Thursday, November 28, 2013

Basil Tangerine Infused Cranberry Sauce

Think outside the box!  That is the theme of our Thanksgiving day this year.  We had a bag of fresh cranberries, and some tangerines, and I was thinking of different ways to bring them together.  I looked over at my wilting basil plant, and it hit me!  I would try making a simple syrup infused with basil and tangerine zest, and see what would happen (we had two cans of the gelatinous stuff as back up).  I have to say, folks, culinary win!  This sauce has such a depth of flavor, with sweet, tart, floral, tangy notes abound!  I don't anticipate it lasting long on our dinner table.  Enjoy!

  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 C water
  • 3 basil leaves, torn (to bring out the natural oils)
  • zest of 1 tangerine
  • juice of 1/2 tangerine
  • 1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, combine sugar, water, basil, and tangerine zest.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and continue to whisk well and add tangerine juice.
  4. Remove basil leaves.
  5. Add cranberries and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes stirring occasionally.
  7. Bring to room temperature before serving. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

"I'm Craving" Spaghetti Pie

I don't know how much this qualifies as a "healthier" alternative to a regular spaghetti pie, but I was craving everything "bad" from Chicken Florentine, to fried spaghetti and fried mozzarella, to something/anything with a cream sauce.  I was pleased that this totally hit the spot. The only ingredient that was really "bad" was the mozzarella, but there is only 2 ounces per serving...keep in mind this is meatless as well! Serve with a simple spinach salad that has been  tossed with lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Enjoy! 

  • 1/3 lb protein enriched spaghetti (the Plus version of regular pasta)
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T corn starch
  • 1 1/2 C chicken stock
  • the juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 pinch red pepper flake
  • 1/2 can small black olives (whole or sliced)
  • 1/2 can quartered artichoke hearts
  • 1 small can (14.5 oz) of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 T capers
  • 1/2 C frozen spinach, thawed and well drained (remove excess moisture with paper towels)
  • 1 small can (4 oz) sliced mushrooms, drained 
  • 1 C shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 C Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring 4 qts water to a rolling boil and add a liberal amount of salt.
  3. Cook spaghetti, stirring frequently, until 1 minute before al dente (this time will be on the package).
  4. Drain spaghetti and reserve some of the pasta water.
  5. In a large saute pan over medium high heat, add olive oil and corn starch.  
  6. Using a wire whisk, combine the corn starch and oil well until it begins to bubble.
  7. Add chicken stock while whisking constantly to avoid lumps. 
  8. Add lemon juice, garlic powder, pepper flake, salt and pepper to taste.  
  9. Spray a pie plate with a liberal amount of non stick cooking spray.
  10. Whisk together the two eggs with 1/8 C of reserved pasta water to temper the eggs (this will prevent them from scrambling when you add it to the pie). 
  11. Combine all remaining ingredients in the saute pan and mix until well combined.
  12. Add mixture to the pie plate and top with the mozzarella cheese.
  13. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese melts and bubbles.  
  14. Let stand for at least 15-20 minutes so it will hold its shape when you cut it
Pairs perfectly with a nice Pinot Grigio

This can be made gluten free by using a rice pasta  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

DARE AND DO Update: October 2013

The end of the last ten week plan in the Dare and Do Challenge was met with an atypically warm and bright unfolding fall season.  The bright and sunny days in New England have given way to unseasonably warm and calm nights.

The pallet of colors has reached the peak, here, and the leaves-- rich in red, orange, and yellow hues-- have already begun to cover neglected lawns and fill storm drains.  The smell of underlying crispy brown lawns and leaves is in the air, but coupled with enough of a reminder of summer to leave anyone confused as to the time of year. The pools, not so long ago a source of fun and laughter, are covered.  Summer shorts have been put away, and tank tops and sandals (sans socks, of course) are no longer appropriate, even in these mild temperatures.  Fall, however generous this year, has halted summer fun and still promises the gloomy and stark season to come.

I have found myself--whilst launching a new business and in the middle of a multitude of weddings, birthdays, unplanned for events-- cash strapped.  I pulled out my wardrobe from two seasons ago, and stand proudly at how much I've accomplished...until my pants fall down around my ankles.  I then immediately shrug down and pull my pants up to my chest.  I place my belt on the last hole allowed for my then size, and contemplate punching a new hole.

We have had weather that demands a sweater or a coat; the heat has been on.  I've worn these clothes just enough to be reminded that I don't have to look "good enough" with my shirt off again until May of next year (or whenever I take my next picture for the internet, you know, Friday).  ;) I need a new wardrobe, but I'm not in the place to do anything about it just yet.

I have been away from the Dare and Do Challenge Group for the past week or so because I have been guilty.  I have been guilty of not doing a crunch, a plank, a squat, a feathered peacock, a tricep dip, a push up, a lunge.  I have not lifted a weight, a yoga mat, or thought of any of that in DAYS.  I am equally guilty of indulging in pizza, cheese, potato chips, chocolate, ice cream, cheese, potato chips, potato chips, Doritos, Doritos with cheese and bacon.  Good Lawd, I've have bacon several ways. And I'M NOT SORRY. Except, clearly, I totally am.

I hit my scale weight goal of 165 towards the end of the ten week challenge, but continued to increase my work outs for my non scale goals.  I took the last two days of the challenge off, took my "after" pic (which then became my new "before" pic) and am reluctant to admit, felt disappointed.  I am proud of everything I accomplished.  I scoff at the 24 pounds lost and tell them not to come back.  I love wearing my new shorts/short sleeve shirts that fit me.  In the mirror, though, I thought I would be further along.  I truly thought, after working my butt off since May, that I would be Jensen Channing, or whomever (is this getting old yet?), and could finally say "after."  I am impressed with what I've done, but still have so much more to do before June (my goal for "after").  Grrr!

I am not sorry for not working out/eating like a glutton because after the two days off and the reality of the "after" pic, I got the flu.  I got the kind of flu where you sleep for three days, and everything is a haze.  I got the type of flu where you are ravenously hungry, and then can't tolerate the sight of food.  I can never remember if you feed a cold or a fever, so I just always feed both.  For me, that is part of, fluids, tons of junk food, hours of bad television interspersed with healing sleep.

I am sorry because I started to feel better over the weekend, and I weighed myself, fearing the worst.  I now weigh 164.  My shorts are still falling off.  I did nothing, ate what I wanted, and know that sweater weather is here.  It was short lived, but it happened:  I remembered, from the few other times I got "in shape," that I can eat whatever I want and do nothing in terms of exercise and maintain it for up to a year.

My wife, who stopped daring and doing, which also frustrates me because I first starting doing this to inspire her, was my saving grace.  She looked at me, lovingly, and posed:  "what if you lost one pound of muscle?" Food for thought.

I then thought of the Dare and Do group, and all of the inspiring people I have met there, and all of the amazing accomplishments they have reached.  Yes, I can pull this off for a bit, but what happens, in that unseen, unfelt, unheard of moment, when I no longer maintain and pack it all back on?  I do this EVERY year.  I am in the best shape of my life, woo hoo!  I have a lot more to "lose" here.  How can I possibly contemplate failure and also co-run this group?

I beat myself up for a day or so, whilst catering a party with foods that included bacon, and bacon, and meatballs with half and half soaked Italian bread and, um, bacon.  I woke up today, and it was like auto pilot.  I did 4 miles on the bike at top resistance in 15 minutes.  I did 500 crunches, I did 100 push ups.  I did a 2 minute plank (more than that is a waste of time, imho). I lifted weights, and I ate extremely well.  I am tired, but am reminded of the "journey not destination" part of what I've been talking about.  I GOT THIS!!

My journey is specific, and I know that.  I am trying to prevent a mid life crisis as I approach mid life.  I think of others out there going through their journeys and felt the need to fess up.  YES--WE WILL ALL FALL OFF THE WAGON, WE WILL ALL MESS UP...That's what the DARE AND DO GROUP is FOR!  WE GOT THIS!!!

So, to my cursed, blessed DD group members, blah to you for the Doritos I will throw out because I CAN NOT eat them.  And THANK YOU for how blessed I am for what we've all created.  I am already back on track and moving forward.  #thankyou!!  --Brian

Friday, October 4, 2013

"Guiltless" Angel Hair Alfredo

I have to toot my own horn on this recipe because it knocked the socks off of not only my entire family, but off of myself as well.  It is hearty, rich, and DELICIOUS!  As many of you know, I am currently writing two cooking memoirs:  one about my time as a stay at home dad, and one about my lifelong journey towards health/wellness.  I have been reserving my signature dishes for these books, and had I not been directly asked to develop this recipe, I would have reserved it for the health and wellness book.  It was THAT good. You should try this recipe out, but don't tell anyone that it is "healthier."  Enjoy watching their reactions when you tell them what's in it!  


  • 1 lb protein enriched pasta (the angel hair worked perfect)
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T corn starch
  • 1 C skim milk
  • 3/4 C nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 C Parmesan cheese
  • 1 T "I'm shocked this low fat product contains no butter" (I can't list it by brand name, but you know what I mean)
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1-2 pinches of nutmeg (this is needed to balance the tartness of the yogurt)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large sauce pot. 
  2. Add a liberal amount of salt and pasta.
  3. Cook pasta according to brand.
  4. In a large saute pan over medium high heat, combine corn starch and olive oil with a whisk,
  5. Slowly whisk in milk and reduce heat to low.
  6. Add 3-4 T of the heated mixture to the yogurt and stir to temper it (this will prevent the yogurt from curdling).
  7. Whisk in tempered yogurt, and add remaining ingredients.
  8. Drain pasta and add to sauce, ensuring to mix well.
  9. Garnish with parley and fresh basil leaves.
  10. Watch your family/friends literally freak out when you tell them this is a healthier version.  Everyone was floored when I told them what was in it, and my kids licked the plate!!  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"Baked Fried Dough" -- A Healthier Take On Pizza

My biggest downfall, when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, is pizza. It is my go-to comfort food, my must-have indulgence, and the food most guilty of breaking my discipline.  When I was in college, I ate pizza every single day of the four years I lived on campus, at least once a day (curse you Rathskellar!!).  It wasn't even good pizza.  HA! I have the great fortune of living near New Haven, and marrying a woman from New York, so I know the experience and the essence of a good pie. If you are looking to replicate a NY or New Haven pizza...I haven't achieved that yet; however, if you are looking to satisfy a pizza craving:  this is the recipe for YOU!  I have lived all over the country and will attest that this beats southern pizza, CA pizza, and northern pizza by far...and it is healthy to boot!  My entire family literally giggled as we sampled this, and all agreed on one thing:  This healthier pizza recipe tastes like "BAKED FRIED DOUGH!"  ENJOY! 

  • 3 C Wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 C non fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 4 Kumato tomatoes (for diabetics:  contains a higher amount of fructose than an average tomato, you can also use larger Roma tomatoes)
  • I sheet of rolled fresh mozzarella, cut into 1" x 1"  squares (this is an amazing product...NEVER pay for rolled prosciutto/salami and mozzarella again, brands can be found by googling "rolled fresh mozzarella")
  • 20-25 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 C shaved Parmesan
  • 2 t garlic powder
  • 2 t dried basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, yogurt, baking soda and 1 t salt. 
  3. Wet hands with cold water (to help prevent sticking), and mix ingredients well until they form a ball.
  4. Place ball on a floured surface and knead the dough for at least five minutes, or until it becomes firm.  
  5. Re-flour the surface and use a floured rolling pin to roll out (this will be a lot trickier than your typical pizza dough, and cannot be "spun" or "flipped--you need to roll the dough's shape) to the shape/size of a baking sheet that has been coated with cooking spray.
  6. Drizzle with 1 T olive oil and place in oven for 10 minutes.
  7. Top with tomato slices, mozzarella pieces, fresh basil, shaved Parmesan, drizzle with remaining olive oil, and sprinkle an even coat of garlic powder/dried basil/salt/pepper.
  8. Return to oven for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until cheese has bubbled and crust is golden brown. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Spiked Mango Mimosa


  • One 64 ounce container of no pulp orange juice
  • 8 ounces of vodka (top shelf would be best)
  • 2 bottles of extra dry champagne
  • 1 8 oz bag of frozen mango
  • 1 T sugar
  • 2 T water
  1. Combine mango, sugar, and water in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. In a large bowl, combine orange juice, vodka, and mango puree.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Fill punch bowl with ice and "spiked" mango orange juice and add 1/2 bottle of champagne each time you fill the bowl (for a standard size punch bowl, I filled it four times).
serves one  (just kidding--I served this to a party of 20 last week)  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Creamy Buffalo Dip and Baked Potato Chips

TV season is fast approaching as the summer is quickly winding down.  One of my biggest challenges in maintaining a healthy lifestyle every fall is snacking in front of the tube.  A craving for buffalo wings, and a yearning for potato chips led to this protein packed, low fat dip and healthier chip alternative.  I'll be sure to have this on hand for all the upcoming season premieres (I think 3 of the shows I watch are left on TV, HA!).  Enjoy!! 

  • 1 C fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 small minced sweet onion
  • 2 T light mayonnaise
  • 2 T hot sauce (or to taste)
  • 1/4 C reduced fat bleu cheese crumbles
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • a pinch of sweet paprika
  • a pinch of celery salt
  • 1 large russet potato
  • 2 T canola oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice the potato using a mandolin, or a vegetable peeler
  3. Toss with oil, salt and pepper and spread into single layer on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes until crisp and a dark brown.
  5. Place chips in a paper bag and add a little salt and shake the bag. The bag helps soak up any excess oil
  6. Arrange chips on a serving plate.
  7. In a medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients. For best results, allow to set in the refrigerator for at least two hours to allow the flavors to develop.
Serving suggestion:  prepare the dip a day in advance, and serve while the chips are still warm. I also  serve with celery and carrot sticks in addition to the potato chips. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

How I became a #SuperMilkMan

I have struggled with weight issues my entire life.  I once weighed more than 230 pounds (I stopped weighing myself when it became too overwhelming), and I am proud to say that I am 39 years old and I currently weigh in at 169 pounds.  I weigh almost 30 pounds less, as I prepare to enter midlife, than I did when I graduated high school!

Synchronicity. I had taken this summer off from my page and from blogging, for the most part, to focus in on health and wellness. I checked the email for The Cook At Home Dad on Sunday,  planning to re-launch the page this week, as my girls are all now in school full time.  It was with great delight and appreciation that I found an invitation from Life of Dad, LLC to be one of 25 bloggers to be featured in a new #SuperMilkMan campaign.  Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has joined forces with Milk and has a campaign about the many health benefits of milk.  The Rock-- actor, producer, athlete, and author knows the importance of protein to fuel his days. Much like me, The Rock juggles work, family time, and fitness.  Check out for more details! 

Each blogger is being compensated by Life of Dad, LLC for their contribution to the #SuperMilkMan campaign;  however, more importantly, the winner of the contest will get to meet the Rock in person!   Compensation and contest aside, though,  I am compelled to share how milk played an integral role in my journey.

I procrastinated for months about "the start" of adopting a healthier lifestyle.  I made lists of plans to make lists of plans to get in shape.  Month after month, these lists would become longer and longer, and little action was done on my part.  One day, finally fed up after three failed attempts (if you don't start on Monday, you can't possibly begin any new habit), I woke up and looked in the mirror.  I looked at my bloated, cocooned self and literally said out loud: "if you don't fix this now, it won't get fixed."  I was broken and I knew it.  I had allowed myself to become sedentary and less than my potential.  I had reengaged in my roller coaster yoyo, and was well on my way back to my max weight. 

There was something different about this particular Monday, in the way I typically would perceive myself in the mirror.  It may have been because I am going to turn 40 next year.  It may have been because my role as a stay at home dad was coming to an end after almost 10 years.  I think, more likely, it was because of what I thought about as I looked at my pudgy and swollen gut, undeveloped muscles and overall fatigue.  My issue was no longer about fitting into a smaller pant size, looking good, or being "hot."  I looked at my body and thought about blood pressure, cholesterol, and risk.  I thought about my three young children and how much they need me to be here--healthy!

I went into my kitchen and pulled out a bowl, a cup measure, cereal, and low fat milk.  My stomach turned as I poured the milk, so early in the morning, on the dried blah that I knew I had to ingest.  I am historically a once a day eater, and then a late night snacker.  I knew I had to start somewhere.  I force fed myself breakfast, and found that by lunch time I actually wanted to eat, though my body did not want to cooperate.  I again force fed myself yogurt and nuts and cheese.  I then continued to eat whatever I wanted for dinner, so long as the portion size was no bigger than my fist (the size of your stomach), with unlimited fruits and vegetables on the side. 

This routine of forcing myself to eat during the day went on for two weeks. I dreaded each meal, but made myself eat.  Finally, at the start of the third week, I found myself craving breakfast as I awoke.  I continued this plan for another week and then did the unthinkable:  I weighed in!  I had lost 10 pounds with doing little more than incorporating breakfast and lunch with cereal and milk, and yogurt, nuts, and cheese.  I lost TEN POUNDS!!!

click here to see "#SUPERMILKMAN"

Needless to say, this elevated my motivation a thousand fold.  I began to publicly dare myself to set goals on the pages I admin on, and felt accountable to not only meet, but surpass those goals.  I started a dare and do challenge where I dared others to join me.  It morphed into a health/wellness group I co run "CAHD/Sarcasmom's Dare and Do Challenge,"  a group of over 300 people challenging themselves to the same type of  health and wellness goals.  I went in thinking I was going to inspire people, and I think I did.  More importantly, I found myself inspired. This group is comprised of people trying to do everything from lose 100 pounds, to tone up, to build muscle...they INSPIRE ME!!   I have made amazing friendships, met kindred spirits, even soul mates.  We GOT THIS!!  The most important part:  my ACTIONS and this group  inspired my wife and my older daughter to DARE AND DO!  My wife, and then my daughter began to try the different exercises I was doing, and adopted the eating pattern I had started.  As a family, we lost 53 pounds in the past two months!  I have to admit, at the end of the day...I do feel a bit like a #SuperMilkMan.  My family and I start each day with milk and cereal, have at least a serving of yogurt a day, and have at least on 8 ounce glass of low fat milk after playing (and workouts)! ;)

I am not quite to my goal yet, though in terms of 'scale weight,' I am only four pounds shy of goal.  I have incorporated weight lifting and strengthening my body and I work out six days a week.  It is essential after each workout to give our bodies protein.  As a stay at home dad, I had been limited to evening work outs. After a long day of parenting, domesticating, and then working out at nine o' is the last thing on my mind.  So, after each workout, I enjoy a glass of ice cold low fat milk.  Each 8 ounce serving of milk contains 8 grams of protein, more protein than an egg.  It provides nine essential nutrients, including calcium, protein, phosphorus, potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, niacin, and riboflavin. 

I will now work out during a more appropriate hour.  I will still continue to drink milk as the go-to protein my body needs after every work out.

Each "after" shot I have been posting (or #SuperMilkMan video) inspiringly becomes a "before" shot, as I realize I am not heading towards a destination.  I am on a journey to being a healthy and well middle aged man.  I highly recommend, to anyone who is where I was for all those months "planning to plan":  next Monday (regardless of when you read this blog post), when you wake up grab a cup of cereal, add some low fat milk...and begin!!  YOU GOT THIS!!! 

Friday, July 26, 2013


It occurred to me that I haven't been updating on the blog, forgetting some of you are not on the Facebook page. 

I have been daring and doing and now co admin a health and wellness group (I'll provide a link).  We have over 300 people and everyone is killing it!  We are about to start a 10 week challenge on Monday and I've upped my game and my expectations.  Here is my before and after pick.  I've lost a total 15.5 pounds, but my clothes fit in a way where I suspect I gained a little muscle.

I feel incredible, eating well has become second nature and exercise is something I literally crave now.  If you are thinking about making a change, join the group!!  Dare yourself and then DO it!!  :)

Click here for link to group

Friday, July 19, 2013

Parmesan Chicken

For my first comfort food remake, I made this healthier version of Chicken Parmesan.  I was amazed that I did not miss the fried breading or the mozzarella cheese found in traditional Chicken Parmesan.  The tangy, light sauce was complimented perfectly by just the right amount of salty savory Parmesan cheese.  The best part?  I did not have to loosen my belt when I was done eating!  Enjoy!! 

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut in half and pounded to 1/4" thickness
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled (about 10 cloves) Tip:  I leave the cloves whole because I love garlic and my wife does not.  You can also mince the garlic AFTER browning in the olive oil
  • 20-25 fresh basil leaves
  • pinch of red pepper flake
  • 2 t garlic powder
  • 1 t dried basil
  • 2 cans of whole peeled tomatoes, cubed (or diced)
  • 1/4 C Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/8 C red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb of PLUS or whole wheat pasta of your choice cooked per the package's directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Place 2 T olive oil in a glass baking dish.
  3. Coat the chicken with the olive oil and spread out in baking dish.
  4. Liberally salt, pepper, and sprinkle 1t garlic powder on both sides of the chicken pieces.
  5. Place in the oven for 20 minutes.
  6. Add the remaining olive oil and garlic cloves in a medium sauce pot over medium high heat.
  7. Saute' the garlic until it turns a golden brown (if you overcook it, it will become bitter and you will have to start over.
  8. Add pinch of pepper flake,  cubed tomatoes (carefully as it will splatter), the other t garlic powder, dried basil and fresh basil, wine, and salt and pepper to taste. 
  9. Cover, reduce heat to low, and allow sauce to simmer until the chicken is done.
  10. Pour sauce over chicken and return to oven.
  11. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
  12. Serve over pasta and top with Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lemon Basil Chicken

I was craving Basil Bacon Chicken tonight, but am daring and doing and didn't dare cheat on a non cheat day.  I brainstormed and came up with this healthier alternative. I have to be honest I didn't miss the bacon. I'm writing those words:  I did NOT MISS BACON!!  Both tangy and fragrant, I promise you this won't feel like a "healthier alternative." 

  • 2 large skinless boneless chicken breast cut into 1" thick medallions
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 pinch red pepper flake
  • the juice of one lemon
  • 10-12 basil leaves, torn

  1. In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, brown the whole garlic cloves in the olive oil.
  2. When golden brown, remove garlic cloves and add pepper flakes.
  3. Liberally salt and pepper the chicken medallions and sauté until brown (about four minutes each side).
  4. Add lemon juice and basil.
  5. Cover and reduce heat to low.
  6. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  7. Serve over yolkless egg noodles or a whole grain pasta and a vegetable medley of your choice.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Asian Style Turkey Burger Atop Guiltless Sesame Slaw

In honor of Dare and Do, I promised the folks in Sarcasmom's 30 day challenge group that I would provide some healthy recipes.  I had this for dinner last night, and I have to tell you it was so filling and satisfying even I could not believe it was a turkey burger.  I came up with the slaw on the fly, dreading the thought a mayo-less recipe.  I will never use mayo again for coleslaw.  Enjoy!

Turkey Burger:

  • 1 lb lean turkey meat
  • 1 T Sesame Seeds
  • 1 T Brown Sugar
  • 1 T Lite Soy sauce
  • 1/2 t sesame oil
  • 1 pinch of dried ginger
  • black pepper (I omit salt on this because of the soy sauce)

  1. Combine ingredients in a medium mixing bowl being careful not to overwork.
  2. Cook on a low flame grill, and flip when the burger looks almost done (do not squeeze out juice with spatula).
  3. Temperature should be 160 degrees.
Guiltless Sesame Slaw
  • 2 C cole slaw mix (found in the produce section of your supermarket)
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2T Sesame seeds (chia seeds can be substituted, though cut it down to 1 T, to help assist with appetite suppression)
  • 1 t Sesame oil
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t red wine vinegar
  • 1 pinch of dried ginger
  1. Combine all ingredients in a serving bowl and combine well.
  2. Let stand for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Tastes even better the next day!

Friday, June 21, 2013

DARE AND DO June 21, 2013

Dare and Do...not "Dare and Do and procrastinate about blogging about it!"  I am so sorry I haven't updated, and have been daring and doing.  I have good news, and I have bad news.  I will start with the bad news:  we've been swamped.  In the past ten days, my daughter turned 9, we had a funeral to go to, my twins turned five, father's day, I turned 39, four parties, and a vacation that got turned into a not vacation, then extended by a stomach flu.  Actually, that could make a good title for Hugh Grant's next movie.  I have taken to swimming during this chaotic time, and let go of lifting weights and stomach crunches/push ups.  I see the difference, and will be returning to what I've been doing.

What have I been doing in the almost three weeks since I updated?  The good news: I realized that just like when you have to "man up" in life...there are times you need to stop being a pigheaded man.  I can't possibly keep up with a daily blog, be connected to three facebook pages, be writing a book, and first and foremost, properly parent/homeschool my girls and run this household.  I had to let that slide.  That being said, I promise to update more frequently, I've just been busy. 
I also stopped trying to lift a stupid amount of weight, and am concentrating on proper technique and toning.  It turns out...I have traps!  I was drying off when I got out of the pool and happened by a mirror.  Woo hoo!  I currently weigh in at 178, but know now that the best thing ANYONE can do is throw out the damn scale.  When we went to the funeral, I had to wear the suit I wore to my wedding 10 years ago (I'm not a suit guy).  I weighed 165 and considered myself to be in the "best shape of my life."  I am proud to say that the waist was incredibly loose and the chest was incredibly tight.  I'm doing something right!! 

Sarcastic Nanny advised me that her dare and do has led to her getting PUBLISHED!!   Cj's Culinary Journey advised me he is still soda free even on cheat days!  My wife has lost 10 pounds, and I have to get a running number going, but we are way over 50 lbs lost with those contacting me via email.  CONGRATULATIONS!!!

I wish everyone who is daring and doing well on their journey, and please send me updates!!  I promise I haven't dropped the ball, it was just an incredibly full June. 

DARE AND DO!!!  Set a goal, dare yourself, and then do it!  (And report back to me).  --Brian

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Grilled B.L.T. Salad

There are only two words to describe this grilled salad/meal:  surprisingly perfect!  The caramelizing of the lettuce and balsamic vinegar lend to a deep, rich, sweet/savory, and full bodied flavor.  I was literally floored when I took my first bite.  There is something about the way that "grilled" flavor permeates the flesh of the Romaine and elevates it to the level of art!  I served this as our main course, and it kept everyone satisfied (yet wanting more of this deliciousness) throughout the rest of the evening. Thanks to my friend CJ over at CJ'sCulinaryJourney/LifeJustShowUp for the amazing technique and inspiration behind this new go-to salad/meal idea! Enjoy!!
  • 2 Hearts of Romaine
  • 8 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled (For a healthier version, use turkey bacon)
  • 1 package of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (not pictured)
  • 1/4 C reduced fat bleu cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 C chopped walnuts
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper

  1. Fill a clean kitchen sink 3/4 full with cold water and 1 T vinegar.
  2. Place Romaine hearts in sink for at least 15 minutes (this will remove any debris).
  3. Rinse the Romaine well and dry thoroughly.
  4. Carefully slice the Romaine hearts in halve lengthwise and discard any leaves that get disconnected (keep the bottom on).
  5. Drizzle each Romaine half with 1/2 T olive oil and 1/2 T balsamic vinegar (front and back).
  6. Sprinkle garlic powder and liberally salt and pepper the Romaine halves.
  7. Place on a medium low grill (about 300 degrees) cut side down.
  8. Grill for 3-4 minutes being sure to check frequently to ensure they do not char.
  9. Flip and cook an additional 3-4 minutes.
  10. Cut the bottom core off each Romaine heart.
  11. Top with bacon, tomatoes, walnuts and bleu cheese.
Goes perfect with a Pouilly-Fouisse by Jardot. Can be served warm or cold.  ENJOY!

Monday, June 3, 2013

DARE AND DO June 3, 2013

"UGH!  I've been killing myself for two weeks, and I GAINED a pound!" exclaimed Romy.
"Did you deduct sixteen pounds for your shoes?" asked Michele.
--Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, companion movie to Dumb and Dumber...two films that were robbed of best picture nods. 

Yep, I gained a pound.  I feel fantastic, my clothes fit better, but that darn scale says 181.5.  Beer and I are good buddies, so I would hate to think that played any role in it.  So, for this week, I am going with the prospect that it could just be muscle gained from all the push ups and crunches I've been doing.  We shall see next week if me and my cerveza mas fina must part ways for a bit. ;)

I was feeling a little sluggish and down today.  My oldest daughter is having a problem at school and I spent the majority of my morning staying on top of the situation.  I am not sure if my lack of work out yesterday was the cause, or if the third grade drama was the root of the overall case of the Monday's I was experiencing.

I decided to abandon the "eat anything I want the size of my fist" at dinner tonight.  I fed the girls chicken nuggets, fries, and corn.  I had one of my old time diet go-to dishes:  tuna with lemon juice, black pepper and capers, and sliced fresh veggies.  I then did 4 miles on the bike, 200 crunches, and 25 push ups. 

If I were feeling more confident about how I look, I would have posted a vlog of what came next:  weight lifting.  I have been storing my barbells under my sink in my kitchen, and it took me twenty minutes to retrieve them.  Then, I couldn't figure out how to tighten them or how much weight to put on them.  I'm thinking it has been a while since I used them (the dust was outrageous).

I did a weight routine for my biceps, triceps, chest and shoulders.  It was like rice krispies up in my house when I was working on my triceps:  snap! crackle! pop!.  HA!  I'm going to do some research of something less strenuous for my apparently aging joints.

The feeling I had when I finished:  priceless.  I admit I was flexing in the mirror (think chicken arm McScrawny chest), and got busted by my wife, who just laughed and told me she loved me.  I am going to make weight training a more integral part of this Dare and Do.  You know, until I wake up tomorrow and really feel the effects of what I did tonight.  :)  --Brian

Sunday, June 2, 2013

DARE AND DO June 2, 2013

The warm, dry New England weather demanded ice cold beer and a shot of non productivity today.  Who am I to argue with mother nature?

We took the girls to my mom's tonight for dinner and some quality 'nana' time.  She surprised us with take out!!  She ordered a cheese pizza and grilled chicken salad with Romaine lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, onions, peppers, bacon, egg, and feta cheese. 

I used my will power (there's a big W on my chest at this point after abstaining from BACON), and ate responsibly.  I lightly dressed the salad (with vinaigrette), and only had a little bit of the cheese and no bacon or egg.  Why would you put an egg, cooked improperly at that, in such an amazing salad?  I like green yolks in anything Dr. Seuss, but in a salad from a restaurant, really? I would ordinarily eat about 6-8 slices of pizza (it is cut in 4x3 squares), but only had one decent size piece. 

I gave in to mother nature's demands and had four beers throughout the course of the afternoon/evening.  I feel sluggish, though not hungover as I never had a buzz. Ultimately, I decided today will be one of my two "days off" this week, and chose to not work out. I have goals, but also appreciate living in the moment and smelling the roses when deemed necessary.

I weigh in tomorrow and worry this will effect the dreaded number on the scale.  I was feeling tighter and fitter.  I think the key word is 'was,' as since I had the beers I'm feeling a little bloated.  Blasted mother nature and your beer demanding weather!

My mother's neighbor is in his fifties, weighs 300 pounds, and is not a hair above 5'5".  He is a biker dude and is tattooed, bald, and has the most scraggily gray beard that I swear goes to his belly button.  I was outside with the kids on their scooters and watched this man run to the end of the sidewalk.  He ran with such intent I worried something was wrong.  He then ran to the other side of the sidewalk.  I wondered if he was looking for something.  About five minutes later, I looked back over and saw that he was still running back and forth, and I realized:  he's daring and doing!!  It made me smile as I realized we are all unique and different, but we all have goals, hopes and dreams.  I'm rooting for him.  DARE AND DO BIKER DUDE!  Now I hope I'm as smiley when I weigh in tomorrow morning.  --Brian

Saturday, June 1, 2013

DARE AND DO June 1, 2013

Accountability.  I never knew the power it could have over my lazy, undisciplined ways. 

We had company from out of state here for dinner today.  Our friend, Nancy, is also an aspiring cook book author (and an AMAZING home cook).  Eating and talking about food is kind of our thing.  She has been my wife's best friend since they were kids, but when we get together I tend to hog the "conversation space" with my kindred fellow foodie.

Imagine my surprise, this first day of self reporting here, when she showed up with a tomato bacon pie!!!  If it weren't for having to come on here and report my progress, half that pie would have been in my stomach and I'd be lazing on the couch right now, shaking my head and thinking "DOH!" 

I followed my rule of "the size of a fist" portion, and kept all "non healthy foods" to that limit.  The pie was outrageous, and I don't have words to describe how difficult it was to not eat the girls' leftover portions. 

I kept dinner light and had grilled skinless boneless chicken breast (it was brined, but I didn't put salt on anything else).  I had cauliflower casserole (portion size in concert with the tomato bacon pie was my "regular eating"), and a romaine salad with walnuts, reduced fat bleu cheese crumbles and my lemon basil garlic dressing (recipe can be found under the salad tab:  The best chopped salad in the history of ever). 

The most difficult part of my day was when they left.  We had been outside in the sun all day, chasing after five rambunctious children.  I felt I had my cardio workout (always my excuse to not exercise), and was completely beat.  I walked past the exercise bike, stationed in the corner near our entertainment center, and had a sense of dread.  I pictured writing here: "and I did not workout tonight," and that was all the motivation I needed.  I excused myself from our "nigh-night" routine, kissed my girls goodnight,  and hopped on the bike. 

I did 4.5 miles on 50% resistance.  I found my thighs were really burning in the last two weeks.  It has lessened with each work out.  This was the first work out where that was not a problem (I did not once have to push my knees down with my hands, :P ).  I immediately went into stretches, touched on some yoga (up dog and down dog count, right?), and then did 250 crunches and 40 push ups. 

The level of energy and overall wellness I feel is off the chart.  I weigh in on Monday and look forward to learning my current weight.  My bathing suit is starting to fit again, which is fantastic because our community pool opens up next week and I live right across the street!  I integrate weights on Monday and move forward.  Onward and upward!  I hope everyone is doing well on their dare and do, or is thinking about what they want to do for their dare and do!!  :)  Brian

Friday, May 31, 2013


1:  CAHD in training age 7.  2.  SAHD in training age 8 (EVERYONE HAD CABBAGE PATCH...IT WAS THE 80's). :P  3.  I didn't swim without a shirt on until I was in my 20's.  4.  Post ephedra skinny body age 20.  Gross.  5.  I was to be the illegitimate love child of Kurt Cobain and Madonna (my heroes) age 23.  I didn't care about weight, I was crunchy.  6.  Oops.  Got a little heavy age 24.  7.  Lost the weight, back in L.A.  8.  Same day age 26.  9.  Happy 30th new dad.  10.  Happy 34th new dad of twins

I talk a lot when I parent blog about the many hats I’ve worn in my adulthood, as well as the many trials and tribulations of my childhood.  I’ve only recently begun to discuss the many “faces” I’ve had in my life time.  If yo-yoing weight was an art form, I’ve mastered it. 

I topped out around 237 pounds (I know it is more because I stopped weighing myself when I hit that weight and got heavier), and I’ve been as low as 147 pounds (SCRAWNY for almost six feet tall/medium build).  I had a very difficult time these past two weeks whilst gathering these pictures.  I realized there are no pictures of me at either extreme.  I’m that guy who jumps up behind strangers taking pictures in the park, but when I was too fat or too thin, I shied away from ALL cameras. YOYO.  My family dubs me “the male Oprah” due to all the weight I gain and lose (at least I think that is why they call me that).  I have gained and lost 70 plus pounds in three different time periods in my life. 

Body image is not just an issue for women.  I know a lot of guys who shrug off their bigger, or smaller body weight in public, only to randomly state that they feel they should look like a certain actor, or athlete, or musician.  I started off my young adulthood with the pursuit of a career in the entertainment industry, first as an actor, and then as a musician.  I put an enormous amount of pressure on myself and on my body to attain an image of what I thought I should look like.  I never wanted to look like Hulk Hogan or Arnold Schwarzegger, but I felt more like Jabba the Hut. 

I come from a family that is heavier, and who have made less than healthy choices about diet and exercise.  To combat that, I turned to products containing ephedra, caffeine, and ginseng.  I read the warning label when I was 25 years old that said “individuals should not take products containing ephedra more than 12 weeks for their LIFETIME.”  I did at least twice that.  At 237 + pounds I frankly did not care.  It scares me to think of the long term effects that had on my body.

Earlier today, my 3rd grade daughter announced that a boy who has been teasing her at school made fun of her weight.  My daughter is within the normal weight range for her height, but has struggled a bit with the sprouting “out” before sprouting “up” phase.  I know she is aware of it, and I know it concerns her.  She took it upon herself to sign up for a triathlon and gave up her daily recess period to compete in a marathon.  My wife and I do not discuss our weight, the concept of diet, or our own body image issues in front of our children.  We try to teach them that the most important thing is to be healthy, active, and feel good about ourselves.  Everyone comes in different shapes, sizes, and colors, and there is beauty in everyone.  It has become clear to me that body image and issue is just in the air that we breathe.

I was originally going to talk about how I am going to turn 40 in 13 months, and I am going to get in the most kick ass shape of my life to tell that number where to go.  I was going to talk about how I was going to finally look the best I've ever looked and put my 20 year old and 30 year old self to shame.  I realized I was being a hypocrite.  How can I preach one thing to my child, believe something antithetical for myself, and then try and help motivate others out there?  I've been in deep thought all night about this, and really pondered:  what was I ACTUALLY trying to do? 

A lot comes with the concept of turning 40.  I can’t say I’m a young adult anymore, with middle adulthood creeping up fast.  I can’t say I can’t wait to figure out what I want to be when I grow up anymore (I've been saying that A LOT lately)…I’m grown up.  What I can say is that I choose not to age gracefully.  I have no interest in being a stereotype of what a forty year old is;  at the same time, I won’t subscribe to that foolish notion that “forty is the new thirty.”  No, it isn't.  Forty is forty.  I OWN all my years and experiences and wisdom and feel like “OK,  I got this now.”  I choose to get in shape now to continue feeling as good as I can as my body will start to make much more dramatic changes. 

DARE AND DO.  I came up with this concept a few weeks ago on the dad day I run on Sarcasmom.  My daughter basically challenged me to sign up for the Food Network show Chopped, and I did…and I got called…and I got the audition…and then I didn't (I STILL don’t know what happened there—I shouldn't have talked so much about how interested I am in Food Network Star).  I decided to take a difficult situation (having to report bad news to an audience of thousands) and make some lemonade.  I assembled my exercise bike that sat in a box for weeks while I procrastinated.  I dared those who follow on dad day to dare themselves to do something….AND THEN DO IT!!!

Well for my first entry (this blog is now “live” where I will update it daily), I am happy to report that I have been following my plan:  As a cookbook writer, I can’t exactly diet (and only have about 20 lbs of fat to lose) so I’ve allowed myself to eat anything I want at dinner, so long as the portion is no bigger than my fist (the size of one’s stomach), along with endless fruits and vegetables.  I FORCE myself to eat breakfast and lunch everyday (I am a once a day eater, then snack at night by nature), and make sure to keep those meals simple:  cereal with skim milk or yogurt with fruit for breakfast, salad with homemade dressing (recipes coming soon) and a protein for lunch, and raw fruits and vegetables and nuts throughout the day. 

I hopped on the bike and did 10 minutes on zero resistance the first day.  I am now on day 12, and at 50% resistance and am doing 4.5 miles!  I am also doing crunches (I am up to 200 now), and push ups (I am up to 50 now).  Next week I dare myself to integrate weight training and a more rigorous aerobic routine, switched up with the bike. 

On 05/20/13 I weighed in at 187.5 (that is the LEAST I’ve ever weighed this time of year in YEARS…holiday/winter weight always has me crack 200).  I weighed myself on 05/27/13 and weighed in at 180.0 lbs!!!  It is not about feeling like I look good…or even that my clothes are already beginning to fit again…I feel GOOD to the point where if I skip a work out (which I did twice) I feel like crap and NEED to work out.  It used to take me until the end of summer to get to this place, so I am grateful to be here NOW.  I don’t want this to be seasonal, a diet, a fad.  I want this to be my way of life.

I realize this is a bit lengthy for a blog entry, but it is introducing something very important to me, as a man, a father, and a home cook.  I challenge you to DARE yourself to do something and then DO IT!  Please use the comment section to announce YOUR goal, and then report back with your progress.  You can either click “follow blog” to receive updates, or check back when you can under the tab “Dare and Do.”  I would love if everyone could begin cheering each other on.  DARE AND DO…BECAUSE WE CAN ALL DO ANYTHING!!!  Let’s do this together!!  --Brian

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ratatouille: Who would've thunk it?

In researching this recipe, I found many different vegetables used.  Most called for bell pepper, but I felt the sweetness would take over the dish.  The way I prepared this had a perfect and surprising (much like the food critic's response in the movie of the same name) delicious, rustic, natural flavor.  Most recipes also called for only using tomato thinning it out a bit, it made for a perfect balance and consistency.  I thought I was putting an Italian spin on it, but found it did not taste Italian at all.  ENJOY!

  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 small yellow squash
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch red pepper flake
  • 1 pinch dried basil
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  1. Using a mandolin, slice veggies into even cuts.  (For the eggplant you may need to use a knife)
  2. In a medium sauce pan saute' garlic cloves with 2 T olive oil until golden brown.
  3. Add pepper flake and basil once the garlic has browned. I eat garlic every day and made sure that the two cloves went into my serving.  You can remove and discard, or mince the garlic and recombine in the sauce
  4. Slowly and carefully add the crushed tomatoes.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste until well combined.
  6. Cover and simmer on medium low for about 10 minutes.
  7. In a shallow baking dish, cover the entire bottom with the sauce in an even coat.
  8. Fan the vegetables one on top of the other until the pan is covered (the order I placed the vegetables: eggplant, onion, zucchini, squash).
  9. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and add a liberal amount of salt and pepper.
  10. Place the baking dish in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes.
  11. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Goes great with a really crispy bread such as ciabatta.  This is a perfect meatless meal and is surprisingly rich, hearty, and filling.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Grilled Chicken Kabobs


  • 1 lb skinless boneless chicken breast cut into 2" chunks
  • 2 medium Vidalia onions cut into 2" chunks
  • 2 medium green bell peppers cut into 2" pieces
  • 1 container of white or baby Bella mushrooms, whole
  • 1 package Campari tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 T garlic powder, 1 crushed fresh garlic clove
  • 1/2 t red pepper flake
  • 1 t dill weed
  • 1 T oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups of cooked Carolina rice (1 c rice, 2 c chicken stock, 1 T olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of saffron)

  1. In a large freezer storage bag, place the pieces of chicken with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/8 cup lemon juice, 1/2 T garlic powder, 1/4 t red pepper flake, 1/2 t dill weed, and 1/2 T oregano and a liberal amount of salt and black pepper.
  2. Pierce the top and bottom of each tomato to allow the marinade to permeate.
  3. In a separate freezer storage bag, combine the remaining olive oil, lemon juice and spices with the cut vegetables. Gently massage the bags to evenly coat the contents and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours (overnight will provide the best results).
  4. If you have a rice cooker, combine the rice ingredients and place on appropriate setting. Otherwise, bring ingredients to a boil in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat.  Stir, cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook for 20 minutes. Set Aside.
  5. Soak 12 wooden skewers in water for at least five minutes to prevent scorching on the grill/grill pan.
  6. Set your grill or grill pan to medium high. Separately skewer the chicken and vegetables on the skewers, grouping each vegetable separately (each vegetable requires different cooking times to reach perfection).
  7. Place the chicken skewers and the onion skewers on the grill, and rotate every 3 minutes.
  8. After three minutes, add the mushroom and pepper skewers.
  9. Continue to rotate every 3 minutes.
  10. During the last 3 minutes of cooking, place the tomato skewers on the grill.
  11. Spread the cooked rice on a large serving platter. Gently remove skewers and arrange the chicken and vegetables atop the rice. For a Mediterranean style, top with crumbled feta cheese and serve with flat bread.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Chocolate Cabernet Espresso Granita With Lemon Zest Whipped Cream

  • 2 C water
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 C heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Cup of "good" Cabernet (make sure it is one you would drink, not cooking wine)
  • 1/4 C fresh brewed espresso
  • 1 T cocoa powder
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t lemon zest (plus more for garnish)
  • Chocolate shavings (for garnish---you can use a vegetable peeler and any chocolate bar/candy)
  1. In a small sauce pan, combine water and 2/3 C sugar to make a syrup (it is not a simple syrup, which is typically equal parts sugar and water...that would be too sweet for this recipe).
  2. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently until sugar dissolves. 
  3. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  4. Brew 2 double espresso shots and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  5. In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder and 2 T of syrup.
  6. Whisk well (and it will take effort) to thoroughly combine.  You do not want any granules of cocoa powder, so be sure to whisk until completely smooth.
  7. In a glass baking dish, combine cocoa mixture, 1 C syrup, wine, and 1/4 C espresso.
  8. Whisk until well combined.  It will become a dull red/brick color, but will deepen during the freezing process.
  9. Place covered in freezer for two hours.
  10. Remove cover and scrape with a fork using back and forth and diagonal motions. 
  11. Re-cover the mix and place back in the freezer for at least one hour.
  12. In a medium mixing bowl, combine whipping cream, 1/3 C sugar, vanilla extract and 1 t of lemon zest.
  13. Beat on low, and gradually increase speed until you have solid peaks (about 3-4 minutes).
  14. Remove granita from freezer and repeat scraping process.
  15. Scoop into a cappuccino mug or into a wine glass.
  16. Top with a dollop of whipped cream.
  17. Garnish with chocolate shavings and lemon zest.
PLEASE NOTE:  This is not like cooking with alcohol, and it is not suitable for children.  This made two one cup servings. You will also have leftover syrup - use to flavor ice teas, lemonades, or make cocktails. Enjoy, responsibly!