Sunday, September 25, 2011

Crispy Coconut Curry Chicken Fingers

Now, we all love fried foods right? I mean, seriously find me one person who doesn't, because I would worship them for their ability to avoid the worst food for all of man kind. Well, I love coconut, chicken and curry so I figured I would throw them all together. I made it the first time without the curry, it was still delicious, but this time I just wanted to try curry so I added it, and this will be the way I make it from now on, because I love curry (don't you know this by now?). I am sure you could do this with shrimp as well, I have never tried it, but would love to know how it comes out. Keep in mind that because this isn't fried there might be a slightly different taste than what you would get if you got these in a restaurant, just understand that your pants will thank you.

Here's there recipe!

2 lbs Chicken tenders
1/4 cup chopped coconut
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp seasoned salt (or just salt)
Dijon Mustard (1 large squeeze)
1-2 tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 400. It needs to be hot to get the pretend fried crunch. Marinate the chicken strips in honey dijon mix. It should be thick enough to stick to the chicken and you can control the sweetness. Mix all of the other ingredients together in a plate and roll each chicken finger in the crumb. Place on a sprayed cookie sheet (should be metal for optimal heat) and pop into the oven.

Now the tricky part is letting the chicken cook at a high temp, and then turning over and cooking the other side so what I have been doing is bake first for about 20 minutes. Very gently release each piece of chicken from the bottom trying not to rip the coating off the chicken. Once each piece is flipped, put back in the oven and broil on low setting until the top is lightly browned. You may even want to broil the other side too, its up to you but at this point the chicken is cooked, we are just now trying to get a nice crispy coating.

Fox Run 14-Inch Non-Stick Pizza Crisper
I like to serve these with french fries baked on a pizza crisping pan like this one to the right (if you want to buy it, click on it and you will be re-directed to amazon). Spray the fries lightly and sprinkle with seasoned salt. If you are wondering why I spray them first, I usually buy the cheap store brand of fries which are not pre-coated in lots of oil.

For sauce, I love using La Choy Sweet and Sour or there is a (please excuse this) Cock Brand Spring Roll Sauce or Sriracha, all of which go nicely with the curried coconut chicken.

OOOORRRRR A satay peanut sauce would be amaaaaziiiiing!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Easy Chinese Takeout From Home!

Clockwise from top: Rangoon, Pork Bun, Scallion Paratha, Lo Mein

I've been craving Chinese food for some time now, the fattening, so greasy that if you touch anything after you eat and light it on fire it would stay lit forever, kind of Chinese food. And I want all of the sides and everything! Since I have been unemployed I have had time to exercise every day, and I certainly didn't want to ruin it with the oh so yummy Chinese take out from down the road so off I went on a little venture to Hong Kong Market. 

I picked up a few things that I needed, specifically, the noodles. There were SOOOO many kinds of noodle to choose from but finally I decided on the flat "stir fry" variety, I also believe these ones do not contain eggs, just an fyi. The directions said that you don't have to boil them first, but I did. You only need to boil them for a minute or two at the most.

I also was thinking that I wanted a steamed pork bun and scallion pancake. Off to the freezer aisles which are completely loaded with gyoza, shumai, egg rolls, pot stickers, pork buns, bean curd buns...oh my! Too many things to name. So I actually settled upon the scallion paratha, which is Indian, but was much cheaper than the scallion pancake (and tasted perfect!). Also, on sale were the roasted pork buns. There are so many kinds; pork with mustard, pork with cabbage, roasted pork (this is my favorite), pork with leeks and so on.

There are going to be a few items that sound scary, like oyster sauce. Its not scary, don't read about it and don't taste it plain (it doesn't taste fishy don't worry) and you will be just fine. If you buy a bottle you will surprisingly use it quite often in asian cooking. Soy sauce? Not so scary but try to go for the reduced sodium, no need for full sodium. Also, the noodles can be made vegetarian and even vegan. Who says veggie or vegan food can't be tasty? Just find the vegetarian 'oyster' sauce then.

When I got home I remembered that I had the ingredients to make crab rangoon, so I added that to the menu as well!

Vegetable Lo Mein (because I totally forgot to add the Chinese Extra Lean Sausage grrr)

6 oz. lo mein noodles
1 tbsp  oyster sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp canola or peanut oil
1 onion diced
1 bell pepper sliced thin (any color, I used red, its what I had geesh!)
1 cup snow peas, can be sliced or left whole
4-5 sliced mushrooms
1 cup sliced bamboo shoot
1 small can water chestnut
1 carrot julienned
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp. sesame oil

Cook the noodles per the directions, drain and set aside. While noodles are boiling you can make the sauce with the oyster sauce, soy sauce chicken broth and crushed red pepper. Set that aside.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over high heat (I used a paella pan since it was much larger and easier to stir fry).  If using meat, cook this first and set aside. Saute the vegetables starting with the onion, carrot, mushroom and bell peppers and ending with the snow peas.  Cook until tender, you don't want the vegetables to be over cooked and mushy. Add in the garlic and saute quickly for about a minute.

Add the noodles to the pan and then drizzle the sauce over and toss. Drizzle with a little sesame oil just before serving.

Easy, Baked Crab Rangoon
1 pkg cream cheese, softened (can be low fat)
1 can pink crab
2 tsp grated onion
2 tsp garlic powder
2-3 tsp white sugar
1 pkg won ton wrappers

Let the cream cheese come to room temp. Don't worry, you can leave this out over night and it won't spoil. Drain the crab and add to the cream cheese along with the onion, garlic and sugar. 

Get your wrappers ready! I find it easiest to hold the wrapper in one hand, and use a cheese spreader to glop the cheese in the middle of the wrapper, but before you do this lightly dampen the edges of the wrapper, this will act as the glue. Fold the wrapper over, it will form a triangle and then fold in the sides and you now have a crab rangoon! Pop the pan in the freezer for about 30 minutes before cooking, this helps to prevent the filling from oozing out during cooking (I just figured this out, derrr)

I always bake mine. Its easier and lower in fat, but if you do so you will have to still brush each one with just a little bit of oil, or spray them lightly with cooking spray, bake at about 375F until golden brown, you may need to flip them or lightly broil.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fist Pumpkin Ravioli with Butter Sage Sauce

Get it? Fist pumpkin? Kinda like fist pumpin?? Ok so anyways here is how frugal (and smart!) I am. We all love the fall in New England, right? Well one of my favorite things about the fall are the decorations, the edible decorations that is. Farmer's markets have so many kinds of squash and pumpkins; flat ones, red ones, green ones, long, short, fat, skinny all kinds and its so much fun to display them. Its even more fun to cook them when you are done looking! (I think I told you in another post that you can keep pumpkins and squash for months in a cool dry home.)

Anyway...I made some squash ravioli months ago and FINALLY cooked them, drizzled a nice sage butter sauce over them and o..m..g they are delicious.

Sage Butter Sauce:
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
8 leaves fresh sage
1/2 lemon, juiced

Melt the butter and oil, allow the butter to brown slightly, add the sage and cook for a minute, shut the heat and add the lemon juice

I can't find the recipe that I used, but this one from Martha Stewart sounds amazing.

  • 1 3-pound sugar pumpkin, or butternut squash
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup Locatelli cheese
  • 3 large or 6 small amaretti cookies, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon shallots, chopped
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds store-bought fresh pasta sheets or wonton wrappers

  • Click on the link for info from a previous entry I wrote on cooking pumpkin. Once you have done this, mix the ingredients together. Take each wonton wrapper and place a spoonful on the wrapper, wet the edges lightly and fold over. If the filling squeezes out, you've put too much in, so add a little less next time.
  • Place each ravioli on a cookie sheet sprinkled with flour. Place the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes before cooking, or if you are not eating these for a while, let them freeze completely before you bag them. 
  • To cook, bring a salted pot of water to a boil and place the raviolis in the pot. They should cook in 5-7 minutes. Drain and pour the sage butter sauce over just before serving. 

  • can use squash.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Big fat Greek Spinach Pie!

As you may already have guessed, I love Mediterranean food. Greek, being Mediterranean is one of my favorite cuisines, right up there with Lebanese and Indian. There are two ordinary pizza take out/delivery restaurants in my area, each with their own version of spinach pie. If I ever order from one of them, you bet your booty I am ordering the pie. The first few times I had it, I was stumped as to what the flavors were inside. I seriously couldn't figure it out.. Ok so there is spinach and feta cheese, thats a given but there was one or two more things that I couldn't figure out.


Finally it came to me. They used dill in their filling! And the other restaurant used dill AND a little mint. These two lovely herbs really pair well with the saltiness of the feta cheese and the crispness of the phyllo dough once baked. However, this recipe I am using will not include mint. It should, but its raining (remnants of tropical storm Lee) and I just don't feel like going outside to get some.

Athens Thick Fillo Dough (phyllo)Also, if you have never used or even heard of phyllo (also spelled fillo) dough, be patient, it is very tough to use at first since these sheets are often times thinner than paper. They have to stay just lightly damp so that they don't dry out before you get to stuff them. Also, if yours are frozen, let them thaw out for a while, if you don't they may break apart instead of peeling apart.

If you are doing a baby or bridal shower (or any party really) and you don't feel like dealing with the sheets, I would recommend buying the pre made phyllo cups, a bit more expensive but its well worth it.

Lastly, you can use butter if you want, however, I shouldn't be eating so much butter (but its SOOO GOOD) so for the layers I used an egg and a little olive oil OR you could lightly spray each dough layer with butter flavored cooking spray (Thanks Sandra Lee!). This will be the first time I ever have used an egg so I will let you know how it comes out.

Oh man...onnnnneeee mooooreeee thinngggg. I like to sprinkle sesame seeds over the top before baking, you don't have to. I actually thought I had a bag of them, but I couldn't find it so I used sesame seeds which were hanging around the bottom of a pretzel bag (pretty strange eh!).


2 bags frozen spinach, thawed and water pressed out (can use fresh but why?)
1-2 tbsp fresh chopped dill OR 2 tsp dried
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 cube frozen garlic, Dorot, OR 1-2 minced cloves
1 box defrosted phyllo dough or cups
Melted butter, olive oil or egg

First you need to find a large pan, can be glass or metal. I think metal might be better for the crisp factor, but all I have are glass so whatev. Butter or oil the bottom of the pan and GENTLY place a piece of the phyllo over it, GENTLY press down to form into pan and then GENTLY add more of the fat of choice (or spray or egg). Do this a few times, you should have somewhere between 5-8 layers of dough.

Next, add your spinach filling, it can be pretty thick. No one wants to bite into a limp spinach pie, now do they?? NO! Gently place another piece of the dough over the spinach, brush with egg/oil/butter, repeat 5-8 times, brush the top of the pie and voila!

Now its time for your preheated oven to 375. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until the top is browned and it all just smells awesome.

Allow to cool completely before slicing, I usually slice into squares, but if you are not a geometry failure go ahead and make fun triangles, trapezoids...whatever.

 Now enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Awesome South Asian Okra

I love Okra and do not know how to cook it other than breading and frying it. I would love to do that but it is too fattening to have ALL the time and its just a lot of work. Well, one of my friends, NoopDawg made an okra dish for Diwali last year which was amazing. Since then I had been craving it but couldn't get the secret out of her (thanks NoopDawg!). So one day another friend of mine had posted on facebook that her husband had made an okra dish that she said was pretty amazing. He is from Pakistan and I am VERY jealous that we are not neighbors because he is constantly cooking the foods that I wish I knew how to cook!

Anyways, I asked if she could tell him to write down a recipe as he is cooking it. She did it. And now, I have it! I've made only very slight adjustments such as lowering the amount of oil and adding a small bit of cumin seeds.
Ferry-Morse 1315 Okra Seeds, Clemson Spineless 80 (5 Gram Packet)
Here it goes!

1 lb okra, sliced lengthwise into quarters
2 Tablespoons oil (canola, sunflower, vegetable etc)
1 onion thinly sliced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp whole cloves (yes whole)
1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
2 tsp salt or to taste

Heat the oil in a skillet and add onion, Brown the onion, may take up to 10 minutes, add the cumin seed too. Next add the curry powder and water, stir in the cloves and peppercorns and salt. Cover and allow to cook about 5 minutes. Add the okra and stir it around in the spices and onions. Cover and cook about 5 minutes. Next add a sliced tomato, the tomato will break down eventually and dissolve into the okra, this is how you know its done (5-7 minutes).

If you don't like okra, I am sure you can substitute with green beans or even cauliflower and still get an amazing vegetarian dish.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Simple Side Dish: Green Beans My Way

Summertime brings so much of everything good. Nice weather, holidays, thunder storms and lots and lots of fresh vegetables. This year was my first big year for planting a garden. I decided to move my garden to a much larger area thus allowing plenty of room for all kinds of delicious vegetables.

I also like to grow things that you don't find every day. This year I grew a green bean called "Scarlet Runner Bean" for the main purpose that it climbs AND has showy scarlet red flowers. The bean pod is pretty similar to the standard green bean, but the dried bean is a spectacular sight. Its all black with pink spots on it. So imagine a kidney bean painted black with pink dots. 

Flower Scarlet Runner Bean 50 Seeds per PacketI also grew the standard pole bean, which has climbed VERY high and still climbing. Luckily I planted them next to my deck so the plants have plenty of upward space to grow, they are probably 20 feet or so now!

Anyway, today I noticed that there were a ton of beans ready to be picked. I started picking them and finally had to find something to put them in because I had way more that I had been expecting! So what did I do with them? This recipe is a simple side dish for those of us who like to keep the crisp snap in green beans.

Oh also, you will see that I have purple beans too. These came from an old friend from my hometown who gave them to me, oddly they turned green once they hit the heat, but are still delicious!

Bunch of green beans
olive oil
Crushed garlic
Salt n pepa

Remove the stems from the beans, you can leave them whole if you like. Heat some olive oil in a skillet, I usually use cast iron for this but you can use whatever you have. Add your beans, garlic and salt n pepa. Allow the beans to saute for a while, I'd say around 10 minutes and toss every minute or two. You may also want to add just a little water at this point too so the beans will steam but not become that horrible soggy grey...thing.