Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pancetta Egg Sandwich

I'm out of bacon, so this morning I opened up the pancetta and made a pancetta egg sandwich on French bread. It's lightly grilled with a slice of melty provolone inside.
I started by frying two slices of pancetta in a fairly large iron skillet. When it shrank enough for me to scoot it to the side, I put a slice of French bread in the pan to toast lightly. I traded it out with the other slice of bread after a few minutes. The cheese went on the bread while it was in the pan.
The pancetta came out when it was brown and crispy on both sides. It went immediately on top of the melty cheese.
A dab of fresh olive oil went into the skillet and I cracked the egg into the puddle of cool oil. It bubbled and popped while the bread kept warm on the other side of the skillet. I like my egg sunny-side up, but for egg sandwiches I usually go over easy so the yolks aren't so fragile. When the egg was nearly done, I gently broke the yolk so some of it could ooze out and cook. I made sure the center was still jiggly with a runny center when I piled the egg on top of the pancetta.
It's not on a heart healthy or low-salt diet, but every once in a while it sure is tasty!
Some options that would have been good include a thin spread of mayo; avocado slices; maybe some thinly sliced sauteed mushrooms... A thin slice of a tomato fresh from the garden sprinkled with fresh graded parmesan and a splash of balsamic vinegar would also hit the spot.
You could also make this with bacon, and switch out the cheese to what sounds good to you.
Mmmmm. What sounds good to you?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Plan B: Basic Banana Shake

When I was a kid mom made sure we had a good breakfast every day. It might be bacon and eggs, cold cereal, oatmeal,... it was usually the second seating of whatever dad had before he went to work.
Start with the banana.
The breakfast menu always included a glass of milk, orange juice, and toast and jelly. A grapefruit half or a banana was usually part of the mix. It was a pretty good routine until I got to high school.
No longer was a wet comb good enough to flatten an interesting spray of bed head. It was in the days of backcombing—or ratting, as we called it—bouffants—as high as we could get them—hair-pieces if we couldn't get them high enough, and lots of hairspray. Electric hair rollers were new on the scene. This released us from the torture of sleeping on brush rollers but it added time to the morning routine.
Next add 1 egg, about a tablespoon of honey, and a splash of vanilla.
Forget about the natural look!  The eyes were a big deal. There was blue eyeshadow and two eyeliners, a substantial black curve next to the lashes and then a line of white above that. No smudging allowed, these were crisp sharp lines. Next came the false eyelashes. A strip of long thick spikey lashes on the top and individual lashes applied below the eyes. Needless to say, there wasn't time for breakfast before heading off to English lit.
Finally wheat germ, ground flax seed, cinnamon, and milk to the fill line.
Mom reluctantly let me leave the house a couple of mornings with only a piece of toast for sustenance.  When  it was apparent I wasn't going to fit breakfast into my morning routine, she went to Plan B and sent breakfast with me.
She came up with this banana shake and was able to combine all the elements of a good breakfast into something I could take with me.
It's easy to whip up one of these in one of the individual serving blenders now on the market. I have a Bella I got on sale at Kohl's.
The milk goes in last so you don't overfill the container. The ingredient list includes: a banana, egg, honey, vanilla, wheat germ, ground flax seed, cinnamon, and milk.
Blend the shake and let it settle before blending again. This will break up any chunks that may have evaded the blade the first time.
Ground cinnamon in a shaker makes it easy to add a healthy garnish to the shake.
I know there is a concern that raw eggs may be contaminated with salmonella. Here's a link to CDC information about the risks eating of contaminated raw eggs and how it happens. You can leave it out if it makes you nervous. 
Here is the nutritional data for the Basic Banana Shake as I usually make it. It's more calories and not as healthy as it could be. If I use skim milk, and Greek yogurt instead of the egg I could keep the protein, reduce the fat and it would probably be just as larrupin.
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Snack Mix: Healthy and Tasty!

This is my new favorite snack food. I accidentally came up with it a few days ago.
It's raw almonds, roasted, salted soybeans, and mixed dried berries.
I found raw almonds in the bulk grains and nuts at Homeland at less than $6/lb. It's the best price in town and they're always in stock. I checked out the other bulk offerings and came across the roasted, salted soybeans. They're under $3/lb. so I tried them.
First bite is sort of  But one bite leads to another. They seem to want to be combined with something so I added a few almonds to a handful of soybeans. And it never hurts to add some dark chocolate to the mix.
Last week I was shopping for dried fruit to add to a batch of granola and found what I wanted at Dollar General.  Dried Mixed Berries at $1.50 for 4 oz. Made by Amport Foods, it includes cranberries, golden raisins and cherriesAntioxidants the package reminded me. Sold.
I'd already eaten most of the granola and I was out of dark chocolate. I wanted something sweet so I opened the fruit and tossed it into the mix. Good call!
Crunchy, sweet, salty. Healthy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Roast Chicken Salad with Feta

I roasted a chicken in the "cool" of the morning today and put this together for lunch.

Look yummy?

It was!

Chicken, avocado, tomato, feta, spinach, bacon and a few other odd and ends made up this healthy, tasty, warm summer salad. It was only warm because the chicken was less than an hour out of the oven, but it would be just as good if I'd pulled the chicken out of the fridge to build this.

Starting at the bottom of the bowl, here's what's in it.

  • 1 roast chicken thigh
  • 1/2 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 sliced green onion
  • 1 handful torn spinach
  • 1–2 T Athenos Feta
  • 1 slice crispy bacon, crumbled
  • fresh cracked black pepper
Here's the meat from one cooked chicken thigh.
Add about a half a tomato, diced, and half an avocado, sliced and fanned out.
Next add slices of a green onion and a handful of torn spinach.
Feta and crispy bacon make up the next layer.

Sweet and spicy vinaigrette.
I made the dressing in a recycled pimiento jar. It's the small jar, the two ounce size I think.

Pour fruit vinegar into small jar with tight fitting lid. I used homemade Cranapple Cider Vinegar. (The red layer in the middle.)
Add an equal amount of olive oil. (Top layer.)
Next add about a teaspoon (or so) of honey mustard, and about a tablespoon of honey. (The botttom layer.)
1/2 teaspoon your favorite herb/s, finely ground.

Tightly cap the jar and shake well. I used about 1/2 of it on this salad. The other half will go on another salad in a couple of days.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Favorite Ingredient: Feta Cheese

I first tasted feta cheese at Greek House, here in Norman, Oklahoma well over 25 years ago. It was also the first time I had gyros, which by the way, are authentic Greek and the absolute best. Not heart healthy by any means. The gyros meat cooks on vertical spits and the resulting grease is used for the fries.  Oh. My. Gosh. Soooo good. But back to the feta. The gyros plate—a pile of meat, fries, and Greek salad—is garnished with a Greek olive and a cube of feta. It was love at first bite.

For years, eating at Greek House was the only time I ate feta. Here in the big middle of the U S of A,  good ole American processed was the go-to cheese for most families, although sometimes it wasn't really cheese. I'd long outgrown those orange slices when I came across these scrumptious white cubes of feta. At some point I came across it in the grocery store and put it in my cart. It's been a staple in my kitchen ever since and I'm always finding, and looking for, new ways to eat it. 

I usually buy Athenos Feta Traditional by the block because it lasts longer than the crumbled feta.  I also like the Athenos packaging because it's reclosable. When I want some, I'll slice an appropriately sized slice and break it into chunks to top almost any salad or soup. 

Here it is on my Spinach Steak Salad with lots of fresh cracked pepper. I think I made a red wine vinegar vinaigrette to go with this. It's a great garnish for soups as well, especially tomato and mushroom soups.

I switched from cheddar to feta as my go-to cheese garnish five or six years ago because I like the different spark of flavor it provides.  Today I found out on the Athenos facebook page that it does more than that. Here's what they had to say about switching to feta.
Changing your salad topping from cheddar to Feta gives you
1) 6 grams of protein
2) 1/3 less fat and
3) 30% fewer calories!
They didn't provide a quantity, for the cheeses, but 1/3 less fat and 30% fewer calories for equal portions sounds good to me.