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Beef Stew With Mushrooms and Bacon

January 23, 2013

 

For Christmas this year, my big present was a 3 quart Le Creuset dutch oven.  My initial intention was to make some beef bourginon a la Julia Child, but that required a few things I didn’t have around the house.  So I opted for some straight up beef stew.  At some point during the last few months, I remember seeing a recipe for a beef stew that incorporated mushrooms and bacon, and since I couldn’t find it when I went hunting, I made up my own.  I also utilized a fabulous bag of cippolini onions I found at Walmart of all places.  The end result made the angels, or at least our stomachs, sing.  Hubby is now a believer in the Power of Le Creuset.  I may have created a monster! Servings: 5 at  678 calories and 45.69g of fat.

Beef Stew With Bacon and Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 2.25 lbs chuck roast
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 8 ounces sliced carrots
  • 8 ounces cippolini onions
  • 1.5 cups red potatoes, diced
  • 4 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbs cornstarch
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tbs kosher salt
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 4 slices thick slices bacon

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

2. Cut the chuck roast into one inch cubes.

3. Sprinkle with the corn starch, some of the salt and pepper and stir until well coated.

4. Cut the bacon into chunks and cook in a large dutch oven until crispy and remove with a slotted spoon.

5. Pour the bacon grease into a bowl.  Add 2 tablespoons back to your dutch oven.

6. Brown the beef in batches, adding a bit more bacon grease as necessary, then remove to a bowl.

7. Add the carrots and saute until just starting to caramelize.

8. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds.

9. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up all those lovely brown bits.

10. Add the meat back to the pan.

11. Add the reserved bacon, stock, potatoes, and thyme.  Bring the mixture back to a boil.

12. Cover and place in the oven for 90-120 minutes.

13. Add another tablespoon of bacon grease to a skillet and heat over medium heat.

14. Add the cippolini onions and mushrooms and saute until softened.

15. Add the onions and mushrooms to the dutch oven and cook for another 20 minutes.

Printable version.

Healthier Spaghetti Carbonara

January 21, 2013

I love carbonara.  It is, hands down, my very favorite pasta.  The true traditional carbonara is straight up bacon and eggs and pecorino with the yolk making this lovely creamy, velvety sauce.  What you see in restaurants is usually all of these things and loaded with cream to boot.  Decadent and HORRIBLE for you.  So I’m always interested in people’s interpretations for lightening it up.  I tried out this recipe from Amateurs with Knives  with a few modifications: gluten free spaghetti, fat free half and half instead of evaporated skim milk, 4 strips of bacon instead of 2 strips plus 2 ounces of Canadian bacon, and I added in some mushrooms and peas for some veggie content.

The verdict: The overall flavor was good, but it absolutely does not serve 6 as a main course.  I’d set it at serving 4 and then hubby and I were still hungry and split a serving.  I think I’d like to try this again with some grilled chicken added.  It wouldn’t constitute low cal, but certainly healthier than the restaurant version.

Healthier Spaghetti Carbonara

Gluten Free Friday: Double Chocolate Brownies

January 18, 2013

In the holiday season, we’re inundated with all kinds of sweet treats—almost none of which are gluten free.  It’s the south.  We deal.  My concession one night was to make up a batch of gluten free, slightly healthier homemade brownies.  These are rich, moist, and delicious.  Nobody would know they were gluten free or lighter.  This makes a 9×9 pan of 12 brownies at 172 calories and 6.75 grams of fat.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup dark cocoa powder (heaping)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup Splenda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup gluten-free flour mix (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Line an 8 x 8 baking dish with foil and spray with cooking spray.

3. Mix everything but the chocolate chips until you have a nice smooth batter.

4. Add the chocolate chips.

5. Pour into prepared baking dish.

6. Bake for 25-30 minutes (don’t overcook!).

7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the foil insert and fold it down to enable easy cutting.

Printable version.

Tequila Lime Chicken Thighs

January 16, 2013

Chicken thighs get a bad rap.  In our chicken breast obsessed world, folks seem to think that chicken thighs are horribly fatty and bad for you.  Not so.  If you remove the skin and fat, they aren’t bad at all, particularly compared to the ginormous multi-serving chicken breasts that seem to show up in our grocery stores.  Thighs have more flavor and will stay juicier than breasts, and two of them will only set you back about 170 calories and 5 grams of fat.  I like to buy the boneless, skinless ones in bulk.   They’re usually cheaper than chicken breasts and come with much better, easy  portion control.  Plus, they take to marinades REALLY WELL.  That’s what this recipe is all about.  An easy marinade that’s full of flavor.  Serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
  • 1 50ml bottle of tequila (the little nip size)
  • 50 ml of lime juice (I just refilled the bottle the tequila came in, but you could easily use the juice of two fresh limes)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Toss the chicken, tequila, lime juice, and minced garlic into a ziplock bag to marinate.  You could do this as little as an hour.  My chicken was frozen at the time, so it marinated all day as it thawed.
  2. Preheat your grill to approximately 350 degrees.
  3. Just before tossing on the grill, sprinkle both sides of the chicken with just a hint of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
  4. Grill approximately 5-6 minutes per side (keep an eye on them at 4 minutes in case they’re small).
  5. Serve with a salad or some nice Spanish style rice and black beans.

Printable version.

Mix It Up Monday: Spicy Kale Chips

January 14, 2013

I’ve been hearing about kale the last couple of years as some kind of nutritional power house.  But it’s a green and other than basic spinach, I’m not really a fan of greens.  Given I’m southern, this probably breaks a law somewhere, but whatever.  Sometime earlier this year, I saw kale chips mentioned on one of my Food Network programs and I thought, “Huh.  Weird.”  Because who ever heard of making chips out of something green?   Then I kept hearing about them in one form or another, so I determined that I should try them.  I prowled around the interwebs and came across this recipe for spicy kale chips from White on Rice Couple and gave it a go.

All I can say is…WOW.  With the sea salt, these shockingly actually tasted like potato chips, and I loved the spicy kick from the red pepper flakes.  I inhaled an entire pan’s worth (approximately half a bunch of kale) in one sitting.  They were light, satisfying, and so surprising.  I saved one for hubby to try when he got home.  He wouldn’t touch it, so I popped it into my mouth and learned that these do not fair well too far from the oven.  The bitter really came out after it had been sitting a while.  But straight out after a 14 minute bake they were wonderful.  Cook’s Note: I used my Misto so that they weren’t soggy from the olive oil.

spicy kale chips

Gluten Free Friday: Chicken and Mushroom Pot Pie

January 11, 2013

Who doesn’t love chicken pot pie?  It’s one of those classic comfort foods.  I confess, I actually love the ones straight from the freezer section.  But it’s one of those that doesn’t just scream “gluten free” OR healthy.  Now I have a light and healthy version using Phyllo dough for me, but that doesn’t meet the gluten free requirement for our house now, so I had to try something different.   I went with a biscuit topping, adapted from a biscuit recipe in You Won’t Believe It’s Gluten Free.  The end result was delicious and rich.  And best of all flavorful and healthy.  Serves 4 at 679 calories and 24.5 grams of fat.

 

Ingredients:

For the biscuit topping

  • 3 tbs unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • For the cream of chicken soup
  • 2 ounces chopped, cooked chicken
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2.3 tbs potato starch
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon powder

For the filling

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots peeled and diced
  • 1 cup celery chopped
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 4 ounces porcini mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 ounces Shiitake mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/4 cup green peas
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 3 cups cooked and chopped chicken
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

 

Directions:

 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Heat the tablespoon of oil over medium high heat.

3. Saute the onions, celery, and carrots until softened.

4. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to saute until the mushrooms are cooked down.

5. Add the chicken, chicken stock, salt, pepper, parsley, and paprika.

6. Reduce heat to medium low.

7. Mix the dry ingredients for the biscuit topping.

8. Mix the 3/4 cup milk, butter, and cider vinegar.

9. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry.  The batter will be thicker than you’re used to for gluten free bread.  Set aside.

10. Place the chicken in a saucepan with the olive oil and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

11. Whisk the milk, potato starch, and chicken bouillon until well combined.

12. Stirring constantly, add to the pot, bring to a boil, and allow the mixture to thicken.  This will happen VERY fast!

13. Add soup mixture to the skillet with the filling and stir until well combined and bubbly.

14. Pour into a 9×13 baking dish.

15. Drop spoonfuls of the biscuit topping over the top.

16. Bake for 20 minutes, until top is golden brown.

Printable version.

Maple Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

January 9, 2013

I’ve had a bottle of REAL maple syrup hanging out in my cabinet for at least a couple of months.  I’ve been saving it, like gold (since it costs so much!), for something really special.  Given that maple and breakfast sausage goes SO well together, I thought that a maple and sausage stuffing would be marvelous in acorn squash with a nice, savory/sweet combo.  The end result is filling and delicious.  Just add a salad or other veggie side and you’ve got a pretty easy and complete meal.  Serves 4 at 470 calories and 13 grams of fat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 acorn squash
  • 16 ounces turkey sausage
  • 6 tbs maple syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tbs shallots, coarsly chopped
  • 3 slices gluten free sandwich bread, toasted and coarsely crumbled

 

Directions:

 

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2. Cut the acorn squash vertically down the center.

3. Scoop out seeds and slice a little bit off the bottom so that it’ll lay flat.

4. Place the halves face down in a baking dish and pour about a cup of water in the bottom.

5. Bake for 30 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, add the shallots and sausage to a skillet and brown.

7. Add the sausage mixture to a bowl with the bread crumbles and 3 tablespoons of maple syrup (the real stuff, none of that fake crap) and mix well.

8. After the mixture has cooled a bit, add the egg and mix well.

9. When the squash is done, flip it face side up.

10. Divide the remaining 2 tablespoons of maple syrup between the 4 squash halves, brushing it across the surface.

11. Fill the squash halves with the sausage mixture, mounding it up.

12. Reduce heat in the oven to 350 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes.

Printable version.

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