Thursday, January 12, 2012

Barbecued Raspberry-Hoisin Chicken

For Christmas this year, I got several really great cookbooks. Among them was The Simple Art of Eating Well, a collection of healthy recipes from Eating Well magazine. I asked for it because it was a 2011 James Beard Foundation Award finalist in Healthy Focus, and we are trying to be even healthier in 2012! We try to have several healthy meals per menu (we plan menus for every 2 weeks), but sometimes it gets hard AND old, so I'm always on the lookout for new healthy recipes.

We tried the recipe below this week and it was SO GOOD. One of the things they say in the book is that we don't get enough fruits and veggies in our diet, so in their recipes, they try to pack in the fruits/veggies in creative ways. For instance, in this recipe, there are raspberries in the marinade and dipping sauce. Not that you're getting a lot of servings of fruits/veggies using this method, but every little bit helps!

The book also talks about meal ratios. Only 1/4 of your meal should be meat, followed by 1/4 starches (rice, potatoes, etc.), and the other half should be all veggies. As you can see in the picture below, we didn't follow that guideline here, but we're working towards it!!

As a side note, I wasn't sure if I liked Hoisin (an Asian dipping sauce-it kind of looks like BBQ sauce), but everything tasted great, and you couldn't make out a lot of individual flavors from the marinade in the meat.

Barbecued Raspberry-Hoisin Chicken
Slightly adapted from original

• 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
• 3/4 cup hoisin sauce (you can find it in the international food section - mine was in a glass jar)
• 3 tablespoons rice vinegar (or, as a substitute, you can use 3 parts water to 1 part white vinegar)
• 1 clove garlic
• 1 strip (2 by 1/2") orange zest
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger (I used the dried kind in the bottle, not fresh)
• 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• Pinch of crushed red pepper
• 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into kebab chunks (make chunks similar in size)
• 4 skewers

1. Combine raspberries, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, orange zest, ginger, pepper, and crushed red pepper in a blender or food processor. Blend or process until smooth (about 1 minute). Set aside 1/4 cup for dipping sauce.
2. Marinade the chicken in the raspberry marinade overnight.
3. Preheat grill to medium-high or broiler to high.
4. Remove chicken from marinade, scrape off excess (discard marinade), and thread onto 4 skewers, distributing equally.
5. Grill the chicken until browned & cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side. If using broiler, place the chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray and broil 4 inches from the heat source until cooked, about 5 minutes per side.
6. Serve with dipping sauce. (We liked the chicken without the dipping sauce better, so taste the sauce before you pour it on!)

Slightly adapted from original

• 2 1/2 cups water
• 1 cup long- or medium-grain brown rice
• 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
• 2 tablespoons rice vinegar (or, as a substitute, you can use 3 parts water to 1 part white vinegar)

1. Combine water & rice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Cover, reduce to simmer and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed, 40-50 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, until ready to serve.
4. Just before serving, sprinkle rice with rice vinegar and green onions. Fluff with a fork.

That's all for now! More recipes and updates soon.

Love from Houston,
L & J

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Years in North Alabama

Happy New Year, everyone! As I'm sure you noticed, I took a brief haitus from the blog around the holidays. What can I say? We just got busy. So sorry.

This holiday, we were able to go back to Mississippi for the whole week of Christmas, and were off from work until after New Years. It was really nice to have a long break and see family and friends back home!

This year, Lan started a new tradition with college friends, an annual New Year's trip. We have a friend whose parents do something similar with their college friends (and have done so since college!). Lan is really great at keeping up with friends from far away, and he's been planning this shindig since early fall. So, on the Friday before New Years, we headed to Mentone, Alabama with some friends.

While in Mentone, we hit the local shops and visited a local restaurant. We also did some hiking and went to play frisbee and football in a park near our cabin. Good times were had by all.

Us in the cabin

Day 2 - This was an overlook near our cabin

Lan joining in on the Blaine family picture.

The girls at the park (Lan creepin' in the background)

Ladies in the park

This happened over and over again at the park. The frisbee and football would get thrown in the creek accidentally and someone would have to venture into the creek to fish it out. Great teamwork, Lan and Jan!

Over the shoulder shot. Classy.

Boys at the park

Lan's senior portrait.

Half of our pictures are of Lan making this face

Sunset shot at the overlook near our cabin

Girls pic!


Group pic before our hike

We took a hike down to the river. It was a really steep incline!

Us on the rock at the river

Group shot on the rock

On the hike back up the mountain, I heard running water, so we took a detour and found this!

Me with my amazing discovery :)

Boys rock climbing

Our cabin, Bear Claus Lodge!

Well, that's all for now! I have some recipes and other fun things to share soon.

Love from Houston!
L & J