Be sure to check out my Happy Eats Healthy site to see upcoming classes, seminars, for more information on Health Coaching, nutrition information and more!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sandwich Series: Quinoa Filled Rice Paper with Pistachio Citrus Vinaigrette

When you hear the word sandwich, does your brain immediately conjure up slices of meat and cheese between two slabs of bread? Welcome to the modern sandwich age where bread, meat and cheese are not required

But what does that leave you with, you ask? For starters, how about wrapping a quinoa salad with see-through rice paper. It's a great change from a salad, delicious and healthy! The quinoa is loaded with protein and the addition of fresh spinach rounds out the nutritional value.

To really punch it up, the pistachio citrus vinaigrette takes advantage of pistachio oil with its deep complex flavor derived from pistachio nuts. Plus this is another Strange Ingredient sent by great friends of the Fat and Happy blog!

Take a walk on the wild side of sandwiches with a fat and happy quinoa filled rice paper wrap. Who knows where this crazy new-age inspiration might lead you after lunch!

Tips and techniques:  Easily substituting rice in place of the quinoa for a simple change in flavor and textures.

Sandwich Series:  Quinoa Filled Rice Paper with Pistachio Citrus Vinaigrette

3 cups cooked quinoa
1 tomato
1 apple
1 small yellow pepper
4 radishes
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 celery stalks
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
salt and pepper

Pistachio Citrus Vinaigrette

zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbls grape seed oil
3 Tbls pistachio oil
1 Tbls sugar
salt and pepper

For the sandwich

4 Rice papers
2 cups fresh spinach (1/4 cup per sandwich)

Cook the quinoa according to package directions. While that is cooking, dice up the vegetables, place in a large bowl and add the quinoa when it is ready.

Whisk together the vinaigrette, add salt and pepper to taste, you'll need about a teaspoon of each. Drizzle a tablespoon of the dressing over the spinach along with a pinch of salt and pepper and toss. Pour the remaining dressing over the quinoa mixture and toss well.

Fill a large, shallow plate with warm water. dip the rice paper in the warm water to soften it.  Place a layer of spinach on the middle third of the rice paper. Add one cup of the quinoa mixture. Slowly begin to roll the paper, folding in the edges. Remoisten the final edge to hold the paper together if needed. Slice in half and enjoy.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mexican Fried Ice Cream Pie

Is Mexican Fried Ice Cream really Mexican? If anything, it perhaps falls under the category of Tex-Mex, because let's admit you will never see this on the menu of your favorite taqueria. That said, it doesn't mean it isn't damn delicious!

My initial goal was not to make a pie version of Mexican fried ice cream; it started with a cinnamon ice cream which, on it's own, was a super yummy rendition of horchata. From there the pie just evolved. Perhaps because Dave was looking for a reason to put chocolate on top or perhaps because I have a tendency to take recipes to the next level.

Whatever the reason, let's just be thankful for it because the results are spoon after spoon- licking good. While taking photos of my food, often I'll take a bite of the food to change up the picture. Rarely do I have more than that, at least while in the photography phase. This pie however, I ate the entire piece before taking even one photo- holy yummy!

Whether this is Mexican, Tex-Mex or just plain old American doesn't matter, it's a Fat and Happy ice cream recipe that shouldn't be missed!

Tips and Techniques: The combination of the almonds with the cornflakes and brown sugar really sets the crust apart. The drizzle of warm honey and chocolate is an absolute must, do not miss this step.

Mexican Fried Ice Cream Pie

Putting it all together:
Make the almond, cornflake pie crust and cool ahead of time (recipe below).

Make the cinnamon ice cream (recipe below) preferably the night before so it can steep overnight before freezing it. Scoop the ice cream into the cooled pie crust when it comes out of the ice cream maker. Freeze until solid.

To serve, drizzle each piece with fresh cinnamon whipped cream, a tablespoon or two of warm honey and a tablespoon of warmed chocolate.  Enjoy!

Cinnamon Ice Cream 
(Horchata Ice Cream)

3 yolks
1 1/2 cup whipping cream
2 cups half and half
3/4 scant cup sugar
2 cloves
2 cardamom pods, slightly crushed
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tbls vanilla

Begin to warm the cream and half and half over medium heat.  Whip the yolks with the sugar until fluffy, pale and doubled in size. Temper the eggs with the warm cream then add the eggs into the cream pot, stirring with a whisk.

Add the cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon and vanilla to the cream. Cook over medium-high heat until the custard thickens and coats the back of the spoon, be sure to stir constantly with a wooden spoon. (Run your finger on the back of a spoon, you'll be able to draw a line through the custard and have it hold once it is thickened.)

Remove from heat and cool in an ice bath, stirring often.  Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator overnight or for 24 hours. This will allow the the the spices a chance to steep with the custard and will produce a creamier ice cream.

Strain into an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturers directions. Continue with the pie directions above.

Almond, Corn Flake and Brown Sugar Crust 
(Un-fried Ice Cream Crust)

1/3 cup almonds
2 cups corn flakes
2 Tbls brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbls butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the almonds in a Cuisinart, pulse to a crumb. Add in the corn flakes, brown sugar and cinnamon, pulse again to a crumb. Slowly pour in the melted butter while pulsing.

Pour the crumb mixture into a pie pan and press into place. If the crumb crust is sticking to much to the your hands, used the back of a large spoon.

Place in the oven to toast until slightly browned, just about 10 minutes. Remove and cool.  Continue with the directions above.

Cinnamon Whipped Cream

1/2 cup heavy whipped cream
2 -4 tbls sugar, depending on your sweetness preference
2 tsp cinnamon

Beat the whipped cream and the sugar until nearly stiff. Add in the cinnamon and finish beating until the cream reaches desired thickness.  For this dessert, my preference was to leave the whipped cream very soft, almost runny rather than as a stiffer version. Either way works great.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spinach Stuffed Potatoes

Meatless Monday's are a new favorite day of mine. Don't get me wrong, I'm a lover of meats but it's good for the body and our environment to ease up a little. Meat isn't needed every day.

These spinach stuffed potatoes are a healthier option over twice baked. Stuffing with sauteed spinach, lighting up on the cheese and by using light ricotta in place of sour cream gives a filling and satisfying meal while still feeling indulgent. The water chestnuts can be optional, but they give just a nice little crunchy texture to the potatoes.

Get fat and happy with a simple stuffed potato.

Tips and Techniques: Use either a sweet potato or regular white potato. Keep in mind the sweet potato is a healthier option and in my opinion does provide a tastier base.

Spinach Stuffed Potatoes

2 extra large potatoes (sweet or white)
2 cups spinach (1 cup per potato)
drizzle of oil oil
1/4 cup yogurt
1/2 cup light ricotta cheese
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup water chestnuts, finely diced

Begin by cleaning the potatoes, place in a 350 degree oven until fork tender. Remove from the oven and cool slightly (this step can be done a day ahead of time.)

Drizzle the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add in the onion and cook over medium heat until they begin to soften. Add in the garlic and spinach, cook until the spinach begins to wilt, tossing often.

In the meantime, mix the yogurt, ricotta cheese and water chestnuts together. Add salt and pepper to taste, set aside. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise, scoop out most of the flesh leaving enough for the potato to hold it's shape. Add the potato flesh to the cheese mixture.

Remove the spinach from the heat and toss with the cheese and potato mixture. Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper to the potato shells, then refill each with the cheese mixture. Place in a preheated oven to warm through.  Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and place under the broiler until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Grilled Shrimp with Mango Enchilada Sauce

The temperature in Chicago is peeking into the high 60's- it's a titillating early March day. For me, any temperature above 50 degrees during the winter is grilling weather.

I've been playing around with this enchilada sauce and thought grilled shrimp would be a great addition.  The marinade of cilantro, shallot and lime combined with the smokey grill flavor is outstanding.

I felt something was missing in the sauce until the brilliant idea of adding in part of the mango for a touch of sweetness hit me, combined with a hint of cocoa for a sprinkling of depth takes this enchilada sauce over the edge.

 The temperature may only last a day, but the swirling flavors of grilled shrimp and mango will keep you fat and happy till your next grilling adventure. That, or it just may make you crave more grilled foods!

Tips and Techniques:   For the rice, I chose to take an aborio rice and cook it like normal rice rather than the slow-risotto method. Feel free to use any rice you prefer. Keeping the shells on the shrimp while grilling will yield more flavor, but it is messier while eating.

Grilled Shrimp with Mango Enchilada Sauce

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

10 large shrimp, unpeeled
1 small shallot
handful of cilantro
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup olive oil

Finely dice the shallot and the cilantro. Toss with the the lime juice, olive oil and the shrimp; set aside and let marinate while you make the enchilada sauce.

Mango Enchilada Sauce

2 dried chili's
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 small onion,quartered
1 large tomato, quartered
2 cups water
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 mango, diced
squeeze of lime

Clean the dried chili's by removing the stems and veins and rinsing. Place in a heated fry pan along with the garlic, onion and tomato to roast over medium high heat, turning each as they brown. Once each is roasted, add to a blender, typically the garlic will roast first. Do remove the outer peel from the garlic and do tear up the dried chili.

Blend the ingredients for 2 minutes or until relatively smooth. Add a little water if you need to but the tomato should give enough liquid. Strain the blender mixture back into your pan. Add the remaining ingredients except for the lime, into the pan and simmer until the mango is soft.

Pour the entire mixture back into the blender and blend until smooth.  Return to the pan, add in the lime and simmer until ready to use.

Oregano Rice

1/2 cup aborio rice
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup onions, finely diced
drizzle of olive oil
1 tbls dried oregano
seasoning salt

Add the olive oil and the onions to your pan, lightly saute the onions until they begin to soften. Add in the oregano, the rice and a few pinches of seasoning salt and pepper. Cover and let simmer until soft. Check often to see if more liquid is needed.

Putting it all together

Make the rice
Grill the shrimp
Grill the 2 sections of mango

Pour a scoop of the enchilada sauce in the middle of a plate, add a scoop of rice to the middle of the sauce. Top with the grilled mango and the grilled shrimp, enjoy!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sauteed Brussel Sprouts in Wine Cream Sauce

Simple sides are absolutely key no matter what the time of year. I've had this idea to make a cold, shredded brussel sprouts salad for some time, somehow this idea went in a completely different direction as the shredding began.

Warm, sauteed sprouts in a creamy wine sauce - yum.  It's exactly what it sounds like and would make a Fat and Happy side dish to roasted chicken, pork or steak.

Tips and Techniques: For less mess, shred the sprouts using a cuisinart rather than by hand.

Sauteed Brussel Sprouts in Wine Cream Sauce

6 large brussel sprouts
3 Tbls olive oil
2 Tbls butter
3 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped
1/8 tsp red pepper
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tbls cream

Begin by cleaning the brussel sprouts (remove any outer leaves that are damaged) and then shred each sprout, carefully watching your fingers. Place a box grater in a larger bowl when shredding to help catch the fly-aways.

Heat the olive oil and butter over medium high heat, add in the shredded brussel sprouts, toss well and often. Add in the garlic, continue to cook until the sprouts just begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the red pepper, wine and cream, cook until the liquid boils down; it will not thicken but rather be mostly absorbed by the sprouts. Add salt and fresh black pepper to taste, serve immediately.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chocolate Avocado Protein Shake

As I studied about the cuisine of South Africa prior to our trip, one of the the most interesting snippets I encountered was to find out South Africa is a leading producer of avocados. This was news me, I just figured avocados were a Mexican/Spanish fruit. While SA is not usually a supplier to the United States, I felt an interest to create something unusual using this healthy fruit in honor of our upcoming visit.

This shake may sound completely wacky, but it's works in delivering flavor along with a healthy dose of protein and good fat.  Though high in fat, avocados are a superfood loaded with nutrients, vitamins, magnesium and the list goes on. Adding the scoop of Greek yogurt packs this shake with protein while the honey gives just a hint of sweetness; of course you could add more if you prefer a sweeter taste.

Whether from South Africa, Mexico or Spain, avocados are one of the healthiest fruits available and it's important to find creative ways to work them into our diets beyond just guacamole. After my trip, I'll share with you all the interesting South African dishes we encounter so keep checking back for these Fat and Happy updates!  In the meantime, try this shake for a filling breakfast, lunch, or a great snack after your workout.

Tips and Techniques:  The coffee is an optional flavor so if you are not a fan, just disregard.

Chocolate Avocado Protein Shake

1 cup chocolate milk or soy milk
1/2 ripe avocado
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tbls honey
1 espresso shot (or strong coffee)
1 cup ice

Combine all ingredients in the blender, blend until smooth.  Enjoy immediately.
Yield: 1 large or 2 small shake(s)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ginger Glazed Carrots

Simple side dishes are as important as the main entree. Having a salad every night gets old but the side dish is often how most people get in their daily veggies. 

Easy preparation is as important as the taste. The brown sugar and butter make for a caramel-like sauce while the ginger and lemon give it a little kick.

Whip up a batch of these easy ginger glazed carrots and be fat and happy knowing you filled your belly with one of the most healing foods available.

Tips and techniques:  Purchase pre-cleaned baby carrots for ease rather than having to peel and cut the carrots into one or two bite pieces.

Ginger Glazed Carrots

2 cups carrots
1/2 cup water
2" hunk of ginger, sliced
1 tbls brown sugar
2 tbls butter
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of pepper
lemon juice, about 1 tbls

Place all ingredients except the lemon juice into a sauce pan, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Remove cover, add a good squeeze of lemon and turn up the heat to reduce the glaze. Cook until the glaze thickens, about 3-5 minutes.  Serve while warm.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Recipe Swap: Grandma's Updated Chicken Pie ...aka... BLT Turkey Champagne Pot Pie

The Recipe Swap - take a recipe from a hymnal recipe book and make it your own updated version by changing at least 3 ingredients - sounds right up my alley. The recipe book (Alfred Brumley's All-Day Singin' and Cooking on the Ground) is from the days when exact measurements weren't needed. A pinch of this, a pinch of that and bake till it's done.

I personally love the generality of this type of written recipe because truth be told, it's how I cook. I've had to learn to write measurements down and it's always not always easy.

The Recipe Swap is a brilliant idea from fellow blogger Christianna at Burwell General Store and I'm thrilled to be a part. The chosen recipe is Grandma's Chicken Pie and Drop Biscuits, so essentially two recipes are in play for this swap.

My inspiration to affect Grandma's Chicken Pie came from a classic BLT sandwich. With bacon added to the pie portion, swap the chicken for turkey since we don't eat chicken, mustard greens take the place of the lettuce and oven-roasted thyme tomatoes on the side take on the bulk of the BLT sandwich flavor.

Taking change a step farther, I opted to create a sauce from champagne; it's a fun and lightly sweetened twist that marries surprisingly well with bacon (think hangover breakfast with mimosas).

For the biscuit topping, adding a hint of lemon and brie lighten up a typical heavy-laden topping and are ever so faintly reminiscent of a lightly toasted brioche bread with mayo. It's a hearty, warming, fat and happy comfort meal to be enjoyed now before spring has us all looking for lighter fare.

Below I've listed the gang of fearless food blogger participants, please visit their sites to see their take on the chicken pie recipe; and if you listen closely...very closely, I'll bet you can hear the singing in the background.

Recipe Swap participants:

Christianna: Burwell General Store
Dennis: More than a Mountfull 
Mari: The Unexpected Harvest
Nay: Spicy Living
Toni: Boulder Locavore
Sabrina The Tomato Tart
Jennifer: Adventuresome Kitchen
Shari: Good Food Week
Joy: The Herbed Kitchen
Cindy: Cindy: Tyro Tidbits 

Grandma's Updated Chicken Pie... aka...
BLT Champagne Pot Pie

3 slices bacon plus 2 for topping
1 heaping cup diced yellow onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
1 tsp dried thyme
1 cup shitake mushrooms
1 cup cooked turkey
2 cups champagne
1/2 cup cream
1 tbls butter, room temperature
1 tbls flour
1 cup chopped mustard greens
1 tbls fresh thyme

Chop 3 slices of bacon, cook in a large saucepan until nearly desired crispness is reached. Add in the onions, celery, carrots and dried thyme and saute over medium heat until the onions just begin to soften, about 7 minutes. Add in the mushrooms and cooked turkey, saute another 5 minutes.

Pour the champagne into the pan and let that simmer for a minute.  In the meantime,thoroughly mix the butter and flour together (use a fork or just use your fingers.) Add the butter flour mixture and the cream to pan. Simmer the whole batch  until the sauce begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Place the chopped mustard greens and fresh thyme on top, remove from heat.

Pour the bacon-turkey mixture into a casserole dish. Top with the lemon biscuit mixture (below).  Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes; the biscuits will become brown on top and the creamy mixture will be bubbling on the edges.

While the pot pie is baking, fry up the remaining 2 slices of bacon and crumble.

To serve, place a scoop of the BLT Pot Pie on a shallow bowl, add a couple of roasted tomatoes and top with the crumbled bacon.

Lemon Brie Biscuits

1 1/2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbls sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbls lemon zest
4 tbls chilled butter
2 ounces brie cheese
1 cup buttermilk

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add in the lemon zest, sugar, salt, baking powder and soda. Cut the chilled butter into tiny cubes and add to the flour mixture.  Using your hands, mix the butter into the flour until pea-sized are formed.

Chop the brie cheese, as well as you can chop a very soft cheese anyway, add to the flour mixture and toss.

Slowly drizzle in the buttermilk a little at a time; depending on the humidity of the day, you may need slightly more or less liquid. Using your hand, lightly mix the dough just until it comes together; the dough should be somewhat crumbly rather than one big wet ball.

Pick up sections of the dough and lightly place on top of the pot pie. Bake as directed above (@375 degrees for 40 minutes.)

Oven Roasted Thyme Tomatoes

12 small grape tomatoes
1 tbls olive oil
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tbls flaky salt

Line a small oven pan with tin foil. Lay the tomatoes on the foil and drizzle with the olive oil,lightly toss the tomatoes to cover with the olive oil. Sprinkle the thyme sprigs over the tomatoes. Place in the oven along with with the pot pie (@375 degrees for 40 minutes), bake until the tomatoes just begin to burst. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with flaky salt.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Coconut Curry Sauce over Brown Rice

We've had our Hepatitis shots, taken the typhoid pills, packed the malaria pack and are ready to make the 2 day trip to South Africa (with a 9 hour layover in London for lunch, of course.)

But I'm not sure what to expect food wise. Sure, I've done my homework and read about South African cuisine but there is no substitute for 'being there', for experiencing the African spices and the classic family dishes tweaked from generation to generation.

As I understand it, South African food has been shaped by the French and Dutch cuisines, with a bit of spicy Malaysian, British and Indian influences. German, Portuguese and Greek immigrants added their flair as well ... it makes sense why it's often referred to as the Rainbow Cuisine.

In just a few short days my senses will be filled this culinary melting pot; until then I'll create my own versions of what I think this cuisine can be. The curry sauce has a hint of India with a French flair coming from the mushrooms and green beans. Take your own little travel tonight, if even just for dinner. Then watch for the Fat and Happy travel updates coming your way soon.

Coconut Curry Sauce over Brown Rice

1/2 cup sliced onions
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp curry powder
4 sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup green beans
1 cup of crushed tomatoes
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup broth
salt to taste
1 cup brown basmati rice

Saute the onions for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and continue to cook for a minute. Add in the curry powder and mushrooms, cook for a few more minutes to soften the mushrooms.

Add in the tomatoes, green beans, coconut milk and broth. Simmer the soup for 10 minutes to allow all the flavors to blend, add in a few pinches of salt.

Cook the brown rice according to package directions.

To serve, scoop over brown rice and enjoy.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Porcini Mushroom Risotto Cakes

You may have heard about meatless Monday's either on this blog or elsewhere. It's a movement that is healthy for your body and the planet.

These risotto cakes are a great meatless Monday option. Serve them with a simple side salad drizzled with olive oil and fresh lemon. You'll feel Fat and Happy about yourself in more ways than one.

Tips and techniques:  Make the patties, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then tin foil and freeze for up to one month for an easy meal.

Porcini Mushroom Risotto Cakes

1/2 cup white onion, diced fine
2 Tbls olive oil
1 cup aborio rice
3 cups of chicken, beef  or vegetable broth
4 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 egg
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
salt and pepper

Heat the stock, and add in the dried mushrooms letting the broth simmer lightly, it will take roughly 20 minutes for them the rehydrate. Once they reach about 10 minutes, start the onions. Saute the onions in the olive oil, until they begin to soften. Add the rice in with the onions and let the rice cook for just a minute.  Now add in one cup of the hot broth, try to scoop out mostly broth, leaving the mushrooms until the final cup of broth is added.

Cover the risotto and let it simmer on low. Stir often, and when the liquid is nearly completely absorbed by the rice, add another cup of broth. Cover and repeat until you use all the broth, adding the mushrooms in during the last broth addition.  Remove the risotto from the heat and add in 1/4 cup of the grated Parmesan cheese. Allow the risotto to cool to room temperature. This step can be done a day ahead of time, simply hold the risotto in the fridge.

Add the remaining cheese, egg and bread crumbs to risotto and mix. Finish with a little salt and pepper to taste.  Form the risotto into patties. Cook over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil until golden brown on each side. Enjoy immediately.


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