SUPER BOWL Super Snacks! Super Tasty!

MEXICAN SHREDDED CHICKEN
This is a perfect snack while watching  SUPER BOWL LI on  Sunday.
I used the spice mix featured in my HOLIDAY GIFT Spice Jars  that Is used in this Mexican shredded chicken recipe from Always Hungry? ..by renowned Harvard endocrinologist Dr. David Ludwig See the full story on Ambition Nutrition.  Dr. Ludwig returned to Toronto where his wife Chef Dawn demonstrated some of the wonderful recipes from his book .  The Mexican chicken dish was a big hit! I have already made it four times because it is so fast andvery’ easy to make! Bonus: kids love it!
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INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 3/4 pounds)
  • spice mix:
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin (grind you own in a mortar and pestle)
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered red chili i.e. Ancho, chile de arbol or New Mexican
  • Dash of Cayenne pepper ~ or ~ to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt (use Kosher or sea salt )
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

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INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mix the spices together in a plastic bag. Add the olive oil and combine. Add the chicken and evenly coat. You can refrigerate this overnight.
  2.  Film the frying pan with 1/16″ oil and set over moderately high heat.  When very hot but not  smoking place the chicken in the pan in one layer without crowding.
  3.  Cover; cook turning regularly especially in the beginning, until the oil and juices from the chicken begin to make a sauce. Add water as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, to keep the mixture from burning or sticking. Cook until the chicken is cooked throughout, 15 to 20 minutes. Using two forks, shred the chicken in the pan, pulling along the grain to create thin strands. Shredding the chicken disperses more flavour.
  4.  Continue to heat the shredded chicken, stirring frequently, until the liquid and spices have been absorbed and thicken, another 3-5 minutes.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Total time: 25 to 30 minutes
Makes 6 servings (about 3 cups)
Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Freeze for longer storage.

A VARIETY OF SERVING SUGGESTIONS
Chicken is so tender, juicy and versatile. You can serve it in a myriad of ways.
(1) A filling for tacos
(2) Casseroles, Mexican lasagna
(3) Tortilla or quesadillas (topped with guacamole or sour cream)
(4) Mexican Shredded chicken on pita bread
(5) Chicken salad with tortilla chips, avocado and red peppers
(6) Pizza

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HAT2 FOOD TIP:  After removing the cooked chicken from my pan, I added cream (or  use water)  to the hot pan along with pink peppercorns and started swirling the pan to loosen all the tasty bits in the fry pan.  I poured the cooled mixture  into a glass mason jar.  After a day in the fridge,  I stored the sauce in the freezer.  If you use chicken thighs with the bone in then toss the bones into a pot of water  with leftover vegetables like carrot tops or the core of a cauliflower (save it all ) for a healthy, home-made chicken stock.

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Chicken Stock made from chicken  bones and Pink Peppercorn Sauce from pan drippings.

 

didyouknowDID YOU KNOW?
WHAT GIVES MEAT ITS COLOUR ?
The reddish colour of dark meat comes from the  myoglobin, a hemoprotein (an oxygen-carrying protein) The more myoglobin, the darker the meat and the richer the nutrients. Myoglobin provides muscles with the oxygen they need during exercise or movement. The flightless chicken use their ‘myoglobin’ legs to get around pumping those muscles into a red ‘myogloben’ frenzy.  I bet some of you didn’t know that.

100 g (3.5 ounce) of skinless chicken thigh = 7 g of fat.
100 g (3.5 ounce) of skinless chicken breast = 3.6 g of fat.
100 g (3.5 ounce) of chicken wings = 8 g of fat. A raw chicken wing weighs approximated 3 ounces, or 89 grams

DARK MEAT IS RICHER IN NUTRIENTS THAN WHITE MEAT: CHICKEN THIGHS contain protein, niacin, phosphorous,  Vitamin A, K, D, B6, B12, folic acid, pantothenic acid,  selenium, phosphorus, calcium, zinc (protects immune system) and iron. Niacin helps to build and maintain healthy skin, and aids in the digestion and absorption of food. Vitamin B6 is needed for protein metabolism and amino acid synthesis. Keep in mind that  the darker the meat the more nutrition in the meat.

A Night to Remember

THE 3rd ANNUAL FOOD COURT SOCIAL
Presented by the Slaight Family Foundation

A fractured arm while sailing in Newport, Rhode Island did not stop me from attending this star-studded event last night. Our chefs today are stars! Budding Michelin stars that is. We have to partly thank the Internet for connecting so many ‘foody’ connoisseurs around the world and share some great food! Our blogs open the window to these talented chefs. George Brown College has great culinary courses with the talented Chef John Higgins (Director) at the helm. This evening of extraordinary food made by extraordinary chefs was held in partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) for education and training new chefs at George Brown Chef’s school!

“Appetite for Change. One bite at a time”

Thursday September 22nd 2016
7:00pm – 11:00pm
George Brown College Waterfront Campus, 51 Dockside Drive, Toronto

The Canadian Chef’s Menu is mouth-watering!
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What’s best at the waterfront is seafood. Chef Anthony Rose, Rose and Sons prepared this feast.
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I eagerly tasted the culinary treats from most of the chefs that night!
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Chef John Higgins (first chef awarded the Toronto Arts Culinary Award) believes in the FORMULA:  Passion + Hard Work = A Very Good Chef! You have to love food. Only a true foody need apply. Otherwise, it is not fun because of the long hours in the kitchen, chopping, simmering and arranging fresh market delights.

Chef John Higgins and Eva, with my broken arm

Chef John Higgins and Eva, with my broken wing

Chef John Higgins and G.B. Chefs in the Making

Chef John Higgins and G.B. Chefs in the Making

The environmentalist Chef Michael Stadtländer was one of the great chefs that night. Chef Stadtländer promotes and believes in farm to table dishes. Take a pilgrimage to his Eigensinn Farm where the freshest dishes are available for your  dining pleasure. An internationally celebrated destination for gourmets.

Chef Michael Stadtländer and Eva

Chef Michael Stadtländer and Eva

Chef Stadtländer made a butternut squash soup just in time for thanksgiving celebrations. The pickled beet garnish was the pièce de résistance that really did it.  Also, the meatball stuffed with cheese which came gushing out was divine .
I have been wined and dined this evening. Now it is time to hobble home.
Bon appetite!

Better Than Swedish Meatballs

Another great comfort food for game day and those cold winter nights!  Everybody loves meat balls!  suomenlippuSwedish meatballs are famous possibly because of IKEA . Better than Swedish meatballs are Finnish meatballs. I make them in quantity, serve them or make ahead and freeze until the big event!  Deeeelicious!
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INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup soft bread crumbs
1/2 cup cream or milk
1 pound lean ground meat
1/2 pound ground pork
1 onion, minced
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons butter for frying
1 tablespoons minced parsley
1 cup milk and 2 tablespoons flour (optional for sauce)
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INSTRUCTIONS
1.  Soak the bread crumbs in cream.
2.  Mix together the ground beef, ground pork, minced onions and soaked bread crumbs.
3.  Mix together the beaten eggs, salt, allspice and minced parsley.  Add to the meat mixture and combine well but do not overwork.
4. With about 1 teaspoon of the mixture, form meatballs avoiding “packing” the meat, which makes for tough meatballs.  Melt butter in a frying pan and put in the meatballs a few at a time.  Shake the pan to swirl the meatballs, cooking them on all sides.IMG_1451
5. After all the meatballs are fried return them to the pan and cook another 25 minutes or alternatively place in a 300F oven for 25 minutes.

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jing_yangIt’s all in the  SAUCE!
WHITE SAUCE: You can add a few tablespoons of flour to the drippings in the frying pan, cook and then add a cup of milk to make a white sauce to serve with the Finnish meatballs*.
BROWN SAUCE: is served with Swedish meatballs.
*The single addition of the ground allspice is what really elevates the Finnish meatballs.

These Finnish Meatballs Are Rough Looking Because They Are Soft And Tender As Any Tenderloin Steak!

These Finnish Meatballs Are Rough Looking Because They Are Soft And Tender As Any Tenderloin Steak!

HAT2SERVING SUGGESTIONS ( TIPS ): As a main course, Scandinavian MEATBALLS are classically served with lingonberry preserves, cucumber salad and dilled or mashed potatoes.  For a crowd of people, you can serve these savory meatballs as a snack or an appetizer. You simply leave the meatballs in a slow cooker for hours and let people help themselves. Place shish kabob fine wood skewers in a glass next to the meatballs. Let people help themselves.  Include assorted raw vegetables as finger food; sticks of raw celery, carrots, bell peppers (not ghost peppers), cucumbers and green beans (slightly blanched).  If you make the meatballs ahead of time, they are just as tasty reheated on game day!  These meatballs are high in protein and will keep you going for hours.
VARIATION: Mix chopped spinach into your meatball mixture before constructing  the meatballs. Once I tried it for fun and I got future requests. It’s actually quite good!

YOUR FOODIE TIP
Do you have garlic smell on your fingers when you have finished handling garlic while cooking? Or, onion odour on your fingers after chopping onions?
You can either:
1) Scrub your fingers
2) Purchase a stainless steel bar and wash your fingers gently with this bar.
3) Rub your fingers along the back of your stainless steel knife.

Pick no 3.  Rub your fingers along the back length of the knife! Grasping the knife with all 5 fingers ~ see diagram . You’ve got a knife in your hand anyway. You will save on the cost and having to store the stainless steel bar or won’t be scrubbing your skin until it’s red. Your fingers will be immediately wonderfully odourless! It only take a second.

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Pizza with a Cauliflower Crust ~ Healthy Back to School Snack!

kids32 Your hungry kids need a snack when they come home from school.  Surprise them with gluten free CAULIFLOWER CRUSTED PIZZA!  I tested a few variations for a cauliflower pizza in my foody lab (kitchen).  In one version, I used ground almonds in the crust. It had a  grainy consistency. Perfect for a base as an appetizer or an hors d’oeuvres. Thumbs down for a kid’s pizza.  In another version, I combined eggs and cauliflower plus my magic flavorings. My friend’s kids eyebrows  went up on the first bite. Mikey likes it! A home run!

Here is the healthy,  yummy RECIPE
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pizza456INGREDIENTS
1 cauliflower medium head about 2 lbs.
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup shredded part-skim milk mozzarella
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 375F
2. Wash and cut the cauliflower into florets and place in your food processor along with the garlic cloves. Pulse until fine, like rice.
3. Place cauliflower in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out all liquid until very dry.
4. Place the cauliflower in a clean bowl and combine with mozzarella,  Parmesan cheese,  eggs, thyme, oregano, pepper and salt.
5. Place the cauliflower mix on a pizza pan (or baking sheet) lined with parchment and spread evenly with fingers or a rolling pin.
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6. Bake in the oven until the crust is crisp and the edges are golden, about 25-30 minutes.
7. Allow the cauliflower to cool slightly while you assemble the toppings.
8. Add your favourite sauce and toppings. I used my baked tomato sauce  as a topping.

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9. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly; about 15-20 minutes longer.

pizza_hamI left the kitchen and came back to take a picture of a slice and the pizza was all gone!  The kids said the pizza monster was here .  I enlarged part of the whole pizza to show you the added ham -for all you Carnevours. This veggie+(ham) powered pizza needs to make its way into your kitchen. Kids learn about gluten and grains from school. They may look forward to a gluten-free pizza. Today’s food buzz is “cauliflower” crusted pizza. Even though it has been around for a few years, there are still some people that have never heard of it.   What’s neat is that it doesn’t taste like cauliflower.
HAT2FOOD TIP: Place a piece of parchment on top of the cauliflower mix and move a rolling pin over it. This will give you and even crust guided by the edges of the pizza pan. Make this crust in advance and refrigerate (up to 4 days). You can add the sauce and toppings later on.  Use Asiago cheese in place of the mozzarella. Toppings:  Add prosciutto,  crushed red pepper flakes and basil (my favourite). YUM!

How do you fit parchment into a circular pan?                                                                                          First measure the diameter of the pan. Fold the parchment several times like you did when making a snowflake cut out in school and then cut to half the diameter of the pan.  The parchment will now fit your  pizza or cake pan.

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Sun Dried Tomato Dip

HEALTHY  ‘TASTY’ DIP
sun-sdried-tomato_dipNow that you have made your decorated goat cheese, you can make a tasty and healthy dip to serve with it. The dip is very versatile.This dip is great with crudités or crackers, on sandwiches, or with cold meats. It can be made a day or two in advance and served at your chalet, lake house, sailboat or right at home. People always enjoy this combination goat cheese /sun dried tomato spread. This pairing pops with flavour and is a big hit with my friends.  I am often asked where I bought it!  Instead of crackers or I prefer sourdough baguette slices. Crisp and tasty. Although crackers have evolved to gluten free and no preservatives which you can buy at your local supermarket. I find that most of these healthy crackers are very flavourful and will change the taste of my goat cheese / sun dried tomato dip.  Over my years of reading about healthy foods, I would always come across the information that with respect to bread, we should eat rye bread or sour dough. I was puzzled by the sour dough as it was white bread after all. Then one day I came across some information that explained it.

RECIPE
Ingredients
1 package (3 1/2 oz) sun dried tomatoes
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves peeled
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar substitute (optional)
1 green onion coarsely chopped including green tops

Directions                                                                                                                                                                   

sun-dried-tomatoesCombine all ingredients in a food processor.  Use the pulse feature until everything is chopped to a coarse consistency not liquid.  Refrigerate until needed.  The flavour is even better the next day.  Serve at room temperature over goat cheese with toasts or crackers.

This is a tasty dip and will keep in your fridge for 7 to 10 days, limited only by the freshness of the herbs.  You can then make this in advance or use up the left overs as a salad dressing, to toss your vegetables and some more olive before roasting or add to a soup for more flavour.  The addition of mayonnaise or buttermilk will transform any leftover dips into sauces or salad dressings.

EVENING OUT:  I just brought the sun dried dip to a birthday party last night.  I paired it with a goat cheese log rolled in herbs.  There were herb crackers and whole wheat sourdough croutes.  This was a big hit!  People kept going back again and again for more.  They were addictive.  This was more popular than the smoked salmon platter!

didyouknowFOOD FACT: The acid in the sourdough slows down the absorption of the bread. That is how the San Francisco gold miners were able to sustain themselves all day long with just a loaf of sourdough bread. Hence the San Francisco sour dough loafs. The flour/simple carbohydrate  is broken down into sugar which starts even in the mouth with salivary amylase and eating a slice of white bread is not so different than having a piece of pound cake as far as your body is concerned.

Do you want a piece of white bread? Then…eat sour dough bread. It is healthier!