Saturday, June 30, 2012

Curry Okra and Chicken with Lavender Scented Brown Rice

Well it's a rainy day here in Houston, and I love cooking on Saturday mornings with the family.  While my wife and kids prepared breakfast, I decided to prepare a variation of one of my family's favorite meals.

We usually prepare this dish with a nice smoked sausage, but I decided to try chicken and brown rice.  I also decided to raid the spice cabinet and a little curry and lavender salt to see what I would get.  Hope you enjoy!


1      Sauce Pot (For Rice)
1      Saute Pan/Pot (For Okra and Chicken)
1      Cooks Spoon
1      Sheet Pan
1      Strainer
1      Cutting Board
1      High Temperature Spatula
1      Chef Knife
1      Measuring Cup (Sets)
1      Mixing Bowls

Rice Recipe:

2      Cups      Jasmine Brown Rice
4.5   Cups      Water
1.5   Tsp         Lavender Sea Salt or Kosher Salt (You can locate culinary lavender online)

Think slow and low when cooking brown rice.  It takes longer to cook than white rice. Add all ingredients together and cook at a simmer for 30-40 minutes until done.

Baked Chicken Breast:

1      lb         Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
1/2   Cup      Lite Red Wine Vinaigrette
1      Tsp       Lite Morton's Salt
1      T          Curry Seasoning
1      T          Herb Seasoning (Salt Free)

1.     Mix spices and vinaigrette in a cup and place in a zip lock storage bag.
2.     Place Chicken in the bag and let marinate for 1 hour in the refrigerator
3.     Pre-Heat Oven to 400 degrees.
4.     After 1 hour drain off excess marinade and place chicken on non-stick sheet pan.  
        Spray if necessary.
5.     Bake for 20-30 minutes until done.  Let cool and cut in to 1 inch dice.  
        This can be done a day or two before if you want.  We always have cooked chicken breast ready 
         to use in various dishes.

Curry Okra:

4      cups     Fresh Cut Okra (Blanched and Drained)
1      cup      Onions, Small Diced
1/2   cup      Green Bell Pepper, Small Diced
1      each     Banana Pepper, Small Diced
1      T         Olive Oil
1      Tsp      Crushed Red Pepper
1      T         Curry Seasoning
1      Tsp      Turmeric Powder
1      T         Apple Cider Vinegar
1      Tsp      Morton's Lite Salt
1      Tsp      Fresh Ground Pepper
1      Can     Rotel Tomatoes
2      cups    Tomato Puree
1      cup      Water

Blanching Okra:

Boil a pot of salted water, 1 tablespoon of salt for 4 cups of water.  Place cut okra in boiling salt water for 3-5 minutes.  Drain okra and place hot okra in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process,  Drain off excess water and hold for cooking

1.  In a medium hot sauté pan add olive oil, onions, green bells, and banana pepper. Cook for 2-3 min.
2.  Add okra, salt, pepper, curry, turmeric, and continue cooking for 5 minutes
3. Add Chicken, Rotel Tomatoes, Tomato Puree, Vinegar and Water. 
    Cook for and Additional 15-20 until done.
4. Serve 1/2 cup brown rice with  1 cup Curry Okra and Chicken.  
    Use hot sauce as needed for extra spice.

This meal serves 4-6 guest.  Following serving size and enjoy another sub 500 calorie meal from Chef Reggie.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sleep Apnea and It's Impact on Your Health

Toward the end of the school year back in May, I started feeling really tired.  As a chef working, teaching and raising a family, this did not seem like a big deal at first, but something was different.  I was tired everyday.  At times I could barely finish my lectures, had no energy to work out and was in pain after a big catering events.  I ignored the symptoms at first, thinking I could fight through it.  I had no idea I was experiencing burn out and exhaustion.  I literally woke up one morning and could not go to work.  I finally decided I needed to schedule a visit to my doctor and have a physical.

All sorts of thoughts were going through my mind.  Is it a heart condition, stroke, cancer.  Lot's of fear with no real answers.  After weighing in and getting my blood pressure checked I was sent to the exam room to wait on the doctor.  As I sat in the chair I was faced with a chart on the wall that might as well had been a mirror. "Are Your Suffering from Sleep Apnea"

I had 9 of the 10 symptom on the chart.  Recent wait gain, tossing and turning at night, memory loss and shortness of breath etc....  It was amazing that I was staring at my condition on the wall.  After finishing the physical and talking with my doctor I quickly realized that I needed to do something about this problem because it could lead to more serious health issues.

When you have obstructive sleep apnea you literally stop breath multiple times at night while you are sleep.  The diminished oxygen supply literally causes damage to all your major organs over time.  Your brains tells you that you need more oxygen by giving you a choking sensation, causing you to wake up over and over again.  This routine night after night will cause weight gain because of a slower metabolism in addition to creating favorable conditions for stroke, heart failure or worse death while your sleep if it is not properly treated.  Africans Americans, Hispanics, people with high blood pressure and obesity issues are higher risk groups.

This week I will start testing at a local sleep center to determine exactly what type of sleep disorder I am suffering from.  I'm excited that with the proper sleep therapy solution I will be able to return to my normal activity level, that will include more exercise and a better diet.  Will keep you posted on my journey.

Chef Reggie

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Starting a Home Garden

We have had our home garden for the past 3 years. As a chef I always wanted to grow some of the herbs and vegetables that could be used in our catering business. Most of the the items we produce are consumed at home. I get to used quite a few of the herbs like rosemary, thyme, basil in our higher end events.

First thing you must do is learn what growing region you live in. Most local nurseries will be able to give you that information. After figuring out what growing region search your state agriculture colleges and extension offices to determine what varieties of fruit and vegetables grow best in your state. It's always best to start small.

Container gardens are an easy and cost effective way to start a home garden. Most fruits and vegetables do not need a lot a space to grow just the right conditions. Great container crops are tomatoes, green beans, cucumber, and just about ant herb plant. You can get a nice container garden started for for $50.00 or less. I would also buy a good vegetable garden book from your local half price book store.

A few seeds, potting soil, pots and water and before you know it you will have your very own farm to table program.

Happy Growing
Chef Reggie

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Power Breakfast-Frittata Meal under 500 Calories

When designing this meal I wanted to figure out how to keep things simple and utilized vegetables from my garden that were left over from the night before.  I think this is an excellent selection of ingredients.  Many of the vegetable items can be substituted based on what you have available at home.

Equipment Needed:

  • High Temperature Spatula
  • Chef Knife
  • Measuring Cup
  • Cutting Board
  • Pan Spray
  • 8-10 inch Non-Stick Saute Pan
  • Oven (Set on Broiler (Hi) or Temperature of 450-475)
  •    1 cup      Egg Whites
  •    1 cup      Zucchini (Small dice, can substitute yellow squash)
  • 1/2 cup      Dice Tomatoes or Grape Tomatoes Sliced in halve
  • 1/4 cup      Green Bell Peppers (Small Dice)
  • 1/4 cup      Red Onion (Small Dice)
  • 1 T            Dry Herb Seasoning (No Salt lie Mrs. Dash)
  • 1/2 Tsp     Morton's Lite Salt
  •    2 Tsp     Grated Parmesan Cheese
  •    1 Tsp     Hot Sauce
  • 1 cup        Fresh Orange Juice
  • 1 slice       Wheat Toast (40 Calorie Only)
  • 1/2 cup     Fresh Strawberries
  1. Preheat Oven/Broiler to needed Temperature
  2. Heat Skillet on a medium high temperature, Spray with No Calorie Pan Spray
  3. Add Onions, Zucchini, Bell Peppers to skillet and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add additional spray if needed.
  4. Add Egg Whites, let sit for about a minute then add salt and herb seasoning.
  5. Add Tomatoes and Parmesan Cheese
  6. Place in oven/broiler and finish off, until lightly brown 2-3 minutes.  Remove from oven and let rest before serving, with toast, juice and fresh strawberries. (Handel will be Hot, be careful not to burn your self) Spice it up with a little hot sauce or your favorite salsa.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Attack of the killer Caramel Delights!

Okay remember when your parents would say "Do as I say, not as I do", well that holds true for us today as we discuss how those Girls Scouts got me in trouble last night.  By beautiful daughter Elizabeth is a Girl Scout. My wife Merinda led her troop this past year and as usual purchase our fair share of Girl Scout  Cookies to give out to friends and family.  Turns out we still have about a case of assorted cookies left in our house.  These cookies have been off the do not throw out list because they were part their annual fundraiser and we would use them as gifts.  Well I think gift season is over.

That guy Roland Martin you see on TV or hear every morning on your local radio station, tore into a package of Thin Mints over the Memorial Day weekend; I decided I would follow up with a mini binge of bites of those darn Caramel Delights, so sad!

Well the cookies are being shipped out today to a local food pantry will a healthy dose of healthy foods to off-set those sinfully good calorie busters.  I wanted to throw them away, but my wife and daughter looked at me if I was getting rid of the family pet!

Well my answer to my momentary lapse of judgement was to create and incredible power breakfast as a response to my night of misdeeds with those Caramel Delights!  Look for my post later today

Monday, June 4, 2012

@twtrbiggestlosr Challenge Getting Started

I first want to say my role in this 26 week challenge is not to provide some revolutionary diet that's going to change your life.  I hope the information I'm sharing with you will help you change your life incrementally so that you and your family can start living and enjoying life in a way you never thought possible when it comes to food.

There are some things I'm gonna need you to do to get started, if you expect to see the life change you are looking for.  Remember this is NOT A DIET, but a battle plan to healthier living.

Preparing Your Home Kitchen

You will be cooking more, but there are some things you will need in order to be successful with our menu, recipes and health tips.  You may have some of these items, if not you can pick them up with a limited investment:


  • Non-Stick Saute/Fry Pan
  • High Temperature Spatula
  • Non-Stick Sheet Pan/Cookie Sheet for Oven
  • Small to Medium Size Crock Pot
  • Strainer/Steamer Basket
  • Carbon Steel Chef Knife (6 or 8 inch in length)
  • Cutting Board
Spices and Seasoning
  • Kosher Salt
  • Melange Peppercorns in Grinder
  • Morton's Light Salt
  • Favorite Creole Seasoning (Salt Free)
  • Favorit Herb Blend Seasoning (Salt Free)
  • Olive Oil and Canola Oil Pan Spray
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Throw Out All Dessert (I mean all Dessert, Cookies, Ice Cream, etc.)  We only eat dessert on Sunday as a family outing so that it something special for us to enjoy.  It our treat for being discipline throughout the week!
  • Milk (1 or 2 % Milk is needed, Fat Free is best, but I only do fat free in my coffee)
  • Fruits (3 of your favorite Fresh Fruits; Mine is Pineapple, Grapes, and Stawberries)
  • Vegetables (3 of your favorite Fresh Vegetables; Mine is Green Beans, Cabbage, Zuchinni)
  • Bread/Grain (40 calorie Wheat Bread, 1 Favorite Whole Grain Cereal, and Brown Rice or Whole Wheat Pasta)
  • Meat/Protein (Chicken Breast Frozen is okay, and Fish Filet, Salmon, Tilapia, Flounder)
Additional Items
  • Tobasco Sauce
  • Salsa
  • 2 Selections of Beans or Legumes (Black Beans, Red Beans, Black Eye Peas, etc.)
  • Lemons and Lime
  • Cucumbers
  • Roma Tomatoes
  • Spring Mix Lettuce
  • Yellow Onions, Celery, Carrots, and Green Bell Peppers
  • Low Sodium Chicken Stock/Broth
  • Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Egg Whites or Egg Beaters
  • Bottle Water or Get a Filter System to help the environment!
From time to time you will need to get additional items, based on the recipes we are working on but, this will help us get out of the gate with the hope of delivering the healthy meals we all need.  

Hear's to Healthy Eating on Bite at a Time!

Chef Reggie

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Looking for a fun dish to serve up at your next party try this:

3 cups  Baby Spinach
8 oz     Cream Cheese
8 oz     Artichokes (Canned unless your are brave to Prepared Fresh)
1 oz     Garlic Cloves
1 oz     Shallots
2-3oz   Heavy Cream
TT       Salt
TT       Fresh Ground Pepper (Melange Blend is the best)
4 oz     Italian Cheese Blend

1.  Chop Garlic and Shallots in to small dices.  Place shallots in the a non-stick sauté pan with a little olive oil.  Cook for 2-3 min before adding in garlic.  Be careful to not burn the garlic.  (For deeper richer flavor you can roast garlic and shallots in oven with oil, salt and pepper before cutting)

2. Add drained artichokes to the shallot and garlic mixture, continue cooking for 5-10 minutes. Add in cream cheese and heavy cream as needed to give some moisture to the dish.  The trick here is to get the dish as hot as possible with out totally melting the cream cheese.  Add additional heavy cream if too thick. Remember Slow is better.  Season with salt and pepper as needed

3. Add in 1 cup fresh baby spinach, and reserved the rest.  Transfer entire dish to a food processor and blend.  Be careful to not over blend.  You want to leave some body to the artichokes.  Add additional spinach and italian cheese and season to taste.

4.Transfer spinach dip to oven proof dish and bake, cover with additional italian cheese blend and bake in oven @ 375 degrees until cheese starts to brown.  Serve with your favorite chips.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Culinary Competition Blues

Just finished first real practice for our upcoming culinary competition in two weeks.  I'm not worried, but I have my concerns as always.  It is very hard to convince young students to have the focus required for  competing at the highest level.  My challenge this year, is that I have a team of all Seniors.  I thought this would be an advantage, but they have so many other things they are worried about like, prom, graduation and applying to college. 

It has been very difficult getting them motivated to complete all the work necessary to compete at this level.  That is why all professional chefs stress "Mise En Place", french translation to have all things in place, or in other words be organized.

ACF standards says that if you want to have any chance at success in a competition or cooking exam you must practice at least 10 times before the day of the event.  Let's hope we can improve in the coming days because we have some serious holes to fill before competition.