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Archive for September, 2012

Crispy Oven-Fried Cod

Whenever I’ve made breaded items at home – fish, chicken tenders – I’ve always turned to panko.  Light and flaky, it creates a texture that appeals to my family.  Then I discovered cornmeal, which offers a sweeter base and finer grain.  Combined with panko, it’s a nice change of pace for a healthier take on fried fish.

Note: be sure to season the coating.  If salt and pepper are too bland, consider herbs and spices.

Recipe here.

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Monday mornings are frantic during the school year.  FHE has training at the gym.  After it ends, he zooms home, eats, showers and takes Rice Kernel to school – all within 20 minutes.  My husband is low maintenance when it comes to food and he happily cooks an egg along with spinach, cheese, rice, bread or whatever else is on hand most mornings.  My son, on the other hand, is a tougher one to please.  And his palate is particularly bland at 7:00 a.m. when he typically opts for yogurt, a few bites of cereal, or popcorn.  (Yes, I feed my son popcorn in the morning.  The all-natural variety, with a mandatory side of milk or cheese. I can rationalize it because it’s a whole grain….)  On one particular Monday morning, though, I spied his favorite savory meat – chicken apple sausage.  It’s a “treat” we buy every few months.  Tossed with some leeks, green onions, and some scrambled eggs/egg whites, it was a most savory – and speedy – start to another week.

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Banana Zucchini Muffins

Banana Zucchini Muffins

1 cup grated zucchini
1 1/2 over-ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour (I used white whole wheat and spelt)
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 9″ bread pan or 6-muffin pan.
  2. Stir zucchini, bananas, oil, sugar, and vanilla together.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
  4. Pour batter into prepared bread pan or muffin tin and bake 50-60 minutes for bread, 25-30 minutes for muffins.

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When it comes to eating protein, I’m pretty predictable – non-dairy milk or whey protein in my oatmeal, egg whites or Applegate-brand cold cuts, any and all nut butters, and chicken breasts.  I dabble in the meat selections for the boys – sausages, beef, pork, shrimp, etc. – but I honestly don’t eat more than a few bites.  (I’ll eat whatever surrounds the sausage/beef/pork by the spoonful, though, since it usually involves pasta, grains or vegetables!)  I’m a creature of habit, what can I say.  My Dad and in-laws, though, eats tons of seafood and fish, in particular.  Over the years, I’ve tried to cook more fish.  It’s good for you, right?  But Rice Kernel isn’t that enthusiastic.  Unless there’s ketschup.  Or panko.

I don’t do that red sauce.  I can’t ever bear the smell.  And while I love crispy, pan-fried foods, there’s only so much panko-breaded salmon and white fish you can eat before your mouth longs for something juicier.  So I started searching for recipes.  This is the first I’ve tried.  I figure the sauce was red… like ketschup.  That didn’t do it for my little boy, though.  Fortunately he was happy with “naked fish,” as he dubbed it (sans sauce).  And I was happy with “dressed fish,” aka tomato cream sauce.

Cod with Tomato Cream Sauce

Recipe here.

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In the first Thanksgiving after I graduated from college, when I was “learning” from FHE how to cook, FHE decided to put brussel sprouts on the menu.  I was not a brussel sprouts fan up until that point.  My parents rarely cooked the vegetable and my only memories were of boiled little cabbages at diners and on buffet tables. But FHE transformed the vegetable for me by halving them and sauteeing the halves in chorizo and chicken stock.  Cooked just until tender, they remained surprisingly crisp and flavorful.  I still remember eating helping after helping, to the point where I knew we’d both be paying for it in the hours to come, if you know what I mean.

A couple years ago, I started seeing the little sprouts shaved/sliced thinly and sauteed or fried to a crisp. It has become my new favorite preparation, one that renders the vegetable unrecognizable.  This is a good thing for my son who I thought, up until this point, would eat any vegetable

Shaved Brussel Sprouts with Garlic, Green Onions, and Mushrooms

Ingredients

26-30 Brussels sprouts (about a pound), trimmed
2 tbsp olive oil (or butter)
3 scallions, sliced thin diagonally
1/2 lb mushrooms, your choice
Splash of vegetable or chicken stock
1 glove garlic, mashed

Directions

  1. Cut sprouts in half and slice thin lengthwise.  (You can also use a mandolin.)
  2. In a heavy skillet add oil over moderately high heat, sauté mushrooms for 3-5 minutes, until cooked.  Set aside.
  3. In the same pan, saute sprouts, scallions, and garlic, stirring, until tender and lightly browned, about 8 minutes.  (Add stock if necessary to deglaze pan and prevent scorching.) 
  4. Season with salt and peppers, to taste.

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These bakery-style muffins are so unassuming, but they are decadent and moist with little guilt.  We are lucky to have a bounty of zucchini still, but I would consider buying zucs just to bake a batch.

Whole Wheat Berry Dark Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar (I used 1/2)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup milk (reduced fat is fine)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup shredded zucchini (I like to squeeze a bit of the excess liquid)
1  cups fresh berries
1/2-1 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease mufins tins.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl combine the sugar, egg, olive oil, milk, and vanilla. Stir in the zucchini.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring until just combined.
  5. Fold in the berries and chocolate.
  6. Spoon into muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool on wire rack.

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Rice Kernel only wants fish and chicken that is coated and pan fried these days.  He doesn’t like baked proteins; he doesn’t even like deep fried proteins.  (My in-laws have introduced him to McDonalds.)  Breaded homemade fish or chicken, sausage, or steak.  Those are his favorites.  I don’t typically offer much of a choice, but on this particular day my Dad was around.  And my healthnut Dad also asked for something encrusted.  Low on panko, I thought about a nut crust.  Instead I spied sesame and cornmeal next to each other.  Together they provide a wonderful textured crust that is a fragrant change from our usual panko topping.

Sesame- and Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken Tenders

Ingredients
6-8 chicken tenders 
1/3 cup cornmeal
3 tablespoons Sesame seeds
Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 egg, beaten

Directions

  1. Add cornmeal and sesame seeds to plate or shallow baking dish. Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Crack egg in a separate bowl.
  3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Dredge in egg, then cover generously with the cornmeal mixture, coating evenly on all sides.
  4. Add oil to non-stick skillet or large sauté pan over medium high heat. When oil is hot, pan sear chicken on both sides until golden, about 3-4 minutes per side.

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