Chris' Recipes

Bon Appetite!

Crustless Quiche with Sundried Tomatoes, Asparagus, and Goat Cheese

Written By: Chris - Mar• 30•16

I wanted to prepare a quick grab breakfast that was healthy, but delicious.  We’ve always got eggs on hand, but reached for the carton at the grocery store this time because it was inexpensive, and I thought would make throwing together a quiche a little easier.  I almost always use “real” ingredients and gave up on the light, fat-free type of stuff some time ago.  The carton of “Better’n Eggs” said that it was made with real eggs right on the package!  Upon closer review, I’ve discovered that it’s mostly egg whites.  Although it looked like scrambled up eggs, similar to the Egg-Beaters brand, that according to Wikipedia is a product marketed in the United States as a healthy substitute for chicken eggs.  Egg Beaters is primarily egg whites with added flavorings, vitamins, and thickeners xanthan gum and guar gum, but it contains no egg yolks.

Similarly, Better’n Eggs is made with 98% egg whites, it is fat- and cholesterol-free, low in calories, and loaded with essential nutrients and vitamins such as folic acid, riboflavin, vitamins A, B-12, D and E.  Their website claims “From omelets to desserts, they can be used in any recipe that calls for eggs.”  I’m left wondering what the other 2% is?  This brand also makes a product called “AllWhites” which is 100% liquid egg whites.  They market this as a convenient, fat-free, cholesterol-free and low-calorie alternative to regular eggs – ideal when it comes to fueling your fitness goals and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They’re a lean source of protein and can be used in any recipe that calls for eggs.  Egg whites aren’t bad for you, but in my opinion don’t carry the richness of flavors.  Regardless, this crustless quiche is very flavorful with all of its other ingredients and happens to be low in points if you are following the Weight Watchers Points™ program.

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Ingredients:

1 Onion, medium, chopped (0 points)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (8 points)
1 1/2 Cups Better’n Eggs (0 points)
1/2 Cup low-fat Buttermilk (2 points)
1 Yellow Roasted Pepper, jarred (0 points)
2 oz. Sundried Tomatoes (8 points)
1 1/2 Cup Asparagus, chopped (0 points)
2 oz. Goat Cheese, soft, crumbled (6 points)
1/2 Zucchini, chopped (0 points)
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1/2 Cup Colby Jack Cheese, shredded (8 points)

Saute the onions in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Chop all of the vegetables into small bite-size pieces and set aside.
Combine eggs with buttermilk and crumbled pieces of the goat cheese.

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Gently stir the vegetables into the egg mixture.
Spray a round baking dish with non-stick spray and pour in the egg mixture.
Sprinkle with shredded cheese.
Bake uncovered for 45 minutes until the top springs back gently by touch.

Allow to cool for at least five to ten minutes.  Serve at room temperature or warmed.  Garnish with fresh basil and fresh tomatoes.
Cut into 8 equal pieces = 4 Weight Watchers Points™ each.

Enjoy!
Cheers!
~Chris

 

 

 

Pork, Curry Wild Rice Soup

Written By: Chris - Mar• 29•16

I prepared this soup earlier in March, but thought since it’s going to get cold again at the end of the week, this might be a consideration for your dinner table.  I had a couple of large, leftover boneless pork chops on hand and decided to make a pork version of my wild rice soup!  We’re forever trying to incorporate better choices into our diet and wild rice is a great option!

I’ve mentioned this before, but despite its name, wild rice is not rice at all but are the seeds of edible grasses native to North America.  It’s easy to find Minnesota Wild rice in the grocery stores.  Native Americans harvested wild rice in canoes, using long sticks to knock the seeds into the bottom of their boats.  This grain is not only delicious but has some impressive health benefits.  Did you know that a one-cup serving of wild rice contains 50 fewer calories and almost 10 fewer grams of carbohydrate than a cup of brown rice?  It also provides more protein, zinc, and potassium than both brown and white rice varieties and is significantly higher in folate (Folic acid plays an important role in the production of red blood cells) and most of the other B vitamins.  It is very rich in antioxidants – containing up to 30 times more than white rice, which means regular consumption of wild rice protects you from disease and aging.  Because of its high fiber content, wild rice keeps your digestion smooth and helps lower cholesterol.

I suggest cooking a batch and storing it in the refrigerator to use and add it to dishes throughout the week.  Toss it with lentils or beans, stir into casseroles.  I love it as a cold salad or in soup!!  The curry makes this soup very unique and oh, so good!

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Ingredients:

2 Pork Chops, boneless, cooked (about 3 to 4 Cups cubed meat)
1/2 lb. Bacon, chopped 
1 Cup Carrots, chopped
1 Large Onion, chopped
1 Cup Celery, chopped
1  Cup Wild Rice, measured dry
2 Tablespoons Better than Bouillion Base
1 Package Pork Gravy Mix
2 Quarts Chicken Stock
1/2 Cups Half & Half
2 Tablespoons Thyme, dried
1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
1 Tablespoon Granulated Garlic
2 Tablespoons Yellow Curry Powder
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Cook Pork chops and allow them to rest before chopping them into bite-size chunks.

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Clean, peel, and chop vegetables into small dime sized or smaller pieces.

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Cook the bacon and onions together until the onions are translucent and the bacon is browned.

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Add the chopped carrots and continue to saute over medium heat until they begin to soften, stirring occasionally about five minutes.

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Rinse wild rice under cold water and allow to sit in the colander so that excess water is removed.

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Add the chopped celery and rice to the bacon and onion, stirring frequently while cooking for about an additional five minutes. Season with salt and pepper and the other herbs.  over and stir frequently allowing rice to cook about two hours stirring occasionally

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Stir in the stock and gravy mix well.  Add the pork and cover.  Stir frequently allowing rice to cook at least an hour until the rice is curled and cooked through.  Taste the soup and add the bouillion base to taste for more flavor.

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Stir in the half and half and allow to simmer over low heat stirring, occasionally until thick.

Enjoy!

Cheers!
~Chris

Shrimp and Dill Pasta Salad

Written By: Chris - Mar• 16•16

I generally still make an effort to cook while traveling if the accommodations will allow it.  Our gracious hosts fed us lunch most days while we were in South Africa spending our days in the cellars at Overgaauw Wine Estates.  Nicole is a wonderful cook and though we sincerely appreciated their generosity, we didn’t want to take advantage of their hospitality so I tried to contribute here and there!

Sticking to my philosophy of preparing dishes with ingredients that I have on hand, I got creative with the assembly of the meals, which turned out pretty good!  There were a few different options nearby to purchase groceries at including supermarket chains Checkers, Spar (also Super Spar), and WOOLWORTHS.

Each of these grocery stores was a bit different.  Spar was the closest to our cottage and seemed to be most reasonable in price.  Its name is also the root of the verb that means “to save (money)“.  These are mid-sized supermarkets and are designed to fit in a niche between convenience stores and traditional supermarkets.  Checkers is a supermarket chain that focuses more strongly on fresh produce offering a wider range of choice food items to a more affluent clientele, although I really felt like “Woolies” (as the locals call it) had more of a feel similar to our Byerly’s or Lunds, having that “rich or prosperous” shopper type of feel.  It is a chain of retail stores that is one of the largest in South Africa.  It incorporates a series of food stores, some of which are attached to department stores that in addition to food, carry homewares, clothing, and footwear.  They are acclaimed the best store in customer care.

Although we ate great seafood in many restaurants, overall I had a hard time finding much variety available in the grocery stores.  I found the shrimp at Woolies, but there were only a couple of packages.  We also bought other white fish that was delicious, but seafood seemed higher priced then other proteins.  The Peeled Prawns 200g (about 1 lb.) were R 89.99 (about $6 a package).

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Ingredients: 

1/2 lb. Bowtie Pasta, al dente
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt
2 Tablespoons Cream
1 lb. Shrimp, cooked 
1 English Cucumber, sliced
1/2 Onion, minced
1 Cup Grape Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Italian Parsley, fresh, chopped
1/3 Cup Chives, fresh, chopped fine
3-4 Tablespoons Dried Dill
2 Tablespoons Honey
Salt & Pepper, to taste 

I used about a half a package of pasta.  Cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions, removing from water when the texture is al denta.  I drizzled with good olive oil so that the pasta wouldn’t stick. (Our lodging was on an olive farm after all!) Allow to cool completely in the refrigerator, covered.

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Combine the mayo, greek yogurt, and cream and mix well.  Combine with minced onion and sliced cucumber.  Stir in the dried dill (I would use fresh if available) and add the chopped parsley and chives, reserving parsley and chives for a garnish.  Chop tomatoes in half.

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Remove the tails from the shrimp and keep them chilled on ice, but drain off any access water before adding them to the salad.

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Season the cucumber mixture with honey, to taste.

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Gently combine the shrimp with the cucumbers and fold in the tomatoes.

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Garnish with chopped parsley and chives, serve chilled.

Enjoy!
Cheers!
~Cheers

Chunky Tomato Basil Soup

Written By: Chris - Mar• 11•16

Bill and I recently returned back to “winter’ after spending a month of summer in South Africa.  Upon our return, we grabbed take out lunch at Perkin’s and enjoyed a small bowl of their delicious soup.  It was surprisingly good and had us craving more.  Thick, creamy soup made with tomatoes as the primary ingredient is one of my ultimate comfort foods.  Classic tomato soup does not have chunks but I wanted the chunks this time because I was trying to duplicate our lunch that we enjoyed so much.  This recipe is also different because I used a good amount of buttermilk and chose canned San Marzano tomatoes for the bulk of the soup.  The tomatoes are imported from Italy and have consistently good flavor.  They have thick flesh, relatively few seeds, and a sweeter, less acidic flavor than other tomato varieties.  Watch for them to go on special because they can be spendy.  Though they are widely available at supermarkets, I have found these large cans from Costco at a value.  The reason I went for the buttermilk is because somehow I ended up with two quarts on hand when restocking the fridge and I needed to use some of it up.  It worked beautifully while cutting down on fat and calories, but I did use some cream because I  really wanted the richness that it brings!

If you’re not feeding a crowd, or don’t wish to freeze any soup, you could easily half or even quarter this recipe.  Whenever I make soup, I like to go big.  It’s more fun to share and makes for a quick meal down the road.

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Ingredients:

6 lb. Tomatoes, peeled, canned (Italian San Marzano are best)
8 14.5 oz cans Petite Diced Tomatoes (reserve for later in recipe)
1 Cup Butter
2 Onions, medium sweet, diced
2 Cups Carrots, diced
2 1/2 Cups Celery, Chopped
4 Garlic Cloves, pressed
1 Quart Buttermilk
1 Cup 1/2 & 1/2
1 Cup Heavy Cream
4 Cups Chicken Stock, homemade
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Better than Bouillion, Chicken
1 Cup Fresh Basil, chopped
1/3 Cup Basil, dried
2 Tablespoons Red Pepper Flakes
Salt & fresh ground Black Pepper, to taste 

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In a heavy pot, (I use the church pan, but a dutch oven works perfectly for smaller batches) heat the butter.  Chop the sweet onion, celery, and carrots into small pieces and saute them in the butter.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook over medium-low heat until the vegetables begin to turn translucent and slightly browned, add the garlic cloves and cook for an additional minute or two.

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Open the large can of tomatoes and pour them in.  Stir occasionally, simmering on very low cooking for about fourty five minutes or up to an hour or more .

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Add the chicken stock, stir and continue to cook on low heat for at least a half an hour.

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Use the immersion blender and process the soup until it is smooth.

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Add buttermilk, and half and half, continuing to blend until very smooth.

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Add the diced tomatoes, herbs, sugar and soup flavoring.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Also add the cream near the end of the process to taste.

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Allow the soup to cook as long as you have time for.  It will begin to turn from bright red to a more orange colorI believe that the longer it can cook on low heat, the better the flavor.  We enjoyed some for dinner, but I allowed it to cook on VERY low (not a boil) overnight before cooling and freezing.

Serve with with crunchy, delicious croutons or a grilled cheese sandwich.  I served “flat out’s” seasoned simply with extra virgin olive oil, a bit of garllic and onion powder and a couple of kinds of shredded cheese including cheddar and mozzarella; baked in the oven until crispy!

Enjoy!

Cheers!
~Chris

Pork Roast with Crackling

Written By: Chris - Mar• 04•16

So now that I’ve had a few days to rest and become re-acclimated into the time zone of the midwest in the USA… I’m finding myself missing much of the cuisine I enjoyed while in South Africa!  I learned a lot from my new friend Nicole Van Velden, the wife of Winemaker David at Overgaauw Wine Estate in Stellenbosch where my husband Bill and I spent the month of February playing in the cellar, getting hands-on experience in his future “retirement plan”.  Anyways, Nicole was a gracious hostess and prepared several dishes that I look forward to trying myself.  I sure hope she’ll guide me through her methods and share her recipes!  Whoever said that you can’t trust a skinny chef, shouldn’t judge a book by its cover because this gal can put out an impressive spread (and yes, she eats)!  She prepared for us an amazing traditional roasted dinner, which consisted of moist bone in pork roast, along with roast potatoes, a selection of vegetables, salad and other scrumptious stuff!  What was the mystery and most appetizing parts to this meal was something they all call “cracking”!  The crisp, fatty skin of the roasted pork.  Apparently, the world has been enjoying this unfamiliar indulgence without me!  It is this luxurious, crunchy and crackling layer on top of the roast.  It is not gooey and it does not feel like you’re eating fat.  Everyone loved her cracking, and especially enjoyed eating it with her homemade apple sauce!

I’ve been doing a lot of research on this little delicacy since I’ve been home.  I intend to prepare a roast like her’s pictured, but I think I’ll wait to hear her method on preparing it first.  Below is some of what I’ve learned in my groundwork.

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Ingredients:

1 Pork Loin, bone-in skin-on with the Rind
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Herbs you like, Tarragon, Sage, Thyme etc. (I need to find out what she used!) 

Pork crackling is a peculiar sought-after part of the feast.  We saw first hand that when prepared right, there was a fight for the last piece!

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The key to the success of this dish is patience!  You’ll need to prepare the pork in a slow-cooking method to obtain a moist roast with that luxurious, crispy, crunchy crackling from the skin of the Pork.  From what I’ve read, people often find getting the fat it crispy, can be the hardest.

When your roast is complete, the best treat is the crackling, that if done correctly, will come out of the oven as a thick layer of  golden brown, crispy skin that is blistered and crunchy!  Apparently there are a lot of theories about crackling and how to prepare it – from salting the meat the night before, or brushing the skin with vinegar, but I believe Nicole’s method is to score the skin using a sharp knife, drying it thoroughly and then rubbing it with oil and salt, along with herbs and spices into the skin and crevices.

I found some helpful tips at this website http://lovefoodies.com/moist-roast-pork-and-crackling.html where they explain in detail how to score the roast.  First score the skin, cutting parallel 1/4 inch deep cuts into the skin and underlying fat in 1-inch intervals about a cm apart -going from the thickest part of the roast to the thinnest.  Start at the smallest end and pierce the knife down while dragging it over to the other side – being careful not to cut too deep or too shallow. The scoring helps release the fat underneath the skin, so that as it roasts it becomes crispy.

I recall Nicole explaining that you need the pork to be very dry on top to achieve the perfect crunch.  Their method instructs adding oil and salt it five to 10 minutes before putting the meat in the oven while starting the roast in an extremely hot oven to get the crackling going.

I also read that the perfect temperature for roasting pork to get good crackling is 320˚ F (160˚C)  Williams-Sonoma Kitchen explains how this slow cooking allows the fat to get golden brown and crispy, gently turning the skin into the perfect crackling.  I’m going with Nicole’s method once she confirms!

I also read to warm oil in a large roasting pan over medium-high heat, placing the pork fat side down, in the pan and to sear it until the skin is well browned and crackly, while some of the fat is rendered, about 10 to 15 minutes.  They instruct continuing to sear the pork until it is well browned on all sides before transferring it to a platter.  Next, you are to discard the fat in the pan and place the pork, fat side up, on a roasting rack in the pan.  Roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat, away from the bone, registers 140ºF, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the pork to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

I’m sure Nicole allowed her roast to rest before carving it right in the roasting pan.  I’m not sure she covered it though because I would think that might create steam and mess up the crackling??  She served her amazing roast with roasted potatoes and her homemade apple sauce, that she prepared by peeling and coring apples before cutting and cooking them on the stove top with a sprinkle of honey to taste.  She mashed them with a fork until smooth and boy were they good!

It all looks easy enough, but I’m waiting for further instructions from my friend before I give this roast and cracking a shot!

Watch for updates!

Cheers!
~Chris