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 :).

 

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

 

Ginger.. err I mean… Cinnamon Cookies! January 13, 2010

Filed under: Cookies,Snacks — flyingbubble @ 11:50 am
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My mom likes ginger snaps and my granddad really likes ginger snaps (my mom’s dad) so when I saw ginger cookies in my Weight Watchers cookbook I just had to try the recipe.  I carefully followed the instructions and evenly measured each dough ball to get exactly 16 cookies.  Despite my efforts, when the timer went off, my mom pulled a tray of partially black rock hard burnt cookies from the oven.  Even more disappointing was the fact that I had used the last of our ground ginger on that batch.  Eager to clear the “black mark” from my baking record, I decided to try the recipe again.  We have a large container of ground cinnamon so batch 2 became cinnamon cookies.  This time I did everything the same except I watched the cookies like a hawk while in the oven.  The recipe had called for 15-20 minutes in a 400 degree oven, which seems like overkill considering most cookies bake for about 10 min in a 350 degree oven.  This time I pulled the cookies at 10 minutes and they were crisp on the bottom but not burnt! 🙂 yay. They’re actually really tasty and only 69 calories a piece.  Next time, I’d like to try baking them at 350 and see if I can get a more even browning.  Here’s the recipe, it’s quick and only makes sixteen 69 calorie cookies so its not as damaging to your diet if you can’t help nibbling on them.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup margarine

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons honey

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger (or cinnamon)

1/8 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan; place over low heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until margarine melts.

2.  Combine flour, ginger, and salt in a medium bowl; add margarine mixture, stirring well.

3.  Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Transfer to wire racks; cool completely.  Yield: 16 cookies (1 per serving)

NUTRITION FACTS: 69 calories, 10.1 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat, .2 g fiber, .7 g protein, 0 mg cholesterol, 52 mg sodium, 4 mg calcium

 

Chile-Cheese Cornbread January 12, 2010

Filed under: Bread,Snacks,Vegetarian — flyingbubble @ 8:51 pm
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Today I added a tag cloud to my blog (you may notice it if you scroll down the right hand side).  I was anxious to see which word appeared the biggest, meaning it’s the most common tag for my recipes.  Most people who know me would assume that my most common tag has to be cookies, brownies, sugar, syrup, chocolate or any other sweet word imaginable.  To everyone’s surprise my most common tag is actually cheese!  I apparently can’t cook without it.  Looking back through my recipes, I have made a lot of quesadillas, pizzas and other cheese related dishes.  I make no promises to continue or discontinue my excessive use of cheese but it’s nice to be aware of my cheesy bias.  I chose to cook today’s recipe before I had seen the tag cloud so here’s another cheesy food I’ve made.  I bought a Weight Watchers cookbook at a thrift store for 50 cent a while back and I just found it at my mom’s house.  Since my cookbooks of choice are all in Florida I decided to try making a few from this book.  The batter was very easy to whip up and clean up after.  Aside from waiting 30 minutes for the bread to cook this is a great quick and easy recipe.

Ingredients:

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup water

1/2 cup egg substitute

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3/4 cup (3 oz) shredded 40% less fat Cheddar cheese

1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles, drained

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl; make a well in center of mixture.

2. Combine water, egg substitute, and oil; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.  Stir in cheese and green chiles.

3. Pour batter into an 8in square baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until cornbread is golden.  Yield: 16 servings.

NUTRITION: (per serving) 107 calories, 15.3g carbohydrates, 3g fat (.9g saturated), 0.7g fiber, 4.6g protein, 4mg cholesterol, 125mg sodium, 138mg calcium