Easy Biscuits and Gravy Bake


 

The first time I ever ate biscuits and gravy was in high school. It was the first time I’d ever really heard of or paid much attention to the dish and didn’t know it would eventually become a breakfast favorite of mine.

One of my high school friends had been born in Texas; they moved to the Midwest when she was a child but most of her family lived in the Virginia area so her family roots and recipes were very southern. She called her grandma “Maw-Maw” which, at the time, I thought was her family’s cute name for her grandma. It was only a few years ago that I realized “Maw-Maw” was a southern thing. At any rate, it as Maw-Maw who made the very first biscuits and gravy that I ever ate. I was immediately a fan.

Fast forward about 20 years and I was living in Portland, Oregon. Restaurants and food is huge in Portland. Going out to eat, particularly for breakfast, was one of my favorite pastimes when I lived there. (Who am I kidding? It’s still one of my favorite pastimes.) And I found myself trying biscuits and gravy basically all over town.

Biscuits and gravy is usually a safe choice because … how can you screw it up, right? Well. I have had a few less than marvelous biscuits and gravy in my day. But it doesn’t deter me. I keep on trying it at nearly every breakfast spot that serves it. So how is that I’ve never made it?

I can’t really tell you. Maybe in my mind I thought it would be hard to make; though that doesn’t usually deter me. Maybe I’d never come across a recipe that looked super tantalizing. I have found tons of recipes on Pinterest that looked pretty good though so I can’t imagine that’s the reason. Speaking of recipes on Pinterest, I have seen a ton of recipes for biscuits and gravy casserole floating around that have always looked enticing.  I typically do not keep pre-made biscuits on hand though and all the recipes I had seen called for store-bought biscuits.

The other day at Von’s I picked up some biscuits because they were on sale. My intent, at the time, was to make one of those tantalizing casserole recipes. The ironic thing is I don’t really like store-bought biscuits. And I was reminded of that today when I made this recipe. I think this recipe would be fan-flipping-tastic … if I had used homemade biscuits.

Next time!

The recipe below is a conglomeration of all the fabulous recipes you find on Pinterest for biscuits and gravy casserole.

ingredients.

  • 1 lb pork breakfast sausage (hot, mild, sage flavored; whatever your preference)
  • 4 T. all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 c. cream, the fattier the better
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
  • black pepper, to taste
  • Dried parsley or oregano, to taste
  • 6 store bought, large, canned ready-to-bake biscuits (such as Pillsbury Grands biscuits)

directions.

  1. In a large non-stick skillet brown sausage over medium-high heat. Drain grease. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9×13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with non-stick spray or grease with butter or shortening.
  3. While the sausage is browning and your oven is heating, cook milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat, about three to four minutes. Whisk in flour. Stir constantly until thickened. This should happen pretty immediately. Add cubed cream cheese, pepper and parsley or oregano and stir until cream cheese is melted and ingredients have been combined.img_5795
  4. Pour gravy into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle sausage evenly over gravy.
  5. Place the biscuits on top of the sausage and gravy. You can fit more than 6 biscuits in your pan, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I squeezed 12 biscuits into my dish and it sopped up all the gravy. img_5796
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until biscuits are golden-brown and cooked through. You can bake your extra biscuits right alongside your casserole on a sheet pan; bake for about half the time. 

You can use ground turkey sausage and milk instead of cream if you so wish. But in my opinion, there’s no point in trying to healthify a dish such as biscuits and gravy. It’s inherently unhealthy and should stay that way. Like pizza. And ice cream. Meant to be unhealthy, people!

You may be wondering why I said you can use parsley or oregano. I ran out of dried parsley a while ago and have been subbing oregano in its place. I love the taste of oregano and find it goes in almost any dish. If you agree, feel free to add oregano to this dish. Otherwise just stick with your dried parsley.

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Recipe rating:  (only because I don’t love canned biscuits!)

Gravel Cake


Anyone who sees this post is probably wondering WTH is Gravel Cake? Valid question.

Gravel Cake is my creation. The cousin to Dirt Cake, made with oreos, is Gravel Cake, made with round Nutter Butters. You could call it Sand Cake, I suppose. Or Beach Cake. Or Sandy Beach Cake. But doesn’t Gravel Cake roll off your tongue so much better than Sand or Beach Cake? And don’t worry. I verified. Gravel can be yellowish in color according to Google images. So Gravel Cake it is.

I got the idea for using Nutter Butters in place of Oreos to make dirt cake this summer when I bought a bunch of round Nutter Butter packages that were on sale at Vons. A bunch = two. I bought two packages. I get very excited at the idea of what seems like such an amazing sale on processed cookies. Also I’m sure I had to buy at least three or four packages of something in order to get that sale price. Which is probably how I ended up with more than one package of Nutter Butters. I’m a sucker for those types of “sale.”

Back to the Gravel Cake. I’ll save you the suspense. Gravel Cake is amazing. Especially if you like peanut butter. I personally like vanilla pudding in this recipe but if you chose to use chocolate pudding I’m sure it would be divine too. But that would be more like Mud and Gravel Cake, no?

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ingredients.

  • 3 small boxes of instant pudding (vanilla or French vanilla)
  • 6 c. cold milk
  • 1 small tub cool whip, plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 1 plus packages of Nutter Butters, crushed
  • 1 plus packages of Nutter Butters for garnish

directions.

  1. Make the pudding according to directions. Once the pudding has “set,” mix the cool whip into the pudding.
  2. In a trifle dish or giant bowl, layer pudding mixture with crushed Nutter Butters starting and ending with Nutter Butters. I placed whole Nutter Butters lining the top and bottom of the dish (as seen in the pictures). I only had two packages of Nutter Butters and definitely think I could have used three. I did not have enough to have any “gravel” on the top, so I subbed crushed Nutty Bars instead. Top with additional cool whip or whipped cream, if you have it.
  3. You can serve this in individual dishes or mason jars if you have a lot of time on your hands or want to control portion size.

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Recipe rating: 

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Funfetti Cake Batter Blondies


 

The other day I was at Smart n Final and boxed cake mix was on uber sale. I do not make box-mix anything. However, I recently figured out you can add box cake mix to regular recipes to get that “cake batter” flavor that Cold Stone Creamery introduced to us so many years ago. I am a bit obsessed now that I know I can make the “flavor” easily at home.

Last week I made a funfetti layer cake with cake batter frosting and brought it to work to celebrate my coworker’s wedding. I know I should probably lay off the cake batter for a while but that’s what happens to me when I get obsessed with something food related. I go overboard.

You’d be surprised at how many “cake batter” recipes call for using box cake mix. I don’t want to use the entire box. I just want the flavor. So I finally found a recipe that looked to be what I was aiming for at Shugary Sweets. My recipe, below, is modeled after the Shugary Sweets recipe; I doubled it and decided to brown the butter instead of using regular melted butter.

For the frosting, I went with a recipe I found at Cookies and Cups because it looked intriguing. It didn’t work out the best for me though, and would recommend another frosting recipe. The one at Shugary Sweets would work nicely, I’m sure!

blondie ingredients.

  • 1 c. butter, browned
  • 2 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 c. yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 c. sprinkles

frosting ingredients.

  • 1 c. white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate
  • 1 c. milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 T. cake mix
  • 4 T. sprinkles

directions.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a half-sheet cookie pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine brown sugar with browned butter. Add in eggs and vanilla. Mix until blended. Add in flour, salt cake mix, stirring until combined. Fold in sprinkles.
  3. Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  4. While blondies are cooling, prepare the frosting. In a medium saucepan combine butter and white chocolate chips.
  5. Melt together over low heat, stirring. The butter and white chocolate will separate.
  6. When everything is melted remove from heat and allow to sit for 15 minutes or so. Place saucepan in fridge and refrigerate until the mixture becomes solid, approx 3 hours.
  7. When you’re ready to prepare the frosting, remove from fridge and let it sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes or so, to take the chill off.
  8. Place contents into bowl of stand mixer and add salt and cake mix. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes until frosting becomes light and fluffy. Stir in sprinkles. Frost the bars; cut and serve.

A note about this frosting: I’m pretty sure the recipe works and that it was just user error. I had big chunks of white chocolate in my frosting after I whipped it. (In re-reading the recipe I noticed I failed to let the mixture sit for 15 minutes before sticking it in the fridge. That may be the user error.) Love the idea of it. Love the consistency. It would be great for a cake or cupcakes. And I’ll try it again some day. On a cake. Or cupcakes. But you need something more stiff for a bar so I would recommend a regular ‘ole buttercream frosting and not the one I used in this recipe.

Recipe rating: 

Oven Roasted Tri-Tip


About two and a half years ago my friend Manny came over and christened my grill with a tri-tip roast that he had marinated in some delicious concoction that had involved orange juice. We had tri-tip tacos that night. Ever since, I’ve wanted to recreate Manny’s tacos on my own. Minus the grill. Because let’s face it that I’m not good on the grill and I really don’t want to be. Most things I do on my own but to me grilling is a man’s job. Or someone else’s job. Anyone’s. Just not mine.

So tri-tip was on sale this week at the grocery store but instead of getting the stuff that was on sale, I went with the trimmed stuff that was $5 a pound. And I set out to make tri-tip tacos. I was looking for good taco recipes but none were really floating my boat and to be honest, a lot of them involved grilling. Then I came across a recipe for an oven-roast tri-tip that looked delicious and uncomplicated. Bingo!

I figured after I roasted it that I could turn the leftover meat into tacos later in the week killing two birds with one stone. This recipe comes from Alderspring Ranch. It’s quick, easy and delicious.

ingredients.

  • 1 2 lb. Tri Tip Roast
  • salt
  • ground pepper
  • ground or crushed Rosemary

directions.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Rub the tri tip with the salt, ground pepper, and rosemary until it is evenly coated.
  3. Place the tri tip in an oiled medium sized pan and pan fry on the stovetop on medium high heat for about 5 to 7 minutes per side, until each side is lightly browned.
  4. Remove the tri tip from heat and place in the hot oven. Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes until the interior temperature of the roast measures between 135 to 145 degrees F.
  5. Remove from oven, rest for five minutes, slice, and serve.

I’ve roasted many meats in my time and this recipe has about the shortest roast time I’ve ever seen. Still I had to keep myself busy in in that 25-minute time span because the smell emanating from the oven was so amazing I wanted to climb into the oven with the roast and curl myself around it and hug it. Or just eat it immediately.

The outside of the roast was well done when I cut into it so I was suddenly afraid I had over-roasted it but when I got closer to the middle I saw that the roast was a perfect medium-rare; the best and only way to eat meat.

I would make this again. And again. And again.

Recipe rating: 

Funfetti Layer Cake with Cake Batter Frosting


My awesome coworker Kira got married last weekend. For her wedding “gift” I wanted to make her a cake. I planned on making her a white cake with white frosting and doing all these cute white decorations. You know. Very wedding-like, right?

Then I talked to her direct coworker who informed me that Kira had been talking about sprinkles a lot recently. And I watched the visions of my very classy white cake began to crumble. Oh well. Who wants a boring old white cake anyway?

So I went on the search for a funfetti layer cake. I’d made one a few years ago and it was good but I decided to try a new recipe. Primarily I was looking for a cake that used whole eggs instead of egg whites which proved more difficult to find. But I did find a decent looking recipe at Chocolate Moosey.

As for the frosting … that kind of came to me a day or so later. I decided to make cake batter cookies and it occurred to me that cake batter frosting would taste delicious with a funfetti cake. I found delicious looking recipe at Your Cup of Cake.

So what was the result? Sheer genius. We ate it on Wednesday when she returned from her mini-honeymoon. The cake is dense but moist. I doubled the original recipe and split it amongst three 8-inch cake pans. I found the cake didn’t rise very much. I don’t mind dense cakes but I know some people do.

cake ingredients.

  • 4 c. cake flour (spooned into the measuring cup then leveled off)
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 pound butter, melted
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2  c. buttermilk or whole milk, room temperature (I used cream)
  • 1/2 c. plain Greek yogurt, room temperature
  • 4 tsp. pure vanilla extract (not imitation)
  • 1/2 to 1 c. rainbow sprinkles plus more for garnishing
  • cake batter cookies for garnish

cake batter frosting ingredients.

  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 to 3 T. milk or cream
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. yellow cake mix (dry), or more to taste
  • 5 to 6 c. powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt

cake batter frosting directions.

  1. Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add vanilla extract and combine until incorporated.
  2. Add yellow cake mix and salt and beat again. Slowly add powdered sugar and milk until you reach your desired consistency. Taste, and add more yellow cake mix to get a stronger flavor.

cake assembly.

  1. I like to make the cake the day before I’m assembling. Or a couple days even. I freeze the cake until ready to assemble. It’s easier to slice in half that way if you’re trying to get more layers. You have to let it defrost a bit but the cake doesn’t crumble as much when it’s cold. When you’re ready to assemble, slice off the domed top (if there is any) and split the cake in two.
  2. Before I assemble, I place 3 or four pieces of wax paper down on the cake platter so that when I’m frosting the cake and frosting gets everywhere, I can remove the wax paper strips when I’m done and the finished product looks clean.
  3. Place a layer of cake on top of your cake platter, spread frosting nearly all the way across. Top with another layer of cake and repeat until you have no more layers.
  4. This frosting is enough to make a “naked” cake. It’s like leaving the crumb layer exposed basically. Spread it over the top and around the sides filling in any gaps between your layers and then use a cake spatula to scrape the frosting along the sides to give the frosting that tight “naked” look. Pop any extra frosting into your mouth or eat it with some of the domed tops you lopped off.
  5. For the garnish break up a few of the cake batter cookies into a food processor and pulse until little balls of “dough” form. You’ll need slightly under-done cookies to be able to accomplish this. I think I used about four to six cookies to cover the entire top of the cake.
  6. Refrigerate the cake until your ready to serve. I always refrigerate the cake overnight or up to a few days. I like to allow the frosting to soak into the layers of the cake – it makes the cake even more moist. Let the cake sit out at room temperature for a few hours before eating. This one sat out four hours and was still slightly “chilled” when served.

So this cake has a bit of a “fake” flavor because it has dry cake mix in it. Also I used partial imitation vanilla extract to get that “box” cake taste for the cake. I would not recommend imitation vanilla extract; that’s just my personal preference. Go with the real deal. It’s so much better! Plus you get enough of the fake taste in the frosting.

I don’t know about you but I believe that ice cream goes with cake like jelly goes with peanut butter. Or like cheese goes with pizza. Or like ketchup goes with french fries. Incidentally, I don’t like ketchup with french fries and I prefer honey with peanut butter but you get the idea. If you have a dry cake, ice cream makes it infinitely better. No concerns with dryness for this cake though! I topped my piece of cake with some vanilla ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s. It was H.E.A.V.E.N.L.Y.

Recipe rating: 

Eggs and Breakfast Sausage in Pato Sauce


I once dated a guy whose mom would make eggs in Pato sauce for breakfast on Sundays. It was something I had never had but was a favorite of everyone in his family.

Recently I found a recipe that reminded me a bit of the eggs in Pato Sauce at Lexi’s Clean Kitchen. Lexi’s recipe had ground turkey. So I decided to marry the two recipes and give it my own twist by using (ground turkey) breakfast sausage.

It’s not as easy as eggs in Pato sauce as you have to brown the breakfast sausage first but it kicks up the protein a notch or two and really fills you up. I would be remiss if I didn’t suggest making some toast to sop up the extra sauce after you’ve finished your eggs and sausage. I didn’t make any and felt as though something was missing.

ingredients.

  • 1 T. avocado oil
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • lb. ground turkey breakfast sausage (or you can use the pork kind)
  • 1 7 3/4 oz can Pato Sauce
  • 1 7 oz can salsa of choice
  • eggs

directions.

  1. Over medium heat, cook onions in oil for 1 to 2 minutes; add turkey and cook until browned. This will take several minutes.
  2. Add Pato sauce and salsa and mix to combine. Add a little bit of water, if necessary. Let the mixture cook until it’s started bubbling, then crack in eggs and cover skillet. Cook for 7 minutes or until egg whites are opaque. Cook longer if you do not want your egg yolk runny.
  3. Serve immediately, with your favorite toast to sop up the sauce.
I estimate that this recipe makes approximately 4 servings. Based upon the ingredients I used, one serving equals 385 calories, 24 g fat, 7 g carbs, 30 g protein, <1 g fiber and 4 g sugar.

Recipe rating: 

Cake Batter Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies


I’m in the process of making a funfetti cake for my coworker. She just got married and my gift to her is a cake. It’s my gift to everyone else too, I guess. I decided I wanted to pair a “cake batter” frosting with the funfetti cake. And then my mind began wondering to cake batter cookies. Could I use them to when decorating her wedding cake? I have an enormous amount of sprinkles I need to use so I got to researching recipes and found a good looking recipe at Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Then I wandered over to Averie Cooks and found a good looking soft batch chocolate chip cookie recipe. So I decided to combine the two. See below.

ingredients.

  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, spooned an leveled
  • 2 1/2 c.  yellow box cake mix (you could also use white)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. butter, softened to room temperature
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  •  1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. sprinkles

directions.

  1. In a large bowl, mix together flour, cake mix, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the softened butter, cream cheese and both sugars together on medium speed until smooth.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix on low-medium speed until just combined. Add the chocolate chips and sprinkles. Mix on low until chips and sprinkles are evenly disbursed.
  5. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours, or up to 3-days. Do not skip this step. If you decide to chill longer than 2 hours, make sure you roll the cookie dough into balls after the 2 hour mark. Place dough balls on a plate, cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
  6. Once dough has been chilled, preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  7. Scoop rounded balls of the cold dough onto an ungreased baking sheet, use about 1.5 Tablespoons of cookie dough per cookie. Shape into balls or a hockey-puck shaped. Press a few chocolate chips into the tops of the cookie dough balls. I always do this to make the cookie look better for photos.
  8. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes for an underdone cookie and 12 to 15 minutes for a more well done cookie. If the centers appear very soft, it’s OK. The cookies will set as they cool. You can also press a few more chips into the tops of the cookies at this point if you didn’t so so before baking.
  9. Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet. I say this because I don’t like the way a wire rack makes indentations in the bottom of my cookies when they are cooling.

These cookies taste exactly like cake batter! I used them as a garnish for my coworker’s cake by chopping them up in my food processor. I specifically made them underdone so the cookie crumbles were kind of doughy when I processed them.

Recipe rating: 

Red Velvet Funfetti Seven Layer Bars


I am a red velvet lover. I love anything red velvet. I also happen to love seven layer bars. I adore them. So when I came across a recipe at Sally’s Baking Addiction for seven layer bars made with a red velvet base I decided I must try it immediately because seriously – why hadn’t I thought of the idea myself? Because earlier in the day I had made a funfetti layer cake I decided to throw some sprinkles into the recipe to give the bars a bit of a funfetti twist.

ingredients.

  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (scooped in with a spoon and then leveled off)
  • 1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 T. liquid red food coloring
  • 1 1/2 c. sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 c. bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. white chocolate chips
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 c. chopped pecans
  • 1/2 c. sprinkles, plus more for the topping

directions.

  1. Set your oven rack to the center position and preheat oven to 350F degrees or 325F for a convection oven. Line the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy.
  3. Add the granulated sugar and beat on medium high speed until fluffy and light in color.
  4. Beat in egg and vanilla on high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat in the food coloring until combined.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. The red velvet dough will be quite thick and sticky.
  6. Using your fingers, spread dough in an even layer into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle some flour over the top as you’re doing this. It will help with the stickiness. Once the dough has been evenly distributed, top with sprinkles. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave the oven on.
  7. Sprinkle the coconut over the cookie layer, followed by the chocolate chips, then the white chocolate chips. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top. Sprinkle with pecans. Bake until set, about 20 to 25 minutes. Top with more sprinkles to make it look pretty. Cool on a rack for at least 2 hours before cutting into squares.


I read some of the comments under Sally’s recipe prior to making these bars and one of the comments (which described the bars as awful) made me pause long enough to reconsider making the recipe. The person who left the comment said the dough was so sticky it ripped her aluminum foil.

You see? That’s why I always say to use parchment paper. At any rate, I decided to forge ahead with bars and add a bit more flour to the recipe to make the dough less sticky. If it helped at all I’m really not sure. The dough was still sticky. So when I was trying to pat out the dough into the pan I sprinkled some flour on top the dough. It was a genius idea. Smooth sailing for me and no issues with ripped parchment paper.

So I was a little disappointed with the end result. It was good. I mean how can anything red velvet be bad? I just wasn’t pleased with how thin the base of the bar was. I would recommend doubling the base ingredients to be honest. My bars ended up being half base and half topping. The topping sort of overtakes the entire bar and to me red velvet is always the star of the show. Or rather it should be.

Recipe rating: 

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Fajita Style Ground Turkey Tacos


I resurrected an old recipe for Homemade Taco Seasoning last night and tonight set out to make some healthy ground turkey tacos.

I normally don’t add much into taco meat besides meat and seasoning. Maybe some onion. But tonight I was inspired to add in some veggies. I’m not big on veggies so I need to sneak them in when I can. I contemplated what would go well with ground turkey meat and came up with a few standard veggies you would eat in a fajita: onion and bell peppers.

And thus the fajita-style taco was born. I also picked up plenty of garlic and some fresh cilantro, too.

I ate two of these tacos but could have kept eating. And eating. And eating. Luckily for me I made such a huge recipe I can continue eating. And eating. For days. And days.

ingredients.

  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 T. avocado oil
  • 1 recipe Homemade Taco Seasoning
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 medium-sized red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium-sized orange bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • salt, to taste
  • tortillas (I used corn)
  • cilantro, for garnish
  • sour cream, for eating
  • any other favorite taco accouterments such as shredded cheese, salsa, lettuce, tomato, avocado, hot sauce, etc., if your heart so desires

directions.

  1. In an extra-large pan over medium or medium-low heat cook the onions and peppers until softened. I covered the pan to hasten the process.
  2. Add in garlic and ground turkey and cook the mixture until turkey is no longer pink making sure to break up the turkey into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Add the taco seasoning and stir to incorporate. You may wish to add a wee bit of water to make a bit of a taco gravy. Taste the meat and add salt if necessary. I did!
  4. Heat your tortillas. I heated mine in a pan over medium heat so that they got slightly browned on both sides.
  5. Top your tacos with the sour cream and cilantro or any other garnish you wish. Enjoy immediately.

I love tacos. Earlier this week I made ground turkey tacos that came pre-seasoned. They were good. Decent. Solid. These tacos rock. They crush the preseasoned ground turkey tacos I have been eating all week. These tacos are a bit spicy but the flavor is so good I wouldn’t weigh it down with a lot of taco toppings. To me the sour cream and cilantro were perfect accompaniments to the flavorful meat. I loved the addition of the bell peppers so much that I’m not sure I would want to make taco meat without it ever again!

Recipe rating: 

Southwest Shepherd’s Pie


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I have an overwhelmingly large amount of ground turkey in my home. I bought two pounds today on sale at Smart & Final along with a pound of ground turkey breakfast sausage. When I came home I discovered I have four more pounds of ground turkey in my freezer. So I set out to find some recipes to use up at least some of the ground turkey and I came across an interesting recipe at delish.com that gives a southwest twist to the traditional Shepherd’s Pie. I’ve never been a huge fan of Shepherd’s Pie because I don’t love the vegetables in it. But a quick glance at the vegetable list for this recipe told me I’d probably like it.

My version is below.

ingredients.

  • 1 T. avocado oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red pepper, chopped
  • 2 Serrano peppers, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 T. kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 c. corn kernels, fresh, frozen, or canned
  • 1 (20 oz.) container Green Giant Mashed Cauliflower Cheddar & Bacon
  • 2 T. corn starch, divided
  • 4 oz. shredded cheese (I used Tillamook Colby-Jack)
  • 2 green onions, sliced, greens and whites separated

directions.

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat, heat oil. Cook onion and red pepper until slightly softened, 5 minutes. Add pepper and garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes more.
  2. Add ground turkey and sauté until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin. Stir in tomatoes and corn. In a small bowl or ramekin place one tablespoon of corn starch. Add a small amount of warm water until you get a thin paste. Add to turkey mixture and let simmer until liquid is slightly thickened. Pour into a pie plate or casserole dish.img_5573
  3. Cook mashed cauliflower according to directions and then mix with the white parts of the green onion, a tablespoon of cornstarch and a pinch of salt. You can omit the cornstarch here if you like the consistency of the mashed cauliflower but I thought it was a bit runny. Spread cauliflower mash over turkey mixture and smooth top. Cover in cheese.img_5574
  4. Bake until mashed cauliflower/cheese begins to turn golden/has melted, 20 minutes.
  5. Garnish with the remaining green onion.

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I had a feeling I was going to like this dish but I had no idea I was going to LOVE it. It was perfect. A bit spicy. Full of vegetables I like with less carbohydrate than the traditional Shepherd’s Pie. Filling. Delicious.

As an aside, the cauliflower mash was pretty decent on its own.

Here’s the skinny on one serving of this dish: 376 calories, 19 g fat, 26 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 24 g protein.

Makes 6 servings.

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Recipe rating: 

 

Spinach and Rice Casserole {lower carb}


After the success I had a few weeks ago with making a broccoli rice cheese casserole substituting most of the rice for cauliflower rice, I decided to find additional casserole recipes to make “healthier” by adding cauliflower rice. There are probably not surprisingly a ton of options out there. I decided to try to go with one that snuck some spinach into the mix and found the perfect looking recipe at Food Network. My adaptation is below.

ingredients.

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, minced
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 package frozen spinach, thawed, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 c. whipping cream + 1/2 c. water
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c. shredded cheese, plus extra for top (I used Monterrey Jack and Colby Jack)
  • 2 c. cooked rice (I used a mixture of wild and brown)
  • 1 16 oz. package Cauliflower rice, pan fried until browned and shrunk down
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. dried basil leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 oz. cooked bacon, crumbled

directions.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large non-stick pan over medium-low heat, saute onions with olive oil and cayenne until translucent. Add the spinach and cook for 3 minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together whipping cream, water and eggs.
  4. Add the cheese, rice, parsley, thyme, basil and eggs to the spinach mixture and combine well. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Top with extra shredded cheese and bits of bacon. Bake for 30 minutes; serve hot.

I tried to make this recipe more friendly to the high fat, low carb folks by substituting milk for whipping cream. There’s still a substantial amount of rice in here though, which is why I describe it as “lower” carb instead of low-carb. That being said, the overall nutritional analysis shows that one serving gives a moderate amount of carbs.

I estimate this casserole yields 10 servings at approximately 330 calories, 24 g fat, 12 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar and 17 g protein per serving.

While I wanted to love this casserole, I didn’t. It’s good. It’s solid. I’ll eat it instead of throwing it away (like I have with some dishes I haven’t liked) but I’m not sure I would make it again. I should tell you though that I don’t love spinach. Which is probably the problem! If you love or even like spinach, you should give this recipe a whirl.

Pizza-Style Meatloaf


I have been obsessed with meatloaf recently. I don’t know why. I never ate it as a child. I never liked it. I don’t like ketchup in general and my generation grew up eating meatloaf with ketchup slathered on top. But I didn’t. I rejected anything that had ketchup on it. To this day, I look for meatball recipes without ketchup. I’ve found some good looking recipes that call for ketchup and looked up ketchup alternatives.

I think the thing I love about meatloaf is that it seems to go a long way. I baked up at two or three pound loaf and then eat it for weeks, freezing portions for laters days. I like how easy it is to reheat. You can quickly reheat in the microwave or take more time by reheating on the stove-top or in the oven.

During the week, I’m looking for a quick dinner to make. I don’t have the time or energy to put much muss or fuss into dinner. So meatloaf works well for me. I found a recipe to use the three-pound package of ground turkey in my freezer at Organize Yourself Skinny. I fell in love with the recipe immediately upon seeing it. I mean I love meatloaf. And I love pizza. So why not combine the two?

My adaptation of the recipe is below. My only regret is that I didn’t use more pepperoni. It’s my opinion there’s no such thing as too much pepperoni. I used one package but would up it to two packages next time.

ingredients.

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 8-oz package sliced white mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • egg white of one large egg
  • 3 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 1/2 c. pizza sauce, divided
  • 1 to 2 packages pepperoni, chopped (reserve some for topping)
  • 2 c. mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 to 3 tsp. kosher  salt
  • 2 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ c. grated Parmesan cheese

 directions.

  1. Heat oil in a large pan and sauté onions and mushrooms until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
  2. While the vegetables cool, mix together the meatloaf. In a large bowl add ground turkey, eggs, 3/4 cup pizza sauce, pepperoni, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, seasonings and salt, Worcestershire sauce, and parmesan cheese. Add the cooled onions and mushrooms. Mix all the ingredients until combined.
  3. Form meatloaf mixture into a loaf on a pan sprayed with cooking spray. Cover until ready to bake.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Spread remaining pizza sauce over the top. Sprinkle with extra Italian seasoning if you feel so inclined.
  6. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 F. Remove meatloaf from oven and set oven to broil. Sprinkle with cheese and top with pepperoni for garnish. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is melted and pepperoni is crisp.
  7. Let cool slightly. Cut into slices and serve hot. Or let cool completely, cut and then reheat. The latter option is the easier in my opinion!

The Organize Yourself Skinny recipe calls for turkey pepperoni. I glanced at the turkey pepperoni in the refrigerator case but it just looked fake to me. Like turkey bacon. So fake! So instead I got reduced fat pepperoni to try to make the dish “healthier.” If fake pepperoni doesn’t bother you, get the turkey pepperoni. If you’re not worried about fat or calories – go for the real deal. I even found some fancy pepperoni in a stick that I almost bought and carved up into little chunks. But ultimately laziness won over and I went with the already sliced stuff.

Recipe rating: 

Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies {momofuku}


When I was looking for recipes to use up my ginormous box of cornflakes, I found a recipe for Momofuku Milk Bar’s Cornflake Chocolate Chip cookies at marthastewart.com. The recipe looked enticing but I didn’t have marshmallows at the time. Because I had made Cornflake Chocolate Chip Cookies sans marshmallows the week before, and they were amazing, I figured that adding marshmallows would make the cookie even better.

I didn’t much pay attention to the recipe when I was making these cookies. And by that I didn’t pay attention to the scant amount of flour in the recipe. Cookies are a finicky thing to make. Especially all butter cookies. In my opinion there are things you can do to make a cookie thicker/not spread so much. The first thing I would do would be to make sure I’m not using all butter. All butter cookies always flatten too much for me. In conjunction with not using all butter, I would also add more flour. This is basic cookie-making. I think these things are pretty widely known.

Yet still when I was making the cookies I followed the recipe to a T. Then, prior to baking them, I glanced back at the recipe (but found a different one at the website Butter with a Side of Bread) and the author of the blog, Jessica, said she had tried the recipe five times before getting a good cookie! I was immediately irritated that I hadn’t put much thought into the recipe before trying it. Jessica ended up adding more flour to the recipe and strategically added the marshmallows to the middle of the cookie.

So my first batch was pretty much a failure. There were a handful of cookies that looked decent but altogether the cookies came out extremely flat. I hate flat cookies. There’s nothing worse in a cookie than it being flat. Unless it’s dried out. That’s pretty bad too.

So because I had so much cornflake crunch, I decided to give the recipe a go a second time and made some minor alterations. I still wasn’t totally satisfied. I felt like the cookies were still way too flat but a lot better than the first batch. My suggested altered recipe is below.

cookie ingredients.

  • 8 T. butter, room temperature
  • 8 T. margarine, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 2/3 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 c. cornflake crunch
  • 1 c. mini chocolate chips + more for garnish
  • mini marshmallows for rolling

cornflake crunch ingredients.

  • 5 c. cornflakes 
  • 1/2 c. malted milk powder
  • 3 T. sugar 
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/2 c. melted butter

cornflake crunch directions.

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.

  2. Place cornflakes in a medium bowl. Using your hands, crush to one-quarter of their original size. Add milk powder, sugar, and salt; toss to combine. Add butter and toss to form small clusters.

  3. Spread cornflake mixture in an even layer on prepared baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake until clusters are toasted and smell buttery, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

cookie directions.

  1. Cream together butter and both sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and add egg and vanilla; beat for 7 to 8 minutes.

  2. Reduce speed to low and add flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix just until dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula.

  3. With the mixer on low, add cornflake crunch and chocolate chips; mix until just combined, 30 to 45 seconds.

  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a spoon, portion dough out into a ball that will fit into your palm, flatten. Press four to five mini marshmallows in the center and close the dough around the marshmallows to seal. Form into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Wrap baking sheet tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 week. Do not bake cookies from room temperature or they will not hold their shape.

  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line additional baking sheets with parchment paper.

  6. Arrange chilled dough at least 4 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. You might get about 6 or 8 cookies per sheet. Transfer to oven and bake until puffed, cracked and spread, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheets.

Despite my annoyance at how much these cookies spread and the fact that it took me two tries to get a decent cookie, I really, really like the flavor. I would probably try upping the flour even a bit more next time just to see what happens. Alas, I ran out of cornflake crunch in the two batches I made so I’ll have to give this a go a third time in the future.

Recipe rating: 

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Southern FATTY {inspired} Chocolate Chip Shortbread {w/cornflakes and pecans}


 

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I’m not really a big fan of shortbread. It’s OK. But to be quite honest I don’t like dry cookies and shortbread cookies, by basic definition, are a dry cookie. So I don’t make shortbread cookies that often. I think I’ve maybe made three different recipes in the last 5 years or so.

Well all that changed this weekend when I was perusing Pinterest looking for recipes to help me use up this ginormous box of cornflakes I have on hand. There are a shockingly low amount of recipes that use cornflakes I will tell you. But I did find some really amazing looking recipes for cookies that involved cornflakes and marshmallows. I don’t have any marshmallows on hand so I sadly had to move on to other recipes that called for more basic ingredients.

And then I found this gem. A recipe for cookies that contain cornflakes and pecans.

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The recipe was more intriguing to me than anything especially after reading the author’s description of how he’s loved them since he was a kid. So I took his recipe for cookies and turned it into one for shortbread bars. Then I added chocolate chips. The result?

Pure awesomeness. See my adaptation of Southern FATTY’s cookie recipe below.

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ingredients.

  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. margarine
  • 1 c. shortening
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 4 c. cornflake cereal (not crushed)
  • 1 c. pecans, chopped
  • 1 c. mini chocolate chips.

directions.

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Cream butter, sugar and shortening just until well-combined. Add vanilla, stir to incorporate.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar. Add to margarine mixture and combine until just mixed.
  4. Mix in cornflakes, chocolate chips and pecans very carefully. Don’t overmix. I used my mixer and it crushed my cornflakes; Southern FATTY suggests mixing by hand.
  5. Pour mixture into 9×13 baking pan lined with parchment paper. Pat down so mixture is even. If the dough is too sticky, flour your hands and pat down. Score the pan which means run a knife through the dough to make individual servings. I scored my bars in half down the middle (lengthwise) and then scored the dough widthwise about 10 times, which yielded 20 bars. I could have scored them more evenly to get 22 or even 24 bars though.img_5308
  6. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The bottom will be turning golden but the top will probably still be white. It’s OK if your bars are slightly undercooked. In my humble opinion. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 or 10 minutes and run the knife through the bars again so that when they are completely cool you can lift the bars from the pan using the parchment paper and break apart easily.img_5307
  7. Eat one. And only one. Go ahead. I dare you.

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I wasn’t sure how the addition of chocolate chips would be in this recipe but it’s my opinion that you can add chocolate chips to almost any dessert or dessert-like dish (like pancakes) to make it better. I loved these bars as is but would be interested to see how they taste sans chocolate.

I ran my knife through these bars right when they came out of the oven. What can I say? I guess I was excited to try them. This had the odd affect of separating the top crust from the rest of the cookie slightly. Which is why I would recommend letting it cool down and compress on it’s own before you cut into the bars. I know it’s hard not to get excited about eating these bars but you should trust me on this and refrain.

These bars made me love shortbread a bit more than I ever have before. I’ll be bringing them to work and sharing them with my coworkers this week. If I don’t eat them all first.

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Recipe rating: 

Cornflake Chocolate Chip Cookies {w/sea salt}


 

I have an insane amount of non-perishable food that goes uneaten and then eventually perishes. Seriously. You should see my cupboards and island. The sad thing is at any given moment I’m not eating this or that which prevents me from being able to truly utilize all the food I have.

I got a bug inside me today and I decided I wanted to make some cookies. I have a monstrously huge box of generic corn flakes I bought at some point to make Farm Cookies. I don’t really eat corn flakes, other than in specific recipes. So I decided to find a cookie recipe that would help me make a dent in box. I found an intriguing recipe at Marsha’s Baking Addiction. The pictures drew me in and a quick survey of the ingredient list told me I had all ingredients on hand so I was good to go. I used Marsha’s recipe below but subtracted the drizzled chocolate (because … I’m just too lazy for that extra step but it looks super pretty!) and added sea salt on top. Adding the sea salt was a bit of an afterthought. When I was eating “tasting” the cookie dough I thought it needed a pinch more salt. Maldon Sea Salt Flakes to the rescue.

This cookie is insanely good. I will not tell you how many cookies I ate out of the oven because it’s more than three and it’s an embarrassing number. But I believe the insane amount of cookies I ate today should be a testament to you of how insanely good these cookies are. I’ll tell you that I never would have thought to put these ingredients together but I’m glad that someone else did. Thanks for sharing, Marsha!

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cornflake ingredients.

  • 3.5 oz cornflakes
  • 1/4 c. malt powder
  • 2 T. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. butter, melted

cookie ingredients.

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted
  • 3/4 c. dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar 50g
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. chocolate chips plus more for garnish
  • Flaked sea salt for garnish

 

cornflake directions.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Roughly crush the cornflakes into smaller pieces, then stir in the malt powder, sugars, and salt. Add the melted butter and mix well. Spread the cornflakes out into a thin layer onto one of the prepared baking trays, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until crispy and golden. Let cool completely.

cookie directions.

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together the butter and sugar until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, and mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and cornflakes.img_5278
  3. Roll the dough into small balls, about 25, and place on the prepared baking tray. Garnish with extra chocolate chips and sea salt. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Do not over-bake. Allow to cool on the baking tray for 10 to 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

These cookies should keep for about one week at room temperature if covered. But I would bet money that these cookies wouldn’t last a week in anyone’s house.

Recipe rating: 

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{lower carb} Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole


I guess you could say I’m a little bit obsessed with cauliflower rice recently. I keep thinking of ways I can sneak it into dishes as a substitute for regular rice. So I got to thinking about the traditional broccoli cheese rice casserole dish my mom makes and the millions of variations of the dish you can find on Pinterest or the internet and I wondered how it would taste with cauliflower subbed for the majority of the rice.

There’s a trick I’ve discovered to making cauliflower more rice like and eliminating that skunk flavor: cooking it in a nonstick wok until it’s shrunken, dried out a bit and darkened in color. It gets to looks a bit like brown rice actually. That’s traditionally when I’ll add some soy sauce and hot sauce and turn it into a low carb stir-fry. It’s that type of rice I wanted to use in my lower carb version of my mom’s comfort food dish.

I will tell you that I’m pretty positive that if you didn’t know there was cauliflower in the dish (like had I not told you before eating it) that you would have no idea it’s in there. Especially if you use plain white or brown rice. The only reason I even knew there was real rice anywhere in the dish is because I used a mixture of wild and brown rice and I could see flecks of the wild rice throughout.

If you want something even lower carb, you could substitute all of the rice for cauliflower rice. Low carb wasn’t my concern here though. I was just trying to make this dish a bit healthier while still maintaining it’s integrity. (And, yes, I realize that when it comes to food cheese whiz + integrity = hilarious.)

ingredients.

  • 1 16 oz. package of frozen broccoli
  • 1 10.5 oz. can of cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 c. onion, chopped fine
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 c. cooked rice (brown and wild combo)
  • 1 15 oz. jar Cheez Whiz
  • 1 16 oz. package cauliflower rice, cooked (see note)

directions.

  1. Get that cauliflower rice cooking. I have this awesome wok that almost needs no oil and. Cook the rice over medium or just under medium heat until the rice becomes browned and dried out a bit. It will shrink in size considerably. Stir often; this will take a long time.
  2. Meanwhile, chop your onions. Once the rice is almost done make a well in the bottom of your wok/pan and let the butter melt there. Add the onion and stir to cook. You want the onions to get soft; this will take a few minutes. You can eventually stir the onions and butter in with the rice and allow it all to continue to cook together.
  3. Meanwhile, cook your broccoli according to package directions. You may wish to cut any big trees of broccoli down a bit. I didn’t do that and in hindsight wish that I would have. Set aside.
  4. When the rice mixture is done, add the real rice, broccoli, cheese and mushroom soup and mix until incorporated. Pour the mixture into a 3-quart casserole dish and bake for 45 minutes at 325 degrees.

This is a sneaky but not low-calorie way of getting someone who doesn’t like broccoli and cauliflower (like kids or stubborn adults) to eat it.

If my calculations are correct, you should get about 8 servings from this dish. Each serving weighs in at approximately 250 calories, 14 g fat, 23 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 8 g sugar, and 9 g protein. Plus you hit over 100% of your Vitamin C goal for the day!

Recipe rating: 

Chewy Peanut Butter Oat Cookies


I spent an hour or so scrolling through Pinterest the other night and found a cookie recipe from the food charlatan that I knew I needed to make as soon as humanly possible. It basically called to me when I saw it. Why? Well for starters, I just plain love peanut butter. I also love cookies made with oats. Also, I felt like the girl who shared the recipe was a girl after my own heart as she used half butter, half crisco in her recipe which is one of my go-to ways for making the best cookies in the world. (The other is using brown butter.)

Oddly, I had no brown sugar on hand and had to run to the store before I could make these. I don’t think that has happened to me in … like ever. Not in my entire life. But the recipe looked good enough where I wanted to run out and buy an ingredient just so I could make these cookies.

For my slightly modified version of this fabulous cookie, see below.

ingredients.

  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. crisco
  • 1 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. flour, leveled
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 to 2 tsp. salt*
  • 1 c. quick oats
  • 1/2 c. old fashioned oats

directions.

  1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter and crisco for 2 minutes, scraping the sides and bottom. Add the sugar and peanut butter. Beat until incorporated. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well, scraping sides and bottom.
  2. Add flour baking soda and salt, then beat in gently leaving some flour streaks. Add the quick oats and old fashioned oats. Stir until incorporated but do not over mix.
  3. Cover the bowl and chill the dough in the fridge for 1 to 3 hours (or overnight). When the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup or cookie scoop to measure out the dough. I got 8 cookies on each sheet.
  4. Bake the cookies at 350 for 9-10 minutes until the centers are almost done being shiny. The edges should be firm. Be careful not to over bake. You can bake both sheets at the same time on two separate racks. Halfway through swap the cookie sheets from top to bottom and bottom to top.
  5. Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

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*I accidentally added two teaspoons of salt. The original recipe calls for one. I loooooove salt and did not think the cookies were too salty. However, someone who isn’t overly fond of salt or is watching their sodium intake should consider sticking to the one teaspoon.

I think these cookies are divine. Divine enough to eat three straight out of the oven. And three more the next day.

When it says to be careful not to overtake, you must heed this warning. I cooked them less than 10 minutes and though they were not overcooked by any stretch of the imagination, the bottoms were already starting to get a bit too dark for my liking.

The cookies don’t spread very much. If you want a flatter cookie, consider pressing down on the dough before baking.

Recipe rating: 

 

Sous Vide Egg Bites {starbucks copycat}


Anyone who knows me even slightly knows I’m obsessed with the Egg Bites you can buy at Starbucks. I think both flavors are delicious, but I’m particularly in love with the bacon and gruyere version. My habit/addiction is costly, however. At over $4 for two of these gems, I could spend over $20 a week if I bought these every day. Which I would like to do. Because they are that amazingly delicious. And of course that four dollars does not include any sort of drink I may purchase at the same time.

One day last week I went to Starbucks per normal on my way to work. I always use the mobile app because I don’t have time in the morning to dilly-dally at the counter. Plus I actually like the egg bites to be a bit cooled down by the time I sink my teeth into them. So I order them, leave my house and arrive at Starbucks about 5 or 7 minutes later and my bites are awaiting me. This morning was no exception.

When I got to the front door that morning, a bit earlier than normal, I found the door locked. Because I was early I wondered if I was too early. Maybe they hadn’t opened yet. But the sign on the window said they open at 4:30 am and it was 5:30 am. The door should have been unlocked. I could see my egg bites at the counter packaged all nice and neat with a fork taped to the packaging. I rapped my knuckles on the glass door to no avail. The barista behind the counter either didn’t hear me or ignored me. I rapped my knuckles slightly louder a second time with the same result. On the third go round I began pounding on the door with my fists. I’m sure I looked like a crazy person.

At that point the barista acknowledged me by waving her arm at me telling me to go around to the back of the store where there’s another door. I was completely miffed. Like first-world problems miffed. The barista apologized to me and I grabbed my egg bites and asked if I could exit out the front door. The door that’s along the street where my car was parked. Where I park my car every morning. Every single time I go to this Starbucks I enter the front door, no issues. The barista replied that if the door was locked I couldn’t go in or out.

As calmly as I could, I suggested they put a sign on the door so people know to go around back (and don’t waste their precious time). I’m sure when I left they mocked me. But whatever. It’s common courtesy to let people know the main door isn’t going to be unlocked. Is it not?

I haven’t been back to that Starbucks. And I plan to boycott that particular location in the future. Which isn’t hard because there’s one just about a mile or two down that same street on my way to work. There’s also about 6 other locations within a mile from my house.

Long story short, after the door debacle I was hell bent on making my own egg bites to save both my time and my money. I had purchased a sous vide maker about a week or two prior and had been futzing around with recipes since. But I decided to really buckle down and nail a copycat version of the Starbucks recipe at home. Complete with egg bites that are even shaped just like the ones at Starbucks. (Sorta.)

This took a lot of research and thought on my part. I’ve found several general recipes for copycat versions of the egg bites. I wanted mine to be an exact replica. So I looked at the ingredients on the website and tinkered around a bit on MyFitnessPal until I got a nutrient breakdown that was close enough to the one listed on Starbucks website.

I can’t quite figure out their recipe. The recipe appears to use only eggs and no egg whites, yet if you look at the cholesterol in their eggs it’s insanely low. I added egg whites to my recipe to up the protein and keep the cholesterol in check and fat slightly lower. Also, I’m perplexed by the butter listed in the recipe. I’m assuming the butter is used to grease the pans or whatever they use for cooking. I melted some and added it to the mixture. Butter makes everything better, right? I also omitted the hot sauce because there’s nothing “hot” about the egg bites you get at Starbucks. Unless you add a packet of sriracha sauce to your eggs, of course. I’m assuming the hot sauce listed on the ingredients is referring to the extra/optional packet of hot sauce.

Onto the “container.” I started out making these babies in glass jars. It’s fine. They work fine. I mean the egg comes out looking anemic, not nice and browned like the Starbucks version, but they taste decent. Since I’m used to something slightly round, almost like half a ping pong ball or something, I wanted my bites to have the same general shape.

I found a website that claims to give the recipe for a copycat version. This website will remain nameless. The pictures on the website look suspiciously exactly like the egg bites you will find at Starbucks. Right down to the cardboard containers they are served in. In the comments section someone asked the author of the blog how he/she got the perfectly formed egg bites. You will see in every other blog that no one’s bites look even remotely close to the Starbucks shape. The author evaded the question. Or answered it with a non-answer. Which has me even more convinced that he/she just took a picture of the Starbucks egg bites and claimed them as his/her own.

I will tell you that the pictures on this website are all my own. And you can tell because … they don’t really look like the Starbucks egg bites you buy. But given my expansive research I believe the containers I used will get you about as close as you can get to the Starbucks variety. Read on, my friend.

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ingredients.

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 c. egg whites
  • 1 c. cottage cheese (2% milk fat)
  • 2 T. melted butter, cooled
  • 1 T. rice starch
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 oz. Monterrey jack cheese (shredded)
  • 4 oz. gruyere cheese (shredded), divided
  • 12 oz. uncured applewood bacon, cooked to desired doneness, torn into small pieces

equipment.

  • Blender or food processor
  • Sous vide maker
  • Silicone baby food (freezer tray) container with silicone lid (BPA free)

directions.

  1. Heat your sous vide mechanism to 172 degrees. I can make the recipe and get everything prepped and still my water is not hot enough. So get this started early.
  2. In a blender or food processor, add the eggs, egg whites, cottage cheese, salt, starch, and Monterrey jack cheese. Blend until completely smooth. I used my Nutribullet for this and it worked very nicely but for the fact that my ingredients were way above the fill line and leaked out a bit while blending. But that’s neither here nor there.img_4979
  3. Spray your baby food containers with cooking spray. Place a few small pieces of bacon and some shredded gruyere cheese into each cup. Fill almost to the top with the egg mixture. Cover the container with the silicone lid and secure.
  4. When the water is hot enough, gently place your container on top the water and let it float. So total transparency, my sous vide maker has a cover. It looks like a crockpot. I then cover the maker and let it do it’s magic for 90 minutes.
  5. Once the 90 minutes have passed, gently remove the container from the hot water. I have a large plastic … jeez … I have no idea what it is. It’s wider than a soup ladle and a lot flatter and has holes in it. That’s what I use to kind of heft my sous vide creations out of the water and then I use my hands to just place them on the counter.
  6. Let cool completely – I pop them into the fridge.
  7. When you’re ready to eat them, heat your oven to 450 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with some sort of cooking spray. Place your egg bites on top. Top each egg bite with a piece of bacon and some extra gruyere cheese and even some Monterrey jack if you so choose. Bake for approximately 5 minutes and then turn up the heat to a broil and broil the top for a minute or two. img_4982
  8. Let cool slightly before you enjoy. Or let cool completely and reheat in the microwave another time.

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This recipe makes approximately 18 egg bites.

Here’s the skinny on the nutrition for each serving: 152 calories, 10 g fat, 1 g carbs, <1 g sugar and 12 g protein.

I brought these bites to a ladies brunch today and everyone raved about them. The words used to describe them were, “Better than Starbucks.” Hell yeah!

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Recipe rating: 

Seared Ahi Tuna Steak Salad with Sesame Soy Ginger Vinaigrette 


It’s not often that I get excited about salad. It’s not that I don’t like salad, because I do. It’s just that I like it more as a starter. Not as a meal. It seems like when I try to have salad for a meal I end up getting hungry about 20 minutes later. I decided I wanted to try to eat more salad in my life because I have a hard time eating raw veggies and I thought that would be a good way to go. Plus, it’s hot and eating salad goes with hot weather, right?

So I thought that an Asian inspired salad with seared ahi tuna steak would be a good way to go. I found this amazing dressing at Trader Joe’s. It’s a Sesame Soy Ginger Vinaigrette. It’s fat free and low calorie. It’s a bit higher in sugar than I would like and doesn’t really allow this dish to be classified as low-carb. But I don’t care. It’s so good I want to just drink it from the bottle. OK so it’s basically the best part about the salad. Like I probably wouldn’t be raving about this salad if I had not used such an awesome dressing.

ingredients.

  • 2 to 3 c. arugula, rinsed and dried
  • 1/4 c. shelled edamame
  • 2 roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 T. sliced green onion (the greenish-white part)
  • 1 4 oz. ahi tuna steak
  • 3 T. Sesame Soy Ginger Vinaigrette (or dressing of your choice)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

directions.

  1. Get the salad base prepared. Place arugula in a large bowl. Top with edamame and tomatoes.
  2. On a small plate drizzle approximately some olive oil. Place your tuna steak in the olive oil and flip over to get olive oil on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Sear the tuna steak in a pan over medium-high heat for approximately 1 to 2 minutes on each side. I seared mine for closer to 2.
  3. Remove the tuna and place on a cutting board. Slice the tuna in strips and place it on top of your bed of lettuce.
  4. Top with the vinaigrette and green onion.
  5. Enjoy!

This salad was very quick to make. And very quick to eat. But maybe that’s because I eat all my food super fast. I plan to work this salad into my work lunch rotation. It would be a great salad to shake together in a tupperware container at my desk.

Hemp Seed Chocolate Chip Cookies


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It’s been about two years since I purchased Julie Morris’s cookbook Superfood Snacks. I’ve tried less recipes than I had intended but this recipe was one I always wanted to try. I love chocolate chip cookies so if you can make chocolate chip cookies healthy then consider me bought and sold. Turns out, you can.

I modified Julie’s original recipe slightly. Hers is a vegan recipe and I added egg. I also decided I wanted to use really dark chocolate because it’s lower in sugar and has a lot of fiber. It occurred to me while tasting the dough that I should have added more sugar to compensate for the fact that I wasn’t really using very sweet chocolate. So at the end I decided to roll the cookies in fake sugar to give them a bit more sweetness. I ate two straight out of the oven and have almost my entire day of fiber in my belly. Would I make these again? You bet. I could eat these cookies every day and not feel guilty about eating cookies on a daily basis.

ingredients.

  • 3/4 c. + 1/4 c. hemp seeds, shelled
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 c. coconut sugar or sugar substitute (I used erythritol)
  • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 T. maca powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 c. cacoa nibs
  • 3.5 oz bar dark chocolate (80% or higher)

directions.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. I skipped this step on one sheet and trust me, it was a mistake.
  2. Pour 3/4 cup of hemp seeds into a blender, add the almond milk and vanilla and blend into a thick paste. Add egg, sugar and coconut oil and blend on low speed until completely incorporated.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the flour, maca powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, sea salt, chocolate, cacao nibs and the remaining 1/4 cup hemp seeds.
  4. Add the blender ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on low to combine to make dough.
  5. Take an amount of dough that fits into your hand and roll into a ball. Dip the ball into a bowl of coconut sugar or sugar substitute. Place on the prepared trays. I got 21 balls of dough using this method.img_4607img_4608
  6. Bake in the oven for approximately 12 minutes. The cookies will spread slightly. Take out of the oven and let the cookies cool on the tray for several minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

I know this is the part you’ve been waiting for. Here are the health stats for one cookie: approximately 145 calories, 9 g fat, 20 carbs, 13 g fiber, 1 g sugar and 5 g protein. Don’t you want to get to your kitchen and bake a pan of these cookies?

Recipe rating: 

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Chocolate Candy Bar Crush Cake


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One of my favorite parts about making a cake is that moment when you reveal it to the people who are going to be eating it and you hear the oohs and the aahs. I had planned on making a chocolate cake for my (joint) birthday (cake) celebration. Then the day after my birthday, I walked into work and my coworker had me me the most insane-looking cake. It was chocolate with chocolate chip cookie dough filling and had all these goodies attached to the top and sides: chocolate bark, cookies, meringue puffs, caramels, etc. It inspired the cake I made the following weekend to celebrate my birthday with friends.

I had intended to make the Blackout ChocolateCake by Pinch of Yum exactly as is, until Kira presented me with her cake monstrosity. So I used the blackout cake recipe for the cake and frosting and created my own monstrosity for toppings. My (slightly tweaked) version of the blackout cake is below.

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cake ingredients.

  • 3 c. flour
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 T. instant coffee or espresso powder
  • 1 T. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. plain Greek yogurt (I used 0% fat because that’s what I had on hand but I would normally have bought whole milk yogurt for a cake)
  • 2 c. water
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 T. vanilla extract

frosting ingredients.

  • 1 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • two pinches of salt
  • 2 lbs powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c. cream (heavy, whipping or light)

directions.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (or 325 if using a convection oven). Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottom with parchment paper, grease again and sift cocoa powder into the pan. Shake the pan to coat and dump any excess powder.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the eggs, oil, and sugar until well incorporated. Add vanilla, yogurt and water and mix well.
  3. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the three cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the cakes are set. I baked mine 35 minutes and thought it was too long because the toothpick came out clean. (I like a few crumbs to be clinging to a toothpick when I stick into a cake and remove it.) However, when assembled for eating, the cake was not the least bit dry. Let the cakes cool completely (or freeze overnight) before frosting the cake.
  5. To make the frosting, cream butter and cream cheese together, scraping down the sides. Add the vanilla, salt, powdered sugar and cocoa powder and stir carefully. Add enough cream to make the frosting your desired consistency. I believe I used about half a cup
  6. To assemble the cake, slice the cooled cakes in half so that you have three layers. I use a bread knife to do this. It’s easier to me if the layer is cold so I usually freeze the cake layers and then let them come to room temperature a bit before attempting to cut in half.
  7. I like to place some waxed paper on the bottom of whatever platter I’m using for serving. I place three to four strips in a triangle or square so that when I set a layer down, the wax paper is between the cake and the plate. It makes for easy removal when you’re done and a clean platter.
  8. Stack the first layer on the platter and cover with frosting to about 1-inch of the edge of the layer. Cover with another layer and repeat the process until you’ve used all your layers. I usually do a faint  “crumb” layer covering the top and sides to seal in any crumbs and fill in any holes between the layers of cake with frosting. Then I’ll stick the cake into the fridge and let the frosting firm up a bit and do a second layer of frosting with what’s remaining.
  9. For the topping, be creative. You can do chocolate chips a la Pinch of Yum, which I think looks awesome. I topped my cake with homemade peanut butter nut chocolate fudge, peanut butter chocolate ganache and candy bars galore.

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I am always a bit nervous when trying out a new cake recipe and I was especially nervous with this one as I thought I had overbaked it. I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that this cake was not the least bit dry. It was very moist! And the chocolatey-ness of the cake is really just perfect. It’s plain awesome. I would definitely make this cake again, and it went over REALLY well with all those who had the pleasure of eating it.

Recipe Rating: 

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Lightened Up Slopped-Up Spaghetti


When I was a kid, my grandma watched my sister and I quite often. She lived about a mile from the Catholic school where we attended grade school and I remember walking to her house after school or being dropped off there so she could watch me when I was sick. We would watch Days of Our Lives. She would smoke cigarettes. And she would make me lunch. My favorite dish of all time as a child, and to this day, is my Grandma’s Slopped-Up Spaghetti recipe. I remember there was a time when I tried to recreate her recipe at home. It never really tasted like hers did. I mean sure she used her own canned tomato sauce and I used store bought tomato sauce but how could there be such a huge difference? Turns out, there can and is.

She can make her Slopped-Up Spaghetti dish in about 30 to 60 minutes so it made for a quick lunch or supper. The recipe doesn’t require a ton of ingredients and it’s the best tasting pasta dish in the whole world. I promise. I wouldn’t lead you astray on this.

When my coworker gave me three pounds of Roma tomatoes this past week I thought long and hard on what I could make to use all those dang tomatoes. I had some whole wheat spaghetti sitting on my counter and I thought it would be nice to recreate a slimmed-down version of my grandma’s pasta dish. I swapped her ground chuck for ground turkey, white noodles for wheat noodles, canned tomato sauce for roasted tomatoes + pasta water and I have to tell you … it’s pretty darn close to my Grandma’s famous spaghetti! No one will ever make the pasta dish as good as she can but I’ll settle for pretty close.

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ingredients.

  • 2 lbs low-fat ground turkey (go as low-fat as you can tolerate
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 3 lbs Roma tomatoes, halved and roasted in one table spoon olive oil
  • 16 oz whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1/4 c. tomato paste
  • 3 to 4 c. pasta water
  • salt and pepper, to taste

directions.

  1. Roast the tomatoes. You can do this the day before. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread tomato halves on cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for two to three hours or until the tomatoes have shrunk and begun to char slightly.
  2. Cook ground turkey over medium-high heat along with chopped onion until turkey is cooked through. Drain or suction any grease you see in the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions to make the pasta al dente. Drain the pasta reserving approximately 4 cups of the pasta water.
  4. In the pot where you cooked the pasta, combine noodles, ground turkey mixture, tomato paste and tomatoes. Slowly stir in pasta water. You want there to be enough water in the pot so that the dish can simmer without drying out. The water sauce will reduce and/or be absorbed by the pasta so don’t worry if it looks a bit runny.
  5. Simmer the pasta over low heat for approximately 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. You can serve immediately or cool down and store in the fridge. It should taste even more flavorful the next day. Garnish with Parmesan cheese, if you wish. I grew up eating the Kraft grated kind that came in the green can so I’m happy to use that kind. Use the “real” Parmesan cheese if you wish!

I got approximately 12 one-cup servings from this recipe.

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This lighter version of my Grandma’s famous dish takes a bit longer to make than the one I grew up eating. My issue is that I do not have any of my Grandma’s homemade canned tomato sauce so the only thing I can do is try to recreate her dish using other ingredients. I think the roasted tomatoes and pasta water worked great. I ended up adding the tomato paste on a whim toward the end because it seemed like it needed more of a tomato flavor. I almost put that the paste is optional but I do think adding the paste really brought the dish together. Perhaps if I had used more tomatoes I wouldn’t have had to have used the paste, but alas, my coworker cheaped out by giving me only three pounds of tomatoes instead of four. What can a girl do?

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Cauliflower Fritters



Every time I buy cauliflower (or rather cauliflower rice these days) I get grandiose thoughts of doing something cool with it and then sort of forget that the cauliflower is even in my refrigerator. I guess I must not find cauliflower all that exciting when you get right down to it or I wouldn’t procrastinate on making cauliflower recipes.

So of course this week I already had all my meals planned when I looked in the fridge and saw the cauliflower staring at me in an accusatory manner. Like I forgot about it again. Which I did. So for days I planned on making these fritters and I never got around to it. I had my day of food planned out today and it did not include cauliflower. And then I opened the damn fridge door and the cauliflower was frowning at me, per usual. So I set aside my low-fat lasagna to make this tonight for dinner.

What I love about this dish is how much protein there is in a serving. Over 30 grams! What I didn’t love about this dish was the cauliflower flavor. I think that I think I like cauliflower when really I don’t. Almost every recipe I try that involves cauliflower involves me hiding the flavor of the cauliflower. If it’s not hidden I’m just not a fan. So yeah. I’m like an addict who won’t admit she has a problem. I’m not that much of a fan of cauliflower I guess. In taste. In theory I love cauliflower. 

So I got the recipe from a low-carb website and I actually added some carb to it to make it a bit more balanced; it”s still high protein and relatively low carb though. If you are looking for low carb, you should follow the original recipe.

ingredients.

  • 16 oz. cauliflower rice (You can find a bag at Trader Joe’s; it’s already prepared for you)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese (regular or reduced fat)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • large egg
  • 1/2 T. coconut oil
  • salt and papper to taste

directions.

  1. Cover the bottom of a large bowl with cheese cloth and place the cauliflower rice inside; sprinkle the salt on top and mix thoroughly with your hands. Let the cauliflower sit for 10 minutes.
  2. With clean hands, squeeze the water out of the cauliflower and put the cauliflower back  into the bowl. Add the onions, flour, cheese, baking powder and ground black pepper. Mix thoroughly. Add the egg and mix until incorporated.img_3982
  3. Place a large frying pan or skillet over medium heat. When hot, add coconut oil. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out the cauliflower fritter batter and place into the hot skillet. Push down gently with a spatula to make a flattened pancake. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Cook 3 minutes or until the fritters are well cooked on the bottom; flip over and cook 3 more minutes. Makes six fritters; three portions. I ate mine with a sunny side up egg.

Now though I wouldn’t say I overly loved this recipe I do think with a bit of tweaking it could turn out a lot better. It may have needed another egg in the mixture. It may have needed to cook a bit longer. It may have needed some garlic. It may have needed a delicious sauce to drizzle over the top. Or it may have needed something else to go along side it. Like a big fat steak.

Recipe rating: 

Greek Yogurt Blueberry Bran Muffins


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I wanted to make something simple to take to work for breakfast. Something I could grab and go and something that was healthy. So I decided to look up bran muffin recipes made with greek yogurt hoping I could find a recipe that has a bit more protein than your normal bran muffin. I found a recipe that looked like a winner at Life Made Simple. I based my recipe on this one.

I made the recipe twice. For the first batch, I used fresh blueberries and 1/4 cup of fake sugar. The muffins were barely sweet at all. For the second batch, I used 1/3 cup of fake sugar and frozen wild blueberries. I liked this second batch a lot better, but I actually think you could up the fake sugar amount to 1/2 cup. I was trying to limit the grams of carbohydrates in the recipe and if you want to do that as well, stick with the 1/3 cup.

ingredients.

  • 1½ c. non-dairy unsweetened milk
  • 1 c. Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ c. coconut oil, melted
  • ⅓ c. sugar substitute (I call it “fake sugar”); erythritol works well here
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1½ c. bran cereal (like fiber one; I found a box at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 c. berries, dried fruit or nuts (I used fresh blueberries in one batch and some frozen wild ones in another and liked the frozen wild ones better)

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directions.

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, yogurt, egg, oil, fake sugar, and vanilla. Add the cereal and mix until incorporated.
  2. In a separate mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Let sit in the refrigerator overnight. On my second batch I let them sit in there two nights.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray or line one muffin tin, set aside.
  4. Remove batter from the refrigerator and gently fold in the berries, dried fruit or nuts. Dot the tops of your muffins with a few berries, some extra fruit or nuts to make it look pretty.
  5. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, dividing evenly between the wells. Place in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. This recipe yields approximately 18 standard-sized muffins.

I pretty much like to underbake everything I make. Yes–I eat meat medium-rare too so I guess I like everything undercooked. There’s nothing worse to me than an overcooked bake good and bran muffins are no exception to me. I baked these muffins closer to 22 or 25 minutes. Both batches probably could have baked slightly longer, but because I like everything to be moist, I didn’t mind they were slightly undercooked.

One muffin weighs in at approximately 86 calories, 5 g fat, 13 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 2.5 g fiber and 1.5 g sugar. (This is according to the myfitnesspal app.) For a healthy recipe I found these muffins pretty stinking good!

Recipe rating: 

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Oreo Ooey Gooey Bars



I decided I’m an evil genius. An evil food genius that is. I may have concocted the best ooey gooey bar ever made: with Oreos.

I got the idea when I was rearranging some furniture and came across a package of open Oreos. I wanted to make something to use up the oreos and my mind drifted back to when I made dirt cake recently. And how yummy oreos taste when they are infused with a little moisture. They are almost cake-like. I figured the perfect way to accomplish this would be to add oreos in some sort of filling. Cake would definitely work but I didn’t have the wherewithal to make a cake. I needed something simpler. Like bars.

One of the best things about these bars as that they are simple. Easy-peasy. You need cookie dough, Oreos and condensed milk. And maybe some extra chocolate chips if you’re feeling kind of fancy. See below for specific details.

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ingredients.

  • 1 c. butter, margarine or Crisco vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 12-oz. package chocolate chips
  • 1 14.5 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 sleeves of Oreos
  • 1 c. mini chocolate chips

directions.

  1. Grab a package of chocolate chips and make cookie dough according to package directions. The ingredients in Italics above are the ingredients I found on the back of the package.
  2. Prepare a 13×10 inch baking pan by covering in parchment paper or foil and cooking spray. You can even just use cooking spray but I like to use parchment paper because it makes pulling the bars out of the pan a snap and these bars get sticky.
  3. Evenly push about 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of the pan.img_3913-1
  4. Top with 2/3 of the can of the condensed milk. img_3914-1
  5. Top with Oreos.img_3915-1
  6. Drizzle the remaining condensed milk over the Oreos.img_3912-1
  7. Drop the remaining cookie dough in chunks on top of the drenched Oreos and press down. Cover with bits of Oreo and mini chocolate chips. But only if you’re feeling extra fancy. Cover with foil or Saran wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.img_3916-1img_3917-1
  8. The next day preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the bars from the fridge and remove the foil or Saran wrap. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until the bars start to brown along the edges and the cookies look done in the middle. Don’t overbake.
  9. Cool and cut into squares. Serve immediately and dare yourself not to eat the entire pan. Really. Dare yourself.

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Recipe rating: 