Sunday, March 23, 2014

Everyone loves waffles

Continuing a family tradition of making breakfast on Sunday morning, we were hankering for waffles. 

Partly because I didn't want to grocery shop and partly because we try to eat even the classics in a healthy way, the recipe I used was a keeper: 

Classic remake: Greek Waffles
2 cups flour (those avoiding gluten could try a nut flour like almond) 
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I only buy Chobani) 
1 T honey 
1 T baking powder
1 3/4 c milk (I didn't have it so went water but depending on flavor, you can go fruit juice or even maybe a whole fruit juiced in blender)

Because they were so plain, I added a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of almond flavor. You could go vanilla instead or in addition to fruit. 

Top with your flavor of choice ... Peanut butter, Greek yogurt and fruit, syrup, apple butter ... Have fun!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Three generations of Christmas cookies

My great grandmother started one of my favorite holiday traditions: cutout sugar cookies. 

Over the years I have made thousands of dozens and shared with many friends. It's only fair to share the recipe as it is the best I've ever tasted as well.

Zella Abbot's Sugar Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks softened) unsalted butter
1.5 cups powdered sugar
2.5 cups flour
2 tablespoon almond flavoring
1 egg
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix all ingredients, refridgerate dough overnight in airtight container. Freeze rolling pin, roll out dough with flour. Bake 10 minutes (no longer) at 350 degrees. Allow to completely cool before frosting.

Basic Frosting 
1 stick butter
1 pound powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla

Happy decorating, and may this recipe bring as much joy to you as it has to me!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Souper Fall leads off with Tomato Bisque

Cost analysis: Campbell's Tomato costs somewhere in the
neighborhood of $.80-1.59 / can. My soup is about $5.60
and works out to about $.46 / bowl for 12. Tasty.
I hate soup in a can.

Soup is one of the easiest things to make and unlike many other leftovers, appreciates as it lives in the fridge. I look forward to soup.

I don't have much time for cooking these days and the plants-only plan waned into a high time for lean proteins in our house over the past 18 months, but I like sharing recipes, so I will revive this forum this fall.

I took my recipe inspiration from a Pinterest post, but I freely experiment with recipes (sometimes with interesting results).

The two things I always try to do: learn something to make the recipe better (in the case of my cherry-banana-oatmeal muffins yesterday, almond flour alone is not a good substitute when you have too many wet ingredients). Also, I never create something new when people are coming over for dinner (I don't have enough frozen homemade-somethings to pull out and heat up as a backup).

Soup's on:

Use a food processor to finely chop these together:
Two handfuls of washed baby carrots
3 large celery stalks (leaves and end of stems removed)
1 large white onion

In a large pot on high heat, melt 1 T butter and cook vegetables, stirring often, for about 10 minutes. Add 1 T oregano and 1 T basil (I used a few cubes of basil I had chopped and frozen with water in an ice cube tray, which is a good way to preserve fresh herbs) and pepper to your taste. I used three pinches. I did not add salt because I used canned tomatoes.

Add 4 T flour and, using a wooden spoon to keep the ingredients moving around, create and cook a roux.

When slightly browned and thick, pour in 2.5 cups of milk (or cream if you like - I used 1 percent), 4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth (or make your own) and two 24-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes (or make your own by cooking down into sauce any kind of fresh tomatoes). I also added one-half a can of water from each can to get all the crushed tomato into the soup. You could use another can of tomatoes and still get the proper consistency without adding water.

Cook your soup to a rolling boil, stirring often to make sure the roux was moved off the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low for 20 minutes.

If you like, stir in up to 1 cup of freshly-grated parmesan cheese (the original recipe called for it - but I did not have any on hand).

The soup can be eaten immediately and makes 10-12 servings.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lunch for $9 and a lifestyle change

I am turning over a new leaf now that the birthday calendar has turned over a new year and it's been a long time coming. My friend Chris gave me a "happy 3(1)" card which was sweetly "accessorized" with more candles...

We briefly experimented with a vegetarian lifestyle this summer, which went over fairly well, and now it's time to change things up even more. In an effort to eat healthy and turn my life back to active - approaching the six week mark since my plantar fasciitis procedure - it's time to make some wholesale changes.

The first is lunch. No more spending $9 a meal for a salad and diet coke. No more diet coke. This week's lunch will be pot roast, carrots and pearl onions ... simmering away in the crock pot in the kitchen right now. The whole shebang set me back about $9, not including the rosemary from the farmer's market. Five lunches for about two bucks a day isn't bad.

If I get tired of it by Tuesday, we can have it for dinner ...the tricky thing Is that the rest of my meal planning this week revolves around fish, a no-go at the office.

Other changes will be no sugar, no gluten and no dairy for the next 100 days... My hope is that it becomes a habit but I'm also interested in how it makes me feel. I have started drinking tea since my cough resembles that of a habitual smoker, a lovely leftover from being deathly ill over my birthday and thanksgiving week.

Back to the gym (and physical therapy) tomorrow. Can't wait. More recipes on the way this week.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Party Recipes: Requested

Southern Living Blue Cheese Bacon Dip

I wouldn't say it's healthy or vegetarian, but this dip is pretty good. The recipe (with my notes)

bacon slices
  • garlic cloves (I used three)
  • (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (I used fat free)
  • 1/3 cup  half-and-half (next time I would use milk)
  • 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese (used about 3 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives (I sprinkled on dried because it wasn't farmer's market week)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted  (I didn't use)
  • Serve with grape clusters /celery /  Flatbread or assorted crackers (I used new Wheat Thin Flatbreads)
  • Preparation
  • Cook chopped bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat 10 minutes or until crisp. Drain bacon, pat with paper towels, set aside. Strain fat from skillet, add minced garlicand sauté 1 minute.
  • (Be careful not to overcook).
  • Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add half-and-half, beating until combined. Stir in bacon, garlic, blue cheese, and chives. Spoon mixture into large baking dish.
  • Bake at 350° for 15-30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Sprinkle evenly with chopped walnuts, and serve with grape clusters and flatbread or assorted crackers. (Mine didn't get bubbly or golden. Original recipe calls for several small dishes to bake dip in.)
See the recipe here.

  • Ice Cream Sandwich Cake
  • 1/2 cup hot fudge ice cream topping, warmed
  • Tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed, divided (I would use a large tub OR you can sub cream and sugar and make it from scratch)
  • pkg. (3.9 oz.) JELL-O Chocolate Instant Pudding (I used fat free, the big box)
  • 8 OREO Cookies, chopped (about 1 cup) (You can use other candy or cookies as well)
  • 12  vanilla ice cream sandwiches (or other flavors)
  • POUR fudge topping into medium bowl. Whisk in 1 cup COOL WHIP. Add dry pudding mix; stir 2 min. Stir in chopped cookies. ARRANGE  4 ice cream sandwiches, side-by-side, on 24-inch-long sheet of foil; top with half the COOL WHIP mixture. Repeat layers. Top with remaining sandwiches. Frost top and sides with remaining COOL WHIP. Bring up foil sides; double fold top and ends to loosely seal packet. FREEZE 4 hours or until firm. 
  • You really can't get a better summer dessert. No bake, not much mess and SO good!
  • See the recipe here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The farmer's market rocks + DIY pizza crust.

There's not much else to say, so this will be a short section. I went to the DeKalb Farmer's Market the other day, which is like heaven for those of us who haven't yet mastered backyard gardening. The best way to describe it is as the size of a box store but with an international sampling of goods. The main aisle is Meat, Fish, Fruits & Vegetables, and when you talk produce, this is stuff you've never heard of before in abundance. Fresh aloe? Beets? Mung beans? Sugar cane? Look no further.

Our take:

From left to right: 10 pounds of red potatoes, 25-pound box tomatoes, three huge heads of romaine lettuce, spinach, a seedless watermelon, fresh celery, 5 pounds of oranges, 3 yellow squash, 6 zucchini, freshly-baked bread, goat cheese, 3 pounds of limes, 2 pounds of mushrooms, 3 peaches, asparagus, 6 ears of sweet corn and not pictured 6 freshly-baked bagels and cilantro.

The price tag? $67. Let me tell you my favorite purchase: $14.50 for the tomatoes. I purchased three tomatoes from Publix for $2.66 and they were half as big as the tomatoes in this box.

The best part besides price and obviously awesome, colorful and healthy food? This produce will stay fresh for 2-3 weeks. The lettuce will be 90 percent as good in three weeks as it was when purchased.

Consequently, after this trip, I punched up our dinner to full-on fresh tomatoe, spinach & mozzarella pizza.

Here's how to do it yourself:

Yummy toppings:
Four large tomatoes, sliced. You can seed if you want. I didn't.
2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup grated mozzarella. We use part-skim.
Olive oil to drizzle
Italian seasoning
Parmesan to garnish

The crust (and for the love of all things kitchen, PLEASE don't buy or fake make or shy away from making a pizza crust. It is not that hard. I promise.)

In a mixing bowl, add 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast (or that little packet they sell). Pour over: 1 1/3 cups hot water (I let the tap run until it's hot enough to soak dishes but not scalding). Do not stir this mix. Let the yeast activate (it bubbles). About five minutes is good.

Keeping with form, the actual recipe from the Joy of Cooking (which I believe every amateur and foodie alike should have) calls for a tablespoon of sugar. I don't think it's needed. I skip it.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and stir in 3 1/2 to 3/4 cups of flour. I use a wooden spoon to initially stir in the flour to the yeast and then switch to kneading. This allows me to use the flour I'm adding gradually to get the sticky dough off the spoon. I'd advise taking your rings off for the kneading. Add flour until your dough is slightly sticky and somewhat elastic. It looks like this:

When it gets there, oil another large bowl and put the dough in seam-side down (the seam is where you've last folded the dough to knead it). Let the dough rise for about 30 minutes (cover with a clean towel). Divide your dough into two - and flour a workspace.

Using extra flour, knead the dough again and use the flour you need to keep from sticking. Depending on the shape of your pan, you should be able to press out the shape of your dough - a circle or rectangle. You can't do this too much as the dough should now be smooth. I made my dough larger than the pan and folded the excess in to make a crust:

At this point, you can put your sauce on (I just used the raw, sliced tomatoes), drizzled olive oil and added toppings. The best part of this pizza besides the taste is that you know exactly how many ingredients your pizza has, and that there are no extra preservatives, colors, chemicals and random animal products.

*Note on the crust: You can use wheat flour, soy flour, a mixture of flours or regular old white flour. I use unbleached and add flax, cornmeal, rosemary, sesame seeds, and/or whatever flours seem right at the time. There aren't rules when it comes to add-ons. Just keep the actual flour to the same proportion.

*Note 2: Store uneaten pizza (hahahaha) in the fridge and eat within a day or so. Without preservatives, this goes fast. In our house, it goes in one meal.

*Note 3: Second crust can be frozen. More on that to come.

Eat healthy, my friends!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

We were invited to a football coaches party - always a little awkward because I feel I should hang with the guys, but Josh doesn't hang with the ladies. After three years, we all have our moments I think.

Anyway, Coach W hosted the event and I decided to bring this beauty to celebrate Memorial Day weekend:

Apparently it looked too good because no one wanted the first slice. The good news? I texted Coach W to see if he'd finished it up over the weekend and this was his response:

"Devoured it. It was outstanding!"

Thinking it was probably a bit much even for him to eat on his own, I probed for more details... especially since no one sampled (even me). So, I asked who he shared the treat with and was not expecting this response....

"I took it to a pool party Sunday. Said I made it."

I loved it. And that, my friends, is genius.

I cheated on the recipe: boxed white cake (major time saver but more expensive) + vanilla pudding mix made according to directions with three eggs and water. On top, cheesecake pudding (mixed with maybe 3/4 cup of milk set to firm and then folded in with most of a large container of Cool Whip) frosting + strawberries & blueberries.

Total decorate time ~30 minutes including washing / soaking the fruit.

Welcome to summer ... be safe when re-fooding!