Tag Archives: Don’t Stress – Impress

A Side that Won’t Hurt Your Sides

Faux is not a word I generally include in my vocabulary.  Let’s be real, this Bite-Sized Blonde keeps it real, and that’s the way I like my fur and my food.  Faux-fur…more like faux-pas.  But there is one faux that is definitely more friend than foe and that’s faux fat.  Faux fat – as defined by the Bite-Sized dictionary is a term used to describe something luscious but low-cal; also see deceivingly distending.

I’ve been known to throw caution my waistline to the wind and eat what I want when I want.  You only live once to me really just means you eat what you want.  See here, here and here.

But sometimes, as luck will have it, some of the most dynamic recipes end up being figure friendly and seriously kind to your behind.  Case in point, Banging Brussels sprouts.  Brussels sprouts are trendy these days, probably because they are hearty and filling but light and leafy, not to mention de-li-cious.  The short, but impactful, recipe below is approachable and totally unexpected, and what you’re left with is a dish that is familiar but extraordinary.

Apple cider vinegar is an underrated ingredient.  It adds an element of tanginess that will keep your taste buds on their toes.   The crème fraiche and mustard mixture adds an element of creaminess that screams fat; but it’s faux! One tablespoon of crème fraiche is about 55 calories. Mixed with 1 tablespoon of mustard, only 30 calories, this dish is low cal – high taste that is sure to impress.

Banging Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients
16 ounces of Brussels Sprouts
1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tbs. Crème Fraiche
1 tbs . Grained Dijon Mustard
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt

Directions
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Wash the Brussels Sprouts. Some of them might have a long stem, so trim the sprouts that do. Make sure not to cut the stem off entirely, or the sprout will fall apart! Cut the Brussels Sprouts in half. And place in a plastic Ziploc bag with the apple cider vinegar and let sit for approximately 10 minutes. Place the Brussels Sprouts on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and season with kosher salt. Place in the oven for approximately 40 minutes or until they look well done. They should be dark brown and crispy. When they are completely cooked, remove from the oven. In a medium bowl, combine the crème fraiche and Dijon mustard and mix well. Add the Brussels Sprouts to the mixture and toss. Coat the Brussels Sprouts well.  Serve, enjoy, grab a fork and let the guilt be gone!

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Where the Magic Happens

In true MTV cribs fashion, I’m going to let you in on where the magic happens…But not that kind of magic.  After all, a Bite-Sized lady doesn’t kiss and tell…My kind of magic is made in the kitchen.  And magic, is exactly what’s on the menu today.  Magic Sauce get its name because, well it’s really magical.  It has the ability to transform something boring into some seriously divine.  Think Fairy Godmother, but edible.  One day you’re Cinderella, the next day you are a princess.  And by you, I mean your food.

This sauce is great for dipping, think crunchy bread.  It’s also great for eggs, potatoes, shellfish, chicken, steak and vegetables.  Really, it’s good for anything and everything.  Which is why it’s magical.  The recipe makes about ½ a cup of Magic Sauce.  But the way I use it, and the way you are sure to use it, it’s best to double the recipe right away.  The sauce, like a fine wine, also gets better with age.  So, make a batch, or two, and let the magic happen.

Magic Sauce
Ingredients
½ cup of good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 medium cloves of garlic, smashed into a paste
1 well-crumbled bay leaf
pinch of red pepper flakes
¼  teaspoon + fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions
Gently warm the olive oil over medium-low heat in a skillet or pan, until it is just hot. When hot remove from heat.

While the oil is heating, lightly pound the rosemary, thyme, and oregano in a mortar and pestle.  If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can chop all of the ingredients together.

Stir the paprika, garlic, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, and salt into the oil. Then add the bruised herbs and lemon juice.

You can use this now, but know – the oil just gets better as it ages over a few days. Keep it in a refrigerator for up to a week/ten days-ish. It thickens up when cold, so if you need it in a liquid state, place it in the sun or in a warm place for a few minutes.

Recipe from: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/magic-sauce-recipe.html

101cookbooks.com is a great collection of recipes and beautiful food photography.   If you are ever looking for inspiration, make sure to visit this site!

The Juice is Worth the Squeeze

It’s no secret that I love cooking.  And researching recipes, well that’s like foreplay for me.  But not every recipe gets my attention.  What can I say? This Bite-Sized Blonde is one tough cookie, or something that sounds like it tastes better? Who came up with that saying anyway? Why would anyone want to be a tough cookie? Personally, I’d like to think I would be a soft baked cookie, preferably one that was kind of still gooey on inside.  But, I digress.  The truth is, there are a couple key characteristics I look for in a recipe, including accessible and appealing ingredients and the prep to table ratio.  The prep to table ratio is all about time management.  And a wise man once told me it’s all about time management, although I’m pretty sure he was talking about dating.  I, being a Foodie, obviously related that to what I know best.

The prep to table ratio is a tool I use to help me decide if the juice is worth the squeeze.   A time consuming recipe becomes more appealing if it can last longer.  The L word is not one I say often, believe you me, but every now and again I let it slip.   Leftover.   That’s right.  I don’t like leftovers, so my prep to table ratio really only relates to what I can freeze and make again when I’m ready.  I think the best example of this is soup.  It’s time consuming by nature because the flavors develop as the soup cooks.  But, one big pot can make about 10 servings, and with 10 plastic containers, that easily becomes 10 meals.

Have a date coming over for dinner? Heat up a soup.  Got home late from work? Heat up some soup.  Bad weather blues? You get the point.

Porcini Mushroom Soup (makes about 8 servings*)

Ingredients
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces of dried porcini mushrooms
½ ounce of dried maitake mushrooms
½ white onion, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
½ teaspoon of mushroom mélange seasoning
½ lb. small new potatoes, cut into 1/3-inch pieces
4 cups water
1 cup vegetable stock
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly grated Parmesan

Directions
Soak the porcini and maitake mushrooms in 2 ½ cups of hot water for about 15 minutes, or until they are soft. Set the mushrooms and the liquid aside in two separate bowls.

Heat a splash of the olive oil in a large thick-bottomed pot, sauté the onions for a couple of minutes and then stir in the rosemary and potatoes. Add the remaining olive oil and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, the mushrooms and the soaking liquid, 4 cups of water, 1 cup of vegetable stock, salt and mushroom melange seasoning. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes.  Here comes the important step: taste it!  If the broth doesn’t seem flavorful enough, play around! Add salt, pepper or more of any of the ingredients listed above and let the soup continue to cook over medium to high heat for another 30 minutes.  If the broth is too intense, you may want to add more water a bit at a time.

If you are ready to serve, sprinkle with some freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve with a piece of crunchy, toasty bread.

Make sure to freeze your leftovers.  Ladle individual servings into plastic containers.  That way, when you come home on a cold, dark night, and want some soup, you can simply grab a frozen soup out of the freezer.

*I usually double this recipe so I have lots of extra to freeze! That way, the juice is definitely worth the squeeze…

Recipe inspired by http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/porcini-mushroom-soup-recipe.html