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Friday, April 30, 2010

Roasted Chicken with Yukon Gold Potatoes and Asparagus

I didn't plan to make this for dinner the other night.  In fact, I had an entire different recipe planned.  But, I decided that my original plan was going to involve too much work.  Enter this concoction.  I did some searching online and found this recipe.  With a few minor tweaks, it worked out pretty well.

Overall, it was very good.  Everything was cooked perfectly.  Unfortunately, I only had about 1 lb of chicken defrosted, so our chicken to potato ratio was pretty uneven.  I reflected a recipe adjustment below.  This was pretty good for a low maintenance weeknight meal.  It is easily adaptable as well.  You could probably throw whatever veggies or protein you want in the dish.  I am also excited to admit that Ron said that the tomatoes and asparagus "made the dish."  I watched him eat a bowl that contained RED and GREEN ingredients.  It was an unforgettable experience.
Roasted Chicken with Yukon Gold Potatoes and Asparagus
adapted from here
Yield:  We had about 4 portions, but we also lacked chicken.  With more chicken, this could probably feed about 6-8 people, depending on serving sizes.

  • 2 lb yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch segments
  • 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, minced
  • 3/4 c fresh italian parsley, diced
  • Salt and Pepper, additional seasoning to taste
  • 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 c chopped Roma tomatoes
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed into 1 inch pieces
  • Shredded parmisian-reggiano cheese, if desired
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Toss potatoes and garlic with olive oil in large bowl.  Mix in dill, parsley, salt, papper, and additional seasonings.
  4. Place in oven and bake for 15-17 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare chicken by slicing into 2 inch pieces.  If there is remaining spice inside the bowl that held the potatoes, toss chicken in bowl.
  6. Spread chicken over potatoes and bake for 20 minutes.
  7. After 20 minutes, stir in chopped tomatoes and bake for 5 minutes.
  8. After 5 minutes, stir in asparagus pieces and bake for 15 minutes.
  9. Season as desired.  Serve with a side salad or some fresh bread and butter.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Salmon with Maple-Lemon Glaze and Mango Sauce

This recipe was inspired from a few various sources.  I was craving something fruity and tropical.  I also wanted salmon because I haven't had it in a while.  Overall, it turned out pretty well.  I didn't prepare the salmon the way that the recipe originally intended (re-use glaze and broil) so I ended up baking it.  Accordingly, I don't think it picked up on the flavor as strong as it could have.  Fortunately, I had already intended to use the mango sauce on the salmon so there was plenty of flavor there.  It was a very quick and easy meal.  It took about 25 minutes total, but most of that was cook time so there was very minimal prep time.  I definitely think I'll try it again with the broil method.  You can see the original recipe by clicking the Cooking Light link below.  

I included the recipe for 4 servings, but I ended up making one serving for myself.  The measuring / timing worked out just fine and I was able to roast some asparagus spears at the same time my salmon was cooking.  The mango sauce yields about 1/2 cup, so if you think you want more, use another mango!  I used a medium-large mango.

Don't mind the giant piece of salmon I ate for dinner.  I had just got back from a 10 mile run and was starving!
Salmon with Maple-Lemon Glaze and Mango Sauce
salmon adapted from Cooking Light
Yield:  4 servings
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 4 (6 ounce) skinless salmon fillets
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • cooking spray
  • 1 mango
  • 1/3 c water
  • cinnamon-sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. For Salmon:  Combine lemon juice, maple syrup, cider vinegar and oil in large ziplock plastic bag.  Add fish to bag; seal.  Refrigerate 10 minutes, turning bag once.
  3. Remove fish from bag.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  
  4. Bake in baking pan for 10-12 minutes or until opaque and fish flakes easily.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare mango sauce.
  6. For Mango Sauce:  Dice mango, add water, and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.  Add cinnamon-sugar to taste.  Mash mango.  Serve warm or cold.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Honey Ginger Chicken with Peppers

I made this meal for dinner several days ago and I am still thinking about it.  It was that good!  I've always been a big fan of sweet and salty combinations, so this was right up my alley.  The recipe was very easy to put together and the flavors worked so well together.  I've never worked with a ginger root before, but it wasn't all that bad.  I did have some trouble with my knuckles while grating the root, but overall, this recipe was a success.  I served with some brown rice pilaf, but I can imagine it tasting great with white rice.  I also ate asparagus with mine.  It's asparagus season and I'm just obsessed with roasted asparagus!

On a side note: I wish I had a Wok.  I've been making a ton of stir fry recipes and I think it would come in handy.  Wok's are better to evenly distribute heat and ingredients.  Right now, I'm using a giant skillet over a tiny burner.  Well, once we move and have a bigger kitchen, it is on my to-purchase list!
Honey Ginger Chicken with Peppers
adapted from Kitchen Trial and Error who adapted from Everyday Food
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 c minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced into thin strips
  • 3 c cooked rice
  1. Mix together honey, rice vinegar, and soy sauce in small bowl.  Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok or saute pan.  Add chicken and cook through, about 4 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside.
  3. Add last tbsp of oil in pan.  Add ginger and garlic to pan.  Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add peppers and cook about 4 minutes.
  5. Add honey mixture and bring to a boil.
  6. Add chicken and cook until sauce is thick, about 5 minutes.
  7. Serve chicken, peppers, and sauce over the rice.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

15 Minute Eggplant Parmigiana Sandwich

This recipe isn't home-made.  Aside from the lettuce, there's really nothing "fresh"about it, but it's quick, easy and makes for a very healthy lunch.  In total, it took about 15 minutes to make.  That time was spent basically baking the frozen eggplant cutlets in the oven.  They can also be pan-fried, which would result in a 4 minute lunch.

For a few years, I've been eating Dominex eggplant products.  In a two-person household, with only one veggie eater, it's feasible and cost-efficient.  The Dominex brand frozen eggplant products are very good.  Plus, they are easy to prepare and perfect for a busy lifestyle.  The ingredient list is fairly small for a frozen product.  This is a definite bonus.
Eggplant Parmigiana Sandwich
Yield:  1 servings
  • 2 eggplant cutlets
  • Hamburger Bun
  • Lettuce
  • 1/8 c of provolone cheese
  • 1/8 c marinara sauce
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Additional toppings, as desired
  1. Prepare eggplant cutlet.  (Directions on box.)
  2. Once cooked, place one eggplant cutlet on bottom half of bun.
  3. Sprinkle cheese over bottom part of sandwich.
  4. Lay 2nd eggplant cutlet over cheese.
  5. Top with sauce, lettuce, seasoning and additional toppings, as desired.
  6. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Crockpot Chicken BBQ

I've been making this recipe for a while now, but I don't remember where I got it.  What I do know is that this recipe is amazing.  We eat this meal at least once a month.  I know I found the recipe online somewhere and used a bunch of reader comments to make, what I thought to be, the best sounding.  It just so happened to turn out to be the best tasting!

It's soooo good and so easy.  Just throw it in the crockpot!  You can use any bbq sauce you like (I like Famous Dave's Sweet and Tangy) but we have used it w/ various other kinds.  This recent meal was made with Byerly's original.  It was also very, very good.  I normally make a small thing of cole slaw to eat with it, but I decided against it this time for some reason.  This would be SO good with corn on the cob or other traditional bbq fare.  I've made it two ways:  1) with partially defrosted chicken breasts and 2) with frozen chicken breasts.  Either way works.  You can also do all of the prep at one time (and omit the chicken broth steps) instead of in 2 separate sections.  (I just find that I prefer the flavors that come from the chicken broth and the 1-2 hours to soak up the BBQ.)

Crockpot Chicken BBQ
adapted from ??

  • About 1 lb half-defrosted skinless, boneless chicken breasts
    • You can use also use frozen.
  • Seasoning: garlic powder, salt & pepper
  • 1 can of chicken broth
  • 1 (12 ounce) bottle of BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 c italian salad dressing
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Provolone cheese slices
  • Hamburger buns
  • Cole slaw and toppings, if desired
  1. Place chicken in crockpot.
  2. Rub seasoning on chicken and coat both sides.
  3. Pour chicken broth in crockpot (it's fine if some seasoning comes off).
  4. Cover and cook:
    1. If using partially defrosted, cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.
    2. If using frozen, cook on high for 4.5 hours or low for 6.5 hours.
  5. Once chicken is almost cooked, mix together the BBQ sauce, dressing, brown sugar and Worcestershire.  Set aside.
  6. Once cooked, shred chicken with 2 forks.  
  7. Pour BBQ mixture over chicken and let chicken cook on low for another 1-2 hours.
  8. Serve on buns with cheese and desired toppings.
**You can easily omit steps 2 & 3.  If you are pressed for time, simply put the chicken in the crockpot and pour the BBQ mixture over the chicken to coat.  Cover, and cook 3-4 hours on High or 6-8 hours on Low.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cherry Banana Almond Scones

I'm on a scone kick.  I love them!  After those white chocolate almond scones, I've decided I want to start selling scones at our local farmer's market.  Seriously.  They rock.  They are easy.  They are delicious.  They make me smile.  I started typing in flavor combinations (apple + almond, pumpkin + ginger, hazelnut + chocolate) and there are a TON of recipes out there.

Scones are popular in the U.K., but they've become quite trendy in the U.S. over the past several years.  Do you know how the word 'scone' is pronounced?  Apparently, 2/3 of the British population pronounce 'scone' like 'SKON' as though the word rhymes with 'John' instead of 'Joan'.  British dictionaries prefer the SKON form as the preferred pronunciation, but it does recognize that people pronounce it the other way.  Thank you, Wikipedia!  I'll start pronouncing scone correctly from now on.  I really need to start figuring out how to pronounce these things before I take my orders into the public.  I can't even begin to tell you how bad I butchered edamame (pronounced ed-ah-mah-may) when trying to order a salad at the counter one day.

These are "healthy" scones but the taste does not fall short.  I love the banana & cherry flavors.  I added some almond to the recipe to kick it up a notch.  They are sweet, tangy and a delicious way to start the day or enjoy with a cup of afternoon tea.
Cherry Banana Almond Scones
adapted from Anja's Food 4 Thought
Yield:  6 scones 
  • 1.5 c WW Flour (I used WW Pastry Flour; it worked fine)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 c dried cherries
  • 1/2 c slivered almonds
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large, ripe bananas, mashed
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder.  Mix well.
  3. Stir in dried cherries and almonds.
  4. In another bowl, combine beaten egg with olive oil and mashed banana.
  5. Pour wet ingredients onto dry ingredients and stir until well combined.  
  6. Form balls (golf ball - tennis ball) from batter and place on baking sheet.  (I used my large cookie scoop to scoop large portions.)
  7. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Shrimp Pad Thai

I've been wanting to make Pad Thai for some time now.  I have a ton of recipes saved and Ron is a big fan of it.  Despite eating Thai food on many occasions, I'd never tried the dish.  But, I figured that Ron deserved it after a number of consecutive meal-less days.  He's patient around finals time.  The least I can do is make him something he'll enjoy.

Honestly, I was overwhelmed.  I have about 18 recipes saved (a habit I need to break!) and each one was different from the next.  Some of the ingredients were completely foreign to me and I was hesitant to substitute anything.  I'm sure you can make healthier versions (using brown rice noodles, preparing your own sauce, etc.) but I decided to stick with the recipe that came on the back of the noodles box and used pre-purchased ingredients.  I'm not a big fan of playing around with ingredients while attempting my first try at a recipe and I was not interested on going on a wild-goose hunt for some of the ingredients.

I really enjoyed this dish.  The only thing I didn't enjoy was waiting for the noodles to soak.  I always make the mistake of waiting until I am completely famished before I start dinner.  Right about that time, I checked the box and read "soak noodles for 25-30 minutes."  Flip! @#@^!#&!!  That's my fault for not reading the recipe earlier in the day (another habit I need to break!).
Shrimp Pad Thai
adapted from A Taste of Thai
Yield:  Serves 2 (but the portions seemed rather large for a 2-person serving, we have plenty of leftovers)
  • 1/2 lb Rice Noodles (I used a Taste of Thai)
  • 4 tbsp canola oil, divided
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 lb raw shrimp, peeled & deveined (chicken, pork, or tofu can be used)
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 c coarsely chopped peanuts
  • 1/2 c - 2/3 c Pad Thai sauce
  • 2 c bean sprouts
  • cilantro and lime wedges for garnish
  1. Soak noodles according to directions for saute.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in wok or large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add egg; scramble lightly, about 20 seconds.
  4. Add shrimp, meat or tofu; stir-fry until cooked through.
  5. Add remaining oil.
  6. Add noodles; stir-fry 4-7 minutes until firm but tender.
  7. Add scallions, peanuts, and Pad Thai sauce; stir-fry about 1 minute.
  8. Stir in bean sprouts.
  9. Serve hot, garnished with cilantro and lime wedges.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Carrot Cake Granola

Anything that involves carrot and cake is fine by me in my book.  At some point, carrot cake became my go-to dessert of choice.  It surpassed chocolate and went far beyond cheesecake.  I started dreaming about a slice of carrot cake that I saw at a grocery store.  I finally gave in.  It was not worth it, so now I bake my own.  But, Ron doesn't eat carrot cake.  So, I'm normally left with a gigantic cake to eat by myself.  That's not good, so I simply don't make it.  I did recently find a fantastic recipe for cupcakes that is easy to cut in half.  I may have to give it a shot.

I recently saw "carrot cake granola" on one of my frequently visited food blogs.  WOAH, WHAT??  Carrot Cake granola?  How can they get all of those amazing flavors into one granola?  Well, they did.  It's incredible.  It's easy.  It's healthy.  And it smells/tastes/delivers like a carrot cake does.  

On a side note, I've never actually toasted nuts or coconut.  I've always been too afraid to burn it because they burn so easily.  However, this recipe called me for me to add the nuts / coconut about 10 minutes before taking it out of the oven.  Wow.  The flavors that came from the toasted nuts and coconut was incredible.  From now on, if a recipe calls for me to toast the nuts.  I'm toasting the nuts!
Carrot Cake Granola
adapted from Healthy Food for Living
  • 1.5 c rolled oats
  • 1.5 c puffed brown rice cereal
  • 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 c finely grated carrots
  • 1/4 c agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c chopped pecans
  • 1/2 c unsweetened flake coconut
  • 1/2 c raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Put the oats and cereal into a large bowl; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the applesauce, carrot, agave, extract, spices and salt.  Whisk until very smooth.
  4. Pour wet ingredients over cereal and stir until evenly coated.  Spread mixture onto baking sheet in an even layer.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes.  Remove sheet from oven and stir in the nuts and coconut.
  6. Bake for an additional 8-12 minutes, or until granola is brown and crisp.
  7. Remove granola from oven, toss with raisins, and cool completely.  

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

White Chocolate and Almond Scones

I'm pretty good at exercising self-control.  I'm the type of person who can take a bite of cheesecake and stop at one bite.  I can also walk away from a lackluster cookie if I don't think it's worth the indulgence.  But, I seem to have met my match with these scones.  They are amazing.  Ah.Maze.Ing.

I've been wanting to make scones for a while now.  Well, actually, I've been wanting to make a lot of things for a while now.  In due time.  In any event, I saw a recipe for some "healthier" banana and cherry scones the other day, but my bananas have yet to ripen.  So, I'll wait on those.  But, I had decided that today was my scone baking day so I went on a hunt for another recipe.  I started by looking for recipes that Ron would eat.  I knew I had some buttermilk in the fridge that I wanted to use up so I searched for scones with buttermilk.  I found a recipe for Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Scones that sounded amazing.  However, we were out of chocolate chips and I didn't want to use chopped chocolate because I only had milk chocolate.  What did we have?  Sliced almonds and white chocolate chips.  Score!!  I improvised and holy moly, thank goodness I did.

Warning:  these smell un.freaking.believable.  The smell took over the kitchen, permeated into the hallway and into our lobby.  I swear, the entire building smelled like buttery, almondy amazingness.  And as for the taste?  Double un.freaking.believable.  Even better?  You only use 1 mixing bowl!
White Chocolate and Almond Scones
adapted from Evil Shenanigans
Yield:  8 scones
  • 2 c AP flour
  • 1/3 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces and kept very cold
  • 2/3 c white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c sliced almonds
  • 1/2 c cold buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • cinnamon and sugar for topping
  1. Heat oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet w/ parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Add the cold butter and rub it in w/ your fingers until the butter is in small pieces, no larger than peas.
  4. Add the white chocolate chips and almonds; mix well.
  5. Pour in the cold buttermilk and vanilla and mix until the liquid is absorbed.  (The dough will look dry and shaggy).
  6. Turn the dough onto a cutting board and knead the dough 3x by pressing the dough into a fat disk, folding the dough in half, turning it 1/4 turn and repeating.  Do not overknead.
  7. Once kneaded, press into an 8" circle and cut into 8 wedges.  Place the wedges on the prepared baking sheet and brush with beaten egg.  Top each scone with sprinkles of cinnamon and sugar.
  8. Bake the scones for 15-18 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
  9. Cool ten minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Roasted Chicken with Parsley Red Potatoes

Since I started cooking, I enjoy hearing Ron's comments about my food.  Last night, he complimented me on the meal that is featured in this post and told me he how much I have improved since I've started cooking.  It made me feel good.  Some days, he walks in the kitchen and says "it smells awesome, hun"!  And, even though I've only begun to saute the garlic, it still makes me happy.  But, not all of the food has met Ron's expectations.  A few weeks ago, I made something with vegetables:

Ron - "Do you remember that world in Super Mario Brothers 3 when everything was giant?"
Me - "Yea, I loved that world.  I think it was world four."
Ron - "That's what these vegetables look like.  Why can't you cut them smaller?"

Sigh.  If Ron wants to spend 20 minutes chopping vegetables before the meal, he can.  But, I'll take my leisurely time.  I may be the clumsiest person to walk the face of this planet.  We don't need fingers flying off as dinner is being prepared!  I've had one too many close encounters already...

Regardless, I agree that my confidence level has improved with cooking.  As I read and study more about the recipes and food preparation, I think I am getting better at telling when food is done.  Or when something is going to work or what spiced should be added.  As for now, Ron is my guinea pig.  I think that I have confidence with him, but I must admit that I am scared for the true test.  Both my sister and my mom will be visiting at the end of the month and I will be cooking for them.  What if I've done something all along that tastes fine for me, but is the wrong way?  Oh well, it will be exciting to show them that my kitchen skills go beyond microwave preparation.

This meal served as our Easter dinner.  It was delicious.  Both recipes are from Cooking Light and I've really begun to enjoy their recipes.  They keep it light but pack in a lot of flavor.  I started the potatoes before I began to prep the chicken.  I also sprinkled some additional italian spices on the chicken as it was cooking.  I prepped some asparagus to roast with the chicken during its oven time.  All in all, it was a big success.  Definitely a keeper and certainly one that you should try.
Roasted Chicken
from Cooking Light
Yield:  4 servings

  • 3/4  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 3/4  teaspoon  fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1/2  teaspoon  black pepper, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  garlic powder
  • 1/4  teaspoon  dried oregano
  • 4  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 2  cups  thinly sliced red bell pepper
  • 1  cup  thinly sliced yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2  cup  thinly sliced shallots (about 1 large)
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  tablespoon  balsamic vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, fennel seeds, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, garlic powder, and oregano. Brush chicken with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil; sprinkle spice rub over chicken. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over; cook 1 minute. Arrange chicken in an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until done.
  3. Heat remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers, shallots, and rosemary; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Stir in vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve bell pepper mixture over chicken.
Parsley Red Potatoes, from Cooking LightYield:  2 servings

  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 2  cups  small red potatoes, quartered
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • Dash of crushed red pepper
  1. Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. 
  2. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. 
  3. Add potatoes; cook 18 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. 
  4. Stir in parsley, salt, and pepper.

    Sunday, April 4, 2010

    French Toast Casserole

    Breakfast is, by far, my favorite meal of the day.  In fact, I somehow managed to eat breakfast for all 3 meals the other day.  I woke up to some granola with fruit, I ate egg whites on a bagel for lunch and I had an egg white omelet for dinner with peppers and onions.  Hmm.  Perhaps I overdid it with all of the egg whites.  It didn't happen intentionally.  But, we were eating out for most of the day while we were running errands and that is just what appealed to me.  Regardless, I would choose breakfast over anything.  Even my snack foods (granola, yogurt, cereal, bagels, toast) are breakfasty.  

    We don't often eat breakfast together on weekends.  I've normally eaten 3 small meals by the time Ron wakes up!  But, I decided that we would have a prepared breakfast for Easter.  So, Ron was forced to get up around 9:00.  I don't think he had a problem with it though.  He was able to indulge in a french toast casserole!

    You prep the ingredients the night before, so it was nice to wake up and just throw it in the oven.  I opted for a lighter version of the casserole.  It seemed appropriate.  No one needs in indulge in 1,000 calories before 10am (at least I don't think so).  There was still a lot of sugar in the recipe, but it was very, very good.  I would suggest baking it for a bit longer.  The bottom of the bread was a bit soggy, but it still tasted fine.  I really liked the caramel flavor.  It definitely added something to the dish without being too overwhelming.  I ate mine with bananas and berries.  The original recipe called for 2 tbsp of dark corn syrup, but I replaced that with maple syrup.  The sugar didn't dissolve quite as nicely as it would have with the dark corn syrup (and I think that's why I had trouble spreading the caramel on the bottom of the pan) but I think it worked out just wonderfully.  

    Note:  because the recipe is a "lighter" version, it uses skim milk and egg substitute.  Feel free to replace these with whole/2%/1% milk and regular eggs.  
    French Toast Casserole
    adapted from Cooking Light
    Yield:  6 servings
    • 2/3  cup packed dark brown sugar
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
    • Cooking spray
    • 1 1/2  cups  1% low-fat milk
    • 1/2  cup  egg substitute
    • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
    • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
    • 1/8  teaspoon  grated orange rind
    • 2  large eggs
    • 6  (1 1/2-inch-thick) slices French bread
    • 6  tablespoons  frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
    • 1  to 2 teaspoons Maple Extract (or Grand Marnier, or whatever flavor you desire)
    • 2  tablespoons finely chopped pecans, toasted (optional)

    1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook 5 minutes or until bubbly and sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Pour sugar mixture into bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spread mixture evenly over bottom of pan. Set aside; cool completely.
    2. Combine milk and next 5 ingredients (through eggs) in a large shallow bowl; stir with a whisk. Dip 1 bread slice in milk mixture; arrange bread slice over sugar mixture in dish. Repeat procedure with remaining 5 bread slices. Pour any remaining egg mixture over bread slices. 
    3. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
    4. Preheat oven to 350°.
    5. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
    6. While casserole bakes, combine whipped topping and extract. Place 1 bread slice, caramel side up, on each of 6 plates; top each serving with 1 tablespoon topping and 1 teaspoon pecans, or top as desired.

    Friday, April 2, 2010

    Black Bean Burgers

    I've always liked frozen black bean burgers, so I figured that it was finally time to put together my own... with food that incorporates fresh ingredients.  I really eat burgers.  (Burgers in the traditional sense that one would think of a burger.)  In a given year, I will probably eat a burger once.  And, that's not a lie.  I actually don't think I had a burger in 2008.  I know this for a fact.  I'm not a vegetarian, but in reality, I just don't eat a lot of meat.  I stick with meat a few times a week for dinner and it's normally chicken.  I will admit that I have been eating a tad more meat since I started blogging about the food I make.  But, that's because I'm normally blogging about dinner.  And Ron is home for dinner.  

    Sorry for the picture.  I've complained about the lighting in our apartment on more than one occasion.  It's just terrible!  So, I have to try and use a flash but then the food looks neon.  I really don't make alien food.  It's just the lighting :(  Anyway, this burgers were very, very good.  I found them in a Cooking Light recipe and they were include in the reader recipes.  I was very disappointed with the latest issue of Cooking Light (they were frying things!  How is that "light"?) so I was very happy to turn to page 196 and see a recipe I would enjoy trying.

    I cut the recipe in half in case they didn't turn out, but they did!  The original recipe makes 6 burgers.  I got 4 out of my recipe in half, so I'm wondering if I didn't make the patties big enough.  Unfortunately, I didn't buy hamburger buns so we ate the burgers on bagel thins.  It was still very good!  They did not take a lot of time to prep.  I definitely suggest trying them. My only complaint was the step that instructed to "carefully turn once".  Yea, that didn't happen.  The patties were stuck!  Oh well, they still cooked through and were tasty.  Was I supposed to turn the baking sheet instead of turning the patties?  Who knows.  Clarify people, clarify!  I'm in law school.  Interpretation is a HUGE part of it.  Specify what needs to be turned or else you'll get red-lined for being vague!  :)
    Black Bean Burgers w/ Mango Salsa
    recipe from Cooking Light reader recipes
    Yield:  6 burgers
    • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 3/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, divided
    • 3/4 c (3 ounces) shredded Monteray Jack cheese
    • 1/4 c panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
    • 2 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 tsp dried oregano
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 1/2 medium jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
    • 2 large egg whites
    • cooking spray
    • 1 1/4 c chopped peeled mango (about 1 medium)
    • 3 tbsp chopped shallots
    • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
    • 1 avocado, peeled and chopped
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 6 hamburger buns, lightly toasted
    • lettuce and additional toppings for burgers, if desired
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Lightly spray baking sheet with cooking spray.
    3. Place black beans in a medium bowl; mash with a fork.
    4. Stir in 1/2 c cilantro and next 7 ingredients (through egg whites).
    5. Shape bean mix into 6 (1/2 inch thick) patties.
    6. Arrange patties on baking sheet.
    7. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, carefully turning once.
    8. Combine remaining 1/4 c cilantro, mango, and next 4 ingredients (through garlic) in a bowl.
    9. Place a patty on bun and top with lettuce, toppings and mango salsa.

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    Birds Nest Cookies

    I submit an exam this morning.  I had a terrible feeling when I submit the exam.  Granted, I always feel terrible when I submit exams and I somehow end doing ok.  But this time... this time is different.  This time, I was unfortunately reminded of that one horrific algebra final I took during my freshman year of college.  I ended up having to retake the class.  I struggled with math that year.  For the entire semester, I lacked energy to go to class, to learn the material, to relate to the Professor.  I simply despised it and could not bring myself to even try to force myself to work through problems.  

    Unfortunately, my undergraduate self made a reappearance this past semester in regard to class productivity with constitutional law.  I simply had no motivation for this exam or this class.  (In reality, I've been really struggling with law school in general for the entire semester, but that is another story.)  It's sad really, because I very much enjoyed my first semester of con law.  

    I know that my exam is now out of my hand and sitting silently waiting to receive my lowest grade of law school, in fact ever.  I know this because I simply could not bring myself to analyze the issues correctly.  It was like all brain activity stopped once I picked up the exam.  I actually have no idea what happened.  I'm more annoyed because I am terribly disappointed in myself.  But, I realize that this is simply one class, one exam and three short months out of my life.  So, I will turn the page.

    But, I did still need something to add some cheer to my life.  So, I decided to make some birds nest cookies.  With the Easter holiday approaching, my mom was kind enough to send Ron and I some Easter baskets.  Sadly, I binged on most of the candy for nearly the entire 24 hour period which I was taking my exam, but I did manage to salvage some robins eggs.  Perhaps I knew subconsciously that I would be needing to make up some comfort food after the exam.  These cookies were perfect to make because they required very little brain activity.  Yet, they produced a wonderful (and fun) result.  (By the way, sorry for the bumming post.)
    Birds Nest Cookies
    adapted from Flamingo Bear
    • 1 2/3 c chocolate chips (about 11 ounces)
    • 1/2 c peanut butter chips 
    • 1/4 c butterscotch chips
      • You could also omit butterscotch and use 3/4 c of pb chips or smooth pb.
    • sprinkle of kosher salt
    • 2 1/2 c chow mein noodles (about 10 ounces)
    • 1 cup salted peanuts
    • 3/4 c rice krispie cereal (optional)
    • Robin eggs (or whatever chocolate candy piece you prefer)
    1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Melt chocolate, peanut butter and butterscotch chips over medium heat.  I used a double boiler.
    3. Gently stir in salt, noodles, peanuts and rice krispies, if desired.
    4. Mix well.
    5. Spoon onto prepared baking sheets and shape into birds nest.
    6. Add some eggs to the chocolate.
    7. Place in refrigerator to firm and store in air-tight container.