Archive | August, 2011

Pancake Trio – Blueberry, Bacon, and Pecan Pancakes

24 Aug

Nothing says breakfast like pancakes. Whenever I go out for breakfast, no matter how hard I try or how many times I read the menu, I must order pancakes. You just can’t beat a pillowy pile of steaming hot cakes with syrup dripping down the sides. YUM!

My favorite type of pancakes are just the plain ole’ standards but every once in a while, I like to mix it up. Since my husband isn’t the biggest fan, I came up with this pancake trio dish to appease him.

He likes pancakes. But he says that after about 4-5 bites, he gets bored with them. Blasphemy, I say, but whatever… to each their own. You can add just about anything to this batter so play around and find your favorite!

Pancakes

Servings: 6 pancakes
Time: 15 minutes
Level: Easy

1 c. baking mix (I use Heart Smart Bisquick)
2/3 c. skim milk
2 tbsp. egg substitute or egg whites
1 tbsp. orange juice
Various add-ins (I used blueberries, turkey bacon (cooked and crumbled), and crushed pecans)

Mix all ingredients, except add-ins, together in a medium sized bowl. Greased a non-stick skillet or griddle with butter. Over medium heat, pour 1/3 cup fulls of batter onto skillet or griddle.

Top each pancake with various add-ins. Flip pancakes once little bubbles appear around the edges. Remove from heat once cooked throughout. Top with warmed syrup and serve. Yum!

Tips
– I like to serve three different types of pancakes on one plate. The variety is delish!
– Banana slices, chocolate chips, strawberries, and small cubes of ham or turkey are also great choices for add-ins.

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Asian Teriyaki Grilled Pork Chops

22 Aug

Jason grilled these pork chops last night and they were amazing! They were the perfect blend of sweet and savory and they paired perfectly with an array of grilled summer veggies.

Since we had the grill going, I decided to throw on a few extra pork chops to use later in the week in a quick and delicious stir fry. Why not make life easier for yourself when you have the chance?

Asian Teriyaki Grilled Pork Chops

Servings: 2
Time: 45 minutes
Level: Easy

1/4 c.  Teriyaki sauce
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. ginger powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 bone-in pork chops, 1/4 in. thick

Mix all ingredients, except pork chops, together in a zip-loc bag. Add pork chops to bag and close tightly. Allow chops to marinate, on the counter, for at least 30 minutes.

Grill, 3-6 minutes per side, over medium-high heat. Yum!

Grilled Veggies

Zucchini slices
Squash slices
Eggplant slices
Onion slices
Olive oil
Tony Chachere’s seasoning

Brush veggies lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little seasoning.

Grill over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes. Yum!

Banana Oatmeal Granola Bar Bite Cookies… Butterless, Flourless, Eggless, and No Added Sugar. So What’s In There?

20 Aug

These granola bar bites have ever so eloquently been dubbed “old people cookies” because of their ingredients. But take them seriously because they are VERY yummy! I like to make these little bites to eat for breakfast, as a post work out snack, or as a mid-day pick-me-up. They pack well and can be made into various shapes such as round cookies, square cookies, or bars.

They are super healthy and kids LOVE them. You won’t believe these vegan goodies are made without butter, flour, eggs, or added sugar! The bananas and dried fruit add lots of texture and sweetness so enjoy!

Banana Oatmeal Granola Bar Bite Cookies

Serving: 24 cookies
Time: 35 minutes
Level: Easy (super kid friendly, so let them help!)

3 ripe bananas (wait until they are nice and spotty. They are sweeter that way.)
2 c. oats (you can use whole wheat, steel cut, quick cooking, or most any other type of oats)
1/2 – 1 c. dried fruit, chopped (I used prunes but apricots and cranberries work well, too)
1/3 c. coconut oil (you can use vegetable oil)
1/2 c. nuts, chopped (optional)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla

In a medium bowl, mash bananas with a fork until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Preheat oven to 350°. Let mixture sit on the counter for 15 minutes.

On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, drop mixture by spoonfuls. With your hands, shape cookies into desired shape and press down until flattened to desired thickness. (Cookies will come out of the oven in the exact same shape they went in…) Bake for 20 minutes. Yum!

Tips
– Don’t forget to use parchment paper. The bananas and dried fruit will leave a sticky residue on your baking sheet if you don’t!

Vegetable Lasagna

16 Aug

Yum! I love lasagna. If you haven’t tried my traditional lasagna recipe… please do. It is definitely the easiest and tastiest recipe I’ve ever made. This vegetable lasagna was created out of a need to use up some summer vegetables. Carrots, yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, corn, onions, and tomatoes all come together to make this dish truly delicious.

You can use just about any combo of veggies you want. This dish also freezes incredibly well so make extras!!

Vegetable Lasagna

Servings: 6-8
Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Level: Easy/Medium

3 c. vegetables, sliced roughly the same size (I used carrots, eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, onions, and corn)
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/4 c. water
2 c. cottage cheese
3 c. Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, shredded
2 eggs
3 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tbsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Lasagna noodles, at least 9, and uncooked

Preheat oven to 350°. In a skillet, over medium heat, sauté vegetables for 3-5 minutes.

Add tomatoes and water. Turn down the heat and let the vegetables simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together all remaining ingredients, except for vegetables and noodles.

Pour 1 cup of the vegetable mixture into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Place 3 strips of the dry lasagna noodles on top.

Layer the following in order:

1 1/4 cups of vegetable mixture
1/2 of the cheese mixture
3 more dry noodles
1 1/4 cups of vegetable mixture
The rest of the cheese mixture
3 more dry noodles
The rest of the vegetable mixture.

Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let stand, uncovered, for at least 5 minutes before cutting and serving. Yum!

Tips
– If you run out of sauce before you can add the last layer, don’t worry! I ended my 1/3 of the recipe version with the cheese mixture and it turned out great!
– This recipe freezes well, with before or after you bake. If you have a ton of leftovers… freeze them in individual portions. It will make a quick and easy dinner later on.

10 Healthy Back to School Quick Breakfast Ideas

11 Aug

Parents and teachers of school-aged children know breakfast is the most important meal of the day. HOWEVER, the time between the buzzing alarm clock and the honking school bus goes by at the speed of light! With Science Fair Projects, tests, trying on 10 outfits, and the inevitable bad hair days and fake belly aches, breakfast is the last thing you’re worried about in the morning. As long as you can shove something down the throats of your little ones and grab a granola bar for yourself on the way out the door, your good, right? Unfortunately, you’re not good. Not all breakfasts are created equal. You need a balance of good, healthy carbs with a low glycemic index, such as whole grains.

Evidence suggests after fasting all night, a developing body (and brain) needs a fresh supply of glucose — or blood sugar. That’s the brain’s basic fuel. (And on a side note… since we’re talking about the brain: The brain does it’s “memorizing” at night. In order to truly memorize something, you need a good night’s sleep after learning. So don’t cram for a test in the a.m. or pull an all-nighter!)

Terrill Bravender, professor of pediatrics at Duke University, told Allison Aubrey, an NPR reporter, in a 2006 interview,  “Without glucose, our brain simply doesn’t operate as well. People have difficulty understanding new information, [they have a] problem with visual and spatial understanding, and they don’t remember things as well.”

Ok, ok… I will now step off my soap box. But seriously, as a teacher, I beg of you…

Here are some great breakfast ideas. Hopefully you can take one or two and incorporate them into your morning routine.

1. Breakfast Sandwich – Whole wheat toast, eggs, maybe a slice of ham… yum!

2. Fruit Smoothie – Delish with a slice of whole wheat toast and a schmear of peanut butter.

3. Oatmeal – Plain quick oats are my fav. They are cooked in 1 minute and you can add your choice of toppings. Try any of these or even a combo of a few: honey, sliced fruit, chopped dried fruit such as raisins, apricots, or prunes, a little brown sugar, a small spoonful of jam.

4. Plain Yogurt with Fresh Fruit and Honey – This is my new obsession. Top a bowl of tangy and tart non-fat plain yogurt (you could even try Greek) with fresh fruit slices, like blueberries and strawberries, with a drizzle of sweet honey. Served with a slice of whole wheat toast or 1/2 of a whole wheat English muffin and you’re in business!

5. Quinoa Pancakes – These can be made ahead of time and served 1000 different ways. I like to use the pancakes as I would bread and make either a breakfast sandwich out of them or spread them with peanut butter and top with banana slices. (Wouldn’t Elvis love that?)

6. Whole Wheat (and super easy) French Toast – Use sugar free syrup or none at all. You can top this with slices strawberries for added sweetness if you wanted to go sans syrup.

7. Whole Wheat Waffles as a base for just about anything – Toast up a whole wheat waffle and top it with whatever your heart desires: peanut or almond butter, scrambles eggs and tomato slices, a sunny side up egg with a slice of low fat cheese, etc.

8. Cottage or Ricotta Cheese Breakfast Burritos – Grab a whole wheat tortilla and fill it up with low fat cottage or ricotta cheese, a little bit of jam, fruit slices, and maybe a few chopped nuts. Think breakfast version of my Berry Turkey Wrap.

9. Breakfast Trail Mix – This is the ultimate “eat in the car” breakfast recipe. In a bowl, mix together basically whatever you have on hand! I like to use: unsalted peanuts, unsalted almonds, raisins, dried apple or apricot slices, bran cereal flakes, and whole grain oats cereal.

10. Made Your Way Omelets – Eggs are great for you in the morning! Served with a glass of milk, and you’re good to go! Omelets can be made with 1000 different ingredients (especially leftover ingredients from dinner the night before) so get creative. A few of my favorites: low fat cheese, bell peppers and onions, spinach and tomatoes, leftover stir fry veggies, leftover sliced turkey.

I hope you enjoy! If you have a breakfast idea, please leave it in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

For more information on what Bravender has to say about the importance of breakfast, see NPR.

Shrimp and Bacon Alfredo

8 Aug

The night before a triathlon, my husband loves to have a big bowl of pasta. Hmm… a protein packed pasta dish the day before I HAD to go grocery shopping (I was down to eating pb&j’s for breakfast again) seemed impossible. In fact, I considered calling for take-out. Seriously. I had no chicken, no jarred spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce for making my own, and only 1/2 of a box of rigatoni pasta. Thank goodness it was whole wheat! I was… how do you say… in a pickle.

I dug to the back of the fridge and found two things that inspired this recipe. (I shouldn’t even call it that. A recipe? I don’t  even have measurements for the ingredients!) I found a jar of Alfredo sauce that had about 1/4-1/3 cup left and 1/3 of a container of low fat cottage cheese. The cottage cheese was leftover from a delicious veggie lasagna that I have yet to post… stay tuned for it. It’s really delicious!

The cottage cheese was a wild card but it worked out great. It melted into the Alfredo sauce and added the thickness and richness I was looking for, along with added protein!

Anyway, I basically just threw a bunch of ingredients together and tasted as I went along, adding a dash of this and that, until it was perfected. I you find yourself in a culinary pickle, don’t panic. Just throw some stuff together and see what happens. You might be surprised what you can come up with.

Shrimp and Bacon Alfredo

Servings: 2
Time: 20 minutes
Level: Easy

Turkey bacon, cooked and crumbles
Shrimp, cooked and peeled
Frozen peas, thawed
Rigatoni pasta, cooked and drained
Cottage cheese
Alfredo pasta sauce
Italian seasoning
Black pepper
Garlic powder
Salt

Mix all ingredients together in a pot over medium heat until warmed throughout. Play with the ingredient amounts until you get the right consistency, texture, and taste you want. Yum!


 

Sausage and Peppers Tortellini

4 Aug

This quick and easy dinner took no time to make. It was hearty and delicious and will definitely be making another appearance one day soon, especially since school is about to start.

Remember being a kid and coming home starving after school? Well, I’ve got news for you. It happens to the teachers, too! I’ll be adding this recipe to my quick, fast, and in a hurry arsenal to use on one of those “must have food… now!!!!!!” nights.

The sweet peppers in this recipe compliment the sweet spaghetti sauce and both pair perfectly with thick slices of smoked sausage and cheese filled pasta.

Sausage and Peppers Tortellini

Servings: 2
Time: 15-20 minutes
Level: Easy

1 c. tortellini, uncooked
1/2 c. tri-color  peppers and onions (frozen)
1/2 c. smoked turkey sausage, sliced (you can use beef)
1/2 c. spaghetti sauce (I used an Italian vegetable variety)

Cook pasta according to packaged directions. During the last 2 minutes of boiling, add peppers and onions to the pasta. Drain. Put pasta and peppers and onions back into the pan, add sausage, and top with spaghetti sauce. Simmer over medium-low heat until heated throughout. Yum!

Tips
– This is also very good cold the next day so keep your leftovers and pack them in your lunchbox!

Sloppy Joe BBQ Pizza

1 Aug

 

 

 

 

My mom used to make this pizza on busy Wednesday nights before church. Sometimes she would fold over the dough to make calzones. Super yum! Since you don’t use an entire can of sloppy joe sauce (you can use BBQ sauce instead) I like to freeze the leftovers flat in a small zip loc bag for an easy meal later on.

Sloppy Joe Pizza

Cook Time: 25 minutes
Level: Easy
Servings: 4-6

pizza dough
1/3 c. BBQ sauce or sloppy joe sauce (like Manwich)
1/2 c. ground beef, cooked
1/3 c. corn, drained and rinsed
1/3 c. peppers and onions, frozen
1/3 – 1/2 c. shredded cheese
jalapeños, chopped, to taste
red onions, sliced, to taste
ranch dressing, to taste

Pre-heat oven according to pizza dough directions. If using a dough that needs rolling out, roll out onto a greased cookie sheet, pizza pan, or baking stone. Bake dough for 8 minutes. Take it out of the oven and top it with BBQ sauce or sloppy joe sauce and next 6 ingredients.

 

Bake for and additional 4-6 minutes, or until dough is golden brown on the bottom and slightly browned on the edges. Take out of the oven and top with ranch dressing, if desired. Yum!

Tips
– Economically speaking, the bag of pizza dough mix is the way to go. You can get it for around 60¢ per bag and all you need to mix with is water. The tube of refrigerated dough and the fresh dough balls from the bakery section also work well in this recipe. You can even opt for a pre-made dough, like a Boboli crust.
-Rinsing vegetables from a can removes up to 25% of the added sodium. Try to buy the low sodium versions and rinse those as well.
– Don’t forget! You can add different ingredients to different parts of a pizza to help please everyone. Tonight, my half of the pizza was sans onions and double jalapeños!

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