Thursday, August 30, 2012

Asian Inspired Linguini and Chicken Meatballs

I'm a lover of all types of Asian cuisine, and the noodle dishes really send me over the edge. I was planning to make a massamun curry tonight and serve it over noodles, but realized at the last minute I was out of coconut milk so I began to improvise. I decided  to make my newest version of Asian meatballs, served over my newest favorite sauce and came up with a quick, satisfying meal that could be a served as an appetizer or a complete meal. I would have liked to have included some vegetables in this recipe, but time was running away from me, so I'll give you the veggie version in the re-mix at the end of the post.

Chicken Meatballs
makes 12

1-1/2 T oyster sauce- found in the international aisle of your grocery store
2 inches ground fresh ginger
2 large cloves of garlic grated
1 tsp Sambal Olek- Asian chili paste, also available in the international aisle
1 tsp brown sugar
3 scallions finely chopped- whites only
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 T fresh cilantro finely chopped
1 large egg slightly beaten
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground chicken

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil and give it a quick spritz of cooking spray. Set aside.

In large bowl combine all ingredients except the ground chicken. When mixture is combined, add the chicken and gently incorporate it into the seasoned ingredients with your fingertips. Don't over mix or you'll get meatballs that are not tender. Form into twelve 2 inch meatballs and place on baking pan. Bake meatballs 30 minutes, turning over at the half way point.

While meatballs are cooking, prepare your sauce and cook the linguini.

Linguini and Oyster Sauce

6 oz linguini- I use Dreamfield's low carb
1/4 cup oyster sauce
2 T lite soy sauce
2 T toasted sesame oil
1 T sugar

Cook linguini according to package directions. While linguini is cooking, make the sauce. In large sauce pan add all ingredients and combine with a whisk or fork. Cook on stove top on low until heated through. Drain linguini, toss into sauce, add meatballs and get ready to plate. Garnish with cilantro leaves and chopped scallions.

Re-Mix: If time permits add some sauteed veggies to the dish. My choice would be sliced red peppers, sliced mushrooms and cut green beans. In large skillet, heat a tsp or two of canola oil on medium/high heat. Add vegetables and cook about 3-5 minutes until softened, stirring constantly. Now add the ingredients for the sauce and whisk until combined. Add the meatballs and linguini and enjoy.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Refried Bean Cakes

I've been enjoying my spicy little love affair with Tex-Mex cooking, so when Cooking Light had a 20 minute recipe for Black Bean Cakes in their September issue, I decided to give it a whirl. But I didn't have black beans. So I did a quick re-mix in my head and decided to use a can of fat free refried beans, add a few more spices to their already nicely-spiced recipe, and came up with a simple little ditty that took me a bit longer than the anticipated 20 minutes, but well worth the extra 10 minutes.

Refried Bean Cakes
Inspired by Cooking Light
Makes 4 patties

1 large egg lightly beaten
1 16 oz can refried beans- I used Old El Paso fat free
3/4 cup panko crumbs, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground chili powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 cloves of garlic grated
Canola oil for frying

In large bowl combine all ingredients except canola oil.

The mixture seemed a little loose, so I covered it with plastic wrap, and parked it in the fridge for about 10 minutes to set.

Remove from refrigerator, separate bean mixture into four portions and shape each portion into a 3/4 inch thick patty. Dredge in remaining panko and get ready for a quick saute. In large nonstick skillet add about 1-2 T canola oil. Add patties and cook three minutes on each side.

You can serve these with fried eggs and a salad as Cooking Light suggests. I gobbled mine down with some homemade pico de gallo, low fat sour cream and spicy sriracha sauce and loved every bite of it.

But the fun has only just begun, because tonight I think I found the real reason I made these bean cakes. These creamy, slightly spicy, healthy little darlings were meant to be married between 2 mini corn tortillas, stuffed with cheese, sriracha/mayo sauce and pico de gallo, then sauteed in a med/high skillet. Here's the procedure I used to make one:

Make a mixture of equal parts of light mayo and sriracha. Take 2 small corn tortillas (6 inch) and spread mixture on one side of each tortilla.

Now sprinkle a tablespoon of low fat shredded cheese over the sriracha mixture.

And cover the cheese with a bean patty topped with pico de gallo.

Top with a little more cheese, cover with second tortilla (sriracha side down) and press down slightly so the bean patty will spread to almost the size of your tortilla (it's that pliable). Spray cooking pan with PAM or similar product, heat burner to medium or medium high and add tortilla sandwich to the heated pan. Cook about 3 minutes, and right before you're ready to flip the tortilla, spray top with PAM. Flip and cook another 3 minutes. Let cool a bit and serve with anything your little heart desires.

It's as easy as making a burger, but cheaper, healthier with a lot more crunch. I promise you, all of your senses will thank you.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Egg Rolls Italian Style

I've had a fascination with egg rolls lately and have been baking (not frying) them with just about every type of stuffing you can imagine. Tonight I took the Italian route and am rather pleased with the results. If you like manicotti, but don't feel like making an entire meal of it, here's an appetizer that will satisfy your urge for creamy, salty, cheesy and crunchy. I made these with ricotta and spinach, added some previously cooked sauteed mushrooms, wrapped the mixture up with store bought egg roll skins and tried to keep the calorie count as low as possible.

Italian Style Egg Rolls
10 Servings

10 egg roll wrappers
15 oz part skim ricotta cheese
1 10 oz package chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry- next time I will cut the amount of spinach in half as it was just a bit too spinachy for me
8 oz chopped mushrooms, sauteed and cooled
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 egg beaten
1 cup part skim mozzarella
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup egg substitute
Store bought Italian style bread crumbs (for dusting rolls)
Marinara sauce for dipping
Parmesan cheese for garnish

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. In large bowl combine ricotta cheese with next eight ingredients (to kosher salt).

Now it's time to roll these babies up. If you've never worked with egg roll skins before, I'll give you a little heads up. They are not square so you'll never get a perfectly rolled egg roll. No matter, they will all look and taste great. Place an egg roll skin on your work surface so one of the points is facing you. Place about 2-3 tablespoons of cheese mixture on the lower half of the roll, not in the center. My camera has a depth perception problem so this photo looks like the cheese is smack dab in the center. It's not.

Roll wrapper over the cheese mixture and brush edges with egg substitute. This will help seal the egg roll while it's baking. Fold the sides over the top and complete your roll.

Brush top with egg substitute. The egg substitute will help the rolls brown and help the bread crumbs stick to the top. Place on cooking sheet that's been prepared with cooking spray. Now repeat the process 9 times. When all rolls are made, sprinkle with bread crumbs.

Bake 7 minutes and remove from oven. Turn egg rolls over, brush with remaining egg substitute and sprinkle side 2 with bread crumbs. Bake another 7 minutes, remove from oven and serve with your favorite marinara sauce. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Ricotta cheese is so versatile, so while I'm on this egg roll kick, I'm going to try something on a sweet note. Kinda like a warm cannoli. With semi sweet chocolate chips and a little cream cheese.  If it works out, I'll be sure to share.