Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mango Wings

My family loves wings so we do a wing night every once in a while.  I always buy mine from wag jag grocery – because they are the best quality and price.  This was a quick dinner, courtesy of the Food Network Magazine, and was served with a salad.  I tweaked a couple of ingredients, but I’m sure it’s delicious as-is.  Enjoy!

Mango Wings
12 chicken wings (I did about 24)
¼ tsp turmeric (I put way more – probably 2 tsp)
Salt & pepper
(at this point I also added garlic powder & 5-spice powder)
1 c mango chutney
2 T lemon juice
Yellow mustard (I used Dijon)

Toss the wings with turmeric, salt & pepper (and other spices if using).  Spread on an oiled baking sheet and bake at 425 for 30 minutes or until golden.  Whisk remaining ingredients and a pinch of salt.  Toss wings with half of the sauce and return to oven for 5 minutes.  Serve with remaining sauce – yum!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Coconut Chickpea Soup

Soup time! 

I love love love soup.  It’s so warm and inviting…like a blanket for your stomach to get cozy with.  When I have time on Sundays, I make a big batch to take with me for lunches throughout the week.  I came across this recipe in Clean Eating Magazine and just had to try it.  It’s considered a detox soup and is super healthy and beyond delicious!  I’ve been eating it all week and am considering making another batch this Sunday.  Hope you enjoy!

Coconut Chickpea Soup
2 cans chickpeas
2c veg broth (I used beef)
2c roughly torn kale, tough stems removed
2 garlic
15oz can low fat coconut milk
1 T curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp honey
Salt & pepper
(I also added chili flakes for some spice)

Combine all ingredients in blender.  Transfer to a medium pot and heat over medium-high.  Bring to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.  (I added about 2c of water and simmered it for 45 minutes just to let the seasonings come together a little more intensely).  Divide among serving bowls and enjoy!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chicken Korma, Chicken Wings & Pork Chops - Three Make-Ahead Meals!

As promised, this will be my first "make-ahead" post.  I'll play with the format a bit and see what works best, but for now I'll wing it...ha ha no pun intended!

Monday night was the only time this week that I really had to prep for the week's meals.  In the morning, before work, I took chicken thighs and chicken wings out of the freezer to thaw.  When I got home I began prepping. 

Here's what was on the menu - Quick Chicken Korma with rice (thank you Canadian Living), Pork Chops With Brandy Sauce (I used red wine) and Braised Red Cabbage (thank you Chatelaine) and Tandoori Chicken Wings (thank you Martha Stewart) with an amazing potato salad (thank you to my brother & sister-in-law)

I began with the Chicken Korma since I knew that's what we were having for dinner that night.

Quick Chicken Korma
1/3 c raw cashews
4 tsp oil
3 onions sliced
2 hot peppers diced
3 garlic minced
1/2 tsp each coriander & garam masala
1/4 tsp cayenne
pinch nutmeg & salt
450g boneless chicken thighs quartered
1 1/2c chicken broth
pinch saffron (optional - I didn't use any)
3 T fat free Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp lime juice

In a large skillet toast the cashews over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, 3-5 minutes.  Transfer to a blender.  In same skillet heat half the oil over medium and cook onions until golden brown, 12-15 minutes.  Add to blender and puree until smooth (I added a little water, it was too thick).  Combine next 8 ingredients, add chicken and toss to coat.  Heat remaining oil in same skillet over medium0high, brown chicken 5 minutes.  Stir in 2T water, scraping up brown bits.  Stir in broth, saffron (if using) and cashew puree.  Simmer until chicken is cooked, 5 minutes.  Stir in yogurt and lime juice, heat until warmed through but not boiling.

I served this over rice and everyone loved it - you don't taste the cashews at all.  You get a creamy sauce without the cream, and with added protein and fiber!  See nutritional info below for 1 of 4 servings (without rice):

307 calories
27g protein
16g fat
15g carbs
3g fiber

While the chicken was cooking, I made the marinade for the wings in a large ziploc bag, threw the wings in, and put them in the fridge.  I also chopped up the potatoes and cabbage and put them (separately) in ziploc bags in the fridge.

Tuesday's dinner was the Pork Chops

Pork Chops With Brandy Sauce & Braised Red Cabbage
4 bone in pork chops
salt & pepper
1 T veg oil
1/4c brandy (I used red wine)
1c chicken broth
2 T butter
1/4c chopped parsley (I left this out)
Cabbage - 1 T butter
1/2 large red cabbage thinly sliced (I used the whole head and doubled the remaining ingredients)
1/2c apple juice or cider
1/4c cider vinegar
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp salt

Heat frying pan over medium-high.  add chops and season with salt & pepper.  Cook 3-4 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate and let stand, covered.  Add brandy (or wine) to same pan.  Cook 30 seconds.  Add broth and butter and cook until sauce is slightly reduced, 4 minutes.  Stir in parsley and add chops & any juices that accumulated from them.  Spoon sauce over pork and serve with the cabbage.

For the cabbage (which was already chopped up and ready to go!) - melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high.  Add cabbage and cook 3-4 minutes.  Stir in remaining ingredients and cover.  Continue to cook until cabbage is tender, 9-10 minutes.

This meal was ready in about 10 minutes, with almost zero prep!

The chops are 311 calories each, and cabbage is 84 calories for one serving (of 4)

Wednesday was wing night - with potato salad, so good!

Tandoori Chicken Wings
2c plain Greek yogurt (I only used 1c because I didn't do the dip - see more below)
1/4c tomato paste (I didn't have any so I used some tomato sauce)
2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp oil
1 tsp salt
8 chicken wings (I did this recipe with about 20 wings)
1/2 c mango chutney (I left this out of the recipe)
1/2 tart green apple like Granny Smith (I left this out as well)

Combine 1c of yogurt with next 8 ingredients.  Marinate at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours chilled.  (This should already be done if you have prepped the wings!) Bring to room temperature before cooking.  Heat broiler.  Rub oil on baking sheet and add wings in single layer.  Broil 16-18 minutes, flipping once halfway through (I didn't bother).  Remove from oven and brush with chutney (nope, didn't do this either).  Stir apple into remaining cup of yogurt and serve along side wings for dipping (no thanks - too complicated and time consuming).

The wings were fantastic without the dipping sauce, so don't put yourself out if you don't want to.  This was a total of 5 minutes hands on time to prepare on the night of - since all I had to do was move the wings from the ziploc to the baking sheet!

Jay and Kar's Potato Salad
1/4c red wine vinegar
1 T honey
1c mayo (I used fat free)
1 T minced garlic (I used garlic powder)
salt & pepper
2lbs red potatoes (6-8)
1 large tomato seeded and chopped (I used cherry tomatoes - no chopping, and no seeding!)
1/2c diced onions (I used Spanish onion)
1 T fresh thyme chopped (I used dry)
1/4 c fresh parsley chopped (left this out)

Place vinegar and honey in saucepan and bring to boil over high heat (I didn't - I microwaved them in the measuring cup).  Immediately remove & cool to room temperature.  Combine mayo & garlic with the vinegar mixture.  Season to taste with salt & pepper.  Cook potatoes (which should already be chopped!) for 20 minutes in salted boiling water.  Fold mixture into potatoes with tomato, onion, thyme and parsley - delicious!

This was about 10 minutes of hands on time, and I did the mixing & chopping while the wings were in the oven.

So there you have it folks - 3 full meals that took about 20 minutes of prep work on 1 night.  Pretty cool if you ask me.  It definitely saved me this week.

Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks!

By the way, tonight will be eggs, bacon and toast night (we love having breakfast for dinner once a week) and Friday will be leftover night when we empty the fridge of all leftovers throughout the week and create a smorgasbord on our plate, yum!
Big shout out to WC - you know who you are -  I have faith in you that you can prep too! DC will love it!!!  And so will the kids :) 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Jumbo Cheesy Italian Meatballs - and Make-Ahead Weekly Menus!

So I'm on this new make-ahead kick and I'm loving it.

I am way too busy at home lately to fully prepare a meal each and every night, and I refuse to serve frozen and/or fast foods to my family so I had to come up with something to bring the chaos level down a notch in my kitchen before I committed some sort of insanity-driven crime.

Thanks to the gym, rep karate, and indoor soccer, I have maybe 25 minutes in the evenings from 5:00 - 5:25 to prepare a meal that will either be eaten by the kids the next day (because they usually have to eat meals from the day before due to schedules) or by the BF and I later that evening when we are home (usually anywhere between 8:00 - 10:00).  Bottom line is that my family life is very very very I needed to come up with a solution, fast.

I have always been a meal planner, since I like to coupon, and stay on budget, but now I've become much more disciplined.  On Thursdays I plan my meals for the following week, shop on Fridays (or the weekend if I must, but that's a pet peeve of mine) and than prep all meals on Sunday and/or Monday evening which are my only two nights where there is a little more than 25 minutes to spare.

With all that being said, it's quite possible that some of my blog posts will now contain a week's worth of recipes.  Or perhaps I will explain the prep work in one blog, and detailed recipes in the subsequent blogs.  I haven't ironed all of that out yet, just wanted to give a heads up as to what's going on, and how things might change.

Let's move on to meatballs.  This was a wonderful make-ahead meal.  I literally made it ahead of time!  I made the meatballs, but didn't cook them, and I made the sauce and threw it in a jar in the fridge.  When it was time to eat these, threw the meatballs in the oven, simmered the sauce and cooked the noodles all in about 5 minutes of hands-on time (and 25 minutes of oven time).  I did add some more time-saving shortcuts, but thank you to Food Network Magazine for getting me through another hectic evening!

Jumbo Cheesy Italian Meatballs
Meatballs -
EVOO for brushing (I just used parchment paper, see below)
3 1/2c torn stale Italian bread (I used bread crumbs)
1 c whole milk (I used 2%)
2 eggs
2 lbs ground beef
1 small bunch parsley chopped
1/2c shredded Parmesan
1 garlic grated
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
4 bocconcini balls (I made about 8 meat balls, co a whole container of bocconcini balls were needed)
Sauce -
3 garlic sliced
red pepper flakes
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
3-4 sprigs basil
ricotta cheese

Preheat oven to 400.  Brush baking sheet with EVOO (I just used parchment paper - less fat, easy clean up).  Pulse bread crumbs in food processor to make coarse crumbs (no need if you already buy them as crumbs!).  Transfer to small bowl and add milk, set aside.  Beat eggs in a large bowl and add next 6 ingredients.  Mix with your hands (I got my daughter to do this - she loved it) to combine.  Add bread mixture and mix until just combined.  Shape meat into 4 balls (I did 8), make indentation and add cheese in the middle, then shape meat around it.  Arrange on baking sheet and bake until browned and firm, 25-30 minutes.  Meanwhile make the sauce - heat EVOO in large skillet over medium-high.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Add tomatoes, 1c water, basil, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Bring to boil then reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened, 30 minutes.  Remove meatballs from oven and add to sauce, spooning some sauce on top.  Continue cooking and spooning sauce 6 minutes.  Serve dolloped with ricotta and chopped basil.

I served this over pasta - so good!

Stay tuned for the make-ahead menu plans, can't wait!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Broiled Halibut With Buttery Tomato Sauce & Steamed Broccoli

It’s time to start eating more fish in my house (or at least try to).  We’ve loaded up on the red meat this summer and it’s time to take a break.  I saw this recipe in Canadian Living Magazine and had to give it a try.  It looked so light and fresh – and simple!  The great thing about recipes from Canadian Living and Chatelaine is that they focus on complete healthy meals that are ready in a snap; that way you don’t have to go searching for a side dish to serve alongside the entrée, they take the guesswork out of it for you!  My family loved the tomato sauce in this dish – something about the honey and basil really gives it oomph.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Broiled Halibut With Buttery Tomato Sauce & Steamed Broccoli
4 small halibut fillets
Salt & pepper
4c broccoli florets
1 T lemon juice
Salt & pepper
2 T butter
2 shallots chopped
2 garlic minced
2 plum tomatoes seeded & chopped
½ tsp honey
Salt & pepper
1/2c fresh basil leaves torn

Sprinkle fish with salt & pepper (I used seasoning salt to give it a little extra flavor).  Broil on greased baking sheet 8 minutes.  Steam broccoli 6 minutes, then toss with lemon juice, salt & pepper.  In a skillet melt butter over medium-high.  Cook the next 2 ingredients until the butter is browned, 1 minute.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook, tossing, 1 minute.  Spoon sauce over fish and serve alongside the broccoli.

Nutritional Info (for those of you who are interested):
Per serving of 4 –
211 calories
26g protein
9g fat
7g carbs
3g fiber
268mg sodium