Sweet Potato Oatmeal Pancakes

I find it ironic that within this big world wide web I searched how to make Sweet Potato Oatmeal pancakes on pinterest and got linked to a blog that was inspired by the same restaurant as I was. The restaurant that impressed me (and them) with these delicious pancakes was Short Stack Eatery in Madison. After eating my sweet potato oatmeal pancakes I couldn’t wait to make them for the kids (and who am I kidding for myself). Just as anticipated all the kids loved them. My four year old ate 3, the two year old 2 and the baby 1 and they have now been added into our breakfast for dinner rotation. We served them with fresh cut up fruit on the side and milk.

Since sweet potatoes are a fall food staple it’s the perfect time to try these out. You will need 1-2 sweet potatoes from your potato sack + some staple fall spices (nutmeg and cinnamon). I recommend cooking the sweet potatoes ahead of time so they are cooled and easier to peel and mash when you are ready to make the batter. Also, they freeze well so consider doubling it and freezing them to microwave later. I do this for as one of my quick healthy options for our 8 month old. My last editors note. The restaurant served them with mascarpone cream, which I listed the ingredients and directions for below but haven’t done so myself as I wasn’t eating dairy. Although, now that I can have dairy again I can’t wait to try it.

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Sweet Potato Oatmeal Pancakes

Serves: 4-6

Recipe adapted from whatimadetoday blog

Ingredients for pancakes:

  • 3/4 cup sweet potatoes, peeled and mashed (1-2 sweet potatoes)
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup oatmeal
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2-4 Tbsp sugar (some people don’t use any sugar but some like a little. I recommend 2 Tbsp)
  • 1 cup milk (skim, 1%, 2% or whole work)
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, plain
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted + butter for spreading on pancakes after
  • 2 eggs (1 whole egg, 1 egg white only)
  • Syrup for serving

Optional: Serve with mascarpone cream (the restaurant did this as well as the blogger who posted the recipe) and fresh fruit (raspberries, strawberries, peaches or blueberries).

Ingredients for mascarpone cream topping:

  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup mascarpone cheese

Directions for pancakes:

  1. Cook Sweet Potatoes. I usually do mine in the microwave. Prick the potatoes a few times with a fork, place on a plate and microwave on high 8-10 minutes or until tender when fork is inserted. Take out and let cool (if making the pancakes later then put in a covered container in the fridge.
  2. When ready to make the pancakes peel the cooled off sweet potatoes and mash.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients from flour through sugar.
  4. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the milk, yogurt, melted butter, egg and egg white.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in mashed sweet potatoes and mix until there are no clumps.
  6. Heat a griddle or fry pan over medium heat and spray with PAM or add butter to pan. Pour ~1/4 cup of batter for each pancake and cook for 1.5-2 minutes, flip and repeat.

Directions for mascarpone cream:

  1. If making the mascarpone cream sauce, whisk the whipping cream in blender until it firm peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  2. Scrape down sides and add mascarpone cheese and mix on low until combined. Serve on top of pancakes

Individualized Egg Tarts

My mother in law made a delicious herbed tomato and roasted garlic tart from Smitten Kitchen when she was in town this fall so we had extra puff pastry sheets in our freezer. I spotted them on the perfect day when the kids were happily playing together by themselves in the tent where I could see them. This meant I had time to think about a way to use them that we would all enjoy for lunch. Our littlest, Luisa, loves eggs so the breakfast puff pastry concept was launched. The nice thing about these little egg tarts is you can make them anyway you want. We had breakfast sausage and spinach around to add but you could do any cooked or roasted vegetable with or without a meat (see the bottom of this post for my combination ideas). I also was able to take mine out earlier so my egg was over medium while Elena and Luisa’s yolks were cracked and fully cooked. Individualized shared meal ideas are some of my favorite go-to meals mostly when they are quick like this was. They got a big stamp of approval from Luisa who ate hers in record time.  I doctored mine up with Trader Joe’s Sambal Matah Indonesian salsa for added flavor and spice. Another salsa that would be good to top them with is Frotera’s Chipotle Salsa made with roasted tomatillo and garlic for a smoky fresh spice flavor (my new favorite obsession). These were so good and fun for the kids that I’ll be making different variations for Luisa’s first birthday dinner and serving them with a side of fresh fruit, salad and cake.

Individualized Egg Tarts

Must Have Ingredients

  • Frozen Puff Pastry Sheets (I used Peppridge Farms puff pastry sheets) –I cut one sheet into 4 egg tarts so the full box should make 8
  • 8 eggs

Optional Toppings

  • ~1 cup spinach, chopped
  • Cooked veggies (peppers, onions, musrhooms zucchini or broccoli all come to mind as variations to try)
  • Breakfast meat (Canadian bacon, ham, prosciutto, cooked breakfast sausage or bacon), chopped
  • Trader Joe’s Sambal Matah Indonesian salsa or Frotera’s Chipotle Salsa or other salsa or hot sauce to top
  • Cheese (feta, goat or manchego would be my choices)

Directions

  1. Thaw the pastry sheet at room temperature until its easy to handle (20-40 minutes)IMG_1971
  2. Unfold the pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface and cut them into four pieces.
  3. Bend the sides of the puff pastry pieces up to make a shell so the egg doesn’t spill out
  4. Scramble an egg and put it in the pastry shell or crack it into the shell if you want it sunny side up
  5. Top with any meat, vegetables or cheese you desire
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-20 minutes until the pastry sheet is lightly golden and the egg FullSizeRenderis cooked to your desired consistency
  7. Plate and top with salsa or serve plain

Egg Tart Combination Ideas: 

  • ham, broccoli and cheddar cheese
  • prosicutto, arugula and manchego cheese
  • bell pepper, spinach and goat cheeseFullSizeRender (1)
  • mushroom, parmesan and sausage
  • tomato, basil and bacon

Bulgur for breakfast

I love having a new twist on a favorite meal so I decided to try bulgur as the base for my hot cereal this week. The results were a very pleased momma. I loved the texture (closer to steel cut oats than oatmeal) and I love the addition of Greek yogurt and peanut butter. I chose to use vanilla Greek yogurt with walnuts + strawberries the first day and blueberries the second; point being any fruit would work here (I think tomorrow I’ll try a banana or peaches). I also like that it made enough for 3 days! Bulgur’s somewhat sweet taste was great for hot cereal and it only contains ~150 calories per cup. If you are feeling bored then give it a go you won’t be disappointed.  It will keep you stomach and taste buds satisfied.

Crunchy Peanut Butter Bulgur with Berries

Cooking Light – January/February 2014

 

 

Whole Grain Date & Cherry Bites

In my most recent Parents magazine there was a recipe for fig foldovers which inspired me to make a snack size bite that Elena could eat along with Ryan and I. I love the idea of having homemade snacks for our family and knew this I could change the recipe a bit to have less sugar and more whole grains. They did take a lot of dishes to make but were so worth it. We all can’t stop eating them and I already brought some in to work as well. A great way to get a whole grain snack packed with fruit and some sweetness to satisfy anyone mid day.

They made 48 bites and we decided to freeze some but continue to go through them super fast. I think next time I will all whole grain flour; the only reason I didn’t this time was because I ran out. They would work with any dried fruit but I loved the combination of the cherries and dates. If you are going to try these make sure to look for dried fruit without added sugar.

Now get to the store to get ingredients and get baking!  My husband and I love them and they are soft enough for our daughter to bite on her own (a huge bonus not to have to cut it up!).

Whole Grain Date & Cherry Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried dates, pitted and chopped (no sugar added)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped (no sugar added)
  • 1 1/2 tsp orange zest (I didn’t measure and just used the zest from half an orange)
  • Juice from one orange (freshly squeezed- if a few chunks of orange go in that’s okay it will cook down and add fiber)
  • ~1/2 cup of water
  • 1 cup salted butter, softened – I may cut a few tbsp out next time to see if the dough still forms with less)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  •  1 1/2 cup all purpose flour – you could use all whole grain too if you have it
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Add the dried fruit and next 4 ingredients (through water) into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer until almost all the liquid is absorbed (mine took ~11 minutes). Remove from the heat to cool
  3. Beat butter quickly in a mixer then add the sugar until combined. Once combined add the eggs and vanilla and blend together.
  4. In a bowl,stir together the dry ingredients (whole wheat flour through salt).
  5. Beat dry ingredients into butter to form a dough and knead together until combined
  6. Divide the dough into 4 separate sections. Using parchment paper set one piece of dough between parchment paper (if you have it..if not lay flour down on a level surface) and roll into a rectangle
  7. Spread 1/4 of the dried fruit along one side of the dough, fold dough over and press edges down with a fork. Cut into 12 pieces.
  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 with the other three parts of dough and filling.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes, or until browned to your liking. Remove and cool before serving.

Muffin Overload

Another weekend waiting for our baby with lots of time to bake! As I near my due date (this Friday, May 11th) I was thinking I should bake something for the staff that will take care of my bundle of joy and myself. Since I work at the hospital I know that nurses and staff get a lot of sweet treats. While we all love them we also hate that they sit their tempting us to eat more all day so I pondered what I should make for longer than necessary. It would be way to typical for a dietitian to bring something like fresh fruit to say thanks. Plus that didn’t seem exciting enough so I tried something that I felt was a good half way point between a baked dessert and overly healthy option, healthy verison of muffins. It was my lucky day because I went to Cooking Light’s website and they had an article titled “Healthy Muffin Recipes” with 24 of their top choices.

The first recipe that caught my eye was one I’ve featured on here before: blueberry and oatmeal muffins. Since I wanted to try something new I kept looking. Uw yum, then I saw sour cream and coffeecake muffins and got way to excited to realize I don’t have any sour cream on hand and I didn’t want to run out to the store again. I was still in luck as there were many more tasty looking options. I decided to try the Chocolate Chocolate Chip muffins for the sweet lovers. Myverdict: Very good and not dry for being a light recipe although I have to say that personally I’ve never been a chocolate muffin fan (I know shocking as I love everything else chocolate). I like hearty muffins and would prefer cake or a cupcake if I’m wanting a dose of chocolate but for those who like chocolate muffins this recipe was easy and turned out great.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

To give a good variety I decided to do a heartier muffin as well and chose the Banana Nut Muffins with Oatmeal Streusel. My verdict: very good flavor from the walnuts and bananas and the streusel gives a great touch to the top. I would definitely make these again.

Banana Nut Muffins with Oatmeal Streusel

Carrot Cake Muffins

I’m so blessed to have a sister in law that I truly adore. Not only is she a great friend she is also a certified pastry chef (talk about amazing). I find myself yearning for her ability to bake without measuring and create such delicious items from scratch. Her creativity and intelligence are too good not to share.. I hope you enjoy her dishes and writing as much as I do.

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March is rough on the imagination. As the sun begins to peek out from 6 months of Seattle cloud oppression, I can’t help dreaming. Peaches! Raspberries! Rhubarb! Juicy, ripe morsels just waiting to be baked into slumps, tarts, and cobblers. Sadly, when I go to open my CSA box, all I see are more carrots, apples and potatoes. I think the box contents can sense my impatience.
This week I decided to treat my produce to a farewell celebration. Instead of being roasted in olive oil yet again, these carrots cried out for a last hurrah. Inspired by my husband’s love of carrot cake, I tried my hand at a healthier, breakfast version. Most carrot cakes get their moist texture from a lot of oil, and their sweetness from sugar. These muffins use applesauce in place of oil, and I cut down on the sugar  with the addition of pineapple. (The carrots didn’t mind taking a quick vacation to the tropics).

You can use any blend of flour with this recipe. Personally, I like a half/half mix of King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat and All Purpose. For a denser, “healthier tasting” muffin, use more whole grain flour. For a lighter, fluffier muffin, All Purpose is the way to go. If you’re feeling a little bit naughty, these would be delicious with a smear of cream cheese frosting. Or just plain cream cheese. As is, they are a perfect way to start the day. The last bite of winter while we await the splendors of spring.
*One of my guinea pigs wanted me to mention that they were so good, he didn’t realize when he took a big bite of wrapper. Enjoy!

Carrot Cake Muffins

yield: 18 small muffins, 12 large muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup diced pineapple (canned pineapple is fine, just drain the juice)
  • 1 lb. of carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 1/3 cups unsweetened applesauce (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, or a mix of the two
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 1 TB. extra flour
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tins with paper liners, spray lightly with cooking spray or butter.

1). Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
2). Using a Kitchen Aid or a hand held mixer, beat eggs, sugar and applesauce until pale yellow and creamy.
3). Mix vanilla into egg mixture.
4). Add flour mixture to eggs, being careful not to over mix. I mix this by hand.
5). Sprinkle extra tablespoon of flour over pineapple and carrots, coat evenly.
6). Add carrots and pineapple to batter, stir to incorporate.
7). Fill lined muffins tins with batter. I fill the tins completely; for smaller muffins, fill 3/4 of the way.
8). Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.

My Breakfast Obsession: Cherry & Walnut Oatmeal

Easy to prepare and very healthy; a whole grain breakfast that’s low in sodium, provides one serving of fruit and heart healthy walnuts and soy milk. What’s not to love? Try it out and let me know what you think. You’ll never go back to instant oatmeal again!

Sina’s Cherry & Walnut Oatmeal Recipe

Ingredients:

-1/2 cup Old Fashioned Oats (yes regular oats not instant — you can use gluten free oats to make it GF)
-3/4 cup Vanilla Soy Milk (you could use regular milk as well)
-1-2 Tbsp Chopped Walnuts
-1/4 cup Dried Cherries
-1 Tbsp Brown Sugar or 1/2 Tbsp Honey
-Sprinkle of Cinnamon (optional)

Directions:

1. Mix first four ingredients in a bowl and microwave for 2 minutes
2. Remove from microwave and mix in sweetener (brown sugar or honey) and cinnamon if desired
3. Enjoy!!!

Check out the Sodium Difference
1 packet Quaker Instant Oatmeal, Maple & Brown Sugar = 260mg sodium
1/2 cup dry Quaker Old Fashioned Oats = 0 mg sodium

Stuffed French Toast with Berries

Brunch for one please!

My friend Brent and I had planned to make a decadent brunch this morning but sadly he came down with an awful cold. I considered just pouring myself a bowl of cereal but being a breakfast and brunch lover I still made the stuffed french toast that we had picked out earlier in the week as I was craving a big breakfast.

I was excited when I went to Target and saw they had Wheat French Bread. Yes, wheat, not whole wheat but the fiber content was better than the white so I felt better about eating a large portion. I also picked up a container of raspberry to top the french toast vs making the strawberry sauce that the recipe suggested. Less work and just as good. While cooking for one can sometimes be no fun I found my morning kitchen session perfect. No one home, windows open enjoying the perfect fall weather, past Cities 97 samplers shuffling on my Ipod and a new pumpkin candle burning in the dining room…pure bliss.

Sina’s Rating 5 out of 5

I would definitely make this again for a few reasons. I liked using a french bread as the base (although I picked out a non crusty one) and I also found the milk, vanilla extract and egg mixture easily absorbable for the bread compared to a heavier egg mixture. Since I love cinnamon I added some to the milk mixture before I dipped the bread which gave it a great flavor and the fresh berries on top were perfect. Very easy, delicious and a healthier french toast breakfast.

Stuffed French Toast Recipe – with my adjustments

Ingredients

12 (1-ounce) diagonally cut slices French bread
1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 (8-ounce) tub reduced-fat cream cheese
2 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg whites
2 large eggs
1 tsp cinnamon

Preparation

Cut a horizontal slit through bottom crust of each slice of bread to form a pocket (I cut the bread in thin slices). Combine powdered sugar and cream cheese; stir well. Spread mixture evenly into pockets of bread (I put cream cheese between two of the thin slices).

      Combine milk, sugar, vanilla extract, egg whites, and eggs in a bowl; beat well with a wire whisk. Pour milk mixture evenly over bread slices. Cover and chill 1 hour or until liquid is absorbed (As I was hungry, I fully immersed the bread in the milk mixture for a few seconds then cooked immediately after that vs waiting an hour)

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray, and place over medium heat until hot. Arrange half of bread slices in skillet, and cook 3 minutes. Turn bread over, and cook 3 minutes or until browned; remove from skillet. Repeat procedure with the remaining bread slices.
I served mine with fresh raspberries and light maple syrup

The Ingredients

Preparation: French bread with the cream cheese filling ready to be dipped in the egg mixture

Crop Share Box # 4 and 6

If you’re wondering why I haven’t posted about my crop shares recently it’s because we’ve been on the road. We left the day crop share box #5 arrived so that one was enjoyed by our neighbors. Here’s the update and recipes from crop shares #4 (from June 23rd) and #6 (from July 21st). This months past box has been my favorite so far. We’ve almost used everything in it already! The vegetables were very versatile and easy to add to meals.

Crop Share Box #4 

What this Box Contains

Mini romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, spinach, salad mix, sorrels, kohlrabi, sugar snap peas, broccoli raab, strawberries, iceberg lettuce, scallions, baby white turnips, garlic scapes (curly green in the front) and salad mix in the back

Pictured (from left): sorrels, kohlrabi, broccoli raab, strawberries, iceberg lettuce, scallions, baby white turnips, garlic scapes (curly green in the front) and salad mix in the back

Featured Item: Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are the long spirals that grow from garlic plants. The top portion of garlic bulbs. They have the same great flavor as garlic and can be used like a garlic scallion. Try adding chopped or diced garlic scapes to spreads, sauteed veggies or on top of pizza and scrambled eggs.

Recipes & Things I made from this Box

Well sadly this box didn’t have a lot of new or interesting recipes. The garlic scapes have been added to dishes here and there including egg salad, scrambled eggs, veggie burgers, salmon burgers and pizza. The strawberries were eaten raw immediately after receiving the box since they were so juicy and flavorful. Per usual the lettuce and salad mix were used for everyday side salads with dinner and for work. Lastly, and sadly, the kohlrabi and sorrels went bad while we were gone before we used them. 🙁

Tofu Stir Fry with Broccoli

I started out by following a recipe from my Super Foods cookbook for this dinner but was short on a few main ingredients so I ended up whipping this up from the things I had on hand.
Ratings: Sina: 2, Ryan: 2 – nothing special but fine to eat for one evening

Crop Share #6 (my favorite so box so far)

What’s This Box Contained (same as what’s pictured)

Pictured (from left to right): arugula, summer squash, zucchini, rainbow chard, sweet Spanish onions, garlic bulb, cucumber, cauliflower, green & yellow beans, new red potatoes and green top carrots

Featured Item: Arugula

Arugula is a spicy salad green that has a peppery mustard flavor. It’s great added into salad or on top of pizza, burgers, sandwiches (especially paninis), sauteed with vegetables or added to soup.

Recipes & Things I made from this Box (so far):

Salmon Burgers (adapted from Cooking Light) with Grilled Rosemary New Red Potatoes & Grilled Zucchini and Summer Squash

You can get the gist of these burgers from our high ratings (the highest yet). They were cooked perfectly with great flavor from the honey mustard sauce, onion arugula topping and in the burger patties themselves. I would suggest following the recipes guidelines to make sure you don’t over cook them. Once your grill is heated to medium (ours was at 375) cook them for 3 minutes on each side.
Ratings: Ryan: 4.5 ,Sina: 4.5 ,My Mom: 5

Honey Dijon mustard & onion and arugula mix for topping the burgers

 

Salmon burger with grilled new red potatoes and grilled summer squash, zucchini & cauliflower

Salmon Burger Recipe: Adapted from Cooking Lights Salmon Burger Recipe 2011

Ingredients

  • 1 pound skinless salmon fillets (skin removed) and diced into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Grated lemon rind
  • 2 Tbsp Parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1 Tbsp diced garlic scape (you could use one garlic clove as well)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 cup arugula, chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced scallions (from crop share box #4)
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 hamburger buns

Directions

  1. Preheat grill to medium
  2. Put 1/2 salmon, 1 tbsp mustard and lemon rind into food processor, blend until smooth. Remove and put in a large bowl. Next, put the other 1/2 of the salmon in the food processor and pulse 6 times or until coarsely chopped. Add salmon to bowl and fold in parsley and next 5 ingredients. Divide mixture into 4 and gently shape into 1/2 inch thick patties
  3. Combine remaining 1 Tbsp mustard and honey in a small bowl. Set aside
  4. Combine arugula and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  5. Coat a grill pan with cooking spray and place on the grill for 3 minutes. Turn patties and cook for an additional 3 minutes or until cooked to your preference.
  6. Place 1 patty on a bun and brush the honey/mustard mix on the top of the bun and top patty with arugula mix and serve.

Zucchini Bread:

Source: Cooking Light 2005

Follow the link above. My adaptations: 1/2 the oil (because I ran out), lime zest instead of lemon and 3 times the cinnamon. To top it off I sprinkled a cinnamon crunch on the top. For a very light bread it still had a lot of flavor from the zest and cinnamon.
Ratings: Sina: 3.5, Ryan: 3.5-4 (I think if you look at is as a light bread then a 4.5 but as a zucchini bread compared to high fat breads then a 3.5)

That’s all for now. I still have the Swiss chard, green beans, carrots, cucumber and one onion to use this weekend!

Crop Share Box #2

I realize I have box #3 from our crop share and I haven’t posted about box #2 yet. I just finished up the supplies from box #2 so I can share all my recipes. Most of the vegetables I added to our normal dishes and a lot of it was used for salads. I found the ingredients in this box more difficult to use than the veggies we received in our first box. The Hon Tsai Tai I ended up throwing away since it wilted before I figured out what to make with it.

What this Box Contained

Spring salad mix, Garden herb pack for planting (basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, savory, parsley), spinach, red radishes, asparagus, rhubarb, Egyptian walking onions and green garlic.
Pictured Items from Left to Right: 
BACK: Spring mix, Garden Herb pack, Spinach
FRONT: Red Radishes, Asparagus, Hon Tsai Tai , Green Garlic, Egyptian Walking Onions, Rhubarb
This picture was taken before I split the items with our neighbor so you can see what the size of a full share would look like.

New Recipes I made from this Box

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Recipes Source: Whole Living Magazine
Ratings: Sina: 4.5, Ryan: 3.5 (he’s a hard critic)
Comments: This recipe was super easy to make. It took me about 5 minutes to prep it and the rest of cook time was for baking. It was delicious: very fresh and not too sweet.

Tex-Mex Salad

-Spring salad Mix topped with grilled seasoned chicken breasts, avocado, diced red peppers & tomatoes, canned no added salt black beans (drained and rinsed), canned no added salt corn (drained and rinsed) and topped with crumbled tortilla chips:
-Dressing: A mix of light sour cream, lime juice, avocado and taco seasoning (I didn’t measure the ingredients)
Ratings: Sina: 3.5 (Ryan wasn’t home for this meal. I had it with my friend Heather)
        

Fresh Egg Scrambles

Before I even write about this let me tell you about my egg scramble morning. My dear friend Brent came over for one of our routine brunch dates. We were really excited to do egg scrambles and diced red potatoes with herbs. We spent about an hour chopping everything before we turned on the oven to hear a constant DING, DING, DING noise. Even after hitting the off button multiple times it still kept coming back. So, we find the oven manual which tells us to turn the oven off. Not knowing how to turn a gas oven off we have to call my husband who’s at a bachelor party and get step-by-step instructions from his very handy friend on turning the gas line off and unplugging the appliance.  We thought about going out for brunch at this point but we were too determined to cook since all our food was chopped and ready to go. So, what comes to my mind but to use the grill.  Of course that didn’t go as planned either since  it wouldn’t heat over 275 (I found out later the gas connection was kinked). Check out the picture below. All I can say is thank you for the Cheez-it’s we bought on an impulse at the store since we had about 3 hours of waiting, cooking, stirring and more waiting before we had our slow cooked egg scrambles, which by the way were amazing. The slow cooking definitely paid off because these were the most fluffy tasting eggs I’ve ever had (although I can’t say I plan to make more eggs on the grill anytime soon).
So what were in the scrambles?
Egg scramble #1: Eggs whipped with skim milk and mixed with chopped green garlic & Egyptian walking onions then topped with sharp provolone cheese
Egg scramble #2: Eggs whipped with skim milk and chopped chives mixed in with leftover white cheese added at the end (not sure the type).
Breakfast Potatoes: Diced red potatoes, chives, herbs, salt, pepper and olive oil.
Rating: Sina: 5 (Ryan once again was gone for this meal)

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. 

Coffee and Banana Smoothie

Ever since I talked my husband into buying a Magic Bullet in December I’ve been on a smoothie kick, trying recipes I find in magazines and perfecting my own concoctions. My last Health Magazine featured a Coffee and Banana smoothie that I’ve been wanting to adapt and try. I’ve always loved the creamy combination of peanut butter with bananas and coffee sounded like a nice new way to enjoy one of my favorite fruits. My initial thought was this could either turn out great or disgusting. I was lucky to find it was the latter. Initially I made this one for myself only since my husband doesn’t like coffee but it was so delicious I made a second one for him so I didn’t have to share mine.  It was filling, rich, creamy and caffeinated!  This would be the perfect breakfast before a morning workout or long day of work and I can just picture how great it would be during the afternoon blues when hunger and drowsiness kick in.

I did learn a few things from making it twice back to back.
Number one: Use a frozen banana (I always toss bananas in the freezer if they start to brown or “over ripen” to use in baking or smoothies). I only had one banana in my freezer so the second smoothie had a fresh one. Truly, the one with the frozen banana was noticeably better to both of us.
Two: Chill the coffee before you add it. We have an espresso machine so I made 3 ounces of coffee with espresso beans and then added ice to get to 1/2 cup and chill it quickly.
Three: Choose your sweetener. The original recipe calls for 2 tsp sugar but sugar isn’t my favorite sweetener. You could choose Splenda or Truvia to decrease the calories or a natural sweetener like honey.

COFFEE BANANA SMOOTHIE

Ingredients

  • 1 sliced, peeled FROZEN banana
  • 1 cup soy milk or other low fat milk (I used a light vanilla soy milk)
  • 1/2 cup cold black coffee
  • 1/2 cup of ice
  • 1/4 cup plain low fat yogurt (regular or Greek)
  • 1 packet of Splenda or 1 tsp honey or 2 tsp sugar (Note: if you use a flavored soy milk you may not need to add sweetener)

Directions

Add all the ingredients to a blender, blend until smooth and Enjoy!

Power Granola

I’ve spent the past six days in Rosemary Beach, Florida with my husband and seven other great friends. During the time we were on vacation our lovely puppy got a vacation of her own running through the snow up north, eating pup cups and lots of cuddling by her grandparents. She’s still sleeping this evening from all the exercise (or depression of her parents coming back).
As a small token of thanks I decided to bake something for my amazing in-laws to enjoy. I’ve done most of my usuals for them: muffins, scones and cookies so to change it up I decided to try making homemade granola. Knowing that a lot of granolas are loaded with fat and calories I went to my favorite resource to aim me in the right direction: Cooking Light. The best part about this recipe was I had all the ingredients in my cabinet (with the exception of almonds which I replaced with sunflower seeds). Of course I didn’t follow the recipe verbatim. I doubled the cinnamon and sprinkled in All Spice for extra flavor. This granola was filled with spice and crunch and would be perfect on yogurt or mixed into your morning cereal.

Power Granola

Source: Cooking Light May 2005

      

Cinnamon Chip Scones

Sharing recipes is key to expanding your repertoire of cooking abilities. Five years ago I received a recipe that has become a staple in my kitchen. The recipe came from my best friend who got it from her mom who received it from her coworker and who knows where before that. The original recipe is for Cinnamon Chip Scones but once you know the basic recipe you can modify it to make different flavors. I’ve tried apple walnut, pear, dried cherries with white chocolate chips and butterscotch and another new variety this past weekend. Cinnamon Chip are still my favorite but it’s always fun to experiment. Its a recipe you know will satisfy and a popular recipe to share. I know I can say I’ve shared it with at least 10 people if not more!

Cinnamon Chip Scones

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 6 Tbsp cold butter (no substitutes)
  • 1 cup (8ounces) vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp milk, divided
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
  3. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Combine yogurt and 1/4 cup milk in separate bowl, stir into crumb mixture just until moistened.
  5. Knead in cinnamon chips (or other additives)
  6. On a greased baking sheet, pat the dough into a 9-10 inch circle. Cut into 8 wedges. Brush the top of each scone with the remaining two Tbsp of milk.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown
This past weekend I attempted yet another flavor twist for a Pampered Chef party. Since the people attending were all interested in cooking I knew they would be adventurous so I went with one batch of traditional Cinnamon Chip Scones and a batch of Coconut Banana Chocolate Chip scones.

Coconut Banana Chocolate Chip Scones

  • Add 1 banana sliced, 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of coconut in place of the cinnamon chips.

 

Breakfast Bar Breakdown

You can find cereal bars on the counters of grocery stores, gas stations and even some coffee shops reminding us that breakfast is an important meal. The question is: Are they healthy? In short, they can be. Having breakfast is the key to having a good metabolism and energy level throughout the day. If you choose wisely a breakfast bar can be a good grab-and-go breakfast option.

Here are some tips on picking out a healthy bar

  • Make sure that the cereal or granola bar you choose does not contain any trans fat.
  • Choose a bar with whole grains as the first ingredients.
  • Be aware of the amount of sugar in the cereal bar you choose. Try to avoid bars with a lot of added sugar as they can turn out to be more of a dessert than a breakfast (Note: Bars with fruit in them will have more sugar since fruit contains natural sugar. Look at the ingredient list to figure out the source of sugar.)
  • Lastly, if you plan to have this be the only thing you eat for breakfast make sure to get one with some protein and probably 200 calories or more so it will keep you full for a longer time.

If you like to cook, try making your own variety.  I usually don’t post recipes I’ve never made but this one looked like a good option and since I’ve never made homemade breakfast bars I thought I would link it in case others wanted to try it too (I’ll definitely let you know how they taste after I make them and please post any good recipes you have).

Homemade Breakfast Bars

A Few Commercial Breakfast Bars & Granola Bars broken down

LaraBar –Peanut Butter Cookie (other flavors available)

  • 220 calories, 18g sugar (32% calories from sugar) , 4g Fiber, 7g Protein
  • All natural, no added sugar and only three ingredients (Dates, Peanuts and salt)
  • Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Vegan, Kosher
  • 1 bar = ½ serving of fruit
  • My Vote: Good Natural Bar choice that has adequate calories and protein to keep you feeling full longer. Higher in fat and sugar but both from natural sources (the peanuts and dates). This is my absolute favorite as it is made from whole ingredients and keeps you satisfied. 

Kashi TLC (Tasty Little Cereal) Cereal Bars- Ripe Strawberries  (other flavors available)

  • 110 calories, 9g Sugar (32.7% calories from sugar), 3g Fiber, 2g Protein
  • Contains 7 whole grains
  • Made with real fruit
  • My Vote: Good option to have before work or in the car to get you started but likely isn’t enough calories to sustain you until lunch. Try pairing it with a glass of milk, piece of fruit, yogurt or nuts if you plan to have it  keep you full until lunch.

Quaker Oatmeal To Go Bars- Brown Sugar and Cinnamon  (other flavors available)

  • 220 calories, 19g Sugar (34.5% calories from sugar) 5g Fiber, 4g Protein
  • 20% of your daily Vitamin A, B6, Calcium and Iron
  • First ingredient is whole grain rolled oats (second ingredient  is high fructose corn syrup)
  • Also, available are Oatmeal To Go High Fiber Bars with 210 calories, 13g Sugar, 4g Protein, 10g Fiber
  • My Vote: More substantial in calories so it will likely last you longer although the second and third ingredients are added sugars. They are a dense bar and feel more like a meal and they can be heated and taste good warm. If you are going to choose this one I’d recommend going with the High Fiber version since it contains less sugar and more fiber.

Nutri-Grain SuperFruit Fusion Flavored Cereal Bars-Cherry Pomegranate (other flavors available)

  • 130 calories, 13g sugar (40% calories from sugar), 3g Fiber, 2g Protein
  • First ingredient is whole grain oats then whole wheat flour
  • Contains Antioxidant rich fruits
  • My Vote: Good option before work or in the car to get your day started. Also, a great option for a mid morning or afternoon snack. Like the Kashi TCL Bar they likely will not supply enough calories or protein to keep you energized until your next meal. Try having some mixed nuts, a piece of fruit, glass of milk or a yogurt along with it.

Fiber One Bar- Oats &Chocolate (other flavors available)

  • 140 calories, 10g sugar (28.5% calories from sugar), 9g Fiber, 2g Protein
  • Great source of Fiber and made with whole grains
  • Contains the least sugar compared to the other bars shown today but most has been added and is not from a natural source such as added fruit.
  • ~140 calories, 2g Protein, 9g Fiber, 10g Sugar
  • My Vote: A great option for people with a sweet tooth as it tastes like a candy bar or cookie. This bar also packs in a lot of fiber without a lot of calories and will keep you full longer than some other bars on the market. I will warn people that the fiber used makes some people feel gassy. Try half a bar first before consuming an entire bar in one sitting to see how you feel.

A Weekend of Food

Cold winter weekends always make me want to cook. This weekend my cooking escapades started with a fabulous brunch with my dear friend Brent. We started by making homemade hash browns; a first for both of us. We then made a poached egg dish with prosciutto, manchego cheese and crushed red peppers layered on a piece of toast: replicated from an entree at my favorite breakfast restaurant in Madison, Marigold Kitchen(If you are ever visiting you have to stop!).

Poached Eggs with Prosciutto, Manchego and Crushed Red Pepper

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs per person
  • 2 thinly sliced pieces of sourdough bread, toasted per person
  • 2 slices Prosciutto per person
  • ~1/4 cup or less of Manchego cheese, shredded per person
  • Crushed Red Peppers to top

Directions

  • Poach Eggs
  • While eggs are poaching, toast bread
  • Sautee prosciutto for 1-2 minutes until warm
  • Layer your toast with prosciutto, then eggs, shredded cheese and top with crushed red peppers
  • Serve
My next kitchen endeavor was to prepare Sunday night dinner. After a very relaxing and productive weekend I thought my husband and I could use a good home cooked meal. Knowing the pork chop recipe I was going to make (Cuban Pork Chops with Mojo Source: Guy’s Big Bite- Food Network) I grabbed our Brussels sprouts and squash out of the refrigerator and put my thinking cap on. What should I do with my vegetables tonight? My inspiration for the Brussels sprouts came from the leftover prosciutto and manchego cheese from brunch. For those of you who think Brussels sprouts are bland think again.

Brussels Sprouts with Prosciutto

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 pound Brussels Sprouts (stems trimmed off and cut in half)
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 3 thin slices of Prosciutto, diced (Pancetta or bacon would also work)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/8 cup white wine
  • 1-2 Tbsp shredded Manchego or Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil
  2. Add Brussels sprout and saute for 3 minutes
  3. Add water and cook for 3 more minutes (I covered my pot to slightly steam the sprouts)
  4. Add prosciutto pieces and garlic and continue saute for 5 minutes
  5. Reduce heat and add lemon juice and white wine. Scrape the bottom of the pan to get the flavors off and let cook for a few more minutes or until liquids have dissolved and Brussels sprouts are tender
  6. If desired, add shredded cheese to the top
     
Next, I had the task of seasoning the squash. Roasting is my favorite way to prepare squash (really most vegetable for that matter). Cinnamon and curry are my go to flavors for this starch and since I was in a creative mood I figured why not try mixing the two. Here’s what I came up with.

Curried Butternut Squash

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of butternut squash, cubed (I used one full container of the peeled and cubed butternut squash sold at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg
  • 2 tsp Curry Powder
  • Dash of salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Place squash and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and toss
  3. Put the squash in a 9 x 13 pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until squash is tender when a fork is inserted
After watching a lot of football this weekend my mind was drawn to the colors on my plate and the upcoming green vs orange showdown (for those of you non-football followers my Green Bay Packers play the Chicago Bears this weekend for a spot in the Superbowl). I hope the game is as good as this meal was. I was in complete bliss the rest of the evening and reminded that a good meal in with family is priceless.

Cuban Pork Chops with Mojo

Source: Guys Big Bite-Food Network

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.