Saturday, June 11, 2011

Guest Posting on Perry's Plate

Today I'm guest posting on Natalie's blog, Perry's Plate. I love her blog, her taste in food, her photography...I could go on and on! Thanks Natalie for featuring this delicious sweet potato curry chicken recipe! Make this curry. You won't regret it!

Sweet Potato Chicken Curry

2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
1 bay leaf
1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 ½ cups vertically sliced onion
1 ½ teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained or 2-3 medium-sized fresh tomatoes
1 large peeled sweet potato
¾ cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ cup frozen green peas
3 small carrots
½  Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

First is the ingredient preparation. Peel and dice the sweet potato into ½ inch cubes for a total of about 2 cups. Next finely grate the carrots and set aside. Dice the chicken into 1-inch cubes and set aside in a separate bowl. In a small bowl combine the curry powder, coriander, turmeric, salt, black pepper, red pepper and bay leaf.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and sauté 5 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove the chicken from the pan and reduce heat to medium; add the onion, cooking for 10 minutes or until tender. Increase heat to medium-high, return chicken to pan and cook one minute to warm the chicken. Stir in ginger and garlic and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Add curry powder mixture, broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour.

Stir in potato and chickpeas. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Add peas and carrots, cooking 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat, discard the bay leaf, stir in lemon juice and serve.

Yield: 7 (1 cup) servings

Who Dished it first? this recipe was adapted from Cooking Light

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cooking with "Everything Beans"

I have never been inspired to eat black bean burgers. Beans in place of delicious beef or turkey? That just didn't sound appetizing to me. It's not that I don't like black beans. I actually love black beans. But a mushy patty made from beans inside a hamburger bun? The following burger recipe definitely changed my perspective.

The story behind trying to eat more meatless bean dishes comes from my inspiring sister-in-law, Rebecca.  My family and I enjoy eating beans but I've never made a point of specifically planning a menu with meatless bean meals like Rebecca does. Recently I had the opportunity to review The Everything Bean Book, a digitalized cookbook (eBook). In it I found recipes for white bean alfredo, chickpea wraps, and among other great recipes this fabulous Mexican black bean burger. These toppings plus the additional crunch of tortilla chips really make this burger desirable. (I have a few patties frozen and I'm thinking this is going to be my lunch today!)

Mexican Black Bean Burger (patty) recipe

How I served my burger:
Top with salsa, avocado slices, tortillas chips (adding this crunch is a must!) and my cilantro lime sour cream.

Cilantro Lime Sour Cream
1/2 cup sour cream (may substitute with greek yogurt)
2 Tablespoons minced cilantro
Juice of half a lime
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and spread on your black bean burger bun.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Do You Use Canned Beans?

Living on an island makes for some expensive grocery bills! I was talking with a visitor at church on Sunday and he said he was shocked to purchase 2 potatoes at the store and pay $2.40! Another person joked: "Well, you have to realize that we only eat every other day and that's how we can afford to live here." (ha, ha!)

One trick I've found to saving money with my food budget is cooking hard beans instead of buying canned beans. I like to cook a large amount of beans and then store them in 1-2 cup portions in the freezer. Some of the benefits of keeping cooked beans on hand are:

  • I can easily toss in a handful of beans to a recipe that might not normally call for beans
  • I'm more inclined to plan my menus with beans instead of meat (great health benefits!)
  • My grocery budget is a lot less costly since dried beans are comparatively inexpensive
  • Using cooked beans instead of canned reduces the indigestible sugars that normally cause gas
  • Storing dried beans keeps you prepared in case of a disaster. Knowing how to cook your beans and include them in your diet is even more important.
  • Our bodies are adjusting to eating more beans. If a natural disaster were to occur and our diet consist of our food storage our bodies won't go into shock eating an increased amount of fiber. 
Just a side note,  this month I received an email from the emergency response system saying the tropical storm season has begun and to be prepared if a hurricane was to hit. Experiencing the tsunami warning a few months ago after the Japan quake and now living in hurricane territory it's not an option to not be prepared for a natural disaster.

There are lots of ways to cook beans. My preference is as follows:
    • rinse and drain the beans
    • place in a slow-cooker (turned off) and fill with water; soak the beans overnight to soften.
    • drain the soaking water and refill at least 2 inches above the bean line
    • turn the slow-cooker on low and cook for another 5-7 hours or until the beans are soft (check the water level throughout this process to make sure it doesn't get too low)
    • drain any excess liquids and let the beans cool
    • divide the beans into 1-2 cup portions, placing them in freezer bags
    • beans defrost fairly quickly or can be added frozen to any soup or stew.

    Here is some additional information that I've gathered from online sources:

    Soak dried beans overnight or at least for five hours. (This isn't necessary for dried peas and lentils.) Discard the water, add fresh water, cook for half hour and discard the water. Rinse beans thoroughly until water runs clear. Cover with fresh water and cook until tender. This method will help prevent "gas," which is caused by complex carbohydrates (raffinose sugars) that are not broken down in digestion. When they ferment in the large intestine, they produce carbon dioxide, hydrogen and a little hydrogen sulfide, that can cause gas.

    If you want to include more beans in your diet, but increase your "comfort zone" with them, you should: 
    Start slowly by eating beans only a couple of times a week at first. This helps your body adjust to digesting them.
    Drink lots of fluids to help the digestive system handle the increased dietary fiber.

    Other helpful hints for cooking beans are to add one tablespoon of oil to beans to keep the foam down while cooking. If your recipe calls for tomatoes, lemon juice, vinegar or other acidic foods, add these items after beans are tender. The presence of acid keeps beans from softening. Also, contrary to advice you may have heard, DO NOT use baking soda when cooking beans. It robs them of their nutritional value.

    Soak and rinse beans several times to remove gas-producing sugars, USDA researchers advise. Always change the water before cooking.

    Adding garlic and ginger, dried or fresh, to a cooking pot of beans can reduce the beans' gas-producing properties, according to research in India.

    Beans are full of starch including some that do not digest easily. Digesting this starch can produce gas, giving rise to the rhyme Beans, beans, the musical fruit.... There are several ways to quiet this music so you can enjoy the health benefits of beans.

    Gradually increase the amount of beans you eat, so your digestive system can adjust.

    Soak beans overnight then discard the soaking water. Some, but not all, of the hard-to-digest carbohydrates dissolve into the water and are then poured off.

    This quick method also helps reduce gas: Cover beans with water. Bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Let set at least one hour, but preferably four hours. The longer beans soak, the more gas-causing substances are removed.

    Try Beano, a product found in the pharmacy section or on the bean aisle of the grocery store. Its natural enzymes help digest gas-producing carbohydrates.

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Teriyaki Pork-and-Mango Stir-Fry

    It's mango season here in Hawai'i!

    Last night as my family walked down the street in the cool evening weather we noticed many neighbor friends outside with their 15 foot-long poles with metal cages on the ends to pick ripe mangoes. I don't have a tree but my family and I regularly snack on dried mango and my husband loves "mango nectar" juice purchased at the store. (Hopefully a tree of our own is in the plan for this summer.)

    A neighbor friend has a large mango tree and I think her family has eaten mangoes every night for the past week. (She was the one who found and shared this recipe.) I don't usually think of Asian dishes as including tropical fruit but my husband lived in Taiwan and he has corrected my assumptions. He tells me that often he came home to find large sacks of mangoes hanging on his front door.  In my husband's opinion this tropical/Asian dish was a 9.5 out of 10.

    Teriyaki Pork-and-Mango Stir-Fry

    1 pound boneless pork chops
    1/2 cup flour
    2 teaspoons salt
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    1 small head napa cabbage, cored and thinly sliced crosswise (about 7 cups)
    4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
    3 tablespoons store-bought teriyaki sauce
    2 mangoes, cut into matchsticks
    2 cups bean sprouts

    On a work surface, place a pork chop between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and, using a meat mallet, pound 1/4 inch thick; repeat with the remaining chops. Slice into 1/4-inch-thick strips. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the flour and salt; add the pork and toss.

    In a large nonstick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Shake off any excess flour from the pork and arrange in a single layer in the skillet. Cook until browned and crisp on one side, about 3 minutes; turn and cook, stirring, until browned all over, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

    Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the cabbage to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in the teriyaki sauce, then toss with the pork and mangoes. Top with the bean sprouts.

    Who Dished it first? Rachael Ray
    My Notes: This definitely needed additional salt to taste on the finished product.

    Saturday, June 4, 2011

    Hamburger Italia, i.e. Lasagna on a Bun

    I recently reviewed the George Foreman GRP4B Next Grilleration™ Removable Plate Grill over on Moana Saves. As part of the review I came up with a unique hamburger recipe that my kids like to call: "lasagna on a bun." In an attempt to be a little more classy, I call this "Hamburger Italia!" (Or would "Italiano" make more sense? I don't know.)

    Hamburger Italia
    1 pound ground beef
    ½ teaspoon garlic powder
    ½ teaspoon onion powder
    ½ teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon pepper
    ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

    ¾ cup fat-free Ricotta cheese
    ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
    3 Tablespoons fresh basil, finely diced
    1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, finely diced

    2 large tomatoes
    7 button mushrooms

    In a small bowl combine the Ricotta and Parmesan cheese with the basil and parsley. Mix thoroughly and set aside. Prep the mushrooms and tomatoes by thinly slicing them and setting aside.

    Place the ground beef in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and form into four ½ inch thick patties, leaving ground beef to spare.  Divide the mozzarella cheese evenly among each patty, placing it in the center. Seal the cheese inside each hamburger patty with the remaining ground beef.  Place the meat on your and cook the burgers for 7-10 minutes or until they reach your desired doneness; remove from the grill. Cover the hamburgers to keep warm while you prepare the rest of the burger.

    Grill the mushrooms on your George Foreman by placing them inside, closing the lid for browning.  They should be done in 5 minutes. Next place the tomatoes on the grill and season with salt and pepper. Close the lid and grill for 3-5 minutes, creating a ‘sun-dried tomato’ effect. Carefully remove the tomatoes from the grill and immediately place them on your burgers; they will be delicate to handle. (*Note: You can saute the mushrooms in a frying pan with a little butter if you don't have the grill. For the tomatoes: place them on a foil lined baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil and a shake of salt & pepper, broiling for 5-10 minutes or until done.)

    While the mushrooms sauté and the tomatoes “sun-dry”, spread the ricotta mixture on the bottom side of a Kaiser roll. (This is the heavy half of your finished product and therefore needs to be the bottom half of the roll.) You want a good thick spread of cheese mixture. On the other half of the roll spread butter. Place both in the oven to broil. The buttered half will brown faster so be sure to watch it and remove once it’s brown. The ricotta mixture needs to get browned and slightly crispy on top.

    To serve, place the meat and tomato on top of the ricotta mixture and top with the browned mushrooms.

    Who Dished it first? This is an original by your's truly; Me!

    Notes: The ricotta-covered bun can get soggy. Make sure this is the last thing you do before eating. Also, fresh herbs are a must in my opinion as they add a light and fresh flavor that dried herbs can't duplicate.
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