Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Recipe makeover: Lemon-ginger fried chicken

(CookingLight.com) -- September weekends are time for tailgates, whether it be on a college campus or at professional football stadium.

A successful tailgate includes friends, some cold drinks and food. It's a lot of food that's usually not the most healthful cuisine -- hot dogs, burgers, ribs, fried chicken.

But fried chicken doesn't have to be swamped full of fat and sodium. Here's a recipe makeover that contains the secret to creating a skin-like crust (without the skin) on lightened pan-fried chicken.

The reader: Robby Champion, independent education consultant, Staunton, Virginia

The story: This entrée's great taste made it a Champion favorite for years. In 1987, when Champion and her husband, Jim, discovered the recipe, it didn't have nutrition information.

"We absolutely love this dish, but it's easy to tell it isn't as healthful as we would like it to be," she says.

They tried to lighten the recipe several times without success.

"We are trying to lead more healthful lives and want to enjoy this meal without feeling guilty," she explains.

The dilemma: With one whole chicken serving two people, portions were oversized, yielding high calorie, fat, saturated fat, and sodium counts.
The solution: For starters, the gargantuan portion sizes had to be brought down to size. A serving now includes either one breast half, or one thigh plus one drumstick; this brought the calories per serving down by about 300.

Removing the skin from the meat and double-dredging the chicken maintained a crisp crust while shaving 317 calories, 17.4 grams of fat, and 4.7 grams of artery-clogging saturated fat per serving.

To bring sodium under control, we swapped fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth for the regular version, and used 1 teaspoon kosher salt to season the four-serving yield. This trimmed 494 milligrams of sodium per serving.

The feedback: "Jim and I enjoy this version as much or more than the original," says Champion. "Flouring skinless chicken twice gives it a wonderful crust. I'm thrilled the new version maintains the flavor and texture of the original."

Giving the chicken a double coat of flour mixture creates a golden crust (without the skin) when pan-fried. We use lemon rind instead of the lemon extract called for in the original. Carefully pour in the broth so you don't wet the crispy brown coating on the chicken. The broth mixture turns into a glazey sauce that can be served with the chicken.

* 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
* 1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
* 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
* 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
* 2 bone-in chicken breast halves, skinned
* 2 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
* 2 chicken drumsticks, skinned

* 4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
* 2 teaspoons ground ginger
* 1 teaspoon paprika

* 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
*1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1/4 cup peanut oil
* 1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
* 2 tablespoons brown sugar
* 1 lemon, thinly sliced


1. Place rind, juice, and next five ingredients (through drumsticks) in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal and shake to coat. Marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning bag occasionally.

2. Sift together flour and next three ingredients (through red pepper). Place flour mixture in a large zip-top plastic bag.

3. Remove chicken from marinade bag, reserving marinade. Sprinkle salt and black pepper evenly over chicken. Add chicken, one piece at a time, to flour mixture; seal bag and shake to coat chicken.

4. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour mixture. Reserve remaining flour mixture.

5. Place chicken on a wire rack; place rack in a jelly-roll pan. Cover and refrigerate 1 1/2 hours. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 350°.

7. Return chicken, one piece at a time, to flour mixture; seal bag and shake to coat chicken. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour mixture. Discard remaining flour mixture.

8. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes or until golden, turning once.

9. Arrange chicken in single layer in a shallow roasting pan. Combine broth and reserved marinade in a small bowl; carefully pour broth mixture into pan. Sprinkle chicken evenly with sugar, and top with lemon slices.

10. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until golden and a thermometer registers 165°.
Nutritional information

4 servings
Serving size: 1 breast half, or 1 thigh plus 1 drumstick

Calories: 375
Fat: 15.5g (sat 3.3g, mono 6.6g, poly 4.7g)
Protein: 30.8g
Carbohydrate: 30.5g
Fiber: 2.4g
Cholesterol: 85mg
Iron: 2.6mg
Sodium: 578mg
Calcium: 48mg

Source: CNN.com/2010/HEALTH/09/09/fn.cl.recipe.makeover.fried.chicken/index.html

10 fun facts we bet you didn't know about Thanksgiving

(CNN) -- When the guests around your Thanksgiving table are busy stuffing their bellies today, here's one way to break the lull in conversation: dazzle them with some tasty turkey trivia.

Here's 10 to get you started. We bet you they'll eat them up!

1. A tradition is born: TV dinners have Thanksgiving to thank. In 1953, someone at Swanson misjudged the number of frozen turkeys it would sell that Thanksgiving -- by 26 TONS! Some industrious soul came up with a brilliant plan: Why not slice up the meat and repackage with some trimmings on the side?Thus, the first TV dinner was born!

2. Going shopping?: Not if you're a plumber. Black Friday is the busiest day of the year for them, according to Roto-Rooter, the nation's largest plumbing service. After all, someone has to clean up after household guests who "overwhelm the system."

3. This land is my land: There are four places in the U.S. named Turkey. Louisiana's Turkey Creek is the most populous, with a whopping 440 residents. There's also Turkey, Texas; Turkey, North Carolina; and Turkey Creek, Arizona. Oh, let's not forget the two townships in Pennsylvania: the creatively named Upper Turkeyfoot and Lower Turkeyfoot!

4. Leaving a legacy: When Abe Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, it was thanks to the tireless efforts of a magazine editor named Sarah Josepha Hale. Her other claim to fame? She also wrote the nursery rhyme, "Mary had a Little Lamb."

5. Gobble, gobble?: Not so fast. Only male turkeys, called toms, gobble. Females, called hens, cackle.
6. Have it your way: If Ben Franklin did, the turkey would be our national bird. An eagle, he wrote in a letter to his daughter, had "bad moral character." A turkey, on the other hand, was a "much more respectable bird."

7. Born in the U.S.A.: Thanksgiving is not just an American holiday. Canadians celebrate it too. Except they do it the second Monday in October.

8. Break out the menurkeys: The first day of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving come together today for the first time since 1888. Scientists say the confluence won't occur again for another 70,000 years, give or take a millennium.

9. Doomed from birth: Those poor turkeys; they don't stand a chance. Just look at the name we gave them. A turkey less than 12-weeks-old is called a fryer-roaster.

10. Talking turkey: Why is it called a turkey? Oh boy, this will take some explainin'. Back in the day, the Europeans took a liking to the guinea fowls imported to the continent. Since the birds were imported by Turkish merchants, the English called them turkeys. Later, when the Spaniards came to America, they found a bird that tasted like those guinea fowls. When they were sent to Europe, the English called these birds "turkeys" as well.

Source: CNN.com/2013/11/28/living/thanksgiving-fun-facts

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Santa Barbara Restaurants: Have a Blush Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time when we gather with family and friends around a sumptuous meal to reminisce and give thanks for the abundance we have in our lives. In too many cases, though, the day turns into a frenetic burst of activity. There is a harried rush of cleaning and cooking, unmatched tables and chairs are set up in various rooms, and then everyone scatters to various activities while the host/hostess are left to clean up after the meal. It hardly allows time to really relax and enjoy each other’s company, and is certainly a strain on whoever is gracious enough to host.
With the holiday season rapidly approaching, many event planners and company owners are beginning to think about where they would like to hold their Santa Barbara holiday events. These gatherings can be important in so many ways. They can be used to thank clients for their support and business throughout the year, reward employees and vendors for a job well done, or just spend time together in a fun and relaxing environment. The choice of venue for a holiday event can make the difference between warm and cozy, or loud and festive. Santa Barbara Holiday EventsMany companies turn to Blush Restaurant + Lounge in Santa Barbara to create the perfect holiday event with its easy combination of cozy ambience, outstanding customer service, California cuisine, and signature cocktails. The options we offer are as varied and unique as our guests’ entertaining needs. The versatile areas in our restaurant can accommodate groups from 10 to 400 people. Nestled in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, Blush Restaurant + Lounge is easily accessible to all. Our ample parking lot means guests won’t have to walk all over town while dressed in their holiday best. Choose from the two full bars available in our inside lounge or our expansive outdoor patio, which boasts six elegant fireside seating areas, and is equipped with a full bar and cabana seating. The main dining room is adorned in warm ambient lighting, providing an elegant, contemporary and chic backdrop for your party. Depending on the agenda for your event, we can provide options for a DJ booth and a large dance floor, or a central video system for any presentations or announcements you wish to make. Our Santa Barbara restaurant is happy to cater your event with small passed appetizers, buffet style entrees, or a four course set sit-down menu for your guests. Executive Chef, Mr. Brandon Worrell, and his team of culinary professionals will whip up a sumptuous meal featuring our California cuisine, which uses all fresh and local produce from Santa Barbara to satisfy the palette of every guest. To help the celebration along, our mixologist, Mr. Kori Scow, will use all the freshest ingredients, to create one-of-a-kind, signature cocktails, such as the Blush Margarita or Pomegranate Punch, for your guests. Contact Blush now to start planning for your company’s holiday event. From California casual to uptown chic, we will take the time to listen to your needs, and help you design the perfect holiday event that will be enjoyable and memorable for all. About Blush Restaurant + Lounge: Gayot’s review reported, “Nightlife and fine dining collide at this hot-spot in downtown Santa Barbara.” Blush Restaurant + Lounge is located at 630 State Street. Hours of operation are Mon-Thurs 11am-midnight, Fri 11am-2am, Sat 10am-2am, and Sunday 10am-midnight. If you’re planning a holiday event, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, or elegant wedding reception, visit the website and Facebook page or call 805-957-1300 for more information. Reservations may be made by phone or booked online.
This year why not try something different and have a Blush Thanksgiving? Our cozy restaurant and lounge will be open on Thanksgiving from noon until 10:00 p.m. You and your guests can sit back and relax while our chefs do all the cooking. Chef Brandon Worrell and his staff have created an amazing combination of California cuisine and traditional favorites to amaze your taste buds. For only $25 you can start your Thanksgiving feast with a choice of Butternut Squash Soup or enjoy a Fried Goat Cheese Harvest Salad. Then you and your guests will be overwhelmed by our complete Roasted Turkey Dinner featuring Cornbread Stuffed Turkey Breast, Orange-Cranberry Reduction, Smashed Red Potatoes, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta, and Turkey Pan Gravy. If you still have room for dessert we might tempt you with a Homemade Pumpkin Bread Pudding for only $6. If you’re not in the mood for turkey, our full menu will also be available featuring delectable slow-roasted salmon, pan-seared scallops, roasted white bass and braised lamb shank.
Complement your meal with one of our mixologist’s signature libations while relaxing in our contemporary atmosphere. Maybe a Blush Margarita, Basil Fragola Martini, or a Barrel-Aged Manhattan will add just the right touch to your perfect Thanksgiving meal. Our main dining room is adorned in warm ambient lighting, to provide an elegant, contemporary and chic backdrop for your holiday dining pleasure. Take your time and relax with each other while our staff handles all the details.
Stop worrying and making your life more stressful because you think you have to manage all of the holiday entertaining needs by yourself. This Thanksgiving remember that there is never a bad time to wine down, and it’s always the right time to blush! Make your reservations now for a Thanksgiving celebration you and your family will never forget. Happy Holidays from the Blush family to yours.
Santa Barbara Restaurant Serving Thanksgiving Dinner
About Blush Restaurant + Lounge: Gayot’s review reported, “Nightlife and fine dining collide at this hot-spot in downtown Santa Barbara.” Blush Restaurant + Lounge is conveniently located at 630 State Street. Hours of operation are Mon-Thurs 11am-midnight, Fri 11am-2am, Sat 10am-2am, and Sunday 10am-midnight. If you’re planning a bachelorette partyrehearsal dinner, or elegant wedding receptionvisit the website and Facebook page orcall 805-957-1300 for more information. Reservations may be made by phone or booked online.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Feeding India's Malnourished Kids on an Industrial Scale

Vrindavan, India (CNN) -- In the picturesque temple town of Vrindavan, 10-year-old Maya and her three siblings walk to school every day on an empty stomach. She says her parents can't afford to feed them adequate meals; they eat bread and milk for dinner and nothing for breakfast.

As the eldest child, she often has to skip class to help her parents harvest wheat. Maya says her parents believe this is a more efficient use of her time, but she has another good reason for attending school -- more food.

"At school we get the most amount of food. At home we don't get this much. At home my mother tells us to only eat a little bit so there's enough for everyone," she says.

Following a landmark decision by the Supreme Court in 2001, all government schools in India are mandated to provide free meals to students below the age of 13. In a country where more than 40% of children below the age of five are underweight, according to UNICEF, India's midday meal scheme is making great strides.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation is working with the government to feed 1.4 million underprivileged children every day. They began in 2000, feeding a few thousand school children in several schools in the southern city of Bangalore. But in the space of a decade, they say they've served more than a billion meals across the country. Akshaya Patra's Vice Chairman, Chanchalapathi Dasa, says the benefits are manifold. Enrollment in schools has increased by roughly 20%, attendance has improved, children are healthier and their cognitive abilities have also increased.

"If a child is hungry in the classroom then he or she will not be able to receive all this education," says Dasa.

But preparing food for so many takes more than an ordinary kitchen.

You could call it a culinary revolution. In what looks like a factory for food, fresh meals are being mass-produced for millions of children. Custom-made cauldrons can prepare rice for 1,000 kids in 15 minutes. A printing press-like machine can make an impressive 40,000 Indian flatbreads or chapattis in an hour.

"India is a place of numbers. If you're doing something to provide meals for 1,000 or even 5,000 children, you are merely scratching the surface," adds Dasa. "From the beginning we at Akhshay Patra realized that in order to see a significant impact we have to do it in scale and that we have to use modern techniques of management and innovation."

They call it a three tier gravity flow kitchen. Tons of raw ingredients like rice, lentils and vegetables are taken to the top floor where they're cleaned, peeled, cut and sent down chutes into waiting cauldrons below. There, steam generated by furnaces cooks the food. The cooked meals are then thrown down chutes to another level where the meals are packaged. By 8 a.m. meals are ready to be delivered in special vehicles designed to keep the food warm.

But while the food production process is efficient, it is also considered.

"We want to treat these children with dignity. We don't say 'you are poor children and whatever we give you, you must eat that,' no. We adapt our cooking methods, our menus, recipes to meet the local children's requirements," says Dasa.

"You see, in India every 300 miles you come across a different culture, a different language, a different kind of food habit, so at Akshaya Patra we are sensitive to local cultural requirements and tastes."

While there are several school feeding programs that distribute rations of wheat and rice, cooked meal programs are rare. This is one of the most successful assistance programs yet -- nourishing food for millions of children and food for thought in the fight against poverty.

Source: CNN.com