Thursday, January 31, 2013

Muffin Love!

Ok, I have no idea what to call these… they are Light English Muffins, spread with Laughing Cow Light Swiss wedges, then spread with Hot Pepper Apricot Spread, and finally topped with Scrambled Egg Beaters (I left the Egg beaters off of one so you could see)…

This is a light, healthy, high protein breakfast that will keep you filled up… Yum!!

Friday, January 25, 2013


I Love Gyros!  I just had to try my hand at making them at home…

Pretty straightforward: Pita + Gyro Meat + Tomato + Onion + Feta + Tzatziki Sauce

The extra large version above was our dinner, but a smaller version would be great for lunch as well… or you could make it into a salad instead of rolling it in a Pita...

Make some Gyros Meat (recipe follows), after cooking slice thinly & sear slightly in a non-stick pan sprayed with Olive Oil.  If the meat is cool (not freshly cooked) cook a bit longer in the pan to warm it up nicely.

Have on hand or make ahead some Tzatziki Sauce (link is to my light recipe).

Slice up some Onions & Tomatoes, crumble up some Feta (I use a Fat Free variety).

Warm the Pita Bread (make your own if you like), I like to warm it in Microwave Tortilla Warmer (see Toys tab) that's been lined with Paper Towels.

Slather a Pita with Tzatziki, add Gyros Meat & Feta & sliced Onions & Tomatoes, roll it up & enjoy… Mmmm!!

Gyro Meat (loaf style):
  I saw two recipes online that sounded good, one was an Alton Brown recipe, the other was from the All Recipes site.  I kinda combined the two, and changed up the meats, and came up with my own version.  Traditionally all kinds of meats can be used, most common in the US is 1/2 lamb 1/2 beef or all lamb.

  1 Medium Onion
  1 pound Ground Lamb
  1 pound lean Ground Chicken (I use Smart Chicken 99% Fat Free)
  1 Tbl Minced Garlic
  1 Tbl Dried Marjoram
  1 Tbl Ground Rosemary (if whole use 1 1/2 Tbl - it will be ground later)
  1 tsp Dried Oregano
  1 tsp Ground Cumin
  1 tsp Dried Thyme
  2 tsp Kosher or Sea Salt
  1/2 tsp Fresh Ground Pepper

Preheat oven to 325F.

Grind all the dried spices together in a mortar and pestle.

Mince the garlic.

Rough cut the onion, then process in a food processor until a fine pulp.  Remove from processor and use a tea towel to squeeze the juice out of the onion pulp - discard the juice.

Place all ingredients into a food processor and process for about a minute, until a fine mush.  Do this in batches as needed.

Place the meat mush in a loaf pan, pushing meat against the bottom and sides of the pan to remove any air bubbles.

Place loaf pan in a water bath and bake 60-75 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165-170 F.

Remove from oven & water bath, drain off fat, place loaf pan on cooling rack.

Place a foil covered brick on top of the loaf for 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 175 F.  This is a step suggested by Alton Brown, my temperature never even reached 170 this way, but fully cooked lamb & chicken is 165 so I wasn't concerned.  Perhaps this step is not needed… ???

Loaf after cooking & cooling...

The whole house (and even my clothes) ended up smelling like gyros… and I purposefully made mine a day ahead just in case I had a flop… but this was no flop!!  Yum!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Creamy Mock-Carbonara

Hubby likes Bacon!!  Bacon likes my hips so I keep my Bacon to a minimum… This recipe uses one of my "tricks" to get more bacon flavor without using too much bacon :)

I call this a Mock Carbonara because I don't use eggs… for my purposes, since I was making this creamy, it just didn't make sense to go to the bother of trying to incorporate eggs & fussing about with making sure they don't cook too quickly… so...

2 slices Bacon
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
Water (for cooking pasta)
4 oz Angel Hair pasta (I used a Whole Wheat variety)
Spray Olive Oil
1 cup diced Onion
1 cup sliced Mushrooms
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, diced
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
6 wedges Sonoma Jacks Parmesan Peppercorn 
   (alternately 5 wedges Laughing Cow Light Swiss + some freshly ground pepper)
1 tsp Bacon Salt
2 Tbl Fresh Parsley, chopped
Garnishes: Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese & Red Pepper Flakes

Cook bacon until very crisp, pat away excess oil, set aside to cool.

Start water on high heat, add the sea salt to the water - it will need to be boiling for the pasta.

Spray non-stick pan with spray olive oil, sauté diced onions, mushrooms, bell - cook until onions are translucent. Add crushed garlic and cook a minute or two more.

Drop pasta into the boiling water, crumble the bacon.

While pasta is cooking set sauté pan on very low heat, add cheese wedges, bacon crumbles, bacon salt, and parsley. Slowly melt the cheese and mix together until its a creamy consistency.

Once pasta is cooked, drain (reserve some water) & add to cheesy mixture, stir to incorporate well.  Add water as desired to get consistency you’d like.

Whoops!  We were hungry so I didn't get a picture of it on the plate (and it looked SO Yummy!!)… but the picture at the top of this posting should give you an idea.

Serve with Red Pepper flakes & fresh grated Parmesan at the table.

Monday, January 14, 2013

African Peanut Stew (vegan recipe)

I admit it, this is NOT an original, it is a forgery of an original that can be found at Relish… but of course I made a couple tweaks (but they were minor at best)… so here's my (slightly modified) version…  I loved this so much I had to share!!

  Spray Olive Oil
  1 1/2 cups finely diced Red Onion
  1 large Green Bell Pepper, finely diced
  1/2 cup diced Carrots
  2 stalks Celery, diced
  3 cloves Garlic, minced
  2 Tbl peeled, minced, fresh Ginger Root
  1 3/4 cups diced fresh Tomatoes
  1 Sweet Potato (1 lb), peeled and diced
  1 1/2 cups Edamame, shelled (I used frozen)
  1/4 cup Natural Peanut Butter (I used smooth, can also use chunky)
  1/4 cup(s) chopped fresh Cilantro
  5 oz container Baby Spinach, chopped into bite sized bits
  1 Tbl Sweet Curry powder
  4 tsp Better Than Bouillon Vegetable + 4 cups Water
    (or sub in 4 cups Vegetable Stock)
  1 Bay Leaf, broken into bits
  Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
  Have ready some freshly cooked White Rice

Spray a Dutch oven with Olive Oil.

Sauté together Onion, Bell, Carrot, and Celery until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add Garlic, Ginger and Curry Powder; sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute (do not brown garlic).

Add Tomatoes and Bay Leaf; cook, uncovered, until tomatoes are slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.

Add broth and Sweet Potatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 8 minutes. 

Add Edamame and Peanut Butter; stir until well combined. 

Add Cilantro and Spinach; cook until thoroughly heated and spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

We ate it in bowls, with 1/2 cup cooked rice in the bottom of the bowl, and 2 ladles full of “stew” on top.  Served that way it makes 6 nice dinner-sized portions... YUM!!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Lightly Rye Artisan Bread

This is a variation on my Artisan Bread….

I had been wanting to make a lightly flavored Rye bread, and this one did the trick!!

To make this follow my Artisan Bread recipe, with three small changes:
  1) For Flour use 16 oz Bread Flour + 4 oz Rye Flour
  2) For Spices use 1 1/2 tsp Caraway Seeds, ground in a mortar & pestle to break up a bit
  3) Add 1 Tbl Vital Wheat Gluten (helps bread to rise)

We've been enjoying this loaf all week, especially with soups & stews, and with some good quality infused olive oils & specialty vinegars (gifts from my in-laws)…

Chicken Stout Stoup (Stew or Soup)

I had recently seen a recipe (which bombed for me) for whole chicken breasts cooked in beer my chicken ended up dry inside, but the flavor was good so I decided to turn it into a stoup (stew or soup) that would allow the chicken to be in bite-sized chunks to avoid getting dry, but allowing the flavor of the beer to come through…. but of course I had to add spices & veggies - I just can't leave anything alone!!

Done more like a Stew - more of a gravy-type base
This is what I did, feel free to change out veggies or spices or you know, make it your own!!

1 pound Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, diced
1 can Guinness Draught (14.9 oz)
2 cup(s) Water
4 tsp Better Than Bouillon Chicken (or 4 bouillon cubes)
1/2 cup diced Carrot
1/2 Orange Bell Pepper, diced
2 cloves Garlic, diced
1 cup sliced Mushrooms
1 small Onion, diced
3/4 cups Asparagus tips, only the very ends
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
2 Tbl Fresh Parsley, chopped
6 oz diced Parsnips
10 oz diced Butternut Squash
1 Tbl Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Whole Peppercorns
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp dried Rosemary, whole
1 tsp dried Sage, leaf
1 tsp dried Thyme
1/4-1/2 cup uncooked White Rice

Grind the spices together with a Mortar & Pestle, throw all ingredients into a crock pot on low* and cook all day  For a thick stew (as shown above) use 1/2 cup rice, for thinner more soup-like consistency use 1/4 cup (or none at all).  

Everything just stewing away….
*Note: you may need to turn the temp to High on the crock pot if the rice is being stubborn about cooking, only make certain you stir from time to time so that the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the crock.