Friday, January 28, 2011

Oatmeal Brulee

One of my favorite winter breakfasts is oatmeal - Creamy, sweet and warming oatmeal!  I remember on cold, snowy mornings my mom would have a pot of oatmeal cooking and we'd fill our tummies before heading to school.  We used to eat it with brown sugar, raisins and milk - What a way to ruin such a great, naturally healthy food.  When I make oatmeal now, I still like it sweet, but I try to keep the sugar content low.  I'm not a fan of the packages of instant oatmeal since they're loaded with artificial ingredients.  At work I keep a bag of quick cook oats mixed with dried blueberries in my desk so I can have oatmeal whenever I crave it.  I sprinkle a bit of brown sugar on top because I still enjoy a bit of sweetness.

I found the idea for oatmeal brulee on one of my favorite blogs, Annie's Eats.  I stumbled upon it a few months ago and decided this morning would be perfect to try it.  We just survived Nor'Easter #1,528 of the season, so I thought oatmeal would be a great breakfast.  Annie's recipe calls for strawberries and bananas, neither of which I had on hand so I looked in my refrigerator and found blueberries and raspberries - I figured they would be a great combination.  The brulee comes together in about 10 minutes which makes this great for the week as well as the weekend.  You broil the oatmeal and fruit quickly so the oats remain creamy while a sweet crunch forms from the brown sugar.  Below is how I made the brulee this morning and I have also added variations.

Oh, did I mention the entire bowl is under 250 calories?!

Ingredients (makes 1 serving):

Oats (I used Country Choice Organic Multi-Grain Hot Cereal, but any oats will do)
Dash of salt (optional)
Dash of vanilla extract (optional)
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
1/4 c blueberries
1/4 c raspberries
1 T packed brown sugar

Cook the oats according the the package details.  I used one cup of water, a pinch of salt and 1/2 a cup of oats which made just over a 1/2 cup of oatmeal.  While the oats are cooking, preheat your broiler.  Place an oven rack as close to the broiler as possible.  Once the oatmeal is done, remove from heat and add in cinnamon and vanilla, if using.  Place oatmeal in an ovenproof bowl and top with fruit.  Sprinkle brown sugar over the fruit and oatmeal and place under the broiler.  You can also use a kitchen torch to have better control over the browning.  I don't have a torch, but it is on my list of kitchen wants.  :)  Remove the bowl from the oven when sugar is browned and crisp, about 2 -3 minutes.  A great side to the oatmeal would be some yogurt to up the protein factor or even some scrambled egg whites which could be done while the oatmeal is cooking.


1/2 c oatmeal: 130 calories, 1g fat, 5g fiber, 5g protein
1/4 c blueberries, 1/4 c raspberries, 1 T brown sugar add about 85 calories


Cranberry-Almond: 1 T slivered almonds and 1/4 c dried cranberries.  Substitue almond extract for vanilla.
Coconut-Macadamia: 1 T chopped macadamia nuts and 1 T flaked coconut
Blueberry-Almond: 1T slivered almonds and 1/4 c blueberries.
Chocolate-Walnut: 1T chopped walnuts and 1T chocolate chips

I didn't do the math on the variations but adding nuts (not to mention chocolate chips) will obviously increase the fat and calorie content.  While many nuts contain good fat and help to keep you fuller longer, it is still fat, so use in moderation.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cate's Lemon Dijon Chicken

I resolved to post healthier recipes this year instead of the high fat and sugar (but oh so delicious!) recipes I've been posting.  So, here's another - Cate's Lemon Dijon Chicken.  I can't take full credit for the recipe.  I just pulled together parts from some of my favorite recipes and rolled them into one.

This dish comes together quickly which makes it perfect for a weeknight meal.  It's tangy and light, which is just yummy to me!  It would be great served over egg noodles or polenta.  I served mine with a medley of roasted veggies - Carrots, parsnips, potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

Here's the recipe:

1t oil (I used canola but any light-tasting oil will work)
4 - 4 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Juice of one lemon (about 2 T.  I like my chicken a bit lemony.  If you like less, start with 1/2 a lemon and increase the juice to taste)
1T Dijon mustard
1 t garlic, diced (fresh if you have it.  I only had it in a jar)
1t fresh, chopped thyme (dry will work too, but use about 1/2 t)
1t unsalted butter
Salt & pepper, to taste

Prep:  Sometimes chicken breasts are not even and need to be pounded out to even thickness.  If necessary, place the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a meat tenderizer, rolling pin or a small frying pan until the chicken is even in thickness.

Preheat a nonstick skillet with oil on medium-high heat. While the pan is heating up, salt and pepper the chicken on both sides.  Once the skillet is hot enough add the chicken.  Cook until browned, about 5 minutes.  Turn the chicken and cook another 4 - 5 minutes until browned and just undercooked (the chicken will finish cooking later when you return it to the pan after the sauce is made).  Remove chicken, put on a plate and cover loosely in foil.

Turn the heat up high and add the chicken broth to the pan.  Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the brown bits left from the chicken.  After the broth simmers for about a minute, add the lemon juice.  Keeping the flame on high, simmer the juice and broth until reduced by half, about 4 minutes.  Whisk in the Dijon and simmer for one minute. Turn down the heat to medium and add in the garlic, thyme and butter.  Once the butter is melted add in the chicken and the juices that gathered on the plate.  Finish cooking for about five minutes or until the chicken is done.

Nutrition info (1 chicken breast and 2 T of sauce): 246 calories, 11g fat, 1.6g carbs, 34g protein

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Blue Cheese Stuffed Buffalo Turkey Burgers

One of my favorite foods to eat during a football game is a good, juicy burger...  And spicy buffalo fingers...  So, why not combine the two?  Of course the thought of combining beef and buffalo sauce was not too appetizing to me.  And, I am trying to eat more healthily.  Beef?  No.  Turkey?  Yes!  To me, turkey and chicken are so versatile and are a great base for adding spice.  This turned out to be yet another meal I could make immediately as I had every ingredient on hand.  Well, almost immediately.  I did have to wait for the turkey to defrost.  I used one pound of 99% fat free ground turkey.  Into the turkey went hot sauce (lots of it!), worcestershire sauce, diced scallions, a bit of Panko bread crumbs and a pinch of salt.  Oh, and of course - Blue cheese!!!

I'm sorry - I don't have exact measurements since when I cook, I tend to throw in a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  My friend Michaela is always asking me for recipes and I find myself having to almost make up measurements.  She hasn't complained yet, so I think I'm doing okay.  :)  Since the turkey is so low in calories (120 calories per four ounce serving), I decided to go big and make only two burgers.  What the heck?  I was watching a football game, so I decided to splurge.  The turkey, however is not where the splurging comes into play.  The splurge is the delicious, creamy, tangy, Maytag blue cheese that filled these half-pound burgers.
I made four patties, piled the blue cheese on top of two of them and topped each of those with the remaining patties.  Sinful, I know.
Because these burgers were so thick I didn't want to risk burning them on the outside before they were done instead - Especially being turkey!  I browned both sides of the burgers in an oven-safe pan then finished cooking them in a 350 degree oven.  I let them sit for 10 of the longest minutes of my life!
I didn't bother to top the burger with anything since my mouth was watering as I was taking the pictures. I wanted to eat the burger right away and didn't have time to search my fridge for accompaniments.  Next time I make this - and there will be a next time - Maybe I'll be more creative and think of some fancy toppings.  In my opinion, the burger was perfect as is.  But who knows, I may be able to improve on perfection!  And by the way -  the game was not nearly as perfect as this burger.  In fact, it was the exact opposite!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cooking Light Chocolate Chip Cookes

I was craving chocolate chip cookies yesterday but I've been trying to be good about what I eat - Especially since I've been sick and haven't been able to exercise as often as I'd like!  I found a quick recipe in one of the Cooking Light cookbooks I have and got to work.  The dough came together pretty quickly as chocolate chip cookies usually do.  The dough is a bit softer than many doughs but I think it's because it has less butter than most recipes - Strained applesauce replaces much of the butter.  The recipe called for semi-sweet chocolate chips, but I had bittersweet, milk and semi-sweet on hand so I decided to use all three.  YUM!  What is better than a triple-chocolate chip cookie!?  I can't think of much!

While the cookies baked the house filled with the wonderful aroma of chocolate.  These cookies did not disappoint - They were chocolatey, gooey and chewy.  You can hardly tell that these cookies are low in fat and and calories.  The best part about these (besides the chocolate; can you tell I love chocolate?!) is that they are only 78 calories and contain less than 3g of fat per cookie!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate and peppermint is one of my favorite combinations (I'm sure you can tell as this is my second post with this flavor combo!).  I used a basic chocolate cake recipe for the cupcakes, but I decided to try something new for the frosting.  I typically make a standard buttercream but have been wanting to try something new.  I found a recipe for vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream and thought I'd try it.  It was a lot more work than my usual frosting, but well worth it!  The only thing I changed is the flavoring - I added peppermint extract and reduced the amount of vanilla by a teaspoon.

I used a swirled frosting effect by tinting half the frosting red and filing the pastry bag with both the red and white frosting.  Unfortunately, I could not get the exact shade of red that I wanted but I think the pink looks  okay!  :)

Although this frosting is more labor intensive than my standard buttercream, it is well worth the effort.  The consistency and flavor is amazing.  I've already found a few other Swiss meringue recipes I will be trying!

Source: Annie's Eats

Whole Wheat Pitas

It had been years since I'd made pitas and when I came across this recipe it made me remember how easy and delicious homemade pitas were.  I had all the ingredients on hand so I decided to make them one snowy Sunday.  As with many yeast breads, there is some downtime so this is a great recipe to make when you're trying to multitask - i.e. watch football!

After making the dough, you need to place it in a greased bowl and put it somewhere warm for its first rise.  Once the dough has risen for the first time, it's ready to be rolled out and cut into eight portions.

Flatten each portion and place on parchment-lined cookie sheets.  Make sure you put a bit of cornmeal or flour on the parchment before placing the dough on the cookie sheet.  Place a clean towel over the dough to rise for about 20 minutes.  Once the dough has risen bake in a preheated 500 degree oven for about five minutes on each side.  You can place the pitas directly on the oven rack, use a pizza stone or bake them on the cookie sheets.  For the first five minutes, I baked them directly on the rack, but decided I didn't like the lines left them on them.  I put them cookie sheets to bake the other side and they came out perfectly.

These are great directly out of the oven and they are so versatile!  The reason there are only seven pitas in the picture is that I couldn't wait to eat a a hot pita as soon as it came out of the oven.  :)  In my opinion, these are best on their own but I've had them with salads, used them as pizza crust as well as for sandwiches.  I stored them in a ziploc bag and kept them in the refrigerator so they would stay fresh.  These can be frozen, but be sure to wrap each individually with wax paper before freezing to keep them from sticking together.  To reheat the pitas, I recommend wrapping the pita in foil and placing in an 400 degree oven until warmed through.


Source: Annie's Eats

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ginger Beef Stir Fry

As many of the recipes I've been trying lately, I had to make this as soon as I found the recipe online.  This came together really quickly.  I made the sauce and prepped the veggies and beef while the rice cooked.  Once everything was in the pan, it took about 15 minutes to cook which makes this a great weeknight meal option.

Although the recipe sounded delicious to me when I first read it, I did make a few changes.  I'm not a huge fan of ginger, so I cut the amount in half and it was just enough.  I also like a little heat, so I about doubled the amount of red pepper flakes.  Since I don't eat peppers, I omitted them and just increased the amount of broccoli and carrots as well as added in snow peas.  Lastly, I opted to use filet as opposed to sirloin as it is a leaner cut of meat and that's what I had in the fridge!

I highly recommend making this if you're craving Chinese food and would like a quick and healthier option than take out.  This is definitely going into my recipe rotation!  It would also be a great meal for entertaining.  It's easy to double or triple the recipe and you won't be stuck in the kitchen cooking instead of visiting with your guests.


Source: Annie's Eats

1 tsp. cornstarch
¼ cup cold water
3 tbsp. plum sauce
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 lb. boneless sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
1 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin
1½ cups small broccoli florets
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
4 green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp. salted peanuts, chopped (optional)
Rice, for serving
Sesame seeds, for garnish
In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water; whisk until smooth.  Stir in the plum sauce, ginger, soy sauce and red pepper flakes.  Set aside.
In a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat, cook the steak strips until no longer pink.  Remove to a plate and set aside, draining the excess fat from the skillet if necessary.  Add the oil to the pan and heat through.  Add the red pepper, broccoli and carrot pieces to the skillet and stir fry until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.  Mix in the green onion and garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Return the steak pieces to the pan.  Add the sauce to the pan, stirring well to coat everything.  Cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes more.  Stir in the peanuts.
Serve the warm stir fry over rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish, if desired.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Chocolate Cake with Fleur de Sel Caramel Filling

I found this recipe on and knew right away I wanted to make it for my New Year's Eve party.  It was a hit - the star of the show!  I could have served just the cake and my guests would have been completely content.

The first step is to bake the chocolate cake.  I baked the cakes Wednesday evening and kept them in the refrigerator until I was ready to assemble the cake Friday afternoon.  This made the cake nice and firm and easy to slice into four layers.

The next steps include making the chocolate ganache and the fleur de sel caramel sauce.  I made both of these Thursday night.  The ganache is super easy - Warm cream poured over bittersweet chocolate.  The caramel was a little more labor intensive, but well worth it.  The only thing I wish the recipe would have included was what temperature the sugar should be before removing it from the heat and adding the rest of the ingredients.  The recipe says to cook the sugar until it's an amber color.  I think I took mine a bit too far past the "soft ball" stage as the sugar started to harden when I added the cream and butter.  It ended up working out okay but next time I will take the sugar off the head a bit sooner.

The final step is assembling the cake.  Each layer consists of cake, ganache, caramel sauce, a sprinkling of fleur de sel and toasted almonds.  The cake comes together fairly quickly.  A huge thing I learned was to leave the ganache out for a long time in order to bring it to room temperature and be able to easily spread it.  This took me three times to realize that it takes hours (seven, in fact) for the ganache to be spreadable.  This made my life much easier!  After assembling the four layers, you frost the cake with the remainder of the ganache.  Once frosted, you decorate the sides of the cake with the rest of the toasted almonds.

I put this cake out as the centerpiece of the table on New Year's Eve and my guests could hardly wait for it to be dessert time!  The cake was a hit and not one person left a crumb on his plate!  I highly recommend making this cake.  It does have a lot of steps, but it is well worth it!

Enjoy and happy eating in 2011!

Source: Bon Appetit