Chez Levesque

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Simple Salad to go with Mexican-Style Food

I always wondered which vegetable to serve with Mexican food. This simple salad works well.

sweet mini tomatoes, cut in half
red peppers, diced
fresh steamed corn cut off the cobb OR canned sweet corn, drained
Vinaigrette (listed in Breakfast for Dinner post)

Toss the 3 veggies together in the vinaigrette. This is great with chopped fresh basil too. I add black beans sometimes and it's practically a complete meal. Madeleine likes it.

Pinto Beans: Burritos, Nachos or plain

Lychee martinis followed by pinto beans, yes? i guess it reflects my multi-cultural heritage :) I am a convert to homemade beans; I just don't like using canned ingredients if i can avoid it. You may wonder what you might do with a huge slow cooker full of beans? I don't know why that makes me chuckle.

Ideas: Bean burritos (the girls LOVE these), beans and corn bread, or nachos! I made all of these for various meals over the past three days and we actually ate them.

1 lb. dry pinto beans (i've bought the bulk beans at whole foods and the quality has been good).
2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbs butter
sea salt to taste

This is an all day affair but the actual prep is probably 10 minutes. My mom says you need to rinse and then soak the dry beans overnight before you cook them. I haven't googled it to verify, but I did it anyway.

Next morning, place dry beans in slow cooker with garlic and onion. Cover until there is about 1 1/2 inches of water above the beans. add about 1 tsp sea salt and butter, stir once to scatter the salt. Cook on low for 9 hours, or 2 hours on high, then 4 or 5 on low. make sure the water line stays well above the beans.

salt to taste when finished.

The beans mashed nicely and required no added seasoning for burritos. Juliette loves to eat the beans whole. My dad loves beans & cornbread; I just use the TJ mix; it's sweet so if you prefer savory, make your own.

Matt grimaced when I told him I made beans. I put corn chips on plate, topped with his rice cheddar cheese then heated it til cheese was melted. I topped it with whole beans, salsa and a whole sliced avocado. it was a handsome dish and he loved it. super fast too!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lychee Martinis

Will someone please drink these with me? Matt's friend Betty made them for us and wow! A fun thing to make you feel kinda sophisticated.

½ shot of Lychee liqueur
1 ½ shots of CranEnergy juice (or Cranberry)
1 – 2 shots of vodka
1 lychee fruit

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Embarrassingly Quick Meals w/ help from Trader Joe's; Fish n' 'Chips', Chicken Chow Mein w/veggies, Teriyaki Chicken w/ veggies

BAKED COD & SWEET POTATO FRIES--Dinner in 22 minutes

I guess it speaks for itself. The cod was a hit with the kids; Juliette loved it (with ketchup). I served this with a side of asparagus and corn sauteed in garlic, seasoned with sea salt.

CHICKEN CHOW MEIN (low fat), VEGETABLE GYOZA POTSTICKERS, steamed broccoli--Dinner in 15 minutes

The chow mein is a bit of a misnomer because there is very little chicken. The vegetables are sparse (and frozen), but it still provides a great base to prepare something that looks homemade.

Thaw some frozen chicken tenderloins, chop and add to the chow mein. I would spray the pan with oil, add some garlic and soy sauce and saute the chopped chicken for 5 or so minutes. Follow directions on the package. When you add the noodles and sauce, add a package of broccoli from TJ's and it comes out ready.

Juliette (my 16-month old will eat 6 or 7 of the gyoza, it's a weekly standard.

TERIYAKI CHICKEN, RICE & STEAMED VEGGIES (Dinner in 20 min. excl. crockpot time)

TJ'S Soyaki Sauce
Frozen tenderloins
Frozen jasmine rice
Fresh Stir Fry Vegetable Mix

Put chicken tenderloins in crockpot on high or low (depending on how much time you have) and cover in soyaki sauce. Cook for 2. 5 hrs on high, 3.5 on low. Just keep checking to make sure you don't overcook. It may take less time.

Heat rice.

Add some oil, or just spray oil in pan, add garlic and fresh ginger (if you have it), saute for 2 minutes. Add fresh vegetables and stir fry. Season with sea salt and soy sauce.

This is a really fast meal (not including crockpot time)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kim's Green Drink

I have a vita-mixer which is a super-powered blender/food processor. I think you can make these if you've got a blender that will liquify green veggies. And yes, I know you're not really supposed to mix fruits and veggies, but my kids will drink this so I don't care.

6 oz. water
3/4 c. frozen or fresh blueberries OR dark sweet cherries (frozen @ TJs)
1/2 banana
3 celery stalks
1-2 zucchini
2-3 c. spinach (i like baby spinach)
stevia to taste
ice if you like it cold

I also add Udo's oil and 2 scoops nuplus (concentrated chinese veggie powder).

Blend it all up and yes, even Juliette, my 16 month baby gulps this down! Add water to the thickness you prefer.

Simple Roasted Chicken

I'm not sure what compelled me to roast a chicken yesterday. I generally shy away from the slimy, sloppy whole bird and lean towards the cleaner, more clinically packaged chicken breasts...tenderloins are even better for quick cooking.

This chicken was brilliantly tender and moist and the flavor was really good. A nice meal for fall and not too difficult. I made homemade gravy (easy), steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes as well. The potatoes weren't so good. I need to be more liberal with cream, but I'm a wimp. We'll talk about gravy another day. I need to sleep.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1 chicken, free-range, vegetarian-fed preferred :) 3-4.5 lbs.
6 cloves garlic
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
sea salt
pepper (if you like)
spray or liquid olive oil, or butter

rinse bird with water, pat dry. Make sure you've removed the giblets from the interior if they're there.

A 3 1/2 lb. chicken will need 55 to 60 minutes. Add 5 minutes more per quarter pound. I always use a meat thermometer, I am too scared not to. Roast chicken until breast temperature is 160, thigh is 165-170.

chop garlic. rub cavity with garlic, sprinkle sea salt generously inside. sprinkle outside with salt (and pepper). Place rosemary inside cavity. spray or rub exterior with oil (gives it a nice color). Place chicken in roasting pan breast up. Roast for 20 minutes. Turn chicken over wings up, roast for 20 minutes. Turn chicken over again with breast up, roast for 20 minutes.

You may want to pour chicken stock into the pan drippings as you're cooking if the pan keeps drying out. This will reduce smoke and give you a enough liquid base for gravy.

Remove from oven. Allow to rest breast down for 10 or 15 minutes...juices will make it more tender.

Breakfast for Dinner: Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Tortilla Espagnola, Vinaigrette

This is inspiration from my friend Kristyn who taught me how to frame 'breakfast for dinner' to make it something exciting for the kids. I used to just do it, but now I prep Madeleine and she gets excited about dinner. It's kind of a fun change. Not the healthiest dinner tonight, but yummy. If you'd like your kids to eat something other than pancakes, scramble eggs to go along with it.

Matt & I had an egg white tortilla espagnola (cooked differently than the frittata) and simple salad with arugula, lettuce and homemade vinaigrette (he protested the vinegar, but whatever), veggie sausage and chocolate chip pancakes. mmm..................I cheated tonight and used Fresh & Easy buttermilk pancake mix and it was great! I added vanilla and 1/2 c. chocolate chips at the end. It was a hit! Here is my favorite pancake recipe. If you like them fluffy, you'll like these, if not go for the F&E mix. It's much better than Trader Joe's.

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

2 eggs
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. milk
4 tbs melted butter
3 tbs sugar
6 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2-3/4 c. chocolate chips

Beat the eggs first. Add the rest of the ingredients. That's it! and yes, 6 tsp. of baking powder make them very fluffy.

Simple Tortilla Espagnola

2 tbs olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic
2-3 potatoes (I used red tonight)
8-10 egg whites or eggs
sea salt

Saute garlic in olive oil on medium heat for a minute or two. Add potatoes. Cover and saute until soft. Add egg whites, lower heat to low-medium. Keep lifting the edges so that the egg will flow underneath. When the top is set, loosen and slide onto a plate. Place uncooked side down in pan and cook to your preference. It's very good with fresh, chopped basil on top. It wilts from the heat of the 'tortilla'.

Homemade vinaigrette

1 clove garlic
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp or dash sugar
3 tbs olive oil
dash sea salt

The classic proportion for vinaigrette is 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil. Place garlic and sugar in small bowl and add vinegar. Allow the vinegar to dissolve the sugar for a minute or so. Add a dash of salt. Whisk. Add oil slowly as you whisk. You can also put it in a container with a lid and shake it. That's it! There are many variations. The classic French adds a bit of dijon mustard...about 1/2 to 1 tsp.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

English Breakfast Cookies

These are inspired by Bertha's Cafe. Mine are ever-so-slightly sweeter with a touch more of chocolate. I love them for breakfast and as a snack.

1 c. canola oil
1 tbsp. vanilla
2 eggs or egg whites
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa
2/3-3/4 c. brown or unrefined white sugar
1 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 c. quick cooking oats
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 c. shredded sweetened coconut (optional)

Mix wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients. Use a medium ice cream scoop to place dough on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.