Archive | February, 2014

New Food Friday – Bok Choy or Pak Choi

21 Feb Polenta instead of rice with Bok Choy

If you haven’t tried Bok Choy, you don’t know what you’re missing! Bok Choy is my choice for this New Food Friday.

This Asian staple is full of vitamin A, C, and is high in calcium and many other nutrients.  It resembles celery but doesn’t taste like it and it’s juicy like celery, maybe even juicer. I like to munch on it raw while I’m preparing it for a stir-fry or a soup. Bok Choy is in the cabbage family but it doesn’t taste like cabbage either. Its taste reminds me of escarole except that Bok Choy is mildly sweet and has a slight peppery bite at the end.

The leaves of Bok Choy are very dark green but the stalks are very white.

Bok Choy Stalks

Bok Choy Leaves

It’s a beautiful vegetable! The Chinese have been cultivating it for over 5,000 years.

Recently, my local Meijer had Bok Choy on sale for 88 cents a pound. Oh happy day! I bought 1.75 pounds of it!

Bunch of Bok Choy

Bundled Bok Choy – 1.75 pounds

There are two versions of Bok Choy in this country: there is the Baby Bok Choy and the regular Bok Choy. I’ve purchased both in the past and they taste the same to me. It may be more convenient to cook the Baby Bok Choy because you can cook it whole.

Baby Bok Choy

Baby Bok Choy or Pak Choi (sxc.hu – MeiTeng)

You couldn’t cook the regular Bok Choy whole because you wouldn’t have a pan large enough! I like the larger version which can sometimes be quite large! Ginormous, in fact, so you can expect more prep time with it. Don’t wash it until you’re ready to use it. Bok Choy stays fresh for up to a week in the fridge.

In my research for this post, I was surprised to learn that Bok Choy falls under the category of cruciferous vegetables. As you may well know, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower) contain anti-cancer compounds. All the more reason to try, buy, stir-fry Bok Choy!

Cooking Bok Choy

I typically cook all greens the same way when I use them for a side dish: olive oil, garlic, a few tablespoons of water or broth, cover and cook in my large fry pan. Bok Choy is good this way. But I decided to do a stir-fry with chicken. I found two recipes online that I liked and I combined them and tweaked them too. The results were delicious. I’m posting the recipe for you below. Since one recipe was Chinese and the other was Thai, I’m calling it:

Chinese-Thai Almond Chicken Stir-Fry

1 Tablespoon oil (peanut or coconut, I used olive oil)

1/2 cup whole almonds

1 skinless, boneless chicken breast

1 Tablespoon soy sauce (reduced sodium is best)

1 Tablespoon oyster sauce

Oyster Sauce

Oyster Sauce

1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce

Chili Garlic Sauce

Chili Garlic Sauce

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

8 oz (more or less) rinsed Bok Choy cut into bite-sized pieces

2-3 Tablespoons Chicken broth if pan seems dry

You can add mushrooms, thinly sliced onions, or whatever you like to this. I added 1/4 cup thinly sliced carrots and 1/4 cup chopped celery.

To thicken gravy

1 Tablespoon corn starch

1/4 cup cold water

Stir together then pour into pan at the end of cooking until gravy thickens. (I did not do this step. See below.)

Directions

In a small bowl add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, chili garlic sauce, brown sugar, and lime juice. Stir the mixture well to melt the sugar. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a fry pan or wok and add the almonds and heat on medium-high heat until golden about 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn! Remove from pan.

Stir-fry thinly sliced chicken breast in same pan for 2-3 minutes. Add the Bok Choy, then the carrots, celery, mushrooms, onions, or whatever you like and spoon 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce mixture over it; stir and cook 2 minutes. (Cook longer and cover if you prefer your veggies less crispy.) Add a few tablespoons of broth if the mixture seems dry. Taste. If you like it spicier and saltier, add the rest of the soy sauce mixture. If you have any leftover, you can use it to baste most meats. I reserved my leftover for my next Bok Choy meal using the same recipe but substituting bay scallops in place of the chicken. (It wasn’t as good as the chicken.)

Serve with the sprinkled almonds on top. This is a very nutritious dish, low in calories, high in fiber, high in calcium, but also high in sodium which is why I suggested you taste the dish before adding all the soy sauce mixture. If you’re watching your sodium intake you may not want to use all the soy sauce mixture.

This dish is great served over rice and is the typical way it would be served. I wanted to try something different. I already had a pan of polenta that I had made the day before and feeling adventurous, I decided to try it in place of the rice.

Polenta instead of rice with Bok Choy

Polenta with Bok Choy

It was just as good! In fact, it thickened the gravy without using the cornstarch mixture. I liked this recipe so much that I decided to make it again, this time with brown rice.

Bok Choy dish

Bok Choy with a drizzle of sweet & sour sauce and mustard

 

Whichever way you try it, be sure you do try it! It’s delicious!

qǐng màn yòng!

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Valentine’s Day Cream Cheese Danish Heart

14 Feb Iced Cheesecake Heart

Every once in a while people who exercise and watch their weight want a little dessert. My favorite dessert is this Cream Cheese Danish Heart. It’s perfect for Valentine’s Day and easy to make for your sweetheart.

 

This recipe is very delicious and versatile. If you don’t want to use cream cheese for the filling you can substitute any of the following: apple, pineapple, lemon pudding, cherry, plum, almond paste, or walnuts. I’ve never tried any of the substitutions but these substitutions are from the list of the original recipe. Unfortunately, I don’t know where I got this recipe or I would gladly give credit for it! It is a winner in my book!

 

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

1 envelope rapid rise yeast

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup water

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup butter

1 large egg

 

Filling

1 8-oz pkg cream cheese room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

(Stir all until smooth)

 

Powdered Sugar Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

2-3 Tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

(Stir all until smooth)

 

Directions

In a large bowl combine ¾ cup of the flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a pan, heat the water, sour cream and butter until warm. Gradually add the warm mixture to the flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed scraping bowl occasionally. Then add the egg and 1 cup of the flour and beat 2 more minutes at high speed. Finally, stir in the remaining ¼ cup flour to make a stiff batter. Cover tightly and refrigerate 2 – 24 hours.

Cheesecake Heart that expanded too much!

Cheesecake Heart that expanded too much!

 

I’ve made this dessert many times. In the photo above, my yeast expanded too much and it lost the heart shape so try to form your heart on the thin side like this:

Unbaked Cheesecake Heart

Unbaked Cheesecake Heart

When you are ready to bake, roll out the dough to 16” x 8” and spread the filling at the long end. Roll up tightly as you would for a jelly roll. Pinch seams closed then shape with your hands into a large heart.

 

Place on a greased sheet. With a sharp knife or razor, cut 1/3 of the way through the heart at 1” intervals, alternating from side to side. Cover and let rise 1 hour. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

Baked Cheesecake Heart

Baked Cheesecake Heart

 

If I have them, I add slivered almonds on top of the heart before I bake it. Otherwise, you can leave them off and glaze with the Powdered Sugar Glaze Icing.

Iced Cheesecake Heart

Cheesecake Heart with Almonds and Icing

 

This dessert goes well with coffee or tea. I’m sure your loved one will appreciate it!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

P.S. Make sure you exercise the day you’ve eaten a slice of this delicious dessert to work off the calories!

Cheesecake Heart Slice

Cheesecake Heart Slice

 

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