“Nothing helps scenery like bacon and eggs.” - Mark Twain

Chicken Protein Snacks

Posted: November 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Chicken, Cooking, Health, Herbs & Spices, Ingredients, Low Carb, Olive Oil, Snacks | View Comments

Tonight while I was at Safeway with Kevin, I got the bright idea to buy 4 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs and cook them up as snack food to take with me to work this week.  I’ve been trying to eat a higher protein diet, since I tend to be borderline anemic every time I go to the doctor for a checkup.  Additionally, it’s more satisfying, tastes great, and is lower calorie than snacking on the stuff we keep around the office.

Chicken Protein Snacks Cooking

Here’s what I did to make it super flavorful and low calorie:

  • heat alarge skillet on medium heat
  • add 2-3 tablespoons of virgin olive oil to the pan (never add to a cold pan says Martha, still not sure why that is)
  • add spices you like, for me it was “Italian Seasonings”, Rosemary, Oregano, kosher salt flakes and fresh ground pepper
  • swirl or stir together the seasonings and oil until the coat the bottom of the pan evenly
  • place the first group of chicken in the pan (with 4 pounds I had to do 3 batches)
  • add 1/3 cup water
  • turn up to medium-high and cover

Cook time: I like my chicken tender (but cooked to temperature of course) so I just turned it once after 4-6 minutes and then leave for another 3-4.  I cut into the center of the thickest part of each piece to make sure it was white all the way through.  When done, set on a plate to cool.

To keep the chicken moist all week, avoid the temptation to chop it all up into strips.  Just cut what you’re going to take with you for the day, and leave the rest of the pieces whole and packed in a tupperware or other airtight container or plastic wrap.  They’ll keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.  Enjoy, and let me know if this suggestion works for helping you snack healthier during the holidays!

Do Chinese Restaurants Shop for Gyoza at Trader Joe’s?

Posted: August 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Appetizers, Chinese, Cooking, Eating Out, Vegetable Oil | View Comments

I love gyoza, also referred to as potstickers.  I think it is the yummiest appetizer in all of Asian cuisine, and I can eat just gyoza for an entire meal.  Fill it with pork, chicken, beef or “mystery meat” and I’ll eat it.  For those of you not in the know, gyoza is a Chinese dumpling that is filled with meat and either steamed or fried (often a combination of the two).  Gyoza is what the Japanese call it, generally Chinese restaurants will call them potstickers.

Gyoza usually isn’t cheap when you consider what you’re getting, a plate of 6-8 can easily set you back $6-$10.  At good restaurants they make the dough and filling, and hand form the dumpings, so you’re paying for the labor.

Imagine my surprise when I went Trader Joe’s tonight and noticed pre-made gyoza in the frozen section.  I couldn’t resist, so I brought them home and decided I’d see if I could recreate the same yumminess in my kitchen.   Each bag contained three servings of 7 pieces, 270 calories per serving (before the oil and the sauces).  Sounds about right – 3 servings is a filling dinner (with a lot of salt).

I followed the instructions, cooking them a little longer than they suggested so they’d get that nice crispy texture.  It takes 7 minutes to:

  • heat a frying pan (while it is empty) on medium/high
  • add 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil (they suggested 2, whatever, I like my fat)
  • add the whole bag of gyoza once the oil is hot
  • let the gyoza brown, turning occasionally (be gentle)  — they suggested 1 minute but I did it for 4 to get crispier
  • turn the heat down to low
  • add 1/4 cup water to the pan and cover so the steam will warm them all the way through – 2 or 3 minutes
  • pour gyoza into a strainer to remove the excess oil and water, serve

So there you go!

Immediately, I noticed that these gyoza are a particular size and shape – and I’ve seen the exact same size/shape repeated at LOTS of restaurants.  I think there are tons of Asian restaurants shopping at Trader Joe’s or Costco or some other bulk restaurant retailer and we’ve been paying $1/gyoza when I just made 20 of them for $3!  I’m rethinking my whole gyoza strategy, from now on I am going to ask if they make their own dumplings fresh and from scratch.  If not, I’m not ordering – because I can make them at home and never risk a soggy gyoza again.

Photo credit: Flickr