Sunday, June 26, 2011


After harvesting only one eggplant, a little lettuce and a few peas so far this year, I had several large sweet banana peppers ready for picking! They will end up on a Sweet Pepper Pizza tonight with a base of a little low fat cream cheese, a little sausage and a few thin slices of red onion.

1 Homemade, or prepared 12 inch pizza crust
4-6 sweet banana peppers, cleaned and sliced into rings
1/2 medium red onion, sliced thinly
1 link of fresh (sweet or spicy) sausage, fried and crumbled (optional)
1 - 8 oz. low fat cream cheese
1/2 t salt
1/2 c. plain Greek yogurt
2 cloves finely minced garlic, or about 1 t. dried garlic (more to taste)
crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Olive oil to drizzle (optional)

If you are making homemade crust, prepare your crust and par bake it until it feels done, but lacks color.

In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese, garlic, salt and the yogurt together and spread on the pizza crust. Top the cheese with the sausage, sliced peppers, and onions. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a few red pepper flakes if you like.

Bake at 425 for about 6 - 8 minutes, until bubbly and brown.

My basil plants also needed cutting back. So I put most of it into a container of water to use from the counter all week, and the loose leaves will be made into a compound butter. Anything I don't use in a few days, I'll hang to dry.

1 stick unsalted butter, soften to room temp
1/2 chopped basil
2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1/2 t kosher salt

Add the all the ingredients to your food processor and whiz until just blended. If you don't have a food processor, just make sure everything is very finely minced when you blend it with the soft butter. Then put the butter into a airtight container and refrigerate.

Use this butter on anything! Melt a little on top of a char grilled steak. Spread on a piece of toasted crunchy bread, melt into a little cooked pasta for the kids!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Are you making a stop at your favorite fast food place every morning for a breakfast sandwich? It's a filling and comforting meal at the beginning of the day, but if you think about what you are eating, and what you are paying for it, you may decide to change what you're doing about your morning meal.

An Egg McMuffin from McDonald's for example, has more than 300 calories, 12 grams of fat, tons of sodium and 235 mg of cholesterol, 78% of the daily allowance in this tiny sandwich! I don't know how many calories, fat and cholesterol are in a sandwich you would make yourself, but I can guarantee you it's no where near that high. I once ordered a McMuffin and watched the guy put it together. I saw him squirt something out of a squeeze bottle onto the muffin -- looked like about a tablespoon of something. I asked the gal what it was. She said it was butter.

Ok, that's it! I make my own from now on, or if I have to have one because I'm in a hurry, I ask for it with no butter. Here's how you can make your own breakfast sandwiches in a snap for the entire week. (By the way, check my post called This and That back in March to see a little gizmo I found to make eggs just like those in an egg mc muffin.)

Today I chose to make a batch of western omelet eggs (without cheese) but you can use your favorite combination of ingredients. Use a little bacon, or leave out the meat all together and use your favorite combination of vegetables with some cheese, or just plain eggs. I'll make some more combination suggestions at the end of this post. I stopped in at a Dutch Country Market over the weekend and found some beautifully lean, fresh ham for $3.25 per pound (just a few pennies more than the cost of one mc muffin.) It was still hot when they sliced it from the whole ham.

3 slices of deli ham, diced (about a cupful)
1/2 of a green pepper, diced same size as the ham
3 - 4 T. of chopped onion, diced about the same size as the ham
1 T butter (the same amount that's on one McMuffin!)
6 eggs
2 T water
Choice of bread - English Muffins, Kaiser roll, whole wheat toast, etc. (I cut out the center of thick rolls to cut down on the amount of bread I'm eating. I use two centers for another grilled sandwich at another time. 2 rolls equals 3 sandwiches.)

Fry up the ham, peppers and onions in the same skillet all at one time on medium heat until the ham browns a little. While it's browning up, crack the 6 eggs into a bowl and whisk with the water. (To make this even more healthy, use 3 whole eggs and 4 egg whites. Discard or freeze the yolks.) Pour the eggs over the ham mixture and stir gently until the eggs are done to your liking. Remove from the heat just before they are done.

You now have a pan full of eggs that's enough to make about 5 - 6 sandwiches. Just store the eggs in a plastic container. Each morning, warm up a portion and you have a fresh sandwich that you can make and run with. Eggs warm up really well in the microwave in about 15 seconds. You could even make up all the sandwiches at one time and wrap them individually in foil or in a sandwich bag. Then take one out of its wrapper and wrap in a paper towel in the microwave for about 20 seconds to freshen it up when you want one.

So not only are you saving a ton of calories, fat and reducing your sodium intake, you are saving a lot of money. Five Egg McMuffins cost about $15.00. The whole pound of ham $3.25 (I used about $.81 worth), rolls (about $.35 each), 6 eggs (about $.17 each) and I already had a pepper and onion in the house. That's about $4.00 for five or six sandwiches. And it all took only about 15 minutes to chop everything and cook it. Since I didn't use all the rolls or all the ham I bought I'll freeze the rest for another time. Although I'm not a cheapskate, I am a penny pincher.

Give it a try making your own to improve the nutritional value of what you are eating and save some money.

Here are some other combinations you could try, and they would all be just as good without the bread. By the way, you don't need any salt with most of these because some of the ingredients are already salty, like the ham and any cheese you might use. So don't salt unless you have to.

Asparagus tips and Swiss cheese
Scallions and mushrooms
Spinach and mushrooms
Mushrooms and Swiss cheese or cheddar cheese
Shrimp with muenster and a hint of tarragon
Herbs - try and handful of parsley with a tiny bit of fresh oregano
Cheddar cheese and onions
Sausage and mushrooms (use turkey sausage)
Green peppers and onions
Or try the works! Sausage, onions, cheese and green peppers!

If your using cheeses use just enough to flavor the eggs to avoid adding too much fat.

One of the things I hope to accomplish by writing this blog is not only as a release of my passion for cooking, but to give other people ideas on how to be creative in every day cooking and how to save time and money as well as eating healthier. The more you cook with different ingredients, the more you learn about how different flavors go together, how the same technique of cooking can be used for so many recipes.

Until next time!