February 25, 2010

Pizza Get-Away

Rain, snow, sleet, repeat!

Enough already with the unrelenting weekly blast of winter.

I've been on a bit of a citrus fruit kick for a couple of weeks -- craving salads with bright, cheerful colors and fresh, tart flavors.

Kind of like a really cheap escape to more temperate climes for those of us who don't follow the sun to its winter retreat.

But for dinner, I had to move on to the next item on my all-time favorites list -- pizza!

Now, I will admit to the slightest bit of temptation to create a citrus pizza, but . . . naaah.

Besides, I found some pre-made crusts in the freezer and I had fresh basil in the fridge and a box of grape tomatoes on the counter, so I was three-fourths of the way to the classic Pizza Margherita.

Aaaaaaa, no mozzarella in the house! Furtive glance left and right - no pizza police in sight.

Provolone? Proceed with caution.

The crust was the thinnest possible blend of flour, water, yeast and salt. Snap!

The little tomatoes were warm, without being mushy. Pop!

The melted provolone proved to be an amazing substitution. Slurp!

And the basil was . . . well . . . the basil was . . . the perfect part of the pizza . . . to the point of being . . . transcendent!

Forgive straying from onomatopoeia, but such is the effect of basil . . . in frigid February.

All of the sudden it was warm and sunny again . . . like I was in Naples -- Italy or Florida . . . take your pick!

Both are warmer and sunnier than the snow-crunchy, ice-slippery, wind-biting midwestern prairie we call home.

Note to self . . . they call pizza comfort food for a very good reason! Healthy comfort food, in this case. You cannot make me think less!

Pizza . . . good pizza . . . can transport you to a better place, just when you need it most.

If you can't be there . . . and they won't deliver . . . just do it yourself . . . see below.

You'll thank me for it!


TRANSCENDENTAL PIZZA
(aka Pizza Margherita)

Pizza Crust  -  lightly pre-baked from Cora's Homemade Pizza Dough (just try it!)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Provolone Cheese
Grape Tomatoes
Fresh Basil Leaves
Freshly Grated Parmesan

Spread some olive oil on the pizza crust. Place Provolone slices over oiled crust. Slice tomatoes in half and place cut-side down over cheese. Roll basil leaves together and slice crosswise into ribbons (chiffonade) and sprinkle over entire pizza. Finish with Parmesan over the top. Bake on a pizza stone in pre-heated 450-degree oven until crust is brown and top is bubbly. Enjoy your trip to Naples!

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February 21, 2010

Brussels Sprouts - A Four Hundred Degree Change in My Thinking


Remember brussels sprouts? Cute little cabbage-like things that turn ugly on you the instant they are subjected to water?

I'm talking about those slimy stinkballs, boiled to an unholy color of gray-green and offered alongside other foods, as if they were actually edible.

My family usually served them on holidays, like they were vegetable royalty or something.

I could only imagine the faulty thought process that went into that idea.

Hmmm . . . let's invite a houseful of people we care deeply about to celebrate a special day . . . and let's prepare a sumptuous meal . . . punctuated by a side dish that makes the whole house smell like . . . dirty feet.

And then . . . but wait!. . .  there's more . . . let's serve it alongside all the yummy stuff, just like it belongs there . . . and make the kids eat it too!

Well, we've got to give some credit to most kids on this one.

If it looks like balled-up pond scum, puts off noxious fumes and tastes like boiled gym shoes -- don't put it in your mouth! Cute miniature cabbages my eye!

Ding, ding, ding . . . we have a winner! How about an award for a kid who can employ higher-order thinking skills at such a tender age? Like extra dessert!

Don't make her sit at the table . . . alone for eternity . . .  with yucky brussels sprouts. That kind of trauma could last a lifetime.

Brussels sprouts are gross to the nth degree and not to be eaten, especially by someone with enough sense to evaluate all the evidence and reach such an enlightened conclusion. Ick! 

Much time passes . . .

What's this I see?  Brussels sprouts can be purchased fresh, instead of frozen? Tender, crisp and green?

Hmmm. . . what if they could be sliced in half . . . tossed with some good olive oil . . . sprinkled with kosher salt . . . freshly ground pepper . . . then spread out on a baking sheet . . . and placed into a 400-degree oven . . . and left until they begin to turn a lovely caramel brown . . . and then . . . and only then! . . . they were offered to the masses  . . . young and old alike?

Would that make them palatable? Edible maybe? Delicious even?

Brussels sprout redemption!

It would be enough to change my whole way of thinking about the vegetable formerly known as icky, stinky, gaggy brussels sprouts.

A four-hundred degree change.

Roasted brussels sprouts are truly the royalty of the vegetable kingdom.

Like vegetable candy!

Taste for yourself.

You can still have dessert, no matter what, mon petit chou.


ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS
Brussels Sprouts
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cut Brussels sprouts in half, lengthwise. Place Brussels sprouts on heavy baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Turn Brussels sprouts cut side down on the baking sheet. Place in oven and roast for about 10 minutes or until they begin to brown (may also leave in until they are very brown and they will be very sweet and smoky). Remove and serve immediately, or at room temperature.
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February 14, 2010

Just Under The Wire!

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY
TO
ALL THE READERS 
AND 
FACEBOOK FANS 
OF CORA COOKS!
Love,
"She Cooks"

February 9, 2010

Food Is Life and Life Is Good!

SEASON TO TASTE
(my monthly column for HEARTLAND WOMEN)
February 2010

I’m back in the kitchen and cooking up a storm!

Oh, dear. I forgot. You probably didn’t know that I was ever out of my kitchen. I was. Well, not so much out of the kitchen, as out of cooking.

It happened before I really realized it. Ever so gradually, over the past several years, I’ve spent less and less time cooking. I didn’t give up cooking completely, and goodness knows I didn’t give up eating! But you know how it goes. Life changes and we adapt – for better or worse. I’ll just bet this sounds familiar to many of you.

The truth is though, writing about good recipes and interesting food has been the one thing that kept me in the kitchen – and not just because it’s where I keep my computer! But looking back, I realize that as the demands on my time increased, I allowed myself to be distracted from the pleasures of cooking and the healthy advantages of preparing good food at home. I got lazy about cooking at home – and bad eating habits took over.

I blame sports for taking me out of the kitchen and creating our bad eating habits. OK, I really don’t, but around the time I began shuttling my son to practices, away games and home games, my base of operation moved me out of my kitchen and into my car. We all know you can eat in the car, but, as it turns out, you can’t really cook in the car. At least, not while you’re driving.

So like the typical American family, we relied more and more on fast food for meals on the go. Luckily for us, with only one child, we traveled everywhere together and still managed family meals, even away from home, and we tried to avoid eating in the car unless it was absolutely necessary. We didn’t sacrifice all of our values!

Another good thing – besides being a good athlete, our kid was a very neat eater, so the interior of our car never looked like a minivan trashcan. You’ve seen them – you know what I mean!

Soccer season was followed by basketball season and then baseball season. As soon as baseball season ended, the kid went off for more fun at summer camp, first for four weeks as a camper, and then for the whole summer once he became a counselor. We, on the other hand, collapsed at home and enjoyed the down time. MFH and I were magically transported back to a time when it was just the two of us – pre-kid! We didn’t sit on the floor and eat at the coffee table like we used to back then, but we did enjoy home-cooked meals.

I loved those few short weeks back in the kitchen. Cooking was relaxing and fun again. I had time to search out new recipes and create whole meals from scratch – start to finish without a carpool run in the middle. We also took little trips together, which for me always included collecting local specialty ingredients and cooking inspirations to try at home.

Nothing good lasts forever though, so when MFH would go off to work for a week, there I was, completely alone in my kitchen. I got lazy again; thinking that cooking and clean-up for myself was not worth the effort. And part of that was true. After a lifetime of making family meals, I wasn’t even sure how to make the same dishes without making enough for an army. So when the freezer wouldn’t hold one more leftover, I just avoided cooking altogether and convinced myself that fancy frozen dinners or drive-thru sack-o-dinner was the easy answer.

So that’s how I came to live and eat outside my kitchen. Nothing good has really come of it though, and I have to take responsibility for letting it happen. I got out of the habit of cooking good healthy food by telling myself I was too busy and eating out was easier than cooking for one or two people. I’m smarter than that and I knew better. And the sad thing is, I know there are millions of us out there.

The funny part is my athlete and his wife now have their own home and their own kitchen – just the two of them – and they think cooking is fun. They may still be in the honeymoon phase of cooking, but they like to try new recipes and create their own, just like I did in my twenties. I like to think they learned to value good food from their parents. And I am grateful that they have good memories of cooking and eating together around the family dinner table.

There are two of us in this empty nest. So why can’t cooking for two be fun again? I’ve decided that it can be and it will be! Therefore, I am happy to report that Phase II of 2010’s Healthy Eating Plan is underway. I’m back in my kitchen to cook and I’ve already got some delicious new recipes for you! Remember, Season To Taste for 2010 is a whole year about eating healthy food -- and the best food comes from your own kitchen.

Since I always turn to cookbooks for inspiration, it’s no surprise that I’ve found a couple of excellent cookbooks to solve my first problem – recipes for one or two people, along with strategies for shopping and stocking the pantry for small-batch cooking. I really am excited about this new phase of cooking for me and I’m eager to share the recipes with other empty-nesters, singles and small-batch cooks. There will be lots of new recipes here, as well as in my Season To Taste cooking classes and my blog, Cora Cooks.

February means colder weather, snow days, the Super Bowl and, of course, Valentine’s Day. Healthy comfort cooking for cold weather or dinner for two are both a snap with a few good recipes and some simple ingredients! This month is geared toward hot meals, super snacks and sweet treats – a little something for everyone. Eating healthy is not about dieting or denial – it’s about delicious choices and living the good life, wherever you are in life.

EASY CHICKEN CASSOULET - FOR TWO
(Adapted from Eating Well Serves Two)
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed
1 tsp. olive oil
6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 c. chicken broth
¼ tsp. dried rosemary
¼ tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
¼ c. dry white wine
3 oz. low-fat turkey kielbasa, sliced into ½-in. pieces
¼ c. toasted breadcrumbs, optional

Place ¼ c. beans in a small bowl and mash roughly with a fork. Add remaining beans to bowl and set aside. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken in a single layer. Cook chicken, turning once, until brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Do not overcook! Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Add onion and garlic to the pan. Cook on medium heat for about 1 minute. Add 1 tbsp. of the chicken broth. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add rosemary, thyme and pepper. Cook and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine; increase heat to high. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits, until the wine is reduced by about half, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the remaining chicken broth, kielbasa, beans and chicken; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes. Serve topped with toasted breadcrumbs.
Serves 2.
Approximately 420 calories per serving.

Toasted Breadcrumbs
1 slice bread (or coarse bread crumbs)
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Place bread slice in food processor and pulse several times to produce coarse crumbs. Toss breadcrumbs with 1 tsp. olive oil. Toast breadcrumb mixture in large skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until they are golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve on top of Chicken Cassoulet.
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CHICKEN WITH MUSHROOM WINE SAUCE - FOR TWO
(Adapted from Eating Well Serves Two)
3 tbsp. flour, divided
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 4-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 tbsp. minced shallot or onion
2 c. sliced mushrooms
¾ c. reduced-sodium chicken broth
½ c. dry white wine, sherry or Marsala
1 tbsp. chopped fresh or dried parsley

Combine 2 tbsp. flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in the flour mixture. Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden and cooked through 3 to 4 minutes per side, adjusting heat as necessary to avoid burning. Do not overcook. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Add remaining 1 tsp. olive oil to the pan. Add shallot (or onion) and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the mushrooms with the remaining 1 tbsp. flour and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Pour in broth and wine and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to a steady simmer and cook, stirring occasional, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in parsley. Return the chicken to the pan, turn to coat with the sauce, and cook until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes.
Serves 2.
Approximately 290 calories per serving.
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SALT & PEPPER SHRIMP – FOR TWO
(Adapted from Eating Well Serves Two)
2 tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
½ tsp. sugar
3 c. thinly sliced napa (or other) cabbage
1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. rice flour or cornstarch
¼ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
½ tsp. five spice powder
10 oz. raw shrimp (21-25 per pound), peeled and deveined
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 jalapeno or Serrano pepper, seeded and minced
2 tbsp. chopped green onions

Whisk lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar in a large bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Add cabbage and bell pepper; toss to combine. Combine rice flour (or cornstarch), salt, pepper and five-spice powder in a medium bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring often, until they are pink and curled, 3 to 4 minutes. Add jalapeno (or Serrano) and cook until the shrimp are cooked through, about 1 minute more. Serve the slaw topped with the shrimp and garnished with the chopped green onions.
Serves 2.
Approximately 350 calories per serving.
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DIANNA’S EASY CHOCOLATE TURTLES
1 bag Kraft caramels, unwrapped
Pecan halves (three per caramel)
2 12 oz. bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ cake Paraffin

On a baking sheet, place two pecan halves side by side (touching). Place a Kraft caramel on top of the pecans (in the center). Bake at 200 for 25 minutes. Place another pecan half on top, pressing down to smash the caramel. Refrigerate these for a while for easier dipping. In double boiler, melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips and paraffin. Dip turtles in chocolate and put on wax paper to set.
Makes 24.
Approximately 140 calories each.
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MIXED BERRIES WITH CHAMPAGNE DESSERT – FOR TWO
(Adapted from Eating Well Dessert Book)
¼ c. honey
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice (1 lime)
1 large sprig fresh mint leaves, plus smaller leaves for garnish
2 c. mixed berries – any combination of raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries or pitted Bing cherries
1 c. chilled Champagne (or other sparkling white wine)

In a small saucepan, combine honey, lime juice and sprig of mint; warm over low heat just until the honey melts. Remove from the heat and let steep for 5 minutes; discard the mint sprig. Place the fruit in a medium bowl, pour the honey mixture over and stir gently to combine. Divide the berry mixture between two individual stemmed glasses or dessert dishes and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 1 hour. Just before serving, pour Champagne over the fruit. Garnish each serving with mint leaves and serve.
Serves 2.
Approximately 145 calories per serving.
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February 7, 2010

First Things First - Working Out and Eating A Healthy Breakfast

SEASON TO TASTE
(my monthly food column for Heartland Women)
January 2010 

Working Out

Last January I did something shocking and totally unexpected. I made a commitment to add some healthy activity to my life – as in workout! – at least three times a week. It wasn’t really a New Year’s resolution so much as a life-changing experience.

I’d put it off as long as I could, believe me. Sure, there had been some minor flings with exercise in the past, but nothing ever lasted. Even though I had been an active and reasonably able athlete as a kid, that was pre-Title IX, so sports were not ever a big part of my life.

In my twenties I tried jogging but found pounding the pavement to be painful, even to my relatively young joints. Then I sat out the whole aerobics era – loud music, leotards, leg warmers and lady drill sergeants shouting at rooms full of sweaty women. Not for me!

Walking was OK for a while, but eventually even it fell by the wayside. Besides being boring, after two or three years of circling the same neighborhood, I could no longer tolerate looking at homes with unappealing color schemes, cookie cutter landscaping, or hideous holiday decorations. When I began to seriously consider issuing my own personal citations to the offending homeowners, my very own neighbors, I knew it was time to give up walking.

So, by 2009, after decades of avoiding the wisdom of the experts, I thought I was finally ready to give up the excuses and get moving. After all, they said regular exercise would make me healthier, happier, stronger and more flexible. Well, that and help me lose weight but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. None of my usual activities – reading, sitting at the computer, watching television and movies, sewing, etc. – required any actual activity. I had to find something a little more strenuous.

As luck would have it, my friend Dianna mentioned that she also wanted to find some form of exercise she could commit to doing for the rest of her life, too. It was just the exact life affirming “ah ha” moment both of us needed! Right then and there we agreed to begin working out the next day. And so we did!

The place we chose for our workouts fits us perfectly, which is the undeniable key to success. The atmosphere is friendly and the staff is supportive and encouraging. The workout adapts itself to our increasing strength, is easy to learn and safe to perform – no injuries! We can also take our routine on the road and workout at other facilities when we travel. The best thing is that it is so close to our homes that we have to drive past it everyday.

A year later, I am happy to report that we consider our workout-for-life plan to be an overwhelming success! Without even realizing it was happening, we began to look forward to workouts. No one was more surprised than we were to discover we actually missed working out when we had to skip for some reason. We always try to go together, but we are just as likely to go alone when one of us can’t make it.

Dianna says, "In addition to the pride I feel from actually sticking to a physical fitness routine, the laughter and the bond that we share after a year of working out are a great bonus." I second that!

And we hate to admit it, but they were right about working out on a regular basis. We are happier, healthier, stronger and more flexible. We have more energy and more stamina. Both of us have lost a few pounds, but that was not our goal.  They also say regular exercise replaces fat with muscle, which weighs more anyway. OK, we can live with that!

Call us crazy, or call us wise, but I think we both knew intuitively that it would be easier to take it one step at a time in our plan for a healthier lifestyle. We’re happy with our first step – our personal fitness plan – for now, even if it still sounds a little strange for us to have one!

So here goes. We’ve tasted success and we want more! This year we really want to focus on eating habits, but we are still not going on a diet! Our experience with diets is almost identical to my pre-2009 experience with any form of exercise. Nothing works for very long, and as soon as we let down our guard, the old habits and old pounds come back, plus some.

Instead, we want to transfer the reasonable and flexible goals of our workout plan to our eating habits. Our commitment is to make good healthy choices about the food we eat and to lose weight. They say it can be done and they were right about working out, so . . . here’s hoping they’re right again.

I know if we can be half as successful this year as we were last year, we will be thrilled. Maybe I should start out by making healthy eating choices just three days a week. Or maybe focus on healthier choices on days I don’t exercise. I’m not exactly sure how to proceed, but I have lots of options to explore until I find what works for me. And Dianna and I will be sharing our experience again, because having someone to share your accountability is helpful to both of us.

Eating A Healthy Breakfast

The first meal of the day is the logical place to begin making healthy food choices. Remember, first things first. Both of us have good breakfast routines already. For starters, we both eat breakfast, which they say is important for healthy eating and weight loss.

Breakfast is simple at my house. My favorites are eggs, oatmeal, or Greek-style yogurt. I eat one of these almost every day of the week. My Favorite Husband likes Cheerios with milk and a banana and a glass of tomato juice. And I like that he can make it himself!

Food has got to taste good, as well as being good for me, so I have a few favorites, even for breakfast. The best oatmeal I’ve ever found is Christine and Rob’s* from Oregon. It is thick cut, slow-toasted, organic and it makes oatmeal that is as far from gruel as you can get. Jazzed up with a few extras, or just a light dusting of cinnamon and sugar, it is the perfect beginning to cold winter days.

Eggs are one of the best sources of protein around and they are also versatile. Usually, I eat them poached with whole grain toast, but because of all the wonderful ways to embellish eggs with vegetables and sauces, omelets and frittatas are perfect for a special breakfast. And they’re perfect for lunch or dinner, too.

And finally, there is yogurt. I am crazy about Greek-style yogurt, especially Oikos vanilla, which is organic and fat free. The thick, custardy texture blends perfectly with the crunchy goodness of my favorite Bear Naked Vanilla Almond Granola and any kind of fresh fruit. It is my go-to breakfast – or dessert! – any day of the week.

When I started crunching numbers to develop a calorie strategy for my personal weight loss plan, I decided breakfast should be about 300 calories a day. Calories really do count, so consult someone who can help you determine your range for maintaining or losing weight. All of my morning favorites fall into the 300-calorie range, so I don’t worry if I have a splurge day every now and then.

I’m looking forward to getting into the kitchen and trying lots of new recipes for the other meals of the day. If you have any helpful tips or great recipes for real food prepared in healthy ways, please share them. I’ve printed a few here that might simplify your breakfast routine, whether you want to lose weight, or just take the first step toward maintaining healthy eating for a lifetime.

With a goal and a plan, the first step to losing weight with healthy food choices in reasonable amounts is so easy – just start everyday with a good breakfast! 

Oatmeal (1 c. cooked = 150 calories) Plus Add-Ins
Fruit & Nut – ½ c. chopped apples, 5 chopped pecans = 300
Banana Split – ¼ c. strawberries, ¼ c. bananas, ¼ c. pineapple, ½ carton vanilla yogurt, 5 chopped pecans, 1 maraschino cherry = 300
Pumpkin Pie – ½ c. canned pumpkin, ¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice, 1 tbsp. brown sugar, 5 chopped pecans = 300
P B & J – 1 tbsp. peanut butter and 1 c. fresh strawberries = 300
Banana Pudding – ¼ c. vanilla yogurt, ½ c. sliced bananas, ½ graham cracker or 2 vanilla wafers, chopped = 320
Ultimate Oatmeal Cookie – ¼ tsp. cinnamon, 1 tbsp. raisins, 1 tbsp. chocolate chips, 5 chopped walnuts = 320
Fluffer Nutter – 1 tbsp. peanut butter, 2 tbsp. marshmallow fluff, 1 honey = 325
Not So Chunky Monkey – ¼ c. chopped banana, 5 chopped walnuts, 1 tbsp. chocolate chips = 325
Chocolate Chip Cookie – 1 tbsp. chocolate chips, 1 tbsp. brown sugar, 5 chopped pecans = 330
Tropical Paradise – 1 tbsp. coconut, ¼ c. banana, ¼ c. pineapple, 5 chopped macadamia nuts = 335
Apple Pie – ½ c. apple, ¼ tsp. cinnamon, 1 chopped graham cracker, ¼ c. vanilla yogurt = 350
Christine & Rob’s Oatmeal* – available online at http://www.christineandrobs.com/
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Easy Poached Eggs - 75 calories
1.  Break each egg into a small bowl.
2.  Fill a straight-sided skillet or Dutch oven with 2 inches of water; bring to a boil. Add 1/2 c. vinegar. Reduce to a gentle simmer; the water should be steaming and small bubbles should come up from the bottom of the pan.
3.  Submerging the lip of each bowl into the simmering water, gently add the eggs, one at a time.
4.  Cook for 4 minutes for soft set, 5 minutes for medium set and 8 minutes for hard set. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs to a clean dishtowel to drain for a minute.
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Microwave Sunny Side Up Egg Casserole – 305 calories
1 slice whole grain bread
2 tbsp. grated cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp. chives (fresh or dried)
Toast bread and cut into small cubes. Coat the inside of ramekin with cooking spray or olive oil. Place toast cubes in bottom of ramekin. Sprinkle grated cheese over toast cubes. Crack two eggs and place over cheese. Sprinkle chives over eggs. With a toothpick, prick the yolk of each egg to prevent bursting in the microwave. Cover ramekin with paper towel and cook in microwave on high for 1½ - 2 minutes, until eggs are cooked. Time and power setting may need to be adjusted for your microwave. Serve in ramekins, or remove to plate.  
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Microwave Scrambled Egg Casserole – 305 calories
1 slice whole grain bread
2 tbsp. grated cheese
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. Herbes de Provence
Toast bread and cut into small cubes. Coat inside of ramekin with cooking spray or olive oil. Place toast cubes in bottom of ramekin. Sprinkle grated cheese over toast cubes. In another small bowl, crack eggs and then stir until thoroughly blended. Pour eggs over cheeses. Sprinkle Herbes de Provence over eggs. Cook in microwave on high for 1½ - 2 minutes, until eggs are cooked. Time and power setting may need to be adjusted for your microwave. Serve in ramekin, or remove to plate.
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 Cora’s Favorite Yogurt Parfait – 290 calories
1 c. mixed blueberries, raspberries and strawberries
1 small container Greek style vanilla yogurt (I like Oikos*, I purchase at my local market)
1/4 c.granola (my favorite is Bear Naked Vanilla Almond Crunch*, which I purchase at my local market - 1/4 c. is equal to 120 calories)
In a bowl or pretty glass, spoon in half of berries, add half of yogurt and then half of granola; repeat layers with remaining ingredients. Serve chilled. Note: other fruits may be substituted and will not alter the calorie count significantly; however, some granola is much higher in calories so be sure to read the label.
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 Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake – 260 calories
6 ice cubes
3/4 c. water
1/4 c. fat-free half & half
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/4 c. pumpkin puree
1 tbsp. honey (or artificial sweetener, if desired)
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 c. Reddi-Whip* whipped cream (other varieties will have different calorie counts, but are acceptable)
Place all ingredients except Reddi-Whip in a blender and process until smooth. Pour into a glass and top with a generous squirt of Reddi-Whip and sprinkle with a pinch of pumpkin pie spice. Make 1 serving. 
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* I do not receive any compensation or free products from Christine & Rob's Oatmeal, Oikos Yogurt, Bear Naked Granola, Cheerios, or Reddi-Whip - or any other products I may mention.
Brand names are included here for the purpose of calorie counts and just because I like them!