Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Julia's Stir-Fry

I love cooking with kids. They can be so enthusiastic and creative in the kitchen when given a chance. For my niece Julia's thirteenth birthday, we shopped for ingredients and cooked dinner together before sleeping overnight and going to the water park the next day. I gave her the choice of a pasta and vegetable dish or a stir-fry, and as she tends to make pasta at home, she chose a stir-fry. In the grocery store Julia was encouraged to make all the choices: the meat, the vegetables, the flavors for the sauce, and the grain.

In addition to my love of cooking and baking, I also appreciate the opportunity of sharing my philosophy on food and healthy eating. I told Julia that people often say to me that they could never do what I do, that they hate dieting. I explained that I don't think of what I do as a diet at all. I simply enjoy the tastes and flavors of whole foods, and knowing that what I am putting in my body not only tastes good but helps to fuel it. It's all about making choices that are both healthy and delicious.

Julia was already on board with this as she made some wonderful choices! Meat- Chicken. Vegetables- orange and yellow peppers, onions, baby corn and sugar snap peas. Grain? Well, she decided that my black rice looked really interesting, and wanted to try it. We picked up some tamari- a special soy sauce, and mixed it with some garlic chili sauce, chicken broth, and sesame oil that I had at home. Her last choice was to top it with roasted cashews and green onions. What great instincts! It was delicious, and pretty spicy too. We served it to Tim and Connor as well as ourselves with high raves. Great job, Julia! Let's cook together again sometime soon.

Julia's Spicy Chicken Stir-Fry
1 1/2 cups black rice
2 1/2 cups water or chicken broth
2 T canola oil
1 lb. chicken breats, cut into chunks
1 T minced fresh ginger
1 T minced fresh garlic
1 med. red onion, chopped
1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
4 oz. sugar snap peas
4 oz. baby corn
1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/4 cup garlic chili sauce
2 T sesame oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
Sea salt, fresh ground pepper
1 T cornstarch
1/2 cup whole roasted unsalted cashews
2 sliced green onions

Cook rice according to package directions.
Heat oil in wok or large non-stick fry pan over moderately high heat. Cook ginger and garlic until soft. Add onion, stir-fry 1 minute. Add chicken, cooking until no longer pink. Push chicken to the sides of pan and add rest of vegetables, stir-frying a few minutes. In small bowl, whisk tamari, chili sauce, sesame oil, broth, salt, pepper, and cornstarch together. Taste sauce and adjust ingredients if necessary. (We added more chili sauce to make it spicier!) Pour sauce in pan and stir until thickened. Top with cashews and green onions and toss just before serving. Serve over cooked black rice.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Two Grilled Summer Dinners

As a teacher, I love summers for obvious reasons. As a foodie, I love summers for one big reason- the grill! And our grill is getting plenty of action this summer with the standard cookout fare, as well as some new recipes, like the two dishes pictured above.
First is a strawberry pineapple salsa that I served over black rice and grilled catfish. You can use any whitefish like tilapia or haddock, and the salsa would also be great with fish tacos. I cooked the black rice in lite coconut milk, as directed in my "Fire and Spice" post. The fish was simply salted and peppered before grilling. I used a pineapple salsa recipe I found on the Eating Well website. I didn't have enough fresh pineapple, so I substituted strawberries for the other half. The salsa was delicious and very refreshing over the fish. There was plenty of salsa leftover to serve with chicken or turkey later in the week.

The second dish is a Honey Chili Ginger Grilled Chicken and Peach Salad from Health Magazine. I made this dish as instructed in the recipe, with the exception of substituting arugula for the watercress which I was unable to find at the grocery store, and nectarines for the peaches. I loved the combination of flavors in this dish, the fact that the chicken, corn, and nectarines were all grilled, and the contrast between the spicy chili sauce and the sweet nectarines. The only fault I have with it is that there was very little sauce left after basting to drizzle over the salad at the end. The ingredients were delicious, but it left the arugula rather dry in parts. I think next time I will double the amount of sauce and that should take care of the issue. After this dish, I'm convinced that pretty much any food tastes better on the grill, especially in the summer!
Here is the link to the salsa recipe:http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/fish_pineapple_salsa.html
Don't forget to use strawberries for half of the pineapple if you like the idea!

Honey-Chili-Ginger Grilled Chicken and Peach Salad
from Health Magazine
2 T honey
1 (1-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, grated
1/3 cup hot chili sauce (I used garlic chili sauce)
2 T olive oil
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast, pounded very thin
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
3 ears shucked corn, broken into small pieces
3 ripe peaches, quartered and pitted (I used nectarines)
8 oz. watercress (I used arugula)

Combine honey and next 3 ingredients in medium bowl. Place chicken in medium dish. Spoon 2-3 T chili dressing over the chicken. Coat well.
Heat grill pan, grill, or broiler. Lightly coat grill pan if using. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper, grill until cooked through (2-3 min per side). Transfer to cutting board.
Grill corn until tender, about 5 min, brushing lightly with chili dressing while grilling. Transfer to a platter. Grill peach quarters, just until grill marks appear (about 1 min per side) brushing lightly with chili dressing while grilling. Transfer to platter.
Scatter watercress over the platter. Slice chicken into smaller pieces, transfer to platter. Comgine cooked juices and remaining dressing, stir well. Drizzle over salad, serve.