Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chinese Food Frenzy

My boyfriend and I both decided it was time to take the dust off of our woks, and the results over the past month have been fantastic.  I think that we forgot how easy it is to make Chinese food (American style) at home and how fast it also is.  More importantly, how much healthier it is.  In the time it takes you to come home, look at a menu, order the food, and wait for delivery, you could have the same dish - only healthier and more flavorful - on your table.  

It has been almost a year since I have had chicken lo mein.  After making a commitment to lose weight, this Chinese food dish was the first take-out item to go.  Lately its been getting harder to curb the craving, but I refused to give in and go to the local take-out joint that has the greasiest lo mein with some kind of chicken by-product in it and flabby vegetables.  

There are some great recipes out there for lo mein, and I adapted a few versions I found.  It is very easy to create a foundation and add to that based on what vegetables you enjoy and if you want any spice or heat in the dish.  I started off simple and will build on it going forward.  When I tasted this dish, I was floored that it tasted so much like the takeout kind, but I didn't have to worry about MSG, oily fats, and soggy vegetables.  

The only downside to making Chinese food yourself is not being able to get a fortune cookie.  Still, there is a solution to every problem!  Hope you have a good fortune today!

Chicken Lo Mein

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sherry or chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium chicken bouillon granules
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 6 ounces uncooked linguine (I used Dreamfields)
  • 10 ounces of oriental-style frozen vegetables (I used carrots, broccoli, and water chesnuts)
  • 1 tablespoon wok oil 
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
Sriracha sauce (optional) 


  • In a large bowl, combine the cornstarch, ginger, soy sauce and sherry or broth until smooth. Add chicken and stir to coat; set aside. In a small bowl, dissolve bouillon granules in hot water; set aside. Cook linguine according to package directions.
  • In a wok,  stir-fry chicken mixture in wok oil for 2-3 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Stir in dissolved bouillon. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Add vegetables to wok. Drain linguine; add sesame oil and linguine to skillet. Toss to coat. Cook 1-2 minutes longer or until heated through.  Add some Sriracha sauce, if desired. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Why Can't Someone Punt Rachel Ray?

I hate Rachel Ray, but I love the idea of Mexican Lasagna.  This year's Superbowl is taking place in Texas, so what better way to pay homage to the game than with a Mexican-themed tailgating menu for game day? Almost a decade ago, Rachel Ray came up with a skimpy, tasteless, and pretty tame Mexican Lasagna recipe that people seemed to love.  I tasted the awful dish once at a potluck many years ago and had no idea what the big deal was.  No flavor, no spices, a measly two layers of tortilla.  To this day, I have no idea how Rachel Ray herself became such a big hit.  Still, the lasagna itself was on the healthier and lighter side, and I will give her that.  And just that!

Pulling from multiple lasagna and enchilada recipes, in addition for my love of building layers of flavor in foods, I came up with my own great version of Mexican Lasagna!  I also thought it was important to make a dish that had plenty of cheese in it for the big game since I am rooting for the Greenbay Packers all the way!  I am sure other Cheeseheads tomorrow will be doing the same with their tailgating dishes!  I decided to make this the day before the big game since lasagna is one of those rare dishes that tastes better when eaten the next day.

Senorita Amy's Mexican Lasagna 

Light cooking spray
1 pound ground chicken breast
3/4 cup water
1 packet of low-sodium taco seasoning
1 tablespoon of hot sauce
1 8 ounce can of no salt added tomato sauce
1 jar of your favorite salsa (I used an organic hot salsa)
1 can of whole corn kernels, drained
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can of chopped green chiles, in juices
1 teaspoon of your favorite chili powder (I use Penzey's)
10 medium -sized tortillas (I used Mission 96% fat free), cut in halves
8 ounces of reduced-fat Mexican blended cheese
1 bunch of scallions, chopped (white and green parts only)
Accompaniments:  spicy guacamole, low-fat sour cream, crispy tortilla strips (the ones made for salads), and, of course, Corona Light with lime!

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a lasagna pan with light cooking spray.
2) Brown the ground chicken until it is no longer pink, breaking it up with the back of a fork.  Add 3/4 cup of water and taco seasoning mix and stir until thick.  Add the hot sauce and stir.  Set aside.
3)  Combine black beans, corn, and green chiles. Add the chili powder and stir.  Set aside.
4)  Spread 1/3 of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the tray and begin layering in thirds: tortillas, meat, beans and corn mixture, salsa, cheese.  Repeat, repeat, repeat!  Once you get to the top layer of cheese, sprinkle with scallions.
4)  Bake in oven for 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Black Bean Backlog!

Although I have been cooking, I have not been blogging.  I am looking to turn that around and start posting once again all of the dishes I cook, as well as some of the dishes my boyfriend cooks.  I am on a backlog and hope to post dishes made in the past two months, as well as the ones I currently cook up!

I made this black bean soup during the holidays for me and my boyfriend on the night we made Christmas cookies together!  It is a Dave Lieberman recipe, and I highly recommend it for a cold winter's night.  It would also be a great dish to make for Superbowl Sunday!

BLACK BEAN SOUP (courtesy of Dave Lieberman)

  • 5 slices bacon, finely chopped (I used center cut)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 6 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups canned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 4 (15 1/2-ounce) cans black beans, drained but not rinsed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch cilantro (I omitted since I hate cilantro)
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
  • Sour cream, for garnish (I used low fat)
  • Grated cheddar, for garnish (I used low fat)


Put the bacon into a large heavy pot and place it over medium heat. Cook until it starts to give up its fat, about 4 minutes. Stir in the onions and cook, stirring, until they start to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until you can smell it, about 1 minute. Add the broth, tomatoes, ketchup, Worcestershire, and chili powder. Stir in the beans, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the soup is bubbling gently and cook 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook until the soup is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice. Serve with the cilantro and garnishes.