Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ten a Day

Two straight days of cooking and some serious holiday eating has left me culinarily drained and feeling like a total beast.  Too many cookbooks!  Too much rich food!  I briefly considered a diet, then vetoed that idea--all that emphasis on foods I shouldn't eat seems to invariably lead to failure and self-loathing.  No thank you, and pass the tirimisu leftovers.  Then my sister suggested eating 10 a day--servings of fruits and vegetables, that is.  With the emphasis on adding healthy and delicious foods to my diet, this is a plan I can get excited about.

So why the chocolate, then?  It's the secret ingredient in my vegetarian chili.  I"ve made this so many times, I hardly need a recipe.  It's fast, cheap, easy and filling, and counts as at least two of my veggie servings. 

Which still only brings me to seven servings for the day.  But the night is young...and there is a pear with my name on it in the fridge. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Last Squash Standing

This is it...the last squash standing, my final purchase at the Port Washington farmers market before it closed for the season.  He has outlasted the potatoes and shallots, and even the garlic.  He stands alone, a reminder of the vegetable bounty that was once mine for the choosing. 

And now he is dinner.  It was that, or watch him grow soft, or develop some kind of weird vegetable mold.  Admittedly, butternut squash is not my favorite.  Plus, I never seem to know what to do with them. The vast majority of butternut sqash seem destined for soup, and squash soups, despite any funky additions, always end up tasting like baby food. So once again, I turned to the following preparation, what is fast becoming my "old standby" when it comes to butternut squash.

It features this remarkably underrated product, plus some crisply sauteed shallots, and the squash roasted in cubes...

...finished with some lightly wilted baby spinach leaves and crumbled Amish blue cheese.

It was a tasty sendoff...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Oh my darling...

One of the few perks of the season are the crates of clementines that begin arriving at the market in early December.  However, even with my daily regimen of two clementines after lunch, it's still a challenge to finish a whole box before they go soft.  With six sorry looking specimens staring up at me, I quickly revised a recipe for Spicy Orange Chicken with Snow Peas and Red Pepper from my splattered old copy of All The Best Stir-Fries by Joie Warner.

Using the zest and the juice made for a bright tasting dish.  The chili paste added just enough heat to balance the sweetness.  A sunny dinner on one of the first truly cold nights of winter. 

Spicy Clementine Chicken

1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into 1/4 inch strips
2 T water
2 T cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
4 T vegetable oil
1/2 c. fresh squeezed clementine juice
Finely grated zest of one clementine
4 tsp. sugar
4 tsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. chinese chili paste
1 T cornstarch
1/2 tsp. Japanese sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 T grated ginger
1/2 red pepper, seeded and cut into julienne
10 large snow peas, trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise

     Combine chicken with water in a small bowl; thoroughly stir in cornstarch and salt, then 2 T of oil; set aside to marinate for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours, covered in the refrigerator.
     Combine juice, zest, sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, chili paste, cornstarch and sesame oil in a small bowl.
     Heat 1 T of oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat.  When hot, add garlic, ginger, red pepper, and snow peas and toss for 1 minute; remove to a plate (be careful not to overcook snow peas!).  Add 1 T oil, add chicken, and stir-fry for 3 minutes or until opaque and cooked through.  Return vegetables to the pan, restir clementine-juice mixture and add, stirring until lightly glazed.  Serves 4.