Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Recipe Finds - February Week 1

Coconut Jasmine Rice

If you've never had jasmine rice, first of all run out and get some.  It's wonderfully fragnant and has a lovely, delicate flavor.  It truly needs no flavoring.

However, if you're looking to jazz up your jasmine rice, this is worth trying.  This extremely simple and budget-friendly recipe involves cooking the rice in a bath of coconut milk and a touch of garlic.

Coconut milk is easy to find in the Asian section of your supermarket, but make sure to get LITE.  Even 1/3 cup of light coconut milk will cost you 20% of your daily satured fat.

This recipe is decent.  It has a mild flavor that's tasty, but it won't blow you away.  We paired it with lime chicken (below).  

3.5 forks out of 5 - worth keeping around and finding a better dish to pair it with.

Lime-Honey Chicken

I love chicken.  It's got a good nutrition profile, it's moderate on the wallet, and it can be made a million ways.

I also love recipes from Eating Well.  They're awesome about making tasty food that's still good for you.  This recipe certainly delivers with the zippy, lip-smaking flavors of honey, soy sauce, and lime.

I've modified this recipe for indoor use and 2 people - I've never tried it on the grill as intended.  I use about 12 oz of chicken breast and cut the marinade in half.  This is what I've learned:
  • This definitely needs the marinade time.  Did it once without and it just wasn't the same.  Have always done the full 2 hours, but definitely don't go over because the soy will make your chicken rubbery.
  • DON'T do this recipe on a George Forman grill.  All the beautiful marinade runs off and doesn't turn into a glaze :(
  • Your best bet is to simply throw this is a skillet and cook it up.  No additional oil is needed.  Don't go too high with the heat, otherwise you'll burn the honey.  The sugars do start to carmelize, so expect your chicken to take on a golden hue, but this is the good stuff.  
5 forks out of 5 (for my modifications)

Root Beer Cake
Disclaimer - I did not make a bundt cake.  Luckily, the recipe size fits neatly in a 13 x 9" pan.

This is a fun cake to make because of the flavor profile.  It's a chocolate cake base that you add root beer and allspice to.  Oddly enough, chocolate and root beer pair really well!

The cake is ridiculously moist and super tasty.  You could have a lot of fun seeing how different brands of root beer affect the flavor (I just used A&W).  Modifications in mind: 
  • I was not satisfied with the glaze, which hardened - I'd rather warm up root beer and powdered sugar to make a warm sauce.  
  • Add mini chocolate chips.  Oooh, or crush up those root beer hard candies and sprinkle on top!
  • Find a brand of root beer without high fructose corn syrup.  It doesn't make sense to make a cake from scratch and then add in a highly processed ingredient and artificial flavoring.
5 forks out of 5

Beef and Bean Chili Verde

Ok, so that's totatlly a picture of chicken chile verde.  Use beef and I promise it will look about the same, just with cow bits and red kidney beans instead.

Our soup exploration continues with this "dump" soup.  Turn off brain and dump in green salsa, kidney beans, garlic, browned hamburger, and chili + cumin.  Turn stove on low, put on burner, walk away for 15 minutes.  Dinner is served, just add cornbread.

Admittedly, I was a little creeped out by the color of this chile and I'd never had green salsa (which uses tomatillos instead of tomatoes), but it has a snappy taste and improves the next day.  I skipped the red pepper in favor of a can of diced green chilis I had. 

All in all a keeper, with a few pointers:
  • There is a LOT of beef in this dish.  It's almost like slightly watery taco mixture.  Because we're cutting down on our meat consumption, I would much rather use 1/2 lb instead of a full pound.  In fact, I would make this a strictly vegetarian dish and just use 2 cans of beans, maybe even mixing kinds (kidney + black beans).  
  • This is a salty chili.  I can't imagine how much higher it would be if we'd used green taco sauce.  Thin this out by adding 1 cup of water.
  • 15 minutes is nice for a quick meal, but if you're like me and enjoy very soft beans, let this simmer for 30+.
3.5 forks out of 5 - wouldn't have it every month, but good to keep in mind 

Roasted Parmesan Potatoes

Got a hankering for fries but watching your calories?  Give these potatoes a whirl. 

As long as your broiler is functioning and you don't leave these babies in for too long, this is a hard recipe to mess up  Just scrub, nuke, cut, sprinkle, broil, and voila!  Crispy, cheesy potatoes without the guilt.

This recipe is inexpensive, decadent tasting but healthy, and quick to boot.  To really portion control, I used 1/2 T butter (cut into little cubes), 1/4 tsp Lawry's seasoning, and 1.5 tsp grated parmesan per potato.

I made this recipe this week because I was craving fried chicken after a stressful day.  Instead of caving in, I used these spuds to satisfy my need for crunchy and salty.  Objective achieved!

5 forks out of 5
What are your favorite ways to dress up rice or potatoes?

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