Wednesday, June 25, 2008

All this time it was just a little flour?

Each week I try to introduce variety into our meals. 2 nights a week we have chicken, 1 night we have red meat, 1 night we go vegetarian with it and then 2 (sometimes 3) nights we'll have something in the seafood family and then we go out one night.

Whenever we go out the FH will usually get a piece of fish and usually it's pan seared and it's got this nice golden crusty outside. Now I'm good with seafood - I know my way around marinades and grilling but this pan sear I could not do. How did they get it to brown like that? How? So I cornered a chef friend of mine a couple of weeks ago and I said "Jordan, you must tell me HOW does this brown crusty pan seared goodness GET on the seafood". And because he's nice and not temperamental like some chef's I know he actually shared the secret.

It's flour.

No joke. Just a little flour. First you get your pan good and hot, THEN add a touch of oil - roll it around the pan so it coats the pan perfectly. Then take a little flour and season it with whatever you like and then coat your seafood with it and then add to your hot oiled pan. That's it. Crusty goodness - perfection browned. I've used this technique on scallops (seasoned with paprika, salt and pepper) and the FH was Wow'd then I did it with salmon and once the salmon was to it's perfectly medium-rare ish doneness I added some teryaki sauce and it carmalized onto the brown goodness so perfectly that I actually can't wait to eat it again tonight.

Am I the only one that didn't know how to do this? Was this featured the day that I missed Home Economics? Do they still teach home economics?

Monday, June 23, 2008

How I ate an entire Blueberry Coffee Cake

I have a very true love for the Blueberry. It's true and deep and fulfilling...everything love should be. So when I came across a recipe in Cooking Light for Blueberry Coffee Cake I thought that I may have just died a little because surly this is heaven.

Things about this recipe that I struggled with, changed or loved:

  • Buttermilk. Okay, I went and bought it but they come in ONE size - what else does one make with Buttermilk. Please send ideas.
  • I used my Whole Wheat Pastry Flour instead of All Purpose and I have to say it was a perfect swap and didn't change the texture or taste at all for the worse. I totally recommend this substitution to up the fiber.
  • Turbinado Sugar - I'm sorry but I have no idea what this is - I used brown did the job.
  • It says a 9 inch round baking pan. I guess this is different then a cake pan - because it wouldn't have fit in a cake pan so I ended up using my large round pyrex and then a small round pyrex.
  • I ate the small round pyrex in one was just that good. And you know I'll admit to you that I used some butter on it. Not light butter either, none of this I can't believe butter - I went full on Paula Dean butter on this thing and it was worth it. The following picture is the only proof that the small coffee cake every existed.

  • I'm freezing the large one for breakfast for after our baby arrives and we'll have people over and I can look like I have my shit together (hahaha, the illusion is so pretty).
  • With my substituions on the flour it takes the Calories to 260 the Fat stays at 9.9 and the Fiber goes up to 4.5g. This makes this a 5 point breakfast

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Man's Meatloaf

Being on maternity leave affords me a few useless hours each day. I am not a "fluff" TV watcher, so if I'm not reading, I find myself flipping between TLC, the Food Network, and Discovery.

Last week, I saw Guy Fieri make a meatloaf that looked artery-clogging enough to be perfect for a Father's Day dinner - Cornbread Stuffed Meatloaf.

I won't lie to you - this meal took a lot of prep, especially if you use all fresh ingredients and don't buy the pre-chopped stuff. But, the end product was so worth it. It was moist and delicious, and the textures of the cornbread stuffing in the meat was fantastic. I didn't alter the recipe at all, but in retrospect, I would have used a little less thyme, and maybe a little bit of plain breadcrumbs in the meat mixture to hold it together better. Though incredibly tasty, the slices kind of fell apart once you cut into them.

What you need:


2 large or 5 small corn muffins (2 to 3 cups), crumbled by hand
1/2 pound bacon, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon seeded and minced jalapeno
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
1 cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon seeded and minced jalapeno
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 eggs
6 ounces sliced Cheddar

What you do:

Preheat oven to 275 to 300 degrees F.

Spread the cornbread crumbs on a sheet pan and let toast for about 20 minutes, or until lightly toasted and dry. Turn oven up to 350 degrees F.


In a skillet brown the bacon until crispy. Drain. To the same skillet add the red pepper, jalapeno, and garlic and cook until soft.


In a bowl, combine the cornbread crumbs, bacon, and vegetable mixture. Add parsley and salt and pepper, to taste. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.

In medium skillet over medium heat add oil, red onions, jalapeno and garlic. Cook until caramelized, remove from heat and let cool.


In a bowl combine the meat, salt, pepper, parsley, thyme, mustard, ketchup Worcestershire, and eggs, cooled onion mixture, and thoroughly mix.



Divide the meat mixture in half. Shape 1 half into a rectangle, creating a canoe, and then loosely fill with stuffing. Do not pack it in.


Use the other half of the meat to fully enclose the stuffing.


Transfer to the oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F. Layer the cheese slices on top and bake for another 5 minutes to melt the cheese. Remove from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes. Cut into thick slices and serve.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Green Eggs and Ham

Ok, I'm going to be honest. Rachel Ray annoys me. I'm not sure why - she's cute enough, and I'm sure my husband wouldn't kick her out of bed. But maybe it's her corny jokes that just makes her seem so transparent. However, I do find myself watching her shows and getting ideas. Earlier in the week, she made this recipe for Green Eggs and Ham. I tweaked it a little bit and the end result came out pretty great and EASY. I just ate it as it was but it would be an excellent brunch item.

What you need:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 large shallots (I used 4 Egyptian onions), finely chopped
  • 1 box frozen chopped spinach (10-ounce), defrosted in microwave and liquids drained (I used fresh, but you need A LOT since it cooks down so much.
  • 1/3-1/2 cup heavy cream, (eyeball it)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 slices deli ham
  • 8 eggs
What you do:

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2) Spray muffin pans with nonstick spray. Line each with a slice of deli ham. You will have to fold it.
3)In a nonstick pan, sautee the chopped shallots (onions) in olive oil until slightly brown.
4) Add in spinach and cook together.
5) Once the spinach is cooked down if fresh, add in the butter, cream, salt and pepper.
6) Cook for 5-7 minutes until thickened. Add a sprinkle of flour if needed, but you don't want it too thick.
7) Spoon about a tablespoon of the creamed spinach into each of the muffin tins.
8) Crack an egg over each. If you're worried about presentation, crack the egg in a separate bowl to make sure you don't break the yolk, and then pour on top.
9) Place in the oven to cook.
10) Cook until the yolk is the consistency of your choice. I prefer mine just slightly runny so this ended up being about 15 minutes.
11) Serve.

*If you use deeper muffin pans than I did, the presentation will be much nicer. My eggs kind of ran all over the place.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Megan's Vegetable Lasagna

Have I mentioned what a lucky girl I am to work with some really great people lately? Well I am. And I'm particularly lucky to work with Megan - she's fun, sarcastic in just the right way, and a very trusted confident to share conference call rantings with via IM. Megan, like me, was a good Catholic school girl and because of this she was preparing this feast for St. Joseph...which I believe (maybe, I'm really testing my Sunday school education here) is March 19th...maybe..shudder, Sister Susan, Sister Kevin and Sister Kieth forgive me and Father Paul, Monsignor Shannon you forgive me too. So she was making this Vegetable Lasagna and telling me all about it and I had to make it and can I just say how delicious it was - I had every intention of freezing half of it but it never actually made it to the freezer, there were very short term stops in the fridge. Make this, make some really yummy garlic bread and have a glass of red wine for me! Oh, one last thing. I have tried EVERY brand of whole wheat lasagna noodle out there and I can say that the Healthy Harvest brand is by far the best.

As the trips to the farmers market start to yield the very best of these vegetables I thought it was the perfect time to share this DELICIOUS recipe with all of you. Enjoy!

Megan's Vegetable Lasagna

Okay, this is all from memory, so amounts are a guess-timate-you can’t really mess it up. It’s actually a really healthy recipe…1/8 portion is about 5 or 6 points-not that you should be watching that stuff…I’m just saying…I’m such a geek.

What you need:

  • One chopped onion
  • About 15 mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 or 4 gloves of garlic, crushed (I’m heavy on the garlic-sometimes up to 5 cloves)
  • 14 oz. chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 1/8 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/8 cup of fresh basil, chopped
  • 8oz. tomato paste
  • 8oz. tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 16 oz cottage cheese or ricotta
  • 1 scrambled egg
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach, drained of excess water. You have to take the spinach and put it in a large bunch of paper towel to ring out the excess water.
  • 1 zucchini, shredded
  • 6 to 8 lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • Dashes of parmesan cheese
What you do:

In a saucepan, add drizzles of olive oil. Add onion and sauté for a minute or two. Add mushroom, sauté for a minute. Add garlic, sauté again for a minute. Add drained chopped tomatoes. Stir it up. Add the fresh herbs. Add the paste and sauce. Add the wine, Brown sugar, Oregano and pepper. I usually simmer this for about 30 to 45 minutes. In a separate mixing bowl, mix the cottage cheese (or ricotta) scrambled egg, and drained chopped spinach. Set aside.

When your sauce is ready (and your kitchen smells awesome) grab a rectangular baking dish. You’re going to need to have 3 layers of sauce, so just try to dole it out evenly.

1st layer-1/3 of sauce

2nd layer – lasagna noodles. Depending on the kind you buy, this can be like 3 or 4 lasagna lengths per layer (there are 2 lasagna layers in this recipe-so 6 or 8 total)

3rd layer – ½ of the cottage cheese/spinach/egg mixture

4th layer – 1/2 of the shredded zucchini

5th layer – 1 cup mozzarella

6th layer – 1/3 of the sauce

7th layer - lasagna noodles.

8th layer – other ½ of cottage cheese mixture

9th layer – the other ½ of the shredded zucchini

10th layer – the other cup of the mozzarella (leave a little of the mozzarella aside for placement on the top after the lasagna has baked)

11th layer – the remainder of the sauce

Preheat oven to 325. Bake the lasagna covered with tin foil for 1 hour 30 minutes. After 1 ½ hours, take it out, remove the foil sprinkle the bit of mozzarella you set aside and sprinkle some parmesan on top. Put back in the over, uncovered, for about 10 more minutes. Take out, let set for 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, June 9, 2008

To hot to eat must sip instead

Here are the things making today difficult:
1. It's Monday
2. It's 9:15am and the temperature reads 86 degrees already
3. The humidity is about 90% and it's thick like mud out there
4. Did I mention it's Monday and that it's HOT?

So it's too hot to eat and for me protein is especially tough to swallow when it's H-O-T outside. After reading about green smoothies on a bunch of sites about a month ago I have found the Magic Bullet (which is actually pretty fantastic) and have been whipping up the smoothie's all weekend. Here's the concoction I'm currently sipping:

1/4 cup cranberry
1/2 scoop of Protein Powder
1/4 cup ice
1/4 cup of frozen raspberry
1/2 cup of FF Plain Organic Yogurt

Do you have a signature smoothie?

Friday, June 6, 2008

My turn to ask for help

Ok, last time Cass asked for a good cold pasta recipe and you guys were all so great in giving good advice. This time, I need help.

In mere weeks, I will be delivering our second child. My daughter just turned two. So, yes, that is TWO children two and under in my house. Oh. My. Dog. (Did I mention I'll be going back to work full time (three days working from home) when the new baby is 8-10 weeks old?)

Here's my plea: I need meal ideas that I can make now, freeze, and store for the times when we are too tired to remember underwear let alone ingredients would rather lie in the fetal position with a bottle of vodka I think I may run out into traffic if I have to do one more thing things get too busy and no one has time to prepare and cook meals.

The catch: They have to be kinda, sorta healthy. I am currently eating from the Fuckit Bucket so I don't mind extra fat or cheese here and there, but as soon as this kid pops out, Operation: Get Some Semblance of My Body Back starts. I have a good friends' wedding in October, and though I realize it will take some time to lose the 1783 pounds I've gained, I'd at least like to make some headway by Christmas.

To recap: 1) Can make now and freeze for later. 2) Pretty healthy or can be made so.

Ready? GO!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Joy of Cookies

Is there anything better in this world then a really nice warm cookie? I mean honestly - how can you possibly be having a bad moment when the smell of freshly baked cookies is wafting out of your kitchen? It's just not possible.

Making your own cookie recipe is tough. I've tried and where the cooking you can get creative baking is more of a scientific masterpiece. This morning I decided that I needed Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies...and I need to make them "healthful" because the FH has high cholesterol. So rather then infringing on copyrights here is what we'll do. Here is the link to the original recipe.

Now here's how I change it:

  • Rather then 1 3/4 cup of regular flour I use 3/4 cup regular flour and 3/4 cup of Whole Wheat Pastry Flour....I know it's not exactly the same measurement but Whole Wheat sops up more of the wet stuff so you need a little less of it.
  • Rather then 2 WHOLE sticks of butter I use one stick of butter (because it's always better with some butter) and 4 Tbs of Lighter Bake that was recommended back here.
  • All those rolled oats don't really cook up so good so I use 2 cups of Rolled oats and 1 cup of Quick oats. It works.
  • I add in Extra Dark Chocolate Chips and Chopped Walnuts.
  • I've tried messing with the sugar and to be honest it's just not worth it. The brown sugar Splenda is just not up to snuff in my opinion and they are cookies after all. I figure all that extra Fiber I added balances things out just fine.
Do you have any healthy tricks for your cookies? What's your very favorite cookie?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A cry for help

This post is completely self serving as I desperately need a good pasta salad recipe that does not include Mayo in the list of ingredients. I happen to love a good mayo pasta salad but the FH and his family do not like the Mayo and as they are coming for picnic on Friday I need a pasta salad sans the mayo.

Anyone? Please? Help?

I have considered MAKING the know from scratch and naming it something other then Mayo to get around this but it seems that mayo is as mayo does and it a mayo by any other name is in fact still....Mayo.

I am in your hands.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Chicken Burjitas

I love Mexican food. LOVE it. I can't actually consume enough bean dip. I love Fajitas the only issue I have with them is the extensive time it takes me to make a small little Fajitas - I need the full Fajitas package bundled up like a Burritto so it's MINIMAL wait time once I have the good stuff in front of my face. I'd feel bad about this if I made them a really "bad" way but these suckers are healthy so lets get to the good stuff:

Chicken Burjitas
This recipe makes enough for 8 Burjitas because it tastes really yummy the next day...for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nuff said. Also - insert a piece of gum because when you're doing the guac and bean dip it's nearly impossible not to consume half the container while standing in the kitchen.

What you need:

Boneless Chicken cut up into two-bite sized pieces - I used 4 chicken breasts but you could use tenders too (too small and they get lost, too big and you end up pulling out a whole piece of chicken when you take a bite)
Fajita Seasoning Mix
Chicken with Fajita Mix
3 Peppers sliced thin and long (I like to use Red, Orange and Yellow because of the good antioxidants)
Sliced Onions and Peppers
2 Medium sized yellow/white onions (sometimes I'll do one white and one red)
A touch of vegetable/Canola oil
Guacamole (I made mine fresh with Avacado, diced tomato, sliced green onions, lemon, salt, pepper and a tablespoon of mayo to make it all come together faster...I'm impatient like that)
Bean dip (Again I make mine with 1 can re-fried beans, 1 can black beans drained and about 1/2 cup of cheddar - mix it all together and microwave for about 90 seconds to get it to mush up)


What you do:

  1. Cut up your chicken and sprinkle on 1/2 a packet of Fajita seasoning and rub it in.
  2. In a large pan put enough Canola Oil just to get the pan covered and turn the heat to High.
  3. Once the pan is hot - you can put your hand above it a few inches to see if its in fact hot. Throw in your chicken. Cover and DO NOT TOUCH for at least 3-4 minutes. If you try to mess with it before that side of the kitchen is finished cooking you'll have a big mess on your hands. Now go back in there after the time passes and start to move the chicken around if it fights you - let it go for another minute.
    Step 4
  4. Turn the heat down to Medium High and spin the chicken around for another 5 or so minutes - while this is happening I make the bean dip.
  5. Drain the black beans and put your FF refrieds in a pyrex - layer in a little cheese and black beans and mix it up - stick it in the microwave for about 90 seconds and give it a good mix. Done.
  6. Chicken's nearly done- not over done - just nearly done. You've just looked at the bottom of the pan and you're thinking "Damn you Cass this pan will have to sit in the sink for a week. ". I wouldn't do that to you....hell, I wouldn't do that to ME. Now over the chicken dump in all of your sliced onions and peppers. (Because I'm really lazy at night and will look for an excuse to NOT make dinner - I slice this stuff up when I get it home from the grocery store and stick it in a ziploc bag - it will keep good and fresh for 2 days). Put the cover on.
  7. I like my veg good and crispy so I only cook them for 4-5 minutes and I give it a mix around the pan about half way through so everything goods coated with the chicken seasonings and all those good bits that were on the bottom of your pan (note WERE on the bottom as in pan is now CLEAN).
    Step 6
  8. Here's how you put it all together. And yes, I believe it matters because it helps make a wrap that does not leak, fall apart, or not well distributed:
    1. Layer your bean dip like so:
      Step 8.1
    2. Layer your guac over the bean dip
      Step 8.2
    3. Put your chicken/pepper onion mix on top and roll
      Step 8.4
    4. How do you roll....well lets see if I can find a link....yes like this.
  9. Now eat. And enjoy the beauty that is this Chicken Burjitas.
Finished Chicken Burjita