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Ginger Chicken Shitake Mushroom Stirfry

9 Jan

It’s been a while since I have been posting blogs . I’d like to say that I was doing something super fantastic, like traveling around the world eating all kinds of food or something of that dramatic nature. But, alas, I was not.
Fact is that I noticed an increasing correlation between my frequent posts and my increasing waistline. In and attempt to get that in check I made the somewhat unconscious decision to put my blog on hold until I could sort out how to do this and still fit in to those damn jeans.
Those jeans are still are not fitting yet, but as of last month I started back at the gym and I have been very good about with my from all the food groups and getting my meals made ahead of time. That for me is the challenge. I love making food that I know is good, and when it is good for me, I don’t want to think about it too much. I like things that make a dish easily exciting or different without having to have labored too hard over a sauce or something of that nature.

Today I made my dinner…..and I forgot to take a picture of it. What I made was a simple stir fry starting with about a 1/4 cup of kielbasa that I brown in a pan and let some of the fat render out of. I then removed the browned meat and then add to the pan dried shitake mushrooms that were rehydrate in the microwave with a 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Along with the mushroom mixture I added 1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger, a tablespoon each of cooking sake, and soy sauce and a dash of sesame oil. I cooked the for about 2 or so minutes to let some of flavors marry and the liquid to cook down. When there was about 2 tablespoons of liquid left I added back the kielbasa and along with about a teaspoon of fresh red chilli. I like the flavor and the heat it brings. It’s a nice visible red contrast when making stir fry’s as well.
My whole dinner consisted of a 2 cups spinach salad with a nice olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt for dressing, glass of orange juice, and pack instant miso soup. I ate it all up and it was good. Miso soup is such a nice thing on a cold day. Warms up my insides!
After dinner was complete I realized that I would have to make sure that I had something for lunch tomorrow. Since I had only made enough for dinner, I was looking at trying to figure out what to do for the next day. I usually make two helpings so that I have enough for the next day. So I made pretty much the same stir fry with almost all the ingredients only switching out chicken for the kielbasa. Since chicken come with the all those ready packed in spices and smokey flavors as well prepackaged oil. I added a tablespoon of Canola oil to the pan and cooked up one chopped small/medium sized shallot on medium heat until they were glassy, then added the mushrooms, chicken stock, fresh ginger, sake, soy sauce, sesame oil. I only that that cook for a minute before added the raw chicken. I cooked until the chicken was done then did my best to get all the chicken to the side of the pan to cook down the sauce as much as possible. Once it was about 2 tablespoons or so, I removed it from the heat and let cool. I still had to add it to my lunch box and since the box also had salad in it I need to take care not to wilt my precious spinach salad or deliciously yummy Honey Crisp apples(Love them!).
I am feeling good at the moment with concern to my somewhat shrinking waistline and the diet of food I have chosen. Being that this is the season of eating and I also have still unopened gifted pound of See’s chocolate in my desk I think that I am doing really well. I will work harder now to get more posts out. It so much fun to cook and I know that this blog challenges me. Thank you for staying with me and still reading all that I have to write. Enjoy!

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Ginger Chicken Shitake Mushroom Stirfry - not much to look at but great flavor

Zero calorie pizza sauce??

8 Jan

Friends of mine graciously invited me to their place today for some low carbohydrate eats and games. It was a great day for food!
First we had pizza made with a crustless quiche for the bottom. The pizza “crust” was topped with Walden Farms zero calorie pizza sauce. I found myself doubting a zero calorie sauce. I don’t want to believe it for some reason.
The final product was fabulous! What a rich tasty treat. Were had with mix green salad. It was the perfect portion of food. I was really hardly with the quiche for crust. I love quiche on its own and this was just really something new for me.

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I  am not sure what the fat content is of this recipe considering the almighty bacon that is ever so gently tucked between some sauce, properoni, and cheese, plus what evers going on in the quiche. I think it had a tablespoon our so of cream cheese. The aim here was low carb to which they were very successful.

We even had carbs left for some almond meal cookies that were gluten free and sugar free. They are like almondy short bread. So delicate, were these cookies, that you could barely lift one with out breaking it. Great texture and sweetness for a sugar free cookie. Splenda was used add the sweetener and possibly more butter than I care to know about as the binder.

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Yummo! I won with dinner but I was not able to win much where the cards were concerned. I managed to win at one hand of Monopoly: The  Card Game. I will have my revenge next time and hopefully more almond cookies.

The Simple Simplicity.

3 May

When do plans always fall in line. I don’t usually have it so lucky. I had made plans for a friend to come over and make dinner for her and I was running late! Things that I had going form me were that I can chop food like the wind and that I had not planned on making such complicated dishes. What was on the menu for tonight was:

I honestly have never had so much go wrong with a meal!!!! It ended with a bit of dessert joy in a tart, but the first 3 things posed some problems for me.

The garlic toast was a simple enough deal. I just have never used, or don’t remember using an oven broiler. I forgot my delicously dainty toasts in the oven for one minute too many and I was left with more than a couple burnt edges. The bottoms were ok, but the tops were a bit rough in some places.

The second bit was the Curry Rice! I adore Japanese Curry. My Father, with his great love of curry, was making family dinners for years with it. His style of preparation was to cube everything up including the rue, add it all to the pan with some water and then let it simmer for some time.  It ended up being more like a thick soup. It was tasty and I didn’t know any better so all was copacetic.

From the year 2000 to 2004 I shared a condo with Satoko and Yuri, two of the most wonderful girls I know! We lived together and cooked amazing meals for each other all the time. They, among many dishes, taught me how to make Japanese style curry with a bit more careful attention to the details. Talk about a huge taste and texture difference! I really like eating the red pickled daikon radish with it as well. The sharp contrast in texture is refreshing especially if the curry you are eating is really hot.

The part that messed up on was the rice…..

The most simple of things…rice. The upside is that I am one step ahead if I ever decide to make rice porridge.

The last dish, I got the idea to make while driving home trying to think of a quick dessert. I knew that I wanted to make a tart with some left over pie crust. All I needed were some strawberries and some kind of cream topping. I bought some whipping cream and made a what turned out to be this grossly and excitingly tasty dessert! It made up for all my earlier errors.

The strawberry tartine cooling just out of the oven.

I let the pie cool out of the oven for like 15 minutes. Then served it up with a generous portion of Whipped cream that was prepped in way to make it taste like cheesecake. I will make this all for you some day I promise!

The Strawberry Tartine with Cheesecaked Whipped Cream

Strawberry Tartine with Cheesecaked Whipped Cream

I have posted the recipe on the Food52 website if you would like to make it. I enjoy their blogs immensley and the community of food bloggers they attract.  Please ask me any questions about my recipe. It’s only the second one I’ve ever written and I would appreciate input or feedback. Thank you Sasha for coming over and letting me cook for you! Let’s dine again soon!

I am turning into a complete pasta nerd…

16 Apr

Pasta! I think I may have stayed on a low carb diet for too long! Pasta brings such a big smile to my face! There are so many flavors and things you can do with it. I have had pasta for dinner at least 3 times for the the last two weeks.

Last week I was obsessed with trying to find out a way to make vermouth reductions that I really enjoyed. It all started with a simply enough. The shallots were finely chopped, and added to the pan with some olive oil. I then put in some garlic, and then let that fry up a bit. How do you go wrong with pancetta? I don’t believe it possible.  I threw in the pancetta and let that fry up for a long while on a medium low heat. Once that was just cooked to satisfaction, in went the raw green beans.

I added about a 1/2 cup of vermouth and let that reduce and put my bow-tie noodle in the boiling pot of water. I love bow-tie pasta! They are so cute and sauce shines off of them perfectly.

When the liquid had reduced to satisfaction, I used a slatted spoon to remove the noodles from the pot. It helps the sauce to do this. After adding a little red chili for some much loved sweet heat, I then toss everything together in the wonderful “flips-the-pancake” move I learned over the years never to do with a pan that doesn’t have a rounded bottom edge. Hahaha! Big Mistake!

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I plated the pasta in one of my nice white bowls and topped it off with a little cracked pepper and a healthy amount of Peccorino cheese! NUMMMMm!!!!

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Two days later I was right back at it! I pretty much made the same vermouth reduction, but I changed up the ingredients a bit. This time I used a nice Italian sausage with fennel, broccoli, and medium shells.

Sausage and Brocolli with Shell Type Pasta

I cut sliced portions of the broccoli stems and cooked them up with everything. I had a salad on the side and that was dinner! Both  the pasta took me a bout 30 min to make from start to finish and they were so much more tasty than if I had gone out and ate at some of the restaurants that we have in town. I didn’t use a flash with either of the cameras.

As a side note I will also take a moment to highlight that there were two cameras used in this post. The top photos were taken with my Droid Incredible phone and the bottom one was taken with my five year old Panasonic Lumix camera. I really love the colors I can get my Lumix camera. It’s small but packs some punch. I don’t mind the camera on my Droid, and I can use it if I’m in a pinch or I get shy about whipping out my camera at the dinner table. My phone seems a bit more discreet….that could just be in my head though…(^_^)

Chez Renu never disappoints!

14 Apr

I received a text invitation at 11:00AM on Tuesday!

At exactly 11:00:06 I responded with my, “YESSS!!!”

I didn’t know I could text that fast on my Droid….It was such a delicious meal. I had no idea what it was going to be, but I knew that there was a whole lot of tasty in somewhere in my future. I think I made from my work to her house in record time.

Wonton soup was the special of the day! Renu has some serious broth powers. It is the most delicate of flavors and was seasoned to perfection. I burnt my a whole lot horking down all the dumplings. You have to eat them hot. They don’t taste as good to me luke warm as they do when they are when they are when they are piping hot, scrumptious orbs  of wonton wrapper and meat.

The Chez Renu Wonton Soup

Wonton Soup from Renu's kitchen

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There were about 10 meaty wontons.

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The wonton was filled with shrimp or pork.

A foodie marriage of two cultures that I love!

22 Mar

When I used to order Japanese curry in a shop I would get it with the potato koroke (croquette) or the pork cutlet. I was thinking about how I wanted to make something similar the other day when I had made Thai coconut curry.

I wanted to have a little fried something on the top of my curry but also to add a bit of texture and flavor that you don’t alway find with Thai coconut curry.

I started yesterday and made the some potato croquettes. They were made with:

  • 2 large potatoes boiled and then mashed
  • a little under half a small onion chopped (I don’t like things to be too onion-ee. It’s distracting to me to have that after taste)
  • 1/2 lb minced pork
  • 1/2 cup cooking sake.
  • salt to taste

I cooked the onions until they were translucent. Then added the meat and got that cooking until the pink had almost disappeared. I then added the cooking sake and let that cook down and evaporate completely. I didn’t want the meat to have a lot of liquid when I added it the mashed potato.

I mixed cooked meat the potatoes and added the salt. I then shaped the potato koroke into about 1/2 inch oval  potato disks. I had a hard time not eating the mixture while doing this. It was like getting potato icing on my hand….only not.

I used Japanese breading called Panko to coat the croquettes. I like it for breading for it’s crispy light texture.

Once finished I put them on the rack to rest and then placed them in a container to freeze overnight. One glory of croquettes is that they freeze pretty well and if you are going to fry them they don’t really require defrosting.

When I got home today, I started my coconut curry. I followed the preparation directions on the curry paste tub. They have a very “authentic” version on the back of that tested my courage a bit today. I was coughing my ass off heating up that curry paste. It smells amazing, but it was very intense to cook. I change the recipe a bit per watching the glorious Renu cook up a batch one time at her house. I don’t have all the ingredients that she has at her disposal, but I very much enjoy the taste of mine.

Once I had the curry mixed together, I put it on the back burner just to keep it warm. The croquettes needed frying and as much as it pains me to deep fry in the house, sometimes it just is called for. I always like to make sure that I have a way of re-using the oil and storing the it for frying other foods. I hate for all that oil to go to waste for a one shot deal.

I have learned from previous experience to have a lot of respect for hot oil.

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Since the koroke were frozen I wanted a low heat fry. I wanted to make them so they I didn’t come out having frozen centers with black shells.

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When the koroke were done I transferred them onto a rack to cool. While they were cooling I added broccoli and bamboo shoots to the curry and turned up the heat to medium low.

The koroke are amazing! Happy making and crispy. The curry was stupid spicy, but I think that is magnificence of Thai coconut curry. You are literally chili roasting your lips away but the coconut is hitting all the right pleasure centers telling you, “Ignore that pain. It’s only a tickle, right?”

My suggestion when this happens is to just keep eating, because stopping does….not…make….it….better. That or drinking beer or milk might help.


I gave my roommate Tom, the spare koroke. He seemed happy.

Another note is that this could easily be a vegetarian dish. The koroke do not need to have meat in them to be fried jewels of foodie delight!

White wine reduction heaven!

16 Mar

My Grammy was the first one I can ever recall de-glazing a pan with wine. I kept thinking I might get in trouble if I were to eat it, not that I would have ate it anyway. I was a REALLY finicky eater when I was young. A lot has changed since then….

I have never been able to do a successful wine reduction. I had made attempts at putting them together from what I could remember of people cooking in front of me and some things that I had seen on TV. I was clearly missing some steps. They would taste acidic, too salty, the fat would separate. So I finally decided that I was going to work from the basic’s and go from a recipe word for word.

Well…almost.

Ina Garten’s recipe’s for roast chicken breast with a shallot wine reduction sauce.

I pan seared the chicken before putting in an oven at 400 degrees. The recipe called for boneless chicken and I only had bone in. I just adjusted the time and the heat a little to try to make up for the difference! I will have to use this method again when only having the sauce as an accompaniment to the dish as opposed to cooking the chicken with the sauce. The chicken was incredibly more juicy then I have ever had it in the past.

I am not sure if I can ever go back to boneless skinless!

Pan Seared Chix

The recipe said to reduce the wine and lemon juice until it looked like it was about 2 tablespoons worth of liquid. I had never tried to reduce it that much on my own. It was very helpful to me in sorting out when was the right time to start incorporating the cream ingredients.

White Wine reduction

It  was so tasty!!!!! I wanted to get engaged right then and there! I could not have been more happy with my sauce! the fat had not separated and it didn’t look gray and ugly like they might have in the past. If I had a better knife I would have tried to remove some of the breast meat for presentation, but alas, I am still working on that.

Roast chicken

Roast Chicken with Shallot Wine Reduction

It was a good day to be cooking. Sometimes it helps just to sit back and try to let a book take the reigns. I will most like work with some of my other books on sauces so that I can get some really good ones down. This one was delicious, but all that cream and butter made it a bit rich. I have only been able to peek in my new french cook book. It is going to take me a while to make my way through it.