Thursday, August 1, 2013

Easy Breakfast Casserole

Assembled this really easy dish last night and popped it into the oven this morning. I adapted the recipe from USDA's MyPlate recipe collection (upped the eggs for more protein, threw in some veggies and used 100% whole wheat bread). In all, a breakfast success! Throw a slice in a tupperware to heat up at work and say goodbye to the 10:30am run to the vending machine.

  • Whole Wheat Bread, 6 slices
  • Cheddar Cheese, 6oz shredded (I used Cabot's 50% reduced fat)
  • Low-Sodium Ham, 1 cup chopped (or use leftover Chicken or Turkey breast from dinner)
  • Scallions, 1/4 cup chopped
  • Bell Pepper, 1 cup chopped (or use your veggie of choice: broccoli, kale, etc)
  • Low-fat Milk, 1 cup
  • Eggs, 8 whole 
  • Mustard, 1 Tablespoon
  • Worcestershire Sauce, 1 teaspoon
  • Black Pepper, to taste 
(Note: best if assembled night before cooking)
Lightly coat baking pan with olive oil or nonstick spray. Lay 3 slices of bread in a single layer on the bottom. Layer half the cheese, ham, scallions and peppers. Repeat layer of bread, cheese, ham and vegetables.

Beat together eggs, milk, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and pepper and pour over the casserole. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake uncovered for 1 hour at 350F. Serve hot and enjoy!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Deep Darkest Chocolate Flax Biscotti

This morning we sadly ran out of my favorite Aunt Gussie's Spelt Hazelnut Biscotti - my preferred accompaniment to morning coffee! This inspired me to make some biscotti. I came across this recipe, which I ended up modifying: 1) I replaced half of the flour with ground flaxseed, 2) the flour I did use was all-purpose, not whole wheat and 3) since I didn't have chocolate chips on hand, I chopped up a Lindt 85% cocoa bittersweet chocolate bar instead. I'm pretty sure the the total amount of "chips" this produced was more than the recipe called for (I didn't actually measure it out)...but hey, it's chocolate!

Biscotti loaves cooling before slicing
Here's the final recipe:

  • All-Purpose flour, 1 cup
  • Ground flaxseed, 1 cup
  • Baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt, 1/4 teaspoon
  • Granulated sugar, 1/3 cup
  • Dark brown sugar, 1/3 cup tightly packed
  • Eggs, 1 large whole egg and 2 egg whites
  • Almond or Vanilla extract, 1 1/2 teaspoons (I used almond because I like it better)
  • Dark chocolate, 3.5 oz bar chopped (I used an 85% cocoa bar, but next time may try a 70% cocoa one)
  • Unsalted almonds, 3/4 cup coarsely chopped


Sliced biscotti, before the final baking
Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, flaxseed, baking soda and salt and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the sugars, egg and egg whites; beat with a hand mixer on high for 2 minutes. Add almond or vanilla extract and mix well. Add flour to egg mixture, stir until well combined. Fold in chocolate and almonds. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide dough into three equal log-like portions about 6 inches long and arrange 3 inches apart on the baking sheet. The dough will be very sticky; moisten your finger tips or spatula with water and pat into rectangle loaves 1-inch thick. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until firm.

Remove loaves from baking sheet and allow to cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 325 F. 

Cut rolls diagonally (1/2 inch wide) into approximately 28-30 slices. Arrange biscotti slices on baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes; turn slices over and bake 7 more minutes. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Biscotti will fully harden as they cool. 


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Apples, Apples, Everywhere!

It may not be apple season, but my attention has been drawn to some seriously scary apples lately. First, there's the genetically-modified Arctic Apple. Written about in the NY Times last year here, supposedly, this apple doesn't turn brown. Yes, you read that correctly. You can slice it, arrange it on your hors d'oeuvres plate and it will stay as pristine as when you first put knife to peel.

The NY Times article explains that Arctic Apples, "contain a synthetic gene that sharply reduces production of polyphenol oxidase, an enzyme responsible for the browning." The already-bagged apple slices you may have seen use vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and lack of oxygen to prevent browning. At home, you could just toss apple slices with a small amount of lemon juice. I guess no one will make a profit from that though...

The second type of scary apple I've come across recently is Crazy Apples flavored apples. These are real apples that come in flavors like bubble gum, pomegranate grape and tropical blast. While I have not actually sampled one myself, the flavor is supposed to be on the inside. The company's website insists that Crazy Apples contain no added sugars, preservatives, artificial flavors (er, bubble gum, really?), are not genetically modified and that their apples have not been pierced or punctured...but of course they cannot disclose their procedure for flavoring the apples.

I don't know about you, but I think apples are already sweet, delicious and come in a variety of flavors - no tampering needed.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Impromptu Simple & Hearty Soup

Last night I threw together this soup...mostly out of desperation to answer the question, "What's for dinner?" It was completely made of ingredients I had on hand in the pantry and freezer:

  • Vegetable stock, 32 fl. oz. (I like the Kitchen Basics unsalted one)
  • Tomato sauce, one 15oz can 
  • Beans, two 15oz cans, rinsed (I used kidney beans and cannellini beans)
  • Frozen mixed vegetables, one small package (corn, peas, carrots and green beans)
  • Potatoes, three small, diced
  • Olive oil, about one tablespoon
  • Black pepper, salt, crushed bay leaves and thyme - to taste 
It only took about 15 min to assemble and about 20 more minutes to cook - just until the potatoes were tender. It was so filling - jam packed with beans and veggies -  I couldn't even finish the bowl I served myself! Some leftovers are going in the freezer, so I'll see how it holds up after being frozen awhile. It was so easy and fast, I'll certainly make this again for a weeknight meal.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Refreshing Blueberry Smoothie

I just made this incredibly simple blueberry smoothie with ingredients I had on hand. Amounts are approximate since I wasn't measuring very exactly...

  • Frozen Blueberries: 2 1/2 cups
  • 1% Milk: 1 1/2 cups
  • Lemon zest: 1-2 teaspoons
  • Sugar: 1 teaspoon or to taste
  • Water (1/2 cup added to get mixture to right consistency)

Place all ingredients in blender and mix until consistency is smooth. Add extra water if needed. In lieu of lemon zest, you may use half the amount of lemon juice, or part of a True Lemon packet. The lemon really brightens the flavor though, so don't skip adding it in one form or another!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Produce: When to Buy Organic?

It's the moment I've been waiting for! Every year I look forward to the release of the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce. This handy, headache-relieving guide lists the top 12 most pesticide contaminated fruit and vegetables, aka, "The Dirty Dozen" along with the 15 least contaminated items, "The Clean Fifteen."

What should you do? If your item is on the Dirty Dozen, make every effort to buy organic. Clean Fifteen? Conventional is ok!

View the 2012 guide or download a PDF. Also keep in mind that the EWG actually rates 45 foods, so you may view the whole list - from dirtiest to cleanest - to further help your decision making in the supermarket.

You can also read about EWG's methodology and view FAQs regarding the guide. Of note: "Nearly all the studies on which the guide is based tested produce after is had been washed or peeled!"

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Guest Post: The Importance Of Cancer Nutrition

The following is a guest post written by Jillian McKee:

Good nutrition is something like a stable foundation. It doesn't fix the problem, but it supports everything, making it easier for other things to go well. When it comes to cancer, good nutrition can improve the body's tolerance for treatments, aid in maintaining general health, help make recovery quicker, and help patients feel better.
What we eat determines how much energy our bodies have, and what resources they have available for rebuilding cells, fighting infections, and maintaining normal function. Because the process works fairly well even when we eat poorly, it is easy to underestimate the importance of good nutrition. When the body is fighting something, whether it be the effects of cancer treatment or the cancer itself, the effects of either good or bad nutrition are magnified.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day = Food

This year, my mother requested food for Mother's Day. Not just on the actual day, but some homemade meals she can keep in the freezer and pull out when the inevitable question arises: "What's for dinner??"

My plan is to start with some simple things, like, tomato sauce - always good to have on hand! - then perhaps some beef stew in the slow cooker and a salmon loaf (think: a high omega-3 version of meat loaf), which freezes well.

Here's the general recipe for the salmon loaf, though I tend to change it a bit each time:

  • 2, 12oz cans Wild Salmon, drained, but reserve the liquid from 1 can 
    • Note: canned salmon contains bones, which disintegrate when you mix it up. I like getting the extra calcium, but some folks may find this creepy. In any case, there shouldn't be a choking risk from the bones. 
  • 1 medium Onion, chopped
  • 1 cup Whole Wheat Breadcrumbs (I usually throw 2 end pieces into a food processor and that's enough)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup low-fat Milk
  • Black Pepper, freshly ground, to taste. I find this recipe doesn't usually need salt, but sometimes I throw in some garlic powder and some herbs like parsley or rosemary.
  • 1 cup whatever veggies are on hand - I've tried chopped kale, corn (or both), chopped green beans, shredded carrots...whatever sounds good to you. 

Mix together all of the ingredients above. It should be moist and stick together - you may need to add 1 - 2 tablespoons of the reserved liquid or some extra milk. Bake in a large loaf pan or casserole dish on 350 F for approximately 45 minutes. The best way to tell if it's done is to use an instant-read thermometer (like the one I have in the photo here). Because this dish contains eggs, the internal temperature should be at least 160 F.

Here's a handy PDF brochure from USDA on safe cooking temperatures!

Friday, March 2, 2012

March is National Nutrition Month!

This year's theme for National Nutrition Month is "Get Your Plate in Shape."

Boy, that plate looks like it can outrun me any day - must be all those veggies, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, fish and low-fat dairy it's been eating! (That is, if you can say that plates eat...just bear with the personification, ok?)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Snack Idea: Cheese & Pear Toast

Fruit and cheese is one of my favorite combinations!

I just made this as a quick snack/small meal:

  • One ripe pear, thinly sliced
  • Low-fat cheddar cheese (I like Cabot)
  • Whole grain bread, 1 or 2 slices
Layer cheese and pear slices on bread, then pop it in the toaster oven for approximately 5 minutes.

Yum!  Of course, now i'm thinking that pear could be a great addition to grilled cheese - and less watery than tomato slices...