Single-Serve Vanilla Cake

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Have you ever wanted just one piece of cake? Me too. Basically, all the time.

Have you ever baked a whole cake and had the willpower to just eat one slice? Yeah, me neither.

Cake makes my soul happy, but my waistline unbelievably unhappy. I firmly believe in indulgences though, and I find that if I restrict my diet so much to exclude delicious treats like cake, I binge on them like crazy later. So instead, I did some investigating on how to create a single-serve cake that would satisfy my cravings, but put the brakes on how much I can eat.

Microwave mug cakes were all the rage on Pinterest a year or two ago, and I’ve made them before, but with less than stellar results. My mug cakes were always goopy on the inside, but kind of tough on the outside, and the fact that they were baked in my mug meant that frosting and layers were kind of out of the question.

Instead, I powered up my oven, pulled out my smallest oven-safe Pyrex container, and got a-baking.

Lesson of the day: sometimes, a microwave oven doesn’t cut it, and you need the real deal to get something delicious.

In the end, I got a perfect little cake that was moist-yet-firm, and evenly baked. I whipped up a little nutella buttercream frosting because I’m super indulgent like that, and threw on a few colorful sugar sprinkles, and voila! Deliciousness just for me, myself, and I.

ps. play with this recipe and create new flavors by adding fresh fruit or nut extracts!

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Single-Serve Vanilla Cake
Serves: 1!
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
1 1/2 Tbsp liquid egg whites
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp butter, melted
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 cup flour
1/8 tsp (heaping) baking powder
Pinch of salt
3/4 Tbsp milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray the bottom and sides of a small oven-safe, glass container (I used a small Pyrex container without the lid, about 6″ diameter)
  2. In a bowl, use a fork to whisk egg whites and sugar until well combined. Add in butter and vanilla extract, and whisk well. Add flour, baking powder and salt, and stir to break up lumps, until the mixture is uniform and smooth. Stir in milk and combine.
  3. Pour batter into Pyrex container, and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cake is set, the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely and decorate with your frosting, sprinkles, and/or fruit.

 

 

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Herb and Goat Cheese Omelet

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What’s a girl to do when she’s woken up by her grumbling stomach? Devour a huge breakfast, of course!

Weekend mornings are the best. I mean, for real, what’s better than waking up with the sun, lingering under the covers for a few extra minutes of warm happiness, and then slowly stretching upwards and outwards to welcome the day? Probably nothing. I, like any red blooded American, live for the weekends. They are slower, and happier, and since Chirag comes home on the weekends, Saturdays and Sundays are instantly more fun.

During the week, I’m constantly pressed for time in the mornings, and find that I’m rushing to get out the door by 6:30am, and my breakfasts usually consist of a quick microwaveable scramble or a make-ahead muffin or breakfast sandwich. My favorite part of the weekends is that I can take my time and eat something fresh, healthy, and balanced. Also, this recipe gave me a chance to use up some fresh herbs I had in my kitchen. Any combination of herbs would taste great and fresh in this recipe, so you can use whatever you have on hand, which makes life 100 times easier on a lazy weekend morning.

Not to completely divert from the point here, but goat cheese is magical. Especially when you buy the kind that is mixed with herbs and olives.

Anyway.

Long story short, weekends = the best. Weekend breakfasts = the best of the best. The end.

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Herb and Goat Cheese Omelets
Serves: 4
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients
8 large eggs
1/2 Tbsp Italian seasoning or 1 Tbsp finely minced fresh herbs (eg. parsley, oregano, rosemary, basil, tarragon, sage), plus more for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tsp olive oil, divided
2 oz soft herb goat cheese
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, sliced, plus more for garnish
Parmesan cheese, shredded, for garnish

  1. Whisk eggs, herbs, salt and pepper together in a large bowl.
  2. Heat 1/2 tsp of oil in a skillet. Pour 1/4 of the egg mixture into the pan, and allow to set. Sprinkle 1/2 oz goat cheese, 1/4 cup spinach, and 1/8 cup green onions onto the the omelet and cook for an additional minute or until spinach as slightly wilted. Repeat to make 4 omelets total.
  3. Garnish with fresh herbs, green onions, and Parmesan cheese, and serve hot.

 

 

Seared Tofu with Chili Sauce

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You know those weekends where you find yourself without any housework, work-work, or social engagements, and you can spend the whole weekend parked on your sofa watching movies? Those magical weekends that come few and far between? I lived it last weekend, and it was truly fantastic. I felt so relaxed and rejuvenated throughout the weekend, and thoroughly recharged by Monday morning. In fact, I’m still riding my weekend restfulness into Wednesday, which is amazing. What a few good nights of sleep can do for your body!

Over the weekend, I was left to my own devices. It snowed several inches, my friends were busy with work, and Chirag was traveling for business, so I was completely on my own. So, I rented a few movies, picked out a new television series to watch on Netflix, made myself delicious meals and snacks, and had a wonderful weekend to myself. The weekend also included yoga pants and unbrushed hair, but we don’t need to go into that much detail about my general laziness.

Anyway, the first meal I cooked at the onset of the weekend was a tofu dish. I love tofu. Sure, it can be mushy and slimy and tasteless, but when cooked and seasoned properly, it can be an excellent vehicle for great flavors. Tofu is a great ingredient that can hold up to a lot of cooking styles. I’ve baked, roasted, grilled, fried and (obviously) stir fried tofu in the past. This time, I chose to sear my tofu, which gave it a great crispy and chewy crust, and a nice soft-yet-not-mushy center. I whipped up a little salty/spicy/sweet chili sauce, and voila! Dinner for one in a flash!

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Seared Tofu with Chili Sauce
Serves: 4
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:
1 package extra firm tofu, drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp salt
2 sprays, olive oil spray
3 Tbsp less sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp green onion, chopped
1 Tbsp red chili flakes, or more/less to taste
1 tsp roasted sesame seeds

  1. Cut tofu in half, and cut each half into 8 equal slices, approximately 3/8″ thick, to yield 16 slices. Place the tofu slices on double-layered paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for five minutes, flip over, and repeat.
  2. Heat olive oil spray in a large non-stick pan over medium heat.
  3. Gently press each tofu slice with a dry paper towel, then place into the hot pan. Sear for 5 minutes, or until a golden crust forms,  flip and repeat.
  4. In the meantime, whisk together the remaining ingredients to form the sauce in a small bowl.
  5. Remove tofu from pan, and top with sauce and garnish with fresh cilantro.

 

 

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Mexican Egg Breakfast Sandwich

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These icy temperatures are relentless. Is it just me, or has this winter been colder, longer and more of a bummer than those in the past? It seems like the whole country has been beaten and battered by the ugly bully named winter. Isn’t it technically spring? I just want to see some tulips and daffodils in the tree lawns already!

One of the biggest struggles I’ve had this winter is just getting out of bed in the morning. My bed is just so warm and cozy, and 5:30am is just way too early for me these days. It really takes every ounce of willpower to leave my bed when it’s so dark and cold, but alas, such is life, and this is definitely a first world problem. But as a lifelong morning person who has avoided caffeine for most of her life, I now understand those coffee addicts that wait in line at Starbucks for 30 minutes every day.

Since I don’t feel “awake” until long after I’ve left my bed even though my eyes are open, I’ve started relying entirely on my breakfasts to fuel me through my mornings. I’ve found a need for instant carb energy and long-lasting protein energy, with just enough good fats to get my brain working. Using this Weight Watchers recipe as a starting point, I added more veggies and a sprinkle of cheese to make a satisfying and balanced breakfast sandwich that is sure to carry you through your morning.

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Mexican Egg Breakfast Sandwich
Serves: 6 (see notes)
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: <5 minutes

Ingredients
2 sprays cooking spray
6 eggs
4 egg whites (I recommend pre-separated liquid egg whites)
3 Tbsp scallions, sliced
1/4 cup bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 light English muffins, sliced in half
6 Tbsp reduced fat cheddar cheese
3 Tbsp fat free salsa

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat, and coat with cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, scallions, bell pepper, onion, cilantro, salt and pepper until well combined. Pour into skillet and cook, scrambling until set (see notes). Remove from heat.
  3. Divide scrambled eggs evenly on top of the English muffin bottoms. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of cheese on top of the eggs, and repeat for all English muffins. Spread 1/2 Tbsp of salsa on the inside of each English muffin top. Close sandwich, and serve warm.

Notes:
This recipe can be really simply cut down to 1 or 2 servings for a quick breakfast-on-the-go. If you are making single servings and have a small egg skillet, you can pour the egg mixture into that, and instead of scrambling, cook the eggs without stirring for 2 minutes, flip, and cook for 2 additional minutes to form an egg patty.
For an easy grab-and-go weekday breakfast, make all 6 sandwiches, wrap each individually in wax paper, and freeze for up to 7 days. When ready to eat, microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through.

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Spinach Pesto

20140317-093552.jpgHappy St. Patrick’s Day! I wore a green headband to work, just in case anyone is in the pinching mood. 🙂 Does it also count that I’ll be eating a lot of green things today? Yes? Okay, then we’re good.

When you’re a kid, green foods can go one of two ways. Either it’s super gross (I mean, cooked spinach is kind of slimy and weird looking), or it’s really cool (remember when they made green ketchup??). When I was young, my mom would get super into all themed holidays, and St. Patrick’s Day was a really fun one. She used to put green food coloring in everything. Our cereal milk was green, and our lunches would have sandwiches in green bread, and we would eat green cookies after school. My mom loved anything with a theme, and any reason to celebrate, so if she had an excuse to dye everything green for one day, she took it.

That kind of stuff is fun for kids, but as an adult, it would probably be weird to put green food coloring in my lunch bag and bring it to work. Instead, I had an early St. Patrick’s celebration this weekend with green pasta and pizza!

Guys, I’m a pesto junkie. It’s so nutty and robust in flavor. I just can’t even right now. But, homemade pesto requires a ton of fresh basil, and it isn’t all that healthy — traditional pesto recipes sneak in a lot of fat in the form of oil, cheese and pine nuts. By reducing the amount of cheese and oil; substituting the rich pine nuts with almonds and the basil with spinach; and adding in broth and lemon juice, this recipe has a ton of flavor without ruining your diet. Not to mention, this sauce takes minutes to make. It’s so delicious that it didn’t even last a full day when I made it this weekend! After tossing it with some whole wheat penne at lunch time, the boys and I made mini flatbread pizzas for dinner, and the pesto pizza was a huge hit!

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The pesto flatbread pizza is the slice on the right — it is topped with spinach, onions, mushrooms and Weight Watchers Italian blend cheese. Also pictured is a veggie flatbread pizza with red sauce, and a mango salad.

You can  also put this pesto on your favorite sandwich, or drizzle it over a fresh caprese salad.

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Spinach Pesto
Preparation Time: <5 minutes
Cooking Time: <5 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients
2 cups fresh baby spinach
2 Tbsp plain almonds, sliced
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
4 Tbsp basil
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

  1. Place spinach in a large microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 2 minutes, or until wilted.
  2. Add spinach, almonds, garlic, basil, Italian seasoning, red pepper, salt, and pepper to a blender or food processor, and chop until very fine and combined.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the vessel and pour in vegetable broth and lemon juice. Blend on low until well combined and uniform.
  4. Slowly blend olive oil into the spinach mixture until fully incorporated.
  5. Transfer pesto to a bowl, and stir in cheese. Adjust for salt and pepper, and serve.

Note: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week, and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Tip: make a big batch and store leftovers, 1 tablespoon at a time, in ice cube trays. Pop them out and defrost as many as needed for future recipes.

Easy Teriyaki Stir Fry with Baked Tofu

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The weather is out of control right now here. Two days ago, it was 60°F and sunny. Yesterday, it was 45°F and rainy. Today, it’s 30°F and snowing. What the what?! Not to mention, tomorrow is supposed to be 20°F and the following day, 50°F. Universe, I’m okay with whatever you decide, but can we just be consistent, please?

Anyway, when I came home after work and running errands yesterday, it was already past 7:15pm, and I hadn’t even started preparing for dinner. I wanted something filling and balanced, as well as flavorful and fresh. After satisfying my grumbling stomach with a piece of cheese, I pulled out some leftover tofu, made a quick marinade, baked it up, and tossed it with stir fried vegetables. I put a bit of rice in my rice cooker, and within a half an hour, I was eating dinner while watching Pretty Little Liars. Delicious, comforting, and easy to prepare, this dish is a favorite of mine on a cold, rainy day.

Easy Teriyaki Stir Fry with Baked Tofu
Serves: 4
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
2-14 oz. packages extra firm tofu, rinsed, drained, excess water pressed out, and cut into 1″ cubes
3/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup + 1 cup reduced sodium Teriyaki sauce
2 cloves garlic, roughly sliced
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1 second spray of olive oil spray
1-1 lb. bag of frozen stir fry vegetables, or 6 cups of your favorite fresh stir fry vegetables (mushrooms, spinach, bok choy, red cabbage, bell peppers, broccoli, onions, corn, etc.)

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. In a large bowl, toss tofu with soy sauce, 1/4 cup Teriyaki sauce, garlic, garlic powder, sesame seeds, red pepper, and basil. Marinate for at least 5 minutes. Reserve leftover marinade. Bake for 15 minutes.
  2. In the mean time, roughly chop fresh vegetables if using. In a large skillet or wok, heat olive oil spray over medium heat. Stir fry vegetables until cooked through, for about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add remaining marinade, remaining Teriyaki sauce, and tofu to vegetables. Heat thoroughly. Serve with brown rice or cooked lo mein noodles.

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Scrambled Tofu with Spinach and Tomatoes

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Fact: I could never, ever be vegan. I have immense respect for any vegan (or lactose intolerant person) because I would probably cry myself to sleep every night if I couldn’t eat cheese. It’s the best.

The above statement has nothing to do with the rest of this post, but I thought the world should know.

Anyway, I’ve had a turbulent relationship with eggs in the past. I’ll go through these phases where I think eggs are the best ever, and then suddenly, I’ll never want to even smell an egg ever again. It’s a strange problem, but alas, such is my life. I’ve been reading a lot of recipes for tofu as a scrambled egg substitute, so I thought I’d try my hand at it. And it is good! This dish has a similar texture to “wet” scrambled eggs, and can accommodate for a lot of great flavors and add-ins, without having that “eggy” taste. And a big bonus here: this recipe takes less than 10 minutes, and can be made in advance! Woohoo!

Want to make this dish even more filling? Grab a couple of whole wheat or corn tortillas and make a breakfast taco. Heat up some black beans to throw into the taco to make an even more satisfying any-time-of-day-meal.
Want more add-ins? Try plain or roasted corn, plain or roasted red peppers, caramelized mushrooms, salsa, avocado, kale, taco seasoning, or brie.
Want to make it more vegan? Use nutritional yeast or vegan cheese instead of regular cheese.
Can’t commit to tofu? Use half the amount of tofu, and add 2 eggs for scrambling.
Really skeptical about tofu? Nix the tofu all together, and use eggs as you normally would. But really, just give tofu a chance!

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Scrambled Tofu with Spinach and Tomatoes
Serves: 4
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients
1 package firm tofu, drained and rinsed with excess water pressed out
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
1 tsp paprika or mild chili powder
Hot sauce, or to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup spinach, roughly chopped

  1. In a large skillet, heat oil on medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes.
  2. While crumbling with hands, add tofu to skillet. Use the edge of a wooden spoon to break up the tofu into smaller crumbles until it resembles scrambled eggs. (If using eggs, add them in now and scramble them up!)
  3. Add cheese, mustard, paprika, hot sauce, salt and pepper to the tofu, and stir continuously until cheese melts.
  4. Remove skillet from heat and toss in tomatoes and spinach. Stir until spinach wilts. Serve hot.

Note: For a make ahead meal, prepare this recipe through Step 3. Line the bottom of a lidded container with spinach, and pour hot tofu mixture over it. Place tomatoes on top, cool completely, cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.