About Me

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I am a wife, mother, teacher, runner, baker, fund-raiser, reader, watcher of movies, dog-lover, writer, music-lover and foodie. So - I'm a woman of many moods! I write and share in order to teach and enrich. I currently have two blogs going: The Kitchen Refugee, and A Mile At A Time. The first is about time spent in the kitchen and the second about time spent on the road. Frequently the two roads intersect!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Greece without Grease! (Biggest Loser Breakfast reinvented)

I've been eating Biggest Loser Broccoli Frittatas for a month now, and I'm ready for a change!

I changed up the veggies and cheese, but kept the measurements the same.  Since fetta is a dry cheese, the fat and calories aren't too bad.  The package label said there's 60 cal./3 g. fat per 1/4 cup.  You can do the math to figure out how much is in 1 tsp!

Greece without Grease
• Chopped, steamed spinach (I cut fresh leaves and microwaved them for 1 minute)
• Finely minced onion
• Fetta Cheese
All Whites or other egg substitute

Preheat oven to 350º.

Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.
Place 2 TB of chopped, steamed spinach per muffin cup.
1/2 tsp. minced onion per cup.
1 tsp. fetta cheese per cup.
1/4 cup egg substitute per muffin cup.
Sprinkle of course black pepper per cup.

Bake 15-20 minutes until egg is set.

I'm the only one who eats these, so I generally cook 6 at a time.  2 muffin cup helpings is 1 serving.
It's a nice variation.  I can almost pretend it's spanakopita...without the butter, and phyllo dough!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Indian Chicken Curry and Naan

Sunday seems to be my busiest day in the kitchen.  In fact, I better stop procrastinating my homework because I keep finding myself torn between my kitchen and the computer, with a 5:00 deadline looming.
I love to putter in the kitchen, and Sunday is generally the day I make sandwich bread, granola if we're out, and something new and interesting.

My daughter sent me this recipe after she had found it at allrecipes.com.  It's easy, and delicious.  It's also quite hot, and although Alli chose to add MORE cayenne pepper, I chose to use less!  It had plenty of kick already!

Indian Chicken Curry II 
• 3 TB olive oil
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, minced (I added more!)
• 3 TB curry powder (I used 2 rounded)
•1 tsp. cinnamon
• 1 tsp. paprika
• 1 bay leaf
• 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger root
• 1/2 tsp. white sugar
• salt to taste (I used 1 tsp. after starting with 1/2)
• 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
• 1 TB tomato paste
• 1 cup plain yogurt (I used non-fat)
• 3/4 cup coconut milk (I used 'light')
• 1/2 lemon, juiced
• 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (I used a dash!)

1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Saute onion until lightly browned.  Stir in garlic, curry powder, cinnamon, paprika, bay leaf, ginger, sugar and salt.  Continue stirring for 2 minutes.  Add chicken pieces, tomato paste, yogurt, and coconut milk.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

2. Remove bay leaf, and stir in lemon juice and cayenne pepper.  Simmer 5 more minutes.

Serve over rice, or with naan.

This recipe comes from The Bread Machine Bible, by Anne Sheasby. My bread machine kicked the bucket, so I'm adapting the recipes.  If you have a bread machine - dump in all the ingredients and set the machine to "Basic Dough" or "Pizza Dough." 

• 1/2 cup milk (at room temperature)
• 4 TB plain yogurt (at room temperature)
• 1 TB sunflower oil (I used olive oil)
• 2 cups + 2 TB white bread flour
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
• 1 tsp. instant dry yeast
• about 3 TB melted ghee or butter (I omitted this)

1. Pour milk into a bowl, add the yogurt and oil and whisk well.  Sprinkle in yeast and let stand for 5   minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients (except butter) and mix until it forms a ball of dough.

2.  Cover the dough and let rise until doubled in size.

3. Punch down the dough and divide it into 4 equal pieces.  Roll out each piece to form a flat oval or teardrop shape, approximately 1/4" thick.  Cover and leave for 15 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 450º F. (I just realized I only cooked the bread at 350º since that's what it was already set at for the granola! It still worked out!)  Put a cookie sheet in the oven to heat.  Place naan breads on the hot cookie sheets and brush with melted butter.  Bake 10-12 minutes until puffed.  Wrap in a clean dish towel and serve warm.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Treats for Man's Best Friend

Are you rolling your eyes at the title?
Thinking I've lost it completely since I'm cooking for my dogs?
Well, I don't have any kids at home.  I have a new mixer AND a new eating plan, so this gives me the satisfaction of baking for an appreciative audience! They NEVER complain!  (Of course, they have been known to eat their own poop...)

This recipe came with the dog-bone cookie cutters I bought at Bella (www.bellabakercity.com).  I saw them and thought they were a fun novelty.  The recipe is easy, and I like knowing exactly what I'm feeding my dogs.  There's no 'mystery product' or excess fats.
Dave's Good for Your Dog Biscuits

Classic Christmas photo - they all look like I've just beaten them!
• 2 cups whole wheat flour
• 1 cup rolled oats
• 1 cup unbleached white flour
• 1/2 cup corn meal
• 1/4 cup wheat germ
• 1 cup beef, chicken or vegetable stock
• 1/2 cup non-fat dry milk
• 1 egg, beaten
• 2 tsp. instant dry yeast
• 3 TB vegetable oil
• 2 TB molasses
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. garlic powder
• 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (OR 2 TB dried)

Baby Lilly 

Mix in heavy duty mixer, food processor, or by hand.  Knead in the last bit of flour by hand.  Cover dough and let rest for 1 hour.

Heat oven to 300º.
Roll out dough until it's 3/8" - 1/2" thick.  Cut into shapes with cookie cutters and place on a greased cookie sheet.  Continue to do this until all cookies have been cut.

Bake for 1 hour, turn off the oven and let biscuits remain there for another hour until very hard.  Keep in an airtight container...out of paw's reach.
Your dogs will thank you!

Annie (best shelter dog ever!)

Earl & Lilly take a break from frisbee
and pose for the paparazzi!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Biggest Loser Black Bean Hummus

This is another recipe I took from the 20011 Biggest Loser Calendar.  I've made some additions that should not change the calorie count at all.

Black Bean Hummus
1 can of black beans (they call for you to cook your own - not interested!)
1 can of garbanzo beans (or double the black beans)
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup silken tofu (silken refers to its softness.  I hadn't bought tofu before and learned something new when comparing packages)
2 TB Tahini paste
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
juice from 1 small lime
1/4 tsp. salt
sprinkle of paprika
1/4 bunch of cilantro - leaves picked from the stems (this is my own addition)

Rinse the beans from their juice, then throw all of it in a food processor.  Whirl until well mixed and smooth.

Serving: 1/4 cup, 111 calories, 6 g. protein, 12 g carbs, 5 g fat (the good kind)

Dip in what you like.  I'm sure veggies are the best choice, but if I'm having it for a meal instead of a snack I've been eating it with Special K Multigrain crackers (17 crackers = 90 calories).  OR I put the hummus in a high fiber tortilla wrap along with a bunch of veggies/salad mix.  Yum!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Gorgeous Garlic Bread!

I tried out a new bread recipe today - I wanted something new to go with an old soup recipe!

This came from The Bread Machine Bible, by Anne Sheasby (ISBN:978-1-84483-795-3).  Since my bread machine is long gone, I followed the directions for the 'oven method' and mixed the dough in the mixer. It really can't be done in a bread machine anyway, except to mix and raise the dough.

Garlic Bubble Ring
Makes one loaf - (serves 12)

• 1 package (1 lb. 2 oz.) white bread mix  (mixed according to directions)
• 7 TB melted butter (I used light butter)
• 1 beaten egg
• 2 TB freshly grated parmesan cheese
• 2 cloves minced garlic
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 2 tsp. dried herbs (I used Italian seasonings)

This is the mix I bought.  I found it in the baking
section with specialty flours.  I think that
any 1-loaf recipe would work if you prefer to
make your own from scratch.

1. Mix the bread mix according to the directions.
2. Let the dough rise until doubled in size.
3. Grease a 9-inch spring form pan fitted with a tube bottom (angelfood cake pan)
4. Combine melted butter, egg, cheese, garlic, salt and dried herbs in a small bowl and mix well.
5. Divide the dough into 12 equal balls, and dip them in the herb mixture, liberally coating them all over.
6. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

7. Preheat oven to 375º F.  Drizzle remaining liquid over the rolls, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until bread is risen and golden brown.  (I cooked it for 35 minutes.  The top was well browned but the bottom seemed a little wet.  I removed it from the pan, set it on a cookie sheet and put it back in the oven for about 5 more minutes until the sides and bottom had browned more.)

8. Cool on a wire rack.  Pull rolls apart when ready to serve.

The dough is really light and the flavors are wonderful!  This was really easy, and I know it'll be one of those great party dishes that people will rave over!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Delicious, Mostly FAT-FREE Cheesecake!

I am a cheesecake lover from way back!  I have a huge selection of cheesecake recipes and if I knew I was dying tomorrow, I'd whip up a cappuccino cheesecake, decorated with espresso cream and chocolate covered coffee beans in a heartbeat.

However, as far as I know...I have a while yet to live.  I've been dutifully using my eliptical trainer, and cutting back calories as much as I can stand.  My husband, though, keeps dropping hints about huckleberry cheesecake.  I've been trying to reconcile my New Year's Resolution with my New Christmas Kitchenaid Mixer.  It hardly seems fair.

I'm generally not a fan of 'lightened' recipes.  They tend to leave me wishing for ONE really good piece of the real thing.  I went to the internet for some inspiration and looked at several cheesecake recipes where calories had been trimmed.  Many involved non-fat ricotta cheese, and I could just feel the graininess against my tongue.  I like smooth, creamy cheesecake!

Sort of looks like a deflated meringue!

I settled on a recipe from CDKitchen (cdkitchen.com).  I ruined the first attempt by trying to hurry the process using my 'speed bake' convection setting.  It rose to the heights of an angelfood cake, then plummeted to a pancake.  It tasted good, so I tried again!  Neither of them came out too pretty.  That's where fruit comes in handy!

Almost Fat-Free Cheesecake 
Preheat oven to 350º

Spray a 9" spring form pan (generously) with cooking spray.
Crust: Sprinkle 1/2 cup of graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of the pan.

• 3 - 8oz packages fat free cream cheese at room temperature
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 6 egg whites

Combine sugar and cream cheese, and beat until smooth.  Add vanilla.  Add egg whites one at a time until incorporated.  Pour mixture over graham cracker crumbs and bake at 350º for 45 minutes.
(Don't use 'speed bake'!)  :-)

• 8 oz. fat free sour cream
• 3 TB sugar
• 1 tsp. vanilla

When the filling has baked for 45 minutes, spoon the sour cream topping over the cheesecake and bake for another 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on a rack.  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Now - when I made this...
I couldn't find fat free sour cream, so I used low fat.  In my first (failed) attempt, I put on the topping as directed.  In my second attempt, I left it off.  I figured I didn't need the extra calories from it, and I didn't think it added too much to the recipe.  I also knew I was going to be topping the cheesecake with fruit, which would overpower the sour cream anyway.

This actually tastes very good, is nice and creamy, and is a truly decent substitute for cheesecake.  The texture isn't quite the same.  You need full fat and cream for that velvety smooth feeling.  Still, it's a super-easy recipe, and it hits the cheesecake spot.  Even my husband thought so!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Light and Lovely Lunch

After a morning of Broccoli Frittatas, and miles and minutes on the eliptical, I like a little crunch for my lunch.  Inspired by a friend's facebook post about a lunch wrap she made, I decided the sky is the limit when concocting healthy wraps.  This recipe is my lunch staple at least 5 days a week.

 Start with a Soft Wrap from La Tortilla Factory latortillafactory.com  (The wraps pictured are Tomato Basil, because I couldn't find a picture of the Multi Grain ones I use.)  They have 12 grams of fiber, 0 Trans fats, and 100 calories.  They taste great, and I've begun to use them for our other tortilla meals, like fajitas or chicken wraps.
These can be purchased at Safeway in the same place you find other tortillas.  I had to search - they were on the bottom shelf.

•Shredded cabbage
•Shredded carrots
•Mandarin oranges
•Sunflower seeds
•Chopped pecans (or other nut of choice)
•1 scant capful of Newman's Own Low Fat Sesame-Ginger Dressing

I eyeball the measurements to fit the tortilla, then dump them in a bowl to mix with the dressing.  Paired with a piece of fruit or some other veggies, it's a crunchy, filling, and tasty lunch.  This is another recipe that's easy to take on the go!

Biggest Loser Breakfast

    As I approach my 45th year, I have realized that I am carrying almost 45 lbs. of extra baggage on my frame.  I'm surprised to find myself weighing more than I did when I was pregnant and was sure I was the biggest show on earth!  How did this happen?

    I know part of it happened while I was absent from my blog.  Sadly, I was absent from my own life as well.  A series of life events over the past two years simply heaped upon me and buried me like quicksand. I spent most of September through November in a nest of blankets and tears.  When I realized I was out of control, I saw my health care professional and cautiously began a round of antidepressants.  I have to say that I wasn't sure I believed in their benefit.  Now, I know what a Godsend they are.  I'm not one to medicate, and I think I have a pretty strong character.  However, no amount of self talk could get me on track.  Within about 8 days on the meds, I recognized joy and contentment like long lost friends, and I cherished their presence.

    Now with a good two months under my belt, I've regained my sense of self, my attention span, and my life.  I've spent January in a serious commitment to my health.  Finally able to leave my bed of pain, I've been on the eliptical or snow shoes on a regular basis, and cutting my calories with new resolve.

    I ordered a Biggest Loser Calendar from ammazon.com and when it arrived I found that it had recipes and helpful hints for feeling full and satisfied.  I'm a closet fan of this show.  I guess I figure if a 400-pound person can lose more than half their body weight, surely I can lose 40 pounds!  My new breakfast (or lunch) recipe came from the calendar and I've adapted it somewhat.

Broccoli and Cheddar Mini Frittatas 
Biggest Loser Family Cookbook

• 1 cup steamed broccoli 
(I do a quick zap in the microwave until bright green and soft to the fork)
• 2 cups egg substitute
• 2 oz. (1 cup) Cabot's 75% Light Cheddar Cheese, or your favorite low-fat cheddar
• Olive Oil cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350º F.  Lightly spray 8 cups of a standard muffin tin with the olive oil spray.

Place 2 TB broccoli in each cup.  Pour 1/4 cup of egg substitute over broccoli.  Bake for 7-9 minutes until almost set.  Sprinkle cheese evenly over the tops of the frittatas.  Bake for 8-10 minutes longer or until the egg is no longer runny and the cheese is melted.  Transfer the tin to a cooling rack and allow frittatas to rest for two minutes before serving.

Makes 4 (2-frittata) servings
Per serving: 102 calories, 18 g protein, 4 carbs, 2 g fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 362 mg sodium.

Now for the way I make them...
1. I couldn't find any low-fat cheese, so I opted for a vegan cheese.  It's fine, but not great, and therefore, I barely use any at all.  Calories cut!  It gives the 'impression' of cheese, but it's really not!  If you buy this, read the directions.  What I bought says it has a short shelf life, so it recommends grating and freezing to use as needed.

2. I hate egg substitute, so I bought All Whites brand liquid egg whites.  I think it's the yolk substitute that gives off a weird taste, so the whites were much easier to accept.

3. For a little more flavor, I have also added Oscar Meyer Turkey Bacon.  One strip is 30 calories.  I cook it, blot it, mince it, add 1 tsp. per muffin cup, and freeze the rest.

Cooking directions are the same as above, and two muffin cups are a serving.  If I want a little more oomph, I'll chop them up and wrap them in a high fiber tortilla.  Most days I just eat two frittatas and an apple.

I like making these ahead -they keep, and microwave well.  They are a great for lunch too!

Now - don't panic.  I'm making some changes, but I still love butter and sugar - so I'm not about to only blog about skinny food!  :-)