Cheese Danish and Cinnamon buns

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Makes 2 cheese danish rings, or as pictured one danish and one batch cinnamon buns.

Ingredients: Danish dough

  • 4-4.5 cups flour
  • 1 cup milk (I use whole but you can substitute 2% or skim)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar (can use more or less to your taste)
  • 1.5 tbs dried yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg

Filling for 1 danish (can use less cream cheese if preferred):

  • 2 x 8oz packages cream cheese
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • rind of one lemon

Cinnamon bun filling abd construction:

  • sugar, cinnamon and raisins and nuts optional
  • melted butter

The amounts for the cinnamon buns are up to your taste.  If you are trying to keep the fat/calorie content down you may prefer to use less butter and cinnamon sugar.  Nuts and fruits will add more nutrition but also more calories.

Dough:

Add 4 cups flour, 1.5 tablespoons dried yeast, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp of salt to a stand mixer.  Mix.  Add to the dry ingredients 1 egg, 1 cup milk warmed to hand hot and 1 stick melted butter.  Using dough hook mix until mixture forms a soft dough, continue to knead 5-10 mins.

I usually skip the next step but you can decide.  Technically dough should be put in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour – covered with a greased piece of cling wrap.  I usually jump right to making the danish and it comes out great, but the additional rise may add some lightness to your finished product.

Prepare cheese filling:  mix cream cheese with egg yolks, confectioners sugar and lemon peel until smooth.

Roll dough out into a long 30-40″ x 6-8″ wide strip.  Cut diagonally on both sides as shown below and spread cream cheese mixture down the center.  Fold strips over alternately to make braid.   If you are making cinnamon buns you will reserve half of the dough for those, and make only one danish ring.  Bake in a 350 oven for 20 minutes or until dark golden brown.  Cool and ice with a mixture of confectioners sugar and lemon juice.IMG_2390 IMG_4140 IMG_6452 IMG_7803 IMG_4933 IMG_2161 IMG_4346

Cinnamon bun construction:

You are going to roll half of your dough out into a rectangle, brush with melted butter, sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar and add nuts and fruit if you prefer.  Roll up from the small end of the rectangle and cut into rounds.  I made 9 buns.  Place in a brownie pan separated, and cover with greased cling wrap in a warm place until risen.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.  If you like to ice, use a mixture of confectioners sugar and water.

Cheese danish when made as directed above, and cut into 14 slices are 258 Calories.  Cinnamon buns divided into 9 are the same (258 each)  if 1/2 cup sugar is used for filling, 1/4 cup butter and no fruit or nuts.  Icing lightly 1/2 cup confectioners sugar.

Raspberry Bars

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These delicious treats are perfect for family gatherings. They should be cut into small squares since they are not low calorie. An ideal accompaniment to a cup of tea (particularly if you are British like me!). With a shortbread base, a raspberry middle and a crumb topping it’s sure to be a hit.

2.5 cups flour
1 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar

Put the above in a food processor or stand mix and process until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Set aside 1.5 cups of your crumb mixture. Put the remainder in a 9×15 brownie pan and press into the bottom. Bake at 375F for 15 minutes. While that is cooking…. Mix together the following:

1 cup frozen or fresh raspberries
1 cup raspberry preserve
1 tbs lemon juice

Then to the set aside 1.5 cups of crumb mixture, add 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup almonds and 2 tbs melted butter together with 2 tsp almond extract (optional). Mix.

Once the shortbread is out of the oven, spread the berry mixture evenly over the top. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top evenly and then pop it back in the oven for 25 minutes. Cut into squares once it’s cooled slightly. Wait until it’s cold to remove from the pan. Enjoy!

If you cut it into 16 pieces, each piece will be 300 calories. If you cut them into 24 smaller pieces they are just 200 calories each. Eat a small piece and enjoy!

Sourdough Bread Recipe

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Step 1:  Make your starter

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In order to make sourdough, you first of all need to make a starter (see pictures above). For the starter you need a glass jar, and piece of cloth and an elastic band.  Into the jar you put about 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water and stir vigorously.  From here you will cover with the cloth secured to the jar with an elastic band, and leave on the counter top.  Each day you will add about 1 tbs flour and 1 tbs water and stir vigorously.  Eventually after 5-7 days you should start to see bubbles on the top (see middle picture above).  Once this happens your starter is ready for use.  When my first starter was ready, I woke up in the morning to find it bubbled over the top of the jar and onto the counter top!  A sticky mess, but I was delighted it was suddenly so active and obviously ready to be used.

Step 2:  Make your proof

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In order to make your proof, you are going to take some of your starter (maybe half depending on how much you have) and put it in another jar or I use a pyrex jug for this step.  Add 3/4 cup flour and 3/4 cup water to the starter and stir vigorously.  Cover with a cloth and leave for 6-12 hours until it is bubbly – see picture.

 

 

 

Step 3:  Making the dough

Finally now yo5E1B057D-892C-4E3F-8E1A-0D972BBF98EDC3A4F7B2-621D-4107-A194-A5ACA28E3F7Bu are ready to make your dough.  Plan ahead because obviously this whole thing takes a minute!  Add to a stand mixer 4-4.5 cups flour, 2 cups of water, 1 tbs salt and all of your proof mixture.  The mixture should be on the wet side as you can always add flour but once it’s mixed it’s very difficult to add moisture.  Your dough needs to be very sticky forming super soft dough.  Once you have used the dough hook to knead it for 15-25 minutes, remove it from the mixer and put into a cast iron dutch oven – preferably just plain cast iron.  Cover in a greased piece of cling wrap and leave to rise for 6-8 hours or overnight.

Step 4:  Punch it down and re-rise, then bake

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Punch your dough down (it should have doubled), and re-shape.  Leave for a further hour or two until you see it has begun to rise again.  With a very sharp knife cut a cross in the top.  Put the lid of the dutch oven on, and bake in a preheated oven at 475 degrees for 10 minutes.  Reduce to 450 degrees and continue cooking with the lid on for 10 more minutes.  Remove the lid and bake 20-25 more minutes.  The bread will be dark brown and well risen.  The loaf pictured center and right was made with organic wheat flour with wheat germ.  The picture on the left below was made with my home ground wheat berry whole wheat flour together with the organic wheat flour, or it can be made with all whole wheat.

 

 

 

Enchilata Casserole

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Ingredients:

Home made Tortilla Recipe:

  • 1 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water

To make tortillas mix flour, baking powder and salt and then add the oil and water and mix into a soft dough.  Knead on the counter for a couple of minutes using some extra flour, then cover in plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.  Heat a cast iron skillet for 5-10 minutes.  Divide dough into 4, and roll out to large think circle.  Put on skillet until you see bubbles – should be 30 seconds-1 minute a side.  Then place on cooling rack while you continue to cook the other three.  Set aside.

Filling:

  • 3 large cooked chicken breasts cubed or shredded
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 large onion sautéed in 2 tablespoons oil

Sauce:

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons better than bullion chicken
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup sour cream or heavy cream
  • Red chilli pepper flakes

To make the sauce heat the chicken broth with red chili flakes and bullion mixed in.  In another bowl mix 1/3 cup flour with cream or sour cream until smooth and gradually add chicken broth.  Once combined heat to thicken.

To assemble casserole place one tortilla in the bottom of the cast iron skillet, cover with shredded chicken, 1/3 of sautéed onion, 1/3 can of black beans, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup grated Mexican cheese.  Drizzle a little sauce over the top.  Place second tortilla on the top and repeat the process twice more.  Top with remaining sauce (which should be quite a bit), and generously with shredded cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes.  Cut into wedges and serve with sliced avocado and salsa.

 

 

 

Kombucha

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Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that is packed with probiotics and great for your stomach.  It’s expensive to buy but easy to make at home.

To start you need to grow or acquire a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast).  I have a few available if anyone is interested, or you can grow one by buying a bottle of Kombucha from the store and do the following:

 

 

 

  • Pour the raw kombucha and the cooled tea into a glass jar.
  • Cover the jar with a tight-weave dish towel or a paper coffee filter. …
  • Ferment the tea in a warm spot, 68-85ºF, out of direct sunlight, for about 7 days.

Once you have your SCOBY, you need a large glass jar and a few tea bags.  Brew a strong batch of tea and add about a cup of white sugar per quart jar of tea.  Once the tea has cooled, remove the tea bags and add your SCOBY with some of it’s juices.  Cover tightly with a cloth, and seal with an elastic band,  Leave in a warm dark place for about 2 weeks.  After 2 weeks  you can remove tea from jar separating SCOBY to use in the next batch, then flavor kombucha as you wish.  I use Trader Joe’s organic peach juice, but you can also use lemon juice and ginger or any number of other flavors.

Once you have flavored the batch, pour into glass bottles or jars and seal tightly.  Place your flavored kombucha jars or bottles on a window sill where it gets some sunlight, and let ferment for a second time for 3-5 days.  Be careful when you open your bottles or jars, as it will be fizzy.  I put mine in the fridge after a week on the window sill to ensure it does not explode when I open it!

Nut Roast

nut-roast

  • 1 Cup chopped nuts of choice (how finely you grind them is up to you)
  • 1 Cup bread crumbs
  • 1 Medium onion
  • 1 Cup diced celery
  • 1 Cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1 Large can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 1-2 Cups marinara sauce of your choice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2-1 Cup cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in skillet and sauté onion, celery and carrot with salt and pepper until tender.   Mix with the rest of the ingredients, and taste to be sure seasoning is to your liking.  Put into a loaf tin.  Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes and serve warm or cold with or without marinara sauce.

Squash Bisque with Bacon Cheddar Biscuits

Squash Bisque

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  • 1 32 oz container of chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1-2 parsnips
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoons of ‘Better than Bullion’ chicken flavor
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1/2 a small butternut squash
  • A little heavy cream to taste is optional

This soup can be easily modified to suit the vegetables you have available, you really can’t go wrong.  You can also adjust the seasoning to taste.

Put all the above ingredients into a large saucepan and bring to the boil.  Continue to boil until all vegetables are soft.  Using a hand held blender, puree all ingredients until smooth, adding heavy cream if you choose to.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  You can serve with a little grated Parmesan cheese melted into the soup, or just eat it plain.  This makes approximately 10 cups of soup or 5 large servings at about 100 calories a serving.  As you see above I like to make a large batch and store in mason jars in the fridge.  It makes a great lunch and if you work, you can bring a small mason jar of soup to work and put it in the microwave to heat.

  • Chicken broth – 40 calories
  • Carrots – 60 calories
  • Parsnips – 30 calories each
  • Sweet potato – 100 calories
  • 1 onion – 64 calories
  • Bullion – 80 calories
  • Butternut squash – 2 cups 120 calories
  • 1/4 Cup heavy cream (optional) – 205 calories

Calorie count: 500-700 Calories for the whole pot.

Bacon Cheddar biscuits

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  • 1/2 cup butter (or alternative fat)
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese (to your taste)
  • 1/2 cup bacon bits (optional)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk (or chosen alternative)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients just until blended.  Spoon onto a baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes – it makes about a dozen.  Below is the calorie breakdown for you.  If you substitute lower calorie alternates you can look them up to get a more accurate calorie count.

 

  • 2 cups flour – 700 calories
  • Butter/fat – 800 per half cup
  • 1 cup cheddar – 455 calories
  • 1 cup milk – between 100 and 150 depending on the milk
  • 1 egg – 70 calories
  • 1/2 cup bacon bits – 216 calories

Total calories = 2400 – 12 biscuits at 200 calories each

 

Monthly Challenges October 2019

October Fitness Challenge
  • Complete 18 hours of exercise
  • drink 60-80 fluid oz water/day
  • Reduce your sugar intake by 50%
  • Get a minimum of 6 hours sleep each night
You can break that down to 45 minutes/day 6 days a week. Or if you need to adjust and skip a day, you can increase by 15 mins for the next 3 days. This challenge will give you the flexibility to workout as you like, doing activities you enjoy. Keep a log of your workouts.

The ABCs of Behavior Modification

Healthy-Habits

 

If you are trying to lose weight and become fitter and healthier but are having a hard time achieving your goals, this is a strategy that may help you along the way.  These are some simple steps that can help you change the way you think, eat, and live your life.

  1. Self analysis.  First of all look at the bad habits that you are trying to change.  Whether it be a bad eating behavior or a resistance to exercising or something else that you are trying to stop doing, look at the last time it occurred, and then look back to see what preceded it – did something happen?  How were you feeling? Also look at how you felt during and after to ascertain how you might possibly prevent future incidence.
  1. Environmental management.  If driving by the donut shop makes you want to stop and get one, then change your route.  If not being able to find your walking/running/exercising shoes or other clothing prevents you from exercising, plan ahead and set your shoes and/or clothing out by the door making it easier for you to make good choices.  On the diet end of things, this would include getting rid of foods that trigger you to eat too much, and buying more low calorie, nutrient dense food that you can feel free to snack on.
  1. Alternate behaviors.  Look at an alternative way that you can respond to things.  As an example, instead of eating some chocolate or cookies when you get upset, try taking a walk instead.
  1. Reward good behavior.  Giving yourself a reward when you change your behavior in a positive way.  
  1. Negatively reinforce bad choices.  Giving up something or enduring something when you engage in the unwanted behaviors.  For example giving up a financial gain, or enduring some sort of task you don’t like doing.
  1. Find social support.  This one is huge. It is very helpful if members of your household are supporting you on your journey rather than trying to encourage you to fall back into old ways.  But you can also arrange to be encouraged and to encourage others who are on the same journey by joining a group either in person or online.
  1. Rewire your brain.  Negative self talk can really sabotage your efforts to make positive changes.  Train your brain to speak positivity and don’t allow negative thoughts to overtake you.  
  1. Emotional control.  In order to keep your stress and negative emotions to a minimum, try some of the following coping methods:
    • Re-frame a tricky situation.  
    • Disengage from something that is threatening to bring stress.
    • Use positive self talk and imagery to soothe when you feel your emotions spiraling.
    • Remove yourself from a situation that could become toxic.
    • Try to look at everything from a ‘glass half full’ point of view, find the positives.
  1. Relapse prevention and recovery.  Finally, identify situations that threaten to throw you into relapse.  Then learn how to recover from small relapses before they become bigger relapses.  Always remember that tomorrow is a new day, and you can press the reset button as often as you need to.

Monthly Challenge September 2019

  • Day 1:  25 Curtsey lunges and do something nice for somebody
  • Day 2:  25 Push ups and Call up an old friend
  • Day 3:  25 Supermans and Try a new recipe
  • Day 4:  25 Sit ups and Take a 1 mile walk
  • Day 5:  25 squats and buy somebody a cup of coffee
  • Day 6:  25 chest press and plan a date night with your significant other or invite a friend out
  • Day 7:  25 Bird dogs and Write a card or letter to an old friend or relative
  • Day 8:  25 Bicycle crunches and plan a vegetable centered dinner
  • Day 9:  25 Walking lunges and walk 2 miles
  • Day 10: 12 slow push ups (2 down, 2 up) and buy a small gift for a friend or relative
  • Day 11:  25 Belly bird dogs and eat no sugar today
  • Day 12:  1 minute plank in the morning and one in the evening and drink a gallon of water today
  • Day 13:  25 side leg lifts with each leg and only drink water today
  • Day 14:  15 push ups, 15 sit ups and eat no bread today