Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Portobello Pizzas

I find it so amazing that my mind can be so completely blown over the simplest of recipes.
Take these Portobello Pizzas for example.
They take about 10 minutes from start to finish, they're delicious, healthy, fairly inexpensive, can be tailored to meet your preferences, and are just overall crazy extraordinary.
True story.
I mean, what would you say if I told you in about 10 minutes you could be enjoying pizza deliciousness for under 100 calories?
You would probably say, "I don't think so crazy woman."
It's okay. I would forgive you for saying that because you simply haven't tasted these bad boys yet.

Portobello Pizzas

1 Portobello mushroom cap, whole
2 Tbsp pizza sauce
1 Tbsp shredded, aged cheddar
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 small slice tomato, diced
1 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese

Turn on oven broiler and let heat up while you prepare your pizza.
Carefully remove stem from mushroom and discard. Place mushroom, gill side up, in shallow oven safe container sprayed lightly with cooking spray.
Spread 2 Tbsp pizza sauce on cap.

Then sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese.

Sprinkle with toppings.


Top with shredded Parmesan cheese.


Cook under broiler until cheese is bubbly and mushroom is cooked almost all the way through. The bottom should still be a little stiff.

You can see in the photo below that the bottom of the mushroom is not quite cooked through. You want it to retain a little of its crunchiness so it is not soggy. If you do want to cook it longer that is up to you but then it will be a lot juicier.

Sue made something similar last weekend but she did hers on the BBQ and they turned out great. Hers were much squishier than mine. Mine you could pick up in your hands and eat but hers you definitely needed a fork.
I think it will be a personal preference how long you want to cook them.
I was thinking you could preheat the oven to 350 and cook them for 5 minutes AND THEN put them under the broiler as an alternative to just broiling them.
Oh, yeah, by the way - I left the oven rack in the middle of the oven to broil. If you move the rack up too high it will burn the cheese and the mushroom won't have time to cook at all.

Want the down low on the calories (according to Fitday)?
85 calories per cap. SERIOUSLY!!
I mean, 85 calories for a huge pizza type snack? Sign me up!
P.S. - only 2.5 fat, 9 carb, 7 protein.

I doubled the recipe to get the 2 pizzas in the photos above. I had them for lunch. 170 calories for lunch? Yep. that's right.
Plus it's veggies.
O.M.G. my mind is still blown.

Check out The Mandatory Mooch for some fun links!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Vegetables in a Rose Sauce

These tasted better than they looked.
In my head I had imagined them looking prettier than they did.
Don't get me wrong....they were still "okay" looking. But I wanted them to look glamorous.
Vegetables can be glamorous.
Just not these ones, apparently.
Anyway...they tasted amazing. I had heard of a rose sauce before but had never tried one. Rose as in tomato and cream sauce...not actual rose, the flower, sauce. Turns out it's a very tasty sauce for veggies. I think serving this dish on a plate of pasta would be a fantastic dinner option.
I just ate them as a side with my turkey burger patty.
Impressed with my healthy eating?
I was....
There was cheesecake and ice cream in my kitchen and I didn't even eat it because these veggies filled me up.
You really should be impressed......

Vegetables in a Rose Sauce

1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large head broccoli, broken into florets
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup chicken broth (or veggie broth)
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
salt & pepper
1/2 cup half & half cream

Heat oil in a large pan. Throw all of the veggies in and saute for 6 - 7 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients, except the cream. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer for about 6 - 7 minutes. Until veggies are fork tender.

Add the cream and and stir well until creamy. Heat through.
Serve immediately.

I didn't bother calculating the calories and such in this dish. I know the cream ups the values but I figured because it was 99% vegetables and herbs that it was healthy and good for me.
Healthy and good for me is good enough for me.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cucumber and Crab Bites

Here is a quick, easy, healthy, and very pretty snack for the next time you need something to hold you over until meal time.
It only took about 5 - 10 minutes from start to finish. I love super-de-duper quick snacks that look so fancy.
I've been doing pretty good with keeping my snacking to a minimum, you know, besides the Creme Brulee Ice Cream, etc... that I have been making in some kind of subconscious effort to sabotage my healthy eating plan.
This recipe is helping to keep me on track so I guess it all balances out.

Cucumber and Crab Bites

2 large cucumber, sliced into 24 slices
1 cup imitation crab meat, finely chopped
3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, shredded
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 Tbsp light sour cream
1 Tbsp light Miracle Whip (or mayo)
salt & pepper

Take sliced cucumbers and scoop out half of the seeds using a melon baller or tiny spoon. Set on serving platter.

Mix remaining ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined.

Place approx 1/2 to 1 Tbsp of filling into indent in cucumber and carefully mound on top.

Eat right away or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
See....pretty, right?
Want to know some good news about these?
There is only 17 calories per bite!! Yay!
17 calories, 0.5 fat, 2 carbs, 1 protein.
(The whole recipe is only 400 calories!)

If you don't have imitation crab (or real crab) then you can use canned tuna. I made it with tuna last week and it was tasty as well. I just used a regular sized can.

Be sure to check out Blissful and Domestic for some fun links.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Creme Brulee Ice Cream

I feel delightfully evil right now.
Like, tenting my fingers, arching one eyebrow, and cackling "Mwah ha ha" kind-of evil.
See that photo above?
It's Creme Brulee Ice Cream.
Maybe I need to restate that so you understand the importance...
Yes, it tastes amazing.
Yes, it is incredibly smooth and silky.
Yes, you torch the sugar on top so you get to hear that amazing crack when you eat it.
Yes, it is everything you would hope it will be.
I feel like I invented the best food in the world right there.
Okay, maybe I didn't "invent" it.
Let's say "perfected it".
Pure evil genius.

Creme Brulee Ice Cream

8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 cup 1/2 & 1/2 cream (or whole milk)
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 cups whipping cream (heavy cream)
1/4 tsp salt
extra sugar for sprinkling (about 10 - 12 tsp)

Beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and light yellow.
In a medium saucepan, heat 1/2 & 1/2 with the vanilla bean pod and scraped vanilla seeds until steaming and one or two bubbles break the surface. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 10 minutes.
Remove bean pod and discard (or save for another use).
Slowly pour the hot 1/2 & 1/2 into the egg yolks while constantly whisking (or in the bowl of a running stand mixer) Do this slowly so you don't curdle the eggs.
Pour back into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat until custard coats the back of a spoon. Be careful not to overcook or it will curdle.
Remove from heat and pour through a sieve into a bowl. Stir in the 2 cups of whipping cream.

Chill for several hours or overnight.
Pour chilled cream mixture into your ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions.
When it is finished processing spoon into ramekins and smooth tops.

(I got 6 large ramekins and 6 small ramekins)

(Ooooooh smooth and silky)

Freeze until solid. (At least 3 - 4 hours)
Remove ramekins from freezer about 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle approx 1 tsp of sugar on top of each ramekin. Use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar.

Okay. I didn't wait until it was frozen completely solid. I couldn't wait that long. I waited about an hour before bringing out the torch and caramelizing away.
Amazing! (If I do say so myself...hehehe)
I can't wait until it is "frozen" frozen so it stays a little more solid. As you can see from the above photo it got a little melty.
It's okay. I still managed to get through it just fine.
I suppose it would be wrong of me to eat the entire batch.

**UPDATE** - Okay, here are some pics of the ice cream after I let it freeze hard.
Oh. My. Goodness.
Go make this.

Go ahead...

Have a bite.....

Pop over to Kayla's Creations for great links.
Six Sister's Stuff has fun links too!
Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons has some links worth checking out too!
Want even more links? Then go to A Crafty Cook's blog.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Portobello Egg White Omelet with Tomato

Need something to eat but don't want to explode your heart with calories?
Me too.
Unfortunately I usually find that non-heart exploding snacks are usually boring and/or tasteless. 
Well...as I have learned...they don't necessarily have to be.
This omelet was delicious and is only 155 calories.
It's true.
155 calories, 4 fat, 13 carbs, 17 protein.
Nice, right?
Want to know what is even better?
It only takes about 10 minutes to whip one up. Perfect for when a snack attack hits you or when you are looking for a quick breakfast in the morning.

Portobello Egg White Omelet with Tomato

1 portobello mushroom cap, sliced
1/4 of a small purple onion, diced
2 tsp soy sauce
3 egg whites, beaten
pinch dried parsley
pinch garlic salt
2 Tbsp cheddar cheese, shredded
3 thin slices of tomato

Spray a medium fry pan with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Cook mushroom and onion until vegetables are soft. Stir in soy sauce. Remove cooked mushroom and onion to a small bowl and set aside.
Add beaten egg whites to fry pan and lower heat to medium low. Sprinkle with parsley and garlic salt. Let egg white cook about 4 - 5 minutes, until almost completely set. Gently flip over in pan.
Top half of omelet with cooked mushroom and onion and carefully fold the omelet over to cover the filling.
Remove from heat and sprinkle with 2 Tbsp of shredded cheese. Serve with 3 slices of tomato. (You could, of course, add the tomato slices to the middle of the omelet if you wish...but I like my tomato on the side.)

You could eat this for breakfast if you like. Or lunch. Or dinner. Or a snack.
Okay...pretty much anytime.
And, I just wanted to add that NO, I do not have anything against egg yolks. I enjoy eating the whole egg. I made this egg white only omelet for something different and to lower the calories, etc.. a bit.
It was pretty darn tasty.
It was VERY, very tasty.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes

I thought I would give Jo a break today and write a blog about the interesting dinner I made the other night.
This sandwich turned out really yummy for how easy it was. I prefer it to a "regular" sloppy Joe.
My husband enjoyed these because I left off the green pepper that is in a regular Philly cheesesteak sub. If you wanted to, you could add in some chopped green pepper.
I admit this wasn't my favorite meal BUT I definitely enjoyed it for something different.

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes

1 Tbsp oil
1 lb lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
salt & pepper
1/4 cup HP sauce (or other steak sauce)
1 cup beef stock
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1 cup Provolone cheese, shredded
4 hoagie (or other) buns, split in half diagonally

Heat oil in large fry pan. Add beef and cook and stir until well crumbled and cooked, about 5 - 6 minutes. Add onion and salt & pepper. Cook onions until tender, about 8 minutes.

Stir in HP sauce and beef stock. Bring to a bubble and cook about 2 minutes.
While meat is cooking: melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook for about 1 minute, until thickened. Slowly whisk in milk and bring to a bubble. Stir in cheese.

Remove from heat.
Spoon meat mixture onto bottom half of bun. Top with cheese sauce and remaining top half of bun.

Pretty quick and easy. Not terribly fancy but if you are getting tired of the usual fare you might like this for a change. Especially if you don't want to heat up the kitchen and want to go from start to finish in about 20 minutes.
You can add in some chopped green pepper to the beef mixture when you add the onions if you want a more "traditional" philly cheesesteak.
A quick note though - You definitely want to use the Provolone cheese and not something with a milder flavor. You want the cheese sauce to be nice and strong with the beef to get that Philly cheesesteaky-ness.

We linked this up at Ms. enPlace. be sure to check it out!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Project 56 and Birthday Cakes (made of soda cans)

Great minds think alike.
It's true.
Know how I know?
Sue and I made each other matching birthday cakes out of mini pop cans.
We didn't know we were making each other the same cakes.
I think we had a bit of a twin thing going on there.
The fact we are both addicted to Pinterest may have also had something to do with it...
I made Sue the Coke "cake" and she made me the Diet Coke "cake". (Notice the one I made is fancier with the curly ribbon..... just sayin'....)

Sue's pretty Coke "cake".

My pretty Diet Coke "cake".

They aren't terribly fancy.
Just a bit of ribbon laying around and a glue gun and "ka-pow" pretty birthday cakes.
Sue and I had just gotten back yesterday from a week vacation out of town and wanted to whip something up for each other for our birthday (today).
Not only were we both too tired (read: lazy) to bake "real" cakes, we both made can "cakes'.
Our twin powers apparently work pretty good for turning 40 today.

Here we are enjoying our birthday cakes.

So, because we turned 40 we were trying to think of something we could do to show our appreciation for everything we have and how lucky we have been to this point in our lives.
40, apparently, is a landmark birthday.
Then I saw THIS POST on Culinary Concoctions by Peabody regarding something called "The Birthday Project" started by Robyn Bomar. Basically Robyn decided to do 38 random acts of kindness on her 38th birthday. (If you click the above link to Peabody's site then you can also find the link to Robyn's site.)
Sue and I decided that doing 40 random acts of kindness was something we would definitely like to do.
So why did we name it Project 56?
Well, Kenzie (Sue's daughter) wanted to get in on the giving. We definitely wanted to encourage her spirit of giving! She turned 16 this year - another landmark birthday - so we figured 16 + 40 = 56.
So, Project 56 for 56 random acts of kindness. 
We haven't set a time limit for our acts of kindness...we are hoping to finish them before this time next year so we can start again for our next birthday. We have a list of ideas started to inspire us but we are always looking for suggestions or ideas if anyone would care to share.
We will, hopefully, try to take some photos and such so we can keep everyone upated with how our Project 56 is going.

The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands. -   Robert M. Pirsig

Looking for some cool links? Check out My Turn (for us)
Don't forget Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons too!
There's also The Mandatory Mooch as well. :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Holiday Time

I know you are looking at that picture thinking, "Wow, what a couple of fashionistas!"
You'd be right about that.
I am rockin' those cornrows and that jumpsuit and, what can I say about Sue's trendsetting T-shirt and jeans.
We definitely paved the way for generations to come.
Why I am posting a photo of Sue and I in all of our stylish glory instead of delicious food?
Sue and I are heading up to Prince George for a week of swimming and shopping and just plain relaxing with our Aunty Pat. (Sue's hubby and daughter and our mother are coming along too!)
I just wanted to post a quick note to let our readers know that we will back next Tuesday, July 24th (Our birthday!!) with some more great recipes.
This birthday is a milestone - so we are told - so we will be trying to come up with something special to celebrate.
Until then, we hope you have a great week and we will see you on Tuesday, July 24th - or, as I like to call it, the day Jo and Sue blessed the world with their presence (too much?).

See what happens when you are twins....
Every school photo up until we were old enough to make our own fashion decisions involves us being dressed the same.
I know...I know...."it's cute".
Well, okay, we were cute.
I'll admit it.
I just wanted to say that if you look closely at the photos you will see a difference in our hairstyles. Up until the day before the photo, we had the same one. Sue decided to give herself a haircut at the last minute. (Notice one pony tail is longer than the other and no bangs...)
Sue always was a rebel.
I was  am the good twin.

Anyway, we will be back in a few days!
Have a great week :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Crockpot Korean Short Ribs

Time for another slow cooker recipe.
Dinner without turning on the oven. Who doesn't love that?
This is another throw everything into the crockpot and walk away yet totally impress everyone with your culinary skills recipe.
I apologize in advance for the poor quality of my photos. I was using a point and shoot instead of my fancy schmancy camera and everything just looks blurry. Eeek!
I guess if you want to see how truly beautiful it looks you will have to whip this up yourself.

Crockpot Korean Short Ribs
(adapted from The Slow Cooker Bible cookbook)

4 to 4 1/2 lbs beef short ribs
1/2 cup green onions, sliced (divided in half)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup beef broth
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

Spray crockpot with cooking spray.
Place ribs in bottom of slow cooker.
In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup green onions, soy sauce, beef broth, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and pepper. Pour over ribs.

Cover and cook on low for 6 - 7 hours, stirring once during cooking. (My crockpot cooks fast - it only took 4 hours on low!) Ribs should be fork tender.
Remove ribs from liquid. Cool slightly. Trim excess fat, cut rib meat into bite sized pieces, discarding bones and fat.
Let liquid stand for about 5 minutes to allow fat to rise. Skim off fat.
Whisk sesame oil into liquid until well combined. Return beef to liquid in the slow cooker. Cover, cook another 20 - 30 minutes, or until hot.
Serve with rice, if desired, and garnish with toasted sesame seeds and remaining green onions.

If you are using ribs that you think may not be very tender - you can always simmer the ribs on the stove top in a pot of water for an hour or two, drain them, and then continue making the recipe as per above. This also removes more of the fat as well.
The more tender, the better!
We served this on Basmati rice with a side of beet greens. So good!
I really liked the flavor of the sauce on the ribs. I think whisking in 2 or 3 tsps of cornstarch into the sauce when you add the sesame oil would thicken it a bit and make it even nicer to serve on the rice.
I didn't do it this time...but I definitely want to try it the next time I make it.

Be sure to visit Hun...What's For Dinner? for some great links.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Banana Coconut Muffins with Vanilla Coconut Custard

Think you have the best banana bread/muffin recipe?
don't get mad at me BUT...
I think I may have you beat here.
This just may be the moistest, tastiest, squishiest, banana-y, coconut-y, delicious handful of goodness you will ever taste.
I usually use this banana bread recipe as my go to but I think I may have to crown a new winner.
I promise I am not even exaggerating a little bit.
The coconut custard just puts these over the top.

Banana Coconut Muffins with Vanilla Coconut Custard

3 cups flour
1/3 cup coconut, shredded & toasted
2 tsp baking soda
pinch sea salt
1 cup butter, room temp
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
4 bananas (about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cup mashed)
1 cup coconut cream, whisked

1 1/4 cup milk
1 cup coconut cream, whisked
1 vanilla bean
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
pinch sea salt

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 - 12 hole muffin trays with paper muffin cups. Set aside.
Muffins: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, coconut, baking soda, salt.
In a large bowl, beat butter until smooth. Beat in sugars until well combined. Beat in vanilla, eggs, and mashed bananas.
Alternately beat flour mixture and coconut cream into butter mixture until batter is well mixed.
Scoop evenly into prepared muffin tins.
Bake at 350 until nicely browned, about 20 - 25 minutes. Toothpick inserted in center should come out clean. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes and then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Custard: In a medium saucepan, whisk together milk, coconut cream, coconut, and vanilla bean. (Slice vanilla bean in half, lengthwise, and scrape out seeds. Place seeds and bean pod in milk) Bring to a simmer over medium heat, remove from heat, cover and let steep for about an hour.
After an hour - remove bean pod from milk and discard or save for another purpose. Heat milk back to steaming.
In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually whisk in the hot milk. (Do this slowly so you do not curdle the eggs.)
Pour everything back into the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. When thickened, remove from heat and let cool completely. Whisk before using.

To assemble:

Using a sharp knife, cut a cone shape wedge out of each muffin. Save the very top to replace back on the muffin. You can do whatever you would like with the muffin you cut out of the middle.
I ate mine...
big surprise....

Fill the hole with the cool custard and replace top of muffin.

Dollop a spoonful of custard on top. Chill and enjoy.
These are best stored in the fridge.
they are best stored in your tummy, but, you know...if case you don't want to eat them all in one sitting.

If you have been searching for the "perfect" banana muffin then give this one a try.
It may become your new favorite as well!

Be sure to stop by Blissful and Domestic for some great links.
Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons and Carole's Chatter also have some great links.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Crockpot Country Chicken

I love cooking in my crockpot. Especially during the summer when I don't want to heat up the kitchen by using the oven.
I receive a book about 2 years ago called "The Slow Cooker Bible" and there are several pages that are dog eared and stained from use already. I hadn't tried this particular recipe before but, now that I have, it may be a new favorite.
I love that most crockpot recipes are super simple, ie: throw everything in the pot and go watch a movie.
This one is no exception.
De Duper

Crockpot Country Chicken
(adapted from The Slow Cooker Bible)

4 carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks
4 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
6 - 8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, quartered
1 tsp dried tarragon leaves
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
salt & pepper
1 can (~10 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup (not diluted)
1 envelope (~1 oz) dry onion soup mix
1/3 cup cooking sherry (or white wine)
2 Tbsp cornstarch

Place carrots, celery, and onion in bottom of crockpot.

Arrange chicken breast pieces over vegetables and sprinkle with tarragon, thyme, and salt & pepper.

Spoon cream of chicken soup over chicken and sprinkle with dry onion soup mix.

Cover, cook on high for 3 - 4 hours, stirring once during cooking.
Blend cooking sherry (or wine) with cornstarch, whisking in a small bowl until smooth. Stir into the crockpot. Cook, uncovered, for about 15 minutes - or until sauce thickens.

Serve over rice or pasta or egg noodles.

It really is that easy.
I have a little note about this recipe.
Well....about crockpots in general.
I find my crockpot cooks really fast.
I had it on low and it still only took about 3 hours to be done. I was thinking I had a good 5 hours on low...but...nope. Done in 3, on low.
It can be hard to plan when to start my crockpot as it cooks so much faster than most recipes state.
What I am trying to say is - know your crockpot. Learn how fast it cooks so you can plan out when to turn it on.
Because this was done in 3 hours on low in my crockpot I had to turn it to "warm" for the another hour until dinner time. It wasn't overcooked at all and the chicken was soooooo tender you could cut it with a fork.
OH...and...if you don't want to use alcohol in this dish you can just use apple juice.

Stop by Ms. enPlace and Hun...What's For Dinner and Carole's Chatter for some great links!