Thursday, May 31, 2012

Baba ganoush with polenta crostini

Baba ganoush with crispy polenta.

I picked up the cutest little Indian eggplants at the store yesterday. The largest one was about the size of a tennis ball so I knew I would have to figure out a dish that would only needed a little bit of roasted eggplant.

Enter baba ganoush bites with crispy polenta.

I made a traditional baba ganoush but I went heavy on the garlic and lemon and light on the tahini and olive oil.

The bites got topped with a sprinkle of parsley and a slice of black olive.

These turned out great and I will have to remake them when I need an appetizer to bring to a party.

If you want to try making them you can find a great baba ganoush recipe here at Simply Recipes.

For the crostini - I made some polenta according to the package directions - then I poured it into a flat pan and let it cool. 

Then I inverted the pan over a cookie sheet and it dropped out in one piece. I cut it into small squares and put them in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.

The dogs munched on some crostini sans baba ganoush:-)

Now I am off to take the dogs for a long walk - it is bright and sunny here today!


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Southern Style Breakfast

Smothered pork chop with home fries with sweet peppers.
This morning I was craving something smothered in gravy. Luckily I had a pork chop defrosting in the fridge.

After making the home fries with sweet peppers I pan seared the pork chop.

I was thrilled when I found a packet of McCormick's chicken gravy in my cabinet. While that warmed up, I browned some mushrooms and onions in a pan and then added them to the gravy.

This was sooooo good!

My tummy is complaining about the heavy meals lately - I will have to tip my diet back to the green side tomorrow:-)

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Buffalo burger salad

Buffalo burger salad.

People have been going barbeque crazy here at my complex. The mouthwatering smells waft through my open patio doors every evening and get my stomach growling.

So, today's lunch just had to be a burger. I combined some ground bison meat with 1/2 an onion (grated), some minced sun dried tomatoes, a pinch of sage and a pinch of thyme. 

At the last second I decided to put a chunk of cheddar cheese in the middle. This turned out to be a very good idea:-)

Gooey melted cheese!
I ended up eating it topped with onion, red pepper and liberal amounts of ketchup and mustard.

I know, I know - I have been neglecting the dogs a bit lately on the cooking front - so you will be happy to hear that they got their very own teeny tiny burgers (without onion or sun dried tomato).

Doggy bison burgers.
And, as per usual, the best photo of the day was of the dog treat.

I am still working on figuring out my BMR - I found three different formulas and each of them generate wildly different numbers.

If I use one formula it says I have a BMR of 2,200 which seems way to high and if I use another formula I have a BMR of 1,400 which seems a bit more reasonable. The third end up with a BMR of 1,600 which seems a good number on days when I get a lot of exercise.

My big weight loss push for June will have to wait until I figure out the BMR mystery...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mini turkey meatloaf

Miniature turkey meatloaf.
Back when I made my Italian wedding soup, I had some left over meatball mixture.

I put the extra mix into a mini meatloaf pan and put it in the freezer to save for another day. And, of course, I completely forgot it was in there:-)

While I was clearing out my freezer today I found it in the very back and it made for a quick and easy dinner.

I mixed 1/4 cup of barbeque sauce and 1/8 cup of ketchup and slathered it on top before it went into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Oh, wow, did it turn out nice and moist! And with some carrots and mashed potatoes it made for a great comfort food meal.

The mashed potatoes turned out pretty amazing too. I minced 2 garlic cloves and put it in a pan with some butter. When the butter became fragrant I added some boiled potatoes and mashed it all together with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Happy Labor Day everyone!

Tomorrow I am starting a new eating plan - well, not really new - I am just going to try eating more regular/consistent meals while I try to figure out my Basal Metabolic Rate - more on that on Tuesday.

I have been using a fun new app for my Android called Calorie Counter by Fat Secret.  It has this really cool feature that reads barcodes and brings up the nutritional information. 

Night all!


Friday, May 18, 2012

Cravings - how to beat them

Home fries with crispy potato skins.
This morning I woke up craving potato chips. It was the kind of craving that I know if I didn't satisfy it, I would end up 2 hours later clutching a super sized bag of potato chips.

Not a good thing.

Since salt was out of the question, I thought about what else I craved about potato chips. I definitely wanted something that was crunchy but I also wanted some grease - the kind you only get when something is fried.

Enter the home fries.

No formal recipe today but this one is super simple.

Slice a large russet potato. Par boil the potatoes (this should take around 4-7 minutes depending on the size of the slices).

Drain the potatoes and cut them to the desired size (smaller if you want super crunchy - larger if you like them more tender).

Put some coconut oil in a pan and put on med-high heat.

Carefully place the potatoes wedges into the pan (mind any oil splatter) and let cook until golden brown.

I topped mine with paprika and parsley.

Craving successfully demolished? Check!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Italian wedding soup

Italian wedding soup.

Italian wedding soup - simple easy and satisfying.

What I like most about this soup is that is made in many different ways. Some people add in tomatoes, some drizzle in a cheese and egg mixture to create cheesy egg ribbons.

I picked up a bag of southern greens the other day and knew it would be perfect in the soup.

And I will also show you my favorite unsalted chicken broth:

This is the most full-bodied broth I have been able to find. Many of the others I have tried were more like flavored water - bleh. The Kitchen Basics brand is hearty - just as if I had taken the time to make my own chicken broth.

I put quite a bit of spice in the turkey meatballs and they turned out wonderful! I know a lot of versions of the recipe calls for the meatballs to be browned in a skillet - I didn't bother and I think it turned out great.

Italian wedding soup

Serves 2


For the meatballs:

1/2 lb of ground turkey
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp of basil
1/2 tsp of oregano
1/2 tsp of black pepper
1/2 tsp of onion powder
1/2 tsp of dried parsley
1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes

For the soup:

 4 cups of chicken broth
1/4 tsp of onion powder
1/4 tsp of garlic powder
1/4 tsp of olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 cups of the greens of your choice, chopped
1/4 cup of orzo


Combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs and form them into small balls. Place on a plate and keep in the refrigerator until needed.

Add the oil into a sauce pan on medium-low heat and add in the garlic and onion powder. When it becomes fragrant add in the carrots and the broth. Bring everything up to a boil and then add in the orzo and drop in the meatballs. Cover, turn the heat to a high simmer and let cook for about 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, test that the meatballs are cooked through and that the orzo and greens are tender.

Serve immediately and top with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

On the mend

I am still running a slight fever so I am still taking it easy.

For lunch I decided to keep it simple.

Ground turkey tacos.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that my fever breaks tomorrow. It has been tough keeping hydrated after 3 + days with a fever.

It is a bug that is running through my apartment complex so I know from other people's accounts that I have 1 more day or so until I start to feel better.

For lunch I cooked up some ground turkey in a skillet and made a couple of tacos. No fancy toppings for this one - just turkey, avocado and some swiss cheese. 

I am off to get some rest and drink tons of green tea.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Easy chicken wrap

I was out shopping today and I arrived back home and wanted a quick and nutritious lunch.

My trick to making a great chicken Caesar wrap is the croutons. 

I always take the croutons (this time Parmesan and garlic flavored) put them in a plastic bag and pulverize them.

Then I toss the lettuce, dressing, Parmesan and low fat Caesar dressing and add in some shredded rotisserie chicken.

Wrap it all up in a flour tortilla- 

And you get the perfect lunch wrap.

I have been out for the count with a bug and this is the first day I really felt like eating. This was the perfect dish to re-awaken my appetite.

I hope everyone is having a great Monday!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Orange and Avocado Chopped Salad with Citrus Basil Dressing

Orange and avocado chopped salad with a citrus basil dressing.

For some reason in that first photo the orange looks almost fluorescent.

For the rest of the shots they looked much more toned down. Either way it tasted the same - delicious!

This salad was quite a surprise. I just threw some stuff together on a whim and it turned out terrific.

I needed to use up the orange and avocado I had hanging around. I poked around the refrigerator and grabbed some greens and some pickled ginger.

I threw together a vinaigrette that tasted good but when it was paired with the salad? Oh, my word!

All the flavors were bright and clean and the sweet spice of the pickled ginger really put it over the top. 

You should make this salad as soon as you can - especially on a hot summer day.

Orange and Avocado Chopped Salad with Citrus Basil Vinaigrette

Serves 2

Ingredients for the salad:

3 cups of butter lettuce, chopped
1 cup of spinach, chopped
1 medium orange, cut into segments
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp of sweet pickled ginger, chopped fine
1 Tbsp of dressing (see below)

Ingredients for the citrus basil vinaigrette:

3 Tbsp of orange juice
4 Tbsp of olive oil
2 Tbsp of chopped fresh basil
1/2 Tbsp of rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp of fresh grated ginger
1/4 tsp of orange zest
1/2 Tbsp of nutritional yeast
black pepper to taste


Combine all of the ingredients for the dressing and set aside.

Assemble the spinach and lettuce in a bowl and toss with the dressing. Add in the chopped orange, avocado and pickled ginger and toss to combine.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fettuccine with Basil-Pea Cream

Fettuccine with Basil-Pea Cream from Vegan Italiano
My second recipe I tried from the cookbook Vegan Italiano looked pretty but other than that it was not much of a success.

I was expecting the dish to be a slightly sweeter version of pesto. But instead of the intense garlic or the herby burst of basil normally found in a pesto - all of the flavors ended up being a bit dull and muddied.

And I am beginning to wonder if the recipes in this vegan cookbook depend heavily on salt in order to make the flavors pop.

But, do not fear, I am not ready to throw in the towel quite yet.

I am going to try find a recipe in the book that does not require much salt and see how that one turns out.

I hope everyone is having a great Thursday!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

English Breakfast

If any of you were wondering if I was going vegan  - the answer would be no. Evidence? Check out my breakfast.

Sweet Italian turkey sausage with baked beans and cherry tomatoes.

Sorry for the delay in the pasta post I was planning on doing yesterday. I am busy with job interviews lately so I am learning how to juggle posting while doing everything else.

I have an interview related thing later today so I will be spending the morning/early afternoon cooking. Yes, I do find cooking a very calming activity.

This morning I was in the mood for an English breakfast - but I didn't want any back bacon, mushrooms or eggs. I just kept in the good stuff - sausage, baked beans and tomatoes.

The dogs got a nibble of the sausage only because they were huddled by the stove drooling:-)

See you in a bit with the pasta recipe!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Simply fantastic

Pasta with olive oil and garlic.

I am having a great time reading through Vegan Italiano.

There are so many great looking recipes it was difficult to pick one to try first. 

I decided that the simplest things are often the best so I went with the recipe for Spaghetti with Olive Oil.

All I needed was some cooked spaghetti, garlic, olive oil, salt and black pepper.

The dish turned out surprisingly delicious even though I omitted the salt. 

The key to this very simple recipe? The garlic is lightly browned. 

With every mouthful, you bite into pieces of the browned garlic - which has mellow pungency with none of the bitter taste of raw garlic. Brilliant!

It is definitely not a meal to enjoy right before a hot date or a long business meeting since the garlic is the real star of this dish.

I am looking forward to the next recipe on my list: Fettuccine with Basil-Pea Cream.

Check in tomorrow to see how it turns out:-)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A new take on 'beans on toast'

Toast and adzuki beans in a butter chicken sauce.
I had a last minute dinner invitation last night. Unfortunately, it seems everyone else in the area had the same idea.

We went to 3 different restaurants before we found one that did not have an hour long wait.

We ended up at an Indian restaurant in a small strip mall. It was the best food I have tasted in a long time - I am so glad we found it. 

The dishes came with lots of sauce which I was thrilled about because I love having extra sauce to bring home. 

I woke up this morning and realized I had a pan of these soaking overnight.

Adzuki beans.
These tiny red beans are often used for the filling in Asian pastries. They can be eaten in a savory or sweet form and they have a wonderful firm texture with just a hint of sweetness.

Since I had a container of sauce from the butter chicken left over - after the beans were cooked I combined them with the sauce - then came the toast.

Next up? Douse the toast with with the saucy beans.

This was astounding!! The silky butter sauce combined with the meaty beans and that kick of spice along with a hint of sweet = perfection.

I am off to check out the farmer's market and see if I can find ingredients for the first recipe I am going to try from the Vegan Italiano cookbook. 

Happy Saturday all!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Luscious lemon salad dressing

Everyone in the pool vegetable soup and a simple salad with a luscious lemon dressing.
I have good news - I am getting as sick of eating soup and salad as much as the rest of you are probably getting sick of reading about them.

This morning I broke out a cookbook with recipes I have been dying to try out.

So, enjoy the last of the soup and salad posts and you can look forward to reading about polenta crustini with pesto and potato gnocchi with pesto and peas in the near future. 

Yes, I feel a basil binge coming on - and/or possibly an artichoke one:-)

The star of the lunch today was the salad dressing.

The dressing was light but slightly creamy, bright and lemony and makes getting in the greens a really enjoyable experience.

The soup didn't turn out as well. First of all, it turned out this horrible color - I blame the dark brown vegetable broth I used. 

And the flavors turned out a bit dull so I ended up adding in some nutritional yeast, some soy milk and blending it into a veggie smoothie.

I definitely ended up eating a lot more salad than soup today...

And, yes, you really should try making this dressing!

Luscious lemon salad dressing

Serves 3


2 Tbsp of high quality olive oil
3 Tbsp of nutritional yeast
3 Tbsp of water*
3/4 Tbsp of lemon juice
1 Tbsp of Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp of yellow mustard
1/4 tsp of garlic powder
2 Tbsp of soy milk*
Black pepper to taste


Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake to combine. 

Toss with your favorite salad.

*Feel free to adjust the amounts of water and soy milk depending on how thick you like your dressing. This recipe made a fairly thin dressing. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Orange chicken stir-fry

Chicken stir-fry.
I tend to shy away from making stir-fry. I can never seem to get the pan the right temperature so more often than not the veggies turn out mushy and the chicken over cooked. 

But today I had a big success - a low-sodium stir fry that looked amazing and tasted even better.

Broccoli, red pepper, cabbage, water chestnuts and chicken over a bed of quinoa.  

I started by marinating some sliced chicken breast in rice wine vinegar, orange juice and sesame oil. 

I chopped the vegetables and mixed together some minced pickled ginger, garlic and some green onions to toss in at the end.

The best thing about making your own stir-fry is that you get to add as much of your favorite ingredient as you want.

For me, this means I use a whole can of water chestnuts. I just can't get enough of them.

And, for once, I managed to get a nice sear on the chicken. I pulled out the chicken after it had browned on both sides and put it aside.

While the veggies were sizzling away in the pan I mixed together some Hoison sauce, chicken broth and corn starch. 

When the veggies were almost done I added back in the chicken and added the sauce mixture to the pan. After a few minutes I tossed in the garlic and ginger.

I am so proud of how this turned out that I am now contemplating getting a wok:-)

Happy Wednesday all!