Bacon and Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms

Bacon and Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms
Makes 24 Mushrooms

24 large button mushrooms
2 slices bread, torn
3 tablespoons bacon bits (or 2 slices bacon, crumbled)
1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Remove stems from cleaned mushrooms. Finely mince the stems.
  2. Preheat oven to 375F.
  3. Preheat a 10″ non-stick skillet and spray with cooking spray.
  4. Add minced mushrooms stems. Saute until then get soft (4-6 minutes.)
  5. Add torn bread. Continue to cook and stir until the bread becomes well-mixed.
  6. Add bacon. Stir.
  7. Add cheese and remove from the heat. Stir until well-mixed.
  8. Fill each cap with a teaspoon of filling.
  9. Place all caps in a 9×13 baking pan.
  10. Bake, uncovered for 30-45 minutes, or until the mushrooms get hot and the stuffing browns.

Nutritional data (per mushroom):
Calories:     29
Fat:           1.9g
Sat fat:      1.1g
Chol:        5.5mg
Sodium:  72.4mg
Carbs:       1.2g
Fiber:        0.3g
Protein:     2.1g

Onions, garlic instead of bacon
Crab meat instead of bacon
Onion and avocado instead of bacon and cheddar
Onion, sausage and mozzarella instead of bacon and cheddar
Sun-dried tomato, garlic and mozzarella instead of bacon and cheddar
Onion, black olive and feta instead of bacon and cheddar
Minced ham and shredded Swiss instead of bacon and cheddar

Baked Cod and Wilted Spinach with Parmesan Panko Crumbs

Baked Cod and Wilted Spinach with Parmesan Panko Crumbs
Serves 2

12 ounces cod fillets
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, mashed and minced
6 cups (9 ounces by weight) baby spinach, torn
1 tablespoon panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Place fish in a shallow oven-safe dish. Sprinkle with your preferred seasonings (I used Penzey’s Sunny Paris and Dill Weed.)
  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes or when the fish begins to flake apart. (Start checking for that at 20 minutes.)
  4. While the fish is baking, preheat a small non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil.
  6. When the oil is hot, add the panko crumbs. Toss frequently to prevent burning.
  7. Then the crumbs begin to get toast colored, add the parmesan cheese.  Toss to combine and remove from the heat.
  8. In the last 5 minutes of the fish cooking, heat a large (10-11 inch) non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining teaspoon of olive oil.
  9. When the oil is hot, add the garlic. Let it cook for a minute, and then add the spinach. (If you use a smaller skillet, you will need to do half at a time.
  10. Toss the spinach frequently. You want the spinach to wilt, not fry. This will start slowly at first, but when the leaves start collapsing it will finish quickly.
  11. Remove the spinach from the heat before all the leaves are wilted. Ideally, only about half the leaves will be soft and wilted when you remove the skillet from the burner. (They will continue to wilt as they sit in the pan.)
  12. Add half the spinach to each plate. Top with half the panko-parmesan crumbs. Place half the cod on the plate and serve immediately (this is a dish that will not wait for people to come to the table.)

Nutritional data (for 6 ounces of cod + one portion of spinach):
Calories:       250 (179 cod + 71 spinach)
Fat:             7.3g (2 + 5.3)
Sat fat:        1.3g (0.4 + 0.9)
Chol:    124.7mg (124 + 0.7)
Sodium:   263mg (177 + 90)
Carbs:         4.5g (0 + 4.5)
Fiber:             2g (0 + 2)
Protein:     54.9g (51.8 + 3.1)

You can also use haddock, pollack or just about any white fleshed fish
Add crushed red pepper to the spinach
Replace the parmesan cheese with sesame seeds (and replace the olive oil with sesame oil)

Winter Wonderland? You bet!

Wednesday, at 1pm:

Thursday, at 1pm:

Welcome to winter in Wisconsin!
This storm was predicted a few days ago and it did not live up to the hype. But I’m not complaining! I only needed to run the snowblower a total of three times in less than 24 hours. In Wednesday’s photo you can also see that I ran the snowblower on the patio and in the backyard. That is another example of spoiling Ozzie. He doesn’t like to run in the snow. When I plow a few runways in the backyard, he has places to “do his business.” This is actually a benefit for me, too, because it makes clean up easier.
Anyway, Winter Break is finally here! I have about 3 weeks off from school. Three busy weeks which have three Christmas celebrations, two dental visits, a platelet donation, and a three day vacation for Tammy and myself in Chicago. (The in-laws will house-sit the boys.)
But finally, the end of the semester is done. That is a overwhelmingly busy and stressful time (and any other educators here will attest to that) but now I can get back to my fun here.
For the past couple weeks, the food has been pretty basic and not really a lot to write about, but that has recently changed.  Yesterday’s meal is an example. Oh, most of the meal is nothing particularly exciting. Roasted vegetables and a beef roast makes for a nice meal, but they are not truly special. However, Tammy found a new potato recipe and that was a killer recipe! Even Bennett (our 20 year old) ate several servings.
Sometimes I think that finding a good side dish to finish a menu is harder than choosing the main dish. When I make a new side dish, and it works so well, I am excited to share it with you. So if you are making a meal and need a new way of serving potatoes, I hope you try the Bacon-Spinach Mashed Potatoes. 

Bacon-Spinach Mashed Potatoes

Bacon-Spinach Mashed Potatoes
Serves 6 (approximately 1/2 cup or 4 ounces by weight)

3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1/4 cup (2.5 ounces by weight) Fage Greek yogurt
2 tablespoon real bacon bits (or 1-2 strips, fried and crumbled)
4.5 ounces (by weight) baby spinach, torn

  1. Place potatoes in small pan, covered with water and bring to a boil. Boil until the potatoes are soft, and easily pierced with a fork (8-10 minutes–small dices cook faster).
  2. While the potatoes cook, heat a large (10-12 inch) non-stick skillet over medium high heat with the olive oil.
  3. When the oil is hot, add the garlic. Let it saute for 1 minute, then add the spinach.
  4. Turn the spinach frequently. It is finished when it wilts completely. Remove from the heat.
  5. When the potatoes of cooked, drain and place potatoes in a deep bowl.
  6. With an electric mixer, whip the potatoes. Add the yogurt and bacon bits.  Mix well.
  7. Stir in the spinach and serve.

Nutritional data:
Calories:      93
Fat:            1.6g
Sat fat:       0.5g
Chol:         1.7mg
Sodium:      88mg
Carbs:        17g
Fiber:        1.6g
Protein:     4.7g

Roasted Vegetables:
Choose your preferred veggies (I used fresh crimini mushrooms, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, and onions.)
Wash all veggies, and lay in a 9×13 pan. Drizzle 3 tablespoons olive oil evenly. Sprinkle with your favorite herbs and spices.
Roast at 450 for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Nutritional data will vary with your veggies choices. Other options include adding baby carrots, zucchini, butternut squash cubes, potato cubes, cherry tomatoes, whole garlic cloves.

Roast Beef:

Let the roast rest at room temperature for 1-2 hours. Season it as you prefer.
Preheat oven to 325.
Place the roast in a pan.
Bake uncovered, 30 minutes per pound (for medium) or until an instant read thermometer reads 150.

Take it out of the oven, and cover loosely with foil. The roast will continue to cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Did You Notice A Change?

Hi! It’s end of semester over here and I am kicking my feet as fast as possible, trying to keep my head above the rising waters. One more day and life will get back to normal (or whatever I consider “normal”.)

But for right now, I added a new feature to the blog. On the right side, right under the “Followers” (are you a follower yet?  If not, add yourself!) there is a cloud of labels. I added labels to all my recipes. The labels are key ingredients and other attributes of the recipes (such as “Easy”, “Salmon”, “Grilled”, “Feta” and “Dessert”.) If you don’t know how those clouds work, the more often I use a specific word as a label, the larger the size of the word in the cloud. The number after the word indicates how many recipes correspond to that label.

That was not a difficult task, but it was fussy. Using “side dish” and “side dishes” created two different labels. Misspelling a label once also created different labels. So I needed to label everything, then go back and consolidate multiple versions of the same attribute together.

What does that mean for you? You can consider this an interconnected index of all my recipes on the blog. The cloud will make it easier for you to find recipes that you want. If you want a breakfast recipe, clicking on “Breakfast” will open all recipes connected to that label. I hope this feature makes the blog easier to use.

It also quickly illustrates what my cooking is like. Apparently, I use chicken, mushrooms, eggs and spinach a LOT!

Roasted Carrots and Peas

Roasted Carrots and Peas
Serves 6

6 large carrots, peeled, and cut in quarters lengthwise
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Seasoning (black pepper, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder is what I used)

  1. Preheat oven to 450 and place a baking pan in it while heating.
  2. Place carrots in a Ziploc baggie.
  3. Top with olive oil and seasoning. Toss to coat.
  4. When the oven is hot, put the carrots in the hot pan.
  5. Roast for 25 minutes.
  6. Add peas, mix together. Roast another 10 minutes.

Nutritional data:
Calories:   79
Fat:           2.7g
Sat fat:      0.4g
Chol:           0mg
Sodium:  90.3mg
Carbs:     11.9g
Fiber:        3.7g
Protein:     2.9g

Tomato, Spinach and Feta Topped Chicken Thighs

Tomato, Spinach and Feta topped Chicken Thighs
Serve 4
1 tablespoon olive oil
Your preferred seasoning (I prefer Penzey’s Greek Seasoning)
4 chicken thighs (skin on, and bone in)
1 medium onion, finely minced
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
2 cups diced tomatoes, or about 16 grape tomatoes, halved.

4-6 ounces of fresh baby spinach
4 ounces white wine
Black pepper to taste
4 tablespoon crumbled feta cheese, divided
8 kalamata olives, sliced

  1. Drizzle olive oil over skin side of chicken thighs. Sprinkle seasoning and herbs on, and let rest for 30 minutes (in the fridge.)
  2. Preheat a 10-11 inch non-stick skillet over med-high heat (if it has a lid, that will help.)
  3. Preheat oven to 350F
  4. Lay chicken thighs in skillet, skin side down. Sprinkle additional herbs.
  5. Fry until the skin browns (8-10 minutes). Turn over and brown the opposite side.
  6. Lay the thighs in an 8×8 baking pan, and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165F. (If you insert a sharp, narrow knife into the thickest part of the thigh, clear juices will run out when fully cooked.)
  7. Carefully pour any residual grease out of the skillet. Reserve one teaspoon of grease. Do not wash or wipe the skillet clean.
  8. The topping will take 15 minutes, so time it accordingly.
  9. In the same skillet saute the onion in the reserved teaspoon of cooking grease until translucent (5-6 minutes over medium-high heat.)
  10. Add tomatoes, and let cook, undisturbed for 2 minutes.
  11. Add the garlic and stir everything together. Cook for one minute.
  12. Lay the spinach over the onions and tomatoes. If possible, add all, otherwise just half at a time.
  13. If all the spinach fits, pour the wine over the spinach. (If you have a lid, cover the skillet now and reduce the heat to low.)
  14. If only half the spinach fit, start with half the spinach and half the wine. When the spinach wilts, add the remaining spinach and wine.
  15. To serve, place a chicken thigh on the plate and top with 1/4 of the topping. Add 1 tablespoon feta, and 1/4 of the sliced olives.
Note:  I am providing the nutritional data for the topping only. You can made this with chicken thighs (my preference), or breasts (my wife’s preference.)  Skin on, or skin off. Large pieces or small pieces. One thigh (my portion) or three thighs (my college son’s portion.) All those options will vary, and to give you the number for what I ate will not mean much to you. But regardless of how much protein you serve per portion, the amount of topping remains unchanged.
Nutritional data for the topping:
Calories:    132
Fat:            7.8g
Sat fat:          2g
Chol:        12.3mg
Sodium:     266mg
Carbs:        8.3g
Fiber:         2.2g

Protein:      3.6g

The Winner of The Eating Well Subscription Is:

Jennifer Wegner!

Thank you to everyone that entered my first giveaway. It was exciting to receive an enthusiastic response. I hope to have others from time to time, always of products that have helped me reach my goals.

Jennifer, please email me your address. A link to my email is in my profile. As soon as I have your address, I will send in your subscription. (I don’t know how quickly you will receive your first copy. That is out of my control.)

Again, thank you to everyone!

Baked Egg with Feta and Spinach

Baked Egg with Feta and Spinach
Serve 4

4 eggs, separated
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon of your preferred herb blend (I used Penzey’s Mural of Flavor.)
1 cup (packed) fresh baby spinach, finely chopped
Pepper to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 350F.
2.  Spray oven-safe custard cups with cooking spray (or otherwise grease them.)
3.  With electric mixer, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
4.  Gently stir in cheese, spinach and herbs.
5.  Divide between the four cups.
6.  With a spoon, create a small well in the center of the egg white mixture.
7.  Carefully slide a yolk into each well.
8.  Place cups on a baking sheet, and place in oven.  Back 10-14 minutes, until the egg white puffs up and browns. The yolk will be hot and thick, but not solid.

Note: in the picture, I topped the egg with a half tablespoon of Greek yogurt. That was unnecessary, and won’t be repeated in the future.

Nutritional data:
Calories:       106
Fat:                 7g
Sat fat:            3g
Chol:           220mg
Sodium:       186mg
Carbs:          1.6g
Fiber:           0.2g
Protein:        9.3g

Crumbled bacon and finely shredded sharp cheddar
Shedded Swiss and minced mushrooms
Fresh basil, scallion and Parmesan

The “Ps” of Long Term Success, the Final Piece of the Puzzle AND my FIRST EVER GIVEAWAY!

You’ve got PASSION, are PLANNED and PREPARED. You’ve PROCEEDED towards your goal with PERSISTENCE and you PAY ATTENTION with PATIENCE.

You have a PASSION for your goal, and have a well-defined PLAN and are PREPARED. You PROCEEDED on your path, with PERSISTENCE and are PAY ATTENTION with deep PATIENCE.

What’s left?


This time of year is a challenge. Thanksgiving feasts. Neighborhood parties. Holiday parties at the office. Christmas and New Years. The food is never ending. And it is all soooo good!

And in parts of the country and world, the weather begins to turn nasty. It gets cold. Blustery. Snowy. Night comes earlier than we want, and our commitment to before- and after-work activity diminishes. We start to get more enthusiastic about sitting in our recliner than taking that extra walk.

And you know what happens then.

The scale creeps upward. And that is so frustrating. You get angry at yourself for “losing willpower.” You feel as though you “failed.”

Pardon yourself. Forgive yourself for your slips. We are all human. No one is perfect and can show daily losses on the scale. We are not machines. So go easy on yourself. Remind yourself that every day is another day and each time you eat, you have another chance to make a good decision. Eating to excess on one day should not trigger a bad choice the next day.

If you are using LoseIt, or Weight Watchers, you are given a set budget, either calories or points. Maybe during this time of year, you might be better off to temporarily stop your quest for losses and increase your budget to your maintenance level so that you don’t lose, but also don’t  gain. That may give you enough of a budget so that you can avoid the self-recriminations for overeating during the holiday season. But don’t stop logging what you eat. And don’t stop getting on the scale. Logging provides accountability and the scale gives one form of feedback.

Taking a break is not quitting. If you follow NASCAR, you know that at some point every driver pulls out of the race and goes into the pit. Sometimes it is for gas, sometimes for tires.  But whatever the reason, it is all to help the driver succeed. Even though he/she takes a brief break and falls behind some of the other drivers, he/she knows that without that pause, the risk of catastrophic failure is greater. Pulling into pit row is not quitting. It is part of the plan, and prevent future problems. What would happen to the driver of a car who decides to push it, “just one more lap” on bad tires? A blown tire would end his/her race.

If you are excessively challenged, and everyday find yourself exceeding your budget by a little, maybe you need to drive into your pit row. Give yourself permission to take a short break. Make the conscious choice to stop and recharge yourself. Losing weight is hard work, physically, mentally and emotionally. A brief respite now might give you more energy after the new year to make a hard drive to the checkered flag.

(No. I really don’t follow racing. I just know some of the terms.)

Now, for the GIVEAWAY!

One of my favorite periodicals is Eating Well. It has great recipes that are healthy and delicious, as well as easy to make. My subscription is up for renewal and I have the opportunity to give a free one year subscription. I will give it to one of my readers.

To enter:
1.  Respond to this blog post, and tell me which of my recipes that you have made at home is your favorite. (If you haven’t made one yet, which will be the first you want to try.)
2.  If you are on Twitter, make a Tweet about this contest, such as: “Eating Well has great recipes, and you can win a subscription here” and then tell me here that you tweeted the link.
3.  If you have your own blog, mention the contest on a post with this address and add your blog address here for everyone else to see.

Each of those actions will be another entry.

I will announce the winner on Monday, December 3, 2012

You can start the New Year (or whenever they start the subscription) with a great magazine, full of new ideas for healthy and delicious food.