Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chicken-Kale Curry

Yesterday I was so very tempted to order Indian food. I didn't feel like cooking, I did have some chicken thighs to work with, and veggies, but I just didn't feel it. Then I thought, I'll just sauteed everything in a pan, throw in a jar of salsa, and forget about it!

No Salsa... *sigh*

I started digging in my pantry, and discovered a jar of Tikka Masala sauce. Hum, that could be nice! But then I realized that it was a lot of sauce for only 4 chicken thighs, bringing up the number of calories/fat per serving higher than I wanted it to be after the splurge Friday night. Grrrr

Ok then, lets just get started and see where it leads me. What started with dragging my feet around the kitchen cause, like it or not we need to eat, turned into a fun cooking session with my husband taking notes. Here's what we ended up eating (and it was DELICIOUS!):

Chicken-Kale Curry
4 servings, 4 P+/Serving (5 if you count the kale, I don't)

1 TBSP oil
4 med, skinless, bone in chicken thighs
1 red onion, quartered, sliced
1 serrano chile, sort of seeded, minced
2 tsp minced garlic (or 2 frozen cubes)
2 carrots, sliced
1/4 cup broccoli, chopped
1 can diced, fire roasted tomatoes
3 cups kale chopped
Spices: 1 TBSP garam masala, 1 tsp curry powder (madras), 1 generous pinch cayenne pepper, 1 generous pinch clove
Sal pepper to taste
1/2 cup chicken broth (to be used as needed)

Heat up oil in a Karahi over medium-high flame (it's like a wok with a flat bottom, mine's cast iron). Sprinkle both sides of the chicken pieces generously with the spice mix (I used about 1/3 of the mix).  Brown chicken on each side, take out set aside.

Sauteed the onions in the hot karahi until lightly brown (5-8 minutes). Add the Serrano pepper and garlic and cook until fragrant (30-60 seconds), add carrots and broccoli and sauteed about a minute or two until just tender. Add about 2/3 of the spices left, salt and pepper to taste, and sauteed stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, 1/4 cup of chicken broth and stir, scrapping the bottom.

Lower the flame to medium-low and dump the kale on top of the mixture (do not stir yet!), sprinkle with more spices and cover. Let the kale steam for about 3 minutes. Uncover and stir to coat the steamed kale with the sauce.

Move the veggies around to make a little "nest" for the chicken thighs put them in and cover them with the mixture. Cover and cook, over medium-low flame for about 20-25 minutes. Stir every once in a while, and add some broth if it gets too dry in there. You want it saucy (not soupy) but you don't want it to stick either! I cooked it about 1 minute uncovered over high flame at the end to let it thicken up a little more.

  1. My cast iron Karahi is perfect for this, it's like a wok but with a flat bottom. Mine is from "Le Creuset" and the lid of my 5 quart Dutch oven fits perfectly on it. Any pot that retains heat very well and has a tight fitting lid will do.
  2. It IS a lot of spice, and it's a little intimidating, I ended up not using all of it not trusting myself (I have about a tsp leftover). Next time I'll use all of it. Not at all overwhelming. 
  3. Kale and curry usually don't go together... who cares? It's delicious... screw traditions!
I'm feeling like playing mad scientist again in the kitchen (rather than following recipes from cookbooks) so keep your eyes peeled for more recipes!

Happy Cooking!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Whole Mung Bean soup

Today I went to the Farmers Market at the UN Plaza, then I went to Safeway on Webster and remembered that Jai Ho, the Indian grocery store was right next door. I had been looking all over for Asafoetida, and couldn't find it, so off I went to get it there.

I started looking around, finding big (cheap!) bags of all the spices I had just paid a fortune for at Rainbow and Whole Foods (grrr). Looking at the dried beans, I saw whole mung beans. I had bought those before, and never cooked them, finally had to throw them away. Since I'm in such an adventurous cooking mood, I decided to buy them again!

I've decided to keep my beans and other bulk in jars, easier to manage!
As you can see, mung beans are green little beans/lentils that comes in a great variety of ways. I bought the whole ones, but can buy them split, sprouted, you can make them sprout yourselves, the possibilities are pretty much endless. I just adore that green, and love how tiny they are!

They are tiny too!
Normally you need to soak them overnight, but I didn't today. I found several soup and dhal recipes using them, and mixing and matching them, I decided to make my own. So this is a creation of mine, I looked at recipes to know how to deal with my little green friends, but the rest was whatever I had in my fridge!

That's actually the leftovers *blush* I forgot to take a picture of my bowl. I was HUNGRY!

Whole Mung Bean Soup
4 servings,  5P+/serving (not counting the veggies)

1 cup whole mung beans, picked over, rinsed and drained
2 cups water (more if needed)
3 cups (more or less) chicken or vegetable broth
3 big leaf kale, rib removed, chopped
1 small leek, thinly sliced
1 small french shallot thinly sliced
1 medium daikon, thinly sliced (halved first if large)
3 sl canadian bacon (can easily be skipped)
1 TBSP lemon juice
Salt pepper
Optional: Chopped fresh tomato (Didn't have them, but woulda been good!)*

  1. Put the rinsed and drained beans in a Dutch oven, or a soup pot, add 2 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer about 40 minutes, stirring frequently so the beans won't stick, until most beans have burst out of their hull and the water is absorbed. If you run out of water before the beans are tender, add some a little at a time.
  2. When the beans are almost ready, heat up a pan, spray with oil (or cooking spray) and sauteed the shallot and leek until tender. Add Daikon and sauteed until just starting to get translucent. 
  3. Reserve 2-3 TBSP of the broth and pour the rest in the beans, add leek mixture and bring to a boil. 
  4. Reheat the newly emptied pan, add kale, pour the 2-3 TBSP broth and cover for a minute to steam the kale. Add Kale to the soup pot. Simmer soup for 10-12 minutes
  5. Add Canadian bacon in the last minute of cooking (I sauteed it a little in the pan first), heat up and turn off the fire. Add lemon juice and tomatoes (if using), stir and serve.

You could easily change the vegetables, spice this up with cumin, coriander, chili powder would be good in there. I didn't push it too much because I had never tasted those beans. I didn't know what to expect. it was delicious!

Happy Cooking!!

*Added Note: We had the leftovers today and added a spicy Jalapeno sausage (TJ), and a diced fresh tomato (at the end) and the spiciness of the sausage definitively added to this already delicious soup. So spice away!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Butternut squash-tomato soup

I've been having a cooking attack and I'm certainly not going to do anything to stop it! I'm enjoying this and the food is actually pretty darned good!

Today I was roasting veggies for my lunch, and I decided to double up and roast a butternut squash I had sitting around. I chopped it, spiced it (complete recipe below) and roasted it.

Then I sliced 2 garlic cloves and quick a bit of fresh ginger (2 TBSP at least) and half an onion. I sauteed the onion at high temp, and then added the ginger and garlic. When those got fragrant, I added the leftover spices and 30 seconds later threw in a can of petite diced tomato (drained) and mixed that well.

A minute or so later, I threw in the butternut squash, and cooked for a minute or two.

Finally I added the broth, salt and pepper, and simmered for 10 minutes or so.

Once it was all done cooking, I used my trusty immersion blender to puree the whole thing.

It was delicious and even better reheated!

Butternut squash-tomato soup
4 servings, 0P+/serving

1 butternut squash, in chunks
Spice: 1 tsp curry powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 pinch clove, 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper (divided)
1 tsp canola oil
1/2 onion (or 1 small), thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 TBSP ginger thinly sliced
1 can petite diced tomato, drained
salt to taste

  • Preheat oven to 375 F. 
  • Lay the squash chunks in one layer on a cookie sheet. Spray with olive oil or cooking spray, sprinkle half the spices on the squash moving it around to coat. Roast until starting to turn brown (a little blackening is ok, but not too much). Set aside.
  • Spray a small Dutch oven, heat up to medium-high heat, swirl the oil and add onions. Cook for a few minutes until just starting to brown. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant. Add the rest of the spices and cook 30 seconds or so. 
  • Add the tomatoes, and mix well. Add the squash and mix well to coat. Put in the broth salt a bit more pepper if needed and cook 10 minutes at a moderate simmer.
  • Turn off the heat and process with an immersion blender (or in a blender in batches, careful it's hot!).

So simple, so easy, so delicious! Tell me healthy cooking is complicated! It is NOT!

Happy Cooking!

Goulash Hongrois

When I got married and moved to the States, my Mom gave me a series of little recipe pamphlet put together by a well known Mom and daughter team in Quebec, the Taillefer. The good thing about these recipes is that they are generally healthy (not necessarily low calories though) and include a lot of "traditional" foods from home. They aren't limited to local foods though. I guess I should say that Quebec's traditional cooking is very strongly influenced by what the different immigrants (French included) brought in.

These are, I believe, from 1996-1997. 
Last week I moved my cookbooks around (ARG!) and found this bundle of little pamphlet, which I have rarely used, and decided to dig in for some "cook ahead" idea. I found a recipe of Goulash that seemed fairly healthy and had no pasta in it. Because of that, it was perfect for freezing!

I am putting in here the original recipe, and will not the changes I've made in it. I need to note that I count the P+ value of my recipes by hand, and do not put in value for 0P+ vegetables. So if you want to be righteous about this, use the recipe builder at

The picture is a little dark-ish, but the flash made it too shiny. 

Goulash Hongrois
6 servings, 7P+/serving

2 lbs veal, cubed (I used 1 lb 10 oz of top sirloin steak, trimmed and cubed)
1 TBSP Paprika
2TBSP flour
2 TBSP oil (I tried cutting down, but it's needed!)
1 TBSP butter (didn't use)
1 onion chopped
1 cup beef broth
2 cans (19 oz) crushed tomatoes (I used 1 can (28oz) crushed, and 1 can (14oz) roasted diced, drained)
1 TBSP tomato paste
1 TBSP oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
Salt & Pepper
(I added a bay leaf and 3 small carrots sliced)

  • Mix flour and paprika and coat beef cubes, shaking off excess. Heat up oil in a dutch oven and brown beef on all sides. Set aside. Remove excess fat from pan (skipped this).
  • In the same pan heat butter (cooking spray!) and cook onion stirring. I had to throw in a little broth cause the flour was burning at the bottom of the pan. Keep it close! Add beef, tomato paste, crushed tomato (and diced), and broth to the pan, cover and simmer 30 minutes. 
  • Add potatoes (and carrots)*, cover and simmer 40-45 minutes. Uncover and cook 5 minutes until thickened to taste**. Add oregano and check seasonings.

* I added 1/2 of the oregano then, and salt and pepper. I added the rest of the oregano at the end and adjusted seasonings
**I cooked this to freeze, so I didn't want it too thick knowing it would thicken when I heated it up.

This turned out to be delicious! It takes forever to cook, but it's not that much prep!

Ours made 7 1 cup servings at about 5 P+ each. We did eat 1.5 serving for dinner, but it was too much! As my husband said: "This is sneakily filling!" It could be served over pasta, or grains, but stands very well on its own. I must admit it would be great with a big piece of this rustic bread too, but we DIDN'T!

Happy Cooking Everybody!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Tilapia-Kale Soup

I'm posting a lot today, but I made this for dinner and I had to share, it was absolutely delicious!

It's a little but of chopping, but I think it's worth the work and it cooks lightening quick!

Picture doesn't do it justice, it was delicious!

Tilapia-kale Soup
2 servings, 6P+/serving*

2 tsp avocado oil
1 shallot thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 garlic clove thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 large leaf green kale, chopped
4 small leaf red kale, chopped
2 sm-med potatoes (7oz), diced
2 cups chicken broth (I made with better than bouillon)
Salt, pepper, cumin to taste
9-10 oz Tilapia, cut in chunks

Heat up a deep pan over medium-high fire add avocado oil and sauteed shallots and celery for a minute or so, add garlic and sauteed until fragrant, add carrots and cook for a minute or two. Add kale (both color) and toss well until slightly wilted. Throw in potatoes, broth, salt, pepper and cumin and bring to a boil. Cover and cook 5 minutes.

Add tilapia chunks and cook another 5 minutes or until the fish is done (I cooked it 5 minutes and it was perfect!).  Adjust seasoning.

Serve hot, could work over grains, but makes a rather large serving so it's not necessary.

*PointsPlus value does not include 0 P+ vegetable in the recipes as I count the recipes by hand.

So there, I'm on a seafood streak! Hang on everybody!

Happy Cooking!

Shrimps and Kale

When I left my meeting yesterday, I decided to run, but after only 1 block I realized that was not going to work. My backpack was too heavy and unbalanced for me to safely run. Drats!

I was walking toward the bus stop and thinking back on what I had heard during the meeting. The idea of thinking back to what I used to do, and eat, kept going around in my head. Lunch time was coming, and I didn't know what to have. What's one lunch that was easy, quick and healthy that I used to do an enjoy? Shrimps and veggies!! I used to have that almost every day. It was either shrimps or scallops! 

I decided to swing around by Whole Foods (I needed a few things anyway) and see what I could find. Greens were on special, Kale was 2 bunch for 3 dollars, so I grabbed a green bunch and a red bunch, colors! I also absentmindedly grabbed a head of garlic and some big shelled raw shrimps.

I got home and got started:

Shrimps and Kale
1 serving 3P+/serving

1small shallot, thinly sliced
2 clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 big leaf each green and red kale, de-veined and chopped
1/4 cup (or so) chicken broth
15 medium-large shrimps
Salt & pepper
Cooking spray

Sauteed shallot until slightly browned add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the kale, toss well, add a little chicken broth if it gets too smoky in there, cover it all up for a few minutes until the kale is wilted. 

Then I added the shrimps and a bit of chicken broth and cover and cook for 2 minutes or so. Open and turn the shrimps, cook another 2 minutes or until the shrimps are done. 

Shrimps cook really quick so cooking time vary a lot. Cook until not translucent anymore.

It's simple, it's delicious, it's pretty! I served over 1/2 cup of cooked bulgur (2 P+) that I had leftover. See? 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Clean the fridge lunch

Ok, ok I'm lazy sometimes, and my planning skills fail me, or is it my dedication to following my plan?  I was working on a little project of mine, when I realized it's almost noon and I'm hungry. Oops! What do I do?

I looked in the fridge and found bulgur that was leftover from yesterday, a good start, but that's about it really. There's vegetables in the fridge, but the turkey's all gone. I'm out of lobster (got to talk to Mom!) and I'm just not in the mood for beans. Oh, but I have eggs!

Sooo, I decided to do a clean the fridge salad sort of thing. It's 6 P+ but it makes a lot of it!

Cell pic with the food almost gone! Sorry! Thought about it at the last minute.  

Clean the Fridge Salad
1 serving, 6 P+/serving

1/2 cup cooked Bulgur
1 egg and 2 whites
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
small handful shredded carrots
1/4 cup clover sprouts
1 tsp roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
Salt & pepper

Scramble the egg/egg white with salt and pepper, throw in a bowl with everything else and toss!

It made a huge bowl of food for only 6P+, and it was tasty too! How easy can it be? You don't have to overthink cooking. It can be as simple as "what's left in the fridge that needs to be used?

Happy Cooking!