Tag Archives: Unsalted butter

Game Day Grub: Baked chicken wings and homemade ranch

fatdude_chickenwings

NFL playoffs are in full swing so it’s been hard to avoid a nonstop run of commercials with all the best-worst foods like burgers, pizza and chicken wings.

Of all the cookbooks I’ve read, the best resource for bar-food made healthy is Men’s Health series of “Cook This, Not That” books.

So instead of going out for these greasy goodies I turned to the handy little guides for burgers and Buffalo wings.

I’ll put up the burger later this week, but I’m more excited for the wings. The sauce is equal parts hot sauce and butter, plus a fair amount of fresh lemon juice for an acidic zip. Tip: If you run out of fresh lemon, as I did when I used this recipe again on chicken legs, throw in half the amount of white vinegar instead.

fatdude_ranch

They pair it a Greek yogurt-based blue cheese dip, but we went with a healthy homemade ranch dressing (equal parts olive-oil mayo and Greek yogurt with onion powder, garlic powder and fresh parsley and chive). That recipe is also from the books, but a different one than the wings recipe is in.

Click here for the Cook This, Not That Buffalo chicken wings recipe.

Freestyle meal: Arrachera rib-eye with caramelized onions

fatdude_ribeye

I’ve been trying to cut back on the beef lately, but I had a mad craving for a steak last week.

I planned on buying a grass-fed cut but the selection at the market was slim. I picked a thick-ish slab of well-marbled rib-eye from the other side of the meat case and went home to cook it up. But Nadia came home sick and needed soup, so I put it back in the fridge until all the soup was gone two days later.

Instead of searching for a recipe, I created something on the fly. Inspired by the flank steak made by Carlos Salgado at Taco Maria, I Googled up my own arrachera seasoning (which one, I can’t remember), gave the meat a good rub down and let it temper that way. Before I cooked it, I smeared the steak with a thin layer of olive oil and some salt and pepper.

Then, in a cast iron pan over medium-high heat, I seared it for 4 minutes per side. Remembering something I saw on Top Chef, I threw a pat of butter in the pan with some fresh thyme, spooning the herb-infused fat over the meat.

Once the meat was done, I deglazed the pan with sherry and caramelized an onion up in there.

Trying something new worked for me, so don’t be afraid to put together some techniques you might know, or some ingredients you have in the kitchen. You might whip up something unexpected and impressive.

Baked rigatoni: Little work, lots of servings, and just 425 calories

I’m all about doing as little work as possible to make as many servings of food I can. Soups, polenta, and especially rice and pasta dishes are good for this.

If you order pasta at a restaurant the results can be calorically catastrophic. A heavy hand with the olive oil, too many noodles or too much sauce can weigh down what would have been a decent meal if someone had paid attention to the portion control. Plus, there’s a good chance there’s a load of butter in there too. Bummer, dude.

For the baked rigatoni I make, you can use regular or whole-wheat pasta (whole-wheat is preferable). Each serving of noodles will be about 200 calories and will weigh 2 oz. Use that rule to portion out however many servings you want. The pan above, which was the next size down from the typical Pyrex rectangular casserole pan, held six portions.

You can make your own sauce, or use any bottled sauce you would like. If I’m making sauce, I go with something simple like the passata di pomodoro from the Mozza cookbook (San Marzano tomatoes, evoo, sugar, salt, pepper). It makes a great mother sauce, and can be dressed up with garlic, herbs, or whatever else you’d like to throw in it. Another Mozza sauce to try would be Nancy Silverton’s basic tomato sauce, which can be found on Bon Appétit.

And after all that build up, I used a jar of store-brand tomato basil from Sprouts. Gotta save time when you can, right? Each 1/2 cup was 50 calories, with 6 servings to the jar.

I also threw in three cheeses, garlic and half a pound of mushrooms for some meatiness.

Here’s what you’ll need for 6 portions the way I do it:

12 oz. rigatoni or penne
3 cups pasta sauce
2-3 clove garlic, minced or microplaned
1/2 onion, small dice
8 oz. crimini mushrooms
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 T unsalted butter
3 oz. fresh mozzarella, small dice
6 T mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 oz. parmesan, microplaned
2 T parsley, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
cooking spray

To make it:

1) Follow the directions on the box to cook the pasta. Just make sure you salt the water to taste like the ocean before you cook the pasta. Make sure you reserve some of the starchy water before you strain it when it’s done!

2) Start up the sauce while the water heats up and you boil pasta. Over medium-high heat, cook the mushrooms in two batches, using 1/2 T of olive oil each time. Lightly salt the mushrooms. Next, using a dash of cooking spray, cook the onions and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes. If anything sticks to the pan at any time, simply loosen with a little water. Start with the onions first, then add the garlic, so the latter doesn’t burn. When it’s close to done, throw the mushrooms back in and stir with the butter.

3. Somewhere in here, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

3. Add the sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.

4. When the pasta is done, reserve some of the water, then drain. Add the pasta back into the sauce, with a couple spoons of the water. Let it simmer for a minute, until everything comes together.

5. If your pan is big enough, you can do this in the pan. If not, grab a large bowl. Mix the cheeses with the pasta and sauce, and drop in half of the parsley.

6. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the parmesan. If you’ve used a microplane to create a fluffy mound of fine shreds, you’ll be able to cover the whole dish in a fairly-decent blizzard of salty cheese. Bake for another 5 minutes until the cheese on top browns slightly. Let it cool for 10 minutes and then dig in. The leftovers taste even better.

With the sauce from Sprouts, each serving was 425 calories. Had I left out the olive oil and butter, and cooked the mushrooms with just Pam, the recipe would have run about 390 calories according to CalorieKing. Add a huge handful of mixed greens and a light drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette and you’ve got a solid meal for under 500 calories.

The serving is large enough to satisfy, and the creamy, cheesy sauce and thick, chewy noodles are as sinful as anything you’d get at a restaurant, with at least half the calories to weigh you down.

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