Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lettuce Wraps

This is one of my very favorite recipes, given to me by my close friend Amy. (Thanks, Amy!) I love the lettuce wraps at PF Changs, and this recipe is reminiscent of them. If you like lettuce wraps too, seriously, don't let this recipe pass you by!!

3 tablespoons oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup water chestnuts
2/3 cup mushrooms
3 tablespoons chopped onions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4-5 leaves iceberg lettuce

Special Sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon hot mustard
2 teaspoons water

1-2 teaspoon garlic and red chile paste

Stir Fry Sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  1. Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in water in a small bowl. Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil. Mix well and refrigerate until you're ready to serve.
  2. Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set aside. Eventually you'll add your desired measurement of mustard and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps.
  3. Bring oil to high heat in a wok or large frying pan. Saute chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until done. Remove chicken from the pan and let cool. Keep oil in the pan, and keep the pan hot.
  4. Mince water chestnuts and mushrooms to about the size of small peas.
  5. Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl. (I like to have lots of sauce, so I often double this part.)
  6. When chicken is cool, dice it into tiny pieces the size of the mushrooms and chestnuts.
  7. With the pan still on high heat, add another tablespoon of oil. Then add chicken, garlic, onions, water chestnuts, and mushrooms to the pan. Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and saute the mixture for a couple minutes.
  8. Serve on top of iceberg lettuce. Top with Special Sauce.
Sometimes I dice up the onions, chestnuts, mushrooms, and chicken and put them individual sandwich bags and stick them in the fridge. I'll also throw together the sauces (except the mustard sauce) and stick them in the fridge too. Then once dinner time rolls around, all I have to do is saute the chicken and vegetables in the stir fry sauce.

Almond Coffee Cake

Lately I've been on the lookout for a good pound cake/coffee cake recipe that isn't loaded with butter and eggs (as most are). This one is only has a 1/4 cup butter and 2 eggs--not bad! I liked it pretty well but felt it could be a touch sweeter for my taste. My husband loved it. Obviously we liked it enough that there was only one slice left for me to take a photo of...!

1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup milk
1 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 egg whites, slightly beater
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
powdered sugar for dusting
  1. Cream butter and sugar. Mix in egg yolks.
  2. In another bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually pour dry ingredients into the butter mixture, alternating with the milk.
  3. Fold in beaten egg whites.
  4. Pour into prepared loaf pan.
  5. Bake in preheated oven at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Toasted almonds would be a great alternate topping to the powdered sugar. Definitely give this a try for your next brunch!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Lime Fajitas

This is one of my go-to recipes. We eat it all the time because it is SO GOOD! The lime gives it such a fresh, live flavor. You'll want to increase the size of the recipe depending on how many you're serving, since the version here only serves my husband and me.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 T. oil (I usually use canola)
1/2 packet Italian dressing seasoning
juice of 1 lime
half an onion, cut into rings (a red onion gives nice color)
half a bell pepper, cut into strips

Combine these six ingredients and marinate for about an hour. Cook on a George Foreman grill. (If you don't have one, you could always grill the chicken and saute the veggies. Or cut the raw chicken into slices and cook in a frying pan, followed by the veggies.)

Once chicken has been grilled, slice into strips. Season with salt and pepper.

Warm up refried beans and flour tortillas. Layer the tortillas with refried beans, sliced chicken, grilled onions and bell peppers, diced tomatoes, sliced avacado, grated cheese, sour cream, and cilantro. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and squeeze more lime juice onto each serving.

Baked Potato Chips

This is totally simple and many of you probably already make these or a similar version, but our family likes them so much that I thought I'd go ahead and post them.

All you do is cut a couple of russet potatoes really thin, just about as thin as your knife will allow! Toss the potato slices with about 1 T. of olive oil per medium sized potato.

Then grease your baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray (just to be absolutely certain they won't stick) and spread the potato slices out. Sprinkle lightly with Lowry's seasoning and pepper. (If you add too much Lowry's, your mouth will be stinging by the time you finish the chips!)

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes; then flip the potato slice and bake for another 10 minutes, or until they are turning brown.

The cooking time will vary depending on how many potatoes you cut, so watch them carefully. This time, I only did one medium sized potato, and the slices took about 20 minutes altogether to turn brown and crispy. So yummy! Dip them in ketchup or eat as is. They go great with grilled hamburgers or barbecued chicken. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

World's Easiest Cobbler

A friend of ours recently made this for a church dinner, and it was SO delicious I couldn't believe how easy it was! All you do is choose your fruit and cover it with yellow cake mix and melted butter. Here's how I did mine:

4 big yellow peaches
2 T. sugar
1/4 t. cinnamon

Half of a yellow cake mix
6 T. melted butter

Preheat oven to 375. Combine the first three ingredients and spread in bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Cover with cake mix and drizzle with melted butter. Bake for 30-40 minutes until topping is golden.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Grilled Vidalia and Steak Sandwiches

This recipe is a bit more involved than some but well worth the effort!

3/4 cup cola
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper (I didn't have this, so I just skipped it)
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bay leaf, crushed
1 (1 1/2-pound) flank steak, trimmed

6 slices Vidalia onion
6 Kaiser rolls (I used ciabotta)
12 slices tomato

3/4 cup minced arugula
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise

To prepare steak, combine first 7 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add steak; seal and marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours, turning bag occasionally. Remove steak from bag, reserving marinade. Pour marinade into a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at high 2 minutes or until mixture comes to a boil. Set aside.

To prepare dressing, combine arugula and mayonnaise; set aside. (We actually skipped the mayo altogether and just used arugula, although Romaine would probably be great too. If it's not moist enough for your taste, you can always add a little olive oil/red wine vinegar.)

Grill 8 minutes on each side or until steak is medium-rare or desired degree of doneness. Remove steak from grill; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Place onion slices on grill rack; grill 4 minutes on each side, basting occasionally with reserved marinade. Place rolls on grill rack, cut sides down; grill 2 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices. Spread 2 tablespoons dressing on bottom half of each roll. Divide steak, tomato, and onion evenly among bottom halves of rolls. Top with top halves of rolls.

I used a regular ol' red onion since that's what I had on hand. And we also added grilled (or your could do sauteed) mushrooms. I've got to make this again soon!

Three-Step Taco Salad

This dish is so simple but yummy and nutritious. Who doesn't love a good taco salad?? This is a pretty big recipe, so I halved it for our family.

1 pound ground beef
1 (1.25-ounce package) taco seasoning
3/4 cup water
2/3 cup fat-free sour cream
2/3 cup bottled salsa
8 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
4 cups bite-sized baked tortilla chips
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, drained
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 (15-ounce) can kidney or black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup sliced ripe black olives
  1. Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the taco seasoning and water. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  2. Combine the salsa and sour cream. 
  3. Toss together the lettuce, tortialla chips, tomatoes, cheese, cilantro, and beef mixture, and then mix in the dressing. (I kept the dressing as a side and let people add as little or much as they wanted to their own servings.) 
Be sure not to toss everything together until right before you serve, especially the tortilla chips to avoid letting them get soggy. I added a dollop of homemade guacamole and a sprig of cilantro to each serving. I love this quick and easy, not to mention colorful, weeknight meal. 

Low Fat Banana Bread

After tasting this recipe, you'd never guess that it has almost no fat. Egg whites and applesauce take the place of a yolk and butter. It's such a great autumn snack. Enjoy!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 egg whites
1 cup banana, mashed
1/4 cup applesauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a loaf pan. (I use canola oil spray.) 
  2. Stir together the first five ingredients. Then add the eggs whites, banana, and applesauce. Stir just until combined. Pour into prepared loaf pan.
  3. Bake for 40 minutes. While bread is baking, make a streusel topping out of about a 1/4 c. sugar, 1 t. cinnamon, and 1 T. butter. (I use 1/3 less fat margarine for this.) Cut the butter in with a fork until the butter clumps are about the size of small peas. 
  4. Sprinkle streusel topping over the bread, and cook for 10 more minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. 
I always add an extra teaspoon of cinnamon and a 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves because I like mine to have a little more spice to it. 


Erica's Pantry!

I've been wanting to start this blog for ages, but until now, time hasn't allowed it. Hopefully now my little guy will give me just enough time to share my cooking adventures with anyone who's interested. I plan on posting a variety of dishes, many of which won't be quite so hard on the waistline! I'm always looking for ways to lower the fat content or boost the fiber in my recipes, so I look forward to sharing what I learn. My hope for this blog is that it will share a practical and health-conscious approach to cooking, with recipes that are just too yummy to pass up. Thanks for visiting!