Baked Maple Bacon with Acorn Squash and Wilted Spinach

Iiiiiiit’s….bacon time, it’s bacon time, it’s time for bacon, it’s bacon tiiime.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Fact: bacon makes everything better.  So does cooking with its delicious fat.  So does combining it with the sweet flavor of maple syrup.  Oh man, I’m too excited!  Let’s get to the recipe.

1 large squash (winter, acorn, whatever you prefer)

8 strips of thick cut, peppered bacon

4 tbsp (real) maple syrup

Kosher salt

Red chili flakes

1 bag of baby spinach

Okay, the squash needs to be peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes and then boiled for around 4 minutes, to soften it up.  After 4 minutes, drain the squash and transfer it to a large mixing bowl to let it cool slightly.  While this is going on, prepare the bacon.

everyone loves bacon preparation.

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  To prepare the bacon, line a 8×8 or 9×9 pan with tin foil.  Then lay the bacon out on the bottom.  Pour the maple syrup evenly over the bacon and spread it around so that it coats each strip.  Put the bacon in the oven and let it bake for 25-30 minutes.  When the bacon is cooked, remove the strips from the pan and pour the bacon fat/maple syrup elixir (oh the sweet elixir) over the squash (leave the oven on).  Add a pinch of kosher salt and some chili flakes, to your taste.  Mix it up to coat the squash.  Put the squash back in the bacon pan and stick it back in the oven.  Cook it for a total of about 30 minutes, stirring every 5-7 minutes.

Chop up your cooked bacon and dump it into the serving bowl.  Add the spinach on top of it.  When the squash is done, pour it and all its juices over the bacon and spinach.  Toss it and serve it as a warm salad.

Nom.

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Lean Italian Meatballs

Who doesn’t love a spicy meat-a ball-a?  I hope that’s not offensive.

Meatballs are really great and they are versatile.  You can serve them on their own as an appetizer, in spaghetti, or my favorite: in a meatball sub.  But, meatballs can be really fatty and greasy and all those things that make stuff taste really good but also cause heart disease and farts.  These meatballs are full of flavor but are very lean so you can get a lot of protein without all the grease.

Here’s what you need:

1 large onion, minced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 lb lean ground beef

2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley

1 egg, beaten

Red chile flakes

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup of white wine

1/4 cup of beef broth

Pasta sauce

Okay so first, you want to sautee the onion in the olive oil on medium heat until it begins to caramelize, about 8-10 minutes.  Then add the garlic and let it sautee for another 5-6 minutes.  Turn the heat off and let the mixture cool a bit.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the ground beef, parsley, pepper flakes, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the egg.  You can mix it with a fork or a spoon or something but I used my hands.  It’s kinda gross, but it’s the most effective way to mix it all up.   After the onions and garlic have cooled a bit, add them too.  After it’s all mixed in, roll the meatballs in your hand.  You should be able to make between 40-50 half-inch meatballs.

Next we want to add the white wine and beef broth to a large sautee pan along with the meatballs.  Cook them on medium-high for about 5 minutes on each side.  If you want to speed it up a bit you can cover the pan and steam the meatballs through that way.  If you make them as small as I suggest they don’t need long to cook at all.

Now, that’s it.   So, you have a choice to make.  Do you just, eat them?  Like popcorn?  Sure, you can.  Do you eat them with pasta?  Yes, you may.  Personally, I poured about 3/4 of a jar of pasta sauce over them and then ate them with bread as a sub.  Because, well.  Meatball subs are just great.  And this one is really not even so bad for you.  As always, the recipe is sugar free, and 4 meatballs = 2 Weight Watchers points.  A meatball sub with 6 meatballs, 1/2 cup of pasta sauce and a French roll is only 11 Weight Watchers points.  Can’t go wrong.

Marinated, Fried Tofu With Steamed Broccoli and Peanut Sauce

Sometimes, deliciousness just sneaks up on me.  I went to Whole Foods the other night and bought some tofu covered in peanut sauce and wanted to eat like five tons of it.  Peanut sauce is pretty awesome.  It’s one of my favorite additions to Asian food.  Or just to my mouth.  I had no idea how to make it, really.  I thought probably there was some soy sauce and sweet element involved, along with peanuts, of course, so I browsed various websites and came up with a recipe that is just fantastic.

So, obviously, you can’t just eat peanut sauce.  I mean, you can, but it’s not exactly a balanced meal.  So I was like, huh, well, I ate it with tofu, let’s just make it with tofu.  I know.  My creativity intimidates everyone.  Fried tofu is easy and yummy.  So, there’s that too.

And then I also noticed I had a bunch of broccoli in the fridge, which goes nicely with Asian dishes, and decided I’d steam it, which is basically the easiest and healthiest way to cook broccoli.  How did I do it all?  I’ll show you!

Ingredients

For the tofu:

16 oz. extra firm tofu (make sure it’s extra firm)

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp powdered ginger

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tbsp olive oil

Alright,  you want to let your tofu marinate a little while, so start with that.  Whisk the soy sauce and spices in a small bowl, then add the tofu cut into 1/2 inch “steaks.”  (If your tofu is too wet, lay it between two folded paper towels and lay something heavy on top to help the water eek out.)  Make sure the marinade coats the tofu, stirring occasionally.  You can marinated it anywhere from a few minutes to an hour.  You don’t want to marinate it much longer because then it will get soggy.

When you’re tofu is sufficiently marinated, heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium-high heat in a cast-iron pan.  Fry the tofu about 4-5 minutes on each side or until it’s crispy and browned.

Moving on.

For the peanut sauce:

1/2 cup peanut butter (fresh ground if you can find it)

1/8 cup honey

1/8 cup soy sauce

2 tsp Sriracha chili sauce

2 limes, juiced

1/2 tsp garlic powder

Hot water to thin sauce (if needed)

Whisk together ingredients. Add hot water if you want to thin the sauce.  You can also used some crushed peanuts as a garnish.  Also, the sauce is way better if you use the fresh ground peanut butter that you can grind fresh yourself at the store.  It’s peanut-ier and more coarse and makes for a better sauce.  Plus, no sugar!

For the broccoli:

Broccoli

Water

Steaming broccoli, or any vegetables, is super easy and cooks them without adding any fat and without sucking out too many of the nutrients.  Get a large saucepan with a tight lid.  Add as much broccoli (cut into florets) as you want, I used around 4 cups.  Then add about a 1/4 cup of water to the pan.  Put the lid on the pan and turn up the heat.  The broccoli should steam for about 5 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want it.  Just check it every minute or so and see how it’s coming along.

And, that’s it!  When your done, plate the broccoli, then the tofu and top with the peanut sauce.  It’s a delicious, filling and healthy dish.  And, as always, sugar free!  This recipe makes 4 servings at 10 Weight Watcher’s points per serving.  Enjoy!

Also, check out my new blog!

Kale Chips

Kale, so hot right now.

It’s everywhere!  It’s been crowned a super food meaning that it’s super good for you.  It’s packed with vitamins and fiber and all kinds of good stuff for you.  Unfortunately, kale is a little tough.  It’s not really something you can put in a salad.  It’s kind of like if spinach and seaweed were brother and sister, kale would be their no-nonsense mom from the wrong side of the tracks, if that makes any sense.  Or even if it doesn’t.

So, to help you eat some kale and amp up your diet and vitamin intake, I’m here to show you how to make kale chips.  They’re really tasty and a good snack food that doesn’t have a lot of calories but fills you up.  The recipe is ridiculously simple, are you ready?  ARE YOU READY?

Ingredients:

Kale

Sea salt

The end!

I told you it was easy.

superstar super food.Preheat your oven to 220 degrees.  Chop the kale up into 2 inch pieces.  I didn’t use the very end of the stalk because it’s so tough.  Place the kale evenly on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with sea salt (really sprinkle, you don’t need much salt to make these flavorful) and put them in the oven for 60-70 minutes.  You can check them out and bake them for a little longer if they’re not to your liking in terms of crispiness.  I like my chips crispy.  Like…crispips or…chispies.  I don’t know what I’m saying.  Enjoy your healthy snack!

Honey Glazed Carrots

Have you ever noticed that you can’t buy a small amount of carrots?  Even baby carrots come in bags of 100 or so.  It’s annoying, because usually a recipe only calls for a single carrot, and sometimes you can buy a single carrot, but usually you can’t and so to make one small pot of chicken stock you buy a pound of carrots and then you have all these carrots and it’s carrot madness!

Some people really like carrots.  I don’t really like them very much, so when I have an excess I like to think of ways I can make them tastier or just hide them from myself in whatever I’m cooking.

A friend of mine made honey glazed carrots for Thanksgiving this past year and they were so good!  I found myself thinking…hey, maybe I do like carrots.  I don’t.  But, if I like these then you can bet that they’re good.  The recipe is simple and easy (and sugar free.)

1 lb carrots (peeled and chopped regular carrots or you can just use baby carrots)

2 tbsp butter

3 tbsp honey

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Salt and fresh ground pepper

My photos are a little funky because I’m using my new Camera+ iPhone app and don’t really know how to exercise its full potential yet.

Okay, so, first prepare a large pot of boiling water with salt.  When the water reaches a rolling boil, add in your carrots and let them boil for about 6 minutes or until they’re tender.  Then you drain the carrots and add them back to the pot with the heat still on about medium.  Mix in the butter, honey and lemon juice.  Stir and cook the carrots for another 5 minutes.  Then add fresh ground black pepper and serve.  How easy was that?  It makes about 4 servings and if you’re doing Weight Watchers each serving is 3 points.  Enjoy!  And enjoy this weird picture of what may be carrots.

Terremotos (Chilean “cocktails”)

It’s 9AM and I miss Chile.  So, naturally, I’m going to post about liquor.  Specifically Chile’s national drink, the terremoto.  In Spanish, “terremoto” means “earthquake”, something Chile is rather famous for.  They hold the record for the largest earthquake ever recorded.  It was a 9.5 (which is basically the apocalypse) back in 1960.  And two years ago, when I had been in Chile for about 5 weeks, they experienced the 6th largest earthquake ever recorded (an 8.8.  Yeesh.)  En Chile, se dice que la tierra “baila.”  That means: In Chile they say that the earth dances.  There are earthquakes there all the time making it a rather dangerous place to live.  However, Chileans pay tribute to their dancing land in the form of tasty, knock-you-on-your-culo (ass) drinks that they serve in some of the diviest bars I’ve ever seen. (The green drink on the right in the picture is called a “maremoto” or “tsunami” and I don’t know what goes in one of those.)

The picture above was taken at a bar called La Piojera, where they specialize in these drinks.  As you can see from the table, it is a well-loved place that tourists and Chileans alike flock to.  Everything is cheap and hearty, including the food.  But the terremotos are what bring people there from all over the world.  At 2,000 CLP (about $4 US) they are an extreme bargain for anyone looking to get curado (Chilean for “wasted.”  Literally “cured”, like a pickle, like you’re so drunk you’ve been pickled.)  I’ve had some of my wildest nights at La Piojera (friends stealing cats, friends getting drinks thrown in their faces, friends dancing on tables, me dancing on tables, etc.) and those were all due to terremotos.  So, now that you’ve got the picture of what these drinks are capable of, here’s the recipe.

Ingredients:

Pineapple sherbert or sorbet

The cheapest white wine you can find (boxed is actually preferred)

Fernet (a weird Italian liquor with a minty taste)

Okay, so you take a giant glass and put a couple scoops of pineapple sherbert in it.  Then you fill it almost to the brim with white wine.  Lastly you splash about a shot of fernet on the top, and you’re done!  It’s a good idea to stir it and let the ice cream melt a little bit before drinking it because otherwise it can be kind of harsh.  Terremotos are sort of an acquired taste but if you can make it through one you won’t even taste the next two.  Buen provecho!  And as the Chileans say:  Arriba!  Abajo!  Al Centro!  Adentro!

Sugar-Free Coconut, Raspberry Muffins

I found these muffins in my quest for sugar-free treats and they are sooooo goooood.  I also have been looking for low/no-carb recipes for my best friend as her doctor has recently informed her that she is not to exceed 70g of carbohydrates per day.  For some perspective, a single banana has almost 40g.  Needless to say, finding yummy things, especially pastries or anything with fruit in them, is not easy.  But, huzzah!  This recipe is the best of all worlds.  Sweet baked treat, with raspberries and less than 9g of carbohydrates each.  Seriously, I did the math.

I got this recipe off another website so I’m not going to bother to repost the whole thing.  You can see the original recipe here.  I used honey for the 1/4 cup of liquid sugar substitute.  I know it doesn’t sound like a lot but but the coconut flour and the raspberries (that word is spelled so strangely) are both so naturally sweet you really don’t need much added sweetener.  So, since I’ve already given you the website for the original recipe (and just gave it to you again), I’ll just leave you with some photos of the process. OH! I almost forgot.  Resist any urge you have to add more than 1 cup of raspberries.  I added probably about 2 cups and my muffins were a little on the soggy side.  Just, fyi.

that's some sexy batter.

raaahhhspberries.

the finished product.

 Buen provecho!

Sugar-Free Sweet & Savory Granola

Granola.  It’s one of those things that’s kind of good to have around.  You can eat it in yogurt or with milk or just munch on it to curb a craving.  I tend to prefer my granola on the savory/salty side just because those are the flavors I enjoy more and they make the sweet taste even sweeter.  That’s why they put salt on caramel or in chocolate chip cookies.  Did you just learn something?  No?  Well.

I have almost never found a ready-made granola that I really like, mostly because they’re usually too sweet or come with one or two ingredients I don’t really like.  The nice think about granola is that it’s easy to customize your own.  I got a lot of ideas for this one from my friend Radford, who’s a vegan.  She made a granola for us to take on a long bus trip and we probably finished it all off in about an hour.  Fat kids always need snacks on long trips.  But, you don’t have to like the ingredients I use.  You can use my recipe or invent one but the really essential part is how you sweeten it.

as you can imagine, this involves honey.

Sweetening concoction:

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup maple syrup

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tbsp vegetable oil

Combine these ingredients in a small saucepan and put it on the stove over low heat.  Let it heat up while you make the rest of the granola, stirring occasionally.

The rest of the ingredients:

*Disclaimer:  I pretty much eyeballed these when I made them because I bought it all in bulk so I couldn’t really measure it at the store.  I know what you’re thinking:  Why didn’t you just measure it once you got home?  Well, reader, because I am just that lazy.

evidence.

Okay, the ingredients for realz:

2-3 cups rolled oats (uncooked)

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup roasted, salted sunflower seads

1/2 cup wheat germ

1 cup dried currants

1 cup roasted almonds, crushed

1 tsp kosher salt

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.  When the sweetener has been heating for about 5 minutes, pour it over the dry mixture and mix in thoroughly.  If it looks really gloopy, add a few more oats, but you want it to be semi-gloopy.

just the right amount of gloop.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9×13 casserole dish and fill it with the mixture, spreading it out evenly.  Pop it in the oven.  You’re going to leave it in there for about 40 minutes total, until it’s nice and golden brown, but you want to stir it around every 7 minutes or so.  When it’s done, take it out and stir it again.  It might still seem a little moist but once you let it cool for a while it will crisp up.  And you’re done!  I eat it every morning with milk because I hate yogurt.  

Just kidding.  Well, but yeah I eat it with milk.

not pictured: milk.

Vegan, Sugar-free Applesauce Cake

I know what you’re thinking.  Okay, I don’t, but something you might be thinking is that the combination of vegan and sugar-free automatically means tasteless and dry.  Sometimes, that is the case, but this is not one of those times.

If you’ve been reading my blog consistently you know I’m trying to eliminate refined sugar from my diet completely.  So far, it’s been successful and pretty easy.  This bread is great because I think that substituting honey for white sugar actually adds to the flavor and helps to make it more moist and scrumptious.  I got the recipes from Allrecipes.com but adapted it a little to be sugar free.  Also I didn’t add the raisins or walnuts because I hate both those things, but feel free to ignore my choices and add them if you choose.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup margarine (the recipe calls for butter but we had margarine left over from something else and I actually find that margarine works just as well as butter in terms of baking.  Also, using margarine makes the bread vegan, which is cool if you’re a vegan or if your friends are.)

3/4 cup honey (Okay, some vegans say honey isn’t vegan because it’s produced by bees, so you could use maple syrup instead if you want to.  Trees don’t have feelings.)

1 cup chilled, sugar-free applesauce

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp allspice (this is an addition of mine, the spicier the better!)

1/4 tsp ground cloves

And that’s it.

First, preheat your oven to 350.  Then cream the honey and the margarine.

Add the applesauce and mix it in.  Then add the flour and the rest of the dry ingredients and blend.  The mixture won’t be quite as gloopy as your average bread, and you can add a little more applesauce if you want it to be thinner.  It actually turns out pretty thick and fluffy.  Grease and flour a bread pan and then bake the bread for about 40 minutes, or until you can stick a toothpick in it and it comes out clean.  That’s it!  My blog is being weird, so I can’t post any more pictures, but you get it. T his cake makes an excellent breakfast.   Buen provecho!

Roasted Garlic Hummus – 2 Ways!

I think hummus is one of my favorite foods.  It’s so versatile.  You can eat it as a dip, or a sandwich spread, or a dip with a different kind of chip, or in pitas, or in dips.  It’s also totally vegan so you can serve it to pretty much anyone and it’s a good source of protein since it’s made almost entirely of chickpeas (garbanzo beans).  I used to eat it all the time the year I went temporarily insane and became a vegan. (*Note, I am not knocking vegans, I respect the sh*t out of them, I just mean that for a person like me who loves meat and cheese and milk so very much, I had to have been insane.)  But hummus is just one of those super yummy things that’s really easy to make and personalize to your own tastes.  I made roasted garlic hummus, but leave out the roasted garlic and you have plain hummus.  And add in Sriracha (Rooster sauce) and you have spicy hummus!  Etc.

Ingredients:

2 cans of cooked chickpeas (drained and washed)

1 bulb of roasted garlic (bulb, not clove see recipe for details)

2 tbsp tahini

3 tbsp EVOO

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 lemon, juiced

Sriracha (for spicy hummus)

Paprika and chopped parsley (for garnish)

And you’re ready!  Basically, throw all those things in a food processor and blend.  You can add more olive oil or lemon juice to taste depending on how thick you want it.  Add some sriracha and make it spicy!  Or add some cilantro and make it cilantro-y.  I made a plain, spicy and spicier version, but you can really do anything you want.  The world is your hummus!  Is that right?