Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chai Peach Oatmeal

Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day. I love intermixing both sweet and savory breakfasts into my daily breakfasts.  My weekly breakfasts must be healthy, easily thrown together, and keep me full until lunchtime. I love constantly changing out my breakfasts, to keep things from getting too dull, but I've been eating this particular breakfast for almost 2 weeks straight-- it's that good.

Chai Peach Oatmeal. It's absolutely delicious. Made with steel cut oats, and cooked with equal parts chai tea and milk, topped with frozen peaches and a drizzle of maple syrup. It's absolutely phenomenal and a huge portion of food and still low calorie (which I LOVE). 

Chai Peach Oatmeal

(recipe adapted slightly from Fitness Magazine)

Steep 1 chai tea bag in 1/2 cup of boiling water for 3 minutes. Combine the tea with 1/2 cup low-fat milk and 1/2 cup quick-cooking steel cut oats in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes (Keep checking on it, I've caused quite the mess by letting it boil over and explode out of the bowl). Stir, top with a few shakes of cinnamon, thawed peaches and a drizzle of 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup.

*Total breakfast is about 280 calories

Tomorrow I'll share with you my alternatively savory breakfast- which has been on constant rotation with this one and equally as habit-forming.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Frozen Yogurt Sundaes, On a Tuesday

Get together with your friends on a Tuesday. There's no need to wait until the weekend. Have a glass or two of wine and get off the stupid diet for a minute. Trust me on this one,  you need it! The work week can be looong. Stop working for the weekend. Have some fun on a Tuesday night. You’ve earned it. It will make your week more fun and the weekend not seem so far away. And have yourself an ice cream sundae that you can feel good about.

This dessert will totally make you feel good about yourself. It would tell you things like you look nice today and not tell you that you look tired (which we all know is code for you look like crap!)  No way. This dessert is simple and lovely and perfect to round out a night of decadence.

It includes low-fat frozen yogurt (healthy!), bananas (healthy!), homemade 2 ingredient hot fudge (totally healthy!), and toasted almonds (yup healthy! See?!)

My friends came over on a random Tuesday for wine and appetizers and of course we had the usual staples: wine, cheese and crackers, ridiculous girl talk, and an obscene amount of goat cheese and red pepper jelly (one of our faves. that and spinach & artichoke dip. All I’m saying is, it’s not a pretty sight watching us consume either of these)

I wanted to make a simple treat for these lady friends of mine, and I remembered this recipe I’d seen in Real Simple magazine. Enjoy. I did. And then for about 4 consecutive nights in a row….

Frozen Yogurt Sundaes

Recipe from -  4 servings

¼ cup granulated sugar

3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 pint low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt (I like Hood)

2 bananas, sliced

¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted

In a small saucepan combine the sugar and cocoa powder, whisk in ¼ cup of water. Turn on heat and bring to a boil. Once it begins to boil, reduce heat and simmer, whisking until slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes.  Let cool a little, it will thicken even more. Scoop out the frozen yogurt into dishes and top with sliced bananas, hot fudge and almonds.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cooking Lessons in Life & Twice Baked Potatoes

A funny thing happens when you move out into your own house with your fiancĂ©. You have to learn how to cook. I sometimes say to Luke that this is not the 1950s and I’m not required to cook for him every night.

But truthfully, it’s a nice thing to cook for your significant other. It makes me feel good when I can feed him a good meal and impress him. So  I’m learning. Albeit very slowly.

Growing up with a father who is an amazing Italian cook, my cooking experience never truly developed. Now that Luke and I are living together, I always want to prepare great dinners for us and am just learning the true lesson in being a great cook.

To just have fun with it!

I love baking, because of how scientific and exact it is. Baking is all about measurements and following the recipe exactly. Cooking- truly good cooking- comes from guessing and experimenting and winging it.

Ron, my father, has mastered this art. He'll watch 2 minutes of cooking show and produce the most amazing stuffed quahogs you'll ever taste. His sauce recipe is perfection after years of making it- from his army days (which is why he always makes a ton of it, or anything for that matter) to cooking every night for my mom, sister and I.

To Ron, cooking is carefree and something he has an innate ability for. He loves cooking huuuuuuge batches of food, and loading up our plates against our (unconvincing) pleas that that’s enough!!!! (somehow we always manage to clean our plates). He makes these big batches of meatballs, sauce, eggplant parmesan, chicken cacciatore and corn chowder and feeds everyone he knows—the golf pro at his country club, my mom’s co-worker-- you name it. He loves people to enjoy his food and even since I’ve moved out, I’m still fed quite well by Ron--  Tupperwares of sauce and freshly gathered clams from Duxbury Bay. It’s the truest form of comfort food to me.

In my ongoing pursuit of becoming a more carefree cook, I have been trying more to just glance at a recipe for ideas and wing the rest. Sure there's the risk that it could come out awfuuuuul. But I think this lesson applies to a lot in life. To not think too much (*something I definitely am guilty of) and just go with your gut.

Luke loves twice baked potatoes, even choosing them as a side at our wedding. His mom has always made them and in an effort to keep him from getting too homesick for his mom’s cooking, I decided to make them for him. My experience with twice baked potatoes is limited to the frozen ones (how good are those though?!)

I found a few recipes online and whipped these up. I didn’t follow a recipe exactly, or  measure anything for that matter so here are the ingredients. And go ahead, throw caution to the wind and just wing it too, you daredevil!

Twice Baked Broccoli Potatoes

2 Russet Potatoes, scrubbed clean

Shredded Cheese (I used Stop & Shop Mac and Cheese Blend)

Frozen Broccoli, defrosted and chopped up

Low Fat Milk

Butter (I used margarine, as it’s all my poorly stocked kitchen had)

Garlic Powder

Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Poke the potatoes with a fork a couple of times around and microwave until softened, turning a few times throughout. (I used my microwaves potato setting) Slice the potatoes in half and carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving a very thin part of the potato attached to the skin. (Don’t worry if they begin to fall apart. I freaked for a minute, but then it was ok. phew) Combine the scooped out potatoes, a splash of milk (add a little now and more as you stir them), a handful of cheese (as much as you like), a couple pads of butter, the chopped up broccoli, a few shakes of garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Mash it all up and add more milk until you get the right consistency of mashed potatoes. Scoop it all into the potato skins, press down, and top with more cheese and baked for 25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden. Serve with a steak.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cody Carrot Cake Porter

While at work the other day, I came across this Carrot Cake Porter from Cody Brewing Company in the system. I freaked- it was all over - I needed to try this beer. My love of carrot cake and porters took over and I was completely intrigued. After harassing asking a few people at work about how to get a bottle to try, my nice co-worker emailed a rep from the brewery who agreed to bring down a bottle for me. See?? Harassing just nicely asking always pays off!

Only 50 cases were released statewide, so I was happy to get my hands on one. I sampled the beer with Luke and my fellow adventurous-beer loving friend, Jamie. We all thought it was great! A dark color, we all noticed hints of cinnamon and chocolate. We all agreed it was reminiscent of a pumpkin ale, with notes carrot (of course) and spices. I also found out 60 pounds of carrots were used in each barrel!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Crispy Sweet Potato Fries

When your morning starts by dropping your English muffin face down (always. why?! there must be some scientific explanation here) on the kitchen floor at work. The good news is: your day can only get better!

And indeed it did. Largely in part by these sweet potato fries. Sweet potato fries are my life. I could eat these all day. And the good news is, they're healthy. (Compared to your standard french fries, which of course there is no comparison, but these are a close substitute!) Luke was playing hockey so I had the kitchen to myself, leisurely cooking while sipping sauvignon blanc.

One of the shortcomings to every other batch of sweet potato fries I've made is the lack of crispiness. I did some online research and came across for crispier fries and found  this recipe, where I learned the trick of tossing the fries in cornstarch before baking. They still weren't as crispy as I would have liked, but I did skimp on soaking the fries in water before baking (in that I didn't - I was hungry!)

I added garlic powder, rosemary, cinnamon, salt and pepper to the cornstarch before tossing them in a seal Tupperware container in small batches, adding more cornstarch and spices as needed. Be sure not to coat them too much, as it won't all cook off when baking.  They were delicious but my quest for the perfect sweet potato fries isn't over.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Honey Garlic Balsamic Chicken

I find myself thinking about food allllllllll theeeeeeee timeeeeeee. Especially at the gym. I often day dream while running on the treadmill about what I'm going to consume when I get home. I often browse through magazines and snap pictures of recipes with my iPhone while on the treadmill too. People must think I'm nuts!

After the gym, I didn't feel like stopping for anything on the way home so I thought about what we had in our fridge and dreamed up pan seared chicken with a lemony honey garlic sauce. Luke was playing hockey so I wanted to make something that would be good to heat up when he got home as well. (who's a better fiance than me?)

I googled my food dream and found this perfect, easy recipe from Baked Bree - Honey Garlic Balsamic Chicken. It was divine (and I don't throw around the word divine too often). While patting the chicken dry, my father called up and said he had picked Chinese food for dinner (my family lives about a mile and a half down the street). I almost aborted this chicken, but I'm so glad I didn't!

Please note the following substitutions I made due to not having them.
  • water for the chicken stock
  • lemon juice from a bottle over fresh
  • garlic from a jar instead of fresh garlic
& it was still fantastic! I ate the chicken with sweet potato fries in front of the TV with a glass of wine. Colonel Clink - that was nice! (I heard Phil Dunphey say that on Modern Family...)