Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mashed Cauliflower

I was pretty skeptical about the whole idea of mashing cauliflower and eating it as an alternative to mashed potatoes but it's actually very good and low carb.  You only need a few ingredients and the best part is, it comes together in a short amount of time and requires little effort.

Begin by steaming a medium head of cauliflower cut into florets until fork tender, about 6 minutes.

Get your add-ins ready: chicken broth, whipped cream cheese, dried herbs, salt, and pepper.  The cream cheese is optional here - I've made it dairy free and it's still very good.

Splash a little broth on the steamed cauliflower and mash it up.

Add a few tablespoons of cream cheese, herbs, salt, and pepper.  Mix.  You can blend up the mixture for a smoother texture but if you don't mind skip that step like I did.

I put the mash into a bowl and put in the fridge covered until dinner was ready.  2-3 minutes in the microwave on high and it was ready to eat.

For dinner the other night I ate the mashed cauliflower with beef ribs, steamed broccoli, and macaroni salad.  The ribs were made by the boyfriend and were excellent, might I add.    

1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
chicken broth
cream cheese (optional)
salt and pepper

1. Steam cauliflower until fork tender, about 6 minutes.
2. Mash cauliflower with a splash of chicken broth.
3. Stir in cream cheese, herbs, salt, and pepper.
4. Blend cauliflower mixture for a smoother texture.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Recipe Review: "Best Brownies" from Allrecipes

When I realized that I didn't have brown sugar to make chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, I looked up a recipe for brownies on  Many of their recipes are generally reliable as long as they have tons of good reviews and are easy to follow so I chose one that met the criteria.  Here's the link to the recipe: Best Brownies Ever.  I followed the recipe exactly, but left out the frosting because I thought they'd be too sweet.  

I was hoping for dense, chewy brownies because that's just how I think good brownies should be.  I hate brownies that have the texture of chocolate cake.  Just call it what it is-if it's like cake, call it cake! Anyways, enough of the ranting.

 Here's what I did:  

I began by melting a stick of butter,

adding sugar,

cocoa powder,

and a little vanilla extract.

Then I added in two eggs,

beat the eggs,

and added the flour

along with baking powder.

After mixing it all up, I poured it into a baking pan sprayed with Pam.

This is the brownie going in...

and this is what it looked like after 30 minutes.  I did the "toothpick test" (you stick it in the middle and if it comes out clean, it's done).

After cooling I cut the brownies into little squares.  

There's Wuz standing in the background waiting for a piece.

So the recipe overall was really easy to follow and the ingredients are minimal which is nice.  When I ate the brownies warm out of the oven, the texture was too much like cake for me so I was pretty disappointed.  Being patient and letting them cool completely is worth it though since they flatten a bit and become chewier.  They still didn't have the super chewy texture I normally like but are still pretty good.  

One of the reviews on allrecipes mentioned that overbeating the eggs can create a fluffier brownie so maybe that's something I could keep in mind if I decide to try this recipe again.  Also, the brownies are plenty sweet without the frosting the original recipe calls for.

The verdict:
I give this recipe a 7 out of 10 on the scale of brownie worthiness.

Photo: Bagel and Blueberries

Cranberry bagel with chunky peanut butter and blueberries on the side

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Banana Oatmeal Smoothie

I found very thorough and complete directions on how to make oatmeal smoothies on The Yummy Life which I have found to be great breakfasts on-the-go.  I love recipes that have a lot of room for variations with different options and this is one of them.   

This particular one has coconut water and banana.  I love that I don't need to add extra sweeteners and it still comes out sweet.

I first start by scooping 2 tablespoons of oats into my little blender, 

as well as 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds.

I grind it all up until everything becomes a fine powder.

Next comes the coconut water and I make sure to shake it all up with the lid closed.

I take a whole banana and peel it.  It's actually easier to peel the end opposite of the stem.

The banana gets chopped,

and in the kids go, into the pool.

Blend the ingredients and pour into a cup.

The oats thicken the smoothie after a few hours.  I make them the night before and store in the fridge so by morning the consistency is where I want it to be.

Here are more options to tweak your smoothie recipe:
  • fruits: frozen or fresh berries, mangos, peaches
  • liquid: milk, soy milk, almond milk, hemp milk, tea
  • other: yogurt, honey, chia seeds
  • for a thicker smoothie: grind up another tablespoon or two of oats

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Go-to Work Lunch

The idea here is to pack salads using veggies and protein you have on hand, and to layer the ingredients so that everything stays fresh until it's time to eat.  Salads packed in glass jars are a great idea (salad shakers in jars) but I don't have any so I just use the containers I already own.

First I poured in a couple of tablespoons of dressing into a container.  Pictured is balsamic vinaigrette from Trader Joe's.

Then I threw in 11 grape tomatoes cut in half.  Yes, exactly 11.

These mushrooms are a leftover topping from pizza last night.  

I diced up a leftover avocado and squeezed a little lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown.

Next I nuked some frozen sweet corn and tossed them in with diced red bell pepper.

Then there's the chicken.  Again, a leftover topping from making pizza.

I chopped cilantro and sprinkled it on top.

Then goes in the crumbled feta.  I.  Love.  Cheese!

Fresh spinach.  By placing your greens on the very top and the dressing on the very bottom you can avoid a nasty wilted mess.  One of my pet peeves is sad, limp greens in an otherwise delicious salad.

And that's it! Click on the lid and put in your fridge to take to work in the morning.

I love these salads because they're a good way to eat your veggies and get rid of some leftovers. Ingredients I frequently use are:
  • Greens: finely chopped kale, spinach, chopped romaine, herbs like cilantro or basil
  • Other vegetables/fruit: tomatoes, avocado, bell pepper, thinly sliced red onion, corn, carrots, broccoli, thinly sliced radishes, cucumber, green beans
  • Protein: chicken breast, chickpeas, black beans, white beans
  • Cheese: feta, goat cheese
  • Dressing: balsamic vinaigrette, Dijon vinaigrette
  • Other: sprinkles of brown rice, couscous, quinoa, toasted and chopped walnuts/almonds, dried currants/cherries/cranberries

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

The recipe for the cauliflower crust is from Love and Lemons (Love and Lemons cauliflower pizza crust recipe).  This version of the crust dough caught my eye because it calls for almond flour, which I happened to have some of in the fridge.  I noticed that three eggs gave too much moisture to the dough, so I would begin with two, to play it safe.  Making sure your cauliflower is pretty dry before prepping can help too.

After baking the crusts for about 20 minutes (I made them personal pan sized so they took less time to bake), I topped them with:
  • jarred marinara from Trader Joe's
  • low fat shredded mozzarella
  • sauteed mushrooms
  • shredded chicken
  • diced and sauteed bell pepper, spiked with red pepper flakes
  • minced garlic
Any combinations of toppings would be delish on these.  I was honestly surprised at how tasty and satisfying a cauliflower pizza crust could taste.  And this is coming from someone who has proclaimed hating cauliflower for the better part of her life! 

I would love to try different variations of the crust...
Here are a couple I've had in mind:

Cooking with Angus All rights reserved