Food Writing & Food Photography from a self-proclaimed Foodie

Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

The Glory of WRAPS!

So….hey!  It’s been a while since I’ve been around here!  Alot has happened since I was here.  We had a baby girl – October 2011 (so yeah, she is 15 months now).  Since I was the one staying home with her, it didn’t leave me a lot of time for much of anything, particularly food writing/blogging or restaurant reviewing.  But since our little bundle of joy came into our lives, we have been trying to change a lot of things in our lives, especially the way that we eat and relate to food and exercise.  So far we’re doing pretty well!  My wife has gone to a plant-based diet (aka vegan), and I have gone to a part-time plant-based diet.  I still like my eggs, and some meats, but am discovering that the longer we do this, the less that I want red meat.  And this is a good thing!  We are also working out together about three days per week at the gym, and then I try to squeeze in a couple of other days on my own while she will do yoga with another friend of ours.  It’s all good and we love our lives – and we love modeling to our kids about eating healthy and new foods, as well as exercising regularly.  We don’t ever want our baby girl to remember her mommies as being overweight – she’s going to have enough to deal with by having two mommies!  LOL

But I digress.  I am discovering the glory of WRAPS!  Over the past year, in my mind, when I wanted to eat a “healthier” fast food lunch (ie:  not a burger), I would go to Subway and get a sandwich.  Unfortunately, since I have spent almost a year logging my food and counting calories, I have learned that this is not always the “healthier” standard!  I used to get a six inch flatbread sandwich, with chicken and bacon, shredded american mixed cheeses, lettuce, tomato, onion, and Southwest Chipotle sauce.  Want to know how many calories that is?  570.  I only allow myself 1200 per day, sometimes more when I work out; so when I look at 570, that doesn’t leave much for my other meals and snacks.  Interestingly enough, the Quarter Pounder w/Cheese that I used to get without cheese is 520 calories (probably around 500 without the cheese).  So see?  My old Subway sandwich was NOT better, except maybe only in that there were some veggies on it.

Well, then one day I was at the store and saw some flatbread and thought I would get some and try a wrap one day for lunch.  I think that the first one I made had ham, cheese, spinach leaves, tomatoes, pickles and mayo.  Not sure what the calories were, but I know it was less than 570.  But then the other day, my wife subscribed to a website that is now providing weekly vegan meal plans/recipes.  One of the recipes was a veggie wrap with hummus and kalamata olives, so we put it on our weekly meal plan rotation, and planned it on a night that we work out so we could have it when we got home from the gym.  Let me just tell ya….last night’s wraps were absolutely amazing, as well as low calorie!  I put a couple of slices of mesquite chicken lunchmeat on mine, along with everything else, so mine was only slightly higher in calories – but WOW.  Here is what I put on them:

  • Whole wheat Flatbread
  • Roasted Garlic Hummus (instead of mayo or mustard)
  • Sliced chicken (on mine)
  • Kalamata olives
  • Lettuce or Baby Spinach Leaves
  • Tomato slices
  • Cucumber slices
  • Purple onion slices

Mine, with the chicken was 294 calories; my wife’s wrap, without the chicken, was approximately 234 calories.

Very filling, tasted fantastic, and was WAY less than a “healthy” sandwich at Subway.  I loved it so much, I had the exact same wrap for lunch today….it may be my new go-to instead of sandwiches or turkey hot dogs!

Easy Squeezy Blackberry Cobbler

I have been making peach cobblers for a long time, and have recently figured out a way to make it both low-carb AND milk-free (for those who need it).  I DID, however, discover that when I make it low-carb, the cobbler part doesn’t rise as much.  So when I found a super good deal on fresh blackberries, I jumped on them with full intentions of making a cobbler.  But I decided that I wouldn’t use the low-carb baking mix this time in order to have a full and fluffy cobbler; I did make it milk-free, but the choice of milk is always up to the person doing the cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups of fresh blackberries
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk (almond or soy milk for cow milk-free; regular milk otherwise)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • In an 8 x 8 glass baking dish, melt butter
  • Sprinkle blackberries over melted butter; sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar
  • In a separate bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla, and milk – whisk thoroughly
  • Pour batter over top of blackberries
  • Bake for 30 minutes and check; cook until cobbler is light brown
  • Serve with vanilla ice cream (soy or dairy-free ice cream for those with dairy issues)

Chocolate Parsnip Chili

I saw a recipe in a magazine for this intriguing chili and knew that I wanted to try it.  I didn’t put a bell pepper in mine, but you can put one in yours; and it called for both kidney beans as well as black beans – I, however, do not put beans in my chilis….EVER.  But this was not your typical chili, and it wasn’t spicy like a lot of chilis can be; plus, the parsnips are a great source of natural fiber and folate.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes, 29 oz.
  • 1 can tomato paste, 6 oz.
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa

Directions:

  • Heat vegetable oil in a large pot
  • Add onion and beef and cook until meat is browned throughout
  • Add parsnips and garlic and cook 2 minutes.  Stir in chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt & pepper; cook 2 minutes more
  • Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and cocoa powder.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer covered for 20 minutes.
  • Ladle into serving bowls; sprinkle cheese on top, if desired

Dairy-Free Rice Pudding

After making dinner the other night, I was craving something for dessert, but didn’t want something that was super-sweet.  Rice pudding sounded good, but it typically has so much milk in it that I worried about my dairy allergy.  So I did what I do regularly – I just changed it up a bit!  I created a dairy-free rice pudding, not overly sweet, with hints of cinnamon and Agave nectar (instead of honey).  SO GOOD!  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup leftover Jasmine rice (already cooked)
  • 3/4 cup Almond Milk
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 packets Truvia sweetener
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tsp. Agave nectar

Directions:

  • In a saucepan, mix cooked rice with almond milk, cinnamon, and sweetener
  • Cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil
  • Once boiling, lower heat to low and let cook a few more minutes, until a little thicker
  • Turn heat off, cover, and let stand for a few minutes to thicken up some more
  • Spoon into serving bowls, drizzle Agave nectar over pudding and sprinkle sliced almonds on top

Low-Carb, Dairy-Free Peach Cobbler

I’ve had my own simple recipe for peach cobbler for years, but now that I pay more attention to the things that I’m eating, I’ve had to change things up once again.  I was craving peach cobbler this weekend, and decided to give it a try with my low-carb baking mix (instead of flour), and almond milk rather than cow’s milk.  The cobbler turned out a bit less “fluffy” than its flour/milk counterpart, but the flavor was really good and it didn’t bother my allergies.  THIS was a huge success in and of itself!                                                                                         

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup low-carb baking mix (substituted for white flour)
  • 1 cup sugar (or Truvia – look up conversion)
  • 1 cup almond milk (substituted for cow’s milk)
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 can peaches, in lite syrup

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients:  low-carb baking mix, sugar, baking powder
  • Add in wet ingredients:  milk and vanilla
  • Pour this batter into a square baking dish, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray
  • Add peaches – just pour, or spoon, from the can all throughout the batter; pour syrup in as well, if extra peachy flavor is desired
  • Bake for 45 minutes, then check – crust should be golden brown and bubbly
  • If not ready, bake for 15 additional minutes and check again

Tanya’s French Comte’ Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese

Not too long ago, I made my first ever mac & cheese from scratch.  Prior to this experience, I had always and only made mac & cheese from a box labeled Kraft.  Well, after making my own from scratch – twice now – I will NEVER make or eat mac & cheese from a box again.  It’s just too easy to make it myself, and it tastes oh so much better!  The first time I made it, I watched a chef on Food Network make a fancy three-cheese version, and I tweaked it to our tastes and made it with Smoked Gouda, Gruyere, and Sea Salt Cheddar.  It was OMG SO GOOD.  This afternoon I decided to make it again, but didn’t want to spend as much on the cheese as I had before, so off to Market Street I went.  With some help and samplings from the amazing cheese goddess, I was soon on my way home with ingredients in hand.  She showed me a French version, somewhat, of Gruyere cheese (which is Swiss) – the difference was amazing:  softer, creamier, milder, and WAY less expensive.  I was sold, and you will be, too – this dish was amazing!

Ingredients:

  • 1 block of Smoked Gouda cheese, grated (yields 1-2 cups)
  • 1 block of French Comte’ cheese, grated (yields 1-2 cups)
  • 2 cups milk (I used Almond Milk, Vanilla unsweetened – helps with my allergies)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • Sea Salt, about 1 tsp.
  • White Pepper, about 1/2 tsp.
  • Heart Healthy Pasta, the shape of your choice (I like the kind that looks like corkscrews)
  • Panko Breadcrumbs
  • Bacon Bits

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In saucepan, cook pasta until water is boiling and pasta is tender (add 1 tsp. of oil to prevent sticking)
  • In a large pot, melt butter and mix with flour
  • Pour all of the milk in; cook until just about to boil, stirring occasionally
  • Mix in grated cheese and stir until all cheeses are melted and blended well with the milk sauce; add sea salt and white pepper
  • Mix in cooked pasta with cheese sauce; stir together well
  • Pour cheesy pasta into casserole dish; top with Panko Breadcrumbs and Bacon Bits
  • Cook in oven until top is crunchy and cheese sauce is bubbling slightly
  • Serve and enjoy!

Healthy Potato Latkes

Last year during Hanukkah, we were trying to teach our youngest some of the traditions of the holiday, along with stories, games, and food.  We had been eating a very low-calorie and low-carb diet for a couple of months prior to that, so we were perplexed as to how we could make traditional Hanukkah fare:  Potato latkes.  Well, we found a recipe on Real Simple’s website for latkes that you bake, rather than frying in oil – yay!  Here are the stats (per serving):

  • Calcium:  5 mg.
  • Calories:  50
  • Carbs:  8 g.
  • Cholesterol:  18 mg.
  • Fat:  2 g.
  • Fiber:  1 g.
  • Protein:  1 mg.
  • Sodium:  104 mg.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 large pkg. shredded hash browns (or you can make your own, using 5 medium Yukon gold potatoes)
  • 1 med. red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Applesauce and sour cream, for serving

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 450 degrees; spray baking sheets and set aside
  • Place the thawed hash browns in a large bowl with the onion, flour, salt, pepper, eggs, and tbsp. of oil.  Toss to mix well
  • Drop by rounded tablespoons onto baking sheets and press lightly to make patties
  • Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom; turn the latkes with a metal spatula and rotate the baking sheets.  Bake another 5 minutes or until golden
  • Transfer to a platter and serve with the applesauce and/or sour cream