Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sausage & Pepper Pasta


Sausage & Pepper Pasta

This recipe calls for diced canned tomatoes; instead, I opted to use this jarred marinara sauce that I found at Sam's Club.

It was the first day of Spring on Monday and we went snow skiing.  We have a great place to ski less than two hours from our home.  The ski area is called Monarch Mountain and it's on the Continental Divide.  Since my dad was on the ski patrol, I skied a lot as a kid, but I've only been snow skiing four times in the past 30 years.  It sure is a treat to go.  On our way home, we stopped for amazing burgers and fries at a place in Salida, Colorado.  The restaurant is called "50 Burger" (it is right on Highway 50).  It's not your typical burger joint... we are talking gourmet burgers all the way.  I had a salmon burger with avocado, chipotle mayo, lettuce, and tomato, all on a challah bun.  Good stuff.  I did not even notice what my husband ordered; I was too busy eating.  When we got home, we sure were tired.  My husband was hungry again and he suggested we go out to pizza. I suggested I make him some pasta since I had shopped for ingredients to try out a new recipe for him.  I found this recipe on the Internet; the recipe source is listed below.

I snapped a few photos from our skiing adventure. As you can tell, the weather was just beautiful!





I made a few changes to the recipe. The recipe indicates you can make this meal in just one pot. I was in a hurry so I opted to use two pots; in one pot I cooked the pasta and in the second pot I browned the sausage and then also simmered the sausage, peppers, onions, and tomato sauce.  Also, the recipe calls for canned diced tomatoes; instead I used a jar of marinara sauce.  Since I added flavorful sauce in place of unseasoned diced tomatoes, I did not use all the spices called for in the recipe. Finally, the recipe calls for three hot Italian sausages and three sweet Italian sausages. I opted to use one package of Johnsonville brand Hot Italian sausage links (5 sausages in one package).

After making this dish and after getting my husband's opinion, next time I make this dish I will use less pasta (about 3/4 pound or a little less).  The dish just seemed quite heavy on pasta and there was not a lot of sauce.  Despite the pasta/sauce ratio being a little off, my husband gave this dish two thumbs up especially after being so hungry after hitting the slopes.  He's been gobbling up the leftovers too. 

SAUSAGE & PEPPER PASTA


INGREDIENTS

Servings: 4-5
1 pound any short pasta (I used mini bowties, use less than 1 pound of pasta if you like more sauce)
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used less)
3 hot Italian sausages plus 3 sweet Italian sausages (I used Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausage, 5 links)
1 red bell pepper, large diced 
1 green bell pepper, large diced (I used an orange pepper in place of the green)
1 yellow bell pepper, large diced 
½ white onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
28 ounces can diced tomato (I used a 24 ounce jar of marinara sauce; see photo above)
1 teaspoon oregano (I just used a pinch)
1 teaspoon salt (I just used a pinch)
1 teaspoon black ground pepper (I just used a pinch)

PREPARATION

1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add a generous amount of salt, and cook pasta 2 minutes less than the package instructions. 
2. Strain pasta and set aside. Toss with a small amount of oil to prevent sticking
3. In the same pot, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and fry sausages, working in batches as needed, until deeply browned on all sides. 
4. Remove sausages, slice in ¾-inch rings, and set aside.
5. Sauté all of the bell peppers, onion, and garlic for about 2 minutes.
6. Add the canned tomatoes (or marinara sauce) all of the spices, and the sausage slices to the pot (see notes above). 
7. Simmer about 10 minutes.
8. Add the pasta back to the pot and stir gently until all the ingredients are coated in the sauce. Continue simmering until pasta is al dente.
9. Serve with grated parmesan.

Here is the recipe source:
https://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewilnyckyj/one-pot-sausage-and-peppers-pasta?utm_term=.amLMm5lKam#.ce6mP8n7YP

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

WIAY (What I Ate Yesterday)


To be honest, this is not what I ate yesterday. This is what I ate yesterday... a little over a week ago.  I am finding I like to create my WIAY (What I Ate Yesterday) posts on Mondays.  I tend to indulge a bit on the weekends so it's good to get back on track with healthy eating on Monday.  Also, I find that I keep my eating in check a bit better on the days when I tell myself I have to take a photo of everything I eat.  Makes me think twice before grabbing a cookie or two.  That did not work very well on this particular day as you will see in a bit...

BREAKFAST (above): Avocado toast and hard boiled egg. That's Za'atar Spice Blend sprinkled on top.  This spice blend includes sumac, thyme, salt, sesame seeds, and other spices.  It's delicious!


SNACK: Cottage cheese, applesauce, cinnamon, and homemade granola.
Here is the granola recipe (for the link, click HERE).



LUNCH:  Oven Roasted Turmeric Cauliflower (recipe link HERE), sautéed bell pepper and onion, and sautéed shrimp (with a little Penzey's brand Turkish Seasoning on top)


SNACK: Veggies


ANOTHER SNACK: Banana.


DINNER:  Greek Turkey Meatballs and Tzatziki with fresh veggies (see recipes HERE).


THE DAY OF EATING HEALTHY WAS GOING ALONG PRETTY WELL.... until I discovered this great looking recipe for Mace Lemon Sugar Cookies... and I already had all of the ingredients on hand... and when you already have all the ingredients on hand... well, it's like the Universe is speaking to me and telling me, "Kim! You must make these cookies!"  So I made the cookies and they were amazingly delicious.  My husband and I polished them off in two days flat.  Not good, but I tell you... these cookies are GREAT!  Here is the recipe LINK.


NIGHT TIME SNACK: Despite having too many cookies after dinner, I still had almonds and wine before bed.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps


Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps


Wow! I am so glad I tried this recipe.  I saw this recipe on Facebook before I went grocery shopping the other day so I was able to shop for ingredients.  This very well may be my very favorite new thing to eat right now. It was easy to throw together after I got all the ingredients chopped up.  It is so flavorful and is very healthy!  I am eating the dish cold on crisp Romaine lettuce leaves, but I am sure the dish is also fantastic hot or room temperature. 


As I was making this recipe, I realized the recipe called for light or low sodium soy sauce.  I only had salty tamari so I altered the recipe a bit so it would not be too salty.  I used 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup tamari, 1 tablespoon honey, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. The sauce was just perfect.

  • Recipe Source:  www.cleanfoodcrush.com


  • Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps 

  • Makes about 4 servings 


  • Ingredients:
    1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
    2 Tbsps avocado oil or olive oil, divided (I used a little less)
    1/2 cup light soy sauce or coconut aminos (**)
    2 Tbsp water (**)
    1 Tbsp raw honey
    1 Tbsp cornstarch or potato starch (I used cornstarch)
    1 cup sliced green onions, divided (I used a few tablespoons of  fresh cilantro in place of green onions)
    1 fresh garlic clove, minced (I used 2 cloves of fresh garlic)
    1 red bell pepper, diced
    8 oz mushrooms, chopped
    1 cup grated carrots (I used 3 carrots)
    Romaine or iceberg lettuce leaves, for serving
    Optional toppings: roasted, chopped peanuts or sesame seeds (I omitted)

(**) I did not have low sodium soy sauce and I did not want the dish to be too salty so I used 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup tamari/soy sauce with 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon honey for my sauce and it turned out perfectly!


  • Instructions:
    Heat 1 Tbsp (or less) of oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium- high heat. Add chicken and sautee for about 4-5 minutes, or until cooked through, tossing occasionally. Transfer chicken to a plate. 


  • While chicken is cooking, whisk together soy sauce, water, cornstarch and honey, set aside.

  • Heat remaining oil (or less) in the same skillet over medium- high heat. Add garlic, bell pepper, mushrooms, carrots and sauté for 3 minutes. Pour the sauce into the skillet.  Add chicken, toss and warm through. 


  • Sprinkle with chopped peanuts or sesame seeds (if desired), green onions (or cilantro) and serve over lettuce leaves.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Mace Lemon Sugar Cookies



Mace Lemon Sugar Cookies 


I received a nice big assortment of spices as a gift not too long ago.  How fun is that!? The box contained many spices I've never used or purchased before.  Celery Salt, California Sweet Basil, French Thyme, White Pepper, Marjoram, Turkish Seasoning, Vietnamese Cinnamon, and Double Strength Pure Vanilla Extract.  I started to search around on the internet for some inspiration as to how to use some of these spices and, when I was looking up mace, I found that mace and nutmeg are related. Specifically, I learned this:

The nutmeg tree, Myristica fragrans, is the only tree that produces two separate spices. The fruit contains a hard pit, which is a nutmeg, while the lacy red membrane which surrounds it is mace. The delicate membrane is carefully peeled away from the shell of the nutmeg and spread to dry in the sun, fading from bright red to orangy-brown as it dries.

Mace is a common ingredient in Northern European cooking, showing up in hearty vegetable dishes, cream sauces, and sausages. In baking, mace can be used as a substitute for nutmeg; its mellower flavor is especially nice with fruits or delicate pastries. It’s delicious in pumpkin pie or baked winter squash dishes.

SOURCE:  https://www.thespicehouse.com/mace-blade

Since I love cookies, the first thought I had was to use the mace in some sugar cookies.  I did not have to look far to find a great sounding recipe and, as luck would have it, I had all the ingredients on hand.  And they way my brain works, if I have all the ingredients on hand, the Universe is telling me that I MUST bake these cookies.  I made the cookies and they were fantastic. 

I think these sugar cookies are unusual because the recipe calls for brown sugar and vegetable oil.  The recipe specifies the flour should be sifted but I was too lazy for that.  Also, the recipe specifies that the dough balls should be flattened using a buttered drinking glass.  My dough was very moist and loose and I did not feel the cookies needed to be flattened.  Instead, I portioned out the dough using my cookie scoop and then just sprinkled a very small amount of the sugar topping on each cookie.  As you can see from the photos, the cookies spread out nicely.  Since I did not flatten the cookies with a buttered drinking glass coated in the sugar topping, I probably only used a few teaspoons of the sugar topping and threw the rest away.  When I make this recipe again, I'll just measure out a few teaspoons of sugar for the topping and add in just a pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of mace.  The recipe source is here:

http://www.tampabay.com/features/food/cooking/you-asked-for-it-lemon-mace-cookies/984402


LEMON MACE SUGAR COOKIES

COOKIE DOUGH:

2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. mace
2 eggs
2/3 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
2 tsp. lemon juice

TOPPING (see notes above)

1/4 c. white sugar
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. mace

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and mace. combine remaining ingredients and beat until thick. Stir in dry ingredients and beat until thick. Drop by teaspoons on greased cookie sheet. Combine sugar, nutmeg and mace. Lightly butter bottom of a glass; dip in sugar mixture and press cookies flat (see notes above). Bake 8 to 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Bacon in the Oven


Cooking Bacon in the Oven


Why did I not try this sooner!?! Yes, you can cook bacon in the oven. I'd rather cook up a pound of bacon all at once and use it in meals all week long, as opposed to cooking a few strips of bacon here and there.

I finally tried cooking bacon in the oven and it worked like a charm. It is very simple to do and it did not make a mess in the oven.

Here's how I did it:

I lined two rimmed baking sheets with foil. I preheated the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  I lined up the strips of turkey bacon on the foil lined baking sheets, ensuring the bacon strips did not over lap.  Once the oven was preheated, I baked the bacon for 11 minutes.  That's it!  No turning/flipping was required. 

I like to cook up a bunch of things on my food prep day; this makes meal preparation easier all week long.  Today I cooked up a pound of turkey bacon (I use Oscar Mayer brand) as part of my food prep.  Here are some more photos from my food prep session today.


I got all of this before noon!  The chicken wings are for my husband.


Above... I made up four identical meals.  This is quinoa, sautéed red bell pepper and onion, oven roasted turmeric cauliflower, and sautéed shrimp (season with a spice blend called Za'atar).



Above... hard boiled eggs and bacon baked in the oven.


Baby carrots and celery sticks... always part of my weekly food prep.


Finally, I portioned out Greek yogurt and frozen berries for yogurt fruit parfaits (which I will have with granola). 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What I Ate Yesterday (WIAY)


Breakfast:
A whole wheat breakfast thin filled with 1 egg, 2 turkey sausages, and an ultra-thin slice of Swiss cheese.


Pre-workout Snack:
I love peanut butter. I noticed this Kroger brand natural peanut butter was a dollar cheaper than the Adams Natural peanut butter (both require refrigeration after opening and stirring). I noticed the Kroger brand does not get as firm in the refrigerator which makes it easier to spread and it also means I will not be tempted to use too much. Today's workout was cardio with weights.




Post-Dog Walking Snack:
In the freezer, I have baggies filled with 1/2 banana, some blueberries, and spinach. I added in about 1 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, a squirt of honey, and a splash of vanilla, and blended away. Now I am feeling energized!


Lunch:
Cottage cheese with cucumber, tomato, salt, pepper, and dried dill weed, as well as avocado toast with a little grilled chicken on top. Delicious!


Snack:  Cookies from the freezer.  I made them way back in November, but they are still good!  Here is the recipe LINK.



Dinner:  An unusual and unconventional dinner perhaps. I chopped up some leftover Oven Roasted Turmeric Cauliflower and sautéed it in a big skillet. In the same skillet, I added a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach and let it wilt. Then I moved the veggies over to the side of the pan and fried up two eggs.  I loved this meal!


Evening snacks...the crunchier the better in  my book!


I am amazed that I can eat this much delicious food in a day and still maintain my weight loss.  I am definitely eating a lot more fruits and veggies these days. 


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Yogurt Treat

At the grocery store, I imagine you've noticed these fun and yummy looking yogurt treats.  Chobani brand has "Chobani Flips" and Fage brand has "Fage Crossovers".  As you can see above, the yogurt container has two compartments and you can flip the container of toppings into the container holding the yogurt.  I keep eyeing these at the store and considering trying one since I had a coupon, but these treats have a lot of sugar in them (20 grams of sugar per serving which is equal to 5 teaspoons of sugar in one serving).

I decided to try out my version of this flavor combination at home just the other day and it was a really yummy treat.  The Fage Crossover above is Greek yogurt with caramel blended in and the topping is honey roasted salted almonds.  Sounds amazing!



For my at-home version, I started with Fage brand plain 2% milkfat Greek yogurt and drizzled over about a teaspoon of pure maple syrup.  I topped it off with some roasted & salted almonds that I chopped up using my Pampered Chef food chopper. I love that thing!


This is a really good treat. It's healthy enough for a meal or snack but makes a nice dessert, too.  I think it also might be good with some sliced banana added in.  Maybe I'll try that next time!?!