Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bacon and Egg Muffins

In preparation for starting another Whole30 Paleo Challenge today, I have been doing a lot of food prep the past few days.

If you you know anything about eating Paleo, you know that it takes planning and preparation… so that you have suitable things on hand to eat, especially for days that you are running short on time.

Yes, you can always throw together a salad and open a can of tuna to plop on the top of it… but you likely don’t want to live on salad… as much as I love salad, I don’t want to eat it 3 times a day either... no matter what the variations might be.

So, a couple of days ago, I made some Curried Coconut Sweet Potato Soup..

May 21 soup 006

and a large batch of Beanless Beef Chili

May 26 chili 001

This morning, I made some Bacon and Egg Muffins…

2013-05-29 001 001

and I have a couple of pork roasts with some apples and onions cooking in the crock pot right now, which will become Pulled Pork when done…

May 29 Pulled Pork 1

It is smelling pretty good around here right now!

I want to share these Bacon and Egg Muffins with you… over the years I have been privvy to some ideas shared by my Weight Watchers friends for easy and quick breakfasts.  Several of them make what they call ‘Breakfast Quiches’.  They mix eggs or egg whites with a variety of chopped veggies and then bake them in muffin cups.

These little quiches are very handy as they can be kept in the fridge for several days. They make quick breakfasts or easy snacks and they are portable and quite tasty.  They are easily reheated in the microwave oven.

But today I wanted something just a bit different, so I added some cooked bacon to the mixture…. they are delicious.  Now, I am sure that in a pinch, you could use pre-cooked bacon bits in these muffins and they would be fine… but I had some bacon in the fridge so I used that… they are truly delicious!

Change the proportions if you like to make more .. or add different veggies too, such as chopped peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, or spinach.

I used silicone muffin cups, set inside a muffin tin, so no other preparation was needed, but if you use a regular muffin pan, you may want to coat it with a non-stick spray.  I haven’t tried paper liners so cannot vouch for them.

And please don't be afraid of these recipes we label 'Paleo'... all it means is that the recipe will be grain free, dairy free and sugar free.  What's scary about that?

2013-05-29 001 003

Bacon and Egg Muffins
Makes 9 muffins
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked till crispy, then cut into small pieces
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1/8 cup diced white onion
  • 1/2 cup kale, cut into small pieces 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare your muffin tins.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. Spoon the mixture into 9 muffin cups, trying to make sure the proportions of bacon, eggs, and veggies are approximately the same in each.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool a bit before removing the muffins from the pan.

Per serving of 1 muffin.
Weight Watchers P+ = 2.
Calories 72; Protein 5g; Carbohydrate 1g; Fibre 0g; Fat 5g.

I took the opportunity to bake an egg in each of the 3 empty muffin cups in my 12-cup tin.  I love Baked Eggs… give them a try too!

August 4 Baked Eggs 002

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Silky Smooth Curried Coconut Sweet Potato Soup

Several months ago I pinned a recipe for a soup that I thought looked very good.  And I had another look at it when I had a craving for a sweet potato and coconut dish a few days ago.  It is a good looking soup, very thick and you may want to check it out.

This soup of mine was definitely inspired by that one so I wanted to be sure to give it credit,  but I do prefer to use my own tried and true vegetable soup method, and I changed up the spices a bit, too.

I used a full fat version of canned coconut milk in this soup and it feels like silk in your mouth.  The texture is really fabulous.  I know it would be good with a light coconut milk, too, and of course the calorie count would be lower… and for my Weight Watchers friends, the P+ values would certainly be less as well.

Your choice, of course. 

Any leftovers can be frozen or just kept in the fridge for use within a couple of days.

Here is how I made it.

Curried Coconut Sweet Potato Soup

Curried Coconut Sweet Potato Soup
Makes 5 one-cup servings
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil
  • 16 oz sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 4 oz white onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  1. Place the coconut oil in a large soup pot over MEDIUM heat.
  2. Saute the onions and garlic until translucent, being careful not to let them brown.
  3. Add the sweet potato chunks and saute about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the spices and stir to coat the veggies.
  5. Add the water, bring to a boil and then cover the pot, and reduce the heat to LOW and let the mixture simmer for about half an hour.
  6. Remove the pot from the heat and using your immersion blender, puree the veggies and combine with the broth. You don’t want any lumps left.
  7. Add the coconut milk to the mixture and stir or blend well.
  8. Place soup in serving bowls, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 5.
Calories 159; Protein 6g; Carbohydrate 25g; Fat 6g; Fibre 3g.

May 21 soup 001
Make sure your heat setting is not too high so that your garlice and onions do not brown when cooking.

May 21 soup 002
Chop the sweet potato into 1/2 inch chunks so that it cook fairly quickly.

May 21 soup 003
Still steaming when I opened the lid and started to puree.

May 21 soup 004
That’s better!  Don’t want to melt the blender!

May 21 soup 005
Almost done. You can see it it still a bit lumpy.

May 21 soup 006
And ready to enjoy!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Easy Granola Wedge Cookie

I really wanted to bake something new for The Captain this week – he is not following my new eating plan  although he does very well with, and enjoys the paleo meals I make, he is not about to give up his own favorite carbs… pasta, cookies with milk, pancakes, waffles, cupcakes, white potatoes, and the occasional handful of praline peanuts!

So, I have like to make an effort to make something just for him once in a while. 

I reread a blog post I got recently in my mailbox from spabettie that had a recipe for a Spicy Granola Wedge Cookie that you bake an then cut into wedges. She had a link to the original recipe, too, upon which her own vegan and gluten free adaptation was based.

So I followed the link and found a cookie that would be more suitable to The Captain’s taste buds, but along the way made a few changes of my own.

We don’t use canola oil so I opted for coconut oil in its place.  And I also used salted cashew pieces instead of the pecans, so I left out the salt and the baking soda.

This wedge cookie is so easy to put together and because you just spread the dough and bake it like a cake, there is none of the fuss and time involved in shaping individual cookies… I almost felt guilty, they were so easy and quick.

Apparently I no longer have a pie plate…  have not a clue where it might have run off to, so I spread the raw cookie dough into the shape of square, well approximately a square, in the bottom of a cake pan. 

May 20 Wedge Cookie 001

It’s a nice thick dough that holds together very well.

May 20 Wedge Cookie 002

I baked it for a couple of minutes longer than the recipe suggests…

May 20 Wedge Cookie 003

And then let it cool for a few minutes before cutting it and serving a slice to my Mr. Sweet Tooth for his morning coffee treat.

May 20 Wedge Cookie 004

It is a nice thick cookie, not too sweet…

May 20 Wedge Cookie 005

And we found out that it holds up well in a baggie tucked in your pocket when you go hiking too!

Even with my changes, the N.I. is going to be pretty much the same as that which the author gives.

For my Weight Watchers buddies, that makes each of the 8 wedges worth 5 P+.  Not bad for a hefty heavy serving and of course you could always share it with a friend!

So, check out the original recipe, and also the vegan and gluten free version from spabettie.  And do use a round pie plate if you have one… the triangular wedges are cuter!

What’s your favorite easy cookie recipe?  Have one to share?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Kitchen Mishaps and Minor Disasters

You may recall that a couple of weeks ago I made a batch of gluten free chocolate chip cookies for my sister-in-law who was about to pay us a visit, along with her husband… and I had a bit of an OOPS! with the cookie dough.

I creamed some butter in a large bowl and added some brown sugar and beat. and then I added some salt instead of white sugar into the batter.  After several minutes I realized my error and threw the whole mess away… washed my hands, got out some clean utensils and started over. Arghhh!

But after I finally and successfully made those cookies, I started thinking about a few other minor kitchen disasters I have had over the years.  I haven’t blown anything up, but I did start a fire in the toaster once, and I have had several minor burns and cuts… one that resulted in stitches at the ER.

The year I cooked my first ever Christmas turkey, we had guests on Christmas Eve for dinner.  I did a very traditional meal… roast turkey with all the fixin’s and after our guests were wined and dined and gone home, I set the leftover turkey in the oven to get it out of the way while I did the dishes… I found it 3 days later when I opened the oven door to bake some cookies (hmmm…. probably chocolate chip)  and found the little carcass there, wearing a green fuzzy coat, and smelling pretty rank. 

That is not something I will likely ever forget… the color of that mold or the smell of it either!

So this reminiscing got me to wondering what kinds of things other people get up to in their kitchens. I asked some Fitfluential friends to share some of their culinary mishaps and here are some of the responses I got.  I swear you can’t make this stuff up!

I know you will enjoy these stories as much as I did! Go ahead and CLICK on the highlighted text to link to the original blog post and see their pictures, too.

Carrie also shared a recipe with me by email and a picture of the results of cooking what was supposed to be Protein Pancakes – Carrie is a pancake LOVER in case you didn’t know.

The ingredients sound good -  1/3c ground oats, 1 serving Whey protein, 1 egg, almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon and ½ tsp. baking powder. 

And Carrie’s comment?  “Not sure what went wrong.  They were awful.”
Yes, they do look a little crunchy, Carrie!

And Tamara from fitknitchick sent me a message with this cute story… in her own words:
I love to bake for my family. I'm always taking not-so-clean recipes and trying to 'healthify' them. I often add wheat germ, bran, chia and flax seed to cookies, cakes and muffins to boost their nutritional impact.
My daughter's very favourite dessert is a one pot, stove-top brownie. One day I was a bit heavy handed with the flax seed. They turned out very dry and grainy and did not pass the child's 'sweet tooth' test. My husband called it a 'flaxident'; we still refer to the incident every time I make that recipe!”
Thanks to all of you for sharing yourselves and your foibles… it makes me feel so much better knowing that some of you make mistakes in the kitchen too!
Do you have a kitchen mishap story that you would like to share with me too?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Massage Your Kale for Quickie Salads

I had never heard of massaged kale until I read a blog post by Tamara at fitknitchick about making it up and keeping it in the refrigerator, in order to have a quick base for salads when you need it.

I thought it was an interesting idea, and then quite promptly forgot about it.

Now, I am a big fan of kale… I like it baked into Kale Chips, and I love using it in soup, or in my White Bean and Kale pasta sauce, and I also like to use it in place of, or with, spinach when I make Coconut Chicken.

I had really never thought to use raw as a salad green.  I just assumed the kale leaves would be too tough for that.  Oh, boy, was I wrong!

Whenever I find what we call curly kale at my local market for a really great price, I stock up.  Then I wonder what I am going to do with it all!  (Do you ever do that?)

Well, Tamara’s method for massaged kale is such a good idea.  All you do is mix the washed and torn kale leaves with a nice dressing, and then store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 or 5 days… taking enough to make your salads as you need, and leaving the rest behind. 

The dressing makes the leaves a bit softer after a couple of days, and it really does make a nice base for lots of different salads.

I made a batch of massaged kale this past week using the following method and I got 3 good sized salads out of it. Now when I have salad for dinner, I have a plate full, so if you don’t eat as much as I do, you might get more servings out of it.  Of course you might want to use the whole thing for one big salad to serve many… up to you, but the method is the same.

May 10 Massaged Kale 002 - Copy

Massaged Kale
Enough for 3 dinner salads
  • 1 bunch kale, large stems removed and leaves torn… washed and dried in salad spinner
  • 1Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed and minced
  1. Mix well and then pour over the kale in the bowl.
  2. Massage the dressing into the kale with your hands for a few minutes. Kale leaves should be completely covered with dressing mixture.
  3. Cover bowl and place in refrigerator for up to 5 days
  4. Use as needed for salads.  Give the remainder a stir, cover and refrigerate till needed.
If you are a Weight Watcher, and counting Points Plus, then the only thing to be concerned about is the olive oil which has a P+ value of 1 for each tsp of oil. So, for the whole recipe, the P+ value is 3.  You can divide that by the number of servings you make and eat.

The possibilities for salads are only limited by your imagination and your tastebuds. 

When I made my first salad with the massaged kale, I added a bit of torn red lettuce leaves to it… then some slices of grape tomato, mushroom, onion, and cucumber, and then topped it with some roast chicken breast, oregano, and dark balsamic vinegar.

May 11 eats 006

I was so good that the next day, I used some more.  This time my salad was made of slices of red pepper, onion, mushroom, and cucumber, and topped with pieces of a navel orange, some roast pork loin and drizzled with blueberry balsamic vinegar.  I also blanched some green beans to eat alongside.

May 13 Kale salad with pork and orange 002

I think you could probably massage your kale with any oil and vinegar combination you like too, or even a nooch and vinegar combo instead of the olive oil and lemon juice that I used… and I am sure you could leave out the garlic too, but why would you?

Have you tried massaged kale yet?

What is your favorite salad green?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Almond Meal Cookies with Raisins and Pepitas

Last week I made 3 different kinds of cookies, in anticipation of having dinner guests.  The Captain’s sister and her husband were on the Island while he was attending a business conference… and they skipped their scheduled Friday night activities in order to come and spend some time with us!

I kept dinner very simple, and for dessert served a rich vanilla ice cream with balsamic strawberries on top… and some cookies.

I made gluten free chocolate chip cookies, some oatmeal and raisin cookies, and I wanted to do an almond meal cookie of some kind so that there would be a grain free option for me in case I decided to indulge!  And of course using almond meal and flax, instead of flour, means that they are grain free as well as gluten free.

I made up a batter that I have used previously and this time, instead of the peanut butter chips, I added raisins and pumpkin seeds (do you know them as pepitas?) to the mix.  The result was 14 moist and chewy cookies.

Although I used agave again  I am not sure I am a real fan. It has a markedly different taste from honey, and although it does add sweetness, I think it might be an acquired taste.  I am pretty sure that next time I will use honey instead.

But I think they were a hit... My sister in law took the last few home with her, and I don't think she was just being polite!

May 1st almond cookies 002

Almond Meal Cookies with Raisins and Pepitas
Makes 14 cookies
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/8 cup pepitas 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbs agave nectar
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Mix the almond meal, flax, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Stir in the raisins and pepitas.
  3. Combine the egg, vanilla, and agave together in a small bowl.
  4. Stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture until well blended.
  5. Scoop dough by the spoonful and place on a cookie sheet that has been covered with parchment paper.
  6. Slightly flatten each cookie.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes and allow to rest for a few minutes before removing to baking sheet to finish cooling.

May 1st almond cookies 001

Per serving of 1 cookie.
Weight Watchers P+ = 2.
Calories 85; Protein 3g; Carbohydrate 7g; Fat 5g; Fibre 1g.

Do you like the taste of agave?

Do you use it in your baking?

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Carrot, Kale and Red Pepper Soup with Shredded Chicken

Sometimes I end end up with little bits of all kinds of different vegetables in the refrigerator… usually on days before I plan a big shop.  It’s fun to see what I can come up with to use these goodies…. something tasty and filling of course… but often a bit unusual.

Quite often it is a salad.  But that normally wouldn’t be The Captain’s choice for lunch and I wanted to make something that we both would really enjoy… soup it would be!

My newest soup comes compliments of the fridge crisper!  And it was delicious and full of healthful vitamins and antioxidants, too.  I added some leftover cooked chicken to round out a complete meal.  You could also shred up a can of cooked chicken breast chunks to add to this soup, too.  Turkey would also be very good.
This was our whole lunch so I divided into 2 large servings.  If you planned a soup-and-salad lunch or even soup with a roll, you could easily get 4 satisfying bowls from these ingredients.

And though I did use my immersion blender to mix the veggies and the broth together, I left lots of large chunks.  It makes a nice meal I think when there is something to CHEW!

May 8th soup 003

Carrot, Kale and Red Pepper Soup with Shredded Chicken
Makes 2 large servings
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
  • 1/2 medium white onion, sliced vertically
  • 4 large carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks (approx. 1 lb.)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 bunch kale, washed and large stems removed (approx. 2 oz.)
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • Dash of red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups turkey, chicken or veggie broth
  • 8 ounces cooked chicken, shredded
  • Salt to taste 
  1. Put the coconut oil into a large soup pot over MEDIUM heat.
  2. Saute the onion and garlic till translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the carrots, red pepper, and kale to the pot. Stir occasionally and allow to cook another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the curry powder, and stir to coat the veggies.
  5. Add the broth, cover the pot, and bring to boil.
  6. Reduce the heat and allow soup to simmer for about 15 minutes till carrots are soft.
  7. Remove the pot from the heat. 
  8. Use your immersion blender to break up veggies and mix them into the broth.  Don’t over-process. You want it to be chunky.
  9. Add chicken to the pot and stir.
  10. Place soup in serving bowls and salt to taste.
Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 6.
Calories ; Protein 30g; Carbohydrate 27g; Fat 4g; Fibre 7g.

May 8th soup 001
Sauteeing the veggies before adding the curry powder.

May 8th soup 004
Leaving this soup chunky shows off the colors of the carrots, and you can see a bit of green from the kale and red from the peppers.

What do you like to do with little bits of veggies in your fridge?

Monday, May 06, 2013

Disaster Averted... But Almost Didn’t Make Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last Fall, shortly after I gave up gluten, I picked up some special baking ingredients at the Bulk Barn.  That is a chain of grocery stores here in Canada… there isn’t one near where I live so when I travel, I shop!

I came home with some gluten free all purpose flour, which I stored away nicely and promptly forgot… and also some gluten free brownie mix which I did make up and was thrilled that it tasted so much like my beloved pink-box No Pudge brownie mix.
Then, in January, pretty much gave up grains and never did get back to that gluten free all purpose flour UNTIL last Tuesday…

The Captain’s lovely sister and her husband were going to be in town for a couple of days as he had a work conference here…and we had them to dinner on Friday evening.  We were so excited to see them – I wrote about visiting them in North Vancouver last year, and we just don’t get together often enough.  I wanted everything to be just perfect for their visit.

I worked on a very simple menu so that I could visit with them instead of spending the evening cooking.  She eats gluten free and has a few food allergies… I am on another Paleo Challenge right now (although will be enjoying some wine) and the 2 men pretty much eat everything, as far as I know.  A bit of a challenge, but not insurmountable by any stretch of the imagination and I was really happy to give it a shot!

When I shopped on Tuesday morning I thought I would pick up some gluten free chocolate chip cookies from the bakery department of my local market… but they didn’t have any, and I didn’t want to take the chance on oatmeal (even gf) and I am not sure if my SIL eats macadamia nuts and white chocolate so I came home without any.

Then I remembered the gluten free all purpose flour tucked away…so when I got home I took it out and read the label to refresh my memory about adding xanthan gum or guar gum to take the place of the gluten in the flour mixture. 

Then I turned to the internet to find a recipe… many of the ones I found called for mixing your own flours, but finally I found one that actually called for the flour I had on hand.  The picture of the cookies looked pretty good… so I decided to give them a try. 

The recipe calls for vegetable shortening, but I opted to use butter instead.

I got out my ancient hand mixer and creamed 1/2 cup of butter in a large bowl.  Then I added 6 Tbs of white sugar and 6 Tbs of dark brown sugar to the bowl and turned on the mixer again.  I beat and beat and beat and beat… but my butter-sugar mixture never got any lighter and creamier.

I finally gave up and turned the mixer off and was about to crack the egg into the bowl  and carry on… but for some reason, I stuck my finger into the batter, and tasted it instead… I don’t know why.  I never do that!  But it’s a darn good thing I did, cause the little bit I put into my mouth tasted just awful… it was SALTY!  I must have used white salt instead of white sugar… no wonder it wouldn’t fluff up when I beat it. Argh!

So, that all went into the garbage and then I washed my hands and the mixer blades, got out a clean bowl, clean measuring spoon, clean spatula, and started over. Good thing I hadn’t wasted my small supply of g-f flour in that mess.

After that, it was smooth sailing.  The Captain agreed to be my cookie tester and although chocolate chip cookies are not his favorite, he was very willing to have a few more after the initial tasting… I had to hide the rest in the back of the freezer so there would still be some come Friday, but he is certainly not above eating frozen cookies if he should find them… so I ended up baking him some oatmeal raisin for himself.

And I also made up some new Almond Meal Raisin and Pumpkin Seed cookies… another post to come…

If you would like to make some Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies for yourself or someone you love, and you have gluten free all purpose flour available, check out the recipe and the instructions on this page.  I actually got 34 cookies out of my batch.

Apr 30 GF chocolate chip cookies 001

Apr 30 GF chocolate chip cookies 002

Apr 30 GF chocolate chip cookies 003

And yes, it did turn out to be a lovely evening... and it flew by much too quickly!

Have you ever made a big mistake in your kitchen like I did?  It would make me feel so much better if you would share it with me….

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

5 of My Recent Favorites

I love breakfast. It is the meal that makes me really put on my thinking cap and get creative in the kitchen. I think it is because I need protein in the morning.  And that usually means eggs or egg whites, for me…. so I have to keep coming up with new ways to eat them.

And I am also a big homemade soup fan.  Actually, I cannot recall the last time I ate soup that came from a can or a package… I know I did have soup at a local cafe one day last Summer… but other than that, it is homemade for me!

Here are 5 of my recent recipes that I am really excited to share with you again.  All of them are gluten free and could also be eaten if you are following a Paleo diet.  But mostly they are just delicious!

Easy Flax Pancakes

Mar 19 Easy Flax Pancakes 003

Vanilla and Cinnamon Coconut Pancakes

Feb 26 other coconut pancakes 004a

Ham and Egg Baskets

Jan 28 ham and egg baskets copy

Carrot Soup with Sweet Potato and Red Pepper

Apr 3 Carrot Soup 004 - Copy

Curried Coconut and Butternut Squash Soup

Are you a homemade soup fan?

What is your favorite breakfast?