Chicken-Spinach Wraps with Zucchini Fries

What? I’m supposed to go back to posting recipes now?!

Thanks for hanging in with me while I posted a weeks worth of Jeopardy updates. It was a close and hard fought game last night, one that I know my husband would love the chance to play again, but he had a fantastic run! Thank you for watching him and for all the support and enthusiasm!

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Food wise, the last week has consisted of night after night of Jeopardy viewing parties. Chips, pizza, cakes… and all my work on food moderation flew out the door.

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I’ve been noticing what some of my fellow grad students bring to class to eat or have at cookouts – yogurt/oatmeal/fruit mixture breakfasts, brie/bread/fruit lunches and lentil/brown rice/goat cheese sides for dinner with freshly baked wheat bread. The way they eat blows my mind, and I’m envious. On a weeknight when I’m strapped for time, my fall backs are spaghetti & marinara or a quickly thrown together chicken dish. I just never default to vegetarian dishes; I would have no clue how to make a filling meal out of it.. yet their dishes always look hearty, healthy, natural and delicious. I guess I have to reprogram my meat and potatoes brain?

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So this meal was something I was able to throw together quickly, but I did try to venture somewhat outside the box. The zucchini fries don’t taste like french fries, but they are good. They’re crunchy and non-greasy, and depending on the spice you give them they can take on a couple different flavors. The original recipe for them is from Weight Watchers, but I kicked it up with some cayenne because I found the original to be a tad bland. I don’t do fake substitutes for fatty things (sorry dad, you can keep your cheeseless cheese), so I found these fries to be a nice compromise.

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Chicken-Spinach Wraps with Zucchini Fries

For the wraps –
low fat flour tortillas
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (cooked and seasoned like this, except heat oven to 400F and cook for 20 minutes)
1 can black beans, drained and warmed
1/3 package of frozen spinach, cooked according to package instructions

For the zucchini fries (adapted from Weight Watchers) –
olive oil cooking spray
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne
dash of Old Bay Seasoning
1 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp table salt
3/4 cups dried panko bread crumbs
2 medium zucchini, cut into 4 chunks, then each chunk halved
2 large egg whites, whipped to almost soft peaks

Begin to make zucchini fries when chicken is about halfway done cooking (using suggested method above).
Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. In a small bowl, mix together Italian seasoning, Cayenne, Old Bay, flour and salt. Place panko in another small bowl.

Dredge a zucchini fry in flour mixture and then dip into egg whites followed by bread crumbs. Place coated zucchini on prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining pieces; liberally coat with cooking spray and add to oven under the chicken (peaking at chicken for doneness). Turn once about halfway through. For crispier fries, cook longer.

When chicken is done, cool slight and cut into small pieces with a knife and fork. Add black beans, cooked spinach and chicken to wraps and fold. Serve zucchini fries immediately.

Seven Minute Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Or… bananaberries?

YUM – Thanks, Lifehack. Click here to start chomping.

Pan Fried Curry Potatoes with Cauliflower

Potato Curry With Cauliflower

We interrupt your regular Jeopardy updates with a recipe. (Keep kicking butt, Morgan)

My mother almost never uses salt. She doesn’t think it’s necessary in a well prepared dish and practically swears against it, no matter the quantity. We often cook together when I visit and whenever we do you can guarantee that she’ll cut the salt from whatever recipe we’re working from (I must admit, often she’s right). I couldn’t help but think that she’d approve of this dish as I whipped it together, being very minimalist on not only salt, but spices in general. I did add salt while eating it, though. 😉

Yukon Gold Potatoes Sliced Onions

The weather has been amazing here lately and on top of climbing, grilling and just wearing less (bow chica bow wow), I’ve been thinking a lot about the upcoming bumper crop of vegetables and fruit. It’s going to rock! The roots are still kicking though, and after seeing cauliflower on sale at my local grocery store I decided it would be paired well with some yukon golds. Not a bad recipe, but I’d cut the potatoes smaller than shown in these photos.

Potatoes And Cauliflower

Pan Fried Curry Potatoes with Cauliflower

4 tablespoons olive oil
6 yukon gold potatoes; peeled and chopped (about half the size in photos!)
2 tablespoon butter
2 onions; cut into quarter slices
1 jalepeno; minced
3 cloves garlic; minced
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1/2 head cauliflower; cut into bite size florets (a wee bit smaller than in photos)
1 1/2-2 teaspoons curry; quantity and type of your choosing
1/2 cup water

Cook the potatoes with four tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick pan on medium-high heat (pan fry) for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Drain the potatoes on some paper towels and set aside. Reduce to medium heat, melt the butter and add the onions, cooking for 5 minutes until soft and lightly browned.

Add the pepper, garlic and ginger, cooking for another few minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Add the cauliflower, potatoes, curry and simmer covered (you may need to raise the heat briefly) until the the cauliflower is tender and the potatoes are easily pierced; approximately 15-20 minutes. Serve with salt and enjoy.

Ghost Failures

Chocolate Guinness Cake
From “Feast” by Nigella Lawson

Anyone ever made this cake? I tried it over the weekend, and it’s the first bundt cake I’ve ever had actually fall apart when I turned it over to get it out of the pan.

ANGER! 🙂

Day Three!

Good morning, DC readers!

m_jeopardy

Just sending out a reminder to tune in tonight for Day 3 of my husband, Morgan Saxby, on JEOPARDY! This experience has been so exciting – thanks everyone for watching!

Crock Pot Skeptics

Check out this new Washington Post article for crock pot skeptics – Cooking for One: Discovering slow cookers.

Shameless Plug Part 2!

More shameless plugging!

One more day until my husband is on Jeopardy! Click here to see what time the show is on in your area.



Food Photography – Scenes from Easter (sorta)

I spent Easter sleeping. Having just come off of a night shift at the hospital, my body was angry. These photos are from the day before Easter, which was the first day back of the Cville City Market and the day of the Charlottesville 10 Miler (don’t worry, I did not participate). After we loaded up on farmers market goodies, we took Biscuit to a great dog park we just found that has a lake area for pups to swim. He had the time of his life.

So I took a raincheck on Easter this year, though I did make Smitten Kitchen’s Spinach and Cheese Strata for dinner along with some kielbasa. The strata was amazing, but let me caution you to use a low baking dish – I used corningware and it took twice as long to cook. D’oh.

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I just don’t understand how people enjoy running these things..

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A pretty awesome string band (and their dog) played as the runners slogged by.

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There weren’t too many vegetables out yet, but there were lots of great potted plants.

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My husband zeroed in on the one stand selling apples.

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Herbs and flowers were all around.

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I want to say these are bright and gorgeous ranunculus – any flower experts out there?

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There were some fresh and lovely looking lettuces.

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There were also some new vendors this year; I like this girl looking pensively at the colorful skirts and tops.

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Then it was time for Biscuit to enjoy the dog park.

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The pups try to intimidate some geese.

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Then Biscuit’s new friend says, “Come on, the water’s great!” But Biscuit has never been in the water before.

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He tests the water a bit, but keeps close to the biggest dog I’ve ever seen.. apparently an Alaskan Malamute.

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See that speck in the water? Someone has found his new love.

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Everyone joins in the fun. Hope you had a great Easter!

Shameless Plug!

This is a shameless, non-food related plug and I have no excuse! All I can say is that I’m very, very excited.. and I hope you watch my husband, Morgan, this Thursday on Jeopardy! You can check out his “hometown howdy” here.

(Earlier I embedded the video in this post, but it sounded like that was making peoples’ computers explode?)

How To Make Excellent Baklava Without Disaster

We had a reader request not too long ago for some guidance on how to make the Turkish dessert Baklava. The complexity lies in the use of phyllo dough, paper thin sheets of flour that are stacked atop each other to form the bulk this dish’s culinary mass. Countless adventurous bakers have undertaken the task of making Baklava, only to be met with frustration as sheet after sheet of phyllo dough tears and falls apart.

Aww Nuts Mmm Filling

The problem with phyllo dough is that it dries very, very quickly. Fresh out of its package phyllo dough is delicate, but certainly not fragile. The trick, then, is to take that window of not-dry opportunity and stretch it as far as possible (and working effectively in that window of course).

Keep Phyllo From Drying Baklava Ready For The Oven

The first thing you want to do is prepare a large clean area to work with. You want a spot for your phyllo dough, your baking pan, two bowls of filling and a bowl of melted butter with brush. Give yourself a little breathing room so you’re not bumping one thing into another, especially around the phyllo sheets. Feel free to move the fillings aside, as they will be used the least often.

Baklava Baklava Close Up

Any questions?

Baklava Awesomeness
1 lb phyllo dough

Filling 1
3 cups crushed nuts (walnut, almonds, pistachio, or any combination)

Filling 2
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Syrup
1 1/2 cup water
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 325° and grease a 9 inch baking pan. Be sure to grease it well, as baklava will tear or separate easily.

Divy your phyllo dough into two stacks/portions and put one stack in the fridge, sealed. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on your work space and place the non-refrigerated sheets on top. Place another sheet of plastic wrap on top followed by a damp towel. As you are working you will fold back the towel and top layer of plastic, remove the sheets you need, re-cover with the towel and plastic, repeat. This will slow the drying process. Work smoothly, efficiently, but calmly. If you’re feeling rushed you’re either working too fast or you need a Zanax. : – P If you get a little tearing here and there, don’t fret. When you’ve used all the dough from one stack, move on to the other.

Place two sheets of phyllo dough into your pan and lightly brush butter on top. Place another two on top of these two and butter again. Repeat until you have a total of eight sheets in your pan. Sprinkle half of each of your fillings atop, distributing evenly as possible. Begin placing more phyllo sheets, just as before until you have another eight sheets added. Sprinkle the rest of your remaining filling and continue placing the remaining phyllo sheets as before.

Take a sharp serrated knife (so it doesn’t crush or pull on the sheets) and cut into small 1-2 inch squares, but don’t cut quite all the way through (just eyeball it). My sister claims this helps your syrup absorb better.

Bake for 35 minutes, reduce to 300° and bake for another 45-60 minutes, until golden brown. While baking, throw all your syrup ingredients into a saucepan, bring to a soft boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside. When baklava is ready, remove from oven and immediately pour your syrup evenly over the baklava. Let cool completely (this will take several hours. torture). Complete the square cuts and serve cold or rewarmed. Enjoy.