Friday, September 16, 2011

Move Aside and Let the Mango Through

I recently took a trip to Cape Cod with the hubby as a last-ditch effort to relax before the little peanut arrives. Relax really isn’t a word that frequents my vocabulary. I operate on two speeds…STOP and GO. Between 15-mile bike rides, whale watching and dragging Joe through tons of shops, I actually managed to sit on the beach for a few hours and read a book. A miracle! (Speaking of books, everyone should go out and read the Hunger Games series RIGHT NOW. Ignore the embarrassing “young adult” label on the spine. It rocks.)

Doesn't every pregnant woman bike 15 miles in a sun hat?

A main vacation priority of mine is to hit up any and all delicious eateries in the area. Cape Cod is the perfect locale to find fresh seafood prepared in a casual, no-frills style. And boy did we eat! We stopped by The Beachcomber for fried clam strips, The Squire for oysters on the half shell and sampled a few different varieties of chowder and fish & chips.

All this seaweed made me constantly think of eating sushi. 

I’ve been on a major seafood kick lately and with baby on board, I ate my fill of all things fried. I may have over indulged a bit. When we got home, I wanted to keep the seafood trend going, but on a much lighter note.

Trying to zoom-in on the boats to see what fish they might be dragging in.

We picked up some fresh tilapia filets, but you could certainly use any flaky white fish for this. Season the fish with salt and pepper and sear the filets in a skillet on medium-high heat. I usually cook in olive oil, but I did add about a tablespoon of real butter to the oil in the pan. After much trial and error, I find that even a touch of butter helps the fish to develop a crunchy, golden brown sear on the outside. Without the sear, it’s just too mushy for me.

I topped the fish with a FRESH MANGO SALSA that I whipped up. While shopping around the adorable little Chatham Village, we stopped in an olive oil and vinegar shop called Gustare. The store lets you sample an impressive variety of different flavored oils and vinegars. I picked up an apricot-infused aged white balsamic vinegar and one of the suggested uses was for mango salsa. I used the vinegar in place of lime juice. The subtle hint of apricot gives the tart vinegar a little extra sweetness.

This gorgeous plate took only 15 minutes to whip together!

This took about 15 minutes to put together. It’s light and fresh and satisfies the need for something from the sea.  Summer might be drawing to a close, but who says you can’t have a beach-inspired dinner any time the mood strikes? Put a mini-cocktail umbrella in your drink. Relive the moment. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Yum-balaya, The Anytime Soup

I haven’t written since May. Before you get on my case for being a lazy slacker, I must announce…. drum roll please… I’m pregnant!

I’ve had a bit of a tough time sticking to my usual Diet It Up routine. Spending time cooking means taking precious hours away from my new favorite pastime… sleeping!

Now that I’m into the second trimester, my energy is slowly making a comeback.  I even found a full hour to cook a real meal this weekend that wasn’t covered in cheese, peanut butter or pickles. The husband was thrilled.

I was flipping through my recipe binder and found this JAMBALAYA recipe that I saved. I don’t even remember making this. But, if I went through the effort of three-hole punching, I must have liked it. Getting the three-hole punch treatment is a pretty big deal.

Jambalaya is a soup-meets-stew concoction that we can thank our good friends in Louisiana for popularizing. It’s a great way to use up leftovers. Got some chicken lying around? Throw it in. Want to use crab instead of shrimp? Go right ahead. Shoot to include a seafood, poultry and smoky sausage element in your own version.

To avoid using a really greasy pork sausage, the supermarket had these neat little turkey/chicken andouille sausage bites that taste exactly like the pork version. I’m completely going to buy these again and turn them into pigs-in-a-blanket for football season.

I topped each bowl of Jambalaya off with a big ice cream scoop of brown rice. Don’t be turned off by making a stew in the middle of August like your crazy pal Trish. The sauce/broth is light enough that it’s perfectly appropriate any time of year.

I will try my best to post up delicious words of healthy wisdom on a weekly basis. One the managers in the office just referred to my growing baby belly as “huge” so I’ll be making a conscious effort to stay on track!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

By the Beard of Zeus! - Greek Stuffed Chicken

Three things I’d like to use this blog as a forum to selfishly brag about:

1 – I ran my first ever 5K race a few weeks ago. (Even though a few moms whizzed by me with their jogger strollers, I didn’t do half bad!)

Pre-race. This smile was later replaced with the look of utter exhaustion.

2 – I finally lost the 10 pounds I put on after college (The fact that college was almost 10 years ago, is not an important detail to note).

3 – Constant blabbering about healthy eating choices is starting to pay off. Friends and family are calling and texting with their healthy ideas and I love it!           

Let me introduce you to my friend Diana. You may remember her from the Last Horrah Greek Cookout. Although she’s getting much more adventurous in her old age of 30, she’s still not a huge vegetable eater (unless you consider ketchup to be a vegetable).

Di called me one day with a recipe she loves that also gets some greens into her diet. Was there a full moon? Had she gone completely mad? I like to think my healthy cooking antics are rubbing off on people!

This BAKED GREEK CHICKEN makes plain old chicken breast something much more special. The spinach and feta mixture creates a creamy, cheesy stuffing and the panko topping gives the chicken a crunchy crust. I’m not sure where her original recipe came from, but the references to “EVOO” and “two turns of the pan” scream Rachael Ray.

I adjusted the recipe to give each piece of chicken even more spinachy stuffing in each bite. Go big or go home I always say, unless we’re talking about tequila. Then go small, go very small.

Give this a try on your vegetable leery friends. They'll be spinach converts in no time. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hall & Sloats: Whoa-oh here she comes. She’s a slow cooker!

I should preface this post by explaining that my husband Joe and I have been around each other for so long, we speak our own language. I don’t mean a cutesy sort of lovey-dovey language. I mean we have a weird habit of making up our own abbreviated words for things.

If you hear us talking to each other in public you might think we sound like a couple with “special needs”. Somehow Italian garlic and oil sauce (aglio e olio) has become alool. Ice cream is affectionately called screamies, and scrambled eggs with salsa and cheese has somehow morphed into crazy eggs. In some instances we abandon the spoken word all together and resort to hand signals. It’s bizarre, I agree. But look at us, would you expect anything else?

So now you can understand why this SLOW COOKER OATMEAL came to be called “The Sloat.”

I really like having a hot breakfast in the morning and oatmeal is a welcome departure from Egg Beaters and turkey sausage. The instant packet oatmeal isn’t the greatest. To make it quick cooking and microwave friendly, a lot of the packets contain artificial flavors and sweeteners.

This oatmeal took two failed attempts before I realized you have to use steel cut oats. Rolled oats just don’t work. Take one was more of an oatmeal-flavored soup. Take two woke me up in the middle of the night with the smell of burning brown sugar cementing to the sides of the pot.

By take three I switched to steel cut oats. They take longer to cook and stand up perfectly to slow cooking. The pellet shaped grain is closer to bulgur or al dente cous cous than it is to what American’s typically think of as oatmeal. It maintains a chewy texture even after being slow cooked overnight.

Selling points for The Sloat
  • It cooks while you’re sleeping and the whole house will smell like cinnamon.
  • Sweeteners and dried fruit mix-ins are interchangeable for different flavor combinations.
  • It’s super creamy despite being cooked in water.
  • Leftovers can be brought back to life in the microwave and enjoyed for the next few days by adding a splash of water to the bowl, covering it in plastic wrap and reheating.
  • The Sloat is just really silly to say and bound to make you laugh at least once. 

Oats on Foodista

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Come to the Dark (Leafy Greens) Side!

Three healthy eating challenges:

#1 = being bored to death with steamed vegetables.

#2 = finding a side dish that feels exciting enough to serve guests (or the guests I’d like to have over if I could fit more than four in my kitchen. Anyone who’d like to come over and eat from a “kids table” kind of setup in my living room is more than welcome).

#3 = having to eat my two foot Easter bunny at a rate of one nibble per day.

I’m solving number one and two with BAKED SPINACH. My normal preparation of baby spinach is wilted in olive oil and garlic. It’s getting a little stale. It feels boring. When I’m bored with a vegetable, I want French fries, or mashed potatoes, or forget the side dish and just give me a slice of cake, NOW!

If I can keep my veggie options varied and interesting, I don’t miss the bad stuff. This baked spinach is similar to a gratin except it’s cream-free and uses only a small amount of gruyere cheese (I guess what I’m saying is that it’s nothing like a gratin but comes in the same nifty baking dish).

The sautéed spinach is mixed with creamy gruyere and topped with crispy breadcrumbs. The cheese flavor is mild, so the spinach can taste like spinach and not be forced to drown in a river of cream. 

I served this alongside a roast beef and the plate could have easily been served for Easter dinner. It’s just as appropriate for a quick weeknight meal. It’s low in calories but high in specialness, far superior to (insert generic steamed vegetable here).

Don’t treat your greens with a lack of enthusiasm. Don’t toss them on the plate as an afterthought. You’ll look forward to this. Embrace the power of dark leafy greens. Welcome vitamin K and antioxidants into your life with open arms!

As for the Easter bunny, I guess I have no choice but to share it with my husband. Maybe he can resist the enticing stare of those sugary eyes!

Spinach on Foodista

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spoiler Alert: This is Not a Cookie

I don’t want to eat much before I’m bouncing around on the treadmill Yes, bouncing. I’ve been called a lot of things, but graceful never seems to make the list. What I really need before my clumsy workout is a little bite, just enough to reenergize.

Luna Bars are my staple snack. They’re formulated with essential vitamins and minerals specifically for women’s health. It’s not like they’re going to boost your bra size (darn), I just happen to like the flavors and appreciate that they’re made from all-natural ingredients.

At 180 calories a bar, they’re a little big for a bite. The company does make Luna Minis, but the flavors are limited and get pretty boring. So, I cut the full size bars in half and pack them in little plastic baggies.

I whipped out one of my plastic baggie snack packs on the train the other day and the guy next to me looked at me like I was completely bonkers. The resulting conversation went something like this:

 “Is that half a granola bar?”
 “Yeah, and?”
 “Lady, go wild. Eat the whole bar.”

Get a load of this guy. Apparently grabbing slivers of food from baggies hiding in the depths of your purse is NOT the norm around here. I came across these CARROT OATMEAL BITES on Chiot’s Run. I thought they might take the place of buying a store bought granola bar and chopping it to bits.

Please note: The recipe is actually intended for pure maple syrup but I only keep
sugar free in the house. The bites turned out just fine anyway. 

Don’t be fooled by their signature cookie shape. These aren’t overly sweet and really taste more like a granola bar than any cookie I’ve ever tried. But, I love how hearty and filling they are. Plus, I got to experiment with coconut oil, which I’ve never used before.

By using coconut oil instead of butter and eggs, these cookies are vegan approved. The original recipe calls for unrefined coconut oil, which I couldn’t find. But, the refined oil (processed to remove any impurities and eliminate the coconutty taste) was right in the organic aisle of the regular supermarket.  Unrefined (unmessed-with) is always better, but I couldn’t get my hands on it the day I needed it.

Either way, this is pretty cool stuff. It looks like beeswax in the jar, but you can melt it and pour it right into your baking in place of the butter. Just make sure you melt the oil right before you want to incorporate it into the rest of your ingredients. Once it cools off, it’s back to beeswax consistency.

I’ve been eating one of these cookies before each workout this week. They’re packed with trail mix-like energizing ingredients. They’re nutty with little bursts of sweetness from the dried fruit. I went light on the ginger since I didn’t want this to turn into a gingersnap, but I thought the ginger added an interesting spicy element.

I had fun with these. You can easily change up the mix-ins and create a completely different tasting bite for the next batch. Hiding carrots in there is a pretty sneaky way to get some extra veggies in. I stashed half the bites in the freezer to have again next week. If you’re looking to avoid a confrontation with strangers on the train, give these “cookies” a try. Add your own spin. Go wild. 

Carrot on Foodista

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Healthy Bacon Pizza. Yes…I said HEALTHY.

My brother James completely cracks me up. He’s a 25-year-old home beer brewer/International culinary enthusiast/fearless cook.  While I’m trying to figure out how I can get a really spectacular dinner on the table quickly, he’s making Julia Child’s all day Boeuf Bourguignon and pairing it perfectly with his favorite craft brew of the week. James sends me this Facebook post a few days ago:

"Trish, I have a Diet It Up challenge for you. Can you think of a way to healthy-up Tarte Flambée? It's a French flatbread covered in crème fraiche, bacon and onion. I feel like there's a healthy variant out there somewhere, I just can't quite find it."

A healthy bacon pizza? I call that an oxymoron of epic proportions. Obviously my own brother was trying to set me up for a Saturday afternoon of eating failed pizza attempts (given my inability to throw anything away). I don’t know much about the French or their food. The last time I checked, Flambée was something set on fire.

A quick search turned up a recipe from the beautiful blog, Smitten Kitchen. I was able to learn what the Alsatian specialty is supposed to look and taste like. Her recipe gave me a great starting point to launch my own clever swap outs and culinary substitutions.

First off, I made my own HONEY WHOLE WHEAT PIZZA DOUGH. I always take the lazy route and grab a frozen ball of dough from Whole Foods. That’s perfectly fine. But, if you want to go the extra mile and make your own dough, I highly recommend this one. The hint of honey adds a subtle sweetness that pairs perfectly with salty pizza toppings. I cut the ball of dough into 4 to make portion-controlled individual servings.

The creamy “crème fraiche” base is made with a mixture of ricotta and sour cream (part-skim of course). Instead of bacon, I made crispy, crumbled prosciutto by baking slices of it in the oven. The fat drips away from the meat leaving the same salty, smoky flavor with much less fat.

I know the authentic flatbread is made with raw onions. I don’t love the bite of so much raw onion, so I went with Smitten’s approach and very lightly caramelized them in some olive oil. They are melt-in-your mouth silky.

The final BACON & ONION PIZZA was a flavorful combination of salty and sweet, creamy and crunchy. It may not be the most “diet” of all things I’ve ever made, but it’s certainly a significant calorie reduction from the original.

We ate the leftovers the next day for brunch with a runny, over easy fried egg on top…because runny fried eggs make every day just a little bit brighter.

Do you have an idea for a Recipe Slimdown? Send me your gut busters and I’ll take a stab and turning them into waist slimmers.

Prosciutto on Foodista

Monday, April 4, 2011

Munchos Reincarnated

Remember Munchos? I know they’re still around, but since most mainstream companies have ditched trans fats, I wonder if they’re still the greasy, salty, potato conglomerates of generations past.  I loved them.

Back in high school, kids lined up outside 7-11 after school. I wasn’t one of the cool kids sitting on the curb drinking a 40 from a paper bag. I was the nerdy, chubby kid grabbing a bag of Munchos and rushing home to study Calculus. 

I don’t care what anyone says, those chips were glorious. They aren’t even totally a potato chip. Frito Lay stretches the potato with corn. If you want to see a few examples of what corn has done to our lives, check out the movie King Corn. It’s rather enlightening.  

I recently stumbled onto Pop Chips. My cafeteria at work sells them and I thought I’d take a chance. Low and behold, Pop Chips are the all-natural reincarnation of Munchos! Hooray! They’re “popped” with air rather than baked or fried. They do use a little rice flour as a binder, but for the most part, they’re a crispy, salty potato chip.  They taste exactly like the Munchos I remember, but with fewer calories and more than half the fat missing from the equation.

It’s Monday. Go wild. Grab yourself a bag and enjoy. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011


In honor of my new Twitter account, I'd like to show off my "evil" laboratory, complete with bird friends (the newest members of the family, Gertie and Clevis). Follow me @DietItUp on Twitter. I can promise a plethora of food related ramblings.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Spin on Eggs

Let’s paint a picture of my typical Tuesday night. I flee from work as close to 5 as possible. Sometimes, I go wild and head for the elevators a few minutes early (4:53 to be exact). Then, I power walk to Penn station bobbing and weaving through hoards of tourists in Times Square looking up at billboards and taking pictures in front of the oh-so-picturesque Duane Reade.

Once I hop on the 5:17 train, I can relax, read a book or fall asleep. Some LIRR train riders obviously missed the memo on relaxation. Every day, a loyal group of grumpies line up in front of the doors so they can spring from the train first, make a running beeline to their car and therefore arrive home 30 seconds before the rest of us suckers.  I would love to catch this on video some day. It’s a real treat to witness.

After navigating this complicated train evacuation and walking up a few flights of stairs to my car, I spiral down the parking garage and drive swiftly (but legally ;) to the gym. A quick costume change, and I’m ready for spin class (usually I remember to call and register before noon to secure a bike).

Spin class is the highlight of my workout week. It’s fast paced and energetic. The music pumps, the teacher motivates and after a grueling hour of work I feel like I can do anything. I stretch out and head home. When I finally walk through the door it’s at least 8PM. I’ve been up since 5:15AM.

Who the heck wants to cook at 8PM? I’m sweaty and hungry. Hungry Trish can be a truly scary beast. EGGS IN PURGATORY is my response to hectic Tuesdays. You can make it in five minutes…literally. 

I wrote a recipe just to be as descriptive as possible, but really it’s just an egg poached in spicy tomato sauce. To stay carb free, I serve mine on top of a bed of sautéed escarole and white beans. But, a side of crusty Italian bread would be the perfect splurge accompaniment.

If this is what Purgatory is all about, I wouldn’t mind hanging there for a while. I didn’t even know this dish existed. I was searching for ideas to spruce up eggs and stumbled on it. A recipe involving a strange reference to religion and the bible stopped me in my tracks. It’s such an odd title.

Protein is essential after a workout routine. It helps to build up muscle tone. The spicy tomato sauce gives the eggs and unexpected kick. Anything that can taste this rich and satisfying and be on the plate in 5 minutes is a keeper in my book.

If you have any super quick, post-workout food ideas, please share. I seem to over-complicate everything and can always use some guidance in the ways of simplification.

Monday, March 28, 2011


I’m certainly no chef, but I like to think of myself as a pretty solid home cook. Plus, I have a husband who gladly stands in as “soux chef” when I need an extra pair of hands. He chops; he measures; he grills, all while balancing a pint of beer in his free hand. It’s quite impressive.

I hate to admit inferiority, but there are a few dishes Joe makes far better than me. Me, food lover and eating expert out-cooked when it comes to stir-fry.  His protein is always cooked to perfection, never overcooked or dried out. Each veggie is crisp and green even though they cook at different times and temperatures. There’s just the right amount of sauce to coat each bite, without having a pool at the bottom of your plate. It might sound simple, but I am yet to master it.

What goes better with stir-fry than rice? Rice, however, is where both of us epically fail. It seems so easy. You follow the instructions on the package for boiling water! But, we can’t seem to get it right. It always turns out looking more like oatmeal than a fluffy side dish.

The last time we battled brown rice, it actually turned out pretty decent. There had to be a catch…and there was. We made enough rice to feed a family of four for three weeks. Too bad we’re a family of two and only intended to eat the rice once.

I had to find a use for this leftover rice. I couldn’t just throw it away. I come from a family that would wrap up one lonely piece of bacon or a third of a chicken cutlet to enjoy another day. It’s in my genes. We don’t waste.

I decided on a BAKED RICE PUDDING. I know rice pudding may have the stigma of being a totally 70’s Suzy Homemaker dessert. I could care less. I really like it. For healthy eaters, it’s a dessert that packs in some fiber and protein. You’ll actually feel full while treating yourself.

Of course I swapped out white rice for brown. I’m also substituting whole milk for almond milk. I’m not sure if you’ve experimented with almond milk before, but I’m a huge fan. It’s low in calories but has a subtle nutty, sweet flavor that makes it perfect for a dessert. If you prefer regular milk, go ahead and use 1%.

This rice pudding is, snuggle-up-on-the-couch-with-a-good-book kind of good. It’s hearty and warming. It makes me think of fireplaces and wool socks. I baked the pudding in a water bath to keep it moist and creamy without getting dry around the edges.  The raisins add a burst of sticky sweetness in each bite.

Even though this bakes for a hefty chunk of time, the brown rice holds it’s chewy texture so you can scoop out a nice serving and it won’t ooze all over the dish. Embrace the chilly breeze while it lasts. Spring is right around the corner.

* Love it? Hate it? Get cooking and let me know what you think!

Medium-Grain Brown Rice on Foodista

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pound It Out

A few months back I went to a bridal shower at an Italian restaurant where they served a delicious platter of Veal Milanese. Amidst the mayhem of gift opening and shrieking women, I made a mental note to try the dish at home, my way.

For those of you out of the Italian food loop, Milanese is typically a veal cutlet, pounded thin, then breaded and fried. It’s usually served with a lemon wedge or some sort of vinaigrette based salad on the side, simple and delicioso.

I opted for chicken breast instead of veal. I took the lazy girl way out and bought the thin sliced cutlets from the supermarket. If you have some chicken in the fridge already, you can butterfly the whole breast and pound it between two pieces of plastic wrap.

Panko Japanese breadcrumbs are a must here. I don’t know what magic the Japanese are working, but anything coated in panko comes out of the oven with a crunchy brown coating, like culinary presto chang-o!

My husband and I picked apart an entire cutlet before the plate was even finished. This chicken is certainly good enough to stand alone. But, what’s a magician without his lovely assistant? The arugula adds a peppery bite that makes a seemingly simple salad really punchy and flavorful. It completes the act.

My favorite part of this CHICKEN MILANESE is its versatility. I made it one night for dinner and had the leftovers the next day for lunch. It can be served warm or at room temp. The dish plates up so beautifully you could easily serve it to guests.

I offer this recipe as proof that Italian food doesn’t have to be covered in mozzarella to be completely satisfying!

* Love it? Hate it? Get cooking and let me know what you think!

Chicken Breast on Foodista

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lazy Girl Special

My husband goes to night school twice a week. I usually use the time to catch up on a workout at the gym and when I come home, I’m left to scrounge around the apartment for something that resembles dinner. I do so much cooking as a hobby, that on nights like this one, I want to chill out. It’s 9 PM, I’m damn hungry, sore from a 45 minute spin class and in need of instant gratification.

Sometimes I find myself eating peanut butter from the jar, cereal from the box, or milk from the carton. It’s all well and good to pretend you’re a bachelor every now and then. But without preparing a meal, putting it on a plate and being aware of how much you’re eating, it’s easy to down a half jar of that peanut butter while watching the Animal Planet…in a pink fuzzy robe…on the sofa.

Tonight’s lazy girl special is oatmeal. Oatmeal is perfectly fine. I actually have a cool oatmeal recipe coming your way next week. But, last night’s HUMMUS FLATBREAD was much more satisfying for a low effort dinner.

Whenever I’m at Whole Foods, I stock up on their frozen whole-wheat pizza dough. It has the best taste and texture I’ve found in whole-wheat supermarket dough. But, feel free to use whichever brand you like that’s easily accessible to you. You can even use toasted pita for this.

The idea is simple. Roll out the dough. Bake it for a few minutes. Top with your favorite hummus, sliced tomato and fresh herbs and you can be back on that sofa in minutes.

The lazy ME would dunk pita chips straight from the bag into a plastic tub of hummus. The sensible ME appreciates the same flavors in a portion-controlled package. The flatbread is crisp, the hummus is creamy and the fresh vegetables make it a well rounded, late night dinner.

* Get cooking. Let me know what you think. Love it? Hate it? I’m interested in hearing your feedback and suggestions.

Hummus on Foodista

Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Recap

I watched the Oscars last night. I’ll jump on the band wagon that’s saying host Ann Hathaway was blatantly over acting while her co-host James Franco looked stoned and clueless. But I enjoyed it nonetheless. I’m in it for the fancy dresses anyway.

I have one pet peeve I’d like to point out. Every single horrendous red carpet interviewer could not stop blabbing about Jennifer Hudson’s recent overhaul. There’s nothing more offensive to a “fat” girl turned slim than telling her she looks great NOW. She wasn’t a talented and beautiful artist BEFORE?

I won’t stay on my soapbox for long, but I would love it if people would change their tune on this one. Overweight individuals are almost always overweight for a specific reason: depression, health problems, etc. Everyone assumes they just overeat because they like cheeseburgers.

Although telling someone they look great is surely a nice compliment, no one ever thinks to encourage people to beat what made them overeat in the first place. So Jennifer, I may not be Ryan Seacrest, but congrats on being happy, and healthy, and caring about who you are.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Swirly Twirly Gumdrops…I mean Raisin Bread

I was home sick this weekend and after a few days of being trapped in the house I was bound to get a little creative with my entertainment. Most people would pop in a movie, read a book, or play a video game. But not this girl! I made cinnamon raisin bread from scratch; once an overachiever, always an overachiever.

The Food Network magazine has a photo tutorial section in each issue teaching you to make something a little more complicated. This month was ELLIE KRIEGER’S CINNAMON-RAISIN BREAD. The good news is that the bread is made with whole wheat flour and sweetened mostly with honey. It’s about 100 calories a slice. The better news is that it made the most perfect French toast breakfast the next morning.

Take one of this bread was an epic failure. The recipe calls for “instant” yeast. I couldn’t find instant yeast at the supermarket so I swapped it out for active dry yeast. Yeast is yeast, right? Wrong. It didn’t rise. I put the bowl of dough on top of the oven hoping that the warmth would help it along. I forgot about it and turned on a burner to make lunch and the bread cooked right in the bowl. Oops!

Apparently instant yeast can be added right to the dry ingredients and doesn’t need any special treatment to activate it. If you use active dry yeast, follow the directions on the packet to activate it before adding it to your dough. I dissolved mine in warm water with a teaspoon of sugar until it frothed up.

Take two was a complete success. The outside of the loaf was perfectly browned and crusty, while the inside was soft and squishy with a hint of sweetness from the cinnamon raisin swirl. It was a real treat.

Bread dough is fun. It reminds me of the colored play dough kids tried to eat in Kindergarten. Throwing flour all over the counter and making a mess feels like play time. Play with your food. Have fun with this one. As you can see by my Minnie Mouse coffee mug, I encourage fun to creep up just about anywhere.

* Get cooking. Let me know what you think. Love it? Hate it? I’m interested in hearing your feedback and suggestions.

Baking on Foodista