Monday, October 26, 2009

A Del Monte Healthy & Budget-friendly Meal

Monday to Wednesday, I'm extremely busy with work and school than any other day of the week.  Since I can't eat out everyday, I made a quick, healthy, & budget-friendly meal in less than an hour for dinner tonight.  I found it on the back of a Del Monte corn can, which I purchased today at the grocery store.

Saucy Chicken and Vegetables

Prep:  15 minutes  Cook: 10 minutes Servings: 4

1 can (15-1/4 oz.) Del Monte Whole Kernel Golden Sweet Corn, No Salt Added, drained.
1 can (14-1/2 oz. Del Monte Original Recipe Stewed Tomatoes, No Salt Added
6 oz. (1-1/4 cups) chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup chopped green or red sweet pepper
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme or 3/4 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
1/2 tsp. instant chicken bouillon granules
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 cups hot cooked rice

1.  Combine corn, tomatoes, chicken, sweet pepper, thyme, bouillon granules and crushed red pepper in medium saucepan; heat through.
2.  Serve over rice

I cooked my own chicken instead of buying pre-cooked meat.

Mix all of the ingredients and add more as necessary.  I thought the recipe was very, very bland, so I more than trippled the amount of spices and herbs, as you can see below.

I made saffron rice (from a package!).  It was just as quick as making rice in the rice cooker.  It only took 20 minutes.

Well, that's my dinner for tonight!  I added mushrooms (see Martha Stewart's Sauteed Mushrooms with Thyme recipe) to tonights meal too.

The Del Monte recipe was VERY bland!  You'll definitely want to adjust the flavor to meet your needs.  My heart goes out to those who cannot use salt because this recipe is ultimately for those who are cutting back on their sodium intake.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Martha Stewart's Sauteed Mushrooms with Thyme

For all of you mushroom lovers out there, here's a simple and healthy Martha Stewart recipe for sauteed mushrooms!

Sauteed Mushrooms with Thyme

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
1 1/2 pounds small white mushrooms, halved
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 cup dry red or white wine (or water)

1.  In a skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter with the oil. Add the shallot; cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes.  Raise the heat to medium.  Add the mushrooms; season with salt and pepper.  Cook, covered, until the mushrooms release their liquid, 5 to 6 minutes.

2.  Uncover; raise the heat to high.  Cook, tossing, until the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are brown, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the thyme and wine (or water).  Cook until the skillet is almost dry, 1 minute.

Serve hot.  Serves 4.

(Recipe from pg. 249 of Martha' Stewart's "Great Fast Food" cook book)

Such simple ingredients for an awesome, mushroom side-dish!

It's easy to mince the shallot and to halve the mushrooms ...

Cook the shallots for about 5 minutes until softened.  Unfortunately, I didn't have butter, so I increased the amount of olive oil. 

Increase heat to medium-high and add the mushrooms

Cover the mushrooms, so a liquid will form ... It takes about 5-6 minutes.

Once the liquid formed, I tossed the mushrooms on high heat and added the thyme and water.  I wanted to use white wine, but someone's going to have to show me how to open a wine bottle first!

After sauteeing the mushrooms on high heat, they begin to turn brown ... If you don't have fresh thyme, just add dried thyme instead!

I made this recipe as a side dish tonight and it turned out great.  It was easy.  The mushrooms have a simple, subtle taste that can be easily enjoyed by kids and adults a like (unless you hate mushrooms).

Beef Stew - Quick & Healthy

One of my favorite Beef Stew Recipe's is from Pillsbury's "Fast and Healthy Cookbook (pg. 93)."  It's easy to make especially for those of you who have limited time, but still want to enjoy a healthy meal. 

I enjoy the Pillsbury recipe, but I also tried using a soup packet because I thought it would be "quick and easy" too.  After following the directions on the soup packet, I enjoy the Pillsbury recipe much more now.

Pillsbury Beef Stew

Prep Time: 30 Minutes

3/4 lb. boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
1 small onion, chopped.
3 cups frozen southern-style hash-brown potatoes (from 32-oz. pkg)
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced carrots
1 (4.5-0z) jar sliced mushrooms, drained
1 envelope dry beef-mushroom soup mix
1/4 teaspon dried thyme leaves, crushed
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 1/2 cups water

1.  Heat nonstick Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat until hot.  Add beef and onion; cook 5 minutes or until beef is browned.

2.  Stir in potatoes, carrots, celery and mushrooms;  cook and stir 2 minutes.  Add soup mix, thyme, pepper and water; mix well.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  If desired, serve sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley.

Soup Packet Beef Stew

Besides the Pillsbury recipe, you can always pick up a soup mix too!  It's just as easy, although I feel the Pillsbury recipe is much more fast and tasty, even if there are only subtle differences.

For the soup mix, it's quite simple.  All the instructions are on the back of the mix, so you don't have to dig out a recipe book from your shelf.  All you need to do are the following:

Cover beef (approximately 2 lbs beef stew meat) with flour and brown all sides.

Measure the correct amount of water.  Pour water and soup mix into the pot with browned meat.  It took nearly an hour to cook the meat in order for it to be tender!  In fact, I should have cooked it longer, but I became slighly impatient.  (A slow cooker might be a great option for very tender meat!)

Cut up approximately 5 cups of vegetables for the stew.  After the beef is tender, add the vegetables.  Simmer for another 45 minutes.  I'd recommend cutting the vegetables right before the beef is done, so they will be peak freshness.

After nearly 2 hours, your beef stew will be ready!

As you can see, the Pillsbury recipe is much more quick!  It takes only 30 minutes compared to 2 hours with the soup packet.  However, it is definitely personal preference when it comes to beef stew and everyone's taste buds are different. 

Of course, i'll continue my hunt for a great beef stew recipe, but for now, Pillsbury meets my standards of being quick and delicious.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ryan's Bar & Grill - Hawaii

For lunch today, I wanted to eat somewhere other than the usual.  Since I had a $20 gift card for Ryan's Bar and Grill, it was the perfect place to eat at!

Ryan's Bar & Grill is at Ward Centre in Honolulu, Hawaii.

A multi-award winning restaurant, Ryan's isn't only a great place for lunch or dinner, but the perfect place to hang out for drinks and appetizers (especially after work!).

I was surprised that the staff wasn't picky about seating.  We chose the place we wanted to sit at for lunch (next to a window).  It was pretty empty since it was 3 p.m.  Most people were having drinks & snacking on appetizers.  The waiter didn't care if we ordered off the lunch or dinner menu.  It was very laid-back and the service was exellent!  The staff was very friendly, while the restaurant very clean.

Before our meal, we were given bread sticks.  It was toasted & buttery with garlic and herbs.  My husband quickly grabbed one as soon as it hit the table.

There's nothing like crab cakes ...

I ordered a lunch special.  It came with a mango salad, a drink (coffee, tea, or soda), and 1 select entre. I chose the 1/2 king crab and artichoke sandwich.  It was GOOD and a deal.  It cost $14.00 for my meal.

My sandwich was good. It reminded me of shrimp toast, except with mayo. 

My husband chose "Kalbi," which is Korean style beef short ribs.  For picky eaters, Kalbi is a good choice because it has subtle flavors (delicious) that almost anyone on earth can appreciate. 

While eating dinner, my husband noticed that our gift card had expired.  I wish I used it sooner!   Ryan's can be a little more costly than other restaurants, but the food is great and the service too.  I enjoyed eating here and I would highly recommend it.  It's a great place to take a date or to hang out with friends. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

IchiBen Restaurant - Pearl City, Hawaii (Awesome Noodles!)

As we drove around, starving, we finally decided to head into "IchiBen," a new restaurant in Pearl City, Hawaii between Yogurt Land and IHOP.

Inside fo the restaurant, it's casual and clean.  There are booths (the most comfortable) and of course, regular seating as seen below.  I could only get a corner shot of the restaurant since I didn't want to be intrusive, while people were eating. 

The service at IchiBen was above average.  Our server was extremely polite and attentive.  It's rare to find that kind of service nowadays, so eating at IchiBen was refreshing. 

There are a number of ramen (noodle) dishes with three types of broth. Shoyu (soy sauce), Miso (bean paste), and Paitan (simmered pork soup).  Choose the type of ramen you want (i.e. vegetable, mabo tofu, seafood, etc) with your favorite soup base.  The items on the menu are reasonable.

There are also side dishes, such as gyoza, chicken katsu curry, friend rice, and more.

We ordered fried rice and gyoza.  Of course, we ate the gyoza faster than I could take a photo!  The fried rice was really good too. I'd recommend both.

My husband ordered seafood ramen.  My husband likes vietnamese noodles (pho) more than any other noodle dish, but he actually admitted that he loved IchiBen's ramen and that he would return. I was shocked because rarely does he want to eat ramen noodles.  He even mentioned how he thinks Ichiben is better than some of the top ramen shops he's been to and I would agree.

I ordered the vegetable ramen.  The noodles tasted homemade. They were SO good!  There was wakame (seaweed) in my soup, as well as green vegatables and corn.  I'm not a big fan of wakame, but everything else was perfect.

Of course, my meal could not be complete unless I went next door to Yogurt Land.  After a great meal at Ichiben, I topped it off with yogurt. I was completely satisfied and stuffed.

It was time to take a nap ...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Kua'aina - The Best Hamburgers in Hawaii!

In a rush to find a place to eat, we spotted Kua'aina in down town Honolulu, near Ward theaters.  My sister heard it was a great place to eat at, so I knew I had to check it out.

It's very casual in Kua'aina.  I liked the laid back atmosphere and I would definitely recommend this place to any local or tourist!  They serve hamburgers, sandwiches, and salads.  I had to go for the burgers.  It was a burger kind of day! I'm not much of a meat eater, but let me tell you, their burgers were beyond awesome.  I selected the 1/2 pound pineapple hamburger.  It may sound like a weird combination, but for pineapple lovers, it was too good to be true.

At Kua'aina, you can also add extra items to your sandwich, such as bacon, avocado, pineapple, and more.

I loved my hamburger!

As you can see, it's very casual in Kua'aina.  You order, then wait for your food.  Once your food is ready, you get up, grab it, and eat.

Do you see how awesome the pineapple burger looks? The bun was toasted and the meat was perfectly grilled.  I could have (should have) ordered an extra one!

I liked the fries, but they were different.  They weren't your typical fries because they were tiny!

If you live in Hawaii and haven't eaten here yet, you need to stop at Kua'aina.  I guarantee you will not regret it!  If you are a tourist, check this place out!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Moroccan-Spiced Tomato Chicken with Almonds

Tonight, I cooked "Moroccan-Spiced Tomato Chicken with Almonds."  The recipe is from "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two."  I used the 3-Quart slow cooker for this recipee.

Slow Cooker: 1 1/2 to 3 quart
Setting and Cook Time:  LOW for 2 to 2 1/2 hours

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
1 clove garlic, minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup tomato salsa
2 tablespoons dried currants
4 teaspons honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper taste

My cat Egg Roll could not stop staring at the slow cooker.  (And yes, there is a motorcyle in my living room - temporarily)

My 3 Quart Slower Cooker.  It's perfect for two!  Spray the inside of the crock pot with non-stick cooking spray.

Combine ingredients ...

Although only 1 clove is used, I added a ton more .... It's a must.  Not as much as below, but at least 2 tablespoons worth.

Thaw 4 pieces of chicken (if frozen).

First fry the slivered almonds until golden brown.  (I swear I bought a pack) Since I didn't have any slivered almonds or because I couldn't find any, I skipped step one. I fried the garlic for twenty seconds instead.

Brown the chicken on both sides with garlic.

Add the chicken to the slower cooker.  Pour the salsa sauce mixture over the chicken. 

The chicken was finally ready after 2 1/2 hours in the slow cooker. 

Overall, the meal turned out delicious because of the sauce, which tastes great over brown rice.  The chicken was plain, but tender.  It's a healthy meal!  

Monday, October 5, 2009

Martha Stewart's Marinated Zucchini with Mint

I love Martha Stewart recipes. 

The recipe below is from Martha Stewart's "60 Days of Summer" magazine, pg. 117.  It's a healthy, simple, and flavorful vegetable side dish.  It exceeded my expectations, even though I did not have two of the ingredients.

Step 1:  Pre-heat oven to 475.  On two large rimmed baking sheets, toss 3 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise, with 2 tbls extra-virgin olive oil; season with coarse salt and ground pepper.  Roast until zucchini are tender and undersides are browned, 10-15 minutes.

Step 2: On a serving plate, sprinkle zucchini with 1 minced garlic clove and drizzle with 2 tbs oil and 1 tbs white-wine vinegar.  Let stand 1 hour (or refrigerate, up to overnight; bring to room temperature before serving).  To serve, sprinkle with 2 tbs fresh mint leaves, torn. (4 servings)

I did not have mint, so I could not add it to the dish.  I also did not have white-wine vinegar, so I used white vinegar instead. Suprisingly, the marinated zucchini still turned out delicious.  I believe the garlic made the flavor ...

It's a great side-dish for dinner and one that will surprise you, in a good way, even if you don't have all of the ingredients!

Ninja Sushi

Ninja sushi is one of my favorite places to go for a quick bite to eat.  There are several Ninja Sushi locations throughout Hawaii, all reasonably priced. 

It's a place you must try!

The Superman is TOO good.  It's one of my favorite. There's no need for shoyu (soy sauce) when eating the Superman because it has a delicious, sweet chili sauce drizzled over it.  I guarantee you'll come back for more!

Other items include a variety of sushi, as well as noodle soups, such as the one featured below called udon.


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