrain flour (lightly spooned into a measuring cup, or weigh out 60g)
2T all-purpose flour
1/4C hot tap water (depending on how hot your water gets...should feel very warm but not too hot to hold your finger in for a few seconds)
pinch sugar
1/2 tsp quick-rise yeast
1/8 tsp sea salt
olive oil
1 Tbsp pesto
1 Tbsp pizza sauce
30g low-fat mozzarella cheese, grated
15g Swiss cheese, finely grated
1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, finely grated
zucchini, thinly sliced
mushroom, thinly sliced
sun dried tomato, sliced
black cured olives, sliced

In a large bowl, combine the yeast, water, and sugar and allow to sit in a warm place for 10 minutes. You are probably thinking, hey you don't need to bloom quick-rise yeast, but I like to do it aids rising and also it's a good way to make sure my yeast is still active. Sometimes it gets lazy, you know. After it has proven itself as rise-worthy (I have pretty low standards, really, just a bit of puffing and she's good to go), throw in half of the multigrain flour and salt. It should make a pretty wet dough. Add in the second half of the flour a bit at a time,as you may not need it all. The dough should not get too dry, you want it sticky and soft. Turn it out onto a clean surface and knead, using the 2 Tbsp of extra flour to keep it from sticking everywhere. When it feels smooth and elastic, roll it into a little ball and oil it up along with the bowl, then put it back in and cover with plastic wrap.Allow to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes or until you you are famished, whichever comes first.

Spray a cookie sheet or pizza pan with cooking spray and plop your dough-ball onto it. Using your hands or a rolling-pin, spread the dough to a desired flatness, mine gets to be about 9"x5" or so. Don't worry if it's not round, it's a proven fact that irregular-shaped pizzas taste better.

Spread on the pesto and pizza sauce (for pizza sauce I just use a spoon of tomato paste thinned with a bit of water and seasoned with salt, pepper, cayenne, and Italian herbs), then let the dough rest and re-rise for 10 minutes before putting the rest of the toppings on.

Preheat your oven to 450F. Top the pizza with half the cheeses, then dot with zucchini rounds, mushrooms, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. I also would have put some veggie pepperoni if I had any. Top with the rest of the cheese, and slide your masterpiece into the oven (middle rack is best). After 10 minutes, you should see the bottom of the crust browning, at this point switch the oven to broil and brown the cheese a bit, WATCH IT as it takes just moments and you don't want to burn your dinner after all this!

When it's ready to come out, slide it off the pan and onto a wooden board or paper bag to cool for a few minutes. Then cut it up and enjoy pizza night!

Nutritional values: Entire recipe is 524 calories,22.6g of fat, 26.6g protein, 59.2g carbs, 9.3g fibre, 735mg sodium.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pasta with Leeks and White Wine

We've been making this dish in my family for years, but the original version was extremely calorific so I stopped making it. I finally attempted a slimmed-down version and it turned out brilliantly, even better than the original I daresay! Using whole-wheat pasta instead of white makes it earthier, more sustaining, and tastier in my opinion. The leeks add volume and a strongly aromatic element, balanced by the savory flavours of the chicken broth, wine, and parmesan. Instead of using reduced whipping cream to make a heavy cream sauce, I kept it a clear sauce with just a touch of flour to thicken, and a few spoonfuls of light cream cheese to add a velvety creaminess.

Pasta with Leeks and White Wine

4 oz(112g) whole wheat spagetti or spagettini or fettucine
olive oil cooking spray
1 leek, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
3/4C reduced-sodium chicken broth
3/4C dry white wine
1 Tbsp flour, any kind but multigrain
3 Tbsp low-fat cream cheese
1/4C finely grated parmesan or romano cheese
fresh ground mixed peppercorns (green, red, white, and black)

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta and cook according to directions for al dente pasta.

In the meantime, heat a large frying pan on medium-high heat and spray with olive oil cooking spray. Add the leeks and garlic and saute until the leeks are slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add in the broth and wine and simmer on medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half. Mix the flour in a small bowl with a little broth until smooth and add to leeks, stirring to incorporate, and simmer for another 5 minutes to thicken sauce. Add the cream cheese, then the grated cheese, stirring well after each addition. The sauce should be smooth under all the leeks, though the leeks do a good job of hiding any lumps if that happens! Toss in the pasta and season liberally with the fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately.

This makes two generous servings. A good thing to serve it with is a nice roasted chicken breast and green salad. You could even add the chicken right to the pasta for a main dish pasta. Yum!

Nutritional values (per half recipe): 368 cals, 9g fat, 18g protein, 52g carbs, 6g fibre, 550mg sodium.

Lemon Lentil Soup

Another soup! Soon I will have made enough soups to take over the world muah haha!!! What's that you say, soup does not make one all-powerful? Hmph I beg to differ. This soup, laced with tangy lemon and filled with nutritional powerhouses like lentils and kale, will make you feel like a god! Or maybe just like someone with some really good soup.
This recipe comes from the Hollyhock book that was recently introduced to me(with some minor adjustments, as per usual)...what a collection of fabulous recipes. I want to get my hands on my own copy!

Lemon-Lentil Soup

2 tsp olive oil
2C finely diced onions
2 cloves crushed garlic
2C finely diced carrots
1C diced potato
1C finely diced celery
1C dry red lentils
1L low-sodium chicken stock
1L water
juice of one lemon
1/4C chopped fresh dill
4C packed chopped fresh kale or other greens
salt and pepper to taste

In a soup pot, saute the onion, garlic, carrots, ptatoes and celery in the olive oil on medium heat. When the vegetables begin to brown, add the lentils, stock and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are soft but not disintegrating. Remove from heat and add the lemon, dill, and greens. The greens will wilt nicely in the residual heat but retain their bright colour. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Fiesta Salad

I confess, it's pretty much a taco salad, but that just sounds so "Old El Paso", you know? "Fiesta Salad", on the other hand, sounds very...festive. This dinner salad is not just colourful, it's also packed with nutrients and protein and all sorts of good-for-you stuff. I like a big portion for dinner, and then usually have a half-portion for next day's lunch.

Fiesta Salad

300g lean ground turkey
4 large mushrooms,chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 C mixed beans (canned or cooked)
1/2 C corn kernels
assorted hot sauces, to taste

In a large non-stick frying pan or wok,on high heat, begin to brown the turkey, breaking up into small bits as you go. After 2 minutes or so, add in the onion, mushrooms, red pepper, and spices, and continue to cook while stirring constantly. When the meat is cooked through and the veggies are soft, add in the beans and corn. Add hot sauces to taste...I love hot sauce so usally have 5 or 6 different kinds on hand and just make a big ole hot sauce cocktail in there. Keep in mind that the heat level is higher when you first put in the hot sauce, so don't panic if you make it too will cool off a bit as the mixture cooks and then cools.

This mixture can be used for three dinner salads, or two dinner salads and two half-portion lunches,or whatever combination you like. Sometimes i only divide it into two if I am extra-hungry.

Garnishes: for each salad, shred three large lettuce leaves for a bed of greens,then lay in the meat/ veggie mixture and top with 1/4C plainyogurt, 1/4C salsa, and 30g gated low-fat cheddar. Accompany with a portion (50g) of baked tortilla chips (I like Guiltless Gourmet chili lime or Tostitos scoops) and dig in! Yum!

Nutritional Values: Using 1/3 of the meat/veggie mixture and the garnishes described above, each portion comes to 619 calories, 16.9g of fat, 43.8g protein, 75g carbs, 11g fibre, and 1000mg sodium. A half-portion for lunch, just in case you hate math, is 310 calories, 8.5g fat, 21.9g protein, 37.5g carbs, 5.5g protein, and 500mg sodium.

Roasted Beet, Blood Orange, and Goat Cheese Salad

If you want a salad that wows guests and tastes as gorgeously delicious as it looks, try this one! It's a perfect balance: earthy full-flavoured roasted beets, creamy, tangy goat cheese and the high citrus notes of blood orange. As a decadent extra-special touch, sweet spiced pecans top the lot. Truly yummerific.

Roasted Beet, Blood Orange, and Goat Cheese Salad

2 medium beets, one red and one yellow
1 head red leaf lettuce
2 blood oranges
1 small tube pepper-crusted fresh goat cheese
1/2 C pecan halves
2 T demerara sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 T dijon mustard
3 T balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil
Whisk all together until nicely emulsified.

Wrap beets individually in foil and roast in a 400F oven until fork-tender, about one hour. When they are cooked, cool and slide skins off, cut into 1/2" chunks and chill.

Make your sweet spiced pecans: Toast the pecan halves lightly in a 400F oven or in a frying pan on the stovetop on medium heat. They are done as soon as they become fragrant, maybe 3 or 4 minutes. Melt the sugar in a small frying pan on medium heat,it helps to add a drop or two of water. When it is melted and bubbling,allow it to bubble for a minute then remove from heat and toss in the pecans,sprinkling with cayenne. Cool and break into peices.

Cut blood oranges into suprèmes.

A word about suprèming: Let me tell you about the word "suprème". I learned this technique on a french cooking show and then forgot what it was called for years. I tried to describe it to people, tried to look it up on the internet, to no avail. My boyfriend declared that it was not a real word. Finally, at long last,I came across the right word: sumprème! Woo hoo! SO now I use it freely, like a good foodie should. It basically just means slicing the flesh of the orange away from the membrane, so that you have little de-skinned segments of flesh. It's fancy.

Wash and dry your lettuce well and tear into bite-sized peices, and divide onto four plates. Divide the beet chunks and orange supremes amongst the four plates. Crumble the goat cheese over the salads (if you can't find pepper-crusted goat cheese, just roll a plain tube in some fresh-cracked pepper before crumbling). Divide the pecans over the salads and drizzle lightly with vinaigrette (you may not need all of it).

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Red Quinoa and Corn Pilaf

Happy New Year, everyone! With the new year comes an end to holiday indulgence and a re-focusing on healthy eating. And what is healthy eating without a little bacon? Heh. I think this recipe really encapsulates my outlook on food. Simple technique, fun flavour combination, healthy whole grain, and using delicious but higher-calorie touches as flavour rather than a main ingredient.

If you haven't tried quinoa yet, do. It is one of the most ancient whole grains, and contains the most protein, not to mention a TON of nutrients. It's pretty widely available these days; I get mine in the bulk section of the local grocery store. I've been using the white variety for a while now, but am new to the red. It's nuttier and more earthy-tasting than its more delicate white counterpart, and has more of a bite.Either one would work in this pilaf, though the red does pair nicely with the smokiness from the bacon.

Red Quinoa and Corn Pilaf

1 C red quinoa, rinsed
2 C homemade or low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 slices smoky thick-cut bacon
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 can corn or 1 ear fresh corn cut off the cob, if in season, which it's not
freshly cracked pepper

Bring stock to boil and add the quinoa and thyme, cover and lower heat to maintain a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes or until all the liquid has absorbed and the quinoa is tender.

Meanwhile, chop the bacon into small peices and cook off in a pan to render off the fat. When it is browned and nearly crisp, remove to a paper towel-lined plate and drain and discard fat from the pan. In the same pan (do not wash), add chopped onion and saute until translucent and lightly browned. Add the rendered bacon back in, as well as the corn and some pepper. When the quinoa is fully cooked, add the bacon/ corn mixture and toss together. Done!

Serves 4 as a hearty side dish.

Nutritional Values: 203 calories, 4.5g fat, 9.3g protein, 32g carbs, 3.8g fibre, 400mg sodium.