This is Your Brain on Spinach

"This is your brain on spinach."

“This is your brain on spinach.”

Remember the Nancy Reagan days? The “just say no” to drugs campaigns? There was one memorable spot one that showed an egg frying in a pan. To this day, I still chuckle each time I watch my egg fry in a pan. (Of course, I also start belting out “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never ever let you forget you’re a man” ’cause who doesn’t remember the Enjoli commercial?)

Anyway, the other morning I wanted eggs. But not my brain on a plate. No, I had an urge for what Steve Martin would say — as only he can — an Omelet du Fromage — (“Those French have a different word for everything!”)

Omelets are great because you can put just about anything inside of them and they taste really good. Especially “au fromage.”  My favorite combination though is anything with cheese and mushrooms. On this particular morning, I had an urge for spinach. (Had a whole bag full, only used a handful the day before for that Blueberry-Spinach smoothie!)

Anywho… just a quick spray of olive oil in the pan, and a handful of spinach and a touch of salt made a delicious green addition to my omelet. And at the last minute, I spied a tomato that made it’s way into the pan as well. All those colors of the rainbow in one pan looked so good…and tasted pretty darned good too as I washed it down with coffee.

So — whenever you are looking for drugs, just say no, and make yourself an omelet, 🙂

(Ba dum bum.)

(Sad excuse for a post, but hey, I did share!)

Instructions for an omelet:

1. Pan on medium, spray a little olive oil and add a tidge or smidge of butter in it and let it warm for a two minutes.

2. Crack two eggs into a bowl. Take out the white stringy things if they annoy you like they do me.

3. Add two tablespoons of water, then beat the eggs into submission. 🙂

4. Add to pan and roll around to cover the bottom.

5. Add cheese. Please.

6. Riff away with anything you have in your fridge that looks appetizing.

7. When the egg appears firm on the bottom, fold one half over to make a taco-like semi-circle.

8. Add a tablespoon of water to the pan, cover with tinfoil or the pan lid. This puts steam in the pan and fluffs up your eggs while uber melting the cheese. (Tricky, eh?)

9. Remove from heat. Slide onto dish.

10. Pour coffee, grab toast, kick the cat off your chair and sit down and eat.






Purple Cabbage, Orange Carrots

I love the tastes of summer.

One of the easiest things to do is to grill some fish, chicken or burgers for dinner. But what do you make to accompany that protein? We try to follow the “eat from the rainbow” rule. You know what that is, right? Basically, try to include foods of different colors. Greens, yellows, reds, oranges, purples, blues.

An easy side dish this time of year is coleslaw. But just not any slaw will do! The Red Cabbage (which we call purple in our house because, well, it is purple, isn’t it? ) is filled with all kinds of good antioxidants which are supposedly good for you.

Anyway, this takes no time and is an easy crowd pleaser. Best done the night before, but very edible on the day of if you wish.

Simply use a serrated knife to cut your cabbage into thin slices. You can also use a grater or a food processor, but these days, I seem to appreciate the rhythm and challenge of cutting very thin slices of cabbage so I do it manually. Then pull out your julienne peeler (what? you don’t have one? It’s $11.00 and you’ll use it all the time.  Let’s order you one right now from my Pampered Chef site!) and make strips of carrots to add to your bowl.)

The dressing for this salad is ripe for riffing!

Most recipes call for a cup of mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of vinegar as a base.

I make my dressing in the blender. I use about a cup of mayonnaise then add a healthy dose of whatever flavored vinegar I have in the house  (like black cherry!) then  I add fresh chives from the garden and salt, pepper, sometimes some honey mustard and celery seeds.  I blend those ingredients in my blend on the sauces setting, pour it over the cabbage/carrot mixture, mix in really well, and let it sit for a few hours. Pretty simple, and seriously delicious!

sliced thinly...

red cabbage sliced thinly…

using a julianne peeler, just add thin slices of carrots to your bowl

using a julianne peeler, just add thin slices of carrots to your bowl

How does your garden grow?

Most of my friends who enjoy cooking also appreciate the availability of fresh vegetables and herbs. That is why so many of us have small gardens in our yards. Of course, if you grew up on the east coast — you know that fresh tomatoes are a must for any gardener, serious or not. No matter how close you live to a farm or a farmers’ market, there is just nothing like the smell of fresh tomatoes after a rain. And picking them, adding a little salt and just biting? Well that’s heaven for me, right here on my little plot of earth. I also like growing things like basil, mint, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce and cilantro. Because with those ingredients, an ordinary meal can become a moment of sheer pleasure.

hot summer air, cool summer feet

hot summer air, cool summer feet


baby basil leaves, please


jalepeno peppers from the garden go into a fresh salsa in summer

box gardening

a raised bed garden


good god, chives alive


mojitos without fresh mint? Never!


tomatoes… need to grow and ripen

Blueberry Spinach Smoothie

The Purple Wonder: Blueberry-Spinach Smoothie

It’s summer.

Blueberry Spinach Smoothie

AKA — The Purple Wonder, this smoothie has blueberries, spinach, coconut manna, wheat germ and almond milk in it.

We’re eating lighter. Trying to be healthier. Trying to just enjoy the fresh colors, tastes and “this” (scrunching up fingers in one hand — you know what “this” is?)  It is that which makes summer delightful.

In that spirit, breakfast has to be cool and nutritious if you’re planning to spend a hard afternoon swimming at the pool. Am I right? !

Enter: The Smoothie

You can make them out of practically any combination of frozen fruits and vegetables. I have several favorite combinations which I will share over time however,  this particular smoothie is so jam-packed full of antioxidants that there are days my body just demands only this!

So… how to make this Purple Wonder?

Step one:

Whip out your Blendtec, Ninja, Vitamix or other high powered squashing machine.

In no particular order:

Add a handful of freshly washed spinach. (I buy mine in bags because it’s just easier.)

Add about a cup of frozen blueberries.

Add about 8-10 oz of Almond Milk (I like the vanilla kind…but riffing is always optional)

Add a heaping tablespoon of Coconut Manna and if you like, a tablespoon or two of Honey Wheat Germ.

Put the top on the blender and hit “smoothie.”

Oh yeah.

Good isn’t it?

You don’t taste the spinach at all!

The other day, I made this exact same recipe, but I added in 1/2 a ripe avocado. It made the smoothie more creamy, richer I think. But I prefer the consistency of this one. Try both, see what you think!





What do you do with Tumeric? Carrot/ginger/tumeric soup!

So, we were having one of those conversations. He was looking at our spice rack twirling bottles around looking for the garlic I think, and he came across the bright orangey-yellow bottle. “TUMERIC?” he asked. “What do you use this for?” I bought the turmeric, a yellow spice used in Indian cuisines – to make a curry dish.  (Did you know you that curry is just a blanket name for a mixture of spices? You can make your own, adjusting it to your taste. Read this.)

Tumeric is a root that grows in southeast Asia. It looks kind of like ginger (and is actually in the ginger family) but it has brightly colored flesh. I have not seen it in our local Wegmans in root form, but it is easily available in a jar in the spice section — dried and ground into a powder.

Well, the bottle just sat there, barely used — until one day, I had the best breakfast one morning at our local vegan restaurant Strong Hearts. Their “scrambled eggs” are actually tofu scrambled with turmeric, onion, and peppers. Really delicious. For a week, I ate scrambled tofu 3 or 4 times!

And here it is, that time of our lives where rebooting, rethinking, reworking is what it’s all about. And, since chronic inflammation in the body is the root cause of so many of our aches and pains, I’ve been following the advice of Dr. Weil and adding more anti-inflammatory spices to our diet. We’re all going to grow old, might as well feel as good as you can as long as you are able, right?

Anywho, when my DH asked what I used it for, I told him about the fake eggs and the curry and also how good it is for fighting inflammation.  He reminded me to pick up more fresh ginger (as we like to drink carrot/ginger juice.)  That got me thinking that I should make something with carrot, turmeric and ginger in it. A quick search on the internet of those three ingredients brought me to this incredibly simple, really tasty recipe.

From thought to eating it took me about 45 minutes to reach a state of pure satisfaction! Since this was the first time I made it and I had all the ingredients — I decided to keep on the straight and narrow — AND FOLLOW THE RECIPE EXACTLY. (Gasp!)  Here it is — you must try it!

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad (with bacon!)

Does this look amazing or what?

I’ve “massaged” my kale (with avocado and salt — yummy!) — I’ve steamed it in chicken broth and dressed it with garlic — but I’ve never seen a salad with raw Brussels sprouts and kale shaved and combined. This I have to try.  I’ll bet you could use any dressing that suits your mood. By the way, I always learned that you called these petite cabbages “brussel sprouts” — but according to The Grammarist — it’s actually correct to call them Brussels sprouts.  I guess you learn something new every day.

Shaved kale & brussel sprouts in a salad!

Here’s the original recipe.  Can’t wait to try it!

Summer Eggplant Risotto

20140608-142105-51665329.jpgI poked around in the fridge for inspiration. Leftovers can always save time when you are hungry!

The other night, I diced an eggplant and sautéed it with some garlic, roughly chopped sweet onions, and a can of Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes. (They are my favorite!) I served that over pasta — but the kids didn’t seem to enjoy it as much as I did. I had about a cup and a half of that mixture left over and since it had sat for 2 days in the fridge, the flavors had intensified.

Over in the pantry was a bag of arborio rice (Italian short grain rice) and a container of chicken broth.  Why not put my leftovers into a risotto?  Certainly, people make risotto with eggplant all the time!

So, here’s what I did.

I took two tablespoons +/- olive oil and poured it into my big skillet set at medium high.

1 1/2 cups of arborio rice went right in the pan to toast up before cooking. (Browning the rice a bit gives your dish a nuttier taste.)

After about 5 minutes of “frying’ the rice I added about 1 cup of chicken broth and stirred it while it cooked. I lowered the heat to medium and over the next 20 minutes or so, I continued to add more broth (I used 32oz – 4 cups total) slowly, stirring as the rice absorbed the liquid. What you’re looking for is a creamy consistency — not the dry, white rice that you get in a Chinese restaurant! Keep in mind that risotto is supposed to be cooked “al dente” — which means that it is a little firm and chewy even though it is a very starchy, rice dish.

I added my left over eggplant/garlic/onion/tomato mixture right into the pan. Then I shaved parmesan cheese right into the rice, a few pinches of salt, and I stirred it together. All in all, it took about 25 minutes from the time I started until I was ready to eat. Not bad, eh? It was as good as it looks. And I have some left over — tomorrow, I can just add a little broth and zap it in the microwave.

Next time I make this, I want to add fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella right at the end.




Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

I think one of my favorite desserts is cheesecake. New York style — because growing up in the tri-state area (NY NJ CT) this is what we got at our local diner. Now, the rest of the country may have places to eat, but I have not really found the kind of diner that has menus that run 10 pages and dishes out Italian, Greek and American food any time of day or night except back at home in the NJ suburbs of NYC.

The problem is that I’m not downstate anymore and can’t get my hands on that amazing goodness anytime I crave it.  And this body really doesn’t need any help getting curvier — so it’s actually a blessing in disguise that I have to work for it if I want a piece of really good cheesecake.

So what do do?  How does a girl satisfy her cravings? In small bites!  I’m going to experiment with this recipe and will post my pictures, but I thought I’d share it now because you might be looking for something quick to make today and well, this just looks so incredibly good! And fresh strawberries are at the store now, and they are sweet!

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars | Brown Eyed Baker.

via Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars | Brown Eyed Baker.

Stuff y’ur caps and peel your zucchini…

Crab stuffed Mushrooms

Crab stuff mushroom cap with a side of zucchini ribbons… oh yeah!

We were hungry. I hadn’t gone shopping. I had to make dinner. What to do?? Quick! Look in the cabinet. Mull over what was in the fridge. Have a sip or two of wine. A piece of cheese. Think, think…. Aha! Those portobellos I bought to grill like hamburgers? Mmmmm…. And that’s how it started. A quick look at our rations and I pulled together:

  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 2 cans of canned crab meat
  • a cup of ricotta cheese
  • half cup of finely grated parmesan cheese
  • dried oregano and parsley, salt, pepper, dried garlic
  • about a cup of crushed garlic croutons (’cause I ran out of breadcrumbs.)
  • an egg
  • thinly sliced mozzarella cheese

This is so stinking easy to make and it tasted great. I just drained the crab meat and added it to a bowl along with all those other ingredients (except the mozzarella – that went last.) I mixed it all up — probably using about 1/2 teaspoon or so of each of the spices… but of course, I do everything to taste.  Stuffed the portobellos by patting the mixture inside the cap and put all four of them into my big old wrought iron pan. Added about a cup of white wine to the pan. Put it in an oven heated to 400 and let it go for 20 minutes. Then I added a slice of mozzarella cheese to each and let that continue to cook for another 5 -10 minutes. In the meantime — I had a few zucchini in the fridge. My absolute favorite way to eat zucchini these days is also probably the simplest preparation of all. I washed them and cut off the ends. Using my basic vegetable peeler — I peeled ribbons of the squash right into a hot pan that had a bit of olive oil in it.  Then I shaved some fresh garlic into the same pan and added a few pinches of salt. It only takes a few minutes of tossing these thin ribbons around to cook them.  I’ve served this with pesto sauce, with red sauce, with cooked tomatoes — and always a little shaved cheese on top.  This tastes like pasta to me and is so much healthier for you, you can’t go wrong. The whole dinner took me about 1/2 hour to prepare and get on the table. Not bad, eh?

And simple peel the zucchini.... go as far as the seeds

And simply peel the zucchini…. go as far as the seeds.. then discard the core.

Shave fresh garlic cloves using your shaver... great for hard cheeses, too

Shave fresh garlic cloves using your shaver right into the pan…

Just sauté the zucchini & garlic...

Just sauté the zucchini & garlic…

Get creative. I added thinly sliced tomatoes, some pesto sauce, left over cooked eggplant...and topped it with cheese!

Get creative. I made this again tonight and I added thinly sliced tomatoes, some pesto sauce, left over cooked eggplant…and topped it with shaved cheese!