Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Skillet Chicken & Vegetable Stew

So, Ben made this for himself for dinner the other night and I brought the leftovers with me to work today for lunch. It was Ah. Maze. Ing. Truly. I liked it so much that I called him after lunch and begged him to make it for me for dinner tonight. I made sure I watched him make it so I can make it for myself someday...you know, in case he gets turned into a vampire or is eaten by bigfoot or something.

Anyway. When I asked what he needed me to pick up from the store, he said that the beauty of the dish is that it uses whatever you've got in the fridge (Sweet! A way to use up the hodge-podge of veggies we have in the fridge!). And to pick up chicken breasts. Ben actually called it an Appalachian-style bergoux (bourgoux? bergoux? bergout?), but no matter how I spelled it, I couldn't find the term anywhere online. He said he heard it on a cooking show to refer to a type of stew, but I'm thinking he made it up to make his creation sound fancy. ;)

For now (at home), I'll just call it Ben's Skillet Deliciousness.

A few notes before we get started: Ben used what we already had in the fridge, so feel free to switch out the veggies for something you already have/like better. We used parsley tonight, but decided that it we wanted to try it with kale next time. (The parsley was good, but I just thought kale made more sense. And I like it more.) Also, Ben used a new seasoning that a friend had given him to try: Todd's Bayou Dirt. Ultimately, I think that's what made the meal so incredibly amazing, so I highly recommend picking some up or using something very similar!

Skillet Chicken & Vegetable Stew

1/8 c olive oil
1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
5 large mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 shallots, roughly chopped
1/4-1/2 head cauliflower, chopped
1 c chopped red cabbage
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 c chopped fresh kale or parsley (not Italian parsley!)
1 mini-bottle of white wine (187ml or approx 3/4 cup -- we used a chardonnay)
3/4 cup tomato juice (approximately)
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Todd's Bayou Dirt

Rub Todd's Dirt seasoning on the chicken (both sides) approximately 30-60minutes before cooking. Set aside at room temperature.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and heat olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to the skillet and sear (approx 2-3 min each side). Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add shallots and garlic to skillet and saute until onions are clear, stirring consistently to prevent them from burning. Add red peppers, stirring occasionally, until tender-crisp (approx 1-2 min). Add remaining vegetables (except for parsley) until the cauliflower starts to soften and brown (4-5 min). Stir occasionally.

So pretty!
Add white wine and tomato juice and bring to a boil, then simmer for approximately 3-4 minutes. Add parsley and salt & pepper to taste. Return chicken to the skillet (nestled into the veggies) and put the skillet into the oven. Cook, uncovered, 25-35 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

I served myself about 4.5 ounces of chicken and 4.5 ounces of vegetables, then took a tablespoon or two of the liquid and poured it over the top. Beautiful, hearty, and delicious! And, if you just go by the chicken and veggies, it's only about 160-180 calories for that amount! Add a slice of bread (I used Sara Lee Delightful, only 45 calories) and butter (I used I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray, 0 calories) and you have a very hearty and yummy dinner for under 300 calories. Ah. Maze. Ing. And as I mentioned before, it is also really good as leftovers, so I will probably be bringing this to work with me again tomorrow. Ben did good on this one!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Cauliflower-Crust Pizza

Soooo. Long time, no see.

I hate that it's been almost a month since I've posted. I wish I could say it was because I was out of the country on some fantastic vacation, or because I won the lottery and was just too overwhelmed with phone calls of congratulations, or something else equally as exciting. Instead, my reasons center around work, more work, trying to get the house ready to sell, state testing at work, and more work. :(

However, I do have some good news: I have started to find ways that I enjoy eating cauliflower! I know, not quite as exciting as you had hoped, but hey--still exciting for me, nonetheless. Seriously. I used to hate cauliflower. Not as much as I hate brussel sprouts, but I really, really disliked cauliflower. Or so I thought...

Ben decided a few weeks ago to start a new, super-low-carb diet, so I've reverted to trying to find ways to make and eat traditionally "carby" foods. Enter this pizza crust. It had been suggested to me several months ago by a fellow MRC dieter on a message board I participate on, so I thought I'd give it a try. The original recipe is from RecipeGirl.com, and it really turned out well. The only downside was that--after adding the cheese on top of the pizza--it seemed to be kind of high in fat and calories . So, we decided that we will try again (with some modifications) on Sunday night. I was thinking that if I use parmesan in the crust instead of mozzarella, it should cut back on the fat/calories and also crisp it up a little more (the center was a little soft--not bad, but we prefer crispy pizza crusts). I will definitely plan on updating the blog with the parmesan-cauliflower adventure after Sunday, so be sure to check back.

Here is the recipe for the crust, as well as how I put together our pizzas last night:

Cauliflower Pizza Crust
1/2 large head of cauliflower (or 2+ cups shredded cauliflower)
1 large egg
1 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

 Shred the cauliflower into small crumbles (I used a cheese grater). You'll need a total of about 2 cups or so of cauliflower crumbles (which is about half a large head of cauliflower). Place the cauliflower crumbles in a large bowl and microwave them for 8 minutes. Give the cauliflower a chance to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a cookie sheet or pizza pan with nonstick spray (or use a nonstick surface). In a medium bowl, mix the cauliflower crumbles  with the remaining crust ingredients. Divide the "dough" into 2 portions, and pat the "crust" to form two pizzas on the prepared pan (or into a single 9 to 12-inch round). Spray the crust lightly with nonstick spray and bake for 15 minutes (or until golden). Remove the crust from the oven and turn the heat up to broil.

I then made one pizza (Ben's) into a buffalo chicken pizza, and one (mine) into a simple veggie and chicken pizza.

For the buffalo chicken pizza, I spread 1 tablespoon of Bolthouse Farms Ranch Dressing onto the crust (because it's only 45 calories and blue cheese isn't allowed on Ben's diet), then 1 oz each of shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses (reduced-fat cheddar) and approximately 3 oz of chicken that had been tossed in Frank's buffalo wing sauce. On my pizza, I used 1 tablespoon of the ranch dressing (only because I was out of regular pizza sauce--but it turned out delicious with the ranch), 1 oz each of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, some chopped mushroom and grape tomatoes, and about 1/2 to 1 oz of chopped, plain chicken breast.

Broil the pizza 3 to 4 minutes, or until the toppings are hot and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Cut into slices and serve immediately.  I swear, you can't tell that it's cauliflower!

Here is the nutritional information for the crust recipe as well as each pizza. Like I said, it turned out a little higher in fat and calories than I thought it would. Tomorrow night--during my re-do--I plan to use parmesan in the crust, maybe a mix of parmesan and mozzarella on top, and less cheese overall on top.

**UPDATE: Made the pizza crust with parmesan and while it was delicious--much more crisp and had a bit of a smoky flavor, yum!--it turned out to actually be higher in fat and calories than the mozzarella version. Oops. So, I highly recommend using the parmesan if you aren't watching fat/calories all that much (granted, it's still healthier than any restaurant or frozen pizza you get!), but not if you're really trying to cut back and watch your calorie intake. In that case, stick with the mozzarella.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust Nutritional Information
(for the entire batch of the "crust")
Calories: 440
Fat: 25g     Sodium: 805mg     Carb: 10.5g     Fiber: 5g     Protein: 42g

Buffalo Chicken Pizza Nutritional Information
(uses 1/2 of the batch of the "crust")
Calories: 460
Fat: 33.6g    Sodium: 742mg     Carb: 8.63g     Fiber: 2.83g     Protein: 53.5g

Chicken and Veggie Pizza Nutritional Information
("uses 1/2 of the batch of the "crust")
Calories: 390
Fat: 26.23g   Sodium: 742mg    Carb: 8.63     Fiber: 2.83     Protein: 37.41g