Food Flight

An aviator's culinary adventures

Imitation Gyros January 27, 2010

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

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Cardamom/Thyme Grilled Vegetable Quesadilla January 21, 2010

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

 

Baked Couscous Chicken January 16, 2010

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

 

New Year’s Eve Dinner January 1, 2010

Filed under: Dinner — flyingbubble @ 1:57 pm
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My boyfriend Jeremiah was scheduled to fly back to Virginia on Jan 1st.  Unfortunately, his flight was at 1255 AM and not 1255 PM like we both thought when the flight was booked.  Since we couldn’t make New Year’s party plans, my thoughtful mom set up a romantic dinner for two in our kitchen and went off to a friend’s house for dinner.  She also offered us a 10 year old bottle of Champagne that has been waiting in our pantry for it’s New Year’s debut since 1999.

Jeremiah and I both love southwestern flavors so of course our perfect choice for a last dinner together was Chili Parmesan Chicken with Mexican Rice.  I also threw together a salad with goat cheese and Snapea Crisps because that’s all we had (it was pretty good anyways).  These are both recipes that I have cooked multiple times but I always forget to photograph the final product.  Finally I am posting them both on my blog, mostly just to convenience myself in finding the recipes for the next time I want to cook.  First, the Chicken.  This Chicken is insanely easy, you really don’t need a recipe (aside from cooking temp and time) and it produces the kind of juicy tender chicken that I thought only came from 5 star chefs.  Here’s the recipe (If you actually follow these amounts, it’s South Beach Diet friendly).

Chili Parmesan Chicken:

1/4 cup kraft grated Parmesan Cheese (I used a fancier shredded version)

2 teaspoons chili powder (I think I actually do about even measures on chili and cheese)

6 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1.5 lbs)

Directions: Preheat oven to 400F. Mix cheese and chili in a pie plate.  Add chicken, turn to coat on all sides.  Place chicken in shallow baking dish.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. (Try not to over cook, pull it out early and check for doneness, it’ll be juicier if you cook it less time).

NUTRITION: (6 servings) 160 calories, 5g fat, 70mg cholesterol, 150mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate, 27g protein

I got the mexican rice recipe from another food blog so I won’t post the recipe but you should definitely try it sometime!

Of course, I provided the after dinner entertainment 🙂

 

Quick and Easy Pizza October 19, 2009

Filed under: Pizza — flyingbubble @ 4:25 pm
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pizza1

Here is yet another recipe from my favorite Hungry Girl cookbook.  This was my lunch today.  I had a dental appointment this morning and then I went to Yoga to center myself with the universe… haha.  Well maybe not, but I got some good stretching in.  I finally found a grocery store that isn’t Walmart Supercenter so I went in to buy some of the diet type foods that aren’t as common  (like the low carb/high fiber tortilla I used for lunch today).  This is a cross between Mexican and Italian in my opinion.  Its a must try if you really enjoy thin crust pizza!  If you’re more a deep dish lover, don’t expect “pizza” when you try this recipe.  It’s basically an Italian tostada. crisp tortilla with cheeses and toppings.  Very yummy. Great for a lighter lunch as its under 200 calories or add some meat on top for a heartier meal. I did not have fresh basil leaves on hand so I omitted that, I wish I had, that would have been great! I also used cherry tomatoes instead of plum.  Use what you have, or what you like.

The recipe: “Crispy White Pizza”

INGREDIENTS:

1 large La Tortilla Factory Smart & Delicious Low Carb/High Fiber tortilla

1/3 cup fat-free ricotta cheese

1/4 cup thinly sliced onions

1 tablespoon shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese

6 basil leaves

4 thin slices plum tomato

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon plus 1 dash salt

Dash black pepper

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 375.  Place tortilla on a baking sheet sprayed lightly with nonstick spray.  Bake in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes on each side, until slightly crispy. Leave oven on.  In a small bowl, mix ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Set aside.  Bring a pan sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat on the stove.  Add onions and. stirring occaisonally, cook until softened and slightly browned, about 3 minutes.  Immediately stir onions into cheese mixture.  Spread cheese-onion mixture evenly on top of the tortilla.  Place basil leaves on cheese-onion mixture.  Top with tomato slices, and then sprinkle with a dash of salt.  Return pizza to the oven and bake for about 5 more minutes, or until entire pizza is hot.  Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to cut into slices.  Pizza for one!

PER PIZZA: 176 calories, 3g fat, 947mg sodium, 29g carbs, 13g fiber, 7g sugars, 19g protein

pizza2

 

Holy Guacamole! October 18, 2009

Filed under: Snacks,Vegetarian — flyingbubble @ 9:51 pm
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guacamole2

My roomie Desiree was flipping through my Hungry Girl cookbook and found a guacamole recipe.  She excitedly asked if we could try making it sometime so we brought the cookbook on our shopping trip today in order to grab the ingredients on the way home.  (wow that was long sentence..)  This dip was a little hard to prepare, I would highly recommend getting a potato masher if you plan on making this more than once.  That aside, it really does taste like regular guacamole and its really good!  We ate it with some Guiltless Gourmet Baked Corn Tortilla Chips for an after dinner snack alongside freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.  There’s some serious talent for matching food flavors in this house!! 🙂  The recipe makes a fairly large amount of this dip (about two cups, more if you add extra onions and tomatoes like I did).  I added the optional cilantro, which I would highly recommend and next time I’ll try the jalapenos, we just didn’t have any tonight.  Definitely give this dip a try sometime!!!

INGREDIENTS:

One 15 oz can early (young) peas, drained

1/2 cup mashed avocado (about 1 medium-small avocado’s worth)

1/3 cup chopped cherry or grape tomatoes

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt

4 teaspoons lime juice

1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon chili powder

Additional salt and pepper to taste

Optional: chopped fresh cilantro, chopped jalapenos

DIRECTIONS:  Place peas in a medium bowl and mash thoroughly with a potato masher or fork.  Add avocado, yogurt, lime juice, garlic and seasonings.  Continue to mash until blended.  Stir in tomatoes, onion and, if you like, some cilantro and/or jalapenos.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Enjoy!

Makes 6 servings: PER SERVING (1/3 cup): 78 calories, 3g fat, 320mg sodium, 10.5g carbs, 3.5g fiber, 4g sugars, 3.5g protein

guacamole1

 

Pickled Vegetables October 8, 2009

Filed under: Snacks,Vegetarian — flyingbubble @ 7:02 pm
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Jeremiah’s Vegetable Salad

pickledveggies

This is one of the easiest recipes to prepare.  My boyfriend showed me how to do this and I’m totally hooked. You just chop up your vegetables, toss together in a bowl, fill the bowl with rice vinegar and season with some salt and pepper.  Then as you start to eat through the amount you made, you can just add more fresh cut veggies to the same vinegar and keep the process going.  Its important to use rice vinegar because it has a sweeter taste, and if you hate pickles this salad probably isn’t for you.  I don’t see why you couldn’t use any combination your heart desires, but our favorite is Red onions, cucumbers and tomatoes.  (I don’t think there were many tomatoes left when I took this photo.. oh well). Enjoy!