Monday, December 26, 2011

The Perfect Combination of Spicy and Sweet

It took nearly a month to get my hands on Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, and another month to find the time to bake. But finally, I have produced the most delicious Chipotle Pumpkin Muffins that are the perfect combination of spicy and sweet! I doubled the recipe to use the whole can of pumpkin, and I after baking up a dozen muffins, I poured the rest of the batter into a loaf pan. I also sprinkled some of the muffins with pumpkin seeds and crystallized ginger, just for fun. 

3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup oil
1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 chipotle pepper, chopped into a paste
2 Tbsp adobo sauce from the peppers

Preheat oven to 350. Grease muffin pan or line with cupcake papers.
In a large mixing bowl, wisk flour, spices, salt, soda and baking powder together. Stir in wet ingredients until just combined.
Spoon batter into muffin pan. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until they are golden brown and spring back with touched.

Allergens: Wheat, gluten, milk, eggs
Nutrition: 250 calories, 13 g fat, 1 g saturated fat 31 mg cholesterol, 246 mg sodium, 35 mg potassium, 31 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 18 g sugar, 3 g protein, 89% vitamin A, 1% vitamin C, 5% iron, 3% calcium, 13% vitamin E

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Lesson in MyPlate

At the Diabetes Center, we teach our patients to use the "Plate Method" to get them started on a diabetic diet. We tell them to make half their plate vegetables, one quarter of their plate protein and one quarter of their plate starch. This a great way for everyone to control their portions and increase the amount of vegetables in your diet. So to further my continual mission to eat healthy and exercise. I want to cook more meals that follow this "Plate Method". 

What's on the Plate?
Penzey's Tandoori Chicken
Start preparation the night before. 
Mix 1-2 TB. tandoori seasoning with 1 Cup plain yogurt and the juice of ½ lemon. Pour over a cut-up skinless chicken, cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Remove from marinade, bake 45 minutes uncovered at 325°, turning and basting every 15 minutes.  Hand-mixed from: coriander, cumin, sweet paprika, garlic, ginger, cardamom and saffron.

Trader Joe's Rice Orzo Pilaf Mix
Just twenty minutes of simmering on the back burner. Because I'm cooking for one, I always have leftovers for days!

Steamfresh Steamed Green Beans
Throw it in the microwave when the chicken is close to done! You can also add some slivered almonds.

Homemade Holiday Treats

Peppermint Bark reminds me of Christmas. Well,  I could say that about a lot of sweets really.... but it seems as though one of the other dietitians at my internship agrees and brought in an identical-looking batch of dark and white chocolate peppermint bark just last week. Happy coincidence, since my stash had just about run out! 

8 ounces Nestle dark chocolate morsels
2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
8 ounces Nestle premier white morsels
25 peppermint candies, crushed

Lightly grease a 9x9 inch pan and line with waxed paper, smoothing out wrinkles; set aside.
Place the semisweet chocolate and 1 teaspoon of the canola oil in the top of a double boiler over just barely simmering water, stirring frequently and scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula to avoid scorching. When the chocolate is melted, stir in 1/4 teaspoon of the peppermint extract. Pour the melted chocolate into the prepared pan, and spread evenly over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle half of the crushed peppermints over the chocolate layer. Refrigerate until completely hardened, about 1 hour.
Place the white chocolate and the remaining 1 teaspoon canola oil in the top of a double boiler over just barely simmering water, stirring frequently and scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula to avoid scorching. When the chocolate is melted, stir in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract. Pour the white chocolate directly over the semisweet chocolate layer; spread evenly. Sprinkle the remaining crushed candy over the top and gently press in. Refrigerate until completely hardened. Remove from pan; break into small pieces to serve.

Allergens: Milk, Peanuts

I literally can't wait for the Holidays!

It's a little early for Hanukkah, but I always think it's good to work for your food. My fingers hurt after shredding and peeling four cups of potatoes, but it was worth it! These labor intensive latkas took about an hour to make, so we fried them up tonight while we had the patience. For dinner tomorrow, we will heat them back up in the oven, serve them with applesauce, and enjoy!

2 cups peeled and shredded potatoes
1 tablespoon grated onion
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup canola oil for frying

1) Place the potatoes in a cheesecloth and wring, extracting as much moisture as possible. (Or use a strainer to get some of the potato juice out, like I did )
2) In a medium bowl stir the potatoes, onion, eggs, flour and salt together.
3) In a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until hot. Place large spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot oil, pressing down on them to form 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick patties. Brown on one side, turn and brown on the other. Let drain on paper towels. Serve hot!

Allergens: Egg, wheat, gluten
Nutrition (1/17 mixture = 1 latka): 98 calories, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 65 mg cholesterol, 440 mg sodium, 246 mg potassium, 10 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, .5 g sugar, 3 g protein, 2% vitamin A, 7% vitamin C, 1% calcium, 4% iron

Friday, November 18, 2011

Almonds Take the Cake!

It seems like everyone is in pursuit of the perfect milk substitute these days. Whether you are lactose intolerant, you are looking for something new and different, or you just don't like the taste of regular milk, you have probably tried soy milk, rice milk or almond milk at some point. 
Well in case you hadn't noticed, I love almond-flavored baked goods. So any recipe that combines almond milk, almond extract and almond paste takes the cake! Literally! These cupcakes are great because they are not too sweet, sort of like scones. They make me feel very British, like I should be eating them at four o'clock with my afternoon tea. 
Check out the almond breeze website for more recipes using almond milk!

Almond Cupcakes
Courtesy of Almond Board of California

3 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Vanilla Almond Breeze®
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cup sugar, divided
8 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup prepared almond paste, divided by teaspoonfuls and rolled into balls


Preheat oven to 375°F. Place cupcake liners in a cupcake pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt on a sheet of parchment paper. In a small bowl or measuring glass, combine Vanilla Almond Breeze®, vanilla and almond extract. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add 1 cup sugar and beat on high speed until fluffy. Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the Almond Breeze Vanilla mixture and beating on low speed after each addition. Move this mixture to a large bowl.

Wash the bowl of the standing mixer, drying well to ensure no moisture or grease remains. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in the standing mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/3 cup sugar, beating on high speed, until peaks are stiff but not dry. Use a rubber spatula to fold 1/4 of the egg whites into cake mixture in the large bowl. Then fold in the remaining egg white mixture until batter is well combined.

Fill each cupcake liner halfway with batter and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and lightly place prepared almond paste (teaspoonfuls rolled into balls) atop each cupcake, centered. Top with batter so the liner is 2/3-3/4 full. Bake until a tester comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and move to a wire rack to cool completely. Prepare frosting of your choice (I used chocolate buttercream). Frost cupcakes and sprinkle with chopped almonds. Serve.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Time to pull out the Cinnamon and Nutmeg!

Molasses cookies, pumpkin cake, gingerbread. These are all desserts that remind us of the holiday season. Already, the malls are decking the halls, and the city is starting to hang Christmas lights on the trees along the harbor. For a healthy meal that stirs up that same holiday spirit, try this pumpkin pie oatmeal from Budget Bytes! Plus, you'll have leftovers for days!
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin purée
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups milk
2.5 cups dry old-fashioned oats

STEP 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin purée, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and baking powder until smooth. Whisk in the milk.
STEP 2: Mix the dry oats into the pumpkin mixture. Coat an 8x8 (or similar sized) baking dish with non-stick spray. Pour in the pumpkin oat mixture. Cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, removing the foil after the first 30 minutes.
STEP 3: Serve hot right out of the oven or refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be eaten cold or reheated. Top with milk, maple syrup, whipped cream, or nuts.

Allergens: Eggs, milk, gluten
Nutrition (1/8 recipe): 205 calories, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 1.5 g monounsaturated fat, 1.5 g polyunsaturated fat, 49 mg cholesterol, 165 mg sodium, 454 mg potassium, 57 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 23 g sugar, 7 g protein, 170% vitamin A, 4% vitamin C, 14% calcium, 20% iron,  20% copper, 11% folate, 27% magnesium, 126% manganese, 10% vitamin B-5, 36% phosphorous, 13% vitamin B-2, 26% vitamin B-1, 16% zinc

P.S. Try these great recipes too for... I've been busy this week :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Baked Apples Revamped

One of my favorite snacks is baked apples, sliced up with a sprinkle of sugar or Splenda. But for when you want something a little extra special, this dessert works like a charm. In my mind, just the presentation makes it special, rather than a gloppy mess of brown sugar, oats and shriveled apple slices, you get a beautiful apple bowl overflowing with oats and a little bit of sweetness. 

Baked Apple with Crisp Topping
Adapted from Sunny Anderson
Makes 6 servings
3 apples
1 teaspoon lemon juice
6 Tbsp apple or pear butter
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, cold and diced
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup oats, uncooked
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut each apple in half along its equator. Using a melon baller, cut out each side of the core, creating a rounded hole. Rub exposed apple flesh with lemon juice. Place 1 tablespoon of jam into each hole. For the topping: in a small bowl mix together flour, butter,brown sugar, oats, cinnamon and salt. Press this mixture on the top of each apple, covering jam. Place in a baking dish filled with about a 1/4-inch of water. Bake until top is golden brown and apple is tender, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Allergens: Wheat, gluten, milk
Nutrition: 170 calories, 4.5 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 14 mg sodium, 165 mg potassium, 38 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 24 g sugar, 1 g protein, 4% vitamin A, 7% vitamin C, 2% calcium, 5% iron

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pumpkin Bean Soup and some thoughts...

I've commented before on the convenience of recipes that use "1 can of corn" or "1 can of beans" or "1 can of pumpkin" rather than 4 oz, 1/4 cup or 1 lb. But of course, no one is ever worried about being convenient, or using what is left over. Well,  between pumpkin risotto and enchiladas, I had a lot of perfectly good canned veggies that were left unused. I used my search engine, and found this great soup recipe with all three of those ingredients, plus some staple foods I always carry. Suddenly, I have a hearty winter soup that is only 147 calories, 29 g of carbohydrates and 9 g of fiber per cup. 
I am getting practice counting carbs and monitoring my blood sugar at the diabetes outpatient center this week, and all of a sudden finding low calorie, high carbohydrate foods that are satiating has become a big problem. However, in this case, I am going to have to go for seconds, or get some extra dessert to fulfill my goal. Extra dessert? Darn. Hand over the diabetic ice cream! 

1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp cumin
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 can pureed pumpkin
1/2 can black beans
1/2 can corn
1 cup broth
1 cup tomato sauce
fresh cilantro

1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Mix in the garlic and cumin and cook, stirring, for an additional 2 minutes.
2. Pour in the pumpkin puree, black beans, corn, chicken broth, tomato sauce, and 1 teaspoon cilantro; season to taste with salt andpepper. Bring the soup to a gentle boil; reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.

Allergens: Soy (from the broth)
Nutrition (1 cup): 147 calories, 2.5 g fat, .5 g saturated fat, .5 g polyunsaturated fat, 1 g monounsaturated fat, 1 mg cholesterol, 490 mg sodium, 306 mg potassium, 29 g carbohydrates,  9 g  fiber, 6 g sugar,  7 g protein, 11% vitamin A, 14% vitamin C, 4% calcium, 10% iron, 17% folate, 17% manganese, 10% niacin, 11% phosphorous,  5% riboflavin, 7% thiamin

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Adventures of Spaghetti, Butternut and Acorn Squash - Part 2

In my excitement over the beginning of the squash season, I decided to buy a pound and a half of pre-cut butternut squash. I definitely overestimated my squash needs, but now I get to make Lauren and Mary's Pumpkin-Butternut Squash Risotto! They served it at their fall-themed theme meal, along with roasted acorn squash and a pork stew. Everything was delicious, and since I only got to try a bite of the risotto, I was excited to make it for my self with the scaled-down version of the recipe. Unfortunately, mass-produced meals don't scale down well, so there was some guess work involved. It definitely tasted different from the original meal, but I thought it benefited from a dash of salt. 
How can you beat this 300 calorie lunch with 8 grams of fiber?
1/2 lb butternut squash, peeled and cubed
5 fl oz pumpkin, pureed
2/3 cup, onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
4 3/4 cups water
1 Tbsp vegetable broth
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
2 Tbsp basil leaves
1/2 oz cream cheese
black pepper, to taste
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Combine broth, rice, water, butternut squash, pumpkin puree, and onion in a baking dish. Add pepper, stir.
3. Cover with foil and bake, stirring occasionally especially towards the end, until water is absorbed and rice is puffed, about 45-50 minutes. (My oven took over an hour, but it is cheap and old).
4. Remove from oven, stir in parmesan cheese, cream cheese and basil. Serve.
Allergens: Milk
Nutrition: 293 calories, 3 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 8 mg cholesterol, 103 mg sodium, 394 mg potassium, 65 g carbohydrates, 8 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 7 g protein, 267% vitamin A, 26% vitamin C, 10% calcium, 8% iron

9:30 pm Update: We finally found the original recipe this was based on from Aida Mollenkamp. The biggest difference is that she uses only broth, and I used mostly water. Oops.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Weeknight Splurge

It was not my idea, but it was a delicious one! Pumpkin cookies are a great way to welcome fall! My roommate thought these would be great with cream cheese frosting, and I'm inclined to agree. One reviewer on even recommended sandwiching two of these cake-like cookies together with frosting in between. Now I just need a cream cheese frosting recipe...

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork.
To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners' sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.

Allergens: Wheat, gluten, egg, milk
Nutrition (1/53 batter): 75 calories, 2 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 9 cholesterol, 36 sodium, 10 potassium, 13 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 1 g protein, 24% vitamin A, 0% vitamin C, 1% calcium, 2% iron

Weeknight Enchiladas

Remember that menu I made for the week? It went out the window tonight in favor of enchiladas. I walked to the grocery store just to get sauce and taco shells, even after buying all my groceries for the week based on my "planned" menu. Oh well. 
Sandra Lee has a recipe that uses the leftover components of black bean burgers to make black bean enchiladas. Well, I didn't want black bean burgers, but I have to give Sandy Lee some credit for the idea.

1/4 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained, divided
1/4 cup canned corn
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce
4 soft taco shells
1/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute onions in a small pan until browned. Turn stove to low and add garlic, beans and corn. Cook until heated through. Stir in cilantro and red pepper flakes. Pour half of the enchilada sauce in a small casserole dish. Heat taco shells in microwave until soft and pliable. Fill shells with filling, fold and place in dish. Repeat 3 times more. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Allergens: Wheat, gluten, milk
Nutrition (2 Enchiladas): 398 calories, 13 g fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 623 mg sodium, 881 mg potassium, 56 g carbohydrate, 13 g fiber, 18 g protein, 15% vitamin A, 21% vitamin C, 31% calcium, 25% iron, 19% vitamin B-6, 21% copper, 54% folate, 33% magnesium, 44% manganese, 13% niacin, 28% phosphorous, 27% thiamine, 13% zinc

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Getting my Greens!

After all my pledges to eat better, I sat down last night and made a list of recipes and ordered groceries so I am able to cook healthy food every night this week. My partner at my internship gave me a kitchen-tested recipe for Brussels sprouts that was too easy to pass up. But I thought it would be a little easier on the palate  if I mixed it with some whole wheat pasta, chicken breast and Parmesan cheese. Here's the original recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts:
Preheat oven at 400 degrees. Clean and trim Brussels sprouts and spread them out on a baking sheet (I went ahead and pre-chopped them so I could toss them directly into the pasta when they were done cooking).  Brush them with olive oil, and sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Roast Brussels sprouts in the oven until they begin to brown. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The End of Eagerly Eating Endless Eggs

I'm on my third carton of eggs in six weeks, and today I began to wonder if this is a healthy trend. Between 2 quiches, a batch of lemon bars and some scrambled eggs here and there, I have used gone through 21 eggs. Not to mention the hard boiled eggs I eat at work, the egg whites in my favorite spinach feta wraps at Starbucks and the fried eggs going into my Au Bon Pain breakfast sandwiches. I have given myself a little too much wiggle room these past couple weeks, and my scale knows it. So after I finish the quiche that is baking in my oven right now, I am going to switch to egg whites and re-focus on lowering the fat and cholesterol in all parts of my diet. It also means that I am going to work hard to curb my cravings for cookies and sweets, and go for the fruit instead.
Just this week, I decided to slice up some very ripe bananas and freeze them and they were such a great snack. I am stocked up on my favorite Greek yogurt, and my pantry is stocked with healthy options. Now, I just have to put in the effort and make it happen! 
Oh, but if you wanted that spinach quiche recipe, here it is. It's really just for special occasions, but it is a nice treat and makes for great leftovers! It is pretty similar to the recipe from two weeks ago with a few modifications.

1 1/2 cups frozen chopped spinach, thawed and blotted
1/2 cups Swiss cheese, grated
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups 1% milk
4 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1-9" pastry shell (I used a frozen shell from whole foods by wholly wholesome naturally wholicious)

Bake frozen pie shell in 375°F oven for six minutes and allow to cool. Saute garlic in 1/2 Tbsp olive oil until it starts to brown. Add spinach and cook until heated through. Sprinkle cheese on spinach, stir until melted and spread spinach mixture over pie crust. Beat together eggs, milk, lemon juice, salt and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over spinach mixture. Bake 35-45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Allergens: Wheat, egg, dairy
Nutrition info (1/6 slice): 280 calories, 17 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 2 g monounsaturated fat, 135 mg cholesterol, 250 mg sodium, 295 mg potassium, 19 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 11 g protein, 70% vitamin A, 12% vitamin B-12, 16% vitamin D, 21% calcium, 16% folate, 20% phosphorous, 20% riboflavin

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Recent Fascination with Melted Cheese

I learned recently that Americans eat an average of 28 pounds of cheese every year. I think I am giving America a run for its money this week with all my cheesy nachos, cheese-filled quiche and cheesy zucchini. I just need to make cheesy grits and I'll have covered breakfast, lunch and dinner with delicious cheese. 
This recipe is what I would call and "fiber and fat" recipe, because if I was making this for food service class, 70% of the calories would come from fat and I would be in trouble. Luckily. I am not in class, and I can drizzle olive oil and sprinkle cheese to my heart's content!

Slice up pre-cooked polenta and zucchini. Get the polenta slices nice and crispy, cooking it on medium with olive oil, Italian seasonings, and garlic powder. Cook the zucchini separately in the same way, until soft. Place the crispy polenta slices on the bottom of a casserole dish. Layer zucchini on top. Sprinkle Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses on top. Bake at 375 degrees until the cheese browns on top.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Easy, Healthy, Quick Meals Part V

This past Sunday, I fully intended on running the 3 miles to the nearby Safeway and taking the bus back with groceries in hand. Well turns out, I forgot my knee brace, I was dehydrated and tired, and it was already starting  to get dark when I finally set out at 6:30 pm. Darn, I had to go to Whole Foods. 
I was hungry by the time I got there, and ravenous by the time I got home. So this was a good compromise. I bought the beef and bean chili from the hot salad bar, and the chips and Mexican cheese from Whole Foods, but I had Safeway "salsa fresca" at home. It is so easy to make, and really it's "healthy enough" when you're in a pinch.

Pour beef and bean chili over top of a handful of blue corn chips. Sprinkle Mexican cheese on top. Microwave 30-45 seconds, or until cheese is melted. Spoon salsa on top - be generous, it's probably the healthiest part! 

The only way that this recipe is moderately healthy is if you use the cheese sparingly, lather on the salsa, and don't go crazy with the corn chips. Also, if you're like me, put the corn chips away before you decide to snack on them while you wait a whole 45 seconds for the cheese to melt. 

A Leftover Success Story

I am starting to notice a trend. All the recipes I try that turn out really well are recipes from manufacturers. All the recipes that are so-so are from random people. My dark cherry muffins, spinach & cheese crescents,  yellow curry chicken, and chocolate scotcheroos were all recipes from the manufacturer of the products I was using. My unfortunate spaghetti squash and my average-tasting lemon cookies, on the other hand, were someone's home-grown recipes. Not to say that all home recipes on the internet are bad, but they just haven't been tested for consistency the way professional recipes are. Also, I'm sure the processed foods (like crescent rolls) are going to taste good no matter what I do with them, but that's another story.... 
This is an example of yet another manufacturer's recipe that is awesome, awesome, awesome. I NEVER enjoy leftovers, and I thought this quiche recipe tasted even better after I reheated it two days later. 

8 oz. Fake Crab Chunk Style
2 cups Swiss cheese, grated
1 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 cups milk, or half & half
4 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/3 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1-9" pastry shell (I used a frozen shell from whole foods by wholly wholesome naturally wholicious that was better than any Pillsbury refrigerated crust)

Bake frozen pie shell in 375°F oven for six minutes and allow to cool. Combine Crab Classic, cheese, and flour; spread mixture in pie crust. Beat together eggs, milk, lemon juice, salt and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over cheese mixture. Bake 35-45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Fighting cravings with Baking?!?

After eating take out for lunch and dinner, I knew I couldn't sit around in my apartment and wait for the cravings to strike. So, I dragged myself to the gym, and when I got home, I baked. It seems counter-intuitive to bake to prevent snacking, but it keeps my mind off of the tortilla chips in the cupboard and the Ben & Jerry's in the freezer. And even when I have "no food in the house", I always have flour and sugar. Kill two birds with one stone and bake your breakfast, lunch or dinner for the next day in advance!

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup frozen, pitted dark cherries, quartered

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add egg, milk and oil. Stir until combined. Stir in dark cherries. Fill greased 2 1/2 inch muffin tins two-thirds full. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from tins. Makes 12 muffins.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Baked Goods are Made for Sharing II

The lemon bars turned out great... just a few minor flaws...
1) I used half the butter (1 stick), and it made the lower crust a little crumbly, no big deal though
2) I used yellow food dye instead of red...oops... it looked red in the bottle! I think I used all the red dye making red velvet cake....
3) I forgot to share them... I'm going to have to bring them to work tomorrow...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Baked Goods are Made for Sharing

Somehow a search for healthy kid's recipes led me to pink lemonade bars... they certainly are fun... but not so healthy. On second thought, I promised baked goods to a friend I'm visiting this weekend.... yep, Thursday night this is happening.

Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour 20 minutes
Yield: Serves 24

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter - softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
Pinch of salt

6 large eggs
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup flour
Several drops of red food coloring
Powdered sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees and line a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment or waxed paper.
  2. Cream together butter and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Stir flour and salt together and add to butter. Stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.
  3. Press dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees.
  4. Blend eggs and remaining sugar until lemon-yellow and smooth. Add lemon juice, zest and food coloring until the color of pink lemonade. Add flour slowly, stirring constantnly so lumps do not form.
  5. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until firm. To check for firmness, give the pan a small shake -- if there is little movement in the center of the filling, it's done.
  6. Cool completely and dust with powdered sugar before cutting.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Adventures of Spaghetti, Butternut and Acorn Squash - Part 1

The only way I have ever eaten spaghetti squash (before today) was with lots of butter and some spicy, ground sausage... it was delicious! Today, I found a healthier recipe to try on my own, but it really lacked that oomphiness that I remembered. The water seeping out the bottom didn't help it either. However, I did get to use a melon-baller to scoop out all the "spaghetti" which was tons on fun, and tomorrow I am going to add some spice when I eat the leftovers and see if that improves it.  If there is no significant improvement, I will just have to accept that spaghetti squash needs a little more help than it's delicious cousins, butternut and acorn. I'll keep y'all posted... I'm crossing my fingers that there is a magical fix and I just don't know it yet... 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Just Say YES to Spinach at Breakfast

In my attempt to give some store-bought crescent rolls a little boost of nutrition, these crescents are filled with spinach, Parmesan and caramelized onions. Plus, these little guys can be made the night before and refrigerated until breakfast time. This also means you don't have to cook (or eat) all 8 at once!

1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons olive or vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 (8 ounce) Open Nature refrigerated crescent rolls

Caramelize onions. Add spinach, Parmesan cheese, onion, oil, salt and pepper to a bowl.Unroll and separate the crescent dough into eight pieces. Spread spinach mixture evenly over dough to within 1/8 in. of edges. Roll up and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Check out this gooey deliciousness...
Adapted from:

Allergens: Milk, wheat, gluten, soy (traces of eggs, peanuts, tree nuts)

Getting the hang of leftovers...

I am the worst when it comes to using leftovers before they go bad. Not because I don't know how, but because I think I have a mental block against food that tastes worse the day after I cook it. Sooo... logically this means I have to make leftovers taste BETTER than they did in order for them to be appealing to me. These green beans were just humble microwavable steamed beans. But after a few days in the fridge, they magically became green bean salad with feta, pecans, garlic-infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar. There was a recipe, but I really just threw stuff on top until I was happy with it. A great lunch to bring to work!
I also did I redo of my favorite eggplant dish - Eggplant Caponata - and it was even better today when I had it cold for lunch with some organic blue corn tortilla chips! You have to admit, I'm finally getting the hang of this whole leftovers thing!

Monday, September 19, 2011

You gotta try it!

I enjoyed my dinner too much not too share!
Cut a whole wheat pita in half and layer with southwestern-style chicken, scallions, and part-skim mozzarella!
Stick it in the toaster oven until the cheese melts and top with fresh salsa... stick the other half of the pita on top and dig in!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kids have all the fun!

While working for a group in Baltimore Public Schools, my partner and I had to come up with recipes that could be made with foods found at the corner store and little or no pans or appliances. After doing some research at the local 7-Eleven, this is what we came up with and it has a lot of potential I think.

2 Bananas
6 oz low-fat or fat-free yogurt in the flavor of your choice
Two paper plates or plastic container
Popsicle sticks, chopsticks (optional)
Toppings, such as granola, cereal, crushed pretzels,
peanuts, chocolate syrup

Peel the bananas and cut them in half horizontally. Insert popsicle sticks or chopsticks in the bottom of the bananas at this time. Place bananas on the plate or container and spoon yogurt over top, until covered. Sprinkle your favorite toppings over the yogurt. Use your creativity! Cover with second plate or lid and place in freezer until firm (3-4 hours) Enjoy your frozen banana pop on a stick or eat it with a spoon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lemon Perfection

I have a habit of picking up unusual baking supplies at the grocery store, just because I have never seen them before. Almond paste, poppy seed filling, dutch process cocoa, orange and lemon extracts have all caught my eye on one occasion or another. But of course I always forget the essentials. Without baking powder, unsalted butter or confectioner's sugar, I resorted to a lemon sugar cookie to fulfill my sugar craving. Compared to other untested recipes I've tried, this recipe was pretty successful. But I think they would be even better with a lemon icing or a lemon glaze, or even just some colorful icing on top! 
    1/2 cup butter, softened 
    1/2 cup and 1 teaspoon sugar 
    1/2 egg 
    1-1/2 teaspoons milk 
    1 teaspoon lemon extract 
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
    1-1/4 cups and 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 
    1/2 teaspoon salt 
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
    Additional sugar 
    In a mixing bowl, cream butter, shortening and sugar. Beat in egg, milk and extracts. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture. Shape into 1-in. balls or drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Flatten with a glass dipped in sugar. Bake at 400 degrees F for 9-11 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Immediately remove to wire racks to cool.

Cooking for one = Cooking for leftovers

Can I first say that it is great to be back in a kitchen I can call my own? Even working 40 hours a week, I've cooked and baked more in the past two weeks than I did all summer. Having a consistent schedule really helps, along with a few easy strategies.

1) Make meals on the weekends for the week... this feta and summer squash orzo with feta cheese and
basil was the first dinner of my internship. I had no idea how I would feel after my first day and I was grateful for anything I could throw in the microwave and eat. Luckily, I had gotten to the grocery store that weekend. Unluckily, the squash was less than fresh after a day in the fridge. Live and learn.
2) If you can't cook for tonight, cook for tomorrow... I also bought chicken that week, which needed to be cooked pronto. When I got home hungry the next night, I popped a frozen dinner in the fridge, and once I was fed, I figured out what to do with all that chicken. I ended up making my own breadcrumbs and using an egg and flour wash before cooking it in the oven. It took some time, so it's a good thing I didn't wait to eat! The next night I reheated the chicken in the oven with some tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese on top, but it would also be good on a bun with some good honey mustard sauce, or my favorite, J.T Pappy's Gator Sauce.
3) If you can cook, make leftovers... sausage is one food I have a weakness for... it adds flavor to so many dishes, it keeps well, and there are so many interesting varieties. I normally get turkey sausage, but this past weekend, I found Italian chicken sausage with mozzarella cheese and I had to try it! I ended up on the Johnsonville sausage website looking for recipes and I found one with broccoli, onions, garlic, tomato, Italian sausage and pasta. I had to adapt it a little to use chunky tomato sauce instead of tomatoes, but it was still a great meal and it kept well even two days later!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New kitchen, Old recipe

I just moved to Baltimore so naturally I had to break in my new kitchen with a little baking! A friend from University of Maryland gave me this recipe for Chocolate Muffins and they always turn out moist and delicious. Plus, they are full of vitamin A and fiber. I wonder what I'm having for breakfast tomorrow?

Duncan Hines Devil's food cake mix
15 oz can of pureed pumpkin
1/3 cup water
Dark chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine pumpkin, cake mix, chocolate chips (optional) and water. Grease 2 muffin tins and fill them half-way up with batter. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a fork comes out clean.

Allergens: Wheat, gluten, soy, milk

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When in Canada, eh?

Kensington Market, Toronto, ON
I just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - a great book about one family's year of eating local foods - so naturally, when I arrived at Kensington Market in Toronto, I was excited to buy produce grown in Canada. Not only did I find local produce, I found something cool and new that I have never seen before at home - yellow plums! They are more tart than our red plums, which makes them great for baking! (See the Plum Primer.) This recipe comes from none other than When I get home, I wonder if I could adjust down the sugar and use this recipe with sweeter plums. 
3 cups (750 mL) quartered pitted red or yellow plums or pluots, (about 2 lb/1 kg)
1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
1 lemon
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground cloves

Place plums and sugar in saucepan. Using vegetable peeler, peel off strips of lemon rind; add to saucepan.
Squeeze lemon to make 1 tbsp (15 mL) juice; add to saucepan along with cinnamon and cloves. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer until plums are tender, about 10 minutes. Serve warm or cool. (Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ft. Lauderdale - Wish you were here!

Ft. Lauderdale Beach
I am always the first person to make excuses about why I can't cook - I don't have time, I haven't been to the grocery store, I just don't feel like it... the list goes on. But I do genuinely enjoy cooking, so when I go on vacation, it's great to be able to relax and make a meal for the people I care about. Making dinner for someone is also a great way to thank some one for their hospitality, if you are bumming a couch, or using the guest bedroom. (See Three Tastes of Chicago)
So I jumped on the opportunity to stay in Ft. Lauderdale in an apartment with a well-stocked kitchen and with a friend willing to be subjected to my cooking. We went to the grocery store together and based our meal on the Thai Kitchen Yellow Curry 10-minute Simmer Sauce that caught our eye. The peppers were just the right amount of crisp and flavorful and the sugar snap peas were deliciously sweet and crunchy!

Yellow Curry Chicken 
Serves 4 
Jasmine Rice, 1 cup, dry
Red Bell Pepper, 1 whole, cut into strips
Shredded Carrots, 1/2 cup 
Sugar Snap Peas, 1/2 cup
Chicken Breast, 1 small (about 3/4 lb)
Yellow Curry Simmer Sauce, 1 1/2 cups
1. Prepare 1 cup jasmine rice according to package directions. 1 1/2 cups water, and 1 cup of dry rice produces 3 cups cooked.
2. Cut chicken breast into thin 1/2" strips
3. Pour yellow curry sauce into a large saucepan, and bring to a light boil
4. Add chicken strips, and lower heat, stirring occasionally 
5. When chicken is half-done, add carrots and peppers
6. When chicken is no longer pink inside, add peas and basil, stir for 2-3 minutes and serve over rice

Allergens: Coconut, Fish, Soy, Peanuts 

Chocolate Scotcheroos & My New Allergen Pledge

I don't pretend to be an expert on gluten-free foods, but I thought I knew a thing or two, considering my background. I have been compiling and checking the allergen information for the menu items we serve at my hospital for the past few weeks now. It was really frustrating when I realized how many allergens there really were in our foods, and how difficult it would be to eat a gluten-free or soy-free diet. Last week, I had a lesson in the difficulty of finding products absent of gluten, soy, coconut, dairy and many other mischievous allergens
I made a false assumption that Rice Krispies were made of rice and hence were gluten-free. I was excited to blog about a delicious gluten-free recipe that I could share with one of my friends with Celiac disease. Before I sent it to her, I went on the Celiac Foundation's Website, only to discover that "malt", a component in many cereals, contains gluten. Kellogg's does make a gluten-free variety from brown rice, but I have to wonder how they could taste the same, and I have never seen them in the grocery store. You probably would have to order them online. Of course, as soon as I learned about this mischievous allergen called malt, I had to look into all the cold cereals we served at my hospital. Every one of them contained gluten. I hope Celiac patients like grits!  
I've always known it was hard to eliminate allergens from the diet, but this really bothered me! So from now on, I will try to list the allergens in my recipes. I think this will bring me new awareness about the difficulty some of my future patients face.
The recipe itself was really easy and fun. I made these delicious treats with my four best friends from high school when we were craving late night sweets. One of them does not like chocolate, so we doubled the batch, and made one pan of treats without the layer of chocolate on top. I actually liked this variation better because it wasn't overly sweet. 
We had many people to occupy in the kitchen and so we decided to start melting the chocolate at the same time that we made the peanut butter mixture. This was a bad idea, our chocolate melted, and then turned chalky before we were ready to use it. We had to add vegetable oil to revive it and it was still a very funny consistency. After 20 minutes of impatient waiting, we decided to just spread the frosting-like chocolate over the treats with a knife. You also may have noticed that our chocolate layer is almost twice as tall as the website picture (above). Only after we poured all four cups of chocolate and butterscotch chips into the pan did we realize that we were only doubling the peanut butter squares, not the chocolate layer on top. The chocolate lovers did not seem to mind :)

Recipe from
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups Kellogg's® Rice Krispies® cereal
1 package (6 oz., 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup butterscotch chips

1. Place corn syrup and sugar into 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter. Mix well. Add KELLOGG'S RICE KRISPIES cereal. Stir until well coated. Press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. (A double boiler would work great too.) Spread evenly over cereal mixture. Let stand until firm. Cut into 2 x 1-inch bars when cool.

Note: Before measuring the corn syrup, coat your measuring cup with cooking spray--the syrup will pour easily out of the cup.

Allergens: Wheat, Gluten, Nuts, Corn, Soy, Milk

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Latest Grocery Store Find

Have you ever heard of Skyr? The Icelandic yogurt that is full of protein and probiotics? It was on sale this week at my local grocery store so I had to try it! The orange ginger flavor had just the right amount of sweetness and the straining process gives the yogurt this amazing thick texture. Their website says:

" make just one cup of skyr, with all that water going out, you need 3 - 4 times the amount of milk required to make a regular cup of yogurt. As a result of this process skyr comes out with 2-3 times the protein count of standard yogurt." 

You have to try it if you get the chance. If you like Greek yogurt, you will definitely like this too, and skyr is naturally fat free!!

College Girl No Longer!!

A new blog seemed necessary since I am no longer a "College Girl". Being a college graduate has its own unique issues and I am excited to share my first year out in the real world and all the cooking blunders that will go along with it! All my old posts have been imported so you can still view any of my previous recipes, but I am hoping that this year will bring a renewed focus on both "budget-friendly" recipes and the use of natural, unprocessed foods. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

These past three months have been really stressful while I waited to see what next year would bring. But now that I have my plans locked in for next year, I am definitely going to be posting more! With little time to cook or go to the grocery store, I was living off of cereal, fruit and yogurt. It's no wonder that I was craving some vegetables today!

Chick Peas and Spinach
Background: At work, I will sometimes grab Asmar's chickpeas or hummus before I start my shift. The chick peas are prepared with lots of olive oil and lemon, a little bit of spinach and a mixture of spices. Today, I tried to make a similar meal.

Ingredients: 1 can of chick peas, washed and drained, 1/2 bag of spinach, washed, olive oil, 1/2 fresh lemon, garlic, cumin, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper

Procedure: Saute garlic and spinach in a little bit of olive oil. Once the spinach is cooked down, add in the chick peas, and spices, to taste. Use lemon juice sparingly, as the spinach soaks it up like a sponge. It's delicious hot or cold!

What's nutritionally awesome about this meal? Chickpeas are a great source of fiber, folate and iron, with little fat and no saturated fat. Spinach is a great source of Vitamin A,C, and K and is packed full of antioxidants. Olive oil will give you a dose of healthy fats, including omega-3's. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hmmm... this picture may look questionable, but if you are looking for a satisfying, low-calorie breakfast, this may be just the thing. 
What is in it? Well, turkey sausage bits, egg whites, 1 whole egg, and tomatoes and onions. How many calories? About 200 when you use non-stick cooking spray, like Pam. 

1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped tomato
1 whole egg
1/2 cup egg whites
Milk, Salt, Pepper (optional)
1/3 cup pre-cooked turkey sausage bits 
Cooking oil
Fresh Thyme (optional)

1. Saute the onions, and add tomatoes when they begin to brown.
2. Throw in the sausage and cook until heated. I also added thyme at this step because I had it laying around. 
3. Combine the egg and egg whites, and add milk, salt and pepper, if desired
4. Pour the eggs over the rest of the ingredients in the pan and cook until done.

Celebrating Holidays with Food II

This Upcoming Friday is Purim, a Jewish holiday which is celebrating with dressing up in costumes and making Hamantaschen. The recipe I used was actually really easy to use, and the results were better than anything store-bought! 
These are them before they went into the oven. I thought they looked pretty good, but in the first batch, the corners separated and they opened up. The second batch turned out much better because my friend showed me how to mercilessly pinch the corners of the cookies until you can't pinch anymore. 
The results were delicious! I used pre-made poppy seed filling in some and raspberry jam in others. There were also one or two we stuffed with chocolate chips, but that didn't work so well.
Here's the recipe, from the Food Network, for the Hamantaschen dough. 

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg white
1/2 orange, zest grated

2 1/2 to 3-inch round cookie cutter

To make the Dough: Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, egg, egg white, and orange zest. Add it to the processor and pulse to mix, being careful not to over mix. (Or just mix it up and combine it with your hands, like I did.) Divide into 2 disks and chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll out the dough on a floured work surface to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out 2 1/2 to 3-inch disks. (You can re-roll the scrapes to make more disks.) Place a disk of dough down and place 1 teaspoon of filling in the center. Pinch the disk in 3 places to form a triangular shape with the filling still showing in the center. They will look like 3 cornered hats. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Continue until all the disks are made.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes.

Celebrating Holidays with Food I

The months of February and March are filled with so many great holidays that are made better by homemade food. Valentine' s Day is one of my favorite occasions to cook and avoid the crowds, Purim is a great excuse to cook some of my favorite desserts, and St. Patrick's Day brings Irish Soda Bread and Scones. Easter is around the corner too, which means Cadbury Creme Eggs and Chocolate Bunnies. 
For a Valentine's Day at home, I used grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil to make these cute appetizers on colorful plastic swords. 
I cooked up some wild rice while I was preparing the appetizers. Then it was mixed with dried currants, dried apricots, craisins, toasted pecans, thyme, chopped celery and chopped onion.  
Next came the Cornish hens. I found them in Whole Foods, and they were all ready cleaned and prepared. All I had to do was unwrap them, stuff them with the wild rice, and brush a little melted butter on top. 
Voila! Beautiful Dinner for Two, with leftovers!