If it’s cold outside…

Weather prediction for tomorrow: COLD

That's the HIGH, not the low

That’s the HIGH, not the low

Our current cold snap has really made it hard to for me get moving in the mornings. I’ve found that a cup of hot tea and a hearty warm breakfast do wonders. Even so, I didn’t prioritize breakfast after I moved out on my own. It got forgotten most of the time, and on the mornings I remembered to eat before I ran out the door, it was often leftover pasta from the night before or an Ensure drink (good nutrients, but far too much sugar). Now that I’m actually paying attention to what I eat, breakfast has become a priority. After making my bean and kale soup, I had 3/4 of the bag of kale leftover. I decided to try to incorporate it into my breakfast. I searched the web for breakfast skillet recipes, and found one I liked here. It didn’t call for kale or greens, but I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to add some.

Breakfast Veggie Skillet

You’ll need:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (I just poured a dollop in the pan)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (about half an average-sized onion)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup corn (I used canned unsalted corn; the original recipe called for frozen.)
  • 1 cup drained, rinsed black beans
  • a good handful of kale, chopped with stems removed (maybe around 1 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin (I used several pinches of cumin until it tasted right.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I like spicy foods, but not early in the morning, so I didn’t use a full 1/2 teaspoon)
  • (original recipe calls for a pinch of coriander, but I left it out and it still tasted good.)
  • 10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
  • 2 large eggs (or if you’re using Egg Beaters like I am, 1/2 cup of egg substitute)
  • 2 oz queso fresco, crumbled (I had none and used goat cheese.)
  • cilantro and avocado if desired for garnish

Instead of eating this with a fork, I wrapped it in Mission Jalapeno Cheddar Wraps (found in grocery stores beside tortillas). This tasted amazing, but shot the calorie count through the roof. If you’re watching calories, either forgo the wrap or use a low-carb tortilla.

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Heat the oven to 400F.

In a large oven-safe skillet, heat the oil until shimmery. Add onions and cook until softened & translucent. Add garlic, corn, beans and kale and cook for 2 minutes, until kale begins to wilt and garlic is fragrant.

Cook just a bit longer than this-kale edges should drop, but not be soft

Cook just a bit longer than this-kale edges should drop, but not be soft

Add spices to taste and tomatoes & chilies. Though the original recipe doesn’t call for the tomatoes to be drained, I drained them. If you’re using kale, you may not want to drain the tomatoes completely as the extra liquid will help the kale cook down. Increase heat to high until liquid boils. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer for 10 minutes or so.

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My skillet is absolutely huge & at this point the bean mixture was spread thinly through the pan. I piled it up in a flat-topped dome in the center of the skillet before adding the eggs. This worked perfectly & made a much nicer looking dish. If you’ve opted for whole eggs, gently break the eggs over the skillet mix. If not, measure your egg substitute & pour evenly over it. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Add garnishes, wrap (optional), and serve.

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My other half eats meat, so he had a turkey sausage patty in his wrap and loved it.

My wrap (no meat)

My wrap (no meat)

His (with meat)

His (with meat)

Enjoy!!

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A Healthy New Year’s Eve

Monday was New Year’s Eve, and it was in the 20’s when I got up. I don’t really do well if it gets below sixty, so I was cold. After I got off work I decided to make something nice and warm for dinner.

My Car Windshield

My Car Windshield

I really have been trying to eat healthier since I went to my doctor’s. (I promise! The butter was a fluke.) So I decided to make a vegetable and bean soup. I found the original recipe here.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion (I used 1/2 of an onion)
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrot sticks, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 7 cups kale (Mine was purchased stemmed & chopped. If yours isn’t, you’ll want to do this)
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans of beans (The original recipe called for 1 can of black beans and 2 cans of cannellini beans. I had neither & used 2 cans of kidney beans and 1 can of white northern beans. It turned out fine.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (I went cheap & used a hearty sprinkle of dried rosemary.)

I typically do most of my chopping while cooking, but in this particular recipe there wasn’t a lot of spare time to chop. I made it work, but it would probably be much easier if you have the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic pre-chopped. Just a heads-up.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and swirl to coat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery. Saute for 6 minutes or until tender. (I use the onion as a guide. If it’s translucent, it’s good to go.) Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and the garlic, cook for just a bit (30-60 seconds).

At this point, my mouth was watering. It smelled delicious!

At this point, my mouth was watering. It smelled delicious!

Pour in 3 cups of the vegetable broth and all of the kale. It is going to look like the soup is entirely made of kale. It’s not; I promise. Kale cooks down quite a bit.

If you have a blender, place 1 can of beans and the remaining 1 cup of vegetable broth into it and blend until smooth. If not, use a potato masher and mash the beans into the 1 cup of broth. Once there are no more whole beans, it’s ready to be added to the pot. I don’t have a blender, so here are my beans:

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Add the mashed bean/broth mix, the other 2 cans of beans, and the black pepper to the soup. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, red wine vinegar, and rosemary.

I have a thing for thick soups-if it’s not nearly a stew, I won’t eat it unless I can drink it. It has to be one extreme or the other. I was prepared for this to be a little thinner than I like, so I’d prepared a pot of orzo to serve the soup over. This is actually a pretty thick soup, so it didn’t need the orzo. I love carbs though, so I still served the soup over the orzo.

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Wonderful warming soup!

Wonderful warming soup & orzo!

I love the way this tasted. It’s very filling, but doesn’t leave me feeling stuffed. Next time, I might use a little less rosemary, and a bit more garlic and add some basil.

When reheating leftovers, I added a bit more vegetable broth as it thickened up quite a bit as it sat. I have had two meals for two out of this, and have enough for at least one more.

Hopefully this will warm y’all up just as much as it did me!!

A Wisewoman Might Have Brought Butter

I think I’m in love. In my fridge, I have ten little jars of rich, smooth butter dripping with flavor. I may or may not have licked the butter-covered spoon once. Or twice. This is one of the most rewarding things I have ever baked or cooked. These are my lovelies:

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I have a confession to make though; I have never really been a butter-lover because I prefer the taste of my simple healthier yogurt spread. I got put on a statin today, so I’ll have to get back to you on the long-term health benefits of avoiding butter.

Even though I personally dislike butter, Christmas is in less than a week, and as a member of the Procrastinators’ Club, I have plenty of shopping and wrapping left to do. This year, I have decided to make different kinds of butter. Mostly this was because I really think people would like them, and partly because I thought it would be cheaper than buying gifts outright. Since this was for gifts I decided to buy a good-quality butter and non-generic mix-ins. Note to those with small wallets: This can add up fast. 

In preparation for making my butters, I found two great websites with recipes here and here. I bought little jars from Amazon. I made my shopping list and headed out. I picked up everything I needed at our grocery, minus one ingredient: Raspberry Extract. I have never before needed it for anything, but I figured it wouldn’t be that hard to find. I went to our specialty grocers’ and they didn’t have it. Finally I broke down and went to Wal-Mart and found it!

Once my butter had softened I was ready to start.

First flavor: Whipped Cinnamon Honey Butter

You’ll need

  • 1 lb softened butter (I used Keller’s Salted)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp mild molasses
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (plus a little more if you want it to be very flavorful)

Put everything in one bowl and whip, using beaters. Once everything is blended, taste and add more cinnamon if necessary. I ended up using probably 2 1/2 tsp total, and it’s still not super strong.

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Our next flavor is Whipped Raspberry Butter, featuring raspberry extract

For 1 lb of butter, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam (I used Trappist Seedless Red Raspberry Jam)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp raspberry extract (plus more…same with the jam)

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I had to add another teaspoon of jam and a splash of raspberry extract because it wasn’t a strong raspberry flavor, and I really wanted to taste the raspberry.

My third flavor, for tossing with veggies, is Garlic & Chive Butter.

For 1 lb of butter:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (I used less)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chives
  • 2 cloves garlic

Mix all in a bowl till well blended. I didn’t measure the chives because I chopped them up and dumped them in without thinking. We’ll see how it tastes.

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My fourth and final butter was Roasted Garlic Butter.

For each pound of butter use 1 head of garlic.

Roast the garlic. I had no idea what that meant, so I googled it. First, peel off the outer skins so it’s just the skin around each clove, but they’re all still connected. Then lop the top of the whole head off, opening up each clove. Pour olive oil over each clove and wrap in foil, then bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes. This is a great time to clean out your fridge. Incidentally, I now know that cleaning dried syrupy wine off the bottom of the fridge is a great way to stain a sponge pink.

Garlic, ready to go in the oven

Garlic, ready to go in the oven

Garlic after being roasted

Garlic after being roasted

After it’s done roasting, pull all the cloves out of the skins and mash with a fork. Add to the butter and stir till blended. I didn’t quite have as much garlic as I wanted, so I sprinkled a little garlic powder in too.

I packaged up all my butters and attempted to clean the kitchen. Whipped butter has a very loud voice, probably because it’s full of air, and I could hear it calling me. Eventually I gave up and prepared myself some toast with the whipped cinnamon honey butter. I took this picture before I took a bite, which is good. Once I took the first bite, there was no way I would have stopped to take a picture.

Yum!

Yum!

I won’t give out the butters till Tuesday, but at least in my mind these are a complete success!!