Posted by: thehungryrunner | January 12, 2008

Three more skillet dish recipes from this week

Well I said I would do it and I did; I used this week’s dinners to return to my tasty yet healthy, runner-friendly standby:  the skillet dish.  I posted the recipe for my first day back at this earlier in the week.  Here, three more skillet dinners I prepared this week, all of them quite delicious and satisfying:

 Veggie “chicken” peanut stir-fry

For this one I used the Morningstar Farms veggie “chicken strips” meal starter, a bag of frozen “microwave in bag” sugar snap peas, roasted peanut oil and bottled peanut sauce.  I popped the sugar snap peas in the microwave and while that was cooking, heated up about a teaspoon of roasted peanut oil in the wok.  I added the veggie “chicken strips” and began to stir them.  I would have added a little hot water as the strips were still frozen, but right about then the sugar snap peas finished cooking.  I added them, another teaspoon of the peanut oil, and whatever extra water had steamed off in the bag to the wok, stirring the whole thing around for about 5 minutes (allowing the strips to thaw and brown up a little).  About halfway through the cooking I added about a tablespoon of the peanut sauce, stirring to coat, and another tablespoon about 30 seconds before removing the dish from the heat and onto my serving platter.  A generous-size dinner for two!

Italian “veggie meatball” Skillet

I think this one is my favorite so far.  If I’d have had any fresh herbs on hand — oregano, basil, even Italian flat-leaf parsley, I probably would have added a small amount of chopped herb at the very last minute.  But happily, this wasn’t even needed as it turned out quite tasty without it.  Also, I realized as I prepared it that I really didn’t need a skillet; I could have used a saucepan or pot, and in fact I probably will the next time.  I’d be curious to see if simmering this one for a few minutes with lid changes the taste/texture at all.  But bottom line:  it’s quick, easy, nutritious and good!

For this I used vegetarian “meatballs” found in the produce section of my grocery store, but this would work with pretty much any brand veggie meatball.  I also used a steam-in-bag bag of frozen green beans (though to be honest my first choice would have been frozen Italian “flat” green beans), “olive oil” cooking spray, and a jar of pasta sauce.  I tried to stick to a lower-calorie option, with this one being a sun-dried tomato/olive recipe.  I threw the green beans into the microwave, sprayed a deep skillet with cooking spray, and began heating the veggie meatballs on a medium flame.  By the time the green beans finished cooking, the meatballs were heated through and slightly browned — perfect.  I opened the bag and poured the hot green beans into the skillet then ground some black pepper over the whole thing.  Stirred it all around to distribute it all and moisten the veggie meatballs.  I then added a cup of the pasta sauce, which was enough to coat the green beans and veggie meatballs, with a little sauce surrounding everything (which is good for me as I don’t like a huge amount of sauce).  I continued to cook until the sauce began bubbling, just a few minutes, then unloaded it all into a large serving bowl.  Again, two very generous portions.  Molto delizioso!

Lime-Teriyaki Orange Roughy Skillet

I happen to love most varieties of white fish, but two of my favorites are orange roughy and tilapia.  I’m always looking for ways to prepare them, but I really prefer to keep it as simple as possible so as not to take away from the delicate flavor of the fish.  Thus I usually only season my fish with lemon, lime, fresh ground pepper and maybe salt.  So this “teriyaki” dish was a risk but it turned out well!

For this I used a bag of frozen orange roughy, as I almost never get the chance to go to the stores whose fresh fish I trust.  This at least gives me the chance to enjoy fish whenever the mood hits.  And because I’m always looking for time-savers, I typically microwave my fish to get the thaw/cook process rolling faster.  Here’s how I do it:  I place the filets in a deep microwave dish.  To this, I either squeeze the juice of an entire lemon or an entire lime, then place a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper to help keep the moisture in.  This time, though, I tried something different:  I reconstituted a packet each of True Lime and True Lemon in about 1/4 cup hot water, then poured that over the filets.  If you’re not familiar, these products are dried lemon and lime juice; they’re great because you don’t have to worry about always having fresh lemon or lime on hand, which can get expensive.  I microwave the fish for usually around a minute or two, sometimes at less than 100% power.  My goal is not usually to cook so much as help speed the thawing.  Thankfully, this has yet to produce anything that ends up seemingly overcooked or rubbery.   Meanwhile, I sprayed skillet with canola oil cooking spray, turned the stove on to medium, then added the orange roughy (but not the water/juice left from microwaving).  I then put a bag of steam-in-bag frozen vegetables — today it was “broccoli florets, parisienne carrots, and cauliflower florets” — into the microwave and set it for 5 minutes as directed.  Back to the skillet:  It wasn’t long before additional moisture/water began to drain into the skillet from the still-thawing orange roughy, but this actually seemed a help; it kept it moist and essentially “poached” the fish for a little while.  I added some fresh-cracked black pepper and turned each piece over (there were four).  More fresh-ground black pepper.  I then pulled the cooked veggies out of the microwave and added them to the skillet.  By now the fish had been cooking for roughly 7-8 minutes, and was about 90% cooked.  There was still plenty of water, so I figured I’d let most of it steam off, which would take another minute or two.  Meanwhile, I measured out 2 heaping Tablespoons of a lime-teriyaki sauce I’d bought at Target (God bless Target, I buy just about everything there), and added it to the skillet.  Gently tossed the vegatables and moved the fish around with a pair of tongues.  The orange roughy was now flaking, signaling it was done.  Turned off the stove and transferred the whole thing to a serving platter.  Two large servings, definitely needing to be eaten right away as leftover fish isn’t the best thing in the world to experience.  But very, VERY good!  I didn’t know what to expect but I was glad to be pleasantly suprised.

Buon appetito!


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