27 August 2012

Charlie Bear!

I decided to dedicate this post to Charlie because everyone could use a smile to start off the day. Hopefully, Charlie will give you one (or several) today!

Let me introduce to you:

Puppy Charlie!

Super Charlie

Welcome Home Committee Charlie

Euphoric Charlie

Do I Have to Get Up Charlie

Hot but Happy Charlie

And finally...
I Didn't Break Into the Cabinet and Eat the Cereal Charlie

Have a great day!

Asiago-Crusted Calzone

Yesterday morning I knocked off number 10 on my Autumn 2012 Bucket List! It was more of a hike than a walk, but I'm counting it nonetheless!

Now on to food:

Well, sort of!

Asiago-Crusted Calzone

Okay, well this isn't the healthiest thing on the planet, nor the prettiest, but it was a tasty, (almost) guilt-free deviance from what I normally eat.

What I Used:

For the Crust:

~ 1/2 Cup water, warm/hot
~ 1 Teaspoon instant dry yeast
~ Pinch of sugar (you can use any kind of sweetener; this is just to help the yeast)
~ 1/2 Cup whole wheat flour
~ 1/2 Cup white flour (I ran out of whole wheat, otherwise I wouldn't have used any white)

For the Filling:

~ 2 to 3 Large tomatoes, peeled and cut into chunks 
~ 1/4 Teaspoon oregano
~ 3/4 Teaspoon basil
~ 1/4 Teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used 1/2 teaspoon, but it was a tad too much, so I scaled it down a little.)
~ 1 Teaspoon sugar
~ 1/4 to 1/2 Cup onion, chopped
~ 2 Cloves garlic, minced
~ Pinch of salt
~ Asiago cheese

What I Did:

  1. Put the tomatoes into a small to medium saucepan and mash them up a little so they begin to make a sauce. Turn burner onto low-ish heat. 
  2. Add the oregano, basil, salt, and red pepper flakes.
  3. Drizzle a little olive oil in a separate pan/skillet and heat over medium to medium-high heat.
  4. Add the onion. Let it slightly brown, then add the garlic. The onion should be partially caramelized.
  5. Add the onion to the tomatoes/sauce. Also add the sugar.
  6. Let simmer, stirring occasionally and partially covered, until it thickens, and you're left with a chunky sauce.


  1. While the sauce cooks down, measure about 1/2 cup of warm/somewhat hot water into a small bowl, and mix in the pinch of sugar. Add the yeast and let sit for about 5 minutes.
  2. In a separate, larger bowl, mix the two flours. Add the yeast/water mixture, and mix until a soft dough forms.
  3. Lightly flour a clean surface (and your hands!) and dump the dough. Knead for a couple minutes (won't take long) until the dough becomes soft and "fluffy." 
  4. Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with saran wrap, then a dish towel, and place in a warm, dry place to rise for about 30 minutes. (I turned on my oven for a couple minutes, then turned it off and let the dough rise there.)

Check on the sauce.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. The dough should have doubled (at least) in size. Punch it down and turn it back onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for a minute again, then cut in half.
  3. Place one half aside, and use a rolling pin, if desired, to roll out the dough into a somewhat thin rectangle/oval-ish shape.

     4. Spoon the sauce onto just slightly below the middle of the dough, lengthwise. Then crumble some asiago cheese on top.

     5. Fold the top half of the dough over, and pinch the edges closed with a fork.

     6. Cut the edges, so you get a cleaner, more even edge.  

      7. Place on a greased pan, lightly oil or spray the top with cooking spray, and sprinkle with asiago cheese. Do the same for the other half.

     8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (I started with 15 then checked on it every 5 minutes or so.)


* If desired, you can leave out the sauce and just dip the cheese bread in.

Question of the Day: If you haven't noticed by now, I use a lot of asiago cheese. Maybe it's the Italian in me, but I love cheese. What about you, do you eat cheese? If so, what's your favorite kind? There are so many types, sometimes it's hard for me to choose!

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24 August 2012

Italian-Infused Tomato Lentil Soup


Italian-Infused Tomato Lentil Soup

I feel like lentils are a weird food. Yummy, but weird. They seem like a cross between beans and noodles. That is, they have the texture of beans (kind of) and look like noodles. Plus, for being so little, they're packed full of protein and fiber.  

It had been a while since I'd had lentils, so when I saw them sitting in the cabinet, I decided to break them out again and embrace these healthful and tasty (albeit weird) legumes.

While this dish is heavy with Italian flavors, I threw in some raisins at the last minute.

What I Used:

~ 1/4 Cup brown lentils
~ 1/2 Cup water
~ 1 clove garlic, minced
~ 1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
~ 1/2 teaspoon ground basil

~ A couple handfuls (About 1/8 cup) chickpeas/garbanzo beans (no salt added canned or dried-cooked before use)
~ Red and yellow bell peppers (About 1/2 cup total), chopped into 1-inch chunks
~ About 1/4 cup white onion, small/medium diced
~ 1 Cup tomatoes, large diced or cut into large chunks (I used no-salt-added canned because I didn't have fresh at the time, plus there's a lot of juice). If using fresh, try not to let too much juice escape or cut them over a bowl.
~ 2 Tablespoons raisins
~ Pinch (or 2) of garlic powder
~ 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
~ Black pepper, to taste
~ Asiago cheese

What I Did:

  1. Rinse the lentils thoroughly in a strainer and pick out any "rocks"/"debris" (things that look like they don't belong).
  2. Add lentils, water, oregano, basil, and minced garlic to a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, then partly cover (crack it at the top) and turn down the heat to a simmer.
  3. When most of the water is gone (but not all) add all of the other ingredients, except the asiago cheese. Let simmer, covered, until peppers are cooked to desired softness. I left mine a little crunchy for texture.
  4. Place in a bowl and lightly sprinkle with asiago cheese.

* My chickpeas were fully cooked but frozen, so I put them in with everything else, but if yours are not frozen, you may want to add them more towards the end so they don't get overcooked and mushy.

** The onions were an afterthought along with the raisins, so I didn't precook them. For even more flavor, you may want to sauté them, along with the peppers, before adding to the saucepan.


Question of the day: Am I the only one who thinks lentils are a bit on the weirder side? Do you eat a lot of lentils?

20 August 2012

Creamy Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal

In this post:

Quick Fix Strength Circuit Workout
Creamy Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal
Zucchini and Asiago Quinoa

As I came down the stairs several mornings ago, who should I find lounging in the middle of the staircase?

Oh Charlie, how lucky you are that I saw you through my morning stupor!

To kickstart the launch of my fitness page, I decided to get things going with a speedy strength workout, which is basically the workout I originally did in my mushroom asiago omelet post, but with a slight adaptation.

As I did the back extensions, I held every other one for 8 seconds.

Be sure to check my workouts page periodically because I will be adding workouts as I do them. At least, the ones I deem worthy. ;) I hope you enjoy!

Breakfast was a delicious bowl of Creamy Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal.

What I used:

~ 1/2 Cup oatmeal
~ 1 Cup water
~ 1/2 Banana, cut into quartered chunks
~ About 1/8 Cup blueberries
~ 1 Tablespoon Plumaisins (chopped up no sugar added dried plums)
~ Sprinkle of toasted coconut
~ 1 Tablespoon PB2 (Powdered peanut butter)

I cooked the oatmeal for about 3 to 4 minutes on high in the microwave (I didn't have the patience to use the stovetop) then mixed everything else in. Yum yum yum is all I have to say. Creamy goodness on a spoon.

Guess who I should find staring at me the whole time I ate this deliciousness? You guessed it! Sorry, Chairbear, you had food waiting for you several feet to your left, with pumpkin on top to boot!


Who remembers the first time you saw or heard the word "quinoa?" (pronounced keen-wa) Was your reaction, "Huh?" 

No? Well, mine was. What was this foreign-sounding "grain?" 

While it is widely considered a grain, it is actually a seed. A yummy, nutritious seed, I might add.

 I don't know what exactly to call this dish, so I'm just going to say Zucchini and Asiago Quinoa. It's very simple, but might in fact be one of the best things I've put on this blog. If you love zucchini and asiago cheese (and garlic ;) ), you won't be disappointed!

What I Used:

~ 1/4 Cup dry quinoa
~ 1/2 Cup water
~ 1/3 Zucchini, cut into thin half-slices
~ About 1/3 Large, white onion, chopped into thick chunks
~ 1 Clove garlic, minced
~ Organic baby spinach
~ 2 Fresh bella mushrooms, somewhat thickly sliced
~ 3/4 oz Asiago cheese
~ Black pepper to taste (I don't like adding salt when I'm using asiago cheese, because that's salty enough for the whole dish, for my taste)

What I Did:
  1. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly under cold water in a strainer or cheesecloth. This gets rid of the natural bitterness (that's meant to protect it from getting eaten no less). This bitter coating is called saponin.
  2. In a small/medium saucepan, add the quinoa and water and bring to a boil. Then, cover and reduce the heat and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until all the water is gone. 
  3. While the quinoa is cooking, drizzle a little olive oil onto a skillet and heat over medium to medium-high heat.
  4. Add the onions and sauté for several minutes, until you see it start to brown/caramelize, then add the zucchini and mushrooms, cooking for another 2 or 3 minutes.
  5. When the quinoa and veggies are both done, combine them in the saucepan, along with the spinach, fresh garlic, asiago cheese, and pepper.
Done! The heat melts the cheese immediately and you're left with a cheesy, savory yumminess.

Yield: Makes about 1-2 servings.

Question of the evening: Are you a quinoa fanatic like I am? What is one of the best quinoa dishes you've ever eaten?

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19 August 2012

Cheesy-Checkered (Almost) Hawaiian Frittata

Okay, so now let's backtrack to two or three days before yesterday. You know, before there were leftovers that I took for those beef barbacoa tostadas.

Cheesy-Checkered (Almost) Hawaiian Frittata

If you haven't noticed yet, I love eggs.

If you add egg to something, I will most likely try it.

The same goes with pineapple. So you know I couldn't pass up the opportunity to combine two of my favorite things.

What I Used:

~ 1 Whole egg
~ 3 Egg whites
~ 2-3 Organic bella mushrooms, somewhat thickly sliced
~ 1/2 Cup white onion, chopped (Red onion would be good, too!)
~ 1/8-1/4 Cup fresh pineapple chunks 
~ 1/4-1/2 Cup (Depending on how much you like spinach) Organic baby spinach
~ 1 stick "swirl" (cheddar and mozzarella) low-sodium string cheese stick
~ Pepper to taste

Yield: Makes about 2-4 servings.

What I Did:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Drizzle a little olive oil onto a pan and heat over medium to medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until they begin to brown (just slightly).
  3. Add the mushrooms and pineapple and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes.
  4. While the veggies (and pineapple) are cooking, chop up the string cheese into about 1/4 inch slices.
  5. Whisk the eggs slightly with a fork and add them to the pan. When you see the edges start to set, layer the spinach on top, add the cheese, and sprinkle with black pepper, if desired.
  6. Put into oven and bake or broil until the egg is completely cooked through. This shouldn't be more than 10 minutes or so.

I accidentally overcooked it a little because I got distracted and almost forgot about it (oops!), but it still tasted pretty good! The sweet pineappley flavor added a refreshing change to what I normally eat in eggs, and the combination of the cheese and pineapple created a nice duo. 

And now onto dinner, from...the day after the pineapple goodness above? 

(Truer) Beef Barbacoa Tostadas

Unlike the aforementioned beef barbacoa tostadas I made yesterday, these tostadas (courtesy of my mother :) ) were probably truer to real tostadas. In this dish, the tortillas were actually crisped first in the pan, so the tortillas didn't fall apart as easily as they did yesterday.

Onto the corn tortillas, I used doctored up refried beans (tomato and season-"infused"), string cheese (we didn't have any other cheese available at the time ;) ), salsa, a poached egg, beef barbacoa, and cilantro. Plus, I squeezed some fresh lime juice on top. 

Can you say yum?! Thanks, Mom, for the flavorful meal!

Now off to catch some Zzzs!