Food Flight

An aviator's culinary adventures

Berkey’s Famous Mexican Bowl March 6, 2010

Filed under: Chicken,Dinner — flyingbubble @ 12:59 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Alright, once again I have to apologize for my lack of updates lately.  I’ve still been cooking just not posting :(.  These pictures were actually taken on January 24th, to give some perspective on the severity of my procrastination.  I actually haven’t been trying as many recipes now that I’m back in Pensacola because I have to buy my own groceries and I decided to be on a budget this month.  There is a really great website if you’re interested in creating and following a personal budget plan http://www.mint.com.  My mom and I had this awesome meal back in January and its really easy to throw together in a pinch.  It’s also a very flexible recipe (as seems to be the theme of my posts) so feel free to tailor the ingredients to your own taste.

Ingredients:

Canned Chicken

Can of pinto beans (pinto beans with jalepenos is the best)

90 sec rice pouch (or leftover cooked rice)

Mexican cheese

Salsa

Directions:

Mix ingredients together, heat and eat.  It may work best to microwave on a medium heat setting so the faster cooking ingredients don’t overheat.  Patient people can certainly heat each food separately and then mix together.  I didn’t include amounts because that depends on how much you have on hand and how much you want to have in your meal.

You’ll also notice that I actually used chick peas in lieu of pinto beans because that’s what we had in the house.  (I wouldn’t recommend the chick peas, it wasn’t quite the right flavor blend).

Advertisements
 

Imitation Gyros January 27, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Sandwiches — flyingbubble @ 5:41 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

My hand is now famous

Gyros, are arguably my absolute favorite food in the world!  I say arguable… because me, myself and I have not completely decided on a single favorite food since there are so many delicious choices.  My parents introduced me to this delicious Greek street sandwich and despite their high standards for an “authentic” gyro I have only had a few that I didn’t love.  There’s just something about that spiced meat flavor mixed with the cool tzatziki sauce (cucumber sauce).  In the U.S. gyro meat is typically lamb or a combination of lamb and beef.  Surprisingly (or maybe its not a surprise) the gyros (truly authentic) served in Greece are most commonly pork or chicken although some places may use beef or lamb.  I visited Athens and the island of Santorini this past summer.  My friends and I were told by multiple street vendors that all gyros are made with pork and advertisements for “lamb gyros” were false, meant only to attract American tourists.  Another surprise from Athens, was the addition of fried potatoes (basically french fries) to most of their gyros sandwiches.  I was extremely disappointed that my idea of a gyro was a bit off base, but the Grecian versions were equally delicious.  I am now happy to say that I love American gyros and Greek gyros equally.  The best one I had in Athens actually didn’t even have the tzatziki sauce!  It was a small hole in the wall (literally) joint owned by an old man who did all the cooking.  He makes this incredible spicy tomato based sauce from scratch every day.  It was a perfect complement to pork, onions and tomatos (and french fries of course).  Since I’m back in American, I decided to follow a recipe for lamb version.  The flavor wasn’t exactly the same, I think the recipe is missing some key spices for the meat, but it was really good.  Also, a healthier alternative as gyro meat is typically higher fat to keep it moist while its roasting.  These sandwiches are like the New York City hot dogs of Greece.

Here’s the recipe, I fried the meatballs in a skillet instead of grilling so it works either way. (I imagine grilling would be healthier from not using oil to cook)

Weight Watchers Light and Easy Cookbook

Lamb Meatball Pitas

1 lb ground lamb

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soft bread crumbs

1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint

2 tsp prepared horseradish

1 tsp prepared mustard

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 egg whites, lightly beaten

Cooking spray

4 Pita rounds (6″)

1. Prepare Cucumber Raita, allowing at least one hour for sauce to chill

Cucumber Raita

3/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt

2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl; cover and chill at least 1 hour.

2. Combine lamb, parsley, breadcrumbs, mint, horseradish, mustard, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, garlic, and egg whites in a medium bowl; shape mixture into 12 small meatballs.

3. Place meatballs in a grill basket coated with cooking spray; place grill basket on rack over medium-hot coals (350-400) and grill, covered, 4 minutes on each side or until meatballs are done

4. Place 3 meatballs on each pita round, and top each serving with 1/4 cup Cucumber Raita.  Garnish each serving with fresh mint if desired.

NUTRITION: 378 calories, 39.2g carbohydrate, 8.8g fat, 6.4g fiber, 30.8g protein, 75mg cholesterol, 272mg sodium, 132mg calcium, 5.3mg iron.

NOTES:  I fried the meatballs in a skillet in peanut oil until they looked done. I used a store bought tzatziki sauce (since we already had it on hand) and we added chopped tomatoes and onions to our pitas. No french fries this time, but you’re welcome to try that sometime :).

 

Leftovers Creation January 23, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Pasta — flyingbubble @ 4:33 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

My mom and I had extra Bechamel sauce from our crepe dinner the other night so we devised a genius plan to consume the leftovers.  I’ve blogged about Shirataki noodles before, they’re a super low calorie pasta replacement which are as good as whatever you serve them with.  We had a bag of them in the fridge along with extra chunked ham and frozen peas/carrots.  My mom cooked dinner so I don’t have eyewitness or first hand details on the process but the basic idea is that we had shirataki noodles with swiss cheese bechamel sauce, ham, peas and carrots.  I believe my mom just toss everything in a saucepan and warmed it up together.  I would imagine the frozen veggies were microwaved before their union with the cheesy sauce.  I came in near the end, tasted the sauce and claimed it needed extra swiss cheese.  An additional cup of shredded swiss cheese was added.  Here are a few tips assuming you decide to try my stuffed crepe dinner recipe, resulting in a cup of leftover bechamel sauce which you think would go well with some pasta:

* Be careful about adding liquids to the sauce, my mom was concerned that it would be too thick.  Our dinner was almost a noodle soup (she added milk).

* Don’t worry about measuring anything its pasta… with sauce… make it your own!

* The sauce is a great base for almost any flavors so don’t feel restricted by anything I say, use whatever vegetables, meats or cheeses you prefer.

*Adding some spices/herbs to compliment your ingredients would be a great idea, we just stuck with salt and pepper though.

As always, here are the editor’s (yes, that’s me) picks from the photo shoot:

 

Cardamom/Thyme Grilled Vegetable Quesadilla January 21, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Snacks,Vegetarian — flyingbubble @ 4:53 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Today, I got off work early because my LT really didn’t have any tasks for me.  Partially because I don’t have a CAC card (meaning my ID does not log me into their computer system), to which Senior Chief told me, “Good Job!” with a wink and a thumbs up.  I actually spent the morning reading a book about investing and playing deal or no deal on my iphone after I made exactly 3 phone calls and had a short conversation with the Master Chief about the book I had just finished reading.  It’s a tough life getting paid to hang out doing nothing all day :).  I arrived home at lunch time and my mom bombarded me with lunch options since she was apparently starving.  She seemed to favor the quesadilla option (since it would use up some fresh vegetables) so I offered to cook for her.  We’ve had fresh thyme sitting the fridge from the Chicken Couscous recipe a few days ago so my mom suggested that I throw that in.  My experience with quesadillas did not involve thyme but like I said before, they’re a great blank canvas for any flavor combination.  On the tv show The Next Food Network Star, I have seen contestants bite into random ingredients that they’ve not cooked with before so they know what flavor they’re dealing with.  That example led me to munch on some fresh thyme leaves, to my dismay… they tastes like leaves.  Yup, I literally felt like I was just eating part of a bush from the backyard.  Online research seemed like the next logical step, from which I discovered that thyme is often overlooked because it does not have a strong “centerstage” flavor profile.  Thyme cannot compete with the distinctive smell/taste of tarragon, basil and sage, however it is the perfect herb to blend into recipes and enhance the other flavors.  With this knowledge, I realized that I needed another flavor for the thyme to enhance.  Rather than researching anymore, I went to the spice cabinet, read through the labels and essentially just picked one at random… cardamom.  Sounds good, smells good, why not?  Clearly I’m on the path to culinary genius.  I sauteed Red onions and green peppers in a skillet with olive oil, salt, pepper, a dash of cardamom and a handful of fresh thyme leaves.  Then I assembled my mom’s quesadilla with mexican blend cheese, chopped tomatoes, the herbed onion and green peppers and a slice of cheddar cheese (the extra cheese was her request).  I wasn’t hungry enough for the tortilla so I served myself a plate of steaming hot vegetables topped with shredded cheese and a dab (yes that’s a legitimate measurement) of mango salsa.  The food was really good, I don’t know if the flavors were the best compliments for each other but it definitely worked.  If you’re feeling adventurous try it out and let me know what you think.

PS.  When I remembered to take pictures my mom had almost completely polished off the quesadilla so you may see some teeth marks in there.

 

Julia Child Crepes Round 2 January 20, 2010

Filed under: Dinner — flyingbubble @ 1:17 am
Tags: , , , ,

I invited my friend Jessica over for dinner tonight and decided to try my hand at savory crepes this time.  I told her we could have some Orange Bavarian Cream for dessert so it just made sense to make a Julia Child recipe for dinner too.  The descriptions for crepe fillings were quite elaborate and after struggling to decide on the flavors, I opted for the simple, classic ham and cheese combo.  There is a basic bechamel cheese sauce recipe that allows for other ingredients to be added so I picked up some ham and swiss cheese.  The crepe batter was much like the last time (Christmas with Julia) so I just had to throw the ingredients in a blender, mix em up and set in the fridge to settle for a few hours (or in this case overnight).  I also went to the store and bought a cast iron pan to cook with because Julia’s book shows 3 types of acceptable crepe pans that are all “iron” pans.  I’m still not convinced I have the right equipment but this time was certainly easier than cooked with the nonstick skillet.  When Jessica arrived, I had everything ready to go and we just had to start making crepes and whip up the cheesy filling.  Eager to help, Jessica took on the bechamel sauce on the burner next to me as I unsuccessfully stumbled through 3 test crepes (Julia is crazy to think you only need one test!!).  I don’t have much to say about the sauce making process since I was quite engaged in my crepe flipping practice (for me, jerking the pan vigorously does not loosen the crepe…).  Although Jessica thought the beginning butter-flour mixture looked delicious and that adding the whipping cream a tablespoon at a time was tediously unnecessary.  As I cooked the crepes, we had a plate of “test crepe” scraps and a plate of successful full circle fillable crepes.  Jessica went to work filling the crepes once the sauce was done and over all we completed the recipe without destroying the kitchen, breaking the garbage disposal or flinging food on the dog!  The resulting meal was a bit rich for my taste (grew up on low fat healthy food) but definitely really good, next time I’ll put more meat and maybe some vegetables in the sauce.  My mom came in once the cooking was done and took the crepe scraps to make her childhood favorite “roll up pancakes”.  She butters one side, sprinkles it with sugar and rolls it up.  I think this would have been tastier with the “sweet crepes” batter recipe instead of the savory one I used.  A subtle difference but definitely noticeable.  If you’re interested in trying this recipe its a great blank canvas for whatever flavors you prefer!  This was actually on the Worst Cooks in America Food Network show where they challenged the Worst Cook contestants to create their own flavor combinations for the crepe with bechamel filling. Here’s the recipe:

PATE  A  CREPES (crepe batter)

1 cup cold water

1 cup cold milk

4 eggs

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups flour

4 Tb melted butter

Put the liquids, eggs and salt into the blender jar.  Add the flour, then the butter.  Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute.  If bits of flour adhere to sides of jar, dislodge with a rubber scraper and blend for 2 to 3 seconds more.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

The batter should be a very light cream, just thick enough to coat a wooden spoon.  If, after making your first crepe, it seems too heavy, beat in a bit of water, a spoonful at a time.  Your cooked crepe should be about 1/16 inch thick.

Excerpt about how to cook crepes: “Remove from heat and, holding handle of pan in your right hand, pour with your left hand a scant 1/4 cup of batter into the middle of the pan.  Quickly tilt the pan in all directions to run batter all over the bottom of the pan in a thin film.  (Pour any batter that does not adhere back into your bowl; judge the amount for your next crepe accordingly).  This whole operation takes but 2 to 3 seconds.  Return the pan to heat for 60-80 seconds.  Then jerk and toss pan sharply back and forth and up and down to loosen the crepe.  Lift its edges with a spatula and if the under side is a nice light brown, the crepe is ready for turning.”

SAUCE MORNAY (Bechamel with cheese), 3 cups

5 Tb flour

4 Tb butter

2 3/4 cup boiling milk

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

Big pinch of nutmeg

1/4 cup whipping cream

1 cup coarsely grated Swiss cheese

*Substitute 1/2 cup of the cheese with 1/2 cup cubed ham

Cook the flour and butter slowly together in the sauce pan for 2 minutes without coloring.  Off heat, beat in the boiling milk and seasonings.  Boil, stirring, for 1 minute.  Reduce to the simmer and stir in the cream by tablespoons.  Sauce should be thick enough to coat the spoon fairly heavily.  Remove from heat and correct seasoning.  Stir in all but two tablespoons of the cheese.  (Add cubed ham or whatever other ingredients you desire).  Film top of sauce with milk to prevent a skin from forming.

Place a big spoonful of filling on the lower third of each crepe and roll the crepes into cylinders.

 

More FUN with Eggs January 17, 2010

Filed under: breakfast,Dinner — flyingbubble @ 1:28 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

My mom and I are living in the house by ourselves right now which forces us to make decisions about what to eat for every meal.  She and I tend to go with the flow on decisions but there’s no one else here to suggest something.  That being said, we’ve been opting for easy healthy meals that can use up ingredients we already have.  There is always a carton of eggs or egg whites waiting to be cooked up into a delicious omelette or scramble.  On this particular evening my mom announced that I was in charge of cooking dinner, and as I opened the fridge to take inventory I was happy to find that there was quite a selection of vegetable for my omelette dinner.  I decided to try broccoli, red onions and cheddar cheese on an egg white omelette. I actually cooked up way more of vegetables than would fit in the two omelets so we topped our eggs with the extras.  Not much to say about the recipe, I chopped the veggies, fried them in a skillet, poured the eggs into the pan, let the eggs cook a little and then add cooked veggies, cheddar cheese slices and seasonings (salt and pepper in this case).  When the eggs are mostly done, flip one side onto the other make sure both side are golden brown and serve.

 

Baked Couscous Chicken January 16, 2010

Filed under: Chicken,Dinner — flyingbubble @ 6:45 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

This is another Weight Watchers recipe with a slighty spicy twist of my own (no one should be surprised at that).  I love my chili parmesan chicken that baked perfectly every time but if I want to join the ranks of culinary masters (haha, kidding) I need to expand the “poultry” section of my mental cookbook.  This recipe looked tasty and I already had all the ingredient (except the chicken of course) in the fridge.  I’d like to point out a trend in my cooking for those who haven’t noticed, I prefer to adapt the recipe or choose the recipe based on the ingredients I already have at home.  I believe the better term for that is “lazy” culinary master (haha, kidding again) uh how about… “lazy learning to cook girl”.  Sounds like a super hero right? Okay, maybe not.  My mom and I both loved this meal!  It was really great.  I added some spicy red peppers from the grocery store becuase the meal would have been boring without the spiciness.  The couscous is actually unnecessary but if you’re like me and happen to love the micro pasta balls it’s a great addition to the chicken.  Alright, here is the recipe, I cooked the chicken for less time because I had smaller pieces so be aware of your chicken size or watch the cooking carefully.

Before the Oven

INGREDIENTS:

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 (4oz) skinned, boned chicken breast halves

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup sliced green onions

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 medium tomato, chopped

1/2 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth, undiluted

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (I never measure this, I love pepper)

1 sprig fresh thyme

4 cups hot cooked couscous (I used whole wheat)

After the Oven (notice the bubbles from boiling liquid)

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Coat a 2-quart casserole dish or ovenproof Dutch oven with cooking spray and add oil; place over medium-high heat until hot.  Add chicken, and cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until chicken is lightly browned.  Add garlic, and cook 1 to 2 additional minutes, stirring often.

(I didn’t have those crazy dishes so I fried the chicken in a skillet and move the chicken and garlic to a casserole dish for the oven)

2.  Stir in green onions and next 5 ingredients.  Cover and bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes or until chicken in tender.

3. Place 1 cup of couscous on each of 4 individual serving plates; spoon chicken mixture evenly over couscous. (Make sure you get the liquid it flavors the couscous nicely). Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition: (per serving) 369 calories, 46.4g carbohydrate, 4.9g fat, 3.5g fiber, 35.1g protein, 66mg cholesterol, 98mg sodium, 41mg calcium