Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tropical "Non-Holiday" Salad: A Guest Post by Healthy Sous-Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

I don't know about you, but as much as I love warm and comforting holiday food, I find that several times during the Christmas season, I need a break from traditional fare. Something healthy and light with non-holiday flavors is just what I crave.

Lat week, Chef Nancy and I prepared a luncheon for participants at the Cancer Wellness Center. The theme of the day was "Taking Care of Yourself During The Holiday's". We thought this would be a great opportunity to treat our guests to a light and healthy tropical shrimp salad. This salad is packed dark leafy greens, red cabbage, avocado, mango and protein packed shrimp. This salad will leave you satisfied and ready to take on an afternoon of shopping, gift wrapping or tree trimming.

Tropical "Non-Holiday" Salad:
1 Bag Spring Greens
1/2 of a small Red Cabbage, shredded
2 Scallions, chopped
1 Mango, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 Avocado, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup chopped Cilantro
1/2 lb cooked Shrimp, chilled

Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl and serve with Citrus-Ginger Dressing.

Juice of 2 Oranges
Juice of 2 Limes
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3/4 cup Canola Oil
2 Tsp ground Ginger
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine dressing ingredients in a jar with tight-fitting lid. Shake well to combine.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Healthy Slow Cooker for the Holidays

It seems like time just picks up speed as the holidays near. This calls for action! In this case, the slow cooker. (Sounds like an oxymoron doesn't it?) Here are a couple of my all time favorite recipes!

Slow Cooker Tagine-Style Chicken


½ Cup Olive Oil

8 Cloves of Garlic Grated

1 TB Cinnamon

2 Tsp Cardamom

2 Tsp Cumin

½ Tsp Cayenne

Zest of 2 Oranges

4 – 5 LBS Chicken Thighs, skinned

2 Cups Light Chicken Broth

1 Cup Dried Apricots, Chopped

1 Cup Dates, Chopped

3 TB Ground Almonds

1 Tsp Turmeric

1 Tsp Salt

½ Tsp Freshly Cracked Black Pepper

Chopped Fresh Cilantro

Sliced, Toasted Almonds

Hot, Cooked Couscous (Preferably Whole Wheat) OR Quinoa

Step One

Place the oil, spices and zest in a large zippy bag. Massage to mix. Add the chicken and marinate at least 1 hour – or up to 8 hours in the fridge.

Step Two

Place the chicken and marinade in a large slow cooker. In a bowl, whisk together the broth thru the pepper and pour the mixture over the chicken.

Step Three

Cover and cook on low 10 hours – or high five hours. Serve on top of Couscous, garnished with cilantro and almonds.

Healthier Maple Banana Bread Pudding

1 (12 OZ) Whole Wheat French Baguette, in 1” Cubes

2 Cups Evaporated Skim Milk

2 Large Eggs + 2 Egg Whites – Whisked Together

1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Divided

1 TB Vanilla

½ Tsp Cinnamon

½ Tsp Mace

½ Tsp Allspice

2 TB Butter

1 Cup Chopped Toasted Pecans

1 Cup Golden Raisins

1 TB Agave

2 TB Maple Syrup

2 TB Butter

1 TB Vanilla

2 Bananas Thinly Sliced

Zest of an Orange

Step One

Place the bread on a sheet tray and bake for 10 minutes at 300F. Cool and place in the bottom of the slow cooker.

Step Two

Whisk together the milk, eggs, whites, half of the brown sugar, vanilla and spices. Pour the mixture over the bread in the bottom of the slow cooker.

Step Three

Use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the remaining ¼ cup of brown sugar, until pieces are the size of peas. Stir in the pecans and the raisins. Sprinkle the mixture in the slow cooker.

Step Four

Cover and cook on low for 4 – 5 hours or until the center is set. Turn off the slow cooker and allow to cool for an hour.

Step Five

While the pudding is cooling, melt the butter with the maple syrup and agave in a large sauté pan. When melted, add the banana and sauté for a few minutes, or until the banana is soft. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla and the orange zest. Serve a spoonful of pudding as a base for vanilla frozen yogurt, and drizzle the banana sauce over the top.

Friday, December 2, 2011

It's That Holiday Time of the Year!

December is always a wild ride for anyone who loves food and wine and wants to share it with others. Just this week, I've done 4 events, all fun and all attended by wonderful and inspiring folks. I've promised to post my recipes - so here they are. I hope you all enjoy them as much as I enjoy sharing them!

Cornbread *Tartines with Honey Hummus

One Recipe *Thyme Cornbread, cut with cookie cutters into desired shapes

One Recipe *Honey Hummus

1/4 LB Pancetta, Cooked and Finely Chopped

On top of each cornbread shape, place a dollop of honey hummus and garnish with chopped pancetta.

(*Tartine is a French open-faced sandwich)

*Thyme Cornbread

½ Cup All Purpose Flour

¼ Cup Whole Wheat Flour

3/4 Cup Yellow Cornmeal

1 Tsp each Sea Salt and Black Pepper

1 1/2 TB Sugar

1 TB Baking Powder

1 TB Chopped Fresh Thyme

8 Oz Low Fat Buttermilk

1 Large Egg

2 Egg Whites

3 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Step One

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Step Two

In a bowl, whisk the flours, cornmeal, salt, pepper, sugar and baking powder together. Add the thyme, salt and pepper

Step Three

In a second bowl; beat together the buttermilk, the eggs, whites and oil. Mix into the dry ingredients.

Step Four

Pour the batter into a non-stick sprayed and parchment lined half sheet pan.. Leave to cool on a rack, before removing the bread.

*Honey Hummus

2 Cans (15 1/2 oz.) Garbanzo Beans, drained and rinsed

1/3 Cup Honey

1/4 Cup Lemon Juice

1 Tsp Ground Cumin

1 Tsp Grated Garlic

1/2 Tsp Sea Salt

Sprinkle of Cayenne Pepper

3 TB Chopped Fresh Parsley

Combine all ingredients except parsley in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Remove mixture to a serving bowl.

Jalapeno Mint Shrimp with Asian Inspired Remoulade

¼ Cup Vegetable Oil

3 TB Lemon Juice

1 Cup Chopped Yellow Onion

6 Cloves Garlic Chopped

1 ½ “ Fresh Ginger, Peeled and Coarsely Chopped

1 Jalapeño, Ribs and Seeds Discarded

1 Tsp Kosher Salt

½ Tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 LB Large Shrimp, Peeled and Deveined

Rice Crackers

Asian Inspired Remoulade*

Chiffonade Mint

Step One In a food processor place the oil through the black pepper and puree. Place the shrimp in a zippy bag, add the marinade and marinate in the frig for an hour (up to 3 hours.)

Step Two Remove from the marinade and cook on a hot grill, grill pan or under the broiler.

Step Three Top each rice cracker with a dollop of Asian Inspired Remoulade*, a shrimp and garnish with mint.

Asian Inspired Remoulade*

2 TB Tamari

1 TB Mirin

1 TB Honey

½ Tsp Grated Fresh Ginger

¼ Tsp Ground Ginger

¼ Tsp Red Pepper Flakes

¼ Tsp Black Pepper

½ Cup Reduced Fat Olive Oil Mayo

1 Tsp Toasted Sesame Oil

Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.

Cardamom Spice Cookies

2 Cups Dark Brown Sugar

4 TB Unsalted Butter

2 TB Canola Oil

1 Large Egg

2 Egg Whites

2 Tsp Brandy or Cognac

2 Cups All Purpose Flour

1 ½ Cups Whole Wheat Flour

½ Tsp Baking Soda

½ Tsp Ground Cardomom

½ Tsp Ginger

½ Tsp Cinnamon

½ Tsp Freshly and Finely Ground Black Pepper

½ Cup Finely Chopped Toasted Walnuts (optional)


½ Cup Coconut Milk

3 – 4 Cups Powdered Sugar


Step One

Preheat the oven to 375F. Cream the sugar, butter and oil together. Mix in the egg, whites and brandy.

Step Two

In another bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. Add the nuts. Fold into the wet ingredients. Shape into 1” balls and place on parchment paper lined

baking sheets. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Step Three

Whisk the frosting ingredients together. Place a dollop on each cookie, and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Asian Chicken Salad

***From the ingredient list for this recipe – you’ll see I have lots of fun spices, herbs and fruits that I bought at the Buford Highway Farmers Market. But if you don’t live close to an international market, don’t let it keep you from making this recipe – just use one of the suggested alternatives.

2 Chicken Breasts, Roasted with Salt and Pepper and Mace*, then chopped

½ Cup Minced Scallions

½ Cup Minced Asian Pear, Apple Pear or Granny Smith Apple

1 Red Pepper, Minced

½ Cup Currants (or chopped raisins)

½ Cup Toasted Sliced Almonds


½ Cup Light Olive Oil Mayo

¼ Cup Major Grey’s Chutney

½ Tsp Mace

1 TB Grated Buddha’s Hand, or Meyer Lemon or combination of Orange and Lemon Zest

Sea Salt and Black Pepper to Taste

Mix together the salad ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the dressing ingredients together. Add the dressing to the salad and stir gently. Taste to season with salt and pepper.

*Mace is the outer covering of the nutmeg. You should be able to find mace at the grocery store in the spice section. If you can’t find it – use nutmeg.

Lemon Goat Cheese Gingersnaps

1 Meyer Lemon, or ½ Lemon and ¼ Orange, Unpeeled

¼ Cup Lemon Curd (Dickinson’s is a widely distributed brand)

1 (10 Oz) Log Goat Cheese, softened

1 Box or Tin of Very Thin Gingersnaps, (I like the ones from Cost Plus World Market)

Pomegranate Seeds (Arils)

Step One

With a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice the Meyer Lemon or ½ Lemon and ¼ Orange as thinly as possible. Mix the goat cheese and the lemon curd together in a bowl. Place the mixture in a gallon-sized plastic bag and cut off the end to make a piping bag.

Step Two

On top of each gingersnap, squeeze about a tsp of lemon goat cheese topping. Place a few tiny shreds of the citrus and a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds. (If desired – you can place another gingersnap on top to create a sandwich cookie!)

Add a Little "Spritz" to Your Holidays: A Guest Post By, Healthy Sous-Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

I discovered the "Venetian Spritz" cocktail last summer in Italy and have been an avid fan ever since. This spritz is very popular in Venice and is usually enjoyed as an aperitif. The drink consists of a light white wine, a splash of Campari and topped of with sparkling water and an orange slice as garnish. Although I was introduced to this beverage during the summer months, I think it would be a great addition to any holiday celebration. The light and refreshing taste provides the perfect contrast to the richer foods we all tend to indulge in during this time of the year. Additionally, you can adjust the alcohol content by replacing some of the wine with more sparkling water. Campari is an Italian biter and may take a of getting used to if you prefer a sweeter drink. If you find the Campari to be to bitter, add only a splash for color and squeeze in a bit more fresh orange juice for sweetness.

This is an extremely versatile cocktail that can be adjusted to a variety of personal tastes. I hope you will try this festive and refreshing cocktail this holiday season. Buon Natale!!

Venetian Spritz Cocktail:

4 oz Pinot Grigio, chilled

1/2-1 oz Campari

1-2 oz Pelligrino or other Unflavored Mineral Water, Chilled

1 Orange wedge

Add first three ingredients to a large wine or cocktail glass in order. Squeeze orange juice from wedge into glass, then add the wedge to glass. Drink and Enjoy!