Saturday, June 30, 2012

June Foodie Penpals

It's Foodie Penpal time again!!! Katie from Creature of Habit sent me my package for June. Check out her blog and be as jealous of her fabulous California Dreamin' life :)

My box showed up at just the right time. Our kitchen caught on fire the week before, our house is in total chaos and I didn't have any sweet, chocolate snacks in the house at all. The Fudge Mints TOTALLY hit the spot!

I haven't had the soy nuts separately before. Most of my trail mixes have them mixed in but I hardly notice them with all the other goodies. I love how crunchy they are all alone!

The Crispy Rice Bars are a great snack, or even a breakfast. The berries are just sweet enough :)

This GOLEAN bar is going to be great before one of my runs!

Want to join in the awesome monthly fun? Check out The Lean Green Bean's Foodie Penpal page to sign up:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summertime Pesto

Holy Basil, Batman! I planted two plants and now I have a GIANT basil bush! So, what ever will I do with all of this basil before it get all dried up?? PESTO! Lots of pesto to freeze and use later :)

Now, whenever I have a project to do around the house I buy a new tool. You should see our basement...looks like a Lowe's. In order to make the amount of Pesto that I am going to, my little mini processor will not be big enough. NEW TOOL TIME! I got a nice Cuisinart, stainless and new.

 I picked 2 cups of basil leaves from the plant outside. After I washed them, they got dumped in the new Cuisinart with 1/3 cup of pine nuts. I pulsed them until they were evenly chopped. Then I squeezed in 3 cloves of garlic (yes, squeezed from that fabulous tubed garlic). As the blade was running, I drizzled in a 1/2 cup of good olive oil. After it was incorporated, I added 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

After it got dipped into ice cube trays to go into the freezer for later use! 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Chobani Cheesecake-ish Pie

Our strawberries have been growing great, but the raccoon in our backyard has gotten to them before us! Our only other fruit is from this little (hopefully to grow bigger) blueberry bush. 

The dessert for tonight is a take on the Rhubarb Custard Pie. I used the same recipe with these changes:

  • Substituting 1 pint blueberries for the rhubarb.
  • Eliminating the crumb topping.
  • Adding the following to the original recipe - 6 oz in additional yogurt, 1 extra egg, 1 extra TBSP flour.
I used Vanilla Chobani Yogurt.
 So all in all you will use 12 ounces of Chobani yogurt, 5 TBSP of flour, 3 eggs, and 1 cup of sugar. Then add in the pint of blueberries. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then lower the oven to 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
Just whisk it all together and add the blueberries.

This bakes up like a cheesecake in a pie!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

New Fun Finds: SNACKS!

The Rice Chocolate Bar is dairy free and isn't a bad chocolate bar, taste-wise. Nutritionally? About the same as regular chocolate.

The Sahale Snack have dried pineapple, cashews and black sesame seeds....awesome munchies!

The Sweets and Beets are made of sweet potato chips and beet chips. I dislike beets. This is probably from years of Senior Living food service and pickled beets. These beet chips....I LOVE THEM!

The Pretzel Chips come in a bunch of different flavors and are great with or without dip.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Blueberry Croissant French Toast Casserole

 I wanted to make french toast but all I could dream about was bread pudding...yes, dream about! I love bread pudding with caramel sauce :) I bought some croissants and used eggs, almond milk and blueberries that I already had.

I tore up all of the croissants and placed half in a PAM sprayed casserole. The blueberries were sprinkled in, then more croissants, then more blueberries. I whisked 3 eggs together with two cups of vanilla almond milk and poured it all over the croissants. Press down hard to allow all of the ingredients to be coated/soak up the liquid.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the center is firm.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Easy Appetizer

  1. Pluck some basil from the garden.
  2. Toothpick basil and mozz.
  3. Drizzle balsamic on top.
  4. Done!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Turkey Spinach Burger

1 pound ground turkey
1 package of frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
2 TBSP old fashioned oats
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 TBSP soy sauce
1 clove of garlic (I used the tube stuff that is already chopped)

Mix it all together with your hands. I like wearing foodservice gloves because I hate raw chicken under my nails. Wash your hands well afterwards if you don't use gloves. Form this recipe into four patties. Place on a preheated grill (or on the stove at three minutes per side) and cook 3 to 5 minutes per side, until the inside reads 165 degrees. Place on a whole grain bun with lettuce and tomato. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Squash French Fries

These are really easy to make. And when that bountiful crop of zucchini hits, it is an awesome way to use it up before it goes bad.

The pictures below are of one small yellow squash and one green zucchini. Wash them and slice them into .5 inch to 1 inch matchsticks. You will need two bowls, one with whisked egg white (2 of them with and drizzle of water) and then other with breadcrumbs (season them how ever you would like).

Use one hand to coat the stick with egg white, then drop them in the bread crumbs. Use the other hand to bread crumb and place on a non-stick cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the bread crumbs are browned. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mushroom Gruyere Polenta

This was SO good! I have always wanted to try a creamy polenta but didn't know what to mix in or top it with. Figuring that cheese was a pretty good bet, I chose mushrooms to continue with a "hearty" theme of the dish.

I used corn meal and chicken stock: 1 cup to 1 quart. Boil the chicken stock and slowly pour and quickly whisk in the corn meal. Once it is incorporated, lower the heat and cover the pot, simmering for about 40 minutes.

Saute the mushrooms and grate the cheese. Once the polenta is cooked, top with the mushrooms and shredded cheese. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Tour of McDonald's

I was invited to tour one of the new McDonald's restaurants and meet their corporate chef, Dan Coudreaut. The main focus, as you can see in the flyer above, was to "See What We're Made Of"! In the flyer's description, you can read that it uses the word WHOLESOME. And at the top of the flyer you can see the fresh fruits and vegetables. Right off the bat, my nutrition spidey sense is saying that McDonald's is going to attempt to sell me on their "healthy food". Well, here went the afternoon:

After meeting the owners and manager of this new McDonald's, Chef Dan explained his culinary background. You can read that here. While I can appreciate that when setting up a visit or tour, you want to put your best food forward by scheduling it at your newest store. I was a tad disappointed as I wanted to be in an old, downtown store where I could slide across the kitchen on the grease. Oh well, on to the food tour!

The new oatmeal with fresh blueberries and nuts. Both are prepackaged so that you can customize your order. I was somewhat impressed with this ain't slow cooked, steel cut oats but it's not horrible.

The real fruit smoothies that are made with real fruit puree and yogurt. Sure, the fruit in the fruit puree is real, but check out the amount of sugar in this "healthy" smoothie: 44grams in a 12 ounce smoothie. Guess how much sugar is in 12 ounces of Mt Dew? 46 grams. Sure as heck don't go for the large!

The real apple slices that are given out in every happy meal and the french fries in a smaller than happy meal sized. 

The No Trans Fat oil that they fry in. Fried is fried...trans fat or no trans fat.

The whole grain bun available for the chicken sandwiches. The only three buns I can find on the menu ingredient list are Sesame Buns, Bakery Style Bun and Regular Bun. I am assuming that the Bakery Style Bun is the "whole grain bun". After reading the ingredients, whole wheat flour is number three in the ingredient list after enriched flour and water.

The chicken products that are 10% less in sodium. When asked how the sodium was decreased, Chef Dan responded "changes in the marinade". I have to wonder though, the chicken that comes off that hot grill is flatter than any chicken breast I have ever seen. So I asked Chef Dan what type of chicken meat he used (implying that it was a processed piece of meat) but he couldn't give me that information.

The all beef patties: 1/4, 1/3, happy meal size. In all of the ingredient lists, I see that the beef is listed as 100% Beef. My question to Chef Dan was, "What is the fat content of the meat you use? Is it lean like 90/10 of fattier like 70/30." Again, his answer was that he couldn't give my that information - "Wouldn't my competitor like to know that."

The fresh salads, fresh vegetables, and fresh ingredients. I heard this a lot on the tour....FRESH. Unfortunately when I hear "fresh", I have an automatic response to feel that this "fresh something" is healthy.

After the experience, I honestly feel (don't judge) that McDonald's is making an effort to add healthier choices to their menu for those on the go that need something to eat. I know that the vegans aren't running to McDonald''s not their end destination, nor will it ever be. Those that have kids, those that are traveling or those that feel they are getting a good deal for their money will continue to go to McDonald's and they might even pick something healthier. (Notice my choice of words....Healthier. Not healthy. McDonald's is giving you a additional choices that are healthier than another choice on their menu.)

My fear is that this new marketing campaign of wholesome and fresh is going to trick the public into thinking that eating at McDonald's day in and day out is healthy. I am encouraged that Chef Dan has a vision for what can be healthier. If McDonald's really wants to set the bar in fast food as a healthier choice restaurant, then publish the calories and fat grams right on the menu/price board. Let it all hang out!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Semi Homemade: Pear Coffee Cake

I wanted to make something different for breakfast. Donuts were too sweet. Pancakes were too messy. I searched the cupboard and found a box of yellow cake mix. I found a few overripe pears in the fridge. Pear Coffee Cake it is!

Slice the pears, skin and all. I prepared the cake mix according to the directions and poured the batter into a 13 x 9 inch glass dish. Top the batter with sliced pears. Sprinkle the pears with cinnamon and brown sugar.

 Bake the cake according to the package instructions based on the pan size. Let it cool and eat it for breakfast or a dessert!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Simple Solutions to Improve Menu Nutrition

Unilever, a foodservice company, is sharing their ideas for restaurants to make healthier menu items that customers will enjoy. These are great ideas and I love the concept of showing the "unhealthy" version compared to the new and improved "healthier" version. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Asian Festival: Meat on a Stick!

The kids and I went to the Asian Festival here in town because my son was performing with the US Tigers. We knew the parking was going to be insane, so we went downtown early. This allowed us to walk the festival and eat some awesome food. Both kids loved the smoothies and mango green tea. Both the sausage on a stick and chicken on a stick got rave reviews! The spicy chicken in the hot dog bun was different, but a good different. And I ate all three egg rolls :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fast Vegetable Noodle Stir Fry

I needed a light, fast dinner the other night. I found some frozen stir fry vegetables in the freezer, some pad thai noodles and a packet of ginger teriyaki sauce. This was going to be SUPER easy!

I put a saute pan on the stove and started to cook the vegetables. In a pot of boiling water I added the noodles, which took 5 minutes to cook. Once the noodles were drained, I put them into the pan of vegetables and opened the sauce. Stir the veggies, noodles and sauce together...DONE!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Chocolate Mousse Pops

Since it is summer...and hot, a frozen treat is always nice once in a while. I had some fat free pudding packs that were getting ready to expire and a tub of lite cool whip from Memorial Day - perfect, easy mousse!

I emptied 3 of the snack packs and about 1 1/2 cups of cool whip into a bowl. Fold it until it is fully incorporated. If you want yours to be fluffier, just add more cool whip. If you want and heavier pop, add more pudding.

 I bought this pop making kit at IKEA for a few dollars. Fill each one to the line and put the stick in. Freeze it for at least 3 hours. Easy, healthier frozen treat. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Custard Rhubarb Pie

I was searching through blogs to find an easy rhubarb recipe. I think sunny thoughts when I see rhubarb but have never really been successful at making any dish with it. After searching for a bit, I came across Sugar Crafter's recipe for Creamy Rhubarb Custard Pie. This custard is made with Chobani yogurt...interesting! So, I had to try it and here is my version (which only lasted two days in this house)!

 I used an already made pie shell
1 cup sugar
4 Tbsp flour
2 eggs, beaten
6 ounces of greek yogurt
3 cups of rhubarb, sliced into coins then cut in half

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. To make the filling, in a large bowl whisk together the sugar and flour. In a smaller bowl, beat together the eggs and yogurt. Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Fold in the rhubarb and pour into the pie shell.

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup oats

To make the crumb topping, in a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender. Stir in the oats. Sprinkle the topping over the pie. 

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let cool completely then transfer to the frig for 2 hours before serving.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Oreo and Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Fun, yummy, cool treat for dessert! 

This recipe originally came from Kraft Foods but it was way too much for us. If I had made their version, I would have been inclined to eat it all...not good for the waistline. When you look at recipes, be sure to see what the serving size is or how many the recipe serves. If the size is more than what you would use or need, pare down the recipe so you do not overeat.

You are going to need:
1/4 cup hot fudge ice cream topping, warmed
8 oz tub of Cool Whip, thawed
1 pkg JELL-O instant chocolate pudding mix
8 OREO cookies, crumbled
6 vanilla ice cream sandwiches

Whisk the warmed fudge topping into 1 cup of Cool Whip until well blended. Add the dry pudding mix and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in 4 crumbled cookies.

 Arrange 3 ice cream sandwiches in a loaf pan (as seen below). Spread the fudgy topping on top. You will use this fudgy topping twice, so use half of it. Topping the fudgy goodness with another set of ice cream sandwiches.

Top the whole "cake" with some more Cool Whip and the remaining 4 cookies, crumbled. Place the whole pan in the freezer for 2 hours before serving. Simply warm a knife under running hot water to cut slices!


Friday, June 1, 2012

Easy Lasagna Rolls

These puppies take me all of 10 minutes to build and 15 minutes to bake...awesome, fast dinner!
I had some extra spinach lying around, leftover from our Spinach Blueberry Smoothies. I added a half a thumb of olive oil (portion, people, portion), the spinach and some salt to a saute pan to cook down. While boiling the lasagna noodles, I whipped together some low fat ricotta cheese, an egg and some garlic. 

Putting these together is easy - lay out the pasta sheet, spread the cheese mixture, top it with spinach and ROLL! I put a little jar sauce on the bottom of the pan, place the rolls on top and top with sauce again. Pop the pie dish in the oven and bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Serve this with a salad and dinner is ready to eat!

Rolls before they were an awesome, saucy, cheesy, mess :)