Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Egg Muffins

So I am tired of the last few pregnancy pounds hanging onto my body for dear life.  Enough is enough already! I lost so much of the weight so quickly and it was awesome.  But now I am hovering at a plateau for the last few months and it is time to shake it!  I need something to boost up my metabolism and get everything moving so we have decided to start up South Beach Diet.  Not really all that thrilled about "dieting" but I have done low-carb a few times before and it really works quickly.  The nice thing with South Beach is that you don't need to stay altogether low carb past the first two weeks.  *phew*  I know many people that have had a lot of success with the diet, including my parents, so I am excited to see some positive changes in myself as well.  Wish me luck and I will share some of our favorites recipes along the way too.

There is an awesome blog, Kalyn's Kitchen, that is primarily all South Beach Friendly recipes.  You don't need to be on the diet to be able to appreciate her recipes.  Seriously, everyone could pretty much benefit by reduced carbs and increasing vegetables, whole grains and lean meats!  

After sleeping for 6-10 hours a night your body needs a serious recharge.  You need to break the fast that your body was doing while your were snoring away.  Hence the name breakfast.  These Egg Muffins are a wonderful start to your day.  Once you make a full batch you then have a quick breakfast for the rest of the week.  They have no flour, making pretty much carb free but also gluten free and high in protein.  Oh, and did I mention yummy?!

Egg Muffins
recipe slightly adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

12 Eggs
1/2 cup low fat 2% cottage cheese
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chili's
3 green onions, chopped
1-2 cups grated low-fat cheese (I used sharp cheddar, but any of your favorites will work great!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Optional: chopped veggies such as blanched broccoli, red pepper, zucchini, mushrooms, etc. (Using veggies will reduce the fat content)
Optional: diced Canadian bacon, lean ham, or crumbled cooked turkey sausage

Preheat oven to 375 F. Use regular or silicone muffin pan, 12 muffin size. If using silicone pan, spray with nonstick spray. If using regular muffin pan, put two paper liners into each slot, then spray liner with nonstick spray.

In the bottom of the muffin cups layer diced meat, if using, vegetables, if using, cheese and green onions. You want the muffin cups to be about 2/3 full, with just enough room to pour a little egg around the other ingredients. Break eggs into large measuring bowl with pour spout.  Add the cottage cheese, salt and pepper, and beat well. Pour egg into each muffin cup until it is 3/4 full. I like to stir slightly with a fork. Bake 25-35 minutes until muffins have risen and are slightly browned and set.

Muffins will keep at least a week in the refrigerator without freezing. Egg muffins can be frozen and reheated. For best results, thaw in refrigerator before reheating. Microwave on high about 2 minutes to reheat.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fragrant Chicken Curry

The flavors of this Thai dish are so lovely.  There is a perfect sweetness from the coconut and the touch of apricot jam but also a spicy finish coming from the curry paste.  Allowing the sauce to simmer for 30 minutes concentrates the flavors while blending them creates a silky, velvety smooth texture.  Served along side fragrant basmanti or jasmine rice, you have a beautiful yet simple dinner, special enough for entertaining.   The curry paste can be quite spicy.  If this is a new ingredient for you, you may wish to use a little at a time, tasting to get the right amount of heat for your pallet.  This dish was too spicy for my son as is.  Next time I will set aside a bit of sauce without the curry paste so he can enjoy it as well.  Minus the heat, this is a very, very kid friendly meal!

print this recipe

Fragrant Chicken Curry
recipe from The Ultimate Thai and Asian Cookbook by Deh-Hsiung, Becky Johnson and Sallie Morris

3 tablespoons oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste (easily found in the asian aisle of your grocery store)
4 cups coconut milk (lite is fine)
2 lemon grass stalks, coarsely chopped
6 kaffir lime leaves, chopped (I omitted these because I couldn't find them at my grocer.  If you know where to get them, let me know!)
2/3 cup yogurt
2 tablespoons apricot jam
1 3-31/2 lb cooked chicken (a prepared rotisserie chicken works great here, I just boiled my chicken so I could have chicken broth for later in the week)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
kaffir lime leaves, fresh cilantro and toasted, shredded coconut**, to garnish
cooked rice, to serve

Heat the oil in a large pan.  Add the garlic and onion and cook over low heat for 5-10 minutes until soft. Turn your heat up to medium and stir in the red curry paste.  Cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the coconut milk, then add the lemon grass, lime leaves, yogurt and apricot jam.  Stir well.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cook slightly.  Transfer the sauce to a food processor or blender and process to a smooth consistency.  I used my blender on "liquify" for about 4-5 minutes to get velvety smooth.  Pour the sauce back into the pan and set aside while you prepare your chicken.

If using a whole chicken, remove the skin and slice the meat off the bones, cutting it into bite sized pieces. Add the chicken to the sauce.  Bring the sauce back up to a simmer.  Stir in the fresh cilantro and season with salt and pepper.  Garnish with extra lime leaves, shredded coconut and chopped cilantro.  Serve with rice.

**To Toast Coconut
Arrange shredded, sweetened coconut (found in the baking aisle) in a single layer of a baking sheet.  Bake, keeping a close eye, at 350 degrees for about 4-5 minutes. Coconut can go from perfectly toasted to burnt very quickly so don't walk away from the oven!  Allow to cool.  This adds a nice little crunch and the right amount of sweetness, balancing the spiciness of the curry paste.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Homemade "Sandwich Thin" Buns

There is nothing like the smell of homemade bread to cozy up a house. Probably 80% of the bread we eat in our home is what I have baked.  Unless I didn't realize we were out of bread in time for lunches, the only bread I buy is hamburger buns, and most often they are Sandwich Thins.  Orowheat and Arnold both have good ones.  I can't help it- I love these things!!!  They are usually around a 100 calories for an entire bun, plus they are full of fiber and whole wheat goodness.  Since they are so thin, these buns don't have the heaviness that whole wheat sandwich bread can have.

I knew there had to be a recipe out there to make these things myself, eliminating the need to buy bread all together.  This recipe from is wonderful!  The Sandwich Thin buns taste just like the store bought kind- actually better if you ask us.  They have a little more substance to them but are still only 108 calories per bun!  The recipe takes a little time because you need to wait for the dough to rise.  But the hands-on time is very minimal and super, super simple.  When I first started making them I would just free-form the buns into the right shape.  But just the other day I found a Muffin Top pan at the store and had to pick it up.  This makes pretty, perfectly round buns.  But there is still something rustic and lovely with the freeform kind.   I am so excited about these things- this has probably become my favorite recipe of the year!

print this recipe

Homemade "Sandwich Thin" Buns
1 1/3 cups warm water
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp yeast
3 cups whole wheat flour (I like to use white whole wheat flour, it has a milder flavor and texture but just the same benefits of regular whole wheat flour.)
1/2 cup wheat bran
2 Tbsp vital wheat gluten
1 tsp salt
1 egg
2 teaspoons canola oil
rolled oats for sprinkling on top

Don't be afraid of yeast! Seriously, baking bread is so easy! First you need to "proof" the yeast. Pour the warm water into the bowl of your stand mixer then add the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast on top and allow to stand for 10 minutes. This is going to be your "sponge" for the dough. (If you don't have a stand mixer, that is perfectly fine!  Just use a regular bowl and do the kneading with your hands.  A mixer isn't necessary, just makes things a little easier and faster.)

Meanwhile, mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

After ten minutes are up, add the canola oil and egg to the bowl of the stand mixer. Using the dough hook, turn the mixer on low and mix.  Add in 1 1/2 cups of the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. Cover and let rest 1 hour.

Add the remaining dry ingredients and knead for 5 minutes. At tis time your flour may be way too sticky to do anything with. Add a little bit of whole wheat flour at a time up to one additional cup until you get a consistency that is able to be handled.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Divide dough into 16 equal portions. It is recommended to weighed the entire ball of dough to figure out the weight of each bun, but since I do not yet own a food scale, I just eyeball it.  Good enough for me!

Roll each portion of dough in your hands to form a ball, and then flatten it between your palms.
Place it on the baking sheet and press down, working the dough into a thin 5-inch round.

dough resting before going into the oven

Brush the tops with water and then sprinkle with rolled oats. Lightly press down to help them stick. Adding the oats isn't necessary, but it does make them look pretty. Sometimes I add the oats, sometimes I am just lazy and skip them.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Allow the buns to rest for 30 minutes on the baking sheets so they can double in bulk.  After this time you can choose to "dock" the buns.  This means poking small holes into the dough.  They actually have a special tool for this called creatively enough, a Dough Docker.  But a fork or the small end of a chop stick works just as well.  What docking does is prevents air bubbles from forming, keeping them nice and thin.  I have forgotten to dock them at times and never had any issues with bubbles.  But I must say, docking does make them look prettier! After resting, bake for 10-12 minutes.  Do NOT over bake.  You want the sandwich thins to be soft and light and only very lightly golden brown.  10 1/2 minutes of baking time is perfect for my oven.  Just be sure to keep an eye on them.

Let cool completely before slicing with a bread knife.

see how the buns are just very lightly brown- this is perfect!  

Each bun has 108 Calories; 1g Fat; 5g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 13mg Cholesterol.

here is a side view so you can see the thickness of the buns after baking

I shared my recipe at
 A Little Nosh
adapted from

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fridays, Feasting With Friends- Featuring Rebecca DiLiberto

"One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends."
~Laurie Colwin 'Home Cooking'

Rebecca DiLiberto
"my favorite race picture of brandon and I before the CLE ten miler"

Rebecca is the blogger behind the local Cleveland blog Peace, Love and Bagels "Adventures of a self proclaimed foodie running a pr in the marathon of life".  Her blog is a fun glimpse into the happenings of her busy life.  Along with all sorts of running stuff- marathons, training, etc. (I so, so admire all you out there that call running a fun hobby!)  She also shares lots of awesome recipes- ever want to make your own yogurt? Or how about kombucha?!  (I have to admit I never even knew what this stuff was until reading her post, and now I am dying to make my own!)  I just love all of the wonderful, healthy food her blog has to offer.  So fun!

I met Becca at a recent OBA gathering, and it was immediately evident what a kind soul she is.  It is such fun meeting other local writers!  If you are an Ohio Blogger and haven't yet joined the Ohio Blogging Association, be sure to sign up right away!  There are Local Chapters all over the state so you are sure to find one near where you live.  It is a great place to be inspired for new material, learn new tips and tricks, and of course meet other bloggers that live near you!

Thanks Becca for the wonderful interview and a fantastic recipe!  I am a regular bread baker, so it was especially exciting getting one I hadn't tried before!  I'm totally baking it this weekend!  So without further adu, I give you Rebecca DiLiberto...

What is your favorite thing to cook?
In the winter, bean "chili con beer" in the slow cooker. Since I found out about making chili with beer, I don't do it any other way. It adds some incredible depth to the chili's flavor! In the summertime, I love to make grilled pizza. I usually come home from work, start the crust and go on with my afternoon activities. By the time I'm finished, my crust has risen and is ready to be magically morphed into a pizza!

How about your least favorite thing to cook?
I can't even think of anything, because if I don't want to make it...I just won't! That's actually why I initially stopped eating meat, because I was just too lazy to cook it.

What is your favorite local restaurant and what is one you are dying to try out?
To be honest, I don't eat out very often. I am big on going out for brunch though, and I just went to the Inn on Coventry and also Tommy's (in Coventry) and really enjoyed a delicious late morning breakfast at both places. I am dying (and I mean, dying) to check out Root Cafe in Lakewood.

Music and food go together so beautifully. You are hosting a dinner party, what would be on your playlist?
Xavier Rudd, Jason Mraz and ALO. Oh, and let's not forget Zac Brown Band. Oh, and Dave Matthews. I love music, there is really too much to narrow down. I'd probably plug in my iPod and just let it shuffle. Here's a little know fact: my favorite band of all time is Blink 182 (please don't make fun of me!)

What would you choose to be your last meal on earth?
Absolutely anything that Heidi Swanson dreams up. I own two of her cookbooks, have tried many of her recipes and have NEVER been disappointed by them. They've always been show stoppers! If you haven't heard of her, or tried any of her recipes I strongly suggest you stop by her blog, 101 Cookbooks or buy one of her cookbooks. Seriously. Go!

What are you currently reading?
I'm in the middle of two books right now; The Count of Monte Cristo and a book called Time, Sex and Power. It's an incredibly interesting scientific exploration into how women came to have almost complete control over the evolution of humans. If you're up for some learning, definitely grab it.

What is your favorite Kitchen Gadget?
I don't know if this can be considered a "gadget" but my cast iron pot (with a cast iron top that can become a skillet). I do just about everything with it, including baking bread. Coming in at a close second place would be my pizza stone. I never cook pizza without it.

Do you have a signature go-to dish?
Probably veggie stir-fry. I've made it for several dinner parties and it's great because it's quick and easy to make in large quantities. I usually serve my stir-fry with soba noodles, for that extra asian

What is your favorite thing about the Cleveland area?
Honestly, I don't think I can narrow down a favorite. The metroparks are amazing, I love that there is a national park and farmlands not 40 minutes from the city. I think Cleveland has a LOT of potential to really grow and I cannot wait to see it all happen. Last but not least, I think the people here are really special. I know a lot of people have a very negative view of this area, but I really want to help turn that "idea" around.

Do you have a favorite meal from your childhood and do you cook it today?
I remember going to this deli solely for the purpose of eating a black and white cookie. To this day, they're hands down my favorite. Unfortunately I haven't had the energy to find a good recipe and make them myself yet. If anyone has a recipe, I would love to try it though!

Top 3 Movies of all time?
I usually don't like to commit to a favorite movie, because what if a new one comes out that becomes my favorite? (Call it fear of committment or indecisiveness, but I like to think I'm just being dynamic). Currently, my favorite movie is Despicable Me "I said a dart gun, not a fart gun!!"

What was your happiest moment in life?
That's easy. The minute that I met Brandon, there was a very distinct feeling that I knew we were meant to be together...that was at the Dave Matthews concert at Blossom last year (exactly one year ago, actually.) It became a pivotal moment in my life because I knew that I was about to make big changes in order to really start living my life. I don't think I ever really believed in "love at first sight" until it happened to me, but it's a real phenomenon! Haha, I know that sounds absolutely cheesy. I'm okay with saying totally cheesy things when it comes to our relationship, because they're 100% true.

Where do you do your grocery shopping?
The farmer's market as much as possible. Otherwise Earth Fare, Whole Foods and Giant Eagle. One of my goals for the year was to minimize my reliance on grocery stores and really truly begin to eat seasonally. That's much easier said than done, but I think I've taken some great steps to reach that goal.

What is your favorite guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
Copious amounts popcorn. Seriously, I can eat a jumbo bag of popcorn from the movie theater in less than one movie. Generally I pop my own in my air popper rather than microwaved popcorn (which wouldn't be nearly enough for me!)

Can you tell me about what you are most proud of?
Moving by myself to a state where I knew virtually no one and creating a wonderful, happy life for myself! It took some time to get comfortable here in Ohio, but I have been able to really embrace life here and I love it!

Do you have Culinary Resolutions that you would like to accomplish this year?
Now that I brought it up earlier, I really want to make black and white cookies! I always like to try new cooking techniques, so my goal is usually to find a few new techniques to try and include in my cooking arsenal.

One word that best describes you is: Happy!
"(this picture) is from the Brad Paisley concert last year that got so rainy there was no possible way to stay we just rolled with it :) probably my favorite picture EVER."

And now can you share a favorite recipe?
Ok, I'm choosing this recipe because I absolutely LOVE making my own bread, but I kind of suck at doing it the traditional way. We stopped buying store bought bread a while ago because this bread always comes out so good! There is nothing better than fresh made toast for breakfast in the morning, or to make a sandwich out of. The best part kneading!! It's easy and all it requires is about 10 minutes of prep and a little advance planning (since you have to make it the night before).

Crusty No Knead Bread
3 cups wheat flour (or a mixture of wheat and spelt, or really any mixture you want that equals 3 cups)
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups water
any seasonings (see below)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, any mix-ins and yeast. Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 - 18 hours. Overnight works great. Heat oven to 450 degrees. When the oven has reached 450 degrees place a cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let set while the pot is heating. Remove hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough. Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.

Seasoning ideas: Fresh rosemary and lemon zest, Pepper jack cheese, Jalapeno cheddar, Raisin walnut cinnamon, Pumpkin sunflower seed poppy seed, Sharp cheddar, Rosemary lemon Gruyere, Lemon thyme Asiago, Asiago, Mixed herb with rosemary, chives and thyme...there are infinite ways to season this bread, just have fun with it!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

60 Second Egg Sandwich

Breakfast is the single most important meal of the day!  You've heard it before, you know it's true. But how often are you running out the door thinking "I just don't have time!" You either end up going with out anything at all or you make that (usually) bad decision to grab a bite on the road.  But "Fast Food" doesn't have to be "bad for you food"!  What if I told you that you could have an amazingly delicious egg sandwich, full of protein, low in carbohydrates and only takes you 60 Seconds to make?!  It's true!

print this recipe

60 Second Egg Sandwich
1 egg
1 slice cheese
1 slice tomato
a few leaves fresh basil
a smear of low fat mayo
1 sandwich thin
salt and fresh ground black pepper
nonstick cooking spray

Break one egg into a ramekin that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Lightly give the yoke a little whisk with a fork.  You need to break the yoke slightly, otherwise it can explode in your microwave- you don't want that!  Season egg with salt and pepper and microwave on high for 60 seconds.  Now microwave times may vary, so depending on how "hot" your oven cooks and how firm you like your egg you may wish to decrease the time slightly.  I found in my microwave 45 seconds is perfect.  Remove ramekin with pot holders- these little guys get hot!

With the tip of your butter knife slide the egg out of the ramekin.

Smear half of your lightly toasted Sandwich Thin with a little mayo, top with tomato, fresh basil, egg and a slice of cheese.  And there you have it.  60 seconds (or less if you have a microwave like mine!) to a delicious, perfect egg sandwich.  There is absolutely no reason not to have time for breakfast again!

Be sure you play around with this!  Swap out the Sandwich Thin for an english muffin and the tomato and basil for a slice of Canadian Bacon and you've got yourself a 60 Second Egg McMuffin!  These guys are fast, fun and super versatile.

And if you are as crazy about these wonderful 100 Calorie Sandwich Thins as I am then be sure you come back on Saturday where I will share with you a fantastic recipe so you can make them yourself at home.  It's awesome!


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