Just another lazy Sunday

Don’t you just love Sunday mornings?  I adore snuggling with my hubby while sipping coffee and reading a good book. We lounge around until noon and then leisurely make our way downstairs to watch movies all day. Oh wait….that was life BEFORE the kids.

Nowadays, Sunday morning is a non-stop tornado of activity!

7:00 a.m. my darling daughter calls me from her crib, desperately needing a diaper change. My loving son stumbles into our bedroom begging to play video games. My eyes flutter open and I realize that the mad Sunday rush is here yet again. Time to get the kids dressed, fed and presentable for church. Somewhere in this mad rush I manage to get in a shower and find an outfit that is appropriate for public viewing (no yoga pants in church…thankyouverymuch!). It’s insanity. You would think that I’d learn to plan ahead.

On those rare Sunday mornings when I actually have my act together, I like to spoil the family a bit by making a good, hearty breakfast. Santa was kind enough to buy me a waffle maker this year. I tell you, next to my mini van and my engagement ring, it was the best Christmas present ever! Yes, I truly am that low maintenance.

I’ve really enjoyed experimenting with different recipes for waffle batter. I’ve found that Bisquick mix, while it makes outstanding pancakes, makes pretty dry and tasteless waffles. Other waffle mixes I’ve made have been too dense or not puffy enough. After much trial and error, I finally found the perfect mix!

I give complete credit to Mr. Alton Brown and the Food Network for this recipe. I had nothing to do with it. I just thought I’d pass it along and share the love.

  • 4 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 1 cup
  • 4 3/4 ounces whole-wheat flour, approximately 1 cup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 whole eggs, beaten
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • 16 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
  • Vegetable spray, for waffle iron

Directions

Preheat waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In another bowl beat together eggs and melted butter, and then add the buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Ladle the recommended amount of waffle batter onto the iron according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Close iron top and cook until the waffle is golden on both sides and is easily removed from iron. Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree F oven until ready to serve.

Here’s a handy-dandy tip from your old pal, Liz:  If you don’t have any buttermilk, just add one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of milk. Viola! Home made buttermilk substitute!

Yum!

There you have it… the best food that Sunday morning has to offer! Top these golden beauties with syrup and butter or berries and whipped cream. You could even go hog-wild and make a fried egg, bacon and cheese waffle sandwich. Not that I’ve ever done anything THAT unhealthy. *ahem*

Speaking of healthy eating….Liz Land is going to get a bit healthier. It seems that my love of all things creamy and buttery has caught up with me. Time to lower the fat and cholesterol intake. I’ve been experimenting with some new healthy alternatives to my old favorites. Hope you stick with me on this.

White Bean and Roasted Garlic Spread

There are few things in life I like more than the smell of roasted garlic. If I had my way I would have a roasted garlic air freshener hanging from my rear view mirror and large bowls of garlic, basil and onion potpourri in my living room. The smell of garlic warms my soul and makes me feel at peace with the world. Other people in the Land of Liz don’t feel quite so passionate about these delightful little bulbs of joy, so I limit my love of garlic to cooking.

Ordinarily I’m perfectly happy just roasting up a bulb of garlic and spreading it on a loaf of crusty Italian bread, but today I decided to get a bit more creative. I made a big batch of white bean and roasted garlic spread. This is a very simple recipe but it tastes out of this world!

The first step is roasting up the garlic!

  • Crank up your oven to 400. 
  • Cut off the top half of two bulbs of garlic
  • place them on a square of foil
  • drizzle on some olive oil and wrap them up
  •  Once the oven is heated up, roast those babies for 45 minutes.

When they are done they will be soft, easy to spread and delicious. 

When your kitchen starts to smell like a high-end Italian restaurant, open up a can of Great Northern beans. Rinse, drain and heat them on low on the stove top.

When the garlic is ready, squeeze it out from its paper shell into the bowl of a food processor.

Add the following:

  • warm beans
  •  a handful of cilantro (omit if you are not a cilantro fan….I am a BIG fan so I added extra!),
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • a drizzle of olive oil

 Mix it up in the food processor until it’s smooth.

Bean really liked it on her sandwich!

Peanut really liked it on her sandwich!

This is a great dip for veggies! I’m using it as a sandwich spread this week. It also stores really well in the fridge. It should be good for up to two weeks. Keep some on hand for any unexpected guests. They’ll think you eat like a gourmet every day!

You are eating WHAT?

  I mentioned in my last post that I would be sharing a recipe for a healthy potato chip substitute. Before I get to that, let me explain why I’m attempting to better my eating habits.

It all started when I signed up for the 2011 Susan G. Komen walk. In September, I will walk 60 miles to raise money to fight breast cancer. I remembered how my poor knees had suffered at the hands of the 2009 walk. I hadn’t properly trained (and by that I mean I went from walking three miles once or twice  a week to walking twenty miles a day for three days straight). I knew that the only way I could possibly survive this year’s walk was to start training early.

I shopped Craigslist and found a double jog stroller for $40. I was so proud of myself that I immediately took Bean and Peanut out for our first two-mile walk around the neighborhood. Bean, Peanut and I sailed through the first mile of our trek. I felt so confident that I decided to throw a little jogging into the mix. Keeping in mind, I hadn’t seriously jogged or ran since I was a sophomore in high school, I decided to take it slow. I visualized the graceful long-distance runners I always admired in high school. They looked like gazelles: graceful, determined, focused and poised. I wanted to be a gazelle. 

I took the first step and jogged one block. I walked the next. I did this for two and a half blocks and noticed that something was happening to my body. That something was PAIN! First, my knees started to ache a bit. Then I noticed my thighs were feeling the burn. It was then, when it felt like my jiggling love handles were on fire, I realized that I may need to go into this fitness routine a wee bit slower. I suddenly thought back to my vision of the gazelles. I realized, if my life were a National Geographic Special ,  I would be the lame gazelle that gets devoured by a pride of lions. It was a sobering thought.

As I let this morbid image sink in, it occurred to me that I needed to make some changes. I had some very unhealthy food habits. The worst of these habits is my constant snacking. I can’t seem to pass our pantry without peeking in and taking “just a bite” of something. I admit I’m guilty of chowing down on a pint of Ben & Jerry’s while watching The Biggest Loser. I shared this information with my mom and she passed on a fantastic and healthy snack. Thanks Mom!

Kale Chips

1 bunch of Kale

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp salt (or seasoned salt)

  • Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with foil.
  • With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  • Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.

I was the only brave one in the house to try these. I managed to eat the entire bowl and I didn’t feel one bit guilty about it. They are surprisingly crispy and flavorful and incredibly healthy.

All of this healthy eating is making me feel pretty good about myself.  I may just give jogging another try.

Snack away little gazelle! Snack away!

Frugal Friday/Veggie Love

Frugal Friday tip for the week: Go vegetarian…at least a few days a week.

I recently read the book Food Rules by Michael Pollan. His answer to  the eternal question of what you should and should not eat is very simple: “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.” It’s such a brilliant solution! 

In an effort to get a little healthier I am making a strong effort to eat a rainbow of veggies every week. This week I’ve tested out two very yummy vegetarian dishes. I’m finding that going “vegetarian” for a few days out of the week is really stretching out my grocery budget (and I’m no longer stretching out my jeans)!

Last week I just happened to have a beautiful little butternut squash hanging around in my veggie basket. I was planning on making baby food for Peanut but then my March issue of Woman’s Day magazine arrived and I found a recipe that I just had to try out.

Rustic Butternut Squash Tart

  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced into rings and separated
  • 1/4 small butternut squash (about 1/2 lb) seeded and very thinly sliced (my mandolin helped out on this one!)
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 4 oz extra sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (1 cup)
  • 1 refrigerated rolled pie crust
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the onion, squash, thyme, oil, 1/2 tp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper; fold in the cheddar.

Working on a piece of parchment paper, roll the pie crust into a 14-in. circle. Slide the paper and the crust onto a baking sheet. Spoon squash mixture onto the pie crust, leaving a 2-in. border. Fold the border of the crust over the squash mixture.

Brush the crust with the egg.

I love this brush. Any kitchen tool I can throw into my dishwasher is OK in my book!

Bake until the crust is golden brown and the vegetables are tender, 20-25 minutes. (check after 15 minutes to make sure the crust isn’t getting too dark; if it is , cover with foil for the remaining bake time.) Serve with a salad, if desired.

Please note: this is not the final product. When I got the tart out of the oven the crust was golden brown and the squash and onion had carmelized in a such a lovely way that I felt it only appropriate to transfer it to a pretty plate for a proper photograph. Unfortunately, the tart slid off of my spatula and half of the tart wound up on the plate and the other half remained on the baking sheet. Don't worry- I ate my mistake and it was delicious.

I made this tart with a Vidalia onion, dried thyme and mozzarella cheese and it was wonderful!

The second of my vegetarian adventures was Curry Apple Fried Rice. I got this recipe from a random internet search. This was a very quick meal to whip up. Best of all, no one else in the house ate it so I had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s very healthy so I didn’t feel guilty in the slightest!

Curry Apple Fried Rice

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 ¼ cups of vegetable stock
  • 2 eggs, scrambled
  • 1 cup frozen vegetables
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 apple, chopped with the skin on
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  •  

    Cook rice according to package directions, using vegetable broth instead of water.

    Preheat a wok over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the wok.

    Add onions and frozen vegetables and cook for 1 minute.

    Add apples and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until garlic begins to color.

    Add rice, eggs, curry powder and cumin. Cook for 2 minutes more, serve and enjoy!

    Don't you love my fine China? This was my vain attempt to get Bean to try new food. He wasn't buying it. Oh well...more for me!

    Healthy living!

    Egad! It’s been crazy around here for the past few weeks. We’ve had pink eye, strep throat and an industrial strength cold that wiped the whole family out. I think the crud has finally left the building and we’re getting back to normal.

    I apologize for not putting up a Frugal Friday post. I’ll make it up to you this week by posting an extra recipe.

    Forgive me?

    Yes?

    Good. Let’s move on.

    Last week, after an unexpected weigh-in at the doctor’s office, I decided that my love affair with cream sauces must come to an abrupt end.  It was a painful decision but a necessary one. I wept a bit but, in an effort to shrink my rapidly expanding waist line (and hips and buns and gut….) I headed out to the grocery store and spent the majority of my food budget on fresh veggies.  Portobello mushrooms were calling my name so I came home and whipped up the following sandwich for lunch.

    Balsamic Portobello Wrap

    1 Portobello mushroom cap (cleaned and sliced)

    1/4 thinly sliced onion

    1 tsp Olive Oil

    Salt & Pepper (t0 taste)

    1/4 cup fresh baby spinach

    1 tsp balsamic vinegar

    Thin slices of colby- jack cheese

    drizzle of low-fat honey-mustard dressing

    Whole wheat wrap

    1.In a skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Heat onions until translucent. Add mushrooms, salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. Cook until mushrooms are a golden brown on both sides.

    2. Spread out wrap and put on a layer of spinach. Place slices of colby-jack cheese on top of the spinach and add mushrooms & onions. Drizzle honey mustard dressing on top and roll into a wrap.

    Warning…this is a pretty messy sandwich but it’s so yummy! .  

    Enjoy- guilt free! 🙂

     Ok… I think the dust bunnies have run off with my camera charger. Hopefully I’ll have found it by my next post.