Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Simple & Quick Sausage & White Bean Saute

Sauté sliced sausage (your favorite kind, even vegetarian is great), coarsely mash cooked white beans (canned and drained are fine) with a little extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, add to cooked sausage and toss to heat beans throughout. Top with freshly chopped parsley.

Simple, quick, no-brainer supper.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Zucchini as 'pasta' -- It's amazingly tasty!

Once I began monitoring the amount of carbohydrates I consumed, I realized that pasta was on our menu way too often. I'm not saying carbs are bad for everyone, but both of my parents and both grandmothers had/have type 2 diabetes, so I have to be super careful not to follow in their paths.

This has led me to so many delicious low carb recipes, but I especially like this one since it's so incredibly versatile.

1. Wash and cut ends off of 1 medium to large zucchini per person.

2. Julienne into very thin strips using a mandolin slicer, or by hand (but it takes forever this way.)

3. Once it's all in thin strips, toss with salt and pepper, and about 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.

4. Then saute quickly in a non-stick skillet on medium-high heat for only about 1-2 minutes. You just want to soften them slightly.

That's it! Now just top it with whatever you normally would if you'd boiled spaghetti noodles:

Marinara sauce (with meat or without)
Alfredo sauce
Or one of my favorite ways, which is to toss the cooked "pasta" with a mixture of sauteed onions, finely minced garlic, parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley. Yum!

You're only limited by your imagination.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Free Fridays!

I'm one of those people who believe in the "healthy mind/healthy body" connection, so I don't eat a lot of refined sugars, etc...

BUT, everyone needs to have a little fun now and then, right? So I implemented "Free Fridays" at our home! WooHoo!

Each Friday I choose something decadent to make, and I allow myself to eat a serving (or two) of it. Today was so far beyond bordered on debauchery!

I present to you...

Coconut Cupcakes!

Here's the recipe I used:

From The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten


* 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 2 cups sugar
* 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
* 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
* 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
* 3 cups flour
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 cup buttermilk
* 14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the frosting:

* 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
* 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
* 1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chickpea Burgers! Yum!

CHICKPEA BURGERS (Makes about 4-6, depending on size)


* 2 cans of chickpeas, drained
* 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
* 2 tablespoons tahini
* 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
* 2 cloves minced garlic
* 1/2 teaspoon cumin
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* Salt and pepper to taste
* 2 tablespoons flax meal
* 1 cup rolled oats
* 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


1. Heat oil in cast iron skillet (or non-stick skillet.)
2. Put all ingredients except olive oil in a medium bowl and mix together.
3. Then transfer to a *food processor and pulse until incorporated, but still somewhat chunky (or not if you want a smoother texture.)
4. Shape into palm-sized patties.
5. Fry in extra virgin olive oil until golden on both sides and heated throughout.

* If you don't have a food processor, you can pulse the oats in a blender ahead of time, and mash the chickpeas with a potato masher a bit first, then mix everything together and mash to desired texture with potato masher.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My favorite "go-to" recipe for chicken!

Whenever I'm running behind schedule and haven't made any decisions about dinner, I fall back on my tried & true, yummy Cream Cheese Pan Chicken.
Every always seem to love it, and it's made with ingredients most people keep on hand. I serve it to my hubby and son, but it's good enough to serve to company, too.

Without further ado, the recipe:

4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves (about 1 pound)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

fresh ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (I use Bertolli)

3/4 cup chicken broth (I use Progresso Reduced Sodium)

4 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Coat chicken with salt, pepper, and flour. Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add chicken, cook 5-6 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove chicken from skillet, reserving drippings in skillet. Cover chicken to keep it warm.

Add broth to skillet; stir to scrape up browned bits from bottom. Add cream cheese; cook 2-3 minutes or until cream cheese is melted and sauce starts to thicken, stirring occasionally with wire whisk.

Return chicken to skillet; turn over to coat both sides of chicken with sauce. Cook 2 minutes or until chicken if heated through again. Sprinkle with fresh parsley (or your favorite fresh herb.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

What I Do To Relax

Thumbs Up for Joseph's Pita Bread!

Having kept off 40+ extra pounds for quite a while now, (would love to shed those stubbornly clinging last 13) I have certain products which have become staples in my kitchen, and Joseph's Flax, Oat Bran, and Whole Wheat Pita Bread is at the top of my list.

One pita has only 60 calories and 4 net carbs. My favorite way to use them lately is for pita pizza! These yummy creations are now quite a hit in our home.

Here are some of the combo's we've come up with besides the traditional tomato sauce/cheese/pepperoni:

Crisply cooked bacon & pineapple, with gouda cheese

Bar-b-q sauce, chicken, and monterey jack cheese

Tomato & broccoli with feta cheese

Spinach, peppers, and feta

Asparagus, red onion, muenster cheese

Peppers, onions, black olives and Colby

Chicken, onions, and pepper jack cheese

The possibilities are endless, and these pita's make a delicious base for a personal pizza.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

OMG it smells good in my house!

A couple of years ago I began a subscription to Cook's Illustrated magazine. I'm telling you in all honesty that every recipe I've tried from them is A-MA-ZING!

Today I made a recipe from this month's issue, called "Ultimate Banana Bread" -- and it calls for 6 very ripe bananas (yes, for one loaf!) Of course, when I buy bananas just for eating, I like them slightly under-ripe, but they're almost always all either ripe already, or they ripen so quickly I only get 1 or 2 that I like. Since this recipe called for "very ripe" to "almost black" bananas, all of the bananas in the store were green and hard as rocks, and despite placing them in a brown paper sack to ripen more quickly, these decided to take their time and have been on my kitchen table, in a closed bag, all week and finally were speckled enough today to use for the recipe. Murphy's Law...

This recipe is a little more complicated than your basic banana bread, but OH SO WORTH IT! By using 5 bananas from which you've removed most of the excess liquid, then reducing that liquid down to draw out the intense flavor, you get a loaf bursting with banana flavor but not sludgy and overly wet. This bread has a delectable moist crumb, and by slicing and shingling the 6th banana over the top, then sprinkling with sugar, you get a buttery, caramelized crunchy top which contrasts so deliciously!

Here's the recipe:
1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 large very ripe bananas
1 stick butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts (optional)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Adjust over rack to middle and preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 8.5 by 4.5 loaf pan with non-stick spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.

Place 5 peeled bananas in a microwave safe bowl covered with plastic wrap, vent by slicing with paring knife several times. Heat on high about 5 minutes until the bananas are soft and have released liquid. Transfer bananas to a fine mesh strainer placed over a medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes - (you should have 1/2 to 3/4 cup liquid).

Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until fairly smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.

Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in walnuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Slice remaining banana diagonally into 1/4 inch thick slices. Shingle banana slices on top of either side of loaf, leaving 1-1/2 inch wide space down the center to ensure even rise. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 55 - 75 minutes. Cool bread in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Greek yogurt for half the price!

I love the thick, custard-like texture of Greek yogurt but hate the high price. Being the frugalista I am, I decided to make my own.

I line a fine, metal strainer with several thicknesses of paper toweling, fit the strainer into a pot that it can set in with plenty of clearance underneath to catch the strained liquid, then dump in a large container of plain yogurt (you can use any fat level you choose.)
Cover with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge overnight. In the morning you'll have a thick, creamy yogurt perfect for Greek recipes or my favorite way, with cinnamon and a little honey. Don't throw away that's whey, pure protein. It will keep in your fridge for about 2 weeks. You can use it in smoothies for an extra protein boost, replace the liquid in homemade biscuits, or even pour it over your dog's food.

Best of all, you end up with double the amount of thick, delicious yogurt for half the price!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Heavenly Hash

I was running late tonight and drawing a complete blank on what to make for dinner. The digital temperature readout at the bank this afternoon said "102" degrees F. Yep...that's the south for ya. If it weren't for the ocean breeze I'd be packing up and heading north.

I normally wouldn't think of sweet potato on a sweltering June day, but they'd looked so good at the produce stand that I'd grabbed 2 ENORMOUS ones.
After all the "yumm's" and "mmmm's" I heard at dinner tonight, I was glad I did.

Here's what I did with them.

In a medium sized skillet, I cooked 6 pieces of bacon (you can use veggie, turkey, or real) chopped up into bits, until they were crispy.

Remove the bacon and set aside, if you did not use real bacon, you can add a little extra virgin olive oil now, then toss in your chopped sweet potatoes and about a half cup of chopped vidalia onion, 1 clove of finely minced garlic, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Fry it up, stirring every now and then, until the potatoes are soft and have a little bit of browning on them. When they're finished, stir the bacon bits back in, sprinkle with a little bit of fresh snipped chives or parsley (more for color than anything else) and serve.

This is filling, so I just served it with a light salad tossed with homemade vinaigrette.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Yummy & Healthy! Mini Spinach Quiches!

I love keeping an arsenal of delicious, yet fanny-friendly recipes that are tried & true. and so good that my family doesn't have to look at me sympathetically while noshing on pizza...they enjoy it right along with me never even knowing it's healthy!

These mini spinach cheese quiches fit the bill perfectly. Only 58.5 calories per quiche and 1.7 carbs, you can't go wrong. 3 of them are a perfect lunch, or serve them as a side for dinner.

Go make these!


* Spinach, frozen, 2 ten ounce packages
* Cheddar Cheese, 1 cup, shredded
* Egg substitute, like Egg Beaters, 3/4 cup
* Bell Peppers, 1/2 cup, chopped
* Onions, 1/4 cup, chopped
* Freshly ground black pepper to taste (I like lots!)
* Kosher salt to taste

1. Microwave the spinach for 2 1/2 minutes on high. Drain the excess liquid.

2. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with foil baking cups. Spray the cups with cooking spray. I've done this without the liners, too -- just spray the muffin tin well with spray -- I use olive oil non-stick spray.

3. Combine the egg substitute, cheese, peppers, onions, spinach, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix well. Divide evenly among the muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Number of Servings: 12

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The results of blog-browsing!

I went searching for something delicious to indulge in for my "Free Friday" last week, and came across this heavenly looking temptation at the Gerber Days blog:

"Free Friday" is the one day a week I let myself indulge in the yummalicious stuff I avoid the rest of the week. It really helps me stay on track with my healthy eating when I know that I have this one day without rules. I enjoy browsing recipes and choosing what I will treat myself to, and then shopping for the ingredients...and more often than not, I end up with a delicious new recipe to add to my collection.

If you think you may want to try a routine similar to "Free Friday" let me warn you in advance, from my own experience, DO NOT chow down on everything in sight. Just choose one or two items that will be your indulgences for that day, otherwise you'll end up with a food hangover, or worse.

So back to the muffins! I knew instantly these would find their way into my tummy!
My son is out of college for the summer and had the day off from work as well, so we went and picked out the ingredients, making sure to get everything super fresh, then we came home and went to baking!

I cannot begin to describe how fabulous these smelled while they were in the oven...I'm just glad the neighbors weren't beating down my door for handouts!
They were moist, bursting with flavors, and beautiful to look at. This recipe is now filed among my favorites and will for sure be used often, especially for those trips to see friends and pot lucks. These would bring a smile to the grumpiest of grumps!

For the recipe, please visit Gerber Days blog, here: