Sunday, January 29, 2012

Orange Sweet and Sour Chicken

I was looking at a recipe for Crock Pot orange chicken to put on the menu this week, when my husband decided he wanted it for dinner that night. I decided to just use my wok instead of a crock. Here is the recipe with my modifications for woking out!

• 1 lb boneless chicken breasts or thighs chopped into strips
• 1/4 cup corn starch
• 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
• 1 red bell pepper cut into bite size chunks
• 1 bunch green onions chopped, separating white pieces (place with red bell pepper) and green pieces to garnish
• 1/4 cup peanut pieces
• 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
• 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
• 2 Tablespoons ketchup
• 1 Tablespoon sirracha
• 4 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate (thaw or throw it in the microwave for 45 seconds)
• 2 Tbl. brown sugar

In a measuring cup, mix the orange juice, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, sirracha and ketchup. Cover the chicken strips in corn starch and shake off the excess.

Start heating wok and pour in half the sesame oil. Brown the chicken. Remove chicken and add the rest of the sesame oil. Add pepper and white parts of onion and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Add chicken back in and pour the sauce over and heat until sauce bubbles. Add peanuts and stir in. Garnish with green onions and serve over rice.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Karla's Carried Away (Caraway) Chicken

If you don't like caraway, this recipe isn't for you, but it's a subtly, strong flavor in this creamy comfort food dish.

1 (16-ounce) package vacuum-packed gnocchi

1 T olive oil

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into thin strips

1 small onion, finely diced

2 tsp minced garlic

½ cup sherry

½ tsp caraway seed

½ tsp Hungarian Paprika

¼ tsp dill seed

¾ cup chicken broth

1 cup Greek fat free plain yogurt

½ cup whipped cream cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ chopped Italian parsley, and more for garnish

Bring water to boil in stock pot, and cook gnocchi according to package directions, drain, rinse with cold water to stop cooking, put on a plate and drizzle with olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.

After gnocchi is drained wipe out pot start heating pot and olive oil. Add onion, garlic and chicken strips to hot oil, browning chicken and softening onions and garlic, for about 10 minutes. Deglaze pan with sherry and cook down until sherry is almost evaporated. Add chicken broth, caraway, paprika and dill seed, cover and simmer over low heat for about an hour. There should still be some liquid. Slowly stir in yogurt, cream cheese, over low heat then add gnocchi, parsley, salt and pepper back in for 3-4 minutes to heat through. Top with parsley garnish and serve.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lightened up Lasagna (with spinach and artichoke)

It's that time of year when everybody wants to lighten things up, but also the time of year when the cold outdoor temps scream hot cheesy comfort food! Mixing the spinach and artichoke in with the cheese is a good way to sneak in some veggies, and low fat or fat free cottage cheese and turkey Italian sausage help lighten it up. This isn't some kind of "I can eat a whole mess of this pan of lasagna and still lose weight," but you can have a reasonably sized piece and enjoy it without guilt. Use a large lasagna pan (about 19x13x3) for 12 servings. Easily made vegetarian by omitting sausage and adding 1 eggplant peeled, sliced, seasoned and oven roasted.
Preheat oven to 375 F
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 14.5 oz. can fire roasted, diced tomatoes
½-¾ cup red wine (I eyeball it, so not sure on exact measurement, I just pour until desired consistency)
1 lb turkey Italian Sausage or Johnsonville 50% less fat, pork and chicken Italian Sausage
¼ sweet onion diced
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tb. fresh, or 1 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tb. fresh, or 1 tsp. dried basil
Use a little olive oil or olive oil spray, and saute the onions and garlic until tender, add Italian sausage and brown. Once sausage is completely browned, drain off any fat, and add all tomatoes, wine and herbs, and let come to a simmer. Keep simmering while you work on the the cheese filling.
2 cups lowfat or fat free cottage cheese
3 cups mozzarella
1 cup smoked gouda
2 eggs
½ cup grated parmesan
1 can artichoke hearts drained
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 box barilla no cook lasagna noodles
In a skillet with some olive oil spray, wilt spinach on low heat, take off heat, and let spinach cool.

In food processor, add cottage cheese, artichoke hearts, cooled spinach and eggs. Process until mixed. Place in mixing bowl, add 1 cup shredded mozzarella and parmesan, stir to mix. Set aside.
To the remaining 2 cups of shredded mozzarella, add the shredded smoked gouda.
Spray large (about 19x13x3) lasagna pan with no stick spray, and cover bottom with about a cup and ½ of sauce. Cover sauce with about 5 sheets lasagna, and cover those sheets with another layer of sauce, 1/3 cottage cheese mix, and 1/3 of shredded cheese. Add more noodles, and repeat process 2 more times to make 3 layers.
Finely grate some pecorino romano over the top, and bake for 50 minutes. I choose not to cover my lasagna because the browned bubbly stuff makes me glad. Do as you choose.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Soba Noodle Salad with Grilled Sesame Tuna

  • 6 ounces uncooked soba (buckwheat noodles)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup finely chopped English cucumber
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 6 leaves basil cut in thin strips
  • Handful of grape tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 Tablespoon of pickled ginger chopped (optional)
  • ¼ cup chopped cashews or peanuts
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Tuna steak

  • 1 (5 oz.) tuna steak
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 Table spoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil


Mix soy sauce with white wine, sesame oil and garlic and marinade tuna for at least ½ hour. Remove from marinade and press into sesame seeds. Grill on high heat for 1 ½ minutes on each side. Cut into cubes and set aside.

Cook noodles according to package directions; drain and rinse under cold water. Drain; set aside.

Mix Vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and crushed red pepper together as a dressing.

Combine noodles, chopped tuna and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; toss well to combine with dressing.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 256 (22% from fat)

Fat: 6.3g (sat 1g,mono 2.6g,poly 2.5g)

Protein: 22g

Carbohydrate: 28.2g

Fiber: 2.9g

Cholesterol: 34mg

Iron: 1.9mg

Sodium: 570mg

Calcium: 62mg

Peppermint Pattie Cheesecake


2 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about 28 wafers) I did about 14 wafers, and 14 Girl scout chocolate mint cookies

½ stick melted butter


4 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese (I used reduced fat)

1 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

½ cup whipping cream

⅓ cup peppermint schnapps

4 large eggs

Chocolate Ganache (recipe follows)

6-8 fun-size peppermint patties cut into pieces

Lightly coat 9-inch springform pan with no-stick cooking spray. Wrap foil under bottom and around outside of pan to collect any drips during baking; set aside.

For Crust: In medium bowl, combine all crust ingredients until evenly moistened. Press mixture firmly into bottom of prepared pan.

For Filling: In large mixer bowl, beat cream cheese with sugar and cornstarch at high speed until smooth. Beat in cream and Schnapps. Add eggs one at a time beating at low speed just until blended. Pour into prepared pan. Bake in 325°F oven until edges are set and center is almost set, about 55-60 minutes. Turn oven off. Leave cheesecake in oven with door ajar for 30 minutes. Loosen edges of cake from pan with sharp knife. Cool on wire rack to room temperature. Top with Ganache and chill uncovered until set. Cover and chill overnight before removing springform ring. Garnish with peppermint patties.

Chocolate Ganache

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

¼ cup heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons Peppermint Schnapps

In 2-cup glass measure, combine chocolate chips and cream. Microwave (high) for 1 minute. Let stand 2 minutes stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Cool slightly; stir in Schnapps.