Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pecan Crusted Chicken Breast with Strawberry Salsa

Two flavors remind me of my days living in the southern region of the good ole' USA: pecans and strawberries. Both were abundantly available in the freshest way possible, and both remind me of "togetherness."

My best friend in Georgia lived on a lovely pecan plantation, and so racing on our pink Huffies to her house after school and stepping into her back yard to grab a snack right off the trees was a normal daily ritual. Her father would cook up some of the most scrumptious dishes with those pecans: pecan rolls for breakfast, pecans in your salad at lunch, and pecan crusted chicken or fresh caught catfish for dinner.

When Kristy came to my house, we painted our lips red and stained our fingers with all of the strawberries growing like weeds in my family's back yard garden. On the weekends, that garden was tended to with exceptional care and precision , my parents working side by side in waltz like unison. I would whip up lunches and fresh squeezed lemonade whilst they pruned the strawberry beds, snapped off green beans, and tidied the perfect ditches that surrounded the garden. The amazing red that came from a vine ripened strawberry presented a hard case for the divinity of nature, and made every dinner plate a festive experience for the eyes to feast on.

Later in life, when I moved to Germany, I was dismayed by the colorless, bland, less than romantic meals often found on German dinner tables. When late spring rolled around, by which point I was homesick beyond belief, I was thrilled to discover that Bonn turned into Strawberry olfactory heaven- the strong waft of strawberries from the many farmer's fields over taking the city. I ate baskets- neigh- bushels- of strawberries every day, and must say that I became a far more joyful person with some Strawberry color on my plate!

Strawberries and pecans... Always a source of happiness! It is with great pleasure that I bring these two healthy ingredients together for you to enjoy. The strawberries are loaded with anti-oxidents, and the pecans are a healthy person's dream food: also loaded with anti-oxidents, they are known to lower cholesterol, help with weight loss, and boost the immune system.

Enjoy a little bit if southern joy on your plate today ladies!
Love, Erin

Pecan Crusted Chicken Breast

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, (1-1 1/4 pounds), trimmed
1/2 cup pecan halves or pieces
1/4 cup plain dry wholewheat breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 large eggwhite
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided

Working with one piece of chicken at a time, place between sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet or heavy skillet until flattened to an even 1/4-inch thickness.
Place pecans, breadcrumbs, spices in a food processor and pulse until the pecans are finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish. Whisk egg white and water in a shallow dish until combined. Dip each chicken breast in the egg-white mixture, then dredge both sides in the pecan mixture.

Place in a lightly oiled baking dish. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

Strawberry Salsa

15 strawberries, diced
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 jalepeno or other spicy pepper finely diced
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 Tblsp honey
Dash of ground red pepper and salt

Mix all ingredients together, If you have cilantro and fresh mint available, they add a lovely finishing taste to this zesty topping.

Spoon strawberry mix over chicken and you are all set for a yummy meal!

Wholewheat Pita and Hummus

Today I was craving the fresh flavors of Mediterranean fair. Hummus is a favorite healthy meal, and I love to eat it with pita bread, but couldn't find pita anywhere! You know what they say when you are an expat and you cannot find what you are craving: "make it yourself!" And boy am I glad I did- I think I like the homemade better than any I have purchased before! AND it was super easy.

Here is the Pita Bread Recipe: (As a side note, I used one cup white flour and 4 cups Organic Wheat Flour and used olive oil instead of vegetable oil)

Whole wheat pita bread is perfect for those looking to add more wheat to their diet. This recipes contains both white and wheat flour and is so simple to make!

2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups wheat flour
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add honey and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until water is frothy.

Combine white flour, wheat flour, and salt in large bowl.

Make a small depression in the middle of flour and pour yeast water in depression.

Slowly add warm yeast water, and stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until dough becomes elastic.

Place dough on floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes. When the dough is no longer sticky and is smooth and elastic, it has been successfully kneaded.

Coat large bowl with vegetable oil and place dough in bowl. Turn dough upside down so all of the dough is coated with oil. Allow to sit, covered, in a warm place for about 3 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

Once doubled, roll out in a rope, and pinch off 10-12 small pieces. Place balls on floured surface. Let sit covered for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 500 deg F. and make sure rack is at the very bottom of oven. Be sure to preheat your baking sheet also.

Roll out each ball of dough with a rolling pin into circles. Each should be about 5-6 inches across and 1/4 inch thick.

Bake each circle for 4 minutes until the bread puffs up. Turn over and bake for 2 minutes.

Remove each pita with a spatula from the baking sheet and add additional pitas for baking.

Take spatula and gently push down puff. Immediately place in storage bags.

Storing Pita Bread

Pita bread can be stored for up to a week in a pantry or bread box, and up to a month in the freezer. Be sure to use freezer bags when storing in the freezer.

Pita bread dough can also be refrigerated for up to one week in the refrigerator.


Hummus Recipe
4 garlic cloves, minced and then mashed
2 15-oz cans of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
2/3 cup of tahini (roasted, not raw)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Paprika and olive oil to garnish

1 In a food processor, combine the mashed garlic, garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, 1/2 cup water, and olive oil. Process until smooth. Add salt, starting at a half a teaspoon, to taste. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and paprika!

This is a great base recipe for adding anything you wish to your hummus. I like to add pesto or jalepeno peppers to mine.

Serve with crackers, raw dip vegetables such as carrots or celery, or with pita bread. You can cut the pita bread into thin triangles, brush with olive oil and toast for 10 minutes in a 400°F oven to make pita chips with which to serve the hummus.
Makes about 3 cups.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lettuce Wraps

Do It Yourself Lettuce Wraps
A salad you can grab on to...
I use a variety of different vegetables and protein each time I make it.
I find it to be filling but it is not easy to eat quickly. Plus it is full of delish vegetables.
Sometimes I need a crunch so I eat it raw. Others time I like it warm so I stirfry the vegetables.

Erin inspired me to check out the TED podcasts. Here is one that I wanted to share with you by Jamie Oliver. He talks about a food revolution. The fact of the matter is that unhealthy bodies kill more people than all the other scary things we worry about.
Good motivation to keep learning more recipes and eating food that is good for us.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Basil Pesto Chicken and Veggies

My meals are going to focus on lean meats and a variety of vegetables for the next 3-5 months. I am working on eating the least amount of sugar, yeast, fungus (mushrooms), and mold (dairy) as possible because I think they are contributing to a yeast imbalance which is compromising my immune system due to an over use of antibiotics. After spring break, I’ll be going on a very strict diet for at least of month, after which will be working in a variety of food slowly into my diet. I’ll go into more details, as we get closer to that time. But I figure it doesn’t hurt to work on achieving the goals of that temporarily restrictive diet because it is healthy and it will show me that I can do it.

Artichoke hearts
Yellow Onion
Sun-dried Tomatoes
Raw Cashews
Olive Oil
Basil Based Pesto

1. Slice everything into bite size pieces.
2. Add a little olive oil to the pan
3. Add garlic for about 30 seconds, until you smell it
4. Add chicken, let cook about 2-3 minutes with garlic
5. Add eggplant, let cook about 1-2 minutes
6. Add onion, let cook about 2-3 minutes
7. Add, artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes, let cook about 2-3 minutes
8. Add Basil Based Pesto and Cashews, let cook for about 1-2 minutes

You may add rice or pasta to the meal or it may be served on its own.

Enjoy! Elizabeth