Sunday, February 28, 2010

home fries - the perfect accompaniment for a healthy meal

home fries - 15To go with our healthy dinner of Asian chicken salad wraps, my boyfriend and I had home-fries on the side. (It didn't make sense to me either). My boyfriend who purposely wanted to eat healthy for dinner (and also wanted to torture me in doing so) also chose our side dish of greasy fried cubed potatoes. Granted, they aren't as bad as like french fries or other variations, but I mean it still wasn't by any means healthy for us. I didn't complain though- I mean, I can never turn down something greasy/fried. Not to mention that these were also an easy and quick fix for our tight schedule.

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While I readied a tray for the potatoes to be par-cooked, my boyfriend chopped up some red bell peppers and onions and threw them in the pan.

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Once the potatoes were tender enough, they were cut into block segments and dropped into the pan. Various seasonings were sprinkled on top, as the bottoms crisped up.

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Even through all the steam and heat I could see that the potatoes were browning nicely and beginning to take shape.

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And voila! In about 10 minutes or so, we (okay- more so my boyfriend) whipped up a fresh batch of home fries.

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Anyone that knows me should know that I'm not much of a potato fan (give me rice over potatoes any day), but these were surprisingly good.

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First of all, I love greasy food. What I also liked about these home fries was the little crispiness on the sides and such. Sometimes I think texture is even more important than taste, and in this case the combination of crunchy and tender was superb.


asian chicken salad wraps - proof that i'm not good at everything (believe it or not)

asian chicken salad wraps - 40Just like the previous day, my boyfriend was in one of those "let's eat healthy" moods. Although I have come to terms with my recent weight gain, I still am reluctant to begin a hardcore healthy lifestyle (which results in me moaning and groaning when I hear my boyfriend say the words "healthy food"). We compromised by making Asian chicken salad wraps. Before gathering and preparing our ingredients, I looked up different recipes and options for our wraps. My boyfriend, as usual, shunned the idea of following someone else's recipe and insisted we make up our own.

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Since I know almost nothing about cooking meat (being that I hate the thought of raw meat), I simply stepped back and observed my boyfriend. He made his own marinade by quickly dashing and sprinkling random ingredients, meanwhile, I was trying to accurately record everything into my cell phone.

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As our chicken marinaded, we went to the grocery store to buy the remaining ingredients. While walking down the salad aisle, he grabbed a (-gasp-) prepackaged salad mix complete with all the bells and whistles. I didn't even have time to fight or complain because the sun was setting and all chances of preparing the meal as well as taking photos in the sunlight were slim. As disappointed as I was, I had to comply.

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When we got back, the chicken was cooked and chopped (and tasty might I add).

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Meanwhile, I prepared the wraps. I warmed the tortillas, placed a pile of salad in the center, and then dropped a few chunks of chicken over top.

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After a little wrap around, my healthy alternative to a burrito came together.

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While I'd like to say that we deserve all the credit for this, truth of the matter is that we cannot since we used a prepackaged salad mix. Putting that aside, these were pretty damn good. The chicken was marinated and cooked perfectly, and most importantly pulled everything together wonderfully.

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I was too busy enjoying my tasty wrap that I didn't even bother to look at my boyfriend and how he was doing. I have no idea how he managed to assemble such a monstrous yet flawlessly executed wrap. I mean- take a look at my puny little wrap and compare it to this perfectly oval shaped wrap stuffed to the brim with chicken.

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I had to physically take his plate away from him, just so I could photograph this ginormous baby. Meanwhile, he went to make another wrap for him to take to work the following day, which I too grabbed out of his hands to take further photos of. He really is the master of folding wraps; I'll give that to him.

All by my boyfriend.

marinade recipe: (approximate estimates:)
1/4 cup soy sauce
juice of half a lime
1+1/2 tablespoons sweet chili garlic sauce
1+1/2 tablespoons peanut butter
1+1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon black bean paste
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper

1. Marinate 4 chicken breasts in marinade for a few hours.
2. After done marinating, cook in skillet and chop up into bite sized pieces.
3. Ready prepackaged Asian salad mix (or make your own), and warm tortillas.
4. Place tortilla on flat surface, add heaping (seriously heaping if you want nice pretty wraps like my boyfriend's) pile of salad and then heaping pile of chicken. Wrap sides up together.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

cheesy turkey burgers - my kinda diet food

turkey burgers with blue cheese spread - 48I'm not gonna lie, but ever since I started baking, I've gained a bit of weight. Yeah sure, in the beginning I was pretty freakin' pissed and completely in denial, but eventually I came to terms with it. It's just a fact that I can't happily live (as in allowing me to bake) and be skinny at the same time- it's just not happening. Anyways, so somewhere among one of my many bitches to my boyfriend about my weight gain, something affected him in a strange way. Ever since then, he's been on his own little "diet" (when honestly, neither of us can be on a "diet" for more than a few days). What sent up red flags in my head was when I was at the grocery store and I asked him if there was anything he needed, and he replied "ground turkey".

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Okay, first of all- he doesn't even like turkey (I know this because he so permanently ingrained it in my head from Thanksgiving). Even stranger was that he went out and bought whole wheat thin pita roll things, as opposed to our usual fattening white rolls.

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At first I was confused- Like, there's no way this could be my boyfriend. But then I figured it was just "one of those days" and I went along with his little turkey-burger idea.

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I knew my boyfriend was hidden under there somewhere once I saw him grab a ton of cheese out of the fridge and assemble a cheese spread for the bread- Now that's what I'm talkin' about.

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I understand that prettiness wasn't a factor in creating these burgers (obvi, they're sloppily made and look completely squashed), but I was hoping my boyfriend hadn't forgotten than tastiness was just as important as healthiness.

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Now, I'm a decently big turkey burger fan, but these did not taste like my typical turkey burgers. In fact, if I hadn't known these were turkey, I probably wouldn't have been able to guess that.

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With that said, these were actually tastier than many turkey burger I've previously had. The meat was a lot more moist and flavorful, and I can't forget about the delicious blue cheese spread we added.

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The gooey cheesiness oozed out the sides of the burger the second you took a bite. See all that cheesy goodness? I couldn't have asked for a cheesier burger if I wanted to. For once I can actually say my daily dose of cheese has been fulfilled.

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My boyfriend, on the other hand, actually did think it was too cheesy for him (what a disgrace) and ended up wiping some of the cheese off his burger. I willingly came to the rescue and ate all the excess cheese for him. So much for either of us being on a diet...


Friday, February 26, 2010

alton brown's "the chewy" - my cockiness was no match to these cookies

alton brown's "the chewy" chocolate chip cookie - 19So, believe it or not, but I know my boyfriend better than he knows himself. For years he has been stuck in his stubborn routine ways, believing that he likes/dislikes certain things, when in fact it is the total opposite. Months ago we had our little chocolate chip cookie throwdown, where my boyfriend proudly asserted his favorite cookie was the cook's illustrated cookie. Ever since then, I have been slaving away over the oven every week baking him these now boring cookies. So after all this, I thought it would be time for a little change, wouldn't you think so? (insert evil laugh here).

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The results from the cookie throwdown placed Alton Brown's "The Chewy" in the middle at #3. I could not cope with the fact that my man AB did not produce an overly-awesome cookie. So, to quell my distress, I decided to do a little swap out on my cookie dough and see what my unknowing boyfriend would think.

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Half semi-sweet chocolate chips and half white chocolate chips, per usual, so my picky-eater wouldn't notice any discrepancies.

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Since the last time I baked these cookies, many things have changed- For starters, I now like to consider myself an "unofficial cookie professional & specialist" (yes I just made that up right now), concentrating on the production and assemblage of chocolate chip cookies. I followed all cookie dough rules and regulations (example: correct butter temperature, correct mixing equipment), and most importantly- I left the dough to blossom in the refrigerator for no less than 48 hours.

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Also, I followed Mr. Brown's instructions precisely, and even googled how big a #20 ice cream scooper would be, so that I could accurately form the correct size dough balls. The size of the cookie dough balls were much larger than I typically make, creating these unfamiliar and ginormous chocolate chip cookies.

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My boyfriend, who is ever so keen, noticed the difference (size being the obvious dead giveaway) and so I divulged my intended plan to him.

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Before he took his first bite into this mysterious cookie, I gave him the usual rules- Describe everything, tell me what is especially good about these cookies, tell me what I should have done differently, and most importantly- if this was a better tasting cookie than his Cook's Illustrated.

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Hmm... I can't say I'm surprised at all. He chose these over his old favorite. All those times I wanted to try new chocolate chip cookie recipes and he wouldn't dare let me now seem ironic.

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See, the thing was that I knew there would be better cookie recipes out there that he'd like even more... I just knew it. Only after proving it to him could I rub all that crap into his face about me knowing more than him. Unfortunately, he really didn't give a shit that I was right (and thinking about it now, I'm sure he knew it himself from the beginning); quite honestly, all he cared about was that he had freshly baked deliciously gooey semi-sweet and white chocolate chip cookies in front of him.

Taken from Alton Brown.

2 sticks unsalted butter
2+1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1+1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1+1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat (or microwave it like I did). Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
3. Pour the melted butter in the mixer's work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Chill the dough (I would recommend at least 24 hours), then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

About 2+1/2 dozen cookies.