Breakfast Sandwiches

Everyone that knows me knows that breakfast is my favorite meal. So much so that I have been known to have breakfast for lunch and even dinner on more than one occasion. While I love all types of breakfast foods and combinations of them, one of my favorite things is breakfast sandwiches. Yes the kind you get from fast food restaurants (I am a sucker for a sausage McMuffin). I don’t now why but they are a guilty pleasure of mine that I tend to enjoy way to much. Oh and its not just one kind either, I enjoy the breakfast sandwiches from several different fast food restaurants. It just depends on my mood as to which one I go to.  This however does create a bit of a problem when it comes to trying to eat right and drop a few pounds, which is something I am working toward right now. So I set out to create my own breakfast sandwich that I can make at home that cuts out a lot of the fat that you get from fast food places but still tastes great.

sand 2

Here is what I did

What you need:

(this makes two sandwiches)

Butterball Smoked turkey sausage (one link)

2 slices Kraft fat free cheese

4 slices Natures Own White/Wheat bread

2 eggs

1 teaspoon smart balance heart right buttery spread

Non stick cooking spray

Here’s how to make it:

Coat a non stick skillet with the cooking spray and heat to medium high heat. Add a teaspoon of smart balance to the pan and let it melt while spreading it around with a spatula to coat the bottom of the pan. Take your bread and separate into two stacks so that it looks like you have two sandwiches with nothing in them. Put them in the pan and toast them on either side (leaving the middle part un-toasted. This step is just like making a grilled cheese with no cheese in between the two slices. Now put them on a plate and separate the pieces so you have 4 pieces of bread toasted side down on the plate in a big square. Two slices for the bottom of the sandwich and two for the top.

Cut the sausage link in half and then cut both halves in half long ways down the middle. Spray a little more non stick spray in the pan and place the sausage cut side down and cook to your desired amount of done-ness. I like mine cooked pretty well but some people like it just warmed up a little. Turn them once and cook on the other side. Now place them on the bread (two pieces for each sandwich). Then place a slice of cheese on each sandwich so it will start to melt.

Reduce the heat in the pan to medium and crack two eggs in it. Cook on one side a couple of minutes until the white starts to firm up. Now add a little salt and black pepper for flavor and flip both eggs over. Once flipped over gently pop the yolk so it runs out and starts to cook. As much as I love a runny yolk it doesn’t work to well on a sandwich.  Let the eggs cook for another minute or so and then place on top of the sausage and cheese and add the other piece of toasted bread on top to finish off the sandwich.

That my friends is how to make a tasty low fat breakfast sandwich. There are several reasons for doing it this way. Using the smart balance to toast the bread adds a little extra flavor that reduces the need for topping it off with Jelly, Mayo, ketchup or whatever you like to put on your sandwiches that tends to add extra fat or unwanted calories. The other ingredients are to me the best tasting brands out there for fat free and low fat food of its kind. When combined they taste great and make a great sandwich. While this is not 100% health food it is a lower fat alternative to the high fat and processed versions of what you will find in a fast food restaurant.

Enjoy

Thanks for Reading,

James

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Baked can still taste good

There’s a reason that all of the best things to eat are fried and not baked. That’s because fried food tastes really really good. If someone put out a plate of baked chicken and a plate of home made fried chicken most people are going to go for the fried first. The downside is that too much fried foods can be pretty bad for you and cause serious problems as you get older. This is where moderation comes in handy. You can enjoy good fried foods every now and then but in between those meals it is good to try something a little on the healthier side of the menu. Today’s recipe comes from that healthier side of things and may even be something you can substitute for the fried goodness that we all love so. Now when I hear someone say baked chicken I usually don’t immediately respond with joy and glee but I set out to find something that may change that attitude. I took the idea from one of my mothers old recipes and expanded on it a bit to come up with a newer updated version of it. Italian Parmesan Baked Chicken. (This would also be really good on fish).

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Here is what you need to bring it together.

Ingredients

1 pack thin sliced boneless skinless chicken breast

1 container of grated Parmesan cheese (about 4 ounces)

1 box Hungry Jack potato flakes

1 pint low fat buttermilk

Granulated Garlic

Black Pepper

Kosher salt

Dried Oregano

Cooking Spray

Prep and cooking

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and then coat it with non stick spray. Rinse the chicken breasts and pat them dry. Now set out two bowls and pour the buttermilk in one. If you have never used buttermilk before keep in mind that it does have a sour smell to it but that does not mean is has gone bad. So don’t toss it out, it works great for cooking. In the other bowl you will mix up your breading: combine about 3 cups of potato flakes, 4 ounces of Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of oregano, and 1 tablespoon of granulated garlic. Make sure to mix them together well.

Now it will be easier if you set up a little assembly line. start from right to left: Raw chicken, butter milk, breading, baking pan. Dip the chicken into the buttermilk and completely cover it, then dip into the breading and make sure it is completely covered, now place it on the baking sheet. Once you have all of the chicken coated and on the baking sheet place it into a preheated 350 degree oven and cook until the top starts to get brown (about 20 minutes for thin sliced chicken breast). You don’t want too much brown on top but enough to give it a nice color.

Tip: Keep in mind when handling chicken to always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handing any other food or sampling anything else you are cooking.

This recipe turned out to be very tasty and a nice little update to something I ate as a kid. To change it up a bit you could also try a little rosemary instead of oregano.

Enjoy

Thanks for Reading

JMW

Take a Meatball and Stuff it

Inside a biscuit that is.

Coming up with new recipes can be challenging at times so taking an existing recipe or combining a couple of different ones can be the answer when you are running low on ideas.

This time around I wanted to make something quick and easy to snack on but was also in the mood for Italian which does not always go hand in hand. As many of you know a lot of traditional Italian dishes can be pretty involved and take a while to make if done from scratch. So I thought maybe stuffing meatballs inside of biscuits with a little cheese and marinara would be a good way to make a snack size Italian treat. Kind of like a mini home made hot pocket but without the burning lava part that comes out after microwaving.

This recipe can be done with frozen meatballs or you can make your own like I did but that will take a bit more time. I will include the instructions on how to make those in case you are feeling ambitious. Luckily I had some made and frozen from a previous meal.

Lets get started.

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Ingredients

1lb lean ground beef

1/2 lb Italian sausage (hot)

1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs

1 egg

1/2 cup finely chopped white onion

1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper

2 tablespoons of finely chopped garlic

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon course sea salt

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1 package mozzarella string cheese

1 tube of refrigerated biscuits

1 jar of your favorite marinara or pasta sauce ( I prefer Raos Arabiata sauce)

Prep and cooking (if using frozen meatballs heat those up and skip to the next step)

Step 1: Mix everything all together in a large mixing bowl except the biscuits cheese and sauce. Using both hands roll out your meatballs in small 1″ balls. You want to make small ones that will get a little crispy on the outside and cook quickly. As you make them lay them out on a baking pan. Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees and cook the meatballs for about 20 minutes or until the are a nice golden brown on the outside.

Tip: I like to cover my pan in aluminum foil and spray with non stick spray. This makes clean up so much easier.

Step 2: After they meatballs are done set them aside to cool. Now take the string cheese and cut it into small 1/2 inch pieces. Take the biscuits and lay them out and cut each one in half. Flatten the biscuit halves and place a meatball and a piece of cheese in the center, then add a small dollop of sauce. Now fold the biscuit over and press the ends together, making a nice little doughy ball of goodness. Place the now stuffed biscuits on a baking sheet with the folder sides down.

Now put the full baking sheet in the oven and bake according to the biscuits baking directions. This should give you a nice golden biscuit on the outside and a stuffed melted bit of heaven on the inside.

Once they are done let them cool for a few minutes and get ready to enjoy a truly delicious treat.

As always I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for reading

JMW

Salmon Patties

Growing up one of my favorite meals that my mother made were her homemade salmon patties. There was just something about them that I couldn’t get enough of. Maybe it was the crunchy outer texture or just the overall flavor. Over the years I have never really attempted to make them myself more than a couple of times and when I did I would try and follow her recipe exactly but they never came out the same. So when I got the craving the other day I made the decision to try and come up with my own version of this classic recipe that I so love. Here is what I came up with.

Ingredients:

Canned Salmon (two 14oz cans)

Corn tortilla chips (Crushed into about 3/4 of a cup of little crumbs)

Jalapeno  (2 seeds removed and finely chopped)

1 medium white onion (finely ch0pped)

red pepper flakes (1 tablespoon)

garlic powder (1 tablespoon)

cajun seasoning (1 tablespoon)

black pepper (1 tablespoon)

salt (1 teaspoon)

2 eggs

olive oil (for cooking)

Mixing the ingredients

First you will want to open both cans of salmon and drain them (leaving a little extra water for mixing) and add them to a large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix everything together well.

Cooking

This is where it gets a little tricky. Since this is kind of a dry mixture you will need to pat out the patties as you cook them and not before hand. So heat up about a 1/4″ of olive oil to medium high heat in a large pan. Pat out and press firmly together the patties and place them in the hot oil and cook to golden brown on either side.  One large pan should fit about 4 patties with room for turning. Be careful, if you flip too early they may break. This is a little more on the healthy side for this recipe. If you wanted to make them stick together a little more you can add about half a cup of Helmanns mayonnaise. This gives them a little better consistency to work with but also adds the calories so I will leave it up to you.

These are great on their own or served with mashed potatoes and gravy. All and all a nice little treat for any seafood lover out there.
Enjoy

Thanks for reading

JMW

Cilantro Lime Chicken and Rice

Chicken and Rice has been a long time favorite food of mine since the first time I tried it in my grandmothers kitchen as a kid. I remember the smell of the chicken boiling and the taste of the black pepper over the white rice. It was truly great. Over the years I have tried many different varieties and even come up with a couple of different ways to prepare it myself. I tend to lean more towards making it with yellow rice because the flavor of the saffron and turmeric lend something to it that is pretty darned tasty. Now if you are sitting here reading this and thinking to yourself “whats the difference” then you obviously have not had the pleasure of eating much chicken and rice. This makes me both sad and excited for you seeing as I get to introduce you to it with my new recipe.

While sitting at home this past weekend I was making out my grocery list and trying to decide what I wanted to cook for the week and Chicken and Rice kept popping in to my head, but I did not want to make it the way I usually do. I was feeling creative and a little daring and started tossing around ingredients in my head to see what stuck out the most. Then it hit me, cilantro and lime could be just what I was looking for. So off to the store I went and here is what I came up with.

Ingredients

Boneless/skinless chicken breast (about 3 breasts)

Chicken stock/broth

1 small white onion

3 to 4 medium jalapenos (red and green if they have them)

1 bag of yellow rice (Mahatma or Vigo work great)

2 medium limes

1 bunch of cilantro

3 garlic cloves

salt

black pepper (ground)

Now I may prepare this a little different than you are used to but trust me and follow my steps. You will thank me for it later.

Set out a medium to large pot (with a lid) and then check the rice to see how many cups of water it calls for to cook. Mine called for 3 1/3 cups of water but since I am doing things a little different I went with 2 cups of water and 2 cups of chicken stock. This gave me a little more than called for but will be necessary. Start that heating over high heat to boil. Now chop up the garlic, onion and jalapenos into small pieces and add them to the water. By now the water should be heating up and starting to bubble. go ahead and add the chicken breasts in and let them cook for a bit. You will know when they are done when you can uses a wooden spoon to easily push through the meat (about 30 to 40 minutes). When the chicken has finished remove them from the pot and place on a plate to cool (do not turn off the heat from the pot). Now chop up the cilantro and add it to the boiling water and squeeze the juice of both limes into the pot. Add in about a half teaspoon of salt and about a tablespoon of black pepper. Let that boil for a couple of minutes and then add the rice. Stir it around for a couple of minutes and then cover it and reduce the heat to low for about 20 to 30 minutes (check it every now and then to give it a stir).

While the rice is cooking you will want to start shredding the chicken. Just use your fingers and start tearing it into small pieces and set it aside.

Now check and see if the rice is about done. You want it to be firm but not crunchy. Add the chicken into the pot and stir it into the rice. Cover it back up and let it sit for another 15 minutes or so. If it seems a little dry you can always a little more chicken stock and stir it around.

Now it is time to eat. You should have a nice hearty meal with a great taste of cilantro and lime. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thanks for reading

JMW

Clear Springs Restaurant

Great

Pretty Good ***

OK

No Thanks

I have not done a review in a bit so here we go.

I heard about this little seafood place called Clear Springs Restaurant from a friend on Facebook and immediately went online to check out the menu. Well on the home page was this picture of a giant stack of home-made onion rings, so that made me decide to go and try it all by itself. For those of you that read my blog you know I am a sucker for a good onion ring. I checked to see where they were located and was happy to see that there are several locations and one was not to far from me out 1604 near the Stone Oak area in a little place called Afton Oaks. There is also one in the New Braunfels area but this one was closer to me and I was feeling a little to lazy to do any extra driving (it was Sunday after all).

When you walk in the door you can tell that these people are all about their fish. The inside is a neat mix of fishing cabin and antique store. They have old antique toys, fishing polls, and mounted fish scattered around the rafters and old west movie and TV posters hanging on the walls. The floors, tables and chairs are all wood to give it that rustic feel and it is a relatively spacious place inside.

The menu of course has many seafood items from catfish to fried oysters but also has a few steak selections for the non fish eaters of the world. To start out I of course ordered the onion rings to sample. The waitress was nice enough to suggest a small order so I wouldn’t fill up on them, but to my surprise a small order was huge. I have had some great onion rings in my time and I would count these among them. I would have to rank them in the top five best onion rings I have ever tried. The breading was flaky and crunchy and the onions themselves were easy to bite through and melted in your mouth. They were perfectly seasoned and to be honest I probably could have made a meal off just them but I did come here for fish after all so I placed my order for the main course. I ordered a 3 combo platter where you can choose between several different entree’s. I chose catfish, fried oysters, and fried crawfish.  The platter also came with borracho beans, hush puppies, french fries and cole slaw which to my surprise actually tasted like cole slaw and not that typical bland cabbage with a little vinegar tossed on it that you usually find in Texas. This was creamy and actually pretty tasty. The fries were your standard french fries, nothing special but not bad overall. I guess after those onion rings I would have a hard time judging anyone’s fries. The beans were good and tasted like every other borracho bean you can get in San Antonio, so nothing special. I cant really comment on the hush puppies as my dining companion stole those from me but they looked good. When it came to the three entrees I tried the crawfish first. While I have had better these were pretty good. My only complaint was that they were a tad on the chewy side but it is pretty hard to avoid that. Next I moved on to the oysters and was pleasantly surprised. The breading was crunchy and the oysters were flavorful and melted in your mouth. Now on to the main event, the catfish. Being a southern boy from Florida I have to tell you that I am kind of a fried catfish snob. I have had it cooked many different ways and even cook it myself so it is hard to impress me with catfish. Well I will say that this catfish is pretty good. It has a nice flavor and is seasoned good. It also has a crunchy breading while leaving the fish nice a flaky on the inside. I would not say it is the best I have ever had but it was far from the worst too. I would rate it around a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10 and would definitely go back again. Overall it was a pretty good meal but the onion rings are the clear winner this round. If nothing else I recommend going just to try them.


So if you are in the mood for good seafood in a down home type of settings this is the place to go.

Thanks for reading

JMW