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Archive for the ‘Kid Friendly Recipes’ Category

Creative Cooking

One of my favorite things to do is to look in my refrigerator with the goal of creating something delicious from whatever I find there. Using up leftovers makes me feel thrifty. Often, they even taste better because the flavors have had a little time to develop.

Here’s a perfect example of that. For dinner the night before this project, I had made chicken breasts dipped in egg and sprinkled with cheese. Two were leftover. I had also made corn on the cob and cut off the extra kernels from extra cobs. I found some extra dried cherries, left over from a diabetic cake I had made my mom and a number of staples, like onions. All of this turned into a flavorful chicken salad that could become sandwiches for lunch or a nice side for dinner. Another possibility was to make “deviled” eggs without yolks by filling the eggs with the salad. Believe me; it quickly disappeared! Simply warming up those chicken breasts and over cooking them would not have been the same.

"Deviled" Chicken-Cherry Salad Eggs, with Heirloom Tomatoes and Yogurt Dip

“Deviled” Chicken-Cherry Salad Eggs, with Heirloom Tomatoes and Yogurt Dip

Here is the salad recipe and some tips for using it as an egg filling for a healthy after school snack!

Chicken-Cherry Salad(Makes about 6 cups)

2 large chicken breasts, cooked

½ large yellow onion, diced tiny

½ cup cooked, fresh corn, sliced off the cob

1/3 cup pine nuts

1 cup dried cherries, chopped small

¼ cup cheddar cheese (This was already cooked onto my chicken as indicated above.)

Salt and pepper

Optional Garnishes: Sliced garden onion, red bell pepper, diced small

Method:

  1. Thinly slice the chicken, and then cut across the strips to make a tiny dice. (Chopping all ingredients very small protects your finishing options – especially if you think you want to fill eggs.)
  2. Mix all ingredients together except the garnishes (toppings). Taste it and if necessary add more spices.
Chicken-Cherry Salad as a Side Dish

Chicken-Cherry Salad as a Side Dish. Garnished with sliced garden onions.

Notes:

  1. You can mix the salad ahead and chop the garnishes. Cover and refrigerate. If making deviled eggs, make them up at the last minute. If serving as a side, add garnishes at the last minute.
  2. Older eggs peel better than really fresh ones. Every carton has a sell by date on it. Just make sure you stay within that time frame.
  3. Think of a boiled egg simply as a container. They can be filled with your favorite tuna or any other salad for variety. Make a small slice on the bottom of each egg half so it will sit on a flat surface and won’t go sliding around on your plate.

    Thinly Slice Egg Bottoms

    Make a small slice on the bottom to “anchor” your eggs and keep them from sliding around on the plate.

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Fabulous, Quick Comfort Food!

ImageAll together now… B-r-r-r-r! If there was ever a month for comfort food, this is it! The problem with most comfort food, however, is that it takes a long time to prepare. The good news, though, is that dishes often use inexpensive cuts of meat, albeit tough ones! That’s why in our house we have recently discovered the pressure cooker and I can’t rave about it enough. Like many of you, the first time my husband turned it on, I removed myself from the kitchen! My mother’s stories of the top blowing off her pressure cooker are still fresh in my mind. (In fact, in our house, it blew off so many times that the pressure cooker became a simply popcorn cooker – great because of its heavy bottom, but not exactly its intended use!)

If you still have an old one, throw it out and get a new one. Really. Pressure cookers today are very different and are much, much safer. They are easy to use, to clean, and allow you to save money on groceries by using those tougher, cheaper cuts of meat. You can get one for about $100. There are plenty of great recipes on line and even the ones that come in the little book with the cooker are fabulous. That’s because a perfectly tenderized meat is unbeatable. They also cook so much faster that you will save a lot of time. And last but not least, cleanup is much easier because you can make a one pot meal. They sauté, brown, simmer, warm and cook at both low and high pressure. Amazing machines they are – really!

 

Image

Here’s one of my favorite recipes for pork BBQ: Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

2 pounds pork loin, cut into large, bite-sized pieces

2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into large, bite-sized pieces

¼ cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

2 large yellow onions, cut into strips

¼ cup light brown sugar

½ cup cider vinegar

1 teaspoon each, salt and pepper

1 jar of your favorite Barbecue Sauce (I like Cattlemen’s or LEGENDS Apple Cider BBQ Sauce)

1 pound extra-wide noodles (if desired), mixed with 2 Tablespoons butter OR soft buns

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your pressure cooker.
  2. Sprinkle the pork pieces with salt and pepper and brown them in batches.  Then brown the onions (Optional).
  3. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and pour the cider vinegar over the whole thing. Put the top on the pressure cooker according to the instructions in the manual. Cook for 50 minutes under high pressure.
  4. Release the pressure according to the instructions in the manual and stir in the BBQ sauce.
  5. Serve over wide, cooked noodles or on soft buns.

I promise you this will be a hit with your family!

Wacky Frozen Banana Tortilla Desserts

This is the fourth and last in the series of four WACKY things to do with tortillas! So of course it’s a dessert… and what a dessert! These healthy treats will keep in an airtight container in the freezer for several months. They are always great to pull out and enjoy… not just in the hot, summer months! These tasty treats contain only 350 calories per huge serving… enough to satisfy sweet tooth, although the main ingredient is a healthy banana! Great for an after school snack or as a make ahead dessert for a party!

Frozen Banana Desserts

Wacky Frozen Banana Tortilla Desserts

Serves: 12

Ingredients:

12 six inch MexAmerica flour tortillas

6 large bananas

24 Tablespoons Weight Watchers Cream Cheese

3 cups chocolate chips (semi-sweet, milk or white)

4 cups ground pecans

Method:

  1. Cut each banana in half. Lay the banana piece on a tortilla and trim it at each end of the banana.
  2. Remove the banana and spread the tortilla with cream cheese. Place the banana on the end of the tortilla and roll it up tightly. Place seam side down and repeat for all bananas.
  3. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler. Brush melted chocolate on each tortilla roll; then roll in the ground nuts.
  4. Push a Popsicle stick half way into each one. Freeze for at least two hours before serving or up to 1 month.

Chef Lynn’s Tip:

You can also melt chocolate in a microwave. Zap it in spurts starting with 20 seconds and reducing to 10 seconds each, stirring in between. Chocolate burns VERY easily, so zap it in moderation!

Healthier Fast Food for YOU!

I can’t remember the last time I stopped for fast food. It has been so long that I decided to bring some into the test kitchen to see what it’s all about these days. I chose three popular “sandwich type” meals, dissected and analyzed them and came up with a much healthier alternative. Here they are. The “store bought” ones are listed first, followed by the healthy makeovers. Take a good look at what you are eating!

ONE:  The first one was the cheapest. At $1.05 – no joke – it was called a Beefy Crunch Burrito. I thought “crunch” sounded good, but here’s what was inside:

Taco Bell 2_1This sandwich contained 1/3 cups not so crispy – in fact very soggy things that looked like iridescent red Fritos. When I first looked at it, I said “Where’s the beef?” Then I was able to scrounge up about 1/4 cup of hamburger, not quite 1/3 cup of rice and a squirt of a liquid Velveeta type cheese. I found 1 Tablespoon of sour cream squirted in one spot, so you get that in only one bite. The flour tortilla was 10-1/2″, for comparison purposes.

This sandwich contained 540 Calories, 16 g Protein, 21 grams of Fat, 1110 g of Sodium, 71 g Carbs, 7 g Fiber an 7 g Sugar. That sugar is always there to entice you to want to eat more… and frankly this sandwich contains so little protein, you would definitely want two or three to feel full. The problem is that you can’t get the protein without all the other stuff, so then you are way off the charts in terms of healthy.

TWO:  The second sandwich – and these are all from different establishments by the way, was called a Crispy Chicken Caesar. This one weighed in at $1.37, but again I think you would need two to fill up.

Wendys Crispy Chicken Used

My first reaction to this one was, “Where’s the Caesar?” In this 8″ tortilla, I found 2-1/2 oz. breaded and fried chicken, about 1 Tablespoon of dressing that tasted like mayo, 2 slivers of Parmesan cheese included with about 1 Tablespoon of lettuce. Huh?

The crispy chicken was breaded and fried. This sandwich had 440 Calories, 17 g Protein, 26 g Fat, 970 g Sodium, 33 Carbs, 2 g Fiber, and 1 g Sugar.

I think we can do better, add some protein, use a healthier method of cooking and really get some Caesar Salad in there without sacrificing a lot of calories.

(Nutrition information came from the web-sites of their companies or Live Strong.)

THREE: My third choice was called a Chipotle Steak and Cheese with Avocado Sandwich – and I threw in some banana pepper too, but their nutrition info on their sites is not with any extras, mind you. My first reaction was NOT “Where’s the bread?” Who could miss it? This one was out of control with Carbs and out of balance with its protein. It will be an easy one to re-design. It was also the most expensive at $5.60.

Subway Chipotle Steak and Cheese 1 UsedThis sandwich contained 2-1/3 oz. of meat that looked like some sort of compressed meat or Salisbury steak but I think it was billed as Rib-eye – not sure, 1/4 cup of Avocado, about 2 Tablespoons Chipotle Mayonnaise, and 6″ of thick bread (with Parmesan baked into the top). It had 550 Calories, 28 g Protein, 28 g Fat, 1260 g Sodium, 52 g Carbs, 8 g Fiber and 8 g Sugar. So now let’s get busy and re-design these so they are healthier, easy to make and easy to carry along in a lunch bag with an ice pack. By the way, the three sandwiches cost $8.02 and at retail prices, I spent $9.07 getting the ingredients for my new ones (per serving), assuming I had condiments in the fridge already, and a tortilla costs about 25 cents. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

ONE – FIRST RECREATION: Beefy (Crunch) Burrito 

Our Beefy Burrito has 545 Calories… pretty similar Sandwich #1 above. However, we were able to increase the protein to 33 g (from 16 g) and reduce the fat from 21 g to 19 g. We reduced the Carbs from 71 to 47 and reduced the sugar from 7 g to 2 g. Fiber was about the same.

“Crunch” sounds good, but isn’t that practical in a sandwich with this much moisture. If you want some “crunch” add a small portion of baked tortilla chips on the side. Nothing will stay crunchy inside a sandwich when it’s mixed with mayonnaise – especially if you are carrying it along for a lunch later in the day. Also, this was the most unhealthy part of the Burrito, so we decided to leave it out.

Here’s the new recipe! (Doesn’t this look a bit tastier and more substantial? Not to mention healthier!)

Beefy Burrito - LOGO

3 ounces lean ground beef, (1/2 cup) fried without oil in a non-stick pan. (Be careful not to overcook it.)

1/2 cup wild rice, cooked with 1 Tablespoon butter. (Wild rice takes a long time to cook. You might want to make some extra to save for a future meal. Multiply the amount of rice by 2 and that’s how much water you need. Bring it to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to cook for 50 mins. Then let it stand for 10 mins.)

1/4 cup Low Fat Cheddar or Colby Cheese
1 Mex America 10″ flour tortilla, warmed
2 Tablespoons Fat Free sour cream or yogurt
Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper

Method: Put the sour cream or yogurt on the tortilla first. Top it with rice, then beef, then cheese and sprinkle with pepper. Roll up and either grill or bake just long enough to melt the cheese.

TWO – SECOND RECREATION: Crispy Chicken Caesar

Here’s the re-make on this one. Calories were reduced by 23. Protein was increased by 2.4 g. Carbs were increased by just one gram due to more dressing, which was badly needed! Protein went up 2.5 g. Fiber was the same. Fat was reduced by 5 g. Sodium was a little more, again due to more dressing, as well as sugar by 2 grams for the same reason. I do not feel these increases are significant since we added lots more minerals with much more lettuce and more cheese. I don’t think the first sandwich should really be called a Caesar when there’s 1 Tablespoon of lettuce and cheese combined! Our sandwich has much more taste and more minerals – and comes across as a real Caesar (sans croutons) – and for less Calories!

Here’s the new recipe! …………..

Chicken Caesar Taco - LOGO

3 ounces chicken breast tenders, (baked or browned in a non-stick frying pan)

1 8″ MexAmerica flour tortilla
1 cup shredded green lettuce 2 Tablespoons Fat Free Caesar Salad Dressing
1/4 Cup Parmesan cheese, reduced fat, sliced Pinch of pepper

Method: 1. Place all ingredients on the tortilla and roll it up. Enjoy your healthy Caesar Salad!

……

THREE – THIRD RECREATION: Chipotle Steak and Cheese with Avocado Sandwich

For this last sandwich, we were able to drop the Calories by 140! Protein remained the same. Fat was decreased by 6 grams. Carbs were decreased by 27 g! Fat was decreased by 6 g. Fiber was 4 g less. Sugar was 5 g less – cut to almost nothing. Sodium was decreased by 494 g. What a great improvement! Plus it sure looks a lot more appetizing. I think I would rather eat this one.

Here’s the new recipe! …………

Chipotle Steak & Cheese with Avocado Wrap - LOGO3 ounces Top Sirloin Steak, boneless, fat trimmed, sliced thin and browned in a non-stick frying pan with no oil
1/4 cup Avocado, mashed
2 Tablespoons Fat Free Mayonnaise
1 Chipotle pepper (Canned, in Adobo sauce), minced
1/4 cup Low Fat Cheddar Cheese, grated
Pinch of freshly ground pepper

Method: 1. Once your meat is cooked, mix the minced pepper with the mayonnaise. Spread a little of it on the tortilla.

2. Add the mashed avocado, then the grated cheese, then the meat. Sprinkle with a little freshly ground pepper. Then just roll it up and eat it!

I think you can see that with just a little planning ahead you can make much healthier sandwiches/wraps for you and your family. All you need is a lunch bag a couple of ice packs! No lines, no stopping, no waiting. Just pull it out when the hunger bug strikes! You also know exactly what’s in those sandwiches… so enjoy every healthy bite!

Build a castle in your kitchen!

Here’s an idea for another fun filled afternoon in the kitchen with your kids.
Even little kids can join in to create an edible castle!

full cake

First, bake your castle cake!

First, bake your castle cake!

First, make your favorite cake recipe using a castle mold. This one came from Wilton. You can find it at cooking stores like Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table or on the http://www.wilton.com site. It comes with a recipe that works great, but I lost it so I simply used an old Betty Crocker Devil’s Food cake recipe. You can also use your favorite boxed cake mix. I will tell you, though, that denser cakes like pound cakes or gingerbread cakes are better because they won’t sink down in the pan as they cook. Make whatever kind you like though, because that doesn’t really matter! The one in my picture sank big time. I almost threw it out half way through cooking because it looked so bad. I finished it just to see and when I flipped the pan over, it was just fine. The cracking was all on the inside. So if you use a regular mix, don’t give up! Just make the cake and flip it out onto a wooden or Styrofoam board covered with Pretty foil paper that you can get from any cake supply store. (In my area, that’s Kitchen Creations in Farmington Hills or Heineman’s at 10 and Van Dyke. If you want to keep your costs down, just use tin foil.

Next, make a drawbridge for your castle.

2-cut tortillas

Cut your drawbridge…

Tortillas are perfect for this! Using clean hands and clean kitchen scissors,simply cut around a Hershey candy bar. It’s just the right size. We made two, just to be sure we would get a good one and you can easily make two from one flour tortilla.

Add cheese and bake!

…Add cheese and bake!

Then cover the drawbridges with cheese and bake it at 350ºF for about 10 minutes. This will make them sturdy and crispy.

Now you need some frosting for “glue” to hold your decorations onto the castle, some blue frosting for “water” and some green frosting for “glue” to hold up landscaping and other things. To make the frosting, simply mix a cup or two of confectioner’s sugar with the color your want and then add very small amounts of water, whisking until it’s the consistency that you want. It should be fairly think because you don’t want it to drip.

5-make blue frosting for water

Blue frosting for water

12-make green frosting

Green frosting to “glue” the landscaping down

You also need some brown frosting to match the cake to hold the decorations on the cake. To make brown, mix one cup of confectioner’s sugar with 4 Tablespoons cocoa. Then add just a bit of water at a time until it’s a thick consistency again. Use some of the brown frosting to “glue” the castle to the board. Then it won’t slide around when you move it.

"Glue" your cake down with frosting so it won't slide around.

“Glue” your cake down with frosting so it won’t slide around.

Now you are ready to add the water to the moat around your castle. Just paint on the blue frosting!

7-add water around the castle for the moat

Then I added circles of red licorice (they come that way) for the side cranks of the drawbridge.

8-add drawbridge cranks

Adding drawbridge licorice cranks

8-add drawbridge

Adding the drawbridge…

It’s fun having other people around because everyone comes up with great ideas. Your imagination is your only guide! As Emmi puts the drawbridge in place, Birgit is already thinking about her next idea… a tortilla path that winds around the front of the castle, outside the moat… She cuts curved pieces around the tortilla and then cuts them into the shapes she needs to fit on the board.

11-cut tortilla paths_1

Cutting the path…

After the path is “glued” down with frosting, Emmi lines it with little Hershey bar rectangles to give it the look of bricks…

16-add hershey bars to path

Adding Hershey bar “bricks” to the path.

14-cut chocolate licorice sticks for fire logs

Adding logs for the “fire”

…and I (Chef Lynn) cut some chocolate Twizzler licorice sticks into little logs for a fire. We also put a stack of logs around the back of the castle for future use by its occupants.

Emmi had a lot of fun “gluing” lifesavers on the windows, lifesavers and white chocolate kisses on the turrets, adding gumdrops, broccoli and cauliflower for landscaping and yogurt covered raisins for stones…

19-landscaping of vegetables, gum drips etc

Landscaping!

…and filling them with treasure!

15-fill the middle with the treasure

We tried to make a swan to put in the water by cutting it our of a really large marshmallow. It was no problem with all of these wonderful ingredients though. When all else fails, just eat the evidence! 🙂

17-just eat it if it doesn't turn out

I have to say that quite a few Gummi Bears got eaten in the process too 🙂 Emmi added them around the campfire and they are also guarding the front door. She also added edible glitter to the fire and the drawbridge.

18-add gummy bears

Not to mention the delicious MexAmerica tortillas… great even just plain… and you don’t even need any front teeth to enjoy them! 🙂 Thanks Emmi and Birgit for bringing your smiles and fun to the Test Kitchen! XO

Emmi-You can even eat tortillas if you don't have your front teeth!

3 Bears Kitchen Fun!

Everyone has special childhood memories of  mom or dad in the kitchen and family dishes they enjoyed. The kitchen is also a great place for kids to have fun! It’s an amazing activity center that feeds creativity and encourages camaraderie among the family. Following is an afternoon of fun for the little ones! We’re going to create Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear in their beds. I’m going to tell you how to make one set, so just multiply by the number of kids participating.

Here’s what you’ll end up with! 3 different sized bears on Quesadilla beds:

14-decorate blanketsTo make the beds and blankets for the bears, you will need:
8 MexAmerica flour tortillas, 1 MexAmerica corn tortilla
3 hot dogs, 6 Lit’l smoky Links
9 pieces of American cheese slices – or other cheese
1 cup grated cheese
Decorations for the blankets
(I used life savers, yogurt covered raisins and dark raisins)
6 dark raisins for eyes, 2 Maraschino cherries for mouths,
3 Extra-Extra-Large marshmallows for pillows
2  pieces chocolate licorice for bed posts

To make the bears, you will need to make some chocolate cookie dough with no leavening so it doesn’t rise. This is also a great dough (without the chocolate) for making decorated sugar cookies – particularly because they stay flat, which is perfect for decorating. I always use this recipe for decorated cookies at Christmas time. Plus, you can make the cookies, freeze them in air tight containers ahead and then thaw however many you want to decorate, which really helps out at that busy time of year. You can make just a half recipe if you only want to make a few bear heads – or make more and freeze them for another fun afternoon.You will need:

1 cup butter (at room temperature), 1-1/2 cups sugar, 3 eggs,
2 teaspoons vanilla, ½ teaspoon salt

4 ounces cocoa (to make it brown),
4 to 4-1/2 cups All Purpose flour (Make a soft dough)

Baking spray, A small amount of soft butter.

Mix it up like a regular cookie dough. First the butter and sugar; then add the eggs, vanilla and salt. Then the dry ingredients – the cocoa and enough flour to make a soft dough.

2-Draw around formsNow you need to make some patterns for the bear heads. You only need the heads… You’ll see what I mean in a minute. So take a bear cookie cutter and draw just around the head on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Then connect the chin and simply make a straight neck. That’s your Baby Bear head. Cut it out and use it as a pattern to make the Mama head. But draw this head about 1/8″ bigger, using the Baby Bear head as a guide and cut it out. To make Papa’s, use the Mama head as a guide and make it 1/8″ bigger than that. Cut it out as well. Now you have your patterns.

Roll the cookie dough out to 1/4″. Cut out the heads using a knife and place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Don’t worry if the edges are a little ragged. These are BEARS! They have fur, so jagged is good.

3-Roll out dough and cut forms

Now make the faces. I cut raisins in half for the Mama and Papa and smaller for Baby. Then I made little round noses from cookie dough, wet one side of it and pressed it into the nose area. The mouths are little slivers of Maraschino cherries. Press your index finger into the ears to shape them a bit. Press your index finger into the ears to give them some shape. Use a sharp knife to cut in eyebrows and other lines. Then bake the heads in a preheated oven at 375 F for 10-12 minutes, just until set. Let cool on the cookie sheet.

4-Make faces

Next, cook the hot dogs and smoky links either on a grill or in boiling water. Drain if you use water and place them on paper towels so the moisture will be absorbed.

8-Grill hotdogs

Now comes the three Quesadillas for the beds. The fillings can be as simple as 3 slices of American cheese between two flour tortillas, cooked in a Panini press or on a frying pan (and flipped over to brown both sides). Or you can use any fillings your kids like. Here’s where they can use their imagination and have some fun making the beds out of combinations of things they like to eat. The beds can be thick or thin so don’t worry about that. Let them make the Quesadillas any way they want.

5-Make Quesadilla while boiling dogs

I made my Quesadillas in a Panini press.

7-Grill the Quesadilla

Cut slices from the Extra-Large marshmallows to use as pillows. If your knife is sharp and hot, you will have the best luck cutting through the gooey marshmallows. I put my knife under my hot water tap, dry it off quickly and make a cut. I do this each time I need to cut through something like this. It’s a good tip also for cutting clean slices of cake! 🙂

10-Cut Marshmallows for pillows

Now go back to your hot dogs and cut a slit about an inch into each one on the end. then make three sizes of hot dogs. These are  the bear’s bodies. So Papa’s can be a whole hot dog, Mama’s a little smaller and Baby’s about 1/2 a hot dog.

9-Cut slit in ends of hotdogs

Cut rectangles out of the Quesadillas for the three beds, sizing them for each head. In other words, Papa’s will be the biggest, Mama’s a little smaller and Baby’s, of course, smaller still.Stick the cookie head in the slit and lay each one down on the appropriate bed with the heads on the pillows. The smoky links are the arms, so if you put a little butter on one end – just a little bit – it will help them stay in place while you make the blankets.


11-make beds

You should have 2 flour tortillas left, so warm those and one corn tortilla between two pieces of paper towel in the microwave for 40 seconds. (If you don’t have a microwave, heat them on a grill.) Tuck the two flour tortillas around Mama and Papa. For Baby, you will have to cut the corn tortilla circle down about 1/2″ for it to fit, so do that and fold the corn tortilla around the baby. Baby’s is corn just because the tortilla is smaller to begin with. You could certainly cut down a flour tortilla if that’s all you have.

12-make blankets

Cover the blankets with different colors of grated cheese. Place under the broiler, keeping the heads toward the edge of the oven so the marshmallows don’t burn. It’s OK if they toast a bit though. All the better! Watch carefully and take them out as soon as the cheese is melted.

13-add cheese and place under broiler

14-decorate blankets

As soon as your bears come out of the oven, you can decorate the blankets. I used dark raisins, yogurt covered raisins and lifesavers, but use your imagination to make them your own. Add pieces of chocolate licorice dipped in spreadable cheese for bedposts. (The cheese is just to help the bedposts stand up.) I also gave Baby Bear a little red gummy teddy bear for a toy.Now all that’s left is to smile and eat ’em up! Enjoy!

Beautify Your Easter Buffet!

If I said EASTER followed by a blank and you had to fill it in, I bet you would say EGGS! It’s the quintessential symbol associated with the holiday since ancient times, when eggs were a symbol of re-birth. During the Spring Equinox (Wednesday, March 20 in 2013) they were even colored just like we still do today – except they used natural dyes from plant leaves and flowers.

Deviled Eggs Fit For a Queen!

Deviled Eggs Fit For a Queen!

Intrigued by that idea, I decided to go natural this year to keep my eggs healthier and chemical free, plus make a more interesting Easter brunch item besides. I discovered that there were a ton of things at my fingertips to use to accomplish this. Some could be cooked right along with the eggs and other added after the eggs were cooked. Here are some examples of how to make some fun colors:

Yellow and earth tones: Onion skins: Cover with water and simmer for 30 minutes. Cook, then refrigerate with the skins left in the water to darken to the color you want. Drain and let the cooked, peeled eggs sit in the colored water for at least 3 hours or overnight. You can also use red onion skins with the same method and the color will be a reddish brown.

(more…)

Share the love!

Valentine’s Day is on the horizon and all thoughts turn to chocolate, but how about a healthy snack instead that also shows love in a big way?  I’m talking about a low calorie pizza, shaped like a heart and full of healthy ingredients. It’s the perfect solution. It sounds and looks indulgent, is quick and easy to make, tastes delicious and is full of good nutrition. Besides, shaping it like a heart makes it fun! There’s no dough in this pizza. It’s made with a wrap – yes a sandwich wrap – and if you find the right one it can even be gluten free. The wrap crisps in ten minutes and tastes like a thin crust or cracker pizza. Absolutely delicious. Your kids will think you’ve gone wacko encouraging them to eat pizza and only you and I will know the truth.

First, fold a piece of parchment or waxed paper (larger than your wrap) in half and cut out a heart. Then kept cutting it down until it’s just the right size to fit inside the wrap. Using kitchen scissors, hold this template on the wrap and cut it into a heart shape. Set it on a cookie sheet (no oil). (I used a Mex America tomato-basil wrap.) Then instead of tomato sauce, I spread some barbecue sauce all over the wrap. After that, it’s just a matter of choosing the toppings (and PS keep them healthy! No bacon or pepperoni). I used 1 cup of leftover cooked chicken cut into bite-sized pieces. Then I added pieces of artichoke, corn cut from 1 leftover cooked cob and a light sprinkle of salt and pepper. On top of that, I tossed 1/4 cup of low fat, grated cheddar cheese and 1/4 cup of low fat, grated mozzarella cheese.

Granted, your kids might not like this particular combination, but there are plenty of healthy choices you can use for toppings: Low fat deli meat (chopped), cooked vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, fish like salmon, tilapia or tuna or cooked pork filet. See what you have in your frig and make up a fun combination of favorite things. Covering it with cheese makes it all taste good. And by the way, 1/2 cup of cheese is enough to add the cheesy taste. You don’t need to load it up.

Then bake your concoction in a pre-heated oven at 425 F for only 10 minutes. The baking time is even less using the wrap! This is a dish to please everyone – even the cook. I encourage you to give it a try!

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