Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Oh, the things you do for family!

 I have something shocking to confess.  Maybe you should sit down.  Okay, here it is:  I am not a big fan of desserts.  [insert gasp here]  Of course if you put a piece of cake, slice of pie, or a scoop of ice cream in front of me I'll wolf it down like everyone else 'cause I'm a hypocr-, er, I mean polite person.

So while Stephanie is visiting me she asked if we could make something sweet -- a reasonable request to which her reasonable aunt agreed.  Now what to make?  Well last year when she visited we baked a cake (a vegan chocolate cake -- yum!) so this year we decided to bake pies.  Stephanie has fond memories of tasting a bite of strawberry rhubarb pie so she asked if we could make that.  Of course as fate would have it guess what I hate more than anything else in this world?  You got it -- rhubarb!  Oh, the things you do for family!

I am convinced the only reason people say they like rhubarb is because it's prepared with a ton of sugar.  Case in point:  we also made a peach raspberry pie (just to shut me up about the rhubarb) and it called for HALF the amount of sugar for the recipe.  Okay.  Just saying.

We used the rhubarb from our garden (Paul loves rhubarb.  I know, right?), and bought local strawberries, raspberries, and peaches from Tacoma Boys.  We used two recipes I found online, and the pies went together easily and quickly, probably because I used prepared dough.  That's right.  I feel no shame in admitting that I totally suck at pie dough preparation so I use the kind that comes rolled up in a box.

The pies looked beautiful, and tasted great.  Of course I can only vouch for the peach raspberry pie because the other had, well you know.  Paul said they both tasted great but his favorite was the strawberry rhubarb, and Stephanie?  Well her favorite was the peach raspberry.  I love that girl!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (from  The pie was pretty runny, but Paul said it was delicious.,1837,153188-255201,00.html

Peach Rasberry Pie (from  The pie had peaches and raspberries!  Do I really need to say more?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Stephanie Comes To Visit

My niece Stephanie will be staying with us this week.  I try to plan enough activities so she doesn't get bored, and our number one favorite thing to do cook!  Last year I gave her a notebook to write down the recipes of dishes we prepared, and she'll be able to add several dishes from this visit.  I also bought her a cookbook from the editors of Eating Well:  Comfort Foods Made Healthy which gives a healthy makeover to many comfort food dishes such as Sloppy Joes and Chicken Pot Pie as well as appetizers, soups, sauces, and side dishes.

Tonight we made Chicken Divan.  Now this is the first time I've tried the dish so I have no idea how Eating Well's version compares to the original recipe, but I do know that everyone thought tonight's version was delicious!  

We served the Chicken Divan over egg noodles, and used fresh broccoli instead of frozen.  We substituted vegetable stock for chicken, and chicken tenders instead of chicken breast.  I didn't see the need to dirty two skillets so we cut the tenders into bite sized pieces and cooked them with a little olive oil, and transferred the cooked chicken to a plate while we made the broccoli sauce.  

Serves six

EatingWell Comfort Foods Made Healthy: The Classic Makeover Cookbook (EatingWell)
1 1/2 pounds bones, skinless chicken breast
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups diced leek, white and light green parts only (about 1 large)
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp all purpose flour
1 14 ounce can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup low-fat milk
2 tbsp dry sherry
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 10 ounce boxes frozen chopped broccoli, thawed, or 1 pound broccoli crowns chopped.
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard

     Preheat oven to 375.  Coat a 7"x11" (2 quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray.
     Place chicken in a medium skillet or saucepan and add water to cover.  Bring to a simmer over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center, 10 to 12 minutes.  Drain and slice into bite size pieces.
     Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add leek and salt and cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes.    Add flour; stir to coat.  Add broth, milk, sherry, thyme and pepper and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.  Add broccoli; return to a simmer.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan, mayonnaise and mustard.
     Spread half the broccoli mixture in the prepared baking dish.  Top with the chicken, then the remaining broccoli mixture.  Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan.  Bake until bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.  Let cook for 10 minutes before serving. 

Nutritional information per serving (w/o pasta):  308 calories; 10g fat (4g sat, 4g mono); 76mg cholesterol; 20g carbohydrate; 35g protein; 4g fiber; 712mg sodium; 401mg potassium.

Nutritional bonus:  Vitamin C 70% daily value, Vitamin A 35% daily value, Calcium 30% daily value, Folate 19% daily value.