Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cooking Tip of the Day: Carbamerica

I know we love this stuff.

We all have affectionate memories of Toaster Strudels, Eggo Waffles, Gushers Fruitsnacks, Nesquik, and a million other childhood fancies. But upon analysis, what exactly were we eating our whole childhood??

The answer: carbohydrates and partially-hydrogenated oils (trans fats). Eww…

Think about it: most of the meals we have in a day are based on carbs. You have cereal or toast or waffles or pancakes for breakfast. You have a sandwich for lunch. You have pasta for dinner. You have ice cream or cake for dessert. Most of our meals are made up of carbs. 

Then, add in how much of what you eat is really bad processed food: stuff you microwave in a bag, stuff that says its “low fat.” All of these things generally have hydrogenated oils, which are really bad for your health and have been shown to cause cancer!

Two suggestions for losing weight or just improving your health in general:

1. Watch how many carbs you are eating. Carbs are anything that is made with flour or sugar. See how things change if you decide to eat more vegetables, fruits, and meat than those carbs! 

2. Read your labels. If you check the ingredients to make sure “partially hydrogenated” or “hydrogenated” oils, aka trans fatty acids, are not present, you are successfully avoiding risks of cancer.

Hello Chicken

I know there a lot of chicken fans out there...I mean, the kind of people who determine to only eat chicken (I will deal with you later...). Today, I plan to satisfy your most chickeny-desires and cravings. But this recipe contains no scaredy-chickens...it's a hot, tangy, and scrumptious.It's a fusion dish, combining ginger, spring onion, and soy sauce--more Eastern flavors--with tangy and mildly spicy neighbors from the South, cilantro and poblano. This was one of those recipes in which I just sort of "tossed" everything together and created something new (thankfully for you I remembered to take a few pictures). Enjoy.

First on the agenda: chicken breasts on the bone. These are the best type for this recipe because they will give you a much JUICIER result. They are also cheaper most of the time.

Now for the ingredients:

3 bone-in, skinless chicken breasts
1 lady's thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 poblano pepper,cut into rectangles and then thinly sliced (see below)
1 bunch of spring onions, sliced finely
A handful of cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. soy sauce

Serve with rice--to your liking...you chickenistas...

First, chop up all of that stuff up there...it will make everything go one heck of a lot faster.

(I saw you eying my awesome Shun 8 inch chef knife. You should get one!!) Get yourself a large tupperware container in which you can fit these poultry-beauties. Sprinkle in the garlic, ginger, poblano and cilantro.

Salt and pepper your chicken breasts (yes, this will require you to actually TOUCH them...), rub it all in, and then throw them into the cilantro mixture. Prove you love your meat! Roll them around and make sure they are evenly covered.

Next, drizzle over the soy sauce, and seal the lid. Set it aside for about half an hour. It doesn't need to go in the fridge. Chicken cooks better if you let it get to room temperature first.

Now for the cooking part! Preheat your pan to medium-high. WAIT...When it feels HOT to wave your hand about 6 inches above the surface, its ready for the oil and butter. Add in 1 tbsp oil and the same of butter. It should be sizzling and bubbling joyfully as soon as it hits the pan. If it starts smoking your pan is in fact TOO hot, congratulations. Clean out the pan, lower the heat a little and try again. (P.S. if you were planning on making rice with this, now would be a good time to get that started...).

Once your butter is bubblin' and sizzlin', add in your chicken breasts, top side down.

You need to let them go at it for about 10 minutes on that first side. These are hefty-sized mamas. Turn down the heat to about medium for this.

After you flip them, add in the spring onions and the honey. Also, you can add in any of the marinade that did not make it into the pan when you first put the chicken in.

On the second side, let them cook for about another 10 minutes. Then, stab a sharp knife into the largest part of the largest chicken breast. If the juices that come out run clear or slightly cloudy, it is done! If they run pink or very cloudy, give it a few more minutes and check again.

Take them out of the pan and set them on a plate to rest. When you serve them, pour over the pan juices and the spring onions. We ate this with rice. Yum!

Bon Appetite!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Chicken and Pastries

Those of you who know me know that I had a cooking show at Regent University a year ago. Funny story, actually....Somehow it got out on campus that I love to cook. It also got out that I had cooking classes in my apartment that the awesome ladies on my hall would come to every month. One day, some students from Regent's news show called "The Daily Runner"  found me and wanted to film a cooking segment with me--from my own kitchen--once per week! It lasted a whole semester. So fun... So here is an episode from the show. My segment starts at 1:40. I'm cooking Chicken and Pastries--a family fave! The written recipe follows.

Chicken and Pastries Recipe: (serves 4)

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup of chopped broccoli
1 cup of chopped mushrooms (optional)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of broccoli soup
1-2 cups of milk
1 package puff pastry sheets, thawed for 20-30 minutes until softened and still firm but not sticky or squishy.

Preheat oven to 400F. Set a large pan over medium heat.

Salt and pepper the chicken on both sides. Cut the 2 pastry sheets (in their rolled-up form) each into four squares, separate them and place them on a cookie sheet (greasing is not necessary).

When the pan is hot, add a tablespoon of butter, let it sizzle and spread around the pan and then add the chicken in, being sure not to crowd it (you can do it in 2 batches). Let the chicken breasts cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. DO NOT TOUCH THEM OR FLIP THEM, let them cook. After that time, flip them. They should be nice and brown on the bottom. Take them out of the pan and set them aside on a plate to rest.

Toss in the mushrooms first and spread them around…in the words of Julia Child, “Don’t crowd the mushrooms!” After they get nice a brown and start to cook, add the broccoli. Turn down the heat to medium-low and add half a teaspoon of salt. Let them cook away until the broccoli is still firm to the bite but not crunchy…this may take about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, the oven should be preheated, so place the pastries in the oven for 20-25 minutes until puffy and golden brown. When the broccoli is almost done, add the two cans of soup and one can of milk to the pan and stir it well. Add more milk to make it as creamy as you please…it’s also nice to add cream…for those of us who are not afraid of FAT! 

Continue to let this simmer away over low heat. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and it to the sauce, as well as any juices that have accumulated.
When the pastries are done, remove them from the oven. Put one or two per person on a plate and pour the sauce over. Serve.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cooking Tip of The Day: Health Edition

So, my last post seems to have been ages ago, and this is because I spent my entire weekend on the go...working with little kids! Then, believe it or not, I got really sick from working with little kids. So this past weekend I was fighting like a warrior to win against some horrible virus.

Today's Cooking Tip of the Day is for those folks who feel sickness looming over their heads. It's really simple...

Drink Vitamin C! And don't stop! My mom has a good friend who is a cancer research scientist, and he was always telling us to have about 4,000 mg of vitamin C at a time when we were sick--about twice to three times per day. Apparently you cannot really overdose on it, because when you are sick it is the vitamin your body uses the fastest. You just keep taking it.

Get this stuff: the powder that you pour into water. Each packet contains 1000 mg of vitamin C. It's the fastest way to get it into your system, and it also forces you to drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated. And it does taste pretty good, too.