Spinach, Mushroom, and Feta Muffin Frittatas

Three of my current obsessions include food in muffin form, feta cheese, and dishes that are quick and easy to make.  Making anything in the form of a “muffin” automatically makes it more fun to eat, feta cheese adds a delicious bite to almost anything, and lately, I just don’t have the time or energy to cook elaborate meals.

Breakfast for dinner is pretty much the best lazy girl’s way of cooking and eating a healthy, filling, and varied meal.  And these spinach, mushroom and feta frittatas are clearly a manifestation of my three current obsessions.

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The inspiration for these came from Pinterest- yet another recent obsession.  I think I officially have an obsessive personality.  That’s ok- there are worse things to be addicted to than Pinterest and feta cheese, right!?

These frittatas are so simple to make.  The feta/spinach/mushroom combo was fabulous, but so many other mix-ins could work as well.  Sun dried tomato and feta or broccoli and cheddar cheese would be great twists.

Spinach, Mushroom, and Feta Muffin Frittatas

Yield: 9-10 muffins

Adapted from: The Manila Spoon’s Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 Package (8 oz) baby bella mushrooms, finely diced
  • 1 Package (5 oz) baby spinach
  • 1 cup feta cheese
  • 4 Lage eggs
  • 1-2 TBS olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Clean mushrooms by wiping them with a damp paper towel, then finely dice them.

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3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat and add mushrooms.  Cook mushrooms for about 5-6 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.

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4.  In the same skillet the mushrooms were in, add the spinach and a few TBS of water.  Allow the spinach to wilt over medium/low heat for a minutes until it is all shriveled an wilted.

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5.  Remove spinach from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Then, gently blot spinach with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.

6.  In a large bowel, whisk the eggs, then add the mushrooms (not including any liquid they released during cooking), feta cheese, and spinach.  Stir to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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7. Spoon mixture into a non-greased muffin tray.  Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Allow to cool in tin for a few minutes, then enjoy :)

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These stay  fresh for a few days wrapped and refrigerated, so they also make the perfect grab-and-heat breakfast or light snack.  A weeknight meal that is easy, fun, and healthy?  Yes, please!

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What are your favorite ways to enjoy breakfast for dinner?

What are your favorite foods to make in fun forms?

Skinny Double Chocolate Chip Muffins- Thank You Sally!

Ok: Apparently I have been living under a rock for the past year or so, but I recently discovered two websites that I am pretty much now obsessed with.  Those would be Pinterest and Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Just to clear things up, it’s not that I hadn’t heard of Pinterest, I just didn’t explore it or understand what it’s purpose was exactly.  Maybe I really am getting old, but between blogs, facebook, twitter, and instagram, I didn’t really want to sit and learn how to use another form of social media.

I guess my secret is out, I am obviously 80 years old.

Anyways, I am now not only on Pinterest but constantly on Pinterest.  The website has already inspired two of my meals for later this week, so stay tuned.

Now let’s talk about Sally.  Have you guys visited her blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction?  Holy cow.  Sprinkles, cookies, cupcakes, muffins galore.  Honestly, I don’t even like to bake.  I have always preferred cooking over baking because I feel I am better able to create something unique that I cannot simply purchase by cooking instead of baking. Also, I have always felt it is rather easy to tweak meals and make them healthier but that is much harder to do with baking.  Well, Sally and her blog have pretty much inspired me to bake (or in better terms, follow her recipes step by step).

Ironically, I stumbled upon Sally’s blog during the peak of my “trying to eat super healthy for vacation” phase.  However, while perusing her blog, I noticed one of her most recent posts for ‘skinny double chocolate chip muffins’.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Now, normally I am just as skeptical of ‘skinny’ desserts as the next woman, but for some reason I trusted Sally.  Her plethora of drool-worthy photography and shared love of sprinkles made me think she knew what she was doing.  So, I ventured into the baking world with these delicious, gooey, healthy muffins.

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Sally’s Skinny Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction                         Yield: 12 delicious muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large egg whites (or 1 large egg)
  • 3/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (or regular yogurt, plain or vanilla)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, plus a few more for sprinkling on top

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Spray 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray. Do not use liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine applesauce, sugar, honey, egg whites, greek yogurt, and vanilla extract. Whisk them all together until smooth, with no yogurt lumps remaining.
  3. Sift* the flours, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together. Slowly stir in the wet ingredients, being careful not to overmix. Get any dry pockets of flour out. Fold in the mini chocolate chips. The batter will be a little chunky. This is ok.
  4. Divide the batter evenly amount 12 liners – fill them all the way to the top if you can. Bake for 5 minutes at 425F. Keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the temperature down to 375 and continue to bake for 13 more minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center of one muffin. If it comes out clean, they are done. If not, bake for only 2 more minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 3 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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The Verdict?

I absolutely loved these muffins.  I thought they were chocolatey, gooey, moist, and flavorful.  In my opinion, they don’t taste like anything has been sacrificed in making them lighter.  In fact, I have been craving a muffin for about two months now, and I can honestly say that these satisfied that craving.

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But….

I must mention that my boyfriend, for whatever credit this may hold, was not a fan of these muffins.  He doesn’t know why.  He can’t explain it.  He simply felt that there was a taste of sorts he didn’t like.  Luckily, these freeze well.  More for me.

I strongly recommend making these muffins.  They are delicious, health(ier), and super easy to make.  Some fun twists could be using peanut butter chocolate chips instead, or mixing some strawberries in the batter.

Do you guys prefer baking “healthier” recipes or do you subscribe to the notion that baking is meant to be pure fattening deliciousness?  

What are your favorite things to bake?

Do you prefer cooking, baking, or are you awesome at both?

Tips and Tidbits on Fitness; Get Going, Stay Going, and Avoid a Slump

About three years ago, I studied abroad for a few weeks in Asia. It was the trip of a lifetime, filled with memories, experiences, and tons of pictures. When I came home and developed, framed, and revisited those pictures is when it hit me: I was very out of shape. I had gained about 15 pounds that year, avoided exercise, and developed terrible eating habits. Ever since then, I have made working out a priority. Although my diet has improved greatly since then, I am not one to give up pizza, cupcakes, or candy. Say what you want about my reasoning, but working out, in my mind, allows me to indulge and still stay fit and healthy.

I think being active is such an important part to being healthy and happy. Here are some useful tips I believe anyone can benefit from, no matter what stage of fitness you are in.

Starting from Scratch

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  • When you are starting from scratch, motivation and choosing the right activity are key.
  • Choose an activity that is enjoyable and challenging but not overwhelming. Do not sign up for an intense spin class or a 6 mile race thinking that will motivate you. That will just emphasize how long you have been out of the game. Try run/walk intervals, elliptical training, zumba, bicycling, or even yoga/pilates. At this point, it is important to just get moving doing something you enjoy, but make sure you stick to a consistent schedule.
  • Motivate yourself! For $10 you can create an awesome playlist that distracts you, gets your body moving, and sets the tone and pace for your workout. For $20-$30 you can buy some cute workout gear that you will look forward to wearing. Or, you can sign up for a class at a local gym or studio.
  • Make your workout something you look forward to. If it’s something you dread, you won’t do it. Even though activities like yoga and walking are less intense (and you will burn less calories) than other activities, if it’s all that you will do, it’s most definitely better than nothing.
  • If you feel like time is a huge factor preventing you from working out, two important things to do are to plan and be realistic. Map out your week and realistically allocate certain days to certain activities, based on time. Some helpful suggestions are to invest in a few workout DVDs, a yoga mat, and some comfortable weights. Pick a TV show that you can watch mindlessly (Real Housewives, anyone?), and workout as you watch! You can get tons of great workouts for free online.
  • Also for busy individuals: remember, not all your exercise needs to be done at once. A 20 minute morning walk with 20 minutes of toning at night is 40 minutes you won’t even miss, trust me.
  • Don’t forget old reliable friends such as push ups, planks, crunches, squats, and lunges. These babies are classics for a reason and seriously require less time than an episode of Big Bang Theory. Added bonus: NO equipment required. No excuses for you frequent travelers!

Getting Too Comfortable

  • You’ve started working out, but now you are stuck in your comfort zone. Now is the time to kick it up a notch.
  • Challenge yourself. Were you walking/running? Try just running- you can probably go farther than you think! Were you bicycling? Try spinning or upping the resistance on your bike. Loved pilates? Mix in some resistance bands or switch to more intermediate level moves. No matter what your activity: change moves, add resistance, or up the incline
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  • Mix in a new activity. Ultimately, you want a good mix of cardio and strength training. Most of us tend to enjoy what comes more naturally to us. Just be sure to mix in a little of the other category for a nice balanced, diversified work out.
  • Update that playlist! Even a few new songs makes the world of a difference.

Been There, Done That, Now I’m Bored…

  • You’re fit and accomplished but the worst plague of all is hitting you: boredom.
  • Obviously, mixing up your routines are key. However, beware that sometimes trying a new activity is not as satisfying as your old passion. If you are a seasoned runner and try cycling, you may not like it! That’s ok. In that case, your disdain of cycling will remind you of you passion for running. Just try mixing up something: your pace, your time, your route, your company, your music.. anything to give your mind a new focus.
  • Constantly explore new options and activities. They key is not to give up what you used to do, but to add in a little variety so that your old routine is new and exciting again.
  • Find new motivation. I find signing up for frequent events such as races, especially for a meaningful cause, always ignites a spark in me. There are many more events out there than road races. Visit active.com to find events in your area.

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  • Splurge on new equipment. This is different than the “beginner motivators” such as music and workout gear. These items should be more of a reward to help re-spark your love of something; expensive running shoes, a Garmin, a good bicycle, a fitness class membership, expensive golf clubs, you name it! Or, ladies, any item from LuLuLemon!
  • Take a break! It sounds counterintuitive, but try not working out for 4-5 days. Take the time to relax, physically and mentally, and by the time you start again you will probably be itching to do whatever it is you do.

And Always Remember:

  • Every little step counts! Being fit is about being active. Taking the stairs, the long route, or walking your dog do count.
  • Push yourself, but within limits. Exercising should be kept as enjoyable as possible. Some days, exercising can wipe away your stress. But then there are always those days that Ben and Jerry will help you more. And that’s fine! Working out should be an ongoing lifestyle, not a daily chore.
  • One of the quotes that really sticks with me about working out is from Bethanny Frankel. “Do what you can, when you can”. Do not forego food, plans, or time doing other things in order to workout. Instead, maximize your free time, no matter how small, to doing something active.
He can do it.. so can you!

He can do it.. so can you!

Food Fail: Mustard Herb Salmon Gone Wrong

Hello again blog peeps.

I am saddened to report that tonight was a night of failures; on both the food and fitness front.  For now, let’s discuss food failures.

Inspired by awesome success with last weeks dijon crusted halibut, I decided to try a new salmon recipe for once.  I turned to my super reliable and trusty friend Giada de Laurentiis who rarely lets me down, and chose her herb and mustard broiled salmon.

This was the first time I used my broiler in this particular oven, and I have a feeling that it wasn’t fully heated when I put the salmon in.  The result was that the top of the salmon cooked way faster than the rest; the top was already cooked while the middle was still raw.  Ultimately, the salmon turned out EXTREMELY dried out, right down to the mustardy spread on top.  The mustard practically browned in the same way cheese would while baking in the oven (good for pizza, not for fish).  In all fairness, the actual flavor of the topping was very good.

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Random side note: how in the world is one supposed to chop fresh thyme without the sprigs getting in the way?  The thyme was not like rosemary where the herbs just fell right off.  This step was beyond frustrating for an already doomed meal.

To make matters even worse, I made this with lemon green beans and shallots (idea from Two Peas & Their Pod blog).  Seriously, this side includes three ingredients- how did I screw this up?  I’ll tell you how:  I used the amount of lemon called for in cooking the whole recipe even though I reduced the serving size drastically.  The result was overly lemony, under shallot-ed green beans.  Fail.

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The best part of this meal was contributed by good ol’ Uncle Ben.  Seriously, Uncle Bens instant brown rice and quiona mix with garlic is very tasty.  I highly recommed it for a healthy grain dish in a pinch.

And that is the sad truth- the best I can offer you from this meal is a thumbs up to Uncle Ben’s brown rice and quinoa mix.

Giada’s salmon may be worth a shot if you are confident in your broilers ability to work.  After tonight’s experience though, I think I will stick to grilling and baking my salmon instead.  While the mustard sauce was really good, it didn’t measure up to the simple blackening mix I usually use, which happens to be way less complicated.

Tonights adventures were a disappointment on all fronts.  I am sure the problem rests with me and/or my appliances so if any of you try out these recipes and have success, please let me know!

Since this post is filled with enough negativity already, I will save my rant about what happens when you try out a new workout and hate it for another day.  Also, to lighten up the mood a little, I have included a picture of my incredibly cute dog, Macy.  I always say she looks like a little burrito when she’s nestled in my covers like this, so technically she does belong in a blog post about food :)

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Dijon Crusted Baked Halibut

Hello blog peeps- I am officially back to a semi-normal routine and finally had the time to cook up a healthy, tasty meal tonight.

Because it has been a while since I tried a new recipe, I figured I would come back in full force and try something a bit out of my comfort zone.  Fish is one of those things that I am gradually developing quite a taste for, but am still reluctant at trying new types.  My taste buds have mastered salmon (especially my yummy blackened salmon) and tried grouper and chilean sea bass while dining out, but I am not quick to try new fish recipes at home.  I mean, is anything less satisfying after a long day than a bland, fishy, expensive piece of fish?  Well, tonight was time to execute one of my foodie resolutions in trying new things.

I made a dijon crusted baked halibut that I am happy to report turned out quite tasty!  I adapted the recipe from this Taste of Home Recipe by tweaking it just a little.  I decided to use halibut instead of tilapia because 1) fresh, wild halibut is on sale this week at Whole Foods (score!), and 2) I had never tried halibut before.

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I know I mention on here rather frequently whether or not my boyfriend liked a dish, but that is because he is a picky eater when it comes to healthy food.  So, I feel a recipe is uber-legitimate and totally worth sharing with you guys when he likes it.  And such was the case tonight :)

Dijon Crusted Baked Halibut

Adapted from this Taste of Home Recipe

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 lb halibut (or fish of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons reduced fat mayo (can sub with all or some greek yogurt)
  • 1.5 TBS parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp horseradish
  • 1 tsp butter, melted
  • 2 TBS breadcrumbs
  • 1.5 tsp dijon mustard

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a smal bowl, combine the mayo (or greek yogurt), 1 TBS parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and dijon mustard.
  3. Place fish on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray, skin side down.  Spread mayo mixture liberally on top of fish, saving any extra to use as a dipping sauce.
  4. In another small bowel, combine breadcrumbs, remaining 1/2 TBS parmesan cheese, and the melted butter.  Mix well.
  5. Top of the fish with the breadcrumb/cheese/butter topping.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 13-17 minutes, checking at 13 minutes, until fish is flaky in the center.

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We were pleasantly surprised at how good and EASY this recipe was.  I served it with frozen steamed broccoli (yawn), but tons of side dishes would accompany this perfectly.

The only thing I noticed was that because halibut (or perhaps just this piece) is such a thick piece of fish, we didn’t get a yummy dijon flavor in every bite, especially towards the center.  Luckily halibut is a very taste neutral fish, so it was more not flavorful as opposed to bad.  My solution to this for next time: reserve the extra mayo mixture to use as a dipping sauce.  If I had known this, I definitely would have saved my extra instead of tossing it down the drain in an attempt to be ahead of the clean up game.  Topping that reserved mixture with fresh herbs, such as dill or parsley, could be beyond delicious.

The next time you are looking for a healthy, delicious, out-of-the-box seafood recipe, definitely give this a try!

What is your favorite type of fish to cook?  What fish have you always wanted to try to make at home?

Healthy Pear-Streusel Coffee Cake

It has been a long time since I blogged about food, and an even longer time since I blogged about food I actually made and didn’t just purchase.  This saddens me.  But, such is the tragic story of a busy grad student.

All of the credit for this recipe goes to Holly at Everyday’s a Hollyday.  Fun side note: Holly is a best friend of one of my best friends, but we have never actually met!  But, through my friend Lea, and through Holly’s amazing blog, I know I would love her.  She posted this recipe for pear-streusel coffee cake a while back, and I knew I had to make it.  A recipe for a coffee cake that involves pear and Chobani yogurt?! I was hooked.  I honestly made no changes to the recipe, so simply click the link to see the recipe.

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This coffee cake is delicious, easy to make, and guess what- healthy!  There is no butter involved, instead the recipe uses greek yogurt.  This is the perfect “treat” for breakfast, snack, or a dessert (ok so really any time).  The recipe makes plenty to last a few people all week.  Ok, that is assuming you have a little self control and don’t eat three squares at once, which may be difficult.

My boyfriend was extremely skeptical of this because 1) he does not trust dessert made with no butter and 2) he does not like pear or greek yogurt that much…… OR SO HE THOUGHT.  He loved it.

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The pear version was fantastic, but I think it would be so much fun and easy to play with the flavors, and I think next time I will try apple, using the apple-cinnamon  Chobani yogurt with cut up apple.  Either way, this coffee cake is just the right amount of sweet, moist, and does not sacrifice the delicious streusel topping in becoming health-ified.

Baking in a healthy way is something that scares me because although I know it can certainly be done, I feel one is at a higher risk for a dessert dud.  It is one thing for me to screw up dinner, but that is unacceptable for dessert!  But, as mentioned, this coffee cake was a total success and I highly recommend giving it a try.

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It feels so great to blog again after being MIA for a while.  I have two exciting blog posts for this week, one of which involves an awesome farmers market find and another that involves something so delicious, it will be added to the “Best Thing I Ever Ate” page.

Until then, make this coffee cake.

6.2 check.

Yes, I am alive.  And I promise to be blogging (and cooking) more in the upcoming weeks.

This post, however, is to document the 10k that I ran this morning.  I know for some serious runners this may not be a huge deal, but it was my first time running this distance in a more competitive atmosphere, so yay me!

Before the race!

Before the race!

As I had previously mentioned, participation in this race came to be when I decided 1) I was slacking on my running 2) I was flabbing up a bit and 3) I needed some form of motivation.  So, I literally registered for the first 10k that was coming up and took place on a Sunday (since I work on Saturdays).  Hence my participation in the “Gumbo Limbo Green Turtle Gallop” in Boca Raton for sea turtle conservation.

Now, don’t let the name fool you.  When I showed up this morning, the event was crawling with serious runners.  I’m talking fit, toned people with multiple 13.1 and 26.2 stickers on their cars.  The types of people who run these 10ks as warm-ups or tapers for their marathons.   I ran this race with a friend of mine who used to be in the Israeli army and even he was a bit shocked at the uber-competitive turn out.  We overheard a group talking about how they “knocked out 10 miles yesterday like it was nothing”.

Before the race! Macy came to support :-)

Before the race! Macy came to support :-)

Don’t get me wrong.  I run (kind of) frequently, and a few summers ago I actually logged serious milage.  But lately, my runs have been more of the 3-4 mile variety squeezed in whenever I find a spare milisecond in my week.  Needless to say, I was nervous.  I seriously thought to myself “what if I actually finish last?”

I did NOT finish last.  Or even close to it. Completed the whole thing in 62 minutes which was exactly my goal.  Although the 6.2 miles were challenging, I was able to run most of this at a very comfortable pace and could have even kept going.  Finishing this race made me feel great inside and motivated me to sign up for more.

After the race- #bestfeeling #donezo

After the race- #bestfeeling #donezo

One item on my bucket list is to run a half marathon one day, and I had been seriously considering flying to Chicago this May for the one benefitting Northwestern University’s Brain Tumor Research Center, as this cause is extremely near and dear to my heart.  Unfortunately, the race is the day of my graduation from pharmacy school. I did manage to stumble upon the Florida Brain Tumor Association’s 10th annual 5k happening in two weeks right in my area.  I was ecstatic to discover this race and immediately signed up, along with my boyfriend.

I am so happy that I am back in the running groove.  The sense of accomplishment, motivation, and happiness it brings never ceases to amaze me.  I read a running quote somewhere that read “man, I really regret that run. -said nobody ever”.  Totally true.

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To celebrate my newly recharged running spirit, I updated my playlist and bought a brand new pair of Asics.

What motivates you guys to run?  What are your favorite running tunes?  And what is your favorite race you have run?