01/16/15

Low fat pina colada breakfast parfaits

Half way through January and I’m still standing strong with my commitment to healthier and cleaner eating. Most importantly, it has begun to show on the scale and measuring tape results.  The numbers aren’t yet life-altering but it is certainly easier to stay the course when you are seeing your efforts pay off.

Next weekend, I’m going to be allowing myself a bit – okay a lot – of a cheat when I attend the La Cookie Con & Sweets Show in Pasadena.  With a name like Doughgasm you better believe that I won’t be denying myself the chance to sample all the cookies and other goodies that will be at the show.

On the run up to the Cookie Con, I’m going to be extra good at counting calories and saving some in the overflow bank for all the intended nibbling.  Hopefully, that will mean I can have the fun of the foodie event without feeling too much guilt about it when weigh-in day comes around.

Adding to my motivation, I’m going to continue posting the healthy recipes that I  made frequently when I was in the midst of my 100 pound weight loss. Hopefully, bringing some of them back can help me make that 101 pounds lost and downwards from there.

Brain training is the biggest part of the weight loss process for me. Eventually, the rest of my body will follow once my brain has finally gotten the message.  So much decision making in regards to what I eat comes down to how I look at the choices before me.

These low fat pina colada breakfast parfaits are a good example. Really they are just yogurt, fruit and nuts in a bowl. Something which we all know to be good for us but may not feel as alluring first thing in the morning as that glistening croissant winking at you from behind the glass at Starbucks.

Start thing of it as something fancy like a pina colada and then suddenly it is more like a treat and not only could it be a breakfast dish but perhaps something your brain may also accept as a low fat dessert recipe. If you did want to go that path you could try subbing out the yogurt for fat free frozen yogurt for a similar but different experience.

Best of all, they could probably be prepared in less time than it takes to stand in that morning Starbucks line.

This recipe is for two servings of the pina colada breakfast parfaits so you will need to have two serving glasses or bowls to hand. Don’t worry if you are flying solo on this one though because it is easy to halve the recipe and it just means you have the ingredients to make it again the next day.

Low Fat Pina Colada Breakfast Parfaits

Low Fat Pina Colada Breakfat Parfaits Recipe

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups fat-free vanilla yogurt
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
2/3 cup banana, chopped
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, from a can, well drained
4 tablespoons flaked almonds, freshly toasted

Directions:

1. Put the yogurt into a bowl and stir in the coconut extract. Set aside.

2. Divide 1/3 of the yogurt between two parfait sized glasses.

3. Put half the the pineapple, then banana on top of the yogurt and then sprinkle with half of the toasted almonds.

4. Top that layer with another third of the yogurt, the rest of the fruit, the final third of the yoghurt and finally top with the remaining toasted almonds.

 

01/1/15

Accidentally Vegan Cardamom Macadamia Nut Pancakes

My attempts to focus on healthier eating are going pretty well. Life hasn’t been entirely void of treats but they’ve been few and far between and the rest of the time has been sticking to calorie counts consisting largely of fruits,vegetables and healthy proteins.

It’s easier to stay on track when I am cooking for myself rather than eating out. Not always the easiest thing in Los Angeles because there are so many foodie temptations here. However,as long as I have some quick but satisfying recipes to hand I can usually manage to make the right choice.

I’ve found myself reaching back to recipes that became fixtures during my previous weight loss success. This pancake recipe is one that I came up with several years back when I was living in London and was at the height of my weight loss. It was one of those mornings where I was super hungry but had barely anything in the house. Since I was taking the whole healthy eating kick thing super seriously what I did have were things like soy milk and nut oils.

What resulted where these really yummy cardamom macadamia nut pancakes which just so happen to also be vegan pancakes.  It’s one of those recipes that is a jumping of point where you can switch up the ingredients any number of ways to either suit what you have to hand or to try out new flavor profiles. As long as you have a milk, an oil and a spice, it should work.

Of course, you could take it out of the vegan category and use cow’s milk. I’m probably going to experiment more in the other direction and see which other non-dairy milks I can use. I have little doubt that almond milk would work just fine. Coconut milk would be an interesting experiment. Particularly,with the macadamia nut oil notes.

I like to top these off with some fruit,I grew particularly fond of adding slices of grilled bananas, and then drizzling with honey.  It feels like you are eating something special but with barely any fat in the recipe. That’s a win win in my world.

Cardamom Macadamia Nut Pancakes

cardamon pancakes

 

Ingredients:

1 cup plain flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 cup soy milk

1 tablespoon macadamia nut oil

Directions:

1. Mix the dry ingredients together into a large bowl and combine well.

2. Add the soy milk and the macadamia nut oil and stir until thoroughly mixed. If you are finding your batter is just a bit too thick at this stage then add a bit more soy milk.

3. Heat a griddle or frying pan until it is hot enough to make pancakes. I usually drop a tiny bit of water onto it and if it instantly sizzles I consider it ready to be used.

4. Either spray with non-fat cooking spray or use a tiny bit of the macadamia nut oil and then start to drop the batter on the hot surface.

5. Leave each vegan pancake until bubbles have started to form on the pancake. Then flip over and cook for a minute or so on the other side. Watch carefully because they can very easily go from perfectly golden brown to burned and ruined.

6.  Put pancakes onto two plates, top with your choice of toppings. I’ve enjoyed them with a bit of honey or the traditional maple syrup path. Even better topped with grilled bananas.

 

12/25/14

Candy Cane Marshmallow Cocoa Dunkers

Merry Christmas! No doubt you’ve been baking and cooking all day.  Now is the time to kick back, put your feet up and give yourself the gift of a few hours of well-earned relaxation.

These candy cane marshmallow cocoa dunkers are a great to make your holiday ‘me’ time feel special with remarkably little effort. Especially since you don’t have to add anything extra to your grocery list for them.

Chances are that you are going to have some odds and ends left over from your holiday baking. I’m talking about that odd half cup of chocolate chips and those couple of lonely candy canes. Rather than dooming them to months of hanging out in the back of your cupboard, put them to use in these tasty candy cane marshmallow cocoa dunkers. All you need is a few big marshmallows (the kind you would toast over a campfire), some chocolate chips and a few candy canes.

IMG_0969-e1

Start by breaking the last two inches off of each candy cane. Put the broken ends into a food processor or coffee grinder and blitz for a couple seconds until turned into fairly fine bits. I like to keep a few chunkier bits in the mix for texture and presentation. Empty the candy cane dust into a shallow bowl.

At this stage, use the remaining portion of the candy canes to create handles for the marshmallow cocoa dunkers. Simply push the broken end of the candy cane about halfway into the top of one of the marshmallows. That should be enough for to keep things in place.

IMG_0958-e1

Melting the chocolate is the next step. You could do this over the stove but the quickest way is to do it in the microwave. Put the chips into a microwaveable dish and zap for 15 seconds at a time until melted. Make sure to stop and stir the chocolate between those 15 second intervals because chocolate can go from not done to overdone really quickly. Sometimes all it needs to be ready is the extra heat from a good stir through.

What chocolate you use is up to you and you can certainly mix it up or even try blends based on what you have to hand. I had dark chocolate chip so that is what I used for these candy cane marshmallow cocoa dunkers but milk chocolate or even white chocolate would work just fine.

Once the chocolate is melted, dip the ends of the marshmallow into the bowls and carefully move them around until they are coated. It may be helpful to use a small spoon to smooth out the chocolate coating. After that, liberally sprinkle the candy cane dust over the chocolate.

IMG_0974-e1

That’s all it takes to make the candy cane marshmallow cocoa dunkers. You could chow down at this stage and enjoy them just fine as a chocolatey peppermint treat. That would be fine but it wouldn’t be going the full path to holiday treat relaxation. Nope, these babies should be dunked in a nice cup of rich hot chocolate.

Last night, I made myself a cup of Ghirardelli hot chocolate, using unsweetened vanilla almond milk and hooked one of the candy canes over the edge of the mug so that it and the attached marshmallow were adding all that extra pepperminty and marshmallowy goodness to the hot chocolate.

I loved that when I got to the bottom of the mug, there was just this one little bit of candy cane left that was waiting for permission to melt in my mouth. MMM.

Now go treat yourself!

12/12/14

Quick Fix Avacado Toast With Poached Egg

Given that my birthday is merely a few days away and that Christmas is right around the corner,I am probably setting myself up for a challenge but I am going to be making an effort to focus on healthier eating. No danger exists of me giving up trips to the cupcake shop or enjoying some kick arse BBQ now and then. It just doesn’t hurt to be good to your body the rest of the time.

Nearly four years ago now, I lost about 100 pounds and  kept most of it off since. Lately though, a few of those pounds have been threatening to return. I’m  a big girl and have no hangups about it but I’d still like to strive to maintain what I worked so diligently to accomplish.

In between planning the Christmas cookie list and researching baked ham recipes, finding the time to plan out a week of healthy meals can be difficult.  Frequently, I’ve found myself falling back on some quick fix healthy recipes that I’ve kept in my back pocket throughout my health improvement journey (doesn’t that sound less judgmental that weight loss journey?).

This avocado toast recipe really couldn’t be much easier.  Yet, it is packed full of those healthy Omega 3 fats from the avocado and the protein of the egg.  Pile it all on some good whole grain bread and you’re treating your body to fiber too. Speaking of the egg, if you think a creamy yolk tastes good, just wait until you experience the lusciousness as that silky golden goodness soaks into the layer of avocado. Scrumptious and a great quick fix breakfast recipe!

 

Avocado toast with poached egg

avacado toast with poached egg

Ingredients:

1 slice whole grain bread
1/2 of an avocado
1/2 teaspoon garlic infused white wine vinegar or white wine vinegar and 1/2 clove crushed garlic
1 poached egg

Directions:

1. Put the bread into toast.
2. Meanwhile, scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl.
3. Add in the garlic vinegar and mash until it is roughly mashed and everything is combined.
4. Spread the avocado mixture on top of the toast.
5. Place the poached egg on top and enjoy.

Serves: 1

 

04/21/14

Low Fat Lemon & Garlic Grilled Chicken Thighs

Chicken. I have a freezer full of the stuff. It is perfect for when I am trying to watch my calorie intake. It can get a bit samey though so I am always looking for ways to keep the same old bits of chicken taste interesting without letting them anywhere near a deep fryer.

lemon and garlic chicken

Chicken breasts have their virtues but I more of a dark meat kind of a gal. Chicken thighs have a succulence to them, even with their skin removed,that is more pleasing to my taste buds.

Plus, they are pretty inexpensive and frequently on sale. Which was the case when I picked up these chicken thighs.  Healthy and budget-friendly? Perfect!

lemon and garlic chicken ingredients

As bland as chicken parts can be, they can also be thought of as a great blank canvas that can be coaxed to take on a bunch of different flavors.

Once I had the chicken thighs in my cart, I put my on my thinking cap to decide what I wanted to do with them. Eventually, I decided on a Mediterranean sort of vibe.

Lemons and garlic were the base for the chicken thigh recipe that was brewing in my head. Originally, I wanted to put a bit of fresh oregano into the mix but my supermarket didn’t have any. They did, however, have marjoram. Whilst not exactly the same taste, the two are fairly interchangeable. I put some in the basket and headed home to put together the chicken thighs in time to serve to Chris that night.

It really was a super easy recipe. I just put all of the non-chicken ingredients into a dish to create a marinade. Then, I pulled the skin off of the chicken thighs coated them in the marinade. Then, they went into the fridge for an hour to soak up some of that lemony and garlic yumminess.

chicken thighs marinade

After that hour, it just put the chicken thighs on the grill for a few minutes on each side. I used a cast iron grill pan. I love that thing. I am not sure my landlady does though because this was one of those comical after the fact moments where I was able to tell when it was time to take them off the grill pan by when my smoke detector went off.

Not because anything was burnt but because the ventilation in my apartment’s kitchen stinks.  The sort of steam that comes off that grill pan when it is up high was enough to send me scrambling to find a broom so that I could reach the off button of the smoke detector.

chicken thighs cooking

After they came off the grill pan, I put the chicken thighs into a roaster pan and then into the oven for another 15 minutes or so to get them cooked through.

grilled chicken thighs

These chicken thighs were packed with so much flavor that I had to stop myself from picking at them before it was time to take them to the table. The garlic had my taste buds tingling and then that citrus came in with a refreshing zing. So good and healthy too!

I served them some sauteed spinach and some mashed potatoes to form a killer low fat chicken thighs meal.

I put together a video to prove that it really is that easy. Next time, I will hold the camera the right way around. LOL.

 

Low Fat Lemon & Garlic Grilled Chicken Thighs

Lemon and garlic chicken thighs

Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of two small lemons
Zest of one small lemon
2 cloves garlic,minced (I use a zester)
2 tablespoons fresh marjoram or oregano
6 bone-in skinless chicken thighs

Directions:

Combine olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and marjoram or oregano in a dish large enough to hold all of the chicken thighs. You could probably do it in a big Ziploc bag, I just didn’t think far enough ahead to have one in the house.

Once everything is combined, put the chicken thighs in the dish and coat with the marinade. With that done, put the dish into the fridge for at least an hour. To make your work night meals as easy as possible, you could put them together in the morning and have them ready to cook when you get home.

When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 475 and put a grill pan onto the heat. You could use a cast iron skillet if you don’t have a grill pan. You just won’t get those nifty grill marks.

Put the thighs on the hot grill pan, the marinade will act as all the oil you need. Cook them for about 7 minutes each side. Transfer the chicken thighs to a roasting pan and put the pan into the preheated oven.  Cook for another 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Rest for five minutes and then serve.

04/11/14

Herbed Tuna Burgers With Wasabi

Remember when you were a kid and asked why hamburgers are called hamburgers when there isn’t any ham in them? No? Was that just me then?

Maybe we were showing our foodie leanings early on because the truth is that there are so many ways to make a great burger that have nothing at all to do with beef,let alone ham.

A few years back, I set myself a challenge to come up with a non-beef burger recipe every Friday for a few months. It was a bunch of fun. I probably should do it again,in fact.

These herbed tuna burgers with wasabi were a result of one or those build a burger Friday nights. The only fresh fish based burgers I had made until that point were made of salmon.

Part of me just wanted so see if fresh tuna would hold up to being made into a burger. Partially because tuna has a fairly delicate taste but also because of the crazy low fat content of the fish. The risk of having a tasteless,dried out tuna puck was high.

It all turned out pretty well though, the soy sauce helped to maintain moisture and the herbs and wasabi worked overtime to assure flavor.

Using wasabi paste also made it easy to control spice levels. Just add a bit more if you like things with more of a spicy bite or omit all together if you are making for kids or others with a more delicate spice tolerance levels.

Herbed Tuna Burgers with Wasabi

herby tuna burgers

Ingredients:

1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
3/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 lb tuna steak, cut up into chunks
2 tablespoons wasabi paste

Directions:

Put the onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro and soy sauce into a food processor or mini chopper and blitz together for about 20 to 30 seconds until everything is blended and the herbs are finely chopped.

Empty the herb mixture into a mixing bowl and set aside.

Put the tuna chunks into the food processor and blitz until the tuna is ground up but not yet a paste. This takes me about 30 seconds with the need to pulse a bit to get the stubborn chunks.

Scrape the tuna out into the same mixing bowl you put the herb mixture into.

Add the wasabi paste into the bowl and them combine with your hands to make sure everything is well mixed.

Divide the mixture into four and make into four even sized patties.

Put patties on a plate and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Take the burgers out of the fridge and heat a non-stick frying pan until it is hot and use either a bit of canola oil or a cooking spray if you want to save those extra fat grams. Though, if you keep it canola oil it is mostly unsaturated fat. So, whatever works for you.

Put the burger patties in the hot pan and cook for about 5 minutes on each side until they are cooked through.

Serve

04/4/14

Low Fat Moroccan Inspired Baked Potato Slices

I don’t know what it is about starting a healthy eating routine but around about the second week I always start to get carb cravings. This time has been no different. The first week of green smoothies and steamed fish and veggies was easy sailing and then half way through this week all I could think about were potatoes. I don’t even eat that many potatoes when I am not counting my calories so I am not sure why my cravings go that path but sure enough I found myself fighting the urge to bust my diet and buy some fast food fries.

Luckily, I was able to take a deep breath and count to ten without the intoxicating aroma of fresh french fries to sway me from my path. Instead, I reached into my bag of healthy eating culinary tips and remembered my recipe for low fat Moroccan inspired baked potato slices.

They aren’t fries but they have worked for me throughout the years because they are a way of getting a tasty potato dish on my plate without having to swap unhealthy for bland. Also, the recipe is incredibly flexible. If you don’t like Moroccan style spices then just use your own combination of spices and create your own version of the basic recipe.

Low Fat Moroccan Inspired Baked Potato Slices

moroccan potato slices

1 1/2 lbs potatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cilantro
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
1 garlic clove
1/2 lemon, juice and zest of

Directions:

Preheat  the oven to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, slice the potatoes into fairly thin but not ultra thin slices. I usually aim to make them about half the width of my fingernail. Leave the skin on for extra goodness and taste.

In a large bowl combine the oil, the spices, the lemon juice and zest. Mince your garlic and also put that in the bowl. However, I suggest actually grating your peeled garlic into the bowl. I use a microplane grater for this and I think it gives the garlic more punch in the mix.

Put the potato slices into the bowl and mix everything around so that all of the slices get well coated.

Line a baking tray with foil (I do this even with my non-stick trays to ensure  easy cleanup) and transfer the slices to the tray.

Put in the oven and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until they start to go golden brown.

Serve.

03/22/14

I made a bacon & hummus fried bread sandwich. It kind of rocked.

I am not saying that this creation of mine is in anyway healthy. However,it would be true to say that it was inspired by healthy eating. On Monday, I am starting a healthy eating challenge that will last for ten weeks. In preparation, most of the meals I have had this week have been an exercise in getting rid of stuff that I won’t be able to eat during the challenge.

By the time that Friday came around, I was down to a few odds and ends. They didn’t necessarily go together but I didn’t want to buy any groceries before I did a meal plan for next week. Plus, I was crazy hungry and wanted something pretty much now.  Amongst the remaining items was a pack of thick cut bacon, a tub of Trader Joe’s Garlic Hummus Dip and two slices of a French bread loaf I bought at the farmer’s market last weekend.

bacon hummus fried bread sandwich ingredients

The bread was at that stage where it hasn’t gone bad but you pretty much have to toast it for it to be decent. On Thursday, I bought a brand new cast iron skillet. Seriously, I was so excited when it arrived but there hadn’t yet been an occasion to use it. Putting my foodie thinking cap on, I decided to see what would happen if you made a bacon and hummus fried bread sandwich. At the very least, I would get to take the skillet for a test drive.

I started by heating up the new cast iron skillet and getting it hot enough that the bacon would make that glorious sizzling sound as soon as it made contact.

frying bacon

I fried the bacon until it started to get nice and crispy. At that stage, I moved the bacon to the side of the pan and put the slices of bread into the pan.

fried bread and bacon

Fried bread is something that came to me during my years spent in the UK.  A common part of the famous British fry up, fried bread is essentially just bread put into the pan that has been frying the bacon and sausages. Rather than being toasted, the bread absorbs the fats and oils and crisps up.

With all the fat that had already come off of the bacon I was frying, it took no time at all for the bread to adopt a lovely golden crunch. Be careful not to let the bread be in the pan so long that it starts to burn. I only had to flip each slice of bread once before it was clearly done.

Once the bread was done, I slathered one slice with a layer of the hummus and then arranged the bacon on top.

bacon hummus sandwich

Finally, I put the second slice of fried bread on top and pressed it down to bring the bacon and hummus sandwich together.

The crispy crunching sound released by the bread as I pressed down was so beautiful to be nearly erotic. See for yourself in the video I put together of me making my bacon and hummus fried bread sandwich. Tell me that the crunch of that bread isn’t full out doughgasm material!

Sounds are one thing but it all comes down to how it tastes right? If I do say so myself, this was one mega yummy sandwich. The crunch of the crispy bacon and the lightly fried bread was a nice contrast to the soft hummus. Similarly, the garlicky hummus played off the salt of the bacon really well.

One thing is for sure, the bacon and hummus fried bread sandwich will be happening again. It just has to wait ten weeks until I am allowed to eat something so unashamedly unhealthy.

03/14/14

Happy Pi Day. Mushroom & Blue Cheese Mini Pies Are My Gift.

Ain’t no holiday like a nerd holiday.

For number nerds around the world, today is Pi Day. Well, actually not so much the whole world.

Most of the world puts the day before the month when they say a date. For North Americans, today is 3/14. Which, is taken as representative of 3.14, the approximate value of pi. Europe and most other places, however, see today as 14/3.  So, really today is an American nerd holiday.

Semantics aside, today is the day math geeks give us all an excuse to eat pie. Who is going to complain that? I mean, other than maybe Jillian Michaels and, frankly, I am happy for her pie hole to remain shut.

Doing my part for this glorious baked good celebration of knowledge, I am bringing you my recipe for mushroom and blue cheese mini pies.

Similar to the grilled cheese I shared last week, this is another recipe that I created as part of a contest where the participants had to create an original recipe out of a list of specific ingredients.  I’m going to admit that I was rather proud of this recipe.

Baking is not my thing. I fit more comfortably with the artistry of cooking rather than the scientific nature of baking.  Every now and then though, I manage a bit of baking that isn’t completely disastrous.  This was one of those times.

Mushrooms and blue cheese are two flavors I enjoy together but a little bit of that combination can go a long way. To cut through all that richness, I used red onions, sugar and balsamic vinegar to make a sort of sticky red onion marmalade for the bottom of the pies. The sweet and tangy of the mixture worked well against the richness of the other ingredients.

Mushroom & Blue Cheese Mini Pies

blue cheese and mushroom mini pies

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/4 cups brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
12 1/2 ounces refrigerated pie dough, pre-rolled variety
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream, reduced fat is fine
1 pinch salt
1 pinch fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
2 1/2 ounces blue cheese, a nice squidgy variety

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Put a pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter.

Once the butter starts to froth, put the thinly sliced red onions in and turn the heat down to low.  Cook, stirring often, until the onions have become translucent. This will take about 10 minutes but keep an eye on them.

Add the sugar and the balsamic vinegar to the onions and cook on low, stirring often for about 10 minutes until the onion mixture is sticky and the liquid thickened up.  Set the onions aside to cool.

Melt the remaining butter in another pan and cook the mushrooms for a few minutes until they have just started to change color.  Set the mushrooms aside to cool.

Whilst the onions and mushrooms are cooling, layout your pie dough. You want the dough to be about as thick as a pinkie. If your pre-rolled dough is thicker roll it out to the desired thickness.

Using a round cookie cutter or a glass, cut out 12 rounds of the dough.  Press each round of dough into a hole of a 12 yield muffin pan. If your pan usually sticks, spray each hole with cooking spray before hand.

Next, put the egg and sour cream into a bowl with the salt and pepper and beat together.  Stir through the dried parsley and crumbled blue cheese. Set aside.

Spoon a bit of the balsamic onions into the base of each pie. Top the onions with the mushrooms, trying to cover as much of the surface as possible.

Spoon the blue cheese mixture over the top of each pie.

Put tarts in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes until the pastry has gone golden and the cheese mixture has set.

Take out of the oven and allow to cool before serving so the cheese mixture can firm up a little bit.

03/6/14

Super Snazzy Grilled Cheese

Sometimes, putting together a sandwich is all the energy I can muster after work. At least it is still sort of cooking, right?  If I am going to settle for a sandwich for dinner it is going to have to be a bit more than just slapping a few slices of wafer thing meat between bread. Despite my lactose intolerance, I often end up with some sort of grilled cheese on my plate.

This grilled cheese recipe is one I put together for a cooking event I participated in years back.  A list of ingredients was provided and the participants had to think of a way to put them together in a recipe.  At that time, I was in a Foreman Grill stage and saw everything as a hot sandwich potential. As a result, the ingredients screamed ‘grilled cheese’ to me.

Since it was for a recipe site, I broke the ingredients down to exact amounts but don’t be silly and think you need to follow them as more than just guidelines.

Super Snazzy Grilled Cheese

super snazzy grilled cheese

1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup mushroom, roughly chopped
2 slices uncured bacon, chopped into pieces
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup Gouda cheese, shredded
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped in half
4 baby spinach leaves
2 slices bread

Directions:

Saute shallots, mushrooms and bacon in the olive oil until the bacon is cooked through but not crispy and the shallots are softened.

Put the shredded cheese in a small bowl and sprinkle with cayenne pepper. Toss until all of the cheese is coated by the cayenne pepper.

Put half of the cheese mixture on one of the slices of bread.

Top cheese with the shallot, mushroom and bacon mixture and spread out so that it fully covers the bread and cheese.
Arrange the tomatoes on the bread so that they form two parallel lines down the middle of the bread.

Put one spinach leaf on each corner.

Put the second half of the cheese mixture on top of the spinach and top with the second slice of bread.

Spray each side of the sandwich with butter flavored cooking spray and put onto a hot Foreman type grill and cook until the cheese is melted and the outside is golden (about 5 minutes) OR fry in a buttered pan as you would a traditional grill cheese sandwich.