Monday, May 28, 2012

Chicken Parmesan

When the craving for chicken Parmesan struck this weekend, I turned straight to the Cook Yourself Thin website.  I liked the basic idea, but knew that their method of substituting low fat ricotta for a thick layer of mozzarella wasn't going to cut it.  I also didn't feel like making their tomato sauce.  So I kept looking and added in an Ellie Krieger recipe and a few of my own ideas.  The result melted right in my mouth and the leftovers were just as good reheated a few days later.

(Recipe inspired by Cook Yourself Thin and Ellie Krieger)
Yield: 2 servings
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ cup panko
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 8 oz boneless chicken breast
  • 16 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan
  • 2 zucchini (or 4 oz linguine if you're craving pasta)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Oil spray

Trim the chicken breast and blot with a paper towel.

Cover with plastic wrap and grab a meat mallet.

Pound it out thin with the smooth side of the mallet.  Another name for a meat mallet is a meat tenderizer, and that's exactly what we're doing in this step...making that chicken so tender that it will melt away as soon as it hits your tongue.  Slice it into two pieces.

Measure out the seasonings.

Stir the seasonings into the panko.

Set out bowls with the egg white and flour.

Dredge the chicken in the flour...

And through the egg white...

And finally through the panko.  Preheat the oven to 350°.

Spray oil into a skillet and heat until it sizzles.  Cook the chicken in batches for about 3 minutes on each side.

 Meanwhile, get serious with the zucchini and a vegetable peeler.  Peel the skin, and keep peeling until you reach the seeds.  Snack on the zucchini centers while you finish cooking.

Set the chicken into an 8" baking dish.

Top with crushed tomatoes.

And cheese!

Bake for 10 minutes, until the cheese bubbles.

Saute the zucchini (skin and all) for a few minutes until tender.

Serve the "pasta".

Top with the chicken.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Vegan Coconut Cupcakes

I've always viewed vegan baking as being in the same class as "healthy" or "diet" baking.  Better in theory than in practice.  So I wouldn't have ventured down this path except that my parents have started following a vegan diet and I wanted to bake something for Mother's Day.  I had long been curious about Chef Chloe's coconut cupcakes, and had spent a fair amount of time drooling over the pictures.  As if she didn't have me at coconut, there was also an excuse to break out the food coloring.

(Recipe from Chef Chloe)
  • Cupcakes
    • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup coconut milk
    • ½ cup canola oil
    • 2 tablespoons vanilla
    • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Frosting
    • 1 cup coconut oil (solid)
    • 3 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 2-5 tablespoons coconut milk
    • 2 cups coconut
    • food coloring

Blend the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together.

Combine all of the wet ingredients in a separate bowl...

..and whisk together.

Pour the wet into the dry.

Whisk together until just combined.  Preheat the oven to 350°.

Spread out the cupcake liners between two cupcake pans.  Fill ⅔ full.  Officially the recipe is supposed to yield 14 cupcakes, but I was able to squeeze out 15.

Bake until they pass the toothpick test.  Official recipe baking time = 15-18 minutes.  Mine took 22 minutes.  Set on a wire rack to cool while you make the frosting.

Scrape out a cup of coconut oil.

Beat on high for a minute to soften.

Gradually beat in the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time.  Add in the vanilla and enough coconut milk to make spreadable (I ended up using 4 tablespoons).

Beat on high until creamy.

Now food coloring is of course optional for adults, but I couldn't resist.

Add the tiniest amount to the coconut.

Stir to combine.

Add a generous dollop of frosting to each cupcake.

Smooth down.

Add the coconut.

Now it's truth time: are vegan cupcakes any good?  I ate a cupcake immediately after frosting.  The frosting was excellent, but the cake was just OK.  Better than all of the "healthy" cakes I've tried, but not that special.  I boxed them up and walked away.

A few hours later at the party, the cupcakes came out and it was an entirely different story.  The frosting was still excellent, and wow, the cake part was holding its own.  You can stack these up against any conventional cake and it's a fair fight.  So yes, these cupcakes are winners.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ginger Stir Fry

I have the easiest, tastiest, healthiest little stir fry for you today.  Fresh veggies, crispy tofu, and a little pasta, topped with golden ginger sauce.

(Sauce recipe from The 15-Minute Vegetarian Gourmet)
Yield: 4 servings
  • Sauce
    • 6 tablespoons rice vinegar
    • 6 tablespoons sugar
    • ¾ C water
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
    • 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon water
  • 6 oz pasta (I use linguine because I can never remember to buy something more suitable, like soba noodles.  And I've never used soba noodles because linguine works just fine)
  • 3 large carrots
  • ½ lb broccoli
  • 1 lb extra firm tofu, frozen, thawed, and drained

Start with tofu prep.  You want to get every last drop of liquid drained out, and the best way that I've found to do this is to freeze the tofu.  When ready to use, take out of the freezer and let thaw.

Drain all of the liquid out.

Now the fun begins.  Squeeze the tofu blocks to get the liquid out.

Be firm, but don't crush or squish the tofu.

Place the squoozen tofu blocks on a cutting board.

Cut the blocks in half, lengthwise and width-wise.

Cut the halves in half.

Cut the halved-halves into triangles.

Set the triangles on a triple layer of paper towels.

Cover with another triple layer of paper towels.

Cover with another cutting board.

Grab a bunch of random canned goods out of the cupboards and weigh the tofu down.  Again, you're not out to smush it, just give it a little pressure to drain it.

Walk away for 20 minutes.  When you come back, the towels will be wet and the tofu will be dry.

Cook the pasta.

Coat the bottom of a skillet with a layer of olive oil and heat to medium.

Fry the triangles in batches for a few minutes on each side until golden.  Top off the oil as needed.

Prep the broccoli and carrots.

Chop everything into bite size pieces.  And don't limit yourself to broc and carrots just because I do.  Add in mushrooms, baby corn, bamboo shoots, anything you want.

Mix up all the sauce ingredients except the corn starch.

Mix the corn starch and one tablespoon water in a small bowl.

Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

 Spoon a little sauce into the corn starch mixture.

Make sure there are no corn starch lumps in the small bowl.

Now add the corn starch into the sauce and cook a few minutes more until the sauce thickens.

Stir fry the carrots.

Bring in the other veggies and cook until tender-crisp.

Add the tofu.

Add the sauce.

Stir everything together.

Add in a little pasta and inhale.