February 23, 2015
I am sure you heard that some of the greatest discoveries are made by accident and it’s no exception when it comes to food.
You haven't? I have to assume you have heard of yogurt, Popsicles, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce, corn flakes, chocolate chip cookies, ice cream cones and raisins? And that's just to name a few.
I also firmly believe quite a few were also created due to laziness (raises hand).
I couldn't get any lazier than with this breakfast dish I made last week. It turned out so good that I have made one every morning (including Sunday) for a week.
While I have the luxury of working at home and can cook my breakfast every day, this breakfast quesadilla is so versatile, it can be made ahead, frozen and nuked. Make enough for a week.
I have done the research on the best tasting healthiest ingredients so you don't have too.
You will need to buy Louis Rich Turkey Bacon and if you can't find that brand, Perdue is the next best.
Laughing Cow Original Creamy Swiss Cheese
La Tortilla Factory Smart & Delicious Low Carb High Fiber 6" Tortilla
Pure Cooking Spray with Natural Butter Flavor by Mazola
You will need:
A 8" non-stick skillet
A lid that fits the skillet
There is no recipe just a technique, so...
Let's get cooking.
Heat the skillet on high heat while you slice two pieces of turkey bacon into thin strips. Spray the pan with the Mazola and saute the bacon until it starts to brown.
When the bacon is crisp, add 1/3 cup egg beaters. Once it starts to set around the edges....
....add a slice of Swiss (or 1oz other) or open 1 wedge and spread on one side of a tortilla. Cover the egg mixture with the tortilla, cheese side down.
Spray the top of the tortilla with the cooking spray, and when you press on the top and no uncooked egg squishes out, loosen the bottom and flip the quesadilla over.
Cover again for 1-2 minutes to heat the tortilla to achieve some color.
When the eggs puff, fold the quesadilla in half. It will settle, just like an omelet, in the time it takes to plate it.
At this point it can be served with some grapes or citrus segments. I am an egg & ketchup gal but in a pinch I have been known to sneak in salsa. Add the condiment of choice right before you flip the eggs over.
To freeze, it must be completely cooled. Wrap in wax paper and place in the freezer.
To heat, nuke for 90 seconds. If still cold in the center, nuke for 30 seconds more. Additional packets will heat for 2 minutes, depending on the strength of your microwave. Wrap in a napkin and eat on the go.
I think these are just as good (if not better) than any flat bread breakfast sandwich you can buy.
Sausage instead of bacon, I like Jimmy Dean's turkey patties.
You can sub any wedge cheese you like. I do believe Weight Watchers has them as well. Not into those wedge cheeses (they can be expensive), a slice of Swiss cheese will do fine.
Jarlsberg has the most punch for the dollar.Not into either....a Canadian bacon or low sodium ham is also a great choice, just cut them into bite-sized pieces.
I had some creamed spinach left from dinner and my version will include that for a vegetarian option.
I made one for hubby while he was working from home this week and he was surprised it was that good. When I told him how low the calorie count was, he told me, pack up a few for me to take to work.
While it might take a few tries to get it just right, it doesn't have to be perfect. It will taste great any way it comes out of the pan.
February 17, 2015
While the meal planner says pork chops with roasted apples and leeks, my head is shaking "NO" as I take out the eggs, bacon and cheese for a quiche. How does that happen? I mean, pork and apples sounds really comforting as the thermometer needle hits below that God awful 20 mark and roasting the whole thing in one pan in one shot in under 45-minutes does make it soooo doable.
A quiche isn't anything to sneeze about either. Cheesy, creamy, salty, come on, it's got it all. Slightly more work but there is always a crust in my freezer.
So, as yet, once again, I change the line-up from what was planned to what I am craving, I thought that maybe I should find out why we crave certain foods at certain times. So to WebMD I clicked.
One popular myth is that people crave certain foods to fill a nutritional deficiency.
Does this sound familiar "Gee, I'm craving potato chips. I must need the salt"? Really, how many of us -- aside from runners in hot weather -- are deficient in salt?
The other avenue of thought heads down the ole Pavlov's Dog theory of classic conditioning.
If you have a cookie every day after school, just walking into the house cues you to have a cookie and if you don't get that cookie right away, your mind obsesses about it and turns it into a craving.
Nice but no dice. So, let's try another.
Gender, men for example, were more likely to crave pizza, pasta, and soup over cakes and cookies. Why? Reminds them of mommy giving them attention "I made your favorite food for dinner".
Women, on the other hand, associate those foods with preparation and cleanup, so they tend to want hassle-free snacks, such as candy, cookies, ice cream, and chocolate.
Are you buying that?
How about moods? A bad mood can become a conditioned cue for eating but test show that happy moods might be even more likely culprits. Studies have shown that 86% of people craved comfort foods when they were happy, and 74% had cravings when they wanted to celebrate or reward themselves. Sad or bored barely broke the 50% mark.
While they all sound doable, none of them applies here. I think that I will simply chalk this one up to my craving for dairy or maybe, it's simply because I just didn't feel like chewing. Oh dear, now I will wonder about the psychology of food cravings being established in the womb.
Time to put the research away and start the quiche. To make it slightly heart healthy, I lighten it up a bit, I used a neuchatel cream cheese. It is a French cheese, so they won't get upset, too much.
I also used 2 whole eggs and 1/2 cup Egg Beaters. If I used turkey bacon The Nudge would have my head, so I did both, he will never know that I simmered the turkey bacon in the milk to infuse it with flavor and added two slices of real bacon for the texture.
There is one thing that I do have to insist on in a quiche but less of a good ingredient is all you need. For the nutty flavor that is Gruyere, I halved that by adding miso to the mixture. You could also use nutritional yeast (basic Vegan sub) but I like to use that as I would a finishing Parmesan.
One more thing. I added caramelized onions for the sweet to balance out the tart cream cheese.
While the calories are all around the 400 level, did you know that one slice of a traditional Quiche Lorraine can have up to 75% fat per slice? Not if I can help it.
My slice weighs in at 232 calories and 26% fat. Not bad, huh? Oh, and for an added bonus, some chia seeds for a burst of Omega 3's!
The only thing left to do is eat!!!
makes one 8" deep dish quiche
* 3 slices turkey bacon
* 2 slices regular bacon
* 1/2 sweet onion, sliced thin
* 3 whole large eggs + 2 yolks
* 6 ounces unsweetened almond milk
* 4 ounces neuchatel cream cheese or low fat
* salt & pepper
* 2 teaspoons sriracha
* 8 ounces whole milk
* 1 teaspoon white miso
* 1 tablespoon chia seeds
* 1 crust, packaged or homemade
* 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
1. Slice both bacon's into 1/4" slices, crosswise. In a skillet with a teaspoon of olive oil, saute the bacon until the fat renders. Add the onions, lower the heat, cover the skillet and cook for 15 minutes.
2. Add the almond milk to the skillet and simmer until the liquid is half. Add the cream cheese and whisk until the mixture is smooth and there are no lumps. Add the cream cheese mixture to a bowl with a spout and add the whole milk until you have 2 cups.
3. Add the miso, sriracha and the eggs. Whisk until incorporated and season with salt & pepper.
4. Press the crust evenly into an 8" spring form pan or a 2" high cake pan.
5. Preheat the oven to 350° and dock the bottom with a fork. Line the pan with parchment paper or foil and then with pie weights (I use beans). Bake for 20 minutes. Remove and lift off the weights and paper and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, sprinkle the crust with a handful of cheese and reset the oven to 325°.
6. Pour the milk/egg mixture into the crust and sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly over.
7. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove the quiche from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature.
I served this with a salad of baby Italian salad greens, sliced pears, walnuts, blue cheese, olives and crispy shallots. I found a very good Pomegranate Vinaigrette that I am addicted too.
February 12, 2015
Tonight was supposed to be an off night for me but no sooner had I unloaded the car when The Nudge called to inform me he cancelled his business dinner and will take them to lunch instead.
It's times like this I rely on a good pantry. While I do cook most dinners from scratch, I also plan on semi-homemade goods coming to my rescue on those nights when I forget to defrost or forget to buy something for dinner. In the last two weeks, the weather and a recipe challenge disrupted my usual meal plan. Today was my first chance I got to hit the market hard, but I wasn't planning on cooking for anyone. I bought a store-made 4-cheese pepperoni calzone. Oh well, another day.
I did buy cod that was on sale and actually looked very fresh.
I remembered a can of Progresso Cream Tomato Soup (using ricotta), so a fancy tomato bisque served under a prosciutto roasted cod it was and it will taste like the best takeout but be on the table in 20 minutes. While the fish roasts, a handful of haricot verts flavors the pasta cooking water and the dinner rolls bake while we eat the salad.
Nothing wrong with using canned soups these days, they are so much healthier than the 'cream of ' soups used for casseroles.
I added a sprig of fresh thyme to the simmering soup, just to add something fresh.
Let's get semi-cooking......
Prosciutto Roasted Alaskan Cod with an Italian Tomato Bisque
makes 4 servings
* 1 pound Alaskan Cod
* 14oz container Tomato Bisque
* 1 sprig fresh thyme
* 8 slices prosciutto
* black pepper
1. Cut the cod into two 8oz pieces. Lay 4 slices of prosciutto side-by-side on a baking pan, slightly overlapping each edge by 1/2". Place a piece of cod lengthwise on the prosciutto and wrap and roll the cod.
Place seam side down on the baking pan, brush with olive oil and roast in a 425° oven for 10-12 minutes.
2. Meanwhile simmer the soup with the thyme, stirring occasionally.
3. In a pasta bowl, ladle a spoonful of soup in the bowl and place a piece of cod on the soup.
Serve with green beans, broccoli or spinach.
I also made angle hair pasta and a salad.
For dessert I made a sugar free Chocolate Kahlua Pudding, yum.
February 9, 2015
Our last trip to DC was more of a foodie trip since we had seen almost every National Museum and all the privately run ones. I am not sure how each state handles happy hours, but in New Jersey they were outlawed in the 70's when the drinking age dipped to 18 and has never been challenged since.
While a few new upscale pub's got creative and offer happy hour food's that include a glass of wine or a beer, that is about as close as we will probably get. DC, being a commuter city (not much driving), is all about the happy hour.
While I am armed with top 10 lists, I love recommendations from friends. This time we were told to hit a spot in Alexandria VA. This eatery was tucked into what was the lobby of an old Majestic Movie Theatre. This was one reason we always drive to DC. A car can come in handy.
Expecting a retro shake and burger joint, the menu blew my mind.
The Nudge ordered the meatloaf but this one was made with steak. I, on the other hand, always order seafood and their scallop special was....... OOTW!!
Seared scallops on pureed celeriac, with Swiss chard and a truffle wine sauce. I don't say this often but it was the best scallop dish I have ever eaten and tonight I got the chance to try to make my version. While there are three different recipes for one dish, they are all easy and can be prepared ahead of time. The scallops get seared right before serving.
If you are looking for something other than the usual romantic Valentine dinners portrayed this time of year, and you love scallops, try this instead.
Let's break down the dish. You will need to make (or purchase):
Puree of celery root
Tuffle Red Wine Sauce (available in my supermarket is D'Artagnan Demi Glace and Truffle Butter)
Sauteed Swiss Chard
Dry Sea Scallops (if possible but buy the best)
I will say that by the time I plated my dish, took a quick pic and sat down, The Nudge was finished with his. He inhaled it.
If scallops are not your thing, make the celery root puree with roasted halibut or lamb chops.
The recipe makes enough for 6 servings and freezes well.
When you plate this I recommend the sauce first, then a dollop of puree, the chard and then the scallop. While it doesn't change the flavor, it would look more professional.
When I sat down with my plate, hubby's food was gone. We both scraped our plates clean.
Seared Scallops with Chard, Celeriac Puree and Red Wine Sauce
Celery root puree:
2 pound celery bulb, celery root or celeriac, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1 russet potato, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1 cup chopped onions
3 cloves garlic
3 cups broth (your choice)
salt & pepper
teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1. Cook everything in a large stock pot until the celery root is soft, about 25-30 minutes. Drain vegetables and save the stock. Reserve 1 cup stock and add that to the vegetables. Leftover stock will be used for the sauce. Puree using a hand blender, stand mixer or processor. Taste for seasoning.
Red wine truffle sauce:
2 cups red wine
Demi glace or saved cooking stock from the puree
1. Simmer the red wine and the stock or demi glace until it coats the back of a spoon.
Add 1 tablespoon truffle butter (or unsalted sweet butter) to the wine and stir until combined. Remove until ready to serve. If the butter separates from the sauce, cool, whisk and reheat.
Sauteed Swiss chard:
2 big bunches of Swiss chard (can't find chard, 1 large bag spinach leaves can be used. Do not overcook the spinach, it is very delicate).
salt & pepper
1. Wash the greens and tear into 3" pieces. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan and shake the water off the greens and add to the oil.
2.Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt & pepper.
4 large sea scallops per person
salt & pepper
cast iron skillet
Heat the skillet at least 5 minutes. Add a teaspoon of vegetable oil and swirl to coat the pan.
Place up to 8 scallops at one time and sear on one side (about 3 minutes), season with salt & pepper and when the bottoms are browned and caramelized, flip over and repeat.
Remove the scallops from the heat to a warming oven or plate and serve immediately.
I served a pear, walnut and blue cheese salad and a dry Riesling.
February 4, 2015
Tell me anyone who wouldn't love a cake and a flan, together in one dessert? Let's not forget the cuteness of individual portions.
This is a total winner.
A few years ago I experimented with a pumpkin version of this dessert. These couldn't be easier to make, and totally fail proof. Please, just don't ask me how I know that.
I will confess that it took me four takes before I perfected the base recipe to allow the cook to change the flavors to whatever is in season, whatever holiday or whoever requests their favorite sweet.
I know that Valentine's Day is approaching and chocolate is the flavor most associated with that day but I wanted to make one for me, and I love almonds.
Did you know that a one-and-a-half ounce handful of almonds is a leading source of vitamin E and magnesium and offers protein, fiber, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and iron?
They are also the leading source of monounsaturated fat among America’s most consumed nuts.
Of the 14 grams of total fat found in one ounce of almonds, about 64 percent is monounsaturated. This “good” fat plays a role in helping almonds lower harmful cholesterol just as effectively as expensive drugs, according to a recent study published by the American Heart Association.
And with all that going on, they are also the perfect snack for Diabetics.
For all my almond needs (or any nuts), I have to rave about my newest online foodie site, Nuts.com.
Although it is much more than just nuts, they also have flavored chips for cookies (I bought the mint and lemon!, yes, lemon!), all kinds of flours, and an excellent source for organic, gluten-free and sugar-free products.
The cashews disappeared before I unpacked the box (yes, dear, you are so busted!!).
This month Nuts.com is showcasing the wonderful nut that is the almond. Ready for this? They have over 100 different types of almonds, all on this page. Yes, 118 to be exact. If that's not almond nirvana, I don't know what is.
In their honor (the nuts, not the nutty people..lol), I created this dessert for all you almond lovers out there. Trust me, this is almond goodness to the 10th°.
I used toasted sliced almonds, but you could use chopped chocolate covered almonds instead. I used almond flour in the cake portion and Amaretto in the flan and the syrup.
Instead of the spice cake I used, you could use their recipe for lemon yogurt cake,
which I think would take this to a whole 'nother avenue.
Not into cake? Well, you could make these low carb pancakes to serve in bed or maybe a batch of grain-free cinnamon almond muffins for the whole family? Hey, make them all, with one stop shopping, you will have your goodies in just a few days.
Nuts.com is a family business here in New Jersey, my home state and I love that. If you are into excellent quality foods at a great price with a customer service team above all others, go check them out here.
Now, let's get cooking.......
Almond Spice Flan Cake
makes enough for 8 (1 cup) ramekins or any 2" deep pie or cake pan
* 1 cup dry cake mix (homemade, just omit the wet ingredients), your favorite flavor
* 1/2 cup almond flour
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 1/2 cup unflavored almond milk
* 1 large egg
* 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (if making a chocolate cake, use vanilla)
* 2 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks
* 1 can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
* 12 ounces almond milk
* 3 tablespoons Amaretto
* 4 ounces room temperature cream cheese, your favorite
* 1/3 cup light brown sugar
* pinch cinnamon
* 2 tablespoons Amaretto
* 2 tablespoons spiced rum (optional)
* 1 ounce sliced almonds, toasted for 8 minutes
Spray 8 (1 cup) ramekins or pie plate with a release spray.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Place the ramekins or pan in a large roasting pan.
In a small saucepan cook the sugar, Amaretto and cinnamon until it start to foam. Remove from the heat and carefully spoon about 1 tablespoon into each ramekin or all the syrup into the pan.
Allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.
In a blender make the flan and in a mixer, the cake.
Pour the flan over the syrup to halfway up the side. Spoon the cake mixture up to a full 1" below the rim of the baking dish. Anything more will make the cakes bake over the top. We don't want that.
Depending on the manufacturer and the size of your ramekins, do not be surprised if there is leftover batters. Do not overfill!!
Pour boiling water to halfway up the baking dish, cover with foil that has been sprayed with a release agent and bake for 25 minutes.
Remove the foil and continue baking for another 7-9 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow the cakes to come to room temperature before unmolding.
Run a knife around the sides and invert onto a serving plate. Garnish with the toasted almonds and whipped topping.
While almond is my favorite nut, here are some other combinations of a flan cake using the same recipe but with different flavor enhancements ....
- Traditional chocolate with almond: same recipe but sub out the spice cake for a chocolate cake mix and vanilla for the almond extract.
- Spice cake with coconut flan: use coconut milk, coconut extract and coconut rum. Toasted coconut and macadamia nuts for garnish.
- White cake with raspberry: white cake mix with vanilla extract. Chambois (raspberry liqueur) or raspberry syrup and chocolate covered almonds for garnish.
- Coffee cocoa cake with hazelnut flan: Add instant espresso to chocolate cake mix and chocolate covered espresso beans for garnish. Hazelnut syrup for flan.
Other ways to enjoy almonds:
They make a great snack, roasted in a salad, or mixed with granola for a breakfast yogurt parfait.
I grind them with some hazelnuts and macadamias and use them as a coating for chicken cutlets or nuggets (the kids will LOVE them!) and there is always that Italian tradition of giving white Jordan almonds at your wedding (five almonds signify 5 wishes for the bride and groom: health, wealth, happiness, fertility and longevity).
Enjoy and let me know how it all works out! Oh, and tell the nuts over at Nuts.com I sent you.
February 2, 2015
While I grew up with a salad at dinner, I had yet to expand my love of lettuce as a carrier for savory fillings. h, you can find the occasional shredded lettuce garnish on Tex-Mex cuisine, but as a taco shell? Now, while I like the option of replacing unhealthy flour or corn tortillas with a healthy green option, I have an issue with the traditional Boston/Butter lettuce cusps.
The first time I made this dish, I used butter lettuce and this time of year, not only are they very expensive (no per pound here, per head....yikes!), they were teeny tiny and split when the filling was added, making a very messy, 4 napkin operation.
I had enough leftover to give it another try and today I bought a head of Romaine.
While the romaine leaves offer much better support for the heavy filling, they were not as sweet and flavorful but the crunch was a nice angle.
Final opinion? I loved the filling and would make it again but my choice of lettuce will have to change, yet again.
I think I would break open an iceberg and use the small leaves near the middle. Simple one bite, no mess, great crunch option.
Much easier for a child to hold and eat. Good way to start a healthy habit.
Cook's note: I omitted the rice and the sour cream option for a spicy guacamole.
Let's get cooking......
Turkey Taco Lettuce Wrap
From EatingWell: January/February 2015
Easy and fun to eat, this gluten-free, healthy turkey lettuce wrap recipe has zesty Tex-Mex flavor. Serve the lettuce wraps with tortilla chips and your favorite salsa.
4 servings | Active Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 50 minutes
- 2/3 cup brown basmati rice
- 1 1/3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound 93%-lean ground turkey
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons chili powder, preferably ancho
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup canned (or cooked) black beans, rinsed
- 1/2 cup prepared guacamole
- 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
- 12 large leaves Boston lettuce (from 2 heads)
- Bring rice and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to maintain a low simmer, cover and cook until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed, 30 to 40 minutes (see Tip). Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add turkey, onion, pepper, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt and cayenne; cook, stirring, until the turkey is cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes. Add black beans and cook until heated thorough, about 2 minutes. Serve with the cooked rice, guacamole and sour cream in the lettuce leaves.
NutritionPer serving : 492 Calories; 24 g Fat; 6 g Sat; 7 g Mono; 77 mg Cholesterol; 42 g Carbohydrates; 31 g Protein; 9 g Fiber; 590 mg Sodium; 922 mg Potassium
2 1/2 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 vegetable, 3 1/2 lean meat, 3 fat