Wednesday, March 30, 2011


indian spiced chicken n asparagus (5)

Monday, I gave you the recipe for Curry-Roasted Pumpkin-Carrot-Sweet Potato Soup, the appetizer for our Indian meal.  Today, I’m giving you the entree. 

The March/April 2011 issue of Eating Well magazine had this interesting recipe.  Always up for an adventure, I decided to give it a try – solo of course, since my hubby is a serious foodophobe.  My strategy was to cut the recipe in half and have it for dinner and lunch.  As it turned out, it fed me for three meals. 

I liked that it used crisply cooked asparagus, a vegetable that doesn’t get much attention in our home.  Guy won’t touch it.  Blame it on his mom, who made him sandwiches of asparagus and egg to take to school.  He was less than enthusiastic about them.  There was a Polish peer who was sick of his mom’s kielbasi sandwiches, so the two swapped, and parents were none the wiser.  I used to think that forcing your child to eat would turn him/her off of certain foods, and Guy was my prime example of this premise.  After almost 50 years of being married to the pickiest eater on the planet, and having a son who is his clone, my opinion has changed.  Guy’s mom forced him to eat, but I never forced my son.  What they have in common is this:  both have very distinct likes and dislikes when it comes to food.  Neither is adventurous with meals.  They just have strong opinions on what they want to eat.  But I digress.

You’re going to have to like the flavors that are in this dish, which, frankly, had me a bit squeamish at first.  Cumin and fennel are two very earthy spices.  Add garlic, fresh ginger, chile and asparagus and you are getting borderline bitter.  Even the coconut milk doesn’t smooth this out.   The surprise:  I liked it.  For my leftovers, though, I cooked up some brown basmati rice with half coconut milk, half water and added golden raisins.  This was the perfect accompaniment to this entree.

I will make this dish again, but am a bit sad that I don’t have anyone to share it with at my home.  Here’s hoping that one of you will make this and tell me that you liked it.

Indian-Spiced Chicken and Asparagus
Adapted Half Recipe from Eating Well Magazine, March-April 2011
Rating:  8.5 out of 10
INGREDIENTS:  3/4 tsp. cumin seeds
3/4 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 lb. chicken, cut into 1” chunks
3/8 tsp. sea salt, divided
1 Tbsp. olive or canola oil, divided
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1-1/2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small fresh chile, seeded and minced (I used half of a jalapeno)
1-1/2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
3/4 lb. trimmed asparagus (about 1 lb. before trimming), cut into 1” pieces
1/4 cup lite coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In 12” iron frying pan (or other heavy skillet), toast cumin and fennel seeds over medium heat till fragrant and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and finely grind in a spice grinder.  (I use my coffee grinder for this, but you could also use a mortar and pestle.) 

Toss chicken with 3/4 tsp. of spice mixture + 1/8 tsp. salt.  Heat 1-1/2 tsp. oil in skillet over medium-high heat.   Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently, till browned, 4-5 minutes.  Transfer to plate and cover to keep warm.
indian spiced chicken n asparagus (3)

Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 1-1/2 tsp. oil, onion, garlic, chile and ginger.  Cook, stirring, till softened, 2-3 minutes.  Add asparagus.  Sprinkle with remaining spice mix and cook, stirring, for two minutes. 
indian spiced chicken n asparagus (4)

Stir in coconut milk and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt.  Simmer two more minutes.  Return chicken to pan, along with collected juices.  Cook till heated through, about 2 minutes.   (If desired, serve with basmati brown rice cooked with half water, half coconut milk.  Stir in a generous handful of golden raisins towards the end of cooking time.)  Yield:  2-3 servings

indian spiced chicken n asparagus

Monday, March 28, 2011


dr oz pumpkin soup

This week is Indian week, just in case you don't know.  I named it.  If you make all three of my Indian recipes that will be posted, you’ll have a complete Indian dinner.  You can start off with this luscious soup, inspired by Dr. Oz, who published his “Indian Roasted Pumpkin Soup,” in the October 2010 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine. 
dr oz pumpkin soup (3)

I added hot Madras curry powder, apple juice concentrate, water, carrots and sweet potato to Dr. Oz’s soup, and changed the vegetable broth to chicken broth (only because I didn’t have vegetable broth on hand).  I liked this soup a lot, but then I am a winter-squash maniac and seem to like it any way it’s served.  The apple undertones add just enough sweetness to offset the spiciness.  Bland pumpkin borrows some punch from carrots and sweet potatoes to deliver complex flavors.  There’s just enough heat to make your tongue tingle for a few minutes after you swallow.  If you’re not a fan of spicy foods, you should cut the curry powder.  As a side note, I gave some of this soup to my Indian physiatrist. (He's a muscle specialist, not a head shrink!)   He said he added cayenne and black peppers to make it spicier!

It’s worth it to make this  soup just to inhale the aroma coming from your oven when the veggies and spices mingle and give up their wonderful scent. 

Curry-Roasted Pumpkin-Carrot-Sweet Potato Soup
Inspired by Dr. Mehmet Oz
Rating:  9 out of 10
INGREDIENTS:  1 cup peeled, chopped pumpkin (or butternut or other winter squash)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 shallot, halved
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 tart apple, cored, sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1-1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
3/4 tsp. McCormick hot madras curry powder
1-1/4 chicken or vegetable broth
2 Tbsp. frozen apple juice concentrate
1/2 cup lite coconut milk plus extra for drizzling over soup
1/2 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp. black pepper, or to taste
1/2 to 1 cup water

Heat oven to 425F.  Combine vegetables, oil and spices in 9x12 baking pan, tossing to coat.  Spread in single layer. 
dr oz pumpkin soup (2) 

Roast 30 minutes, or  till tender.  Puree in batches  in food processor or blender.  Transfer puree to 3-quart heavy pot, and add broth, juice concentrate, coconut milk, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup water.  Bring to a high simmer, stirring.  Taste to adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if needed.  Add additional water, if needed to bring soup to desired consistency.  Serve drizzled with coconut milk.  Yield:  About 3-4 servings

dr oz pumpkin soup (4)

Friday, March 25, 2011


rasp scallops n grits

I love the creamy taste of sea scallops, and they seem to be in season.  If you’re wondering what to do with them, then this post is for you.  Sauteed in a frying pan with cold polenta, then drizzled with a raspberry vinaigrette, this is an easy and delicious way to enjoy these tender morsels from the sea.

This is not really a recipe, but rather a method for cooking.  First, pat the scallops dry with clean paper towels.  I like to use an iron fry pan for this, but if you don’t have one, use what you have.  Get your pan hot using medium-high heat, and just put a very small amount of olive oil in it.  Too much oil and you won’t get the nice brown crust on the scallops and polenta. 

You can buy the polenta rolls in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, or you can make your own polenta and freeze the leftovers in small rectangles that are perfect for frying up like this.  If you want to make your own, try this great recipe adapted from Southern Living.  It'll be soft when you first make it.  When it cools in the pan, just cut it into squares or rectangles and freeze for future use.  Great with breakfast, lunch or dinner, plain or sauced.  Wonderful with shrimp.

Sprinkle the scallops lightly with salt and pepper and put everything in the hot oiled pan.  Let sizzle for several minutes per side, till scallops are done and polenta is creamy and soft inside.
rasp scallops n grits (7)

Serve the scallops over and around the polenta and drizzle with your favorite raspberry vinaigrette.  My recipe for raspberry vinaigrette is here.  Green beans sauteed with onion and garlic go well with this.
rasp scallops n grits (9)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


salted steak (2)

Grocery-store steak is bland and tasteless and generally not worth buying.  But dry-aged steaks are expensive and hard to find.  We’ve resorted to our own dry aging to get flavorful beef.  But now, my inventive hubby has come up with a faster, easier way to bring a delicious grilled steak to our table.  Just salt it.
You may already be salting your steaks, but you may be using the wrong salt and you may be doing it at or for the wrong time.
salted steak (6)

First, pick your cut.  Ribeye, filet mignon, strip steak, Porterhouse and T-bones all work well.  Measure your steak.

If it’s 1-inch thick, you’ll salt it at room temperature for one hour before grilling.  If it’s 1-1/2” thick, you’ll salt it for 1-1/2 hours.  If it’s 1/2” thick, it’ll be 1/2 hour.  Get the gist?

Now about the salt.  Use kosher salt or sea salt.  Don’t use regular table salt because it has additives.  Wipe steaks dry with clean paper towels; discard towels.  Lay steaks on clean paper towels and sprinkle with salt, first on one side, then on the other.salted steak (3)

Cover with clean paper towel and leave at room temperature. 
The steak has paper towels underneath and on top.

.salted steak  

Be sure to get your grill good and hot to cook your steak.  Rinse the salt off the steak with cool running water and pat dry with paper towels.  Sprinkle with black pepper.
salted steak (4)

Grill to desired doneness. 
salted steak (5)

I like to take the steak off the grill before it gets to medium rare, because it will continue to cook.  Transfer to plate and let it rest for 5 minutes.  This is important!  I put the steak in the microwave (turned off, of course).  This is just enough time to get last-minute dinner preparations completed. 
Now just dig in and enjoy the best steak you ever ate.  It was easy, right?
salted steak

Monday, March 21, 2011


Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch-PB cookies (7)
Now that I’ve finally used up all those Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits, it’s time to work on my stash of Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch.  These individually wrapped candies may just be my favorite of all time.  The smooth richness of Dove Promises is what makes them so special.  The peanut toffee is almost inconsequential, compared to that luscious chocolate.

Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch-PB cookies
It’s already been established that I don’t like the sandy, grainy texture of traditional criss-cross  peanut butter cookies that get pressed with fork tines.  You may think that’s what you’re looking at in the top photo.  Looks can be deceiving.  This cookie, although resembling a traditional criss-cross cookie, is one of the best* peanut butter cookies I’ve ever had.  Whether that’s because of my tweaks or because of the original recipe, only God knows.  I just know I love these cookies and could eat them all day long.  (Please note that I said one of the best.  Not the best.  The best peanut butter cookie I ever ate is Lalee's. )

Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch-PB cookies (5)

By just underbaking slightly, you’ll get a tender cookie with perfect sweetness and strong peanut butter flavor.  Rolled in cinnamon sugar, flattened with fork tines, then sprinkled with more cinnamon sugar, these cookies have nice complex flavors that are deepened further by the luscious addition of chopped Dove peanut toffee crunch.  These are cookies made in heaven.

Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch-Peanut Butter Cookies
Inspired by Smitten Kitten and the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook
Rating:  9.5 out of 10
INGREDIENTS:  1-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 cup chopped Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup room-temperature creamy peanut butter (I used Jif Natural)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large room-temperature egg
1 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
(For rolling and sprinkling:  about 3Tbsp. sugar + 3/4 tsp. cinnamon)

Heat oven to 350F.  Line baking sheets with parchment.  In medium bowl, whisk together flour, soda, cream of tartar and salt.  Stir in Dove toffee crunch pieces; set aside.

In large bowl, whisk together butter, peanut butter, sugars, egg, milk and vanilla till smooth.
Add flour mixture and combine with spoon or spatula till well mixed. 

Combine sugar and cinnamon in small dish or bowl.  Form rounded tablespoonfuls of dough into rough balls, roll in cinnamon sugar and place onto baking sheets, spacing 2-3 inches apart.  Press balls down with tines of fork, pressing in a criss-cross pattern.  Sprinkle with additional cinnamon sugar, if desired. 

Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch-PB cookies (8)

Bake cookies 10-12 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in center returns with some moist crumbs.  Do not overbake!  Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.  Yield:  22-24 (3”) cookies

Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch-PB cookies (2)

Friday, March 18, 2011


cc heath bits cookies (3)

With several more bags of Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits to use, I decided to adapt the Heath Bar Cookie recipe.  The cookie was too flat for me, so I added a bit of baking powder.  I thought it could use more flavor, so I used slightly less vanilla,  added some coffee flavor and 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.  I also used brown sugar for most of the sugar. 
cc heath bits cookies

I liked this cookie better, but it’s entirely different in texture and taste.  It has crispy edges with a soft interior, and I liked it better jut slightly underdone.  My taste testers thought it was great. 
cc heath bits cookies (4)

Heath Bar-Chocolate Chip-Pecan Cookies
Inspired by
Rating:  8.5 out of 10
INGREDIENTS:  2-1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (8 oz.) bag Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans or walnuts 
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar  (sweet freaks add 1/4 cup)
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. coffee essence (equal parts of coffee brandy + instant coffee)

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, soda and baking powder.  Add chips, toffee bits and nuts and whisk again; set aside. 

In large bowl, whisk together butter, sugars, eggs, vanilla and coffee essence till smooth.  Gradually stir in flour mixture with spoon or spatula.  Chill dough for 1 hour or longer.

Heat oven to 350F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment.  Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls spaced 3” apart onto prepared cookie sheets.  Bake 12-14 minutes, until edges just start to brown.  Let cool in pans 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.  Yield:  about 26 (3”) cookies.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


heath bits cookies (3)

Here’s a cookie that’s difficult for me to rate.  Why?  Because it’s not my kind of cookie.  First, they’re too small and thin.  Second, IMHO they are greasy because of too much butter.  And they’re sweet, maybe too sweet for my taste.  One thing I do like about these is their crispy edges.  Here’s the rub:  I took these to a party, and everyone loved them.  They disappeared fast.   That’s why I decided to share them with you. 

heath bits cookies (4)

As I said, these are small and thin and they spread like crazy.   Don’t be tempted to use rounded tablespoonfuls of dough, because your baking sheet will not be big enough to contain the cookie! 
The original recipe, found on, uses chopped Heath bars, but I used Heath milk chocolate toffee bits.  I won’t be making these again, but obviously I’m in the minority here, because these cookies have a big following. 

Heath Bar Cookies
Adapted from
Rating:  8 out of 10
INGREDIENTS:  2-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 (8 oz.) pkg. Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits, divided
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and soda.  Add toffee bits and nuts and whisk again; set aside. 

In large bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla till smooth.  Gradually stir in flour mixture with spoon or spatula.  Chill dough for 1 hour or longer.

Heat oven to 350F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment.  Spoon dough in small 1” diameter balls (size of large marble) and place 3” apart on cookie sheets.  Bake 10-12 minutes, until edges just start to brown.  Let cool in pans 2 minutes, then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.  Yield:  about 6 dozen 

Monday, March 14, 2011


or pecan lb cake (4)
Chocolate and orange are two of my favorite flavor combos.  In this pound cake, they are superb.  First, I added orange zest and orange extract to a pecan sour cream pound cake recipe I found on  Then I brushed a syrupy orange glaze over the baked cake.  Finally, I covered the top and sides with a luscious chocolate ganache.  Served with vanilla or chocolate ice cream, this is a dessert made in heaven.
This pound cake is super moist and delicious all by itself, so feel free to leave out the chocolate ganache.  You can even leave out the orange glaze and it will still be good.  But for an extra-special dessert, make everything and savor each morsel.  It’s a big cake, and if you can’t use it all at once, you can freeze it in sections.  Pound cake improves the next day, and the next several days, but I tend to freeze everything right away and pull out of the freezer what I need at the time. 
or pecan lb cake
Orange-Glazed Pecan Sour Cream Pound Cake with Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from
Rating:  9.5 out of 10
Pound Cake:  1 cup chopped or broken pecans
3 cups low-protein flour (I used White Lily All-Purpose)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbsp. finely grated orange zest
2-1/3 cups white sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 tsp. orange extract
1 cup sour cream, room temperature

Grease and flour a 10” bundt or tube pan.  Sprinkle pecans on bottom of pan; set aside.  Sift together flour, salt and baking soda into a medium bowl; whisk to combine; set aside.

In mixing bowl of stand mixer, use paddle attachment on medium speed to cream butter, zest and sugar till light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in flavorings.  Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream.  Pour the thick and cream batter over pecans in prepared pan. 

Place pan in cold oven.  Turn oven on at 300F.  Bake 75 to 90 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake returns clean.  Let cake cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.  Brush orange glaze (recipe below) over warm cake and let cool thoroughly.  Frost sides and top thinly with chocolate ganache (recipe below).  Decorate top with whole pecans.

NOTES:  When you check the cake for doneness, run your finger over the toothpick.  It may look clean, but if the pick feels gummy, bake it longer.  (My cake took 85 minutes for perfect doneness and super moist cake.)  If you purchase White Lily flour, be sure it is all-purpose, not self-rising. 

Orange Glaze:  2 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. orange zest
3 Tbsp. orange liqueur, such as Triple Sec or Cointreau
1 tsp. orange extract

In small saucepan, combine butter, sugar, zest and liqueur.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cook till syrupy, stirring as necessary.  Remove from heat and stir in extract.

Chocolate Ganache and Garnish:  1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
about 9 whole pecans

In small saucepan, heat cream over medium heat till very hot.  Stir in chips till smooth.
or pecan lb cake (6)

Friday, March 11, 2011


PB heath bar cookies (2)

Why did I buy all those packages of Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits that were on clearance?  I mean, one package would have been enough.  What was I thinking?  Now I’m putting Heath bits in everything just to use them up. 

Looking on the bright side, I would never have made these delicious cookies that have such a nice peanut-butter flavor.  The pecans and semisweet chocolate chips tone down the almost cloying sweetness of the Heath bits.  Just enough crunch, just enough sweetness.  Edges are crispy and insides are soft and almost chewy.  Next day, however, edges soften.  But it doesn’t matter.  These are so good, I may just use up all the Heath bits to make more of these.

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip-Heath Bits Cookies
Adapted from
Rating:  10 out of 10

INGREDIENTS:  1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup Creamy Natural Jif Peanut Butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar  (sugar freaks add additional 1/2 cup sugar)
3 Tbsp. milk
2-1/2 tsp. creme de cocoa, rum or coffee + 1/2 tsp. vanilla (OR use 1 Tbsp. vanilla only)
1 large egg
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 (8 oz.) pkg. Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits, divided
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper. 
In large bowl, whisk by hand or beat with electric mixer on medium speed butter, peanut butter, sugar, milk and flavorings till well blended.  Beat in egg.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl, then gradually stir into peanut butter mixture.  Stir in pecans, 1 cup of Heath bits and chocolate chips.  Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets, spacing several inches apart.  Top cookies with remaining Heath bits, pressing them onto tops of cookies slightly.  Bake about 11 minutes, or till almost done.  Cool in pans 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.
Yield:  23 (3-1/4”) cookies

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


chicken cheese olive broccoli mayo mustard sandwich (2)
We need to get our veggies where we can, and I’m not just talking about lettuce and tomatoes.  Broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables, are some of the most healthful foods on the planet.  When I cook broccoli, I always make extra to use the next day in a salad or in a sandwich like this one.  
Any leftover vegetable is good in a sandwich.  Peas can be mashed with the mayo and mustard to make a sandwich spread.  Zucchini, sweet potatoes, winter squash, beets, carrots, parsnips and potatoes can all be sliced. 
Freshly roasted chicken slices, a thin slice of ham, cheese, cooked sliced broccoli and lettuce are the heart of the sandwich.  The whole wheat toast gets a thin layer of lite mayo, Dijon mustard and chopped olives.  This was one delicious lunch with a cup of hot, homemade chicken noodle soup.
chicken cheese olive broccoli mayo mustard sandwich

Monday, March 7, 2011


003 Barlean’s is the only flax oil I ever buy.  It’s organic, fresh-pressed, high-quality oil.  Flax oil is rich in omega-3 fat, a type of essential fatty acid that our bodies cannot manufacture and can only be obtained through dietary sources like flaxseed oil, wild ocean fish, wild game, grass fed livestock and fish oil.  Omega-6 fat, which tends to be inflammatory, is found in grain-fed livestock, vegetable oils, many processed foods and most animal fats like butter, sour cream, cream cheese and milk.  Ideally, we should decrease our omega-6 consumption and increase our omega-3 intake.  Adding flax oil to your diet helps to do that. 

I spoon some flax oil over my morning oatmeal, though you can just take it straight off the spoon or, for that matter, buy gelcaps.  Two brand new flavors are available for Barlean's bottled flax oil:  lemonade and cinnamon, to appeal to kids or adults who want more flavor.  I was neutral on the taste of flax oil before, but now I look forward to my daily tablespoonful because the lemonade flavor is so delicious.


You can purchase Barlean’s at your local health food store, or online.  It comes in a 12 oz. bottle that needs to be refrigerated.  Each bottle has a freshness date.  Once opened, a bottle should be consumed in 8 weeks for optimal potency.

Full disclosure:  No one asked me to do this review, and I am not receiving any compensation from Barlean’s or anyone representing Barlean’s.  I just happen to love this product and want to share it with all of you.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Breakfast burrito
Just how important is breakfast? As the first meal of the day – the one that “breaks a fast” – it’s very important, especially if you have blood sugar issues. Breaking your all-night fast by gobbling down a pastry, muffin or piece of leftover pie may feel good at first, but the temporary sugar high may be followed by a crash soon after. You’ll be reaching for more sugar to keep going. More healthful breakfast options include cold or hot whole-grain cereal, peanut butter and banana on whole-grain toast and, of course, eggs.

Breakfast burrito (2)
At about 75 calories each, eggs contain high-quality protein and small amounts of vital nutrients, including folate, riboflavin, selenium, B12, and choline. The lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs are antioxidants that may help keep eyes healthy.  Always try to buy organic free-range eggs if possible.  Local eggs can usually be found at farmer’s markets.

One of our neighbors, Mary Hutchinson, gave us inspiration for this first recipe.  Mary uses round deli ham, sliced cheese and 8” tortillas. Sometimes she adds chopped chives. We took the idea and ran with it, adding our own tweaks and preferences. You can do the same. Use sausage instead of ham, or go meatless. Add chopped tomatoes or salsa. Use American or cheddar cheese instead of spicier jalapeno pepper jack. If you prefer a bigger sandwich, use more filling on a larger tortilla. You get the idea. It’s so nice, when you’re hungry, to be able to reach into the freezer and pull out a package that, in about three minutes, becomes your breakfast, with no fuss or mess.

Breakfast Tortilla Wraps for the Freezer          
Inspired by Mary Hutchinson
Rating:  9 out of 10
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1/3 cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped sweet bell pepper
7 large eggs
¼ cup milk
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ cup chopped cooked ham
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack with Jalapeno Pepper Cheese
12 (6”) flour tortillas
In large heavy skillet, sauté mushrooms, onions and bell pepper in oil over medium heat till transparent. Whisk eggs, milk, salt, pepper and ham in medium bowl. Pour mixture over veggies in pan; stir lightly till eggs are softly set. Breakfast burritos (2)
Remove skillet from heat. Spoon rounded tablespoonfuls of egg mixture and about 1-1/2 Tbsp. of cheese onto each tortilla. Breakfast burritos (3)
Fold top of tortilla over egg mixture.Breakfast burritos (4)
Next,  fold left side partly over.Breakfast burritos (5)
Lastly, roll, leaving one side open. Breakfast burritos
Wrap each in plastic wrap, then place in freezer bag. When ready to eat, remove from freezer, discarding plastic wrap. Wrap frozen tortilla in paper towel; microwave at 50% power for about 2 minutes. Let sandwich rest for 1 minute.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


soy-apple brined roast chicken (3)

Back in November, I made a Soy-Apple Brined Grilled Turkey with a recipe from Kikkoman that I tweaked.  I decided to adapt my recipe to a small fryer chicken.  Instead of grilling it, I roasted it in the oven.  Since I had some of the apple-jack cream gravy from the turkey stashed in my freezer, I used that to serve with the chicken. 
soy-apple brined roast chicken

The chicken was moist, tender and delicious, just like the turkey was.  This is a great  brining recipe to use for poultry, and I highly recommend it.  Click on the link at the beginning of this post to find my recipe for delicious apple jack cream gravy to serve alongside.

Soy-Apple Brined Roast Chicken
Source:  Judy’s Kitchen
Rating:  9.5 out of 10
1 cup boiling water
2 Tbsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 quarts + 3 cups cold water
5 Tbsp. lite soy sauce
8 fresh sage leaves
2 tsp. celery seed
6-8 fresh thyme sprigs
1 (12 oz.) container frozen apple juice concentrate
1 (3-1/2 – 4 lb.) young chicken, no water added

Dissolve the salt into the boiling water and let cool.  In a Dutch oven or other suitable container, pour the cooled salt water and all the remaining ingredients except the chicken.  Stir well.  Add the chicken, making sure it is completely covered with liquid.  If not, you’ll have to either add more brine or change to a container that will allow the chicken to be covered.  Refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.

Heat oven to 325F.  Remove chicken from brine and rinse well with cold running water.  Pat dry inside and out with paper towels.  Stuff inside of chicken with aromatics:  celery, onion, apple, garlic, sage and thyme.  Roast uncovered about 2 hours, or till thermometer inserted in thigh registers 165-170F.  Let chicken rest 1/2 hour before serving.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


almond butter beauties II
Recently, I posted about gluten-free almond butter beauty cookies.  Made with oatmeal, no flour, almond butter, and just 3 Tbsp. of butter, these were almost healthy, if cookies can be such a thing.  Chocolate chips, almond toffee bits, toasted almonds and pecans made this cookie delicious, satisfying and almost guilt free.almond butter beauties II (2) 
But I couldn’t rest, wondering if they could be better.  Instead of packing the oats, I measured them loosely.  Instead of 1/2 cup of chocolate chips, I used 1/4 cup.  These cookies have a different texture – they spread more and resemble a traditional cookie more.  But I missed that 1/4 cup of chocolate chips.  As is, I rated them 8 out of 10, and my taste testers agreed that these were good, but my first batch was better.  I may make them again with the added chocolate chips.
Whether you make almond beauties I or II, I think you’ll be happy with either.  Who’d have thunk that just plain oats with no flour added could make such a good cookie?
Gluten-Free Almond Butter Beauty Cookies II
Source:  Judy’s Kitchen
Rating:  8 out of 10
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, soft
1/2 cup almond butter (120 grams), room temperature
6 Tbsp. sugar (I used 1-1/2 Tbsp. NuNaturals Stevia)
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. dark corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg
1-1/2 cups oats measured loosely (3/4 cup quick, 3/4 cup old-fashioned)
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup almond toffee bits (not Heath Bar bits)
1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

Heat oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In bowl of stand mixer,  using medium speed, beat butter, almond butter, sugars, corn syrup, vanilla and egg until well combined.  In mini food processor, pulverize 1/4 cup of each of the oats.  Combine all the oats with baking soda and salt, then mix into butter mixture on low speed.  Stir in chips, toffee bits, pecans and almonds and mix just till barely combined.  Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet.  Bake 9-10 minutes, or till just barely done.  Don’t overbake these! Cookies will look soft and undone but will firm up as they cool.  You can check with a toothpick – if it returns with just a few crumbs, the cookies are done.  Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.  Yield:  10 (3-1/2” cookies) about 3/8” thick