New Favorite Breakfast

EBELSKIVERS!

For the past several weeks, I have been making peanut butter chip pancakes for Tony (using Martha Stewart’s basic pancake recipe). Tony looooves peanut butter, so these have been a hit. However, to celebrate the first day of fall last Saturday, we thought we would try something new, something with a little bit of fall flavor. We had seen the pan and recipe book in Williams-Sonoma for ebelskivers and have been waiting for the perfect day to try them… last Saturday seemed to be a pretty good one. We actually got our pan off of Amazon. We tried the apple filled ones… and let me just say… they were delicious! A flawless mix of pancake and filled donut hole all mixed into one. We were immediately sold. However, the first time making them was a bit of a chore for all the steps. I’m pretty sure as I practice, it will get faster, though. Check out some of these pics and recipes for ideas about how to make your own! I can’t wait to try some of these… especially the cinnamon bun filled ones… mmmmmm.

Here’s how ours turned out:

New Favorite Recipe for Dinner: Butternut Squash Stuffed Portabellas

 

We looooove butternut squash… in risotto, in raviolo, grilled, with potatoes, roasted with spinach, as a soup, as a creamy sauce with sausage over pasta… it doesn’t matter. And, since the most wonderful season of fall is quickly approaching, I’m anxiously pulling out all those butternut squash ideas for meals. We made this last week and Tony mentioned that it’s a new favorite to keep in regular rotation… let me just say that is not something that is said often, so it must be pretty good, haha. It’s not necessarily a quick-fixed meal, but definitely worth it. I think it took me a total of an hour from prep to plate. Here are the ingredients (for 2 large stuffed mushrooms):

  • small butternut squash, peeled and cubed in 1/4 – 1/2 inch pieces (the smaller they are, the quicker they cook)
  • small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 Tbsp butter, depending on how closely you’re watching your fat for the week
  • beer (1 cup total), optional
  • chicken broth (1/2 cup – 1 1/2 cup total)
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and chopped (I’ve found the best way is in the oven on a roasting pan – no greasy mess on the stove top)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 large portabella mushrooms, remove stem and scoop out the bottom to add more room for stuffing
  • olive oil
  • gruyere cheese, shredded
  • your choice of italian seasonings
  • salt and pepper

I chopped the squash and cooked it with butter over medium – medium high heat. In another pan, I added the rest of the butter and onions, stirring from time to time until caramelized. After the squash has cooked for 5-10 minutes, add 1/2 cup or so of the beer. Stir often. As the liquid cooks off, keep adding more of the beer/broth. (If you don’t cook with beer, keeping it simple with chicken broth is just fine; we just like the flavor it gives.) Cook the squash until all the liquid is absorbed, and squash is browned and soft (I think this took around 30 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in caramelized onions, bacon, sour cream, salt and pepper, and any other italian seasonings you like (just a little is needed).

Spray a pan with Pam and add the gutted mushrooms. Drizzle with olive oil and any seasonings you like (I used a mix of granulated garlic and spices). Fill with squash mixture and top with shredded gruyere. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese melts, about 15-20 minutes.

We had the stuffed mushrooms with green beans cooked with a little butter, brown sugar, whatever was left in the bottle of beer, and a few more pieces of crisp bacon… it was all perfect.

New Meal for Lunch

Tony and I tend to eat the same thing for lunch most days, so from time to time we have to change it up. We’ve been on a fairly long roll with lettuce wraps (with sliced chicken/turkey and a little mayo) or cottage cheese, with an apple/grapes. While on Pinterest last week, I found this picture:

 

I couldn’t find a recipe, but it looked easy enough, right? Here are the ingredients I used for my version of these Veggie Wraps:

  • red butter lettuce (or whatever kind you choose)
  • radicchio, cut in thin slices
  • shredded carrots (I bought the pre-packaged kind)
  • cucumber, peeled and cut in slices
  • thin slices of onion
  • Boar’s Head maple roasted chicken (I knew Tony would want a protein in there), optional
  • rice paper (I had to order it from Amazon, because I went to three different stores in town and couldn’t find it)

The rice paper was crazy – I had eaten it, but never used it before. It came in hard sheets that you soaked in warm water for 30 seconds or so (directions were on the package). Then, I laid it on a plate, filled it with the ingredients and wrapped it up. Pretty easy. I made 4 rolls total – one for me and one for Tony for lunch the night before. I ended up eating mine even a day later, and it was still good. Rice paper doesn’t have much of a taste, but sure helps to hold everything together. The most important part of the wrap was the peanut sauce…. I found a couple of recipes online that I combined to make this version of Crunchy Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth/water, or some combo of both
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce (I left this out of Tony’s because he doesn’t like it – it was still good, but missing that extra kick of flavor)
  • spoonful of light brown sugar
  • few shakes of red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced

Tony said the sauce made the meal! It was a nice change in pace for lunch last week, and probably a new staple for the weeks to come. Here’s a pic of mine… not quite as pretty, but I wasn’t ready to eat them when I took the pic, so you just get a view from the outside.

Happy Cheat Day!

So… every Saturday is our cheat day… Tony and I don’t worry about carbs, calories, whatever. So, I thought to celebrate such a joyous occasion, I would try making homemade “foolproof” doughnuts for breakfast. Look how gorgeous they were!

Tony took the first bite and asked how I made such a great creamy filling… “What did you stuff in there?” Hmmmm…. looks like I magically stuffed dough in the center. The outside was nicely golden brown, looking quite delicious. However, the middle was still raw. Foolproof? Apparently not for me. So, we just ate and picked around the edges… it was the messiest, most interesting way to eat a doughnut. But, looks like we were still able to cut back on the calories, haha. Here’s what was left:

You can’t really tell they were still doughy in the middle from the pic, but they were. Maybe I could have just let Tony roll with the “filling” idea, telling him I injected cream cheese…. oh well.

Cheat day dinner? Looking forward to delicious pasta with friends we haven’t seen in months!

Dinner Surprise

The plan for dinner tonight: grilled mini meat loafs and spaghetti squash (told you I love it – we probably have it at least once a week now).

The meat loaf:

  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • onions, peppers and mushrooms (approx. 1/2 cup total; I decided to sauté them to make them a little more savory and take off some of the crunch
  • salt and pepper
  • few tbsp fresh herbs (basil and parsley from our backyard)
  • 1 egg

I left out the breadcrumbs/panko since we are working on the whole slow-carb eating. Of course, you could mix in whatever veggies you like, probably even some squash or carrots to help add a little flavor. I made 3 fat patties with all the ingredients and then Tony grilled them until cooked through. They were just a touch dry (probably due to the lean-ness), so I topped them with a little leftover marinara sauce we had in the fridge.

The spaghetti squash… well… another little mishap happened. I was trying to see what it took to make it a little less  crisp, so I roasted it in the oven a little longer. I had a fairly large-sized squash, so I thought the extra cooking time would be needed. I cut it in half, drizzled with olive oil and then baked it (cut side down) on a foiled pan on 400 degrees for 1.5 hours. It smelled good, looked good…. and was definitely soft. I used a sauté pan to sauté a few more onions and then added the squash (pulled out of the “shell” with a fork). It wasn’t quite in its normal stringy-ness… then I added a dash of white wine, salt and pepper and some roasted red pepper (approx. 1/4 cup). It was mushy. I had some of the Italian Herb and Cheese Reduced Fat Cooking Creme (leftover from homemade pizza) that I added (approx. 1/4 cup). It ended up being more the consistency of and a decent substitution for mashed potatoes… an even more appropriate side for meat loaf. I’d eat it again, but I think I prefer the more traditional “crisp” spaghetti squash recipes.

MyRecipes.com

There are a few dishes that Tony and I love that we make over and over. But for the most part, we are always trying something new. One of the things that makes it easy to keep fresh, new ideas in mind, is myrecipes.com – they have multiple newsletters that you can sign up for to have daily emails of recipes. Especially as it gets closer to the holidays, I love the cookie countdown emails! All the recipes come from Southern Living, Cooking Light, Real Simple… and they are all pretty great. There are reviews for all the recipes that are helpful to know if there are any tweaks that would be good. Today’s email on simple, 5-ingredient appetizers. I think I’ll keep these on hand for upcoming dinner parties…

 

 

 

For a light afternoon snack today, I was very excited to make some zucchini chips after we got home from the grocery. I sliced them so nicely, and seasoned them with my favorite italian spiced salt and pepper… just a dash of garlic… they were really going to be perfect! However, as I sat here writing this post, I got a whiff of something burning from the kitchen…

Yep, they were goners…. so disappointing… The problem? I have made them before and tried to do them again this time from memory… I mean, they aren’t that difficult, right? Well, I got the temp wrong – you are supposed to bake them at a LOW temp for a fairly long time (40-60 min)… NOT a HIGH temp… there were two salvageable pieces that I ate. I guess that will have to hold me over until dinner…

Cooked Carrots

On the menu for tonight: grilled salmon/tilapia, broccoli and sautéed carrots. Cooked carrots can be a hit or miss for me, but in an effort to create some more variety in healthy side dishes, I thought I’d give it another try tonight. With an hour drive home, I had plenty of time to concoct a recipe:

  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves minced garlic (more or less depending on your love or disdain of garlic)
  • carrots, sliced at an angle (I used approximately 3/4 bag of mini carrots)
  • onion, thinly sliced (I had 3/4 of a small vidalia onion already in the fridge)
  • 2 Tbsp sage honey (one of our favorite treasures we brought back home from our last trip to Napa)
  • about 1/4 cup beer
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Melt the butter in a pan with garlic. Sauté onions and carrots until slightly browned. Add salt and pepper and then add in honey; cook for a couple of minutes. Add beer and reduce heat to low. Simmer until liquid is cooked off. Add pecans for the final 5 minutes or so, just before plating for your meal.

 

I think they turned out really well… just the right mix of sweet and savory. They were soft with just a touch of crunch. Tony’s 18-year-old brother who’s staying with us for the summer even said they were good. They have a bit of dairy and carbs (butter and beer) with some natural sugar (sage honey) and fat (pecans), but they have to be better for you than a loaded potato… And, with how light the rest of our dinner was, the small splurges were worth it.

Week One of Slow Carb

Week one of an increase in protein and dramatic decrease in white carbs and dairy was quite positive. It took more preparation and work throughout the week to prepare breakfast and lunches, but I think the work was well worth it. I had a little more energy than normally each day and felt full after each meal. I did, however, crave for some sugary or cheesy goodness foods, but that made longing for my cheat day (yesterday – Saturday) all the more exciting. For dinner last night, Tony and I ate at Rumours East with some friends. It was delicious, and to be a cheat day, we definitely went all out. We started with the house bread basket while we waited on our friends to arrive and then had the goat cheese (wrapped in grape leaves) appetizer. They had a peach and basil salad that was unlike anything I had ever tasted before. For the entree, Tony got the NY Strip and I had the scallops with wheat bulgar salad on the side. All was wonderful, and I’d highly recommend the restaurant for anyone in the Nashville area!

So, we’ll keep going on our slow carb eating, hoping for a positive second week experience… Menu for this week:

  • Monday: Grilled ratatouille, adapted from the previous recipe I shared with spaghetti squash and no ricotta in the tomato sauce
  • Tuesday: Night out with Tony’s parents – we’re hoping for somewhere Mexican so we can order fajitas
  • Wednesday: Grilled chicken, grilled green beans, corn salsa
  • Thursday: Steak and portobello fajita lettuce wraps with guacamole
  • Friday: Salmon/tilapia, broccoli and carrots

I’ll let you know if we get creative with any of these recipes as we strive to keep them simple and as healthy as possible.

Delicious Ground Turkey

I’ve never been a huge fan of ground turkey. But, since it’s a nice lean meat and a good substitution for some more unhealthy options, I’m willing to give it another chance. A few nights ago we made our own recipe of portobello turkey “burgers” and spaghetti squash with garlic. It was my first time to make and taste spaghetti squash, and let me say that I’m in love! It has a crispy texture, so if you’re looking for an exact exchange for pasta, you may be disappointed. But let’s just say that I liked it enough that I could probably exchange it for pasta for most italian dishes that call for thin noodles. Once topped with some marinara sauce, my mouth could hardly tell the difference.

For the “burgers”:

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup chopped bell peppers (whatever color you like – I used orange, yellow and roasted piquillo peppers)
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped herbs (basil and parsley from our backyard)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

It’s a little more like a meatball recipe, but like I said… I’ve never liked ground turkey. So, if I can mask the taste with other healthy goodies, it’s a win! We mixed all the ingredients and formed patties to put on the grill. We also grilled portobello mushrooms (lightly brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper). Top the grilled mushroom with the grilled patty and a little marinara sauce and voila… a great italian “burger” served with a side of spaghetti squash.

The eggs I’ve been making each morning have had onions, mushrooms (because almost everything should come with onions and mushrooms), whatever peppers are chopped in the fridge, one whole egg and 2-3 egg whites, turkey smoked sausage. Tony and I then share it. This particular morning, we added salsa and I had a small serving of cottage cheese to work on some calcium for the day. So far so good… I think I’ll make some mini fritatas (with veggies and turkey bacon) tonight to warm up in the microwave for my early morning commute to Nashville.

New Eating Plan

Tony and I are always looking for new ways to change up our healthy eating habits (especially since I’ve reached a plateau of feeling stuck lately), and he came across the 4-Hour Body, Slow-Carb Diet. We figured it would be a great time to try it out after getting back from a week of vacation eating (and gaining 4 pounds that were tremendously enjoyed with every bite). Here are the basic rules…

Rule 1: Avoid “white” carbohydrates (or anything that can be white).
Rule 2: Eat the same few meals over and over again.
Rule 3: Don’t drink calories.
Rule 4: Don’t eat fruit.
Rule 5: Take one day off per week and go nuts.

They seem pretty basic and no-brainer, but things we often forget when wanting to give in to cravings of pasta, potatoes and cheese. Rule 5 was the winner for us. We aren’t looking for a diet, but a lifestyle. And, being such the lovers of food as we are, we aren’t willing to give up everything we love. So here’s to trying something new! This week’s dinner menu:

  • Monday: grilled turkey portobello “burger”, spaghetti squash
  • Tuesday: grilled tilapia/salmon, grilled summer veggies (squash, zucchini, mushrooms and onions)
  • Wednesday: grilled chicken, tomato basil salad, lentils
  • Thursday: grilled tilapia/salmon and broccoli
  • Friday: chicken fajita lettuce wrap, beans, guacamole

Breakfast and lunch will require a little more work. Where I’ve been used to grabbing a banana or apple for breakfast and sticking to yogurt and fruit for lunch (with the occasional restaurant sandwich), I’ll now be increasing my protein intake. That will mean making eggs in the morning and preparing things in advance for lunch (homemade chicken salad, cottage cheese and tomato, turkey lettuce wraps). So in addition to eating a little differently, I’ll also be a little more bound to my alarm clock in the mornings. Excited for a change and looking forward to next Saturday’s splurge of steak and potatoes with chocolate cake making every wise food choice worth it this week. 🙂

 

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