Frontera Seasoning Sauces and Mixes

Over the past two years I’ve become a Frontera groupie. I was lured in by the ingredient label (all natural ingredients, gluten free, no preservatives, no trans fat) and hooked because of the great flavors. My husband and I love their salsas and chips (we eat the medium and hot ones and the kids love their basic mild) and I was extremely impressed with the lunch I had in Chicago at Rick Bayless’ (Frontera originator) Xoco restaurant.

Since the weather is starting to turn to fall it’s the perfect time to showcase Frontera’s line of seasoning sauces and mixes. The first time I tried one was back in Minneapolis when I was working full time with kids. I used the Garlicky Carnitas Slow Cooker Sauce and since then I’ve had the skillet sauces, guacamole mixes and other flavors of slow cooker sauces. We use the Frontera packets anytime we make tacos and after tonight I’m further hooked. I tried the Chipotle Chili Seasoning Sauce and was pleasantly surprised with the full bodied flavor my chili had. I didn’t have a recipe but sauteed an onion, green pepper and garlic clove then added red kidney beans, garbanzo beans, a can of diced tomatoes, can of chicken broth and shredded chicken + this packet and it was done and perfect. Talk about easy.

If you haven’t tried these you HAVE to buy them the next time your out shopping. I’ve purchased them at Super Target when I lived in Minnesota and currently find them at Sendiks, Whole Foods and Metro Market in the Milwaukee area. Also, while some of the taco ones say skillet sauce I also use these in a small crock pot. Add the Taco skillet sauce over the meat and cook for a few hours (not all day). I do this so when my kids are starved at 5:30 all I have to do is assemble the tacos.

Without further ado here are their sauce and mix packets.

enchilada-2enchilada
taco-4

taco-3 taco-2tacoround-2rice-2
rice
skillet-2 skillet
frontera-3frontera-2round-4chili
fajitaround-3guac-2 guac

Hard Boiled Eggs

I’ve featured eggs as the food of the month before but it only seems appropriate to discuss them again with Easter this Sunday.  So, how do you make the perfect hard boiled egg? Well, that depends on how you like to eat them.

Hard Boiled Eggs -Cold water Method

Since I learned how to make hard boiled eggs hard boiled eggI’ve always made them with the cold water method. You take as many eggs as you want to boil, put them in a pot, fill the pot with water to cover them then turn the stove on and bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn the stove off and cover and let sit until your desired preference (for me it’s 8 minutes). Most people overcook their hard boiled eggs so let me help by showing you how long to leave an egg in the water to meet your hard boiled egg eating needs. Here are the description of each cook time per epicurious and also a chart if you are more of a visual learner.

  • 4 minutes: eat-it-with-a-spoon-out-of-the-shell soft
  • 5 minutes: firm white, runny yolk
  • 6 minutes: nice and gooey yolk, starting to set
  • 8 minutes: fully set yolk, but still sort of gooey and golden (my favorite)
  • 10 minutes: firmer pale yolk, a bit soft in the middle
  • 12 minutes: almost completely hard-boiled yolk, with a touch of golden goo still in the middle
  • 14 minutes: completely hard-boiled crumbly dry pale yolk

I read an interesting article on epicurious of two people who compared the hot method to the cold method and they claimed the hot method allowed easier peeling after. See the article here for the details.

Hard Boiled Egg-Hot Method

Bring the water to a boil THEN add the eggs, cover and let sit in the water for the same amount of time as above.

Now lets discuss just how long you have to eat all those pretty eggs in your fridge next week.

This is a common question and important one for food safety and taste. I recommend eating them all within 6-7 days of cooking when they have been stored in the fridge. They are a great source of protein and pack a ton of vitamins and minerals. Try having them for breakfast, as a snack, on a salad or use your leftover colored eggs to make egg salad.

Lastly, what helps make an egg easier to peel?

Searching on pinterest I found a lot of things people claimed you can add to the water to make them peel easier. I haven’t tried any of the ways listed. When it’s okay to have a little crack (not when you are planning to decorate them) I recommend taking the eggs out of the hot water at your desired time and putting them in an ice bath. Once in the ice bath lightly tap them on the side of the bowl or against each other to let some of the cold water get between the shell and the egg for easy peeling. Once cooled you can store them in the refrigerator.

Foods I LOVE right now- Cereal

It’s hard to pick a favorite food when you’re 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant but my normal evening snack these days is pretty consistently cereal. I’ve never been a big cereal eater for breakfast as I always seem to get hungry quicker than if I have something with more protein like my normal English Muffin with peanut butter, egg or oatmeal with nuts, soy milk and nut butter mixed in. That being said I absolutely LOVE having cereal as my bedtime snack. One, because I often want something cold (if not cereal then ice cream tends to be my pick) and two because I love the crunch.

When it comes to picking out cereals there are four things that are important to me in evaluating the nutritional value.

  1. Whole grain ingredients
  2. Less than 25-30% calories from sugar
  3. Taste
  4. Fiber content (this is last because I eat a lot of fruits and veggies and fiber rich foods throughout the day)

Here are my standard Favorites

  • Frosted Mini Wheats Original (little bites is my favorite)
    • 1 cup= 200 calories, 22% calories from sugar, 6g Fiber
  • COMBO bowl – 1 1/4  cup Rice Krispies (130 calories, 12% calories from sugar, 0g Fiber) +  1/2 cup Kind Cinnamon Oat Clusters with Flax Seed Granola (210 calories in 1/2 cup, 19% calories from sugar, 7g Fiber)
    •  Total (~1 3/4 cup) = 340 calories,  16% calories from sugar, 7g Fiber
  • MultiGrain Cheerios
    • 1 cup = 110 calories, 22% calories from sugar, 3g Fiber
  • Special K -Red Berries
    • 1 cup = 110 calories in 1 cup (32.7% calories from sugar), 3g Fiber
    • YES this cereal is above 30% calories from sugar (which on one hand I’m surprised by with its commercials and claims. On the other hand it does taste like the flakes are sweetened and it has fruit in it with natural sugar so with that in mind I’m not surprised).

Foods I LOVE Right Now- Chocolate

October means fall leaves, pumpkins, Halloween and candy. With candy and baby costumes on my mind I thought I’d feature chocolate foods that I love this month. As most of you know I have a huge sweet tooth and I like to indulge it. Allowing myself to indulge without over doing it is always a challenge. I love searching for new products that fulfill this craving with a healthy twist so my waistline doesn’t suffer. Here are two of the newest chocolate foods I love and satisfying my craving.

Trader Joe’s Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds

  • Perfect combination of the sweet and salty
  • Good quality dark chocolate so a small amount is satisfying (I warn you. Take a few and walk away!). I always feel myself wanting something more when I eat milk chocolate but a good dark chocolate is incomparable.
  • Crunchy
  • Contains almonds, a power food which provides heart healthy benefits and includes fiber and protein to keep you feeling full

Silk Light Chocolate Soy Milk

  • Silky, smooth and creamy just like chocolate milk should be
  • Easy to pour 6-8 ounces and have your chocolate fix fulfilled with only 68-90 calories
  • Low in saturated fat and lactose and dairy free!

 

Foods I LOVE right now

Well life as a working mom has taken full affect and sadly the blog has gotten hit the hardest. I apologize to all my followers for the lack of posts lately but in all honesty my meals have been rather quickly put together and taking a picture of it has not been on my mind. The good news is I’ve adjusted back to working and have already found a few recipes I want to try and post about. Until then I’ve decided to post about a new topic and share a picture of the baby.

With the ever evolving world of food science and product development I thought I’d try to share products that I find and love or ones I’ve used for years. For my first post on this subject I’m featuring a new found joy and an old classic favorite! Both are quick, easy and healthy snacks which makes them both a go to in our house.

Trader Joe’s Just Mangoes

What I love about this product: 

  • It’s quick and easy to pack for traveling and snacking on the go
  • It’s healthy. The ingredients literally are “DRIED MANGOES.” That’s it and that’s all I need it to be!
  • No added sugar and it’s still sweet and delicious
  • 120 calories per serving, 2 g Fiber and 4 1/2 servings per container

Nature Valley Protein Chewy Bar

What I love about this product:

  • Another quick and easy snack for work
  • They fill you up!
  • Compared to other protein bars I find that they don’t have the strong taste of the added protein powder
  • Why I really love this product. I think I’m eating dessert but I’m still getting some nutrition. It’s sweet and tastes like a treat at the end of a meal. I love bringing them to lunch!
  •  190 calories, 10 grams Protein and 5 grams of fiber

Food of the Month

Cheese, Cheese, Cheese!

If you’re saying to yourself, why cheese? Well, for one, the packers are on a nice winning streak and I’m a proud cheese head and two, because the holidays make me think of delicious cheese dishes and plates.

I started my food of the month off a few days behind but with a great entrance.

Barefoot Contessa’s Mac & Cheese

This was a great dish for a Sunday afternoon. I made mine with Trader Joe’s organic vegetable radiatore noodles and I split my milk (1/2 skim milk and 1/2 2% lactaid milk). I also used a gruyere/swiss mix instead of straight gruyere cheese and it was delicious. Also, I only had whole wheat bread so I used this to make the bread crumbs. Lastly, and this was my mistake, I added 3/4 Tbsp instead of 1/2 tsp of nutmeg but we all liked it. I think I would do a 1/2 Tbsp if I made it again.

From a nutrition standpoint for macaroni and cheese I would classify this one in the middle. It’s not a low fat recipe but it also isn’t an insane recipe with cream and extra pounds of cheese. You could always cut back on how much cheese you add if you want to lighten it up even more.  I found it to be a nice balance that can be paired with some veggies or a side salad to round out the meal.

Another one of my favorite recipes for the holiday season to bring as an appetizer is the

Pesto Cheese Blossom from The Food Network

To make this healthier I always use fat free cream cheese.  You mix the cream cheese with garlic so it will still have a good flavor. I opt out of adding the pistachios since I’m not a big fan of them but I know others who have made this with them. I’ve brought this to a work party, friends party and made it for family and everyone loves it. Plus you can make it the day ahead and it’s Christmas colors.

It’s hard to talk about cheese and not talk about serving sizes. Cheese, in the right portion size is a great source of calcium but it is often over ate. Since it is made from milk it is higher in fat so it’s important to note how much you are eating. I would stick to 1- 1.5 ounces per serving. This looks like 6 dice and while that seems like a lot of plain cheese it adds up quickly when cheese is added to things like pizza, nachos, macaroni and cheese, etc…

Another thing to note is some cheese are a little lower in fat than others. For example, feta, provolone, mozzarella and swiss cheese have less natural fat than cheddar and havarti cheese. Another great cheese is Laughing Cow, who make a great portioned swiss cheese with 50 calories per wedge plus a light version that comes in multiple flavors for only 35 calories per wedge. It is a great substitution for cream cheese or to spread on sandwiches. Another way to cut back on the fat in cheese is to choose ones made with 2% milk. They will have less fat without sacrificing taste and texture like some fat free cheeses do.

Choose Cherries

Fall is upon us which means colder weather, falling leaves and for many back to the routine cold weather fruits. Nearly half of the fruit Americans eat are from oranges, bananas, apples and watermelon alone. While I love all four of those I also find myself searching for more variety and trying to avoid the dreaded fruit fatigue. Whether your 20, 30, 80 or a small child, we can all benefit from fruit so don’t let your intake go down this winter because of boredom! Only one in five Americans currently reaches their recommended intake of fruit each day (1-2 cups). One easy way to increase your intake is to try new fruit and recipes and fight off fruit fatigue. That’s why November’s food of the month is tart cherries.

Cherries are known as a super fruit for their powerful antioxidant properties that help reduce inflammation and in turn may help decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease or decrease the symptoms of arthritis. They are also a great source of potassium and recent research shows they may relieve muscle pain for active adults.

It’s no surprise that eighty-seven percent of Americans put taste as their number one consideration when purchasing food. Cherries sweet, tart and juicy flavor will keep you coming back for more. Another plus for cherries are the many forms available year round (fresh, frozen or dried) making it easy to add them to your daily intake. They’re also a great fruit for the holiday season; their bold red color can brighten any dish and add flavor to meats, stuffings, sides and desserts.

To start out this month I made a new cherry smoothie recipe from Choose Cherries. I really enjoyed the hint of cinnamon mixed with the sweet honey and tart cherries.

Cherry Berry Smoothie

Ingredients

1/2 cup frozen tart cherries, pitted
1/2 cup 1% low fat milk
1/4 cup plain lowfat yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon cherry juice concentrate
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
8 ice cubes

Garnish

1 tablespoon slivered toasted almonds
1 tablespoon chopped dried tart cherries

Directions


Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth. Pour into two chilled glasses
Another one of my favorite ways to eat cherries is in a pork dish my mother in law makes. If you like savory with a touch of sweet I highly recommend trying this recipe.

Pork Roast Tenderloin with Dried Cherries and Rosemary

Serves 6
Source: The Foster’s Market Cookbook by Sara Foster 

Ingredients

Two 1-pound pork tenderloins
½ cup dried cherries
1/3 cup dry red wine
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¾ cup good-quality, all-natural cranberry juice
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 shallots, cut in half lengthwise
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Directions

1. Rinse the pork loin, pat dry, and place in a shallow glass or ceramic baking dish.  Set aside.
2. Whisk together the cherries, wine, vinegar, cranberry juice, shallots, and rosemary in a bowl.  Pour this mixture over the pork, cover, and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or overnight, turning the pork several times.
 3. Heat the olive oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Remove the pork from the marinade (reserve the marinade) and place the pork in the heated skillet.  Cook the pork on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes total time, until light brown.   (I browned in my electric skillet then transferred to a baking dish).
 4. Pour the reserved marinade over the pork and place the skillet (or baking dish) in the oven.  Roast, basting several times, 20 to 25 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 150 to 155 degrees.  The meat will be a very light pink color.  (NOTE:  The pork will continue cooking after it is removed from the oven).
 5. Remove the pork from the baking dish and place on a grooved carving board.  Cover the pork loosely and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before carving.
 6. Season with salt and pepper.  Slice into ¼-inch pieces and spoon the pan juices over the pork.  Serve immediately.
I’m also really excited to try Cooking Light‘s Wild Rice Stuffing with Dried Cherries and Toasted Pecans from the November 2011 issue.
For more information and numerous great cherry recipes go Choose Cherries

Food of the Month

I can’t believe it’s already October. While the leaves have started to change the weather here in Minnesota has been unseasonably warm with expected highs in the upper 70’s/low 80’s all week. It was a perfect weekend for me from weather to Wisconsin sports (if you  missed it the Badgers, Brewers and Packers all won) to a belly full of delicious, crunchy, sweet apples!

It’s apple season and I am so happy about it. I’m not a person that eats apples year round but when it comes to the fall I eat enough to last me the rest of the year. Lately, I’ve been on a two a day average switching off between Honeycrisp and Haralson’s, both grown in Minnesota. If you couldn’t tell, apples are this month’s food of the month.

Apples contain ~ 90 calories, a little over 3 grams of fiber and surprisingly they are ~85% water. They are very nutritious for us containing many nutrients including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, pectins and fiber. A new variety available this year is called the SweeTango which was developed by the University of Minnesota. It is said to have the texture of a honeycrisp and the flavor of a Zestar. I can’t wait to try it or hear your reviews if you took a bite out of one already.

If you want to eat more fruit or are craving something sweet and fresh grab an apple and start crunching away.
Want more information on Minnesota apple varieties flavor and use? Check out UMN extensions link below

Food of the Month

I just returned from an eight day trip in the Pacific north west and Canada and while part of September is over it’s still not to late to enjoy this months food. Peppers! They come in many shapes, sizes, colors and spice levels.

The Scoville Heat Scale is a great way to see what level of pepper is best for you.

To start the celebration of the food of the month I made Un-Stuffed Peppers. You may be asking why I made the recipe “unstuffed.” It came down to the size of my peppers. I was planning to make stuffed peppers for dinner but all the peppers I wanted to stuff were too small to fit much filling so instead I mixed all the things you would put in a stuffed pepper together in a dish and baked it. I am eating this dish as I type my blog post and OMG it’s AMAZING! Every year when I make stuffed peppers I just use up what I have in my fridge and that is what this recipe was but the flavors came together perfect. The pepper mix was perfect since my husband and I like a small kick in our dishes.  This is a great dish that we will definitely have again!

“UN-Stuffed” Peppers

Ingredients

  • 2 cups brown rice (cook according to instructions. I did 2 cups of brown rice with 4 cups chicken stock)
  • You could use any combination of peppers. Here is what I used: 7 small Bell Peppers, 1 Banana Pepper, 1 Jalapeno (without seeds), 1 unknown hot pepper from crop share (the dark green one), diced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp Italian Parsley, chopped
  • 3 chicken sausages, cut into slices (you could also sub boca crumbles here for a vegetarian dish)
  • 1 small zucchini (or in my case it was 1/3 of a large one)
  • 2 ears of corn, cook and add only the kernels
  • 2 ounce of cheese (any type of shredded or diced cheese will work)

Directions

  • Cook rice according to directions
  • Stir all ingredients in a big bowl with the cooked rice and mix
  • Grease a 9 x 11 pan and pile ingredients in.
  • Bake at 400 for ~35-40 minutes
Garden Peppers

Unstuffed Peppers – prebaking


…just went and got seconds…time to go.The beauty of this dish is it’s flexibility. Don’t have one of the ingredients or want to add another vegetable, go for it.

Food of the Month

I picked my first tomato from my garden last week and was so overtly excited that it’s officially tomato season. While farmers markets and other gardens have had tomatoes fresh for most of July mine are just coming into bloom. Since starting the food of the month I have anticipated using tomatoes and now the time has come! I am so obsessed with tomatoes I don’t even know how to start and can’t even imagine typing all the recipes I have using fresh tomatoes. For one most of the dishes don’t have recipes. Fresh salsa, marinara sauce and tomato soup are things I just whip up and taste as I go. I’m so excited that I have 12 tomato plants this year. I know I’ll have no issue using them and I may even get fancy and try canning some of my salsa and sauce or make homemade tomato juice!

First thing first I want to try to answer a common question that arises.

Are tomatoes a fruit or a vegetable?

This is an ongoing debate and depends on who you ask. Botanists would say they are a fruit because botanically they grow like fruits but the United States Department of Agriculture, horticulturists and most dietitians classify it as a vegetable. I’m not sure how accurate this is but I read this statement online today (also showing the debate has been going on for centuries): “On May 10, 1893, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the tomato is a vegetable and, as such, is subject to import taxes under the United States Tariff Act of 1883.

What’s in a tomato?

One medium sized tomato (3” diameter) has ~ 30-35 calories and is a rich source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Tomatoes also contain an antioxidant called lycopene which has been studied for it’s cancer fighting properties. Lycopene protects our cells from oxygen damage which can help white blood cells and may also help prevent heart disease.

Now how to use them. Well if you’re like me then you’ll pick ’em, slice ’em and top them with a dash of salt and pepper or olive oil and balsamic vinegar (I can eat a few tomatoes at a time when they’re in season).
And last but not least…a few great tomato recipes worth listing…

Summer Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Panini with Balsamic Syrup:

Cooking Light-August 2011
I made these sandwiches for my mom and I when she was in town. While I’ve made MANY caprese panini’s with basil, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella this one was by far the best. The determining factor was balsamic reduction.
Rating: Sina: 5, Becca (my mom): 5
          

Tomato Bruschetta

Ingredients

Writer’s Note: I don’t use a recipe when I make bruschetta but here is the gist, measurements may vary a little

  • French or Italian Bread
  • 2-4 tomatoes diced
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ~1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar  (reduced balsamic vinegar also works)
  • 12-20 basil leaves diced (I like a lot)
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Slice bread and toast in the oven on broil
Mix tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar and basil and layer on top of bread slices. Sprinkle each with salt and pepper. Grate Parmesan on top and serve immediately. You can always prepare the topping ahead of time and assemble them on bread later if you are bringing it to a party.
Rating: Sina: 5, Ryan: 4.5

Caprese Salad

Slice tomato and fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese and layer every other. Sprinkle with cut up basil and drizzle with olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper and serve
Rating: Sina: 5, Ryan: 4.5

Food of the Month

It took awhile to heat up this summer but now that it has it sure feels good. Most of the time by July the hot temps can be bothersome but after all the rainy days I’m enjoying my 80 and 90 degree days.This time of year I always crave cold things and berries are on the top of that list. July’s featured food is blueberries. If you’ve watched the news or read any magazine in the past 5-10 years then it will be no surprise to you that this small, vibrant, juicy fruit is a “super food.” They are low in calories, only 80 per cup, and rich in nutrients. In addition, these small blue berries are a great source of Vitamin C (1 serving has 14 mg–about 25% of our recommended intake for the day) and rich in antioxidants which protect our cells from damage. The good thing about this super fruit is that it is packed with flavor so it’s easy to indulge!

As I’m writing this I’m enjoying fresh blueberries in my yogurt…Mmm. Besides eating them plain my other favorite ways to eat them are in smoothies, cereal or baked into oatmeal pancakes. Really you can add them to anything including salads or salad dressings.

Another benefit of blueberries for me is the memories that they bring back. Growing up my friend Katie ( who I was inseparable from) and I used to go to my cabin for the 4th of July and we started a tradition of making an American flag cake. It’s a great dessert for the 4th because it is quick to make (doesn’t require baking) refreshing and contains fruit! Start with pound cake (growing up we used Sara Lee) cut thin and layered in the bottom of a 9 x 11 pan. Next layer on fat free cool whip and then top with strawberries and blueberries to look like a flag. There are many variations of these flags including layered puddings and other fruit cakes with the fruit and whipped cream toppings. If you don’t have something to serve for tomorrow whip this up this afternoon. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Ours never looked this nice but here’s a great example of what it can look like.

Food of the Month

I know what you’re thinking it’s June 4th and I’m a little behind on my food of the month. I apologize for my neglect to the blog.  I’ve been outside pulling out bushes, weeding my garden and our summer season of weddings and bachelorette parties officially began last night. So needless to say I’ve been very limited on finding free time to blog but I haven’t forgotten about this months food. After many dinners on the grill due to a broken oven I thought I would dedicate this month (…ahem…the best month of the year…) to turkey burgers. Turkey burgers are so easy to make and can be a healthier alternative to beef burgers. I’m not talking about buying turkey patties and throwing them on the grill. I’m talking about homemade turkey patties. Starting with ground turkey, adding in chopped veggies, cheese and spices, forming them into patties and then tossing them on the grill to cook.  The combinations and varieties you can make are endless which makes them a fun food to cook throughout the summer months.

The first thing to know is what to look for when you buy ground turkey since the varieties at the store aren’t all the same. Frozen ground turkey is usually dark meat and can actually contain skin in it. This type of turkey is just as high in fat as ground beef. I recommend not using this type of turkey. Regular ground turkey, which is labeled as 93% lean is usually part white and part dark meat and can still be fairly high in calories and fat although still less fat than ground beef. Ground turkey breast, is the lowest in fat. This can also be used in recipes but it dries out easily so you may need to add an egg to the burgers. I tend to buy the lean ground turkey for burgers since it doesn’t get as dry but find that the ground turkey breast works well in soups, stews and chili’s.

This past week I decided to make crop share turkey burgers. I chopped up some of the ramps I had left, which by the way I’m obsessed with. If you are ever at a farmers market and see them BUY them. You can add them to almost anything for a garlic/onion flavor. I then added in my leftover chives, some spinach and crumbled feta cheese. We grilled them and topped them with a thin slice of Swiss cheese and served them on a whole wheat bun with a side of corn and asparagus. It was a delicious dinner. The burgers were very juicy and flavorful.

If you prefer to follow a recipe for your burgers try the one I listed below for a start before you get creative with your own combination. The cucumber-feta topping would be perfect on a hot day. My aunt also has an AMAZING hoisin turkey burger recipe that I posted below

Turkey Hummus Sliders

Food Network (recipe suggested by Greta)

Asian Turkey Burgers

Cooking Light 2001 (provided by my Aunt Nancy)
  • Combine 1/2 cup hoisin sauce, 1/4tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp ground Ginger and 2 pounds of ground turkey
  • Shape into 8 patties and grill or broil.

Food of the Month

This months featured food is so sensational that it has a catch phrase; the incredible edible egg (did I get the tune in your head…).  The egg has been a much debated food in the nutrition field. Once looked down upon for its cholesterol content it is now a beloved staple in most households and breakfast menus.  Eggs are extremely nutritious for us. They contain the most bio available form of protein (the highest quality of protein you can buy) and they pack in a lot of vitamins and minerals without a lot of calories. One large egg contains ~70 calories, ~6.3g protein. If you choose to just eat the egg white then you will consume 17 calories and 3.6g protein but you will also miss out on a lot of the vitamins and minerals found in the yolk. They can be enjoyed alone, in a casserole, on a salad, sandwich or in pasta (mmm…carbonara). Eggs play a key role in cooking with their ability to leaven, emulsify and bind. Just as important it is to know how your partner takes his or her coffee it is equally as important to ask “how do you like your eggs?” While I prefer them over easy or poached my husband prefers them over hard or hard boiled

My favorite breakfasts always contain eggs. They are a staple in our refrigerator and never make it to their expiration date. They are a great source of protein and keep you feeling satisfied for longer than most carbohydrate rich breakfasts.  With Mother’s Day less than a week away I wanted to share a scrumptious egg bake dish perfect for a mid morning brunch. This delicious recipe comes from my childhood neighbor Patti. The original recipe is for a cheese and sausage egg bake but I am going to post a vegetarian variation I made last year when I hosted Mother’s Day brunch.  It’s great for entertaining since you make it the night before.

Vegetable Egg Casserole

Serves:  10-12
Make the night before you plan to serve it

Ingredients

  • 12 eggs
  • 4 cups milk
  • 4 slices of bread, cubed
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 cup diced roasted red peppers
  • 1 bundle of asparagus cut up
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
  • You can add sausage as desired, sauté before adding

Directions

  1. Beat together the eggs and milk
  2. Break up the bread and layer it on the bottom of a greased 9 x 11 pan
  3. Add vegetables and cheese, salt and mustard
  4. Pour eggs over top of mixture
  5. Refrigerate over night
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for ~1 hour and 15-30 minutes or until it barely shakes in the middle
  7. Let it sit for ~ 5 minutes before cutting and serving
*To make the original sausage and cheese egg casserole saute the sausage and add in place of the vegetables
For another favorite egg dish check out January’s “weekend of food” post to see my poached eggs with manchego cheese, crushed red peppers and prosciutto breakfast. 

Food of the Month

It’s officially April which means fresh vegetables and fruit will begin to ramp up and carry on through fall. I figured what better time than now to feature one of my all time favorite vegetables, asparagus, since it is in season this time of year. Asparagus is a rich source of folate, potassium, Vitamins A, E and C. Not only is it loaded in nutrients it is also low in calories with six spears providing ~22 calories. Asparagus is a great vegetable by itself and a great color and flavor additive for risottos, pastas and salads. It’s easy to prepare and delicious tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper and placed on the grill or roasted in the oven. The key is not to over cook it. The spears should still have a crunch when you eat them. Here is one of my favorite recipes. Perfect for serving at parties or as a starter for a date night.

Asparagus con Prosciutto (aka prosciutto wrapped asparagus)

There are many ways to make this recipe and most traditional recipes don’t cook the prosciutto. I’ve realized over time that I actually prefer it when the prosciutto is slightly cooked and crispy. A trick I’ve learned from preparing this so often is to blanch the asparagus. Cooking the spears for a short amount of time will help them keep their bright green color. Here is how I make this delicious antipasto.

Ingredients

  • 1 bundle of asparagus, washed with bottom ends cut off
  • ~6-8 thin slices of prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise
  • olive oil
  • black pepper
  • salt (optional, not always needed since prosciutto is salty)

Directions

  • Blanch asparagus in boiling water for two minutes
  • Toss asparagus in ice water immediately after to stop the cooking
  • Wrap each asparagus spear with a thin slice of prosciutto
  • Place each asparagus wrapped in prosciutto on a baking sheet
  • Broil until asparagus is crispy (varies 3-10 minutes depending on how crispy you want them)
  • Lightly drizzle with olive oil and black pepper
  • Serve warm or chilled

Food for thought (better yet for smell…)

Yes, it’s true asparagus can make your urine smell after eating it but not everyone has the gene. If you have to think about if you’ve noticed this before you definitely don’t have it. Being a carrier of this gene I can say there is no doubt you wouldn’t notice the smell. Turns out asparagus contains a sulfur called murcaptan that makes the smell when it’s broken down in our digestive systems.

Food of the Month

Get out your togas because this month we’re going Greek. Rich and creamy are just two words to describe Greek yogurt, which is this months featured food. A few years ago Greek yogurt was a rarity on produce shelves but with the growing attention it’s gotten from health  nuts it has gained popularity. Over the past year I’ve seen more brand available at supermarkets and more competitive prices. This calcium-loaded food contains healthy bacterial cultures that boast digestion benefits. Like traditional yogurt Greek style yogurt is made from fermented milk. It is then strained in cloth leaving a thicker product with the same sour taste. Some of the nutrition benefits are due to the increased concentration of Greek yogurt. It generally contains more live cultures and probiotics. In addition, Greek yogurt is higher in protein and lower in sugar than traditional yogurt and since it contains fewer carbohydrates it is also lower in lactose content (which is great for all of my fellow lactose intolerant readers out there). One 6-ounce container of Chobani nonfat Greek yogurt contains 140 calories and 14 grams of protein per serving which keep me feeling full and satisfied between breakfast and lunch.
Greek yogurt is very versatile so think outside the container. It can be used as a base for dips, sauces or smoothies. Here’s what to know when you head to the stores.
  • Look for a low fat or non-fat variety.
  • The plain flavors tend to be best for dips and sauces and take on the flavor of the herbs or spices added.
  • If you have children you may want to Chobani’s Champions that were developed just for kids. Each 3.5-ounce container contains 100 calories.

Here are a few of my favorite varieties and recipes

Brands

  • Trader Joe’s Greek Style NonFat Yogurt- Honey Flavored
  • Chobani Nonfat Greek Yogurt– Strawberry & Peach flavored or the 2% Fat Pineapple flavored variety (I have yet to see the 0% honey, black cherry or lemon flavors at my supermarket but can imagine I’ll like those too).
  • Fage- comes in a large container with a lid to reseal. Great for making the french onion dip recipe below

Most Recent Dish I’ve made with Greek Yogurt

Bahamian-Spiced Chicken with Yogurt-Cilantro Sauce

Source: Bobby Flay for Health Magazine
Pictured above
**My husband and I both loved the flavor of the chicken. I can imagine it will be even better when we are able to make it on the grill.

Sina’s French Onion Dip

Ingredients (I don’t usually measure but you can’t mess it up)

  • Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Diced green onions
  • Sodium free seasoning blend (any should work)
  • Small amount of Morton’s seasoning blend

Directions

Mix onions and seasonings into the yogurt to your liking. It was delicious with potato chips!

Food of the Month

Love is in the air. I can tell it’s February and Valentine’s Day is approaching from the plethora of magazine advertisements and TV commercials sharing the “perfect gift” to buy your loved ones. If you are like me then there is no need to step foot into a jewelry store when you can just buy chocolate. What better food to feature this month than the one and only chocolate! While I still wouldn’t consider chocolate a health food a small amount each day may be beneficial towards our health. Let me explain why. Cocoa beans contain flavanols which are a good antioxidants that can help reduce cell damage to the heart, lower blood pressure and help the lining of blood vessels. In addition, one study showed it lowered LDL cholesterol (a.k.a bad cholesterol) by 5 points. Not a significant decrease but a trend down from indulging in a chocolate craving is great to hear. Flavanols are more abundant in dark chocolate bars ranging from 50-80% while milk chocolate bars only contains 15-25%.  For the most benefits choose dark chocolate bars with 60% cocoa and limit yourself to one or 2 squares a day as it is high in calories.

If you are new to trying dark chocolate start with a lower percent cocoa and work your way up. The higher the cocoa content the more bitter the bar will taste. I think most dark chocolate lovers would agree it’s an acquired taste but much more satisfying than milk chocolate.

Brands I like

Chocolove Chocolate Bars

Multiple varieties of dark chocolate bars that range from 55-77% cocoa with ginger, peppermint, sea salt, almonds, cherries, chilies, raspberries or orange peels added for extra flavor.

Trader Joe’s 10% Dark Chocolate 100 Calorie Bars

High percentage of cocoa and pre-portioned packages. Great to keep around for chocolate cravings. I usually find them near the checkout.

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds and Dark Chocolate Covered Edamame

A great balance of protein, fiber and dark chocolate decadence.

Feeling creative or want to design the perfect chocolate bar for you Valentine this month. Check out createmychocolate.com/ to design your own bar. You get to choose the type of chocolate, mix ins and name of your creation. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Food of the Month

The coldest week of the year is about to commence and this month’s whole grain, fiber-rich food will keep you warm and full. If you haven’t guessed it yet; the food of the month is oatmeal.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and oatmeal is the perfect food to make morning eating easy, quick, savory and healthy at approximately 140 calories per cup. It’s a great source of soluble fiber which helps lower blood cholesterol and prevent heart disease so before you hit the snooze alarm read on to learn a variety of flavors and different ways to eat this delicious food.
When it comes to a bowl of oatmeal there is something for everyone. You can choose from old fashioned, quick cooking or steel cut oats as your base. Next, consider what you are craving…crunchy, smooth, sweet??? For a crunch sprinkle in chopped walnuts, pecans or the Omega-3 rich flax seed. For smooth and savory flavors toss in a Tbsp of peanut or almond butter. To please that sweet tooth try fresh, frozen or dried fruit or try topping your oats with honey and ground cinnamon  (it adds flavor without calories). The combinations for this breakfast dish are endless.

Here are My Current Oatmeal Favorites

Instant Oatmeal: Trader Joe’s Organic Instant Oats & Flax Oatmeal: A perfect combination of smooth oatmeal with flax seed to add crunch and a nutty flavor.
Add ins: Frozen blueberries and soy milk: 3 ounces of soy milk added to my instant oats gives me a creamy cereal and the frozen blueberries are my go to in the winter (peaches and pears are also favorites of mine when they are in season).
Coffee Shop Oatmeal: Caribou’s Plain Seven Grain Oatmeal made with Soy Milk: (with cinnamon and nutmeg on top): Caribou did it right with the addition of their morning hot cereals. Their oatmeal balances crunchy and smooth in one bowl.

OATMEAL RECIPES

Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins– Cooking Light

Oatmeal Pancakes – Cooking Light

These pancakes are divine and remind me that whole grain pancakes can give just as big of cravings as the childhood pancakes my mom made. Even children will love this breakfast dish. Note to the cook: I recommend doubling the cinnamon or adding some nutmeg for more flavor. Lastly, to top the dish off I recommend my peach compote.

  • Peach Compote: Add 1/2 cup of water and 1/4 cup sugar to a sauce pan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Next, add 1-2 cups of frozen peaches and let simmer for 5-10 minutes or until peaches are soft. Lastly, add 1-2 Tbsp all purpose flour to help thicken the sauce. Enjoy on top of your oatmeal with maple syrup.