Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Kitchen Fail

I had a MAJOR kitchen fail the other day. HUGE. Big enough that I had to go to the doctor today to have them remove a piece of glass from my foot. Don't worry, I am okay. It actually didn't hurt; well, not until the doctor stuck a l o n g needle into my heel. O.M.G THAT hurt! But I am fine now and able to walk normally again. I won't have to miss my yoga class tomorrow after all.

Sorry, I went off on a tangent there. Anyway, huge kitchen fail. I decided to bake bread....already a stupid idea considering that it was in the 90's outside and about 86 degrees inside, since our air conditioner is broken. But for some reason, I still thought it would be a good idea to turn on the oven to 450 degrees. Did I tell you my A/C is broken?

When I bake bread, using recipes from my current favorite bread cookbook, I always follow the direction to put a pan under the rack and pour water into it when I put the bread in the oven. This creates a nice steamy environment (kinda like the steam room at the gym...but I would never go in there. Imagine all the bacteria living it up in the warm, moist environment. And all the people who lounge around in there in sweaty gym clothes or bathing suits. Yuck.) which helps create a crackly, crispy crust. Delightful.

Well, the directions say to use the broiler pan, which is made out of metal. I decided to use my glass pie pan. Glass, people, glass. As soon as the not-very-hot water touched the 450* hot glass pie pan, all hell broke loose. That nice Pyrex pie dish exploded EVERYWHERE. I jumped back as fast as possible, spilling tepid water all over my kitchen floor, while trying not to get hit by flying, extremely hot, glass shards, and shouting "F@ck!" over and over again. Yes, I have quite the sailor's language--sorry mom.

Look at all the lovely glass shards!

The shattered glass was all over the oven, sprayed onto the kitchen floor in front of the oven, and in the top handle to the broiler cabinet. Fun times. Once everything cooled down (which involved leaving the oven wide open, sending hot air into my already hot house), I was able to begin the clean up process. I filled a cookie sheet with the glass shards, swept the floor, wiped the floor down with wet paper towels, and repeat. But somehow I missed one itty bitty shard. And of course, the moment I took off my flip flops, that stray piece of glass burrowed its way into my heel, leaving just enough of an edge out to be a tease, but not enough for me to actually be able to pull it out. While it wasn't very big, the piece of glass definitely made its presence known as I hobbled around the house.

So the lesson learned here....don't pour water into pre-heated glass. Well, unless you want to create an explosion, then go right ahead. Just make sure you wear your shoes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Blasphemous BBQ Chicken

"How can BBQ chicken be blasphemous," you are wondering. Well, how about when it doesn't even come close to involve a barbecue grill?

Blasphemous BBQ Chicken
* Sorry for the lack of photos here...I forgot to take any!

As many chicken thighs as you want (I used 2 packs from Costco...I think 10 thighs total)
A bottle of your fav BBQ sauce

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13" pan with non-stick spray. Spread your chicken thighs into the pan, in one layer.

Cook for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, pull out of the oven and pour about 3/4 of the bottle of BBQ sauce all over the chicken, making sure that each piece is thouroughly coated in sauce. Heck, feel free to use the entire bottle!

Cook for another 10 minutes. Serve with some veggies and mashed potatoes for a quick and easy dinner.

This is great for rainy nights when BBQ'ing is out of the question, or just when you are feeling too lazy to fire up the Weber (like me!).

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Fare

Some friends from college and I have decided that we are going to lose weight together, as we've all gained some weight in the past 5 years (God, I canNOT believe it has been 5 years since I graduated!). We have a private facebook group where we discuss out progress and share ideas, since we are spread out across California. Well, that's not 100% true...they live in San Francisco and San Jose, and I am the lone wolf down here in southern California.

Anyway, I digress. Being a part of this group, I have been trying to focus on cooking healthier dinners, not only so I have something tasty and healthy to eat, but to have more recipes to share with my friends. So to my SF girls, here is a tasty, yet healthy, summer dinner! Can't wait to "show off" our progress in Vegas!

Bruschetta on whole wheat bread
Grilled balsamic veg
Grilled lemon and basil chicken

I looked at this recipe to get an idea of ingredients (beyond tomatos and basil) and quantities, but I did not follow it to a T. In fact, I increased the quantities on some ingredients to produce a more flavorful end result.

This was the perfect dish to utilize the numerous ripe tomatos and the bountiful basil I have growing in my container garden.

4-5 large tomatos
2 cloves garlic
10 basil leaves, torn
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Wash the tomatos and pull off any green stems. Don't worry about peeling off the skins. Dice the tomatos and put in a medium bowl.

Mince the garlic and add to the bowl. Wash the basil and tear it with your hands, adding to the tomatos and garlic.

Pour in the olive oil and balsamic and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Let this sit for an hour or so, allowing the flavors to meld together.

Just befor serving, slice your bread (I made a loaf using this recipe), and toast in the toaster or under the broiler. Spoon the bruschetta on top of each slice. Enjoy!

Grilled Veggies
I used a large zucchini and 2 yellow crook-neck squash.
USe whatever fresh produce you have on hand...this would be great with bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, etc.

Slice veggies lengthwise. In a large bowl, toss with olive oil (I sprayed mine with my oil mister, but about a tablespoon of oil works) and about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place on hot grill (or a grill pan on the stove top) and grill until cooked through. Flip over about halfway to get those yummy-looking grill marks on both sides of the veggies.


Lemon-Basil Chicken
I used this recipe with some adaptations. I added about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to bring together the flavors of all three dishes. I also added a clove of fresh garlic, minced, to increase the garlic flavor.

2-4 chicken breasts (I used 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (I just tore mine up by hand)
3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan (I didn't measure....I just dumped a bunch into the bowl)
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 clove garlic, minced (my addition)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (my addition)
Dash of salt and pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl, making sure chicken is well coated. Marinate for 1 hour (I marinated mine for about an hour and a half), stirring occasionaly.

Grill until cooked through.
Mix all ingredients together and let marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Heat grill to medium heat. Grill chicken until tender and completely cooked through.

Fruity Oat Muffins

I love muffins. I love fruit. I also love when my clothes fit. I have been craving cupcakes, but when I saw these muffins on Elly's blog, I decided I needed to make them instead of cupcakes if I want my clothes to fit. I made some changes, which I have noted in italics. Check out Elly's Vintage Victuals blog for the original recipe.
They totally hit the spot, without busting up my diet (*again*). Well, I did eat 3 right away....not sure how diet-friendly that is.


1 1/2 cups unbleached whole wheat flour
1 cup oats, rolled or quick (I used old fashioned oats)
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground flax seeds
2 eggs
1/4 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup buttermilk or fat free sour cream (I used sour cream since that is what I already had)
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (I just used one banana)
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen 1/2 a mango, diced and mashed

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray your muffin tins with non-stick spray, or line them with paper liners. (I am partial to silicon muffin pans, no liners. I just spray them and easily pop out the muffins after they've cooled a bit.)

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, mix the eggs, apple sauce, sour cream, and fruit (except for the blueberries) together. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Fill each muffin tin about 2/3 full (I filled mine pretty much all the way...I like big muffins).

Bake for about 17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (unless you poke it into a blueberry!).

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cornish Game Hens w/Fingerling Potatos and Zucchini

I love Cornish game hens. I think their small size makes them so cute. :) But they're also really great when cooking for 1 or 2 people. You can roast a whole chicken for each person, and served with some veggies, have a perfectly portioned dinner.
The herbs de provence (a mixture of several herbs....rosemary, marjoram, thyme, and savory.) lend a wonderful aroma to the entire dish and wind up seasoning the veggies, even though they are just tossed with salt and pepper.
You can use dried rosemary and thyme if you don't want to buy herbs de provence. However, I recommend trying it out. You can buy it in the spice aisle of your grocery store, or splurge on a fancy pot of the mix at Williams-Sonoma).

Feel free to pick up the chicken and eat with your hands...just like in the Middle Ages!

*Note: I didn't follow any recipe for this one, but I did get the cooking temp and time off of the chicken packaging.

2 Cornish game hens
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/2 a lemon
herbs de provence
olive oil
1 large zucchini
1 pound fingerling potatoes

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13" pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Insert 1/4 of a lemon into each chicken cavity.

Pierce each chicken several times all over the body and insert the sliced garlic into each slash.

Spray the chickens with olive oil (or brush with a pastry brush if you don't have an oil mister). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Generously coat with herbs de provence.

Wash the potatoes and zucchini. Slice zucchini into rounds (about a 1/4" thick). Toss potatoes and sliced zucchini with olive oil, salt and pepper, until well covered.

Arrange the potatoes and zucchini in the pan, around the chicken.

Cook for approximately 1 hour, or until the juices run clear.
Note: My chickens were not cooked after an hour, so I turned the oven up to 400 degrees and cooked for another 10 minutes.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Whole Wheat Bread Dough

I have been referring to this whole wheat bread dough in several posts lately, so I figured I should just create a separate post for the recipe.

I use this dough to make loaves of bread, pizza crust, and calzones. It is an easy recipe to work with and can be made using regular bread flour or all-purpose flour, instead of wheat flour. I have found the dough to be extremely sticky however, when not using whole wheat flour. To remedy that, I suggest omitting 1/4 cup of water or using 1 cup of whole wheat flour in place of one cup of white or bread flour.

Whole Wheat Dough
*Adapted from this recipe

1/2 cup warm water
1 envelop instant quick rise yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp if you are using jarred yeast)
1 1/4 cups water, room temp
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp salt

Pour the warm water into a bowl (I use my 6 cup liquid measuring cup) and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 5 minutes, allowing the yeast to dissolve and react with the water.

Using your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour and salt together until just combined.

Add the room temperature water and olive oil to the yeast water. Gently mix together and then pour into the flour. Fit the mixer with the kneading attachment and knead until it forms a ball and all the flour is incorporated (about 5 minutes). The dough should be smooth and elastic.

Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray (I use Smart Balance Omega spray). Place the kneaded dough in the greases bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside and let rise, until the dough has doubled in size (about an hour or so). If you are NOT using quick rise yeast, it will need about 2 hours to rise.

From here, you can refrigerate for use at a later date, or use immediately for pizza, bread, etc.

Chocolate Strawberry Waffles

My husband loves waffles and strawberries, as do I. I also love chocolate, and would eat it for every meal if I wasn't trying to lose weight. Here I have combined the three into one satisfying breakfast. Not the healthiest way to start the morning, but perfect for a chilly Sunday morning.

Don't these strawberries look gorgeous?!

The strawberry flavor was not as pronounced as I had hoped. It was *extremely* subtle, in fact. Next time I plan to halve the cocoa powder and double the amount of strawberries. Hopefully, that will provide a more intense strawberry taste to the waffle itself.

Tip: I made the batter the night before and left it in the fridge overnight. When we woke up on Sunday morning, I just had to heat up the waffle maker and pour! Now if only someone would come over to clean my waffle maker....

Chocolate Strawberry Waffles

*Adapted from this recipe.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoon sugar (I'm sure this could be dropped to 3 teaspoons and be just as good)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (my addition. Can be omitted to make regular strawberry waffles. I might half next time.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries, plus 2 sliced strawberries for garnish (I think I will double this next time)
  • 4 tablespoons milk (I used 2%)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • Cooking spray
Spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife. Pour into a medium sized mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt.

In a blender, combine the strawberries, milk, oil, vanilla and eggs. Blend until smooth.

Pour the blended strawberries into the flour mixture and stir together until just combined.

Pour about a 1/4 cup of batter onto a hot waffle iron sprayed with cooking spray and cook until the steam stops--about 5 min per waffle.

Top waffles with additional sliced strawberries, powdered sugar and syrup.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Veggie Calazon

I created this recently in an effort to use up several vegetables in my kitchen, as well as incorporate the fresh produce growing in my patio garden. I've used low fat cheese sparingly to try and up the healthy factor, but any cheese will do.

The calzon bread is made using this dough.

Filling Ingredients

1 can tomato paste + 1/2 can water

handful fresh basil, torn

handful fresh oregano, chopped

1 yellow crook-neck squash, diced

1 tomato, sliced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1/4 cup (approx.) Low-fat cheddar cheese

1/4 cup (approx.) plain feta cheese, crumbled

1 teaspoon garlic salt

2 teaspoons pepper

1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

Pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees with the pizza stone on the lowest rack.

Heat the tomato paste on the stovetop. Add about a half a can of water to help thin it out just a bit. Add in all of the vegetables and simmer, stirring occassionally, for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.

Meanwhile, spread out your whole wheat dough on a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal. Using your fingers, push and spread the dough until it is about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and in the shape of a large circle.

Using a spatula, spread the vegetable sauce to about a 1/2" from the edge of the dough. Sprinkle with the feta cheese and top with a small amount of shredded low-fat cheddar cheese.

(This picture shows the calzone before it was sprinkled with cheddar.)

Pick up the edge of the dough closest to you and folder over so it meets the top edge of dough. Press the edges together, sealing in the filling. Gently press the middle of the calzone to help re-distribute the filling.

Place the calzone (still on the parchment paper) on the hot pizza stone and cook for approximately 10 minutes. The dough should be slightly crisp and browned.

Let cool about 5 minutes before eating.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bleu Pizza

My husband and I recently took a vacation up to the Bay Area; His younger sister graduated from UC Berkeley Memorial Weekend and my husband and I wanted to visit San Francisco together. We had a great 5 days in San Francisco and are already planning our next trip.

This wasn't my first trip to the city (I went to SFSU-Go Gators!), but it was only my 2nd time in Berkeley. After her graduation ceremony, my sister-in-law wanted to get pizza for dinner. Only we didn't just call Pizza Hut and make it a night. No, she led us to a pizza co-op (how Nor Cal is that?!) that makes only one type of pizza a day and all 12 people that work there are equal partners in the business. Sounds hippish, right? Well it totally was, but the pizza was SO good! The day we were there the pizza consisted of 4 cheeses (mozazrella, fontina, parmasean, and bleu), 3 onions (yellow, red, and green), garlic olive oil, and basil, all piled onto a thin crust. We quickly gobbled up 2 pizzas, topped off with a few bottles of Belgium white beers. SO GOOD!

I never thought about puttine bleu cheese on a pizza before, but it is such a good idea!! The little pockets of bleu jump onto your tongue and stand out beautifully against the fresh mozzerela. I highly reccommend adding some bleu cheese to your next pizza.

The memory of that pizza stuck with me and I have been thinking about recreating it ever since. I made a batch of whole wheat pizza dough (well, that makes it sound really easy. My first 2 attempts were total FAILS...not really sure what went wrong. The third batch came out great and was the base for this pizza) on Sunday afternoon, let it rise, and then threw it in the fridge so it would be ready for dinner today.

While this is not an *exact* replica of Cheeseboard's Pizza of the Day (May 22), it was a pretty good riff on the original. My husband and I both gobbled it up. MMMMM, pizza! Here is the restaurant's website, and a link to their Twitter, which lists their daily pizzas.

Bleu Pizza

Bleu cheese, crumbled
Fresh mozzarella, shredded (I bought a hunk of buffalo mozzarella and shredded. SO much better than the pre-shredded stuff)
Low-fat cheddar
garlic olive oil (I crushed 3 cloves of garlic into about 3 tablespoons of oil and let it sit for 2 days....you don't need to infuse it for so long. You can just use regular olive oil too.)
1 green onion, sliced,
2 cloves of garlic, diced
a few fresh basil leaves

Pizza Crust
I used this recipe, but I subbed in Whole Wheat Flour.
The first two times I made it for this pizza, I used all purpose flour and the dough came out WAY too sticky. The whole wheat flour did not have that problem. I would reccommened omitting a 1/4 of water at first, and then add it in if your dough is too dry once mixed (before kneading).
That is the same dough recipe I used for my Healthy Pizza, which I also made with whole wheat flour.

Pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees with the pizza stone inside, on the lowest rack.

Roll out a large piece of parchment paper and sprinkle with the cornmeal. Pull off two large hunks of pizza dough (about a handful each), and roll them out one at a time on the parchment paper. I used my hands to pull, stretch, and push the dough into shape, working it until it was about 1/8" thick. The cooked into a thin (but not cracker-like) crust; shape into a thicker crust if desired.

Brush each round of dough with the garlic olive oil, all the way to the edges. Sprinkle with the cheddar and mozzarella cheese. Dot with crumbled bleu cheese. Sprinkle diced garlic and chopped green onions over the cheese.

Here are the uncooked pizzas, all dressed up and ready to head into the oven. Mmmm.

Place the pizzas on your pizza stone and cook for 5-7 minutes. (I placed the pizzas on the stone while they were still on the parchment paper...I am never able to get the dough off the parchment without totally ruining the crusts! :) )

Turkey Veggie Burgers

My husband and I love to eat homemade turkey burgers. Whenever there is a sale on ground turkey at the grocery store, I stock up and buy several packages to throw in the freezer. We buy the packaged Jennie-O brand of turkey, which is usually on sale for about $2.50-$3.50 (they are 1.25 pound packages). In an effort to be healthier, we stopped buying red meat about a year ago and now eat mainly turkey and chicken at home...eating out is a whole 'nother story. I love me some In-N-Out burger!!

Turkey can be pretty dry, so I usually up the moisture by mixing tons of fresh veggies and herbs into the mixture. (This is also a great way to up your veggie intake!!) I also will add about a tablespoon of plain yogurt into the meat as well; this keeps the meat really moist, but you can't taste the yogurt. Just make sure you use plain...unless you want a fruity tasting burger. :) We didn't have any yogurt on hand the last time I made these burgers though, so I didn't include it, but it is listed in the ingredients list.

Most of the veggies we put in our burgers come straight from our garden, lending these burgers a really fresh, healthy taste. :) You can mix up the veggies to incorporate whatever you have and like; we've used zucchini, mushrooms, garlic, white onions, and other produce before with great results.

Turkey Veggie Burgers

1.25 pounds ground turkey
grape tomatos, smashed (smash them into the meat so the juice is incorporated as well)
fresh oregano, diced
fresh basil, diced
green onions, diced
dried oregano
garlic salt
a few red pepper flakes
a dash of cayanne pepper
1 tablespoon PLAIN yogurt (optional)

Tomatos (I used a tomato picked fresh from our garden....SOOO good!!)
Low-fat cheddar cheese

Mix all burger ingredients together in a large bowl until well combined. Form into patties by hand (I like to make thick patties if I am using my Foreman grill since it smashes them).
Grill on your charcoal grill until cooked most of the way through (about 5-7 )min. and then flip over to finish. **Leave the lid ON throughout cooking to help cook the meat all the way through.
If using a Foreman, place on the grill, put the cover down, and cook for about 7-8 minutes.

Top with your desired toppings. I served these with steamed green beans from our weekly CSA basket.

Sauteed Swiss Chard

I recently joined a CSA for the first time and my husband and I are already swimming in vegetables after only 2 pick ups. We don't know what we're getting each week until we pick up the basket, which makes planning hard, but experimenting fun.

One veggie include in a recent basket was a bunch of swiss chard. I'd never tried this veg before...I don't even know if I'd seen it before...but I do know almost any vegetable can be sauteed, so I decided to start there. YUM!

I am house sitting for my parents while they are on a Baltic Sea cruise (*sigh*), so I am limited to the ingredients in their kitchen (though I did bring most of my CSA basket with me....the husband will just let them wilt in the fridge while I am gone). My parents have every time of soy sauce and vinegar known to man, but no olive oil. I did find some canola oil, but I decided to use butter instead.
*Edit: My mom has since shown me where she keeps her olive oil. It is in a totally separate cabinent from all her other oils, and is all the way on the back of the shelf. No wonder I couldn't find any!

Sauteed Swiss Chard
Olive Oil
1 bunch swiss chard
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Red Pepper flakes, 1-2 tsp (how hot can you handle?)
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt


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