Friday, May 30, 2008

Grill Magic

Food sticks to the grill because of the moister in the grill. Often we hear that we should oil or spray or grill so the food does not stick...but the food still sticks. Why is that?

Food sticks to the grill because of the moister in the food being cooked in a dry heat environment. I don't want dry food so what can I do? Instead of spraying the grill, spray the food. The little bit of oil in the spray will create a seal on the food and prevent it from sticking. This will also keep the food moister, sealing the moisture in.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Oven Fried Chicken

I have always loved fried chicken but it usually has the skin on (that just adds up to more points, calories and fat) and of course that means a bucket of oil soaked up in that yummy crust.

This doesn't mean I have to give up this favorite. I just create a skinless fried chicken in the oven. And just like mom's fried chicken this one is good hot with a milk gravy and mashed potatoes or cold on a picnic.

If you are a little sceptical, don't be. One of my clients tells me her family thinks they will never have to eat "real" fried chicken again because this is so good and satisfying (that is a 3 kid endorsement).

OVEN FRIED CHICKEN

3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 chicken breast(about 1 pound), skinned
2 chicken drumsticks
2 chicken thighs skinned
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Cooking spray
  1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag or other container with a lid. Marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°.
  3. Combine flour, salt, peppers, garlic powder and cumin in a second large zip-top plastic bag or a bowl with a lid that seals. Remove chicken from first bag, discarding marinade. Add chicken, one piece at a time, to flour mixture, shaking bag to coat chicken.
  4. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour; lightly spray each chicken piece with cooking spray.
  5. Return chicken, one piece at a time, to flour mixture, shaking bag to coat chicken. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour.
  6. Place chicken on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, foil or a silicon sheet. Lightly spray chicken with cooking spray.
  7. Bake at 450° for 35 minutes or until done.

Serve with milk gravy - an easy way to make this is to buy a packet of chicken gravy mix and make it with 1 1/2 cups of milk (instead of 1 c of water) adding one chicken boullion cube and a tsp of cider vinegar at the end to finish.

If you make this and want count points, I just add one extra point to each piece of chicken I eat (if a thigh is 3 points I count one more and make it 4).

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cooking in the Bag - paper bag

The French call it En Papillote, meaning in paper. Cooking food in paper is fun, it can be elegant and best of all it is a really healthy alternative! In fact, what happens inside that paper is the food actually steams and the nutrients are trapped inside.

If you don't know how to cook in parchment papper, you can accomplish the same thing in foil or even in a small lunch bag (sprayed lightly on the outside with cooking spray).

Things that cook well in foil or paper are, chicken breasts, fish, sea scallops, and lots of vegetables. I usually cook these things at 400 - 425 degrees. I like to make one packet for each person dining. Timing is anywhere from 15 minutes to 22 minutes (or more), depending on thickness.

You'll want to add flavor to your packet and the options are endless. With Salmon, I like to lay my fillet on spinach or tomato slices, season the fish well and top it off with a teaspoon of pesto and a teaspoon of white wine.

Just imagine all the combinations you can come up with! Feel free to share them with all of us!

For more ideas about cooking en papillote see my January 20, 2007, post.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Muffin Tins

Use muffin tins or other small cooking pans for portion control. Did you realize a cupcake is really half a piece of cake? That's 1/2 the points and a really good way to control portion.

I also like to make mini meatloaves, which make good portions and freeze well. I sometimes bake mini egg fritattas in the tins too. That way everyone gets appropriate portions instead of eating a big fat slice of quiche with crust.

Blender Cupcakes

This is a simple recipe that you can fit into your points if you are looking for some thing sweet but not a whole piece of cake!

1 cup of flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup splenda
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cups hot coffee
1/2 cup of cocoa
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup plain NF yogurt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Mix the cocoa and coffee to form a paste. Set aside.
  1. Heat oven to 375°. Line 12 regular-sized muffin cups with paper or foil liners.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, spices and salt in a blender. Cover with the lid and blend on medium speed until blended.
  3. Pour in the cocoa, oil, yorgurt, egg, and vanilla. Cover with the lid and blend on medium-high speed until smooth and well blended, stopping to scrape down the sides once or twice. Pour into lined muffin cups, dividing evenly.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of one cupcake comes out clean, 17-19 minutes.
  5. Transfer to rack to cool for about 10 minutes, and then carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan and set them on the rack to cool completely before frosting.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

"We must use time as a tool, not a couch." It's by JFK.

"Living your life without a plan is like watching television with someone else holding the remote control." - Peter Turla