Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spicy Snack Mix

Source: Better Homes and Gardens' Fast Fix Family Food

4 cups bite size shredded wheat biscuits (Triscuits)
1 1/2 cups broken bagel chips or mini bagel chips
1 cup peanuts
1 cup cashews
1 cup whole almonds
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion salt

1. Prehear oven to 300 degrees F. In a bowl, combine shredded wheat biscuits, bagel chips, peanuts, cashews, and almonds. Set aside.
2. In a bowl, combine melted butter, lime juice, garlic salt, chili powder, and onion salt. Pour over cereal mixture; toss to coat. Pour cereal mixture into a roasting pan.
3. Bake for 20 minutes; stirring twice. Remove from oven. Spread mixture on foil to cool. Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 9 cups.

Nutrition per 1/2 cup:
204 cal., 15g fat (3g sat. fat), 7 mg chol., 175mg sodium, 15g carb., 3g fiber, 6g protein

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

HG's Overstuffed French Toast

I am literally drooling right now.... two of my favorite things: peanut butter and banana... PLUS butter, syrup, bread, cinnamon... Heavenly good-ness. Thank you Hungry Girl for this incredible tasty and healthy recipe!

I think that this picture does no justice to how tasty this recipe sounds...
I need to see some ooey gooey goodness!

1/3 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters Original)
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
1/2 tsp. plus 1 dash cinnamon, divided
1 no-calorie sweetener packet (like Splenda), divided
1 tbsp. fat-free cream cheese, room temperature
2 tsp. reduced-fat peanut butter, room temperature
2 slices light white bread
1/2 small banana, sliced
2 tsp. light whipped butter or light buttery spread (like Brummel & Brown)
1/4 cup sugar-free pancake syrup

Combine egg substitute, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and half of the sweetener in a bowl, and mix well. Transfer to a small plate and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, peanut butter, 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and the remaining half-packet of sweetener. Mix until smooth by stirring with the handle of a fork or spoon. (That's the easiest way to mix this!)

Gently spread cream cheese/peanut butter mixture evenly onto one slice of bread. (If needed, use your fingers to help spread.) Top with banana and a dash of cinnamon, and then finish it off with the other slice of bread. Press down lightly to seal.

Bring a skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat. Add butter and allow to coat the bottom of the skillet. Meanwhile, evenly coat both sides of your sandwich with egg substitute mixture. Coat the sides of the sandwich as well. (You won't need to use all of the egg mixture.)

Place sandwich in the skillet and cook for 2 - 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Serve with syrup for dipping. Enjoy!


Serving Size: 1 stuffed "sandwich" with syrup (entire recipe)
Calories: 327
Fat: 8.5g
Sodium: 700mg
Carbs: 48.5g
Fiber: 7.25g
Sugars: 11g
Protein: 18g

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Crispy Wasa Chicken Fingers

Need an easy low-fat oven fried chicken recipe??

Run to the store and pick up the following ingredients...

Chicken Cutlets (you'll need atleast 6 chicken finger sized cutlets)
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon minced fresh Parsley
Salt & Pepper
Garlic Salt

Here's what you do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Season both sides of the chicken cutlets with salt, pepper, and garlic salt. Stack a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet and set aside. 
2. In a small flat dish (mini pie plate works), mix together the flour and cayenne. In another small dish, whisk together the egg whites, water, and cayenne pepper. In a large pie plate, crumble the Wasa crackers into a mixture of crumbs and dust and mix in the fresh parsley.   
3. Take a cutlet and dredge both sides in the flour. Next put it in the egg whites, making sure both sides are wet. Finally, press it into the Wasa crackers. You will have to press hard to make sure the Wasa sticks to both sides. Place the cutlet on the cooling rack. 
Note: You can also cook the chicken on a tinfoil lined cookie sheet, but you will have to flip the chicken fingers halfway through the cooking time so that both sides are crispy.
4. Repeat step 3 with the rest of the chicken cutlets. Bake for 30 minutes and serve alongside your favorite dipping sauce or drizzle a little Tobasco on top. 
P.S. My Zucchini Red Pepper Gratin makes a great side.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Green Goddess Chicken Salad

The Green Goddess Chicken Salad by Melissa Rubel Jacobson comes from Food and Wine today. How could anyone resist a Goddess salad? 

2 oil-packed anchovies, drained
1 small garlic clove
1/2 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup packed basil leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dill
1 tablespoon oregano leaves
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons snipped chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
One 1-pound loaf of ciabatta—bottom crust reserved for another use, bread cut into 1-inch cubes
One 2-pound rotisserie chicken—skin and bones discarded, meat pulled into large bite-size pieces
8 piquillo peppers (from a 9.8-ounce jar), drained and quartered lengthwise
3 inner celery ribs with leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved

1.In a food processor, pulse the anchovies, garlic, parsley, basil, dill and oregano until coarsely chopped. Add the mayonnaise and lemon juice and process until smooth. Fold in the chives; season with salt and pepper.
2.In a large bowl, toss the ciabatta with the chicken, piquillo peppers, celery and olives. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Make Ahead
The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Zucchini Red Pepper Gratin

YUMMY IN MY TUMMY This dish was inspired by my mom's sauteed veggies that she makes in the summer alongside angel hair pasta. She tosses lots of bright vegetables into a skillet with olive oil and cooks them until they are soft. I decided to bake my veggies and top them with a bit of crumbly light cracker.

2 tablespoons butter
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1/2 medium white onion, diced
3 zucchini, sliced into half moon shapes
pinch dried herbs de provence
salt & pepper
non-stick cooking spray
2 tablespoons egg white (Egg Beaters)
2 tablespoons fat free milk
2 crumbled Light n Crispy Wasa crackers
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt the butter in a skillet over low heat. Add the red pepper and onion and raise heat to med-low. Cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Stir frequently.
2. Add the zucchini and spices - salt and pepper (2 shakes each). Cook for 5 minutes.
3. Spread the mixture in a baking dish coated with non-stick cooking spray.
4. In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites and milk together. Pour over the vegetables. Sprinkle the crumbled Wasa on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top before serving!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Prosciutto and Grilled Fennel Sandwich

Source: Tina Rupp
 I think that this easy sandwich would be DELICIOUS alongside a warm bowl of soup and a big glass of red wine. Or with just the wine... that's what I'd do =0)

Proscuitto and Grilled Fennel Sandwich

2 slices country bread
Thinly sliced fennel
Olive oil
Goat cheese
Thin slices of prosciutto
Chopped fennel fronds

 Brush slices of country bread and thinly sliced fennel with olive oil. Grill the bread and fennel until charred. Lay the fennel on the bread and top with goat cheese and thin slices of prosciutto; season with salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped fennel fronds and serve.

Healthy Snacker

I am definitely a healthy snacker. And a healthy eater in general too. All around I feel better about myself and my body knowing that I am putting "good" things in it.
I try to avoid the following at all costs - won't buy them, touch them, or even even allow them in my pantry:

Potato Chips
French Fries
Onion Rings
Tater Tots
Snack Cakes (what I would give to eat a frozen Yodel)
You get my point. I don't touch the bad stuff b/c I don't want a huge butt.

That doesn't mean that I don't crave those yummy items though.
If I feel like I need a french fry, I make my own thinly sliced oven roasted potatoes.
If I want a piece of candy, I'll have a few jelly beans.
Anytime I have a sweet tooth I turn to fruit! Everything tastes better with honey.
And once in a blue moon I eat some bbq baked lays.

Here are some of my favorite healthy & tasty snacks that I don't have to cook:
Sliced banana/apple + 1 tablespoon honey + 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Sliced apple/banana + 1 tablespoon reduced fat peanut butter

1 cup applesauce + 1 tablespoon all natural fruit preserves + 1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup fat free cottage cheese + fresh chives + black pepper
1 cup fat free cottage cheese + all natural fruit preserves

Celery + reduced fat peanut butter + raisins (Ants on a log anyone?)

Carrot sticks + homemade hummus + hot sauce

Laughing Cow cheese + apple slices

Imitation crab chunks + lettuce cup + spicy mustard

What is your favorite healthy snack?!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fish Tacos

Mrs. Bear's Easy Fish Tacos
2 Gorton's Grilled Tilapia Fillets - whatever flavor you like
Medium size tortillas
1 bag of pre-made coleslaw (in the bagged salad section)
Green onion - one stalk, cut into little pieces
1/2 c reduced fat mayo
1/2c fat free sour cream
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 tblspn lime juice
Creole seasoning - amount is up to you, but I used about 2 TBL in the sauce 2 TBL on the fish
Garlic Salt - 2 teaspoons
Salt - season to taste
Pepper - season to taste
Shredded cheese - optional

1. In a bowl mix together the sour cream, mayo, lime juice, lemon juice, creole seasoning, garlic salt, salt, and pepper. Refridgerate until needed.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a shallow dish (I used a metal pan lined in non-stick tin foil, but you can use a cookie sheet or any deep baking dish) place the fish fillets. Sprinkle with cajun seasoning and squirt on some lemon juice - so that they are moist.
3. Bake fish for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, drain off any excess liquid on the pan, and bake again for 10 minutes at 300 degrees F. This will firm up the fish so it is easier to break into pieces for the tacos.
4. While the fish cooks, take out your sauce and add 2 handfuls of cabbage to the bowl. I tasted the mixture and found it to be a little bland, so I added more salt, pepper, and lemon juice (2 squirts). Set aside.
5. Remove fish from oven and allow it to cool before cutting into bite sized pieces - I tried to shred my fish but it didn't work. I also squirted a little more lemon and shook a little more cajun seasoning on the fish pieces so that it stayed moist.
6. In a skillet, heat a tortilla over medium heat for 15 seconds. Turn the tortilla over and add the pieces of fish. Cover the fish with the cabbage/sauce mixture, sprinkle in a little cheese (we used shredded mozz), and finally another layer of dry cabbage. Heat for a few seconds until the tortilla has started to crisp.
7. Fold the tortilla over into a taco and put it on a plate!

Pureed Cauliflower with Goat Cheese

A healthy alternative to mashed potatoes or rice is puréed cauliflower. Since I decided to cut down on my carbs in the evening, I made my first batch last week when I was craving something starchy. I almost ate the whole bowl it was SO good.

1 small head cauliflower
water for steaming
2 teaspoons Heart Healthy butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

Discard any leaves that may cling to the stem, then break up the cauliflower head. Make sure all of the pieces are around the same size so that they cook evenly.
Put the cauliflower in a flat-bottomed skillet (with a matching lid) and enough water around the cauliflower so that it is halfway covered. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover tightly and steam until tender. Don’t let the cauliflower become too soft though. I cooked my cauliflower for around 12 minutes and it was perfect.
Once the cauliflower is cooked, turn off the heat. Using a slotted spoon, put about half the cauliflower in the bowl of a food processor. Add the garlic and process quickly in short bursts of five or ten seconds. Scrape down the sides of the processor bowl and add the rest of the cauliflower.

When the cauliflower looks like mashed potatoes, transfer it to a large glass bowl. Add the butter, thyme, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Mix in the goat cheese and pop in the microwave for 30 seconds so it melts. Enjoy on its own or with some veggies and a steamed chicken breast!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Giada's Mushroom Crostata

I found this recipe last night when I was on a hunt for something mushroom-y. YumSugar is a great website  - not only does it offer all kinds of articles about my fav topic - food - but also many different recipes. Giada's recipe for Crostata with Mushrooms and Pancetta looks heavenly. However, she asks for you to make your own pastry crust, and I decided a frozen puff pastry sheet is MUCH easier than trying to make dough when I don't own a large food processor (it was key in the dough making process). If you would like to make your own dough - click the link above for the recipe!

Crostata With Mushrooms and Pancetta

For pastry crust:
1 sheet frozen puff pastry - thawed
Non-stick cooking spray

For mushroom filling:
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces diced pancetta
2 shallots, minced
1 pound assorted mushrooms, such as cremini, shiitake, and button
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup (1 ounce) grated smoked mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup ( 1 ounce) grated fontina cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten

1. For the crust: Roll out the thawed puff pastry sheet so it will fit in a 9-inch pie plate with extra dough hanging over the edge. Carefully place the pastry sheet into the pie plate that has been coated with non-stick spray.

2. For the mushroom filling: Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp and golden, about four minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked pancetta to a small bowl.

3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Add the shallots and cook for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until all of the moisture has evaporated, about 12 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cooked pancetta along with fresh thyme, salt, and pepper. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
5. Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F.

6. Stir the mozzarella and fontina into the cooled mushroom filling and spread in the center of the dough circle, leaving a 2-inch border.
7. Sprinkle the filling with Parmesan.

8. Fold the dough border up over the filling to form a crust. Brush the crust with beaten egg. Bake the crostata until the crust is golden about 25 minutes. Slice and serve.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Emeril's Gluten Free, Dairy Free Brownie

I am always looking for healthy and easy recipes to make with the little guy that I nanny M-F. Today I was on a hunt for a brownie recipe that didn't require butter or eggs ...

In walks Mr. Emeril Lagasse's Gluten Free, Dairy Free Brownie recipe to the rescue! Little T and I whipped up the ingredients in record time, topped the mix with chocolate chips, a couple of marshmallows,
chocolate sauce, and popped it into the oven. We probably made them un-gluten free and dairy free, but you can try making some of these brownies with your little one sans extra choco & mallow!

Yield: 24 brownies
Vegetable spray or Smart Balance for greasing pan
1 ¼ cups applesauce
1 cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 mashed banana
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup brown rice flour
2 cups vegan chocolate chips or mixture of any vegan chips

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Grease an 8x8 pan using either vegetable spray or Smart Balance* (butter substitute)

In a large mixing bowl, combine all remaining ingredients. Pour mixture into prepared pan.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the pan comes out clean.

The marshmallows were added when there was three minutes left to cook. The choco sauce was drizzled after the brownie was served. Yummy!

Asparagus Mushroom Goat Cheese Scramble

When I looked into my fridge this morning to find something for lunch, I grabbed asparagus, mushrooms, and crumbled goat cheese, threw them in my lunch tote, and brought them along to work. I added some egg whites, parsley, and Tobasco for a lite and healthy scramble!

2 egg whites
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley
Salt & Pepper
1/4 cup fresh asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup sliced white mushrooms
Non-stick butter spray
1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon crumbled goat cheese
2 dashes Tobasco (optional)

1. Combine the egg whites, water, and parsley in a small bowl. Scramble with a fork. Season with salt and pepper.
2. In a small skillet coated with non-stick butter spray, cook the mushrooms and asparagus for 8 minutes. Season with garlic salt and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Cook 2 minutes.
3. Pour egg mixture over the vegetables and stir gently with a spatula. When the egg whites are cook, sprinkle goat cheese over the top. Cook until melted (1 minute). Slide onto a plate and add Tobasco.
4. Enjoy alone or with a slice of toasted Rye or Wheat bread.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mrs. Bear's Meaty Cheesy Dip

Instead of allowing Mr. Bear to order a crummy take-out pizza while he watches the NCAA Tournament tonight (Go VOLS!), I threw some things together I found in the fridge to make quite possibly the BEST Meaty Cheesy Dip he has ever had.

1/2 lb ground chuck
1/2 cup frozen diced white onion (thawed in microwave for 30 seconds)
3 packages mild taco bell sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic salt
2 teaspoons cajun seasoning

15 slices white American cheese - chopped into small pieces
8 oz shredded Mozzarella
1 cup 1% milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon jalapeno juice
1 tablespoon jalapeno slices

1. Combine all of the meaty ingredients (except the taco sauce) in a medium skillet and cook until there is no liquid left. Add the taco sauce and stir thoroughly.
2. Combine all of the cheesy ingredients in a double boiler over low heat (or a large bowl sitting on top of a saucepan with simmering water - see picture). Cook slowly over low heat, stirring frequently, until cheese is completely melted.
3. Add the meat and allow dip to cook over low heat for atleast ten minutes. Transfer dip to a small crock pot for your guest's easy dipping OR pour into a ceramic baking dish, pop it in the oven, and cook for 20 minutes on 350 degrees F.

Another way to eat Mrs. Bear's Meaty Cheesy Dip:
Spoon some into the center of a tortilla, top with lettuce, tomato, and salsa, roll up and eat it like a TACO

Mr. Bear said it is better than any Queso from a Mexican restaurant he has ever had - and the taco I assembled rivals all other tacos he has ever had before. I swear if you make this dip/taco for your sweetie he will think you are the world's greatest chef!

Asparagus and Roasted Red Pepper Pie

I always strive to eat healthy - not just because I have a weak stomach - but also for the fact that I feel better knowing I am putting good things into my body. And to be honest, I care about my weight. I work out 5-6 times a week and I pay attention to my daily fat and calorie intake. I found The Athlete's Palate Cookbook to be very inspiring as it is filled with tons of recipes by renowned chefs who care about their bodies too!
Chef Joe Carei is a runner who came up with a recipe for an Asparagus Omelet Tart in a Dill Polenta Crust that will fuel your body after a big run or race. I used his recipe as inspiration to create a "breakfast-for-dinner" meal  that Mr. Bear couldn't turn his back to. This delicious Asparagus and Roasted Red Pepper Pie can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner - and the leftovers are even great served cold! 

3 cups fat free vegetable broth
3/4 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Pie Filling
1 lb fresh asparagus, bottoms trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
1 small jar roasted red peppers, drained and diced
4 large eggs
1/2 cup 1% Organic Milk
1 tablespoon Tobasco sauce
1/3 cup diced white onion
3/4 cup shredded Fontina cheese
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan and whisk in the cornmeal slowly. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir frequently.
2. When the polenta does not stick to the sides of the pot, add the thyme and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Pour the polenta into a pie plate and spread evenly. Cook for 10 minutes.
3. Blanch the asparagus pieces in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside in a medium size bowl. Add the roasted red pepper and onions to the asparagus.
4. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and hot sauce. 
5. Place the asparagus, peppers, and onion mixture on top of the polenta shell. Pour the egg mixture over the top of the vegetables. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top. Bake for 45 minutes.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tyler's Ultimate Colcannon

I LOVE Colcannon! It is a traditional Irish food that was usually eaten on Halloween, but usually appears in my home around St. Patrick's Day - or any day I am craving some warm mashed potato-y comfort food. Here is a great Colcannon recipe from Tyler Florence.

3 pounds potatoes, scrubbed
2 sticks butter
1 1/4 cups hot milk
Freshly ground black pepper
1 head cabbage, cored and finely shredded
1 (1-pound) piece ham or bacon, cooked the day before
4 scallions, finely chopped
Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish

Steam the potatoes in their skins for 30 minutes. Peel them using a knife and fork. Chop with a knife before mashing. Mash thoroughly to remove all the lumps. Add 1 stick of butter in pieces. Gradually add hot milk, stirring all the time. Season with a few grinds of black pepper.

Boil the cabbage in unsalted water until it turns a darker color. Add 2 tablespoons butter to tenderize it. Cover with lid for 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly before returning it to the pan. Chop into small pieces.

Put the ham in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes until tender. Drain. Remove any fat and chop into small pieces.

Add cabbage, scallions, and ham to mashed potatoes, stirring them in gently.

Serve in individual soup plates. Make an indentation on the top by swirling a wooden spoon. Put 1 tablespoon of butter into each indentation. Sprinkle with parsley.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Two Olive Hummus

After I discovered how to make Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, I have decided to go on a quest to create my own hummus recipes. Last night I was feeling creative, so I looked through the pantry and refridgerator for some inspiration. Mr. Bear LOVES black olives and I had just opened a can for our dinner salads. So I threw a bunch of black olives in the mini food processor, and grabbed the minced garlic, a can of garbanzo beans, and a jar of Kalamata olives. The end result: Two Olive Hummus.
Or maybe I should call it Black and Purple Hummus... I haven't decided yet.

1 can garbanzo (chick peas) drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon minced garlic
8 medium pitted black olives
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 pitted Kalamata olives
1 tablespoons Kalamata olive brine (right outta the jar)
2 teaspoons garlic salt
2 teaspoons black pepper

For mini food processors: Combine the chick peas and garlic in the food processor - pulse/puree on high. Add the black olives - pulse/puree. Add the olive oil, Kalamata olives, brine, garlic salt, and black pepper. Pulse/puree until the ingredients are all mixed together and the hummus is not chunky. If it seems dry, add another tablespoon of the Kalamata brine. Refridgerate for 30 minutes before eating.

For a large food processor: Combine all of the ingredients and process until smooth.
Refridgerate for 30 minutes before eating.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Easy Tomato Sauce by Mrs. Bear's Momma

Here is the easiest tomato sauce recipe from the GREATEST Momma in the whole wide universe.
1 large can plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 tablespoon garlic (crushed)
1 cup onion (diced)
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons basil
parmasean cheese

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large saucepan.
Add garlic and diced onions. When translucent, add can of tomatoes.
Use a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes.
Season with spices.
Cook for 45 minutes, stirring frequently. 
Serve over pasta.

This is a quick light sauce that will serve atleast four. If you want a thicker sauce, add one can of tomato paste and cook for atleast one hour 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Clover Cookies

You will need a clover stencil for this recipe - which I do not have. However, if I make these I will most likely use green frosting and draw on my own clovers! Four leaf clovers or course - because they are the lucky ones =0)

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Green sanding sugar

1.Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder into a large bowl; set aside. Combine butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment; cream on high speed until fluffy. Beat in eggs.
2.Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two additions, mixing until well combined. Mix in vanilla. Divide dough in half, and cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 30 minutes.
3.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out 1 piece of dough on a lightly floured work surface 1/8 inch thick. With a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut out 25 rounds. Working with 1 round at a time, place clover stencil on top; sprinkle surface with sanding sugar.
4.Arrange rounds on parchment- or nonstick baking mat-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes, or until ready to bake. Repeat process with remaining dough.
5.Bake, one sheet at a time, until edges just start to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Makes 50.

Common Cooking Mistakes

No one is perfect... especially when it comes to cooking. Just last night Mrs. Bear tried to create some "eggplant buns" for her low-carb dinner and it was a DISASTER. I also walked away from a roll I was defrosting for Mr. Bear in the toaster oven... only to discover the top of the roll was too close to the heat and much to my dismay, there was now a stinky black charred crust on the bun I was planning to use for Mr. Bear's cheeseburger.

Here are The 25 Most Common Cooking mistakes from Cooking Light. Check these out below, along with detailed explanations here, so you can be better prepared next time you enter the kitchen!
  1. You don't taste as you go.
  2. You don't read the entire recipe before you start cooking.
  3. You make unwise substitutions in baking. 
  4. You boil when you should simmer.
  5. You overheat chocolate.
  6. You oversoften butter.
  7. You overheat low-fat milk products.
  8. You don’t know your oven’s quirks and idiosyncrasies.
  9. You're too casual about measuring ingredients.
  10. You overcrowd the pan.
  11. You mishandle egg whites.
  12. You turn the food too often.
  13. You don't get the pan hot enough before you add the food.
  14. You slice meat with - instead of against - the grain.
  15. You underbake cakes and breads.
  16. You don't use a meat thermometer.
  17. Meat gets no chance to rest after cooking.
  18. You try to rush the cooking of carmelized onions.
  19. You overwork lower-fat dough.
  20. You neglect the nuts you are toasting.
  21. You don't shock vegetables when they reach the desired temperature.
  22. You put all the salt in the marinade or the breading.
  23. You pop meat straight from the fridge into the oven or onto the grill.
  24. You don't know when to abandon ship and start over.
  25. You use inferior ingredients.
Now, I can tell you that I have made more than enough of these mistakes when cooking in the kitchen. I do a lot of research before I create a new dish - but sometimes it doesn't always work out because I forget something simple, like forgetting to put my veggies in a cold bath after they cook so they don't become mushy. Take note of those tips and some of my own - compiled from mistakes that I've made in the kitchen):
  • Don't walk away from the broiler. Whether it's bread you are toasting, or cheese you are melting, the broiler can be a tricky guy. Sometimes he works quick - setting your ciabatta on fire in 2 min flat - and other times he takes a long time to warm up!
  • Use a non-stick spray when cooking eggs in a new skillet - you never know if the non-stick label is telling the truth!
  • If you are making instant pancakes (you know the kind where you just add water), pay attention to the directions on the package. Too much water equals runny yucky pancakes!
  • If you are roasting eggplant in the oven - you MUST cut it thin. Thick eggplant takes forever to cook and it usually comes out mushy.
  • Also, when you are roasting thin slices of eggplant in the oven, make sure you have applied a non-stick spray to the cookie sheet or the eggplant will stick.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Orange Juice vs. Apple Juice

Orange Juice and Apple Juice are staples in my refridgerator. I drink both juices daily - morning, noon, and night. One of my favorite websites - Cooking Light - put orange juice and apple juice against one another for a battle -  check out which of my favorite juices won below:

Both of America's most popular juices are delicious, low-calorie beverages with many nutrients and no fat. But if you're choosing, go for O.J. It's known as a vitamin C powerhouse and boasts almost twice the potassium of apple juice. It also contains about a quarter of the recommended daily allowance for folic acid, which lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. Apple juice has a healthful amount of potassium and vitamin C but lacks folic acid.

Orange Juice
(8 ounces, unfortified)
112 calories
0 grams fat
496 milligrams potassium
124 milligrams vitamin C
74 micrograms folate

Apple Juice
(8 ounces, unfortified)
117 calories
0 grams fat
295 milligrams potassium
103 milligrams vitamn C
0 micrograms folate

Here are two yummy Cooking Light recipes that include Orange or Apple juice:
Whole Wheat Orange Juice Muffins
Apple-Oatmeal Crumb Cake

Do you have a favorite juice to drink?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Turkey Meatloaf Muffins

Last night the Bears ate mini turkey meat loaves... a la Cooking Light. Since I found out that my body does not like red meat last year, I have had to learn how to revamp some of my favorite meals - cheeseburger, meatloaf, meatballs, etc. Turkey and I are only friends once a month or so - too much turkey and I end up looking like a turkey : big belly and all.

NOTES: These are INCREDIBLE. It took everything in my power to not eat more than the serving size. 
– Cooking spray
– 1/2  cup chopped onion
– 3  tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
– 1  tablespoon parsley
– 1  teaspoon  Worcestershire sauce
– 1/4  teaspoon salt
– 1/4  teaspoon dried oregano
– 1/8  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
– 8  ounces ground turkey breast
– 1  large egg white
– 3  tablespoons  ketchup, divided
– 1/4  teaspoon  hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat small skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion for 5 minutes.
3. In a medium bowl combine the onion, breadcrumbs, and the next 7 ingredients.

4.  Stir in two tablespoons of ketchup.
5. Spoon about 1/2 cup meat mixture into each of 3 muffin cups coated with cooking spray.
6. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon ketchup and hot pepper sauce in a small bowl. Brush ketchup mixture over meat loaf tops. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

If you need side suggestions: I had steamed veggies- Mr. Bear had some mashed taters.

Nutritional Information (Serving Size: 2 mini loaves)
Calories: 142 (10% from fat)
Fat: 1.5g (sat 0.4g,mono 0.1g,poly 0.2g)
Protein: 20.2g
Carbohydrate: 12g
Fiber: 0.8g
Cholesterol: 30mg
Iron: 1.2mg
Sodium: 508mg
Calcium: 28mg

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Basil Couscous and Garbanzo Bean Salad

This is what I am eating for lunch today.....something I just whipped up with the things I found in the pantry that I guess I will call: Basil Couscous and Garbanzo Bean Salad

1 box Near East Basil & Herb Couscous
1 can organic Garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed thoroughly)
1 can diced Italian tomatoes (drained)
3/4 cup organic sweet corn (frozen)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt

1. Cook couscous according to directions on the back of the box, omitting the olive oil.
2. Combine the tomatoes and beans in a medium bowl. Stir in the couscous.
3. In the same pot that you cooked the couscous, cook the corn over low heat in 1 tablespoon of water. Cook 3 minutes and add to the medium bowl (liquid included). Add spices and mix thoroughly.
4. Put the salad uncovered in the fridge for atleast 30 minutes! Enjoy's pretty healthy for you =0)

Toasted Ravioli Recipe from BJ's

I saw this recipe in an article called "7 Meals for Under $12" in the 2010 BJ's Journal. Now while I don't usually eat fried food, I do like to imagine how delicious these Toasted Raviolis would be! The article suggests specific brands that can be found at BJ's to use for each ingredient - and whether or not you choose to follow their suggestions is up to you!

Toasted Ravioli
1 package Joseph's Spinach and Mozzarella Ravioli
1/2 cup Milk
1 cup Progresso Italian Bread Crumbs
2 cups Wesson Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup Locatelli Grated Romano Cheese
2 cups Rozzano Fresh Bruschetta

1. Heat oil in a cast-iron or heavy skillet until thermometer reads 375 degrees F.
2. Pour milk and bread crumbs into individual shallo dishes.
3. Dip ravioli in milk, shaking off excess, and then immediately into bread crumbs.
4. Carefully add ravioli until golden-brownb, about 3 to 4 minutes, turning halfway so that they cook evenly.
5. Carefully remove first batch of ravioli from pan with slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels while second batch cooks.
6. Sprinkle with grated cheese and serve with warm bruschetta.

Carrot Cupcakes

When I saw the recipe for carrot cupcakes I envisioned a tiny little circle of carrot cake... not what Little T (my pretend son) and I just whipped up. BUT when I put a piece of one of these weird looking cupcakes into my mouth, I realized I might have found a path to heaven-ly goodness. Try them out with your kids... or the ones that you nanny (like me)... or with your husband! I bet he won't believe you that carrot cupcakes are GOOD!

Parents Magazine - November 2009 - LET THEM EAT CUPCAKES
2 cups white whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cups grated carrots

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; whisk until blended. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and sugar with a wooden spoon. Add oil and orange juice, then combine with flour mixture. Fold in carrots.

2. Divide batter among prepared liners. Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely. Makes 18 cupcakes.

We didn't have enough cream cheese for frosting, so I made a simple sugar glaze:
1 box confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla
3-4 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup butter
Beaten together until creamy with an electric mixer (ours looks so runny b/c we didn't have enough confectioner's sugar either - still yummy though!)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Buns

 I am so excited that I received my first recipe request - Cinnamon Rolls minus the yeast and soy. In comes The Polka Dot Mommy to the rescue... I was thrilled to find an easy recipe that does not include yeast or soy. This one is for you Brown Eyed Girl!

1 cup The Cravings Place All Purpose Pancake & Waffle Mix
3 Tbs. Earth Balance Soy Free Spread
1/2 cup filtered water
2 Tbs. Granulated sugar (we doubled this) Mix together with cinnamon in a bowl or empty shaker
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (we just shook it into the sugar until it looked right)
1 Tbs whole milk
1/3 cup powder sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Cut the butter into the pancake mix. Add water and mix well. At this point, I sprinkled a little more dry mix in to give it a dough consistency vs. a batter. Roll out between two sheets of natural parchment paper into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Finish like you would for the regular buns. Be sure to keep the dough on a layer of parchment, then use the parchment to help roll the dough up, this keeps it together much nicer.

So… now that you have dough-

Roll it out on a lightly floured surface (unless GF, then use parchment as described above). Spread with melted butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar combo. Roll from one end to the other into a log. Seal ends and seem. Cut into 6 – 8 equal size pieces. Place in prepared baking pan. Bake for about 20 minutes at 325 F. (Until golden brown). We made 8 packages of regular buns and one batch of GF buns. Use smaller baking pans for best results, we found out that our large (9×13) pan left the center buns not all the way cooked.

Combine milk, powder sugar and vanilla to make a glaze… whisk until smooth and glossy. Pour over the buns. Enjoy!

Tossed Salad with Tomato-Basil Dressing

Sometimes I get bored of the salads that I make - they are usually pretty standard: tomato, cucumber, olives, chick peas, lettuce, cheese. Cooking Light has tons of healthy salad recipes and this one in particular looks easy and tasty.

1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup tomato juice
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
18 cups tightly packed assorted salad greens (such as romaine, red leaf lettuce, and Belgian endive)
3 cups thinly sliced peeled English cucumber (about 1 pound)
4 medium tomatoes, each cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges

Combine first 7 ingredients in a jar. Cover tightly, and shake vigorously. Let stand 15 minutes to 2 hours.

Combine salad greens, cucumber, and tomato wedges in a large bowl. Shake dressing vigorously, and pour over salad; toss well.

Nutritional Information
Calories:55 (52% from fat)
Fat:3.2g (sat 0.4g,mono 2.1g,poly 0.4g)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Peach and Brie Quesadillas with Lime-Honey Dipping Sauce

Yummmm, this recipe makes my mouth water! Cooking Light is one of my favorite places to find new and exciting recipes that won't make my butt any bigger than it already is =0)

2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind

1 cup thinly sliced peeled firm ripe peaches (about 2 large)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon brown sugar
3 ounces Brie cheese, thinly sliced
4 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas
Cooking spray
Chive strips (optional)
To prepare sauce, combine first 3 ingredients, stirring with a whisk; set aside.

To prepare quesadillas, combine peaches, 1 tablespoon chives, and sugar, tossing gently to coat. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange one-fourth of cheese and one-fourth of peach mixture over half of each tortilla; fold tortillas in half. Coat pan with cooking spray. Place 2 quesadillas in pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until tortillas are lightly browned and crisp. Remove from pan; keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining quesadillas. Cut each quesadilla into 3 wedges; serve with sauce. Garnish with chive strips, if desired.

Nutritional Information
Calories:157 (23% from fat)
Fat:4g (sat 2.5g,mono 1.2g,poly 0.1g)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Broccoli Mashed Potato Pizza

Mashed potato pizza sure sounds interesting, doesn't it? I have heard it is all the rage at BAR in Connecticut - my cousin said it is incredible and that I had to try and create a mashed potato pizza of my own. Being that I am a huge fan of mashed potatoes, I took the challenge and created this pie for my pizza party last Sunday night. It was devoured between five of us. I highly recommend this different pizza for those that hold a special place in their heart for mashed taters.

IngredientsTrader Joe's premade pizza dough (or your fav brand)
3 russet potatoes - peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons garlic salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon parsley
1 cup broccoli pieces
7 teaspoons homemade basil pesto
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
extra virgin olive oil
pizza stone

1. Take the pizza dough out of its packaging, form it into a ball, put it on a floured surface, and walk away. The dough needs to rest for atleast an hour at room temperature.
2. Preheat your oven for 500 degrees F. The best pizza is cooked in a HOT oven. In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water. Cook on high until they are soft. Drain the potatoes in a strainer. Put them back into the saucepan, but not back on the hot burner, and add the milk, butter, garlic salt, pepper, and parsley. Taste - if they are too dry, add more butter. If they are too bland, add more seasoning.
3. When the dough has risen, sprinkle some flour over the top of the dough ball and onto the counter top. Make sure that you use a well-floured surface that is large enough to roll out your dough to the size of your pizza stone or cookie sheet. Use a well floured rolling pin to flatten your dough to a shape that is a little larger than the pizza stone you are using.
4. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of cornmeal on the pizza stone. Carefully transfer your dough onto its baking stone - make sure that there is about an inch of dough draping over the side of the stone. Fold dough over to create a crust. Drizzle olive oil over the crust. Bake for 10 minutes.
5. Drizzle olive oil over the center of the dough. Use a spoon to spread the oil so that every inch of the pizza is glistening in evoo goodness. Spread the mashed potatoes over the center of the dough (you don't have to use all of them, just enough to cover the bottom of the dough).
6.  Using a teaspoon, drop the pesto around the pizza on top of the mashed taters. Sprinkle the broccoli over the pizza. Finally cover the pie with the mozzarella cheese. Bake for 40 minutes. Allow to cook before eating. ENJOY!

Note: If your pizza is too dry, add more olive oil before you shmear on the taters.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Homemade Pesto

My cousin Samantha taught me how to make my own pesto this past weekend (her personal recipe) and let me tell you... it is TDF (to die for). I used it on our favorite chicken pesto pizza and AHH it was so much better than Trader Joe's (sorry TJ, but mine is the bomb diggity...yes I definitely just pulled that out right out of 6th grade).

2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves - minced
1/2 Parmesan Reggiano - grated

1. In a food processor, add half of the pine nuts and half of the basil leaves. Process until smooth and then add the remaining pine nuts, basil leaves, minced garlic cloves, and the olive oil.
2. Pour the mixture into a bowl and fold in the cheese. Taste - if you feel that it isn't perfect (it is too oily, too basil-y), then add more cheese!
3. Refridgerate for atleast one hour before using. Then add to your favorite pasta or pizza recipe.

NOTE: Fresh pesto would also be tasty mixed with cream cheese and used as a dip for garlic herb toast...Try it!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Nigella's Red Pepper Hummus

(on the left... mmm mmm good)
In honor of my cousin's visit this past weekend I broke out the Nigella Lawson, Nigella Express Cookbook, she gave me for Christmas last year. I whipped up some Red Pepper Hummus last night for our homemade happy hour this evening before we go out to dinner. My changes to the ingredients are in orange and the directions are in my own words. I will be serving carrot sticks, cucumber slices, and pita chips alongside the Hummus.

12-ounce jar roasted red peppers (Italian style with whole garlic)
14-ounce can chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1 teaspoon paprika (omitted)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons cream cheese (fat-free)
1 teaspoon lime juice (omitted)
Salt (omitted)


Drain the red peppers (remove the garlic) and chickpeas. Make sure to rinse the chickpeas thoroughly - the liquid they soak in can make you gassy!

Put the chickpeas in the food processor and process until chunky. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and process until smooth. Add the roasted red peppers and another tablespoon of oil. Process until the mixture is red. Add the cream cheese and process until smooth.

Put the hummus in an airtight container and chill for 30 minutes (or overnight like me). Serve with vegetable crudite, pita chips, triscuits, pretzals, or whatever you like!

Spinach Tomato Quiche

I whipped up this bad boy for my Mom and Cousin's visit this past weekend and the whole quiche was devoured in record time (between four people of course). I must warn you that it takes a long time to cook - so if you have hungry guests you might want to start it before they can wake up and you can hear their tummies rumbling!

1 sheet of puff pastry - thawed and rolled out
1 box frozen spinach - thawed and squeezed of excess water
1/2 can Italian diced tomatoes - drained
8oz shredded Italian blend cheeses
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place the rolled out pastry sheet in a 9-inch pie plate that has been coated with non-stick spray.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the spinach, tomatoes, and cheese. Spoon mixture into the pie plate and spread evenly.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into the pastry shell, allowing egg mixture to thoroughly combine with spinach mixture.
4.Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes. Sprinkle top with parmesan cheese, and bake an additional 10 minutes, until set in center. Allow to stand 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mrs. Bear's Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

After browsing over atleast 15 different banana bread recipes,
I concocted my own and added chocolate chips.
This recipe makes 2 small loaves of Chocolate Chip Banana Bread that is TDF (to-die-for).

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
2 cups bananas, mashed
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 loaf pans

Set oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Beat sugar and eggs with a whisk until light and bubbly.

Drizzle in oil. Whisk until mixed thoroughly.

Add mashed bananas and vanilla. Whisk until thick. Fold in dry ingredients and chocolate chips.

Pour the batter evenly between two greased loaf pans. Bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. (Insert a toothpick into the center of the loaf to make sure it is cooked all the way through the middle before removing).