Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vinaigrette


This is one of my favorite all-purpose dressings for tossed salad. As often happens with me, I use this recipe for a guideline, substituting similar ingredients, when I do not have a item on hand.

Ingredients
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar - I did not have any white wine vinegar on hand, so I used White Balsamic Raspberry Blush Vinegar, hence the darker-colored dressing in the photos.
1 minced shallot - I did not have a shallot, so I substituted 1 tablespoon finely minced red onion.
½ teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground pepper - I used only ¼ teaspoon salt, and I did not miss any salt flavor.

Whisk ingredients together. Store in tightly fitting jar in fridge.

I thought the combination I used was delicious! The raspberry flavoring in the vinegar is very subtle, so this did not produce a sweet-tasting vinaigrette.



finished product
after being shaken well

  

Monday, February 24, 2014

Spicy Sweet Potato Bake

I found a recipe online at Food.com for spicy sweet potatoes, which sounded interesting. I had some apples on hand, which I thought would be good in the mix, too. I tweaked the recipe slightly, and voila, we have a recipe that's a keeper!


before baking



Ingredients

2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar blend
1 teaspoon chili powder - I suppose any chili powder will do. I used Ancho Chile Pepper powder, which was an excellent choice!
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon (or, more) cayenne pepper
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 to 2 inch cubes 
1 baking apple, peeled and cut into slightly larger cubes

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Oven-Baked Curry Chicken

This is a great chicken recipe that now replaces the fried chicken I used to prepare many years ago. I have had this recipe for several years, and I do not recall where I got it. I do not think I have altered it much, other than substituting a couple of the original ingredients: whole-wheat flour for all purpose white flour, and chicken breast meat for chicken drumsticks, which have a higher fat content than white breast meat.

Ready to eat!

Ingredients
4 t. curry powder
½ t. cinnamon
½ t. cayenne
Salt to taste - I usually omit this, or I add just a pinch.
1/3 c. whole-wheat flour
3 lbs. chicken breast - I only used about 2 lbs. chicken this time, although the seasoning quantity is enough for more than that.
Olive oil

Directions 
Preheat oven to 425° f. 

Combine seasoning ingredients in a plastic bag or large bowl. Add chicken pieces, and shake to coat. I used a large bowl with a tight fitting lid to shake the chicken pieces.

Place chicken on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil. I used my stoneware, which does not need to be greased. If you are using a regular baking sheet or jelly roll pan, I would spray it lightly with cooking spray first.

Bake 20 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. I have also included a photo of this dish before it was baked, so you can see the amount of oil I used.

ready for the oven

Friday, February 14, 2014

Great Deal and Delicious Breakfast for AAA Members in Grand Rapids, Michigan!

February 2014

We were looking for a place to have breakfast in downtown Grand Rapids, so I searched several online sites for recommendations and discounts. We like to try foods outside of the basic options, and I found a couple of restaurants that sounded like they fit the bill: San Chez, A Tapas Bistro and Wolfgang's. San Chez was a bit closer to the area we wanted, although the menu at Wolfgang's looked more interesting.

I did not initially find any discounts or promos at either restaurant, and then I decided to check AAA. I almost did not check AAA, since the restaurant offers are usually paltry--only around 10%. I was delighted to find a BOGO promo at San Chez for breakfast! 


When we first arrived at San Chez (a weekday around 8 a.m.), there was only one guest inside. The cafe looked clean and comfortable, so we took a seat. We were not sorry. The food was excellent! 

I had Fried Egg-n-Cheese Grits, and my husband had an omelet. Both portion sizes were generous, and the quality was excellent. The food was prepared with fresh ingredients and cooked perfectly. My dish contained fresh spinach and fresh zucchini, and my husband's omelet contained fresh vegetables. It was easy to see that neither item had been cooked in grease or butter.

Even though the AAA site said that a coupon was not needed, I had decided to print the page showing the discount anyway. I was glad I did, because the employees were not familiar with the promotion. They were happy to honor it, although it took several minutes for them to apply the discount and bring the check. They also kept my printed page, as though it was a coupon.

I would recommend this restaurant; with or without a discount. Three more groups of guests had arrived for breakfast before we left the restaurant, so I guess we just happened to arrive before the rest of the crowd. If you are a AAA member, I suggest printing the page like I did, just in case there is someone new working that day. And, don't forget your membership card.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Balsamic Roasted Chicken and Asparagus

I received this recipe from Smart Balance, and I have not altered hardly anything. 


ready for the oven


Ingredients
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed, cut in half
1 red onion, quartered
Balsamic marinade:
¼ c. balsamic vinegar
¼ c. olive oil
1 t. liquid sweetener (honey, honey substitute, Sweet 'N Low)
2 T. fresh rosemary or 2 t. dried rosemary - I used dried this time, although fresh is much better
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 t. dried oregano

Directions
Preheat oven to 400°f. Wash and dry the chicken well with a paper towel, season with salt and pepper. I cut my chicken breast into meaty sized chunks.

Combine all the balsamic marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Add chicken, asparagus and onion; toss well to coat. I used a large bowl, put a lid on it, and lightly shook/tossed everything.

Spray a large baking sheet or 2 medium baking sheets with non-stick spray. I used Pampered Chef stoneware, and did not use cooking spray. 

Lay the chicken and vegetables out on the trays in a single layer, so nothing touches each other. I did not have all of my food items flat and non-touching. This dish turned out fine, and I imagine the only difference, if cooked flat, would be that the items might turn out a bit more charred.

Bake until cooked through—20 to 30 minutes. I cooked this dish 27 minutes. It was very good, and looked only slightly different afterward than it had before I put it in the oven.

I think this dish would also be excellent with fish or pork instead of chicken. I plan to try a different protein next time!

Chicago Lunch Deal

We really liked the restaurant in the Palmer House Hilton when we stayed there, so I am sharing a link for a fabulous lunch deal--50% off during lunch or tea time.

It is only good for today, February 12, 2014. Bon appétit!



Thursday, February 6, 2014

Whole Wheat Egg Noodles

Some of you may be thinking that egg noodles are unhealthy; however, I tend to think that eggs have gotten a bad rap over the years. I do not use egg substitutes regularly in cooking, and neither my husband nor I have high cholesterol. We do not eat eggs everyday, and we are careful about the other food choices that we make. We stay away from fatty meats, trans fat, and high fat diary products. If any readers use egg substitutes in cooking, please share your experiences!

This recipe is one that I have had for so many years that I am not certain where it originated. I can only guess that I started with a recipe in an old Betty Crocker cookbook back in the 70s.
Delicious!


Ingredients
2 c. flour - I used 1¼ c. whole wheat flour, and  ¾ c. white flour. The rule of thumb, for me, is more whole grain ingredients than processed
3 egg yolks
1 egg
2 t. salt
¼ to ½ c. water 

Directions
Measure the flours and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the egg yolks and whole egg. With hands, thoroughly mix egg into flour.
flour and egg mixture






Add water, 1 T. at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add only enough water for dough to form a ball. I used the full 8 T. for this batch.

ready for kneading










Turn dough onto well-floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. I did not need to use any of the extra flour for kneading. The dough will feel tough at first, and then it starts to loosen up after a minute or two. Cover, and let rest at least 10 minutes.
 
done kneading






Divide dough into 4 equal parts. Roll 1 part at a time, into a paper-thin rectangle, keeping remaining dough covered. My rolled sections did not turn out in the shape of rectangles, as you can see in my photo. I figured it did not really matter, since the dough was going to be cut into strips anyway.




Roll each dough piece around the rolling pin, slip out of the rolling pin, and then cut into strips. I used a serrated butter knife to cut the strips, and I did not roll the small pieces around the rolling pin. 


Place the strips on a cloth or a flour dusted board, and let dry for 2 to 24 hours, turning noodles as needed. 


When dry, break strips into smaller pieces. Cook in boiling water until done—12 to 15 minutes. Store completely dry and uncooked pieces in an airtight container in a cool dry area.

The photo at the top of this blog post, is a picture of noodles that I cooked in broth for 12 minutes, after they had dried for 2 hours