Thursday, January 12, 2012

Reader's Choice

Today is Reader's Choice day! Submit your favorite recipes and I will cook them tonight!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Avgolemono?

Last night was Weight Watcher recipe night. I decided to use my Weight Watcher etools to find a recipe that called for ingredient I already had in my kitchen. I was able to save time and money by skipping a trip to the grocery store. Love this little tool.


Basically, I go into my points window and click on "find and explore" and then click the recipe tab. The main ingredients I decided to search with were chicken breast and frozen spinach. I also had instant brown rice. The result, drum roll please.................


Greek Chicken, Spinach, and Rice Soup


Bonus points because the soup only takes 19 minutes to make. 


Little history about this soup; This soup gets it's inspiration from the Avgolemono, a Greek lemony chicken soup that was usually made with rice. 


OK, so now that I've introduced you to my find, I have to be honest, this soup will not be added to my favorites recipe box. Ask anyone in my family and they will tell you that I love recipes that use lemon for a zesty taste. But this recipe tasted like I just poured a cup of lemon juice into the pot. Actually, that's pretty much what the recipe told me to do. It simply had too much lemon, it was basically green lemon soup. 


While we are on the subject of the "green," yes I looooove spinach! It was, after all, one of the requirements of this recipe. But if you are looking for a kid friendly recipe, cooker beware. There is absolutely no way to hide the fuzzy, green, good for you stuff!


In summary, this soup is a very sour, spinachy version off egg drop soup. Yes, egg is one of the ingredients, and be careful, because it's very easy to accidentally let the egg harden when mixing it with the hot broth. 


If this soup still appeals to you after reading this review, and don't get me wrong I still ate a whole bowl, the recipe is listed below.


"What did the Refrigerator Queen cook today?" you might be asking. Today I received a call from a college friend that was visiting town for the evening, so I decided to use my one restaurant day. Yes I packed up half of my meal before I ate it! I had brisket tacos and they were fabulous, but my friend and I couldn't help wondering how we could make them better if we were to cook them ourselves. Hmmm............ I smell a future assignment! 


The Recipe:
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points plus value: 5 per serving


Ingredients:  
4 Cup(s) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 pound(s) uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed of all visible fat
2 large egg(s)
1/4 Cup(s) fresh lemon juice
10 oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 Cup(s) cooked brown rice, hot
1/8 tsp black pepper, freshly ground, or to taste

Instructions:
Combine the broth and chicken in a large saucepan or Dutch oven; bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 6 minutes.
Remove the chicken and, when cool enough to handle, shred into bite-size pieces.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and lemon juice until frothy in a medium bowl.
Gradually whisk in 1 cup of the hot broth.
Add the spinach to the broth remaining in the saucepan; bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and stir in the rice.
Slowly add the egg-broth mixture, whisking constantly to avoid curdling.
Continue whisking until thickened, about 3 minutes—do not allow the soup to boil.
Stir in the chicken and cook until heated through.
Season with the pepper and serve at once.


TOMORROW: It's Reader's Choice day. What would you like me to cook?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hungry Girl's H-O-T Hot Boneless Buffalo Wings

Today I cooked my first Hungry Girl dish during Refrigerator Queen Training, Hungry Girl's H-O-T Hot Boneless Buffalo Wings.


This dish is Super Bowl Sunday material! These are a deceiving little junk food knock offs and I think I can pass them off as the "real thing" with the guys. 

I was also happy to find out that buffalo wings don't EVER need to cost so many calories or points. Cayenne Pepper Sauce, the sauce that is used as buffalo sauce in more recipes is zero calories and zero fat grams! It also has a lot health benefits because of the capsaicin, the stuff that produces the hotness in cayenne, is known for it's pain-reducing effects, its cardiovascular benefits, and its ability to help prevent ulcers. Who knew?

Tonight I paired the wings with my Faux Fries, that I posted about earlier. 



I have to admit, I took a little bit of glee in looking at my plate of food that looked TERRIBLY bad for me, knowing that the contents of my plate would only costing me 9 weight watchers points plus (14 if I ate both servings of wings, which I did because I had enough points today). Try to accomplish that at Buffalo Wild Wings!

The Recipe

Ingredients: 8 oz. raw boneless skinless lean chicken breast, cut into 10 nugget-shaped pieces 
1/4 cup Fiber One bran cereal (original), ground to a breadcrumb-like consistency in a blender or food processor 
1 oz. (about 14 crisps) Pringles Light Fat Free Potato Crisps, Barbecue (or another fat-free BBQ-flavored potato chip) 
3 tbsp. Frank's RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce 
dash onion powder 
dash garlic powder 
dash cayenne pepper 
dash black pepper 
dash salt 

Directions: 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Crush potato crisps completely and, in a small dish, mix with cereal crumbs. Add a dash of each of the seasonings and mix well. Place chicken pieces in a separate dish, and cover and toss with Frank's RedHot. Spray a baking pan with nonstick spray. Give each chicken piece a shake (so it's not dripping with RedHot), and then coat it evenly with the crumb mixture. Lay the battered nuggets on the baking pan. Place in the oven, and bake for 10 minutes. Then flip the wings over, and return them to the oven for 10 more minutes, or until outsides are crispy and chicken is cooked throughout. MAKES 2 SERVINGS

Serving Size: 5 wings (half of recipe)
Calories: 175
Fat: 1.5g
Sodium: 1,153mg**
Carbs: 14g
Fiber: 4g
Sugars: <1g
Protein: 27g

Weight Watchers PointsPlus® value 4


http://www.hungry-girl.com/newsletters/raw/921

Tomorrow: I have chicken and I have spinach, see what I can find with Weight Watcher etools to make the perfect meal with ingredient I already have!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Faux Fries

While I'm cooking my Hungry Girl boneless buffalo wings, check out my Faux Fries recipe that I will use to compliment my wing dish. 

Serving size: 1 potato
Weight Watchers POINTS Plus: value 3

Ingredients
Cooking spray
1 Idaho Potato
Dash of salt
Dash of pepper
Optional dash of garlic powder (my favorite!)
Instructions
Preheat oven at 400
Cut up potatoes at desired thickness. 
          -The thinner they are the crisper they will be. 
Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. 
Spread out potatoes on baking sheet. 
Spray potatoes lightly with cooking spray. 
Dash with salt and pepper to taste. 
Place in oven for 20 minutes. 
Take out, turn potatoes. 
Place back in oven for an additional 20 minutes or until desired crisp.
This recipe is great when you are craving those fast food fries but you don’t have the points to spare. You’ve got to try them; you may never eat fried fries again! Experiment with seasoning if you are bored. I always use seasoned salt and cayenne pepper. Sometimes I used garlic powder, garlic salt or chili powder.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Global Sunday in Afghanistan

Greetings from the "Land of the Afghans!" Or at least refrigerator land.

Well it looks like my first Global Sunday was a success! I created a group on facebook for friends and family, where I will post invites to each sunday dinner with the country and menu list. I will have a contribution jar at each event, but the event has an open door policy and every one can chose to put in what they wish. 

Two of my friends came over to share the meal tonight, plus my mom, plus one of my friends stepdaughters. The stepdaughters are both preteens and very picky. They brought over their own dinner but by the end of the dinner they started to get a little curious and actually tried the Sabse Borani and Noni Afghani!

We didn't use our hands instead of utensils this time. I wanted to, but I felt like this would be a lot to ask my friends on their first meal. But there will be plenty of other meals to try it out! 

The menu:
Sabse Borani (Spinach Yogurt Dip)
Noni Afghani (Afghan Flatbread/Naan)
Burani Bonjon (Spicy Braised Eggplant) with 
Seer Moss (Lemon Garlic Yogurt Sauce) on top
Kabeli Palau (Basmati Rice with Chicken & Carrots)

Firnee (Cardamom & Rose Water Custard) for dessert

You can find all of the recipes for these dishes at: http://globaltableadventure.com/category/countries/afghanistan/

The one thing I was worried about was time management. I cooked six dishes, each with different prep duties, so I was afraid that I would overlook something or wait to long to start the next step. I found that post-its were my best friend! I didn't have six timers so every time I did something and I needed to let it sit I would add up the time and write the future time that I would need to check on the dish on a post-it. This takes a lot of close attention though, because it would be easy to forget something. 

I started around 1:00pm and finished around 5:45pm. Just in time to set the table before my friends arrived. 

The one thing I really struggled with was the dishes. I had two skillets and I could have used three. I felt like I used a lot of utensils poking, pushing and grabbing all the ingredient, and I had to use a mixer and a food processor. It was hard to clean as I went and my mom always taught me to clean as I cooked, so that when I'm done preparing the meal, I'm done for the night. I'm sure I will get better at juggling my cookwear soon enough though. 

Meal review:
Sabse Borani (Spinach Yogurt Dip): This was really easy! The two things that took the longest were draining the yogurt (which I had never done before OR heard of) and browning the onions. Once everything was drained and sautéed though, all I had to do was mix it all together. The yogurt gave the dip a unique tangy flavor. It went well with the Noni Afghani.

Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 3 

Noni Afghani (Afghan Flatbread/Naan): I was a bit worried about this one. I'm not really a baker. When it comes to measuring, I normally just use my own judgement. But I wanted to get this one right, so I followed the measurements and within an hour the bread grew 2x it's size, perfect!

Before you put the bread in the pan, you roll the bread with some cumin seeds. This was a hit with my friends, who had never had the actual seed before. It really did give the bread a very "earthy" taste!  

I was also unsure of how long to leave the bread in the pan.  The instructions said to cook about 1 minute on the first side, flip and cook until the second side is brown and aromatic. This will take about 2-4 minutes. The difference between 2 minutes and 4 minutes seemed like it would be the difference between too doughy and burnt, but once I started putting the dough in the pan and flipping it, I got the hand of it!

I will say though, that this isn't something I could eat all the time. It was yummy, but the idea of frying it in all that butter made me feel a little guilty!


Servings: 12
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 5

Burani Bonjon (Spicy Braised Eggplant) with Seer Moss (Lemon Garlic Yogurt Sauce): All I can say about this dish is YUM! I've been wanting to play around with eggplant and I couldn't believe how easy it was to fix. Just make sure to salt it first to take the bitter taste out!

Servings: 6
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 5


Kabeli Palau (Basmati Rice with Chicken & Carrots): This dish wasn't hard at all. A middle eastern take on chicken and rice. There are a lot of steps to it though. I boiled the chicken and used the broth, but you could illuminate a few steps by using store bought broth and pre-prepared chicken.

My favorite part about this dish was the garaham masala and saffron. I had to go to a little hole in the was indian store to find it. The smell of garaham masala, accompanied with the Afgan radio station in the background transported me to the ancient middle east. Exactly what I was looking for! 

Servings: 10
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 8







Firnee (Cardamom & Rose Water Custard): Global Table was right, this was the most unique dish of the bunch! I had to prepare my friends for this one. The western pallet really doesn't know what hit it. A few of my friends said that it was like they were eating soap or popery. After a while you can taste how sweet it really is and there is actually something comforting about it (well to me anyway!).

Servings: 4 (I would actually say 8, because it's very rich, so you don't need that much). 
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 10 (if you change the servings to 8, change the points value to 5) 


Tomorrow: Hungry Girl's H-O-T Hot Boneless Buffalo Wings

Friday, January 6, 2012

House Rules of the Queen in Training


I am a twenty-something advertising/pr freelancer that is running head first into the real world. I graduated a year ago.  Before that, I had been living in a traditional dorm at university for three years with no kitchen. In my past year as a freelancer/professional intern I have been on a schedule roller coaster that has cost my wallet and my stomach in the name of American convenience. I’ve decided to make a lifestyle change and bring my readers along with me.

The Task at Hand:
105 day (15 weeks) of self-prescribed and created Refrigerator Queen training. 
This training is an attempt to:
1) Practice healthy eating habits
2) Learn new cooking techniques 
3) Learn that leftovers are best friends to both my stomach and wallet
4) Find simple ways to cook for one
5) Find simple ways to shop for one
6) And finally: Share my findings with the world
The rules of this training are as followed:
1) I must record both my successes and failures.
2) In the 105 days, I must eat at least one meal home-cooked meal a day.
3) I must look for ways to be thrifty with my grocery lists.
4) I must store any leftovers to be used during a meal for the next day (when applicable). 
5) When going out to eat, I must ask for a to-go container and split half of my meal (portions sizes at most restaurants are on average two times the actual serving) AND actually eat the left overs later. 
6) I must experiment with turning leftovers into all new meals when I can.
7) If the leftovers are deemed “mooshy,” “discolored,” or “icky textured,” I must experiment with re-cooking techniques before deeming it uneatable.
8) I am a Weight Watcher and I must track my Weight Watchers points everyday.
9) I must follow my schedule (listed below).
10) I am only allowed to swap one home-cooked meal or restaurant meals a week. 
Above all, I must fear not, keep a sense of humor and have fun. There will be successes and failures, both will benefit my training. 
The Schedule
In an attempt to keep myself on track, I have a developed a schedule of the different resources I will consult for the foods I will try in the next 15 weeks.
Sundays: Global Sundays; I will be following in blogger Sasha Martin and her family’s footsteps around the Global Table from A to wherever I land at the end of 15 weeks. 

Monday: Hungry Girl, cooking recipes from the Hungry Girl herself, Lisa Lillien.

http://www.hungry-girl.com/

Tuesday: Weight Watchers, putting those points to work!

http://www.weightwatchers.com/

Wednesday: Wildcard Wednesdays; recipes pulled from any resource I choose.
Thursday: Readers Choice; what am I going to eat today, YOU tell me!
Friday: Flexitarian Fridays; recipes from The Flexitarian Diet by Dawn Jackson.

Saturday: Food Swap Saturdays with Cook This, Not That!

The experiment will start Janurary 15, 2012. 
Join me as the countdown begins! 

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