Tag Archives: quick

Breakfast Hack: Microwave Poached Egg

1 May

Yep. You read that title right. A poached egg. In the MICROWAVE!

I need to eat breakfast during the week. If I don’t, I have a serious crash and get mega hangry. Or I want to eat lunch at 11:00 am. Which doesn’t really work for me when I won’t be eating dinner until 6 or 7 on a weeknight. Getting up for work, I’m not ready to eat breakfast at 7 or 8. I like to eat it later on, because it keeps me satiated and allows me to eat lunch a little later.

I was making up scrambled eggs at home since the chickens are officially back into the habit of producing, but reheating them in the microwave left them a bit dry and rubbery. I found a post over at The Kitchn, which talked about poaching an egg in the microwave. I love me some poached eggs, so this news was amazing to me! Saves me some calories by not having to use butter to cook them, and I can have freshly made eggs for breakfast – on demand!

On the third attempt, I got a perfectly poached egg to smear over my multi-grain toast. Seriously. This egg poached better than the ones I make on the stove top. The trick I discovered is using already hot water, then microwave the egg for 60 seconds. If you read the post over at The Kitchn, they say to put the microwave at 50% power. Our work microwave lacks power, so I don’t do any adjustments and it works out great. If you have a newer microwave, I’d suggest starting at 50% power for 60 seconds and see where that gets you on the egg front. If it looks like it needs more cooking, give it another 30 second burst. I like a slightly runny yolk but a set white. The hot water sets the white without overcooking the center.

I think this is a great option for people who work in an office, or at any job where a microwave is available to heat up meals. Even college kids would benefit from this little trick!

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Microwave Poached Egg

Tools:

Coffee mug

Small plate/saucer

1 egg

1/3 cup hot water

Put a splash of hot water in the bottom of the coffee mug. Crack your egg into the cup. Add in the rest of the water.

Put your egg filled mug into the microwave, and cover the top of the mug with the saucer – do NOT skip this part! It helps to steam the egg and prevents a hot mess if your egg explodes! ( I only had one incidence where the egg had a mini explosion, and it was before I was doing hot water and have started the microwave for another 30 seconds.)

Microwave for 60 seconds at normal power for older microwaves, 50% power for newer.

Once your egg is cooked to your liking, enjoy! I eat mine over a piece of multi-grain toast with some pepper and garlic salt. Add in some precooked bacon, and you’ve got a protein filled breakfast!

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Weekly Meal Prep: Mason Jar Salad – Shrimp quinoa with ranch and romaine

28 Apr

I’ve discovered something recently. My portion control had packed up and left me. Totally peaced out. So that meant I was eating larger than necessary portions, snacking in between meals on less than healthy stuff, and having one too many glasses of wine with dinner. The wake up call was the number on the scale. Don’t get me wrong – the number isn’t what matters to me. It is how my clothes feel. And my clothes were feeling hella small. The number on the scale was just the push I needed to start making changes.

Now, I don’t know about you but I cannot diet. I just can’t. As soon as something becomes off-limits, it is ALL I want to eat. So I started using My Fitness Pal again to keep track of my weight as well as all the food and drink I’m ingesting. I’m into week 3 and I’ve lost 5 pounds. Not huge, but slow and steady wins the weight loss race. I’m trying to lose weight, but I’m also trying to regain control of portions. To put more effort into planning my meals so that I refrain from eating convenience foods because I have a healthy meal on hand.

Here’s where the mason jar meals come into play. They are super portable. I have a plethora of jars due to my canning hobby. I can make a weeks worth of meals, and just grab a jar and have lunch ready to go. The lettuce or cabbage will stay crispy because it is as far away from the wet stuff – dressing/sauce – as possible. The meals are healthy. HEALTHY people! And full of flavor. The goal is to keep my lunches at 400 calories or less. This recipe falls around 300 calories – 14 grams of fat, 16 grams of protein, and is very filling from the combo of the quinoa and shrimp. I loved this meal.

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As always, I make everything from scratch. I try to have cooked quinoa frozen in portions in the freezer. That way it’s ready to use for salads or side dishes. For the from scratch ranch dressing – this is by far the simplest dressing recipe I’ve ever experienced. Everything goes into a mason jar, you shake it up and boom.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing: This is a big “to taste” seasoned recipe. The only thing I measure out is the buttermilk and mayo. The ratio of buttermilk to may is 2 to 1. So when I make a batch of this dressing for the week, I do 6oz buttermilk and 3oz mayo. I use the measurement lines on the side of my jars to show me.

For the additional flavor boosters (these measurements are not approximate, they are my best guess)

I use freeze-dried chives – probably about 1/4 cup

Dill – 1 tablespoon

Garlic powder: 1 1/2 teaspoons

Kosher Salt: 1 1/2 teaspoons

Black Pepper: 1 1/2 teaspoons.

Put all of these ingredients in a mason jar, shake like crazy and you have a ready-made, from scratch buttermilk ranch dressing that blows the store bought kind right out of the water.

Now onto the salad!

This list of ingredients will give you one salad. I usually make enough of everything to have a weeks worth on hand for my lunches.

You’re going to want to layer the ingredients in your wide mouth quart jar as follows:

1 tablespoon homemade buttermilk ranch

1 tablespoon 2% milk fat cottage cheese

1 tablespoon crumbled feta

4 tablespoons cooked quinoa

3oz (about 15) small cooked shrimp

2 cups chopped/torn romaine

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When I am ready to eat it, I add a little splash of water to the jar so that the dressing and cottage cheese gets a little runnier and coats all of the lettuce. I shake the jar up, and them pour the salad onto a dinner plate. As you can see from the photo, this is a nice hearty salad. The lettuce stays crisp because it is away from the dressing. The shrimp and quinoa get some flavor from sitting in the dressing. It really is a great salad, and so filling. With warm weather looming, this is going to be my go to meal of summer!
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Have you tried mason jar meals? If so, what are you eating?

The DIY Life: Arugula Pesto

22 Oct

So, um, wow. I haven’t blogged for over a month. Now that I’ve had this epiphany, I feel it’s a little ridiculous because I’ve been cooking my ass off making all this from scratch food. Lots of squash type dishes. Complete with photos. And yet, not a blog post to be found for over a month. Damn.

Well folks, don’t you worry your pretty little faces off anymore. I am back. I have recipes out the wazoo. But since it’s been so long, I wanted to start off simple. With a different twist of pesto sauce. Most of the time when you think of pesto, you think of basil, pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Which is delicious and simple in its own right. BUT…what if you were to try a pesto made from peppery arugula, mixed with salty parmesan and nutty roasted almonds?!?!?!? Have I blown your mind yet?!?!?!? It’s a simple list of ingredients, and the only other tool you need to make this is a food processor. And like, 5 minutes. Really. I made a bunch of this and froze it into cubes so that I could use it on pizzas, in sauces, or as a cooking medium for chicken. It’s pretty versatile. And tastes wonderful. For reals.

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Arugula Pesto

7oz bag of arugula

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Pinch of kosher salt

1/2 cup olive oil

2oz toasted almond slivers * see notes below on how to toast

Add your arugula, cheese, almonds and salt to a food processor and pulse until combined. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may have to add the arugula in batches (I did). Once all of the arugula has been processed, turn the processor on and slowly pour in the olive oil until combined. Use immediately on whatever tickles your fancy, or freeze for later use.

Spoon into ice cube trays and let freeze until solid. To remove cubes. set the ice cube tray in a shallow dish of hot water to loosen up the pesto cubes. Place in a freezer safe bag or container and use as you need to!

Notes:

To toast almonds, put in a dry skillet that has been preheated over a medium flame. Toss around until they start to brown. Let cool completely before adding to food processor.

Quick Dinner – Spinach & Feta Chicken Burgers

29 Apr

We are getting to that time of year when things start to get busier at our house. I’m sure we aren’t the only ones either. Outdoor chores like weeding the flower beds, mowing the grass and planting the garden come into play. With warmer weather also comes more outdoor activities – motorcycle rides, outdoor parties, weddings, graduation parties, camping, bicycle rides. That means less time spent at home, which translates to quick dinner options on the weekdays. I don’t want to be stressing about what to make for dinner, or punk out and make something that is quick, but completely unhealthy. Since I am on the path to healthier eating, I’ve been thinking up meal options that can be whipped up in 30 minutes or less, but are healthy, filling, and taste great. These burgers fit that bill. You get a burst of nutrient rich veggies from the spinach mixed into the burger, plus the addition of using more baby spinach in place of lettuce. The chicken is packed with protein but lower in fat than your traditional beef options, and frankly more flavorful than ground turkey. The feta cheese adds some dairy, and eliminates the need for additional salt since it helps flavor the meat. I used olive oil mayo that I spiced up with some wasabi sauce, giving the burger a little zing. It complimented the burger very well! Ciabatta rolls were a lovely change of pace from traditional burger buns, and could actually be skipped completely if you are looking to limit your intake of carbs, serving it over a bed of baby spinach with a little smear of the wasabi mayo. We enjoyed these with a large serving of garden salad, and it was delicious!

spinach & feta chicken burgers

Spinach & Feta Chicken Burgers

makes 4  1/4lb burgers 

1lb ground chicken

4oz feta cheese crumbles

1 1/2 cups baby spinach, torn into smaller pieces

1 small shallot, minced

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all of your ingredients in a bowl, and form into 4 1/4lb burger patties. Pan fry – no additional oil – or grill until cooked all the way through, 10-15 minutes. Serve on toasted ciabatta bread with baby spinach and wasabi mayo. Serve with a garden salad for a light and healthy dinner! Also great for lunch!

Healthy Meal Idea – Spinach & Bacon with White Beans

22 Apr

I’ve been on a blog hiatus recently. Not because I’ve been overly busy or anything. More like I’ve been trying to enjoy the lovely weather when it comes about. Catching up on some spring cleaning chores like cleaning out the chicken coop and run. Trying out new recipes, and revisiting old ones. I am always on a mission for easy, healthy, simple and QUICK meal ideas. Have you ever noticed that most of the easy meals tend to be unhealthy because you are either eating a premade meal made who knows when, preckaged stuff that has so many preservatives you feel almost pickled after, or it’s laden with fat to compensate for flavor? Blech. Enter in the Spinach & Bacon with White Beans. It’s fast. It’s tasty. It’s healthy. It’s LOW FAT. Even with the butter and bacon. Ya, that’s right. But it’s REAL butter. Not margarine. Not anything that’s 1 step away from being plastic. If you are going to ingest a fat, make it a natural one. BUTTER people. BUTTER. Say it with me….BUTTER. End rant.

Anyways, back to this meal. It’s filling. Because of the beans. That’s a lot of fiber. Good for you, keep you full fiber. It was delicious. No added salt or pepper was needed. I used precooked bacon because it’s quick, and it’s lower in fat and calories, and we always have some on hand. Don’t feel like you HAVE to. Don’t feel like you have to use bacon either – you could use some chopped country ham, prosciutto, salami. Whatever. And you can mix up the greens too – collard greens, mustard greens, kale. I just had a big ass container of spinach, which I happen to love, and wanted to use it up. Boy, I’m glad I whipped this up. I think hubs wished I made a double batch. He wanted more. So, I guess I should say this would serve 2 as a lunch sized portion. Double the recipe if you’ve got a big meal eating man in your life. Next time I make it I think I’ll cook up an egg over easy and top the greens & beans with that. And a little parmesan. Wow. I want that right now.

Spinach & Bacon with White Beans

Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a meal

Ingredients

1 pound fresh organic baby spinach

6 garlic cloves, minced

8 pieces pre cooked bacon, chopped

2 cans Great Northern or Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon REAL butter

shaved parmesan

Add butter to a large skillet, letting melt. Add in your garlic and bacon, cooking until bacon is crisp and garlic is starting to get a little crispy looking – about 3 minutes. Add your beans, tossing to coat with the bacon garlic butter mix. Keep tossing until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add your spinach, in batches if necessary, stirring the mixture around to let the spinach wilt and cook through.

Serve immediately, and sprinkle with some shaved parmesan cheese for an extra hit of flavor!

Raspberry Almond Breakfast Quinoa – Filling, GF, Vegan – and 4 days worth of breakfast!

13 Mar

Let’s face it. If you are a working stiff Monday – Friday, you can be hard pressed to eat a breakfast that is healthy, filling, and easily prepared the night before. Skipping breakfast is not an option for me, and it shouldn’t be for anyone else either. Breakfast is the meal that gets our motors running, our brains firing on all cylinders. Your body NEEDS fuel.  My fellow working stiffs need me to eat breakfast. Otherwise, by 11 am, hunger has mixed with anger, making me hangry…and things can get ugly. So unless I’m not feeling well, I eat breakfast. I’m trying to lose some weight, tone up, and make some adaptable life changes. Eating healthier. Now, I’m not doing a gluten-free diet. I am trying to cut out white pastas & breads, white rice, “whole wheat” pasta’s & breads that aren’t really all that more nutritious than plain old white bread. I’m working to incorporate more whole grains, more quinoa. I’m lucky in that I don’t HAVE to do GF. That my stomach won’t be in an uproar if I eat a sandwich on wheat bread. But I know so many people out there don’t have a choice but to be GF. And since so many people are having to adopt a gluten-free lifestyle, it makes gluten-free food items more readily available to the general population. A welcome side effect. Now, back to the recipe. I’ve been experimenting with quinoa, using it in place of rice and pasta where I feel it’s a good substitute. But everything I’ve been using it in thus far has been a savory dish. I wanted to try it in a sweeter option, like something for breakfast. I wanted to incorporate fruit, since I know that I’m not eating enough servings of it each day. I wanted the recipe to taste good, be healthy, but not lack flavor. I wanted it to be something I could make a big batch of, and reheat throughout the work week. Raspberry Almond Breakfast Quinoa was born. It’s quick and easy to make, has a small list of ingredients, and is a healthy, portable, filling breakfast option! I get 4 packed pint jars worth.

If you aren’t into using almond milk, you could totally replace it with your regular milk. I think chocolate almond milk would also be a tasty sub. Raspberries aren’t your thing? Try blueberries or strawberries in the same ratio. Or do a mix! Use fresh if you have them. I’m using berries that I froze over the summer. Based on the ingredients I used, this recipe is around 125 calories per serving, with maybe 2 grams of fat. You can also sprinkle on some cinnamon, or unsweetened cocoa powder for an extra flavor boost!

raspberry almond breakfast quinoa

Raspberry Almond Breakfast Quinoa

1 1/2 – 2 cups frozen raspberries

1 cup organic quinoa, rinsed thoroughly

1 1/4 cup organic vanilla almond milk

slivered almonds, about 1/4 cup – optional

Stevia to sweeten

In a medium saucepan, add your almond milk and 1 cup of the raspberries. Cook over medium heat until the raspberries start to soften and break apart. Add your quinoa, letting the mixture come back up to a boil. Simmer on low for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside for 10 more minutes. Once the mixture has cooled slightly and thickened, sweeten with Stevia to taste. I used about 1 1/2 teaspoons Stevia powder for mine to get it to the taste I wanted. Portion your quinoa mixture into pint mason jars, filling right up to the threaded part of the jars. Top each jar with the other cup of raspberries, sprinkling each jar with slivered almonds. Seal jars and store in fridge. You can reheat this on the stove, in the microwave, or enjoy it at room temp. Either way, it’s good!

raspberry almond breakfast quinoa closeup

Lighter Snack & Lunch Idea – Lightly Pickled Shrimp!

4 Mar

Every time a new year arrives, the gyms flood with people trying to set new goals with their brand new good intentions. The produce aisle and whole grain sections at the grocery stores are cleared of all things healthy as people embark on a quest for better eating habits. Then it dies off, at the latest, in early February and most people go back to their bad food choices and lazy ways. I never make healthy eating or fitness a new years resolution because it’s like setting yourself up for failure. Healthy eating, fitness, lifestyle changes – you can’t give them deadlines. You’ve got to be mentally ready for the challenge. YOU have to want to do it. I think I’m mentally ready to start getting back into shape again after too much good food & beer. I’m cutting back on the good beer, but not cutting it out. Cutting things out leads to binging on those things because you feel deprived. I need REAL life changes and choices, not a quick fix to drop some weight right now, just to gain it back when I get back to normal.

So for the first week I started getting a little more creative with my lunch choices. I wanted meals that would keep me full and give me the most bang for my buck calorie and nutrition wise. That’s why I started eating Spinach & Cheese Toasts – and I wanted to add in something that had some more protein than the mushrooms I was eating with it and it to be light, healthy & flavorful. So I decided to do a quick, light pickling of some medium sized shrimp. Don’t turn your nose up at the thought of “pickled” shrimp. These aren’t anything like eating a kosher dill pickle. These are brightly flavored without being too “pickled” tasting. They have zing from the apple cider vinegar and fresh lemon juice. There is a hint of spice from the red pepper flakes and garlic. They are just layered with flavor and I love it! I think these will be a great snack and lunch addition, as well as be a great option to take to a summertime picnic or BBQ as an appetizer to share! And the brine? Don’t let it go to waste. It’s lovely smeared on some crusty, whole grain french bread with a couple of the shrimp on top. I think it would also be great as a pasta salad, brining the shrimp overnight and then tossing the jar of ingredients into some pasta. Or quinoa. Next time I make this, I’m going to add in a couple extra shakes of the pepper flakes for a little more zing!

Feel free to double this recipe if you are making it for a group. I made this small batch because I wanted to only have what I would consume over a few days for lunches.

pickled shrimp

Lightly Pickled Shrimp

1/2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp, raw, tails off

1 tbsp old bay seasoning

1/2 tsp mustard seed

1/4 tsp celery seed

1/2 – 1 tsp kosher salt

1 whole lemon, juiced

1/2 cup olive oil

2-3 tbsp unfiltered apple cider vinegar

couple shakes of red pepper flakes

2 pinches parsley flakes

2 cloves garlic, mashed and minced

1/2 medium sweet onion, cut into half moons

Fill a small pot halfway with tap water and add the old bay seasoning. Bring to a boil and add shrimp, cooking until pink – about 2 minutes. Dump your shrimp into a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cold water until no longer hot. (you are using the mesh strainer so that you don’t lose much of the old bay seasoning!)

Take your mustard seed, celery seed & the couple shakes of red pepper flakes and pulse them through a food mill or grinder  a couple of times just to break them up a bit and release their flavors. Add your salt, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and garlic, stirring well to combine. Give it a taste and add more salt or vinegar to get the desired tang and flavor you are looking for.

In a mason jar, put a layer of shrimp, then a layer of onions, and keep layering until you run out of shrimp and onions. Pour the marinade mixture over your shrimp and onions, top with a lid, and put in the fridge overnight to let all the flavors melt together.

Before serving, let the jar sit out for at least 30 minutes. This will let the olive oil easily mix back in with the vinegar and lemon juices. Right before eating, give the jar a good shake to get everything mixed back together. Enjoy as an appetizer, alongside a sandwich, add to pasta, quinoa, rice – whatever your heart desires! Consume within a few days.