Monthly Archives: October 2011

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

It's not the prettiest cake ever, but it definitely was one of the tastiest!

I. Love. Halloween. It is, without a doubt, my favorite holiday of the entire year. I love the decorations, the excitement, the spooky stories…everything. But, most of all, pheasants, I love dressing up. Costuming is one of my favorite pastimes…I have a closet full of Snow White, Goddess, pirate and princess costumes back at my parents’ house. I love making my costumes and getting ready for Halloween. It drives M nuts. She firmly believes that once one hits puberty, all Halloween-ing goes out the window. I respectfully disagree. Halloween is my favorite time of the year.

And to celebrate this year’s excellent holiday, I decided to start off my day with a mini upside-down apple cake. As we were falling asleep last night, I was telling M how much I’d like to do a layered oatmeal cake, and it got me thinking…why wait? I love upside down cakes, almost as much as I love cheesecake (which is a lot!) I think they’re fun, tasty, and absolutely amazing. Also, what could be easier and nicer for a chilly morning breakfast than some warm, creamy baked oatmeal layered with sweet and cinnamony apples?

I will admit it…I was very tempted to make my Pheasant’s Shirred Eggs again…but I find that when I eat oatmeal in the mornings, I make better food choices during the rest of my day.

After yesterday’s oatmeal cake (my first oatmeal cake ever, mind you!) I’ve decided that I’d like to bake mine a bit less, because I like a softer interior. And pheasants…it came out phenomenally. The apples were soft and full of flavor, the oatmeal creamy in the center and firm on the sides. It was glorious. I didn’t add sugar to the oatmeal itself this time, because the apples were sweet and I added honey to the bottom (inverted top) layer while building it. I’d definitely recommend this for any type of fruit…cherries, strawberries, blackberries. Use them frozen if you’ve got them, and just use a little less water in the recipe. Use your imagination, pheasants! For, as Albert Einstein said, “Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination can take you anywhere.”

Baked Oatmeal Upside Down Cake

1/2 c. oats, less 2 tbsp

1/4 c. water

1/3 medium apple (I used a Gala)

1/2 tsp honey

1/4 tbsp  heavy cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

As much cinnamon as you like!

So, pheasants, you know the drill: set that oven to 375°F (191°C for my Canadian and international pheasants.) In a spice grinder, pulse a pinch of oats until flour. Add this flour to a bowl, then add in the oats, cinnamon, cream and water. Mix it together, then set it aside. Chop up the apple into small bits (about twice the size of a grain of rice was what I went with.) For the first layer, set a thick layer of apples on the bottom of the ramekin. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and drizzle honey over it all. Mix it up with a spoon and spread it out again. Then, put about half the oatmeal mixture on top, spreading it out so everything touches the walls. Repeat with one more layer of apples (cinnamon- and honey-free this time) and then spoon in the remaining oatmeal. Spread it all out well, and then pop that baby in the oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on how chewy you like your oats, and how soft you like it inside.

Questionable content: 

Are there any recipes in particular you’d like to see me try?

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Filed under Pastas, grains and oatmeal

Things you can make in a ramekin, part I

Pheasants, I have glorious news for you! Today, M and I went to the Seattle Premium Outlets and we got two of the most beautiful little ramekins from Le Creuset (in Cobalt and Cherry, if you’re curious.) Thus sparked the idea in me of a little series I’m starting, called “things you can make in a ramekin.”

To start with, pheasants, what is a ramekin?

This is a ramekin.

Well, it’s a little round bowl, like a tiny pot, without a lid. Generally, they’re made of ceramic. The term itself (French, ramequin) is from the Middle German and Dutch via French. From what I’ve researched, it seems like a tie between them, because root words in Middle German and Middle Dutch that seem to have become the term ramekin meant “little cream” or “toast,” respectively. Why, I’ve no idea. Mostly, they’re little glazed dishes for baking, serving dips and utilizing as little snack bowls. However, M and I sat down when we got home and I had an idea: these small dishes are so handy with their (usually) single-serving sizes; why not come up with some recipes for ramekins that will help create easy, delicious and beautiful meals, personalized to each individual?

To begin the series which, I hope, will help you find new and exciting ways to eat your breakfasts, lunches and suppers, I want to tell you how much I love anything in its own “personal serving dish.” Small amounts of food in small dishes is one of my most favorite things, hence why today I’m making a shirred egg for breakfast and an oatmeal cake to go with my lunch.

First, I’d like to point out the wonderful things about shirred eggs: they’re easy, tasty, and you can pile vegetables underneath them to make them significantly healthier than just an egg in a ramekin. Also, for all you college students, shirred eggs are quick and easy, with minimal cleanup (no pan and spatula to wash!) Serve it up with some strong tea and toast soldiers (toasted bread cut into long strips) and you’ve got yourself a beautiful European breakfast fit for royalty.

As for baked oatmeal, it’s healthy and lovely. It can be sweet (I love sweet!) or savory (cheese and chives, anyone?) Once you’ve got the basic recipe down, I’m of the mindset that you can do just about anything with them. Bake up five or six and set them in the fridge to grab for breakfast when you’re in a hurry!

Pheasant’s Baked Oatmeal

1/2 c. oats (not the minute oats or flavored, packaged stuff)

1 tbsp fat-free cream cheese

1/8 c. 2% milk

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

First, Pam your ramekin well so nothing sticks to it. Preheat your oven to 375°F (about 191°C.) Then, in a regular bowl, mix up the oats, cream cheese, milk, cinnamon and extract. If you want an easier time mixing in the cream cheese, you can nuke it a bit. Alternatively, if you’re worried about sticking power (as I was) you can take about a teaspoon’s worth of oats before you mix and pulse it in a spice grinder to make an oat flour. Once all this is done, stick the ramekin in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Let it sit for a moment, then, enjoy!

Because the caloric and nutritional counter I use is currently down, there’s no nutritional information included. However, this recipe has about 231 calories.

Shirred Eggs, Pheasant Style

1 egg

1/2 tbsp heavy cream

A few pinches hard, white cheese (maybe 1/2 tsp)

1/2 c. spinach

2 tbsp salmon, raw

1 tbsp onions, chopped

1 tbsp green onions, chopped

If you don’t have the salmon and onions (I actually used about four tablespoons of lomi salmon for this) you can definitely substitute it for tomatoes, onions, cheese, or whatever else you like eating with your eggs.

Preheat your oven to 375°F (191°C.) Pam your ramekin well (we don’t want sticky messes!) then, place the salmon, onions and spinach in the bottom. Crack an egg over it. Stick this in your preheated oven for about nine minutes. Then, take it out and drip the cream over the top, as well as any seasonings you like (I used cayenne and sea salt) and the chees. Stick it back in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes (ten will yield a runny yolk, whereas twelve will give it more firmness.) Take it out and let it sit, then enjoy!

Servings: 1 ~ Calories: 150 ~ Fat: 9g ~ Carbs: 3g ~Protein 12.5g ~ Sodium: 93m

Note: I have decided that shirred eggs done this way is most definitely my favorite breakfast of all time. The mix of salmon, onions, spinach and egg made for such a savory, flavorful and beautiful meal, I could hardly wait to make it again the second I’d finished it!

Questionable content:

What types of foods would you like to see me mini-fy and make inside a ramekin?

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Filed under All things eggs, Pastas, grains and oatmeal

Eggs, eggs, eggs!

Good morning, pheasants!

I love mornings. Well…to be honest, I’m not a morning person, but I do like them when I see them! M also loves herself some mornings…mostly because, she really likes breakfasts. Most especially, M loves eggs. When we first met, I was absolutely shocked by how often and how happily she wolfed them down.

I must thank M for her egg love, though…she’s made me an absolute pro at cooking them sunny-side up (just the way she likes them.) So, here I have for you some tips and tricks for cooking the  best eggs you’ll ever have.

•When making scrambled eggs, using water instead of milk will keep the eggs from weeping.

•It may sound like common sense, but once you’ve cracked an egg into a pan, unless you’re looking to scramble them, just leave them alone! If you poke and prod, you’ll nearly always come out with a broken yolk.

•Try out new flavors! I’ve found that curry powder (just a touch!) lends beautiful, rich flavor to eggs, as does truffle oil. Cayenne pepper adds a wonderful kick; freshly-ground black pepper makes them bright and peppy. Test out new things…if you have an idea, run with it! It never hurts to try, and you may end up finding something you love more than anything you’ve ever had before.

M’s Eggs

1 egg

1/2 tbsp olive oil

Set the oil in a small pan set (not preheated) over medium heat. Crack the egg directly over the oil, so it sinks down into it. Then, season it, cover it up, and wait. When the white is nearly entirely cooked, shake the pan and tilt it to slide the egg nearer the center. Cover it again, and once the eggs are done to your liking, serve ’em up. M likes hers with a few drops of white truffle oil, some sea salt, and toast. I prefer mine with cayenne pepper.

Servings: 1 ~ Calories: 80 ~ Fat: 5g ~ Carbs: 1g ~Protein: 6g ~ Sodium: 65mg

Pheasant’s Scrambled Eggs

1 egg

1 tbsp water

Dash of salt

Pam

Scramble your egg, then add in the water. Sprinkle in the salt and beat it again; make sure everything is really well combined. Then, heat a small pan over medium heat. Wait for it to get nice and hot (if you hold your hand an inch or so above the pan, you can tell; alternately, you can drop some water into the pan. If it skitters and dances around, it’s too hot. If it bubbles and begins to steam, you’re good.) Then, spray your pan with Pam, and add in your eggs. Using a rubber spatula, stir the eggs around, making sure to get all the cooked bits off the bottom. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to stir. If you like larger curds in your eggs, let it sit longer, and then scrape the spatula across the entire pan, returning to the previous side before repeating.

Servings: 1 ~ Calories: 70 ~ Fat: 4g ~ Carbs: 1g ~Protein: 6g ~ Sodium: 95mg

Questionable content:

Pheasants, how do you enjoy your eggs? Do you have any tricks for making them come out just the way you like them?

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Filed under All things eggs

Eating out and low-calorie diets

Pheasants, I need your help.

This weekend is a weekend of greatness: family has come over from Hawaii to visit. Not only that, but my favorite uncle and one of the most amazing men I know is having a birthday. We all know what this means…

Restaurants. And what comes from restaurants, dear pheasants, besides delicious, wonderful, amazing food? Huge portions, enormous caloric values and, unfortunately, all those smells and sitting around. I could eat entire plates at restaurants and still be excited for more. But alas, alack, this cannot be.

With 1300 calories a day and a set max value for cholesterol, sodium (!), fat, etc, eating everything in sight can’t happen. This is why I’ve exhaustively researched and prepared a list of things to watch for at restaurants where the fare might not be…quite as healthy as we’d like. I’ve especially searched for ethnic restaurant tips, because my family loves ethnic food. My father is Chinese and, growing up in Hawaii, both my parents have a massive love for very true-to-their-roots restaurants. So, here are some helpful suggestions to help you get through the evening:

1) Try to stay away from the hardcore carbs that will be on the table.

This is especially true in Asian restaurants (rice, noodles) and Mexican restaurants (those chips…they’re pretty laden with oils and fats.) Even in African restaurants, though, they’ll serve up chapati or injera, and you’ll need to be careful about those.

2) If you’re going to eat the hardcore carbs, try to order something more meat- or vegetable-based than carb-based.

It may sound like common sense to you, but there are a lot of people who won’t think twice about eating a plate stacked with noodles and rice (me.) So, if you love rice as much as I do, or injera, or chips, order an entree that’s more meat- or (even better) vegetable-based. It will keep your carb count low(er) than if you were to, say, go with beans and rice and tortillas, or Pad Thai and rice.

3) Try to steer clear of sauces. (This rule is mostly for Asian restaurants)

Sauces are a lot like juice: tasty and lovely, but they’re heavy with calories that don’t fill you up. If you can, ask for your sweet and sour chicken plain, with the sauce in a bowl on the side. When ordering noodle dishes, ask for half the sauce to be tossed on your noodles and the other half served on the side (or not at all.)

4) If you’re at a Middle Eastern or an Indian restaurant, though…

…load up on their chutneys and dipping sauces! Indian-style (or Middle Eastern) restaurants have great, spicy sauces, which help you to eat less. They’re also flavorful and made with great, natural ingredients that help you feel good. The mint samosa sauce in particular is great for you with loads of the herb, lemon juice and other great, natural flavors. Their chutneys are full of fruits and vegetables too that will add flavor without adding major calories.

5) If you must have it fried, order a large side of (not fried or heavily-cooked) veggies.

If you’re at a Chinese restaurant and you can’t live without your sweet and sour chicken, have the waiter or waitress take the plate and box it up once you’ve taken off one portion. Also, order a large side of steamed vegetables and feel free to indulge. Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce are especially great for flavor and filler when you’re trying to eat well while eating out.

6) Portion control, portion control, portion control.

This is a mindset that you will definitely need to practice and drill into your head, especially when you come from a big family (or a family of big eaters): You will be able to eat more of it later. You need to remember that scarfing it all down right then and there will only bring you pain later, and if you portion it now, you’ll have meals for days. Days, pheasants. It’s a good investment to restrain yourself.

But, most of all, pheasants, remember that you need to enjoy yourself while eating out. Sharing food and sharing culture is a beautiful, wonderful thing. Prepare yourself before you go in, and you won’t have to worry about a thing for the rest of the night (except for what you’ll do with the leftovers, and when!)

Questionable content: 

What tips do you use to keep from overindulging when you go out?

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Filed under Pastas, grains and oatmeal

Spinach-stuffed sole

So, pheasants, how do you feel about fish?

As for me, I absolutely adore fish. Both of my parents hail from the lovely and sunny state of Hawaii, where fish is practically a staple. My dad has lots of stories of going out fishing with his brothers, and whenever we go back, my family loves nothing more than to visit the Suisan Fish Market for the tuna, opihi (like limpets, but much better) and anything else they’ve got for sale that day. It’s heaven to look at, and the local boys working there aren’t bad either!

From a very young age, I learned to love fish. It hasn’t always been that way, though, pheasants. Believe it or not, there was a time when I wouldn’t touch the stuff. I turned my nose up at it, believing it to be disgusting, nasty stuff…that wasn’t, however, the case with lobster. And my dad is a devious man when he puts his mind to it.

I can’t recall exactly what age I was when it happened, but we went out for supper one night after many, many nights of coaxing on my parents’ behalf to get me to love those delicious morsels from the sea. I wouldn’t have it. At this restaurant (a seafood restaurant) we all ordered. I was quite excited, because although I didn’t like fish, I was mad for all other sea critters: shrimp, crab, lobster, mussels, clams. I’d scarf them down like they were going to be my last meal. And, like any young child, I didn’t pay a whit of attention to my parents’ orders. The coloring mat I’d been giving was much, much more interesting.

So, the food came, and I was all a-bounce for it. My dad, casual and wonderful man that he is, cut up his food, and offered me a forkful. I sniffed and turned away.

“I don’t want that!” I said. “You know I don’t like fish.”

“I ordered lobster,” My dad said, and, more excited than not, I gleefully shoved the fork in my mouth, chewed, and swallowed. Then, I frowned. “Did you not like it?” He asked.

“I liked it a lot. But it doesn’t taste a thing like lobster. Are you sure that’s what they gave you?”

“Not at all. Because I ordered fish.”

Oh, pheasants, can you imagine the heartbreak, the horror I felt at this deception? I pouted. I frowned. I couldn’t believe this. But it tasted so good, pheasants. So, so buttery, smooth, and with just the right touch of salt. And thus began my love affair with all things piscine.

So, it was with great excitement that I headed with the girlf (from here on out, she requests to be known as M. I’ll never be able to think of her as anyone else but the James Bond character again) down to Costco, that wondrous land of plenty. We were headed for the fish section. About a month before, we’d purchased some lovely tilapia fillets, which were completely and utterly delightful. My dad can say what he will about tilapia, but it’s absolutely delicious to me.  However, this time, M picked up a pack of Dover sole fillets.

“How about this?” She said. I turned away.

“Sole tastes like nothing,” I replied. “Why not go with the tilapia again?”

“Sole is cheaper,” M insisted. She loves it when things are “cheaper.” I shrugged.

“Fine, but it won’t taste like much.”

So, tonight’s supper is, after everything, going to be stuffed sole. And not just any stuffed sole, pheasants. Don’t ever think I go with “just” anything. No. We’re stuffing this sole with garlic-scented wilted spinach, baking it, and topping that puppy off with an aioli sauce to knock your socks off.

Pheasant’s Spinach-Stuffed Sole Fillets

2 Dover sole fillets

1 1/2 cups packed fresh spinach, washed and drained

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 tsp black pepper, optional

1/2 tsp olive oil

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 whole lemon, rolled and halved

1/4 tsp roasted garlic oil, optional

1/2 tsp butter

To begin with, you’ll want to put a pan on medium heat, and add the olive oil and garlic. Wait for the garlic to saute, and when it’s slightly golden and extremely fragrant, add the spinach. Toss the greens in the oil and garlic, coating everything. Allow it to wilt down, then take the pan off the heat and divide the spinach into two equal portions.

Placing the sole on a foil-lined, Pam’d, rimmed baking sheet, place half the spinach (make sure it’s cooled, so you don’t burn yourself!) on one sole fillet, and squeeze some of the lemon juice onto it. Then, roll it up like you’re making a pig in a blanket. You can secure it with a toothpick if you like. Once both fillets are all nice and roly-poly, place the butter and garlic oil in a small dish, whisking them together until they’re blended (or, to skip this, just nuke it for about ten seconds.) Then, divide and baste each fillet with half that beautiful mixture. Sprinkle on some cayenne pepper and parsley, if you like, then stick them in the oven for 6-7 minutes, or until the flesh is opaque and looks cooked. Once they’re out, let them rest for a moment. Sprinkle with more lemon juice, dollop on some aioli if you please, and dig in!

Servings: 1 ~ Calories: 250 ~ Fat: 9g ~ Carbs: 9.5g ~ Fiber: 3g ~Protein: 34g ~ Sodium: 612mg

Questionable content:

What types of fresh, regional fish do you prefer?

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Filed under Seafood

Aioli!

I think that hollandaise has to be one of my most favorite sauces. Ever. Her sister aioli is pretty attractive too, though, come to think of it…

The last time I had aioli was at a great place in the U District named Varlamos. They served it up alongside some of the best calamari I’ve ever had the honor to put in my mouth. And that calamari was beautiful, but the aioli…¡ay, caramba! It was like nothing, I tell you, nothing I’d ever put in my mouth before. It was beautiful. Creamy, garlicky (has anyone noticed how often I put those two adjectives together? It’s because they work!) and just pungent enough to tickle your taste buds; it was gorgeous.

As I said, tonight is going to be my first romp with stuffed sole. I wanted it to be good, so I got cocky with it and decided to add “with aioli” to the end of my title. Ohhhh yeahhhh. So, I set out to make aioli.

Let me tell you: the first batch was sad. It broke, there was oil everywhere. I got oil everywhere, pheasants. Even on the walls. My second attempt was better. It came out thick and creamy, like souped-up mayonnaise. I don’t even like mayo, and this was amazing. Now, I did also make a Skinny Pheasant aioli that’s quite nice (much whiter, and has approximately a third the calories of the Pheasant aioli.) It’s good, too, but when you want something really special…go with the Pheasant aioli, okay?

Pheasant Aioli

1 egg yolk

1 clove garlic

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/3 c. oil (I used a garlic and olive mix, but you can do any kind you like)

cayenne pepper to taste

So, you’ll want to start out by mincing that garlic up fine, and I mean fine. We don’t want any huge clumps of garlic making an entrance into your beautiful, sleek aioli. Then, sprinkle a little salt over the minced garlic and, turning your knife on its broad side, press it down and bring it back across the garlic. Do this a few times, making sure to scrape up the garlic and pile it back up again after each press. It should begin to work itself into a chunky paste.

Once that’s done, take a mixing bowl and put your egg yolk into it, along with the garlic. Whisk that until it’s creamy and everything is all mixed together. Now comes the fun part: add a small, small bit of the oil to the egg, and whisk like your life depends on it. It needs to set up into a thick, creamy mayonnaise-like consistency. Once it’s thickened and the oil is all combined, add in another little bit. Keep doing this, whisking like no other after each addition of oil, until the entire 1/3 cup of oil is mixed in. Once it’s set, add the cayenne and correct for salt. The finished product should be yellow (or greenish, if you used a heavy olive oil) and thick like butter or mayo. It will keep in the refrigerator for a long time, so enjoy it!

Servings: 8 ~ Calories: 133 ~ Fat: 14.5g ~Protein: .5g ~ Sodium: 31mg

And, for those of you who want the lower-calorie version:

Skinny Pheasant Aioli

1 garlic clove

1/8 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp mayonnaise

1 1/2 tbsp reduced fat sour cream

cayenne pepper to taste

You’re going to do with the garlic clove the same as you do in the regular Pheasant Aioli, working it down into a paste after mincing it. Once that’s done, add the mayo, sour cream and cayenne pepper. Mix it up, taste it and correct. Then, let it sit for about half an hour so the flavors can blend.

Servings: 2 ~ Calories: 50 ~ Fat: 5g ~ Carbs: 1.5g ~Protein: .5g ~ Sodium: 46mg

Questionable content: 

What’s your favorite type of sauce or condiment? Why?

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Filed under Sauces and condiments

Oatmeal Lovin’

So, pheasants, I have a passion for oatmeal that I feel you must know about.

It all started a few weeks ago, when I discovered the blog ChocolateCoveredKatie.com. Katie is an absolute sweetheart, I’m telling you, and she has a lust for oatmeal that entirely matches my own.

In this blog, Katie talks about something she calls “the voluminous oatmeal trick.” Now, the first time I tried this trick, I tried it on the stove. Pheasants, don’t do that. Learn from my mistakes. Make it up in a Pyrex measuring cup and you’ll never go hungry again! Or, rather, not when there’s oatmeal around.

It’s a pretty simple premise: oatmeal is a grain, which readily soaks up water. If you put in the right amount of water for one serving (1/2 cup or 40g) you get…a half cup of oatmeal. But what if you add more? Well, nothing…immediately. You get a bunch of oats swimming in their own private pool. But if you leave it for a few hours, or overnight…wow. You get two cups of the most delicious oatmeal ever. Well, okay. It really tastes like normal oatmeal until you add the delicious sugary things into it, but seriously. For those of you who are looking to watch what you eat (and how much) this oatmeal is definitely the way to go. Come to think of it, it’s a great thing for poor college students, too!

The recipe goes a little something like this:

Katie’s Voluminous Oatmeal

1/2 cup oats

water to fill

Place the oats in a two-cup Pyrex (or another microwave-safe) measuring cup. Fill with water until it reaches the max line. Then, nuke it for three minutes and let it sit for another five. (Or, I like to leave mine in there overnight…but I know a lot of people have this thing about “germs” so you can do as you wish.)  Reheat it the next morning (or eat it cold, if you’re me.) It’s amazing!

I really like sweet things. I’m not ashamed of that. Thus, my oatmeal is usually chock-full of sweet, delicious things. I like honey, cinnamon, cloves, oranges, pomegranate seeds (a lovely, lovely idea I had the other day, which turned out to be even more beautiful in my mouth.) Also, chocolate. Mmm, chocolate. Who says you can’t have it for breakfast? I took a half tablespoon of cocoa powder and a full tablespoon of some Swiss Miss cocoa mix we had lying around, and mixed it in. Ohhhhh yeahhhh. With a nice cup of green tea to finish off, you’ve got yourself a meal, pheasants.

Servings: 1 ~ Calories: 160 ~ Fat: 2g ~ Carbs: 33g ~ Fiber: 3g ~Protein: 4g ~ Sodium: 270mg

And, get ready for tonight! We’re doing a very special post on stuffed sole for one!

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