Breakfast for Dinner

Oh how I love going to cooking classes. This week I went to a week night class called "Breakfast for Dinner". My husband, who is not apt to join me in the kitchen ever, came along with me! This is partly because he loves me and wants to do things that I enjoy, and partly because he's a breakfast fanatic.

Once again, I forgot my camera...but hubby came to the rescue with his cell phone and we snapped a couple of pictures as we devoured the delicious food.

Here was the menu:

Cardamom-Pear Muffins
Crab and Roasted Red Pepper Strata
Huevos Rancheros
Rosemary-Mustard Sausage
The Ultimate Sticky Buns
Pecan Praline Bacon

I'm not actually a huge breakfast person. I eat it because I have to...and let's face it, the really good breakfast food isn't really that good for you anyway. I usually choke down some yogurt or an English muffin with honey on it. These recipes may not have been for calorie counting...but boy were they they tastiest darn things in the world! I'll share a few recipes now and save a few for future posts.

Cardamom Pear Muffins*
~I had never tasted anything like these~

  • 1 2/3 cup all purpose flour (I bet you could use 1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 all purpose)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom**
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped, unpeeled pear***
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp sugar (for topping)
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom (for topping)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tin or line with paper cups (if using a loaf pan, grease the bottom of it).
  2. Mix first 5 ingredients together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix pears, vegetable oil, milk, and eggs.
  3. Combine dry and wet ingredients and mix only to combine. Pour batter evenly into muffin tin (I use an ice cream scooper to ensure even distribution) and sprinkle topping over each muffin.
  4. Bake for approx. 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  5. Cool in tin for 10 minutes, remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
*This can be made as a loaf of bread, too. Instead of using muffin tins, use a loaf pan. Increase the cooking time to about 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

**This is a really unique spice. It's available in the grocery store, but can be a bit pricey. To make it last, store it in the freezer. If you prefer to use something cheaper, cinnamon will work. However, the cardamom has a really special taste and I highly recommend using it.

***We used Bosc pears. When you are baking with fruit, it does not need to be ripe. If you would prefer, you could use apples instead of pears. But I think the pears go perfectly with the cardamom.

Huevos Rancheros
~I am in love with this recipe~

Ranchero Sauce*
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup poblano pepper, roasted and chopped**
  • 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cumin, ground
  • 1/2 tsp salt or more to taste
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • Vegetable oil for pan-frying
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 8 large eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pepper Jack cheese and/or sour cream to garnish
  1. For the sauce, warm the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Mix in the poblano pepper, tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, cumin, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes, until thickened.
  3. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice into the sauce shortly before removing from the heat.
  4. Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a medium to large skillet. Dip the tortillas into the oil, one at a time, and cook for a few seconds, until soft and pliable. Drain the tortillas on a paper towel.
  5. Fry the eggs (we actually did them scrambled and likes them very much that way). Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Top each tortilla with a fried egg (or a couple spoonfuls of scrambled). Sprinkle cheese and sour cream, if desired, and then top with ranchero sauce.
*The Ranchero sauce is wonderful to have on hand. Make a double batch and store the extra in the freezer. It can be used to top chicken or salmon, too. If you use it with eggs on Monday, save some and use it over chicken later in the week for a quick meal!

**To roast the peppers, pop them under the broiler, turning occasionally until they are blackened on all sides. Then, while they are still hot, put them in a bowl and cover the bowl to allow them to steam a little bit (this will help the skin come off easier). Place them on a flat surface and use the back of a knife to scrap the blacked skin off of the peppers. You don't have to get it all off, just most of it. The peppers are then ready to chop. For a shortcut, they are available canned.

Rosemary and Mustard Breakfast Sausage

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 14 oz. package bulk breakfast sausage, mild or spicy
  • 2 tsp whole grain mustard (using whole grain works best)
  1. Heat oil in small skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and chopped rosemary and saute until golden (about 10 minutes)
  2. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add sausage, mustard, and generous amount of pepper. Mix gently.
  3. Form into 12 two inch diameter patties (you can make more smaller ones, or less bigger ones too).
  4. Arrange sausages on a heavy baking sheet (can be made 1 day ahead up to this point, store in fridge until ready to bake)
  5. Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 500 degrees. Bake sausages until cooked through, about 6 minutes. If sausages have not browned, you can broil them for 2 minutes.
  6. Transfer sausages to paper towels to drain, then arrange on platter.
Pecan Praline Bacon
~ This was my favorite recipe of the night~
  • 1 lb thick cut bacon (about 12 slices)
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped fine
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. On rack of a large broiling pan (or baking sheet lined with a Silpat) arrange bacon slices in a single layer.
  3. Cook in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes or until they just begin to turn golden.
  4. In a small bowl stir together sugar and chili powder. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle bacon with sugar mixture and pecans.
  5. Return pan to oven and cook until bacon is crisp and browned, about 5 minutes.
  6. Transfer bacon, praline-side up, to paper towels to drain.

Quick and Easy Summer Dessert

I was over at a friend's house last night and she served a very yummy dessert! She said it was super simple and emailed me the recipe this morning.

Blueberry Cheese Pie
~This is a "no fuss" dessert"~

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 8 oz. carton Cool Whip, thawed
  • 1 can blueberry pie filling*
  • Baked pie shell (she used graham cracker)
  1. Mix cream cheese with sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Fold in the Cool Whip and spread mixture into pie shell.
  3. Cover with blueberry pie filling and refrigerate until ready to serve.

*I was thinking about it and wondered if you could use fresh blueberries on top. It obviously wouldn't have that same sugary gooey consistency (which tastes quite awesome)...but it would be healthier and fun to do when blueberries are in season. I would assume that you could just set them on top of the cheese mixture. I'll have to try it!

Thanks, Jen, for a great recipe!!


Zonya's Health Bites

So, in a couple of posts I've alluded to a show I've been watching called Zonya's Health Bites. I was talking to my sister one day and she mentioned that she'd been watching this really interesting show that gives shopping, food, and exercise information. It airs on public television stations around the country...for us, it's on NJN. Reruns are on all week at 1:30 PM.

She told me to check it out, so I started recording episodes and loved the show! She is a nutritionist, cookbook author, and public speaker. She goes around the country doing speaking engagements about how to lead a healthier lifestyle through food and exercise choices.

She's kind of a lot to take at first. Her personality is a bit "out there"...

Example A

But once you get passed the fact that she's wearing way too much make-up and has a cheesy theme song, you'll find her information to be really helpful. I've tried several of her recipes and enjoyed them. My sister got her cookbook and loves it!

Her show is split up into 3 segments. In the first one, she goes to the grocery store and talks about a particular kind of food and how to make a good choice when you're buying that food. For example, in one episode she went to the produce aisle and pointed out different kinds of fruits and vegetables that should be included in your diet and how to pick the best ones. In another episode, she went to the canned beans aisle and discussed the different options and the health benefits of beans.

In the second segment, she's at home in her kitchen. She uses some of the things she discussed in the grocery store to cook one or two recipes. I've seen her make soups, stews, breads, nachos, chicken, and much more. Throughout the cooking segment, she gives tips on how to cook in a healthy way.

The last segment is on exercise. She focuses on really simple everyday exercises that don't require you to go to the gym or have a lot of equipments. She works with a fitness instructor and models different exercises that improve your balance and strength.

In almost every episode, she shows a clip from one of her speaking engagements that centers on the theme of "The Power of One Good Habit". When she gives a tip or a recipe, she often tells you how much fat you'll be avoiding by making a healthier choice. She shows you the fat, in pounds, using Crisco Shortening! It's really gross, but the visual sticks in your memory when you reach for that candy bar.

Overall, it's a very informative and practical show. If you are interested, find out if your public television station airs her show. If you go to her website, it gives a link and directions for how to find that out. The website also has lots of tips, video clips, and recipes.

Have a happy and healthy Monday!


Friday Night Feast VII with a Little Wednesday Night Feast Thrown In

So I'm a little late on posting my Friday Night Feast from last weekend...but it's the last week of school and I'm a tad busy.

I had some Rhubarb Chutney left from my cooking class and decided to thaw some chicken sausage I had in the freezer. I had some peppers and picked up some steak rolls from the store. This was ridiculously easy.

Spicy Chicken Sausages
with Rhubard Chutney and Grilled Peppers

~The spicy sausage pairs well with the sweet chutney~

  • 1 package of spicy chicken sausage (I got mine at Giant)
  • Rhubarb Chutney (you don't need much...maybe a 1/2 cup?)
  • 4 steak rolls
  • 2 or 3 red, orange, or yellow peppers
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then add the sausages. Boil them for 30 to 45 minutes. (You can do this ahead of time...I actually did it on Thursday night while dinner was in the oven, then popped them in the fridge for Friday night)
  2. While the sausages are boiling, cut the peppers into large pieces and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Heat the grill to medium high heat (you could use a grill pan, too).
  3. Place peppers on metal skewers (if using wood skewers, soak them in water ahead of time).
  4. Place the sausages and skewers of peppers onto the grill and cook for 5-10 minutes, turning occasionally.
  5. Remove the peppers from the skewers and put the sausages into the steak rolls. Top sausages with chutney and enjoy. (Remember, the chutney keeps for weeks in the fridge...so it can be ready when you need it)
At cooking class last week we made a pasta salad. When I read the recipe I thought it sounded kind of weird and gross. And then we made it and I thought it looked kind of weird and gross. Then I ate it and I loved it! It looks kind of heavy, but it really isn't. The Greek yogurt balances out the mayo and then all the mix-ins add great texture and flavor. Don't feel limited to the recipe below...we just kind of made it up with what we had. If you think something in your fridge would be good...add it. If you don't like what we put in it...don't add it.

It makes quite a bit so I thought it was fitting to call it our "Wednesday Night Feast".

Summer Pasta Salad
~This is a great way to use up your produce~

  • 1/2 package of bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 box of pasta (I like short pasta, but we used spaghetti in cooking class)
  • 4 large heads of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup light mayonnaise
  • 2 cups of corn (if using frozen, thaw first)
  • 1 cup golden raisins (sounds gross, tastes great in it)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh scallions
  • 3 or 4 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • Handful of shredded cheddar cheese (1/2 cup?)
  • 1 red pepper, chopped (optional)
  • Sunflower seeds or toasted pine nuts (optional)
  1. Saute the bacon in a tbsp of oil in a large skillet until it's crispy.
  2. Cook pasta according the package directions. During the last 2 or 3 minutes of cooking, throw the broccoli into the pasta water along with the pasta. Boil the pasta and broccoli for a couple minutes until broccoli is crisp tender.
  3. Drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander and rinse with cold water. This stops the broccoli from cooking and rinses the starch off of the pasta.
  4. Toss the pasta and broccoli with bacon, Greek yogurt, mayo, corn, golden raisins, scallions, chives, cheddar cheese, pepper, sunflower seeds, and toasted pine nuts.
  5. Allow to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Can be made ahead of time.
Now if only it would stop raining so that I could really get excited about my summer break....which starts in 3 days!!


Boot Camp - Week 2

This week we made some Indian cuisine in my Boot Camp class. I'm really excited to try some of these global cuisines because I haven't had a ton of exposure to food from other countries. I've had pretty much no exposure to Indian food, so this was a fascinating class for me. Here was our menu:

Spinach and Potato Samosas with Mint Chutney
Chicken Satays with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Peas

Chicken Vindaloo


The food was awesome. I was so excited. In fact, I called my husband on the way home just to tell him everything we made. Sometimes I just get so excited about things I can't wait to tell someone. He gets that about me.

Some of the recipes are on the spicier side, but can be made more mild (which I will do because I haven't quite gotten used to spicy food yet). My favorite was the Chicken Vindaloo and homemade Naan. I may or may not have eaten 5 loaves of Naan before the night was through (hey...they aren't that big).

I forgot my camera again, which makes me so mad. The food looked so colorful and wonderful...next time I'll remember to grab it before class, I hope.

So, like I said, here are my favorites...

Chicken Vindaloo
~If you have a well stocked spice cabinet, you're good to go~
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh ginger (remember, you can freeze this to have on hand when needed)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp dried crushed red pepper
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 lbs skinless boneless chicken thighs (about 10), cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 (14 1/2 oz to 16 oz) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I didn't use this because I don't like it)
  1. Place first 8 ingredients in a blender or food processor. Add 1 tbsp mustard seeds and blend until smooth. Transfer spice mixture to a large bowl.
  2. Add chicken and 2 tbsp oil to spice mixture and coat well.
  3. Heat remaining 2 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until golden, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add chicken mixture and stir 3 minutes to blend flavors. Then add tomatoes with their juice and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until chicken is tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
  6. Season chicken mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in remaining 1 tbsp mustard seeds. Simmer uncovered until liquid is slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick. Stir in cilantro (if desired) and serve (with Naan!).
~ This takes a little bit of time, but it's so worth it~

  • 1 (.25 oz) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup cold or luke warm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour (you can use all-purpose, too...or you could use 1/2 all purpose and 1/2 whole wheat)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic (optional, but highly recommended)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until slightly frothy.
  2. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, and flour. Mix a little bit, then add the salt. It should come together to to form a soft dough.
  3. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth (try to use the least amount of flour as possible). You could also knead this by using a stand mixer with a dough hook.
  4. Put the dough into a large ziploc bag that has been sprayed with cooking spray on the inside. Let it rise for 1 hour until doubled in size.
  5. Punch down dough and knead in the garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and play on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  6. During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat.
  7. Roll the dough balls out into a thin circle with a rolling pin. Place dough on grill and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes.
  8. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared. This pairs great with many many things, but we ate it with the Chicken Vindaloo.
This bread is ridiculously delicious. You can make it and freeze it, too. Just pull it out and toast it up to thaw it. Yum!


Boot Camp - Week 1

...not that kind of boot camp

In February 2008, I enrolled in a 10 week cooking class called Boot Camp. It was being offered by a place called The Kitchen Workshop in Paoli.

I stumbled on the website one night when I was searching online for cooking classes in my area. Before I committed to the 10 week class, I decided to try one of the one-night classes. They offer tons and tons of one-night classes that focus on a theme. All it took was one class and I was hooked...I signed up for Boot Camp and the rest is history. I've been a cooking fanatic ever since.

When I found out that there was a Boot Camp 2 being offered...I was thrilled! Not only do I get to go to class every Sunday night, but I also can go to any of the weeknight classes that interest me.

In a typical three hour class, you work cooperatively to make a whole menu of food and then enjoy it together with complimentary wine. Sometimes there are leftovers that you can take home!On Sunday, we focused on using some excess vegetables that some of the students had gotten from their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). We did a couple really good recipes using rhubarb. Rhubarb is a vegetable that looks kind of like celery, but it's a purple color. You can only eat the stalks because the leaves are poisonous to eat (not scary poisonous, just not edible).

Rhubarb Chutney
~This is an incredibly versatile recipe~

  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 1/2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp grated orange peel
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 4 1/2 cups coarsely chopped rhubarb (from 1 3/4 lbs rhubarb)
  • 3/4 cup dried currants (golden raisins work nicely, too)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  1. Stir sugar, vinegar, cinnamon sticks, ginger, orange peel, and cardamom in a large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture boils.
  2. Add rhubarb and currants. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to let it simmer until rhubarb is tender, but not falling apart (this only takes 4 to 5 minutes).
  3. Add the green onions and cool to room temperature. Discard the cinnamon sticks.
  4. Cover and refrigerate chutney until cold, at least 1 hour.
  • This can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge. It keeps for weeks and weeks, so it's great to have on hand.
  • This is great on bread or crackers with cheddar cheese.
  • It's also great with chicken salad.
  • You can just bake some chicken breasts with a bit of salt and pepper and then add the chutney as a sauce.
  • We've really enjoyed it on spicy or sweet sausages.
Country Rhubarb Cake
~This is surprisingly delicious cake~

  • 1 lb fresh rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs (1 separated)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degress. Butter a 10 inch glass or ceramic pie plate or a 2 1/2 quart oval gratin dish.
  2. Toss rhubarb with brown sugar in a bowl until coated.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl until well combined. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles course meal (butter is the size of peas).
  4. Whisk together milk, whole egg, and yolk. Make a well in center of flour mixture and add milk mixture, stirring with a wooden soon to gradually incorporate the flour to form a soft, sticky dough.
  5. Transfer half of dough to pie plate or baking dish and pat out over bottom and halfway up side with well-floured hands, then spoon rhubarb and any juices onto dough. *
  6. Using a tablespoon, spoon remaining dough in small mounds evenly over top. Lightly beat egg white with a few drops of water, then brush cake with egg wash. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp sugar over top.
  7. Bake until top crust is golden and rhubarb is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool, about 30 minutes. It tastes great served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
* We actually did this differently in class. We dumped the rhubarb directly into the baking dish and then topped it with the entire dough mixture. It worked nicely.

There are so many other recipes we did in both Sunday's class and Monday's "Cooking with Puff Pastry and Phylo Dough" class, but I'll share the rest in future posts. I wish I had taken pictures! I will try to remember my camera next week. I will share the recipes and my experiences as I go through this class.

I'll leave you with my strategy for getting meals on the table this week. I found a huge family pack of chicken breasts at Wegman's for $1.99 a pound and I have a package of chicken sausages in the freezer. So I figured I could make a few meals to last us through the week.

Monday: My husband came to cooking class with me and we feasted on delicious food.

Tuesday: I roasted 5 chicken breasts in the oven with salt and pepper (I sprinkled some Greek seasoning on two of them). I took the rest of the chicken breasts in the family pack and froze them for future meals. Below the chicken, I roasted some broccoli florets tossed with olive oil and salt. I topped three of the chicken breasts with Rhubarb Chutney (left over from class) and served two for dinner alongside the roasted broccoli and saved one for my lunch tomorrow. I reserved the other two chicken breasts for tomorrow.

Wednesday: I plan to use the Greek seasoned chicken breasts as a topping for salad. I'll make a nice green salad with veggies in it, throw on some Greek chicken, and choose my favorite dressing (I personally think Northern Italian dressing tastes great on almost any salad...my husband prefers Ranch).

Thursday: We'll likely pick up sandwiches or have leftovers because we are going out that night.

Friday: I will boil the chicken sausages for about 30 to 45 minutes. Then I'll throw them on the grill for a few minutes to let them get nice and toasty (I learned this method at cooking class...it cooks the sausages all the way through and cuts down on the grease). I'll put them on steak rolls and top with Rhubarb Chutney. I'll probably grill some vegetables to serve with them.

I cannot wait to try all of these new recipes I'm learning! I'm going to work on incorporating them into weekly meal plans so I can put my "Cooking With a Plan" strategy to work!


Friday Night Feast VI

Chinese Food
  • 1 Wegman's supermarket
  • 2 medium sized plastic containers
  • Approx. $15.00
  1. Discuss dinner options with spouse.
  2. Decide together that it's been one heck of a week and determine closest and fastest available food.
  3. Drive 3 miles to Wegman's and walk to the "Wokery"
  4. Fill plastic containers with copious amounts of Lemon Pepper Chicken, Shrimp, Green Beans, and Edamame.
  5. Go home and eat while watching a movie.
Sometimes you just have to do take-out.

I did actually try out a new dessert recipe tonight. I've been on a bit of a "lighten up fattening recipes" kick lately. As I've mentioned in several posts, I've been watching this show called Zonya's Health Bites and she does a lot of low fat and low calorie recipes. I really enjoyed the Banana and Zucchini Breads that I tried last weekend. I thought I'd give her Blueberry Buckle recipe a go.

Blueberry Buckle
~This literally takes 5 minutes to put together before you bake it~

  • 2 pints fresh blueberry or 2 (12 oz) packages frozen blueberries
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or 1/2 cup all purpose and a 1/2 cup whole wheat)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp lemon, orange, or almond extract (optional)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • Vanilla ice cream (if desired)
  1. Spray a 9'' x 13'' baking pan with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. If you are using frozen berries, allow to thaw a bit. Spread fresh or frozen berries in the bottom of baking pan (check over for stems). Sprinkle 3 tbsp sugar evenly over berries.
  3. Combine orange juice, flour, sugar, baking powder, egg whites, and extract in a bowl. Spoon 12 even portions over berries (in 3 rows of 4).
  4. Sprinkle 1 tbsp sugar on top of the dough mixture.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes or until the cake is lightly browned.
  6. Serve warm with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream (if desired).
We liked it! Hey...it's not the same as the "more than a cup of sugar and 2 sticks of butter" kind of dessert I've had before. But it's really sweet and tasty if you are watching your calories. It comes in at just 166 calories and not even a gram of fat per serving (which is 1/12 of the whole dish). So if you have fresh berries laying around and you want a quick treat, you will likely be able to put this together with what you have on hand.

Have a great weekend!


Food for Friends

On Saturday, we had a dinner party with some of our close friends. We all headed over to one couple's house and each helped to contribute to the meal. One person brought a delicious salad that had all sorts of goodness in it (such as little balls of mozzarella). Another person brought a pasta salad that was also fabulous. I brought dessert (I whipped up a Lemon Yogurt Cake) and a pre and post dinner munchie. The hosting couple grilled up some completely mouthwatering chicken and made a wonderful munchie as well.

When I was getting ready to make my various items...I searched my blog for my Toffee Dip recipe. Lo and behold, I found that I hadn't posted it yet. I don't know how this is possible because it's the easiest and most delicious thing ever. And virtually everyone that has ever eaten it thinks that it's addicting.

I got this recipe from my husband's cousin's wife (did ya get that?) after having it at a family get-together. We were all huddled around it like ravenous animals, trying to find more and more things to dip in it once the apples and pretzels were gone. We may or may not have taken left-over chicken nuggets from the kids' table and dipped them...we were desperate...we just had to keep eating the dip. If I had been thinking clearly on Saturday, I would have taken a picture before we all devoured it.

Toffee Dip
~Beware of its over the top sweet awesomeness~
  • 1 block cream cheese ( sometimes I use the 1/3 reduced fat kind)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup toffee bits (in the choc. chip section)
  1. Mix 1st four ingredients (I use my kitchen aid mixer)
  2. Then add toffee bits
  3. Refrigerate a few hours (overnight works well, too- the toffee kind of melts into it)
  4. Over-eat with Granny Smith apples and pretzel rods at all occasions!
The munchie that the hostess put out was also addicting. It's the perfect savory/salty appetizer and she said it was easy to make. I believe she got the recipe from a friend, so I'm not really sure of the original source.

Buffalo Chicken Dip
~We ate this continuously all evening~
  • 2 blocks of cream cheese
  • 1 cup of ranch dressing (Hidden Valley or Krafts)
  • 3-5 oz of Frank's Hot Sauce (I'm told it must be Frank's)
  • 1 large can or 2-3 small cans of canned chicken drained (Swanson - it looks like tuna)
  • Cheddar Cheese - optional (someone at our BBQ told me they add it so I'll try it next time)
  1. Melt cream cheese in pot on stove stirring constantly over med heat.
  2. Then stir in Ranch and Frank's. Then stir in chicken.
  3. Mix and pour into serving dish. Serve with cracker sticks*, carrots and celery. I think it's enjoyed best when kept over a heating plate or something that keeps it warm.
*The hostess served it with "Chicken in a Biscuit" crackers and tortilla chips. It was great!

I love seeing my friends. I love food. Combining friends and food makes for a perfect evening.


Quick Breads Done Light

Not all low fat recipes taste bad

This weekend I decided to try two new light recipes for quick breads. I have a bit of a "self-control" issue when it comes to banana bread and other sweet quick breads (By the way, quick bread means the kind of bread you can make without yeast...thus, it's quick to make). My favorite banana bread recipe is quite yummy...but it's not good for calorie counting. I've also tried various zucchini bread recipes, but all of them are pretty high in sugar.

I was watching a show called Zonya's Health Bites and she lightened up recipes for banana bread and zucchini bread. I was skeptical, but decided to give them a try. I was pleasantly surprised by both. I'm not going to say they are exactly like the recipes that have tons of butter and sugar, but they are very tasty (especially with a little bit of Smart Balance spread onto a slice). Another great thing is that both recipes are not only tasty, but good for you. It's a win-win! Both recipes are taken directly from Zonya's Lickety-Split Meals cookbook. I'm excited to tell you more about her show in a future post.

Each recipe makes enough batter for two loaves (or 8 mini loaves, if you have a mini-loaf pan) I actually made 1 regular loaf and 4 mini loaves when I tried the recipes this weekend. I gave away some of the mini loaves and popped a few in my freezer.

Banana Bread
~ This is great in the morning with breakfast or after dinner for dessert!~

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 egg whites (or 1 egg, yolk and white)
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups bananas (about 5)
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (or 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (opt) (I didn't add these)
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed (opt) (I added this very healthy ingredient and it didn't affect the taste at all!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare 2 loaf pans with cooking spray.
  2. Mix brown sugar, egg/s, and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Mash the bananas (I use a food processsor). Stir into mixture.
  4. Add oil to mixture and stir.
  5. Place flour, baking soda, and salt into a sifter and sift over mixture (or place in a separate bowl and use a fork to equally distribute the salt and soda).
  6. Stir dry mixture together thoroughly with the wet ingredients.
  7. Stirnuts and flax seed into batter, if desired.
  8. Divide batter evenly between the pans (loaves will not be high). Bake 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Per slice, this bread comes in at 137 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 7 grams of sugar...it's a great source of fiber and protein as well.

Zucchini Bread
~This also makes for a great anytime treat~

  • 3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (or 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves (I skipped these cause I didn't have them)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup skim milk or nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini, unpeeled (I shredded it in my food processor)
  • 1/2 cup nuts, if desired
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare 2 loaf pans with cooking spray.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a small or medium bowl.
  3. Beat sugar, egg whites, milk, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon extract in a large bowl.
  4. Stir zucchini into wet ingrediants. Then stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture until just combined.
  5. Stir in nuts, if desired. Divide batter evenly between pan(s). Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Per slice, this bread comes in at 140 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 13 grams of sugar...not bad...plus there's plenty of nutritional value in it as well.

This proves that you really can have sweet treats when you are watching your weight. You just have to watch your serving sizes and use healthy recipes!