Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Healthy Breakfast Obsession

I love yogurt parfaits for breakfast: yogurt, granola and fresh berries. I prefer vanilla yogurt, but I soon realized that most yogurts are full of sugar, even some of the organic ones. Many of the "light" yogurts are sweetened with aspartame, also not a desirable choice. So I have been on a quest to find a healthy yogurt that tastes great, but isn't full of sweetener.

I have concluded that Fage 0 yogurt is the best. It is a thick, creamy Greek yogurt that is fat free and has a ton of protein - 20 grams! However, the flavored ones have a lot of sugar, so my solution is to buy the plain then drizzle a little bit of honey on top. Then I top with granola and fresh berries. It is delicious, filling and healthy.
I feel that so many foods have a ton of added sugar in them that I have become accustomed to it and now when I eat something that has little sugar it doesn't taste right. I am trying to retrain my taste buds to not like supersweet.

Looks pretty good to me!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pantry Organization

So I finally cleaned out my pantry this evening. As you can imagine, I have a ton of food items in the pantry, but it also doubles as storage for some of my serving platters and cookware. To say it has gotten a little out of hand would be a huge understatement. Not to mention the leftover oatmeal and spaghetti debris that landed into every hard-to-reach crevice after two separate and unfortunate events that involved me being clumsy at two very inconvenient times.

My little project started out with the intention of just cleaning out the bottom so I could vacuum up the aforementioned debris, but it somehow evolved into cleaning out every shelf and organizing them. I wish I could take a picture of the finished product to share, but with my fridge directly across from the pantry, I don't have enough room. Even more so, I wish I had a before picture to share with you.

Anyway, here is how it is now organized. Top shelf is for cereals, pastas, chips and crackers. Second shelf is my baking shelf - sugars, flour, mixes, chocolate chips, etc. Third shelf is four my canned goods and vinegars. Bottom shelf is for rice and grains. Floor is for storage.

Some interesting finds:
  • Three bags of mini marshmallows - one full, unopened bag; one opened and half-empty bag and one really old, opened and half-empty bag.
  • Three opened bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips.
  • A soft, travel bag for a bottle of wine with two little wine glasses. (Totally forgot that was back there.)

Really, three bags of marshmallows and chocolate chips? This is what happens when you don't clean out your pantry for awhile - things just get lost in there.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New Toys

I took a little trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond today, mainly because I needed a new nonstick skillet. I decided on this Cuisinart Green Gourmet. It is a newer line from them and boasts a ceramic base, scratch resistant nonstick surface and petroleum free. It's a little pricier, but I used a 20% off coupon.

The other new toy I bought was the Vidalia Onion Wizard. It makes chopping so much faster. I used it today for the onions, celery and carrots for my marinara sauce. It worked great.

Saucy Sunday

Making a big pot of homemade marinara today. Here is the recipe.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chorizo and Potato Quesadillas

I saw the host of Food Network's Mexican Made Easy make these quesadillas on her show this past Saturday and they looked so yummy I just had to make them. My husband loves chorizo, so I knew he would enjoy them. This is my spin on her dish. Click here to see all of the recipes from this episode.

What You'll Need:
Olive oil
2 links of chorizo sausage, about 1/2 a pound
1/2 cup onion, chopped
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
4-6 corn tortillas, about 2-3 per person
shredded monterey jack or cheddar cheese
sour cream, optional

How to make them:
Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add a little olive oil, about 1/2 tablespoon. If the sausage is in a casing, remove it from the casing and add to the pan, break it up with a wooden spoon while it cooks until it is brown and crumbly, about 10 minutes. Remove from the skillet to a plate lined with paper towel to drain some of the fat and oil. Set aside.

Return the skillet to the burner. Add a little more oil if needed. Add the onions and potatoes, cooking until the potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Stir and toss often. Once the potatoes are done, return the sausage to the pan to reheat and mix with the potatoes.

Meanwhile heat a nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Once hot add the tortillas to warm and soften, add the cheese to melt. Once melted, move the tortillas to a plate, fill with a little of the chorizo and potato mixture, top with a little sour cream. Fold and enjoy.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

I made these bars for a Labor Day cookout. I think they were gone in 5 minutes, literally.

For the base:
Butter, for greasing
2 tablespoons sugar
10 chocolate graham crackers
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

To make the base:
Grease the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch baking pan with butter. In a food processor, process the sugar and graham crackers until you have the texture of bread crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate. Pour into the greased baking pan and gently pat down with the base of a glass. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until golden. When done set aside to cool.

To make the filling:
Add cream cheese, eggs and sugar to the food processor and mix until well combined. It should have a smooth consistency. Pour onto the cooled base and then cover with chocolate chips. They will sink slightly but should still be half exposed -- as the cake bakes they will sink a little more.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the center only slightly jiggles. Remove from the oven and cool completely before refrigerating for at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight. Once set, slice into bars.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pork Chops with Caramelized Onions and Apples

I don't know about you, but I am always looking for new ways to prepare pork chops, besides the standard breaded and pan fried. This is a good one I found in my latest issue of Cooking with Paula Deen. I have altered it just slightly.

What You'll Need:
3 slices of bacon
4 pork chops
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 white onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 Gala apple, cored, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
3/4 chicken broth
1 Tbsp. butter

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat for 7 minutes or until crisp, turning often. Remove bacon from the pan, discarding all but 1 Tbsp. of the drippings. Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper. Cook pork chops in reserved drippings in skillet over medium-high heat 4 to 5 minutes per side or until done. Remove from pan, and keep warm.

Add onion, apples and rosemary to skillet. Cook 4 to 5 minutes until browned and tender. Add chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Serve sauce over pork chops, and top with crumbled bacon.

Lamb Burgers

At a recent visit to our favorite neighborhood restaurant, Gino's, my husband and I enjoyed the most wonderful burger - ground lamb topped with feta cheese and a slice of grilled onion. It was so good I decided to recreate it at home.

What You'll Need:
1 lb. ground lamb
Greek seasoning
4 thin slices of red onion
4 slices of feta cheese (you can find a block of feta in most grocery store cheese cases)
4 bakery hamburger buns
Top with lettuce and tomato

Form the ground lamb into four patties. Sprinkle with the Greek seasoning. Add the patties to a preheated skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill for 3-4 minutes per side.

Once you flip the burgers, top with the feta so it can melt slightly. At this point, also add the sliced onion to the pan and grill on both sides. Add to the top of the burgers and serve on the hamburger buns with lettuce and tomato.