Sweet And Hot Chili Sauce

 

Sweet And Hot Chili Sauce

⅓ cup rice vinegar

⅓ cup water

½ cup sugar

1 tbsp white wine

1-2 tsp red pepper flakes*, according to taste

1½ cloves garlic (1½ tsp)

1 tsp finely minced ginger root

1 tsp soy sauce

2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

Place all ingredients except cornstarch into a small saucepan and bring to boil, stirring constantly. When sugar has melted, add cornstarch mixture and allow to cook, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to thicken, about one minute.

Remove from heat, allow to cool and transfer to an airtight container. Store in refrigerator for up to one week.

*Red pepper flakes can be purchased in the spice section of the grocery store, labeled as “red pepper flakes” or “crushed red pepper”. You can make your own with dried chili peppers using a mini chopper or sharp knife.

Yield: One cup. Serving size 2 tbsp, 38 calories per serving

Hack:  Use this sauce to make roasted red cabbage with shrimp!

Hack: Chili sauce can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and heat gently to restore consistency.

Hack: Do you know that you can freeze fresh ginger root? Grating it in it’s frozen state is easier than grating it fresh and, if you choose organic ginger, you don’t have to peel it! Simply place in a sealed freezer bag or container and pop it in the freezer.

Cuban Pulled Chicken

Cuban Pulled Chicken

¼ cup dried cannellini beans

1 cup water

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, mined (2 tsp)

1 chicken breast (½ lb)

1 cup chicken broth

2 cup chopped tomatoes (1 lb)

¾ cup pureed orange

¼ cup lime juice

¾ cup dry white wine

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

½ tsp thyme

1 cup broccoli florets 

1 red pepper

¼ cup matchstick carrots

1½ cups cooked rice, hot

Cover beans with 1 cup and allow to soak for 6 – 12 hours.  Drain and rinse.

Heat olive oil in a deep skillet or saucepan over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Dry chicken breast with a paper towel, add to the pan and brown on both sides.  Add broth, turn heat to high and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to medium low, cover and simmer chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 160℉, 6-10 minutes. Remove chicken breast from pan.

Add tomatoes, orange, lime juice, wine, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and thyme to pan and bring back up to a boil.  Add beans and turn heat down to low. Simmer beans for 45-60 minutes or until tender.

While beans are cooking, shred chicken and place in the refrigerator.  Chop broccoli florets into bite size pieces and slice red pepper.

When beans are tender, add broccoli, peppers and carrots to the pan and simmer to desired tenderness, 5-7 minutes.  Add chicken back to the pan and heat through.

Serve over hot rice.

3 servings, 450 calories per serving

Hack:  Frozen vegetables work well in this recipe.

Bruschetta Chicken Pasta

 

Bruschetta Chicken Pasta

1 cup bowtie pasta (farfalle)

1 tbsp olive oil

4 oz boneless skinless chicken breast

¾ tsp italian seasoning

⅓ cup bruschetta

2 tbsp Parmesan cheese

1 tsp balsamic reduction

 

Bring one quart of water to boil.  Add ½ tsp salt and bowtie pasta.  Boil until al dente (13-15 minutes).  Drain.

Heat olive oil in a heavy pan.  While the oil is heating, cut chicken into 1” cubes and toss with italian seasoning.  Add chicken to pan and saute until no pink remains, 6-8 minutes.

Add pasta and bruschetta, toss and saute until warmed through.  Remove to plate. Sprinkle with parmesan and balsamic reduction.  Serve immediately.

1 serving, 563 calories

Andouille Sausage With Fried Cabbage

 

Andouille Sausage With Fried Cabbage

6 slices bacon

4 cooked cajun style andouille sausage (Chef Bruce Aidells recommended)

1 red bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

1 onion

3  cloves garlic, minced (1 tbsp)

1 tsp cajun seasoning

1 tsp black pepper

1 small head green cabbage (1 lb)

 

Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut bacon into small pieces.  Slice sausage into ½” rounds.  Cook bacon and sausage in a skillet over medium heat until the sausage is brown and bacon is crispy, 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from pan, leaving drippings, and set aside.

Slice peppers and onion.  Add to pan and cook until peppers are tender and onions are translucent, 10-12 minutes.  Stir in garlic, cajun seasoning and black pepper.

Coarsely chop cabbage into 1” squares.  Add to the pan with peppers and onions.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Add sausage and bacon.  Cover and cook until cabbage is tender.

4 servings, 310 calories per serving

6 Foods That Were The Spawn Of Satan…Until They Weren’t

When was the last time you heard that a particular food was bad for you?  Maybe it was today.  Maybe it was yesterday.  Maybe you can’t open your computer or turn on your TV without hearing about the latest culinary evil that’s out to ruin your health.

Now ask yourself when was the last time you were told that a favorite nosh was certain death only to find out they were wrong?  How many times can you remember that happening?

For your entertainment, I’d like to share with you a few foods that were considered the spawn of satan…until they weren’t…

The Skinny On Fats

It seems that nothing has gotten a worse rap than fat and cholesterol.  Way back in the 1970s, the consensus bagan to take hold that eating fat caused fat to build up in the body and eating foods with cholesterol caused cholesterol to build up in the arteries.  This was followed by a push to eat more sugar as a way to promote weight loss and energy.

This theory was eventually (and thankfully) disproved before the following 3 foods were forced to take a permanent dirt nap.

Eggs: Canadian researchers did a study of 1,231 patients to measure the linear increase in arterial plaque for people over 40.  The study focused on which was worse: smoking (measured in pack-years) or consuming egg yolk (measured in yolk-years).  It was concluded that eating one egg yolk per day was as risky as smoking 5 cigarettes

It turns out that it’s saturated fat not the cholesterol in eggs that raises “bad” cholesterol (I’m looking at you, breakfast sausage). Eggs are a healthy source of high quality protein, healthy fats as well as necessary vitamins and minerals.

Butter: The  popularity of butter took a plummet back in the 1980’s due to claims that cholesterol and saturated fat lead to coronary heart disease.  Turns out the manmade trans fats found in margarine were worse.

While manufacturers have moved away from using trans fats in margarines, butter has come surging back as the underdog of the dinner table.  The argument now rages as to whether we should be using synthetically produced margarine or butter, a natural food that (unquestionably) tastes better.  The scientific community now agrees that both can be part of a healthy diet if used sparingly.

Welcome home butter.  I’ve missed you.

Nuts were once considered to be unhealthy due to their high fat content.  It’s now accepted that nuts are a nutrient dense food that actually lowers the risk of disease by decreasing cholesterol, insulin resistance and blood vessel dysfunction.

Stop The Ride, I Want To Get Off

They were good…they were bad…they were good again…occasionally all at the same time!

Cranberries were first cultivated for commercial sale in 1816 in New England.  Because of their growing season, which extends into November, these tart little berries became a favored Thanksgiving treat and enjoyed brisk sales until November, 1959  when it was discovered that some cranberry samples tested positive for an herbicide that was thought to cause cancer.

Despite the fact that cranberries were quickly cleared of any health hazards, sales struggled for next several years.  This was devastating for an industry that made the vast bulk of its profit over the winter holiday season.  The answer to their prayers came in the early 1960s when Ocean Sprays new CEO came up with a plan:  Mix cranberry juice with sugar water and sell it year ‘round as “Cranberry Juice Cocktail”.  It was an instant hit and now both the juice and the cranberry itself are back in the good graces of John Q. Public.  And, while we’re on the subject, check out my recipe for Fresh Whole Cranberry Sauce!

Bananas have a rollercoaster history worthy of a soap opera.  They may have been cultivated as early as 1000 B.C. and became a popular treat shipped to different parts of the world beginning in the 7th century.  By the 1700s, boats were reluctant to ship bananas due to superstitions that they caused the boats to sink and jinxed fish hauls.

Somewhere towards the end of World War One, United Fruit (who imported bananas) began to tote the delightful yellow fruit as a cure for childhood celiac disease  while, at virtually the same time, others referred to them as “a cause of indigestion and a treacherous dietary component”.  Researchers immediately came to the banana’s defense, calling them “a wholesome, palatable and nutritious article of food”.

This debate continues today with claims that bananas rot your teeth, lower your blood pressure and cause migraines.  They aggravate constipation…unless they don’t.  And don’t even get me started on how the fiber helps you lose weight unless the sugar makes you gain.

Is your head spinning yet?

Remember That One Time You Had To Give Up Coffee?

For years, doctors warned that drinking coffee led to a plethora of health risks:  It could increase the risk of heart disease, stunt growth, cause stomach ulcers and heartburn, among other things.  The problem?  They didn’t factor in other risks like smoking, alcohol consumption, height, weight, diet, gender, ethnicity and blood pressure.  A new study, done in 2019, did not endorse drinking coffee but it did debunk the previous studies.

Other recent studies show that coffee lowers the risk of developing diabetes and liver damage while boosting our concentration and memory.  It may even ward off the mental decline caused by dementia.

The bad news?  Caffeine is still addictive and withdrawal symptoms may cause headaches.  It can interrupt sleep patterns and momentarily raise blood pressure.  Considering my two-cups-a-day-habit, I say it’s worth the trade-off!

Maybe The Problem With Food Is Food Itself

Nutraceuticals and fortified foods walk a thin line between food and medicine.  Ever since we got it into our heads that certain foods are “good” for us, society has been on a mission to consume more of these foods, whether it be by eating copious amounts of a single food or taking it in pill form.

This article from 1896 gleefully predicts a future where it’s not necessary to eat food at all, instead a person would simply take a pill to fulfill their daily nutritional needs.

The author admits these pills won’t taste as good as real food but seems excited at the prospect of being able to give up dinner parties and the accompanying “symposia” that goes with it.  No, you’re right…conversation is overrated.  And let’s not forget that “the pleasures of the table have ages on end been absorbing too much of the time and inclination of man and woman.” 

Thankfully, this dire prediction hasn’t come to pass yet…and let’s hope it never does!  For more of my thoughts on nutraceuticals, check out this article.

Just One Word: Ugh

What are we supposed to eat now?  Who are we supposed to believe?  What’s the deal?!?

How about this word:  Context.

Many studies are undertaken to prove or disprove a particular theory and are often laser focused to the point of silliness.  At least one of those coffee studies include people who drink up to 25 cups of coffee daily.  And one discussion of how bananas rot our teeth included a baby whose parents allowed him to suck on bananas in lieu of a pacifier.  Most of us don’t do either of those things so, really, do those studies even apply to us?

Here’s another word:  Variety.

The most reasonable and healthy thing to do is eat a variety of different foods.  How many cranberries do you really need?  And eating an entire jar of almonds will only ensure you don’t have any room to consume the other nutrients that are necessary for our bodies to function.  While healthy, one cannot live on almonds alone.

Here’s my idea:  Look at all those studies with a critical eye and decide if they really apply to you.  Then go ahead and eat a variety of healthy foods to ensure that you have the right fuel mix to keep your engine running.

What’s your take on the subject?  Let me know in the comments below!

All my best,

Cynthia
cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

 

Scallion Pesto

Scallion Pesto

4 cups scallion or green onions, coarsely sliced

1 cup fresh basil

2 tbsp fresh chive

5 cloves garlic (5 tsps minced)

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup pine nuts

¼ cup parmesan cheese

3 tbsp lemon juice

½ tsp salt

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  

Yield:  2 cups

Serving size:  ¼ cup, 175 calories per serving

Hack:  Pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days or frozen for 12 months.

Hack:  Pine nuts can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 months or in the freezer for 6 months.

Hack:  Chop leftover green onions and freeze in a sealable freezer bag or container for future use.


Easy Bruschetta

 

Easy Bruschetta

1 pint cherry tomatoes

⅓ cup fresh basil

4 clove garlic, minced (4 tsp)

1 tbsp balsamic reduction

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

Cut cherry tomatoes into bite sized pieces (halves or quarters depending on size). Chop basil.

Combine tomatoes, basil, garlic, balsamic reduction, salt and pepper in a bowl.

Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

6 servings, 10 calories per serving

Hack: Although bruschetta is known as an appetizer served on toasted bread, it’s also tasty when tossed with pasta (including this Bruschetta Chicken Pasta), over mashed or baked potatoes, with rice or served with eggs!

Hack: Bruschetta can be frozen for up to 8 months. While the thawed product will differ in texture from the fresh product, it will retain its flavor and is best used in cooked dishes.

 

 

Italian Salad Dressing Mix

Italian Salad Dressing Mix

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp dried oregano

1 tsp black pepper

¼ tsp thyme

1 tbsp parsley

1 tsp basil

¼ tsp celery salt

2 tbsp salt

Mix together all ingredients and store in a tightly sealed container at room temperature.

For salad dressing: Combine 2 tbsp mix with ¼ apple cider vinegar, ⅔ cup olive oil and 2 tbsp water. Shake or whisk to combine.

Serving size (mix only): 1½ tsp, 7½ calories per serving

Serving size (prepared salad dressing): 2 tbsp, 130 calories per serving



Roasted Red Beet Hummus

Roasted Red Beet Hummus

⅔ cup dried chickpeas

4 cups water, divided

8 oz uncooked red beets

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)

¼ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Cover chickpeas with 2 cups of water and allow to soak for 6 – 12 hours. Drain and rinse.

Add 2 cups of water and chickpeas to a saucepan. Turn heat to medium. Cover and simmer for 90 minutes or until tender, checking occasionally to ensure there is enough water to keep chickpeas from scorching.

Drain any excess water and set chickpeas aside to cool.

While the chickpeas are cooking, preheat the oven to 400℉.

Cut greens off beet, leaving 1” of stem. Wash thoroughly, brush with olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast until tender, 50-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Peel beet and cut into cubes.

Combine chickpeas, beets, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. Pulse until smooth, adding additional olive oil as needed to achieve desired consistency. This step can also be done in batches using a blender.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 4 months.

8 servings, 125 calories per serving

Hack: Freeze in serving sized portions for a great and easy snack. Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before eating.

Hack: If thawed hummus is grainy or lumpy after thawing, give it a quick spin in the blender or mini processor to smooth things out.



Fresh Maine Lobster Roll

Fresh Maine Lobster Roll

1¼ lb live soft shell Maine lobster (½ cup cooked lobster meat) 

2 tbsp cup mayonnaise

½ tsp lemon juice

½ tsp dried chives

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup shredded lettuce

1 ciabatta roll

Bring 3 quarts of water to a full boil on the stove top.  Add lobster headfirst into pot and boil, uncovered, for 10 minutes.  Carefully remove lobster from pot and allow it to cool.  

Remove lobster meat from the shell (Need help?  Click here.  I only remove meat from the claws and tail, stopping at step 8.)  Chop meat into small pieces and place in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together mayonnaise, lemon juice, chives, salt and pepper.  Add to lobster meat and stir to combine.

Slice ciabatta roll and add lettuce.  Top lettuce with lobster meat and serve immediately.  

1 serving, 375 calories

Hack:  Lobster can be cooked in advance and refrigerated in its shell for up to 2 days or tightly wrapped and frozen for 3 months.  

Hack:  Shelled lobster meat can be refrigerated for up to 4 days (remember to subtract any days it was refrigerated in its shell!) or tightly wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months.