Monday, June 2, 2014

Confessions from an OCD Foodie-holic

To say I'm a little "quirky" about food would be a major understatement. And even I, (yes me) have noticed my "quirkiness" (ahem, OCD) exacerbating into the next phase.....OK maybe I need an intervention...Paxil?
I started thinking about this a few days ago, and noting in my head certain things I do while preparing and/or eating food. Then I started writing down my "quirks" on a piece of paper because the list kept growing and expanding. It's ALIVE...I'm a freak!
I always thought of myself as pretty low-key.  You've met that person before, the one that inevitably announces "oh I'm very easy to please." Do yourself a favor and run like Hell!
 Now that I've done a little soul WONDER my husband avoids the kitchen like the Bubonic Plague. Part of the list of "quirks" are so intense, I had to break them down into sub-groups....maybe Celexa would be a better choice.
 Funny though, the dog senses no danger, and eagerly awaits a perfectly precise cut morsel ( see "quirk" #7) to randomly drop on the floor.
I resolve that there is a squadron of Foodies out there that share my "quirks" and nod their heads in unity as they read the list. They just get it.

Here is a list of my "quirks" and a brief explanation:

1. Watermelon is best eaten cold- Because it tastes better and is more refreshing, to me anyway.
2. Cantaloupe is best eaten at room temperature- Because when it's cold, it's gross and gets hard.
3. Soup needs to be served so hot it burns your taste buds- Nothing worse than lukewarm soup.
4. Meat should be cut at a 45 degree angle, against the grain- Duh. Quit hacking!
5. Pasta-parts A, B, and C:
    A. Pasta needs to be cooked to al dente only-We are not sterilizing surgical instruments in an's pasta.
    B. "Meatier" pasta is better with more "mouth feel"-such as pappardelle, rigatoni, fettuccine, even penne- Angel hair should be banned. Even when you eat it's thread-like consistency, you're like...."what was that?"
    C. Do not change the shape and integrity of elbow macaroni- Barilla pasta calls their version of a half spiral shape with ridges along the sides "elbow macaroni."- I call it a travesty of the true humble elbow macaroni I know and love.
6. Plating must be visually appealing- You go through all that work, why not plate it beautifully? Even my eyes start drooling before I've taken my first bite...
7. All ingredients (especially veggies),must be cut in uniform pieces- First of all, it cooks more evenly, and secondly, I don't want to see random sized hunks of anything.
8. Cook cuts of meat (not roasts or whole birds) to touch, not time- When I watch someone diligently watching their clock, while a delicious rib eye incinerates itself on a grill, I must intervene. I've been known to take over a grill or two, that is all.
9. Sandwiches must be cut in half- My husband will disagree, but who wants to watch someone shove a loaf of bread into their mouth with cold cuts on it, not me.
10. Coffee must be "cardboard color"- Not black, not milky white, cardboard color. Just enough cream to slightly "color". Too much cream ruins the true coffee flavor/smell. Too little cream, and it's still bitter.
11. Evenly distribute condiments on burgers- Onions under the burger, pickles on top. If you pile them all on top you spend more time "reloading" as you eat, than actually enjoying the burger.
12. To make the perfect gallon of iced tea, use 13 teabags- Years of experience has yielded this perfect recipe. Thank you Dad. I tried to get away with 12 teabags in times of was not the same.
13. Ice cream/frozen yogurt are perfect when it is 1/3 melted- I have a real problem with hard ice cream. And I will patiently wait for this to happen, or I'll throw it in the microwave for about 10 seconds if I don't have the patience.
14. Baked goods are not meant for transport, leave it to the experts- Trust me, baked goods on front seats of cars are hazardous to your health...ask my totaled car.

                                                                     .....not ready (see #13)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Caramelized onion and tomato flatbread

Carbs are my demon. Period.
There is no way around this persistent craving I have. I've tried substituting with whole grains, veggies, whole wheat flour, whole grain pasta, legumes, and gluten free products. What's left is an unsatisfied feeling that I did not get what I was initially craving ....carbs. In particular, Flour/yeast/pasta.
What I have learned emphatically is sometimes I. just. have. to. give. in., in a healthier version, with a revamped approach.
After yet another disappointing step up on to the scale for 2 weeks in a row now, I have accepted my weakness and rewarded myself today with the good work I've accomplished thus far, a 5 lb weight loss overall.
The dough for the flat bread is made in the food processor  within 5 minutes. Which makes for a simple and faster route to carb heaven.
*Please enjoy responsibly

                                                                The Dough
2 1/2c. all purpose flour- plus more for dusting
1 packet rapid rise yeast
1 t. honey
1 1/2c warm water(not hot)
1 t. kosher salt

In a small bowl mix water, yeast packet, and honey. Let sit 10 minutes until foamy bubbles appear. In a food processor (with dough blade), combine flour and salt with pulse button. Turn processor to "on" and slowly pour in wet ingredients and continue to run until dough forms a ball and wraps around dough blade. I let it run a full 30 seconds. Remove carefully from processor onto a floured surface and sprinkle dough with more flour and shape into a ball. Place into a well greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let rest for one hour. (Should double in size)
Punch air bubbles out of dough and reshape back into a ball, sprinkling with more flour to keep from sticking to your hands. Let rest again for 10 minutes. Cut into 4 equal pieces and shape again into smaller rounds of dough.
Working the dough (one ball at a time of course), start by shaping the dough in your hands into an oval shape. On a well floured surface, begin using a rolling pin to stretch the dough into an oblong shape. I used my left hand to "anchor" the dough while rolling out away from me. Repeat rolling dough until about less than 1/4 inch thickness, the odder the shape dough...the more "rustic" it looks.
Place on an un-greased cookie sheet and preheat oven to 450 degrees.

The "Sauce"

1/2 c. EVOO
6 cloves garlic-minced
1 T chopped rosemary
1 t. red pepper flakes
In a small saucepan heat over low to medium heat until fragrant and before garlic begins to brown, set aside.

The Toppings

Caramelized balsamic onions (see recipe below)
Sliced tomatoes- 1/4" thick
Handful fresh basil-sliced thin
2 balls of fresh mozzarella-sliced
Kosher salt
Large handful of arugula- tossed with 2T EVOO, 1T red wine vinegar, s/p to taste

For caramelized onions slice 4 medium onions into 1/2" slices and saute in skillet with 1 T. EVOO low and slow for about 20-25 minutes until well browned and soft. Stir in 1 T balsamic glaze right before onions have completed cooking. Set aside to cool.

The Assembly

Brush flat bread with EVOO sauce covering all the dough. Place mozzarella on dough, then onions scattered around, then tomato slices. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and chopped basil. Bake in 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until dough is lightly browned and cheese is completely melted and beginning to brown as well. Remove from oven and let cool as long as you can possibly wait. I added more balsamic glaze to finished flat bread which added a tangy and sweet compliment. Sprinkle with more fresh basil and arugula and cut into pieces easy enough to hold. Enjoy!

I look at it this way, it was 10x better than any pizza I could order and did not include pepperoni/bacon/extra cheese/sausage. Win-win.

                                                        Minus the arugula for your viewing pleasure


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Skinny Chicken Tacos

My new motto is K.I.S.S.
Keep. It. Simple. Sister....Simple, fresh ingredients. Simple, uncomplicated food. Simply healthier choices.
After indulging in sweets, fatty foods, drive thru's while schleping at work, the scale became my mean sister. That bitch!
I was feeling tired, run over, even my joints ached. I felt like crap. I knew it was time to get back on track. My vacation was officially over once confirmed with the numerals that mocked me on that scale.
My focus is on incorporating as much flavor and nutrition, while lessening the fat content and carbs. I'm not a calorie counter. I believe an occasional 'treat' should be allowed, we are after all..human.

I love taco's. Traditionally, I would have served them with cheese...lots of cheese. Creamy, melty cheese. But instead, I added avocado for that creamy mouth-feel. Make the slaw first so it has a chance to meld and absorb all that flavor.You could adapt the recipe to your liking or what you have on hand. Possibly adding fresh jalapenos, tomatoes, olives, salsa, fresh pico, whatever.
I don't normally promote product names, but Mission tortillas have a great product. Look for the 95% fat free, whole wheat tortillas.

 Ingredients: The meat

3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts- sliced into 1/4 thick slices
1 lime
Olive oil
1 packet taco seasoning
S/P to taste

The slaw:

1/4 head large cabbage or 1/2 head small cabbage- sliced thin
5-6 radishes- sliced into matchsticks
Handful of cilantro- roughly chopped
1 t. cumin powder
1/2 t. red pepper flakes (optional)
2 T canola oil
1/2 lime- juiced
S/P to taste

The avocado:

2 ripe avocados- diced
1/2 lime-juiced
S/P to taste

Tortilla shells

Blend sliced chicken with olive oil, lime juice, taco seasoning, s/p in a bowl. In a skillet, add about 2T olive oil and heat pan until it's smokin' hot. Add chicken in batches and cook until done. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
Make the slaw in a separate bowl. Add juice of 1/2 lime along with the 2T canola oil (that's all you need trust me) right in the bowl with the chopped cabbage and radishes, it's that easy. Then add cumin, s/p, pepper flakes. Stir it up and let it sit there on the counter, then stir again. Rebel.
In a small bowl, add the avocado, squeeze on the lime juice, and season w/s/p. Stir, taste, repeat.
Once you are ready to assemble, heat up your tortillas please. Nothing worse than a cold, un-pliable tortilla shell. I use a flat grill pan, or you could use a skillet. Just spray the pan with cooking spray, heat the tortilla for a minute, then flip over to heat the other side.
I arrange them: meat, then avocado, then slaw. Then I have extra lime wedges ready and squeeze over assembled taco. Then, I prefer a "tuck and roll" approach. I tuck the bottom of the tortilla shell up to secure the contents, then roll tightly to easily hold/eat.
It was so good, so flavorful...I ate 2.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

A change is good

Setting aside the butter, sugar, white flour, post traumatic Hub's wake up call has been amazing. At this writing, we have successfully updated and incorporated our menu. 360 degrees later, hub-a-licious has lost 43 much needed pounds and I have learned a new respect for what we put into our bodies.
My nature is to feed. Bad Kate.
I still have a penchant for pasta ladled with a rich marinara, which is a-ok. Just not the fatty ground chuck soaking in fat grease spaghetti sauce I once made.
After an alarming set back of A-Fib and devastating diagnosis of diabetes, changes have begun. Spent our honeymoon in the hospital, need I say more?
Most best advice from a family member of a patient, moderation is key.
Sugar is bad. It destroys arteries, veins, and makes us obese.
Still have a desire for Cool Ranch Doritos, my replacement is mini rice cakes, any flavor(black pepper/sea salt are my fav).

Onward and upward.

And I still have the desire to cook and soothe, just on a different level. Good Kate.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Quick and Painless Chicken Stir-fry

The Year of the Dragon is upon us. And when I'm hungry I've been known to be a little "dragon-ish" myself. When you're in a hurry for a quick meal, this is the answer. You could even make a batch of rice a day or two ahead and microwave to heat it up when your ready for this dish. Chop all the veggies and chicken prior to heating up the wok or skillet.

When I first read this recipe in our local newspaper I thought the cucumber was an odd addition. Turns out the cucumber does add a cleansing note to the dish and is delicious.

I added a few additions to this recipe and it literally took me 10 minutes to make it once the chicken hit the pan.

Adapted from here: .

Ingredients: Serves 2-4

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size chunks
1 carrot- peeled and sliced thin
4 scallions- white parts cut into one inch pieces( reserve green part for garnish)
1 c. sliced mushrooms
1 medium cucumber- peeled, sliced in half lengthwise,  seeds removed with a spoon, then cut into 1 in. chunks.
2 T. cornstarch
2 T vegetable or Canola oil

3 t. sugar (you could also use agave or honey)
1/4 c. sherry
2 cloves minced garlic
1 t. ground ginger
1 T. Hoisin sauce
1 T. water
( I added pinch of red pepper flakes and 1 t. Chinese five spice powder to marinade)

Mix sugar, sherry, ginger and garlic in a bowl and add chicken. Marinate for 10 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate with a slotted spoon and sprinkle with cornstarch and toss. Reserve marinade.
Add hoisin sauce and water to marinade, and pepper flakes and five spice if you have it.

Heat up oil in a skillet or wok over high heat then add chicken. Stir rapidly for 3 minutes. Add carrot, cucumber, mushrooms, scallions and continue to stir 2-3 minutes.
Pour the marinade over stir-fry and cook for 2 minutes. Serve over rice and garnish with remaining sliced green tops of scallions.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Creamy Chicken Marsala

I got my wish.

I was craving Chicken Marsala (with a side of pasta) and found this recipe in Taste of Home magazine. Although their recipe includes Gorgonzola cheese, I omitted that step because I was afraid the pungent cheese would interrupt or, take over, the flavors of the marsala and mushrooms.

There are so many places for gorgonzola, just not here.

This recipe is a creamier version, with a lighter colored sauce. I had to make several adjustments to the recipe and was extremely thrilled with the result.

Here's my version, adapted from this recipe:

                                      "Come to Mamaaa..... "

Ingredients- Serves 4

3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
All purpose flour for dredging
2- 8 oz. pkgs of mushrooms sliced (button or baby portabella-I used button)
3 T. butter, divided
2 garlic cloves-minced
1 c. Marsala wine
1/3 c. heavy whipping cream
2 T minced fresh parsley, divided
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut chicken breasts into thirds, season with salt and pepper and pound individual pieces with meat mallet (evenly) until 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Dredge pieces of chicken in flour and tap off extra flour.
Heat in a large skillet 2 T. of the butter (I added a drizzle of EVOO as well) and saute chicken over medium heat until lightly golden brown. Repeat the saute with remaining chicken and transfer to a plate to rest.
Once chicken is completed and resting on a plate add remaining 1 T. butter to same skillet and saute mushrooms until tender and juices have released. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add marsala wine and bring to a gentle boil and cook until liquid is reduced by half. This took me a good 10-12 minutes.
Once liquid is reduced by half, add the cream and return to a gentle boil for 5 minutes, the sauce will start to thicken up a bit.
Return the chicken medallions to the skillet and simmer for 5 minutes.
Taste the sauce, does it need a touch of salt or pepper?
Add 1 T. chopped parsley to sauce and stir. Garnish dish with remaining 1 T. parsley and enjoy!

Note: I HAVE to have pasta with this dish. One suggestion is angel hair with a simple, chunky tomato sauce. I saute 3-4 minced garlic cloves in EVOO, add a pinch of hot pepper flakes, then add 2- 14 oz. cans of diced tomatoes and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add chopped fresh basil at the end of cooking and stir. Boil 1/2 lb. of dried pasta as directed and use tongs to incorporate sauce. Garnish pasta with extra basil and Parmesan.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Grilled Tandoori Shrimp

Can someone puh-leaze PINCH ME ?!!

This has been, by far, the most awesome month. It's the Grand Poo-Bah of all. Our children (and Grandchildren) are healthy and happy, and excelling.

That's ALL THAT MATTERS. Period.

This year, I kept it simple at Christmas, due to time constraints, a new job, and a literal whirlwind trip to NYC. And as far as I'm concerned, it was a perfect Christmas. I could not be more overjoyed !

Here's to my family....that never ceases to amaze and delight me.

Have a blessed New Year in 2012. Peace be with you.

Ingredients:  Serves 8 as an appetizer

2 cloves garlic minced
1 piece fresh ginger, about 2 in. peeled and minced
3 T. fresh lime juice
1/4 t. ground turmeric
1 T. ground cumin
1/2 t. kosher salt
2 fresh jalapeno, seeded, and finely minced
1 c. plain greek yogurt
1 T. paprika, plus extra for garnish
1 1/2 lbs. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
lime wedges, as garnish

In a food processor with metal blade, combine garlic, ginger, lime juice, turmeric, salt, cumin, jalapenos, yogurt, and 1 T. paprika. Process until well blended. Transfer to glass bowl and add shrimp and toss. Marinate one hour.
Place wooden skewers in water and soak for 30 minutes. Drain water.
Arrange shrimp on skewers, I did 4 per skewer.
Place on an hot oiled grill pan for 2 minutes and flip skewers, and grill for 2 minutes more.
Serve on a fancy plate and sprinkle with paprika and garnish with lime wedges.