Test Kitchen Tuesday: Teriyaki Pineapple Chickpeas

13 04 2011

First order of business – have you updated your RSS feed to follow my Feedburner feed? I am 99% sure I’m changing host servers on Friday night, so I want to make sure not to lose you! And, thanks to everyone that has updated their feed. You make me happy!

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Oftentimes, simple is best. I am learning that the best recipes – and most successful Test Kitchen Tuesdays – are those that revolve around very simple ideas and flavor combinations.

So, when I stumbled upon this idea for Teriyaki Chickpeas over at The Happy Herbivore, I had a good feeling it would go over well with 2Chili. He likes chickpeas, and he loves teriyaki – there wasn’t much room to go wrong!

I ended up using the idea of the original recipe and modifying it quite a bit to take advantage of a few random veggies laying around from our produce box. Okay, the only thing the same is that it uses chickpeas, but, the idea was brilliant! 2Chili’s main concern when he asked about the creation of the dinner and I told him I had sort of free-styled based on an idea was quite literally:

“Oh no! Will you remember how to make it again?!”

Yeah, I’d say this was a hit.

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Teriyaki Pineapple Chickpeas

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Original Recipe Inspiration: The Happy Herbivore

Serves: 4

Time Required: 15 minutes, start-to-finish, assuming you’re using canned beans and quick rice. I used dried beans and long grain rice I made over the weekend.

Skill Level (out of 5): 1

2Chili’s Taster Rating (out of 5): 5

It is rare for 2Chili to take seconds of dinner – he’s conscientious about calories like me – but he had a full second serving of this dinner with brown rice. And he doesn’t “like” brown rice.

The Cook’s Taster Rating (out of 5): 5

This was awesome, plain and simple. And, took 15 minutes. Can’t beat that!

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas, or 2 shy cups if prepared from dried – drained and rinsed, ¼ cup bean water reserved to use in sauce
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 small can diced pineapple and 2 tablespoons juice reserved to use in sauce
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 4-5 scallions, diced
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

Method:

  • Add all ingredients except the corn starch to a large pan and let sit and marinate for 5-10 minutes (this includes the bean water and pineapple juice)
  • Heat over medium heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly
  • For the last minute, add the dissolved cornstarch and bring to a low boil until the sauce reaches your desired consistency and most of the liquid has absorbed
  • Serve with brown rice or quinoa

Nutrition:

For ¼ of recipe, without rice.

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The Verdict: Oh yeah, this will be in our rotation. Easy and tasty, and a 2Chili pleaser to boot!





Test Kitchen Tuesday: Thai Halibut With Coconut Curry Broth

6 04 2011

I love Thai food. 2Chili, notsomuch.

But, as we’ve discussed in the past, I’m pigheaded, and, I make what I want – within reason – especially for our test meal on Tuesdays. There are so many “not approved” foods that I would never have anything I want if I abided by all of them!

This week’s Test Kitchen Tuesday comes from Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger on the Food Network. Ever since Lifetime stopped showing Frasier re-runs during the 6 a.m.-7 a.m. hour (my coffee/breakfast/prepare-for-the-day time), I have been watching the Food Network to start my day (like right now…) It’s kind of weird to watch shows that are usually focused on dinner during your breakfast, but, it does give me some ideas for trial dinners! I saw this on Monday morning and thought it would be a good meal to try out.

We don’t eat a lot of meat, poultry, or fish – so I thought a halibut dinner would be something different. One thing I realized right away is wow, fish is expensive! One 8 oz fillet of wild caught Pacific Halibut was $12.49. The recipe calls for serving this with brown rice, but I used Quinoa because I didn’t have any already made and didn’t want to wait 50 minutes. It also calls for steamed spinach, but I had snap peas in my CSA box that worked fine…
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Thai-Style Halibut with Coconut-Curry Broth

Original Recipe: Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger

Skill Level (Out of 5): Plate

Time Required: 30 minutes, start-to-finish

2Chili’s Taster Rating (Out of 5): StarStarStar

2Chili liked the way the fish was cooked (it was moist and flaky) but he didn’t like the cliantro. That’s a 2Chili issue, not a problem with the recipe. It should be noted he doesn’t really like Pico de Gallo for the same cilantro issue…

The Cook’s Taster Rating (Out of 5): StarStarStarStar

This was so easy and tasty. I didn’t give it a 5 because it is different from what you’d get in a Thai restaurant, so it was not quite what I was expecting. It wasn’t quite as rich as something like a red curry dish – but also doesn’t come with the same calories! I really liked the cilantro.

Nutrition:

As directed in the recipe, without the rice. 46g of protein if you go with 6 oz fillets as prescribed – that’s pretty incredible!

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The Verdict: In general, this was an easy and fast recipe. I think this was the best at home fish we have ever had. I couldn’t get the sauce as thick as I thought it should be, so there was a lot of sauce left over. I would probably add some diluted corn starch at the very end next time to thicken up the sauce. 2Chili said he’d eat it again without the cilantro, but we probably won’t have it too often because of the cost of fish, and, we just don’t eat “meat” products that much. But overall, we liked it!





Test Kitchen Tuesday For One: Veggie Yakisoba, and Café Flora Cookbook Winner

23 03 2011

Wow, that was a long title!

First and foremost, let’s get to the winner of the Café Flora Cookbook. As I mentioned, the odds in this contest were very, very good. In all, there were five comments (entries), but one was from my mom, who graciously opted herself out of the contest.

So the winner is…drumroll please…Joanna, who was the 2nd commenter! Congratulations! I have already connected with Joanna and her cookbook is on its way from my buds over at Amazon.com.

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Now, to the dinner. This week’s Test Kitchen Tuesday was a one-fer, as 2Chili is off participating in adventures unknown. Truth be told, I have been kind of looking forward to this one, as I have had a recipe on the brain for a while that I have put off making until a time when it would just be for me.

Veggie Yakisoba is one of my favorite things to order at our local catch-all Thai-Japanese-Chinese restaurant. 2Chili prefers chicken teriyaki and not much else from the Asian cuisine, so I knew this one would be pushing it for him. After I saw Mark Bittman make this on TV, I realized this is a pretty easy, fast, and customizable dish for one.

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Veggie Yakisoba

Original Recipe: Yakisoba with Pork and Cabbage, The Minimalist (New York Times)

I used what I had on hand: broccolini, carrots, mushrooms and buckwheat yakisoba noodles.

Time Required: 10 minutes (seriously)

Skill Level (out of 5): Plate

The Cook’s Taster Rating (out of 5): StarStarStarStar

Nutrition:

There are so many ways you could make this. I’m providing the nutrition on my version, with the broccolini, carrots, mushrooms, and buckwheat noodles based on 2 oz of dry pasta. I used low sodium soy sauce, and you’ll notice, the sodium is still pretty high! That pesky soy sauce…too bad it’s so good!

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The Verdict:

This was so easy it was ridiculous! It was very tasty as well, though I probably  won’t make it often due to the unavoidable sodium content – it’ll more as a treat every now and then.





Test Kitchen Tuesday: Café Flora Oaxaca Tacos–And a Giveaway!

16 03 2011

Friends, as my father-in-law likes to say, it’s dank in the Northwest these days. I mean, yes, I live in Seattle. It rains here. But lately, 2Chili and I have been feeling especially water-logged. We have received more rain already in March than in the entire month of February!

On a positive note, rainy weekends are a great time to hit the bookstore! Last Sunday, that’s exactly what we did. I made a couple purchases, one of which was the Café Flora Cookbook. (The other, in case you care, is a Total Immersion swimming book See? Water on the brain!)

I think Seattle is broadly known for a handful of items:seattle

  • The aforementioned rain
  • The Space Needle
  • Pike Place Market
  • Microsoft
  • Coffee (Starbucks, natch, but Tully’s is wayyyy better)
  • Airplanes
  • And, on a smaller scale in veggie circles, Café Flora

Just mention Café Flora to foodie-types and they begin to drool. It has a reputation for being that good.

I was excited to pick up their cookbook and knew this week’s Test Kitchen would have to come from it. After perusing its pages looking for recipes that 1) didn’t contain a majority of things 2Chili doesn’t like and 2) consisted of ingredients I already had on hand, I settled on the Oaxaca Tacos and Black Bean Stew.

The main ingredients are russet potatoes (in the CSA box this week), corn tortillas (had in the freezer), red bell pepper (check), and black beans (in the pantry), plus some spices. It was a risk because 2Chili doesn’t like black beans, and mashed potato tacos sounded a little odd, but, I had the ingredients, so I gave it a shot! And, it was incredibly good. Incredibly.

Before we get to that, let’s talk giveaway! I enjoyed reading this cookbook so much that I reckoned my readers probably would too. So, I’m going to give away a copy as a token of my appreciation to you guys. Because you rock. And, because I am constantly amazed that people I don’t know read what I have to say and have something to say back. It’s pretty awesome.

The Details

The details are simple: Leave a comment below saying whatever you want. It can be why you want this cookbook, but it doesn’t have to be. I would appreciate it, of course, if your comment is nice. But that is entirely up to you. I just need a way to know you are throwing your hat into the ring, so to speak.

If you wish to tweet or Facebook a link to this page, let me know that you have done so in your comment, and I’ll give you an extra entry for each method of “socializing.” Or, as we like to say in my techy marketing world, “amplifying.”

To keep things simple, I will do a random drawing using random.org next Tuesday night and announce the winner in next week’s Test Kitchen Tuesday post on Wednesday morning. Oh, I guess it is important to note that no one has donated the book, and I don’t receive any revenue from this blog. I am funding this drawing out of pocket, for no other reason than because I want to!

In an ideal world, I would love whoever wins the cookbook to write a guest post – their own “Test Kitchen Tuesday,” if you will – of their experience trying out one of the recipes in the cookbook. That’s optional, but I would love if it the winner wanted to do it.

Now…On To The Food

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Café Flora Oaxaca Tacos and Black Bean Stew

From: Café Flora Cookbook, pages 132-134; Also printed in The Seattle Times

Time Required:

  • 30 minutes, if potatoes and beans are already cooked, longer if you need to cook beans and potatoes.
  • Note: While I work from home most days, I have client meetings on Tuesdays so am always in a pinch for time. To speed up the process, I boiled and mashed the potatoes in the morning so they were ready to go when I got home from work, and used rinsed low sodium black beans from a can.

Skill Level (out of 5): PlatePlate

2Chili’s Taster Rating (out of 5): StarStarStarStarStar
2Chili really, really liked this. He even noted he quite enjoyed the beans, and he doesn’t even “like” black beans.

The Cook’s Taster Rating (out of 5): StarStarStarStarStar
I think this is the most surprising TKT we have had yet. It sounds a little odd when you’re putting it all together, but is amazingly delicious.

Nutrition:

 

Black Bean Stew (per 1/2 cup)

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The Verdict: YUM! Really, I wondered the whole time I was putting this together how well it would go over, but it was honestly so good. I am surprised at how tasty the tacos were based on what is in them and could seen using the black bean “stew” as a salsa or dip.

I should note that I didn’t make the tangy chard because we didn’t have any, which is odd, because we’ve had chard in our CSA box the last couple of times. 2Chili broke it down for me like this, in his very 2Chili way, “I could eat this again.” That’s about the best feedback I can get, so, I’ll take it!

Good luck in the drawing! (Enter it! Your chances are good – trust me!)





Beer Base Pizza Dough

15 03 2011

We like our pizza around these parts. During both our remodels, the Papa John’s deliver car visited our house at least once a week (and usually on Saturday after a super long day of hard labor). While convenient, take out pizza is expensive and questionable in nutritional value. And we could never resist whatever dessert pizza was offered alongside our dinner for free. Not the best. 

Today I have a recipe for a pizza dough that is every bit as good as take out, comes together in your bread machine, and can be frozen. It’s sort of an amalgamation of a few recipes I’ve used over the years, and I finally have one we like time and time again. We all know beer and pizza are natural companions, and this recipe uses the beer in the dough.

You’ll have to forgive the lighting in this photo. The dreary and wet days make it hard to get enough natural light for nice photos!

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Beer Base Pizza Dough

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Skill Level (out of 5): PlatePlate

2Chili’s Taster Rating (out of 5): StarStarStarStarStar

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flat beer (doesn’t matter what kind, but I go with something light or amber because the flavor does come through)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar (or sugar in the raw)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour (or bread flour)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast

Method:

  • Put all ingredients in your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select Dough setting, and press Start.
  • When cycle is complete, remove and roll out dough on a lightly floured surface, using more flour when needed if dough becomes sticky. I usually toss it in the air a few times, which really helps even out the thickness – but be careful!
  • Place onto a prepared pizza pan or cookie sheet, pressing down the middle and leaving about one inch of crust around the edges.
  • Brush lightly with olive oil. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.
  • Meantime, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  • Prick dough all around where the toppings will go with a fork.
  • Spread desired sauce and toppings on top of dough. We use 1/2 cup low sodium pasta sauce, 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, one sautéed red pepper, and chopped pineapple.
  • Bake until crust is lightly brown and crispy on the outside, about 24 minutes.

Tips:

  • Set out the beer in a measuring cup on the counter and cover with a paper towel in the morning the day you wish to make the dough to let it get flat over the course of the day.
  • Once the dough has risen in the machine, you can take it out, punch it down, place into a Ziploc bag and store it in the freezer for later. The morning of the day you’re ready to make the pizza, simply take it out of the bag, place it in a bowl sprayed with olive oil or nonstick spray, cover with a clean dishtowel and place it into the refrigerator. It will be thawed out, will have re-risen, and will be ready to bake by evening.
  • I know I say it a lot, but it’s because I care. It would be wise to use low sodium pasta sauce here, because jarred tomato products are the highest offenders of excessive and unnecessary salt. Since the dough requires salt to really work, a low sodium sauce helps balance everything out.

Nutrition:

Based on 8 servings of pizza with 1/2 cup low sodium pasta sauce, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, 1 cup of pineapple, and 1 red bell pepper.

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Test Kitchen Tuesday: Bean Bolognese

2 03 2011

While neither of us are big fans of Beef Bolognese, I thought this spin on it with beans sounded pretty good when I came across it over the weekend, and it would be a good Test Kitchen recipe. I kept it a secret as long as I could, until 2Chili picked me up from a client meeting on Tuesday. He had me cornered with the “what’s for dinner?” question.

Rats.

When I told him we were having “Bean Bolognese,” 2Chili was less than excited. He pointed out that he doesn’t like Beef Bolognese, and would prefer just straight up tomato sauce. I reminded him that’s why I try not to tell him what he’s getting ahead of time – his general response to things he has never heard of is pretty much always “yuck.”

I knew it would be better than he thought, though!

And, when he came up from his office in the basement for dinner, he even noted how good it smelled and was surprised to not see some blended up bean mixture in tomato sauce. Maybe that is fair, with my penchant for blending, but, when is he going to learn? Like Charlie Sheen, I have a plan! Though my plan is slightly less crazy and I don’t get paid $2 million to do anything. (Uh oh, there I go trying to be relevant with the pop culture references again…)

Moving along, here are this week’s results.

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Bean Bolognese

Original Recipe: Eating Well

I made this exactly as written, with three exceptions: I substituted dried parsley for fresh because I didn’t have fresh and it seemed silly to buy for one recipe, I used 1/2 cup veggie broth instead of white wine – I didn’t want to open a bottle of wine to use 1/2 cup, and I used mozzarella cheese instead of parmesan because we didn’t have any parm!

Time Required:

  • The recipe says 40 minutes, but I was done start-to-finish in 25

Skill Level: Plate

2Chili’s Taster Rating (Out of 5):StarStarStar

He liked the sauce fine, but his complaint was the fettuccine noodles, and has asked next time to have the sauce on a fusilli, penne, or smaller pasta because he felt the sauce didn’t cling well to the fettuccine.

The Cook’s Taster Rating (Out of 5):StarStarStarStar

The noodle issue didn’t really bother me, but I did feel something was missing. Not meat, necessarily, just something. Maybe cayenne pepper? Not sure.

Nutrition:

From the original recipe source, based on four servings:

  • 443 calories
  • 11 g fat ( 3 g sat , 6 g mono )
  • 9 mg cholesterol
  • 67 g carbohydrates
  • 19 g protein
  • 14 g fiber
  • 707 mg sodium
  • 281 mg potassium.
  • Vitamin A (70% daily value)
  • Vitamin C (25% DV)
  • Magnesium (24% DV)
  • Calcium (20% DV)

The Verdict:

I typically wouldn’t add the salt to a recipe like this, but did this time, since I thought the unsalted tomatoes I used might need it. After doing that, I really don’t think 1/2 t is necessary – 1/4 t would be just fine, which would bring down the sodium count dramatically in this recipe. Otherwise, the nutritional profile is pretty good, so I will probably make this again. 2Chili said he would eat it again, as long as I served it on a different type of pasta. I will say, both our plates were clean as a whistle when we were done, so that is saying something…





Easy Veggie Lasagna

23 02 2011

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. I tested a recipe ages ago that I have not shared with you. And, it is perhaps one of my favorite recipes evah.

Today, I am bringing veggie back.  From the depths of my three ring binder, that is.

(To those that got the lame Justin Timberlake reference above, thank you very much. We are united in our riffs on pop culture. Oh, what’s that you say, JT is no longer pop culture? Sigh. I am behind the times again.)

For this week’s Test Kitchen Tuesday, I really needed something fast and easy. I had moonlighting writing projects scheduled deep into the evening, and somehow needed to get in a weights workout after my day job and still prepare a nice dinner. This lasagna did the trick, as it let me prep it, throw it in the oven, and go off to curse see Jillian Michaels for a bit and come back to a cooked hot meal.

Oh, and it is a 2Chili-pleaser to boot.

Though, I have recently been informed he doesn’t really like spinach much. This revelation came after I have made this lasagna numerous times to practically thunderous applause. For those in a similar anti-spinach situation, check out fellow Project: Food Budget blogger MeloMeals’ white bean ricotta, which I think would be a lovely substitute for the spinach.

Now, on with the show!

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Easy Veggie Lasagna

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Original Recipe Inspiration: Lose Weight for Life – Spinach Eggplant Lasagna

Makes: 4 Generous Servings

2Chili’s Taster Rating:StarStarStarStarStar

Spinach or no spinach, he gobbles this lasagna up, and notes that he particularly enjoys the cheesy top layer.

The Cook’s Taster Rating: StarStarStarStarStar

I am all about spinach, so no complaints here.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped into half moons
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • I jar (plus some, depending on your taste ) organic low-sodium pasta sauce
  • 9-12 Lasagna noodles, depending on their width
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Method

Preheat the oven to 375.

In a medium frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sautee the zucchini until it is just tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Fully cover the bottom of an 8×8 baking pan with pasta sauce. Layer 4 or 5 of the uncooked lasagna noodles (I overlap them to account for shrinkage).  Add the zucchini and cover with sauce. Add another layer of noodles followed by the spinach and another layer of sauce. Add one more layer of noodles, sauce, and cheeses.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until noodles can easily be pierced with a fork.

Note: The key with the sauce is to put enough to fully cover each layer. Enough sauce is what makes the noodles cook through and not get crunchy, which is especially important on the top. Also, pre-made pasta sauce is one of the worst offenders of added sodium – and if you’re not careful, you could be way, way, way overdoing it on sodium. Choose a low-sodium variety (less than 50 mg per half cup. Most commercial sauces have about 400-500mg per 1/2 cup – yikes!).

Nutritional Profile

This is based on 4 cups of Walnut Acres Low Sodium Tomato Basil sauce, which is a pretty low calorie sauce. Your actuals may vary based on what sauce you pick.

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The Verdict

This one is a keeper at our house, for sure. It is tasty, easy, and nutritious. And there is no boiling. I call that a win all the way around!