Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Spicy Szechuan Stir Fry

This was, quite simply, the best damn stir fry we've ever made. It was even tastier the next day for lunch! We started with a recipe from one of our cookbooks, but went off the reservation pretty quickly and ended up with something that we can definitely call our own. You can make this less spicy by leaving out the hot peppers. We served this over a plate of noodles.

2 T Hokan Szechuan Sauce (bottled, found in the Asian section of a well-stocked supermarket)
3 dried habanero peppers, reconstituted in warm water and then minced
1 t garlic powder
1 t ground cayenne pepper
1.5 lb chicken breast, cut into strips
1 onion, sliced into half rings
1 red pepper, cut into strips
3 scallions, sliced thin
2 cups napa cabbage or bok choy, coursely chopped
8 oz shitake mushrooms, sliced
1" piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 T low sodium soy sauce
2-3 T peanut oil

Mix the first four ingredients and combine with the chicken pieces. Marinate at least fifteen minutes.

Heat 1 T of the peanut oil in a wok or large skillet until almost smoking. Cook one half the marinated chicken until browned on all sides, remove from pan. Add more oil and cook the remainder of the chicken. Remove from pan and set aside, covered. Add enough oil to loosen the fond in the pan and bring up to cooking temperature. Add the onions and red peppers to the hot pan. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Add the green onions and ginger. Continue to stir fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes more, or until the released liquids have reduced or evaporated. Add the chicken back to the pan along with the napa cabbage or bok choy and the soy sauce. Cook for another minute or two, until the chicken is hot and the vegetables are crisp-tender.

Serve immediately over rice or noodles. Makes 4 servings, with 360 mg sodium per serving.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


A change in the weather inspired this week's recipe choice: chili. After several weeks of unseasonably warm weather, we finally got another taste of winter. A giant pot of hot chili seemed like a good idea for warming ourselves up. Nothing beats a big bowl of comfort food and some homemade jalapeno cheddar cornbread.

The best way to have complete confidence and control over your sodium intake is to make as much as you can from scratch. This chili recipe includes instructions for making your own chili powder. It isn't difficult at all, and tastes so much punchier and fresher than industrial mixes. You also have the advantage of making it to your taste. You will need to start with whole dried chile peppers, which can be found in the ethnic food section of a well-stocked grocery store.

PDM's Chili Powder

3 dried Ancho chiles
3 dried California chiles
3 dried Guajillo chiles
1 T garlic powder
2 T whole cumin seed

Cut up the chiles into small strips using kitchen shears or a sharp knife. Toast the ingredients in a dry saute pan briefly until fragrant. Remove and grind into a find powder.

Chili (serves 8-10)

2 medium onions, chopped and divided
5 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1 lb sirloin
1 lb chuck roast
~40 oz diced no salt added tomatoes, pulsed in food processor to remove chunks
2 14-oz can(s) organic mixed bean, rinsed and drained
8 T chili powder (recipe above)
1/2 oz "secret ingredient" (some of you can guess what this is - it complements chile peppers)

"Grind" the beef by cutting into 1" chunks and then pulsing in food processor 5-6 quick bursts. Brown ground beef in small batches over medium high heat in a large dutch oven. Set aside to drain when done. After all meat is browned, cook the jalapenos and all but 1/2 cup of onion over medium high heat until softened. Add tomatoes, meat, beans, chili powder, and secret ingredient and cook covered over low heat for about an hour, until the meat and beans are cooked through. Near the end of cooking, add the remaining 1/2 cup onion.

Serve with cornbread. Each serving contains less than 200 mg sodium (not including cornbread).

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

This is our low sodium (but very tasty) version of Mellow Mushroom's "Funky-Q" pizza (with jalapeno, because that's the way we roll). We started by making homemade barbecue sauce and simmering it for hours, made our own dough for the crust, cooked the meat and onion, and then assembled and baked. This makes six generous slices with less than 200mg sodium per slice. We ate three each and were pleasantly stuffed afterward. And did I say it was delicious? Just making sure.

Barbecue sauce

1/4 cup minced onion
2 T vegetable oil
1 14-oz can no salt added diced tomatoes, pulsed in food processor
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup molasses
3 T brown sugar
2 T OJ
2 t chile powder
1 t mustard powder
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
1 t liquid smoke
1/2 t black pepper

Saute onion in oil until golden (about 8-10 minutes). Add remaining ingredients, turn heat to low and simmer about 2 hrs, stirring occasionally. Blend with immersible blender. Keep warm until ready to spread over pizza.


This herbed pizza crust recipe is from Dick Logue's 500 Low Sodium Recipes book, page 442. The only changes I made were to increase the water to 7/8 cup and I add 1/8 t salt. Process in bread machine on dough cycle. Preheat oven to 500F. Roll out flat on a lightly floured, large piece of parchment paper over a cold pizza stone. Prick surface with a fork as shown and let rest for a few minutes.

Prepare Toppings

For pizza toppings, caramelize a sliced onion in butter over low heat until very soft and browned. Cook 2 slices of low sodium bacon, reserving the drippings. Chop or crumble bacon into small pieces and set aside. Cook two diced chicken breasts in the reserved bacon grease until browned on the outside and cooked through. Drain and combine with enough barbeque sauce to coat. Coarsely chop a few pickled jalapeno rings. Grate 1 ounce of low sodium cheddar cheese and 1.5 ounces of fresh mozzarella (it helps if you freeze the mozzarella first).

Final Assembly and Bake

When the oven reaches 500F, place the pizza dough (on stone with parchment) in the oven. Bake 4-5 minutes, until top is dry but not golden brown. Remove from oven and place on heat-safe surface. Top the crust with the remaining barbecue sauce, then add the chicken, bacon, jalapeno, caramelized onion, and cheeses. Return pizza to oven and bake until cheese melts and just starts to turn spotty brown. Slice and serve, baby!