Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hawaiian Mmhm BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

aka: Why MJ & I Are Obviously Meant to Be Together Forever

Saturdays at our house are days celebrated by sleeping in, occasionally watching movies, neglecting homework, going to the market, and cooking up lots of deliciousness. I've been missing Jerusalem quite a bit lately, so I was planning on making challah and was dead set on finding matzo meal to make matzo ball soup. But, after searching two of the most likely markets with no luck, I admitted defeat. Besides, MJ was craving a burger.

But not just any burger. Something gourmet. Something packed with flavors. Something with pineapple. And maybe bbq sauce. I, being one of those kids who always picked chicken nuggets over any burger, was a bit skeptical. So, being the awesome, considerate, self-sacrificing wife I am, I persuaded him to think about a bbq chicken sandwich instead. He thanked me later.

After a bit of brainstorming and pantry assessment, we created what we both feel/taste is The Best BBQ Chicken Sandwich Ever. It is possible, however, that we are the only people who would like this so much because it contains a lot of our favorite things, all on the same bun. Perhaps we should have christened it the Destiny Burger. You, dear friends, will have to let me know if this is actually an appetizing combo.

Our tastebuds were in heaven. Sweet pineapple, creamy neufchatel, juicy bbq chicken, rich havarti, crisp butter lettuce, & even more tangy honey bbq sauce? Perfection, right? This was one of those culinary experiments where the results were even better than we'd imagined. The name was inspired by our reaction. Yum. Now I want another one.

Hawaiian Mmhm BBQ Sandwiches
2 rather large pieces of chicken would comfortably make 4 sandwiches. We have—and love—havarti cheese, but mozzarella or provolone would also be yummy. We also used neufchatel rather than cream cheese (we're trying to be healthier & it has 1/3 less fat). And romaine or even iceberg lettuce would also be just fine.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into 1/2 inch strips
1 1/2 cups (maybe a bit more) honey bbq sauce (we used Kraft)
4 slices havarti cheese
4 slices deli ham
1 can pineapple rings
1 tblsp. nefuchatel cheese
4 leaves butter lettuce
4 hamburger buns
salt & pepper

1. Slice chicken into strips 1/2 inch thin and place in a glass bowl or plastic bag. Cover generously with bbq sauce. Add 3 tblsp. of the juice from the canned pineapple. Salt & pepper to your taste. Let marinate for at least 3 hours.

2. Cook the chicken using a grill on high heat. You could also bake it in the oven. I attempted to pan fry mine. I would not recommend this approach. It was very splattery.

3. Toast buns lightly. In a small frying pan, heat ham slices for 3 to 5 minutes. Assemble sandwiches. Spread a layer of cream cheese on the bottom bun and place pineapple slice on top of cream cheese. Add a layer of chicken, then the havarti, then a slice of ham, then the lettuce. Spread additional bbq sauce on top bun.

Yes... there were also sweet potato fries. Here are the basics:

1. Heat oven to 425°F. Wash, dry, and slice sweet potatoes into thin strips. Place fries on a large baking sheet.

2. Coat with 2 tblsp. cornstarch. Add 1+ tblsp. olive oil. Spice it up! (I used ground ginger, paprika, a dash of curry powder, salt & pepper, and a little pinch of cayenne.)

3. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the fries are crisp on the edges and soft and fluffy in the centers.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Low-Fat, No Sugar, Still Delicious Oat Breakfast Cookies

I know, I know. No sugar? No butter?! Is this even Rush Slowly??? Yes. Sometimes you reach the point in your life where you realize that baking two cakes in a week (and then eating chocolate cake for breakfast) isn't going to make you look great in your little black retro swimsuit on your trip to Vegas next weekend (!!!). So. You go to the gym. You bake something mostly healthy, with no eggs, no butter, minimal but good-for-you fats, and very little sugar (but still with a healthy dose of chocolate to give your morning a boost).

And you have a slightly smaller slice of dark chocolate cake with creamy coconut chocolate frosting after dinner. I really like cake.

I'll admit, I cheated a bit on these by using some home-made apple sauce that definitely had some brown sugar and maple syrup in it... but I think it would be just as good and even better for you with plain 'sauce.  I was inspired by a recipe I found via pinterest, of course. But I yummed it up a bit more.

These are loaded with protein and good for you nutrients & even healthy fats. You won't be hungry five minutes after leaving the house. Yeah, there's some chocolate, which probably won't help you drop 2 dress sizes in a week. But chocolate triggers the release of endorphins, which we all need in the morning. So. You'll be happier, even if your skirt is still a bit tight.

I've been trying to replace some of the fats in my baking with coconut oil of late because, despite being a saturated fat, coconut oil is actually good for you!  Studies have shown that it  promotes heart health & boosts your metabolism. Your body can burn the fat more efficiently because of the composition of the molecules (they're smaller). PLUS, it also doubles as a fantastic lotion. This I learned in India after I spent a day spreading lye-based cement by hand. My skin was chapped & raw. I went to a small home near the shop we were building & asked for water to rinse the lye off my hands. The sweet woman of the house helped me wash, then motioned that I should wait. She returned with coconut oil & slathered my arms & hands. It felt wonderful.

Sorry. Tangent. The point is, coconut oil is good for you. It's a bit more expensive, but so are visits to the doctor.

Oat Breakfast Cookies
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cups shredded coconut (mine was toasted)
1/3 cup almond meal (blanched almonds ground in a food processor until smooth)
3/4 cup Krusteeze wheat & honey pancake mix
3/4 cup cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup mixed nuts (I used more almonds)
2/3 cup dried fruit (I used cranberries)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
dash of ginger
pinch of salt (unless using salted nuts)

3 ripe bananas
2 tblsp canola oil
2 heaping tblsp coconut oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tbslp. water
dash of almond extract (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients & stir until evenly combined. If you don't have almond meal (I didn't, either), put 1/4 cup of almonds in a blender or food processor & blend on high until you have a fairly fine powder.

If you have a food processor, the wet ingredients come together in a snap. If not,  a hand mixer, KitchenAid, or Bosch would also work well. Mash bananas thoroughly, then add oils, applesauce, vanilla, water, & almond extract, if you so choose. Whip them together until smooth.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until evenly blended. I let my dough sit for a while (while I folded laundry) so the oats could soak up some of the moisture of the wet ingredients. Drop by large spoonful—these are breakfast, remember—onto your lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for twenty minutes, or until edges begin to brown and the bottoms of the cookies are light brown & crisp.

I'm already a fan of these! They feel a lot more loving that tossing a Clif bar at your honey on a rushed morning. :)