Monday, December 28, 2015

Healthy Swedish Meatballs

Not only are these meatballs healthier, they can be easily cooked in the crockpot!

served with whole-grain pasta,
and a side of homemade whole-grain sourdough bread

Ingredients


  • ½ to ¾ lb. ground turkey
  • 1 small egg
  • ⅓ cup whole-grain bread crumbs - I used a mixture of pumpernickel and rye
  • 1 tablespoon onion, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon celery salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic power
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons whole-grain flour
  • 1½ cups water*
  • ⅓ cup dry soup powder* - I use homemade dry soup powder instead of canned soup in recipes; a can of condensed soup and ½ to ¾ cup water can be used in place of these two ingredients.
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup thawed frozen peas, optional
  • ⅔ cup nonfat Greek yogurt, about 5 to 6 oz. - I used one individual size serving container, which was 5.3 oz.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Dry Ranch Dressing Mix

I prefer to make my own products when possible. I often come across recipes that have dry ranch dressing mix as an ingredient, so I decided to make my own. After doing some online research, I decided upon the following combination of ingredients. I have used this in Seven-Layer Salad, Creamy Cauliflower Lettuce Salad, and I have mixed it as you would the dry packets from the store into pourable dressing. All of the methods turned out great!



½ cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried onion flakes, optional--adds a bit more flavor!
1 teaspoon dill weed
½ teaspoon garlic powder

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Holiday Book Sale!

Trying to stay healthy over the holidays? Want to eat delicious meals and create tasty dishes using healthy ingredients? Or, maybe you want to give an inexpensive gift that will provide fabulous cooking hints and food choice information. The printed book, Eating Healthy Can Be Delicious and Easy, could be just what you are looking for!

Both printed books (hardcover and paperback) are currently available at Lulu.com with a 15% discount. I am listing Lulu discount codes below that can be used for a further discount.




PRESALE20: 20% off print books. You will need to act fast, because this one expires tomorrow, 11/19/2015.
EXTRA20: 20% off sale items. Expiration date and restrictions not listed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

FREE Meal for Veterans on Veterans Day 2015

On June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars. Thank you all for your service!


Following is a list of some businesses offering veterans free meals today. Since there are so many participating restaurants, and I try to blog about healthy eating habits, I have chosen some of the restaurants with healthy food choices on the menu. More information is available through the restaurant links (in the title for most in this listing), and/or you can call ahead for further details.

Applebees

Beverage abd gratuity not included. Seven entree choices.

Bar Louie

Free appetizer or entree; see server for details.

BJs Brewhouse

Free entree, up to $12.95 value. Offer valid to all active duty military and veterans, with proof of service. May need to scroll down the page, if the veterans promo does not show at the top of the page.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Sourdough Whole-Wheat Crackers from "unfed" or "discarded" starter


Less than a week ago, I decided to try making my own sourdough starter, which I have never done before. I am not one to throw things out, so I already have more "discarded" dough than I know what to do with! Along with giving some away to a friend, I have been searching the Internet for ideas about what to do with all of my "unfed" or "discarded" starter. 

the amount of discarded starter I have after 5 days; I have given some
away, and I have prepared two recipes using the discarded starter

Following is my favorite recipe, so far. It still needs some mild tweeting, although for the most part, it is perfect. The flavor is good, it is relatively easy to make, and I imagine the crackers will freeze well. I will let you know how that turns out, after I get some out of the freezer.

**Update**
I made some changes after making these a few more times, and the details are listed in the recipe directions below.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Savory Beef Stew

This is a recipe I entered into a recipe contest several years ago. I did not win the grand prize, although this recipe made it as one of the finalists. I won a subscription to Food Network magazine for this entry.

finished dish served with homemade
 whole-grain crescent rolls

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Shredding Fresh Coconut

I have not been able to find unsweetened shredded coconut for sale in my local store, and the options I saw online were quite expensive. I could purchase a whole fresh coconut for under $2, so I decided to see if I could shred my own. 

I thought the process was very easy, so I am sharing my results!


Step 1 - Remove the coconut milk

Removing the coconut milk is relatively easy. Pierce the softest eye on the end of the coconut, and drain the liquid out. I used a phillips screwdriver and a hammer to pierce the coconut, and there are many more suggestions for ways to do this online. You can toss the liquid or save it. Since I try to recycle/use everything, I saved the liquid from my coconut. I plan to use it in a smoothie, or in place of water in the next sweet treat or bread that I make. If I do not use it within the next few days, I will freeze it until I need it.

Step 2 - Crack the coconut

Again, there are many ideas for how to crack the coconut online. Some suggest baking it for 20 minutes, which I have never done. Another post I read, said to just throw it against the wall or cement without draining the juice first, as that is how the monkeys do it! I think the easiest way to crack a coconut is to take it outside to some concrete and whack it with a hammer. After you have cracked the shell, some of the pieces of shell should fall off, and you will probably have a few cracks in the remaining shell. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Crockpot Tomato Chicken

Super easy, moist, and delicious chicken recipe!



Ingredients

½ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ teaspoon salt 
¼ teaspoon pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 to 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into large chunks - I did not have any parsnips, so I added about 1 cup of fresh cauliflower pieces instead
1 sprig rosemary
½ medium onion chopped
¼ cup large pitted green olives, chopped
2 bay leaves
12 oz. can diced tomatoes
¾ to 1 lb. boneless chicken breast
1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour
4 to 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced - a 4 oz. can would be plenty; I had plenty of fresh mushrooms on hand, so I used more
¼ cup brown rice or barley, optional 
parsley 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Whole-Wheat Acorn Squash Quick Bread

My husband did not like the idea when I told him I was thinking about making bread with our leftover acorn squash. I am glad I decided to make this bread anyway, because it was delicious! I did not take any pictures during preparation, because I was not sure I would be sharing or keeping the recipe. I was wrong about that!



Ingredients

½ cup olive or safflower oil
⅔ cup sugar or sugar substitute - I used Splenda
¼ cup fat-free milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup mashed acorn squash - I used leftover cooked fresh squash, which probably had a touch of butter flavoring in it from when it had been cooked in the oven
2 cups whole-wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
dash cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and/or allspice, optional - I used everything except allspice; about ¼ to ½ teaspoon total
½ cup chopped walnuts

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Chicken Lasagna

I recently came across a recipe for pasta shells stuffed with chicken and cheese. While that recipe sounded like too much work, to me, it got me thinking about another idea. Thus, unfolded the Chicken Lasagna recipe here! We loved this, and decided the recipe is definitely a keeper.

chicken, broccoli, cheese mixture

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cuban Tacos

We loved these tacos that I made last night, so I am sharing the recipe! I prepared them with pork since the recipe idea I started with called for pork; however, I think we will try white chicken breast next time--or, maybe fish!
some of the ingredients I started with




Ingredients - 2 to 3 servings

  • ⅓ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ¾ lb. boneless lean pork or chicken
  • 7 oz. black beans, rinsed and drained - I used half a can, then put the rest in a freezer container and froze them; if you want to use dry beans, soak about ⅓ cup in water overnight, then rinse and boil to desired doneness. 

Toppings:

  • Fresh jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • Pineapple tidbits - I use natural juice; no sugar added. Since I used a can of chunks, rather than tidbits, I cut them into smaller chunks.
  • Fresh arugula
  • Fresh tomato, diced
  • ¼ small red onion or 2 to 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Goat cheese
  • Avocado slices, optional - depending what you prefer (or, have on hand), I suggest avocado or goat cheese. I did not have any avocado, so I decided to try goat cheese; it was an excellent combination with the pineapple and arugula!
  • Soft whole-grain corn tortilla shells



Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Easy Way to Cut Up an Avocado

I read this hint recently, and I tried it last night. It worked very well, so I am sharing the idea! If you dislike peeling and slicing avocados, you will probably appreciate this suggestion.



Step 1
Slice the avocado in half.


Step 2
Remove the pit. I did this by inserting a sharp knife into the pit, and then pulling it out.

Step 3
Make slices horizontally and vertically along both halves. Cut all the way through the avocado, although do not cut all the way through the skin. The cut pieces came out a bit larger than they looked, so I suggest making the cuts close together--unless you want big chunks. I made the cuts closer together when I cut the second half, and the pieces were still a good size.

photo of the first half I cut
Step 4
Use a spoon to gently scoop under the avocado meat and scoop the chunks out of the skin.

photo of the cut chunks from the second half
when I made the cuts closer together

Voila ~ Perfectly cut avocado pieces with no mess! I love this idea, and hope that you find it helpful, too.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Whole-Wheat Strawberry Shortcakes

I started with the following recipe that I found online while searching for a whole-wheat shortcake recipe: Taste of Home. The end result was delicious, so I have added this to my recipe collection. Below is the recipe I kept with the very slight modifications that I made - mostly I just downsized the recipe, although I made a couple of minor alterations to the ingredients, as well.


Ingredients - 3 to 4 servings
1½ cups fresh strawberries
1 teaspoon maple syrup - I used store bought sugar-free syrup
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1¼ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cold trans-fat-free butter - I used Smart Balance Buttery Blend
2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 egg
3 tablespoons fat-free milk
2 tablespoons honey

In a bowl, thoroughly mash ½ of strawberries; stir in syrup. Slice remaining strawberries; add to crushed strawberries and toss to coat. Refrigerate, covered, while preparing shortcakes.

Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Cut in butter until crumbly. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Roasted Cabbage

I had read a few recipes for roasting cabbage, and decided to try it last night. We loved this, so I am sharing our results!

ready to eat!

Ingredients - enough for about 2 to 3 people
½ head cabbage
extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Optional:
minced garlic, turkey bacon, or shredded cheese

Directions
Heat oven to 400°F while preparing cabbage.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Deliciously Different Crab Salad Idea

I came up with the following flavor combination for crab pasta salad yesterday, and it was delicious!

click on photo to enlarge it

Ingredients
• ½ cup dry whole-wheat pasta - I used about ¾ cup penne pasta, although I think ½ cup of corkscrew or bowtie pasta would have been a better choice  
• 8 oz. flaked crab - I used Louis Kemp crab delights
• ½ sliced green onion - I used about ½ of the onion, including the greens
• ½ cup crunch: chopped celery, cucumber, or bell pepper - I used chopped green pepper because I already had one cut
• equal amounts of low fat mayo and nonfat yogurt - I used just under ½ cup each
• sliver of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
• ½ cup chopped tomatoes - I halved or quartered Sunset produce sweet grape size tomatoes, since I had an open package
• fresh cilantro and parsley, optional
• fresh lemon juice from a lemon wedge

Directions
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse in cool water, drain again, and place in a serving bowl. Add flaked crab, green onion, and whatever crunch vegetable you have chosen. Stir to combine.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Healthy and Delicious New Snacks (Bean Stalks) by *Mediterranean Snacks (*now Saffron Road)

I was provided with free product and/or compensation for my honest review of this product. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and are not influenced by the developing company, and/or its affiliates in any way.


Do you find it difficult to find something healthy and tasty to snack on when you want something crunchy, like chips? I do! — Well, I did, until I discovered Mediterranean Snacks.


We usually have nuts and Triscuit crackers (one of the few whole-grain crackers I can find) in our cupboards; however, before now, I had not been able to find a healthy chip-like snack that tasted good. I had the opportunity to try the new Bean Stalks by Mediterranean Snacks and blog about them, so I seized it.

First, the packaging and nutrition content for Bean Stalks

The snacks are packaged in a sturdy bag with a shiny mylar surface inside. My snacks arrived fresh with minimal broken pieces. The Bean Stalk bags can easily be recycled into small gift bags. Just turn them inside out, wash off any reside, and allow to dry thoroughly before using.

recycled gift bag containing
a small gift and stuffed
with green tissue paper

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Can it be Easy to Make Healthy Food Choices?

One of my goals with this blog and my book has been to simplify healthy eating facts for us all. Choosing healthy products has been an on-going learning process for me since 2006, and many facts are not presented in a manner that is easy to understand! I hope that the information here provides some assistance with your everyday food choices.

Label reading 

This is additional information that goes along with the label reading hints in the first chapter of my book -- Making Healthy Food Choices

Some high fiber products are stuffed with what is essentially fake fiber. 
It is not as healthy as the naturally occurring fiber in whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. I now watch for and avoid maltodextrin, which has a high glycemic index of 130, on the ingredients list.

Remember that multigrain does not mean whole-grain. To receive the benefits of whole grains, the first ingredient needs to be whole-grain.

No wonder I have such a difficult time finding healthy whole-grain crackers!  I recently read this in Readers Digest: Your typical cracker is made with refined grains and flavoring built around fat, salt, and sugar. Then preservatives are often added so the crackers can sit on the shelf for a year. Also, whole-grain crackers are rare.

Triscuit crackers are pretty much my go-to cracker of choice, since I have difficulty finding other crackers with whole-grain as the first ingredient.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Chicken Quesadillas

This recipe is on page 101 of my book, and it can be cooked on the grill or stove. I decided to mix this together before we left for the weekend, since there was the possibility of rain in the forecast for Friday evening at our summer "home." 

I am sharing photos and a few things I did differently from the original recipe.

- I used fresh jalapeño instead of green chilis. I had a large jalapeño, and I initially thought I would use the whole thing. After I started dicing it up, I decided to use only ¼ cup.

The jalapeño I started with.
I should have put my finger next to it to show the size!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Making Dried Cherries from Frozen Cherries

Frozen cherries often go on sale at my local supermarket--meijer, and dried cherries are quite expensive. I do not think I have ever seen dried cherries marked down, so several weeks ago, I decided to try drying them myself. 

I used the dried cherries that I had made in a chicken recipe last night. They plumped right up, and the taste was excellent, so I am sharing my results!

the frozen bag of cherries I started with
I do not have a dehydrator. You can dry the cherries in the oven or in the sun. Since it was still quite cool out when I dried these in April, I dried them in the oven.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Shredded Beets and Beet Greens Side Dish

Instead of using the beets and beet greens separately, I decided to shred the beets and cook them together. Came up with the following tasty dish last night!

ready to eat
Ingredients
2 medium size beets with greens
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon ground coriander or ¾ to 1 teaspoon coriander seeds - I used ground
1 garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
sea salt to taste
2 teaspoons nonfat yogurt, optional

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Fish Tacos

Since today is May 5th, here are a couple of ideas for Cinco de Mayo

The margarita photos are from a low sugar recipe in my book on page 29, and the fish tacos are one of our favorite taco recipes from page 124. I do not have a photo of the tacos, as I am not making these this morning. I am not having margaritas this morning either, although I happened to have a margarita in one of my photos I was able to crop out!



Fish Taco Ingredients

1 lb. white flesh fish, such as tilapia or cod
6 whole-grain corn tortillas
Marinade
¼ cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 garlic clove, pressed
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Slaw*
¼ cup mayo
¼ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
½ teaspoon ground cumin**
⅛ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2½ cups shredded carrots and cabbage or coleslaw mix
½ cup thinly sliced radishes
1-2 green onions, chopped, green part only
½ jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Toppings*
1 tomato, chopped
2 – 3 tablespoons chopped colored bell peppers, optional
Shredded lettuce or arugula, optional

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Book Photos



I have created a photo album on Facebook with pictures of recipes in my book. I will update the album as I get more photos. 

The book is available at lulu.com, and I am currently running a promotion on Facebook to giveaway one FREE book!

If you would like to purchase the book, the following Lulu discount codes are available. Only the first three codes worked for me. I could not find expiration dates or restrictions for the other coupons. I listed them because others have had success using them. If anyone else gets them to work, please let us know how you did it!

Scalloped Sweet Potatoes and Ham

Excellent flavors ~ this recipe is a keeper! Makes 2 to 3 servings; depending whether you serve a side salad or side dish, also. Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.


Ingredients


1 medium to large sweet potato or yam - I had only 1 small to medium sized yam, and wished it had been a bit larger
1 cup celery, chopped
1½ cups lean ham or turkey ham, chopped - I used about 2 cups of ham in the photos, which was more than needed
1 tablespoon trans-fat-free butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup onion, chopped
2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
¼ teaspoon salt
 teaspoon dry mustard
 to ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup fat-free milk
¾ cup lowfat shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon lowfat grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Cost effective alternative to purchasing slivered almonds

Almonds are packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber. A 16-oz. bag of raw almonds can be purchased for a reasonable price; however, slivered almonds often sell for more than twice as much.


I am determined to find an easy way to sliver almonds myself! So far, the following process is the easiest method I have found. If anyone knows of an easier way, please share with the rest of us.

Blanch the almonds

I heard that blanched almonds slice easier than raw ones because they do not crack, so I decided to give it a try. I found a few different ways to blanch almonds online, and I chose the following method: 

Pour enough water in a saucepan to cover the amount of almonds you want to blanch. Heat to boiling. Add the almonds (I used about 2 to 3 handfuls). Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, strain in colander, and run under (or submerge in) cold water to stop the process.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Book Giveaway on Facebook!

**UPDATE June 2015
A winner has been chosen, and this drawing has now ended. Watch for future promotions!

I am giving away a FREE book to one lucky follower! The book is about making healthy food choices. It contains information about how to choose products, how to alter recipes, ingredient substitutions, and nearly 150 recipes. You can find more details about the book at lulu.com.



Head over to my Facebook page for details of the book giveaway, and to enter!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Cream of Celery Soup

I never thought celery soup could be so tasty. I had a bit of celery on hand that needed to be used, so I did an online search for any recipe containing celery. After viewing a few different celery soup recipes, I came up with the following combination, which was delicious! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 



Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons trans-fat-free butter
3¾ cups celery including tops, chopped
1 cup celery, diced
½ cup carrots, chopped
¾ cup onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 bay leaf
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon trans-fat-free butter
⅔ cup fat-free half-and-half or milk - I used half-and-half
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 to 5 dashes hot sauce - I used Tabasco, my husband's favorite hot sauce! 
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon chives, chopped

Directions
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 teaspoons butter in a large saucepan on stove. Add chopped celery (not the diced), carrots, onion, and garlic. Cook over low heat until soft. Add bay leaf and chicken broth. Heat to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After vegetables have cooked, scoop most of the cooked vegetables into blender in small batches, and pulse until smooth. I poured the broth and vegetables into a separate bowl, and then used the same saucepan for the next step. I used a soup ladle to scoop the vegetables into the blender, and only added as much of the broth as I needed to be able to blend the mixture. I did not worry about getting all of the vegetables into the blender. If you enlarge the photo above, you can see that some of the carrots were not all blended.

Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon butter in saucepan. Sauté remaining diced celery. If mixture becomes too dry, and some of the broth liquid from the cooked vegetables. When celery is soft, add blended vegetables and broth back to the saucepan. Stir in half-and-half, lemon juice, hot sauce, and freshly ground pepper. Stir to heat soup, but do not boil.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh chives before serving. Serve with additional ground pepper, if desired.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Homemade Whole-Grain Baking Mix

I have been unable to find whole-grain baking mix in the store, so I decided to make my own. I had been using whole-grain pancake mix, which works okay if only a small amount is needed. I found, however, that I did not like the taste when I needed more than a couple of tablespoons.


Those of you who have my book, may be familiar with my Cream Soup Powder recipe, and this is a similar idea. I did an online search for ideas, and came up with the following mixture.

Ready for the freezer

Ingredients

1 tablespoon sugar substitute
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups whole-grain flour - I used whole-wheat flour.
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons trans-fat-free butter, frozen and/or nonfat Greek yogurt - I had been using Smart Balance sticks; however, these are no longer available, so I used Earth Balance sticks, as they are made with natural oils and have no trans fat. The fat content is quite high, however, so I have returned to Smart Balance, and now use their buttery spread in place of stick margarine or butter in recipes.

Directions

Combine all of the dry ingredients.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Vegetable Rice Salad

This makes about 3 to 4 servings. The first photo below is the leftovers we had after dinner for two with a fish entree.




Ingredients
½ to ¾ cup long-grain or brown rice or quinoa - I used long grain brown rice
½ red bell pepper, chopped
½ medium cucumber, diced
½ pint grape tomatoes, halved - I diced up a tomato because I did not have any grape or cherry tomatoes
¼ small red onion, diced or 2 green onions, chopped
¼ cup chopped walnuts
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil - I did not have any fresh basil when I prepared this and took these photos (although I do today!), so I used 1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1½ tablespoons rice wine vinegar
½ teaspoon brown sugar blend




Directions
Cook rice according to directions. Remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes, and fluff with fork. Add bell pepper, and next 8 ingredients; toss well. I actually cut up the remaining ingredients and measured them into the bowl while the rice cooked. I then added the rice and continued as below.

Whisk together olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, and brown sugar blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle dressing over rice mixture; toss well. Serve at room temperature.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Whole-Wheat Low Fat Cheesy Bread Sticks

I had a few too many mozzarella cheese sticks than we would eat before the expiration date. I must have gotten a little crazy when they were last on sale, or else I did not look at the expiration dates closely! So, I came up with the following delicious idea for how to use them.


Ingredients
1 batch of my homemade whole-grain pizza dough - recipe in this blog, and in my book
Cut/chopped slices of jalapeños from a jar, optional - if you prefer fresh, I imagine they would be a bit crispy in the finished product unless they are partially cooked first
About 8 low fat mozzarella cheese sticks, cut in half lengthwise or into 4 cubes
Additional toppings as desired: turkey pepperoni, Canadian bacon, cooked and diced turkey bacon

Directions
Prepare the pizza dough as directed. Stir in the cut jalapeños with the flour and oil.

While the dough is rising, prepare baking sheet and remaining ingredients. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray. Cut cheese and other ingredients into desired size pieces.

When the dough is ready for the baking sheet, pick up a chunk of dough, place a cheese piece and any additional topping on the dough piece. Wrap the dough around the cheese, and then roll it between your hands until the ball or log piece is smooth and there are no holes in the dough. Add more dough, if needed.


Place dough pieces on prepared baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a towel and let rise  for 15 to 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425°. Place baking sheet in oven, and reduce temperature to 375°. You can probably keep the oven temperature at 425°; however, since I had never baked these before, I opted to turn it down to make sure 425° was not too high. Bake until done12 to 18 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers in the freezer, and preheat as needed.

I tried the cheese pieces 3 different ways
I made a couple of these with the entire cheese stick, a few of them cut in half lengthwise, and a few of them cut into 4 pieces. Next time, I would not leave any of the cheese sticks whole. The cheese goes farther if cut, and an entire cheese stick is not needed. 

Even though there were no holes in my dough pieces, a bit of cheese leaked out from a couple of them. Some might suggest using parchment paper so the cheese does not leak onto the baking sheet; however, I did not think that was necessary. The cheese that leaked out, easily came up from the baking sheet still attached to the dough piece it had run out from.

I did not use any pepperoni or bacon in these, although I would have, if I had thought of it before I wrapped them all up!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Creamy Cauliflower Lettuce Salad

This recipe is my variation of a popular salad recipe I have had for years. I added a few ingredients, and I changed some of the ingredients from the original version I had.

photo taken the next day

Ingredients
¾ cup mayo
Scant ½ cup nonfat yogurt
2 tablespoons grated low fat Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon sugar or sugar substitute
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry ranch dressing mix
1 tablespoon nonfat milk, if needed
¼ cup finely chopped/sliced red or green onion
2 slices cooked and crumbled turkey bacon - I used Jennie-O
Freshly ground pepper
1 small head cauliflower or ½ large head, cut into pieces
Torn romaine lettuce




Directions
Mix dressing ingredients together in a medium size bowl. Stir in onion, bacon, a few sprinkles of freshly ground pepper, and then cauliflower. The photo above has just a small amount of cauliflower stirred in. I started to add the cauliflower and then decided I should have taken a photo to show the texture before stirring it in. I used 1 tablespoon of milk.

As I have written in my book - I always use olive oil based mayo. Hellman's is slightly creamier than Kraft; however, the fat content is also higher. Therefore, I almost always use Kraft, although I occasionally purchase Hellman's.


Arrange torn lettuce on serving plates and then top with the cauliflower. May also add lettuce to salad in bowl, mix lightly, and then serve. This last photo shows all of the ingredients combined except the lettuce and ground pepper. I forgot to stir in the pepper so we added it at the table. The tiny bits of seasoning visible in the photo are from the dry dressing mix.

I took a photo of the salad at the top of this post with the lettuce when I had the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Grilled Cheese without the Bread or Cauliflower Grilled Cheese

Did everyone see the cauliflower grilled cheese sandwich on the Dr. Oz Show or in the video? If you follow the link to view the recipe and watch the video, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page, as the photo at the top of the page is a photo of a regular grilled cheese sandwich. Confusing, I thought!

I decided to try this. The taste was pretty good, although it does not replace sourdough bread, in my opinion. I would say this is an excellent idea for replacing the bread version occasionally to introduce more veggies into your diet, and to cut down on carbs. 

½ of the sandwich
Below are my results and the slightly modified quantities from the recipe on the Dr. Oz page. I intended to cut the recipe in half for 1 sandwich, which did not work out too well because my large head of cauliflower must have been much larger than the medium sized head used in their recipe.









Ingredients  
2 cups shredded cauliflower - the original recipe calls for 1 medium head of riced cauliflower. I measured my cauliflower because I wanted to know how much I had. I got 2 cups from less than ½ a large head, which was enough for 2 sandwiches. The photos here are from 1 very large sandwich.
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 to 3 tablespoons low fat jack or mozzarella cheese, shredded - I had Co-Jack cheese open, so I used that.
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon olive oil
⅓ cup low fat cheddar cheese, shredded - again, I used Co-Jack. Half of the recipe would have been ¼ cup; however, I thought the sandwich looked like it needed more cheese, so I added more.
½  teaspoon olive oil

shredded cauliflower

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425°. In a medium mixing bowl combine the shredded cauliflower, egg, 2 to 3 tablespoons of cheese, a few grinds of freshly ground pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. 

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Mound the cauliflower mixture onto the baking sheet, and flatten it into a thin rectangle about the thickness of thin bread. I wished I had made mine a bit flatter.

ready for the oven

For 2 sandwiches, cut the cauliflower into 4 equal squares with a knife. I made only 1 large sandwich in the photos shown here.

Bake in preheated oven until lightly browned—12 to 14 minutes. Let the slices cool before gently removing them from the baking sheet.

Heat a non-stick pan, add one teaspoon of olive oil, place slices side-by-side, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not skip this step. I put the slices on the skillet with the browned side up and added the cheese right away, because I thought it would be crispy enough. When it was done, I could tell that it would have been better if I had browned both sides in the skillet also. 

on the griddle
Turn the slices over. Sprinkle most of the cheese evenly over half of the slices, cover with the second slices, press down, and cook until the cheese starts melting. 

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the sandwiches (yes, on the outside of the slices). Flip the sandwich and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes on the other side. As long as you are using a non-stick pan with a bit of olive oil, this will not stick to the pan.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Peanutty Snack Mix

Ingredients
5 cups whole-grain oat cereal, like Cheerios
1 cup Chex cereal - Wheat Chex is my preferred flavor since it has the most fiber; however, I occasionally buy the others and I had an open box of Corn Chex when I prepared this
1 tablespoon trans-fat-free butter
¼ cup natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips, optional
pinch of kosher or sea salt
1½ cups peanuts
1 cup dried fruit - I used a combination of dried cranberries and raisins, and I think banana chips would also be an excellent choice


Directions
Preheat oven to 350°. Measure cereal into a 9 x 13" baking pan.

Melt butter and peanut butter in small saucepan over low heat. Stir in chocolate chips until melted. Stir in salt, and then pour mixture over cereal, stirring until well mixed.

Place pan in oven for 10 minutes. Stir mixture twice during the 10 minutes; after about 3 to 4 minutes each time. 

Remove pan from oven, and stir in peanuts. Allow mixture to cool. Stir in dried fruit, and enjoy! Store in a sealed container in a cool, dry place.

another close up photo

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Chicken Brunswick Stew Photos

Since I do not have recipe photos inside of my book, I am sharing a couple of the Brunswick Stew recipe on page 97. You can enlarge any photo in this blog by clicking on it.

I always say that recipes are merely an idea/starting point for me, and this day was no exception! This is a slightly modified version of the recipe, and the details of the changes I made are listed below.

in the crockpot, ready to cook











I stirred in ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper with the flour.

I only used about ¾ lb. of chicken breast.

ready to eat
I used dried lima beans instead of frozen, so I soaked them in hot boiling water for a couple of hours, and I put them in the crockpot at the start instead of with the corn.

I used yellow bell pepper instead of green bell pepper, and I added in a few carrots.

I did not cut my parsnips in cubes, like I had written in the recipe. Big mistake! The chunks were too large, and not cooked as much as we like.

I cooked this about 8 hours on low, and I wish I had used the auto setting on my crockpot (high for an hour, and then it turns to low).

This stew has a mild kick to it, which we love! If anyone reading this post would like the recipe too, post your comment below, and I will update this post with the complete ingredients and directions.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

7-layer Salad Recipe Update

Those of you who have my book already have a version of this recipe on page 87. And, if you follow my posts, you know that I almost aways substitute plain nonfat Greek yogurt for sour cream in recipes. I have wanted to try this recipe with 100% yogurt substituted for sour cream; however, I had not tried it that way before my book was published. 

Last night, I made this for just the two of us, so I swapped out the sour cream 100% for yogurt. The result was not much different than sour cream, so I will be using yogurt in this recipe from now on. The photos shown here are slightly different than the recipe because I made a smaller batch, and I substituted some ingredients for what I had in my fridge, as usual.

Ingredients
Lettuce - I use romaine or a similar green leafy style
Sweet onion or red onion
Green bell pepper - I used yellow and orange bell pepper
Celery
Frozen peas, thawed
½ package dry ranch or Italian dressing 
½ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
½ cup mayo - I always use olive oil based Kraft or Hellmann's
Low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
Turkey bacon bits - I used 4 slices of cooked and chopped turkey bacon  


salad with seasoning ready for the dressing

Directions
Chop and layer vegetables in order given in a 9” x 12” dish. The glass dish in the photo that I used for this smaller batch is 11" x 7", and I did not layer the ingredients as thickly as I usually do when preparing this for a gathering. 

Sprinkle salad evenly with dry dressing mix. I used ¼ of a package for this smaller batch, which is a little more than a tablespoon. 

ready to serve


Combine yogurt and mayo; carefully spread over vegetables. I used ¼ cup each of yogurt and mayo for this smaller batch. Although it may look like the dry dressing mix and spread is too thin, the flavor will be full.

Sprinkle with shredded cheese and bacon bits. Be careful not to be too heavy-handed when layering the ingredients. I thought this batch ended up with a bit too much cheese, although my husband always likes lots of cheese!


Serve immediately  or refrigerate up to 24 hours before serving, as this starts to get soggy after 24 hours.

Now that I know we like this with yogurt in place of sour cream, I am not afraid to serve it to others, too. If I get any complaints the next time I serve this, I will let everyone know!