Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pizza!



It was an un-traditional Christmas this year, but the food was still good.  I tried another recipe from the BBA and once again, it did not disappoint.  This time it was pizza dough!

The recipe was the first one that I've made that takes 2 days.  You make the dough the first day, shape it into (6) 6-ounce (or as close to 6 ounce as you can, mine were 5.5 ounces) balls and refrigerate overnight.  The second day you want to flatten the dough and let it rest at room temperature for 2 hours.

 

The result?  A dough that was incredibly easy to work with, although I got a bit overzealous and stretched it out so much that it tore, so I had to let it rest for a bit and start over.  And it didn't make as large a pizza as I thought, but they are great for making individual ones, so everyone can put their own toppings on it.  I chose turkey pepperoni and canadian bacon.  Cooked on the pizza stone for about 5-8 minutes and it came out perfect.

The best part is that you can freeze any remaining dough for up to 3 months, so whenever I get a craving for pizza again, I've got some in the freezer.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fried rice


Today I hauled out my Disney cookbook that I've had forever to make a recipe I've wanted to make forever, fried rice!  And it also meant I got to haul out my wok that my old boss gave me, oh, 5 years ago or so?  And it's been sitting in the kitchen cabinet since I moved in here over a year and a half ago, never to be used...until today....

The recipe was super simple and I made a couple of variations to it and the end result was pretty tasty.  It made a ton too, and it was definitely much healthier than what you'd get in a Chinese restaurant (although I will admit, I like the takeout better, especially from my favorite Thai place)

  • 4-5 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 4-5 scallions
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 small can water chestnuts
  • Tofu, diced (or whatever protein you like)
  • Shrimp, thawed
  • 1 cup peas
  • Minced garlic
  • Soy sauce
  • Hot sauce (if desired)
In a wok or large skillet, heat on high heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Add the egg and scramble, remove the egg and set aside.  Add the carrots and broccoli and stir fry for 3-5 minutes.  Add the zucchini, peas, shrimp, tofu, garlic and water chestnuts and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the rice and mix until everything is combined.  Add soy sauce and hot sauce and cook for another couple of minutes.  Top with sliced scallions.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Black Bean Soup

Why bother buying a can of black bean soup when you can make your own?  It's so simple, and very cheap to make (especially if you are like me and stock up on beans when they're on sale...)

I used a recipe I found on the Kraft website but altered it a little for my liking, so here's what I came up with:
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 T minced garlic (I just buy the jars of minced garlic so I don't have to worry about cloves going bad)
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • Dash of crushed red pepper (optional)
  • A drizzle of EVOO (equal to maybe a tablespoon)
  • (3) 16-ounce cans of black beans, undrained
  • 1 14-ounce can of chicken stock
  • 1 16-ounce jar of salsa (if you want some spice, I suggest getting the hot)
  • 2 T lime juice
Cook the onion, garlic, cumin, red pepper and oil in a large pot on medium heat for 3-5 minutes, or until onion is tender.  Remove from heat.

Place 1 can of beans with some of the chicken stock in a blender and blend until pureed.  (The original recipe calls for 2 cans to be pureed, but I found the soup to be a little thin for my liking).  Stir into pot along with remaining beans, chicken stock, salsa and lime juice.

Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Top with sour cream and cheddar cheese if desired.

Makes about (9) 1-cup servings.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Casatiello

I pulled out the Bread Bakers Apprentice book out again today so I could have a contribution for Nana's annual Thanksgiving feast, so, being the Italian that I am, decided to go with an Italian bread, the Casatiello.

After I tasted it when it was finished, I sent my friend a text that said "holy f***, this bread is amazing".

It was actually a relatively easy bread to make, just lots of time to rise, and well, it's certainly not friendly for the waistline, it's a brioche style bread with bits of diced salami and shredded provolone cheese mixed in, and it is such a rich, soft and somewhat delicate bread, and it is easily one of the most delicious breads I've ever tasted!

And it was a big hit at Thanksgiving too and a few people asked me for the recipe. Well, you can find this recipe and many more in the book!

Now for some pics:

Here is the dough after mixing

And after rising for about 90 minutes

In the springform pan I baked it in (very nice way to bake bread, btw!)
After rising for another hour:

After baking (although I baked for the recommended time, when I cut into it the top fell a little bit and it was a tad undercooked, but still delicious!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Super yum sandwiches

This sandwich couldn't be more simple and more yummy! (And sorry, I didn't take a picture and well, you know me, no measurements).

  • 3 ounces cooked, shredded chicken breast (I poached mine, it came out super moist)
  • Frank's Red Hot Sauce (maybe about 1 tablespoon? I just add enough until I think it's enough)
  • 1 slice provolone cheese
  • 1 sesame seed hoagie roll (or whatever bread you have on hand)
Mix the hot sauce with chicken and spread evenly on the sub bun, open faced. Top with cheese and put under the broiler for a couple of minutes until the cheese starts to brown.

Super good!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hot Fudge Spoon Cake

This dessert reminded me of something similar I had when I went to visit friends in England last year, Sticky Toffee Pudding, which, from what I remember, was AMAZING. Thanks to Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, I found something just as yummy.

Hot Fudge Spoon Cake
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sweet ground chocolate (I couldn't find sweetened so I just used Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder, and if you use this you will need to increase the sugar to 2/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (again, increase to 2/3 cup if you use unsweetened chocolate)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
TOPPING:
  • 1/4 cup sweet cocoa powder (I used Hershey's unsweetened again, and increased the sugar, again)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (increase to 2/3 cup if using unsweetened cocoa powder)
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
1) Coat the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray, such as Pam
2) In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, ground chocolate, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and add the milk, melted butter and vanilla. Stir the liquid ingredients until well blended, and continue stirring in widening circles, gradually incorporating the dry ingredients, until you have a smooth batter. It will be thick. Spread evenly in the slow cooker (it's best to use a medium size round slow cooker for this recipe)
3) To make the topping, combine the other ingredients in another bowl and whisk until smooth. Gently pour over the batter in the cooker; DO NOT STIR IN. Cover and cook on HIGH until puffed and the top layer is set, about 2-2 1/4 hours.
4) Turn off the cooker and let stand, covered, for at least 30 minutes before refrigerating or serving right out of the cooker.
5) To serve, scoop the cake into individual bowls. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream if so desired and spoon some of the fudgy pudding at the bottom over the cake.

DELICIOUS!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pull Apart Coffee Cake


As taken from Kraft

  • 1 can (16.3 oz.) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
  • 1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. milk
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped Pecans

Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.

Separate biscuits; cut into quarters. Mix dry pudding mix, zest and cinnamon in medium bowl. Add biscuit pieces; toss to coat. Drizzle with butter; toss lightly. Place in 9-inch round pan sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake 20 min. Cool 5 min.; remove from pan.

Microwave cream cheese in small microwaveable bowl on high for 15 sec.; stir in sugar and milk. Drizzle over cake; top with nuts.

2 for 1!


I had my parents and sister over for dinner on Sunday, and even Miss Picky Eater herself (my sister) liked the potatoes. (The secret was not telling her what was in them until she ate it, but it's food/condiments she likes anyway).

You can find the recipe for the roast beef here.

Creamy Parmesan Mashed Potatoes (adapted from Kraft)
  • 4 medium sized red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1C fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 2 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1.5T grated parmesan cheese
Place potatoes and broth in large saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat. Simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring after 8 minutes. Uncover and stir potatoes. Simmer uncovered for 5-6 minutes or until potatoes are tender and most of the broth is absorbed. (I cooked mine a little less since I cut the original recipe in half, except the broth, I kept the original amount).

Add cream cheese and reduce heat to low (or you can do what I did and just turn the heat off at this point). Mash potatoes slightly until cream cheese is melted. Add sour cream and parmesan cheese and stir until ingredients are blended. Season with salt and pepper.

The result? Delicious! This is only the second time I've made mashed potatoes (I usually roast/bake them) but they were a big hit, and my dad, who usually gives me an "it's not bad" said everything was delicious.

Balsamic Roasted Asparagus:
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends removed
  • 2T balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and spread asparagus on sheet, spraying asparagus with non-stick spray as well. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the asparagus and season with salt and pepper. Toss lightly to coat.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until asparagus is tender. 20 minutes was just a tiny bit overcooked for my liking, but my mom said it could have been cooked a little longer. Roasting the asparagus along with the balsamic vinegar gives it a great taste, and it couldn't be a more simple side dish to make.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pulled Pork

Sorry guys, no picture for this one because well, it's pulled pork. Certainly not the most aesthetically pleasing thing to see, just a bunch of shredded meat, but OMG, it is DELICIOUS!!

My local grocery store will often have pork tenderloin on sale for like $1.79/lb, but the downside is that they are vacuum sealed and frozen, in at least 1.5 pound portions, or larger. The last one I roasted and had a ton of leftovers, so this time, I decided to make pulled pork and it couldn't be easier or tastier.

  • 1 pork tenderloin (about 1.5-2 pounds), thawed
  • 1/2 bottle (about 9-10 ounces) bbq sauce of your choice
Combine ingredients in a slow cooker on low for approximately 7-8 hours. About 30 minutes before the end, take meat out and shred with a fork and put back in the slow cooker to let it soak up the sauce.

I made this the other day and it's been in the fridge and I just reheated some on a whole wheat lawash bread and topped with a tiny bit of BBQ sauce and shredded cheese and wrapped it up, and I can't believe how juicy it is and how good it tastes!

Definitely a very easy meal when you don't want to cook and you can flavor it however you want.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Turkey sausage


Who doesn't love sitting down to a hearty breakfast of pancakes, eggs and sausage? Unfortunately, prepared sausage is usually made with unhealthy meats and the prepacked stuff is loaded with sodium, so, why not make your own? It is super simple, super cheap and super easy, and with you controlling the ingredients, you can make it as good as you want.

Turkey sausage patties (serves 5 @ 3 1-ounce patties each)
  • 1 lb ground turkey (make sure you use ground turkey, not ground turkey breast, because the breast meat is so lean it won't have enough moisture)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry rubbed sage
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Combine spices and turkey and mix well in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator overnight (this will allow the spices to flavor the meat more).

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat, and, using a small scoop if you have one (the one I have is about an ounce), form into small patties. Cook on each side for 3-4 minutes (because they are small they cook up quickly) or until meat is no longer pink in the middle.

Freeze any leftovers.

I was very happy with how these came out, just the right amount of spice and tons of flavor!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin muffins


I found this delicious recipe at Pinch My Salt and finally got to try it and I was very happy with the results. It produced a very moist muffin, as promised, and even though I used a mix of molasses and honey (instead of just honey as the original recipe calls for), I couldn't tell any difference, nor could you tell it was just whole wheat flour, as sometimes it has a slightly different texture. And, as suggested, I filled the muffin tins up to the top.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins with Cranberry and Walnuts
  • 2 1/2 C. whole wheat flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 C. pumpkin puree (I use canned)
  • 2 T. oil
  • 3/4 C. honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 C. buttermilk
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/2 C. sweetened dried cranberries (I used Trader Joes dried cranberries)
  • 1/2 C. chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a standard size 12 cup muffin tin (I use cooking spray).
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice; set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, oil, honey, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.
4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir together until just combined. Fold in the cranberries and walnuts.
5. Divide batter evenly between 12 standard sized muffin cups. Bake 20-23 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven. Muffins are done when they spring back lightly to the touch or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cottage Cheese Pancakes


This is a ridiculously easy recipe, and can easily be doubled, tripled or more, to be served at a brunch or party.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes:

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 2 eggs
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until combined.

Heat a skillet over medium low heat and drop 2 tablespoons at a time, flipping once after a minute or two (be careful not to burn these, they cook quickly!)

I top mine with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray and some Truvia sweetener, but the possibilities are endless. I'm sure I'd be breaking out the Nutella if I had it on hand :)

BBQ Chicken Pizza

I've been wanting to try this pizza dough recipe ever since I saw it in Rachel Ray's Magazine, and the other night, I finally did. And the verdict? The easiest pizza dough (and pizza) I've ever made!

Skillet Pizza Dough (makes 1 serving dough-I did the whole wheat version)
  • 3/4 Cup lukewarm water
  • 1 TB active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/4 Cups flour (for whole wheat, use 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour)
  • 3 TB extra virgin olive oil
In a small bowl, stir together the water, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, 3 to 5 minutes.

Using a stand mixer, mix the flour and salt at low speed. Mix in the yeast mixture and EVOO until a shaggy dough forms. Switch to the dough hook attachment and mix at medium speed until a ball forms and the dough is smooth, about 6 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, cover and let rise for about 2 hours or until doubled in size. When you are ready to use the dough, punch it down.


Now for the pizza part!

Grease a cast iron skillet and transfer the dough, and spread it out in the skillet. Let rise for another 20-30 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and top however you like, and bake it for approximately 20 minutes. Let pizza sit in the skillet for about 10 minutes after removing it from the oven.

BBQ Chicken Pizza:
  • 1/2 pound chicken tenderloin or chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • BBQ sauce of your choice (about 1/4-1/2 cup)
  • Sliced red onion
  • Cheese (I used mozzarella and 5 cheese Italian)
Cook chicken and shred/dice and combine with half the BBQ sauce, set aside.

Top pizza dough with the remaining BBQ sauce, add the cheese, red onion and chicken

Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

More oatmeal

I just wrote a blog about oatmeal in August, but I am currently IN LOVE with my latest concoction, so had to share.

First off, oatmeal really is a near perfect meal! It has fiber, protein, it's good for you, fills you up way longer then regular cereal, and not to mention, tasty.

  • 1 serving (1/2 cup) Country Choice Organic Multi Grain Quick Cooking Oats
  • 1 cup soymilk (or whatever milk you use, I find it comes out creamier then if you cook it with water)
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 TB brown sugar (not an exact measurement, but it's probably around that)
  • 1 TB peanut butter
Combine all ingredients and cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently.

Serve in a bowl and top with a tablespoon or so of your favorite jam. I used sugar free raspberry jam.

AMAZING.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Best mac and cheese ever


At least the best mac and cheese I've made thus far...

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

  • 8 ounces uncooked elbow noodles
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground dry mustard dissolved in 1 teaspoon of water
  • 12 ounces grated cheddar cheese (I used 8 ounces of new york style sharp cheddar and 4 ounces sharp pinconning)
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • Dash of crushed red pepper (optional)
Cook noodles as directed on package

In a separate skillet, melt the butter and add evaporated milk, mustard, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and grated cheese. Stir over low heat until cheese is melted and barely forms a bubble (sauce should thicken as you go, but be careful not to let it get above 170 degrees or the mixture will curdle). Stir for about 5 minutes or until sauce is thick, and, after draining noodles, add them to the sauce and stir until blended.

My sauce didn't quite get thick enough so I just let the noodles sit in there for a few minutes and it came out great.

My dining companion was thoroughly impressed and went back for seconds, and this will easily serve 4 as a main dish or about 8 as a side. It was super simple, and using evaporated milk instead of fresh milk helped reduce the chance of curdling (which is one thing I hate about making mac and cheese) and it will DEFINITELY be a staple item in this house when I need some comfort food!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Applesauce


Fall is here! That means an abundance of apples. And if you're like me and buy a big bag on sale and then forget about them, don't worry, I've got the perfect solution for you, applesauce!

(As adapted from The Joy of Cooking).

  • 3 pounds apples, cored and peeled (if desired). I used Gala since that what was on sale.
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup water
Chop apples and place in a heavy skillet with water and lemon juice. Simmer, covered, on low heat for 20 minute or until apples are tender but not mushy.

Mix in 6 tablespoons honey (I split honey and agave nectar), about 1 teaspoon nutmeg and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (I just eyeball this) for about a minute or until sugar/spices are combined.

Mash up apples to your desired consistency. Use a wooden spoon for chunky applesauce, or a potato masher for a more mashed consistency or put through a food mill for smooth. Since I don't own a potato masher, the avocado masher worked just fine.

Serve warm or refrigerate in a container.

Roast beef


I LOVE roast beef sandwiches. London Broil is my favorite to get at the store, but buying from the deli counter can get expensive (and unhealthy). Typically, it goes for $8.99/lb and is loaded with sodium, so, I hit up Google for an alternative way to enjoy a sandwich without feeling guilty.

Alas, I stumbled across this great tutorial from The Hungry Mouse.

I did mine a little different, using rump roast instead of the eye roast she used, because it was on sale for $2.99/lb.

Following the basic directions, I rinsed and patted dry the meat, and seasoned it with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder. I placed the meat on the rack as directed and baked at 500 degrees for 20 minutes (I was a little apprehensive about this at first, 500 degrees?! But the result was a beautiful crust) and then dropped it to 300 degrees for 30 minutes.

Internal temperature? 126 degrees, a perfect medium rare.

Covered it with foil for 20 minutes and then sliced, against the grain, on the thin side (if this keeps up I might have to invest in a meat slicer!).

The result? Well, man-friend was here and I gave him a slice and he topped it with some horseradish and well, he was a happy man. I tried a slice plain and it was beyond delicious. Sandwiches aside, I could see just eating this with mashed potatoes for a classic fall dinner.

Total cost of this deliciousness? $5.44. I think I'll be going back to the store this week while it's still on sale.

Stuffed Peppers


Thank you, Lea, for the info/tips that helped me come up with one of my best meals in a while (the neighbors loved it!)

· 5 bell peppers

· ½ cup uncooked basmati rice

· 1 can diced tomatoes with garlic and oregano

· ½ chopped onion

· 3 jennie-o hot Italian turkey sausage links

· Shredded cheddar cheese (about a handful)

· Minced garlic

· Cook the rice as directed and set aside. (I undercook mine just a little since it will cook more in the sauce)

· Remove the casings from the sausages (you can use any kind of sausage/ground meat you want, I just used the turkey because that’s what I had on hand) and cook them in a large skillet with the onions and garlic and a little bit of olive oil

· After the meat is done, drain any excess fat and combine the rice and tomatoes (I puree about half the can in a blender to get a sauce). Bring to a low boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes. When it’s almost done cooking, add the cheese and whatever spices you like. Set aside

· Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add some salt and immerse the peppers for about 5 minutes. Remove and drain any water and let cool.

· Once the peppers are cooled a little, fill each pepper with the mix and top with some more shredded cheese if desired. Place in a casserole dish (you can add some extra tomatoes/sauce to the bottom) and bake at 350 for about 30-40 minutes or until heated through. I put foil over the top for a little longer then half the time and then remove it.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

English Muffins


Oh my goodness, I have found a new love, and it is from scratch English muffins.

Yep, another recipe from the BBA!

And, how simple it was! I had a little trouble with the dough rising the first time, so I just let it proof longer then the 60-90 minutes (I actually just went to work and let it sit, so ended up being closer to 4 hours). Came back and it had risen to a nice consistency.

Shaping the balls was super simple as well. I measured it out to about 2.5 ounces each and this is how they looked after about 2 hours of rising. I didn't have cornmeal to dust over the top and bottom, so I had to settle for flour.
The interesting thing about these is that you cook them on the stove! Very strange concept but it was cool to see everything coming together. After a few minutes I flipped them over and another few minutes after that, I finished baking them in the oven. I probably could have left them in there another couple of minutes but I like my bread a little doughy so I was very happy with the results. If you separate them with a fork you'll get the little nooks and crannies you are used to seeing :)

This morning I toasted one and threw some butter and cherry preserves on and holy cow, it was a party in my mouth! I'm not going to be buying English muffins from the store anytime soon. This was such a simple recipe to make, although I wish the recipe yielded more than 6, but I'll just double the batch and freeze the extras next time!

Chocolate covered bacon


Well, I was bored the other day and finally decided to give into the fad that is chocolate covered bacon! And since I don't want to spend like $5 for a 1/4 pound, I did something with the mound of chocolate I've had since Christmas.

  • 6 slices of bacon (I think if you can find a thick cut at your local deli it will be even better then the store brand, vac-sealed package I used, but it's what I had on hand and it worked)
  • Chocolate (I tried the double boiler method but think it got too hot too quick, the chocolate came out horrible, so I had a bag of chocolate chips I just threw into the microwave)
  • Bake the bacon on parchment paper at 375 for 15-20 minutes (depending on your desired level of crispiness). Cool on pan for 5 minutes. I broke mine in half for easier dipping.
  • Melt the chocolate until a creamy consistency
  • Once the chocolate is melted and bacon is slightly cooled and the grease is blotted off, simply dip to coat in chocolate.
  • Place on wax or parchment paper and put in fridge until chocolate is hard.
The result? Tasty! I got a bunch of comments about this on my facebook page, mostly people grossed out, but it's like the salty/sweet factor like a chocolate covered pretzel, but with bacon. I liked it, my neighbors liked it, so everyone was happy!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Healthy summer salad

I'm trying to get more veggies in, but lettuce isn't exactly my friend sometimes (and a lot of it goes bad before I make my way through a head of it), so I'm trying more lettuce free salads. And one of my clients gave me some homegrown cucumbers, and my tomato plants are exploding in my garden, so it's perfect for salad! But, trying to get my protein in too, so I came up with this simple and yummy salad.

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Hardboiled egg
  • Goat cheese (or whatever cheese you may have on hand)
  • Greek dressing
Mix and enjoy!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread

It was a rainy day today. I woke up at 7:30am and it was raining and it finally tapered off around 5pm. So, what's a girl to do?

Get out her Bread Baker's Apprentice book and bake some bread.

Today I made cinnamon raisin walnut bread, and even though I'm not a huge fan of either raisins or walnuts, this bread is AMAZING. My neighbors love me because I am always bringing them fresh baked goodies :)

The recipe was super easy too, although I had a couple of hiccups along the way. I don't have shortening, so I substituted butter, and I was just an ounce or two shy of 1/2 cup of buttermilk, so I added enough soymilk (since that's all I drink) to get to the right amount. Oh, and after I let the dough rise for 2 hours I realized...

I FORGOT TO ADD THE CINNAMON!

Seriously!!! But, all was not lost, I just added it in then and punched the dough down and kneaded it by hand for a few minutes and well, you really can't tell that it was added way later.

Ready to rise
After rising for about 90 minutes

Following the directions I rolled it out and added the cinnamon sugar and rolled it up and baked it for 40 minutes (turning halfway through), but I didn't get the crusty cinnamon sugar top I had hoped for that the book talks about, but that's no problem as the bread is still absolutely delicious. Even Charlie loved it! I busted him taking a bite out of the edge of the loaf...bad dog!!!

Fresh out of the oven

I'm seeing friends for lunch tomorrow so I'll be taking them a few slices but this is definitely one I'll be making again and again.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Greek salad


There is this restaurant by my house that is known for their Greek salads. They put a ton of chicken on them, grilled to perfection, and their house dressing is out of this world. All I know is that it's creamy, kind of pink (I think from beet juice?) and just delicious, but at $9 for a small salad, that is definitely an indulgence!

So today, I set out to make my own, and I was pretty happy with the results! (I wish I could say how much of each I used, but I didn't measure anything, so I'll just tell you what I put in it).

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast seasoned with lemon juice, garlic powder and Greek seasoning
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Tomatoes (I used the cherry tomatoes from my garden)
  • Red onion
  • Mild pepper rings
  • Feta cheese
  • Beets (I used the canned, which were okay, but not as firm as fresh would have been)
  • Ken's Steakhouse Greek salad dressing
Serve with a side of pita bread and you have got yourself a delicious, healthy and super filling salad!

Oatmeal


Sometimes when you want a healthy, filling breakfast and don't feel like cooking eggs, instead of reaching for cereal, why not go for oatmeal?

I have in my cupboard Country Choice Organic Quick Oats and I love how versatile oatmeal can be. Instead of going for the flavored, full of sugar, instant oatmeal, so what I do and go through your fridge and pantry to see what you've got on hand!

(Serves 1):
  • 1/2 Cup quick oats
  • 1 cup water (I use 1/2 C water and 1/2 C soymilk)
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 TB brown sugar
  • Dash of agave nectar (I'm not sure how much I use, I just squeeze a dollop in there)
Stir ingredients and bring to a boil and mix for 3-5 minutes. Boiling the oats and liquid together adds a creamier texture.

Top with your fruit of choice (I had raspberries and blueberries on hand).

You've got yourself a filling, nutritious breakfast!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Guacamole Salad


This is one of my favorite salads to make, and super good for you!

I made it just a little too spicy last time, but I gave some to my dad and he said it was one of the best things he's ever eaten, so from someone who always says "it's okay" when I give him something I've made, well, that was nice to hear!

Cinnamon buns!

Lori got me the best book for my birthday, The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Love it and I am going to make it my mission to make my way through the entire book, so I started with some ingredients I actually had on hand and made cinnamon buns!

They came out awesome, and I cut them to make the "small" ones, which are still huge! But, my friends are loving me for the extra treats :)

Pardon the sub-par pictures, I will do better next time!

Here they are waiting to rise:

After rising for 3 hours:
Fresh out of oven:
Glazed and ready to eat!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

BT Pasta Salad


I was so excited to get my first issue of Food Network magazine yesterday, and spent an hour going over every page, excited about so many recipes to play with (I even got laughed at by a friend last night who said I need to lay off Food Network!).

I came across a recipe for BLT pasta salad, and thought, yum!!! Until I saw the calories per serving...960!!! 56 grams of fat and over 2000mg of sodium, no thank you!!!

So, I created my own version, using ingredients I had on hand, and I've got to say, while I'm sure their recipe would be delicious, ummm, not for half my daily calorie allotment for the day!

My version:

  • 56g Barilla Plus elbow noodles
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 1.5 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tomato
Cook pasta according to directions (I let mine go for about 9-10 minutes, the box says 7). Drain and rinse with cold water.

Chop tomato, bell pepper, cooked bacon and mozzarella.

Combine ingredients, season with EVOO (I estimated mine was about a tablespoon and I included this in the recipe for the calorie calculation). I also used red wine vinegar (just a couple of splashes), salt, pepper and this McCormick Salad Supreme seasoning.

The result? Pretty tasty!! I don't miss the creamy dressing that the original recipe includes, and it's much lighter.

Nutritional information (you can probably get 2 servings out of this if served with a side and a light salad)

Calories: 521
Total Fat: 28g (14g comes from the EVOO, but it's a healthy fat!)
Sodium: 421mg
Carbs: 44g
Sugar: 3g
Fiber: 5g
Protein: 21g

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More casserole goodness

I'm calling it chicken asparagus casserole...

  • 1 cup cooked Trader Joes Basmati Rice Medley (1/3 cup dry yields 1 cup cooked)
  • 5 ounces chicken breast tenders, cooked and shredded (I poached mine with a mix of salt, pepper, garlic powder and thyme)
  • 1 cup chopped asparagus (I sauteed mine in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and salt before combining everything)
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup condensed cream of chicken soup (don't mix with any liquid)
Combine all ingredients in a small baking dish. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated thoroughly.

Nutritional information: (this is for the entire dish, but I split it in half to get two servings)

Calories: 485
Total Fat: 12g
Sodium: 633mg
Carbs: 50g
Sugars: 5g
Fiber: 6g
Protein: 41g

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Coconut chicken


Healthy (and tasty) meal alert!

Shredded coconut was on sale today so I bought a couple of bags, and while I love me some breaded coconut chicken/shrimp/onion rings, I don't like the calories that go along with it, so I did my own version. It's something I've made in the past but am continually tweaking.

The following serves 1 (and most of the measurements are estimates, I just tossed stuff together:

  • 4 ounces chicken breast tenders (you can use regular chicken breast and cut it up, but the tenders were on sale so I saved time, and money!)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 C shredded coconut
  • Dash of salt, pepper and garlic powder
  • Combine egg and milk and mix together
  • In another pan (I use this great tray set from the Pampered Chef, keeps everything together) combine the flour, coconut, salt, pepper and garlic powder
  • Dip the chicken tenders in the egg mix and then in the flour/coconut mix to evenly coat.
  • Place in a baking pan and drizzle with a little butter (I used I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray)
Cook at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked thoroughly.

One suggestion? Flip the chicken halfway through cooking. The top was nice and browned and crispy but the bottom was a little soggy. But still delicious!

Serve with your choice of dipping sauce. I used poppyseed salad dressing that I had in the fridge, it was a nice compliment.

Nutritional information (not including the asparagus I made with it or the dressing)

Total Calories: 240
Total Fat: 11g
Cholesterol: 70mg
Carbs: 12g
Sodium: 200mg
Protein: 24g

Monday, June 1, 2009

Product Review: Barilla Pasta Plus

As someone who is always trying to get more protein in her diet (I aim for 90 grams a day, and believe me, it's difficult to get up there most days!), I was curious when I stumbled across the new line of pasta, Barilla Plus.

Each 100g serving has 17 grams of protein (compared to 7 grams in the traditional Barilla pasta, so not a huge difference there), but also contains 7 grams of fiber (2 grams in the traditional pasta) and 360mg of Omega 3's. (Now, I just made the "normal" 2 ounce serving, so that only has 10 grams of protein).

There is really no difference in taste between the new and the old noodles, and when I added in a chicken sausage link (spinach, roasted garlic and fontina cheese from Trader Joes) and some shredded cheese (stick under the broiler for a few minutes), you've got a complete meal!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Making the most out of leftovers


Almost everyone I know is on a budget these days, and grocery shopping is one of my favorite things to do. I stock up way too much sometimes (I have like 10 cans of tuna, and haven't bought any in at least 6 months...haven't eaten any either!).

Last week, Hollywood Market had sirloin steak on sale for $5.99/lb, so I bought one, and, when following the correct serving size, that will make about 5 servings. Total cost per person? $1.20! Love it!

Anyway, I have way too much food I need to use, so tonights dinner is Steak Casserole (I couldn't think of another name).

  • 3 ounces steak
  • 1/4 cup Trader Joes Basmati Rice
  • 1/4 cup black beans (the rice and black beans were already cooked yesterday)
  • 1/4 cup Kraft natural shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Mix all ingredients in an oven-proof bowl, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

The results? Not bad! I should have added crushed red pepper though to give it a little kick. Trial and error!

Calories: 394
Total Fat: 15 grams
Saturated Fat: 8 grams
Carbs: 24 grams
Protein: 38 grams (yay for lean cuts of meat with 26 grams of protein!)
Fiber: 4 grams

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Steak


If you know me, you know I love a good steak. But I never order them at restaurants because 1) they are always overpriced and 2) I don't like how they are cooked. I order it medium and it's either overcooked or undercooked. So instead, I make my own at home.

A couple of years ago I discovered a new cut at the grocery store called a Teres Filet (also called Shoulder Tender, Bistro Tender and Petite Tender). The Certified Angus Beef website puts it in the Chuck category and says it's one of the most tender beef cuts, it resembles a pork tenderloin in shape and size, and it's a lean yet juicy, with excellent flavor.

And they are right! On the rare occasion that I splurge on myself and get steak to cook, I usually end up with this. It's only $5.99/lb and it is delicious. It is extremely tender and the flavor is delicious. A while back one of the steak restaurants in the area decided to buy the entire supply of these and market them as their own "signature" cut, and were charging like $15 for one. Ridiculous! Again, this is why I prefer to cook at home.

I prefer to grill it (because really, a steak always tastes better on the grill) and marinate it for a couple of hours with some A-1 steak sauce and worcestershire sauce (just enough to coat the steak) and grill on medium-high heat for about 15-20 minutes (depending on thickness, mine are usually about an inch thick) for a medium cooked steak.

I tried to find the nutritional information on this cut, but it was hard enough to just find a description of it, but if you happen to see one at the meat counter, pick one up, you won't be disappointed! (And if I ate a balanced meal like the one above every day, well, one can dream...)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Eggs

So, I'm doing this new workout program called ChaLEAN Extreme, and of course, with any workout program comes a food program too.

Those that know me know I hate the word "diet" and don't want to follow a structured eating plan, because even if I didn't want to eat say, artichokes, if you tell me I can't, then I want them.

Anywhoo, I was reading through the food guide that came with this, and a lot of the meals I would actually eat! It's real food! A burger with (gasp) RED MEAT! Everyone is all about ground turkey on a burger, but I'm sorry, if I want a burger, I want it to come from a cow (sorry, my vegetarian friends!). And the burger in the book is just that, ground sirloin on a whole wheat bun with oven baked fries. Something I make quite often. Her whole premise is picking leaner meats (which I already do). And steak quesadillas! Can't wait to make those.

Back to my post....I'm in the "burn" phase right now (the first phase of the program) and she has "burn breakfasts" and I just made my first, a goat cheese and tomato omelet.

  • 2 whole eggs with 2TB skim milk (I omitted the milk since I didn't have any)
  • 1 ounce crumbled goat cheese
  • Chopped tomato
  • I added an ounce of cubed ham
Well, the omelet came out kind of messy (hence the lack of picture), but it is really good! I love goat cheese but never thought to put it in eggs, but it has such a creamy texture, it's just delicious. (I just took another bite, and oh yeah, it's good, and good for you!)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Poached chicken

I just poached my first chicken breast. I don't know why I haven't done it before, it came out so f*$%&#)& good!!!

  • Place a chicken breast in a pot
  • Season with whatever you want (rosemary, salt, thyme, oregano, anything)
  • Fill pot with enough water to cover the chicken
  • Bring to a boil on the stove
  • Once boiling, turn to a simmer for 2 minutes
  • Remove from heat and cover for 30 minutes (add 5 minutes for bone-in chicken)
Holy crap it was good!!! It came out so juicy, and perfectly cooked. I used it for an imitation Waldorf salad (green apples, chicken, dried cranberries and yogurt). I didn't love the salad as much as I love the chicken breast, but this is definitely going to be my new method for cooking chicken when I want to use it in salads/wraps or anything.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

No-knead bread


Success! (Well, almost total success).

I've been wanting to try making no-knead bread forever, so finally did it yesterday.

I made a couple of modifications though, the dough ended up sitting for about 24-26 hours instead of 12-18 (just because I was working), and I didn't get the bread out of the oven until 11pm last night, but I had a slice this morning, and it's really tasty!

Too much flour on it though, so I'll scale way back with the flour on the towels next time, and now I'd like to try and do a sourdough bread this way (if I can). Also, my dutch oven didn't have a lid (it broke :( but I just covered the top with foil and it was fine. I baked it exactly according to the directions and it turned out fantastic.

My dad is so excited to try it, and I think I'll do another loaf to take for Easter brunch on Sunday.

Here's the dough after everything was mixed together:

And the dough after 24 hours:
And how it looks inside: