Had a few too many hot dogs and beers this summer? If your shorts are getting a bit too tight, here's a tasty, but low-calorie dinner suggestion from the Mushroom Information Center.
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 1 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/2 cup water. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil.
Add 41/2 cups of sliced white mushrooms and 11/2 cups fresh sliced shiitake mushrooms with the stems removed. Cook and stir until they release their liquid, about 3 minutes.
Add 1 large, sliced bell pepper, 4 chopped green onions, 2 teaspoons of minced garlic; cook and stir until mushroom liquid evaporates and garlic begins to brown. Add 11/2 cups of cooked chicken, cut into thin strips.
Stir teriyaki mixture and add to the skillet mixture. Cook and stir until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Arrange 4 Chinese cabbage or bok-choy leaves on 4 plates. Spoon mushroom-chicken mixture onto top, dividing equally. Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 170 calories; 17 grams protein; 6 grams fat; 14 grams carbohydrate; 4 grams fiber. Analysis from the Mushroom Information Center.
Compliments to the chef
Looking for an elegant gift to honor a talented chef? Le Cordon Bleu, the company that runs the famed culinary school, has created a polished pewter champagne cooler that resembles a chef's toque.
The cooler holds two bottles of champagne or can be used as a decorative vase. It stands 93/4 inches high, 73/4 inches wide and 61/2 inches deep. It is available for $395 at www.cordonbleu.edu or by calling (866) 522-6811.
A lightweight cutting board from Ikea has a built-in serrated knife with a blunt tip ($5.99). It effectively puts an end to the problem of loose or forgotten knives when picnicking. The 6-by-8-inch wooden cutting board, made of beech, is also handy for the slicing of limes for mojitos or lemons for iced tea.
A lot of companies make battery-powered frothers for espresso drinks. Some cost $20 or more. But at less than $2, Ikea's version is practically disposable.
For people whose left hand is the right one, Wusthof has introduced three new left-handed serrated knives. The models include a classic left-handed 9-inch bread knife, a wavy-edge 10-inch "super slicer" and a classic 5-inch serrated utility knife. Each has the sharp serrated etching on the left side of the blade's edge, rather than the right.
Prices range from $50 to $80. The knives are available in fine specialty and department stores nationwide.
It's that time of year, when "al fresco" eating is embraced by all. A picnic is the perfect way to dine and enjoy your outdoor surroundings simultaneously. It can be planned or spontaneous, intimate or a gathering. Just remember a few tips to make your picnic a delicious and enjoyable affair.
UDon't overload on the food. You don't want to haul leftovers back home past their best. If you're worried about going hungry, pack more snacks.
UNonperishable foods are ideal for picnics -- dried fruit, peanut butter, nuts, granola mixes, pretzels, etc. They're great to bring along on a short hike as well.
UTry to pack beverages that come in individual servings -- bottled water, juice boxes, cans of soda.
UBring condiments and seasoning in small disposable packets: mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, taco sauce, relish, salt and pepper.
UFor anything that can leak (dressings, soups, sauces), store in airtight containers, wrap in plastic bags and tie tightly. Put them in the bottom of your picnic basket or bag. That way, if they leak, they don't leak all over the other food.
UBaskets make attractive serving pieces for breads, fruits and sandwiches.