Sunday, May 27, 2012

Biscuits 'N Gravy

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Comfort food. Sometimes we just crave something creamy, warm and home-y. I don't recall ever having biscuits and gravy at home with my parents, but it was always an option when with my grandmother or her Southern family. Sausage has never been agreeable with my tummy, but this version uses meatless maple sausage to cut back on the heaviness and the fat. Dig's easier than you think!

Biscuits 'n Gravy
4-6 servings, 10 biscuits
From here and here

2  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups skim milk

10 ounces veggie sausage (like Morningstar Maple Sausage Patties)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups skim milk
Salt and black pepper, to taste

biscuits step one: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt for one minute. Add milk and stir until dough forms.

biscuits step two: Turn the dough on a floured surface, knead for 1 minute, then form into a ball. Form into a disk about 3/4-inch thick. Using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter or a floured rim of a glass, cut out 8 biscuits. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or non-stick spray, place the biscuits at least 1 inch apart. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

gravy step one: In a large skillet, cook the sausage according to package instructions. Set aside.

gravy step two: Spoon the flour into the skillet on medium-high heat and spread around with a whisk or wooden spoon for one minute. Continue whisking while slowly adding the milk. Stop whisking and let the gravy mixture come to a boil. Once boiling, add a few dashes of salt and pepper. Reduce heat and let simmer for 3 minutes.

gravy step three: In the meantime, chop up the sausage (if they came in patties or links) and stir into the gravy mixture. Stir and pour over the hot biscuits.

Pretty easy, right? And it's super filling without making you feel super guilty for eating 8,000 calories and 80 grams of fat (estimated nutrition facts of Aunt Edna's version). Gotta love that.

Happy weekend to you. Enjoy it. Eat lots of berries and grilled corn. Bask in the sun. Lather, rinse and repeat.

Happy eating!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pita Bread!

Friends. My inner Greek is coming out. Okay, the chances are very slim that I have any OPA! blood running through my veins, but a girl can pretend, right? My dad is adopted and we don't know his biological heritage, so I guess there's always a chance of being half Greek...

Anyway, no matter our ethnicity, isn't it fun to get to know other cultures through food? Pita bread is one of those foods that is synonymous with the Mediterranean. It's paired with hummus, usually, but can be sliced in half and stuffed with salad or sandwich ingredients. It makes lunch portable, and it's actually pretty easy to make.

Wheat Pita Bread
Use for sandwich pockets, bread at dinner or as a "dipper" for your favorite hummus or appetizer. This bread is light and crisp on the outside, with warm chewiness on the inside. Bring out your inner OPA!
Makes 8 pitas; Bake time: 3 1/2 minutes (not kidding)
Adapted from Joy of Cooking cookbook

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour + more for rolling
1 1/2 TB sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 TB active dry yeast (2 packets)
2 TB butter, melted
1 1/4 cups room temperature water (72--75 degrees)

Step one: In a large bowl or mixer, combine flours, sugar, salt and yeast. Stir for one minute. Then, add the butter and water and stir for one more minute. After combined, knead for 10 minutes (you can use the hook on your mixer for this). Dough should be pliable but not too sticky.

Step two: In an oiled bowl, turn dough so it is coated in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size. Let it rise at room temperature and away from any drafts (does not need to be in a warm place).

Step three: After dough has doubled, punch down and roll into 8 equal-sized balls. I put these on 2 dinner plates, spacing them out. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Step four: Get steamy: Using a pizza stone, preheat it for 20 minutes. If you don't have one (like me), turn a rimmed baking sheet upside down and heat in the oven for 5 minutes. Using a water bottle or a 1/4 measuring cup, spray/pour water over the baking sheet or stone. Close the oven for 30 seconds, to allow steam to form.

Step five: Time to bake! On a lightly floured surface (I used all-purpose flour), roll out 4 of the balls into 8-inch thin rounds. Set on top of the baking sheet/stone and bake for three minutes, or until it gets puffy. Once you notice the little puffballs, bake for 30 more seconds. Immediately remove from the oven with a large spatula and set on a cooling rack. Repeat the process for the rest of the dough balls. Serve warm or store in a zipper bag for later.

Way to go, you!

Happy eating!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Salmon Risotto

Memoir Munchies reaches 200 Posts!
I missed the 2-year anniversary of the blog in the midst of school craziness, so 200 posts deserves a little somethin' somethin.' 
Why not a colorful collage and some salmon risotto???

Have you seen this awesome invention in the grocery store? 
  • Texas is often way too hot to grow basil, so I usually buy it. However, I never use it all up before the little leaves wilt and go bad. So why not buy a frozen alternative? They're just tiny frozen "icecubes" of chopped basil leaves.

Salmon Risotto
4 servings

1 TB olive oil
1 TB butter
1 cup arborio rice
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
8 ounces salmon filet
1 cup broccoli (fresh or thawed)
1/4 cup chopped almonds (optional)
1 TB fresh basil or 1 t. frozen basil
3/4 t. sea salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 t. each: rosemary + basil
3 TB capers

1 CHOP: Chop the garlic and shallots and set aside. Then, chop the broccoli (small bite-sized). In a large skillet or wok, heat on medium to medium high. Add olive oil and butter and let melt. Rotate skillet once so bottom is coated with oil/butter. Add the arborio rice, garlic and shallots and saute for 2-3 minutes, until rice is toasted and slightly brown (slightly!). Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon during the sauteing.

2 LIQUIFY: Add the chicken broth and stir. Add in the rosemary and continue to stir until rice has cooked and thickened to 'al dente' (cooked but still firm/chewy to the bite). This will take about 20-25 minutes.

STEP THREE: In the meantime, heat at medium a second skillet or a grill pan, spraying with nonstick oil (or 1 t. olive oil). Coat the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle a pinch (1/8 t.) of sea salt and a dash of pepper on each side of the salmon, and lay it onto the skillet/grill pan. Sprinkle the broccoli around the fish to "grill" it, too. Cook the fish at least 5 minutes on each side, being careful not to serve raw or overcook (fish will dry out). Remove the salmon from the heat.

STEP FOUR: Toss the cooked broccoli and almonds into the risotto and stir. Add the fresh/frozen basil, dried rosemary and dried basil, and stir.  Once the fish is cool enough to handle, flake into bite-sized pieces with a knife. Add the salmon to the risotto and gently stir. Add the capers and stir.  Lastly, add 1/4--1/2 teaspoon salt and a few dashes of pepper, to taste. Serve!

Thanks so much for reading, cooking, inspiring, and eating with me on this fun journey! I started this blog as a stress reliever--cooking in between classes, work and writing many, many papers. Now I'm finished with school and have found this blog to be so much more than just a "sanity keeper." I've learned so much, have connected with dear people over breaking bread, and have found a passion for healthy living and eating. Thanks to Matt (hubby), Sam (dog), family, friends, and coworkers for tastetesting each recipe and giving your honest (albeit very kind!) opinions. Sam...just got crumbs that fell to the floor and can't speak, so he's just there for support (and free smells). 

There are some exciting changes happening to Memoir Munchies...a little summer makeover, for starters. Stay tuned, and here's to 200 (or 2,000?) more posts!

Happy eating!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Apricot Yogurt Pick-me-up

Cookies and cakes, cookies and cakes. My head swirls around with fudgy and spongy bites of flour, butter and sugar. But we know it really isn't all that healthy, is it. So let's have some of the same flavors in a healthier setting...honey, apricots, creamy yogurt, chocolate, nutty almonds. Check check.

Apricot Yogurt Pick-me-up
2 Servings

1 cup plain yogurt (Greek is great)
2 teaspoons honey
2 apricots, half chopped and half in crescent slices
2 TB chocolate chips
2 TB raw almonds, sliced or whole

Mix yogurt and honey together in a small bowl. Then, add the chopped apricots. Divide between two small bowls. Top with apricot slices, chocolate chips and almonds.

Enjoy this guilt-free treat!

Happy eating!

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes & Basil

Greetings, busy bumblebees. How is life today? Calming? Swarming? Sorry I called you an insect...I meant it in the most loving way possible. Let's talk pasta. Creamy, simple, home-y noodles with just enough sauce and tasty herbs to make us go "Mmmm." Don't you love it when a bite or morsel tastes so good, you have to close your eyes, pause and relish in the moment? Me, too. This used to happen very rarely and ONLY when out at a nicer restaurant. But, as I've learned more about home cooking (burning and baking), those savored moments are more often. Little successes. This super simple dish is what I love about Italian...few, quality ingredients with big, bold tastes.

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes & Basil
4-5 servings
Adapted from Everyday Food, May 2012

1 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes
1 TB fresh oregano leaves or 1 t. dried oregano
3 TB olive oil
2 pinches of sea salt
Dash of pepper
3/4 pound pasta (spaghetti, orecchiette, short or long works)
6 basil leaves (2 TB or so)

step one: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, lay out rinsed and dried tomatoes and toss in olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes burst and begin to brown.

step two: In the meantime, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water. After cooking, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta. Return the pasta and water to the pot and add the roasted tomatoes. Cook over high heat for 3-4 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Sprinkle with basil and extra salt and pepper, to taste. Enjoy warm or cold.

Happy eating!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tropical Popsicles

I'm dreaming of a summer vacation...

 Just like the one I had before...

 Where the sea foam glistened...

 And palm trees listened...

 To fireworks booming on the shore, the shore...

Okay, so that trip to Hawaii wasn't exactly a White Christmas, but it was like a summer vacation right smack at the end of December. And I miss that gorgeous place.

But a gorgeous budget to visit Hawaii for a few weeks isn't even on the radar...

So we'll make tropical popsicles instead!

Tropical Popsicles
Transform yourself to your favorite summer spot, under a palm tree, while indulging in these little frozen gems. These popsicles are a sweet treat, using fruit to sweeten rather than sugar. Taste the banana-coconut-pineapple trio of flavors in each bite.

Makes 2 cups (8 1/4-cup popsicles), but you can adjust (double) to fill your pop holders

You'll need:

  • Popsicle mold
  • Food processor or blender
  • 1/4 cup measuring cup
  • 1/3 cup pineapple (4 rings)
  • 2 bananas, peeled
  • 1/3 cup light coconut milk
  • Two
  • 1/3 cup shredded, toasted coconut flakes

step one: Combine pineapple, bananas, coconut milk, and 2 TB of coconut flakes into a food processor or blender until combined (a few small chunks of banana are okay).

step two: In the popsicle molds, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of toasted coconut into the bottom of each one. Pour 1/4 or more of the banana mixture into each mold, then top with an additional 1 teaspoon of toasted coconut. Insert the handles/sticks. Freeze for 2 hours, or until firm. (Use hot water to loosen popsicles or use fancy silicone molds that release easily.)


Enjoy your little home!

Happy eating!

Gluten-free Double Chocolate Cookies

We had a lovely time with Chris (my husband's bandmate, who lives in Missouri), his wife Ali and Chris' parents yesterday. It's so nice when the four of us are in the same state and can get together, even if just for a day. We went to a Main Street Festival in the suburban town of Dallas where Chris' parents cute! And warm outside, but the music and smells of deep-fried everything made up for the Texas heat. We had dinner at their grill/pool afterward, so I brought along shrimp risotto (recipe later), lime shortbread and these cookies. Ali doesn't do gluten, so this is one of my first attempts to make a gluten-free cookie. After taking one bite, it turns out this was one of my FAVORITE grocery store treats when I was little. I accidentally found the recipe! And it's so probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry and fridge.

Gluten-free Double Chocolate Cookies
These cookies are giant and the chewiest things you'll ever sink your teeth into. They are perfect for those with wheat allergies or Celiacs, or just a great alternative to a cookie tray of boring sugar and chocolate chips. Easy, quick, so good.
Adapted from here and here

3 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups chopped nuts (I used almonds)
3/4 to 1 cup chopped chocolate (I chopped semisweet chocolate chips a little)
4 egg whites
1 t. vanilla extract (optional)

Preheat oven to 325. In a large bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Then, add the nuts and chocolate. Lastly, add the egg whites and vanilla (optional). Stir together until dough is all moistened and has come together. (It will be lumpy.)

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a 1/4 cup or an ice cream scoop, scoop the dough onto the baking sheets, with only 6 or 7 cookies on each sheet. (Leave lots of space in between, because these cookies are giant!!)

Bake at 325 for 22--25 minutes, or until tops are crackled and cookies are not runny. Let cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then carefully transfer them to a cooling rack. Eat when cooled.

STORAGE: Store cookies at room temperature in an airtight container or zipper bag.

Happy eating!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Zucchini Bread

Sometimes I wonder if I like bread more than anyone else on this earth.

Then I assure myself I am not, while I indulge in yet another slice of whole wheat toast or banana bread and give the trophies to the founder of La Madeleine's croissants, Domino's buttery dough and of course Ms. Cinnabon herself. Breaking bread is crucial for community, and eating bread is necessary for life. The bread choices that we make, however, can give us nutrients or assist our bulging waistlines.

Zucchini bread...ever had it? I had not. But when a cute little farm girl told me about it one day at work, I was thoroughly intrigued. And, apparently, it is common to make when you have an abundance of zucchini squash from your farm...or urban garden. Cha-ching. We don't have a garden right now, but we do have a great farmer's market. Check. I was excited about baking one of my favorite veggies into a sweet breakfast bread. Matt--a newish zucchini consumer--was skeptical.

Zucchini Bread
Adapted from Simple Bites
This sweet bread is full of healthy zucchini, moist and delicious for breakfast, snack or dessert. The mild zucchini taste will convert even the most skeptical of squash eaters. For a surprising treat, add semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Makes 1 loaf + 12 muffins, or 20 muffins

Dry ingredients:
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup cake flour (or all-purpose)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon (or 1 Tablespoon pre-ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Wet ingredients:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup + 2 TB plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (or regular milk with a splash of vinegar)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups finely grated zucchini (2 1/2 zucchinis)
  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chunks/chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil a 9×4 inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Line a 6-cup muffin tin with papers OR oil a mini loaf pan.
  2. In a bowl, sift together dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, yogurt, buttermilk, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Combine well. Stir in grated zucchini and chopped chocolate.
  4. Fold flour mixture into the wet ingredients and stir until combined.
  5. Spoon batter into 6 muffin cups (or mini loaf pan) and pour the rest into the 9×4 loaf pan. Bake for approximately 50 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes in the pan. Loosen the sides and remove from pan. Serve warm and store in a zipper bag or foil in the fridge.

Happy eating!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Homemade Sesame Crackers

Honestly, I've been holding onto this recipe for over a year. A year! But yesterday seemed like the day to get crackerin' (sorry) and make these crunchy little crackers. It's super easy and tastes a heck of a lot better than buying a box of sesame crackers in the store. Let's do this.

Easy Homemade Sesame Crackers
Adapted from NY Times

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 TB olive oil
1 TB toasted sesame oil (or another TB of olive oil)
5 TB water

step one: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine flour, seeds and salt. Then, add the oils and water, kneading until all is combined well.

step two: On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thick. (I didn't have a rolling pin, so I rolled out by hand, but this takes longer, and the crackers will look more rustic.) Using a shot glass, cookie cutters or a knife, cut out circles, squares and shapes in the size of cracker you desire. Place onto the baking sheets with at least 1/2 inch in-between. (The crackers won't get much bigger than they are as dough.)

step three: Bake for 20 minutes, until slightly brown, switching the pans halfway in between (front to back and top to middle).

Enjoy these nutty, crunchy little gems!

Happy eating!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Carrot Apple Smoothie

Friends, hello! Let's have a little refreshing beverage, shall we?

Carrot Apple Smoothie
Makes 5 cups, 3-4 servings

1 apple, sliced (no core)
4 carrots, ends cut, and sliced into 2-inch pieces
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cucumber
10 ice cubes + more if desired
1/2 cup orange juice

In a blender, combine all ingredients. Blend until smooth. Remember to find the blender's lid and be sure to attach. (I did not.) This will prevent orange cabinets (sticky). Drink and be merry.

  • Low calorie, sweet, no added sugar
The cucumber and apple make green and red confetti in the smoothie!
 I'm coming down from the high of graduating and realizing I'm no longer a full-time student. It's strange, really. But -bam- time to find a job. Wish me luck.

Happy eating!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Let's Talk About Oats Part II

We've talked about oats until they're coming out of our ears. We have our base, and now let's talk about toppings, to mix up the daily routine of a bowl of oats.

Quaker has GREAT IDEAS, 150 over 10 pages to be exact. Some highlights:
  • Maria's Hearty Rush Hour Medley: brown sugar, raspberries, pretzels and coffee (page 1)
  • Hawaiian's Rich Tropical Fusion: pineapple, mango, cherry and kiwi (page 1)
  • Chidinma's Delightful Bedtime Madness: apple, chili pepper, almonds and avocado (page 3)
And now for some toppings...
(Note: Click on the titles of oatmeal "Try"s if the direct link doesn't work at first.)

  • Brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Molasses
  • Honey
  • Agave nectar
  • Maple syrup
  • Fruit jam
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Caramel syrup




  • Shredded cheese (many kinds)
  • Bacon
  • Chives
  • Veggies
  • Greek yogurt


Happy eating!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Let's Talk About Oats

Are you an oats kind of morning person? Do you even eat breakfast? My amazing mother-in-law eats steel cut oats quite often, after her daily workout. (She's very good.) I tend to make a batch of regular rolled oats that will last a few days. Steel cut oats (AKA Irish oats in the white & gold can at the grocery store) take a little longer, but they're still very easy to make in a big batch and use them throughout the week.
I also rarely have steel cut because it's MUCH pricier than regular Quaker rolled oats...that little white can, although wonderful, can be up to $8 for 28 oz, compared to my mega tub of rolled oats at $3 for 42 oz. B-I-G difference. And the large canister lasts months. But now I'm finding more grocery stores carry the steel cut oats in the giant bulk barrels. One store near us sells a pound (16 oz) of steel cut for $0.77! Alas, it's a great deal. I encourage you to try steel cut if you prefer chewy over mushy.

So here's the breakdown of easily available oats in our grocery stores:

  • Instant Oatmeal: the little, colorful pouches of oats, sugar, salt, spices and sometimes dried fruit. Oh, they are easy...the oats have the same nutrition content as rolled or steel cut BUT the sugar, salt and sometimes added oils are kind of awful for you. If you're traveling, I'd buy the PLAIN version of these (or put your rolled oats in zipper bags) and drop in some dried fruit. You'll still have sugar, but less than those little packets. Worst value per serving, too.
  • Rolled Oats: More processing than steel cut oats. Also, the wider surface area of the flakes means it is easier to digest and, therefore, not as soluble as steel cut. These are great, but won't keep you as full as steel cut and have a slightly higher glycemic index (the measure of how quickly carbohydrate foods affect your blood sugar).
  • Steel Cut Oats: Least processed, lower glycemic level, very versatile.
  • Thanks to Dr. Weil, the USDA, and Food Network for the info!

So there's our little lesson on oats. Happy day, friends. Let's go eat some oats.  :)

Happy eating!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Lime Shortbread Cookies

Oh, boy, am I excited about this one! Are you? I'm graduating from Baylor TODAY and, in case you care nothing about RGIII or sports, you might not know our colors are green and gold. Of course, the basketball uniforms recently have been grey and a yellow highlighter color, so green has been hiding a bit. These cookies aren't GREEN so much, but they're "highlighted" by great green lime. (like that pun?) So, to thank my friends, family and professors, here's a little green treat for you guys.

This is my mother-in-law's (Pat's) shortbread recipe. I must confess that I've never had rice flour when needed (for this recipe), so I skimp. Sorry, Pat. But I must say that these tasted pretty yum without it so, if ya don't have it, no sweat! (but invest in some rice flour for tempura and other uses if you can) These were made using citrus sugar (which is so easy to make!), which added the aroma and texture that the topping sugar needed. Let's get started.

Lime Shortbread Cookies
Good shortbread is crunchy, buttery and slightly sugary, but not overly so. This version add a refreshing hint of lime to enhance the simple purity of these little gems. Make, pat yourself on the back and try to share with others.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick butter + 1 stick margarine, softened not melted (no, I'm not kidding)
1/2 + 1/3 cup granulated/white sugar
2 TB rice flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 lime
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

small bowl, citrus grater/microplane, medium bowl, spoon, hands, 2 baking sheets, oven, cooling rack

step one: Preheat oven to 300. In the small bowl, grate the entire lime. Divide the zest in half. In the medium bowl, combine flours, butter/margarine, half of the zest and 1/2 cup sugar. Combine until a soft dough forms without any bumps. (I use a spoon for a minute and then use my hands for the rest of the time.)

step two: Make the lime sugar. Using 1/3 cup sugar, press the rest of the lime zest into the sugar. Mix with hands until the sugar and zest are combined and the zest oils have incorporated into the sugar. Set aside for sprinkling.

step three: On a baking sheet (you can spray or parchment it, but there's so much butter in these little thangs, no need, really.), take 1-2 TB of dough and form "ladyfinger" shapes with hands. Line up on the baking pan and sprinkle with the lime sugar. Bake for 25 minutes, or until SLIGHTLY brown on the cookie edges and the middle is solid (no give when you touch it).

step three: Let cool on pan for 1 minute, then transfer to cooling rack. 

OPTIONAL step four: In a small ramekin or bowl, heat 1/2 cup chocolate chips in 30 second intervals in the microwave, stirring in between. When the cookies have cooled for at least 15 minutes, dip one end of the cookie in the chocolate dip. Let cool for 15 more minutes on rack or refrigerate.

So there you have it...lime shortbread. Of course, you can mix it up with lemon, grapefruit, orange, tangelo, or mandarin zest as well. Enjoy while they last, and well done to the graduate(s) in your life!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

I used to love those parfaits from the golden arches, the layers of blueberries, strawberries and granola in between sweet vanilla yogurt. The downsize: lots of sugar. The positive: still healthier than a burger. :) But who wants pounds of sugar in yogurt and fruit? Shouldn't heavy sugar consumption be saved for cakes and cookies? Yes, I think so, too. So here's a giant (not so sugary) version of it all and feel good about it!

Fruit and Yogurt Parfait
2 servings
2/3 cup chopped strawberries
1/2 cup chopped blackberries or bananas or blueberries
2 cups plain yogurt (Greek is great, too)
A Layer Guide
4 teaspoons honey or 1 TB agave nectar
1/2 cup lowfat granola

Chop the fruit. Get out 2 glasses.

Layer in this order:

  • yogurt (1/2 inch full in the glass)
  • drizzle of honey/agave
  • strawberries (about 1/2 inch)
  • yogurt
  • granola
  • yogurt 
  • drizzle of honey/agave
  • blackberries
  • REPEAT...
  • top with extra granola, strawberries, and one last drizzle of honey/agave
Fun, Pretty, Easy! (only call me two of these...but call my food all of these, please.)

Listening to...Norah Jones' newest album.
sideways...don't try this at home. It's not Dairy Queen.
Why this is awesome:
  • Matt found an old iTunes giftcard
  • He handed it to me and said, "Buy the new Norah Jones album! She's one of your faves!" And I agreed to all of it. And then I realized that I haven't ordered an album on iTunes since before grad school, when I was footloose and fancy free (and had money for iTunes. Sigh.) And I forgot how.
  • Her music really is good. Like really good. Complexly simple. For sure.
Happy day, friends!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Low-fat Brownies

Isn't it nice to whip up a little dessert after a long day? I'm talking about 5 or 10 minutes on your feet in the kitchen, max. I found this recipe on Joy of Baking's site, a low-fat wonder before adding a layer of crunchy peanut butter for my dear husband Matt. He and my mom (and other members of the family) are nutz-o about chocolate peanut butter in combination, so I imagine that--even if I had burned these brownies--they still would've been gobbled up.

You know, I just realized that I should explain all of these "Joy's" that I've been referring to in the posts these last few weeks.
  • Joy of Cooking--the classic, 80 year old cookbook with the white cover and red lettering; I refer to this often in cooking, and a little less on this blog
  • Joy the Baker--a hip, Californian young baker who is creative with her flavor combos and baking techniques; I refer to her regularly
  • Joy of Baking--a middle-aged, established blogger with many traditional baking recipes (think comfort food) that she and her contributors offer; I refer to her seldomly
So today's brownies are from Joy #3, the last on the list. So much Joy! The brownies are low fat and, if you add the peanut butter topping, well, it adds a little more fat. Just warning you. But they are tasty!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
Adapted from Joy of Baking
Makes one 8X8 pan

1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/3 cup soft butter spread (margarine)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup light sour cream or plain low fat yogurt

Topping (not so low fat)
3 TB crunchy peanut butter, melted in the microwave (1 minute)
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Step one: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with one rack in the center of the oven. Spray an 8X8 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine sugar and margarine until smooth. Then, mix in the vanilla and egg.

Step two: In a second bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Combine the dry ingredients in to the wet ingredients. Then mix in the yogurt/sour cream. Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake for 15--20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Topping: Once the brownies are out of the oven, cool for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, add the peanut butter and microwave for 45 seconds, or until warm and melted. Add the powdered sugar and stir until dissolved. Spread carefully on top of the brownies. Let cool. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar to finish.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Resources for Eating

Do you ever wonder about certain foods, like which one is better over another?

I try to eat how I like to shop--how can I get the most bang for my buck?

=value, satisfaction=

This definitely applies to beautiful shoes, summer dresses, and food. Always food. How can I get the most nutrients, feel the most full, and enjoy the most tastiness? (sorry, terrible grammar) The following are some guidelines that have helped me attempt to understand this crazy stuff we call food. If you have any other resources, I Would LOVE to have them! So please sent them to me, & I'll add to the list.

Free Resources for (Food) Life:
  • USDA's Food Commodity Fact Sheets: one-page sheets on all sorts of food, in alpha order. Very helpful when you're about to go grocery shopping (ex: eating only 1 cup of kale has the same nutrients as one pound of carrots, etc.)
  • Lists of Superfoods (essentially Whole foods) from Food Matters, Dr. Perricone (Oprah), SuperFoodsRX, & WHFoods (my personal favorite).
  • Nutrition Facts: Self Magazine is my main source because you can plug in your recipes and custom foods to find out the nutrition value.
  • Whole Food Meal Plans: Google this. Livestrong has a great resource to get you started, and lots of companies would like to charge you to create custom weekly meal plans for you (which is great), but I'd just dig around on the Internetsss and find what you like, then cook it! (i.e., FOOD BLOGS :) )
  • Mostly, don't sweat trying to eat 8 cups of greens a day. Eat what you can, eat what is tasty and gives you powerful energy (not that sluggish feeling after eating 8 donuts), and take pride in your body and your health. It's a lifelong journey to great health, so take it one meal or snack at a time. THIS SHOULD BE FUN. We can all remember that.
  • (I don't get compensated for mentioning any of these sites...there are many others that are great, but I have just shown you the ones that I use most regularly and have found tend to be really helpful.)

Happy eating!