Yes, I love birthdays.

Happy Birthday, Dad! :D

Know what I love most about family birthday parties?  Well—I mean—aside from the food, of course.  I love the quiet excitement before the party actually even starts.  The table being set just so.  A candle or two being lit for a warm ambiance.  That first car that pulls into the driveway and the sounds of voices that are about to fill an empty, silent house.

This is what I love most about family birthdays.

Of course, in addition to all of that, it sure felt good to fire up the oven tonight.  This past week has left me craving a complete, full day of non-stop cooking.

Today: craving satisfied.

portabella mushrooms cooked in a balsamic reduction sauce

Everyone took part in making something.  I stood watch over the veggies and dad focused his attention on the meats.  Honestly, we all felt kind of bad having dad cook on his birthday, but he didn’t seem to really mind.  It would have felt just plain wrong to have someone else cooking the steaks and burgers, when we all know full and well that dad is the grill master in the family.

(p.s. I’m still using up the last of my garden cress…this stuff lasts and lasts, and I’ve been using it on everything from sandwiches to soups to hummus to burgers.  Quite delicious. )

Nicole @ Loving Simple Moments

Meanwhile, my mom was busy cooking the main dessert, which is her own top-secret homemade apple pie.  I’m not even a pie person, and yet I find myself falling in love with this pie time and time again.

The crust is what gets me.  Its tender and flaky, but not overly so (i.e., it doesn’t crumble into dust on your plate!)  And it avoids being dense and boring like some of those beautiful (but sadly poor-tasting) store bought pies can be.  It is, in one word, perfect.  Absolutely perfect.

I guess we all know who the star of the show was tonight. ;)

Yes.  I love birthdays.

I love the excitement, the laughing, the silliness, the games and the elaborate stories.  The feeling of warmth, of home, of happiness.  I love the cooking, the variety of foods and most of all, the sharing.  I love that it’s more than okay to spend 2 hrs at the dinner table.

I love how relaxed and unraveled the dinner table seems, after everyone has finished eating.  Crumbs.  Empty plates and half empty glasses.  That quiet, comforting feeling of being fully content with life.

Yes.  I love birthdays.

Happy Birthday, Dad!  We love you! :D

QUESTION: What is your most memorable birthday?

a taste of home

Oops.

(source)

My motto this week has (very fittingly) been “don’t cry over spilled milk.”  From poster mishaps to broken glass to flat tires.  I’ve convinced myself that none of these things really matter.

What matters is Pepere coming to the rescue, and having him tell me to call him anytime in such “emergencies.”  What matters is sitting down to a bowl of split pea soup at the end of a long day, with the family and the muffled sounds of country music playing over the radio.  Yes.  What matters is family.  What matters is laughing and being silly and embracing each moment as it comes, day by day.  Moment by moment.

What matters is having fun in the kitchen, cooking for the people I love the most.  That is what matters.

And so, tonight I decided to make a big batch of split pea soup.

Split pea soup has long been a favorite of mine.  It all started on a chilly winter’s night over my sister’s house.  Nicole had just moved into her new place and called me over for dinner, dessert and a movie.

She whisked around the kitchen—talking with her usual enthusiasm and spice—serving her husband and I big round bowls of the soup with hunks of warm foccaccia bread.  “Wait!”  I stammered, my mouth still full with soup.  Nicole paused mid-sentence before asking, “is it okay?”  “Oh my word,” I stammered.  “This is amazing!”  She smiled.  She popped dessert in the oven.  And then we kept on chattering, as we always do when there’s dinner, dessert and shopping involved.

Ever since, I have had quite the little love affair with split pea soup.  I don’t admit this to many people.  Split pea soup, as you know, has horrible connotations.

“This weather is as thick as pea soup!”

“The color looks like pea soup!” <—and this is really not a good thing, in case you were ever wondering

And yet, when I want to taste “home,” I want to taste split pea soup.  I find the texture to be absolutely irresistible, and I find the flavors to be so simple but grand all at the same time.  It’s not at all a show off like some of those other soups out there.  It carries a level of quiet confidence.

Split pea soup is humble and mellow and really quite simple.  I like that about split pea soup.

Split Pea Soup—as seen in Moosewood Cookbook and on this website

There are all kinds of split pea soups out there.  Many call for ham.  Some call for bacon.  I’ve even seen some include such ingredients as sweet potatoes, raisins, and parsnips.  But when it comes right down to it, I like to keep things pure and simple.

There’s nothing fancy about this recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook, but that’s what makes it so special.  You can cook a batch any time you please.  It freezes well, makes an ideal sandwich companion at lunch, and is super healthy to boot.  What’s not to love?

  • 3 cups dry split peas
  • 7 cups water or veggie stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 cups minced onion
  • 4-5 medium cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced thin
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced or diced
  • 1 small potato, cut in half lengthwise and sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp salt
  • lots of fresh-ground black pepper
  • 3-4 Tbls red wine vinegar
  1. Place split peas, water or stock, bay leaf and dry mustard in a large soup kettle.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to lowest setting, and simmer for about 20 minutes, partially covered.
  2. Add onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and potato. Partially cover and simmer for an additional 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add pepper, vinegar, and salt if desired. Serve topped with fresh tomato and/or minced parsley.  Enjoy!

QUESTION: What is your favorite kind of soup?

 

 

a lazy sunday afternoon.

You know what I love about lazy Sunday afternoons?

The fact that you can stay in your pj’s all day.

The fact that you can read or sleep or take a walk whenever you please.

The fact that there’s nothing on the to-do list except to “make a batch of whole wheat bagels.”

Okay.  If we’re being completely, 100% honest here, mom did most of the bagel work.

I really did, however, stay in my pj’s all day.  And I really did read and sleep and walk whenever I so pleased.

That’s what I love about a lazy Sunday afternoon.

(p.s. I promised Mom that I would help her taste test.  It’s tough work, but somebody has to do it.)

The bagels were beyond delicious.  And that’s the honest truth.

Whole Wheat Bagels–adapted from the original “Bernard Clayton’s Book of Breads” homemade bagel recipe, as seen on this website.

We made several variations in this recipe.  Cinnamon raisin, in which some of the dough was mixed with cinnamon and raisins before being dunked in the boiling water.  And poppyseed studded bagels.  My personal favorite, however, were the onion bagels.  They’re amazing and would make the perfect egg sandwich.

These are fun to make.  Even funner to eat.  I hope that you find yourself with some lazy Sunday afternoon so that you can stay home in your pj’s, do as you please, and have nothing on your to-do list but to “make a batch of bagels.”  Enjoy!

(p.s. Don’t let this long list of instructions scare you…bagels are quite simple to make and they’re not overly fussy.)

  • 3-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 cups hot water
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 egg white, beaten, mixed with 1 tsp water
  • Toppings of choice (raisins, poppyseed, garlic powder, dried onion flakes, etc.)
  1. Sprinkle a baking sheet with ground cornmeal.
  2. Into a mixing bowl, measure 3 cups whole wheat flour and stir in the dry ingredients.  Pour in the hot water and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon.  Add the balance of the flour, a small portion at a time; stir by hand.  When the batter gets thick and heavy, lift from the bowl and place on the floured work surface.
  3. Knead for 10 minutes, adding flour if the dough is too sticky.  Dough should be firm and solid when pinched with the fingers.
  4. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in volume, about 1 hr.  During this period, bring the 3 qts of water to a boil in the large saucepan.  Add sugar.  Reduce heat and leave at a simmer.
  5. Turn dough onto a flour-dusted work surface and punch down with extended fingers.  Divide dough into 17 pieces.  Shape each into a ball.  Allow to relax for a few minutes before flattening with the palm of your hand.  With your thumb, press deep into the ceter of the bagel and tear the depression open with your fingers.  Place the bagels together on the work surface.
  6. Cover the bagels with wax paper and leave at room temp only until the dough is slightly raised, about 10 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 400.
  8. The water should be simmering.  Gently lift one bagel at a time with a large skimmer and lower into the hot water, 2 or 3 at a time.  Simmer for 1 minute, turning once.  Lift out with the skimmer (or tongs), drain briefly on a towel, then place on the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with all bagels.
  9. Brush bagels lightly with the egg white-water glaze and sprinkle with favorite toppings.
  10. Place bagels on the baking sheet and bake on the middle oven shelf for 25-30 minutes.  When bagels are lightly brown, turn them over to complete baking.  Remove from oven when shiny and brown.
  11. Place on metal rack to cool.

Question: What do you usually do on a lazy Sunday afternoon?

Jam Filled Muffins

 

I am constantly searching for healthy breakfasts-to-go options.  Options that will carry me through those insanely busy mornings.  You know.  Those barely have time to shower, I think I’m still sleeping, my brain isn’t really functioning, kind of mornings.

Hey.  Life happens.

 

 

And so—more times than not—you’ll find me driving along in my car at 6:30am, eating an almond butter and banana sandwich (maybe toasted, maybe not) and sipping on a hot cup of green tea.  In fact, you could almost bet on it.

But then, once in a great while, I’ll find myself home alone during a lazy Sunday afternoon.  That’s when I break out the whisk and spend some quality time in my kitchen, preparing breakfasts for the week to come.

 

 

Everyone has a favorite muffin.  A favorite recipe.  (Mine happens to be the whole wheat pumpkin muffins on my recipe page, but please don’t tell all of the other muffins!)

 

 

However, jam filled muffins are a delightfully close contender.  With their sweet personality and rustic good looks, they really are impossible not to love.  I almost always have a couple sitting in my freezer, just in case.

Because you never know when those crazy mornings might come along.  I like to think that I’m completely prepared.

 

 

It should be mentioned, however, that jam filled muffins are only ever as good as the jam that fills them.

You could technically use any old jam and probably still enjoy each and every delicious bite.  However, I’ve found the best results with either (a) homemade jams and jellies, (b) Trader Joe’s raspberry jam, or (c) some other “gourmet” jam/jelly.  You want these to taste fresh.  Homemade.  Rustic and pleasant.  This is one of the few times that I become totally stuck up, refusing to buy any store-brand products. ;)

 

 

~17 minutes in the oven~

 

 

Crazy busy mornings.

A healthy breakfast to go.

And let the day begin.

 

 

Jam Filled Muffins—recipe adapted from the Eating Well Magazine

These muffins are absolutely heavenly when served warm, straight from the oven.  To reheat the next morning, simply pop them in the microwave for a good 15-20 seconds.  Any extras can be frozen for the upcoming week.

Serve with a glass of milk and a fruit for a complete, healthy breakfast-t0-go.  Enjoy! :D

  • 2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 Tbsp. lemon juice)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup blackberry, blueberry, raspberry or cherry jam (highly recommend Trader Joe’s raspberry!)
  • walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.  Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk eggs and brown sugar in a medium bowl until smooth.  Add buttermilk, orange juice, oil and vanilla; whisk to blend.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until moistened.
  4. Scoop half the batter into the prepared pan.  Drop a generous teaspoonful of jam into the center of each muffin.  Spoon on the remaining batter, filling each muffin cup completely.  Sprinkle with walnuts.
  5. Bake the muffins until the tops are golden brown and spring back when touched lightly, 15-20 minutes.  Loosen edges and turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.  ENJOY! :D

 

Question: Do you ever eat breakfast on the go?  What are some of your favorites?

Merry Christmas Eve!

There’s a nine pound beef roast sizzling in the oven.

All of the presents are wrapped.

And I’ve been knee deep (elbow deep?) in butter, chocolate and sugar all day.

Espresso Brownies

Pb and J Bars

And on that sweet note, I am now going to go for a walk before the Christmas Eve party officially begins. 

A Merry, Merry Christmas to everyone!  I hope you all have fun celebrating with the ones you love.  Make room for good food, games, family and friends.  Then come back and tell me all about the highlights of your holiday. :D

kaneech-ie-what?

I didn’t want a veggie burger.  I didn’t want a soy burger.

Today I wanted a quinoa burger.

Yes, a quinoa burger—pronounced “keen-wa” burger.  If you’re wondering what in the world this could possibly be, you are not alone.  When I first came across the little circles of grain-like seed, I wondered the very same thing. 

(As Memere would say, “kaneech-ie-what?”) ;)

If you’ve ever cooked with quinoa (and enjoyed it!) you will love this simple burger.  If you’ve never cooked with quinoa, then you’re in for a real treat. 

Quinoa is high in protein, completely gluten free, and filled with vitamins and minerals.  It’s also quick and delicious.  Where brown rice will take a good 40 minutes or so to cook, quinoa is ready in under 15.  This is important for people like me who want dinner on the table within half hour of arriving home. ;) 

I doubled up on the quinoa burgers last night, as I had leftovers sitting on the brain.  Because as delicious as a stuffed whole wheat pita can be, I’m such a sucker for leftovers.

A big green salad mixed with broccoli, red peppers, cucumbers and more.  Topped with a diced burger and drizzled with olive oil.  A simply delicious meal. 

Quinoa Burgers—as seen on Martha Stewart (serves 4)

With the habit of adding in garlic and cayenne to most of my meals, it felt a little strange to not add it in with these burgers.  But I’m very glad that I refrained.  The simple addition of cumin is lovely, and it really goes well with the subtle flavors found in the rest of the ingredients.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised. 

As an aside, these could easily be transformed into a vegan entree by replacing the egg with a flax to water combination, which would help to hold the mix together.

If you really want a quick meal, make this mix the night before and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook! :D

  • 1/2 cup rinsed quinoa
  • 1 medium carrot, cut in large chunks
  • 1/4 a red onion, diced
  • 15 ounces great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • Coarse salt
  • Ground pepper
  • 4 six-inch whole wheat pitas
  • sandwich filling ideas: avocado, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, radishes, sprouts, etc.

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil; add quiona, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until liquid is absorbed, 12 to 14 minutes; set aside.
  2. In a food processor, pulse carrot until finely chopped. Add cooked quinoa, half the onions, beans, breadcrumbs, egg, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; pulse until combined but still slightly chunky.
  3. Form mixture into four 3/4-inch-thick paties (dip hands in water to prevent sticking). If too soft, refrigerate 10 minutes to firm. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium; cook burgers until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes per side.
  4. ENJOY! :D

Question: What is your favorite *must have* food item at Thanskgiving?  Stuffing!  And homemade, chunky cranberry sauce. :D

cupcakes and family

I grew up in a very French family. 

Both sides of my grandparents (known as Memere and Pepere) are from Canada (and their grandparents’ grandparents are from Canada too.)  As they made their way to the US, one of their main goals was to find jobs, with an effort to support their family as best as they could. 

Family, you should know, is really important.  It was important to my grandparents, it’s important to my own parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.  And, it’s important to me.

My family values family. 

We laugh a lot.  We’re not afraid to be loud and crazy and wild.  We’ll hug you as you’re coming in, as you’re leaving, and we’ll hug you again just in case we forgot the first time around. 

We’ve cried together over sad moments.  I’ve been held more than once by my sister.  A cousin.  Just when I need it.  Just because they know.  Supportive.

Most of all, my family is filled with love.  There’s no mistaking that feeling when you walk through the door. 

We also like to eat. 

My mom has this thing where she “wants to make sure that everyone has enough food on their plate.”  And so, when you walk into my sister’s housewarming party, there is food for vegetarians, carnivores, and everyone in between.  All members of the family contribute by bringing a dessert, an appetizer, something to share. 

Obviously, the housewarming party for my sis and brother-in-law was a smashing, family-filled success.

I have a fascination with making and baking desserts.  It’s one of my greatest pleasures.  

And so, I was more than happy to contribute to the party on the foodie front. 

You all know how obsessed I am with cupcakes.  I like to think that a whole lot of thought and consideration went into each individual one.  Personalized dessert! :D

I’ve also recently become obsessed with the Barefoot Contessa.  I don’t actually own any of her cookbooks, but after meandering my way through the local book stores, I certainly wish I did.  I decided to settle for second best and went to FoodNetwork.com to find the recipe for her coconut cupcakes. 

Yes.  Coconut cupcakes. If you’re like me and wish you could put coconut on everything that enters your mouth, you will love these cupcakes.

I’d like to say that you need to a be a baker, a chef, or some sort of artist to make these cupcakes.  I’d like to say that unless you have culinary expertise, you should not make this recipe. 

But it’s simply not true.  This was actually the first time I’ve ever made a homemade cake from scratch, and it could not have been easier.  Foolproof is what it is.  Trust me! 

Delicious.

Coconut Cupcakes—courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa

When I make dessert, I want it to be the real deal.  These cupcakes were.  Filled with coconut, smeared with a cream cheese frosting, and a fluffy, flavorful cupcake that was still worthy of standing alone.  A deliciously perfect treat for that special occasion, birthday, or celebration.  You’ll love it!

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra large eggs at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 tsp pure almond extract
  • 3 c. flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut, separated

Frosting:

  • 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.
  4. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, make the frosting. In a medium bowl, with the mixer on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts.  Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.
  6. Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.
  7. ENJOY!

Question: What is your favorite kind of dessert and how do you fit it into your healthy lifestyle?  I love indulging in a favorite dessert when the occasion arises.  I keep the richer desserts out of the house (out of house, out of mind! ;) ) and I always have whatever I like when I’m at someone’s house or going out with friends.  Balance, balance, balance.  It’s a great place to be. :D

(p.s. my favorite dessert, by the way, is cupcakes :mrgreen: And dark chocolate, which I always have on hand. )

the start of a good day

 I ran my heart out this morning.

 

I ran in the dark.  I ran in the cold.  I ran with nothing but a flashlight.

I watched the sun rise from over the trees.  Gentle light.  Nature’s promise of warmth.

I watched the neighborhood wake up.  Lights flicking on.  The smell of sweet pancakes and warm maple syrup floating through the air. 

I was chased by a spunky black pug with an attitude.

I watched my breath float up and into the sky.  A wisp of smoke.

I ran my heart out this morning and then I realized that today was going to be a very good day.

 

I came home, showered, went to work, came home, went for a walk.

And then—at the end of the day—I baked sixty-five crackers. 

Yes.  Crackers.

Honestly, if you would have told me five years ago that I’d be baking my own crackers, I would have quite literally rolled on the floor laughing.  Even today, as I was poking little breathing holes into a bite sized cracker, I felt just a little silly.

Family members wanted to know “What’s cookin’?”  “Oh…well, crackers.”  With the lift of an eyebrow and the sweep of a grin, they reminded me that the store down the street is still selling crackers, as far as they knew.

But I was as determined as ever.  Determined to find a cracker that—much like yesterday’s plate of fettucine—wouldn’t need a plethora of toppings, just to make its point.  I wanted a cracker to be crunchy, flaky and just a little bit salty.  I wanted a cracker that could hold its own. 

I think I may have found that cracker.  Well, not exactly.  Not quite.  But almost.

This recipe still needs a little tweaking and some TLC.  So maybe I should have waited before running out and sharing it with all of you.  But I can’t, really.  Patience has never been one of my strong suits.

Besides, it’s pretty close to perfect.  And if I know you readers like I think I do, most of you like to play around with a basic recipe, transforming it into something new and exciting.  You like to take a recipe and go wild with it.  And these crackers are practically begging you to do just that.  Get creative.  Branch out.  Throw in your favorite flavors and make it your own.  Be daring with cinnamon.  Go bold with cayenne.  Simplify with specks of sea salt. 

And, as Julia Childs would say, “most of all, have fun!”

Whole Wheat Crackers—a basil and garlic variation

Be sure to roll the dough out very thin.  Otherwise you’ll end up with a thick, chewy cracker.  CRUNCH is what you’re after.  That being said, however, my dad actually preferred it a little on the soft side with crispy edges.  So—as always—go with what you like! :D

I made this batch with garlic and basil, but you could nix that and go for a sweet flavor (chocolate? cinnamon?) or spice things up with cayenne.  The possibilities are endless. :D

  • 3-1/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 T. basil

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Stir together flour, seasonings of choice and salt.  Pour in vegetable oil and water.  Mix until blended.

3. Roll dough as thin as possible (no more than 1/8 inch) on a lightly floured surface.  Place dough on ungreased baking sheet (may need to use two separate cooking sheets) and mark squares with a knife, but don’t cut through.  Prick each cracker with a fork a few times.

4. Bake for 15-20 minutes in oven or until crisp and light brown (avoid undercooking).  Baking time varies depending on thickness of cracker.  When cool, remove from baking sheet and separate into individual crackers.

Question: What is your favorite kind of cracker?  I’ve always been a Kashi fan, but I also *love* Dr. Kracker’s Seeded Spelt.

one, two, three, sold.

I’ve been on some sort of “egg kick” this past week.  Whipping my way through fluffy scrambled eggs, flipping over veggie filled omelets, and hard boiling my way through egg after egg after egg.

I wasn’t always a big fan of the egg.  When I was still a short little kiddo standing on a chair to assist my mom with making dinner, I was so turned off by the strong odor and slippery texture of a boiled egg, that it took everything within me (along with lots and lots of ketchup) just to muster up the courage and eat one.  I actually did enjoy the occasional fried egg, but only if it was so well done to the point that it would crackle under the pressure of my fork and knife.

It took a really hungry belly, a crispy hunk of italian bread and an undercooked egg to finally convert me.  One dip into the creamy yolk, and I was one, two, three, sold to the over easy egg.

Not much has changed since that point.

I’m still not a fan of the boiled egg–unless it’s chopped or diced finely into a salad.  Or mixed with a bit of mayonnaise or avocado and turned into an egg salad sandwich, thereby avoiding that awful slippery effect.

And I still enjoy dunking my bread into a runny yolk, letting the softness be seeped up into one delicious bite. 

Now, if you’ve ever wondered what vegetable could possibly be matched with the fried egg, look no further.  Cabbage and eggs may sound like an unlikely pair, but they actually go quite nicely together.  I like to salt the cabbage and leave the egg slightly on the plain side, but that’s just personal preference.  And if you’re not entirely into having a runny yolk, just cook the egg to complete doneness.  Melting a bit of shredded cheese on top of the egg could replace the soft, melty factor of the yolk, which is equally nice. :D

Sauteed Cabbage and an Over Easy Egg
serves 1

  • 1/4  head of cabbage (core removed) thinly sliced
  • spicy dijon mustard (I like Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 egg + 1 extra egg white
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. In a medium pot over medium heat, place the sliced cabbage with just enough water to prevent burning.  Cook until cabbage is tender, about 7-10 minutes.
  2. Add mustard, salt and pepper to taste, stir well, and turn heat to low.
  3. Meanwhile, in a nonstick frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add egg and egg white.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until just beginning to brown on underside.  Flip and cook on other side until preferred doneness.
  4. Top cabbage with egg and ENJOY! :D

Question: An over easy egg…yay or nay?

getting back on the horse

I still remember my first experience with cooking chicken.  The recipe revolved around coconut milk, jarred bell peppers, hot red pepper flakes, and—of course—chicken.  There were other ingredients too, but these were the key components.

I thought the dish sounded divine.  I thought the dish smelled divine.  I thought the dish was the most heavenly thing on earth.  Until I took my first bite.

Somewhere along the line, I had forgotten the salt and added in sugar.  It was intensely sweet, and not in any sort of good way.  Think of what cotton candy would taste like with your favorite chicken dish, and you’ll have an idea of what I’m talking about.  I quickly dumped the contents of my frying pan, vowing that never again would I make chicken. 

But really, who was I fooling?  My parents raised me to get back on that horse, and so I did. 

My second experience with chicken resulted in a masterpiece.  I’m convinced that stuffing a chicken warrants you an instant gourmet status, whether or not you spent hours (or +dollars) on the dish.  Despite being one of the simplest chicken recipes I’ve made, this chicken has the persona of being all fancy schmancy.  It does not, however, come along with a hefty price tag of ingredients, nor does it demand that you spend hours upon hours in the kitchen. 

This dish will always hold a special spot in my file of recipes, both for being irresistibly delicious and for being my first successful attempt with chicken  The family loves it too, which is just another added bonus. 

I bet you will too. :D

Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
As seen in “Health” magazine (with minor tweaking ;) )

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • black pepper
  • 1 (10-oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
  • 4 medium skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 oz. bottled roasted red bell peppers, divided
  • 1 T. butter, melted
  • 1/4 c. Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs (I made my own with whole wheat bread, toasted until dry in oven, processed, and mixed with Italian seasoning)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, oregano, salt, crushed red pepper, and black pepper; cook and stir until onion is soft (about 5 minutes.)  Remove from heat and add spinach, stirring to combine; set aside.
  3. Cut chicken breasts in half horizontally, using a sharp knife.  Place bottom halves of breasts in a 9×9-inch baking dish, setting top halves aside.  Divide spinach filling evenly among breasts; top each portion with one-fourth of roasted red peppers and replace top halves of breasts.
  4. Brush top half of each chicken breast with melted butter; sprinkle with breadcrumbs, and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Add 1/4 c. water (avoiding breadcrumbs) to baking dish and bake for 40 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked.
  5. ENJOY! :D

Question: Have you ever made a big mistake in following a recipe?  Did it still come out *good* or did it taste horribly wrong?  I’m pretty sure mistaking sugar for salt or vice versa will never result in a good thing. ;)