Saturday, April 21, 2012

LC's Lighter Loco Moco

 Let me tell you about a little something called compromise. This is a pretty common word in relationship-land, and becomes a bigger deal when it comes to eating habits it seems. Let me tell you how my seemingly mundane world operates. When cooking for two, sometimes your partner just doesn't feel like having what you planned out. Then they suggest something that isn't really healthy. Sometimes you get to make two meals, but the husband is cute in the way he only wants to share one meal together. It's a spiral that can lead to eating bad, which is fine sometimes. Compromise is when you ask if it's okay that you alter your version and let him have his.

 If you have ever been to Hawaii, I am almost certain you have heard of Loco Moco. If you have not, Loco Moco is a local favorite that consists of a bed of rice layered with hamburger, brown gravy and a runny fried egg. Terrible for your arteries? Probably, but it seems like calorie count matters little when it comes to the yum factor. Loco Moco is also one of the husband's favorites, for good reason. It is surprisingly tasty! With a slight adjustment, and portion control this whopper of a meal doesn't have to damage your waistline too much. Be advised, I will not teach you how to properly cook rice. Why? I am a rice wizard.

Not really.. I have a rice cooker.

LC's Lighter Loco Moco
Serves 1
Calories per serving: About 417

1 Boca Burger patty (the 70 calorie variation)
1 egg
1 cup of cooked white rice
1/4 cup of prepared brown gravy (I use the little packets that you just add water)

  With this meal it's kind of time sensitive. You can't make everything at once, or you risk something getting cold or something being done out of order. There is method to my madness! With that being said, start by preparing your rice. If you have a rice cooker this will take 15 minutes or so anyway. While the rice is cooking, pre-heat a medium skillet on medium heat. Place the Boca patty into the skillet and cook for 4 minutes. Flip and repeat another 4 minutes for the other side. Plate the patty and put it to the side for now.

  You can either wait for the rice to be done, or nearly done to make your brown gravy. Keep in mind 1/4 cup of brown gravy only adds 20 calories to the meal. If you want to go a little crazy with it, by all means do so. Make the gravy according to the packet directions. Honestly you don't have to be fancy and make gravy from scratch, as this one works really well for the flavor as is and is easy.

 Once the rice and gravy are ready, it's time for some quick construction. Put the rice in a bowl and make a nice little bed. Top it with the patty and drizzle the gravy on top of it all. As you can see, I have a his and hers version! Now it's time for the final step!

  Crack the egg in the same skillet that was used for the patty. You can see some grease there from the hamburger I cooked too, which is perfectly fine to leave there. I usually stand there and wait until the white around the yolk looks a little set, so I can't tell you the time frame of how long it takes. I keep the heat between low-hi and medium at this point. Flip when it almost looks set, let that side cook for a few seconds, then plate the egg on top of everything else.

  Perfection! For the non-locals, this is where it gets even better. With your fork mash up the Boca patty and egg. The yolk, gravy, meat and rice should all be combined evenly for maximum flavor. Would I eat this every day? Probably not, but it's still a great way to enjoy a wonderful dish and while controlling proper portions it isn't cheating too much! I rationalize that it's good for me since it has so much protein. Enjoy!

Friday, April 20, 2012

LC's PB & Banana French Toast

  Two incredible things happened to me yesterday. Okay, maybe it's only considered incredible if you love food as much as I do, but it's still exciting. The first incredible thing? Thanks to a overripe banana sitting on my kitchen counter I discovered I could create delicious low calorie banana french toast for under 300 calories. The second incredible thing?

   I discovered PB2 while I was at the commissary. I love peanut butter, but even lower calorie varieties still have the ouch factor when it comes down to it. Elvis would be disappointed if he couldn't have peanut butter with his bananas, but then again Elvis clearly didn't care about a healthier diet! Now that i've state my love for peanut butter, i'll let you know that i'm pretty picky since i'm a PB connoisseur. I was wary about powdered peanut butter, but I was pleasantly surprised with the results.

  Because I am so dedicated, and because I love you all so much I decided I just had to eat practically the same breakfast two days in a row. I mean, I had to inform you of the results with peanut butter and without.. right?

LC's PB & Banana French Toast
Serves one
Calories per serving: 278.5 for two pieces!!

1/3 cup Eggbeaters Egg Whites
1 small-medium banana, coined
1 tablespoon PB2, with 2 teaspoons of water to make paste
2 tablespoons milk of choice (I use 2%)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 slices of low calorie bread (the kind I use is 100 calories for two slices)
Butter flavored Pam spray
Optional: Drizzle of syrup

Start by pre-heating a small and large skillet on medium. Spray each skillet with a couple of spritzes of Pam, or go for butter if you don't care about the additional calories. In a bowl that has a wide opening, combine 1/3 cup eggbeaters eggwhites, 2 tablespoons of milk, a dash of nutmeg and vanilla extract. Stir to combine. 

In the smaller skillet, arrange the banana coins so all of the pieces are making contact with the skillet. Let them sit for a few minutes. Flip when the underside turns a nice golden color around the edges. Repeat for the other side. This should take about 3 minutes per side. Plate when they are ready to your taste and set aside for what I lovingly call the construction phase.

Now the bread can be a little time sensitive, as this bread gets soggy quickly and can fall apart if you aren't too careful. Do one piece at a time to keep this from happening. Dredge each side of the bread in the egg mixture. Before transferring to the skillet, lightly sprinkle one side with cinnamon and a light dusting of Splenda. Put that side facing down into the skillet. Sprinkle the side facing up with cinnamon and Splenda. Repeat with the second slice. Observe the giant skillet the husband bought me because he loves me and fuels my cooking addiction! Check the underside of the french toast after about a minute, flip when it's a nice golden color. The other side will cook much more quickly so make sure to check frequently. Plate your french toast. It's time for construction!

 In a smaller tupperware, dump the PB2 powder and add water. Stir to combine, it should make a nice spreadable paste. Smear this across one of the french toast slices. Arrange the banana ontop of this, placing the second slice of french toast on top like a sandwich once completed. Drizzle a little syrup on your creation if you want. I don't do the sugar-free low calorie type because I hate the taste.. be creative! Prepare to enjoy a bit of decadence without having to break your waistline. Enjoy!

Monday, March 5, 2012

I'm alive! Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

  Earth to Houston! I'm alive. I would tell you the whole long story about why I haven't updated it, but it's both personal and a little boring. Either way, I plan to be more dedicated to at least update once a week. The events over the past few months have left me a little off of the healthy train and five pounds heavier, but my doctor insists it is healthy weight either way. I missed writing and sharing my discoveries, but I have definitely not taken a single break from cooking daily! So please, forgive me and prepare for more great recipes.

Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya
Adapted from Cooking Light
Serves two
341 calories per 1 1/4 cup serving!

Vegetable oil, for cooking
6 ounces reduced-fat smoked sausage (Which is 3 sausages if you use what I do, which is Butterball's everyday smoked turkey sausage.)
1/2 of a white onion
1 green pepper
4 celery stalks
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup uncooked white rice
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons thyme powder
1 can low sodium chicken broth (Or two cups of water and one chicken bouillon cube)
1 can no-salt added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup boneless, skinless chicken. (I cooked two full chicken breasts, but you can also use rotisserie or leftovers.)

  Set a large skillet to medium heat on a burner. While your skillet is warming up, chop up the onion, bell pepper, garlic and celery. Set aside. Take the sausages and coin them. Once they are all coined, cut each coin in half. Pour a little bit of vegetable oil into the skillet, then add the sliced sausage in. Let them brown for one minute. At this point you are going to add the celery, green pepper, onion and garlic. Allow this to cook for six minutes or until it softens a bit. Make sure to stir often, as you do not want it to burn.

  Once the mixture is ready, now add the water, rice, ground red pepper, salt, thyme and broth to the skillet. Stir, then allow the skillet to come to a boil. When boiling, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and allow to cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. After the rice is cooked, add the chicken and a whole can of diced tomatoes. Let this cook until warmed, or about 3 minutes.

  I love this recipe because although it's lighter than the normal fare, it does not sacrifice flavor. This meal is easy, fast and delicious.  If you're lucky you'll even have a bit of left overs. I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Skinny Cordon Bleu

  My whole weight loss journey really started when I grasped the concept that you can eat well, without eating a lot of calories. There are ways to make things you enjoy healthier for you. There are virtually dozens of ways you can substitute or simply portion control in the case of my awful sweet tooth. Once this dawned upon me, changing my lifestyle really wasn't difficult and the weight followed suit. One of my biggest vices? I love cheese. Cheese and fried things. Cheese and fried things do not like my stomach or thighs. Thankfully, there are ways to turn old favorites into new ones.

Skinny Cordon Bleu
slightly adapted from Hungry Girl
250 calories per breast!

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 wedge of Laughing Cow Lite Swiss Spreadable Cheese
3 slices of ham (I used black forest ham, but you can use whatever you wish)
Salt & Pepper to taste
toothpicks for assembly

  Pre-heat oven to 350.

   Start by laying out your chicken breasts on the counter on top of a sheet of cling wrap. If you remember my earlier recipe for Bacon Ranch Chicken, I will be using the same method to even out the chicken breast. Doing this is important, especially if you have smaller pieces of chicken. This will give you more surface to work with!

  Spread one wedge of Laughing Cow per chicken breast. I found I actually use a little less than the whole wedge, but it isn't a significant amount.

  Depending on the shape of your chicken, arrange your ham so it fits within the chicken.

  Next you are going to roll your chicken up. I usually start rolling on the smaller end of the breast, that way when I finish rolling it the larger side creates a nicer seam. When you have rolled this, tuck the ends in and seal shut with toothpicks. It's alright if they are open a little bit! Place into a oven safe casserole dish. Add a few dashes of salt and pepper to taste. Place foil over the top of the casserole dish, and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking for 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked all the way through.

  This dish is surprisingly easy to make, has a great presentation and is delicious. When you cut into it, it almost looks more like a roulade. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

LC's mini pumpkin cheesecakes

  I love Autumn. There is something about the crispness to the air, the deeper shade of blue the sky turns, the colors of the foliage and smelling wood stoves starting up for the long winter ahead. I might not experience these things anymore because I moved, but in my heart I am always going to be a New Englander. Another thing I look forward to that goes hand in hand with Autumn? Pumpkin. Not just pumpkin pumpkin, but pumpkin everything. I love pumpkin coffee, pumpkin butter, pumpkin bread. You name it, I bet I love it. A few years ago when I didn't really care about how many calories I ate, I fell in love with this fabulous pumpkin cheesecake created by the legendary Paula Deen. A few years ago I also lived with a few other people who had a fondness for cheesecake and pumpkin, so at least I didn't have to eat it alone. The husband does not like pumpkin anything. He does not like cheesecake anything either. This leaves me in quite the conundrum. Woe is me, might I have to eat a whole cheesecake alone? What a terrible concept. Unfortunately, my thighs don't agree. Instead, I converted the recipe to be lower calorie and into a mini version that not only helps with portion control, but makes it easy to freeze or store left overs. A win win all around!

LC's mini pumpkin cheesecakes
Adapted from Paula Deen's pumpkin cheesecake
Creates 12 mini cheesecakes

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon sugar (or splenda)
a few dashes of cinnamon

1 package low-fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon low-fat sour cream
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 tablespoons of pumpkin
A few dashes of nutmeg and clove

  Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with a bit of Pam.

 Using a mixer, combine the cream cheese and sugar. Once this is mixed well, add an egg. Mix for another minute.

  Add all remaining ingredients for the filling and mix well. Set aside to prepare the crust.

 In a separate bowl, combine a cup of graham cracker crumbs, a tablespoon of sugar, a few dashes of cinnamon and melted butter. Stir so everything is evenly distributed. The mixture will seem crumbly. That is totally okay.

  Here is a big tip for this recipe! Cut 12 strips of parchment paper and set them into each well. This will help make removing the mini cheesecakes very easy and will help assist with not breaking them. The tips might be annoying and flop in, but this will be fixed once you set the crust into the bottom of the well. Distribute the crust mixture between all of the wells, pushing down until it becomes solid. If you leave it too crumbly, the cheesecake will not only not have a firm base, but the crumbs will ruin the texture of the cheesecake during the baking process. Once the crust is pushed in firmly, the parchment strips should be held pretty well in place.

 Add the filling to each well. Start by adding only a small amount, that way you will ensure that each well will be even with the others. Smooth it out with a spatula. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and is firm to the touch.

  These little bad boys make a great addition to a Thanksgiving meal. Miniatures give you the option of making a variety of things, having it all, and not having to feel so bad afterwards. If you want to remove even more calories, replace the sugar with splenda. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The bread that keeps you coming back: Outback Steakhouse Bushman Bread

  A few restaurants can lure me in with their free pre-meal appetizers. The two I look forward to most are Red Lobster and Outback. I have taken the adventure to recreate Red Lobster's awesome Cheddar Garlic biscuits before, but had never been brave enough to make bread from scratch. My husband always looks forward to going to Outback, so I thought for a special treat I would make him the bread along with a massive steak.

Outback Steakhouse Bushman Bread
Makes about 5 small loaves
Adapated from

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons butter, softened (I actually used I Can't Believe It's Not Butter light spread)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups bread flour
1 2/3 cups wheat flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (This should be just one packet of quick yeast)
cornmeal, for dusting

  I'm going to go ahead and apologize, but I don't have any in process shots of making this bread. I was running around and the time it took was perfect between doctor appointments. When I make this again I will update it with a guide.

 In a medium bowl combine a packet of yeast and 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Stir so the yeast is evenly distributed, then allow it to rest for five minutes. While the yeast is proofing, in a separate bowl combine all dry ingredients except  the cornmeal. Once the five minutes has passed, pour the yeast mixture into the bowl with the remaining ingredients. I used my favorite kneading tool, my hands. If you have a bread hook for your stand mixer, you can use that as well. There is just something special about getting your hands into it. Start by mixing the dry ingredients into the yeast mixture slowly until it's combined a bit. Now knead until the texture is smooth and all of the flour has been combined into the dough (about ten minutes). It might seem a bit sticky, but that is okay! Cover the bowl with a hand towel and place it into the oven to rise for an hour.

  Once an hour has passed, remove the bowl from the oven. Take out a few cookie sheets, because now you will be forming the dough into smaller loaves. Before forming the loaves, punch the dough down a little bit. I made about five small loaves from the dough, but you could alternatively form buns or one giant loaf. Coat each loaf in cornmeal and place onto the cookie sheet. Once you are done with this process, cover the cookie sheet with cling wrap. If the cling wrap does not have a good hold, place either a hand towel on top or cover with aluminum foil and make sure the edges are secured. Place back into the oven and allow to rise for another hour.

 Now comes the fun part. Baking! Remove the cookie sheets from the oven. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Remove everything you used to cover the bread. Place in the oven in the center rack. Allow to cook for 20-23 minutes or until the crust achieves your desired firmness.

I think this recipe is actually pretty spot on. I'm pretty pleased with how it came out, and I definitely didn't hear any complaints! Enjoy!

It's time for a fiesta: Salsa Chicken

  Sometimes you have leftovers, or are just in an incredible funk and don't have any clue what you want to make. Sometimes you change your mind or realize last minute for the millionth time you are missing an ingredient for a recipe (my biggest major oopsie) and then have defrosted chicken sitting there, staring you in the face. Yes, I find myself here from time to time, and surprisingly a few of these recipes become keepers.

LC's Salsa Chicken
160 calories per breast!

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons of either 2% shredded Mexican Blend cheese or 2% shredded Cheddar cheese per breast
2 heaping large spoons of chunky salsa of your choice per breast

1 tablespoon Real Bacon Bits

  Start by heating a large skillet to medium. My skillets and pans are non-stick so I do not need to use oil. If you choose, you can use a bit so the chicken does not stick to your skillet. Brown the chicken on both sides until it is cooked all the way through.

  Once your chicken has browned, drain all excess fat from the pan. Return the breasts to their position and leave the heat on medium. Evenly distribute the two tablespoons of your 2% cheese of choice. You can add more or less depending on your taste. Place the cover onto the skillet, allowing the steam to melt the cheese.

  Once the cheese has melted, place two spoonfuls of salsa across each breast. Salsa is very low in calories, so don't feel guilty if you want to pile a little bit more on there! Recover the skillet so the steam warms the salsa. This is especially important if you store your salsa in the refrigerator. It will only take a minute to complete this.

  Magic. A great low-calorie alternative to the regular plain chicken breast. This recipe goes very well with my Spanish Rice. If you want a little extra flavor, add a tablespoon of bacon bits when you are placing the cheese. Real Bacon Bits are a great way to get a strong bacon flavor without the calories. Enjoy!