Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Plan Ahead

Yes, planning can make cooking and everyday life so much easier.  Make it a fun time, a relaxing time when you can just set aside a little bit of time and think through some menus that utilize some of the same ingredients and you can be on your road to easy meal preparation.  Some days (or nights) you may need to prepare a little more but then you will have it ready for the next night or so as a totally new interesting dish instead of just "leftovers".

You remember the fish tacos I prepared about a week ago, well, since I am only cooking for the two of us, I  had enough leftovers to take that dish to work for lunch later in the week.  One of the leftover ingredients from the fish tacos was the tortilla.  I don't like to overeat, but I hate worse to waste food, so I try to think of ways to use ingredients that will spoil in a different preparation.  Last night I decided I would do several things.  First, I would use the tortillas and make homemade tortilla chips to go with my tortilla soup and I would also cook extra chicken and have it ready for another dish which is Asian inspired with cellophane noodles.

Out came one of my favorite kitchen utensils, my big Le Creuset pot, next my most valuable utensil, my Wüsthof knives.  I'll save this for another post, but having the greatest kitchen tools can make your time in the kitchen easier and much more fun.  Let's start cooking...first I heated my pot with some olive oil and then cut up the chicken into bite size pieces.  I then browned the chicken with a little salt and pepper in the hot oil.  It is important that the pot be hot and the chicken dry.  If your protein is wet it will steam instead of brown. You want to hear it sizzle when you put it in the pot.
Once the chicken is browned, remove it from the pot and set it aside.  It will be used for this dish as well as my other dish later.
Next, prep your veggies that you will sautè.
Now you start adding your liquid ingredients and spices.After the liquid ingredients and spices have been added, stir it up a bit and let it simmer, simmering always starts to bring the flavors together.  I chose to use one of my fun birthday gifts and at this point I placed my new immersion blender in the pot and began blending the ingredients so there was still some texture but no big pieces of any particular ingredient.  This is why I removed the chicken and didn't add the corn and parsley until later.
Next, I added lime juice, and chopped parsley, stirred and then corn and the cooked chicken.
You now have this lovely blend of fresh veggies, herbs and lean chicken. Simmer for a little bit while you finish toasting the tortilla chips, cut up some avocado and I like to use Greek plain the tart and thick creaminess that it brings to the dish.
Lightly salted with kosher salt homemade chips with
leftover tortillas.
Such a wonderful meal, high in nutrients and low in fat and calories.
Remember we have to make the next dish with the leftover chicken which I store in glass jars and freeze until ready to use.  I also had two quarts of the tortilla soup that I also froze for a quick meal some night.
Bon Appétit!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Some like it hot and some do not

What shall I make for dinner tonight....I talk to myself from time to time asking questions about what food sounds good to me at the moment.  Shrimp, that's what it will be, a shrimp dish.  So, the hunt began to find something different to do with shrimp besides, grilling, broiling or serving it over pasta.  My search concluded with a lovely Thai flavored dish of shrimp over basmati rice.  As usual, I could not stick with the recipe as written so I put a little twist on it.  Right from the start I knew I had to change it up a bit as it began with heating peanut oil and serving it with peanuts.  Having a fierce allergic reaction to peanuts and peanut oil, I stay as far from them as possible.  This brings up a very important point that I hope you can adopt as it will make for more interesting meals and less frustration.  The more you cook and the more you study about foods and sometimes just your personal taste, you will realize that you don't have to make a recipe word for word.  Half the fun of cooking something is changing it up, making it your own and having it taste divine.  So, don't get discouraged if you see a recipe that looks wonderful, but there are ingredients in it that you don't like or don't think you like...change it up!  You can always make substitutions.  If you ever wonder if one ingredient would work for another or you could use a different herb or spice, send me a note and I'll tell you what I know about it.  Maybe that will help you decide you can make something extra special and have it be your OWN creation.

Once again, another Food Network chef was my hero on this dish.  This originated from Tyler Florence in his book Tyler's Ultimate.  I did make several revisions which I will share in my next post.  Today, I will show you some of the first ingredients that go into this dish and then the final product and see if you know what all the ingredients on the cutting board are. 

What do you think these four items are?
...and the finished dish...
I'll be back later with the answers to the four ingredients and the step by step of this dish...remember some like it hot and some do not!
Bon Appétit!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fish Tacos

Yup, last night it was fish tacos.  This recipe is on the Food Network site.  Now, I had to go to World Market to find some of the spices but I was successful and they are much more reasonably priced than the grocery store, if you can find them. You will find out, (if you don't already know) that I am a Food Network fanatic.  That is about all I watch on TV...what else is there?!? 

This meal was inspired by going to  I'm always checking out recipes that I've seen on various programs.  If you remember at the end of last season's "The Next Food Network Star", Melissa and Jeffrey were the finalists.  I will tell you that I personally voted for Melissa and have enjoyed preparing some of her dishes and enjoy listening to her helpful hints.  However, Jeffrey also had a great point of view on food and cooks up some fabulous food.  Well, apparently the Food Network felt that he had merit and they have given him some little video spots on their web site.  Of course, I had to watch them and I have planned to make every single dish he showed.  You can watch these by going to their web page and then searching Jeffrey Saad and clicking on his videos and you can also get the recipe.

My interpretation of his fish taco recipe differs just slightly.  I seldom do a recipe exactly how it is written.  I'll explain what I did differently and show you some step by step pictures of the dish.

I did use tillapia as the recipe suggested.  It is such a nice mild white fish and goes well with the spicy mole sauce.  I did NOT use the whole 1/2 cup of chili paste.  I only used 1/3 cup.  If you like it hot, go for the whole amount.  After the fish is cooked and set aside then you make the mole sauce.
I used cabbage instead of lettuce since I like cabbage with fish tacos better.
Nice flakey, crisp fish.  You actually put the tortillas on the open flame on your gas stove (if you have gas!)  It is very cool.
They were very yummy and quite satisfying.  Crispy fish, crunchy cabbage and a little kick from the mole sauce.  Remember if you have trouble finding the recipe, let me know and I'll send you the page.
Time to pull tonight's meal together......Bon Appétit!