recipes

Baking Bread and Eating Ice Cream (and other weekend adventures)

My work wife turned me onto the most fabulous, cheap and easy cooking blog I have yet to encounter.  It is called Budget Bytes, http://www.budgetbytes.com/, and after using her recipes for over a week, I am hooked and have yet to be disappointed. 

This woman even got me baking bread.  ME!  I love to cook, but you ask me to bake, prepare to have a sugary let-down on your hands. She makes you believe you can do it though, because not only are her recipes cheap, they are easy!

Feeling sassy while reading through her blog, I decided that I was going to try her Olive Herb Bread (http://www.budgetbytes.com/2011/03/olive-herb-bread/). 

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I’m not going to lie, chopping the olives was the hardest part…

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Waiting was the second hardest part for me. Plus, having never seen active yeast in action before, I didn’t believe this would “rise”.

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But it did!!!!

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The pre-cooked loaf, all ready to go in the oven along with all of my baking hopes and dreams.

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Thirty minutes later 🙂 (this was the good side of the loaf… the far side looked a little deformed. I still loved it, none the less)

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The fruits of my labor! A sandwich made with the vegetables out of a friends garden.

Here is the link again if you would like to try the recipe: http://www.budgetbytes.com/2011/03/olive-herb-bread/

This was my start to the weekend on Saturday morning.  If I could bake bread, the weekend possibilities were endless!  Continuing down the road of awesomeness, Saturday night Paul and I had a double-date night with Aunt Janice and Uncle Tom.  You may remember them:

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so cute

How can you not have a great night with a couple like that?

Sunday, I was up early to ride my bike to the gym to swim a few laps.  I had the pool all to myself, and it was the perfect temperature!  I don’t care how old I get, I always want to play around and do somersaults and hand-stands after a few hard laps.

Next, my bike and I adventured into downtown Lansing to visit a friend who I haven’t seen in over a year.  Meeting with a good friend is always such a boost in life, especially ones like Annette.  I thrive off of people with great energy (as I am sure most of you do), and she is great for that.

It was also such a great day to be riding around Lansing.  There was very little traffic, few people out and about; the streets seemed to be mine.  There is something so freeing and mobile to me about riding a bike.  That may sound like a “duh” statement, but riding a bike is more freeing to me than having a car.  You can go so many more places around town!  All in all, I think I rode about 20 miles on Sunday.

The good times kept on rolling on Monday when I started my day with my follow-up appointment with my doctor.  His original thinking was correct with is prediction of my blood work being fine.  It was better than fine.  My numbers are awesome across the board! (Always good to hear).  So now, it is just a matter of weaning me off of my medication and seeing how I do with just emergency meds in the rare times of anxiety.  I should be able to start dropping weight and get back to feeling like myself shortly.  

I felt like I had made the Dean’s List!  I immediately called my Aunt Janice then Paul to tell them both how stellar I had done on my blood “test”, (I always brag to Paul about my blood pressure, too, but high blood pressure runs in my family, so it is a number I take seriously.  He just rolls his eyes as if to say, “yes, honey, you are extremely healthy, I know”, in a very supportive, albeit, eye rolling way.)

Max even had a vet appointment yesterday, also displaying a stellar check up.

What is a mom and her puppy to do when they both get A++ at the doctor? Take a nap then go for ice cream!!!! (A little counter-intuitive, and I don’t generally support the usage of food as a reward, but it was what we wanted… don’t judge).

So Paul drove his two newly declared healthy family members to the ice cream shop in Old Town, where I got a small swirl for us (Max and me) to split. yes… I share ice cream cones with my dog…

God punished me for my poor choice though, because ten minutes later, back on our couch at home, my cone had lost all structural integrity, melted ice cream was dripping out the top, bottom, AND sides, and I was covered in it.

No grown woman should have to shower after eating an ice cream cone.  

Once again, Paul just rolled his eyes, but was good enough to document the sticky mess, complete with nap hair, that I was.

What is it that they say?  Behind every crazy person is a sane person rolling their eyes and cleaning up the messes, making sure crazy makes it through the day alive…?

Wait, no, maybe that is just my life.

And I am only sharing this photo because I would never judge any of you, so save the same respect for me, please:

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Probably the second least attractive photo of me ever… hopefully the #1 least attractive will never surface…

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Recipe of the Month, August: Caramelized Onion Frittata


I have always thought that “Frittata” was Italian for, “unnecessarily hard way to cook eggs”, but I was actually very wrong.  Frittata means, “An open-face omelet with other ingredients, such as cheese or vegetables, mixed into the eggs rather than used as a filling”.

Don’t say I never taught you anything…

I am actually surprised, because “fritatting” (the verb I just invented which means “to make a frittata”) is very simple!  It is much easier than making omelet in my opinion, but I suppose it depends on your delivery.

This is a very low-maintenance  recipe and very easy to throw together. Without a carnivore around to eat the Italian sausage that it calls for, I opted to use mushrooms instead (also adding some low-fat, shredded mozerella to make up for any lost flavor that the sausage would have added).

I know that some of you are thinking, “wait, she is a vegetarian, yet she eats eggs?”.  Yes, I do.  But only from cage free, well taken care of chickens bought at farmers’ markets or from my friend’s chickens.  Plus we are here to talk about recipes and not food morals, so back to the cooking… (jk)

I followed the recipe just as it is written, except for the substitution of mushrooms, and you might notice from the picture that I used a purple onion.

Look at my old-school casserole dish from the 70′s. Sometimes I feel like my blog should be, “Cooking in the Ghetto”. There is nothing like cooking in a dish and appliance deficient kitchen to make you think more heavily about marriage and registries.

Putting it all together as instructed, I popped it in the oven and waited patiently for my creation to be ready :)

Cook up well, little eggs!

I ended up cooking this for 15 minutes because it just didn’t look quite done.  And may I just note that I do not support the “finger poke method”.  You really want me to jam one of my unlucky phalanges into something that has been sitting in a 350 degree box for 15 minutes?  I don’t think so.

I use the “jiggle method”.  It also works with baked goods, but if you jiggle it and there is no movement, 9 times out of 10 it is done in my experience.  Sorry about that 10th.

Looks ok from here…

So, I am an official Frittater (the noun I just made up used to describe one who makes a frittata).  I honestly wasn’t in love with the end product of my concoction, but I bet it is very tasty with the sausage, and I am glad that I now know how to make a frittata and can change things out and try different variations!

You can find the recipe on paleOMG.com, and good luck my fellow Frittaters!

I definitely scored low in the “presentation” category. Look at Peyton looking at me like, “that looks awful”. I don’t know where she got her opinionated side from. (Certainly not me.)

piecesinprogress:

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies!

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This is one of those incredibly easy recipe where all you have to do is mix a handful of ingredients you can always have on hand and 15 minutes later you have a healthy tasty snack! You can try adding white chocolate chips, mini chocolate chips, chopped nuts or any combination to make it a more interesting cookie but I liked the simple brown sugar oatmeal taste.

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For more healthy cookie recipes go here:

http://piecesinprogress.tumblr.com/creativecookies

Just made these!  So GOOD!  Substituted coconut oil for the butter, and I have no doubt you can mix some protein powder in there, along with nuts or dried fruit 🙂

Recipe of the Month: Baked Tomatoes with Quinoa, Corn, and Green Chiles

This recipe really tested my skill level in the kitchen. Broiling, carving, bagging, this one was certainly an adventure.

The shopping was all pretty straight forward, until I got to the “Poblano chiles”, because, according to Meijer, they are “Poblano Peppers”. Enter, exhibit A:

Alas, I believed it to be the same, so off to the check-out we went, and from here on out they will be referred to as “peppers”. This actually wasn’t the first “interpretation” I made on this recipe, for example:

“Place tomatoes and tops, if desired, on a jelly-roll pan”

What the H is a jelly-roll pan? Google tells me it is just a baking sheet, so all systems were a go.

The broiling turned out to be way easier than I thought it would be, since it was just a button on the oven next to “bake”. I used to be under the impression that broiling was a fancy way to boil something in a frying pan. Oh, how adult-hood is changing me.

Post-broiled peppers, blackened skin acquired.

I was a little unsure about putting the broiled peppers into a paper bag, but then realized it was probably to dry them out, making the skinning process easier.

A Horrocks bag sealed with drink mixers is kind of the same thing the recipe asks for. Paul tried to take a picture of me putting the peppers into the bag, but said my face looked too disturbed.

Skinning the blackened peppers, by the way, not annoying at all! Just kidding, it was a total pain in my butt.

The tomato carving was the most nerve-wracking part for me. I was deeply afraid of failure in this step, but, I am happy to report that I was very successful! I envisioned a massacre, but it was very much like carving a pumpkin. Just don’t stab through the bottom (or a side) and you are all good.

So cute!

I actually did the tomato carving first, that left the pulp to pretty much drain itself while I was preparing the peppers, onion, and corn. By the time I was ready to go back to it, I had very little pressing to do.

Confession time: I didn’t rinse my quinoa. I never do. I am a second child, I ate stuff off of the floor, got pacifiers straight out of the dirt, and shared my ice cream cones with the dog. I doubt my life will be saved now by rinsing quinoa. It always turns out just fine!

I questioned whether the last step was necessary or not. What major difference could 1 and a half minutes in the broiler make? Paul, in all his wisdom, told me that baking will cook it all of the way through, and the extra broiling will crisp the top. Thank goodness for adult supervision while I’m cooking.

Ready to go into the oven!

What a flavor-full turn out! Even if you don’t like tomatoes, eating just the filling will satisfy you without an overwhelming tomato taste. And it looks so impressive and presentable!

The only thing I might change is the quinoa to corn/onion/chili ratio. The mixture turns out to be mostly quinoa, but I believe it could be have a stronger flavor with more of the corn mixture.

All in all though, this seems like a very tedious recipe at first, but is one that can be mastered after just a few swings at it.

You can find the full recipe here: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/baked-tomatoes-50400000121356/

The recipe I will be tackling next, a little more in my comfort zone skill wise, is a beet salad. It will be my first go around with beets, so we will see how it goes!

I hope everyone had a safe and happy 4th of July!  i will post about my vacation sometime this week, I promise!

My recipes of the month!

Recipe of the Month: Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Portobellos

Holy buckets of food love, people. I have fallen deeply in love with this recipe, AND, both the first and second time I have made it was for company, not just my good-hearted boyfriend. How about that? I’m getting daring in this third month.

This recipe has had rave reviews from everyone I have made it for and who has tried it thus far, so I hope you guys enjoy it too! On an equally as happy note, this recipe has a very low difficulty level (heaven forbid we complicate things).

I was secretly blessed while doing my shopping for this dish because it calls for “4 mushroom caps”, yet Meijer only sells them in packs of 5 that I could find. Turns out that both times I have made it, I have had enough “stuffing” for 5 or even 6 mushroom caps, just a warning. Also keep in mind that I am terrible at measuring, so this could be just a user error. The rest of the shopping list is very straight forward, but I would recommend getting the pitted kalamata olives. It really makes “finely chopping” them much easier.

There is no step for clearing any stems you may have on your mushroom caps, but I had to do a little trimming to make for a flat surface. Once the oven was ready to go, I sprinkled salt and pepper over the caps and slid them in there. You can actually go easy on the salt. I have found that there is more than enough flavor between the mushroom, olives, and cheeses, but it depends on your taste. Same goes for the pepper.

My mushrooms were good to go after 20 minutes, but this probably depends on your oven (other tricks I am learning… GET TO KNOW YOUR OVEN AND ITS TEMPERAMENT. *Not temperature.)

20 minutes is just enough time to chop your spinach, shred your Parmesan, chop your olives, and mash it all together. As far as the marinara sauce, I used the jar kind, but feel free to use which ever kind you would like.

As stated before, I have found that I have plenty of “stuffing” for more than 4 caps, probably up to 6 depending on how you stack it, but after putting the marinara onto the caps I just spoon the mixture on top, sass it up with some more Parmesan, and pop it back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

What comes out is tender, cheesy, hearty, yet healthy goodness. They are SO good!

Find the entire recipe at http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/cheese_spinach_stuffed_portobellos.html.

Cheese-&-Spinach-Stuffed Portobellos Recipe

from mystateoffitness.wordpress.com