breaking bread is a universal ritual that brings us together. a good meal has the power to heal us, body and soul. all my cooking comes from the heart.

Friday, February 20, 2015


I recently took my first stab at making quasi-sourdough bread. It's not real sourdough since instead of a starter--which takes some time--I used packaged yeast and Greek yogurt for the leavening and tartness. 

I used a recipe from The Good Housekeeping Step-by-Step Cookbook. I have the 1997 edition so not sure how different the current edition is, but I love this cookbook. I tend to develop my own recipes but like to try out a standard or traditional one first, then start tweaking the methods, timing, and ingredients. What is great about this cookbook is that it takes a recipe, e.g., risotto, walks you through the steps with photographs not only of the finished product but of important stages during preparation, and then provides a couple other modifications to the main recipe. My edition also includes tables of conversions and a lot of "basics" information on outfitting your kitchen and the like.

Even if it wasn't "real" sourdough, it was delicious hot from the oven smothered in butter. Then I got a craving for grilled cheese. Boats and toasters don't mix (toasters draw way too much electricity), so I toasted some slices in a non-stick pan, covered them with sharp white cheddar, and covered the pan with a plate to help the cheese melt a bit. Once the cheese was soft but not oozing out, I assembled the little sandwiches and the result was scrumptious. I only wish I'd had a bowl of tomato soup to go with them! 

Next time I may experiment with adding some chunks of cheese in the dough. I was considering adding sesame seeds and Kosher salt on top but that would require an egg wash to the crust and this one is supposed to be brushed with water to get the right chewiness. Perhaps I'll have to make one of each! I can only turn out one loaf at a time due to my small boat oven, but there's just nothing like baked goods hot and fresh from the oven.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

making ingredients multitask

I am a firm believer in making prep work and ingredients go as far as possible. I often pick up six chicken breasts, marinate them for a few days in a Ziploc bag with olive oil, chopped garlic, fresh ground pepper, and kosher salt. I grill up the chicken, cut it all up into bite-sized pieces, and store it in the reefer for use in multiple recipes. Not starting from scratch for each meal also helps me resist eating out or eating junk. It's one of my ways to set myself up for success instead of setting myself up for failure. 

One of my go-to chicken dishes is this Greek-inspired concoction. Heat 5 ounces (about 170 calories) of grilled chicken breast in a sauté pan; I use a non-stick pan (I know, they are not good for us) with a little olive oil cooking spray (calories are negligible). I add a sliced zucchini (about 60 calories for two cups, which is a decent-sized zucchini), sautéing it quickly to get it tender, but still looking bright. (I cut the zucchini rounds in half to make them more bite-sized.) Add fresh ground pepper and kosher salt to taste, and sprinkle with a healthy dose of oregano. Top with 2 ounces of light feta cheese (80 calories). In under ten minutes you've got a flavorful plate full of food for just over 300 calories.
I rarely grill up a bunch of chicken and don't make some iteration of my "Chicken and Italian Sausage" recipe. This time I sautéed half a chopped sweet onion in one tablespoon of olive oil until translucent. I then added two teaspoons of fresh chopped garlic. I added 3 ounces of sliced Baby Bella mushrooms and a tablespoon of butter. I gave the mushrooms a few minutes to sauté and then added the chicken and Italian sausage, which were already grilled and cut. I gave all those ingredients a few minutes to mingle and then added 3 ounces of White Bordeaux (it was a savingnon blanc and semillion blend). Then I poured in one cup of vegetable broth, reduced heat very low, covered the pan, and let everything simmer very gently for 20 minutes or so. I steamed up about two cups of broccoli and added it close to serving time so it would hold onto its vitamins and bright color. The base in this case was angel hair pasta, which cooks in just 4 minutes, saving me propane and time and creating less steam and heat in the boat.

Here's the ingredient and calorie breakdown:
1 tbsp olive oil (120 calories)
Half a sweet onion, chopped (50 calories)
2 tsp garlic, chopped (10 calories)
3 ounces Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced (7 calories)
1 tbsp butter (100 calories)
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, grilled and cut (400 calories)
1 sweet Italian sausage, grilled and sliced (260 calories)
3 ounces white wine (I prefer sauvingon blanc or riesling for this) (75 calories)
1 cup vegetable broth (15 calories)
2 cups broccoli, steamed (60 calories)
8 ounces angel hair pasta, cooked and drained (800 calories)

Serves four; 475 calories per serving.

This one has nothing to do with my multitasking but the avocados I buy all ripen at the same time so needing to use one up, I made this delicious omelet. Two eggs beaten with fresh ground pepper and kosher salt. Once the omelet was ready to fill I added a quarter cup of reduced fat shredded mexi-cheese, a very small avocado (about three quarters of the size of a normal small one), and then topped it with a generous drizzle of Sriracha sauce. Yum! About 325 calories of healthy fat and protein to keep me full for breakfast.