Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sweet and Sour Chicken #FoodnFlix

I am hosting FoodnFlix this month and I chose the movie "The Martian" starring Matt Damon.  If you have seen the movie and loved it as I did, please join us.  If you saw the movie and hated it, please join us.  If you haven't seen the movie....what the heck are you waiting for??  Get it, watch it and please join us.

FoodnFlix is a fun little group started by Heather of All Roads Lead to the Kitchen.  You can find out more about it here.  Once you watch the movie and get inspired to run to the kitchen and start cooking you can go over to my Invitation Post and learn how to have your blog included in this month's event.

I took my inspiration right from the very beginning of this movie.  Mark Watney has returned to his work station on Mars to find that he has been presumed dead and left behind.  He begins going through his supplies to list what he has so he knows what he needs to do to survive alone on Mars for the next 4 years until a rescue mission can reach him.  One of the packages that he sorts through is marked Sweet and Sour Chicken.

For those who haven't seen this movie yet.....Watney, is a botanist who was part of a team assigned to Mars.  When he is left behind he is determined to survive.  All he has to do is figure out how to make water and grow food.  Luckily for Watney, he is the smartest botanist on Mars.

The movie volleys back and forth between Watney on Mars, NASA on Earth and his team in space heading back to Earth.  The interaction between them is at times funny, at times serious and at times tragic and sad.  Damon does a great job portraying Watney's determination amidst his fear and anger. You find yourself cheering on his successes and reeling along with him on his setbacks.  It is a great film and you owe it to yourself to watch it.

I am currently trying to maintain the Fast Metabolism Diet as part of my Lenten Journey.  The FMD restricts sugars, fried foods and soy sauce.  Not very Sweet and Sour Chicken friendly.  I got to work and found a recipe from Eating Well, that while not FMD friendly, was pretty close and still very darn healthy.

I adapted the recipe a bit.  Most noticeably was the swap from apricot preserves to a Mango/Raspberry jam that our son, Anthony, had made.  Feel free to use apricot or your favorite flavor preserves.  I also used sesame oil instead of canola and substituted mandarin orange slices for the water chestnuts.  

I served this up over steamed brown rice and while not 100% FMD friendly it was close enough that I didn't feel like I cheated.  Now, I just need to justify those almond M&M's I ate yesterday......

Sweet and Sour Chicken
adapted from Eating Well

2 c. cooked brown rice
1/4 c. seasoned rice vinegar
2 T. reduced sodium soy sauce 
2 T. cornstarch
2 T. Mango/Raspberry preserves (or flavor of choice)
2 T. sesame oil
1 lb. chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
2 t. garlic paste
2 t. ginger paste
1 c. chicken broth
6 c. bite size pieces of vegetables, I used mushrooms, broccoli, bell peppers and celery
1 (11 oz) can mandarin oranges, drained

Whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch and preserves.  Set aside.

Place wok over medium high heat.  Add 1 T. oil.  When oil starts to shimmer, add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally until no longer pink and starting to brown in spots, 4-5 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan along with the garlic and ginger.  Stir together for a few minutes and add the chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Add the vegetables, reduce heat, cover and simmer until vegetables are crisp tender, 5 minutes or so. Stir in the chicken and the reserved sauce. Simmer, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and chicken is cooked through. This should only take a minute or two. Stir in the mandarin sections.

Place 1/2 c. rice into 4 shallow bowls.  Top each with 1/4 of the Sweet and Sour Chicken. Print Recipe

Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday, Monday...so good to me

We had a very busy weekend so I didn't get the weekly menu figured out and posted.  We ate out both Saturday and Sunday so I'm not really behind.

Nothing much out of the ordinary happening this week.  I have a meeting at church tonight.  We have Mel Tuesday morning through Wednesday evening after Aunt Irene's shower.  Choir on Thursday.

So here is a shortened weekly menu.....until next time......

Image result for Let's eat

Meatless Monday
Peanut Stew over Brown Rice (Moved from last Friday)

Swiss Steak over Brown Rice Noodles

Crockpot Chicken
Spinach Salad

Out to dinner before choir

Fish Friday
Gingered Shrimp and Veggie Stir Fry

Pan Roasted Pork Chops with Pear Chutney #CrazyIngredientChallenge

Folks, let me tell you....I am so happy that I joined in with the Crazy Ingredient Challenge this month. Our challenge was to combine Pears and Red Pepper Flakes.  I never, ever would have created this recipe without being involved in this group and now?  Well, now it is going to be making a regular appearance in this household.  I can't wait to invite friends over to try this meal.  That is how excited I am about this dish.

I used two different kinds of pears, a Bartlett and a Bosc. I felt that this would lend the chutney some texture and interest.

This is the easiest chutney recipe ever.  I adapted it from this recipe found at Food Network website. A few minutes in the microwave, set it aside to cool and start on the chops.

I used boneless pork loin chops.  A quick sear on one side, flip them over and finish them off in the oven. 

Since I had the oven on anyway, I put some diced butternut squash in to roast as well.  It was the perfect side for this dish.

Pan Roasted Pork Chops with Easy Pear Chutney

2 pears of your choice
3 scallions, white and light greens, roughly chopped
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1 T. brown sugar
2 t. butter
1/4 t. ginger paste
1/2 t. cinnamon
pinch of kosher salt
pinch of crushed red pepper 
2 boneless, loin chops
2 t. olive oil

Peel, core and dice the pears. Place in a microwave safe bowl along with the scallions, vinegar, brown sugar, butter, ginger, cinnamon, salt and red pepper flakes.  Cover and microwave for 1 minute on high heat.  Stir and return, covered to microwave for another 10 minutes.  Take from oven, remove lid, stir and set aside.

Place the olive oil in an oven safe skillet over high heat.  Season the chops liberally with salt and pepper.  When the oil is shimmering, add the chops and sear for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown. Flip the chops over and place the pan into a preheated 400* oven for 15-20 minutes until an internal temperature of 145* is reached.  Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.  Plate and top with the Pear Chutney. Print Recipe

More Pear and Red Pepper Creations

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Shaved Asparagus Salad for #SundaySupper

Our host for this edition of Sunday Supper is Anne of Simple and Savory.  Anne chose a theme of Easy Spring recipes.  Perfect, if you ask me.  I get so excited when Spring begins to spring.  I love all the fresh, bright flavors that we have been denied all winter while trying to eat locally and seasonally.

Asparagus is one of my all time favorite veggies.  We eat it at least once or twice a week while it is in season.  Frank is not as huge a fan as I.  He will eat a few stalks but the rest? Mine, all mine....I live in Asparagus heaven during the Spring.

I got the idea for this recipe from the cookbook by Kurt Beecher Dammier called Pure Food.  I adapted pretty much the entire recipe but wanted to acknowledge him as I wouldn't have thought to make this salad without drooling over the photo of his while thumbing through the cookbook.

I used a base of baby spinach to showcase the shaved asparagus.  Leaving the asparagus raw lends a touch of sweetness to the salad that is a pleasant surprise.  The carrot lends a touch of color and Macadamia nuts add richness and crunch.

This salad is perfect for your Easter Brunch or Dinner.

Shaved Asparagus Salad
inspired by Pure Food

2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic Vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 lbs. asparagus
2 c. baby spinach leaves
2 green onions, white and light greens
1 small carrot, peeled
1 oz. Macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped

Place the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small jar with a lid.  Shake vigorously to combine. 

Snap off the tough end of the asparagus and discard.  Hold the asparagus by the tips and, using a peeler, shave into long strips.  Reserve the tips.

Slice the green onions in half lengthwise and roughly chop.  Using the peeler shave the carrot into strips.

Place the spinach, asparagus, carrot, green onions and nuts into a large bowl.  Pour the dressing over the greens and toss to coat.  Arrange on a platter and serve.  Print Recipe

More Healthy Spring Recipes


Cakes, Pies, and Sweets

Cookies and Bars

Main Courses



Veggies and Sides

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Sopa Ranchera #SoupSaturdaySwappers

Somebody please tell me that I am not the only one who writes posts in their minds and thinks they have really written it. I cannot tell you how many times I go to my drafts looking for a post that only exists in my mind.  I could've sworn that I wrote this post out and was only awaiting the photos but, alas, such was not the case.

This post is part of the Soup Saturday Swappers group I began in January.  It has been fun and it is getting better each month.  I hosted the first month with Healthy Soup Options and posted the elegant Fennel Crab Bisque.  Last month, our friend Kathy of A Spoonful of Thyme, invited us to Go International and I shared an Italian Stracciattella.

We are going International this month as well, but to a specific country.  Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories has sent us all to Mexico asking that we make a Mexican Soup or a Soup inspired by Mexican Flavors.  Put me in coach!!  I absolutely adore Mexican food.

The soup I am sharing today is from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen.  I love Rick Bayless and I cannot wait for another opportunity to go to his restaurant in Chicago the next time I am there.

This soup is easy, comforting and delicious. It is also FMD friendly during Phase 3, if you are following that eating plan. I made it up and served it to friends for lunch along with a salad and some easy peasy nachos that I will be sharing with you later this month.

Are you a blogger interested in joining our group?  We would love to have you.  Next month's theme is Root Vegetables.  Just leave a comment on this post with your blog name and email and I will send you an invitation.  Meanwhile, check out our Facebook page and Pinterest board.

Make sure you stop by and see all the other fabulous Mexican soups being shared today following my recipe.

Sopa Ranchera
adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen

3 qts. chicken stock
1 lg. head garlic, unpeeled and cut in half crosswise
2 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced in lengthwise strips
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 lg. ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
2 c. coarsely shredded cooked chicken 
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced

Place stock into a large soup pot along with the garlic. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for an hour or so, until reduced to about 7 cups.  Remove the garlic and discard.

While broth is simmering, add the onions and jalapenos.  Partially cover and cook for 7-10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cilantro and chicken.  Cook until heated through 3-5 minutes.  Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. 

Ladle into bowls and garnish with the avocado.  Print Recipe

Mas Sopas

Friday, March 17, 2017

Guinness Glazed Scrod #FishFridayFoodies

Our Fish Fridays Foodie theme this month is Irish Fish and Seafood Dishes, chosen by Heather of All Roads Lead to the Kitchen. Heather felt, and I agree, that this would be the perfect nod to St. Patrick since we were posting our recipes on the day set aside to honor him.

I was originally going to make a Guinness Beer Battered Fried Fish but I forgot that we are still in the Lenten season and I am trying to maintain the FMD eating plan during this time. I have had a couple of hiccups in the road but for the most part I am staying true to my fast. I found this recipe at Food&Wine but adapted it greatly, mostly due to the fact that I didn't read the directions fully when I chose it.

My fishmonger was out of halibut. My second choice was Mahi Mahi but the guy in front of me in line took the last of that. There were 2 scrod fillets left, I grabbed them. I halved the recipe to serve the two of us and I didn't see the part of the recipe about putting the fish in a marinade overnight until I started preparing it.

I don't think the scrod would have lent itself well to marinating anyway so I just made the glaze and went with that.

The glaze worked perfectly.  Slightly sweet on the tender, light fish.  No tartar sauce needed for this flavorful dish.

I served this up with Baked Sweet Potato Fries and a Shades of Green Salad. This meal was almost Phase 3 friendly, much more so than my original idea of beer battered fish and chips, and still just as tasty. Even more tasty, in my humble opinion.

Guinness Glazed Scrod 
greatly adapted from Food&Wine

2 (6 oz) Scrod fillets
salt and pepper to taste
1 bottle Guinness
1/4 c. honey
juice of half a lemon
1-2 T. olive oil
3 dashes hot sauce

Bring the Guinness and honey to boil in a medium saucepan, reduce to simmer and cook, skimming away foam, for about 15-20 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and hot sauce. Increase heat and bring to a boil, cooking until thickened and syrupy. It will look like molasses. Whisk in the olive oil to make the glaze the correct consistency for brushing onto the fillets.

Place the fillets in a shallow baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Brush with the glaze and place under a broiler for 4-5 minutes until the scrod is cooked through and flakes with a fork. Print Recipe

More Irish Fish and Seafood Recipes.

Interested in joining us at #FishFridayFoodies?  Just leave a comment with your blog name and email address and I will send you an invitation.  Visit our Facebook page and Pinterest board.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lemon and Blackberry Savarin #BundtBakers

"What is a Savarin?", you ask.  It is a light ring shaped cake made with yeast, traditionally flavored by soaking in flavored liqueur.

I had never heard of such a thing until Felice of All That's Left Are The Crumbs chose yeasted cakes as our Bundt Baker theme this month.  A google search provided the above description and stated it was named after Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, a French gastranome.

However, Wikipedia states that it is a kind of Rum Baba named after Charles Savarin, a politician from Dominica, where I just spent a wonderful week of scuba diving and hiking.

King Arthur Flour, from where I got this recipe, states Savarin is a yeasted French dessert bread made as a batter and thoroughly soaked in liqueur-laced syrup.  However the recipe I adapted does not contain liqueur.

Frank and I just call it Delicious!!!  And I think you and your family will as well.  Should you want to stay true to tradition and use liqueur for this cake you could easily substitute Limoncello for the lemon syrup.

This recipe is easy to make and impressive on the plate.  It would be perfect for a Spring or Summer potluck and would be lovely on your Easter table as well.  I chose to use blackberries but any berry or mixture of berries would be perfect served along with this cake and dolloped with fresh whipped cream.

Please scroll past my recipe to see what the others have baked up this month sticking with the Yeasted Cake theme.  

Lemon Blackberry Savarin
slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour

2 1/4 c. flour, divided
1 packet instant yeast
1 c. sugar, divided
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. milk
10 T. unsalted butter
4 eggs
zest and juice of one lemon
1/2 c. water

Combine 3/4 c. flour, yeast, sugar and salt in large bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Stir to combine.

Place milk and butter into a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup.  Microwave until the butter is melted and milk is warmed to 105-110*.  If the mixture is too warm allow to cool to the correct temperature before proceeding.

With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the milk/butter mixture, mixing for two minutes.

Add the eggs, remaining flour and lemon zest .  Mix on low speed until flour is incorporated, then beat vigorously for 2 more minutes.

Spread into a bundt pan that has been liberally treated with baking spray.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for one hour.  

Bake in a preheated 375* oven for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer inserted removes cleanly.

While cake is baking, combine the remaining 3/4 c. sugar with the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer until reduced and thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice.

When cake is removed from oven but still in the pan, brush half of the syrup over the cake and let it remain in the pan for 5 minutes. 

Turn the cake out of the pan onto a cooling rack placed over parchment paper and brush the top and sides with the remaining syrup.  Allow to cool completely before placing on a plate and garnishing with berries and whipped cream.  Print Recipe

More Yeasted Bundt Cakes


#BundtBakers is a group of bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bundts with a common ingredient or theme. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme or ingredient.

You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board. Updated links for all of our past events and more information about #BundtBakers, can be found on our home page.