Simple Meals for a Complex Gal

14 Jul

I believe in simplicity; it’s a beautiful thing.  When life gets hectic, there’s nothing like sitting down to enjoy a simple meal.  Sure, there’s a time and a place for complexity.  Without it, man wouldn’t have set foot on the moon and Einstein wouldn’t be a household name.  But simplicity is the foundation of complexity.  Its primitive nature is, in and of itself, wondrous.

Okay, so maybe only a loony-bin would call the upcoming recipe “wondrous.”  Nevertheless, I think it serves as an important reminder to enjoy the small things in life and, when the chaos slows down for even the briefest of moments, to notice the wee details that are so easily overlooked.   

Keep in mind the molecular chemistry taking place on your tastebuds as you consume this delectable piece of gastronomical simplicity: 

Vegetarian Pita Pizza

  • 1 pita
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato sauce
  • oregano to taste
  • McCormick Grill Mates roasted garlic and herb seasoning to taste
  • 1 Laughing Cow garlic & herb cheese wedge
  • 1/4 cup Boca ground crumbles
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line circular baking pan with square of tin foil. Place pita on top of the lined pan.
  2. Place 1/4 cup ground crumbles in a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for 20 seconds. Set aside.
  3. Spread tomato sauce onto pita. Evenly sprinkle the McCormick seasoning and oregano on top.
  4. On a separate cutting board, slice cheese wedge into bits (as large or small as you desire). This may require two knives: one to slice the cheese, another to scrape it off the other knife.  Sprinkle cheese bits, followed by microwaved ground crumbles, evenly over tomato sauce.
  5. Bake the pita pizza for about 9 minutes, or until pita is crisp and the crust is slightly browned.
  6. Using a spatula, transfer pita pizza to a plate. Cut into 4 slices and consume!
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Mini-ness

13 Jul

Why is mini-ness so gosh darn cute?  Miniature things seem have a lot more novelty than their regular-sized counterparts.  Take, for instance, a muffin.  Don’t get me wrong, the average muffin is pretty cool on its own.  But it pales in comparison to the same muffin batter baked in a mini muffin tin.  And muffins are just the beginning.

You’ve got mini me, mini skirts, mini M&Ms, mini marshmallows, mini chapstick, mini pens, mini cameras, min(n)i(e) mouse, mini flashlights, mini water bottles…you catch my drift.  I must say, though, that the best mini of all the minis in mini-land is mini chocolate chips.

Why, you may be pondering, do mini chocolate chips, which aren’t much smaller than normal-sized ones, take the cake?  It’s something that the English vocabulary isn’t equipped to describe.  When those little studs of chocolate melt into a baked good, it’s like a little burst of sweetness that’s neither underwhelming nor overpowering.  It’s just.  Right.

So a word to the wise: use mini chocolate chips in this recipe!  Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Whole Wheat Mini Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Adapted from Eating Well

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 ounces (1/4 cup) reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Stevia
  • 1/4 cup Egg Beaters
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degree F and grease an 8 x 8 baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Mix together flours, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  Continue stirring over low heat until you notice it developing a tinge of brown.  Pour into a mixing bowl.
  4. With electric mixer, beat together melted butter, cream cheese, brown sugar, and Stevia on low speed until smooth.  Add Egg Beaters and vanilla and continue beating until they’re mixed in well.
  5. Manually stir in dry ingredients just until combined.
  6. Pour batter into greased baking dish and smooth with a spatula.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until done.
  8. Remove from oven and allow it to cool.  Cut into 9 bars.

Did I mention to use mini chocolate chips in this recipe?  Use mini chocolate chips in this recipe!

Messy Eats

12 Jul

Throughout our first years of life, most of us are messy eaters.  Take yours truly, for example:

Green birthday cake frosting really does make for great puckering-picture-material, doesn’t it?

But once we develop greater hand-eye coordination, and learn how to use a spoon, fork, and knife without flipping the bowl of Spaghettios over our heads, eating becomes a much less difficult task.  And yet there’s an exception to every rule.

There will always be foods that are messy for even the most hygienic gourmand, like sloppy joes (unless they somehow became un-sloppy, in which case their name would have to be changed).  There really isn’t a clean way to eat them.  But just because something’s difficult to eat doesn’t make it inedible!  One simply must find an alternative consumption strategy, such as attacking it from the side.  Which is how you might need to approach these…

Glazed Cinnamon Sugar Banana Roll-Ups 

  • 2 10-inch whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 medium ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 teaspoons Stevia (or sugar)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to taste
  • Pam butter cooking spray
  • 5 toothpicks
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and grease a baking sheet.
  2. In a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon together.  In another bowl, thoroughly mash banana.  Add mashed banana to cinnamon sugar and mix well.
  3. Lay out tortillas on flat surface, with one slightly overlapping the other.  It should look similar to a venn diagram.
  4. Spread banana mixture evenly across tortillas.  Spray some butter cooking spray on top of banana mixture.
  5. Carefully roll up tortillas, starting at the tortilla whose end is partially overlapped by the other.  This part will be messy!
  6. Place 5 toothpicks at even distance intervals across roll-up.  Carefully cut between toothpicks to make 5 roll-ups.
  7. Place roll-ups on greased baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes.

Glaze

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon (1-1/2 teaspoons) milk
  • Ziploc bag
  1. Mix powdered sugar and milk.
  2. Pour glaze into Ziploc bag.
  3. Cut small tip from bag and glaze roll-ups.

Mmmmmm, messiness.

Laughing Cows

11 Jul

Can cows laugh?  Every time I pop out a Laughing Cow cheese wedge from its cute little container, I wonder. 

Why “Laughing Cow?”  We obviously know why it’s not “Mad Cow” – if it was, they probably wouldn’t have any consumers.  But why not “Snoring,” “Burping,” “Growling,” “Purring,” or “Whistling Cow?”  Indeed, a question to ponder while you eat these…

Veggilicious Laughing Cow Chicken Quesadilla 

  • 1/4 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup broccoli
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1/2 clove) minced garlic
  • 2-3 ounces cooked or canned white meat chicken
  • 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • black pepper to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 2 10-inch whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 Laughing Cow garlic & herb wedges
  • nonstick cooking spray
  1. Use a frying pan with a diameter greater than that of the tortillas.  Saute broccoli, carrots, and garlic in the oil for about 7 minutes on medium/high heat..  Half-way through, add soy sauce, chicken, salt, and pepper.  Put mixture in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Smear 1 Laughing Cow wedge on one side of each tortilla.  Spray pan with a little cooking spray and reduce heat to medium/low.  Place one of the tortillas, cheesy side up, onto the pan.  Evenly spread the bowl of stir-fry mixture onto the cheese.  Then place the other tortilla, cheesy side down, onto the veggies.  Cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Using a spatula, carefully flip quesadilla and cook for an additional two minutes.
  4. Remove quesadilla from pan and plate.  Cut into 4-6 slices and serve!

Are you still wondering if it’s possible for cows to laugh?  Me too. 

Imperfection is Beauty

9 Jul

What’s petite, round, and has no arms or legs?

You guessed it: Mini Fibrous Apple Crisps!

The “fibrous” part of the title says it all – each of these babies has around 5 grams of fiber.  Not too shabby for apple crisp, eh?

 I can read your mind; you’re wondering what the catch is.  Anything fibrous with a dessert-y name must certainly be too good to be true.

And that is where you’re…well, mostly wrong, but the slightest wee bit right.  There is a grain of truth to that statement.  The Fiber One “crust” on the bottom turned out to be more of a “grainy sand-like crumble.”  But, when these apple crisps are served atop vanilla yogurt in a parfait, or garnished with ice cream, it hardly matters.

 

Behind all beauty is an imperfection, no?  (Rhetorical question here.  You’re not supposed to come up with any counterexamples.)

Anywhoozlebees, it’s time to get our apple crisp on.

Mini Fibrous Apple Crisps

Yield: 6 crisps

“Crust”:

  • 2 Tablespoons light butter, melted
  • 1 cup Fiber One original cereal
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease 6 out of the 12 cups in a muffin pan.
  2. Place cereal in a blender or food processor and grind until it becomes a crumb-like consistency.  Put in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Melt butter over low heat in a saucepan.
  4. Pour melted butter over Fiber One crumbs and mix well.
  5. Distribute crumb mixture evenly into 6 greased muffin tins.  Press firmly onto the bottom of the tins with your fingers or some other utensil.
  6. Once finished, set muffin pan aside.

Apple crisp filling:

  • 1 large apple, peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon light butter
  • 2 Tablespoons quick cooking oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Once apple is peeled, quarter it, halve these slices lengthwise, and then halve these slices lengthwise again.  Then cut them all in half so that you have about 1-inch long, thin, half-slices of apple.
  2. Distribute apple chunks evenly on top of the 6 cereal “crusts.” 
  3. Combine flour and brown sugar in a small separate bowl.  Cut in butter until mixture is in small chunks.
  4. Stir in oats and cinnamon.
  5. Distribute crumble evenly onto the apples. 
  6. Bake crisps for 35-40 minutes, or until apples are tender.
  7. Remove from oven and allow them to cool for a few minutes.  When ready to eat, carefully remove the desired number of crisps (some of the crust may not come out with the rest of the crisp) and serve with vanilla yogurt or ice cream!

Move over, Krispy Kreme

8 Jul

Original glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts are so 2009.  It’s time to update. 

Thus, the dawn of a new age has arrived.  The age of baked banana doughnuts.

Once I came to this realization, the future of the single overripe banana sitting on my counter suddenly seemed much brighter.  I’m all for brown speckled bananas, but there’s a point at which they’re simply too soft to eat by themselves.  At that point, my friends, is the point at which you must make these.

Baked Banana Doughnuts

Adapted from Oh She Glows

  • 1 ripe, mashed banana*
  • 1/4 c. Egg Beaters
  • 1/2 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3/8 cup (1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons) packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/8 cup (1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Grease baking sheet.
  2. Beat bananas, egg whites, oil, and brown sugar in large bowl. Add flours, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. Mix until well blended.
  3. Scoop out 3 Tablespoons for each doughnut and place on baking sheet equally spread apart. Take a buttered knife to form doughnut holes in each doughnut’s center. Smooth edges of dough into a round doughnut as much as possible.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for about 7 minutes, or until done.

*Variation: The banana may be replaced by 4 oz. of packed pumpkin for baked pumpkin doughnuts.

Yield: 6-7 doughnuts.

(In case you’re wondering about the smaller-than-average yields of many of my recipes, read why at my updated About page.) 

Go bananas!

Keepin’ it Short and Sweet

7 Jul

If you have two X chromosomes, chances are you like chocolate.  If you have an X and a Y chromosome, it’s also likely you enjoy chocolate.  Which pretty much covers all of humanity. 

So if you’re human, you might like this.

Microwave Chocolate Chip Brownie For One

  • 1 Tablespoon whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoon sugar (or Stevia)
  • 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (or dark cocoa powder)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon chocolate chips
  • pinch of baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon applesauce
  • 1 Tablespoon chocolate milk (or soymilk)
  • 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar (optional)
  1. Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and about half of the 1/2 Tablespoon of chocolate chips in a microwave-safe mug or glass.
  2. Stir in applesauce, milk, and vanilla.
  3. Microwave on high for slightly more than 1 minute.
  4. Immediately after removing from microwave, sprinkle remaining half of chocolate chips on top of brownie.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar as well, if you’d like.

Is this making you hungry?