Wednesday, August 29, 2012


My mother reminded me that garlic boosts your immune system. I needed no further convincing that it was time to make garlic bread again.

I like this recipe of garlic bread better than other ones, because it does not require baking the bread and then toasting it--just one easy delicious recipe.

Garlic Bread

1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 packet (2.25 teaspoons) yeast
2 tsp salt
4 tablespoons (half a stick) butter
3 cups flour
1-2 cloves garlic
Garlic Powder (optional)

2-3 tablespoons Olive oil or melted butter
2-5 cloves garlic
Garlic Powder (optional)
Italian Seasonings (optional)

Mix water, sugar and yeast. Let proof.

Meanwhile, mince your garlic. All of it--for the bread and the filling. If you feel like it, put it through the food processor. Separate 1-2 cloves (1.5-3 teaspoons) of garlic.

Once yeast has proofed, mix in butter and salt to yeast mixture. Add garlic and garlic powder. Slowly add flour and mix with fork until moist. Knead until a smooth dough.

Let double in covered, greased bowl.

Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients for the filling except the optional Italian Seasonings in a cup. Let sit while dough rises.

Preheat oven to 350.

Punch down dough. On a well floured surface, roll to about 1/4" thick. Cut a piece about as long and wide as your bread pan. Lay in bread pan. Pour about 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of filling over it; spread roughly even. Sprinkle optional Italian seasoning, and perhaps more garlic powder. Cut next piece to roughly the same directions; place on top. Repeat process until you run out of dough. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

Eat and be merry!

If this doesn't blast your system with garlic, I'm not sure what will. Well, I know, but taking a bite out of a clove of garlic is a bit intense. Trust me. It tingles.

The idea of the laying is to 1) get more garlic into the bread without making the texture weird, 2) Get more buttery goodness in there, and  3) I just like layers.

Alternatively, you can make layers that stack horizontally rather than vertically, and make a pull-apart bread (no cutting needed!) but I find its a pain in the butt trying to fill up the pan, get them all the right size... I just went for a stack.

This bread is really fantastic with cheese. You can even add shredded cheddar to the filling! But don't tempt me. I spread one of those Laughing Cow Cheese Spread wedges on a slice, and it was awesome. The bread is really filling, too, so it makes a great snack/small meal. Good for college students looking to live cheap. And it'll boost your immune system, so you won't get sick as often! Hurray!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Energy Efficient Recipes #2: Pita Bread

The making of pita bread always seemed like a sacred thing to me. I ate pita pockets as a kid, in Canada--they were much more readily available there than in the South--and when I went to find a recipe, it seemed that everyone had their own way that had been passed down from generation to generation...

But as it turns out, the making of pita bread is entirely up to the person. The recipe I used is as follows:

Pita Bread

1 packet dry active yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons, for those of us who buy it by the jar)
1/2 cup WARM water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups flour
2 tablespoon olive oil

Mix water, sugar, and yeast. Let proof*.

Mix in flour and oil and combine until a dough. Knead for about 8 minutes, then turn into a greased bowl. Let it double.

Punch dough down, and split into chunks. Roll on a floured surface into 8" circles.

 Cook on a nongreased skillet for about 3 minutes a side. They should bubble and rise.

Yield: 8

About 140 calories each

Notes: yes, you can substitute the sugar for honey. I'd use a medium heat to a medium-high heat. It keeps them from burning as much. You can also do half sizes. I use those for mini pizzas, because a whole one fills me up. The 3 minute thing is a generally agreed upon number--I usually only do about 1 minute, before they start burning. If anyone has any suggestions on how to fix this, I'd be appreciated.

*Proofing Yeast: I'm adding a section on this because I've had friends really mess this up. 
Think of your yeast like a bear. Its been in a nice, cozy packet of a cave for a long winter. Its warm and cozy, and it doesn't want to get up. So, you've got to make it think its finally springtime. Warm it up a bit. Coax it out. But you can't set the damn cave on fire. I use warm water from the tap, not scalding, but warm enough to wash your hands with on a cold day. Mix the warm water with the bear--I mean yeast--and let it sit. Maybe give it a bit of sugar as a welcoming present. You'll know its awake and happy when it gets all bubbly and it rises to the top. It'll smell like a bakery. THEN you can get happy and add your flour and stuff. 

Things I like about this recipe: Its cooked in a skillet, so you don't heat up the house with the oven. Keeps your A/C costs low. Its a fairly simple recipe, with only a few ingredients. They keep decently well. They make great bases for mini-pizzas, are great for sandwiches, great with hummus. Its a pretty versatile recipe.

Things I don't like about this recipe: I still haven't worked all the kinks out. They still burn about 90% of the time. I don't mind burnt things, so it doesn't affect me, but I'd like to make a non-blackened batch.

Things I would change about this recipe: Whole Wheat flour. Nuff said. Its not just a 1-to-1 ratio on wheat to white, though, so I can't advise how to go about that. However, that in itself would make a much healthier version of these.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Energy Efficient Recipes #1: Mini Quiche

I'm still trying to save money after Boyfriend bought a tablet, so I've been working on some energy efficient recipes.

This is also a good place to come if you live in a dorm, and don't have full access to a kitchen. I'm trying to use the toaster oven rather than the full oven.
Excuse the mess, its an old toaster oven.


3 Large eggs
1/4 cup Milk
1/4cup chopped onion
1/4 cup spinach
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Whisk eggs and milk together. Add onion and spinach (and whatever yummy veggies or meats you care for). Pour into 6 silicone baking cups. Top with cheese. Bake in toaster oven at 350 for 10 minutes.

About 55 calories each.

This does require silicone baking cups, which I got from Amazon for cheap. I find them extremely useful as lunch container dividers, so you don't have to take multiple containers. They are a great size and have a nice little fill line. Not sure why, but I love the fill line. The only problem I have is they do not like to be washed in the dishwasher. They fly everywhere. I try to pin them down, but its rather fruitless.

What I love about this recipe: Its really versatile. You can put whatever you want into these little cups. I just had spinach and onions on hand. If I liked peppers, I would chop up about 1/4 cup mixed red and green  peppers, which will give them a delightful mix of colours. You can even put bits of lunch meat (if not a vegetarian) in them, for extra protein. Adding the cheese on top limits the amount of cheese you can actually put on these, and cheese is one of those caloric sinks I've been avoiding. This is a great way to have the protein aspect of your meal. It gives you the satisfaction of making muffins, without the carbs. There are no refined sugars, the only sugar comes from the milk and onions. You could even add salt to it without making it really harmful.
As far as my energy efficiency goes, the toaster oven uses around 50% less energy than a normal oven. Similarly, it won't heat up my home like the oven will, so the AC doesn't work so hard.
As far as my 300-calorie-lunches so, its a perfect little muffin of protein and low caloric intake. Gives me plenty of wiggle room for my starch and veggies. And it has veggies in it! Pretty good all around, I must say.

What I don't like about this recipe: If you're watching your cholesterol, eggs are a bad thing. You could use an egg substitute, or use only egg whites. I feel like that would change the fat content too. Basically: If you want to avoid eggs, this is a bad thing for you.

What I could change about this recipe: Change from eggs to egg whites. Change from 2% Milk to skim... generally reduce the fat content.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tablets and Cooking

Boyfriend got a new tablet! Its an Asus TF300 for those who are interested.

However, this unplanned $450 expense means we've got to save a bit of money over the next few months.

I keep track of our spending pretty well, I have a spreadsheet full of numbers. It looks like Electricity, Food, and Gas are our top spenders. Well, and rent, but you don't get much cheaper with rent. Anyway, so I'm going to try an experiment to see how much money we can shave off our bill.

First, luckily enough, our AC shouldn't have to work as hard, as we've had a few cooler days (its sad when I'm calling 85 'cool'), and after August things start to cool down. I bumped the thermostat up to 79 (it was at 78), but I don't expect that to do a whole lot. However, I'm going to try a few more things:

1) Unplug anything we don't use on a daily basis. So: game systems, toaster, fans, lamps... um... can't think of a lot more that exist.

2) Raise the fridge temp by a degree or two. I'm fairly certain its on ULTRA COLD, because Boyfriend is paranoid. But what he doesn't know, won't hurt him.

3) Cook recipes that take a short amount of time.  This is a bit of a challenge, so I'm excited. Hopefully I'll post some recipes. pan sear steak, nuke potatoes for a minute before cooking them, making large batches of things, then nuking them throughout the week. Cook these large batches during cool parts of the day, so the AC doesn't have to work so hard. Also, use the oven for several things at once. Don't open the oven door while things are cooking. Use the toaster oven when possible. Use the small burner for the small pan. This is something I've done forever, but its worth mentioning: Use less water to cook pasta. You can use about half of the amount it calls for on the box. Drives me nuts when people over-water their pasta. But I digress.

4) Clean the dishwasher drain. This is something that has needed to be done, but its just a job I hate. Get out all the nasties.

5) Do laundry during cool times of the day. The heat from the drier heats your house. In the summer, it means your AC has to work harder. In the winter, it makes your heater work less hard. All around, it just makes sense to use it while its cool.

6) Dust out the vents. I've tried to do this before, but I might try to vacuum them out, if possible. we don't have a canister vacuum, which is why I haven't done it before. Its probably better for our health, anyway.

Anyway, what this means for you guys, is I'll try to post an energy-efficient recipe about once a week, based on what I'm eating for this week. Of course, I'm still going on my 300-a-lunch challenge, so I guess I just upgraded to hardcore mode.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I always knew lettuce and greens had very little caloric value, but I had also heard that salads are a trap--you think they are healthy, but are filled with hidden fat bombs. And I still kinda think that way. I never ordered salads at fast-food restaurants--I thought they were designed to be cheap and aimed at people who thought they were eating healthy--'Salad' seems healthy, but still made with all the fatty shortcuts all other fast food was made with. That and they are so expensive, compared to things like sandwiches. All designed to make maximum profits. And romaine lettuce is supposed to be a wasteland of nutrition--its just cheap to grow and people will eat it. Dressings, croutons, bacon bits--everything is a trap to think you're eating healthy,

So I've had to change how I think about salads. Its probably not a normal thought process to see salads as unhealthy, so I can't expect the self-inflicted cognitive therapy to work for everyone.

I'd had to look and see what the actual nutritional value of all the 'traps' were, and realize that I needed to do portion control (as is my major issue).

So I started looking at what I would put into a salad. Dressing and cheese are my big things.

Courtesy of
2 tablespoons of ranch is 140 calories. 11-14 grams of fat. For a normal, 2,000 diet, that's about 1/5 of the daily recommended dose. So that's no fun, especially if you're shooting for less. So chose something more 'diet-like', and went with a reduced fat raspberry vinaigrette. Considerably better than ranch, and quite delicious, I must say. It does stain everything pink, so if you mix your salad before hand, expect all the meat to look like confetti.

An alternate to dressing I used was sesame oil. It contains a lot more calories than most dressings, per tablespoon, but I use a lot less of it. Maybe half a tablespoon, which is only 60 calories. Also, it has a lot of unsaturated fats, which are better for you anyway. The important thing is to toss it with the salad, to coat every leaf with it. Its very potent, and has a unique flavour. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

When I was a kid, I'd get salads at school--a few leaves of romaine and about a cup of cheddar. Maybe some peanuts. Cheese is one of the best things ever. But for a dieter, its a bit of a problem. For salads, I've been trying to keep it down to 1/4 cup, and use mozzarella--fewer calories than cheddar--or else 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.

What Else to Add
I'm the only one in the house that really eats vegetables, so I don't keep many stocked. The obvious choice for salads is more veggies, but I've been getting more creative. And I need protein.

Eggs: chopped up hard-boiled egg. Protein, some potassium, some colour to make my day happier--its pretty much wonderful.

So basically I'm eating lettuce-egg-small amount of cheese-sesame-oil salads. Tasty. 150-200 calories for a lunch. Not so bad.

Salads on the go: Wendy's had this awesome Berry Almond Chicken Salad now. I get a half-size and its about 280 calories. Hell, a full size is only 460, so as far as fast food goes, you're still doing well. And its cheaper than a sandwich, so eating out on a budget and diet is finally easy. And its delicious. I'm super happy about it, and hope it stays.

Monday, August 13, 2012


  • ½ Pound ground beef
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup parmesan
  • 1 egg
Mix all ingredients together. Sprinkle with seasonings as you please. Form into small, ½-inch balls. Fry in pan. Eat.

About 130 calories for 3 meatballs.

Things I like about this recipe: 3 meatballs is a good amount of protein, and its still a reasonable number of calories. They are delicious, reasonably sized for lunch boxes, and are overall really good.

Things I don’t like about this recipe: The main issue with meatballs is not the meat, it’s the pasta you eat it with. 2 oz of rotini is 200 calories. That’s ¾ cup dry. Not to mention sauce. So even though these are a great way to get some protein, be careful what you eat with them. I’m still working on the perfect lunch with these, but it looks like I'm leaning toward meatball sandwiches. I’ll keep you updated.

Things I could change about this recipe: Not a whole lot. You could replace the parmesan with more breadcrumbs, make the breadcrumbs from whole wheat bread... put more veggies in it, maybe... more Garlic... These are pretty basic, simple meatballs. I don’t see much reason to change it, although suggestions are always welcome.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

So I made Apple Cinnamon Muffins. They are really simple!

3/4 cup All-Purpose flour
1/4 cup Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/6 cup Olive Oil
1 egg
1/6 cup Milk
1/2 a Chopped Apple

Mix flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Stir in oil, egg and milk. Throw in apple. Fill lined muffin tins 3/4 full (I got about 7 out of it), and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.

150 Calories each (With a yield of 7)

Things I like about this recipe: Its really simple, and it doesn't require a special trip to the store. Most everything is in your pantry, save for the apple. Good for dorm kitchens, because your only mess is one bowl  and one muffin tin. Overall, its a nice, simple recipe. They are filling.

Things I don't like about this recipe: Caloric content. My goal for lunches is 300 calories, so this is a sink for half a lunch. The oil really gets you. There’s not too much sugar in it, so that’s good, but otherwise is not that perfect.

Things I could change about this recipe: Substitute applesauce for the oil. It saves about 50 calories for the muffin, and it adds more of an apple-y taste to these yummy muffins! It also turns the muffins from a main component of lunch to a snack.
You could also change the flour to whole wheat flour, but the ratio would be different. I’ll have to experiment and find out! Whole Wheat flour would definitely make this healthier, but for those of us who can’t find it at a decent price, we make due.

The Beginning.

It seems a bit strange that it has come to this.

There are several things that define my actions in this time of my life.

One: I feel the need to lose the 'freshman 15' that took me 2 years to gain. My family history is to blame--my mother, around a similar age, gained an enormous amount of weight rather quickly, and I vowed to never become like this. So, I have taken it upon myself to stop the process before it happens, and get to a place with my body that I feel comfortable.

Two: I love to cook. Recently, this has been a direct battle with my dieting. I have a small frame, so limiting my caloric intake is really difficult--the line between weight loss and starving myself is around 100 calories. I've had to do a lot of thinking about how I view food. Its been an interesting journey.

Three: I like to knit! Its a hobby, and I've been knitting in some form since I was about 5. I like to think I can knit anything. Like to.

Four: I am a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction. Zombies, nuclear holocaust, etc--its all very fascinating.

Anyhoot, that's enough about me, lets find other things to talk about!