Thursday, September 17, 2009

Off day...

Do you ever have those days when you get home wicked late and all you want to eat are some nice fresh vegetables? Yeah, I normally don't get that craving, usually I crave meat and sweet at the end of a long work day, but this week was different. I arrived home to an empty house on a Tuesday night at about 9:30pm...we had plenty of good food options, and temptations lying around, but all I wanted was a nice leafy green salad with tomatoes, and by George that's exactly what I ate. It was perfect and I went to bed feeling healthy.

Someone once told me that what you crave the most is probably what your system already has too much of, and that you should reject that craving and choose something from a different category. My number one craving is grains, always wanting the grains. Darn the grains. Sweets comes in a close second. Darn the sweets. I try to have as many fruits and veggies as I can possibly cram into a day, but it is hard. The vegetables are the hardest. On a good day I have veggies at lunch and dinner, but usually only at dinner. I usually have fruit twice a day - no problem. I did the whole fresh carrot sticks thing for a while, but got sick of that after about 6 if I didn't have hummus or dressing to dip it in I wouldn't eat it. I do like fresh green beans blanched, they are portable for my crazy schedule and are yummy. I just cook them in boiling salted water for 1-2 minutes and then strain and cool them off under cold water.

Hum...maybe I should invent vegetable candy - vegetables that have been condensed and smushed into interesting and convenient shapes...hum Lettuce lollipops anyone?
Bad joke of the day: What did the salad say before grace? Lettuce pray!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chocolate Creams with Port and dried cherry sauce...tell me that doesn't sound incredible!

After much thought and consideration I have decided to approach the US government and demand that Sweets be moved from the top of the food pyramid. How come they got totally gypped? They totally have the smallest section on that darn pyramid...Maybe that's what is the matter with our society today, they don't have enough sugar in their diet. Yeah right. Seriously, it is wonderful.

I don't usually make fancy desserts. Mostly because we just ain't fancy people. Also, cookies are like pennies to my know when you are little and someone gives you bunches of pennies and you think you are so rich? Its the same thing with cookies - my family thinks they are so lucky to have all those cookies...but when I stick one nice fancy dessert in front of them they don't get all excited, they just want their pennies back. Yeah, we are that kind of weird.

Regardless, I decided to make something fancy. My parents just celebrated their 29th wedding anniversary and in honor of that my sister and I made a nice meal for them. We made teriyaki chicken and shrimp kebabs with lots and lots of veggies over a bed of wild rice risotto. Then topped it off with chocolate creams with a port and dried cherry sauce - absolutely Divine. Maybe they should have an anniversary everyday. : )
Step one: Prepare to be awed.
Step two: Grab and scale out the ingredients for the chocolate creams.
Step three: Follow this recipe

Chocolate Creams:
Adapted from Chef Eddy

1 3/4 cup (14oz) of Milk (I used whole milk)
1 cup (8oz) Heavy Cream
4 Egg yolks
1/3 cup + 1 TBS (3oz) granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups (15 oz) Chocolate chunks or chips (I used 10oz semi sweet, and 5 oz milk - it all depends on what kind of chocolate you like)

Bring the milk and cream to a boil in a saucepan on the stove top over a medium high heat. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar until well combined. It is important to whisk quickly at this point because once sugar and egg yolks meet they tend to clump - so, continuously whisk until the milk and cream mixture is boiling. Temper the yolk mixture by slowly adding a fourth of the milk/cream mixture to the sugar/yolks in the bowl. Whisk fast. Return the yolk and milk/cream mixture to the rest of the milk/cream in the saucepan. Heat until temperature reads 183 degrees- whisk is best to use a thermometer, but if you don't have one this took about 2 minutes over a medium high heat. Remove from heat and cool to about 140 degrees. Whisk in the chocolate until melted and mixture is smooth. Pour into individual ramekins or glasses. Cover and refrigerate at least 5 hours until mixture is firm and set. You can make these a few days ahead of time if you need to.

Step four: Make the Port sauce...oh boy...are you ready for this?

Chocolate Port Sauce with dried Cherries
Adapted from Chef Eddy

1 cup (8oz) Port (I ran out of port and used 1/2 Merlot and 1/2 port - it still came out awesome, but all Port is always better)
1/4 cup + 1 TBS (2oz) granulated sugar
1/3 cup dried cherries cut in half
2 TBS (1 oz) bittersweet chocolate

In a saucepan bring the port and sugar to a boil. Add the dried cherries. Simmer and reduce until mixture slightly thickens. This takes about 5 -7 minutes...keep watch though and makes sure it is not at a full rolling boiling. Remove from heat and whisk in the chocolate. This sauce is syrupy in consistency. Serve warm over the chocolate creams or just eat it with a spoon and you will be happy. I had some leftover sauce and kept it in the fridge overnight and heated it up the next day and it was still awesome.

To learn more about Port wine...which is a dessert wine read this:

Marinade for Chicken or Beef...I made them into Kebabs.

We made these at school last Fall...the ones my group made didn't turn out so hot...the soy sauce we grabbed off the shelf was some weird brand with flour added to it and had expired a way long time ago...but all of the other groups came out really yum. The recipe is originally for a London Broil.

I cut up boneless skinless chicken thighs and let them soak in the marinade in the fridge for about 5 hours. They were D-licious!

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup dry sherry ( I used Merlot because we didn't have sherry and it worked out just fine)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
2 TBSP vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 small chopped onion