Monday, April 27, 2009

Little things I like right now...

These are just a few of the things that I love right now:
1. Whole Wheat Couscous - it cooks quick and goes with everything - like leftover black beans from Havana Rumba - for a quick and healthy, filling lunch.
2. Cool Whip Free - I could eat the whole container in one sitting. That wouldn't be really good - but I could.
3. Asparagus - usually roasted with lemon zest, olive oil, salt and pepper
4. Shiraz's Falafel - especially on Tuesdays when they are only 2.99.
5. Mustard. I love it on anything - like this afternoon it is my dip for carrots. I use it as a salad dressing, on an egg white omelet sandwich - there is no end to its many, low-calorie uses.
6. Roasted green beans and mushrooms. With balsamic. I love these! So healthy and delicious!
7. Florida cherry tomatoes that I can pick up at Garden Gate Fruit Market down the road (ok, 7 miles). These I keep in a bowl on my counter so when I need a healthy snack, I grab those instead of other things.

There you go - my likes of the month!

BGC's Strawberry Margarite Cake (2009.17)

Love this recipe - and so easy! :)
Butterfly Garden Cafe here in Louisville off of Bardstown was introduced to me by Lauren. love it. Need to go again sometime soon! The only thing bad about it is the parking - but anywhere on Bardstown - I think the same thing. But, I just noticed they opened a second location off Shelbyville - more parking! :)
So, my friend Brandi just had a baby and I am taking them dinner. This was on my spring recipes to try - so here we go!

1 pkg white cake mix
3 egg whites
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup strawberry margarita mix

Mix - bake in greased 9x13 pan at 350 for 25 minutes. Let cool.

1 tub cool whip light
3 limes - juice and zest

Stir all together and frost cake. Put in fridge. Let sit out during dinner or it is not ice cold when you eat it!
I love the bite of the lime in the frosting! So easy!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Menu Week - April 27

This week will have some fun stuff in it - but mostly housesitting toward the end - so mostly will be the same and light dinners.
Monday - leftover Havana Rumba black beans and whole wheat couscous. Recipe of the week Strawberry Margharita cake from Butterfly Garden Cafe and Oma's Meatballs and Roasted Green Beans for dinner with new mama Brandi and her hubby Jason and new baby Isaiah.
Tuesday - finish my leftover curry chicken and carrots. dinner will be some vaca frita from Havana Rumbas.
Wednesday - chicken salad on whole wheat english muffin, dinner will be egg white omelet on salad.
Thursday - kashi frozen dinner, yogurt for dinner with granola and fruit
Friday - chicken salad and baked chips, egg white omelette for dinner on salad.
Saturday - going to a shower for brunch, dinner will be something out that I can bring back to the house - probably a frozen pizza or something and watch a movie...great Saturday night.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Iced Cinnamon Roll Cookies*** Updated

Food blogs sometimes steer me wrong - but not with this recipe. Oh my goodness, I love these cookies. They are great warm (just like the real thing). But, with icing on it tomorrow - these will be amazing! :) I love the dough and they made about 25 cookies - so not a huge batch! These are going to CG and the mancube for their work on a project for my office.
Just Baking (blog) gave me a winner tonight (slight modifications)

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup EACH sugar and light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 cup bread flour (or you can use all regular flour, but bread flour gives something a good airy chew)
2 1/2 T milk
1 cup cinnamon chips (King Arthur baking or Hersheys if you can find them)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup raisins (cooked in boiling water for 10 minutes

Cream everything together up to the egg. Then mix the egg, then flours, then milk to make the dough a great consistency. Fold in the additives. Bake at 375 on a greased baking sheet for 11 minutes.
Ice with a mixture of 10x sugar and milk - serve!
***** Update: I actually like these w/o the icing better. But, to each her (or his) own! :) Warm them up though for about 5-10 seconds in the microwave or eat them right out of the oven!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Curry Chicken (2009.16)

I love chicken - and its healthy - so I usually try it many different ways so I don't get tired of it.
Well, Saturday, Rayann and I had Simply Thai - red curry with chicken - good stuff though a bit hot at a 3 for my liking.
So, I made some curry. Not the best, not even in the top 10, needed some other stuff - don't know what - coconut milk, thai basil, something, garlic, but it is healthy...

1 large apple, chopped (I used an American Cameo because they were on sale at Kroger)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 T curry powder (I used Jamaican curry, and there is not any heat in it, note for next time)
1 T water
1 cup skim milk
2 T chopped fresh parsley (from my newly planted herb window box)
1/2 can cream of mushroom soup (do not dilute it)
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 ff plain yogurt

Cook first 4 covered over medium heat till onions are tender. Add milk-chicken - stirring well and cook for 10 minutes. Take off heat and add in the yogurt.
I used the healthier mushroom soup, but then used 1% milk, so the count should be about the same:
118 cal, 1 fiber, 3 fat, 13 protein, 209 sodium, 28 cholesterol - in 1/2 cup. Serve over sticky rice or a whole grain.

Menu Week: April 20

This week's menu is a day late because my computer decided to quit working (again) and I can't get it fixed till tonight. Really - I just want a new one - and this one is new - just a lemon I guess!
Anyway, I digress. Here you go:
Monday: leftover mustard chicken on salad with FL cherry tomatoes, grapes, pear, hummus from Shiraz and carrots. Dinner will be an egg white omelette and vegetables - probably some low-fat ice cream and baked cheetos.
Tuesday: yogurt, fruit and granola for lunch and fazolis for dinner with friends.
Wednesday: Making cinnamon roll cookies for small group and the Man-cube. Lunch is chicken curry (recipe of the week from a diabetic cookbook), dinner is salmon on a salad.
Thursday: yogurt, granola, fruit for lunch and pbj (travels well) while I get my bib for the Mini-Derby on Saturday!
Friday: Chickfila sandwich (chicken only), fruit. Dinner is whole wheat pasta with roasted broccoli and walnuts. Birthday cake at Laura's (happy birthday Laura) and going to bed early!
Saturday: pbj pre-race. Havana Rumba with Tracy after race.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Food Quiz!

#1. How far would you be willing to travel to satisfy a food craving?
Depends on what it is. Sonny's BBQ is 1.40 from me. Chai's Noodle Bistro in Durham is 8 hours from me.
#2. Have you ever eaten rabbit? What did you think?
NO. But I'm up for anything!
#3. Have you ever made your own bread? How?
I have a CuisinArt Convection Bread Machine, made tons of quick bread, and just made my first batch of whole wheat dinner rolls. And pizza dough of course. Pasta next?
4. Where do you usually spend Easter and what do you usually eat?
Don't really have a normal place. This year I spent the actual Sunday driving. But, the night before I was in Holly Springs, AL at Waterbrook Family Dining - with family - eating Southern food.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lighter Hash Brown Casserole

Hash brown casserole isn't the healthiest option on the block for morning, noon, or night. But, I found this recipe and had the potatoes in my fridge - so thought I would pull it out. I only needed to buy 2 things for this recipe - and that is always a good thing in this economy. It was for a secretary b-day breakfast. It was a winner.

3/4 pkg bacon - cooked and crumbled
1 medium onion - chopped
2 garlic cloves - zested
1 32 oz bag homestyle potatoes
1 pkg (2 cups) 2% sharp cheddar
3/4 bunch green onions - chopped
1/2 cup light sour cream
salt/pepper to taste
1 can red-fat, lower sodium cream of mushroom soup

Cook and crumble bacon - set aside. Saute onions and garlic in bacon fat (I used olive oil instead). Add the potatoes, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occassionally. Mix with 1/4 of the cheese and everything else. Pour into a 11x7 pan (greased) and top with remaining cheese. Cover and refridgerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350. Let pan sit out while oven is heating. Bake covered for 30 minutes, remove foil, cook for another 20-30 minutes till lightly browned and cheese is melted and bubbly.
Enjoy - with any meal. You really can't go wrong!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

First time! They turned out! Yeast dinner rolls! So excited!
The last food blog that entered my google reader today before leaving work was from My Wooden Spoon. When I started out the day I wasn't intending on making bread. felt like a good day to do it.
I've never had success with rolls - but yeah - I did. And i just made a couple of adjustments from talking with a professor bread king at work and it worked great. And I made them a little healthier! Tomorrow I'll have one with some cherry butter and an egg white - gave the rest away. Saved 2 for Mom when I see her in May.

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
1/4 cup very warm water
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup scalding hot skim milk
1 egg
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour

Add yeast and water - stir till yeast is dissolved. Heat milk. Melt in butter, honey, and salt till butter is completely melted. Pour into yeast and water. Add egg. Fold in flour. Knead for about 5 minutes. Put in well-oiled bowl. Let rise until doubled (covered near a warm place). Punch down, knead for about 5 minutes. Pull and roll into 18-24 rolls. Put in a greased 9x13 pan. Cover and let rise again. Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes. When done, pour butter on top (about 2 tbsp melted butter). Serve warm!

Mustard-Crusted Chicken Thighs (2009.15)

I will readily admit I am not the best meat-cooker. I reserve that in our family for Alan. He makes a mean steak.
But, I wanted to try this recipe for this week. Chicken thighs and mustard - it can't be bad. Weight Watchers Take 5 was simple and easy ang great.

1 1/4 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs (pounded thin)
3 T stone ground mustard
1 1/5 T packed brown sugar
juice of half large lemon
fresh ground pepper
2 slices of bread - pulsed to crumbs

Dip chicken in mustard mixture to coat. Then in bread crumbs. Put on greased broiler pan. Cook under the broiler (about 8 inches from it). Cook about 8 minutes on each side till done.
This is great for leftovers as well. I'll have it on a salad tomorrow.

Semi-Homemade Cinnamon-Raisin Rolls

I love easy cinnamon rolls. Ok - I love cinnamon rolls that take a lot of time too, but I really like easy ones because - they are easy!
So, I always try out new recipes. This one is easy and quick and yummy. Only thing wrong - they are little so you feel you can eat more of them!

1 pkg reduced-fat crescent rolls
4 T unsalted butter, softened
4 t sugar
2 t cinnamon
3 T raisins
powdered sugar

Roll out rolls. Separate into 4 rectangles and crease together the perferation. Spread butter on them. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture - then the raisins. Rolls tightly. Cut into 4. Place cut side down in a 9 in square ungreased pan. Bake at 375 for 18 minutes. Ice with mixture of milk and 10x sugar.
Serve warm! :)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Menu Week - April 13

New week - have to eat healthier this week than I did this past weekend!
Monday - breakfast with Virginia - egg cuties, cinnamon rolls, and fruit. Dinner is the menu recipe of the week - Mustard Thighs with roasted carrots
Tuesday - lunch with Becca - probably rotisserrie chicken on a sandwich and veggies, fruit. Frozen dinner for pm eats.
Wednesday - Veggie soup for lunch. Egg whites on salad for dinner. Using some leftover brownies in the freezer to make a chocolate trifle for CG.
Thursday - Breakfast at Calistogas (oatmeal) with Jaye. Yogurt and fruit/granola for lunch. Salad with chicken for dinner. Making fettuccini broccoli alfredo for a bday dinner party on Friday. This recipe is one I got from a college roommate. Usually has crab, but this time - going with broccoli.
Friday - light lunch, probably soup and pbj. Dinner is wonderful stuff at the Jones' for Hannah's bday: ribs, crab stuffed muffins, my pasta dish, etc and a pb/chocolate cake for dessert. Yum!
Saturday - hanging with Rayann - getting some fresh fruit. Dinner at the P-houses.

Taste of Holly Pond: Waterbrook Family Restaurant

I've spent Easter wknd in Alabama. Saturday night my parents, extended family, and I went to Waterbrook Family Restaurant in Holly Pond (near Cullman/Arab). It was a family owned restaurant that my cousin used to work at. It was a catfish place then.
Mom and I scoped out the buffet of home cooking. Hmmmmm.
Pork chops were really good.
I was just wanting some liver and onions - fried liver bites were a good second.
Cabbage was good.
Chicken and dumplings were runny.
Baked beans were too sweet (I think).
Corn on the cob was good - but you can't mess that up.
Salad bar was iceberg so I didn't get any.
Fried green tomatoes weren't coated well and not salty and soggy.
Unsweet tea was good.
Service was great.
Best thing: fresh out of the oven coconut cake. I think our table polished off almost an entire cake. It was a great way to finish the evening.
Holly Pond doesn't have a lot of options. So one can't be too picky. And it was free food for me!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Sunshine Mini Cupcakes (2009.14)

This week's recipe turned out much better than last week's. I have spent 4 out of the last 5 years working at Williams-Sonoma during the holidays. While I was there I spent a lot of my income on stocking my kitchen. One of those things was this cookbook: William-Sonoma Cakes, Cupcakes, and Cheesecakes.
These were light and fluffy and moist from the zest. We'll see how they are once they've sat till tonight when I frost them for Community Group.
UPDATE: So, I think I mixed these a bit much because they had little holes in the inside (that's what happens when I overmix). And they were pretty dried out by this evening - so i didn't bother with frosting them. I like things that can stay good and moist even if I don't serve them immediately from the oven!

Sunshine Cupakes (mini)
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2/3 cup skim milk
1 1/2 tsp each grated lemon and orange zest
1 large egg
1 egg yolk

Mix dry and sugar. Melt butter, milk and zest. Mix together. Add eggs. Spoon into mini muffins tins that have been lined with wrappers. I used spring wrappers because its spring! Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.

Frosting (Glaze)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 T lemon or orange juice
1 cup 10x sugar
1 tsp zest (of whichever juice you use)

Melt butter with juice. Add the sugar and zest to cooled butter mixture. Glaze immediately!

Monday, April 06, 2009

5$ Dinner Giveaway Winner - ME!

I love winning! Who doesn't?
Well, Erin at 5$ dinner picked me - or some random number picked me and two others to win a great Fiber One gift basket (journal, pedometer, water bottle, coupons for free FO yogurt, and a food scale).
And - she cooks great cheap food. Especially for all of you on a tight family budget who still wants to feed their families yummy things.
Like the link you will find today - chicken mexican salad. My friend Lisa made me this when I went to visit her in TN a few months back (or something like it). Her's had ranch dressing in it but Erin's looks pretty good!
So - enter blog giveaways - you never know when you will be a winner!

Orange Ricotta Cupcakes

Ricotta cheese usually goes in lasagna or other Italian foods - not cupcakes. I was a bit skeptical - but I had some in my fridge, so I went for it. Good choice! These were light, fluffy, and citrusy - even if its really cold outside! :) I check food blogs - and got this one from - good yummy stuff!
These are mainly for the 5th and Broadway team here at Southern because they are a great group and get things done when I need them - and for two birthdays in that office. And Jenny will get one because she thought they sounded good on the blog - and she's pregnant. I don't think cupcakes hurt pregnant women too much. And Courtney is coming over for tea tomorrow night - and I think these will be perfect.

1 vanilla cake mix
1 cup oj (I used Tropicana some pulp)
2/3 cup ricotta cheese (lower fat)
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1/3 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp orange zest (again, my zester comes in handy!)

Mix all together
Preheat oven to 350 - line with cupcake liners. Fill 2/3 full - I got 23. Cook for 18-22 minutes till done.

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 T orange marmalade
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
2 1/2-2 3/4 cup 10x sugar
2-3 T oj

Mix and frost cooled cupcakes

Spring Sugar Cookies

Well, spring was here in Louisville this wknd. Unfortunately - it went away. But, these cookies are so darn cute. No more rolling out sugar cookies. These are so much easier. I need to find them for every season. My mom and I found this pan at Joann's then I went back and bought it on her request. She is going to use them for a women's tea they are having at her church. I think they are adorable. And a friend of mine said they were yummy!

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp good vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all. Press into greased pan 2/3 full. You don't need as much in each one as you think. Cook for 9-10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, flip over, and knock on the bottom of the pan (no one will answer) and the cookies will come out. If they don't, just pry them out gently with your finger or the tine of a fork.
Frost with BC decorator icing. I so need to take a class on cookie decorating!

Sauteed Red Pepper Bok Choy

I am really loving cooking with new veggies and branching out. I haven't found many I don't like. So...I was housesitting this week and there was some bok choy in the fridge. I couldn't let it go bad - so I decided to eat it.

Sauteed Bok Choy

1 bunch bok choy (chinese cabbage) - chopped (green and white)
1 small onion
1/2 tsp garlic juice (or a clove of garlic minced)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 T soy sauce
olive oil

I chopped it all up, and the onion. Sauteed it over medium with some olive oil. Then I added the garlic (or juice), red pepper flakes, and soy sauce. Kept stirring till it was done.

So yummy! and healthy!

Taste of Chicaog: Sweet Mandy B's

While I was in Chicago's Lincoln Park last weekend, we stopped in here on Sunday morning. Supposedly, this shop has the "city's best" cupcakes.

Janel took a bite - really loved the frosting. I later took 2 bites. One for the frosting/cake together and one for the cake.

We got a chocolate one as you can see with pink buttercream. It wasn't heavily decorated, and that is good. The cake was moist and not too heavy - and left a good aftertaste in your mouth. The icing was pretty good as well.
As far as the best in chicago...well, it is the only one I have eaten from Chicago...but I don't know that it comes close to a fresh baked Publix cupake piled high with buttercream frosting.

The other good things about the place itself:
1. open on a Sunday morning if you wanted a place to sit for coffee and danish before church.
2. Cheap - the cupcake was 2$!
3. Very friendly people.
4. Samples: the chocolate chip cookie bite was ok (very rich) and the fruit bar (i think blackberry crumble bar of some sort, but don't quote me on it) was quite yummy.

Update as of 1/19/10:
The peanut butter and chocolate rice krispy treats are AMAZING! We went there on early Sunday afternoon and this place was packed. But, very quick and efficient and friendly service (just like last time). Janel and I devoured (on the L and walking downtown) this 4x4 inch perfect treat). No picture, but enjoy some of the bakery goods. Definitely would go back!

Lighter Baked Rice Pudding (2009.13)

Well, for being week 13 - this recipe wasn't much to talk (or write, or eat) about...
BHG's Family Favorites Made Lighter may be a great cookbook to some, but the recipe I chose to make out of it left me wanting to throw it in the garbage.
The only thing good about this recipe was the vanilla flavor.
The bad: eating rubbery egg whites.
Oh, and I liked it because I put cool whip on the top - only ate that, threw the rest away.

3 egg whites
1 egg
1 1/2 cup skim milk (I used 2% organic)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla (good vanilla)
2/3 cup cooked rice
2 T raisins
ground cinnamon on top

Mix together - add rice and raisins. Cook at 350 in a 1.5 qt casserole inside a water bath for 40-50 minutes, stirring once, or until set.
Glad I have better rice pudding recipes than this one.
180 calories

Friday, April 03, 2009

Menu Week: April 6

I am actually ahead of the game this week - getting my menu done early. So many things are coming through food blogs - but not really making any this week - because I'm going to be out of town for Easter weekend.
Monday - left over steak on a salad (making grilled angus steak for the final four on Saturday - so the leftovers will go on a salad with some yummy Farmer Boy dressing from Publix and avocado.
Tuesday - leftovers of Curry Vegetables and Couscous for lunch with Virginia, quick Kashi frozen meal (free coupon) for dinner before tea with Courtney
Wednesday - Stir fry snap peas with pork tenderloin for dinner. Making sunshine mini cupcakes from the W-S Cakes, Cupcakes, & Cheesecakes book for this week's recipe.
Thursday - pbj and any leftovers I have
Friday - heading to B'ham so I'll grab a Publix sub for dinner! YUM!
Saturday - hoping to find a farmer's market or a local breakfast place before I go hiking in Pelham, AL - then eating at Shaw's in Cullman for dinner with parents and extended family.
Sunday - EASTER! I have a free fazoli's coupon!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Closet's Vegetable Curry

One of the frequent food blogs I read is by a northern neighbor here. It is this post that prompted a very yummy and healthy dish!

Curry Vegetables:
olive oil
1 onion - chopped
2 T curry
2 garlic cloves - zested
1 inch ginger - zested
1 cup water (I added some more as I went)
1 can chickpeas - drained
1 can diced tomatoes (plain, with juice)
1 head cauliflower - in florets
1/2 lb fresh green beans, cut in 1-in pieces
1 cup couscous (I used whole wheat)
1 1/2 cup water (for couscous)

Saute onion and curry. Add garlic and ginger for about a minute. Add in rest through cauliflower - cook for about 15 minutes. Add in beans and cook till beans are tender. Cook couscous.
Serve the veggies over the couscous. Very healthy and yummy! Give it a try!