Corn bread

29 03 2008

I threw together some chili for a quick midweek meal this week, and Brett wasn’t due to come home for another 30 minutes or so.  I remembered that I had some cornmeal in the pantry – a recent purchase after discovering how much I like pizza dough rolled in cornmeal before baking – and I saw that there was a corn bread recipe on the back.  I’ve never actually made corn bread from scratch, so I figured I’d give it a shot since I had time to kill anyway.

 I ended up being pretty disappointed with this recipe.  The corn bread came out dense and not very flavorful.  I’m surprised it’s the featured recipe on the package.  I definitely won’t make it again, but I’ll be on the hunt for a tastier recipe.

With a review like that, I’m not sure why you would want the recipe, but I’ll include it anyway.  Stay tuned for my second attempt at delicious corn bread!

Easy Corn Bread

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup Quaker Enriched Corn Meal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs whites or 1 egg, beaten

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease 8 or 9-inch pan.  Combine dry ingredients.  Stir in milk, oil and egg, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Serve warm. 

9 servings


Biscotti with raisins and almonds = yum

20 03 2008

I love biscotti, and I came across this recipe a couple weeks ago and decided I needed to give it a try.  The recipe calls for ingredients that I already had in the pantry, and each serving is supposedly a mere 47 calories (which means that even if I screw up and make each serving triple the size, it’s still not a bad little snack calorie-wise). 

I began by making the dough, which was way too flour-y to form into a ball.  I added an extra egg white, and it was perfect.  Then, I rolled the dough into two logs.  Here’s a shot of one of the logs:

Next, I baked the logs for 25 minutes, and they came out of the oven looking like perfect little loaves of raisin bread!

After letting them cool for 10 minutes, I cut the “loaves” into slices and baked them again, this time for 20 minutes.  The result:


Low-Fat Almond Date Biscotti
The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
4 T. Olivina or reduced-fat margarine
3 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
1/4 cup finely chopped dates or other dried fruit
Cooking spray


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine dry ingredients.  Stir to mix well.  Use a pastry-cutter to cut in the margarine until the mixture has the texture of coarse oatmeal.  Stir in the egg whites and extracts.  Fold in almonds and dates.

2. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into two 9″ x 2″ logs.  Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line it with parchment paper.  Place the logs on the sheet.  Allow four inches of space between each log for spreading.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

3. Cool the logs at room temperature for 10 minutes.  Using a serrated knife, slice the logs diagonally into half-inch-thick slices. 

4. Place the slices on an ungreased baking sheet in single layer, cut side down.  Return to 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes, or until dry and crisp.  Turn the slices over after 10 minutes.  Let cool completely.  Serve or store.

Nutritional Value Per Serving:
Calories: 47 – Calories from fat: 18 – Protein: 1g – Carbs: 6g – Dietary fiber: 0.3g – Sugars: 3g – Fat: 2g – Sodium: 6mg

(My changes: I used 1 extra egg white and butter instead of Olivina/reduced fat margarine.  I also used raisins instead of dates.  Delicious!)

Minestrone Soup

18 03 2008

There’s no real story behind this one.  I just felt like making soup, and Sundays are the perfect days to use my slow cooker – I just throw the ingredients in and spend the rest of the day being productive (or lazy, as the case was this past Sunday!).  Some of my wonderful colleagues gave me a slow cooker and recipe book for a bridal shower gift, so this is a huge thank you to them!  I especially loved the cayenne pepper in the recipe, because it gave the soup just a hint of a kick.  (And trust me – I am not a spicy food loving girl.)

(FYI: I had no picture taking patience since Sunday was also the day that the flu crept up on me and then smacked me in the face.  I’m sloooowly recovering.)

Old-World Minestrone with Shell Pasta
Complete Slow Cooker Cookbook by Carol Heding Munson


1 carrot, shredded
1 celery stalk, sliced
1/4 cup frozen peas
1 medium potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2/3 sliced scallions
2 cans (14 oz. each) fat free chicken or vegetable broth
1 tsp. Italian herb seasoning or marjoram
1 can (28 oz.) Italian plum tomatoes, cut up
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 cup chopped escarole
1/2 cup shell pasta
1/2 cup snipped fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese (optional)


1. Combine the carrots, celery, peas, potatoes, scallions, broth, seasoning, tomatoes, pepper, and vinegar in the crockery pot.  Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours.

2. During the last 20 minutes of cooking, stir in the escarole and pasta.  Divide the soup among four bowls and top each serving with the parsley and cheese, if you wish.

*** My take: Honestly, I didn’t measure things very carefully when I made this.  I just added what felt right to me, and I used what we had in the pantry already.  It came out perfectly. Gotta love foolproof recipes. ***

French toast casserole

16 03 2008

Today was the St. Patrick’s Day parade, and it’s the last year that we’ll live within walking distance.  (Sad to be leaving our little city apartment, but exciting to move into our new house in the ‘burbs!)  Of course we needed to take full advantage and invite our friends over to drink some mimosas and fill our bellies with food before braving the chilly air, puddles, and hordes or green clad parade-goers! 

My plan was to research recipes and expertly (ha!) put together the perfect spread of delicious brunch food.  Well… this week was a brutal one, because I squeezed in 38 parent teacher conferences in 4 days, and all that planning time that I thought I had went right out the window.  And then I had to fit in a 12 mile run this morning before everyone came over at 11am.  I should mention that I got back from the run at 10am, leaving me 1 hour to shower, throw on my green shirt, and get my butt in gear in the kitchen. 

Instead of having a lovely array of delicious food ready when everyone arrived, I had a few St. Patrick’s Day plates and napkins out, a husband still in the shower, and French toast casserole just making it into the oven.  Forget about the quiche that I thought I’d have time for, too.  Once the first champagne bottle was opened, I prioritized.  Friends and mimosas beat out slaving in the kitchen any day! 

The moral of the story?  I’m not sure, but I have a few ideas:

1. When you’re entertaining, make sure you have more time to plan things out rather than thinking things will magically all come together in the morning.

2. Don’t plan to get back from a 12 mile run one hour before guests arrive.  Showering and cooking and doing last minute cleaning do not fit into a mere 60 minutes!

3. Know when to give up on the quiche and grab a mimosa with friends instead!

 What about the French toast casserole, you ask?  (If you managed to read this far, that is!)  It turned out fabulously, and it received a hearty thumbs-up from everyone… which could have been a result of the mimosas and Guinness, but I prefer to think that it really was that tasty!  I didn’t take a picture while everyone was here, but I did manage to snap a shot of some cold leftovers from the fridge.  Better than nothing, I guess! 

(P.S. Don’t you just want to reach into the picture and grab that stray pecan?!)

Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup

1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 T. granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Dash salt
Praline topping
Maple syrupDirections:

1. Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each.  Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 x 13 inch flat baking dish in two rows, overlapping the slices. 

2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, and beat with a rotary beater or whisk into blended but not bubbly. 

3. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered with the egg-milk mixture.  Spoon some of the mixture between the slices.  Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. 

The next day, preheat the over to 350 degrees.  Spread the praline topping over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden.  Serve with maple syrup.

 Praline Topping

1/2 lb. (2 sticks) butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 T. light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. 

*** My changes: I used a sliced baguette instead of larger pieces of French bread, because I told Brett to get the wrong kind of bread at the store!  It worked out perfectly though.  I just didn’t use all of the egg mixture since there was less bread involved.  Same goes for the praline mixture.  ***

Peanut butter banana muffins

9 03 2008

After making two Eat Clean recipes today, I decided that I needed to make some muffins, too.  I mean, come on, when you have two over-ripe bananas staring back at you from the kitchen counter, you only have limited options: 1. Toss them, 2. Mash them and freeze for later, or 3. Make banana bread or muffins.  I chose the latter, obviously, and I think it was a happy coincidence that I came across this recipe for banana bread with peanut butter.  Two of my favorite things in one baked good?  Heaven. 

I made mine into muffins, and they came out pretty tasty.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Source unknown (my apologies!)


1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup peanut butter
2 bananas, mashed
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking sodaDirections:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Lightly grease a 5 x 9 inch loaf pan.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs; beat well.  Stir in peanut butter, bananas, flour and baking soda until blended.  Pour into prepared pan.

3. Bake at 325 degrees for 60 minutes.  Cover with foil (to avoid overbrowning) and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.

* My changes: I made mine into muffins, and I baked them for ~25 minutes.  I kept checking them in the final minutes, so I can’t remember the exact time that they were in there.*

Turkey meatballs

9 03 2008

Brett and I really like spaghetti and meatballs, mostly because it’s one of those quick go-to weeknight meals.  I decided that the frozen turkey meatballs that we usually buy could be improved upon for sure – as in, if I make my own, they’re bound to be much better than something that has been frozen for x amount of time.

When I was flipping through my Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook, I came across a yummy sounding turkey meatball recipe.  I premade this for a weeknight meal this week, so we haven’t technically had them as a meal yet, but YUM!  The one that I snagged right out of the oven was fantastic!  The best part?  They’re healthy and low cal.  Fabulous.

The recipe also suggests that you slice them when they’re cold and put them in a pita for lunch.  Sounds good to me!

Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno

Serves: 6


1 1/2 lbs. lean ground turkey or chicken
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 T. fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 T. fresh basil, finely chopped
2 T. fresh oregano, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, passed through a garlic press
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, place egg and breadcrumbs or oat bran.  Add spices and mix well.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Using an ice cream scoop make meatballs and place on prepared cookie sheet.  Place in hot oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

Nutritional facts per serving:

Calories: 170 – Calories from fat: 24 – Protein: 30g – Carbs: 11g – Dietary fiber: 2g – Sugars: 0.8g – Fat: 2g – Sodium: 327mg

* My changes: I skipped the onions and used dried oregano instead of fresh, but I reduced it to 1 tablespoon.  Also, I reduced the amount of pepper to 1/2 tsp. *

Beef Stew

9 03 2008

I feel like I’ve been eating a lot of sugar lately, and I’m usually pretty good at making/eating low calorie meals and avoiding too much white flour and sugar.  Needless to say, my body can feel it, and I’ve been a bit more sluggish than usual.  I decided to search for some healthy recipes, because:

1. My body/mind function much better when I eat healthy foods.
2. The Vermont City Marathon is rapidly approaching, and I need to fuel my body appropriately – all the time, but for those long runs especially. 
3. I have parent-teacher conferences all week long, and I need all the energy I can get to get through 39 kindergarten conferences in 4 days.  Eek! 

My friend Niki has been following the Eat Clean diet, and I bought The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno a few weeks ago.  I figured this was the perfect time to dig into some of her recipes, and today I tackled two!  The first?  Stew!

This recipe calls for a Dutch Oven, and mine is packed away until we move into the new house.  I decided to turn this into a slow cooker recipe instead.  It’s still cooking away, but it looks great so far.  I’ll pop this in the fridge when it’s done cooking, and we’ll reheat it this week for a quick weeknight meal. 

This isn’t a great picture, but here’s the stew:

(It looks blurry because of the steam rising.)

And on a fun and RIDICULOUS note, here’s a funny story… As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I HATE chopping onions.  Burning, watery eyes are not fun.  I’ve tried all those tricks that people tell you about, like lighting a vanilla scented candle and splashing water under your eyes. Those helpful tips just don’t work for me. 

Well, today I started to dread chopping up the onion for the stew, and then a brilliant idea occurred to me!  I decided that I needed some eye protection, and I remembered that my ski googles were just steps away from the kitchen.  Yup.  I wore my goggles to chop the onions, and my eyes stayed tear-free and burn-free.  Ha! 

Canadian Stew
The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno


 1 1/2 lbs. lean beef tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 leeks, whites and light green only, cut into chunks and well rinsed
3 or 4 medium sized cooking onions, peeled and cut into chunks
3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
3 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
1 – 10 oz. can whole plum tomatoes
1 – 10 oz. can small potatoes
Several cloves garlic
4 T. olive oil
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
Sea salt and black pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 cup low-sodium, low-fat chicken stock
1 cup light beer


1. Cut meat into 1-inch cubes.  Place whole-wheat flour, salt, ground black pepper, oregano, and basil in a large plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.  Shake the contents so they mix.  Now place the cubed meat in the container and shake until coated. 

2. Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven heat the oil and saute the garlic and onions until soft.  Add remaining vegetables, except canned potatoes, and cook 5 minutes longer. 

3. Gently remove cubed and seasoned meat from container and add to the cooking vegetables.  Cook until meat is browed.  You will notice the mixture is getting sticky.  This is caused by the flour seasoning on the meat.  When it gets too sticky, add the chicken stock and the light beer.

4. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Stir the stew until the sauce becomes evenly smooth.  Now add canned, drained potatoes.  Cook over low heat for another 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Nutritional Value Per Serving:

Calories: 315 – Calories from fat: 95 – Protein: 20g – Carbs: 35g – Dietary fiber: 6g – Sugars: 8g – Fat: 10g – Sodium: 314mg

*** I used my slow cooker for this recipe and just threw everything in after I browned the meat first. ***