skillet huevos rancheros

Yes, more skillet brunch recipes, two weeks in a row! The inspiration behind this was some leftover black beans from one of my favorite quick weeknight dinners: baked sweet potato topped with a mixture of black beans with tomato, cumin, and coriander, salsa, plain greek yogurt, and a sprinkle of sharp white cheddar. When we woke up to a very bleak looking rainy day this morning, I decided to make a hearty warm huevos rancheros-esque brunch with the rest of the spiced black bean/tomato combo.

photo 2If you’re starting from scratch and don’t have any leftover beans, just drain and rinse a can of cooked black beans (I usually use Eden Organic brand: no salt added and BPA free can), add a chopped tomato, a little salt, and about a teaspoon each of ground cumin and coriander. Spray the bottom of the skillet with a little olive oil, and lay a tortilla down as your first layer (I used a whole wheat tortilla). It’s a good idea to slice it in half (or quarters, however many servings you’re making) first, so it’s much easier to get out of the pan and serve at the end. Then add your bean and tomato mix, and a little bit of salsa on top if you like. This is another one of those recipes where you can kind of add whatever you want, so I added some chopped orange bell pepper, and some diced Morningstar Farms hot n’ spicy vegetarian sausage per the husband’s request. Next carve out some small wells with a spoon for the eggs to lie in, and crack the eggs into the wells. Sprinkle with a little coarse salt and pepper, and bake at 400 F for 10-20 minutes, depending how runny you like your eggs.

Serve with salsa, avocado, and plain greek yogurt (a lot more protein than sour cream, and tastier in my opinion!). Now, fueled by this hefty slow-releasing healthy carb protein-ified meal, you can run that half marathon! Or snuggle on the couch with your dog, watch the rain, and enjoy the Fresh Prince of Bel Air marathon that just might be on right now…

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brunch frittata (& how to care for your cast iron skillet)

A cast iron skillet was one of the only tangible items we put on our wedding registry. I can’t believe I didn’t have one before — it’s one of those kitchen “must haves” — and although I did have a ridged grilling cast iron pan, I didn’t have a flat bottomed cast iron skillet, which is perfect for frittatas, among other things!  So now that we have one (thanks Ben & Evan!) it was time to celebrate not having to study this weekend with a leisurely homemade brunch.

photo 1Frittatas are great because you can really throw in anything you want. If you ever have a bunch of veggies in the fridge that are looking a little sad, a frittata is a good way to use them up! Today I went with mushrooms, spinach, and ricotta. Onions or shallots of course, are always key as a first ingredient. Start with a generous few “glugs” of olive oil (especially if your cast iron skillet is new; it will need more fat to prevent sticking). Add diced onions or shallots, and let them cook until translucent or beginning to caramelize. It’s important to really get your onions browned before adding the other veggies if you’re using mushrooms because the mushrooms will start to release a lot of liquid as they cook and then you’ll just have steamed onions.

While the mushrooms are cooking, whisk eggs in a bowl (use 4-6 unless you have a very large pan; I used 5 today. I was worried 6 wouldn’t fit in the pan with all those veggies, but I probably could’ve managed it), and add some salt and pepper and some fresh or dried herbs like some oregano or basil, depending on the flavors of your veggies. Once the mushrooms are well cooked (they will cook down a lot), add your spinach or other greens and cook until wilted. photo 2

Then pour the beaten eggs into the skillet and push them around a little with the spatula, tilting the pan to get them evenly distributed. Next add dollops of ricotta cheese throughout, and finish with some grated parmesan on top before moving the whole skillet to a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Remember when taking it out that the handle of the skillet is also cast iron – it will be hot!

photo 2 (1)Serve warm on top of more greens or salad, add extra grated parmesan if you want, and enjoy! I also  like to add some dried red pepper flakes for a little kick. The saltiness of the parmesan with the heat of the pepper flakes and the sweetness of the onions, mushrooms, and ricotta is perfect.

TIP- Keep your skillet seasoned: You don’t need to wash it with soap; just scrub any stuck food off with hot water and a brush/scrubber as soon as possible after cooking, dry it immediately, and spray some vegetable oil on it while still warm. This will “season” your skillet, protecting it from moisture so that it will last longer, and your food will taste better and better. Avoid cooking with acidic foods (like tomatoes) until you’ve cooked with and oil-coated your skillet quite a few times. I’ve heard that a cast iron skillet can last 100 years if treated correctly!

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chia seed pudding

chiaMy much-neglected blog got a little makeover today… and a new title! Welcome to the new and improved RDeats.com, celebrating my new credentials as a Registered Dietitian.

Tonight’s recipe features chia seeds (if you haven’t heard of these yet, yes, it’s just like cha-cha-cha-CHIA, the old Chia Pet commercial). Chia seeds are edible seeds originally from an ancient Mexican desert plant. They are full of heart-healthy omega-3 fats, contain about 4 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber per serving, and have antioxidants and minerals to boot. They look like poppy seeds, and you can sprinkle them on yogurt or salads, cereal or oatmeal, and cook with them in many ways. Unlike flax seeds, which have to be ground in order to be absorbed by the body, your body will accept chia seeds just as they are. However, they taste a little more exciting all dolled up… like this:

Chia seed pudding is super easy to make, and works as a breakfast, snack, or dessert. Mix about 3 tbsp chia seeds w/ 1 cup almond milk (or regular, soy, or coconut milk if you want), 1 tbsp maple syrup (or sweetener of your choice), and a little pinch of salt. For chocolate, add 1 tbsp cocoa powder, and for vanilla add 1 tsp vanilla extract. Stir well, refrigerate 30 mins, then stir well again to break up the clumps, and refrigerate overnight or for a few hours. Top with berries, other fruit, nuts, cacao nibs… the possibilities are limited only by your imagination!


buttermilk banana bread with coconut palm sugar

Truthfully I can’t remember where or when I first heard about coconut palm sugar, even though it was very recently, but when I saw some at the local market and it wasn’t ridiculously expensive I decided to try it. Coconut palm sugar is made by harvesting the nutrient-rich juice from the coconut palm tree flower and evaporating the liquid out in a kettle drum. It has the same number of calories as regular sugar, but it’s got a low glycemic index, meaning that the sugar is released much more slowly and doesn’t spike your blood glucose levels (I read that it raises your blood sugar about as much as milk or cooked carrots). It’s also completely natural and unrefined (read the label though, as I’ve heard of some non-organic brands trying to mix it with regular sugar to make it cheaper), and has the added bonus of containing Vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6, and potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. Now I’m not calling any sugar a health food, but if you’re going to cook or bake with it, why not use a healthiER sugar?

So yesterday I made a banana bread because there were three over-ripe (at least by my standards!) bananas lying around, as well as buttermilk left over from last week’s homemade ricotta experiment. I combined the bananas with 2 eggs, 1/3 cup buttermilk, about 2/3 cup applesauce (instead of oil or butter), and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract. Then I mixed the dry ingredients separately and then added them to the wet mixture: 1 1/2 cups coconut palm sugar, 1 cup white flour & 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1/8 tsp nutmeg (spices are optional – I like them). At the end I stirred in some Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips (optional, again, or you could add nuts) and baked it at 325 for about an hour and 35 minutes. Between the whole wheat flour and the dark color of the coconut sugar, you will get a very dark looking loaf, but the taste is rich and caramel-y. Good for breakfast, dessert, a snack…. you get the idea…

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Vegan Week, Day 7

Day 7: Brunch
A Sunday morning and the last official day of Vegan Week clearly calls for pancakes. Blueberry pancakes! I came across this simple recipe and replaced the soy milk with almond milk, since that’s what I had in the fridge. The pancakes fluffed up very nicely and tasted great. My boyfriend said he’d eat these pancakes in place of regular pancakes any time.

Vegan blueberry pancakes

Day 7: Dinner
I ate seitan (mock duck) last night, but I still hadn’t cooked with it, so on tonight’s menu was Seitan Gyros with vegan tzatziki sauce and arugula salad. I made a slightly different twist on this recipe, mostly with changes to the tzatziki sauce. I used plain coconut yogurt, because I didn’t see any plain soy at the store, just flavored (another recipe I saw suggested toffuti sour cream which actually might have been the best choice here). There was still a lot of sweetness to the coconut yogurt though, so I left out the sugar, doubled the lemon juice, replaced the dill weed with oregano, and added two large cloves of minced garlic, and a dash of cayenne, cumin, and paprika. The coconut yogurt is still an odd consistency if you’re used to greek yogurt, but it tasted good once I added all that extra spice. I got lazy and bought seitan strips so I didn’t have to shave a 1 pound block of seitan. The cooking itself was a little tricky – I think I needed more oil maybe? – but the gyro, once assembled, came out great! But very messy.

Seitan gyro with vegan tzatziki sauce

 

Day 7: Dessert

You can’t do a whole vegan week without attempting to make a dessert. And anyone who knows me knows my addiction to peanut butter.

Vegan peanut butter blondies

So vegan peanut butter blondies? Yes please! Insanely simple to make, but definitely heed the advice to wait until completely cooled until cutting (I couldn’t wait to taste it, so the edge crumbled). They were so good I had to give a bunch away otherwise I was afraid I’d eat the entire pan full. If these couldn’t fool a non-vegan, nothing could.

So this ends vegan week. I have to say I didn’t miss much except seafood. No cheese, egg, or meat cravings, no mood swings, and I feel like I’ve eaten a ton this week and never felt deprived or hungry! There are still tons of vegan recipes I’d like to make in the future, and I will try to post them when I do.