Clean Eating Recipe: Honey-Cranberry Chicken with Orange-Paprika Rice

Honey-Cranberry Chicken with Orange-Paprika Rice

Honey-Cranberry Chicken with Orange-Paprika Rice

I know I started this Clean Eating section quite a while ago but I’ve been traveling all around the world and working as well and things just got away from me. Now I am settled in (for now) and have started getting really serious about the Clean Eating thing. I’ve been exercising for the last two weeks (since we landed in our new place in Canada…for now) and we’ve been really watching what we eat. I have my second weigh in tomorrow morning (I am trying to lose 15 pounds and get in shape) so I can’t say for certain how much I lost this week but last week I lost 3 pounds by just working out for an hour a day, eating clean, and watching my portion sizes. I also have a cheat day where I can have whatever I want but I’ll tell you that once you put in all that good work all week you don’t want to do anything too bad so it keeps you in check.

The first recipe I am going to highlight in this Clean Eating section is one that I got from, appropriately enough, http://www.cleaneatingmag.com and it’s Honey-Cranberry Chicken with Orange-Paprika Rice. It was good too. The thing to keep in mind when doing this recipe or any Clean Eating recipe is that the measurements matter. I know when we cook for the sake of cooking we tend to estimate ingredients and change things to our liking but when you’re trying to keep things clean and under certain calorie, fat, etcetera counts you really need to measure everything exactly how they tell you to in the recipe. Otherwise you could (and most like are) adding calories, fats, and sugars where you really shouldn’t be.

Also note that the recipe tells you exactly what the serving size is and that’s REALLY important. In this day and age portion sizes have gotten OUT OF CONTROL and if you look around the general population you’ll see that it really shows. So when they say 4 ounces of chicken is a serving that is about 1/2 of a chicken breast and the 3/4 cup of rice is easy to measure. I literally used a measuring cup and then popped it on the plate. The end result is that you KNOW exactly how much you’re eating and it makes the dish look so professional like you are at a really nice restaurant.

Now some of you might be saying ‘Well what does this recipe taste like?’ This dish was really tasty. It had a perfect combination of savory, sweet, and tart and left me satisfied and not looking for anything else to eat. Which is exactly what you want when you have a great meal. I would give this recipe 4 out of 4 stars. Check back next time when I let you know how my progress is going and give you another great recipe to try.

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RECIPE: Pumpkin Ravioli

I found this recipe for Pumpkin Ravioli in my local grocery store’s wine and food free publication and it seemed like the perfect antidote to the frozen fresh pumpkin in my freezer. I’ve been going through a phase lately where I want to clean out and organize and use things up that have been lurking around for awhile and my frozen pumpkin is one of those things. I slaughtered the pumpkin with my own hands last Thanksgiving and used some then for pumpkin pies and the rest has been anxiously awaiting it’s turn in the culinary world known as ‘My Kitchen’. 🙂

The recipe intrigued me for a few reasons. One, it’s got pumpkin in it as stated above. Two, the ingredients are so simple but the result looked so decadent and special. Three, the use of wonton wrappers instead of traditional pasta was the great thing that sealed the deal because unlike some of my Italian friends who have it in their blood to make pasta I am not one bit Italian and have totally missed the gene that’s needed to make my own pasta. Any attempts to make pasta have always been met with a big blob of glue that got thrown out. I know when I’ve been beaten and pasta is thy name! 🙂

So here are the recipe ingredients:

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup blanched almonds, toasted

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

1 cup of canned (or fresh) pumpkin

1/4 cup finely shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese plus additional for garnish

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper plus additional to taste

20 wonton wrappers, thawed if frozen

Directions:

ONE: In a medium skillet cook onion and garlic in 1 teaspoon hot butter over medium heat until onion is softened, about 3 minutes

TWO: In a food processor combine 1/4 cup of the almonds and the rosemary. Cover and pulse with several on/off turns until nuts are finely ground. Add pumpkin, 1/4 cup of cheese, the onion mixture, salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cover and pulse until just combined.

THREE: Working with 2 wonton wrappers at a time, top wrappers with one tablespoon of filling. Brush edges of wrapper with water and bring one corner of wrapper to meet the opposite corner to form a triangle, pressing own around filling to force out any air and to seal edges well. Cover filled ravioli with a dry kitchen towel while you repeat with remaining wonton wrappers and filling.

FOUR: Coarsely chop remaining 1/4 cup of almonds. In a medium skillet heat remaining 1/4 cup of butter over medium heat; add chopped almonds and cook, stirring until butter begins to brown on bottom of skillet (do not allow to burn), about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and keep warm.

FIVE: Bring water to a boil and cook ravioli for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender, gently stirring occasionally. (Keep water at a low boil to prevent ravioli from breaking). Drain.

SIX: Drizzle ravioli with almond-browned butter and sprinkle with additional Parmesan and pepper to taste. Makes 4 Servings! (20 ravioli) 

Now as I usually do there was a change or two to the recipe. I didn’t like the way my rosemary looked so I didn’t use it. I used some parsley instead. I think that was the only thing I changed really…will miracles never cease!

Some tips on dealing with the wonton wrappers. They say to put a tablespoon of the mixture in the center of the wonton but I would advise to put a little less than that because a tablespoon was a bit much and had the tendency to ooze out of the wrapper when I was trying to seal it. Once it does that the wrapper didn’t seem to really want to seal quite so well. So put a little less.

Secondly, keep a little bowl of water near you and dip your fingers in it to line the outside of the wrappers with. Don’t put too much water or it won’t seal well but don’t be afraid to wet the edges of the wrapper either. It’s a delicate balance and it takes some practice to get right. My first five or so raviolis were a bit of a challenge but once I got the method down it worked like a charm.

Just like any other pasta when the raviolis start to float in the boiling water they’re done.

I paired this meal with a nice green salad and a Austrian wine called Gruner Veltliner that my brother gifted to me. It really complimented the meal fantastically. You can read the review on this wine here.

RECIPE: Almendrados (Flourless Almond Cookies)

I found this cookie for Almendrados (Flourless Almond Cookies) in the December 2011 issue of Cooking Light magazine and I was immediately intrigued. We don’t eat a lot of cookies in our house. It’s too much white flour and sugar usually and frankly we don’t need an excuse to snack but with these cookies we could snack guilt free really.

The ingredients are simple and for the most part really healthy. Sure there’s some sugar but compared to most cookie recipes this one goes really light on the sugar. I loved the idea that we could be enjoying a cookie with a cup of tea and getting more nuts in our diet at the same time.

The recipe itself is really easy to make. My blender (it’s a Ninja!) handled the task well but when it came to adding all the ingredients until it formed a ball my Ninja was having none of that. So I finished the mixing by hand which was no big deal. I shaped the almond dough into small balls a tablespoon at a time and the mixture made two more than the intended 24 cookies the recipe called for.

I added the cinnamon and pressed the balls down as I added the blanched almond on top and sent those bad boys to the oven. When they came out they were perfectly done and my house smelled like cinnamon, lemon and sweetness.

We loved these cookies and I will probably be making them on a regular basis now. I think it’s a great way to give into your sweet tooth’s need for cookies while providing your body with some extra nuts and nutrients. I would highly recommend these cookies! I also would imagine that this same recipe could be done with most any nut really so why not play and experiment with your favorites and then let me know what you’ve invented.

RECIPE: Deviled Eggs

Now in my family if there’s deviled eggs you better get out of the way because we’re going in. There are a few of these recipes in my family that will get this reaction, things like creamed spinach, apple pie (specifically my grandmother’s recipe that unfortunately may have gone to the grave with her) and, of course, Deviled eggs. Any special occasion, holiday, get together is fair game for deviled eggs with this clan.

So it was only natural that I make these for Christmas Eve for Matt and I. Now I make these slightly different than my family does I am sure but to be honest I’ve been making them this way for so long I don’t remember exactly how the rest of my family makes them but here’s my recipe.

Ingredients:

6 eggs, hard boiled

2-3 Tbsp Mayonnaise

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp horseradish

Paprika

Put the eggs in a saucepan and add water until covered. Put on high and bring to a boil. Don’t wait for the water to boil before you put the eggs in. They won’t come out right. Add the eggs to the water before it’s heated and bring to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil let it remain at a boil and cook for about 15 minutes to make sure they are hard-boiled.

I usually peel the eggs right away under cool running water. One, it enables you to actually handle the boiling hot eggs and two, I find the running water seems to help get the shells off cleanly without pulling the eggs apart which is a real nuisance when you want them to look pretty.

Once peeled cut each egg in half long way and carefully pop the egg yolk out and into a small bowl. Place egg halves on a separate plate. With a fork mash the egg yolks up until they are like mashed potatoes without a lot of lumps. Add the dijon mustard and the horseradish and mix. Then add the mayo slowly until you get a nice consistency and there’s enough to fill all the egg white halves.

Fill the egg white halves with the yolk mixture and sprinkle each egg with paprika. Viola! You now have really yummy deviled eggs that you’ll have to fight people for. Enjoy!

RECIPE: Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies

This recipe I got from one of my favorite blogs called Cook.Bake.Eat.Love besides me loving the blog name (a homage no doubt to one of my favorite books Eat, Pray, Love) which I wish I would have thought of I love Kara’s recipes and writings. You should check her out sometime at http://cookbakeeatlove.wordpress.com/

I found her recipe for Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies here and I immediately had to try them because I too had left over pumpkin that I just didn’t know what to do with and also they were a cookie that I didn’t have to hid from my other half who just shouldn’t have anything with caffeine like chocolate and admittedly most of my deserts would be chocolate if I didn’t have someone like him to taper my use. 🙂

I made the cookies exactly as written (I know…call Guinness right?) EXCEPT for the fact that I used my own pumpkin that I had slaughtered myself rather than the canned variety. It’s fresh, healthy and was lurking in my freezer.

These cookies were delicious. They are a cakey cookie rather than crispy like a chocolate chip cookie or something of the like but it was really nice. You can’t even tell that there’s pumpkin in them at all. To me they just tasted like really good butterscotch cookies so those of you who are looking for ways to slip your children a vegetable ‘mickey’ this would be an acceptable way to do it. 🙂 They’ll never know what hit them.

So go ahead. You know you want to try them. See you next week!

RECIPE: Goat Cheese-Asparagus Crustless Quiche

I love goat cheese. I love quiches. I love asparagus. Therefore, I knew this one would be great. I found this recipe in the January/February 2011 issue of the Vegetarian Times. It’s called Goat Cheese-Asparagus Crustless Quiche.

The ingredient list is really simple for this recipe so there’s really no worries about it coming out good or not. Simple ingredients, simple quiche, great food! What more can I say.

The goat cheese (yummy!) and shallots give this recipe just enough flavor to satisfy and delight your senses. I served this with a green salad and wine that to be honest I can’t remember and I forgot to write down. Sloppy of me, I know, but it’s the truth. 🙂

Try this recipe. It’s a great tasting, simple recipe that is satisfying and light.

RECIPE: Chicken Barley Soup

I created this whole recipe out of lack of having anything substantial in the fridge, having left over barley and the need to make something wholesome and hearty for Matt and I to eat. It is strictly what happens when I have a little bit of this and a little bit of that in my pantry and fridge and the delight I get from using it all up before going grocery shopping again.

Ingredients:

8 cups of broth (I used my usual Rapunzel bouillon cubes)

4 stalks of celery, diced

4 carrots, sliced

1 Vidalia onion, diced

2 cups of cooked barley

2 veggie chicken patties (I used Gardien Chick’n Scallopini)

1 cup of fresh spinach

2 medium tomatoes, diced

Now basically all I did was bring the broth to a boil and added all the ingredients with the exception of the spinach and the chicken patties and let everything simmer for about 30-40 minutes.

In the meantime I cooked the veggie chicken patties in some olive oil until slightly browned and heated throughout. I then sliced them into small bite sized pieces and added them to the simmering soup.

In the last five minutes or so I added the fresh spinach and simmered until it was wilted but still a really nice green color.

I really enjoyed this soup. The smell was great and filled the house with warmth and happy thoughts and the taste was very enjoyable and satisfying. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

RECIPE: Avocado And Quinoa Salad

Okay, I don’t even know where I got this recipe. I tend to read magazines and pull recipes out and through them on the pile of ‘must try’ and usually at the bottom of the page it will say where it’s from so I don’t make any effort to write where I got it on the recipe. This is definitely the exception because it did not state where it’s from so we’ll just let it be a mystery then, shall we?

I was drawn to the idea of this salad because in my ever widening search for healthy but tasty meals I’ve been wanting to incorporate more quinoa in our diets. For those of you who don’t know quinoa is an ancient grain that used to be served to Egyptian royalty long before any of us were thought of or even know it existed. It’s really high in nutrients particularly vitamin C and is high in fiber and lots of other great things. Look it up and check it out.

Now quinoa can be found at health food and nutrition stores but it is now popping up at grocery stores usually in their ‘green’ or health sections. It is a bit pricey but the nutritional bang for your buck that you get from it is worth the price. Trust me on this one.

Quinoa is also a grain that absorbs the flavor of whatever you pair it with so it’s slightly nutty flavor can be mixed with just about anything you want to. I’ve even made cheesy quinoa before when I was looking for an alternative to the mac and cheese I was craving and it worked wonderfully well.

Ingredients:

2 organic avocados, cut into pieces

1 cup of red quinoa (I didn’t have the red variety so just used the regular white variety)

1 medium tomato, cut into pieces

1/4 cup diced red onion

2 fresh basil leaves, crushed (I actually shredded them instead)

Dressing Ingredients:

1/3 cup organic extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

juice of two limes

sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, bring two cups of water to a boil and add rinsed quinoa. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until water is absorbed. Cool and set aside.
  2. Mix the dressing ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Mix all the other ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and then add cooled quinoa.
  3. Toss with dressing. Chill and serve.

I really liked this recipe. It was totally healthy and the avocados when mixed with everything created a creamy consistency that really appealed to me. The flavors were bold but individual and not over-powering to me. I served it with vegetarian Nature’s Burgers. Definitely a recipe that I’ll try again.

WINE REVIEW: Bota Box Merlot 2010 – Manteca, California

From the box: ‘The flavor is in the box. Our Merlot has rich aromas of blackberry and plum that perfectly complement full bodied flavors of black cherries, plums, currants, and a toasty oak finish. Try it with prime rib, steak, or your favorite pasta with a rich, meaty tomato sauce.’ 

I never thought I would actually try these wines in the box, new fangled thingies but curiosity got the best of me. I picked up a Bota Box Merlot 2010 and set up to give it a try. “Gee” I thought as I drove home “I really hope I at least can tolerate this wine because it is the equivalent of four 750 ML bottles of wine”.

I’ve been intrigued by the idea of the wine box for awhile now. Yes, it doesn’t have a cork like I like it but it is more ecological in some ways. They use recycled paper and 100% post consumer fiber to make the packaging. It’s also bonded with corn starch instead of glue and utilizes soy-based inks. There’s also less waste because of the vacuumed sealed spout and container there’s no rush to have to finish a bottle of wine because it might go bad on you.

Now I did have a bit of reluctance to try these boxed wines for many reasons. First, there’s the snob factor. I will admit it. I can be a little bit of a wine snob sometimes and I traditionally like corks in my wine not nozzles. The boxed wine thing kind of reminded me of a college keg party. Now, ladies and gentlemen, we have kegs of WINE!

Secondly, there was fear. I had never had this wine before and I worried that I would get stuck with a LOT of wine that I didn’t like. Easy enough to get rid of if you have lots of unknowning, wine drinking visitors but alas we do not so it would mean I would have to drink it all or throw away $17 worth of wine. Neither was appealing to me.

Thirdly, it’s SQUARE! Who drinks wine from a SQUARE bottle. Have I no standards? What will the neighbors think? Will I be ostracized from the wine drinking community for a crime such as this?

Well, I figured if I was going to try it now was as good a time as any. I did like the idea that I could have it in my refrigerator (yes, I live in Florida people and room temperature is just too hot most of the year to drink even red wine at) and have a glass of wine anytime I wanted without worrying about leaving a half drunk bottle of wine to go bad. Though recently I’ve taken to buying those little four packs of wine in order to have a glass on hand but you don’t get a lot of choices of brands that way either. It works though.

So I had my first glass of my Bota Boxed wine and was relieved to find that it was a decent wine. I am not saying it’s great like a nice Bordeaux but I think it has it’s place in society. It was fruity and had hints of plums and blackberries and had a nice smooth finish as well.

My overall impression is that it’s a great thing to have on hand for those times when you just want one or two glasses of wine without the worry of what to do with the other half of the bottle once you open it. It would also be good for those times when you have a bunch of people over for a party or get together and they aren’t too discerning over what they’re drinking. I don’t think you’d want to whip this box out when you have a real wine snob visiting or say royalty or famous people milling about. (What? You don’t have royalty and famous people visiting your house regularly? Hmmm…that’s interesting!)

Anyway, I would give this wine a rating of 84. It’s a nice wine for every day or when you don’t want to try something new and just want a glass of wine.

If you’ve tried any of these boxes of wine please tell me what you think. What brand did you try and what’s your opinion of it?

RECIPE: Polenta Stack With Navy Bean Salad

This recipe from Epicurious.com for Polenta Stack With Navy Bean Salad really grabbed my attention with the combinations of flavors that it put together. All things that I love, baked together to a melty one-dish wonder! How could it NOT be good?

I found this recipe really easy to assemble and when it was ready it was really satisfying and tasty. The feta cheese gave everything such a nice tangy taste while the beans added heartiness, protein and fiber.

The recipe calls for you to cook the packets on a grill until the packets are fully puffed and states it will take 10 minutes. I don’t have a grill so I did it in my oven with the setting on broil. It took close to 30 minutes to get heated through and the packets puffy.

The result? A really satisfying, wholesome meal that takes only 35-40 minutes and only 5 of that is preparing the packets for the grill or oven. Definitely a nice easy meal.