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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Phenomenal Flax

Sometimes it can seem overwhelming to find ways to keep our families healthy. It's important to remember that we don't have to stress and fret, or overhaul our family's diet overnight. Small efforts make a difference, and will ultimately lead to those all-important changes for the better.

Flax is a potent, powerful source of nutrition, and is SO easy to incorporate into our diets. Between flaxseed oil, ground flax meal, or the whole flax seed itself, we can really put ourselves at an advantage by consuming this super food.

I happened upon some whole grain flax seed bagels at my local grocery store, and these bagel sandwiches were SO good--both to our mouths, as well as our bodies.

Happy flaxing!!

Orange Chicken

It seems that Orange Chicken varies a great deal depending on where I try it. I've wanted to find a good recipe for quite a while so I could serve it at home in my own kitchen. This recipe offers quite a bit of 'flavors', as Austin pointed out. When I caught (a very full) Austin after dinner with his fork snatching left-over pieces of chicken from the pot, I knew we'd found a winner.

1 1/2 cups water
2 Tbsp orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp orange zest
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger root
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp chopped green onion
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

3 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp water

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
*3 Tbsp olive oil

Pour 1 1/2 cups water, orange juice, lemon juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce into a saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Stir in the orange zest, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, chopped onion, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and cool 10 to 15 minutes.

Place the chicken pieces into a resealable plastic bag. When contents of saucepan have cooled, pour 1 cup of sauce into bag. Reserve the remaining sauce. Seal the bag, and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

In another resealable plastic bag, mix the flour, salt, and pepper. Add the marinated chicken pieces, seal the bag, and shake to coat.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place chicken into the skillet, and brown on both sides. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels, and cover with aluminum foil.
Wipe out the skillet, and add the sauce. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Mix together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water; stir into the sauce. Reduce heat to medium low, add the chicken pieces, and simmer, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

*Originally I tried to simply brown the chicken in the 3 Tbsp olive oil, as the recipe said, but there was not enough oil. However unhealthy, I ended up just frying the chicken pieces in cooking oil.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

New York Reuben with Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries

This is a fun combination and fresh option on a dinner list that may be in need of some new ideas. The flavor on this Reuben is as good as others I've ordered in restaurants, and the sweet potato fries are a real treat that is friendly not only to the palate, but also to the body.

New York Reuben:

*The typical Reuben is loaded with corned beef, but in order to create the deli favorite from the Big Apple, I used turkey pastrami.

8 slices rye bread (I used Slovak bread--much more moist than the average rye)
4 tsp course grain prepared mustard (spicy works well)
1 lb turkey pastrami
1/2 lb swiss cheese
8 oz sauerkraut, drained
1/2 cup Russian dressing
1/2 Tbsp butter

On a work surface, place 4 slices of rye bread and spread each with 1 teaspoon mustard. Layer each bread slice with 1/4 pound pastrami, then pile on the swiss cheese and sauerkraut. Spread Russian dressing on the remaining 4 slices and place dressing-side down on top of sauerkraut.

In a large nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. When butter begins to sizzle, place sandwiches in the pan and toast until golden brown.--about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.

Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries:

2 large sweet potatoes
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
1 Tbsp cooking oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel potatoes, cut each in half lengthwise, and cut each half into 6 wedges. In a large bowl, combine wedges, oil, and spices. Toss until potatoes are evenly coated.

Arrange wedges on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until edges are crisp and potatoes are cooked through--about 30 minutes. For a crispier finish, place potatoes under the broiler before serving.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Chicken Pasta With Artichokes

3 cups uncooked fusilli pasta (or other medium-sized pasta...rotini was good)
1 6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, undrained
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2 inch slices (or cubes, whatever.)
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 7-ounce jar roasted red peppers, sliced
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine (substitute apple juice for wine)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook and drain pasta as directed on package. Drain liquid from artichokes into 10-inch skillet; heat over medium-high heat. Cook chicken in liquid for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in mushrooms and garlic. Cook about 4 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until chicken is light brown and no longer pink. Stir in artichokes and peppers.

In a medium bowl, mix broth, wine (apple juice), and cornstarch together until well blended. Gradually stir the broth mixture into the chicken mixture. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute, until thickened. Toss with pasta, salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

This is another of those recipes that Elliot LOVES. It has a great flavor, and I thought it was a nice recipe for summertime.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

SALE! Chicken Breasts!

Fresh Boneless Skinless Chicken breasts are on sale at Smith's for $1.59/lb. That is a great deal compared to the usual $4.49/lb. I went last night and they were out but I got a rain check for 20 lbs! Last time they were on sale I bought 25 lbs and a couple marinades. I put four breast to a bag with the marinade and put them in the freezer. I probably did 6 different marinades, homemade and store bought, so we have a selection and can pull them out of the freezer and they are ready for the grill. I would highly recommend you take advantage of this deal!

Blackened Chicken

I made this last summer and to my surprise Kellen remembered it enough to request it again this summer. I love this recipe because it is quick, easy, delicious, and most of the ingredients are ones you have on hand. It is spicy so tone down the cayenne if you want less heat. I made it last night as a Blackened Chicken Cesar Salad and it was delicious!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ready in 30 minutes or less

Yield: 4 servings

1 Tbsp. paprika
4 tsp. sugar, divided
1 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. lemon pepper
1 tsp. cayenne
1 1/2 to 2 tsp. pepper, divided
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

In a small bowl, combine paprika, 1 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp salt, garlic powder, thyme, lemon pepper, cayenne, and 1/2 to 1 tsp. pepper; sprinkle over both sides of chicken. (I do this in a bag and shake the chicken in the seasonings.) Set aside. In another bowl, combine mayonnaise, water, vinegar, and remaining sugar, salt and pepper; cover and chill 3/4 cup for serving. Save remaining sauce for basting.
Grill chicken, covered, over indirect medium heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until juices run clear, basting frequently with sauce. Serve with reserved sauce for dipping.