Let’s Eat!: Baked Onion Rings

OK, guys. I just got back from a weekend in my hometown that holds an annual fall festival, The Big E. You know how it goes: rides, beer, fair food (corn dog, anyone?). Needless to say, I did not eat healthy this weekend. I also got stuck on the Pike for over 2 hours (thank you, Massachusetts traffic!). I could have gone to my local pizzeria and grabbed a slice, but instead, I sucked it up and roasted some broccoli, heated up a Trader Joe’s veggie burger and some roasted asparagus. Then, I saw the vidalia onion in my fridge and remembered that I was still trying to make the perfect baked onion rings. I made a batch a few weeks ago that were AWFUL. They were dry AND burnt. Ugh. I decided to take another stab at it, and I think I’ve FINALLY done it.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 vidalia onions
    1/4 cup whole wheat flour
    1/4 cup skim milk
    1 tablespoon vinegar
    1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
    kosher salt

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees (I had mine on 375 because I have a gas oven and it heats up pretty quick). Then, cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. I also lightly sprayed it with Pam.

Slice the onion about 1/4″ thick. Separate the rings.

Add the sliced onion and flour to a large ziplock bag. Shake until lightly coated.

Then, add the skim milk and vinegar to a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, put the panko breadcrumbs. Dip the onion rings in the milk/vinegar (a buttermilk DIY) and then into the panko. Spread the rings evenly on the cookie sheet. Salt with kosher salt.

Roast for 20 minutes in the oven.

Serve immediately.

I hope you enjoy!

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Let’s Eat: Tomato Soup & Mozzarella Balls (Yes, You Read That Right)

Boston’s weather has been a bit erratic lately. Last week, it was in the 80s and muggy. This weekend, the temperature plummeted. It was 50 degrees this morning and windy. So cold, I had to cover my ears at the flea market to keep them warm. A little too cold for early September if you ask me. Regardless, the cooler weather is what prompted my most recent “Sunday Food Prep” adventure in the kitchen.

I was craving tomato soup so dug through my recipes to find one of my favorites from Peas & Crayons. Lately, I have been focusing on eating healthy and also being resourceful. I hate wasting food, and it just so happened I already had most of these ingredients in my fridge & pantry. Also, I’m lucky that my sweet landlord dropped off some fresh tomatoes the other day, and I had a can of cherry tomatoes in the pantry, so used up what I had.

Quick note: you’ll need a food processor, immersion blender, or blender for this recipe.

Before you start on the soup, I would prep the mozzarella balls. I used a ball of fresh mozzarella that I got at Russo’s in Watertown (shameless plug for Russo’s: if you haven’t been, you NEED to check this place out. It’s a family owned grocer that has the freshest and most affordable produce, along with wonderful cuts of meats, and fresh bread. I love perusing the aisles on a Saturday.) OK, back to the mozzarella balls–so, first slice and dice your mozzarella into cubes (mine were about a half inch thick). Then, put them on a plate or a tray lined with parchment paper. Make sure the cubes aren’t touching each other. (This is actually really important, otherwise they will be frozen together and you’ll have to chisel them apart.) Put the tray in the fridge for at least an hour. (I let them freeze while I was doing the rest of the soup prep, so probably an 1-2 hours.) The longer you can put them in the freezer, the better, though I’ve only done it for a max of 4 hours before.

To start on the soup you’ll need:

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 10 baby carrots
  • 1-2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 14.5 oz can of cherry tomatoes (you can use diced tomatoes too)
  • 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes (this is all I could find at the store, and instead of wasting half the can, I threw it all in there)
  • 3 fresh tomatoes
  • 1 cup of low/no sodium chicken broth (I had some leftover in the fridge from a meal last week, so wanted to use that up) (you could also use vegetable broth)
  • 1 clove of garlic (I’m the lame person that uses the refrigerated, already prepped in a jar kind. Don’t judge.)
  • 3-4 oz. of fat free cream cheese (or 1/4 c-1/2 c skim milk)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

First, dice the celery, onions, and carrots. Add the olive oil to a soup pot over low-medium heat. Next add in the carrots, onion, and celery. Sautee until the onions are translucent (about 5-10 minutes). Add in the garlic. Sautee for another minute.

While that is cooking, dice up your fresh tomatoes. Add the tomatoes and chicken stock, along with both the crushed/pureed tomatoes, canned cherry tomatoes, and cream cheese. Turn the pan on medium, and let it simmer for 25 minutes.

While that is going, prep your mozzarella balls for the oven:

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of fresh mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg white, whisked
  • 1/4 cup of panko seasoning

Prep: Pre-heat oven to 400 (I have a gas oven, which seems to be about 25 degrees warmer, so I had mine on 375). Line jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. Place cooling rack on top of aluminum foil.

Remove mozzarella from freezer. Get three shallow bowls (one for the flour, one for the egg white, one for the panko). Roll the mozzarella balls in the flour, then egg white, then panko. Lay mozzarella on top of cooling rack. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is a light golden brown. Keep an eye on them. Mine was done at about 8 minutes (if you over cook them, they’ll just melt into one giant, delicious blob of cheese).

Once the soup is finished simmering, use your food processor (or imersion blender if you’re lucky enough to have one) and blend the soup together so it’s nice and smooth. Serve with 3-4 mozzarella balls. Enjoy!

Let’s Eat: Heart Healthy Oatmeal Cookies

IMG_2845As I’ve said in the past, I try to eat fairly healthy. Every once in a while, I need a treat (don’t we all)? I came across this Heart Healthy Oatmeal Cookies earlier this week. The weather here was drizzly and gross tonight, perfect baking weather.

I mimicked this recipe, the only thing I did was swap out half of the white flour with whole wheat flour. These are amazing. They’re soft and chewy, and I don’t feel horrible about eating them. Next time, I think I may add fresh cranberries for a little tartness. (We’re celebrating cranberry season up here in Boston, and I intend to take full advantage this year!)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup regular oats
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate minichips

PREPARATION:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt), stirring with a whisk; set aside.
  3. Place sugars and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add vanilla and egg; beat until blended. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Stir in pecans and minichips.
  4. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until edges of cookies are lightly browned. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.

 

Let’s Eat!: Fresh Mozzarella Stuffed Bruschetta

Hey y’all! I hosted a girls night at my house this week and made a health-ier Mozzarella Stuffed Bruschetta. Back in Jax, my favorite restaurant, Biscotti’s serves bruschetta stuffed with mozzarella. It’s one of my favorite things on the menu. Maybe I was feeling a little homesick, who knows. Regardless, I made the yummiest bruschetta and wanted to share the recipe with you! You’re welcome!

First, I found a healthy version of bruschetta on my favorite website, Skinnytaste. If you haven’t heard of Gina’s site, you are truly missing out. Her recipes are amazing and I’ve never had a bad thing. Everything is healthy and fresh. Gotta love it!

tomatobasilbruschetta 090514

Mozzarella Stuffed Bruschetta:

I used Gina’s Bruschetta with Tomato & Basil recipe and added a twist.

Ingredients:

        – 6 or 7 ripe plum tomatoes, diced
        – 2 cloves garlic, minced
        – 1/4 small red onion, chopped
        – 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
        – olive oil spray
        – 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
        – 6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
        – kosher salt
        – freshly ground black pepper to taste
        – 16 oz baguette or French bread
        – 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled
               – 1 roll of fresh mozzarella (I used Trader Joe’s)

Directions:

Combine tomatoes, chopped garlic, red onion, vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, and basil. Set aside.

Slice bread the long way (I tried this recipe twice. The first time, I just sliced it and stuffed with mozzarella. The second time, I cut it more of an angle and tried to scoop out some of the breading.) Slice the mozzarella in 1/4 inch slices and stuff the bread with it. Broil for 8-10 minutes (make sure to keep an eye on it, I burned the first loaf I made–as evidenced in the pictures above :-\).

Then, cover the bread/mozzarella in the tomato/basil mixture.

Slice and serve.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hi guys,

I spent six hours cooking today so I would have enough healthy food for the week. I made Minestrone Soup, my own fresh tomato sauce (I winged it, and it was AMAZING), roasted veggies, Quinoa Breakfast Bars with Blueberries, and Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I winged these cookies, and I was impressed with how they turned out. They need to cook a little longer than traditional Tollhouse Cookies.

1 1/8 cup white flour
1 1/8 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter (or Crisco)
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 1/8 cup sugar
1/4 1/8 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, 2 egg whites
2 cups Carob chips

1) First, I mixed the Crisco, applesauce, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla.

2) Then, I added the eggs, salt, white flour, whole wheat flour, and baking soda.

3) Last, I added the Carob chips.

I baked them at 325 for 13 minutes.

Once they came out of the oven, I sprinkled them with Kosher salt.

I’m happy with them, though I think next time I may try oat flour instead of whole wheat flour.

Let’s chat! How do you lighten up your cookies? Have you ever cooked with Carob chips?

Grab a Bite Before a Play: Abby Lane (Theater District)

A friend was in town and we needed a quick snack before waiting in line for dinner at the North End (more on that later) and we were both pleasantly surprised by Abby Lane. Great atmosphere, affordable apps and drinks, and the food was delish! Pictured below is the shaved asparagus and arugula salad with a crispy egg, red wine (Merlot, if you’re curious), and homemade buffalo chips with a blue cheese dipping sauce. Delish!

Portsmouth, NH Adventures!

Hi Everyone (my whole 11 readers out there), I know, I’ve been a little lax on the posts lately but I’ve been a busy, busy little bee. You’ll see a ton of updates in the next few days…Ok, who am I kidding…tonight. Ha! I’ve been squirreling away the photo’s and posts, so get ready for a fun ride!

A few weeks ago, (Hey, I said I was behind!), I went to Portsmouth, NH to visit a dear old friend. It’s a long story, and I won’t bore you with the details, but she was my tutor in first grade, and if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be able to pronounce my vowels or identify a combined word (Example: doghouse. See, still got it.). Fast forward, 25 years, and after a quick Facebook search (thank you, Zuckerberg, I found my dear old friend and re-connected.) We decided to meet in Portsmouth, NH, which is a little over an hour away, for all you local Bostonians.

Portsmouth is a quaint seaside New England town, great for lazy Sundays (or Saturdays in our case) that boasts tons of cute little shops, concerts in the summer, and was once an Air Force Base (there is even a submarine you can tour). For more of the history on Portsmouth, go here. We went to a cute little bakery called Popovers on the Square for lunch. Each meal comes with mini or full sized popovers. What is a popover, you ask? (It’s OK, I had never heard of one either.) A popover is a light and airy baked treat (picture a cross between a croissant and a muffin). READ: Yummy.

We didn’t get to walk around too much as we had other plans (hel-lo, Kittery Outlets in Maine!) but it was a nice and relaxing afternoon, regardless. I would love to check it out when the weather is warmer.

So, dear reader, have you been to Portsmouth before? If so, what hotspots should I check out?