Friday, March 13, 2009

midweek dericiousness

(sorry, kids...i've been slacking on the blogging. i know, i know. i'll be better, i promise!)

i was very disappointed to learn that there was no new lost this past week, but this was NO reason to not have a delicious midweek meal. jim was coming over for dinner, so it of course had to be something uber healthy. kiran was eating too, though, so it had to be something deceptively healthy. my solution?

turkey burger paninis & grilled asparagus
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/4 lb ground turkey (i used 99% lean for jimbo)
1/2 cup chopped artichoke hearts
1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 whole garlic loaf (or any loaf of bread), sliced into 16 slices
8 slices muenster cheese, each slice cut in half
1 bunch asparagus
4 tbsp olive oil
nonstick spray
1 lemon

put 2 tbsp of olive oil in a saute pan over medium low heat. warm the oil for a minute, then place the onion in the pan. sweat them and toss around in the pan occasionally until all the slices are covered in the oil, then pop a tightly fitting lid on it and lower the flame. allow it to caramelize while preparing the turkey meat, checking on it occasionally and stirring. when the onions are soft and a light brownish color (about 15 minutes), add the balsamic vinegar and pepper to taste and stir into the onions. set aside.

preheat a grill pan over a medium high flame. combine the turkey meat, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, dijon mustard, and some salt & pepper. score the meat with your hand into 4 equal sections, then divide each section into 2 for 8 small patties. spray your grill pan with nonstick spray. form each patty to fit the shape of your sliced loaf and place on the grill. since they are small, they will only take about 2 minutes per side. in the meantime, set up an assembly line with your slices of bread, cheese on each piece and caramelized onion on each sandwich. once the turkey patties are cooked through, your assembly should look like this:

1/2 slice muenster cheese
caramelized onion
turkey patty
1/2 slice muenster cheese

use one side of the grill pan to grill and press the sandwiches to melt the cheese and toast the bread while you prepare the asparagus on the other side (or use a panini press and use the grill for the asparagus). the bread should have nice grill marks on both sides and the cheese should be slightly melty to bind the whole sandwich together.

while you're grilling the sandwiches, prepare the asparagus. toss with the remaining olive oil, salt and pepper and throw them on the grill for about 5-6 minutes while you grill the sandwiches on one half. when they're done grilling, squeeze the lemon juice on top and there you go...the perfect side dish to a healthy sandwich!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

man, risotto is needy

there are many things that i have yet to make. most of these things are either labor intensive or take way too long. examples: a whole turkey, fresh pasta, and until last night, risotto.

i bought a pack of arborio rice at the store about a month ago, thinking that i would take a stab at it one night when i had some extra time. unfortunately, i didn't get that extra time until a month after it was purchased, but no matter. it was all good. i still had some leftover homemade stock, so i decided that this would be a great way to use it. since i'm still on my "don't be a fatass" plan, i was looking for a way to make it with minimal amounts of (read: no) cheese. also, i didn't have any cheese left in my place and was too lazy to go to the store to get any.

surprisingly, the risotto didn't even need the cheese! it still turned out super creamy and delicious. i added lots of pepper and some lemon juice to cut the extra richness of it and came up with something that i will definitely make again. it's even healthy, so you don't have to feel guilty eating it! guilt free risotto - i think my life is complete. if you decide to make this (which i recommend), just make sure you have a good book to read while you're stirring, because you will be hovering above your stove for at least 30 minutes making sure your risotto is cooked just right. (it sounds like a nightmare boyfriend.)

i've named this risotto in honor of the book i was reading:

harry potter's risotto of secrets (and by secrets, i mean it has no cheese!!!)
4-6 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of arborio rice
1 bundle of asparagus, tough stems removed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 can of artichoke hearts, chopped
2 carrots, shredded
1 lemon
salt & pepper

pour the stock into a pot and bring it up to a low simmer. keep it heated throughout the process, but don't let it go crazy boiling.

in a deep pan (i used my deep skillet), heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. add the garlic and onions and sweat them, being careful so they don't start browning. if they do, knock back the heat. when the onions are translucent, add the rice and coat in the oil. cook for 1-2 minutes, until the rice is lightly toasted.

once the rice is toasted, add 1/2 a cup of the heated stock. stir the stock into the rice and continue stirring until the stock is absorbed. when all the liquid has been absorbed, add another 1/2 cup of stock and the asparagus. remember the stir the rice frequently. (if you don't...i'm not sure what will happen, but i bet it won't be as good as mine. so listen!) once the liquid is absorbed, add another 1/2 cup of stock. repeat until the risotto is a nice, creamy consistency. it will take between 30-45 minutes. about halfway through the process, add the artichoke hearts & season the mixture with salt & a good amount of pepper. when the risotto is about ready, add the carrots and zest & juice of the lemon. test the seasonings and see if it needs more salt & pepper.

enjoy the healthy, creamy goodness!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

fiesta in a bowl!

our good friends asion and jason decided to take over heroes/dinner party night. asion made the one thing he says he makes well: cheesy chicken empanadas, courtesy of paula deen. jason, who never disappoints, made some awesome mushroom dip stuff. kiran made some bombin' 7 layer dip (actually, 6 layers because she omitted the beans). i was brainstorming at work (because i think about food ALL day) and realized that i still had a ton of homemade chicken stock to use up from my roasted chicken last week. what makes more sense that chicken tortilla soup? nothing, i say!

this was my first attempt at making chicken tortilla soup. i browsed a few recipes and this is what i came up with based on what i had in my kitchen on monday. it was slightly spicy with a nice consistency that was a bit thicker than broth (but not too much) and had the tasty sweet pop of corn and roasted red peppers going throughout the soup. sooooo good!

chicken tortilla soup
2 tbsp olive oil
3 chicken breasts, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded & minced
1 tbsp chipotle chili powder
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp coriander
2 tbsp tomato paste
6 cups chicken stock
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 cup corn (frozen or canned - i used frozen)
1 can black beans
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
crushed tortilla chips
chopped cilantro, chopped red onion, sour cream, cheddar cheese for garnish

heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. after a minute, add the diced chicken and brown. after about 5 minutes, add in the onion, garlic, and jalapeno and cook the veggies with the meat for about 4 minutes, until the onions start to get translucent. add in all the spices and the tomato paste and mix in until the spices and paste are fragrant (about 2 minutes). then add in the chicken stock and the tomatoes, with their juices. break the tomatoes apart with a wooden spoon in the pot. allow it to come up to a boil, then knock it back to a nice simmer. (SIMMA DOWN NOW!) add in the corn, black beans, and roasted red peppers. be sure to get all the starchy bean juices out of the can and into the pot as well. this will help the soup thicken up a little bit. simmer the soup for an additional 6-7 minutes.

put some crushed tortilla chips at the bottom of a bowl and ladle the soup on top. serve with any of the garnishes listed above, and you have yourself a mighty tasty bowl o' soup!


as you can see, it looks a little bit different around here. thanks, cmoore! in honor of the new look, i'm dedicating a song to her by one of my favorite groups ever - flight of the conchords!

this is for you, cmoore!