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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

pseudo-mexican spice

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For reasons I can't fathom, I've had crazy crazy cravings for some spicy mexican fare lately. No, Lil Z is not going to be a big sis. I've just been absolutely craving fiesta-inspired food. Hubs and I just came back from a lovely, lovely respite in Cuba (where we attended and took some pics at a lush and colourful tropical wedding and trash the dress session. The whole setting just gave me intense longings for spicy food (Cuba is BEAUTIFUL, but the resorts are not exactly known as gastronomical meccas).

So the entire meal plan for this week is based around spice, spice and more spice. I recently got hold of a March 2009 copy of Cooking Light and within it found a veritable treasure trove of ethnic foods. So this week's plan consists almost entirely of recipes modified from that magazine. YUMMY. Cooking Light is my absolute FAVOURITE cooking magazine. As much as I love some of the more sinful publications (Bon Appetit, Gourmet), I really appreciate the fact that this magazine actually has food that I can eat and enjoy with little guilt. My back-to-work deadline is rapidly looming and I still can't jam myself back into most of my work Cooking Light is definitely de rigueur.

Last night, we dined on tex-mex turkey calzones, accompanied with a delicious black bean salad. The recipe as published in the magazine is pretty simple and quick. I complicated it a bit by making my own dough (I had the ingredients and the time), but if you follow their prescribed shortcuts, especially the one of just using shredded (already cooked) chicken breast), this would assemble in a jif. The results are deeeeeelish and satisfying and, as I was anticipating the sheer deliciousness of this meal, I doubled the recipe and froze half. I see some frozen calzones in the near future for me........

Tex Mex Calzones
tex mex turkey calzone
stolen and adapted from March 2009 Cooking Light

1 pound lean ground turkey breast
1 cup chopped onion
1 chopped green bell pepper
1 chopped red bell pepper (I cheated and used 2 green as they are cheaper!)
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fat-free fire-roasted salsa verde
1/4 c chopped cilantro
2 (11-ounce) can refrigerated thin-crust pizza dough (I made my own, recipe below)
2 cups preshredded Mexican blend cheese (I never buy pre-shredded cheese - it's SO expensive...I used grated old cheddar)
Cooking spray
low-fat sour cream

1. (If you're making your own dough, do that first!) See below. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring to crumble. Add onion and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) to pan; cook 4 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring mixture occasionally. Remove turkey mixture from heat; stir in salsa and cilantro.

turkey calzone filling

3. Unroll dough; divide into 4 equal portions (per can....or if you make your own dough, divide into 8). Stretch each portion into a 6 x 4–inch rectangle.

my 'rectangle'

Working with one rectangle at a time, spoon about 1/2 cup turkey mixture on one side of dough. Top with 3 tablespoons cheese; fold dough over turkey mixture, and press edges together with a fork to seal.

how to fill a calzone

4. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining dough and turkey mixture.

unbaked and about to be delicious

5. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until browned. Serve with sour cream.

baked and delicious

Calzone Dough:
4.5 teaspoons active dry yeast (2 packages)
2 t sugar
1.5 c warm water
3 c. all purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 T ground flax meal (it's good for ya!)
1 t salt
1 T canola oil
spices: about 1/2 t each cumin, chili powder, coriander, garlic and zest of one lime....TOTALLY optional but they are easy to throw in and taste oh-so-yummy

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer/food processor, combine yeast, sugar and water. Add flours, flax, salt and canola oil and mix on speed 2 until combined and forming a nice, cohesive ball. If it won't combine, add water, 1 t at a time. If it's too sticky, add flour, 1 T at a time. (You can do this by hand as well...I am just lazy and in luuuuurve with my kitchenaid).

not yet dough in a bowl

2. Turn out the dough into a greased large bowl.

dough in a bowl

Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. I like to have it rise in the oven, with the oven light on. It's perfectly warm and draft-free. If you make the dough first, you can let it rise while you make the filling and the salad. By the time you're done those, the dough should be just about done. When it's ready, punch it down and divide into 8 equal portions.

Black bean salad:
black bean tomato onion and avocado
Combine 1 (15-ounce) can rinsed and drained black beans, 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped red onion, 1/4 cup chopped celery, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, 1 avocado, 1 clove garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium bowl; toss well to coat.

black bean salad

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 calzone and 1 tablespoon sour cream)

CALORIES 416 ; FAT 14.1g (sat 6.1g,mono 4.9g,poly 1.6g); CHOLESTEROL 44mg; CALCIUM 195mg; CARBOHYDRATE 46.2g; SODIUM 771mg; PROTEIN 25.7g; FIBER 2.5g; IRON 2.5mg

Said hubs, about this meal....'this is freaking phenomenal.' And about leftovers at lunch: 'I could just eat a lunch of these black beans, onions and tomatoes on their own.' It's absolutely delicious. The salsa verde imparts just enough spice to satisfy and they are yummy pockets of mostly-healthy goodness. Two thumbs up.

Tonight's meal is hopefully equally delicious - tilapia with coconut red curry sauce, served on a bed of seasoned jasmine and bok choy rice. I'm excited already. Thanks for reading!!!!!!!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

of local interest....

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In twit-like fashion, I managed to delete all of the photos I had stored up to post....but I do have two quick local notes for my Ottawa readers.....

1. Atelier Restaurant - if you have an adventurous palate and a deep pocket for eating out, you should eat there. Eat there now. It's a fantastic new restaurant, chockful of molecular gastronomy. They serve a 12 course blind tasting menu (blind meaning that you don't get to pick what you eat, nor do you know what it is until it's served....not that the room is dark or that you are blindfolded) of fun and creative food. LOVE IT. You will also love it. Also, get the wine pairing. The sommelier is young and cute and knows his stuff. Cost for two with tip (and wine pairing) is about $330. But totally worth it for that special occasion. No doubt this will become a mecca for Ottawa foodies.

The image below is borrowed (without permission) from Miv Photography (they are awesome) - I kinda felt like too much of a touristica-tool to whip out my massive camera with its huge flash to take my own photos. The food is freaking cool.

2. Supperworks - another cool company. They aren't entirely local, as there are franchises across the province, and other, similar companies, across the continent, but they've got a great thing. Basically, every month, they have a snazzy fresh menu. You fill in a form online and tell them which delicious things you would like to eat. Then, you arrive at your booked appointment, are offered an apron and a drink, and then you get to work in assembling your pre-ordered meals. Everything is chopped and ready for you. All you do is scoop up according to instructions, stick on a label, and throw the whole thing in your freezer when you get home. Then, when you're having a crazy week, you just defrost it in your fridge (while you're at work or running around or what have you) and come home and just quickly cook it. Most of them cook in less time than takeout, and the cost is definitely less. The added bonus is that you know exactly what went into your meal and you can actually feel good about serving it.

I'm not sure how they'll fare in the floundering economy, but if it's between supperworks and take-out, supperworks is definitely the more economical option. Definitely suggest that you busy folks check it out.

Now....I actually have snazzy meals planned for every night this week...hopefully I'll actually get to posting some of them. On the menu tonight? tex-mex turkey calzones with a black bean salad.....mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm........

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