Kale-Lime Tacos with Honeyed Grapefruit

posted Dec 11, 2011, 9:32 PM by Kim Janik

These tiny tacos were inspired by some I had a few months ago at a local taco truck.  They were so simple - pork, lettuce and cheese - that I had to make something as simple and yet tasty as well.  With the cold weather we've been having lately, I used warm kale in place of cold lettuce and added a blast of lime.  If you love lime then you should like these tacos.
lime-kale pork tacos with cotija and honeyed grapefruit.  This is the Christmas version of the picture.
  • 1 lb. fresh kale
  • 4 grapefruits
  • 4 T. honey
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 2 small limes
  • 1 lb. lean, boneless pork loin chops
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp. red chili flakes, or to taste
  • 24 corn tortillas (tiny, 4" ones)
  • 4 oz. grated cotija
 0-5Rinse kale exceedingly well.  Dirt and grit likes to hide in all those delightful curvy crevices.  Remove the tough stems and cut leaves into thin strips and set aside.
Remove the peel from the grapefruit and cut the flesh into bite-sized chunks.  Place the grapefruit into a large bowl and mix in the honey and cinnamon.
 13-15Remove the peel from the limes and cut the flesh into small, rough pieces.  Set aside.
Trim the pork chops and cut into thin strips.
In a large stir-fry pan, heat the olive oil over high heat.  In a small bowl, mix together the salt and red chili flakes.  Start a large griddle heating over medium heat.
Cook the pork strips in the oil, stirring often.  Meanwhile, start the tortillas warming on the griddle, working in batches, if necessary.
 26Add the lime, salt and red pepper to the pork and stir-fry.
 27-30Remove the pork using a slotted spoon.  In the same pan, stir-fry the kale until the leaves wilt but the color remains bright green.  Continue warming the tortillas as needed.

To serve, layer the pork, kale and cheese into the warmed tortillas.  Serve the honeyed grapefruit as a side.

Serves 4.  589 calories per serving.

Rustic Olive Stew

posted Dec 6, 2011, 5:24 PM by Kim Janik

This stew is simple to make and yet hearty.  Since there is no peeling, scrub the root vegetables well before chopping.  Once the initial chopping is completed, all you need to do is sit back and let the soup simmer into warm, filling goodness.
  • Rustic Olive Stew with Kalamata Olives, Potatoes, Carrots, Celery & Tomatoes
    1 T. olive oil
  • 1 lb. steak
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 lb. carrots
  • 1 lb. celery
  • 1 lb. potatos
  • 28 oz. can stewed tomatoes
  • 3 c. water
  • 1 c. kalamata olives
  • 1/2 c. red wine
  • 1 T. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. salt, or to taste
 Minutes Directions
 0-2 Cut the beef into small (~3/4") cubes.
 3 Heat the oil in large soup pot over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot (but not smoky), add the beef cubes.
 4-7 Brown beef in the pan, stirring occasionally.  Using a separate cutting board and knife, coarsely cut the onion and add it to the pot.
Coarsely chop the garlic.  Add the garlic to the pot and stir.
Chop the potatoes into medium (~3/4") chunks.  Add the potatoes to the pot and stir. 
 11-13  Chop the carrots up into medium (~3/4") slices.  Add the carrots to the pot and stir.
 14-15  Chop the celery coarsely.  Add the celery to the pot and stir.
Add the tomatoes (do not drain first) and the water to the pot.  Stir, cover, and raise the heat to high. 
 17-19  Add the olives, wine, oregano, thyme and salt to the pot.  Stir and replace the cover to allow the mixture to come to a boil.
 20-30  Remove cover, turn heat to medium-low and simmer.

537 calories per serving.  Serves 4.

Pork Chops with Cranberry Dressing and Chard

posted Nov 22, 2011, 2:55 PM by Kim Janik

This week, the American population looks forward to Thanksgiving.  We here at The Engineer's Cookbook are thankful for family, friends, good food and our devoted readers.  Unfortunately, this is often a week of stress for some people - frantic shopping trips in overcrowded grocery stores, endless pie making and eating far too much turkey.  This stress is even worse with the current economic situation.  I encourage you to donate just one can of food (beans, peanut butter or soup or high on the list) to a local food bank.

This week I'm doing my recipe a little differently.  I'm going to give you the recipe first and you can guess what is the ingredient of the week.  Normally, I don't use pre-packaged goods in my recipes, but this week I'm making an exception to make this dinner possible in just 15 minutes.  I hope that relieves some stress!

pork chops, chard and cranberry stuffing with water chestnuts
2 lb. chard
1 lb. thin pork chops *
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 c. orange juice
1 T. olive oil
2 c. fresh cranberries
5 oz. sliced water chestnuts
6 oz. package of your favorite stuffing mix (unprepared)

Preheat grill to medium heat.

 Minutes Directions
0-3 Rinse the chard very well.  Cut into 1" slices.  Set aside.
 4-6 Rinse pork chops, pat dry and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Spray grill with nonstick spray and place pork chops onto grill.
In a medium saucepan, measure orange juice and olive oil and turn to high heat.
 8-9 Rinse cranberries, picking out any soft ones, and add to the orange juice mixture.  The cranberries will make little popping sounds.  This is normal.
 10 Open the can of water chestnuts and add to orange juice mixture.  Flip the pork chops, re-spraying with nonstick spray.  Start a wok or large, wide pan heating over high heat.
 11 Add the contents of the stuffing mix to the orange juice pan, mixing well.  Turn off the heat and cover the stuffing.  Let it sit for the remaining time.
 12-15 Add oil to wok and then the chard.  Stir-fry the chard until the leaves are barely limp.

NOTE:  Make sure the pork chops are cooked thoroughly and that no pink remains.  For safest results, use a meat thermometer to ensure they are done.

Fluff the stuffing with a fork before serving.  Serves 4.  575 calories per serving.

* We use thin cut (~1/4") pork chops.  If you are using thicker pork chops, add more cooking time.

Chunky Chicken Fennel Soup with Fennel-Fontina Oven Cakes

posted Nov 22, 2011, 5:53 AM by Kim Janik   [ updated Nov 22, 2011, 5:57 AM ]

On these cold, fall days you certainly appreciate a loaded bowl of chicken soup.  Adding fennel to a normal bowl of chicken soup truly adds a new dimension.  To help make this a filling meal, we've added a side of fennel-topped oven cakes covered in warm, melted cheese.  Despite the number of ingredients, this meal comes together quickly and easily.
chunky chicken fennel soup with fennel fontina oven cakes

1/2 c. + 2 T. whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 c. milk
2 T. olive oil
4 c. chicken broth
1 whole fennel (bulb & stems)
2 c. celery
1 c. carrots
6 oz. cooked chicken breast
4 oz. fontina cheese
2 c. frozen corn
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

 0-4 Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  In a two cup measuring cup, mix the milk, egg and olive oil until smooth.  Mix the wet ingredients into the dry until barely mixed.
 5Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.  Divide the batter into 4 equal portions on the baking sheet and spread the dough into 4-5" circles.  Put into the sheet into the oven.
In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil over high heat.
Rinse the fennel and pat dry.  Cut the bulb off from the stems and leaves.  Chop the stems and leaves finely, as you would celery.  Set aside on a plate.  Cut the bulb into as thin of slices as you possibly can.  Place the bulb slices into the (now boiling) stock.
 13-16Chop the celery into small chunks.  Chop the carrots into small chunks.  Cut the cooked chicken breast into small chunks as well.
17-18Onto a large plate, grate the fontina cheese.
Remove half of the fennel slices from the chicken broth.  They should be soft and cooked through.  Set them aside to drain on a paper towel.
Remove the oven cakes and let them cool slightly.  They may be slightly mounded in the middle but they should be cooked through.  Switch the oven to the broiler setting.
 21Add the corn, celery, carrots, chicken and remaining fennel to the stock.  Bring to a boil.
 22Top oven cakes with fennel then the cheese.  Put them under the broiler for 1-2 minutes. (Mine took 2 minutes, but watch them carefully!)
 23-24 Stir soup occasionally.
 Remove fennel cakes from oven.  They should be warm, bubbly and barely browned.  Season soup with salt.

Serve immediately.  Serves 4.  495 calories per serving.

Acorn Squash Pasta with Sugar Snap Peas

posted Nov 3, 2011, 9:42 PM by Kim Janik   [ updated Nov 3, 2011, 9:42 PM ]

There is a wonderful little hole-in-the wall Italian restaurant in our neighborhood which we occasionally visit.  One of my favorite dishes is one they only carry in the Fall - fresh, stuffed pasta with a creamy, warm squash sauce.  Yum!  I have been trying to duplicate the recipe for years with little success.  While experimenting with variations on a winter squash soup, imagine my surprise when I stumbled across a combination that was very close to the sauce from the restaurant!  Delighted, I found a way to make this recipe work for a busy weeknight meal.  Even better, this recipe is super easy, has few ingredients and very little hands-on time.
acorn squash pasta

2 lb. acorn squash
2 c. vegetable broth
1 1/2 lb. sugar snap peas
3 slices cooked bacon
18 oz. fresh cheese tortellini
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. salt, or to taste

Preheat broiler.

 Minutes    Directions
 1 Start a large pot of water boiling over high heat.  Add a pinch of salt to the water.
 2-5 Peel the squash.*  Remove the seeds from the center and cut the squash into 1" cubes.  Put the squash in a medium pot and cover with the vegetable broth. Turn the heat to high.
 6-7  Rinse sugar snap peas.  Place them on a large baking sheet.
 8-9  Chop the bacon into small pieces.
 10 The broth and squash should now be boiling.  Let it continue to cook for 15 minutes.
 11-23  Take a little break.  Do something you enjoy.
 Put the sugar snap peas in the oven under the broiler.
 Put the pasta into the pot of boiling water.  Give it a stir to keep it from sticking.  Reduce the heat so it's not boiling too hard.
 26-29Remove the acorn squash from the heat.  Use an immersion blender to whirl the broth and acorn squash until smooth.  Return the pot to the burner, but on medium heat.  Add cream, bacon and salt.  Let simmer until warm.  Do not let it boil.
 30Drain pasta.

Dish up pasta and cover in sauce.  Serve the sugar snap peas on the side.

Serves 5.  534 calories per serving.

* - It is tricky to completely peel acorn squash, especially thickly ribbed ones. It's okay to leave small patches of clean, unpeeled skin.  Your final sauce will end up with pretty little green speckles.

Poblano Eggs with Rice and Beans

posted Oct 18, 2011, 10:11 PM by Kim Janik   [ updated Oct 18, 2011, 10:11 PM ]

Poblano Eggs with Rice and Beans
Faced with a bounty of fresh summer peppers, I find myself inventing lots of new recipes to use them all up.  This is one such recipe - hot peppers and spicy beans paired with mild eggs and rice.  Don't let the number of steps fool you; this is an easy recipe!

1 bell pepper
1 shallot
2 tsp. olive oil
1 T. garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. dry rice
2 c. water
4 poblano peppers *
15 oz. can Pinto Beans
1 tsp. olive oil
1 T. chili con carne seasoning
4 oz. Pepper Jack cheese
8 eggs 

Preheat the broiler.

 Minutes   Directions
 0-2Chop bell pepper into small pieces.
 3Mince shallot
 4Heat the 2 tsp. olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat.  Measure out the rice and salt.  Set aside.
 5Add the shallots, garlic and bell pepper to the hot oil.  Stir often.
 6-7Add rice and salt to the vegetables.  Stir the rice frequently to coat and slightly brown.
 8-9Add the water to the rice mixture and bring to a boil.
 10Cover the rice, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes.
 11-12Half the poblano peppers the remove the core and seeds.  Lay the peppers on a cookie sheet and put under the broiler for 15 minutes.  The edges will be blackened and crispy when they come out.
 13-14Open the can of beans and rinse them thoroughly.
 Heat the remaining teaspoon of oil in a small saucepan.  Add the spices and mix into the oil.
 16Stir in the beans and mix until completely coated in the seasoning.
 17Reduce the heat to low on the beans.
Grate cheese.  Stir beans.
 22Heat pan over medium-high heat.  Break the eggs into a medium bowl and whisk until mostly uniform.  Stir beans.
 23-28Cook the eggs over medium-high until cooked through, stirring often.  Add salt, as desired.  Remove peppers from the oven.

To serve, dish the eggs into the pepper halves and top with the grated cheese.  Serve with the rice and beans.

Serves 4.  564 calories/serving.

* If your family prefers mild peppers, substitute anaheim peppers for the poblanos.

Carrot Cake Pancakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

posted Jun 27, 2011, 9:31 PM by Kim Janik   [ updated Jun 27, 2011, 10:31 PM ]

Beautiful backyard gardens are starting to bloom with early vegetables.  Sweet baby carrots work so nicely in this recipe.  This recipe is also great because it works well in the winter time, too, if you need it.  Make this dinner when you need lighter fare.

3 carrots
8 oz. can crushed pineapple
1/2 c. golden raisins
1/3 c. sliced almonds
2 eggs
1 T. brown sugar
2 T. olive oil
1 c. skim milk
1/2 c. wheat flour
1/2 c. + 1 T. soy flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
8 oz. fat free cream cheese
2 T. confectioner's sugar
2 T. milk

Preheat a large griddle over medium heat.

 0-3Using a food processor, grate the carrots.  Put the carrots into a large bowl.
 4-8Add the pineapple (including juice), raisins, almonds, eggs, brown sugar, olive oil, and milk to the carrots.  Stir together.
 9Mix flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon & nutmeg in a small bowl.
 10Mix flour mixture into wet ingredients until just barely mixed.
 11Using half of the batter, pour out 4 large pancakes.
 In a small bowl, mix the confectioner's sugar with the cream cheese.
 15Small bubbles should have formed around the edges of the pancakes.  Flip them over.
Mix the milk into cream cheese mixture until completely smooth.  It will take several minutes.
Remove the first 4 pancakes from the griddle.  With the remaining batter, pour the last 4 pancakes.
 21-24Take a little break.
 25Flip over the pancakes.
 26-30 Let the pancakes cook on the other side.  Get some plates out for dinner.

Remove the pancakes from the griddle and serve immediately topped with the cream cheese frosting.

Serves 4.  595 calories.

Crab-Stuffed Halibut with Brussel Sprouts & Peanut Butter Ice Cream

posted Apr 29, 2011, 9:21 AM by Kim Janik   [ updated Apr 29, 2011, 10:42 AM ]

Packed with protein and calcium, this recipe is a great way to use your freshly caught crab.  By adding a side of low-calorie, Vitamin C-packed brussel sprouts, we've given you the luxury of dessert tonight, too.  Don't let the number of steps below fool you; this recipe is easy to make.

4 oz.  cream cheese
1 bunch green onions
8 oz.  
crab meat
1 tsp.  salt

1/2 tsp.  pepper
1 lb.  halibut
4 chocolate peanut butter cups
2 c.  nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt
1 lb.  brussel sprouts
4 T.  parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

 Minutes Directions
1-2Put cream cheese in a medium bowl.  Stir until smooth and soft.
Clean, trim and chop green onions into thin slices.  Add to the bowl of cream cheese.
Add crab, salt & pepper to bowl containing green onions and cream cheese.  Mix well.
7Put fish on a large cutting board and slice into four 4-oz sections
8Cut each fish portion in half down the middle, but only cut about halfway down (see diagram below).
Starting at the bottom of the prior cuts, cut each piece of fish out towards the edges, but do not cut all the way through (see diagram below).  The fish will now lay flat.  Open each piece of fish in this way so each piece lays open and flat.
Top each piece of fish with 1/4th of the crab mixture.
Put fish into preheated oven.
12Clean off your work area thoroughly.  Get out a fresh cutting board and knife.
13-14Get out four small bowls.  Chop chocolate peanut butter cups into 16ths.
15-17Dish 1/2 cup of ice cream into each bowl.  Sprinkle the peanut butter cup pieces over the top.  Put the bowls of ice cream in the freezer for later.
Chop off the bottom of each brussel sprout (let the outer leaves fall to the side) and cut each one in half.  Once all the brussel sprouts are trimmed in this manner, rinse them off.
Preheat large saucepan over high heat.  Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
 24-29Cook brussel sprouts in pan, stirring often.
 30Remove brussel sprouts from heat and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Remove fish from oven.  The fish underneath the crab topping should be fully cooked and flake easily with a fork.  The topping should be lightly browned.

To serve, put a portion of fish on each plate and a side of brussel sprouts.  Enjoy the dessert after dinner.

Serves 4.  576 calories per serving.

Date-Nut Chicken

posted Mar 20, 2011, 7:02 PM by Kim Janik   [ updated Mar 20, 2011, 7:26 PM ]

This is one of the recipes that I simply kick myself for not thinking of sooner.  Rich dates, crunchy nuts and soft goat cheese are so perfect as a stuffing for chicken breasts.  To add to the appeal, this recipe has very few ingredients and can easily be done in less than 30 minutes.

1 lb.  thin-sliced chicken breasts (~4 slices)
1/2 c.  dates
1/4 c.  walnuts
4 oz.  goat cheese
1 lb.  sugar snap peas
1 lb.  carrots
1 T.  olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

 Minutes   Directions
 1-2Chop dates coarsely and put in a medium bowl.
 3Chop nuts coarsely and add to bowl.
 4-5Add cheese to bowl and mix everything thoroughly.
 6-9Stuff each chicken breast piece with 1/4th of the date mixture.  The mixture is sticky and should hold the chicken together.  However, you can use toothpicks if it helps.  Put all four stuffed chicken breasts onto a baking sheet and put into the oven.
Chop carrots into thin sticks.
 15-23Take a little break.  :-)
 24In a large wok or saucepan, heat oil over high heat for 30 seconds
 25-27Stir-fry the carrots, stirring often.
Add the sugar snap peas and salt and continue to stir-fry.
Turn the oven to broil and cook for one minute to nicely brown the chicken.

Serves 4.  534 calories per serving.

Hummus - Three Ways

posted Mar 4, 2011, 10:42 PM by Kim Janik   [ updated Mar 4, 2011, 11:00 PM ]

Before the holidays, I had a request for homemade hummus.  I love hummus!  I was more than happy to oblige and came up with not just one, but three different fun recipes!  The first recipe is a simple, basic hummus - perfect for all occasions.  My love of olives led me to creating a Kalamata olive hummus variant.  Last, I wanted something a little different so came up with a spicy roasted red pepper version.  The trick to good hummus is a touch of tahini, a sesame seed paste available in most grocery stores.

 Kalamata Olive Hummus
Original Hummus
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
 15.5 oz. can garbanzo beans
1 T. tahini
1/2 c. kalamata olives
1 tsp. garlic
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 T. oil
1/2 tsp. salt
 15.5 oz. can garbanzo beans
1 T. tahini
2 T. olive oil
1 T. lemon juice
2 tsp. garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T. water
 15.5 oz. can garbanzo beans
1 T. tahini
1 tsp. garlic
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. roasted red bell peppers
1 T. olive oil

For all three recipes, add all of the ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth (2-3 minutes).  If you prefer a smoother consistency, you may add a small amount of olive oil or water and blend for another minute.

Serve immediately or let sit in the refrigerator overnight.  Use as a dip for toasted pita or raw vegetables.  Stores refrigerated for a week.

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