Tag Archives: Healthy

Strawberry Cheese Pie

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I don’t tend to try to follow diets.  This is not to say I don’t watch what I eat and exercise, I do, mostly by refusing to eat fast food despite my love of curly fries.  Ummm….curly fries.   And I have this belief, which may be incorrect, that as long as I make it myself regardless of the amount of whipping cream or butter I use, it’s still healthy.  I’m sure that logic is sound.

While this logic works for me, and a lot of Zumba, it does not work for everyone.  In the last week or so I’ve had a few comments, both from my coworkers who beta test my food, and from a few people on line, that I might be a little too heavy handed with the whipping cream and butter.  So I have decided to post something a little healthier, and because nothing can ever be easy, I’ve decided to make a healthy cheesecake.  Yes, I said that right, this is a healthy cheesecake.

Those are two words that are probably not uttered together with any frequency, and it was the belief of one of my beta testers that it should not have been attempted, but he was actually satisfied with the result.  By using cottage cheese and sour cream instead of cream cheese and whipping cream the cheesecake is significantly healthier, this is a desert that would not break your diet, though it would probably bend it a great deal.

The balance with these ingredients is that the cheesecake will be much lighter, not as dense or creamy as a traditional cheesecake, which is why I am calling it cheese pie, with a slight tart taste from the lemon.  This makes it perfect for summer, and picnics to dazzle everyone.

Enjoy

Ingredients

Honey Graham Crackers

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

¼ cup sugar

1 quart strawberries

3 eggs

1 package cream cheese (8 oz)

¼ cup cottage cheese

1/3 cup powdered sugar

½ cup sour cream

1 lemon

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Preheat oven to 325OF

Let all ingredients come to room temperature.  Gagh I know, just get everything out and then watch Iron Chef for 30 minutes.

Crush the graham crackers to a fine powder in a blender or food processor.  You will need 1 ½-2 cups of crushed graham crackers, which takes about ½ of the box.  Take a cake pan and rub the butter stick around it liberally, buttering the cake tin.

Pour the graham cracker crumbs and the sugar into a mixing bowl.  Add the butter, cutting it into small pieces.  Mix by hand until the butter is fully incorporated.  The final mixture will not be completely mixed like a pie dough, but will still be very much like graham cracker crumbs.

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Take handfuls of the graham cracker mixture and scatter them into the cake tin.  Press down firmly to the bottom and then turn the tin on it’s side and repeat around of the sides.  Make sure there are no cracks and that the surface is well covered.  This does not have to be perfect, if it’s not even on the bottom or the sides it will still bake just fine.

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Wash the strawberries, cut off the stem, and cut the strawberries in half.  Fill the bottom of the cake tin with the strawberries, in whatever pattern you would like.  Refrigerate the crust while making the filling.

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Blend together the eggs, cream cheese, and cottage cheese, this is much easier with a hand mixer than by hand.  This will not make a completely mixed product, as the cottage cheese will not break up.

Add the powdered sugar, the sour cream, and the juice and zest of the lemon and mix well.

The zest of the lemon is the peeling, I find the easiest way to zest the lemon is to use a cheese grater, and to zest the lemon before cutting it.

Spoon the mixing into the prepared crust making sure to completely cover the strawberries in the bottom.  If you overflow the crust a little, that’s okay, but don’t overflow the tin.

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Bake for 45-50 minutes and then turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in.  The cheesecake should be slightly golden on the top and the crust might be very dark.  Don’t try to cook the cheesecake longer even if it isn’t completely set up, since this could lead to the cheesecake burning.  Leave the cheesecake in the oven until the oven is completely cool, or at least 2 hours.

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Refrigerate the cheesecake for 6 hours-overnight.  Before serving garnish with additional halved strawberries.

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I’d say this is a little bit of a more complicated recipe; the hardest part is making the crust, which isn’t difficult but does take some time.  Total prep time is about an hour, and total cooking time, not including refrigeration, is about 3 hours.

Enjoy!

Oven Barbecued Chicken

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As I’ve mentioned before, I cooked dinner for my Mom for Mother’s Day, as I do every year, but this Sunday my Mom decided to surprise me, and cooked dinner for me.

She made fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and I made bread.  We had a really good time, though I did find out that while cooking my Mom cannot support a conversation, which was not something I had noticed when I was living with her as a child.

We did have some nice conversation while we went shopping together for all the ingredients, and she insisted on buying me some pantry items I was missing.  Thank you Mom.  We also got one of those gigantor packages of chicken legs which has 14 pieces in it.  It was much cheaper per pound than the smaller packages, but obviously had more chicken in it than Mom had any intention of frying for two people.  I told her I would find something to do with it.

So I made Oven Barbecued Chicken.  The great thing about this recipe is that, except for the chicken legs, these are all pantry items for me, so it’s a recipe that needs very little fore planning and is pretty quick to prepare.  As an added plus it tastes great.

Of course, since my Mom did buy this chicken, I had to make it for her, and now she says she owes me dinner again.  I can see this cycle repeating for a very long time.

Enjoy

Ingredients

7 chicken legs

¾ cup sweet chili sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon honey mustard

1 teaspoon fish sauce

½ teaspoon chili powder

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Preheat oven to 350OF

Personally I usually remove the skin from my chicken unless I’m frying it.  This is because a lot of times if I cook it in a sauce, like these are, the skin tends to absorb a lot of the flavor but the meat does not. When I remove the skin the meant tends to absorb the flavor a great deal better.

The easiest way to remove the skin is to hold the leg under running hot water and grasp the skin at the thickest part, and pull the skin.  Hard.  It won’t be that hard as long as keep the leg under the hot water, but the hardest part will be down at the joint.

Place the chicken legs in a deepish baking dish.

Mix the remaining ingredients well in a large bowl and pour entire contents over chicken.  Turn the chicken legs with a spoon a few times to ensure they have been completely coated, if you try to turn them with your fingers you’ll season your fingers very well, but will actually be whipping the sauce off of the chicken.

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Bake chicken for 30 minutes.  Open oven and turn chicken, again using a spoon.  Bake for another 30 minutes or until the meat begins to pull away from the bone.

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When serving, spoon extra sauce over the chicken and extra sauce with either rice or buttered noodles.

It does take about an hour, since that’s how long you bake it, but the prep time for this recipe is minutes.  It takes longer to just get everything out of the refrigerator than to make the sauce.

Enjoy, if you notice the final photo is actually what I took for lunch.

Coconut Cream Pie

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Coconut probably is one of my favorite ingredients.  When I found out that South Indian cuisine had a lot of coconut in it, I went on a quest to find someone from South India who could give me some recipes.  I was successful in finding two.  Unfortunately, one of them doesn’t cook with coconut much, and the other one was vegetarian.  But never fear, my quest continues.  I’m hearing batman music right now, that’s probably just in my head.

But until then, there’s always pie.   Ummm….pie.  Pie should be its own food group.  And since I’m not likely to be leaping any tall buildings any time soon, bring on the pie!

Just so as you know though, this is a pretty healthy pie as far as pie goes.  This is an old school recipe, back before pudding was used as a base for cream pies, so you cut back on preservatives by making the pudding base yourself.  Also, it has only a small amount of butter, and less than a cup of sugar.  If you’ve got a sweet tooth and trying to cut back on the sugar, or if you’re not really a fan of suggery sweets this is the pie for you.

If you want an even healthier pie, or a lighter pie, you can separate out your eggs and use only egg whites, it will make your pie whiter, where this one has a decided yellow tinge, and it might also make it a little firmer, but it won’t affect the taste much.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 pie crust

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup sugar

1 ½ -2 cups coconut

1 tablespoon butter

2 eggs

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Preheat oven to 350O F

Take the pie crust and carefully unroll it into a pie tin that is dry.  Do not butter or oil or flour the pie tin.  If you let the pie crust sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes, this is easier, but it’s not essential if you’re careful.

Press the pie crust firmly down into the pie tin, and then pinch the upper crust between the forefingers of both hands in order to create the ‘wrinkle’.  Do this all the way around the pie, this will both make the pie have the traditional look, and help prevent it from sinking or burning.

Again, make sure the pie crust is pressed down well and is not lower on one area of the pie tin than another.

Take a fork and pierce the bottom and sides of the pie crust making sure there are no open space of more than 1 inch.  This will let air out of your pie crust while you bake it and prevent it from puffing up.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until the pie crust is golden brown.

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You might want to check it occasionally, and if it starts to puff up anyplace, you might be able to save it by pulling it out of the oven early.

While the pie is baking heat the milk in a saucepan under medium to low heat.  Add first the flour, cornstarch, and finally the salt a small amount at a time stirring well after each addition.   Make sure you completely blend in each of the dry ingredients into the milk and don’t leave any lumps.  Should take around 5-10 minutes, the smaller the measurement of the dry ingredients you try to add at each time the easier it will be to blend.

Add the sugar ¼ cups at a time and stir continuously until the mixture starts to thicken.  Takes about 5 minutes.

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Turn the heat down to low and stir continuously to incorporate ½ cups coconut and butter until the butter has melted.  Takes less than 5 minutes

Add the eggs, one egg at a time, stirring continuously until the eggs are well blended.  Pour into the prepared pie crust.

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Top with the remaining coconut.  Chill overnight.

Congratulations, that was it, you’re done!

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Takes about 20-40 minutes cook time and needs to chill overnight to set up.  Since it hasn’t been baked at all, it will only be semi-solid even when it has set overnight, so try not to leave it out of the refrigerator for long.

Enjoy!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

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I know I just made a post about how I generally avoid recipes that have a page worth of ingredients, but it doesn’t count if half the ingredients are things I keep in my house.  Right?  Yah, that sounds like an excuse to me too.

Anywho, I really like Asian food, I mean what’s not to like.  It’s hot, spicy (not always the same thing), it’s always served with either rice or noodles, and generally not the worst thing you could eat health wise.   But notice I do say generally.  This is because a lot of times really good Chinese food is fried.  I do so love my fried foods.

It’s a shame I don’t have the metabolism of a high schooler any more and can’t just eat fried foods all day.  Plus they tell me it’s bad for me, something about clogged arteries and heart attacks.  To bad.

I’ve wanted to try to make homemade Chinese takeout for awhile, but the way of getting crispy chicken without deep frying it was eluding me.  It all comes down to how you coat or bread the chicken.  I got this idea for coating the chicken from here http://stuffcynloves.com/2013/05/03/best-general-tao-chicken-recipe/.   It works really well as a pho-fried food breading.

Enjoy

Ingredients

1 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 tablespoons flour

2 eggs

1 cup panko

Chicken thighs or breasts

4 Tablespoons peanut butter

6 tablespoons soy sauce

1 Green pepper (sorry forgot to include in the picture)

1 package mushrooms, about ½ pound

2 sticks celery

4 green onions

2 heads brocoli

1 can crushed pineapple

6 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Oil for frying

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If you’re working with chicken thighs, deskin and debone, and try to cut off any large chunks of fat.  For either chicken thighs or breasts, cut into approximately 1 inch pieces.

Set up a line of three bowls.  In the first bowl, pour 1 cup of cornstarch.   In the next bowl mix together the 2 eggs, salt, baking powder, and flour which will make a thick goo. In the last bowl pour the 1 cup of panko.  You can use breadcrumbs instead of panko, but the chicken won’t be quite as cruncy.

Dip each piece of chicken into first the cornstarch, then the egg mix, and finally the panko.  Try to shake off any extra cornstarch before coating your pieces with the egg mixture.

Put just enough oil in a deep skillet to cover the bottom and heat under medium to high heat.  After the oil is hot, put in the chicken pieces, evenly spaced and so they don’t quite touch.

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Cook until panko starts to brown and then turn and cook on the other side.  Make sure the chicken is cooked through and remove it from the pan, takes about 10-15 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking finely chop all your veggies and put in a big bowl, it’s a lot of veggies.

In a small mixing bowl add the peanut butter and 4 tablespoons of soy sauce.  Mix a little, until the peanut butter is not a blob in a sea of soy sauce but it’s not going to make a smooth mixture.  Pour the mixture onto the veggies and mix well.

Pour the veggie mix into the skillet and cook on medium to high heat stirring often until the veggies soften.  Takes about 10 minutes.

While cooking the veggies mix in a suacpan the pineapple, sugar, apple cider vinegar, remaining soy cauce, cornstarch, and garlic powder.  Mix in each ingredient one at a time beginning with the pineapple and mix well after every addition.  Cook under low heat until everything is well incorporated, you’re difficult ingredient here will be the cornstarch.  This really only takes 5 minutes or so.

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After the veggies are soft turn heat down to low and add back in the chicken.  Stir once or twice until the chicken is evenly mixed.  Add the pineapple sauce to the skillet and mix well.  Cook for another 5 minutes or so and you’re done.

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Serve with either rice or butter noodles.   If you’re a fan of broth with your rice, double the sauce mixture.

Really this is a pretty easy recipe, but it does take some time.  Around 45 minutes to an hour start to finish.

Enjoy.

Cheesy Salad Sandwich

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I’m personally a big fan of salad.  I feel that a lot of times salads get a bad name as being smothered in dressing, or having everything in them but the kitchen sink.  But they can’t be all bad.

My mom actually makes that second kind of salad and it’s amazing.  She makes the dressing from scratch and everything, but when I finally got her to give me the recipe for it, it seemed to be a mile long.  While I know that it would not be complicated to make, I generally balk at the idea of making something that has more than 20 ingredients.

I’m also not a huge fan of lettuce.  Since lettuce is the principle ingredient in most salads, and it has no taste, I suppose those other 19 ingredients are necessary to make the lettuce taste like something other than crisp green water.  And depending on how long your salad has been out of the refrigerator, you even loose the crisp.

So I’m going to say this is not so much of a recipe, as an idea, inspired by something similar I found in a cookbook.  Why not take the lettuce out of the salad?  And while I was at it I figured I could add some bread too.  Bread improves every meal, and I’m an even bigger fan of sandwiches than I am of salads.

Enjoy

Ingredients

1 tomato

½ cucumber

1 red or orange bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

2 sticks celery

2 green onions

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ cup Italian Salad Dressing

Shredded Swiss cheese

Bread

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Finely chop all the vegetables.   Mix well with the black pepper and Italian Salad Dressing.  I feel you could almost use any veggies you wanted in this, my only caution would be to try to keep it from getting too wet, as that will dilute the Italian Salad Dressing which is providing most of the seasoning.

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Just as you can use almost any veggies, you can use almost any bread.  If necessary, cut the bread in half.  On each half, or slice, sprinkle enough of the Swiss cheese to just cover the bread.  Cover the bread with a paper towel and microwave for 1 minute.  This will melt the cheese without drying it out or burning it.

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Spread about 1-2 tablespoons of the veggie mixture onto one half of the sandwich and place the other half on top.  Makes 4-8 sandwiches depending on the size of the sandwich.

Enjoy.