Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mia Dolcea Moscato d'Asti

The first time I went wine tasting with my husband, my husband didn't like wine at all.  The sommelier started out convinced she could help him discover a wine that he liked, but in the end, she gave up.  He wanted it to taste like grape juice.  

Several wine tastings later, we discovered that my husband likes wine that is very sweet.  Gewurztraminer was probably the first type of wine that he didn't want to spit out.  It's a little too sweet for me though.

I mainly like white wine, but I like a lot more variety than my husband.  I enjoy Chardonnay, Rose, and sparkling wine.  We do wine tastings at Total Wine about once a month, and there have even been a few reds that we both really liked.  

When we're looking for a bottle of wine to share with dinner, we usually play it safe by buying a wine that's sweet but not too sweet for me, and Moscato is always the perfect choice.  We tend to prefer Italian Moscato, and our current favorite is Mia Dolcea Moscato d'Asti.  It has a deliciously sweet flavor that would make it a great dessert wine, but a couple days ago, we enjoyed it with pizza. 

If you're looking for a sweet, easy to drink wine, you can't go wrong with Mia Dolcea!

Happy drinking!

Buttermilk Biscuit Triangles

I've always liked to pull my food apart instead of just biting into it.  I especially do that with anything in the bread family like doughnuts, muffins, biscuits, etc.  So, you can only imagine how much I love flaky, layered buttermilk biscuits.  The layers are practically begging me to pull them apart and eat them.

If you're like me, and you like layered biscuits, you'll love this recipe for Buttermilk Biscuit Triangles.  If you're like my husband and you love the flavor of buttermilk, you're definitely in for a treat.

Why triangles?  It's an easy to create shape that makes the biscuits seem a little more special than your typical circles, and no cookie cutter is required. 

I usually try to post recipes that have something redeeming about them health-wise.  This is not one of them.  This is definitely a splurge, but with portion control, anything can fit into a healthy diet.  Each biscuit only has about 100 calories.  The trick is stopping at one...or two...or three!  You can also substitute whole wheat flour for some or all of the all purpose flour, but your biscuits won't be quite as fluffy.

If you want to keep it light, pair the biscuits with a salad, such as my Everyday Salad.  That's what I did today, but I added about 8 pieces of turkey pepperoni chopped in fourths.  You really can't go wrong with turkey pepperoni!  If you want some true comfort food, I'd recommend pairing these biscuits with a bowl of your favorite soup, and of course, they're also perfect for breakfast.

Buttermilk Biscuit Triangles
Servings: 16

2 c all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
pinch salt
8 tbsp cold butter (1 stick)
3/4 c well-shaken buttermilk

Preheat your oven to 400.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Then cut in the butter.  You can use a pastry cutter, but I usually just hold a couple butter knives in one hand and cut back and forth across the butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs.  Add the buttermilk, and mix it in with a fork until combined.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  I recommend using a dish towel because you won't need as much flour.  Knead the dough gently, and shape it into a rectangle about 1 inch thick.

Now we create the layers!  Fold the dough in half.  Use a rolling pin to gently roll out the dough until it's about 1 inch thick again.  Repeat this process 3 more times so that you've folded the dough a total of 4 times.  Yup, the folding is what creates the layers!

Use a sharp knife to cut the dough in half.  Cut each half of the dough in half again.  You have 4 pieces.  Cut the dough in half the other direction.  You have 8 equal pieces.  Cut each piece in half at a diagonal.  Now you have 16 triangles.

Put a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and set the biscuits on top.  Be sure to leave space between the biscuits.  They're going to need room to rise!

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden.  When you remove them from the oven, you can spray the tops with spray butter or brush with a little melted butter if desired.

Happy eating!


Friday, October 25, 2013

Grits & Eggs

My husband grew up in the south (Texas near the gulf), and in the south, they eat grits.  According to a recent episode of the CW show "Hart of Dixie," grits are an "acquired taste."

I didn't grow up eating grits.  In fact, I never tasted them until this morning.  My husband makes eggs and grits for breakfast for himself almost every morning, but I always have something else (like just eggs, no grits).  Today, I was curious and asked if I could have a bite.  They taste kind of like cornmeal.

My husband said that grits are kind of like oatmeal in that they don't taste great unless you add stuff to them.  So, perhaps what I tasted this morning is better than what you'd typically consider "grits."  My husband definitely adds stuff to them.

If you're from the north like me and want to try grits, or if you're from the south like my husband and want a very flavorful new recipe for grits, check out my husband's recipe for grits and eggs.

Grits & Eggs
1 serving

1/3 c Quaker Old Fashioned Grits
1 c chicken broth or 1 c water + 1 tsp No Sodium Chicken Bouillon
2 eggs
1 oz cheddar cheese (shredded or cut in small pieces)
2 strips bacon
TexJoy (or salt & pepper) to taste

Fry the bacon until crisp.  Then transfer the bacon to a paper towel to cool.

While the bacon's cooking, mix the grits and chicken broth in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir.  Repeat until no longer soupy, about 3-4 minutes or 6-8 intervals.

While the grits are cooking, drain the bacon grease out of the frying pan.  Don't wash the pan.  Put the eggs in the pan with about 3 tbsp water and scramble.  When eggs are almost done, add the cheese.  (If your grits have finished cooking before your eggs, just leave them in the microwave until eggs are done.)

Put the eggs and bacon on top of the grits.  Add TexJoy to taste, and stir.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Flavored Café au Lait

I love lattes at Starbucks.  I mean, who doesn't?  Well, my husband for one.  He isn't much of a coffee drinker.  I try to tell him that the lattes just taste like dessert, but somehow he can still taste the coffee. 

Have you heard of Jordan's Skinny Syrups?  I hadn't until I was shopping at Homegoods this weekend.  I snagged several of her zero calorie flavored syrups and low calorie drink mixers.  I've bought sugar free vanilla syrup in the past, but somehow it never tasted as good as at Starbucks.  This time was different. These syrups definitely don't taste calorie free or sugar free.

I don't have an espresso machine, so I use drip coffee instead, which technically means I'm making a Café au Lait not a Latte.  My Salted Caramel Café au Lait tasted so good that my husband drank two large mugs of it.  Success!

Here's the skinny:

Flavored Café au Lait
(makes 1 14 ounce cup)

1/3 cup fat free milk
2 tbsp Jordan's Skinny Syrup (in your favorite flavor)
10 ounces freshly brewed mild coffee (I use Folgers Breakfast Blend)

Mix all ingredients in your favorite cup.

I just tried making café au lait with a syrup other than Jordan's, and it wasn't nearly as good.  I had to add an extra tablespoon of syrup and a tablespoon of Splenda.  If you like your coffee sweet and want it to taste like a Starbucks latte, you've gotta find Jordan's Skinny Syrups.  I'm excited to try the White Chocolate Peppermint Cocktail Mixer I bought too!

Happy drinking!

Mini Pumpkin Pie Crescent Rolls

ready to go in the oven
You know how people are always posting and sharing recipes on facebook?  Well, last night I finally tried making one of them.  It looked too good to resist!  As with any recipe, I made a few modifications.  Below is the recipe as I made it:

Mini Pumpkin Pie Crescent Rolls
(Makes 16)

1 package Pillsbury butter flake crescent rolls
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
6 tbsp Splenda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves

right out of the oven
Mix the Splenda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves in a small bowl.  Transfer half of the spice mixture to a medium bowl.  In the medium bowl, add the pumpkin and cream cheese. Beat together until smooth and fluffy.  About 5 minutes by hand.

Roll out the crescent rolls on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Cut each roll in half lengthwise.  Spread about a teaspoon* of the pumpkin mixture on each crescent and roll up.

Roll each rolled up crescent in the reserved spice mix and return to the cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.  Let cool slightly before eating.

*I used a generous teaspoon of pumpkin mixture on each crescent, and I had about 2 extra teaspoons worth of pumpkin mixture left in the bowl when I was done.

My husband and I found these highly addictive.  They only have about 60 calories each, so I didn't feel too bad about eating 6 of them.  Like I said, they're highly addictive!  They're also great with your favorite fall-flavored coffee.  I made salted caramel café au lait for us to drink with them.  It definitely tasted like fall!

Today, we reheated the leftovers for a few seconds in the microwave, and they tasted even better than they did yesterday!  The microwave made them taste doughy, which I love.

Happy eating!

Monday, October 21, 2013


Ever since I saw an article in Los Angeles Magazine about the burgers at 25°, my husband and I have been wanting to eat there.  Saturday night, we finally did.  I'm really surprised it's taken us this long!

We were out seeing a play and hadn't eaten dinner yet.  It was about 10:30pm, and we knew 25° would be open since they're open 24/7.  We cruised down Sunset Blvd watching all the scantily clad clubbers waiting outside various L.A. hot spots hoping the bouncer would give them the thumbs up.

25° is located inside the historic Hollywood Roosevelt hotel.  We drove around to the back of the hotel for valet parking.  The hotel was hopping. There was a party going on in the Historic Lobby.  We walked up the stairs, past the lobby and to the front of the hotel.  There's an entrance to 25° on Hollywood Blvd, and there's another entrance just inside the hotel's front entrance.


The restaurant was smaller than I expected.  It's basically one long room.  There's a long booth on one side and the bar on the other side.  When we arrived, there were 2 seats available at the bar, and there was also a 2-person table right next to the entrance.  We opted for the table.  

The vibe was fun.  The lighting is dim, and the decor is all red and black.  The black chandeliers were especially cool.  It felt very Hollywood, but in a good way.  

We looked over the menu.  They have a wide variety of drinks available, and for food, they specialize in burgers.  There's an extensive "Craft Your Own" burger section, but my husband and I decided to each try one of their signature burgers.  The make-your-own idea was a little overwhelming at the moment.  We ordered our burgers and an order of the "Mix Any 2 Sides."  We chose to mix onion rings and sweet potato fries.
The sides came out in just a few minutes.  I was surprised at the large serving size.  It was definitely enough to share, probably too much.  The sweet potato fries were especially delicious, just the right amount of salt and grease.  A couple regular fries got mixed in; they tasted like fries, good but nothing special.  The onion rings were good.  They were kind of like what you'd get at a fair.  They were a little too greasy for me though.  I don't eat a lot of greasy food, so my grease tolerance is pretty low.

Our burgers were delivered just a few minutes after the sides.  I ordered the Number One Burger which was topped with caramelized onions, crescenza, prelibato gorgonzola, bacon, arugula, and thousand island.  I requested it without the thousand island.  The burger was huge!  I like that it came wrapped in paper.  That made it easy to pick up and take a bite.  I ordered it cooked "medium," and it was definitely cooked to order.  It was really thick and juicy, but it wasn't anything special.  After 5 or 6 bites, I still hadn't tasted the bacon or onion.  I pulled off the bun and saw that they were piled in the center of the burger.  I spread them out a little and took another bite.  The bacon was really good, but isn't bacon always really good?  It was a good burger but not great.  

My husband ordered the Number Three Burger which was topped with mezzo secco jack, green chili, chipotle and avocado.  He also ordered his burger "medium."  It was cooked really well, and had a slightly spicy kick to it from all the toppings.  I liked his burger better than mine, but it still wasn't the best burger.  My favorite burgers are at Islands.

My husband also ordered a Chocolate Malt.  I think this was the first time I'd ever tasted a malt.  It was like a very chocolaty milkshake, and it was a decent size serving.

In summary, the burgers are good, but I've had better.  The sweet potato fries were my favorite part of the meal.  The atmosphere is cool, the staff is friendly, the service is fast, and the servings are big.  We'll probably stop here again sometime when we see a movie at the El Capitan or something; although, I'll probably try the grilled veggie sandwich or just get sweet potato fries.

They validate your parking, but parking still costs $6.  It'd be $10 without validation.  Especially if you're a tourist, it's probably worth it to do the valet.  You never know who you're going to see parking their car or walking into the hotel.  While we were waiting for our car, I'm pretty sure we saw Hayden Panetierre walk into the hotel, and my husband was practically drooling over a car that pulled up with suicide doors.  We love any excuse to go to the Hollywood Roosevelt.  If I were planning an event or a company party or something, I would absolutely have it there.  25° is a fun, affordable excuse to stop by.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that it really did turn out to be way too much food.  We were both really hungry when we arrived, and we only managed to eat half a burger each.  My husband can be a big eater, especially when he's really hungry, so the fact that he didn't finish his burger says a lot.  Without the malt, he probably would've downed the burger though.  He finished our leftover burgers today.  They reheated well in the microwave.  Gotta love leftovers! 

Happy eating!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

PB&B Flatbread Pizza

No, that wasn't a typo.  I'm not talking about peanut butter and jelly here.  So, what does the "B" stand for?  Wait for it...


You're probably thinking about Elvis right now since he was known for peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwiches.  I can't say that I've ever had all 3 together, but I did grow up eating peanut butter and bacon on toast and putting peanut butter on bananas.  Basically, there was a lot of peanut butter in my childhood.

My husband had never heard of eating peanut butter and bacon together (except for Elvis) until he met me.  Wow, was he missing out!  The grease from the bacon complements the peanut butter so well.  It's such a treat for breakfast or a snack.

With my recent accidental success at making flatbread, I decided that nothing could be better than flatbread topped with peanut butter and bacon.  So, here you have it, my new recipe for PB&B Flatbread Pizza.  You're welcome.

PB&B Flatbread Pizza

1 flatbread (get the recipe for my whole wheat flatbread)
1 tbsp peanut butter
2 slices bacon

Cook the bacon in a frying pan until very crisp.  Then, transfer the bacon to a paper towel so that excess grease can drip off.

Heat the flatbread in the microwave for 10 seconds to warm it up.  Spread the peanut butter on top of the flatbread (this is your "pizza sauce").  Crumble the cooled bacon on top of the peanut butter.  Cut the pizza into 6 pieces and enjoy!

This is a great, easy breakfast or snack.  It's not the healthiest, but it'll "stick with you" as my mom always says, meaning, you won't be hungry for awhile because of the healthy carbs and all the fat from the peanut butter and bacon.  If you want to make it healthier, choose natural peanut butter or almond butter.  Substituting turkey bacon would also definitely cut down on the grease factor.  And, if you don't have any flatbread on hand, toast will do.  May I suggest using my recipe for Whole Wheat Bread?

Happy eating!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Happy Accident Flatbread

I was planning on making pizza for dinner tonight, so I went to my blog and pulled up my recipe for Whole Wheat Pizza Dough.  I made a double batch, like I usually do, so that I'd have enough for 4 pizza crusts.  It's always nice to have extra crust in the freezer.

I started the recipe as usual.  I heated up some water, added the sugar and sprinkled on the yeast.  However, after 10 minutes my yeast wasn't foamy like it should be.  It was more cloudy.  I know, I know, I should've stopped right there and started over with some new yeast, but the yeast said that it doesn't expire until 2014.  I pressed on, mixing in the oil, salt, and flour.  I set the timer for 1 hour to let the dough rise, and of course you can guess what happened.  The dough didn't rise at all.

I wasn't terribly surprised.  I called my husband over and asked if he had any suggestions about what to do with the dud dough.  We each pulled off a piece and ate it.  Yum.  :)  Then I went online for inspiration.  Flatbread came to mind, and I saw that other bloggers said they turned their dud dough into flatbread.

I read a few tips on making flatbread and decided to give it a try.  I spread a kitchen towel on the counter and cut the dough into 32 pieces.  Keep in mind that I doubled the regular recipe of pizza dough, so basically I cut each "pizza" into 8 pieces.  I rolled each piece of dough into a ball and piled them on one end of the towel.  Then I put a damp paper towel over the dough to keep it from drying out.

on the griddle
roll out the flatbread
Meanwhile, I heated up my griddle on the stove.  While it was heating, I grabbed a dough ball, smashed it down on the towel and rolled it out with a rolling pin, flipping it over several times to keep making it thinner.  A dish towel is really wonderful for kneading dough, rolling out dough, etc.  You don't need to use any extra flour that way, and you can always pull the dough off the towel (it doesn't stick).  I also used my hands to spread the dough out and make it thinner, kind of like how you'd make hand tossed pizza but on a much smaller scale.

I sprayed the griddle with butter flavor Pam and tossed on my first potential flatbread.  After a minute or two, it was bubbly and ready to flip. It cooked up so quickly and easily.  It looked greasier than flatbread I buy at the grocery store (because of the Pam), so I cooked the rest of the flatbread without using any cooking spray.  They ended up looking exactly like what I buy at Trader Joe's.  For the price of a little flour, I whipped up 32 flatbreads.  I got into a nice rhythm where I'd put one flatbread on the griddle, roll out another dough ball, flip the one in the griddle, and continue to flatten the dough.  By the time the one on the griddle was done, I had the next one ready to cook.

I assume the flatbread will freeze well since the pizza dough does, and this is basically the same thing.

Needless to say, we're still having pizza tonight, flatbread pizza.  :)

This was my first experience with dud yeast, and it actually turned out well.  Now I have a new flatbread recipe...and so do you.  I've modified the pizza dough recipe to make this easier for next time.  I also added baking powder since most flatbread recipes I've found call for baking powder.

Servings: 16

1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 c warm water
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
3 1/2 c whole wheat flour

Mix the salt, baking powder and 3 cups of flour in the mixing bowl.  Add the water and oil, and mix until the dough starts to come together.  Add the last half cup of flour, and switch to the dough hook.  Knead the mixture for a couple minutes or until the dough is very elastic and all the flour is mixed into the dough.  (You can also knead by hand if you don't have a dough hook.)

Spread a dish towel on the counter and put the dough on top.  Divide the dough into 16 pieces.  (Cutting it in half, and then cutting it in half again, and then cutting it in half again, and then cutting it in half again usually works best for me.)  Roll each piece of dough into a ball and move the dough balls to one side of the towel (to give you some work space).  Wet a paper towel, wring it out and place it on top of the dough balls to keep them from drying out.

Heat up a non-stick griddle (or frying pan).  Don't add any oil or cooking spray.  While the griddle's heating, press down one of the dough balls and roll it out until it's slightly thicker than a tortilla.  You can also stretch the dough with your hands to help flatten it. 

Put the first piece of flattened dough on the griddle, and let it cook until it starts to bubble up a little.  It should only take a minute or two.  (You can use this time to flatten out the next piece of dough.)  Flip the flatbread over, and let it cook another minute or two.  It should be slightly browned on both sides.  Transfer to a cooling rack. 

Repeat this process until all the dough is cooked.

This flatbread tastes just like the whole wheat flatbread sold at Trader Joe's.  It's also vegan.  You can use it to make flatbread pizza, tacos (instead of flour tortillas), or just eat it (perhaps spread with pesto or peanut butter).

Happy eating!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bartenura Moscato

More than any other type of wine, my husband and I buy Moscato.  It's sweeter than a lot of wine, and my husband likes his wine sweet.  It's usually a safe bet that we'll like Moscato, some more than others, but we usually don't have trouble finishing the bottle.

Well, we were in Vegas last week, and wine/cocktail/beer prices at restaurants/bars there aren't cheap.  Instead of paying $15/glass, we decided to buy a bottle of wine at the nearby Walgreens. 

We almost always stay at the Palazzo when we're in Vegas, and right on the strip in front of the Palazzo and the Venetian is a huge Walgreens.  The Palazzo and the Venetian are connected inside, and you can access Walgreens by walking down a long hallway in the Venetian (near the canals).  When you exit, you go down an escalator, and you're there.  This Walgreens has everything you'd expect it to have plus lots of Vegas souvenirs.  The liquor bottles cost about double what I'd usually pay at my local Total Wine back in L.A., but it's definitely cheaper than drinking out.  Besides, when you have a beautiful hotel suite with a strip view, it's a luxury to stay in.

We looked at several different types of Moscato, but in the end, the label on the Bartenura bottle intrigued us.  I know you can't judge a book (bottle) by it's cover (label), but we had to know if it tasted as good as it looked.  Also, it was an Italian wine, and we tend to like Italian wines.

The verdict?  It's very sweet, a great dessert wine.  In fact, it was our dessert that night.  It's also crisp and refreshing.  We didn't eat anything with it; it was great by itself.  However, it's not the best Moscato I've ever had.  I'm glad we tried it, but for the price (about $20), it's not as good as I expected.  I've paid less for Moscato in the past and been even more pleased. 

However, props to the Palazzo for having everything you need to enjoy a bottle of wine in your glasses, bottle-size ice-bucket and even a corkscrew.  Ahh!

Happy drinking!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Spicy Sausage & Pepperoni Lasagna

Pepperoni is totally the secret ingredient in this flavorful lasagna.  It's better than any lasagna I've ever had at a restaurant.  Not bad considering we use turkey pepperoni.  I'm sure it'd be even better if you used the real thing, but this lasagna gets enough grease from the sausage.

If you don't like your food spicy, or if you want to cut down on grease (and calories), you could substitute ground beef, ground turkey or ground pork for the spicy sausage.  You can also use fat free ricotta cheese or cottage cheese instead of the whole milk version, and it'll still taste indulgent.

This lasagna reheats well in the microwave or oven, so don't feel like you have to eat it all at once.  Save some for dinner tomorrow, or bring a piece to work for lunch.  Your co-workers will be jealous!  To add some veggies to the mix, pair this lasagna with my quick and easy Everyday Salad.

Spicy Sausage & Pepperoni Lasagna
Servings: 8 (about 400 calories each)

8 oz lasagna noodles, uncooked (about half a typical box of noodles)
50-60 slices pepperoni

For meat sauce:
1 lb Italian sausage (we use Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausage)
2 cloves garlic, minced (or equivalent garlic powder)
1 small onion, chopped
6 oz tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (14 1/2 ounces)
1 tsp Splenda (or sugar)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp basil leaves
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

For cheese sauce:
16 oz ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp parsley flakes
2 c shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz)
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese

Cook noodles according to package directions.

For meat sauce, in a skillet, combine sausage, onion and garlic.  Cook until sausage is no longer pink, stirring occasionally.  Drain.  Stir in remaining ingredients for meat sauce.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.

For cheese sauce, in a medium bowl, blend all ingredients for cheese sauce.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and spray a 13"x9" pan with cooking spray. 

Now it's time to assemble the lasagna.  You want 3 to 4 layers of meat sauce, cheese sauce, noodles and pepperoni.  The following list shows the order of the layers:
  1. A thin layer of meat sauce.  
  2. 3 noodles.  
  3. A layer of meat sauce. 
  4. A layer of cheese sauce.  
  5. A layer of pepperoni.  
  6. 3 noodles. 
  7. A layer of meat sauce. 
  8. A layer of cheese sauce.  
  9. A layer of pepperoni.  
  10. 3 noodles.  
  11. A layer of meat sauce.  
  12. A layer of cheese sauce.  
  13. A layer of pepperoni.  
  14. Top with remaining noodles.   
  15. Top with remaining cheese sauce.
  16. Top with remaining pepperoni.
Once you have assembled the lasagna, cover the pan and bake about 45-60 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

My husband made the lasagna pictured here.  He ran out of cheese sauce before he got to the top layer.  For presentation sake, I think it would've looked a little nicer with melted cheese on top, but it tasted delicious regardless.  I'm looking forward to leftovers tomorrow!

Happy eating!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Apple Crisp

Growing up in Ohio, my favorite time of year was early Fall when I'd go apple picking at the local orchard with my mom and grandma.  We'd get several bushels of Cortland apples, eating a few in the orchard for a snack while we picked more apples.  Over the next few weeks, I'd eat several apples a day, and my mom would make big pans of apple crisp for dessert.

Now that I live in Los Angeles, I find it impossible to get my hands on Cortland apples, but my mom still makes apple crisp in the Fall.  In fact, she just made a batch last night.  Any good cooking apple will do, but if you can find Cortland, use those!

Apple Crisp

2/3 c sugar
2 tbsp flour
3/4 tsp cinnamon
6-8 tart apples (6 cups when pared, cored and sliced)

(for the topping)
1/2 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine first 3 ingredients and stir into apples.  Then put the apples in a baking pan.

For the topping, combine the flour and sugar in a small bowl.  Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle the crumbles over the apples.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the topping is golden and the apples are tender and juicy.

I especially love this apple crisp topped with vanilla ice-cream.

This definitely isn't a healthy recipe, but you could substitute Splenda for the sugar if you wanted to save a few calories.  Or, there's always portion control.  Leftovers reheat well in the microwave.  :)

Happy eating!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Low-Cal Pumpkin Pie

Before Baking

With the holidays coming, you know we can always use a dessert that's delicious but isn't full of fat and sugar.  This Low-Cal take on Pumpkin Pie is the perfect solution.  You definitely don't need to feel guilty about eating it, and I promise it's delicious.

First of all, I've always loved pumpkin pie.  The creamy texture and the flavor of the pumpkin combined with the spices taste like Fall to me.  I've been making it since I was a kid; it was one of the first things my mom showed me how to make.  We always used Libby's brand canned pumpkin, and we always just used the recipe off the back off the can.  I remember kneeling on a dining room chair stirring the mixture together.  That's another great thing about this's so easy to make.  You don't even need a mixer.  

Many years later, I still use Libby's canned pumpkin, and I still follow the recipe on the back of the can...for the most part.  With a few simple changes, I've adapted the recipe to drastically cut calories without sacrificing flavor or the creamy texture.

After Baking
You can get the Libby's Pumpkin Pie recipe here:

Follow the recipe exactly as described except for the following changes:

1. Use Splenda instead of sugar.  It'll taste just as good, but it'll reduce the total number of calories in the pie by 540 calories! 

2. Don't use a crust.  The great thing about pumpkin pie is that as it bakes, it solidifies and conforms to the shape of the pan.  Unlike fruit pies like apple or cherry, you do not need a crust in order to slice and serve the pie.  Sure, crust tastes good, but depending on the recipe (or store bought version) you use, you'll save about 800-1000 calories by skipping the crust!

3. For the evaporated milk, use the 2% version.  You really don't save many calories by using Fat Free of 1%, and you don't want to sacrifice the creamy flavor.

With these changes, your entire pie (not just one piece) will only have 580 calories!  If you cut it in 8 pieces, that's only 72.5 calories per piece!

If you like, when serving, you can top each piece of pie with a dollop of whipped cream.  To me, pumpkin pie isn't pumpkin pie without whipped cream!  I use Fat Free Cool Whip, which only has 15 calories per tablespoon.

This pie is a Fall staple in my house.  I even eat it for breakfast.  When my mother-in-law was visiting awhile back, she mentioned that pumpkin pie was her favorite breakfast food, so I whipped up a couple of these pies.

This pie is definitely easy enough for everyday, but it's also delicious enough for all of your holiday festivities.  I suggest serving it at your Halloween party, for dessert on Thanksgiving, or at your Christmas celebration.  After all, December 25th isn't just Christmas; it's also National Pumpkin Pie Day!

Happy eating!

Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

With the great success of my Whole Wheat Bread, I decided months ago that I wanted to try a recipe for Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls.  After searching through multiple sites promising great recipes, I finally decided on the following recipe:

I think it was all the pictures and the details that really made me decide on this recipe.  The dinner rolls really looked delicious.  I also liked the way Jami (the blogger who wrote the recipe and took all the great pictures on the page I've linked to above) also included a printer-friendly version of the recipe at the bottom of the blog post.  That helped me know what ingredients I needed, gave me a quick overview of how long the whole process would take, and told me what steps where involved in the process.

I found this recipe months ago and just finally got around to making it yesterday afternoon.  I found myself going back and forth between the printer-friendly version of the recipe and the pictures with detailed info about each step.  It was easy enough to follow along.

I didn't use Jami's suggestion of pressing down the dough and cutting it into 24 equal pieces.  What I did instead was cut the dough in half, cut it in half again, cut it in half again, and then cut it in 3 equal pieces.  This resulted in 24 almost-perfectly-equal-in-size dough balls.

My rolls were a little stickier than Jami's were.  Maybe I had a little too much liquid in the batter or not enough flour.  I found the rolls sticking to my hands when I was trying to shape the dough into balls.  My solution: spray my hands with Butter Flavor Pam.  It worked like a charm.  My dough balls still weren't perfectly round, but in the end, it didn't matter.

I only made a couple other (calorie-saving) changes to the recipe.  I used Butter Flavor Pam to grease the baking pan instead of using butter, and instead of brushing melted butter on top of the baked rolls, I sprayed them with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray.   

I baked the rolls in a preheated oven for 20 minutes, and they looked amazing when I took them out of the oven.  They made the kitchen smell so good.

The rolls have a great honey wheat flavor, a nice smooth texture, and they weren't too dense.  They'd be perfect for sliders.  I'd totally make them again.

The comments at the bottom of Jami's recipe mention that these rolls freeze well.  I hope so because I stuck half of mine in the freezer last night.  It'll be great to know they're there and pull out a couple for future meals.  

Happy eating!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pan-Fried Bananas

I love bananas.  They're so quick and easy to eat.  When the peel is perfectly yellow on the outside (or even still a touch green), I love them topped with peanut butter or chocolate syrup or as the namesake part of a banana split.  When the peel starts to get a few brown spots on it, the banana inside loses some of it's firm texture.  If you wait a few days, these overly ripe bananas will be perfect for banana bread, but if you want to eat them right now, you'll love this recipe for pan-fried bananas.

Ideally, for this recipe, you want the bananas to be slightly overly ripe, still a little yellow but with some brown spots on the peel.  After following the recipe below, the bananas taste kind of like banana candy but won't have any more calories than are in the banana itself.  I know, amazing, right?

The recipe below is for 1 banana.  You can pan-fry as many bananas as you like, but usually only one banana fits in the frying pan at a time.  Since they cook so quickly, it's easy to just repeat the process when the first banana's done.

Pan-Fried Bananas

1 slightly overripe banana (the peel should have some brown spots on it)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp Splenda (or your favorite no-calorie sweetener)
Butter Flavor Pam


Spray Pam on the bottom and sides of a non-stick frying pan and heat to medium-high.

Cut the banana so that you're left with circular banana slices about an 1/8 of an inch thick.

Transfer the banana slices to the pan, and spread them out so that they're in a single layer.

Let the slices cook for about 2 minutes or until the color at the edges of the banana starts to change from whitish to more of a yellow.

Flip the bananas over with a spatula.  They should be golden and even a little brown.

Let them cook for another minute.  Turn off the heat.  Add the cinnamon and splenda and mix it into the bananas with the spatula.  The bananas should be golden and caramelized.

You can eat the bananas as is, but this morning, I had mine on top of my Multi-Grain Waffles.  I added a little spray butter and sugar-free maple syrup for a finishing touch with this breakfast.

You can also mix the pan-fried bananas in oatmeal, stuff them inside a crepe, use them as an ice-cream topping, the list goes on, but they're also sweet and delicious just by themselves right out of the pan.

Happy eating!