Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry

This is one of those recipes that just pops in my head and I know I have to have it. It's such a good staple in my dinner rotation, and it never gets old! I hope you like it, too:)

Begin by making the marinade. In a shallow dish combine garlic, ginger, sugar, corn starch, kosher salt, soy sauce, water, and sesame oil.

Cut up the chicken and toss with the marinade, set aside.

Next prep the broccoli.  Cut up the stalks into 1/2" pieces, and the florets into bite size pieces, keeping them separate on a plate. You'll also need garlic and ginger and some chicken broth ready to go.

Heat a large pan to high, add in canola oil, sesame oil, and the broccoli stalks cook for 1 minute.

Next add in the florets, garlic, ginger and water, cook for another 2 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Add in the chicken, but not the marinade (yet). Allow the chicken to brown.

Add in the marinade and cook through.

Then add back the broccoli along with cashews and cook through for another minute. At this point use just enough chicken broth to deglaze the pan (I don't usually need the whole cup) and make a little sauce to go with the stir fry. Enjoy over brown rice:)

Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry

4 cloves garlic, smashed
4" fresh ginger, minced
4 T sugar
2 T corn starch
2 t kosher salt
2 T soy sauce
2 T water
2 t sesame oil

Combine marinade ingredients in a shallow dish or bowl. Add sliced chicken and allow to sit while preparing the remaining ingredients.

Stir Fry:
2-3 chicken breasts, sliced thin and marinated
2 heads broccoli, stems cut into 1/2 " pieces, florets cut into bite size pieces, keep separate on a plate
4 cloves garlic, minced
4" fresh ginger, minced
2 T water
1 c cashews
1 c chicken broth
canola oil and sesame oil for cooking

Heat a large pan over high heat. Place 2 tablespoons canola oil and1 teaspoon sesame oil in pan, add in broccoli stalks and cook for 1 minute. Add in florets, garlic, ginger and water and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside. Add in more oil if necessary and add chicken, leaving as much marinade as possible in dish (throw out the smashed garlic). Brown chicken thoroughly. Add in remaining marinade allowing to cook through, then add broccoli and cashews, stirring to coat. Add as much chicken broth as you need to deglaze the pan and making a sauce, serve over brown rice.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lemon Bread

I have had this bowl of lemons staring at me from the dining room table, just begging to be turned into something delicious. I could not resist the thought of making the perfect lemon bread...fine texture, moist, bright lemon flavor with an extra dose of lemony goodness in the form of a glaze on top - YES PLEASE!

Begin with the dry ingredients in a large bowl, for this recipe the sugar is counted as dry, also add in the lemon zest here.

In a medium bowl combine the wet ingredients. Make sure you strain the lemon juice, no pesky seeds here, thank you:)

Add the wet to the dry and mix briefly. Over-mixing = chewy, dense texture:(

Pour into a greased 9x5 loaf pan and into the oven. When done let it rest in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out to a wire rack to cool.

For the glaze, sift powdered sugar into a large bowl.

Strain the juice of 1/2 a lemon (to start) into the powdered sugar and add a little corn syrup, that will make sure glaze hardens. I ended up needing the other 1/2 lemon juice for my glaze, it's easier to add in more than take out too much liquid.

Mix until the sugar is dissolved and all the lumps are gone.

Pour over the loaf and enjoy!

Lemon Bread

1 1/2 c flour
1 c sugar
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 c yogurt (I used soy yogurt to keep my loaf dairy free)
2 eggs
6 T canola oil
juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x5 loaf pan with pam, set aside. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest, set aside. In a medium bowl combine the yogurt, eggs, oil and lemon juice. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix briefly. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or till a toothpick in the middle comes out dry. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Lemon Glaze

2 c powdered sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1 t corn syrup (optional- it makes the glaze harden once it sets)

In a medium bowl sift the powdered sugar. Add to that 1/2 of the strained lemon juice and corn syrup. Mix with a rubber spatula until the sugar is completely dissolved and lumps are gone. Add remaining 1/2 of the lemon juice, if needed, for the right consistency. Pour over the cooled loaf.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dairy Free Granola and a Book Review!

I'm on day 6 of being dairy free and I have to say that's it's not as bad as I thought it would be. The up sides are that I'm eating a lot healthier over all, I'm already seeing improvements in my skin and allergies, I feel better and it's forcing me out of my normal food ruts. The down sides are no more cream in my coffee (that's a serious bummer, if you know of a good substitute that's natural please pass it along!) and good bye to some of my favorite comfort foods like mac & cheese and buttermilk scones. But let's not dwell on that, overall I like what I see so far:)

My dairy free granola is an experiment today. Most granola has butter in it to make it a bit crispy when baked, so I've substituted canola oil for the butter, it totally works! You can pretty much use whatever you have on hand for your granola, oats are kind of a base, add some nuts, your favorite dried fruit and you're good to go!

In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients- I have oats, hemp seeds, mixed nuts, dried cherries, craisins and raisins, flaked coconut and some cinnamon and ginger for flavor.

Add to that honey and canola oil that have been warmed through and mix well

Spread out evenly onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes

Here it is just after coming out of the oven, you can see it's just starting to brown on the top. It smells amazing! Let it cool completely. Once cooled break into pieces, at this point you can add chocolate chips (I found that the Kirkland brand from Costco are dairy free) and place in an airtight container for storage. Enjoy!

Dairy Free Granola

3 c oats
1 c hemp seeds (or ground flax seed or oat bran, etc)
1 c mixed nuts
1 c dried fruit
1/2 c shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ginger
1/2 c honey
1/4 c canola oil
1/2 c chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients and set aside. In a small sauce pan warm honey and oil. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well. Spread onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely on the cookie sheet. Once cooled break into pieces and add chocolate chips. Place in an airtight container for storage.

The Flavor Bible
Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg

I have been cooking since 2002. Before that I had no idea how to cook, nor did I have a desire to learn. But after my first son came into the world I had this huge desire to feed and nourish my family in a traditional way and for the first time in my life I also had the time. What I found when I began to make new recipes and try new things was an incredible satisfaction that came from providing for my family in this way. For several years I experimented with new recipes, different foods and recreated from scratch my favorite boxed versions that I was accustomed to. And largely with success. After time went by I began to know what I really liked, what my family would enjoy and I was able to read a recipe and know if it would work for what we like, or not. But I was still making other peoples recipes, unable to know how to create my own favorites.

Now, with so much information online, I rarely buy a cook book. But it's really fun to look and that's what I was doing one day a few years ago. I was walking through the cookbook isle at the book store, enjoying a few peaceful, quiet moments perusing the vast variety of cuisines, cultures and amazing looking pictures on the covers. And I stumbled upon this little gem, The Flavor Bible. This is not a cook book, but instead it's a list of every food you can imagine, in alphabetical order. It gives a small description of what the food is like and what technique is common in cooking it. Then it lists all the flavors that go well with it and ones to avoid.

This has been such a helpful tool for me as I continue to experiment with my cooking and become more comfortable with making my own recipes or tweaking a found recipe to my taste. If you enjoy cooking, or are brave at experimenting, this book will be a great asset to your library!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Chicken Salad with Carrots and Raisins

Well, I'm trying out ANOTHER new dietary restriction...dairy. Why, oh why, do I torture myself? I may never know. At any rate, here I go. We'll see if this lasts long. Truly though, I have pretty severe allergies, especially this time of year and have read that dairy can affect allergies greatly. I have also read that all people are allergic to dairy, some just don't show signs. I'm not sure about all that, but I am curious to see how much relief I get from taking myself off for a while at least. The goal is to get all the dairy out of my system, which should take about a month, although I may see some results before then. After that I may be able to go dairy light, which would be great since most of my indulgences include things like whipped cream and milk chocolate. That would be best case scenario. Worst would be if I find no change at all, then I'm back to square 1.

What does this have to do with chicken salad? Just that it's a delicious, dairy free, gluten free lunch or dinner that everyone will enjoy. It's a take on the old school yummy carrot salad that gramma would make with sunday dinner, mmm.
In a small dish toss a chopped apple with lime juice, set aside. You won't taste the lime in the finished dish and it will keep the apple from turning brown.

In a medium bowl place pre-cooked chopped or shredded chicken...

to the chicken add shredded carrot, raisins, apples, pecans, salt and pepper.

In a small bowl whisk mayo, sugar and vinegar till the sugar is fully dissolved...

pour the dressing over the salad and mix well. You probably won't need to add all the dressing, I start with some and then add more as I mix. There you have it, full of flavor, this chicken salad hits all the craving notes- sweet, tangy, creamy, yummy:)

Chicken Salad with Carrots and Raisins

1 apple, chopped
1 lime, juiced
2 c cooked chicken, chopped
1 c shredded carrots
1/2 c raisins
1/3 c pecans or walnuts

1 c mayo
3 T sugar
3 T cider vinegar

Place chopped apple in a small bowl and toss with lime juice, set aside while prepping the other ingredients. In a medium bowl add chicken, carrots, raisins, nuts, salt and pepper, set aside. For the dressing combine mayo, sugar and vinegar and whisk till sugar is fully dissolved. Add apple to the salad. Then pour about 1/2 of the dressing into the salad and mix. Add more dressing as needed, mix well and enjoy!