Monday, August 31, 2009

Wild and Crazy Confetti Turkey Burger

Like every family, mine gets bored with the same meals over and over.  Within the last year, we've adapted to having ground turkey as part of our diets, mainly in the form of turkey chili.  I decided we needed a change, so I started trying to find a healthy and tasty recipe for ground turkey. As I flipped through Rachael Ray's Cooking 'Round the Clock Cookbook, I found the recipe for Urban Cowboy Burgers.  I had to make some adjustments to make it more palatable for my family.  This is a great recipe for anyone doing a low carb diet - just omit the bun. Anyhow, here is the recipe for the burger. Give it a shot and see what you think.

Jaime's Wild and Crazy Confetti Turkey Burger (makes 4)
1 1/3 pounds ground turkey
8 slices of turkey bacon
1 package or separately purchased(1) each green,yellow & red peppers(small)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 TBSP parsley
2 TBSP thyme
2 TSP ground cumin
2 TSP Frank's Hot Sauce
2 TSP Montreal Steak Seasoning(McCormick) or any grill seasoning
2 -3 TBSP olive oil (to coat pan)
1 slice of American cheese per burger (optional)
1 toasted Kaiser roll per burger (optional)

Seed and chop peppers(only half of each small pepper). Chop garlic. Cook bacon and when done, remove from pan and set aside. Coat pan with olive oil or prepare grill.  Combine peppers, garlic and spices with turkey.  Separate into four burgers. Cook until meat is done. Place cheese slices on each burger and allow to melt. Remove burgers and place on buns.Voila!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mocha Cupcakes(AKA I Need a Drink After This)

This was one tough cookie- I mean cupcake. I'd been eyeing up the Martha Stewart Cupcake recipe book for sometime and I'd finally bought it. I couldn't wait to dive in - just looking at the pictures made my mouth water.  I finally decided on trying my hand at mocha cupcakes with coffee icing.  They sounded and looked divine. I have to admit I am not much of a baker, which added extra stress to this task. The cupcakes themselves, even though the mixing was a bit time consuming, came out absolutely perfect. So perfect in fact, I ate four of them before the frosting went on.  Now on to the thorn in my side: the icing.
I usually use the kind of icing that comes from a can, so again, this was new for me.My Kitchen Aid mixer is on the fritz, so I had to use a hand mixer. I made the mistake of using carton egg whites, which never peaked and my corn syrup/water/sugar mix kept sticking to the bottom of the pan no matter how much I stirred.  I dumped the first batch ended up in the garbage.On a second attempt, a used regular egg whites, which peaked better, but the sugar mix still didn't turn out right.  I went on to plan B, which was a home made frosting mix, passed down from Dori, my husband's grandmother. The frosting came out amazing. I coudln't find my piping bags or decorating tips, so I had to use a Ziploc bag, with the corner cut off. I garnishe with chocolate sprinkles and used a potato peeler to created chocolate curls and shavings from sweet chocolate squares. I will try the MS frosting recipe again - I am shaken, but not stirred. Happy Baking!

Martha Stewart's Mocha Cupcakes
2 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
3/4 cup freshly brewed espresso
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (not instant coffee)

Seven-Minute Frosting (coffee variation)
For the frosting
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 large egg whites, room temperature
2 tablespoons pure coffee extract

Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Line standard muffin tins with paper line

Whisk together cake flour and cocoa. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter until smooth and light. Add the brown sugar and eggs; beat until fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add the vanilla, baking soda, and salt; beat to combine thoroughly.
Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of sour cream, and beating until just combined after each. Mix together brewed espresso and espresso powder; add to batter, and beat until smooth.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, about 22 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely be¬fore removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
To finish, use a small spoon to dollop cupcakes generously with frosting and make decorative peaks. Garnish each cupcake with a coffee bean before serving.

Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230°F (110°C).
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating to combine.
 As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230°F (110°C), remove from the heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons coffee extract, whisking to combine. Use immediately.

Dori's Famous Mocha Frosting
3 cups Confectioner's Sugar
2 TBSP cocoa powder
1 1/2 sticks of butter
2 TBSP strong brewed coffee
1/4 teasponn of vanilla
1 square of melted chocolate
Mix the dry ingredients together; mix the rest in a separate bowl. Combine all ingredients and mix with a stand mixer or hand blender until completely creamy and blended.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Comfort Food:Balsamic Chicken and Mashed Potatoes

The days of summer are dwindling down and the rain has taken up residence here in NJ. What better time than now for some comfort food? Here is another favorite recipe from my online nesting group, provided to us by Colleen L., adapted from Cooking Light.
Balsamic Chicken
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 (5-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots (Can sub garlic here)
Chopped parsley (optional)

Combine broth, vinegar, and honey.

Melt butter and oil in a large nonstick skillet over low heat.

While butter melts, sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in flour; shake off excess flour.

Increase heat to medium-high; heat 2 minutes or until the butter turns golden brown. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Add shallots, and sauté 30 seconds. Add the broth mixture, scraping to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 3 minutes). Serve sauce over chicken. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

Mashed Potatoes (Serves 5-6)
4 Russet Potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 to 1/2 cup of whole milk
2 TBSP butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil cubed potatoes until soft. Add potatoes to mixing bowl and add butter(you can add more than listed if you like them more buttery). Mash/electric mix until combined.  Add a portion of the milk, stir batter again and keep adding milk until you reach the consistency you like. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It's Not Rocket Science(AKA Quick and Easy Bites)

Let's face it. Most of us have busy lives - homes,careers,families and hobbies. It leaves little time or energy to prepare meals made from scratch. As much as I like making huge, home-cooked meals, time just doesn't always allow me to do so. So, I figured I would dedicate today's blog to my favorite quick eats and kitchen staples.

The Easiest Pizza Ever (And Cheap, too!)
1 can of Pillsbury Dough Pizza Crust
1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce (I used my leftover homemade sauce)
2 TBSP of Olive Oil
2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese(part skim, low moisture)
Oregano to sprinkle on top
1/2 -1 cup of Hormel Mini Pepperoni

Preheat oven to 350. Roll out pizza dough on cookie sheet or pizza pan. Drizzle oil and spread with the back of a spoon on the dough. Spread pizza sauce with ladle, then add cheese and pepperoni. Sprinkle with oregano and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until crust is browned and cheese is bubbly.

This is a one of my favorite foods. I like making pizza at home because you can get creative with it. You can make it low fat using low fat cheese, diced peppers and onions and pre-cooked grilled chicken strips.

Bisquick is a Godsend. You can buy an economy size box at any bulk market chain. You can make pancakes,waffles and biscuits with just a few simple ingredients. All basic recipes are on the back of the box.

Simple Macaroni with Diced Tomatoes and Garlic Bread(Serves 4)

1 16 oz can of diced tomatoes

1/2 box of Ziti(8 -12 oz)

2 TSP of garlic powder(1 TSP reserved for bread)

1 TSP of onion powder

Salt & Pepper to taste

4 TBSP of Butter (1 per slice)

4 slices of Italian Style loaf bread

In a small sauce pot, add the tomatoes with 1 TSP of garlic, the onion powder and salt & pepper. Boil water and prepare Ziti until cooked.

Preheat toaster oven to 400 on toast mode. Butter each slice of bread then add a sprinkle of garlic and oregano. Toast carefully on rack ( do not use a pan) and remove when golden (approximately 10 minutes).

Ribs can be easy to make. Purchase either beef or pork ribs and slap them on the grill at about 350 degrees for 30 minutes. When they are close to being done, coat with BBQ sauce and continue to cook another 10 minutes. I prefer spicy sauce, but there are many different kinds. These are great paired with some corn on the cob or corn bread and some mashed potatoes.

I don't know about everyone else, but I am excited for fall. I am thinking ahead to apple picking (and apple desserts!) and crock pot meals.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Anniversary Risotto: A True Labor of love

Today was our four year wedding anniversary. Instead of going out, I decided to cook something special. I decided to be daring, to make something I had never made before. After discarding a few ideas, I landed on risotto. To be totally honest, I was completely nervous, having heard that risotto can be difficult to make. I was nervous, but determined. I chopped and measured perfectly, my knees knocking the entire time. I had flashes of Gordon Ramsey popping out of nowhere yelling, "You scorched the risotto, you stupid cow! You donkey!" I stirred my little heart out to keep it from scorching. After about an hour, an achy back from standing and chopping, and a cut knuckle, the risotto was finished. It was well worth the effort. I have honestly never had such tasty risotto. Granted, I have only eaten it twice, but this was amazing. I think I was mostly shocked because it turned out so well the first time I made it.
Spring Risotto(from with Shrimp
3 TBSP of olive oil
3 TBSP of Butter
1/2 TSP of Fennel Seeds
1 small red pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic minced or 3/4 TBSP of garlic powder
2 TSP of grated lemon zest
3 TBSP of parsley
2 TBSP of rosemary
1/2 TSP ground coriander
1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice
1/2 cup of dry white wine
3 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
14-15 medium sized, cooked shrimp
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat oil and butter in a medium pan over medium heat. Add in fennel,red pepper, onion and garlic. In a small bowl, mix together lemon zest,parsley and rosemary. Stir half of this mixture in the pan. Set aside the rest. Saute veggies until slightly softened(3-4 minutes).
Stir in rice and coriander, Cook stirring frequently, until rice is thoroughly covered with oil and butter. Stir in 1 cup of veggie broth. Continue to stir and ladle more broth as needed. Rice should have a thin veil of broth over it at all times. Add 14-15 medium sized, cooked shrimp to the pan and stir in. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until all broth is absorbed and rice is tender.
Remove pan from heat and stir in remaining herb mixture, lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover pan loosely with waxed paper and allow to stand 8- 10 minutes before serving.

Is It Sauce or Gravy? The Great Tomato and Pasta Debate

There's really no debate. Call it whatever you like. I prefer to call it sauce, while some of my relatives and friends call it gravy. Whatever the case, there are a million and one ways to make it and pretty much everyone loves it. I use a recipe that is part my own invention, part my mother/grandmother's recipe and part my Aunt Linda's recipe. God bless my Aunt Linda and cousin Lindy for having the patience to come over one freezing December night and show me how to make 'gravy' and meatballs. That was 4 years ago, and I have been working on my sauce/gravy making skills ever since. There are a couple of tricks that I have learned since making my own meatballs and sauce. For starters, only use 80 -85% fat free ground beef. Any less fat in the meat tends to make the meatballs very dry. Adding grated Parmesan to your meatballs adds great flavor. In my experience, Tuttorosso products(sauce,puree and peeled plum tomatoes with basil) make the best sauce/gravy. Like I previously said, there are a million ways to make sauce/gravy and meatballs. I'm sharing my recipe with you, but feel free to add comments and share your own.
Jaime's Homemade Pasta Sauce/Gravy
1 large can (32 oz) of Tuttorosso Tomato Sauce
1 large can (32oz) of Tuttorosso Tomato Puree
1 can Tuttorosso Italian Style Peeled Plum Tomatoes
1/2 TBSP of Garlic or two diced cloves
1-2 TBSP of salt (adjust to taste)
1/2 TBSP of pepper
1/4 TBSP of oregano
1/4 cup of diced onion (This is all you need - more over powers the taste)
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
Pinch of hot pepper
Add plum tomatoes to bottom of a large pot. Mash the tomatoes with a potato masher or fork. This adds some bulk. Add sauce, puree and spices, stirring intermittently. Simmer for at least an hour, leaving a wooden spoon in the pot - my mother swore this was the secret to great sauce.
Parmesan Meatballs
2 Lbs 80-85% fat ground beef
2 eggs
1 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
2 TBSP of salt
1 TBSP of pepper
1 TBSP of garlic
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
3 TBSP olive oil
Heat oil in frying pan - you can also chop up a clove of garlic and a tiny bit of onion and add to oil. Brown them and remove; they give the olive oil a nice flavor.
Combine all ingredients to ground beef and make sure they are mixed well. When complete, shape meatballs and add to heated pan. Using a slotted spoon or large spoon, keep turning the meatballs so they brown evenly. Once completely cooked and firm, add to sauce.
Serve meatballs and sauce/gravy over your choice of pasta(Here I have a mix of Cappellini and a few errant Wagon Wheels(Piccolini) that escaped the kid's pasta). Garnish with grated Parmesan and serve.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Stuffed French Toast(Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana)

This is a recipe that I found in Eating Well When You're Expecting. I initially made it only for my husband since I had no real appetite in the beginning of my pregnancy. I sincerely had never heard of stuffed french toast and usually just made it the traditional dip - the- bread -in- the -egg and drop- it -in- the- pan -way. This morning I decided to due a few variations on the recipe. The recipe I had incorporate raspberry preserves and fresh banana. I had no preserves on hand, so I made one batch with just bananas, and a second with peanut butter, chocolate and banana. You can use any kind of peanut butter and I used Ghiardelli Chocolate Chunks (60% Bittersweet Cocoa) for the chocolate part. As for the bread, you can use whatever type you have handy. This particular morning, I used Maier's Italian bread. The slices are pretty small, about the size of a Wonder Bread slice. Just remember to adjust ingredient sizes in accordance to the size of the bread you use. I used about 10 chunks of chocolate on the bread, but perhaps should have used less. The bread does have a tendency to get soggy, so watch how much chocolate you use. The banana only variation was perfect for breakfast and even better with some syrup. The peanut butter, chocolate, and banana variation was VERY rich. Extremely good, but heavy for breakfast. I could see this being eaten as a dessert, served with some fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Stuffed French Toast ( 1 serving) Banana Raspberry Variation
2 slices of bread
1 TBSP of butter
1 Egg
1-2 TSP of raspberry or strawberry preserves
1/2 -3/4 of sliced banana
1 -2 TBSP olive oil

Oil and heat pan on medium heat. Scramble the egg in a bowl. Butter 1 piece of bread on the inside. Spread 1 - 2 TSP. of preserves on bread. Top with banana slices and top with the other piece of bread. Coat the sandwich with the egg, making sure it is completely covered, especially on the sides. Cook in pan until both sides are browned and filling is warm.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Variation
2 slices of bread
1 egg
1 TBSP of butter
1 TBSP of peanut butter (any kind)
10-14 chocolate chips of chunks (see above for recommendations)
1/2 -3/4 of 1 banana
1 TBSP of olive oil

Follow the same directions as above, substituting peanut butter and chocolate chips for the preserves.

Monday, August 17, 2009

No Longer A Quiche Virgin

This is a totally new recipe for me. I needed to find a kid friendly recipe with protein, veggies and dairy and didn't want to go with the same old standard meals.

I figured,"Why not try quiche?".

I had to explain to my husband, AKA 'The Third Child', what quiche is. My explanation? "It's like an omelet in a pie crust. Try it, you'll like it." And like it, he did. So did my one year old daughter. My 3 year old son is still skeptical. He barely took a bite, alas his nick name of Sir Picky Pants. I made a full fat version, but I assume you can use skim milk and low fat cheese. I made a simple broccoli and mozzarella cheese quiche in a store market frozen pie crust. It took longer for me to bake than the 30 minutes indicated - maybe about 50 minutes. I don't know if it was because of the oven, but it definitely took longer to firm.

Easy Broccoli Quiche (

2 TBSP Butter

1 onion, minced

1 TSP minced garlic

2 cups chopped fresh broccoli

1 9 inch unbaked pie crust

1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese

4 eggs, well beaten

1 1/2 cups of milk

1 TSP salt

1 TBSP butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350. Over medium low heat, melt butter in a large sauce pan. Add onions, garlic and broccoli. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until veggies are tender. Spoon veggies into crust and sprinkle with cheese.

Combine eggs, milk and seasoning. Stir in 1 TBSP of melted butter. Pour egg mixture over veggies and cheese. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until center has set.

Quick and Easy Chicken Salad

I discovered chicken salad when I was pregnant with my first baby. A true tuna addict, I was pretty upset to learn you should only eat tuna in limited quantities due to the mercury. I needed a fix for my dilemma and this recipe hit the spot. It's a recipe that works best with left over chicken - grilled chicken boneless breasts or rotisserie chicken. I had left over marinated chicken ( I used McCormick's Grill Mates Marinade once again - this time in Mesquite Flavor). If I don't marinate the meat, I at least use grill seasoning. This is a simple recipe that anyone can make - add any toppings you like. When I was pregnant with Katie, I would make some homemade bread to serve it on, with a side of pickles and olives. These days I am keeping it simple, eating it on good old, store bought whole wheat. You can use full fat mayo if you please, but since I am dieting, I prefer the lite stuff.
Jaime's Simple Chicken Salad (serves 2)
6-8 ounces of left over chicken meat, marinated or rotisserie
2 TSPS of Light Mayo
2 TSPS of Grey Poupon or deli style mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 slices of any style bread
Heat and shred leftover chicken. Add mayo and mustard, salt and pepper; mix well. Serve on bread.
That was easy, right?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Megan M's Famous Baked Mac N Cheese

I am very grateful to the women I chat with on a local NJ board. They are wise, caring, funny and tremendous cooks. This recipe has been floating around the board and cooking group for quite sometimeand never fails to make fans. A special thanks to Megan M. and her grandmother, who created this awesome recipe.

Megan M.'s Famous Baked Mac N Cheese

Serves 4

2 TBSP corn starch
1 TBSP salt
1/4 TSP pepper
2 1/2 cups of milk
2 TBSP Butter
3 cups of shredded cheddar
8 0z Elbow Macaroni, al dente
Plain Bread Crumbs

In a medium sauce pan, combine first three ingredients - stir in milk. Add butter and stir over medium-high heat until sauce thickens. Don't stop stirring or it will scorch. Remove from heat.
Sprinkle 2 1/2 cups of cheese until melted. Add macaroni and pour into a 2 qt. casserole dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bread crumbs.
Bake uncovered at 375 for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.

The verdict - A crowd pleaser, even though I had a mishap with the cheese. I had issues with the shredded cheddar and had to make due with American cheese singles. According to the tasters - it was still 'slammin'. Here are my changes, in the event you are in a pinch and only have American cheese slices on hand.

Substitute 7-8 slices of American cheese for the shredded cheddar. I ripped the cheese to pieces and slowly added to the sauce, stirring continuously. The American cheese was definitely lighter in appearance (when baked) than the cheddar normally is.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hawaiian Style

I went bat sh*t crazy at the supermarket the other day deciding I need to uber-stock my pantry with marinades. I was lucky enough to stumble across McCormick's Grill Mates Hawaiian Luau Marinade. I built tonight's dinner theme around that idea. I marinated two chicken cutlets for around 4 hours in the marinade and it was quite tasty. I paired the chicken with an old favorite, Teriyaki Fried Rice and a new favorite, Pineapple Kabobs. I didn't have any Meyer's Dark Rum to make a favorite low cal, Mai Tai style cocktail, so I sipped white wine instead. My husband topped his with a Pina Colada, while the kids threw back some milk. Yup, we're hard core! My husband told me dinner was perfect, but he could have done without the sound effects - AKA "A whiney, molar-teething, one year old." Now, on with the recipes.

Hawaiian Luau Chicken
1 package of McCormick's Grill Mates Hawaiian Luau Marinade
2 pounds chicken, salmon on pork
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/3 cup of white vinegar

Prepare marinade according to directions on package and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

Cook on grill for 20-25 minutes between 35
o - 400 degrees.

Pineapple Kabobs
3/4 cup of pineapple chunks (fresh)
3/4 cup white onion chunks
3/4 cup red onion chunks
PAM Grill Spray

Slice pineapple, white onion and red pepper into cubes. Arrange on Kabob Skewer. Spray with PAM for Grilling, front and back. Arrange on grill pan and cook on grill for 30 minutes, turning kabobs every 5-7 minutes. Remove when grilled to a warm, golden color.

Teriyaki Fried Rice
1 Bag of Boil in Bag White or Brown Rice
1 Egg
2 TBSP of Olive oil
1/4 cup of chopped white onion
1/4 cup of Teriyaki Sauce
1 TBSP of Soy Sauce

Heat oil in pan, then add the onion. Brown lightly. Boil rice until done. When rice is complete, drain and add to pan. Add Teriyaki and Soy sauces. Stir until rice is coated. Crack egg and add to rice. Stir quickly until egg is fully cooked in the rice. Serve and Enjoy!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Blue Berry Muffin Sunday AKA 'The Stuffed Muff-Cake'

Today, I felt the need to make something somewhat healthy. I had some fresh blueberries (a new summer favorite of mine) in the fridge and I figured it would be a great morning for low fat muffins. I have to say, I was pretty impressed with the results. I did change the recipe a bit (naturally). I didn't have yogurt in the house, so I decided to get creative and substituted whole milk. Due to this, I had to add a little more flour to thicken the batter. I will include the original low fat recipe & add in the changes I made. I also added a little extra fruit. Why not?
The verdict: Pretty darn good! More like a muff-cake than a straight up muffin. The extra fruit filled the middle like a stuffed cupcake. The outer layer was soft and spongy, not as dry and crumby as a muffin usually is. All in all, the recipe gets a thumbs up!

Low Fat Blueberry Muffins
1 1/2 cups of flour ( I used extra, maybe about 1/4 to 1/2 cup - just eyeball it and bring it to a consistency you'd like)
3/4 cup of sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup non fat or low fat yogurt ( I subbed whole milk since I did not have yogurt)
2/3 cup of skim milk
1/2 cup fresh blueberries (I used more- made sure there were 3-4 berries in each - put them in the middle if you can move them around)

Combine dry ingredients and slowly add milk until blended. Fill in greased muffin pan or lined muffin pan, about 3/4 of the way. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes or until brown.
You can serve warm - the fruit is messy, but it was so yummy! Probably even better with some Light Cool Whip or ice cream on top. Makes 12 muffins.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Best Bacon and Potato Dish Ever

Can you tell I love bacon? I am trying to be somewhat health conscious and use turkey bacon in these recipes to cut back on the fat. It's all about portion control, making small changes, and allowing indulgences every now and then. I do love to cook, so I am happy just to sample some of the heavier things I make for the family. I have to tell you, this is a great dish. It's

Giada's Bacon and Pancetta Potatoes

I made a few changes, but not too many.

6-8 slices of turkey bacon, roughly chopped
2 1/4 slices of pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3 medium Russet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 Garlic clove, sliced
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 tbsp of fresh thyme
2-3 tbsp olive oil

Heat large pan and add bacon and pancetta
Cook until crisp(10-12 minutes), remove and cover with paper towels to drain
Add olive oil - turkey bacon does not make as much oil as regular bacon, so you need to add enough oil to cook the potatoes and NOT burn them. You can also use PAM combined with at least 2 TBSP of olive oil. Season, then cook the potatoes and garlic in the pan for about 25 minutes, stirring frequently. When cooked, add bacon and time to potatoes and cook for five more minutes. Remove and serve.

I inadvertently found a way to take more of the fat out of this side dish. I couldn't figure out which bowl I wanted to take the picture in, so I switched it three times. Each time I moved it, some of the oil stayed behind in the bowl :)

Verdict - So good that my son, Prince Picky Palate, loved it! The dish can be served with dinner (I had it with chicken cutlets) or as a breakfast side with some eggs, waffles or pancakes. I am currently hatching a plan to turn it into a creamy bacon potato soup for my husband.

Attack of the Killer Calzones

My husband is a cheese fanatic. Me, not so much. Aside from pizza and Doritos, I don't touch it. But, far be it from me to deny my husband and kids the pleasure if they love it. Tonight was my first attempt at making calzones, which are my husband's favorite cheese dish(well, one of them anyway). I chose to use Mario Batali's Ricotta & Ham Calzone with some changes.
Here's my version of the recipe:

Ricotta Mozzarella ALL Cheese All the Time Calzone
1 can Pillsbury Crescent Creations dough
1/2 cup of Ricotta cheese
1/2 pound of shredded mozzarella
2 eggs
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil for the crust
Preheat oven to 400
Roll out the dough and divide into two even pieces
Mix together 1 egg and cheeses
Lightly flour the two pieces of dough
Spread a small bit of sea salt and pepper on both pieces of dough
Spoon the cheese and egg mixture in the middle of each piece of dough
Using your fingers, dab olive oil on the edges of the dough
Fold into half moon shape; Crimp the edges to seal ( I used a fork to make the 'lines')
Beat the remaining egg and brush on the outside of the calzone - this will help it turn a nice golden brown in the oven
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and serve with tomato sauce for dipping.
The verdict: My husband gave it a 9 out of 10. His only issue was the dough. It was flakier than the normal, handmade dough, so it didn't quite have the same effect as a regular calzone. I plan on making it again for him - next time with home made dough.
Just a side note - check out my Mom's vintage Corel dish. Don't ya just love it?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Breakfast at Pillsbury's

It is simply amazing the gems you can find on the back of a Pillsbury wrapper. I was looking for some plain old pizza dough when I came across Crescent Recipe Creations. Curious, I inspected the tube to see if they had recipes to match the scrumptious picture on the labels and luckily, they did. Behold....the amazing Bacon-Cheese Tartlet!
Here's the recipe, but I must warn you, the dough was kind of a pain to work with....don't fret if you can't get the dough to stretch over the muffin pan grooves. I kept strecthing it over and it kept shrinking back. It made no difference! My husband ate 6 of them and refused to share with the kiddies.
Bacon and Cheese Tartlets
1 can Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations
1/3 cup shredded cheese - Swiss, Cheddar - whatever you love!
1/4 cooked chopped bacon ( I subbed turkey bacon)
1 TBSP chopped onion
1 Egg
3 TBSP whipping/heavy cream
Cut the dough into 12 square and gently press into mini muffin pan cups, shaping up and over the edges. Whip the cream with the egg. Spoon cheese into cups. Top with bacon and onions. Add a TBSP of egg mix to each cup. Add left over bacon and onions. Bake in oven at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Remove and let cook for 5 minutes. Enjoy!
I fully intend to play around with this recipe to make it more low fat. I did not add cheese to mine, as I am not a cheese person. I subbed turkey bacon for regular full fat. I am going to try plain egg whites to see how it comes out, maybe subbing bacon with Morning Star forms sausage patties, crumbled. I also want to try and make pizza bites, using mozzarella and fresh tomato. Ahh, the possibilities!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Strawberry Ice Cream 'Sunday' and a Gift from the Tassimo Gods

'Tsk!Tsk!" I can hear it already before I even type what I am about to type. I made home made strawberry ice cream. That's not the bad part. I let my three year old eat it for breakfast. In my defense, I champion the Bill Cosby Chocolate Cake for Breakfast Theory. For those not in the 'know' on this theory - youtube it. You will not be disappointed. Anyhow, the ice cream has milk, is chockfull of fruit, and the amount of sugar matches the amount in many cereals or juices. I figured, what the hell, let him enjoy! I did, however, make sure he had an English muffin chaser. The verdict? My pickiest critic had a huge strawberry crusted smile while he finished the entire goblet. I guess that meant he enjoyed it! I admit I picked a little bit. The consistency was creamy and I had to let the ice cream thaw a bit before serving. I was so eager to make the ice cream, I didn't fully freeze the ice cream bowl. In spite of this, it did turn out pretty awesome. It tastes very similar to Blue Bunny Strawberry Ice Cream. I have Googled some low fat ice cream recipes, which I will share and try out on my own. My husband is allergic to anything termed 'diet' or 'low fat'. Here is the recipe I used, straight from the manual of my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker.

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

3 cups fresh ripe strawberries, sliced and stemmed

4 TBSP of freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 cups of sugar, divided

1 1/2 cups of whole milk

2 3/4 cups of heavy cream

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

In a small bowl, combine strawberries, lemon juice and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Combine and allow to sit for 2 hours. When complete, strain berries and reserve the juice. Mash or puree half the berries.

In a mixer on low speed combine milk and sugar until dissolved (approx. 1-2 minutes). Stir in the rest of the ingredients and mix. Add to FULLY Frozen ice cream bowl and follow instructions for your maker.

***Low Fat instructions, per Cuisinart***

Substitute lower fat creams, such as Half and Half, and Lower Fat Milks to replace the higher fat content in the ice cream. Bare in mind, the consistency and taste will differ because that fat content is lower.

And the gift from the Tassimo Gods, you ask? Skinny Cappuccino! It's about time! I don't really taste a difference from the regular Cappuccino, but I feel a little bit better about drinking it. It is my one vice every day and sometimes I NEED two of them.