Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lemon Caper Chicken

Years and years ago, back about 10 years ago, I was on an online diet program called eDiets. I ended up quitting because they went from this awesome diet that concentrated on healthy eating habits and a diet based on the American Heart Association's recommendations to a site that let you choose between "traditional eDiets," Atkins, and someone else's diet. I thought they were sellouts and I told them so. Looking at their site now, it looks like they still offer three choices, if not specifically two branded diets.

Anyway, the other reason I quit was that the support was in forums, and since not everyone was on the same plan anymore, the forums got weird and unhelpful. As it was I made a bunch of friends, which was pretty cool. And I got a recipe for Lemon Caper Chicken, which I have evolved over the last 10 years. Last night, about 1/2 hour before dinner time, I realized I had not planned anything, took a quick look in my fridge and freezer, and realized it was Lemon Caper Chicken time. Good thing my brain always makes sure I buy ingredients for it even when I'm not particularly thinking of making it.

2 small boneless skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut into small pieces
2T whole wheat flour
2T capers
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 c fat free chicken broth
cooking spray

Sprinkle spices into the flour and mix well. Spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray and set the heat to medium-high. Pat dry your pieces of chicken and lightly coat the pieces in the flour mixture, and add them to the pan. Cook for a few minutes and turn. Cook a few more minutes on the second side.

Add chicken broth, lemon, and capers to the pan with the chicken and turn heat down to medium-low. Continue cooking until the broth becomes thick and sticks to the chicken.

Serves 2. I ran this through WW's points builder and I cannot believe it but it's 3 points per serving! Serve with brown rice or pasta or whatever you want because it's 3 points!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Baked Chicken with Orzo

A few trips to Dinner Zen-ago, I made this really yummy dish of baked shrimp with orzo. Today, having nothing really ready to go for dinner, I realized I had orzo, and lemons, and tomatoes, and I could wing the rest of it.

1 cup (uncooked) orzo
2 4-oz chicken breasts
1 15-oz can of diced tomatoes
zest off of 1 lemon
juice of the same lemon
1T dried oregano

Cook orzo and drain. Cut up chicken into bite-sized pieces. Combine chicken and orzo with diced tomatoes, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and pepper. Pour into a square baking pan and bake covered (with foil) for an hour at 350.

Serves 3, at 6 points per serving. You can add 1/2 cup of feta cheese to the mix for an additional 2 points per serving.

I would say that this would probably freeze well (since the Dinner Zen one was a freezer meal). Make a double or triple batch and press into Gladware bakers to freeze.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Whitney's Beef Mushroom Orzo Soup

Today, a guest blogger of sorts. Or rather, my sister sent this to me, and I made it today, and it was fabulous:

"I've been making this soup so long I can't remember the actual recipe. So bear with me.

Fry a small chopped onion in a soup pot in little bit of oil until translucent. Add about a pound of very lean ground beef and break up while cooking. Then add some mushrooms--white, baby bella, whatever cheap mushrooms you have. I usually buy a package of already-cut-up mushrooms and use most of it, but it's really to taste. When the mushrooms get small, add about a tsp of sage and a tsp of thyme. Cook until fragrant, a few minutes.

This is where we break off OAMC from dinner tonight. If this is dinner tonight, add about 6 cups of beef broth, bring to a boil, and then add a cup of orzo or other soup pasta. (I used wild rice last time.) Cook until done.

If this is for freezing, cool the mixture and put it into a freezer bag. Add enough beef bullion cubes for 6 cups of broth. (My cubes each do 2 cups, but others do 1 cup each.) Freeze. On the day you want the soup, defrost the bag slightly under warm water, then put the frozen mixture into a pot and add 6 cups of water. When boiling, add the orzo."

I also added some salt and pepper, and I used a whole box of baby bellas for the mushrooms. They were not sliced and I was lazy so I used my Pampered Chef chopper and just chopped the heck out of them. I used Laura's Organic ground beef, which is 93% fat free. At 8 servings, weight watchers calls it 4 points per serving. We had a quart left after making it (we made it for immediate use and not for a freezer meal) so I froze the remainder so that the orzo would stop expanding. This was a quick meal and would be great for a "home late from work" quickie dinner. From the time I walked into the house to the time we were eating, less than 1/2 hour went by.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Adventures in Baby Feeding

When my son was 7 months old, we started feeding him solid foods. And he went for it. That boy would eat nearly anything you put in front of him. He was truly a champion eater.

So when my nearly-6-month-old daughter started reaching for food on our table, I figured it was time to start her on solids, too.

Day 1 came and she seemed very interested, but the rice cereal ended up mostly on the floor, on the bib, in everyone's hair, etc. Not to be thwarted, we tried the next day and the same thing happened. Then we added bananas because, hey! Everyone likes bananas! Except for my daughter, who spit them out as sure as she had spit out everything else.

So day by day, she'd get mad at us for eating but then not want to eat her food.

Today, I remembered something that we had done with my son. We were sitting down to eat fish and potatoes and asparagus, and Lillian started making those "you horrible people!" noises when we didn't give her any. So I gave her a spear of asparagus to munch on.

She pulverized the thing. I mean, she ate through that spear of asparagus and wanted another. Even my son (who loved to chew on asparagus spears) never consumed a spear with such relish. It was a sight to see. It makes me wonder if baby-led weaning is the way to go.

Now we'll just see how mama likes cloth diapering with baby girl eating asparagus!

Mango Curry Chicken Revisited

A while ago, I made Mango Curry Chicken. It was great, but we as a family felt that there was not enough liquid and the chicken dried out a bit. In revisiting, I made 3 bags of Mango Curry Chicken for the freezer, and each fed 2 adults and a child. Original recipe from Recipezarr but mine is different enough now that I'm rewriting the whole thing. Remember that this is a freezer recipe so you are intended to make it in a big batch. You'll need three freezer bags.

Spice mix:
2T sugar
2t curry powder
2t ground coriander
1/2t ground cinnamon
1/4t cayenne pepper
1t turmeric
1t salt
1/8t ground cloves

Combine all spices well and divide into the three freezer bags.

Now you'll need:
1 extra large sweet onion, chopped
5 or 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups mango chutney (I use Trader Joe's brand but you can get other brands too)

Divide chicken pieces, chopped onions, tomatoes, and chutney into the three freezer bags that the spices already went into. Press out air and seal freezer bags, and mix everything well inside the bag so that chicken is well coated. Freeze.

To cook, defrost and then you can either put it in your crockpot for 4-6 hours or bake in a covered baker for an hour.

5 points per serving. Serve over brown basmati rice for 4 points per cup.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chicken and Chickpea Stew

My husband is out of town today, so I got to cook with legumes! On the menu, Crockpot Chicken and Chickpeas, a recipe that I got from the internet here.

I, of course, rearranged the recipe to make it my own. It was fantastic, and enjoyed by both me and the small boy.

Chicken and Couscous Stew
3 four-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of any fat and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 carrots, sliced
1 large onion, sliced thinly
20 oz can of chick peas, rinsed and drained
15 oz can of diced tomatoes (with liquid)
4 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press
1t paprika (I used Hot Hungarian Paprika but you can use sweet if you object or can't get it)
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t turmeric
1/2 t salt

Throw everything into the crock pot and mix well to distribute spices. Cook on high for 3 hours and low for 1 hour, then on warm until it's time to eat. If you have more time than that you can keep it on low for 6 hours.

I ran this through the weight watchers recipe builder. Based on 4 servings, this comes to a whopping 5 points per serving. One serving was plenty for a hearty dinner when served with whole wheat couscous (1 cup = 3 points) for an 8-point meal.

Although I hate when my husband is out of town, it was a nice chance to try a new recipe and eat something that we can't normally have when he is home! My house smelled amazing while it was cooking, and it was quite tasty, too.

Kid Menu Review: Disney World

We went back to Disney World for a few days this winter, and went to eat at a few places. When we went last year, my son was not three years old yet, so we did not pay for his food; we either went to a buffet and he got his own plate or we went to a restaurant and shared with him. On rare occasion, we got him his own kid's meal, but we found that for the most part, the option for kids was Hamburger or Chicken Nuggets, and that was no way to eat for a whole week.

Options for children, in general, seem to have improved, or we just went to better places this time. Here's a short review of the kids offerings at the places where we ate.

Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano
Hollywood Studios -- backlot area near Muppets 3D

Seemingly less popular than many of the other sit-down places, we were able to get a table without a reservation for lunch during Christmas week. The adult menu was mostly flatbread pizzas and pastas, and the kids menu was mostly the same. A typical kid's meal included an appetizer, main course, and dessert. Micah had minestrone, pizza, and fruit, but he could have had pasta, grilled chicken, or grilled fish as well. Service was great, and this turned out to be one of our most enjoyable meals at Disney this trip.

El Pirata y El Perico Restaurant
Magic Kingdom -- across from Pirates of the Caribbean

This is a counter service restaurant that serves tacos, burritos, taco salads, etc. It's fairly simple for adults--order a taco or taco salad and you get a shell with meat in it. Then there's a toppings bar to make it your own. Kids menu is pretty straightforward--they can have a taco or a quesadilla, both of which work well with the theme of the restaurant. Micah chose the quesadilla, which was perfectly child-sized and came with a side of fruit. Perfect for a quick lunchtime meal at the Magic Kingdom. We were not disappointed.

Teppan Edo
Epcot -- at the Japan Pavilion

This is your American-Style Teppanyaki Restaurant in Epcot. Just so you know, we have gone here before with and without reservations. Without reservations, during Christmas week, it took an hour to get a table, which is absolutely not bad at all. Now, we were seated with another family, and we all talked about how, when we were kids (the parents) and came to Epcot, this restaurant offered more food included in the meal. They used to include soup and fried rice, and now it is just meat and veggies and noodles. That said, it was just enough food and we did not feel like we needed to be rolled out of the restaurant. The kids menu gave the option for nuggets and burgers, but also had the option for a shrimp or chicken teryaki dish. My son chose shrimp, because it is his favorite, and he seemed to get just a marginally smaller version from the adults. Of all the places we have been, we have consistently been happy here.

Flame Tree Barbeque
Animal Kingdom -- Discovery Island

Really? YUM. Eat here, even if the line looks long. It's a great counter service place serving barbeque ribs and chicken. For the kids, hotdog or barbeque chicken, which is perfectly respectable. My son chose hot dog (haha) which was fine with us. It came with carrots and grapes, so there was something healthful in there. As for my husband and I, we eat a lot of barbeque chicken and ribs and we were very very happy.

So that's it. One restaurant at each of four parks, and in general we were happy with all of the options for our son.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Eating Right

I'm re-learning how to eat right, and as I lose weight, I also lose points on Weight Watchers. Since I'm now in the 140s (OMG! the 140s!) I've lost two whole points per day from when I started. I still have my 10 extra breast feeding points but I'll lose half of them once my girl starts eating more solid foods (as of right now she has a few tastes of food per day, but most does not make it into her stomach yet!)

So I was talking to a friend last night and she wondered how many points she had eaten that day. I did a quick look up for her. For breakfast, she had had 4 donut holes, for a total of 6 points.

I, on the other hand, had an egg, two slices of center cut bacon, an Arnold Whole Wheat Sandwich Thin, and about 1/8 cup of cooked spinach as a sandwich, plus an Honestea once I went out. For a total of 5 points. I'm fairly certain the donut holes tasted yummier (haha) but I'm also pretty sure I stayed fuller longer. As she said, that's a lot of breakfast.

Now, let's face it. I would rather have the donuts. But really, if I'm going to lose more points before reaching my goal (which I will--when I get into the 130s I'll lose another point, and I can't keep the babe from eating solids forever just to keep my nursing points!), I'm going to have to keep up eating well if only for the ability to feel full.

So today, I had the same breakfast without the Honestea (making it 4 points) and had a fantastic salad for lunch for 3.5 points. (Spinach, cut up orange, onions, and light blue cheese dressing, with a weight watchers mini-bar for dessert). At that, I'll have to have some snacks and a nice sized dinner to make my point goal for the day. But I'm sitting here, not hungry, and pretty happy with the fact that I've eaten so well.

Now if I can just stop myself when I tell my husband to go out and get cake, I'll be golden.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chicken Multi-Day Cooking

When I was in the Safeway the other day, they had giant chickens on sale. So, even though I had just done a Multi-Day Beef Cook, it looked like time to do a Multi-Day Chicken Cook. Lady Ozma calls this "A Week of Chicken."

So, first the chicken--very basic roasted chicken but it's huge! Right? Bake your giant chicken with something citrussy inside of it and some gentle herbs and seasonings on the skin. I used sage, thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic. I didn't use extra fat because I am weight watchering. Bake that baby and serve it up to your family. Use the drippings to make some gravy. Since we are a family of three (who eat), this meant that we ate one wing, one drumstick, and one breast, leaving a great deal of meat left for more food.

Now, for making your one chicken into Many Days of eating!

Dismantling your chicken

Cut off any remaining limbs (oh that sounds bad!), cutting off the wings and legs. Pull off the remaining white meat -- you should be able to get the breast off in one or two pieces. The dark meat may be more difficult but do your best to pick the carcass mostly clean. Store the white and dark meat separately, and plan to send your loved one off to work the next day with a chicken leg in his lunch box :)

Making Broth

It's important that you make the broth before you make additional items because you will need it for your other dishes.
Take your very ugly looking chicken carcass and any extra skin that might be hanging around it, and stick it in the biggest pot you own within reason. I use a pasta pot. Add to that a couple of carrots, cut in half, the leaves off of the celery that you have in the fridge (that's what they're for!), an onion cut in quarters, a couple of tablespoons of peppercorns, 5-6 cloves of garlic, some bay leaves, any poultry-like herbs that you have lying around (sage/parsley/thyme are great. Scarborough Fair was actually a song about making a chicken), and cover the whole thing with water. Set that puppy to high and boil it for an hour, then turn it down to medium and simmer it for 3 or more hours.

Strain all of it and toss away everything you strained out. Really. Don't think about the chicken bits that you see that just got boiled for 4 hours. Not worth it.

Now you have Broth! But what to do with it? Well, first. Put it in the fridge. The next day, you'll see a congealed layer of fat on top. Just scoop it off and throw it away. Or not. The fat will make it taste better, because that's what fat does, but if you take it off your broth is zero points/free food on just about any diet.

Chicken Pot Pie
Now you're ready to make Chicken Pot Pie.

This is the Chicken Pot Pie that I have made in the past and you can certainly use that recipe. Of course, the chicken broth that you are going to use for that recipe will be from the batch you just made. Today I had some left over gravy that I made for the initial chicken dish, so I incorporated that as well. Awesome and DONE!

Now, if your chicken was the size mine was, and your family is the size mine is, you still have plenty of white meat left. Use it to make chicken salad!

Now, I happen to like dark meat, and we still have a bunch left, plus all that broth, so let's make soup!

Chicken Soup

Before you make your soup, check how much broth you have. If it's a ton, which it probably is, pour it by 1-cup measures into some ziploc bags, double bag (put multiple single bag portions into a larger bag), and freeze. It will work great for additional recipes and will be available to you one cup at a time.

Here's my chicken soup recipe:

Cook up some diced onions, celery, and carrots, and maybe a little minced garlic in some cooking spray and add salt and pepper to the mix. When the onion gets a little soft, add about a cup of white wine if you have it. Let that cook for a couple of minutes and add your chicken broth. If you have one, cut up a tomato and throw that in as well, and if you like you can put in a small bag of frozen spinach, which will make it healthier and just as tasty. You can also add a box of mushrooms for something different. When it's just about done, throw in your shredded chicken (white or dark meat is fine) and Eat! It's delicious!

Anything else?

If you have ANY chicken left over after all of that, for the love of all that is holy, put it into a quesadilla or enchilada and freeze it because you've had too much chicken this week and need to diversify!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ham, Green Bean, and Potato Soup

It's COLD in Northern Virginia, especially for people who are not used to this kind of cold! My husband asked for SOUP, and how could I deny him? Since we had no soup fixin's in the house, I asked what kind of soup he wanted, and he said, "How about Ham, Green Bean, and Potato?"

An EXCELLENT idea. I went shopping. No good green beans, but frozen ones were on sale. I decided that if I was going to make Ham, Green Bean, and Potato Soup, I was going to make a LOT of it. We had an excellent lunch, and still have a quart of soup in the fridge and 2 quarts in the freezer. Here's your recipe:

Ham, Green Bean, and Potato Soup

About 3 cups of ham--if you have leftovers then that's great, otherwise go buy one of those very small cooked hams and cut it up into about 1/2 inch cubes
3 large potatoes, also diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large bag (32 oz) of frozen green beans
2 boxes of chicken broth (32 oz) (I used low sodium because we have the ham; see note on salt in directions)
1T thyme
garlic powder
1 bay leaf
cooking spray

Saute onion and garlic in cooking spray on medium. When the onion is soft, add ham and green beans and stir until green beans defrost (you can skip that part if you are using fresh) Add potatoes and chicken broth, bay leaf, thyme, pepper to your taste (I like it peppery) and a little garlic powder (think a sprinkle). Wait on the salt! I repeat! Do NOT ADD SALT yet! Your salt addition will depend on how salty your ham was to start, and you can seriously oversalt it if you add too much.

Bring it all to a boil, cover, and reduce to medium. Take a taste of the broth and add some salt if you think it needs it. Continue cooking until potatoes are soft, or longer. Remove bay leaf if you can find it, or warn everyone that there's a bay leaf to not eat :)

Makes a hearty lunch for 2 people, plus 3 additional quarts for later. Serve it with a hearty artisan bread. Fall over yourself over how good it is!

I put this into WW's recipe builder and based on 8 servings (which are NICE sized servings) it is 5 points per serving. If you use lean ham, it is 4 points.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Planning a OAMC day

It occurred to me that I was planning to go back to Dinner Zen in February, but it THEN occurred to me that we have to pay for our CSA Share in February, so we are going to be a bit short on cash.

So I'm planning to do a good old homestyle Once A Month Cooking day. Why? Because with the time I have to prepare, I think I can probably get a lot of the ingredients inexpensively by looking out for sales. For instance, if I see canned tomatoes on sale, they'll go nicely to both Mango Curry Chicken and Pork Chops with Stuff (that's the technical term). If I happen to see meat on sale that would work for a dish, I can re-assess and decide if I want to make up a batch of four of something (as long as there is room in the freezer, which should be the case at this point).

That said, my plan is to keep good records of what I spend, to see if doing it myself or going to DZ is less expensive. I am thinking that certain meals will be less expensive to do through DZ and others will be less expensive to do on my own.

So, all that said, Do YOU have a favorite OAMC recipe that I should include?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Multi-day Cooking: Beef

With the exception of making a chicken and having chicken, then chicken salad, enchiladas, and soup, I am not usually one to make one meal and turn it into many meals. I'm more of a "let's freeze the rest" person, or a "let's eat this for lunch" kind of girl.

Yesterday I made a pot roast in the crock pot, and it was delicious. It was from Dinner Zen and it was marinated in, of all things, cranberry sauce and beef broth. Delicious over noodles with broccoli on the side, but it was a whole order (which should feed 6) and we are 3 people, so it looked like it would be dinner again tonight.

Then I read my friend Maggie's Facebook status that said she was turning leftover pot roast into beef stew, and it sounded completely inspired. Here's mine:

1 onion, chopped coarsely
3 carrots, in nice-sized slices
2 potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
4 stalks celery, again sliced into nice sized chunks
1/2 a bag of frozen corn
1 boullion packet
2 cups water
left over pot roast, cut up as best you can, or not, because it will fall apart, together with remaining gravy that got made in the pot when you first made it
your favorite seasoning (I used Pampered Chef Moroccan Seasoning)
splash of apple juice, or not (mine already had cranberry flavor so the apple went well)
1T corn starch in 1/2 c cold water

Spray your pot with cooking spray and start the onions, carrots, and celery. When the onions start to soften, add the rest of the ingredients with the exception of the seasonings. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low. Cook at least an hour. Taste and then season with your salt/pepper and favorite seasoning that will go with whatever you cooked your beef in. Serve with biscuits (I made Bisquik ones but whatever you'd like).

So now, we have enough STEW for another day's worth of eating. My plan is to get some Pillsbury pie crusts and additional frozen vegetables and make pot pie with it! But my plan is to throw it in the freezer and eat it another time. There's only so much beef you can eat in a week, and I've pretty much hit my limit.

So, to recap: Pot Roast -->Beef Stew --> Beef Pot Pie

I'm fairly certain that the Pot Pie will also leave us with left overs, but I'm also fairly certain that they will just get eaten for lunch and not repurposed. I mean, there's only so much repurposing you can do with a single pot roast, right?