Posts Tagged 'Quick Meals'

Honey-Caramelized Figs with Yogurt

You know those kitchen projects you mean to get to, year after year, but never do? One of mine was cooking with fresh figs. I think the problem is that the season is so short; by the time I had a plan, the figs were gone.

This year, cooking with figs actually had purpose for me. We’ve been focusing on healthy snacks around here lately and have been eating a fair amount of dried figs. I’ll be the first to admit that dried figs and a bit ugly and a bit chewy (particularly if you refrigerate them for freshness), and Dr. O wasn’t crazy about them. When I saw piles of beautiful, fresh figs at Whole Foods last week, I knew I had an opportunity to show him the fruit in its best light. Eight ounces of figs and a quick Internet search later, I had a plan for breakfast: Honey-Caramelized Figs with Yogurt. Dr. O loved every bite!

Honey Caramelized Figs with Yogurt
Total time: 10 min. | Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon honey, plus more for drizzling
8 ounces fresh figs, halved (I trimmed the stems also)
2 cups plain, low-fat Greek yogurt
Pinch ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pistachios

Method:
Heat honey in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook figs, cut side down, until caramelized, about 5 minutes.

Serve over yogurt with cinnamon and pistachios. Drizzle with honey, if desired.

Source: Whole Living, September 2012

Honey-Caramelized Figs with Yogurt

Talk about a delicious and easy recipe! The flavor of the fresh figs was just incredible. They were rich and sweet with pleasant chewiness in the flesh and crunch in the seeds. Add extra crunch from the pistachios, extra sweetness from the honey (necessary, I think, since the yogurt is unsweetened), and creaminess from the yogurt, and you have a tasty, gorgeous breakfast. If I can get to it before figs are out of season, I’ll definitely make this one again.

Recipe link: Honey-Caramelized Figs with Yogurt

Spicy Turkey Thighs and Bacon Stir-Fry

I dug into the December 2011 issue of Everyday Food this weekend and came out with an absolutely delicious recipe: Spicy Turkey Thighs and Bacon Stir-Fry.  I can’t say that I’ve ever made a stir-fry with bacon in it, but maybe that’s the secret.  Dr. O said it was just like Pei Wei – not the ultimate Asian food experience, I’ll admit, but pretty darn good.

This one isn’t on the Everyday Food website (yet), so here’s the recipe if you’d like to give it a try:

Spicy Turkey Thighs and Bacon Stir-Fry
Serves 4 | Active time: 30 min. | Total time: 30 min.

Ingredients:
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless turkey thighs (about 2), thinly sliced (I used chicken thighs since I couldn’t find turkey thighs; turkey breast or chicken breast would also be acceptable substitutes)
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili sauce, such as sambal oelek (I got mine at SuperTarget)
5 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 bell peppers (any color), stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

Method:
Cook rice according to package instructions.  In a large bowl, whisk together egg white and cornstarch until combined.  Add turkey and toss to coat.  In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, and chili sauce.

Heat a wok or large skillet over high.  Add bacon and cook, stirring, until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes.  Add turkey mixture and ginger and stir until turkey begins to brown at edges, about 3 minutes.  Add bell peppers and scallions and stir until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.  Add soy sauce mixture and cook, stirring, until sauce is thick enough to coat turkey and vegetables, about 2 minutes.  Serve over rice.

Per serving: 296 cal; 7 g fat (2 g sat fat); 31 g protein; 27 g carb; 2 g fiber

Source: Everyday Food, December 2011

Spicy Turkey Thighs and Bacon Stir-Fry

Oh, this stir-fry is sooooo good.  It’s salty, spicy, and extra flavorful from the ginger and scallions.  It’s definitely essential to use the low-sodium soy sauce dictated in the recipe since the bacon is salty as well; regular soy sauce would put the sauce over the edge, I think.  As written, though, this recipe is an absolute keeper.

TIPS:  I get a little nervous cooking on high heat, and several of my steps in the recipe were a minute or so shorter than the recipe said they’d be.  (I think my bacon was ready at 5 minutes, and my turkey and vegetables only needed about 2 minutes each.)  I proceeded more based on what the recipe said to look for (browned and crisp bacon, turkey browned at the edges, etc.) than on exact times.

Thai Chicken with Basil

As I was making my desserts this afternoon for this month’s gourmet club, it occurred to me that in all of June’s travel-related craziness, I never blogged my dishes from last month’s Thai-themed gourmet club.  They’re too good not to share!

I was initially a bit nervous about today’s dish – Thai Chicken with Basil – because it isn’t something you make ahead.  As many of you know, I prefer to do as much as I can ahead of time when entertaining to keep my kitchen space clean and my stress level low.  My kitchen is a gathering place and it isn’t a space I can close off, so cooking with company present involves putting on a bit of a show.

Thankfully, this dish was pretty easy to throw together.  Here are the “prep steps” I took to make things as easy as possible (everything was stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator):

  • I cut the chicken breasts and stored them separately.
  • I combined the fish sauce, soy sauce, water, and sugar in a small container.
  • I cut the onion and stored it separately.
  • I seeded and sliced the chiles, minced the garlic, and stored them together.
  • I washed the basil and stored it separately.
With the hard work done, all I had to do was combine the marinade and the chicken and then dump the right things in the pan at the right time.  Easy entertaining! Here’s the recipe:
Thai Chicken with Basil
Serves 4
Ingredients:
1 1/3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4), cut into 1-by-2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc mam)
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 large onion, cut into thin slices
3 fresh red chiles, seeds and ribs removed, cut into thin slices, or 1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups lightly packed basil leaves
Method:
In a medium bowl, combine the chicken with the fish sauce, soy sauce, water, and sugar.  In a large nonstick frying pan or a wok, heat the oil over moderately high heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.  Stir in the chiles and garlic; cook, stirring, 30 seconds longer.
Remove the chicken from the marinade with a slotted spoon and add it to the hot pan.  Cook until almost done, stirring, about 3 minutes.  Add the marinade and cook 30 seconds longer.  Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup of the basil. Serve topped with remaining 1/2 cup basil.

Thai Chicken with Basil

Oh, this dish is really yummy.  There’s a hint of sweet, a hint of heat, and the sauce is delightfully salty (not overpoweringly so).  The chicken came out nicely cooked, and I love the tender onions and fresh basil.  I didn’t take time to photograph the dish during gourmet club, so I gladly made it again the following week because we enjoyed it so much.  If you’re a fan of Thai food, give this one a try!

TIPS:  When I was working on this recipe in May, SuperTarget was the only grocery store I found that carried red chiles.  (They were Fresno chiles, specifically.)  I’m seeing them in King Soopers/Kroger these days as well.

Recipe link: Thai Chicken with Basil

Simple Strawberry Smoothie

Dr. O and I have been in an undeniable breakfast rut.  I love egg sandwiches, but we’ve been eating them for breakfast almost every morning (weekends included) for months and months and months now.  I broke the monotony a bit last week because I needed to use strawberries left over from my party, but my go-to strawberry recipe (oatmeal with macerated strawberries) takes almost 15 minutes. In my quest to find a quick breakfast that would make use of the leftover fruit, I came up with a simple smoothie recipe.  Now that the party berries are gone, I’ve bought more so I can keep making this healthy, filling breakfast.

Simple Strawberry Smoothie
Makes about 20 ounces

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulls removed
1/2 cup milk (I use 1%)
1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, or agave nectar  (or more to taste)
6 ice cubes (exclude if using frozen fruit)

Method:
Combine all ingredients in a blender.  Process on the highest setting until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Simple Strawberry Smoothie

I love this smoothie!  The consistency is just right: thin enough to be drinkable, but thick enough to feel like a satisfying meal.  With just a hint of added sweetener, the flavor of the berries really shines through.  Plus, it’s infinitely adaptable since you can substitute any type of fruit for the strawberries.  I made one yesterday using a banana and some frozen mixed berries I had in the freezer.

The recipe does make enough for two people to share, but I’ll admit that I can put down a whole recipe by myself.  With only 6 Weight Watchers PointsPlus points for the whole smoothie, I figure it’s a great source protein, calcium, and vitamin C and a healthy way to start the day.

TIPS:  If you’re really in a hurry in the mornings, put all of the ingredients (except the ice cubes) in the blender jar the night before, put the lid on, and stash it in the refrigerator.  All you’ll have to do the next morning is blend for two minutes and go.

North Woods Bean Soup

I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t been cooking much.  I felt like I had to break the takeout cycle for at least the beginning of this week, though, since we’re about to have an indulgent weekend in honor of Dr. O’s birthday.  When I went back into the kitchen on Monday night, I had several recipe requirements: easy, tasty, fast, preferably healthy.  It certainly hasn’t been soup weather in Denver lately (it was 74° on Monday!), but I had a soup recipe that fit the bill perfectly: North Woods Bean Soup from the January 2002 issue of Cooking Light.  I first made it last winter, and the fact that I could easily recall how delicious it was made it worthy of a repeat.  Here’s the recipe:

North Woods Bean Soup
Makes five 1 1/2-cup servings

Ingredients:
Cooking spray
1 cup baby carrots, halved
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
7 ounces turkey kielbasa, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 (15.8-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 (6-ounce) bag fresh baby spinach leaves

Method:
Heat a large saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic, and kielbasa; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium; cook 5 minutes. Add the broth, Italian seasoning, pepper, and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.

Place 2 cups of the soup in a food processor or blender, and process until smooth. Return the puréed mixture to pan. Simmer an additional 5 minutes. Remove soup from heat. Add the spinach, stirring until spinach wilts.

North Woods Bean Soup

This soup is so good.  It has so many of my favorite ingredients – turkey kielbasa, carrots, fresh spinach – and puréeing part of the soup makes it seem rich and hearty (instead of super healthy).  This is another recipe where I need to go several rounds with the salt and pepper to get the taste I want (Cooking Light recipes are never salty enough for me!), but the extra effort is worth it.  I’m not asking for cooler weather, but if it comes, I’ll just use it as an excuse to make another batch of this soup.

TIPS: This probably has more to do with the size of my carrot pieces than it has to do with the lower boiling temperature of water at high altitude, but I had to extend my initial simmering time (immediately after the broth was added) to 8 minutes instead of 5 minutes to adequately cook the carrots.  I figured they wouldn’t purée very well if they were too firm.

Recipe link: North Woods Bean Soup

Greek-Style Pork Chops

Let the grilling begin!  Labor Day weekend is upon us, and cooking up some delicious grilled food and enjoying it outdoors is practically mandatory.  Today’s recipe – Greek-Style Pork Chops from the July 2010 issue of Cooking Light – caters both to those who have outdoor grills and those who don’t; the recipe is actually written for a grill pan but can be prepared either way.  Plus, it’s a super healthy option to work into what is typically (for us, anyway!) a pretty indulgent weekend. More room for cupcakes, right?

To make the dish, I started by marinating the pork chops.  In a large zip-top bag, I combined 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and 2 minced garlic cloves.  I added 4 boneless center-cut pork loin chops (mine were about 5 ounces each) and sealed the bag.  I marinated the pork at room temperature for 20 minutes, turning them after 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, I whisked together 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, 3/4 cup of plain fat-free Greek-style yogurt (I used Fage 0%), 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh dill, and 1/8 teaspoon of coarse salt to make a sauce for the pork.  I covered the sauce and stashed it in the refrigerator.  I also diced plum tomatoes (1 1/2 cups), cucumber (1 cup), and red onion (1/2 cup) and combined the ingredients to make a salad.  The recipe said to season the salad with 1/8 teaspoon of coarse salt, but I definitely thought it needed more.  I’d recommend starting with 1/4 teaspoon and seasoning to taste from there.

Once I had the sauce and the salad prepared, the chops were ready for the grill.  I heated my grill pan over medium-high heat and sprayed it with my olive oil mister. (The recipe suggests cooking spray.)  I removed the pork from the bag, set the chops on my designated meat cutting board, and discarded the marinade.  I sprinkled both sides of the pork chops with 1/4 teaspoon of coarse salt and added the pork to the preheated pan.  I cooked the chops for 4 minutes on each side, removed them from the pan, and then let them rest for 2 minutes before serving.  I served the pork chops on top of the tomato mixture, topped with the yogurt mixture.

Greek-Style Pork Chops

This dish has so many fantastic qualities.  It was fast, easy, inexpensive, and (most of all) delicious.  The juicy pork chops and super fresh salad just taste like summer. The creamy yogurt sauce is such a treat, too; it really takes the dish to the next level.  I look forward to making this one again and again.

Whether you’re grilling, traveling, or just doing some much-deserved relaxing at home, have a wonderful and safe Labor Day weekend!

TIPS:  To prepare pork chops on the grill, I would recommend grilling them for 3 – 4 minutes per side over medium-high heat.  Don’t forget to oil the grill grates before throwing the chops on!  (I forget at least one out of every four times, guaranteed.)

Recipe link: Greek-Style Pork Chops

Soy-Glazed Salmon with Watercress Salad

It’s a momentous day, dear readers.  For the second time in this blog’s 33-month history, I’m posting a salmon recipe.

I pride myself on being the kind of person who will eat just about anything, but salmon and I have a rocky relationship.  There is nothing – nothing! – like a top-quality piece of salmon sashimi (especially if it comes from here).  When I was fresh out of college, I would prepare it en papillote for dinner on a regular basis.  I’ve also enjoyed barbecued salmon on occasion. (I think the grill can dry it out a bit so it isn’t quite so rich.)  At this stage in the game, though, I sometimes have a hard time with oven-baked, just-opaque, unctuous salmon.

Despite my qualms, the recipe for Soy-Glazed Salmon with Watercress Salad from the July/August 2010 issue of Everyday Food caught my eye.  (Major props to the food stylist who made broiled salmon look so good I couldn’t resist it.) There was some gorgeous wild caught sockeye salmon on sale at my grocery store recently, and 20 minutes of preparation time made the recipe a perfect weeknight meal.  I decided to give it a go.

The ingredient prep required segmenting 2 oranges (click here for a how-to), so I did that first.  I set the segments aside to use in the salad and squeezed the juice from the membranes into a small bowl.  (They should yield about 3 tablespoons.)

Next, I made the salmon glaze, which would also become part of the salad dressing.  In the small bowl with the orange juice, I added 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 3 teaspoons of honey, whisked everything together, and seasoned to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.  In a large bowl (which would become the salad bowl), I whisked together 1 tablespoon of the glaze with 1 teaspoon of honey, 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. I set the bowl with the dressing aside.

I heated my broiler with the rack 4 inches from the heat and lined a rimmed baking sheet with foil.  I seasoned 4 salmon fillets (the recipe suggested 6 ounces each, but mine were 5 ounces) with salt and pepper and broiled them for 5 minutes.  I removed the fish from the oven, brushed them with the glaze, and then broiled them until they were opaque throughout (2 more minutes).  I brushed the salmon with the glaze once more after I removed the fillets from the oven.

To finish the salad, I added the orange segments, 12 ounces of watercress (thick ends trimmed), and half of a small red onion (thinly sliced) to the dressing and tossed to combine.  I seasoned the salad with salt and pepper to taste and served it alongside the salmon.

Soy-Glazed Salmon with Watercress Salad

I’m delighted to report that the salmon was pretty tasty.  The glaze was fantastic, and it made the fish incredibly flavorful.  I’ll admit that I enjoyed the drier ends of my fillet more than the center, but that’s just me.

I loved every element of the salad except for the most central one: the watercress. I’d never tried it before, and it’s really just too bitter and the stems are too woody (even after a significant trim) for my taste.  I ate it, and I would certainly eat it if someone served it to me, but I wouldn’t seek it out.  Next time, I’ll probably make the salad with arugula.

TIPS:  Removing the skin from fish before cooking is one of my least favorite chores.  Thankfully, leaving the skin on works well with this recipe.  I broiled the fillets flesh side up, and the cooked fish easily flaked away from the skin.




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