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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lemony Sweet

Today was one of those days where time just got away from me.
I started on a few projects (you'll notice the new blog format, for one) and before I knew it was 9:00 o'clock.

So anyway, here is the lemony berry pound cake recipe I promised.... It is a very simple, but intensely flavorful cake. Without the icing it can even serve quite nicely as a breakfast (or brunch) accompaniment.

Lemon - Blueberry Pound Cake
(Makes 1 Cake)
2 sticks butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 cup milk
3 tbsp. to 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon extract
1/2 tsp. freshly grated lemon rind
1 to 1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and then butter and flour the bottom and sides of a large loaf pan - or bundt pan.

Next, cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer at high speed. Add the eggs (one at a time), then the milk, lemon juice and lemon extract. Set aside.

Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, lemon rind - and a dash of salt). Slowly add this mixture to the creamed sugar mixture from the previous step.

MIX BY HAND. You want to mix the batter just enough to blend all of the ingredients thoroughly without excess beating.

Fold in the fresh blueberries with the last addition of dry ingredients and then pour into your pre-greased loaf pan or bundt pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool completely before slicing and then top with your favorite lemon (or vanilla) glaze icing - or simply some powdered sugar or whipped cream. Enjoy!

Per serving (based on 12 slices): Approximately 342 calories, 1 g fiber, 4.2 g protein and 17 g sugar.

A Banana Berry Breakfast

Here is this week's smoothie recipe..... a day late.
We've been having some problems with our internet connection, but they finally came to fix it yesterday …. so hopefully there will be no further outages.
Also on the menu today: Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake (so, check back later for that recipe).

Banana Berry – Breakfast Smoothie
(Serves 2)

1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt
3/4 cup soy milk (plain)
1/3 cup pineapple juice, chilled
1 cup fresh blueberries
½ cup frozen sliced strawberries
1 small banana, sliced

Combine ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately, and enjoy. To make more than two servings just make multiple batches in quick succession and serve immediately.

**Tip: To make these ahead of time, blend and store in a tightly sealed jug in the refrigerator until needed. Shake to remix before serving. Note – the smoothies may be thinner in consistency when made ahead.

Each smoothie contains approximately 204 Calories, 5 g fiber, 8 g protein and High in Vitamin C.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Corn Soup Under $5

Find me blogging over at $5 Dinners tonight!

The Feature:

Cold Corn Soup
Click Here!

Perfectly Simple - In Just ONE Pot

This week we're eating a lot of chicken. The whole roasters were on sale at our local grocer for just $3 (down from $10) and I just couldn't resist the bargain. While I find the process somewhat tedious (with my husbands aversion to any meat with a bone still in sight of it), breaking down the whole chicken is a fabulous way to stretch our budget and the protein across three to four of our week's meals.

It starts with a perfectly simple Lemon Roast Chicken (the leftover meat will later be transformed into chicken salad, chicken/sausage jambalaya and even chicken corn chowder – stay tuned this week for the recipes).

Perfectly Simple Lemon Roast Chicken
(Makes 1 Chicken)

1 whole roasting chicken (approx. 6 lbs.)
1 lemon, sliced into large chunks
1 large sweet onion, sliced into large chunks
1 large Russet potato, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
1 cup chicken broth

Spice Rub:
1 tsp. Thyme, 1 tsp Rosemary,
½ tsp cayenne, ½ tsp lemon juice,
½ tsp dried basil and a dash of salt

First, clean the chicken and remove the innards. Pat dry with a towel and rub the spice rub into (or under) the skin of the chicken and then stuff it with the chopped onion and lemon. Set the stuffed and seasoned chicken into a medium-sized Dutch oven. Surround it with the potatoes and carrots and then cover and cook at 350 degrees for 2 to 2 1/2 hours (for a 6-7 lb. chicken or 1 1/2 to 2 hours for a smaller chicken).

**After 1 hour of cooking pour approximately 1 cup of chicken broth over the top of the chicken and re-cover to cook another 30-45 minutes. Then cook the last 30 or so minutes uncovered, letting the chicken skin crisp up but not long enough for the chicken to dry out.

Serve the chicken (and lemony broth) over a bed of noodles, side with roasted carrots and potatoes (and even a tossed salad). Enjoy!

TIP - After everyone has had their fill I break down the rest of the chicken into left-over containers for the rest of the week. The meat into one container and vegetables into another. Then the carcass and gravy get thrown into a separate pot, covered with water, and cooked on medium-low for a few hours. Once the stock has been cooked down, discard the bones and skin and refrigerate the condensed chicken stock. In the morning scrape the fat off the top and now you have healthy and flavorful chicken stock base for all your recipes. Just an addition of a few tablespoons can give any ordinary dish a little extra richness of flavor.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Curb Cravings with a Better Breakfast

Do you ever go through the whole day distracted by cravings? A day where you feel the need to snack on anything (and everything) in sight because nothing is quite satisfying your craving for sweet? salty? succulent? And then, just like that, your well-intentioned efforts to regularly eat only healthy, weight-loss-friendly foods are foiled -- again.

Well, you're not alone! Many women routinely experience sudden and irresistible food cravings for potato chips, ice cream, cookies and, yes, chocolate. Though cravings seem to overtake us without warning and without reason, research shows that they are actually very predictable, arriving at particular times (during the day, or month) and in particular situations (boredom, stress etc.). Start taking notice of the craving trends that effect your life and you'll be better equipped to curb those cravings before they even begin.

If you know a food craving is going to strike, you can substitute something -- a healthier snack, a distraction, even a well-planned breakfast or lunch -- rather than regularly surrendering. One of the best ways to keep yourself focused and motivated throughout the day is to eat a hearty and satisfying breakfast that will leave you feeling fuller, longer - so you don't get distracted by the empty grumblings of your tummy before lunch. Try to eat carbs, protein and a little fat at every meal because research shows that when we eat meals that are lacking in one kind of food, we may be more likely to crave it later.

Finally, eating a varied diet, you'll feel better and have more energy and better concentration. Protein and fat take longer to digest than carbs do, so including them, along with more fiber, in any meal means that you'll feel satisfied longer. So, start your day off right and treat yourself to these fulfilling berry pecan pancakes and see just how much longer you feel energetic and fully-focused on whatever your task.

Berry Pecan Pancakes
(Serves 2)

2 cups prepared pancake batter
(homemade or store bought – I used Hungry Jack (Just Add Water)!)
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 cup fresh berries (I used blueberries and strawberries.)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

First, make your pancake mix according to box instructions, or favorite homemade recipe instructions. You'll need approximately 2 cups of prepared batter (with Hungry Jack it was approximately 1 cup of mix and 1 cup of water for my preferred batter consistency). To this batter, add the berries, flax seed powder and chopped pecans. Mix together. Then, on a hot (greased or non-stick) griddle, scoop the batter into 2 large pancakes or 4-6 smaller pancakes. Cook until the batter starts to bubble on one side and then flip. Cook another 1-2 minutes until done and serve with your favorite syrup or honey. Enjoy!

Per serving: Approximately 450 calories, 12 g fiber, 8 g protein and High in Vitamin C.

Weight Conscious Concoctions

When you just can't go another minute without something creamy and sweet, this delicious and rich-tasting smoothie will satisfy without the calories and fat that can do you in. This silky treat has the essence of autumn with its strongly aromatic (and sweet) apple cinnamon flavor.

Enjoy it as a day-time snack or as a light, yet fulfilling dessert. With just 130 calories, you won't even have to feel guilty about the indulgence...

Creamy Apple Cinnamon Smoothie
(Serves 2)

3/4 cup fat-free plain (or vanilla) yogurt
3/4 cup diced apple (Don't peel the apple if you're looking for a little extra fiber in your diet.)
1/2 cup apple juice (made into ice cubes)
1/2 banana (frozen and sliced, optional)
a dash of cinnamon and/or nutmeg

Combine ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately, and enjoy. To make more than two servings just make multiple batches in quick succession and serve immediately.

**Tip: To make these ahead of time, blend and store in a tightly sealed jug in the refrigerator until needed. Shake to remix before serving. Note – the smoothies may be thinner in consistency when made ahead.

Each smoothie contains approximately 130 Calories, 2-3 g fiber, 6 g protein and High in Vitamin C.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Restaurant Reviews - A Vacation Obsession!

A few weeks ago I went on vacation for a week to Lewiston, NY. Seemingly an odd place to spend a “fun-filled” girls' week, but actually we've already discussed going back again next year!

Many of the homes and buildings constructed in the 1800s still stand proudly in Lewiston, which has cherished its history and put an extraordinary effort into keeping it alive and successful. It was so inspiring to be surrounded by so many thriving people – so many businesses in business, so many smiling faces ready to introduce themselves and get to know the new faces in town. It was extraordinary – and I will certainly remember it as a charming and quaint village that enjoys hosting visitors from far and wide.

The local area is home to many restaurants and small businesses, as well as institutions such as Artpark, which are renowned for their theatrical and artistic venues. My mother moved there about a year ago, and she and my younger brothers have certainly blossomed in the artistic atmosphere. There is always something going on in the town center, most recently the Jazz Music Festival (which we were lucky enough to attend) and the Peach Festival (that we missed by a week). Coming up in October are the Ghost Walks (Historic Lewiston has a bit of a haunted history, which they celebrate each year around Halloween), the Harvest Festival and the Wildlife Festival (just to name a few of their events).

So my best friend and I set out to spend a week with my mom, and catch up with old friends (from nearby Buffalo, NY where I spent my adolescence), and to discover new treasures in the town my mom now calls home. Today I want to put the spotlight on a little gem, Ashkers Juice Bar Cafe, which we discovered on our very first day (and went back to DAILY, until we had tried– between the two of us – everything on the menu).

Beautiful inside and out, Ashkers was a surprisingly affordable (and delectable) experience. There are inside and outside dining options. Indoors the glass covered table tops house an artistic array of substances (from coffee beans, to dried flowers, from sand, to rice) arranged in abstract and mesmerizing designs. And, as if you weren't already a committed fan, they step up their game just a little more by employing a top notch and friendly staff. Simply, Ashkers is the kind of place that you never want to leave!

From breakfast sandwiches, to lunch Paninis, as well as fresh blended juices and smoothies – Ashkers has a delightfully simple menu that will excite your taste buds no matter what you choose. Over the course of ten days I admit I didn't have a single thing there that wasn't delectable! So, if you are ever in the area (Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Youngstown would even be close enough to warrant a side trip) try Ashkers Juice Bar Cafe and I swear you will be pleasantly surprised!

Here are a few images of the smoothies and breakfast items we had on our last day.

And, since you couldn't join us, here is my version of the recipe for this savory (and a bit tangy) Greek breakfast omelet... Enjoy!

Greek Breakfast Omelet
(Serves 1)

3 eggs
dash cream
1/4 cup feta cheese
2 tbsp kalamata olives (pitted and halved)
1/2 small tomato, thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced and grilled
2 tbsp banana pepper slices
1/4 cup spinach
2 tbsp cucumber, thinly shaved slices

Ok! So First off let me make clear that my omelets NEVER look as fabulous as this one imaged from Ashkers, BUT they taste just as good... Promise!

Melt a small amount of butter (or heat a small amount of oil) in the bottom of a skillet. Grill up the tomato, onion, and cucumbers lightly until onions just start to brown. Throw in the olives, banana peppers and spinach and set aside. Next, beat the eggs and cream together and then pour into a preheated skillet (with oil or butter), turn to low heat, and cover. --Now, every stove acts a bit different, so keep a close eye on your eggs so the don't burn or get overly dry. You want the eggs to JUST cook across the top of the “omelet” - which on my stove takes approximately 3-4 minutes on the lower heat settings. Pile half your vegetable filling on half of the omelet and flip the other half of the omelet over top the filling. Serve and cover with feta and remaining filling. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ashker's Coffee House on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Incredible Hulk

Yes, we are finally bringing them back! That's right, our weekly smoothie recipes are returning! Every Monday we'll be bringing you a new smoothie recipe to chase away those end of the weekend blues.

To start off this week is a smoothie we call the Incredible Hulk. There are two different preparations for this particular recipe, which both feature peanut butter, banana and honey as the predominate flavors. What changes.... is the base (dairy-yogurt or Tofu), depending on personal preference or dietary restrictions.

Soy, in the form of Tofu or Soy Milk, is a great way to get the calories needed to build muscles and the calcium needed to strengthen bones. The FDA recommends that one serving of soy milk daily can also help to prevent heart disease and reduce cholesterol levels.

BUT, be careful though not to OVER consume soy protein in your daily diet....(At the moment the FDA recommends a consumption not exceeding 20-25 grams of soy protein daily.) Because soy is a mimic of estrogen hormones, too much soy CAN increase your risk for breast cancer and other estrogen related disorders, as well as exacerbate conditions like interstitial cystitis (painful bladder syndrome).

Research data, however, are far from conclusive! It is this scientific conundrum, where evidence simultaneously points to benefits and possible risks, that is causing some researchers to urge caution. Because of the variety of opinions out there right now as to what is considered a beneficial amount of dietary soy, and what is considered to be excessive (or harmful) consumption.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your personal soy consumption please speak to your primary care physician who will better be able to direct your personal dietary needs.

Incredible Hulk: PB, Banana and Honey Smoothies
(Serves 2)

1 cup low-fat plain yogurt (OR 4 oz. Silken Tofu – Firm)
1 cup plain soy milk (more or less soy milk can be used to alter the smoothie consistency to your preference – more milk will be thinner and less thicker)
2 bananas (frozen and sliced)
1/4 cup peanut butter (add more for a richer peanut butter flavor)
1-2 tbsp. honey

Combine ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately, and enjoy. To make more than two servings just make multiple batches in quick succession and serve immediately.

**Tip: To make these ahead of time, blend and store in a tightly sealed jug in the refrigerator until needed. Shake to remix before serving.

Each smoothie contains approximately 200-250 Calories, 3-4 g fiber, 10-15 g protein and High in Calcium.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Slow Cooker Meaty Meals

Yesterday I had a huge craving for meat but I didn't really feel like cooking. It's been cold and rainy here the past few days and I think I may be coming down with a bit of a head cold. So, my first priority was curling up under the covers with a cup of hot tea and a good book. But I knew that my husband was going to have a long day at work so I decided to throw something together in the slow cooker, so I could curl up in bed, AND have a fabulous, and meaty meal for dinner.

Remembering this shredded beef and pepper dish that we had at my aunt's for Christmas dinner last year (when I took my now husband home to meet the family for the first time), I was convinced I could easily recreate it with a few of my own.....touches. While I didn't exactly pay attention to her making it, I am pretty good at deciphering the basic ingredients and techniques necessary to create a dish just by tasting (and looking at) it.

The dish, her own version of a Latin-style braised beef called Ropa Vieja (meaning, literally “Old Clothes” or “Old Rags”), is basically a slow cooked beef dish where the meat has been cooked until it is so tender it can be shredded into what resembles a pile of rags. My version of the dish has an admittedly more Italian flavor than the traditional versions of the dish, but nonetheless is an intense burst of sweet and spicy flavors that will stimulate your taste buds!

In fact, this dish is the only shredded beef dish that my husband has EVER liked. It has a ton of flavor, and with practically NO effort to make, it is quickly becoming a family favorite. Just throw all the ingredients into the slow cooker....wait..... and enjoy!

Ropa Vieja - Italian Style
(Serves 4)

Approximately 1.5 lbs. flank or round steak
(I used a Round Top Round Steak which was on sale this week at our local grocer.)
1-2 jalapenos, thinly sliced
1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 green bell peppers, sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly shaved
1 onion, cut in half then sliced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. oregano
a dash of salt and pepper
1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
1 tbsp. Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Stock Base
Approximately 2 tbsp. Bella Sun Luci - Sun Dried Tomato Pesto with Pine nuts

In the bottom of your slow cooker bowl, stir together jalapenos, peppers, garlic, onion, cumin, oregano, bay leaf, and salt. Toss in a tablespoon of the stock base and a tablespoon of sun dried tomato pesto. Next, prepare the steak by rubbing a small amount of salt and black pepper into both sides of the steak. Then rub the remaining sun dried tomato pesto over one side of the steak and place into the slow cooker on top of the sliced peppers. Pour the tomatoes and juice over the steak. Cover and cook on low for 9 hours.

With tongs carefully separate the meat and the peppers from the gravy. Discard the bay leaf. Using two forks, shred the steak into fine strips. Serve the steak and pepper mixture over rice (and with corn tortillas and sour cream, is desired) and top with gravy.

Per serving: Approximately 400 calories, 56 g protein, 7 g fiber and high in Vitamin A, C and Iron.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Soups for the Soul

Last night was another cool night in the valley. Unfortunately, the weather report doesn't have us reaching even the mid seventies again until early next week. I'm sure I'll survive until then, but daily I find myself waking up and tiptoeing outside hoping to see more sun (and feel more warmth) than the day before. Admittedly an unrealistic dream given the colder seasons that are approaching, but, nonetheless, there I am in my bare feet just after dawn..... hoping.

But, given the persistence of the chill, another warm and comforting bowl of soup was on the menu for dinner. Last night's choice was a classic - creamy, cheddar broccoli soup! It is a quick, and scrumptious meal that can be put together in less than hour.

Before you know it you're curled up on the couch warming your hands beneath a hot bowl of soup, breathing in the warm aromatic vapors coming off the bowl, and enjoying the mouthwatering creaminess of the thick and cheesy broth.

Creamy Cheddar Broccoli Soup
(Serves 4)
1 tbsp. butter
1 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. salt (or more, to taste)
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cups chopped broccoli
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 cup low-fat milk
½ cup low-fat sour cream
¼ tsp. allspice
½ tsp. basil
1 cup Cheez Whiz
1 cup broccoli florets, lightly steamed

First, melt butter in a large soup pot. Add onion, bell peppers, bay leaf and salt. Saute over a medium heat until onions are translucent and soft. Add chopped broccoli and chicken stock. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until broccoli is very tender.

Remove from heat and remove the bay leaf. Stir in milk and then blend (in batches) until smooth. Return creamed broth to the soup pot and gently whisk in sour cream, cheez whiz and remaining spices. Stir in the steamed broccoli florets just before serving. Serve with a hunk of bread, and garnish with shredded cheddar cheese or sour cream, if desired.

Per serving: 272 calories, 13 g protein, and high in calcium and vitamins A & C

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Spicing Up Lunch for Less

For today's budget meals recipe I decided to keep it quick and easy for a light lunchtime posting....

I was flipping through a recent Good Housekeeping magazine this morning when I came across a recipe for Curried Tuna Salad. The recipe was part of a healthy meal planning article that recommended easy ways to “punch up” the creativity in your lunchtimes meals to avoid succumbing to fast-food alternatives because of the convenience. And, come on, who really wants to eat that same old boring salad day after day just to keep off the pounds?

But I must say that in reading through this recipe, at first I was a bit skeptical... apples and raisins in my tuna salad? Could I really go that far off the beaten path from my family's standard recipes? Then I thought, I haven't actually had a craving for ANY tuna salad in ….. well..... ever...... so I decided to give it a shot. I mean, could it be any worse than the gray fishy slop you always see people eating on soggy slices of un-toasted bread? (Yuck!)

[And, since the ingredients are all standard fare in my kitchen, it didn't even cost me anything to make.]

So now, after trying it, I have to admit that it was a pleasant and flavorful surprise! The curry powder, aside from adding an intense burst of flavor into an ordinarily bland dish, also added a rich (appetizing) golden color to the creamy mixture. But what was even more exciting was that the dish had a lot of texture, from the tender tuna chunks, to the creamy sauce, to the crunch of apple and celery. The dish, in summary, was complex, vibrant and an utterly satisfying lunchtime experience.

And....since I was such a big fan.....I just had to share the recipe! Enjoy!

Curried Tuna Salad
*adapted from Good Housekeeping magazine
(Serves 1-2)
1-5oz. can water-packed tuna (white or light)
1/2 Gala apple, finely chopped
2 tbsp. celery, finely chopped
2 tbsp. raisins
2 tbsp. light mayonnaise
2 tbsp. plain fat-free yogurt
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. curry powder

Mix together and serve over a bed of lettuce. It is that easy!

Per serving (based on 2 servings): 216 calories and 21 g protein

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Hearty Chili to Beat Your Hunger

It was another cool night here yesterday evening and in fact, the whole day was cool and cloudy. The night sky was a beautiful lavender (from the cloud cover) with a just hint of dark navy peaking through the thick wisps of the clouds that blocked out the stars. It was a beautiful, yet somber, sky which did little to motivate..... and yet encouraged some much needed turning inward.

While I am not ready to say goodbye to the heat of the summer days (especially considering how little of it I actually got to enjoy this year), I do find myself enjoying the coolness of the approaching autumn mornings. I like the briskness of the air against my face when I step out onto the porch just before dawn. The cool dewy mist feels fresher, cleaner, and ironically more alive than the heavy humidity we've experienced this summer thus far.

So to celebrate the coolness and embrace the upcoming change of seasons I made a hearty, spicy bean and turkey chili. This surprisingly healthy dish is robust in flavor, and stock full of satisfying ingredients that will leave you feeling full and content (and yes, even warmed down to your toes) with just one bowl.

Spicy 3-Bean Turkey Chili
(Serves 6-8)1 tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1-28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1-6 oz. can tomato paste
1-10.5 can each chickpeas, kidney beans and black bean soup
1 cup chicken broth
¼ tsp. salt and cinnamon
½ tsp. cumin and oregano
½ tsp. cayenne pepper (add more for a bigger kick)
1 tsp. chili powder

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion, green peppers and jalapenos and saute for 3 to 5 minutes or until soft. Add the ground turkey and brown it (about 5 minutes). Add the remaining ingredients (including the spices), and bring to boil while stirring. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Top with some shredded cheddar and sour cream, if desired. Enjoy!

Per serving (assuming 8): 425 calories, 16.5 g fiber, 30 g protein and high in Iron and Vitamins A & C

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sunday Brunch...... On Monday

It has been about two weeks since my last post, and I must apologize for how long it has taken me to return. While the majority of our vacation went as planned, catching up with some old friends, enjoying some amazing food, and relaxing in the sun...... it also had a few unexpected bumps. Namely, the passing of my Nana, aged 95, just three days before I was due to return home. What ensued was a rushed visit home (to Wisconsin) for my mom, and an extra few days in Western NY for Heather and I, where we took care of my younger brothers while my mother braved a funeral stocked full of relatives neither of us had seen in years. I must say.... I think we got the better end of that deal.

While I looked forward to the comforts of being back in my own space, the return home has held its own hangups, like my husband's second attempt to quit smoking, a nasty argument between him and his grandmother that might have uprooted our current living situation, and the tensions in the house that have arose as a result. So, needless to say it has been harder than expected to readjust to being home, and to restructure my routine for more productivity while seriously setting aside some time for personal growth and well-being (something that both Jon and I have been neglecting for too long).

So last night we both made new affirmations to stay focused on our goals, the most important of which right now is to save enough money before Christmas to be able to move to Seattle and start over, just the two of us and really focus on enjoying the first few years of our marriage....something that countless married (and some divorced) friends have said is a necessity that enabled their marriages to flourish (or the lack there of has destroyed). So, it feels good to have made the decision together, to agree that no matter how cheap we have to live, that this is something we need for us and so we'll have to find a way to make it work (even if it means that our evenings out are just for a stroll through the park). Now it is time to get back to work, and back into my kitchen!

This morning we slept in late (it is a holiday after all) and then I jumped right into the kitchen to whip up something scrumptious for breakfast. Breakfast is one of my favorite meals of the day, and something so basic but can certainly set the tone for the whole day nonetheless. So, to sweeten up the morning we started it with thick sliced french toast with a rich blueberry honey. It was certainly nice to spend a lazy morning in with my husband.... and all in all we managed to get a lot done around the house (cleaning and such), and even had a few sweet moments together. All in all, a pretty good day.

Thick Cut French Toast with Blueberry Honey
(Serves 2)

Start with five eggs in a mixing bowl and whisk until well beaten. Pour in a splash of milk (or light cream if your feeling decadent) and whisk until blended. Cut four thick slices of leftover Italian bread and coat both sides in the egg mixture. Cook over medium heat in a non-stick skillet (or with a small amount of melted butter) and sprinkle some freshly ground cinnamon onto the upturned surface of the toast. Cook on both sides until evenly browned and cooked through. Cook up the leftover beaten egg/milk mixture into fluffy scramble eggs. Meanwhile, heat some honey with a touch of maple syrup, cinnamon and a few tablespoons of frozen blueberries to a simmer and heat over a low heat for 10 minutes. Spoon out the wilted blueberry chunks and pour the honey over your french toast. Enjoy!
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