Monthly Archives: July 2009

Oven Barbequed Chicken and Sweet Potato Fries

Last night’s dinner started with a salad:

Salad with spinach, lettuce, mushrooms, grape tomatoes, red onions, and vidalia onion vinaigrette.

Salad with spinach, lettuce, mushrooms, grape tomatoes, red onions, and vidalia onion vinaigrette.

And included a barbequed chicken thigh with red onions:

Oven barbequed chicken thigh

Oven barbequed chicken thigh

And delicious, spicy sweet potato fries, baked in the oven:

Spicy oven-baked sweet potato fries.

Spicy oven-baked sweet potato fries.

I asked Aaron how he would rate this meal, and he responded that he was probably not an impartial judge, as he seems to love everything that I cook. I told him that he had better be biased towards my cooking! πŸ˜€

To make the barbeque chicken, I called my mom and asked for advice. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been a vegan for most of my cooking “career”, and am not sure about certain things when it comes to cooking meat. She suggested that if I cook the chicken in the oven, I should let it cook for about 30 minutes without barbeque sauce, then add the sauce and let the chicken finish cooking. She also suggested placing the chicken on slices of onion when adding the barbeque sauce – I’m glad I did this, the onions in barbeque sauce were sweet and delicious. So, here’s the recipe I’ve worked out.

Oven Barbequed Chicken Recipe (makes two servings):

What you need:

  • Two chicken thighs, bones in and skin on
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Two thick slices of onion
  • Barbeque sauce (I used Sauer’s, which is vinegar-y and good, and made by a company founded here in Richmond)
  • Salt and pepper

How to do it:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a glass baking dish with foil, spray with non-stick cooking spray. Season both sides of the chicken lightly with salt and pepper – don’t use too much, since more flavor will be added from the barbeque sauce. Place chicken in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, until chicken is almost done.
  2. Remove chicken from the oven. Place the onion slices in the bottom of the dish, and place the chicken thighs on top of the onion. Coat the chicken with a generous amount of barbeque sauce. Put chicken back in the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until chicken is done. The USDA says that chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit – use a meat thermometer to check.
  3. Remove barbeque chicken from the oven and enjoy, along with the saucy onions.

Sweet Potato Fries Recipe (makes two servings):

What you need:

  • 1-2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin, french fry-like pieces
  • Canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
  • salt and pepper

How to do it:

  1. Fries can be cooked at the same time as the oven barbequed chicken, above. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the raw sweet potato fries on the sheet, drizzle with oil, and toss to coat.
  2. Season the fries with cumin, chili powder, coriander, paprika, cayenne (if using), and salt and pepper. Place fries in the oven and bake until the fries are crispy, 20-30 minutes.
  3. Remove fries from oven and enjoy!

This meal turned out to be a very cheap one indeed! The two chicken thighs cost about $1.75, the sweet potato was about $1, and I used maybe $1 worth of Β sauce, spices, oil, and so forth. The salads were approximately $1 each. That means that this meal cost $2.88 per serving, if my math is right. πŸ™‚ Not bad.

Sweet potato fries are both delicious and good for you! Nutritiondata says that one medium sweet potato has 105 calories, 4g of fiber, and a whopping 438% of the recommended daily value for vitamin A. Baking the “fries” rather than frying means a lot less fat and calories, and they are just as crispy and delicious when it’s all said and done. Yum.

Here’s another “just because” Pigeon picture. She’s playing tug-of-war with a string… but I like to think she’s pulling you further and further into my blog. πŸ˜‰ Pull, Pigeon, Pull!

Pigeon plays tug-of-war!

Good kitty!


Baked Chicken Thighs

On Monday night I made baked chicken thighs for dinner, which Aaron and I ate with potato salad (no mayo – just lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, salt, and pepper) and salads with vidalia onion vinaigrette. The chicken came out great!

Oven-Baked Chicken Thigh

Oven-Baked Chicken Thigh

The recipe is a super-simple one that I picked up from, of all places. Following the recipe, I preheated the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, lined my glass baking dish with foil, sprayed the foil with nonstick spray, seasoned both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, and baked for about 25 minutes, until the skin was crispy and the juices ran clear (as the recipe helpfully suggests). I don’t usually follow recipes exactly, but this one was so simple and good that it really didn’t need any tweaking!

I used to sort of shy away from chicken thighs, but after seeing The Food Pornographer‘s many, many wonderful posts extolling the virtues of dark meat chicken, I gave the thighs a try. I’m glad I did! The chicken thighs were inexpensive (about $2.75 for four thighs – four servings for Aaron and me), and very juicy. I think the fact that the thighs I used are NOT boneless or skinless accounts for this. says that one roasted chicken thigh has 153 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 3 grams of saturated fat. This recipe is ideal for warding off a craving for deep fried chicken – it has the juiciness of good fried chicken, and the crispy skin satisfied my need for crunchy-crispy-deliciousness.

Baked chicken thigh, potato salad, and garden salad.

Baked chicken thigh, potato salad, and garden salad.

Aaron and I had cold leftover chicken and potato salad the next day for lunch. It was like an indoor picnic. πŸ™‚

Tilapia with Chimichurri

Two fish posts in a row! Last night, I made broiled tilapia with a chimichurri sauce. For side dishes, I made roasted red potatoes with garlic and steamed broccoli with lemon. Aaron proclaimed this meal a “10 out of 10”!

Tilapia with Chimichurri Sauce

Tilapia with Chimichurri Sauce

Recipe for Tilapia with Chimichurri (makes 2 servings):

What you need:

  • 2 fresh tilapia fillets
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • salt and pepper

How to do it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a glass baking dish with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Brush both sides of the tilapia with a light coating of olive oil and season each side with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the smoked paprika on top of the fish. Put the fish in the oven to bake, about 20-30 minutes, until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
  2. Meanwhile, make the chimichurri. (This could be done in the food processor, but if you don’t mind a more rustic sauce, you can simply chop the ingredients together on the cutting board, as I did on this occassion.) Finely chop the parsley and garlic together. Add the lemon juice, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, red pepper flakes, and a little salt and pepper and mix well.
  3. About 5 minutes before the fish is done, coat each tilapia fillet with 2 Tbsp. of the chimichurri.
  4. When the fish is done, remove from the oven, serve, and enjoy!

This was a really successful recipe! Since I live in a small apartment and don’t have a grill, I added the smoked paprika for a nice smoky, grill-y flavor. The bright flavors of lemon and parsley work great with the light tilapia, and the red pepper flakes add just a little bit of kick.

Over dinner, I asked Aaron how much he might expect to pay for this meal at a restaurant, and without hesitating he said, “$18.95.” Pretty good, considering that this meal cost about $4.50 per serving to make at home.

According to, 100g of tilapia contains about 128 calories, 3g of fat, and just 1g of saturated fat. The parsley in the chimichurri is more than just tasty and pretty-looking. Two tablespoons of parsley contains about 16% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C and 12% of the daily value of vitamin A, says nutritiondata. Steamed broccoli with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice is one of my favorite side dishes – just 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli provides 84% the daily value of vitamin C, with only 27 calories.

Roasted red potatoes with garlic.

Roasted red potatoes with garlic.

The oven-roasted red potatoes were delicious, crispy, and very filling. I mixed a little bit of the extra chimichurri in with them near the end of their cooking. Here is the recipe for the potatoes:

Recipe (makes about 2 servings):

What you need:

  • 1 pound of small red potatoes, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, whole
  • olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. chimichurri (see tilapia recipe above)
  • salt and pepper

How to do it:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. (This dish can be cooked at the same time as the tilapia, which is what I did.) Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place the potatoes and garlic on the foil, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat the potatoes.
  2. Bake the potatoes in the oven until fork tender and crispy on the outside. Remove from the oven and toss with the chimichurri.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

Broiled Catfish and Garden Vegetables

I got an e-mail from my dad yesterday titled “Catfish!” When I opened it, I was pleased to find a food photo and a recipe – looks like dad has been reading my blog. Thanks, dad. πŸ˜€ Here is the photo from today’s guest blogger:

Broiled Wild Catfish with Garden Vegetables

Broiled Wild Catfish Fillets with Green Beans and Corn

He says:

Here’s a pic of the catfish I caught Saturday.Β He was about 30″ long, so one filet was enough for two servings.”

Fortunately, there was also a recipe in the e-mail!

“Place catfish fillets in a baking pan with sliced onions.
Mix Italian seasoned olive oil, lemon juice, and orange juice and pour over fish.
Add lemon zest, diced garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika to top of fish.
Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until opaque.
Remove foil and shred parmesan on top.
Broil until bubbly.

The green beans and corn you see on the plate came from my grandmother’s garden.

I don’t know much about catfish, so I checked to find the nutrition info. A wild catfish fillet has 150 calories, 4g of fat, and 1g of saturated fat. Farmed catfish is apparently not as lean as wild catfish, with 217 calories, 11g of fat, and 3g of saturated fat. Still, both are tasty, healthy choices in my book. Dad’s cooking method (broiling) is a much healthier cooking method than battering and frying, which is a common way to cook and eat catfish.

As for being cheap – the vegetables were grown by my grandmother, and well, you can’t beat free! I don’t know how much the fishing equipment cost, but the fish itself was free. Good job, dad. πŸ˜€ If I were to buy the ingredients at the grocery store, I would estimate the cost of this meal at around $3.50 per serving, less than that if catfish is on sale (as it frequently is).

Maybe dad and I can work something out where he sends me a food picture (and a recipe!) every week or so. What do you think?

Homemade Egg Muffins

I call them Egg McEricas!

Homemade Vegetarian Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Muffin

Recipe (makes one sandwich):

You will need:

  • Whole wheat or multigrain English muffins (I use Thomas’ Multi-Grain English Muffins)
  • 1 egg, and a small ramekin to bake it in
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 Morningstar Farms veggie sausage patty (I usually use one and a half, since the patties are slightly smaller than the muffins)
  • 1 slice American cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. light margarine
  • 1-2 Tbsp. real maple syrup (optional)
  • salt and pepper

How to do it:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray the ramekin with cooking spray. Crack the egg into the ramekin, being careful not to break the yolk. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top of the egg. Place the ramekin on a Pyrex dish or baking sheet lined with foil to make the ramekin easier to get in and out of the oven, and to catch any possible spills. Bake the egg in the ramekin until the whites are cooked but the yolk is still slightly jiggly, or to your liking.
  2. While the egg is baking, cook the veggie sausage patty according to the package directions. I usually bake them in the oven on a foil-lined baking sheet at the same time the egg is cooking.
  3. When the egg and veggie sausage are ready, remove from the oven. Slice an English muffin and toast the slices lightly in the toaster, toaster oven, or oven. Spread the margarine on the toasted English muffin slices. Place the sausage patty on the bottom slice of the muffin. If you prefer, you can add a drizzle of maple syrup over the veggie sausage. To remove the egg from the ramekin, first run a knife around the edge of the ramekin, then carefully lift the egg out with a fork. Place the egg on top of the sausage. Place the slice of American cheese on top of the egg. Top with the top half of the English muffin.
  4. Enjoy your homemade vegetarian sausage, egg, and cheese muffin!

Perfectly Round Egg

Using the ramekin makes a perfectly round egg.

These are so incredibly easy to make, and they taste virtually identical to what you can buy at McDonald’s. However, because of a few changes I’ve made, these little sandwiches are a lot healthier! According to the McDonald’s website, a Sausage McMuffin with Egg has 450 calories, 27g of fat, and 10g of saturated fat. I am not sure whether this information includes cheese… since it is not listed as “Sausage, Egg, and Cheese McMuffin,” I would guess that it probably does not include cheese. A Sausage, Egg and Cheese McErica has about 405 calories, 19.5g of fat, and 6g of saturated fat. In addition, the Egg McErica has 9.5g of fiber – over 30% of recommended daily value – whereas the Sausage McMuffin with Egg only has 2g of fiber, only about 8% of the daily value. And if you’re a vegetarian, this is a great way to satisfy a McDonald’s breakfast craving.

I really like the Sausage, Egg, and Cheese McGriddles from McDonald’s. Who wouldn’t? It’s like a McMuffin, but instead of the English muffin… maple-flavored pancakes. The Sausage, Egg, and Cheese McGriddles has 560 calories, 32g of fat, and 12g of saturated fat, according to the McDonald’s website. To satisfy the McGriddles craving, I like to drizzle a little real maple syrup over the veggie sausage patties – delicious! This adds a couple of extra calories, but since the flavor of real maple syrup is strong, you don’t need to add a lot – 100 calories’ worth gives you a ton of maple-y goodness. This doesn’t add any additional fat, so the Sausage, Egg, and Cheese with McErica with Syrup is by far a better choice than the McGriddles.

As far as cost goes… I’m not sure exactly how much a Sausage, Egg, and Cheese McMuffin costs. I would guess around $2.50. This is about how much a Sausage, Egg, and Cheese McErica costs to make. Of course, you save gas money by not having to drive to a McDonald’s, and at home you can drink your own coffee or orange juice, which will be much cheaper than what McDonald’s offers. πŸ˜€

Dinner for One

This weekend I had planned to travel with the boyfriend to visit his parents in Lynchburg, Virginia. However, our cat had other plans. Poor little Pigeon got sick about an hour before we were scheduled to leave, and it did not seem wise to put her into her cat carrier and drive her around for three and a half hours, so I decided to stay here and tend to her. She is fine now, but I have got a serious case of the Lonelies. To cheer myself up a bit, I went to the Chinese takeout place down the street and picked up some chicken with broccoli.

Chinese Takeout: Chicken with Broccoli and Steamed White Rice

Chicken with Broccoli and Steamed Rice

This meal was definitely very tasty and comforting, and Chinese-American takeout is one of my favorite things to eat. The sauce had a savory, soy-saucy taste, the rice was soft and sticky, and the chicken was tender. Β It was decidedly cheap – a pint with rice costs $5.35, and what you see on my plate was only half of the food I got. This was enough for two meals for me, which is great, because – call me strange if you want – I love having leftover takeout for breakfast the next day! Maybe you are wondering whether this meal really qualifies as “healthy.” Although chicken with broccoli might not be the healthiest thing in the world, you could do a whole lot worse at a Chinese restaurant. According to this website, one cup of chicken with broccoli has about 280 calories, and one cup of white rice has 150 calories, while a single eggroll has 300-350 calories. I suspect that if I ask for “half sauce” next time, it will be just as tasty and a little healthier.

Green Bean and Mushroom Stroganoff

I was a vegan for several years, and during that time I picked up a lot of recipes. Although I now happily eat meat (how did I survive so long without bacon?!), I still enjoy many delicious vegetarian meals.

A couple of nights ago I made an old vegetarian standby: Green Bean and Mushroom Stroganoff with Whole Wheat Egg Noodles. Green beans are one of my favorite vegetables, and I love how they taste with the rich flavor of the mushrooms and the tangy, creamy sour cream. I usually eat green bean stroganoff with whole wheat egg noodles, but it is also very good with hot cooked brown rice. This is a favorite meal of my boyfriend, Aaron.

This dish is bursting with color from the red onions and green beans, which are delicious and nutritious veggies that I enjoy often.Β says of frozen, cooked green beans: “This food is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Folate and Manganese.” Sounds good to me! Using reduced-fat sour cream saves some saturated fat, but I would not use fat-free sour cream – I don’t think it tastes very sour-creamy at all. Using whole wheat egg noodles or brown rice in this recipes means that you are eating whole grains, which of course have lots of good-for-you fiber.

This meal is also very affordable – it ended up costing me about $2.50 per serving.

Green Bean and Mushroom Stroganoff with Whole Wheat Egg Noodles

Recipe (makes about four servings):

You will need:

  • one package frozen french-cut green beans
  • 1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine (nothing fancy is necessary, just something you enjoy drinking)
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper, to taste

How to make it:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and saute on medium heat until translucent and carmelized, 5-10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for another 3 minutes. Add the garlic and dried basil and saute for another 30 seconds.
  2. Add the white wine, soy sauce, and frozen green beans. Cover and simmer until the green beans are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the sour cream and fresh parsley. Serve the stroganoff over hot cooked whole wheat egg noodles or brown rice.