A Barbecue Blanket

May 7, 2009

My husband shares a disease with a large population of the United States. It is an ailment that I am not fond of and become very frustrated with from time to time. Alex has an aversion to all condiments with the exception of barbecue sauce. He wants nothing to do with mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, or salad dressings. No matter what I add to it or what fancy aioli name I call it, he knows and is unwilling to venture into the strange substance zone.

He will and does put barbecue sauce on almost anything. Carefully crafted flavor profiles get destroyed by that sweet tangy blanket of sauce. I die a little inside every time he does it. This week I made Thai Peanut Chicken Burgers with a Cilantro Lime Aioli. The burgers were perfect; there was a subtle peanut undertone that was a great foundation for the Thai flavor to build on. The meal was complete with oven baked fries and even though the meal was overall healthy, the flavors were causing culinary cherubs to dance on my tongue.

What was Alex doing while I was enjoying this symphony of flavors, pouring barbecue sauce all over every inch of it. I do not think he even tried some without the smoky smothering. His critique: “This is really good. You cannot taste much of the peanut butter though.” I am sure that most of you are rolling your eyes with me now, but that barbecue sauce protects another secret: the burgers were made with carrots, Alex’s arch-nemesis of the vegetable world. So go ahead honey, pour that barbecue sauce on anything you like; those carrots sure taste good now, don’t they?

 Peanut Chicken  Burgerchicken-burger

Adapted from A Good Appetite and Cara’s Cravings (one of my favorite healthy blogs)

1 medium carrot, julienned
1 scallion, chopped
¼  tsp ground ginger
1 tsp kosher salt
2 breast of chicken
2 Tbsp chunky peanut butter
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sriracha chili sauce

Place the two chicken breasts in the food processor. Pulse the meat until most of the bigger chunks are gone and you have a smooth chicken paste with some bigger pieces of chicken in it.

Place all the ingredients together in a bowl. Work with hands to mix but to do overwork.

Cook on a griddle (turkey burgers tend not to hold together well on a grill) until done, about 6 to 7 minutes per side.

Serve with lettuce leaves, more julienned carrots & Cilantro Lime Aioli.

Recipe Notes:

– I added the peanut butter, sesame oil, sriracha chili sauce, and ground ginger to food processor after I had pulsed the chicken a few times. This helps to blend the flavors.

-I finished the burgers in the oven after they got golden brown on each side. It took about 10 mins in a 350 degree oven.

 Nutritional Info- taken from Spark Recipes (not including the bun or the aioli)

Servings per recipe: 4

Calories: 218.4    Total Fat: 8.5      Cholesterol 71.6  Total Carbs: 4.9   Protein: 29.9

Cilantro Lime Aioli

1 ½ tbsp light mayo

½ tbsp of lime juice

1 tbsp fresh cilantro; minced

1 clove of garlic minced

Dash of salt and pepper

 

Mix well and top burgers.

 

Oven Baked Fries fries

This fries are amazing and they are baked so they are healthier than the alternative.

 Ingredients
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 large baking potatoes, 12 ounces each
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves –I omit

Other seasonings to your taste such as paprika, chili powder, Cajun seasoning, or cayenne powder

Directions
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Cut the potatoes into 1/4-inch sticks. In a large bowl, toss the oil, potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and spread the potatoes onto it in a single layer. Sprinkle with seasoning to your taste such as paprika, chili powder, Cajun seasoning, or cayenne powder. Bake until golden and crisp, about 35 minutes.

Remove potatoes from the tray with a metal spatula. Toss with parsley and additional salt, to taste. Serve immediately.

 

Nutritional Info- taken from Spark Recipes

Servings per recipe: 4

Calories: 283.5    Total Fat: 7.4      Cholesterol 0.0   Total Carbs: 50.0  Protein: 5.9

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If you have found yourself wondering what cliff the Cynical Chef drop off of in the past month and a half I apologize. I promise the void that has been my blog has been for a good reason. The time that I had previously been spending cooking, delicious cream filled, cheese laden, cinnamon and sugar dusted recipes is now being spent sweating profusely, begging for mercy, and realizing that no matter how long you walk on the treadmill you are still moving in one place.

That is right; the Cynical Chef has taken her lethargic butt to the gym, complete with a sadistic trainer, this is going to be a long journey but a fulfilling one. What does this matter to you? Well hopefully, you care about my well being and incase, I am being too assuming of your fondness for me, the recipes I will be posting in the future will have a healthy foundation. There will still be treats and cheater meals mixed in, which is why my trainer doesn’t have the web address, but my focus with primarily be on healthy cooking and living.

One thing you can still expect are the trials and tribulations of my kitchen and more importantly, the place I affectionately call Hell but most people call the gym. For example, the recent decision I made to attend a Step Class. Now, I am not sure what circuit shorted in my brain that made me think my clumsy, ungraceful, 6’3″ body could manage this class with ease, but nevertheless I stood in front of my plastic alter praying for mercy. I did not find it.

Twenty minutes into the class, the instructor spoke of a move called “Around the World”; I am not going to bother explaining how to perform this maneuver because no one ever should attempt it. I followed her instructs to the tee, stepped up on my step and somewhere around China, I completely lost my footing. I fell off my step backwards praying that I would be the only causality and fell into the very fit and very tiny woman next to me. She fell and took out the girl behind her and then a couple more fell. What did I do? I promptly removed myself from the carnage, realized that my ankle was bruised and had to wait for my trainer to carry me from the room.

What did I learn from this you ask? That group exercise is not something I should be participating in (the trainer actually suggested this lesson) and skinny ladies go down easier than a string of dominos.

Flank Steak Sandwichesflank-steak-sandwichs-032a1

This came from mine and Alex’s head. You can also serve this on a multi-grain roll but today was our cheat meal and a French baguette is what we wanted.

Grilled Flank Steak Ingredients

1 Pound Flank Steak

Salt

Pepper

Garlic Powder

Onion Powder

Paprika

Cumin

Sandwich Ingredients

Lettuce

Tomato

Baguette

Garlic Aioli

Grilled Red Onions

Grilled Red Onion

1. Cut the ends from the onion and peel the outer layer from the onion.

2. Cut the onion into ¼ inch slices.

3. Brush the onions with olive oil. Use less than one teaspoon of olive oil for the whole onion.

4. Place the onion on the grill over medium heat. We use a vegetable metal tray for the grill but you can place directly on the grill or on tinfoil directly on the grill.

5. Cook about 6-8 minutes on each side until caramelized and delicious.

Garlic Aioli

1. Combine tablespoons of low fat mayo, a pressed clove of garlic, a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice, and salt and pepper into a bowl. Spread the aioli on the baguette. You can also use as a dipping sauce for the Onion Rings.

Flank Steak

1. Trim the excessive fat from the flank steak.

2. Pound the flank steak with a meat tenderizer for 15 seconds on each side. Remember to pound the meat evenly. You are doing this since we are not marinating the meat to ensure tenderness.

3. Season the meat with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cumin. This is really to taste. If you like more of one spice than the other; feel free to use more.

4. Place the meat on the grill over Medium/High heat. Cook 7-10 minutes on each side or until you reach your desired level of doneness.

5. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes,

6. Cut the meat on a bias in thin slices.

Assemble the sandwich with the grilled red onions, 4 to 5oz of flank steak, garlic aioli, lettuce, and tomato. Enjoy!!!

Alex and I rate these sandwiches a 10. They satisfied our desire for an unhealthy meal in a healthy way and the Oven Baked Onion Rings are a great compliment to the sandwich.

Oven Baked Onion Rings From Life’s Ambrosia

Serves: 4flank-steak-sandwichs-017a

You will need:

  • 2 large onions, peeled,  sliced into 1/4 inch slices, separated into rings
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine flour, granulated garlic, pepper and kosher salt. In bowl beat together eggs and milk. In another bowl, combine panko bread crumbs and shredded Parmesan cheese.
  2. Place the onion rings into the plastic bag and shake to lightly coat. Dip into egg wash, drain off excess. Dredge in panko and Parmesan cheese mixture to lightly coat. (Note: The onion rings may not be completely coated, that is okay.)  Repeat process until all onion rings are coated.

To fry:

  1. Heat 1/2 inch canola oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, (Note: if you have a thermometer it should be 365 degrees, if you don’t have one, sprinkle a few pieces of the panko and if they sizzle its hot enough), fry the onion rings in batches, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan, or they will get soggy.  Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle a little more Parmesan over the top if desired. Serve.

To bake:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Lay the onion rings in a single layer not touching each other. Drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Bake 10 minutes. Turn and bake 10 more minutes. Sprinkle with a little more Parmesan, if desired. Serve.

We oven baked these rings and found that additional time was needed. Even after 20 minutes on one side, they were still not golden enough to flip. After a few minutes under the broiler on each side, we were good to go. I rate these onion rings a 7; they were good but not great but it did help satisfy that craving.

I am not sure where the requirement to have something green on your plate came from. I am sure it was born out of the minds of June Cleaver and Mrs. Brady. I know I do not have to adhere to this archaic rule but when writing the Thanksgiving menu, there was a nagging thought in my head. “You don’t have anything greeeeen” the sing songy voice mocked. Fine, I gave into Mrs. Cleaver and put creamed spinach on the menu. I had something green alright but it was bathing in a sauce of creamy goodness and topped with crispy shallots. Not your mother’s idea of fulfilling the healthy requirement but so good.

Creamed Spinach

Recipe courtesy of my tv boyfriend Tyler Florence. Tyler if you are reading you are on my 5 people list. Wink wink.misc-012a

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds spinach
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Wash the spinach in several changes of water to get rid of any grit. Drain the spinach but keep some of the water clinging to the leaves. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the spinach and garlic. Cook, turning frequently, until the spinach has wilted down evenly. Remove the garlic and put the spinach into a colander and let it drain well. Press out as much liquid as you can from the leaves and chop them coarsely.

Heat the skillet again over medium-high heat and add the cream and nutmeg; cook until it reduces a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the spinach is hot, about 5 more minutes. Serve immediately.

Crispy Shallots

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

To prepare the shallots: Fill a deep saucepan with about 2 inches of vegetable oil. Heat over medium heat until a deep-fat thermometer reads 360 degrees. (Alternatively, use an electric deep-fat fryer). Toss the shallots with the flour in a large bowl, to coat. Transfer to a strainer and shake to remove the excess flour. Add the shallots to the hot oil and cook until golden

A testament to my love

December 1, 2008

There are some recipes I make that are a testament to my love for my husband. (See post on peanut butter) This corn soufflé recipe is one of those. The recipe has been in Alex’s family for quite some time. The problem is it uses creamed corn. I have many issues but one of my cooking related ones is texture. In my opinion, creamed corn has a horrible texture and looks like what pigs throw up.  If any of the evil corn gets on my hands, I will behave like the girl from Willy Wonka, that wants the golden egg, and throw the biggest tantrum in the world.  But, I will continue to make this dish year after year and continue to get creamed corn splatter on my hands every year. Why you ask? I am a sucker for my husband. That man has got my number.

And now that I have made this dish oh so enticing, I will provide the recipe. I promise it is much better than the ingredients give it hope to be. Everyone that eats it loves it. I have yet to try it. Here’s hoping for next year.

Corn Soufflécorn-souffle-021a

Recipe courtesy of Alex’s Mama. Slight variations can be found all over that internet thing

1 stick of butter melted

8oz Sour Cream

1 14.5 can of regular corn drained

1 14.5 can of the evil corn (creamed corn)

1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix

1. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. Mix all the ingredients.

3. Pour into an 8×8 pan. I used a loaf pan. I like it better that way.

4. Cook for 60 minutes or until golden brown or a knife comes out clean.

5. Forget the fact there is creamed corn in it and enjoy!corn-souffle-024a1