Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Let's Talk About Eggs...

I'll be the first to admit, I am very fond of deviled eggs. I'm not quite sure where the fondness developed considering that eggs are the turkey to my breakfast - it's only socially acceptable to eat all the sides as long as the protein is there.

That said, I decided to make one of my client's a deviled eggs recipe. Haters, before you start with your judge-mental stares at your computer screen, let me explain. This client is an elderly woman who has an strong-liking with picnic food. She loves foods that are easy to eat and can be served chilled. She also eats like a bird. I kid you not, her appetite for the entire day amounts to a mid-afternoon snack for myself. That said, I need to be mindful of serving small amounts of food that will not overwhelm her. In this case, deviled eggs are a royal flush.

Although I enjoy an occasional mustard/mayonnaise/relish delight, I have to switch things up a bit. Let's be real for a second, the 'dressing' for a typical deviled egg is the exact same of the generic potato salad. It can only go so far. Last week, I made an Eggs Benedict Style Deviled Egg.

'How is that possible? How do you make a deviled egg with hollandaise sauce?', you say? I've got one answer for you - You don't. It's an incredibly simple recipe that creates a richness that ever so slightly resembles the flavors of eggs benedict...and it's awesome. 

Here's how it's done...

Ingredients

4 hard boiled eggs
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 pieces Canadian bacon
panko breadcrumbs
2 scallions, chopped finely
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 tbs mayonnaise
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Steps

Boil the eggs by placing them in a small pot with cold water (enough to skim the top of the eggs) and vinegar. Bring water to a boil then cook for 2 minutes before turning the off the heat. Let the eggs sit in the pot covered for at least 10-15 minutes.  While the eggs are sitting in the hot water, cook then chop the Canadian bacon for one minute turning over once.  Rinse with cold water then lightly crack eggs on a flat surface to easily peel off the shell.

Place into a bowl then mix in all the ingredients except for the panko breadcrumbs. Once the eggs are peeled, slice them in half lengthwise  and use your thumb to apply just enough pressure to release the yolk into the bowl. Toast the panko breadcrumbs in a shallow skillet over low heat. Toss until they are golden brown.

Use a small fork to mash the ingredients in the bowl. Use a small spoon to scoop a generous amount into the eggs. Toss a pinch of the toasted breadcrumbs over each egg.

Bon Appetite!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Gluten-Free Coconut Crusted Chicken Strips

I have a client who has several food allergies that prevent her from eating dairy and gluten.  In all honesty, when I took on this (10-week) challenge I was a bit nervous that I would be limited in dishes to prepare. I thought it would be boring, and incredibly difficult to make foods that originally contain gluten/dairy to be delicious and diverse.

Example- for the egg substitute I use is a ground flaxseed and hot water combo. I basically whisk the two ingredients into a frenzy until it has a gooey and thick consistency. I tried a small taste and thought 'Ew, this tastes like a combination of fertilizer and sand'. That said, I continued through my recipe and realized that while the egg-substitute was lacking in delight on it's own, it really brought the entire dish together! My entire experience (now multiplied into 30-weeks and counting) of cooking for this client has been a wonderful experience of triumph and thinking outside the box.

All this to say,  I've realized that in the 1.5 years I've had my business, I've expanded my cooking repertoire 10-fold, and that's only because of the client's requests. By starting off with the determination to create 'completely customized meal plans' for my clients, I've subconsciously expanded my efforts and abilities to places I never thought I'd be.

If you have a serious food allergy, I'm aware that it's less than ideal. It's incredibly troublesome to have to avoid certain foods at all costs! I'm so eternally thankful that I don't have to avoid any types of food (quite honestly I'd be horrible at that). I bet you think to yourself 'what did I do with the time before I found out about this allergy?' now that you spend most of it researching and reading labels. Even-so, how awesome is it when you do figure out a food that is delicious that you CAN eat?!

I'm grateful to be part of that process for a few people. It's such a magnificent thing when a client raves about a dish that was created from start to finish with their needs in mind.  This week, I made a few gluten/dairy-free dishes that have been requested on multiple occasions. Check them out and let me know if you have any questions on cooking meals that require substitutions!

Coconut-Crusted Chicken Strips

Ingredients
2 tbs ground flax seed
4 tbs hot water
2 cups dried-unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried sage
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 pound chicken breast tenders (I used Kroger's Simple Truth)
Olive oil cooking spray (any cooking spray will do as long as it's not intended for baking)

Steps
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a shallow plate, whisk the flaxseed and water together until it becomes thick and gooey. In another plate, combine the next 8 ingredients and toss so that it's mixed completely.  Lightly season chicken strips then use your hands to press the egg-substitute on the chicken.  You don't need to drench it, just make sure the chicken is sticky.  Place chicken in coconut mixture and toss some flakes on-top, then press and make sure the chicken is covered completely in coconut.  Place on a non-stick baking sheet, or a pan coated with cooking spray.  Once you've done this with all the chicken, place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, flipping the tenders over halfway through. The coconut should be golden and crispy.

Cucumber Mango Salad

1 English cucumber, halved and sliced
2 mangos, cored and sliced
1 tsp dried dill
1 tbs red wine vinaigrette
1 tbs walnut oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Combine the ingredients in a small  bowl and toss to evenly distribute the dressing. Chill before serving.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Coconut Curry Shrimp and Green Beans

It's Monday. Two things are certain with Mondays - 1.  The ubiquitous complaints, comments, and flowing cups of coffee that get most of us through our mornings/days, and 2. There are still four more days until Friday.

Isn't it sad how we view the work week? I'll be the first to say, I used to HATE Mondays. Let's play a game of 'would you rather?'... In the past, I would rather walk over hot coals while listening to this than go to work on a Monday. Okay, so that was a slight exaggeration, but you get the point. I used to spend my Sundays counting down the hours before I would plod into work. Isn't that horrible?! I wasted a completely perfect day off to worry and stress about the upcoming!

That all has changed. Yes, my profession has changed drastically and I'm doing something  in which I find fulfillment and happiness, but no matter how you slice it, a Monday is still a Monday. I took myself up on a little challenge -- to view each work day as an opportunity. It sounds tough to do but once you get yourself into that mindset, you'd be surprised what you can accomplish. Once doing that, I realized that I put more effort and pride into my work. I get lost in what I'm doing to the point that I lose track of time. Cooking several meals simultaneously in a hot kitchen doesn't leave for very much 'dilly-dally', but my attitude going in makes a huge difference.

So I challenge you, if you're one of those people who absolutely dreads work, try to look at it as an opportunity -- an opportunity to prove yourself, to produce something, to grow, and at the very least make money. I promise, it works!

On that note, I made a pretty fantastic meal this evening. It is a meal that is perfect for Mondays! It's quick, easy, and incredibly healthy. Take a look, try it out, and let me know your thoughts!

Ingredients

1 lb raw shrimp, pealed and deveined
1.5 lb fresh green beans, ends trimmed
1- 14.5oz can lite coconut milk
1 tbs curry
2 tsp paprika
2 tbs all purpose flour (corn meal or tapioca meal will do)
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
dash of salt and pepper

Directions

In a small sauce pan, add 1/2 tbs olive oil, rice, a pinch of salt (amount you grasp with your index finger and thumb) and water. Stir gently, cover, and bring to a boil. Check on it after 15 minutes to make sure it doesn't overcook. Meanwhile, cook the remaining olive oil and green beans in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir consistently to ensure the green beans are cooked evenly. After about 5 minutes, add the garlic. Cook for another minute, reduce the heat to medium. Add the flour stir, then add coconut milk, and seasoning. Bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and let it cook for 4-5 more minutes. Serve the shrimp mixture alongside or on the rice.