16 September 2011

Quote for the day...

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." 

—Charles Eliot
Do you have a certain book that comes to mind when you read that? For me, the immediate answer is To Kill a Mockingbird. I re-read it every year or two and am always amazed anew by the beauty and horror of the story that Harper Lee created...

12 April 2011

Breakfast for Dinner

For much of the day on Sunday I was seeing tweets from various people talking about waffles, syrup, and all the wonders of comfort breakfast food. The Pavlovian response, of course, was waffles for dinner on Sunday night. I thought I was going to make a cornmeal waffle when I started trolling the internet for recipes, but then I came across a recipe for Sunrise Wholegrain Waffles from Kate in the Kitchen.

These are filled with a hodgepodge of goodness and health. Oat and rye flour join the standard white (although I think next time I’m going to try using wheat instead). Flax-seed and cornmeal combine with the flour mix to produce a delicious, crispy waffle.

To up the protein content and avoid using syrup I opted to top the waffles with Chobani pineapple Greek yogurt and a mix of tropical fruits. Delicious!

BTW, I highly recommend you follow Kate's blog. She is nothing short of incredible...

10 March 2011

Breakfast... The Best Meal of the Day!

Breakfast is my favorite meal to eat out. It’s also my favorite to make at home. At least it is when it consists of more than just a quickly downed bowl of cereal or a container of yogurt. Usually to meet that criterion it has to be a weekend breakfast, since I am about as far from a morning person as you’ll find and barely manage to down a glass of juice before I need to run out the door or risk being late for work.

Because I need to be vigilant about getting an ample amount of protein consumed daily, breakfasts like pancakes and waffles have become a rare treat. Instead I search out or try to create interesting egg and cheese combinations (sometimes throwing in a bit of bacon or sausage for added variety). This Cheddar & Green Chile dish is adapted from a recipe I’ve had hanging around for at least a few years. I know the original came from a Rachel Ray magazine, which I had a subscription to the first year it was published… so I’m guessing this is from about 4 years ago. Of course it was torn out and saved, so I can’t give any more credit than that.

I made a few adjustments to the ingredients which are already reflected in the recipe below. The one change I made that is not reflected is that instead of the 8” square pan called for, I used one of my favorite pieces of stoneware: a 7” round deep dish baker, resulting in a deeper, denser casserole. The original recipe also says it serves 4. That may be true if it’s the only thing you’re serving, but how often does that really happen?

I made this on Sunday for brunch and have been bringing individual slices to work every day since for breakfast. I’ll have my last slice tomorrow morning. It’s been delicious every day, so know that it reheats well…


Cheddar & Green Chile Egg Bake

5 large eggs, beaten
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 – 4 oz. can diced green chilies, drained
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, chilies, flour, baking power, melted butter, salt, and pepper. Pour into the prepared dish and bake until set, about 35 minutes.

Makes 5-6 servings.

05 February 2011

A Better Grilled Cheese Sandwich & Tomato Soup

When it comes to quick and easy comfort food there isn’t much that can beat a good grilled cheese sandwich and some homemade creamy tomato soup.

I’ve been craving a grilled cheese sandwich for a couple of days and finally got the chance to make one tonight for dinner. But I decided to upscale it a bit and used brie cheese. And really, doesn’t brie make everything better?

In addition to craving grilled cheese, my sweet tooth was kicking in. So to kill two birds… my sandwich also included some thinly sliced Honeycrisp apples and was built on a base of cranberry-walnut bread. Then for good measure I added some thinly sliced Virginia ham. It was a warm, melty-gooey goodness of sweet, salty, crisp, and tart. Darned near heaven...

Apple Brie Grilled Cheese

To make one sandwich:
2 slices cranberry-walnut bread (or your high quality crusty bread of choice)
1-2 thin slices deli Virginia ham
1/2 a small Honeycrisp apple, thinly sliced
Enough slices of brie cheese (rind removed) to fill your bread

Place brie on one slice of bread. Layer the apple slices and ham on top of the cheese. Butter the outside of the bread and place in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Grill one side until golden brown and toasty; flip. Grill the second side until golden, and the cheese is melted.

If you don’t like your cheese to ooze out of the sandwich, remove from the pan and let sit for a minute or two before cutting & plating. Enjoy!

The soup recipe is a tomato basil soup from the My Kitchen, My Sanctuary blog. 

I made the soup this past fall when I still had some remnant fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden to use up. I wisely froze a few containers for later quick-meal use. That first taste – a flash burst of fresh tomato flavor – was like summer coming to life again, a very welcome feeling during these long winter days than seem to never end. Really, is there anything that says summer to your taste buds more succinctly than fresh, ripe tomatoes? It was a perfect remedy for a cold winter night…

16 January 2011

Slow Cooker Oatmeal

Slow Cooker Oatmeal: A Tale of Two Recipes

On cold winter mornings, can there be a better (healthy) breakfast than thick, creamy, warm oatmeal? And even better when it’s ready and waiting for you when you wake up!

Confession: I am not a morning person, so even knowing the importance of a good breakfast I have a hard time fitting it in as I’m rushing to get out the door for work. My solution is that I bring breakfast with me and eat while clearing the email that accumulated overnight.  Because I need high protein meals, this usually ends up being two hard boiled eggs (cooked and peeled on the weekend and waiting for me in the refrigerator, as another morning time saver), or one of the following oatmeal recipes with a scoop of protein powder mixed into the individual serving. 

If I’m making either of them for consumption throughout the week, I don’t do the finishing steps at the time I make the oatmeal, opting to either forgo the fruit or – if I’m efficient enough on a given morning – throwing it into the container with the oatmeal as I’m running out the door.

Both of these recipes were torn from long gone and forgotten magazines, so I’m sorry that I can’t give proper credit. I’m posting them sans photo as well since I haven’t gotten a good picture of either one and I’ve had some recent requests to share the recipes.

Hmmm… maybe I should put some on to cook before I go to bed tonight. It is supposed to be cold and snowy tomorrow morning. A good morning for oatmeal, right?

Enjoy! And let me know which one you like better...

Recipe #1: Overnight Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal

4 cups water
1-1/2 cups apple juice
1 cup steel-cut oats
1/2 cup regular barley (NOT quick cooking)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger or 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
2 medium apples, coarsely chopped
Honey & Milk (optional – for serving)

Line a 3-1/2 or 4 quart slow cooker with a disposable slow cooker liner. In the slow cooker, combine water, apple juice, oats, barley, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.  Cover and cook on the low setting for 6 to 7 hours.

Before serving, stir in brown sugar. Top with pecans and apples. Serve with honey and milk.

Makes 8 servings.
Each serving: 218 cal, 5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 81 mg sodium, 40 g carb, 5 g fiber, 5 g protein.

Recipe #2: Fruited Barley Oatmeal Porridge

1/2 cup regular barley (NOT quick cooking)
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
4-1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of ground cardamom (scant 1/8 tsp.)
1-1/2 cup fresh blueberries
Milk (optional)

Coat slow cooker with nonstick spray, or line with slow cooker liner. Combine barley, oats, apricots, sugar, salt, and water in slow cooker. Cook on low overnight, or for 6 to 8 hours.

Before serving, stir the porridge, incorporating the thick buildup along the sides of the pot. Stir in the vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, and blueberries. If desired, top each serving with milk.

Makes 6 servings.
Each serving: 192 cal, 5 g protein, 1 g fat(0 g sat fat), 44 g carb, 5 g fiber, 199 mg sodium.