When Did We Get So Old?

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Barry and I, along with two friends of ours, got the heck out of Delaware a few weeks ago. After Beauty’s passing, it could not have come at a better time.

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Gary and Maggie packed up their car with Leo, the Shepard, and I and Barry with Lily, the black Lab. We hit the road and after a couple hours on the road and few bathroom breaks in between, we arrived at a cute little cottage.

The night we got there, Maggie and I hit the grocery store, while the guys and the pups made themselves  at home. Maggie and I whipped up dinner and we were all  in bed by 10pm.

A brief background on Maggie and me. We have known each other since we were for, went through 9 years of school together, lost touch, and reconnected last year. True friendship is known when you don’t talk or see each other, but when you need them, they are there. Thats Maggie and me. Although we ha lost touch, when one of us needed the other, needed a place to go, or a shoulder to cry on, we were there.

As we were cooking dinner, we sipped on our glasses of wine. It was so amazing to think of how far we have come. Who would of thought that 18 years later we would be cooking dinner for our boyfriends and sharing a bottle of wine?

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Its a good thing we slept so well, too, because Maggie took Barry and I to the slopes. I have never skiied before and its something I’ve been wanted to cross off the Bucket List. After breakfast and a nice hike with Leo, Maggie, Barry and I headed to White Grass to test our my balance on cross country skis. I didn’t fall!!!!

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I’ll admit, that as much fun as it was, it was exhausting and rewarded myself with one of the fabulous house baked cookies from the lodge. Chai Sugar cookie sounded fantastic and I was not let down! I can’t wait to try to make these!

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White Grass kind of reminded me a bit of Fresh Thymes in that all the products are locally sourced, organic, vegan, and oh so yummy!

After enjoying our post-ski snacks, we hit the small town for some site seeing. We drove through a small town called “Thomas.” I immediately text my dad and questioned why he never told me he owned so much real estate. That was my attempt at humor… Barry quite enjoyed our brief tour of a small firehouse.

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One our way home, I required a serious pick me up. Maggie recommended a coffee shop called “Tip Top,” which reminded me of a smaller Bakeri. Ironically, they even sold chocolate from a shop headquartered around the corner from Bakeri. Barry ordered a Nutter Butter cookie sandwich, which was almost too rich. I said, “almost.”

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The following and final night was rather similar. As much as we wanted to hit the town, we decided to stay home and… wait for it… and play sherades. It was then, that we looked at each other and said, “When did we get so old?” Maggie and I drove into town to Hellbender Burritos, a hippie burrito joint with massive servings, while the guys ran out to grab beer and start a fire.

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No, those aren’t foil-wrapped foootballs. Those are our meals! I ordered the Gendarme with Seitan. How often do you see a burrito joint that offers seitan?! Oh yeah! I ate it open faced and loved the simplicity and marrying of flavors of the peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Barry ordered the pork Shovelhead, while Maggie and Garry both got the Hellbender with chicken. Needless to say, these burritos did not last long.

Whenever I travel anywhere, I always look for notable restaurants in the area. This trip was no different. Barry and I scoured numerous menus before deciding on The Boulevard Diner. Honestly, Barry had the final say. I was pretty surprised how quickly he demanded that this be our stop. After we watched a clip on youtube and Barry saw a quick glimpse of a sandwich piled high with meat, he shouted, “We’re going here!” While he was completely memorized with the sandwich, I was intrigued by the Sour Beef and Dumplings. Ginger Snaps in the sauce? MMMMMM! Since we had Lily in the car and had been delayed in traffic by a massive accident, I called and placed the order to go.

My conversation with the girl on the other line went like this:

“This sounds like a silly question, but we heard about you on Triple D and on the show there was this big sandwich piled with meat. Whats that called? I couldn’t find it on the menu posted on the website.”

“Not a problem. Thats the Big A… It stands for “The Big Ass.”

“Yeah, whats on that?”

“Yeah, so I’d like to place an order for pick up, please. I’ll take the Big A, the Baked Potato Imperial, and the Sour Beef and Dumplings.”

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I knew if I told my mom about the baked potato, she’d kill me if I didn’t  bring it home. She was tickled pink, we all were, after digging into a baked potato covered in crab meat. Not just any crab meat, lumps and chunks of crab meat!

WP_005572The sour beef and dumplings caught my eye because the sauce was made with gingersnaps! I adored this dish! That big tray was the half size! I can’t imagine ordering the full size. It really was sweet and sour! It was fantastic!

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Lastly, the Big A. On the show, it looks like a normal burger. Oh no! They handed us a cake box. I picked it up and it weighed a ton! I opened the box to find a 9in bun, piled with pit beef, corned beef, and shredded beef, all topped with tomato, lettuce, onion strings, and horseradish mayo! Oh! My! Goodness!

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I wound up weighing it when we got home and the it was over 2 pounds!

Its safe to say that this splurge made for multiple meals and we went to be with overly stuffed stomachs!

We are already planning a second trip to take dad since its only about 55 minutes away.

It was a brief, but so necessary get away. Great weekend!

Golumpki

No, I did not make up that word, like I did with Wal-nana

You know what it is, you’ve eaten it, you probably just know it by another name. Each culture has there own way of doing things: Asian countries make dumplings, Italians make ravioli, and Polocks make pierogies. Greeks stuff grape leaves, and Polocks stuff cabbage leaves…

I have a cabbage problem, in that I love it! It is one of the most versatile foods in the world, in my opinion.

Golumpki

makes about 20 rolls

The Roll:WP_005595

  • 1 large head cabbage
  • 2 Tbsp quinoa
  • 1 lb extra lean ground turkey
  • 8 oz mushrooms
  • salt and pepper, to taste*

The Sauce:

  • 1 cup Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup
  • 1 cup red tomato pasta sauce, your favorite (50 calories or less)
  • 1 1/4 cup water

Bring the quinoa and 1/2 cup water to a boil. Meanwhile, carefully core the cabbage. I find that angling the knife toward the center of the head helps. This will keep the head in tact and allow the core to be removed (or at least most of the core). Fill a large pot with water, place the cabbage in, cored side down, and keep on high heat. As the cabbage cooks, you will be able to remove the leaves. Carefully remove the leaves off the head and transfer to a colander**.

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While the cabbage and quinoa are boiling, chop the mushrooms into bite-size to fine pieces. Combine with the ground turkey, salt and pepper. Set aside. Once the cabbage has been removed and drained, pour the cooked quinoa into the meat mix, along with any water remaining in the quinoa pot (at least 1/2 cup). Mix the meat well.

Lay the cabbage leaves out and scoop 2 tablespoons of the meat mix in the cabbage leaf. Roll the rib end over, fold the sides, and roll like a burrito. I like using tooth picks to secure the rolls.

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I know many people bake their golumpki, but this family has always used a pressure cooker. Fill the pressure cooker with enough water to cover the metal insert. Layer you cabbage rolls on top of each other to fill the cooker. Secure the lid on the pressure cooker, place the rattle on top, and turn the heat to high. In the meantime, combine the ingredients for the sauce in a small sauce pan on low heat, stirring occasionally. Once the the pressure cooker begins to whistle, time 10 minutes. Using an utensil, slowly depressurize the cooker by venting the rattle. DO NOT remove the lid of the pressure cooker until it has completely depressurized!

Spread a thin layer of the sauce on a serving dish. I like to use spoons to remove the rolled cabbage from the pressure cooker. Lay the cabbage rolls over the thin layer of sauce. Continue to do so until a layer of the rolls is made a pour a layer of the sauce over that. Continue with this technique and just dig in!!!!

*The leaner the meat, the more s/p is typically used.

**The trick is to ensure the rib of the leaf is cooked enough to fold, but firm enough to maintain its structure.

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I love these these babies! Its light and filling…and MMMMMM!

One head of cabbage makes so many rolls, but they are so yummy that its hard to share!

The Greek Wars

I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials for Yoplait calling out Chobani yogurt. I know my yogurt preference, so I thought this was kind of a neat idea. I decided to host a Greek War at my house.

WP_005368Five Greek Yogurts, Five brands, Five tasters…

I kept the challenge completely blind. I wrapped each yogurt container with paper and labeled them A through E. I gave mom, dad, Frank, Barry, and myself a piece of paper listing A to E, ranking 1 through 5 stars, and comments for each yogurt… Oh yeah, I was legit!

The lowest total score a yogurt could receive was a 5 and the highest was 25. It was pretty interesting how honed in your taste buds gets when you’re comparing. I’ve eaten all of these individually, but my opinions surprised me during the tasting.

By the end of the tasting, I was able to rank the Cherry flavors of Yoplait, Chobani, Fage, Dannon, and Shop Rite brand. The real judgement came from mom. She really does not like yogurt of any kind, so her opinion of which tasted the best was one I took seriously. Surprisingly, she was really focused during the testing, more descript than any of the yogurt lovers of the house.

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The comments ranged from texture to color to appearance to flavor. Drum roll please…

Mom

Dad

Barry

Frank

Sammy

Comments

Total

Yogurt

A

2

4

4

5

3

Mild, thick

18

Shop Rite

B

5

5

5

4

5

Chunks of fruit, very sweet, creamy, delicious, thick

24

Dannon

C

1

1

1

1

1

Sour, terrible, no taste

5

Chobani

D

4

2

3

3

4

Sugar alcohol, smooth,

16

Yoplait

E

3

3

2

2

2

Dense, bland, take it or leave it

12

Fage

I, honestly, was NOT surprised that Dannon had won our tasting. Its my favorite. I do not care for Fage, never really have, but I never thought I’d rank Chobani lower than the “original” Greek yogurt.

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Now, I’m wondering…

what is it that makes one Greek yogurt better than another… ?

What is your favorite?

A Blue Goat?

If you weren’t sure, I am a huge Triple D fan! Barry and I were watching one night and I was so intrigued when I saw one chef make a pie using goat cheese and blueberries… Does that even go together? Oh yeah, and there was basil in it, too!

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I know, right?

Anyway, I was super intrigued and immediately had to play with the concept. As I googled, I was lucky enough to find the recipe on foodnetwork.com! The owner of 3 Sister’s Cafe, on my “Too Visit and Eat” List, gave their recipe! Thanks, Moira Sommers, for the recipe and inspiration!

After review, I did my normal brainstorming and created my version: A calorie, fat, and sugar slashing torte-like pie that can be eaten as breakfast, brunch, or dessert. I warn you, though, its pretty damn delicious!

Basil and Blue Goat Torte

serves 12

Crust:

  • 1 cup Fiber One bran cereal
  • 2 sheets (8 crackers) cinnamon graham crackers, low fat
  • 3 Tbsp Splenda, granulated
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • zest of 1 lemonWP_005579
  • 1/4 cup soft buttery spread, like Blue Bonnet Light
  • 2-3 Tbsp water

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup Chavrie sweet basil goat cheese*
  • 1/2 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute
  • 1/4 cup Splenda Brown Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • pinch salt
  • 1 Tbsp basil, fresh, finely chopped*
  • 5 cups blueberries

Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup almonds, whole
  • 1/4 cup Splenda, granulated
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp, plus 1/2 tsp unsweetened applesauce

* If unable to find goat cheese with basil, simply use plain chavrie and add an extra tablespoon if chopped basil.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine cereal, graham crackers, Splenda, cinnamon, and 1/2 the lemon zest in a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are a crumb consistency. Melt the butter spread. Add 2 Tbsp water to butter (add extra tablespoon of water, if needed), and pour butter mixture onto crumbs. Using your hands, combine the mixture and press onto a ceramic torte dish, that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Once the crust has been pressed, bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the goat cheese, yogurt, liquid egg substitute, Splenda brown sugar, salt, the remaining lemon zest, and flour. Once combined, fold in the basil and blueberries.Set aside until crust has baked. Once the crust has baked, transfer the blueberry cream into the crust. Side aside while making the topping.

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Place the whole almonds in the food processor and pulse until the almonds have crumbled, but not the point of utter pulverization. Combine the remaining streusel ingredients. Using your fingers, sprinkle the topping over the settled pie. Don’t be afraid to get your fingers dirty and evenly spread the topping. Return the pie to the oven and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Turn the pie 180 degrees and bake for another 10-12 minutes.

Allow the pie to cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting.

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As I took my first bight, my mom couldn’t take her eyes off me. Words began to stumble out, as I continued to put more of this dish in my mouth. MMMMM, savory, tart, sweet, delicious, MMMM… “What is wrong with you?” Oh man! It’s just so good!

I was dazzled by its beauty! The way the yogurt and goat cheese firmed up marbled the pie through the blueberries! And the crust and the almond streusel that sandwiched that tart torte! Oh man! Just, wow!

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Nutrition: (per slice, 1/12 recipe)

Calories: 154, Fat: 5.7g, Sat. Fat: 1.4g, Cholesterol: 7.1mg, Sodium: 116g, Carbs: 23.4g, Fiber: 4.8g, Sugar: 11.5g, Protein: 4.5g

I hope you all enjoy as much I do!

Sixteen and a Half Years Later

I remember the Elsmere skating rink. Do you? When I was a kid, that place was hopin’! Every fundraiser in elementary school, every family fun night, every birthday party… it was there! My 6th birthday was there! The big fluffy dino/creature/thing pulls the birthday girl in the middle of the roller rink to have the birthday song play and to lead the hokie pokie dance.

The following weekend from my birthday party, at the skating rink, my dad drove me to Philly to my aunt and uncle’s house. It was there that I meet the most amazing being that had ever blessed my life. My uncle had rescued her from his place of business, where they, unfortunately tested on animals. I remember sitting on the living room floor and my uncle handing me the tiniest 6 week old Beagle. Her ears were too big for head and her body small enough to be cupped in my 6 year old hands.

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WP_001180My dad had this red station wagon and I remember sitting in the back seat, watching this little fur ball try to bite her way out of the dog carrier. I kept freaking out because I thought she was going to hurt herself. I couldn’t stop staring at her the entire 40 minute drive home. As soon as we walked onto the porch, it hit me… not the door, the name. “Beauty.” Beauty. Could it have been any more perfect?

One winter, while she was still teething she chewed the back of my boots that I had just gotten for Christmas. I was so disappointed! But how can you hold a grudge with a face like that? We would take Beauty for walks and people would stop us and tell us how beautiful she was! One halloween, as my mother took me door to door with the pup, a woman offered to buy her from us! Frank reminded me last night about when he had spent the afternoon at the grill, came in the house with what he called “the perfect WP_003995burger.” He placed it on the table, stepped away, and when he came back, the entire thing was gone. Just a paper plate and a full puppy. Haha! What a stinker!

Maybe its just Beauty, but at night, she would fall asleep with her head near mine and when I woke up in the morning, somehow, her back side was always in my face! Haha! Or my favorite, would be when I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and come back to the furriest pillow known to man. And by “fuzziest pillow known to man,” I mean Beauty asleep on my pillow. She really is the BEST cuddle buddy ever!

WP_004447Or how she thought my laundry pile was her new bed! She would pull my clothes, circle and circle on top of them, rake them with her paws and finally settle in. Does your dog snore? The older Beauty gets, the more and louder she snores! But its funny, because, now, I can’t sleep without it. Its like, white noise, but the good kind. Like if I hear it, I know shes okay.

The last few weeks, things have been a little rough around here. The sleepy headed pup has been sleepier, and has not been able to hold anything down. “Beauty with the Booty” has lost a lot of wait, has not barked, and it has not been looking good. Last night, after running an errand with mom, we arrived home to a tired Beauty with some piles of things scattered on the floor. This was it.

?????????Just like the rest of the family, she is a stubborn one. We knew she was trying to hold out, and leave on her own terms. We prayed that she would just fall asleep. It sounds like the most morbid thing to pray for, but I would have rather her just fallen asleep, and go out peacefully. Dad came over to  moms house. For about 2 hours, we laid with Beauty, kissed her, hugged her, cried, and repeatedly told her how much she was loved and how much she meant to us. The last hour was spent with Beauty sleeping on my chest. After I had finally decided on what had to be done, I felt somewhat content.

Why? Why would feel okay about this? About Beauty… not being there… at all.. anymore… Last night, I saw my dad cry for the first time. Even when his mom died, he only teared up in front of me. Have you ever seen your dad cry? Its like watching an earthquake… One of those epic ones from the movies… When the ground splits in two and everything crumbles into the magma abyss.

As we walked into the Veterinary Hospital, I held her in my arms, wrapped in a blanket so she wouldn’t be cold in the 20 degree temperature. The tech greeted me at the door and as I followed, I stopped dead in my tracks and spun 180. “I can’t do it, daddy! I’m not ready!”

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I knew what had to be done. I knew once I saw the reaction of the tech, that this was te right thing to do. “We need to get her back there.” I explained to Beauty that the tech, Dani, was going to take her for a few minutes and that Dani would bring her back to mommy. She came back out with an IV in her paw. The vet explained how everything worked, and I gave her the cue when I was ready. Mom, Dad, and Barry said their goodbyes, gave her hugs and kisses, and then it was up to me.

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My nose was touching hers. I reminded her how she is my best friend, the love of my life, more than I could ever ask for, and how much I love her! I gave her a kiss, as her head laid on my arm. I nodded to the vet and locked eyes with Beauty. I was the last thing she saw. The last thing she heard was, “I love you, baby girl. Always and forever.”

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Her head got heavy. She looked so peaceful. I stayed with her until my parents were able to coax me out of the room.

I’m feeling… I’m not sure…bent over with my head between my knees… angry… devastated… lost… I’m becoming  numb… Mom says I’m like a zombie. I walked in the house, and glanced at Beauty’s corner, like I normally do, only to see she was not there. I took a bite of the pizza crust and then threw it in her bowl, only to remember she would not be there to eat it. This is going to take a lot of getting used to.

Some of my favorite memories of her, like most good memories are with food. I remembered when I was about 10, my mom spilled a box of redhots on the floor, and Beauty vacuumed them up. She then got the nickname “Hoover.” She devoured those Salmon Cakes! Oh and she adored when I would make homemade dog treats! Maybe its because I always used peanut butter in them. Beauty has the same theory of peanut butter as her mommy: anytime, anywhere, on anything! I think its only right that on today, March 1st, National Peanut Butter Lovers Day, that we raise a spoonful of peanut butter to the peanut butter loving pup!

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Awaiting April

Yes, I honestly can not wait until April! I am craving warm running weather! I’m pretty darn tired of these blizzards whirling into the area every few days! But besides the month of April, Barry’s sister, Katie, is also awaiting a little April. Zak and Katie have decided to name their future baby girl April! I love it!

With the help of her mom, mother-in-law, and best friend, I attended a lovely surprise baby shower at the mother-in-law’s house. Ever since I found out about Katie’s pregnancy, I’ve been shopping for baby things! I have a weakness for baby things!

While her mom and mother-in-law handled the food and snacks, I worked on a few surprises of my own. Katie had been posting all these things that she wanted for the baby. Needless to say, I gave in! The first thing I tracked down was a onsie that said “Lock Up Your Sons, My Daddy Has Guns.” I found it in both long and short sleeved. And, of course, being the Eagle’s fans that we are, I had to get her Eagle’s onsies! Oh, and LOTS of diapers!

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I was really pleased with her reactions to the gifts! One of my favorite reactions of the day was to the cupcake cake I made her. She went me a Pintrest link, knowing I love to bake, and mention how much she would love it with butterflies! Well, there ya go! The cupcakes were a huge hit and I could not have asked for a better reaction from Katie!

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Katie’s mother-in-law, also got a cake! Very cute!

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I was introduced to an odd combination of cream cheese spread. I have never been a particular fan of any type of olive but Barry’s mom combined cream cheese and chopped green olives and wow! I couldn’t get enough of the stuff! In fact, I ran to the store to get fat free cream cheese so I could make my own! For every 1/4 cup of cream cheese, I chopped 10 green olives! Yum!

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Some highlights of April and Katie’s day were the baby bath with jet stream! And the boppie that vibrates!

By far, the best part of the day was Nanny! One of Katie’s aunts drove Nanny down to the party. Nanny is Katie’s most favorite person in the entire world! Katie had a surprise for Nanny, too! One of Katie’s friend’s mother is a knitter/crocheter and made baby April a bunch of owl hats. So that Nanny and April had something to share, Katie had one made for Nanny since she began chemo again.

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Congrats, Zak and Katie! I can’t wait to meet Baby April!

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Smells Like Curry

With the leftover eggplant from the Eggplant Barley Risotto, I felt compelled to play with Indian spices. Have you cooked with curry powder? The smell, alone, drives me crazy and I can’t wait to dig in! Then it colors the remaining ingredients with such a beautiful golden orange! Oh man, I’m making myself hungry, again!

Curry Chicken and Veggies

serves 2

  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, chunks
  • 1 cup onion, chunks
  • 5 oz chicken breast, boneless and skinless, cubed into 1/2 in cubes
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, reduced sodium
  • 3 cup eggplant, skin on, chunks
  • 3/4 tsp dried ginger
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat, reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

In a large skillet, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, over medium heat, add the garlic, chopped onion, and green pepper. Cover to steam vegetables, until onion begins the become translucent. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir thoroughly, raise the heat to medium-high, and recover. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes.

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This was such an easy, one pot meal! Gotta love it!

Fun With Fiber

I have been having way too fun with fiber! It began a few weeks ago with making some bran muffins. Then, this beautiful pear from my Harry and David package was staring at me and I decided to make Pear Spice Muffins! Fan-Tastic!

Pear Spice Bran MuffinsWP_005155

makes 8

  • 1 (7oz) box Hodgson Mills Bran Muffin Mix
  • 1 large very ripe pear
  • 1/2 cup flax milk
  • 3/4 Tbsp light buttery spread
  • 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350F. Chop the pear into bite-size pieces. Combine all ingredients and half the chopped pear. Once thoroughly mixed, fold in the remaining pear and divided amongst 8 cupcake tins, lined with cupcake paper. Bake for 15 minutes and enjoy!

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Nutrition: per muffin (1/8 recipe)

Calories: 128, Fat: 1.6g, Sat. Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 178mg, Carbs: 26.2g, Fiber: 3.4g, Sugar: 8.2g, Protein: 3.9g

Dad and I adored the end result! He kept taking them to work for an on-the-go breakfast. I warmed one up at work and spread a little PB on top and the spread melted and it was fantastic!

??????????????Last night, after making two batches on Blueberry scones, I really went into baking mode! I zested 1 lemon, with the zester dad got me for Christmas, and combined it with powdered sugar, and enough warm milk to make a glaze. Wow! Genius! I love lemon and blueberry!

A few days ago, I began to make my own crackers… yes…. crackers… and dad? He loved them! “I need to put these away before I eat the whole bag!” he said.

The first time I made these, I used ground flax. This last batch, I used milled bran.

Fiberful Crackers

make 48 per batch

  • 1 cup ground flax (meal)
  • OR
  • ¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp milled bran
  • 1/3 cup reduced fat grated Parm
  • 1/3 cup reduced fat grated Parm
  • ½ tsp basil
  • ½ tsp basil
  • 1 ½ tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 ½ tsp
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ cup water
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 Tbsp flour of choice

Preheat over to 350 F. Mix all ingredients together and spread into a thin rectangle on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and slide a sharp knife over the sheet of fiber to cut 8 strips across and 6 horizontally (Sorry, guys, I’m pretty bad at dimensions). Return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the oven. By this time, the squares are formed enough to be broken. Break up the sheet into 48 separate crackers and return to the oven for a final crisp (5-8 minutes)!

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I’m seriously hooked! They go with everything! Salsa, peanut butter (of course), fresh fruit… I even crisped these up more and broke them into my salad as croutons!

Well, being on this bran kick, and in quite a baking mood, I went with the flow and after 2 batches on scones and a batch of crackers, I made another batch of bran muffins. This time with apples (and apple butter)!

Double the Apple Bran MuffinsWP_005254

makes 8

  • 1 (7oz) box Hodgson Mills Bran Muffin Mix
  • 1/2 cup apples, skin on, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp apple butter
  • 1/2 cup flax milk
  • 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 packet Splenda
  • 1 tsp apple pie spice
  • 1 Tbsp reduced sugar Craisins, chopped

Preheat over to 350 F. Combine all ingredients! Divide amongst 8 cupcake tins, lined with cupcake wrappers. Bake for 15 minutes. Dig in!

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Nutrition: per muffin (1/8 recipe)

Calories: 118, Fat: 0.9g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 169mg, Carbs: 24.8g, Fiber: 2.1g, Sugars: 7.9g, Protein: 3.8g

Can you guy what dad’s breakfast was, this morning?

Fiber is freakishly filling, fun, fiberful, fit, and makes you feel fabulous!

Talk about a recipe overload!

PS. The muffins freeze really well!

Barley Babe

I have really been trying to embrace healthy carbs, lately, such as whole grains. I have always loved barley. I remember being a little kid and stealing the barley out of my moms chicken soup pot. I remember the chewy texture sucked me right in!

I was on an oatmeal kick, last year, and then heard of quinoa bowls. I made one for breakfast one morning and thought how great of an idea it was to switch out my oatmeal and top this grain with berries! Then I heard of breakfast barley bowls, which I, still, have yet to try! But, today, I bought a bag of barley and I’m ready to rock!

With an eggplant on the discount rack and a bag of cauliflower in the freezer, I was more than ready to try Julie’s barley risotto. I’ve always had risotto made with rice and I have heard that it is rather difficult to make. Bring it!

Heres my take:

Eggplant Barley Risotto

serves 4-6WP_005243

  • 2 1/2 cups cubed eggplant, skin on
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup barley
  • 3 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1 tsp to 1 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 Tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 16oz bag cauliflower florets, frozen
  • 2 wedges Laughing Cow Light Swiss cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat grated Parmesan
  • s/p to taste

Heat the oven to 440 F. On a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, spread the eggplant and sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Roast int heat oven for about 8 minutes. While the eggplant is roasting, Add the onion and garlic to a large pot, cover, and simmer over medium heat, until the onions start to sweat.

Add the barley, along with 1 cup of broth. Bring to a boil. Add the eggplant and frozen cauliflower. Cover the pot, lower the heat to medium high. Stir the pot frequently. As the broth is absorbed, add another cup of broth. Once the last cup of broth is added, add the thyme and granulated garlic. Stir until spices have been disbursed.

Lastly, add the cheese wedges and stir. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle the parm in a little at a time, stirring constantly.

Each serving is 3/4 cup. If you’re really hungry, this dish can be divided into fours!

Damn I love barley! I’m already planning another barley dish! Stay tuned!

Bursting Berries

Probably one of my things about cooking with fresh berries is when they are heated. They BURST! Today is National Blueberry Pancake Day! Rather than sharing another pancake recipe, I wanted to share a recipes bursting with the blue stuff!

I found a huge tray of blueberries on the discount produce rack and snatched them up! At first, I made Hungry-girl’s Blueberry scones, but the end result reminded me of baked blueberry oatmeal fritters… Nothing wrong with that…

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Well I couldn’t sleep that night, and decided to utilize the remaining berries to play around with scones. My brain wouldn’t stop coming up with proportions for ingredients until I got up to bake! The end result was beautiful and tempting! After two attempts, and the improving results, I gave it the “third times the charm.” Yum! But, nonetheless, there was still improvements to be made and on the four shot, I fell in love!

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Bursting Blueberry Scones

makes 6 scones

  • 2 1/2 Tbsp light buttery spread, like Blue Bonnet light
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup Heart Smart BisquickWP_005233
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp Splenda Brown Sugar, divided
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 packet Splenda
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar free French Vanilla powdered coffee creamer, more if desired
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute
  • 2 Tbsp flax milk
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup blueberries

Spread the buttery spread on a piece of wax or parchment paper to a 1/4 in thickness and freeze for 2 hours, at minimum.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a bowl, combine the oats, pastry flour, Bisquick, 1 Tbsp Splenda brown sugar, cinnamon, Splenda packet, baking powder, and salt. In a separate, small bowl or cup, whisk the vanilla, powdered creamer, milk, and egg substitute until powdered creamer has completely dissolved.

Using a fork, break up the frozen butter into smaller pieces and quickly and thoroughly mash butter into the flour mix, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the applesauce, and whisked milk mix. Fold in the blueberries.

Transfer the dough to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Form into a circle, about 7 inches in diameter and flatten the top. Bake for 5 minutes and remove from the oven. Using a large, sharp knife, slice the pastry into 6 sections. Sprinkle the last 1 tsp of Splenda brown sugar over the top of the crusty dough. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, slice along the previous cuts, and let cool.

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Nutrition: 1 scone (1/6 recipe)

Calories: 135, Fat: 3.5g, sat. Fat: 0.8g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 202mg, Carbs: 23.6g, Fiber: 2.1g, Sugar: 4.6g, Protein: 2.4g

Enjoy! If your feeling adventurous, top it with a glaze!

I loved pulling the scones out of the oven and seeing the skin of the blueberries thinning, fighting back, not to explode the berry goodness everywhere. I found myself sneaking warm blueberries off the scones! No, Sammy, if you eat out all the blueberries, they would be blueberry scones, anymore! They were packed solid with blueberries! Plus, the little sweetness from the brown sugar crust just accentuated the berries!

Benefits of Blueberries:

  • They contain more antioxidants than any other fruit, and are also good sources of vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium.
  • 1 cup of blueberries contains 5g Fiber.
  • The pterostilbene in blueberries enhance immune function when combined with vitamin D, according to a study by Oregon State University.
  • “Blueberries contain plant pigments called anthocyanins, and these compounds have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, according to a study published in the April 14, 2010, “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.” These anthocyanins also help increase brain signals and memory function.” ~Livestrong.com
  • Also helps fight depression!