Thursday, September 24, 2009

Another Recipe from Glorious One-Pot Meals: Argentinian Beef

For those of you who haven't followed my previous posts about Infusion Cooking in the past few days here are some of the rules:

Measurements are to be nearly exact
Cast Iron Dutch Oven - 2-3 quarts - no bigger unless you double the recipe
Layering as directed and don't mix up the food until you serve it.

This particular recipe made with my changes in () is totally Simply Filling, with a whole grain, lean meat, 4 servings of vegetables. It is VERY filling! Could easily be 3 servings instead of 2. If you eat 1/2 of it, it is 10 points. If you eat 1/2 of it, it is 7 points.

We had this for dinner today. Our dinner is mid afternoon. My husband didn't like it. Next time I make this I will add quite a bit of garlic. I found it a bit bland even with the amount of cumin that I used.

Argentinian Beef

Feel free to make this recipe using ground turkey or pork instead of beef, or even meat-substitute crumbles. You could also use a tenderloin cut of meat. Look for peeled and chopped butternut squash in your supermarket vegetable aisle. Serves 2

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and minced
8-10 cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (I used 2 teaspoons or 4x the amount)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (I didn't use salt at all, but LOTS of pepper)
3/4 pound ground meat (I used 7% fat or 93% fat free)
1 cup white rice (or any grain, I used brown rice that had been soaked for 30 minutes)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon broth (preferably beef) or water (I used fat free beef broth)
2 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash (I used a single block package of already cooked and frozen butternut squash. I put it in frozen.)
1/2 head broccoli, cut into florets (about 2 cups)

Preheat oven to 450° F.

Brush inside and lid of a 2 quart cast-iron Dutch oven with olive oil.

In a large bowl, mix the onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, cumin, salt and pepper. Add the meat to the bowl and mix well. Set aside. If using tenderloins rather than ground meat, set the onion-spice mixture aside and simply spoon over the steaks in step 5.

Rinse the rice in a strainer until the water runs clear. Tip the rice into the pot, add the liquid and stir to make an even layer.

Drop ragged forkfuls of the meat mixture into the pot. If using tenderloins, arrange them in the pot and blanket with the onion-spice mixture.

Arrange the squash in a layer, then load in the broccoli until the pot is full.

Cover and bake for about 45 minutes, or until 3 minutes after the aroma of a fully cooked meal escapes the oven.

Serve immediately.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Here is the recipe for our dinner tonight from the Glorious One-Pot Meals cookbook. . Made with chicken broth instead of lite coconut milk it is 6 Weight Watchers points per serving. If made with the coconut milk (lite) it is 9 points per serving. The recipe serves 2.

This is INFUSION cooking. Use the appropriate size pot and layer exactly as stated. DO NO STIR.


1 cup Quinoa (can substitute brown rice, that has been soaked for 30 minutes, or regular rice but no longer Simply Filling)

3/4 pound chicken breasts or thighs

One 14 ounce can coconut milk, light or regular (I used fat free chicken broth, if you use coconut milk lite it adds 3 points per serving and it is no longer Simply Filling)
2-4 tablespoons red curry paste
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (found in Asian markets, substitute Worcestershire sauce if you don't have it or won't buy it.)
1 teaspoon brown sugar (I am using brown sugar Splenda. Points not figured for real brown sugar)
zest of 1 lime or 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
5-10 fresh basil leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
2 carrots, sliced into coins
One 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 large handfuls fresh spinach, or one 10 ounce package frozen
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Brush the inside of a 2 quart cast iron Dutch oven with canola oil. Don't use a pot that is much bigger as the timing and moisture content for this type of infusion cooking is based on the structure and size of the pan.
Since the quinoa in a strainer under cold water until the water runs clear. (I buy pre-rinsed Quinoa, but most has a soap like coating that needs to be rinsed off.) Spread the quinoa in the pot in and even layer. Place the chicken on the quinoa.
In a medium bowl, whisk the coconut milk, red curry paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime zest and basil. Pour half the mixture over the chicken.
Scatter the carrots and then the chickpeas in the pot. Top with the spinach and pour the rest of the coconut mixture over all.
Cover and bake for 45 minutes, or until 3 minutes after the aroma of a fully cooked meal escapes the oven. Serve immediately. If you use rice and it is still a bit crunchy, quickly fluff with a fork and replace the lid. Let sit for another 3-5 minutes before serving.

On a scale of 1 - 10, hubby gave it an 8. I gave it a 9.5. It was very good! The quinoa was so nutty and the chicken was so tender and moist. It was everything I hoped for and more.

Tomorrow is Argentinian Beef. Review will be posted!!


Monday, September 21, 2009

Cookbook Review: Glorious One-Pot Meals

Name: Glorious One-Pot Meals
Author: Elizabeth Yarnell
Publisher: Broadway Books, 2005
Pages: 223
No photos or drawings

The first thing I can say about this book is WOW! What an incredible technique even without the recipes.

Elizabeth Yarnell developed her revolutionary infusion cooking method to avoid often mushy slow cooker results and to make cooking and cleaning up after dinner a breeze. All it takes is a Dutch oven and a few basic fresh or even frozen ingredients layered - never stirred.

One pot meals are meals that can be layered into a dutch oven (caste iron or enameled cast iron) and baked in the oven and come out as a full meal of a protein, starch, and veggies. It is not to be confused with cooking a variety of things separately and adding them to a pot to finish or combine and served. It also isn't cooking something for a while and then opening the pot and adding more ingredients and then adding something else a while later. It is truly ONE pot and ONE step cooking.

The vegetables emerge crispy, the meats tender and the flavor is incredible.

Glorious One-Pot Meals has a long introduction and an even longer "What you need to know" chapter before the recipes begin. The technique is described in detail and timing charts are provided and suggestions for substitutions too! The recipe chapters are broken out into Fish, Seafood, Meal, Poutltry and Vegetarian. Every recipe is a full meal for 2 people. There are instructions in the first 2 chapters on how to double or quadruple the recipes.

I like being able to put everything together and then sit and relax with my husband or company while it cooks. I like having really great meals/recipes for just 2 people. I love the variety of the ingredients. Elizabeth Yarnell uses many different flavors, many different proteins, quite a variety of vegetables and grains.

I had many dishes in my menu last week from this book and each one was superb. Tonight we are having Adobo Pork.


Adobo, or roasted pork, is a staple in Latin America and some parts of southeast Asia. This is just one version of the Latin American-style dish, made easier as a Glorious One-Pot Meal. Replace the rice and broth with 3/4 cup quinoa and 1 cup of broth for a more authentic South American meal.

Ancho chiles are actually dried pablano chiles, which are rich in flavor and popular for cooking. They've been described as looking and tasting like prunes, though certainly with more of a bite. Anaheim chiles are a milder substitute.

You can use boneless frozen pork chops without increasing the cooking time. However, if they are frozen with the bone in, you may need to allow ten extra minutes in the oven. You can also substitute flank steask, or chicken pieces with good results. (ANOTHER wonderful thing about this cookbook is the ability to substitute things that are on sale, that you may have in the pantry or replace something you don't like.)

You can also add slices of fresh tomatoes to this recipe. Layer the sliced tomato on top of there is still space in the pot after adding the green pepper. (Serves 2)

Canola oil spray
1 cup Arborio rice (I will be using Quinoa)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons broth (beef, chicken or vegetable) or water
2 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1/4 large onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/2 to 3/4 pound center-cut and deboned pork chops, 1 inch thick
One 15 ounce can corn drained
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch strips

Preheat oven to 450°F

Brush inside and lid of a cast-iron Dutch oven with canola oil.

Rinse the rice in a strainer under cold water until the water runs clear. Tip the rice into the pot. Add liquid, reserving 1 tablespoon, and stir to make an even layer.

In a small bowl, stir-together the remaining 1 tablespoon of broth with the chiles, onion, oregano, cumin, pepper, allspice, vinegar, and orange and lime juices.

Place the pork chops in the pot and pour half of the mixture over them. Add the corn and bell pepper and pour in the rest of the spice mixture.

Cover and bake for 45 minutes, or until 3 minutes after the aroma of a fully cooked meal escapes the oven. Serve immediately.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Diane's Menu September 21 - 27, 2009

Diane's Menu September 21 - 27, 2009

Monday 9/21 Adobe Pork (one pot meal with pork, rice, corn, chilli's, spices and green bell pepper)
Tuesday 9/22 Red Curry Chicken (one pot meal with chicken, brown rice, coconut milk, carrots, chickpeas, and spinach)
Wednesday 9/23 Argentinian Beef (one pot meal with ground beef, butternut squash, broccoli, and brown rice)
Thursday 9/24 Chicken Sorrentino
Friday 9/25 Hot Sausage over Polenta with peppers and spinach
Saturday 9/26 Moroccan Chicken with many spices, mushrooms and sugar snap peas, over whole wheat couscous.
Sunday 9/27 Football fare - Chicken Strips buffalo style, vegetable crudites


I have a new cookbook called Glorious One-Pot Meals by Elizabeth Yarnell. All of the one pot meals listed come from her book. Feel free to ask for the recipes if you would like them. I would highly recommend the book.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Diane's Menu 9/11/2009 - 9/20/2009

Diane's Menu 9/11/2009 - 9/20/2009

Friday 9/11 -
Saturday 9/12 - Strip Steak, String Beans, Carrots, Salad
Sunday 9/13 - Grilled Tuna Steak, Asian Slaw
Monday 9/14 - Weekly Pizza
Tuesday 9/15 - Dinner sized Shrimp Cocktail, Celery and Carrot sticks
Wednesday 9/16 - Oven Baked Chicken, Quinoa Pilaf in Rice Cooker, Broccoli
Thursday 9/17 - Grilled Chicken Breasts, Mediterranean Leek And Olive Salad
Friday 9/18 - Pork Tenderloin, Asparagus, Brown Rice
Saturday 9/19 - Prime Rib, Spinach, Salad
Sunday 9/20 - Chicken Breast Strips Buffalo Style, Brown Rice, Carrot/Celery Sticks

Mediterranean Leek And Olive Salad Recipe
Serves 4

4 leeks white part only sliced thoroughly rinsed and drained
4 tomatoes halved horizontally seeded and chopped
1 medium cucumber peeled seeded and chopped
1/4 cup oil cured pitted black olives, diced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 squeezed garlic cloves
4 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1.Combine leeks, tomatoes, cucumbers and olives in a salad bowl.
2.Whisk together olive oil, garlic, vinegar, oregano and pepper then toss with the vegetables.
3.Sprinkle cilantro over top before serving.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How I learned and am still learning what works for my metabolism.

I have struggled with my weight all of my life. I love food. I eat well. I like variety and love to eat out. I love to cook. I love to try new things and go to gourmet outings. All of these things have led me to be overweight all of my life.

In the early 1990's I lost 60 pounds using the Deal-a-Meal (Richard Simmons) method. For those who may not know the details of that particular plan, it works with a set amount of protein, starch, vegetables, fat, dairy etc that you are allowed to eat everyday. You get cards for each serving of an item you are supposed to eat.

When I reached my goal, the instructions told me to add a starch card per day to start maintenance. Well I did that and after 1 week I had gained 5 pounds. Now 1 carbohydrate card was the equivalent of 1 slice of bread or one large baked potato. One slice of bread (large baked potato) is about 70 calories. So, I ate 490 calories extra that week. Since it takes 3500 calories to make a pound, I couldn't figure out how eating 490 calories made me gain 5 pounds. That would have been the equivalent of 17,500 calories if you do the math. (3500 x 5) So, I eliminated that starch card and promptly went back to my goal weight by losing that 5 pounds in one week.

Crazy I thought! What was going on?? So, I tried it again and again I gained a few pounds. And, they came right off when removing the starch card.

At that point, I was a month past my original "goal" weight and still I hadn't been able to accurately get through to a maintenance plan. I decided not to add anything to my choices and continued to lose weight.

I didn't want to lose anymore, so I decided to try some maintenance choices on my own. I added a protein card instead. I still lost weight. The next week I added 3 protein cards and finally I was able to find the "maintenance" plan for me. My body craved protein and when given enough but not too much of it, could easily eat what seemed like an obscene amount of protein and still maintain the weight I wanted to be.

I will never pretend to know what is best for anyone else besides myself. But, for me a low or lower carbohydrate lifestyle is the key to a healthy body and a comfortable weight.

It has been many years since I made that discovery and until this past February, I had totally forgotten it. Now, I am back to trying to eat fewer carbohydrates and more protein and I again have much weight to lose. I am currently following the Simply Filling avenue of Weight Watchers.

My menus and recipes also include other types of food. I am a gourmet after all and I personally can't live on "meat alone". However, I want to attempt again to control my own glycemic index and use the carbohydrates in a conscious healthy attempt to better choices for my health.

I started a new YAHOO! group called A Healthy Gourmet Join me in my journey if you would like.


Mixed Drink Creativity - Peach Melba Martini

I am constantly inventing mixed drinks when we are out bar hopping. Sometimes this habit actually earns me to drink free at the bars we go to. One in particular, that makes an infused vodka with different fruits and herbs, gave me a free martini for every recipe that I created and they sold at the bar. Kind of like a barter system I guess....

Some of the drinks I create are sold in local bars and restaurants. I even had a grocery store manager ask if I would be willing to print a booklet of them for him.

One of my most "famous" drinks is called a Peach Melba Martini. If you have ever had a Peach Melba for dessert you will recognize the flavors instantly. Peach Melba is my favorite dessert. I always have it for my birthday. It is made of fresh peaches topped with a few scoops of vanilla ice cream and then a raspberry sauce with fresh raspberries is poured over the ice cream. Of course it is topped with gobs of fresh whipped cream. The fruit being fresh makes the tart/sweet combination perfect for a mixed drink.

Here is the recipe for the martini:

1 1/2 ounces vanilla vodka
1 ounce peach schnapps or peach brandy
1 ounce raspberry pucker
splash of heavy cream

Shake well and serve in chilled champagne glass with frozen raspberries as a garnish. You can also float some lightly whipped heavy cream on top for extra creaminess, but it isn't necessary.

This is a great drink for after dinner.

Master Quench

This past weekend we were in the Berkshires and I had one of my latest favorite drinks. It is called the Master Quench. It has some ingredients that sound like they don't belong together but it is out of this world. It is made with vanilla vodka, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and ginger beer.

Now, I love maple syrup; the real stuff only! And, the combination of the bite of the cayenne and the ginger beer is perfectly matched and soothed by the sweetness of the maple syrup. It leaves a warm feeling in your throat but holds no burn.

This has led me to contemplate more combinations with maple syrup. I will post them when I have tried them.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Diane's Menu September 1 - 10, 2009

Diane's Menu September 1 - 10, 2009
9/1 Tuesday - Linguine a la Joseph (Whole wheat linguine with grilled shrimp and scallops)
9/2 Wednesday - Pulled pork and pink beans
9/3 Thursday - Chicken Francaise, Zucchini, Rice
9/4 Friday - New England Clam Chowder, Hamburger, Salad
9/5 Saturday - BBQ ribs, slaw
9/6 Sunday - Grilled chicken buffalo style over romaine lettuce, with apples, candied pecans and blue cheese crumbles
9/7 Monday - Pizza
9/8 Tuesday - Sausage and baby lima bean bake**
9/9 Wednesday - Prime Rib, Carrots, String Beans, Salad
9/10 Thursday - Chicken Sorrentino (Chicken layered with Eggplant, Prosciutto, Mozzarella Cheese, in a sherried brown sauce over spinach)

Sausage and Baby Lima Bean Bake

4 cups frozen baby lima beans, about 1 pound, cooked and drained
1 pound mild bulk pork sausage
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup diced or shredded carrot
1 cup diced celery
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Cajun or Creole seasoning blend
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Heat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 2 1/2-quart casserole.In a large skillet, brown the sausage with chopped onion, carrots, and celery until vegetables are tender and sausage is no longer pink. Add tomatoes and seasonings and cook until hot and bubbly. Add the drained baby lima beans and stir to combine. Transfer to the prepared casserole. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for 15 minutes longer.Serves 4 to 6.