More Winter-Warming Comfort Foods: Sausage Bake

Sausage bake with full sausage links.So, winter is finally here because we got snow. Everyone around us has gotten pummeled but we just got a light dusting — still, it’s the white stuff, so winter is here. With winter, as I’ve said previously, I crave comfort foods. Now, for me, comfort foods aren’t necessarily foods I had as a child, but things that are just… comforting. Some, yes, are childhood favourites and some are newer favourites that have made their way into my kitchen in more recent years.

My hubby brought home a double-pack of honey-garlic sausages from Walmart, as they were on sale for really cheap. Typically, we’ll throw those on a pan in the oven and bake them off then serve on hotdog buns. I wanted to do something else. Something not relying on the bready-buns would be preferable. So I kind of poked around the internet, didn’t find what I was looking for, then went looking through the cupboards and fridge to see what I could concoct.

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A different type of Club Sammy: Chicken Club Wrap with Turkey Bacon

The finished product: club wrap cut and shifted so you can see the filling inside.

I love club sandwiches.

I mean, what’s not to love? Chicken, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo… and lots of toasted bread. If you’re like me and you’re trying to cut back on your carbs, those three slice of toast might seem like a bit  much. As a result, I started omitting the middle slice, even in restaurants. Not only that, but although I enjoy toast, I found that club sandwiches have always been messy — not because of the fillings but because of the crumbs! LOL.

This is where flour tortillas and an indoor grill has really come in handy. I really like reinventing old favourites and I really enjoy trying to find ways to cut a few calories, carbs, fat, sodium and sugars where I can. So, I turned a classic club sandwich into a wrap. The changes I made include:

  • the wraps were made of whole wheat or multigrain flour tortillas
  • light mayo was used instead of full fat mayo
  • the cheese was shredded to use less (I’m not a fan of light cheddar, so I try to cut back on the amount of regular cheddar I use)
  • the bacon was low sodium turkey bacon

I made this on the weekend for my mom and she fell in love with the sandwich so much at lunch time that she said she was considering asking for another one for dinner! She had never had a grilled wrap before and so she commented that she really preferred the grilled version over a “raw” wrap. I agree with her, really. The grilling just changes the texture and taste ever so subtly. I might even whip a few of these up ahead of time, grill them off and throw them in the fridge, then just reheat them in the microwave at work this week. 🙂

Take a look at the spread on this wrap before I bundled it up:

All the fixings spread out on a flour tortilla for a club wrap.

Does that not look yummy? This is a great way of using up leftover chicken from the previous night’s dinner. What’s not to love about this wrap??

Warning: this is higher in sodium at just over 700mg of sodium. You can cut back on that sodium by finding a lower sodium tortilla, choosing a light cheese and even cutting the mayo out. But I enjoy mayo and as mentioned, I’m not a fan of light cheddar. I’ll run with it. All told, here are the nutritional values based on the sandwich pictured above:

Calories: 412
Carbs: 31g
Fat: 23g (you can cut back on this with the cheese and mayo alone, as these add up to 14g on their own)
Protein: 20g
Sodium: 786mg
Sugars: 2g

Considering this wrap is very filling (to me), these values are more than acceptable to me. I find I can eat one of these sandwiches and be satisfied until my next meal. Some people will make “club wraps”  (or sandwiches) with deli chicken meat — I don’t recommend if it you’re wanting to cut back on sodium. It’s tasty, but when possible, go for regular baked chicken to cut back on that sodium. An ounce of a plain, baked chicken breast has negligible sodium in it; 3 slices of deli chicken can have 600-800mg in them. You can also cut back on the sodium by only using one slice of turkey bacon — I used 1.5 slices this time. If you’re not worried about sodium, then make it how you like it! 🙂

If you have an indoor grill that grills both sides at the same time, at 360F, this sandwich should be done in about 3 minutes. If your grill only does one side at a time or you only have a grill pan for the stove, grill the wrap for 3 minutes  per side, placing another heavy pan on top to help flatten it. Don’t have a grill or a grill pan? Use a non-stick pan. But the grill really makes a pretty sandwich. Just look at those grill marks:

Club wrap just coming off the grill with nice grill marks.

(And  no, I didn’t use any non-stick spray. It just grilled up nicely like that, as my grill is pretty non-stick.)

Summer Solstice Warming Vegetable Soup

"Summer Solstice" vegetable soup with garlic cheese bread

I’ve recently found out that onions are generally a bad idea for me.  If I don’t want to end up having certain health issues that I won’t discuss here, I need to generally avoid them like the plague.

To say the least, this has really put a cramp in my cooking-style.

Almost every recipe out there involves onions of some description or another. Sliced, diced, chopped, minced, pureed… somehow, it’s present in everything from soups and stews to burgers and meatloaf. What’s an onion-avoiding girl to do??

With the recent rainstorms and cooler summer weather, I’ve found myself craving a good, hearty, warming soup. Yes, soup in the summer — I’m not crazy, I promise! But again: soup = onions. Right? Well, not exactly. I’ve found  that I have no adverse effects from onion powder. There’s hope yet! Based on this and wanting to get something equally tasty and nutritious into me, I went out to buy some veggies I haven’t had in recent days: cabbage  and sweet potatoes.

Sure, I’ve got potatoes in my pantry but the  sweet potatoes are generally so much better for you and they just have a different taste. So, today, after I had gotten up from a short afternoon nap, I started chopping and slicing and  whipped up this yummy little number. I’ve dubbed it Summer Solstice Warming Vegetable Soup because I created it on the Summer Solstice and the flavours are warming without being “spicy”. Feel free to play with the seasonings to make it more to your taste, but  I have to say that this turned out better than I originally imaged!

This also makes a huuuuuuuuuge pot of soup/stew, so feel free  to cut these measurements in half to make a dutch oven’s worth of soup. This one took my large stewing pot, just as a warning.  (See the end of this posting to see the “leftovers” after hubby and I both had two full bowlfuls!) Also, this was an instant hit with my hubby, though there was no meat in the soup. Woo! Here’s what I did…

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The comfort burger: a Meatloaf Burger

Meatloaf Burger on a whole wheat bun with some Monterrey Jack cheese and lettuce

Sometimes, you just want a burger. Last week, I was craving burgers so much that I almost caved and went to McDonald’s. *shudders* No. No. I’ve sworn off of that place, honest! I think in the last year, I’ve been there only once. Maybe twice. I’m trying to divorce myself from certain places that I know are just  bad news for me.

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Breakfast sammies without egg: turkey bacon & tomato!

Turkey bacon tomato sandwiches

Lately, the tomatoes we’ve been picking up have been absolutely beautiful. There is nothing quite like a toasted tomato sandwich when the tomatoes are fresh and sweet!

Admittedly, I often don’t like scrambled eggs much and get bored with eggs for breakfast if I have too many in a short period of time. I’m also not a fan of cereal. And who has time to make pancakes and such before work?

But a toasted tomato sandwich doesn’t take much time to throw together… or to spruce up. One of my favourite combinations is in the picture above: one slice light provolone cheese, two slices of low sodium turkey bacon, two thick slices of fresh tomato and a leaf of Boston or other leafy lettuce on two slices of whole wheat bread (Weight Watchers), with a touch of unsalted butter (to soften the toast).

DELICIOUS. Filling. Satisfying. It’s great for breakfast or for lunch and it’s nutritious. Omit the butter and cut out most of the fat and about 100 calories. For the sandwich as I make it, the nutritional values are: 346 calories, 24g carbs, 22g fat, 15g protein, 409mg sodium, 3g sugars.

Why stick to a traditional breakfast? I say, eat what is good to you! 🙂

A COMPARISON: Tuna sandwiches

A side-view of half of a toasted tuna sandwich, loaded with tuna, green onion, lettuce, tomato and light provolone cheese on whole wheat bread.I used to think that a tuna sandwich was a healthy meal choice. In theory, it is. But no two tuna sandwiches are the same, it seems, and some are better for you than others. Admittedly, I am not a big fish-eater, so eating the tuna out of the can without any mayo is a cringe-worthy thought for me. Tuna salad sandwiches are my “thing” and pretty much the only way I get any fish into my diet.

But let’s compare: my old tuna salad sandwich to my new tuna salad sandwich. Both are between two pieces of bread. Both have cheese. Both have butter, lettuce and tomato. One is toasted. One is not. But one of these things is not like the other, so to speak. Let’s have a closer look, shall we?

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Homemade salsa

A bowl of homemade salsaI’m going to give a disclaimer on this one: this does not taste anything like the pre-packaged jars of salsa that you buy in the store. I think I know why, too; I omitted the scads of salt they use.

This is fresh-tasting with a bigger spice-kick than I expected (I generally reach for the mild salsa, so this is probably on the upper limit of mild for most people). You can taste the ingredients, not the salt. I think I prefer it, to be honest.

YMMV, however. Spruce this one up how you like it. Add more or less than what you see and don’t be afraid to experiment. Here’s what  I did:

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