Tag Archives: greek yogurt

Bacon, Kale & Tomato Frittatas

L1050516A dear old friend visited last week. We had not seen each other in over 15 years.  15 years. It’s pretty astounding that we’ve kept in touch all these years, seeing as that we initially only spent a few months together back in 1997. I studied abroad in Lancaster, England the spring semester of my junior year. I had no idea what a pivotal experience that would turn out to be for me. College is usually a time of growth and self-exploration for a lot of people, but there is something more acute about living in a foreign country by yourself when you are 20 years old. It’s almost like starting all over again, like the first day of college, except you stand out so much more because you’re a “yankee” and you have to learn new words like “snog” and “bollocks”.

My time in England was where my inner-feminist blossomed, and I’m still not completely sure how or why. While there, I met several smart, interesting young women who would have probably defined themselves as feminists, but it wasn’t something that I remember us specifically talking about. Rather, it was in the subtle ways they lived their lives. They made certain assumptions about being a woman that I found very refreshing. Until then, I had always struggled with my female identity – what it meant to be a woman. I remember coming back home after six months and feeling transformed in so many ways.
L1050505Because it was such an intense inner-growth period for me, the friends that I made during that time are still very dear to me. Stephanie is one of those friends. She now lives in Australia and has a beautiful family. They all came to NYC last week for a visit. I was super excited to see my friend after such a long time, but I surprised myself by getting choked up when we hugged. It was like no time had passed at all, and we picked up where we left off all those years ago.

In my never-ending quest to make healthy recipes (I promise there will be gluttonous recipes to come) I found this one recently and thought it sounded both easy and delicious. Weekday breakfasts can get a bit boring; I’ve been trying to eat more eggs for breakfast during the week, but I was getting tired of scrambled eggs every day. Frittatas are a nice way to change it up. You can essentially add anything you want to them. This recipe calls for bacon, but I substituted hot dogs since we had some in the refrigerator. The frittatas even make a quick and healthy lunch!
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Bacon, Kale & Tomato Frittatas
Adapted from Shape

Yield: 6 servings

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped, stemmed kale
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
4 slices bacon, chopped
4 eggs
4 egg whites
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Over medium heat, pour the olive oil into a medium-size pan. Add bacon and cook for 5 minutes, or until desired level of crispness.
3. Add kale and tomatoes and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.
4. In a large bowl, beat together 4 eggs and 4 egg whites. Add Greek yogurt and mix until fluffy.
5. Add bacon, kale and tomatoes to egg mixture.
6. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
7. Divide among 6 muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI recently learned that my cholesterol is dangerously high.  In lieu of going on medication, I decided to actively try and cut out a decent amount of sugar from my diet.  Of course, there will still be plenty of dark chocolate.  I mean, I haven’t lost my mind.  There will ALWAYS be dark chocolate in my life.  What’s more, I have a huge sweet tooth.  Therefore, dessert will always be a part of my life as well, but I needed to find some recipes that incorporate sugar substitutions.   Turns out, there is a lot out there.  For the most part, bananas and dates are the healthiest options when substituting sugar in a recipe.  Although they still contain a decent amount of sugar– like fruit– they also contain fiber, which slows down the rate at which the body absorbs the sugars from the fruit.  Therefore, I have been making A LOT of (healthier) desserts lately to try and figure out what works and what doesn’t work.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of my favorite things to eat around the holidays is gingerbread-flavored anything.   I love the spices, along with the deep, complex flavor of molasses.  I had a deliciously spicy slice of gingerbread loaf last week from a bakery in Manhattan.  It inspired me to try and give gingerbread muffins a go, but with no sugar (other than the molasses, which I made an exception for).  They turned out really well.  My only complaint is that they are not quite spicy enough.  Therefore, if you really want that bite that you get from a gingersnap cookie, feel free to double the amount of ginger in this recipe.  If you are ok with a milder flavor, these will be perfect for you.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHealthy Gingerbread Muffins
Adapted from Pinch of Yum

Yield:  22 Mini-muffins

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (sub 1 teaspoon ground ginger)
11/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
11/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Candied ginger, roughly chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or butter.  In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil with the molasses.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, mashed bananas, sour cream, yogurt, milk, ginger, vanilla extract, and orange zest.
  3. Add the olive oil and molasses from step one.
  4. Add the flours, baking soda, salt, and dry spices. Stir a few times until just combined. Scoop into a mini-muffin tin and place a piece of candied ginger on top of each muffin. Bake for 10-12 minutes (if making full-size muffins, bake for 17-20 minutes) or until the tops are puffy and firm to the touch. Cool for a few minutes before serving.

Seared Sweet Potatoes with Merguez and Radicchio

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I turned 39 this week.  Hoo-boy.  I only have one year left in my thirties!  All of a sudden I feel an  anxious eagerness to pack in as many things as I can before turning 40.  I’m not sure why. There has never been a better time to be 40, really.  But for whatever reason, in my mind–and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way–there is a dividing line between everything pre-40 and post-40.  40 means adulthood for real.   Like, if you don’t have your shit figured out by the time you hit 40, well, now you’re just that 40-year-old who never got their shit together.  Maybe I’m being too harsh on 40-year-olds?  Regardless, I feel pretty damn good about where I am in my life as a 39-year-old.  So I will try and focus on that in the coming year, and not dread the big 4-0 staring me down.
DSC_5803DSC_5806I innocently made this recipe a few weeks ago, and had no idea just how obsessed with it I would become over the course of several days.  I am a big fan of sweet potatoes and garlic, and you get a nice dose of both of them in this recipe.  But you also are treated to the deep flavor of merguez, bitter radicchio and sweet pecans, forming a sweet, sweet symphony in your mouth. You must make this recipe today.  I can’t image anyone not loving this dish.
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Seared Sweet Potatoes with Merguez and Radicchio
Adapted from Food & Wine

Sweet Potatoes and Nuts
1 garlic clove, finely grated
3 Tbsp. plus 1/2 tsp. olive oil
2 large or 4 small sweet potatoes, scrubbed
Sea salt
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Sausage and Assembly
1 head radicchio, leaves separated and torn into pieces
2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil
8 oz. merguez sausage, casings removed
1/2 tsp. Aleppo pepper or 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
1 tsp. Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
Sea salt
1/3 cup plain sheep’s-milk or Greek yogurt

Sweet Potatoes and Nuts
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Mix garlic and 3 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl.  Prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork and rub with half of garlic oil; set remaining garlic oil aside.
2.  Season with salt and roast on a rimmed baking sheet, turning once, until flesh is soft and yielding, 45-55 minutes.  Remove from oven; reduce heat to 350 degrees F.
3.  Toss pecans and remaining 1/2 tsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt.  Toast, tossing once, until slightly darkened and fragrant, 8-10 minutes.
4.  Let sweet potatoes cool slightly, then cut in half lengthwise.  Brush cut sides with reserved garlic oil.  Heat a large heavy skillet over medium.
5.  Cook sweet potatoes, cut side down, pressing lightly with a spatula, until browned and charred in spots, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and reserve skillet.

Sausage and Assembly
1.  Place radicchio in a large bowl.  Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in reserved skillet over medium-high.
2.  Cook sausage, breaking up with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Stir in Aleppo pepper.  Transfer meat to a plate with a slotted spoon and pour off all but 2 Tbsp. fat from skillet.
3.  Reduce heat to medium.  Combine pomegranate molasses, vinegar, and 1/4 cup water in skillet, stirring to combine and scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often , until sauce is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes, then drizzle over radicchio.  Add reserved sausage and toss to coat; season with salt.
4.  Mix yogurt and remaining 1 tsp. oil in a small bowl, thinning with a little water to make pourable; season with salt.  Divide yogurt among plates and top with sweet potatoes.
5.  Arrange sausage mixture over, along with any pan juices.  Top with pecans.

Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins

DSC_4057Now that we are deep into the throes of winter, I have to force myself out of my apartment in order to stave off depression.  Some weeks are better than others, and when I do force myself out, I am usually glad that I did and try to make a mental note of my high spirits afterwards.  Friday night was one of those nights.  Mr. K and I were invited to dinner and an Off-Off Broadway play by some friends of ours.  It was a rainy night but I was actually excited about leaving the apartment for once.  I figured even if the play was subpar, I could get out of my head and we would enjoy our friend’s company.

We had a fantastic time.  The couple that we went out with just got married a few months ago; it’s great to see people so in love.  The pizza joint (that I chose) was pretty bad but we all had a great time sharing stories.  Mr. K and I are pondering moving to Southern California in the next few years, and since this couple grew up there, we got some good pointers about the best places to live.  The play was excellent.  If any of you have a chance to see it, I highly recommend it.  Grounded is the name of it and it’s playing at the SoHo Rep.  It’s about a female fighter pilot who goes back to work after having a baby only to discover that the rules of war have changed.  Fighter pilots now fly drones remotely from a location in Las Vegas and work 8-hour shifts like most Americans.  The play highlights the complexities of modern warfare and how it affects soldiers.  A remarkable but sad fact I learned was that the rate of PTSD has actually increased with pilots that operate drones.
DSC_4036Walking home Friday night, I took inventory of how I felt mentally.  Although tired (Mr. K and I are not usually out later than 11 pm on any given night), I felt invigorated and joyful.  Someone once told me that they liken the importance of sleep to charging your phone every night.  Your brain needs a break and a recharge at night in order to operate fully during the day.  My brain must operate the same way when it comes to intellectual and emotional stimulation.  Without it, I seem to operate at 50% capacity.

The tricky thing about depression, though, is that even though you may know intellectually that you need stimulation from the outside world, your emotions will try to convince you otherwise.  Vitality and liveliness appear to be unreachable when depression rears its head.  And yet, vigor and energy is exactly what you need.  I remember my therapist once telling me that the secret to managing depression was to simply force yourself out of the house and the happy endorphins would follow.  If you wait for joy and enthusiasm to appear in order to leave your house, you will wait indefinitely.  The cart needs to come before the horse, essentially.
DSC_4043 A friend gave me the Baked cookbook several years ago and I am slowly working my way through it.  Baked is a popular bakery in Brooklyn and they make insanely good desserts.  I thought it was time to try another recipe from their first cookbook, so I chose  Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins.  I haven’t tasted too many savory muffins over the course of my life, but of the ones that I’ve had, I’ve liked.  Liked, I say.  Not loved.  However, I am a sucker for all things pumpkin (except pumpkin pie) and I thought the combination of pumpkin, cheddar and black pepper sounded curious.  After taking my first bite, I was flabbergasted by how delicious these muffins were.  They are definitely on the sweeter side because of the pumpkin, but the cheddar and black pepper are nice foils for the sweetness and add an interesting level of flavor.  I immediately had visions of eating these alongside every future pot of soup I made throughout the winter.  And so far, I have.  Don’t be scared of the black pepper.  It’s not too strong by any means.  The muffins have a very similar texture to biscuits, which made me love them even more.
DSC_4048Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins
Adapted from Baked:  New Frontiers in Baking

Yield:  12 Muffins

1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons sour cream or greek yogurt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1-1/4 cups (about 4 oz.) grated sharp cheddar
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, optional

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2.  Spray each cup of a standard 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray and use a paper towel to spread the oil evenly along the bottom and up the sides of each cup.
3.  In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and sour cream/yogurt.
4.  Add the eggs and butter and whisk until combined.
5.  In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and brown sugar.
6.  Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.  Pour the wet ingredients into the well, and fold until just combined.  Fold in three-quarters of the cheese.
7.  Divide the batter among the muffin cups.  Sprinkle the remaining cheddar and the pumpkin seeds on top of the muffins.
8.  Bake them for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let the muffin pan cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out the muffins.  Serve them warm.