Thursday, 28 January 2010

One-pan comfort food

I've been living off soup, crackers and ginger ale these last few days, but today I was able to cook some proper food. Although I really wanted the taste of real warm cooked food, I didn't want the fuss that came with it, so I opted for something that I could do in one pan and would involve minimum effort.

So, I had in hand:

About 1.5 pound pork chops cut in strips
2 jars of mushrooms in liquid
onion powder
garlic powder
dried thyme
1 cup of couscous.
2 oz water (optional)
salt, pepper to taste

Since I still have to be careful of my fat intake, I trimmed all visible fat from the pork, then cut the strips into cubes.
In a large pan over medium high heat, pour the mushrooms with the liquid and bring to a simmer. Add garlic powder, onion powder and dried thyme. Add the meat, toss around, close the lid, lower heat to medium and let it steam thoroughly till the meat is nice and white.

Measure 1 cup of couscous and toss it into the pan. If the pan is too dry (depends on how much liquid your mushrooms jar contained), add a couple of ounces of boiling water. Toss till the couscous drinks the water and cover it for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Next time I'll have to try it with fresh mushrooms as well as red wine instead of extra water.

I have been told I 've not taken pics lately, so this time I remembered!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Some real cooking, finally!

Yesterday I decided that I really had to cook some Real Food (TM) for my poor husband who has been living off falafel from the Middle Eastern joint two blocks away. I asked him what would he want, and his response was "We don't have much of ingredients, so just make some chicken with whatever we have".

I went to the kitchen and the first thing that my eye fell on was the box of fat free saltine crackers on the counter. And the saltine crusted oven fried chicken was born.

4 chicken pieces (we prefer boneless skinless breast)
2 Tsp grapeseed oil
Granulated onion
Granulated garlic
15-20 fat free saltine crackers
Italian herb mix seasoning, or the following dried: rosemary, thyme, oreganon, basil
1/4 cup flour
1 beaten egg
baking spray

Thaw the chicken if using frozen (which is what I do), then toss it in a ziplock bag with the grapeseed oil and a generous dash of onion and garlic powder, plus salt and pepper to taste. Shift everything in the bag so that the marinade goes everywhere, then put it in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

When you take it out, preheat the oven at 350oF. Pulverize the crackers in a blender, or with your bare hands if you don't have one. Make a drenching line with three bowls: One with the flour seasoned with salt and pepper, one with egg, and one with the saltine crackers and the italian herb mix. You can eyeball the seasoning quanitities or adapt them to taste.

Grease a 13x9 pan with the backing spray (i use olive oil flavor which is better for cooking), then drench each chicken piece in the seasoned flour, then the egg, then the seasoned cracker crumbs, then put them on the pan. Bake for 15 mins, turn them, bake 10 more minutes.

I was afraid that the crust would be too hard since the crackers don't have any moist or fat in them, like regular bread crumbs would have. It definitely had a crunch, which was actually quite pleasant. The flour and egg totally helped the crust stay on and not disintegrate or peel off, which is also a win.

I'll definitely do this dish again, with different seasonings.

Monday, 18 January 2010

..and more sweet adventures..

I swear, having to eat the equivalent of hospital food is not fun at all. Yesterday I almost drank chocolate syrup out of the bottle, but at the very last moment I talked myself out of it and went groceries shopping. While getting canned tuna for my tuna/cucumber/mayo sandwiches, my eye fell on a can of sweet potato puree, which is primarily used for pie filling. I checked the label, and apparently sweet potatoes have either no or minimal fat. I like the taste, so I took a can home to see what I could do with it.

Today, it was experiment time. I poured in a small saucepan over medium heat about 1/4 cup of skim milk and the puree. Then, I checked on the pie filling recipe on the can for recommendations on spices, so I added nutmeg, ginger, vanilla in small dashes (about 1/4 teaspoon each), and about 1/4 cup sucralose (you can of course add white or brown sugar if you have it - i had none). I brought that to a simmer and then lowered the heat and let it uncover to reduce a bit. When it had reduced about 2 cm lower than it was when I poured it, I removed from the fire, poured it in another container and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours.

When I brought it out, it was still rather runny, so next time I'll just reduce it even more. At any rate, the taste was great, so I folded in about half a container of fat free whipped topping and chilled it some more. Not exactly mousse consistency, but it tasted damn good!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Caring for my sweet tooth

I have been forced into a low fat diet due to some minor health issues. For the most part I've winged it, especially since I like my vegetables and I'm fine with things cooking in their own fat rather than adding some. Desserts are often an issue, and I have to admit I like them a lot. I usually buy fat-free ice cream, but today I was out of it. I looked at the fridge and had a couple of fat free yoghurts, and a bag of half-thawed frozen strawberries. So, a smoothie was born.

1 6oz fat free strawberry yoghurt
1 6 oz fat free vanilla yoghurt
1 pound bag of frozen strawberries, half way thawed (this way you don't need ice for a nice chill smoothie)
1 cup no pulp orange juice

Put everything in blender, blend till smooth. Add more orange juice if you want a thinner consistency.

Makes 2-3 servings, depends on how big glasses you have ;)