Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Get Rid of It Frittata

The only thing in this dish not leftover or standing on the edge of spoiled are the eggs and chipotle ranch sauce made a couple days ago. I think the Gods of fresh food smiled on my effort to not waste anything because I really enjoyed this. The onion and red pepper are really the star here with a moderate amount of chicken to add a little heft. Bound with eggs and topped with gooey cheddar cheese, this was a winner winner low-card dinner.

Here's a rundown:
3 chicken tenders, diced: Leftover From Chicken Tenders with Peppers and Onions
1 red pepper, diced: Extra from Chicken Tenders with Peppers and Onions
3/4 of an onion, diced: Extra from Shrimp Tacos with Chipotle Ranch Sauce

Chipotle Ranch sauce: Leftover from Shrimp Tacos with Chipotle Ranch Sauce
Cilantro: Extra from Shrimp Tacos with Chipotle Ranch Sauce
4 oz (1 C) shredded cheddar cheese: Leftover from a low carb snack

The binder
4 eggs (would have been six, but that's all I had.)

Turn on broiler

In a medium-sized pan over medium heat, saute the onion and peppers in a little olive oil until soft, 4 to 6 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Half way through toss in the chicken.

In a bowl, beat eggs until white and yolk are incorporated together. Once peppers and onion are cooked through, pour eggs into pan, shaking and jiggling to allow egg to get into space between onion, pepper and chicken. Let cook on stove top for 3 to 4 minutes or until egg at bottom is set. Top with cheese and place under broiler. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly and egg on top is set and entire frittata is cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from under broiler. Garnish with chipotle ranch sauce and cilantro before serving.

Eat well, cook often ...

Monday, February 19, 2018

Shrimp Tacos with Chipolte Ranch Sauce

I'm not the biggest seafood fan in the world. In general, I like it best when the "fish" flavor is mild and it's breaded and fried.

Shrimp is a different story. As long as it's ultra fresh, I like it prepared almost any way.

For these tacos, I sauted the shrimp in olive oil with a little salt and pepper. That's it. The key was cooking them so they were firm but tender and burst in your mouth when bit into - that is the perfect texture for tacos!

The real flavor and seasoning for this dish is the chipolte ranch sauce that I made from scratch. I was heavy with the chipotle for it because I wanted it extra smoky with some good kick. The creamy base can really tame the kick, so more chipotle in adobo is required for extra zing.

I used corn tortillas which is not low carb, but I'm not really on a low-carb diet  — I'm just paying attention to my carb intake and trying to keep it as low as possible without being miserable. I'm not ready to throw away my corn tortillas. I'll limit my french-fry intake, but corn tortillas are off limits for now!

Honestly - I destroyed these tacos.

The bursting shrimp with the chipotle ranch sauce was mouth-watering. The onion and cilantro garnish added a real freshness to the bite. All of this wrapped in a lightly-fried corn tortilla made for some of the best homemade tacos I've had in a long time.

Try this if you are a shrimp taco fan.

Eat well, cook often ...

Chipotle Ranch Sauce
1 clove garlic
3/4 C sour cream
3/4 cup mayo
1 C buttermilk
1 pkg Ranch seasoning mix
1/4 C chipolte in adobo, minced

— With blade of a blender running, drop garlic clove in to mince. Add all other ingredients and blend 3 or 4 minutes. Stop blender and scrap down sides if needed during process. Pour into container and refrigerate 1 hour berfore serving.

Sauted Shrimp
1 lb of large raw shrimp, deveined, shell and tail removed

— In a little olive oil over medium high heat saute shrimp 1 min. to 1 min, 30 sec. per side or until just cooked through and translucent. Salt and pepper to taste.

8 corn tortillas, street taco size
Sauted shirmp
Chipotle sauce
Finely diced onion and cilantro for garnish

— Cook tortillas through (microwave, griddle or lightly fry at 350°)

— Assemble tacos - layer shrimp, sauce, onion and cilantro — then devour!

Makes 8 street tacos, Serves 2

Note: The corn tortillas here are 19g of carbs for a serving of three.
(They are the small "Street Taco" tortillas made by Mission, that come made with either flour or corn)

Friday, February 16, 2018

Low Carb Burger and Fries

Ok. Its not actual fries - but one can dream. It's asparagus spears  — and they were still pretty tasty.

Using lettuce to wrap the double-cheese turkey burger — that's the real low carb thing about this meal.

No bun!

I really like throwing away the bread. The burger is what it's all about for me, so this gets rid of the gluten-loaded pillow that keeps your hands from getting messy and replaces it with a paper thin crunchy leaf. Not a bad trade-off in my book.

Here's what I cooked:
— 4 turkey burgers with a slice of munster cheese for each
— 1/2 bundle of asparagus, split length-wise and tossed in a tablespoon or so of Worcestershire sauce

The burgers were cooked over medium high heat in a little olive oil with salt and pepper to taste, about 5 minutes per side. The asparagus followed in the same pan for 3 to 4 minutes, tossed a couple of times and seasoned with salt and pepper — burgers rested while asparagus cooked.

I ate 2 of the burgers wrapped in big lettuce leaves with chipotle mayo as garnish and all of the asparagus for the meal. I have to admit — it was tasty. A nicely seasoned turkey patty with creamy cheese and smoky chipotle mayo really hit the spot. Although I would love to have had real french fries, the al dente asparagus tossed with Worcestershire had a crunchy, salty and slightly sweet taste that I really liked — but I have always liked asparagus when it's fresh from the produce isle and perfectly cooked.

I'm doing this again for sure.

The experiments continue! I'm not on a strict no-carb diet, I'm just watching them as part of an effort to adjust my diet and life-style to live more healthy.

Eat well, cook often ...

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Chicken Tenders with Peppers and Onions

This plate is a perfect example of how I have been preparing diners with less carbs in mind. In the past, I would have served this — sauted onions, peppers and chicken — over a heaping mound of white rice. Afterword, I would have needed a nap and then a wheelchair to get around in until I had digested some of it.

I prepared:
 6 chicken tenders
1/2 of a sliced medium onion
1 sliced red bell pepper
All cooked over medium heat in a little olive oil with salt and pepper to taste. (I ate half for the meal, and saved the other half for leftovers.) I also ate a whole avocado as an added bonus.

I don't know the exact carb count but it's pretty low. I think around 20 grams. I'm still pretty new at the carb counting game but that is my best estimate.
Low carb or not, sauteed onions and red peppers are a favorite of mine. The sweetness that comes out during a 6 to 10 minutes saute in a little olive oil with salt and pepper really hits the spot. They were the star here, the chicken was just filler, especially now that the ultimate filler — rice — had been left out.

Eat well, cook often ...

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Sauteed Radishes

I have had roasted radishes many times and really enjoyed them. They are a close substitute for a roasted potato. This is the first time I tried to saute radishes. I did it simple — with olive oil, salt and pepper in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. 10 to 15 min., Tossing occasionally.

They turned out ok. Edible, but nothing special.

They were a little inconsistent as far as doneness. Some were softer than others, and there was a peculiar taste to them - almost earthy in a way. Not sure if it was the radishes or the well-seasoned pan I cooked them in. It wasn't a bad taste, just something a little unexpected. This will need some work before I sing the praises of a radish-potato substitute recipe, but it was fun to try something new.

I wanted to post this because it's my first attempt at intentionally creating a low-carb side dish. As a way of trying to eat more healthy, I have cut back on the bread, potato, rice and pasta. (And sugary stuff in general). Not fully eliminating them, but have become conscience of carbs and want to limit my intake.

According to a quick (but credible) web search:

A 2 oz. serving of red potatoes has 10 grams of carbs.

The same amount of radishes contains 1 gram.

That's 10 times less on the Carb-o-belly scale!

Eat well, cook often

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Bites Awaken

There has been an awakening. I have felt it.

For the last year, I have been enjoying the great music and food culture that Austin provides. It's an amazing place for a life-long musician to live and experience. The capitol of Texas has a creative energy very similar to New York City and its driving force is music. That said, music has become the creative outlet that the food blog once channeled for me.

I still cook like a fool and have been enjoying the year-round grilling climate that comes with residing in Central Texas.

Recently, I received the ok to work exclusively from home creating information graphics for the properties of Gatehouse Media, the job that brought me to Austin. So I am now working from home just like I was in 2014 when food writing was my soul focus.

I like it.

Recently, an old college friend, Kevin Burkett, asked if my food column was available. I told him to pick a few samples from past post here at Behind the Bites and use them in the Pharos-Tribune, the daily paper in Logansport, Ind.

Kevin is the Editor of the Pharos-Tribune.

Long story short, my recipes are now a weekly feature in the paper.

I'll bet this will lead to more post here. No guarantees but ...

There has been an awakening.

Below you'll find one of the songs that I have written since moving to Austin. I created this by myself using Apple garage band with a condenser mic to record my vocals and midi keyboard to create the instrumental parts.

Eat well, cook often ...

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Chili ATX

For the first time in my culinary career, I won a cooking contest!

In celebration of the NFL opening weekend, my work sponsored a chili cook off. Of the 250 or so employed at The Gatehouse Center for News Design in Austin, 10 entered. All of the entry's were tasty and the competition was fierce, but when the judging and voting finished I ended up taking home 1st prize — a $100 gift certificate to H.E.B., a Texas-based grocery chain. 

When our office manager told me I had won, I have to admit, it really made my day. I was hoping to place in the top three, winning was a nice surprise.

I went into the contest with a strategy. No beans, very simple and tons of depth.
No bean chili is a Texas thing so I honored that. I wanted to keep the chili simple and focus on technique to bring the most flavor out of each ingredient.

I built the base of the chili in layers, onions and jalepenos first, followed by the garlic and spices, then the tang of steak sauce and the acidity of tomatoes. The beef and liquid were the final additions. I also cooked the liquid out twice and let it rest in the fridge overnight – because chili is always better the next day.
The real secret to any great chili is a long simmer to evaporate the liquid and concentrate the flavor. That, mixed with building a balanced and flavorful base were the key elements to this recipe.

The strategy worked. I'm honored and proud to be this year's Chili cook off champ!

Eat well, cook often ...

Serves a crowd
10 lbs Ground beef
4 large Onions, finely diced
5 jalapeños, seeded and diced
10 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 C plus 2 Tbs Chili powder
1/4 C plus 1 Tbs Cumin
2 Tbs Mexican oregano
1/4 C A1 steak sauce
1 28 oz can of crushed Tomatoes
1 28 oz can diced Tomatoes
2 Qts Beef Broth
2 Qts water
Tortilla chips for garnish

In a large soup pot (8 qt) over medium heat, brown ground beef in batches, salt and pepper to taste. Remove ground beef and drain all but a quarter cup of the drippings from the pot. 
Add onion and jalepeño, sauté until soft 6 to 8 minutes, salt and pepper to taste. Add chili powder, cumin, Mexican oregano and garlic, cook until fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Add A1 steak sauce and tomatoes, cook a few minutes more. 
Mix in ground beef and add beef broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 2 to 3 hours or until liquid is reduced by 3/4. Remove from heat, let cool and store overnight in the refrigerator. 
The next day return pot to stove, ad four quarts of water, bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer another 2 to 3 hours or until liquid is reduce by half or two thirds. Spoon into bowls and serve with tortilla chips for garnish.