Posts Tagged ‘Gluten Free’

Coconut Curry Chicken and Baked Coconut Brown Rice

September 28, 2009

This is my third successful installment of 3 Mondays of $5 Dinner Challenges.  This means, each Monday I’ve been cooking a meal for 2 adults and 2 children for around $5.  Here’s the real challenge, though:  I do it while maintaining my commitment to eat mostly local and organic vegetables and humanely raised meats.  For this final meal, I made Coconut Curry Chicken and Baked Brown Rice for $6.96.

This meal was really fun to do because we don’t often do curries in our house.  It is a super simple recipe for the new-to-curry crowd that will impress your family.  The sweet coconut milk is perfectly suited to these warm savory spices.  Baking the rice assures a perfect result every time that doesn’t stick to the pan and is done without a rice cooker.  I used leeks, but it would be even easier and just as tasty made with onions and you can throw them in with the rest of the vegetables instead of having to cook separately like I did with the leeks.  Here’s how made this fantastic meal for just under seven dollars:

Prices and Products

  • 1 tbsp. expeller pressed canola oil: $0.10
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) organic coconut milk: $0.50
  • 4 white mushrooms (0.15 lb.) : $0.47 (10% off)
  • 1/2 of an organic leek (0.275 lb.): $0.44
  • 1/2 of an organic carrot: $0.20 (10% off)
  • handful of organic snow peas: $0.45 (10% off)
  • small organic green bell pepper: $0.67 (10% off)
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder: $0.50
  • 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar: $0.01
  • 14.74 oz. organic, sustainably raised chicken: $2.81 (10% off)
  • 1 cup (uncooked) brown basmati:  $0.81
  • 1/2 tsp. salt: negligible

How I got these great deals:

  • The best deal of the day was the organic coconut milk which is normally more than two bucks a can.  Whole Foods was having a sale for $1.50 a can plus I had a dollar off coupon for any Thai Kitchen brand product (you can print this coupon from Yahoo Deals too – expires at the end of the year.)
  • I used my monthly 10% off coupon at PCC for all the groceries marked as “10% off” above.  It really does add up to some savings.  I would have done better on the veggies to go to the farmer’s market though.  Unfortunately there’s not time for that every week.

Recipes

Coconut Curry Chicken and Vegetables

You will need:

  • 1/2 can coconut milk (about 7 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3/4 lb skinless, boneless chicken thigh meat (about 15 ounces before skinning and deboning), cut into large bite-size pieces 
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 of a leek (lengthwise half), sliced crosswise every 1/2 inch
  • 2 1/2 cups bite-sized pieces of vegetables (ex. mushrooms, carrot, bell pepper, snow peas)
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh Thair basil (optional), rough chopped

Put it together:

  • Heat 1/2 tbsp. oil in wok (or large skillet) on medium heat.  When hot, add leeks and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Transfer leeks to bowl and set aside.
  • Add 1/2 tbsp. oil to wok, still on medium heat.  When hot, add chicken and cook until no longer pink in the middle, stirring occasionally.  Transfer chicken to a bowl and set aside.
  • Bring coconut milk and water to simmer in wok on medium heat
  • Add brown sugar and curry powder and stir until well blended.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.
  • Add in chicken and all vegetables except for the leeks.  Cook about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender-crisp.  Toss in leeks and serve.  Optional:  garnish with Thai basil

Baked Coconut Rice (Serves 4). 

You will need:

  • 2 T oil (e.g. Canola)
  • 1/2 can coconut milk (about 7 ounces)
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup long grain brown rice (ex. basmati)

Put it together:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, water, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil.
  • Wash rice. Lightly brown the rice in oil in a fry pan.  Transfer to a 1 1/2 quart ovenproof dish. 
  • Pour coconut milk mixture over the rice, take caution because this can create a lot of hot steam.
  • Bake covered for 50 to 60 minutes, until rice is tender and fluffy and moisture has been absorbed.

$5 Dinner Challenge: Olive Oil & Rosemary Chicken with Pearled Barley & Green Beans

August 31, 2009

challenge

“We are a one income family living in a two income world!” Erin, $5 Dinners

That quote really resonated with me and so I decided to challenge myself to three Mondays of $5 Dinner Challenges.  This means, each Monday I will cook a meal for 2 adults and 2 children for around $5.  Here’s the real challenge, though:  I will do it while maintaining my commitment to eat mostly local and organic vegetables and humanely raised meats.  For my inaugural meal, I made Olive Oil & Rosemary Chicken with Pearled Barley & Green Beans for $5.61.

The great thing about this meal is that it is one of the tastiest I’ve made lately.  The chicken was crispy and not over seasoned with a hint of rosemary.  The green beans were flavorful and crisp and since the barley was simmered in chicken stock, it complemented the meal perfectly.  Here’s how made this fantastic meal for just over five bucks:

Prices and Products

  • 1 tsp. finely chopped rosemary from my garden:  free
  • 1/2 tbsp. organic, cold pressed, Extra Virgin Olive Oil: $0.10
  • 1.09 lbs. chicken thighs (no animal byproducts or antibiotics in the animal’s feed or added hormones): $2.99
  • 1 cup dry organic pearled barley (each serving has 30% of your daily dietary fiber requirement): $0.69
  • 1 cup home-made organic, free range chicken stock with local veggies, good wine and home-grown herbs $0.76
  • 0.75 lb. local, pesticide-free green beans from farmer’s market: $1.07
  • Couple dashes of salt and pepper:  negligible

How I got these great deals:

  • I’d heard from my friend Elisa that the end of the day at the farmer’s market is a good time to bargain with the farmers, so I went ten minutes to closing and talked the farmer down from $2/lb to $1/lb on the green beans.
  • I told the butcher at Whole Foods about this really cool dinner challenge I was doing and he helped me pick out the pieces of chicken that were the best value and (don’t tell anyone!) did a little rounding down on the price.
  • I made the chicken stock from the left over carcass and offal from last week’s roast chicken, tasty wine that hubby found a great deal on, left over veggies from last week and herbs from my garden.

Recipes

Rosemary and Olive Oil Chicken Thighs

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Combine 1/2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary and a dash each of sea salt and fresh ground pepper in a small bowl.
  • Wash and pat dry 1 lb bone-in, skin on chicken thighs.
  • Rub thighs with olive oil mix
  • Bake at 400 for about 45 minutes (until skin is golden brown and temp. is 165)

Barley Cooked in Chicken Stock

  • Cook 1 cup pearled barley according to instructions on package, replacing 1 cup of water with 1 cup of chicken stock (usually 1 cup dried barley for 3 cups liquid, simmer, covered for 1 hr 15 min.)

Steamed Green Beans

  • Cook 3/4 lb. green beans in steamer basket over one inch of water in covered pot on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until desired tenderness is reached, but color is still bright green.

Restaurant Review: Watercress Asian Bistro

August 4, 2009

Why is it that most Chinese restaurants are stuck in the seventies?  They are covered floor to ceiling in black lacquer with orange flourishes and menus that haven’t been updated since 1972 either.  Well, lucky for Redmond, this is not the experience at Watercress Asian Bistro.  It has a very contemporary feel, friendly and attentive staff and a fusion menu with modern takes on classic Chinese dishes.

I’ve been meaning to get over to Watercress since they opened a few years ago.  I have friends who are regulars there since they have a gluten free menu.  They were very careful to help me find a dish without dairy too.  I was able to overhear the waitress talking with the chef about the ingredients of the specific dish I wanted, so I know they weren’t just telling me what I wanted to hear (you’d be surprised how often this happens).

As far as taste goes, I can’t say it’s in my top 5 of Redmond restaurants, but at least the food wasn’t deep fried and coated in msg and sugar.  I had a very fresh mango chicken dish with sticky brown rice.  The rice was cooked perfectly (brown seems hard for even Asian restaurants to get right) and there were lots of nice veggies in the dish.  Best of all, they didn’t skimp on the mango.  My only criticism is that something in the flavors didn’t quite go.  I’m not sure if it was the curry spices or just too many bell peppers.  Overall, though, the peas were crisp, the chicken tender and the mangoes sweet.

Most dishes at Watercress will set you back $11 to $15.  In my opinion, if they’re going to keep people coming in the door during the recession they may need to offer some dinner deals.  It’s not that I felt ripped off, I just think it’s getting hard to justify spending that kind of money when Redmond has so many other restaurants of the same quality with mains closer to $10.

Nicole's Apple Snacks with Walnut Butter

August 2, 2009

When I first realized I couldn’t eat dairy anymore all I could think of was brie wrapped in filo dough with fig jam and almond steamed milk on a cold Seattle morning.  I’m getting teary-eyed right now just thinking about it.  But then I was introduced to Nicole and her adventurous style of cooking for our health.  She made these dairy-free crispy apple snacks for me and I realized how tasty and easy allergen-free cooking could be.  There isn’t any soy, citrus, gluten or peanuts in them either.

These little apple and walnut sandwiches make a perfect lunch box food.  The ginger keeps the apples from turning brown without the use of lemon juice and you don’t have to worry if your kid’s school doesn’t allow peanuts, since they’re made with walnut butter.  Also try walnut butter in crepes drizzled with maple syrup for a real treat.

Nicole’s Apple Snacks

You will need:

  • Ginger root (about 2 oz)
  • 2 granny smith apples
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1-2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla
  • A pinch of fresh grated cardamom (more if jarred)
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Put the Filling Together (walnut butter):

  • In a coffee grinder or food processor, blend the walnuts a little at a time.  They will get a thick butter-like consistency.
  • Add a 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup to the walnuts (to taste).
  • Add salt, vanilla, and a little cardamom.  Add in small doses and taste.

Make the Apple Slices:

  • Grate the ginger root using a microplanar (so it’s really finely grated).
  • Grab the ginger in your hand, and squeeze over a small bowl.  You will be surprised by how much juice you collect.
  • Add about as much water as ginger juice (more water if it’s particularly spicy ginger).
  • Slice the apples into thin slices, top to bottom.  When they are all sliced, toss them in the bowl with the ginger juice.  Try to get the surfaces of the apple coated.  This will slow down the process of turning the apple brown (you can store it in the fridge this way for a while).
  • Now spread walnut butter on the apple slices and put together to make sandwiches.  That’s it.