Monday, May 30, 2011

roast chicken... what everyone must know

Roasting chicken is probably one of the easiest most important things to know when it comes to cooking healthy food and making quick and easy meals. I like to roast a chicken, pick it apart and eat it for the rest of the week. It's great on salads, in soup, in stir-fry, as just a quick snack, or eaten with brown rice. I like buffalo chicken so much that when I'm up for eating some without all the fat, I'll just pour on a tiny bit of butter mixed with a good bit of red hot sauce onto my pieces of chicken and I'm satisfied!

For those of you who aren't familiar with roasting chicken, you simply buy a whole chicken from the store, rinse it off and pull out anything that may be left inside such as it's kidneys... intestines, whatever. Pat it try with a paper towel. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray the chicken with a little cooking spray to make it crisp. Salt and pepper the chicken slightly and add any other seasonings you might like... I like to you my blend of spices Matt gave me which include rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, and oregano. Pop it into the oven once it is at 425, and set the timer for 18 minutes per pound of chicken. For instance, if your chicken is 2.5 pounds, set the timer for 50 minutes. Use a meat thermometer at the end and make sure the breast is at least 180 degrees and the thighs are at 190 degrees. Allow the chicken to rest once out of the oven for about 15 minutes, then pull apart with your fingers. Either toss the carcass or boil it in some water with spices and make a broth :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

rum, not just for pirates- rum marinated chicken :)

I bought Bajan hot sauce while in Barbados, and wanted something to use it on. I'm not sure why I don't use it more often on everything, but I honestly used it at every meal while there. The servers would get tired of me asking so they would simply give me a bowl of it at every meal... it's that amazing. I also have a ton of rum for some reason, so I decided this would be a perfect dish to make. It's so fresh and healthy and wonderful, you'll just have to get over your fear of God's gift to man and marinate the chicken with delicious rum :)

Recipe adapted from

1 lb of boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup dark rum (I used bacardi select)
1/4 cup barbecue sauce, either homemade or Sweet Baby Ray's honey BBQ
3 T fresh lime juice
1 T Caribbean hot sauce
1 tsp salt
2 tsp canola oil
1 small pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch thick rings
cooking spray
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 tsp grated lime rind
2 T fresh lime juice
1 tsp dark rum
1/4 tsp Caribbean hot sauce
1/8 tsp salt
4 lime wedges

Combine first 7 ingredients in large zipper bag and seal. Marinate in refrigerator for 2-6 hours, turning occasionally. Remove chicken from bag, reserving marinade, and set aside. Prepare grill to medium heat.  Bring marinade to boil in small saucepan, then reduce heat to medium-low. To prepare, relish, place pineapple on grill rack coated with cooking spray and grill for 3 minutes on each side or until soft and browned around the edge. Remove to cutting board and chop along with the bell pepper. Combine the two as well as the next 5 ingredients and set aside. Place chicken on grill for 30 minutes or until done, turning occasionally. Remove to serving dish and drizzle the cooked, reserved marinade over the chicken and serve with the relish and lime wedges. Hooray for summer and bright and delicious food!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

GF crispy rice treats!

What is the best quick and easy dessert ever? Rice crispy treats!!! The ones pictures above are ones I made for easter this year. I molded them into little easter eggs with pastel M&Ms. A big mistake for the gluten intolerant? Eating regular Rice Crispies cereal! It's sweetened with barley malt, so it's definitely not gluten free. However, the company announced earlier this year that their cereal will be gluten free by the summer of 2012, yay, success! Until then I'll be sticking with Nature's Path Koala Crisp cereal or other gluten free brown rice cereal.

1 box of Koala or other rice cereal, 11.5 oz
4 T butter
1 bag of mini marshmallows
mix-ins if desired- chopped reeses cups, heath, m&ms...

Melt butter in a large pot on medium heat. Once melted, add the whole bag of marshmallows and stir until melted. Remove from heat and stir in the box of cereal until evenly mixed. Into a regular sized casserole dish, pour the cereal mixture. Wear a disposable glove on one hand, spray that gloved hand with nonstick spray, and evenly pat down the cereal into the dish.  So easy and so delicious!

Monday, May 23, 2011

vegetable lasagna sans pasta?? yum!

It's no secret. I HATE VEGETABLES!!! Well that's a lie, because I now love some select vegetables. Notice that I do not call them veggies, because that gives some kind of connotation that they are cute and lovable, and I think they are neither. I have learned, however, that when you know what the heck to do with vegetables, you can actually like them, and maybe even (dare I say it) love them.

I was in the mood for lasagna one day, but I've already said that I'm going to try to work with less meat and more vegetarian proteins. I also did not want to eat a ton of pasta and wanted to be able to stuff in a good bit of real nutrition, such as vegetables. Before eating this dish, I was seriously thinking I would end up hating after all that eggplant slicing. Instead, I decided afterward that eggplant and zucchini are my new favorite "previously detested" foods!

Of course, this dish was inspired by one of my favorite cooks of all time, Rocco Dispirito.

1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise into long flat sheets
2 packages white mushrooms, sliced
1 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise into long flat sheets
salt and pepper
nonstick cooking spray such as Pam Olive Oil
1 1/4 cups nonfat ricotta
1 whole egg
3/4 cu grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 bottle of low calorie sauce (I love Classico Spicy Tomato and Basil)
3 cloves garlic
1 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

Preheat broiler on high. Line 3 baking sheets with aluminum foil and spray with the nonstick spray.
Lay the eggplant, zucchini, and mushroom slices side by side flat onto the sheets and season with salt and pepper, then spray lightly with the nonstick spray. Broil the sheets of vegetables for 5-7 minutes until slightly browned.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a 9x13 inch casserole dish with nonstick spray.
In small sauce pan, spray nonstick spray and saute the minced garlic cloves until slightly browned. Add the sauce and stir for a couple of minutes.
In small bowl, combine ricotta and half of the Parmigiano and 1 egg, and salt and pepper.
Spread 1/4 of the sauce over bottom of the casserole dish. Lay zucchini on top of the sauce, covering the bottom. Spread another quarter of the sauce over the zucchini. Spread half of the ricotta mixture over the sauce. Sprinkle 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese over the cheese sauce. Repeat with mushroom slices on the next layer, then the eggplant slices over the next layer. Sprinkle the Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top of the dish.
Cover with foil, sprayed with nonstick spray, and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until cheese begins to brown for about another 10 minutes and let rest before serving. Belly up!