Hip To Be Cheesecake Square


Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Any of you ever been to a bodybuilding show? Well, at the night show, an MC announces who you are and a couple of things about you before you step on stage. It's like an introduction. It's often something like "This is Jim, he trains at ____ gym and he wants to thank his mom... blah blah". Something really simple and a tad unoriginal. Ladies, and gents... I'm not a lot of things... but I like to think I'm original.

My last show I had the announcer say "Adam is a chiropractic student, and he makes a mean cheesecake." The guy was cracking up as he was saying it. Something tells me he probably hasn't said that one before. I wish I could upload the video. I know it's on Facebook, but that part might be cut off. I'll have to see what I can do about it. But anyways, I really, really, enjoy cheesecake. The top radio dessert hits for me would be fried ice cream, cheesecake, and apple pie. Weird thing though, it's not the texture that I love, but the flavor. Cheesecake ice cream? Delicious to the max. Could you imagine cheesecake filled pierogi? Oh my goddness, did I just say that? Yes... and I'm single at the moment :)

I made this lower fat cheesecake recipe up yesterday. I didn't have any gram crackers... plus some of them have transfats... so I made up a crust for it. You can add more cream cheese if you want to make the squares thicker, or use a smaller pan. This recipe was for my classmates, so I wanted to get the most bang for my buck... kinda literally.

This is also going to Ben's What's Cooking?, I Love Baking Event. It's a bi-weekly baking event that is going to start in August. Let's get everyone involved! There's going to be prizes, you cool cats. I'm submitting because, hey, the baking guys have to stick together. Ben has a great site over there, and I have to support my brother in baking.

Vanilla Cheesecake Squares
Recipe by Adam

-1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
-1/3 cup packed brown sugar
-1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
-4 oz butter, melted

-Dash of salt

-2 Tbs low fat sour cream

-2 8oz. pkg low fat cream cheese (blocks)

-1/2 cup sugar
-2 eggs

-1/2 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt

-2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350*, line a 13x9 pan with foil or a slip mat.

In a medium bowl, make the crust by combing the flour, sugar, salt, and almonds. Add in the melted butter and mix well with a spoon until the dry ingredients get wet and start to stick together. Add sour cream to the mix and stir so an almost soft dough forms. Press this dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until it browns nicely.

Meanwhile, while the crust bakes, make the filling. In a large bowl, add the softened cream cheese and sugar, and mix with a handmixer on a low speed until the cream cheese becomes smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and follow with yogurt and vanilla extract. Mix on a low speed until the filling is smooth and no lumps remain. Don't over mix though, because cracks can happen that way.

Take out the pan with the crust when done, and pour the filling on top of the hot crust. Smooth out evenly with a spatula, and return to the oven for 20-25 mintues. If you are using more cream cheese or a smaller pan, you might need to increase the baking time. Cheesecake should jiggle a bit when you shake the pan... you'll need to try it out to understand what I mean.

Let cool on a wire rack until it's completely cool. Place in the fridge to firm it up for anywhere from 4 hours to overnight. Top with some awesome summer fruit, and cut and serve.

I choose to top them with strawberries, because strawberries are awesome. I think summer is the perfect time to keep cheesecake simple, and let the fruit and natural flavors meld. Save the going crazy and mixing things into cheesecake other times of the year:) Once again, thanks for the feedback on the FFF, and I'll answer the questions you have on Friday. Oh, and not that I'm counting... but 4 months til I'm a doctor. In the name of The Todd from Scrubs... "Internet High Five!"

Fun Fitness Fridays #3


Posted by Adam | Posted in , , | Posted on Friday, July 25, 2008

Wow, I can't believe it's Friday already. Ever have those weeks where everything just clicks together and it just flies by? It's definitely nice, it helps balance out the Murphy Law ones :) Sounds like a lot of you were interested by the last post... and quite a few questions popped up. I'm excited you're all interested, and I hope to answer your thoughts today. You might want to look over to last week and make sure you have a grasp on it... today kind of piles more stuff on top.

So, a key concept we have to understand is role of insulin, and glucagon in the body. While insulin takes the glucose in the bloodstream (aka blood sugar, kintergartners), and stores it away, another hormore called glucagon, does the opposite. They work as antagonists, or kind of like opposites. The role of glucagon is to take stored glucose from the body, and send it into the blood stream, so it can be used for energy. So think of this as a game of tug o' war... a blue and red team, where there is always a kind balance between the two. Maybe one mintue one side has more pull, but other times the other side does.

One important aspect to note is that both hormones cannot exist at exactly the same time. Think of it like night and day, or saving and spending money, or Superman and Clark Kent. While one hormone is being released, the other is not. It's a like a lightswitch. Therefore, you cannot store and use glucose at the exact same time. That kind of makes sense, because if you are eating because you need energy, it'll instantly be used right? You can't store bricks and build a house at the same time...

So we need to control the release of these hormones to reach our goals. Quick quiz... If our Scottish Friend has a goal of weight loss... think of what hormone you want to release, and what one you want to limit. Ready? The answer is glucagon and insulin, respectively. You want to constantly be in an energy burning mode, so you want to limit insulin as much as you possibly can. Why? Because insulin signals glucose storage... and it is impossible to burn carbs and fat for energy while you are trying to store it away.

We can do this easily two ways. Exercise (you probably already knew that), and by eating certain types of carbohydrates. You may have heard of this crazy thing called the Glycemic Index. It has come under a bit of fire recently, and personally, I have a couple problems with it, but overall, it has a lot of truth to it. The concept is that different carbs give different amounts of insulin release.

Examples... if we look at Jelly Beans, which are pretty much just sugar (sucrose). They have a value of 78/100, while Brown Rice has 55/100. What this shows is that if one kid ate 1 lb of jelly beans, while his twin ate 1 lb of brown rice... the first kid would have more insulin released in his body compared to his brother. They would both probably have stomach aches, and while the first kid would be much happier, his blood glucose would have a hard time normalizing, and returning to releasing glucagon. Ever eat Jellie Bellies... something is very wrong about a jelly bean that tastes like movie theater popcorn :) It sort of blows my mind.

So, if you have questions about what kind of carbs to eat, the answer relies behind the glycemic index. That's why TV, books, and nutrition classes stress the usual - Eat whole wheat bread, brown rice, durham flour pasta, sweet potatoes, etc. These 'healthier' carbs also contain fiber, which does many good things for your body, while keeping your insulin response low.

However, there may be times when you want to signal a rush of insulin. This includes whenever you have depleted all of your stored glucose. These crucial times often are before or after a workout, or competition. Some of the runners in the blog universe (they know who they are :) already know this concept. They need their glucose reserves filled... they just used a bunch while running. Weightlifting, heavy yard work, anything physcially demanding requires the same thing.

So Adam, that was a TON to read... what do I need to know for the test? Ok that's easy...
  • Eat low glycemic carbohydrates throughout the day so you can return to a 'energy/fat burning mode' faster
  • Try to have grain based carbs earlier in the day, and eat more vegetables, which tend to have more fiber and water (to fill you up) towards the end of the day
  • Always have protein and/or fat with your meals... it further lowers the insulin response
  • Limit refined, sweet carbs to before or after workout when you need a quick carb refill
  • Fiber is your friend, and slows down insulin, while making you feel full

So there you have it. What to eat and why eat it in a nutshell... carb-wise. Hey look at me I'm in a nutshell... how'd I get in this crazy thing?

I think that's going to wrap up carbohydrates for the day. If anyone has any questions, feel free to contact me. Good quality, healthy carbs can be quite the asset in your quest to maintaining a healthy weight. Next week... it's going to be all about protein. A bodybuilder know a couple of things about that :) I should go find him...

Oh and couple of thanks: First, thanks Jenn for the shout out in FFF... ya know Finest Foodies Friday... not this FFF. It is quite an honor, my dear. Second, thanks for all the cool Tag comments, it's cool learning about each other. Have a great weekend :)

Dogs here. Jelly beans here

Tag... I'm it


Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wow, sweet responses for the crepes. It's nice to find so many breakfast people out there. It certainly seems not only to be the most important meal of the day, but it's popular too :) Don't worry if I can't respond to all of the comments, it's just that I get busy sometimes. I read everyone that shoots into my email... and I laugh or smile.

Thanks for the input on the whole carbohydrate thing from Friday. I'm glad so many lightbulbs are going on and it was pretty easy to understand. I didn't want to Da Vinci Code anyone's brain and blow their minds. Just to clarify further, carbs are in fact an important part of your diet, and are good for you. However, just like football teams, Spielberg films, and brands of sneakers... all carbs are not created equal. That's Friday.

So I've been tagged by Emiline over at Sugar Plum. I'm still pretty new to blogging, so I haven't done one of these before. I'm thinking it's a good time, so let's get down and answer some questions :)

1. Last Movie I Saw In A Movie Theater?
Batman - The Dark Knight. If you haven't seen this movie yet... GO. NOW. It's a bit on the lengthy side at like 2.5 hours, but it's awesome. Heath Ledger was amazing... it's unfortunate about him.

2. What Book Are You Reading?
Low Back Syndromes - Integrated Clinical Management by Craig E. Morris. Yes, I know it's educational. It's cool stuff though, seriously. Do you link jelly donuts? Well discs are like donuts.

3. Favorite Board Game?
I haven't played board games in ages. I've done all the classics like Life and Monopoly, but you have to try Cranium. It's like a bunch of great games all rolled into one.

4. Favorite Magazine?
Eating Well puts out a good mag. JMPT is cool too.

5. Favorite Smells?
Coffee, vanilla, cinnamon, right before it starts to rain.

6. Favorite Sounds?
"Adam... I have too much money, want some?"

7. Worst Feeling In The World?
The feeling you get after saying something you shouldn't of, and waiting for the consequences.

8. First Thing You Think of When You Wake?
Holy cow I'm starvin marvin. Sometimes I wake up early because I'm so hungry.

9. Favorite Fast Food Place?
I haven't done fast food in a couple years. Wendy's used to make a mean spicy chicken.

10. Future Child's Name?
I'm not sure about the kid thing. I have to take care of numero uno first. Something not too common, but not obscure. I knew waaay too many Mikes, Matts, and Chris- something growing up.

11. Finish This Statement—“If I Had a Lot of Money, I’d…
Get my self out of debt, and help my family and friends

12. Do You Drive Fast?
I drive normal. 5-10 miles over the limit. Who doesn't?

13. Do You Sleep With a Stuffed Animal?
No... that would be kinda weird.

14. Storms—Cool or Scary?

15. What Was Your First Car?
1988 Chevy Beretta GT. A 16 year old with a 6 cylinder engine was sweet. Glad I'm still alive.

16. Favorite Drink?
I look forward to my morning coffee, but I drink plain old water everyday.

17. Finish This Statement—“If I Had the Time, I Would…
Spend more of it with the people I care about.

18. Do You Eat the Stems on Broccoli?
Yes. I eat all of every part of everything. We could see our reflections on our plates growing up.

19. If You could Dye your Hair Any Other Color, What Would It Be?
Haha. Can I pick grow some more hair? Those crazy genetics...

20. Name All the Different Cities In Which You Have Lived.
Albany, NY... Buffalo, NY, Seneca Falls, NY, and now Hicksville, NY

21. Favorite Sport to Watch?
Football... Go Jets!

22. One Nice Thing About The Person Who Sent This To You
Em helped me get started blogging. I always thought her recipes and pictures were dynamite. Is that nice? Ok she's cool beans too, then. Oh, and facebook email me... it's your turn :)

23. What’s Under Your Bed?
I don't have an under bed.

24. Would You Like to Be Born As Yourself Again?
I don't even know what this means. Did being born hurt? Or do I want to be myself again? I'm an awesome guy... so I want to be myself.

25. Morning Person or Night Owl?
Totally 100% Morning. I'm up at 7am everyday, including weekends. Yes, I'm mental. I know. I just like mornings better, you can get all sorts of stuff done. And breakfast... that's in mornings. Want another shocker... I go to bed by 11pm.

26. Over Easy or Sunny Side Up?
Isn't that the same thing? I like the yolks a little harder.

27. Favorite Place to Relax?
The beach. I was jealous of those guys in Lost.

28. Favorite Ice Cream Flavor?
I really like this 4th of July one that Stewarts had. It was vanilla with a cherry swirl, and blue poprocks. Get it... red, white and blue.

29. Of All the People You Have Tagged, Who Is the Most Likely to Respond First?
I don't know. Whoever hasn't done one of these, and is at their computer.

Oh and please don't drink any haterade if I tag you... I'll try and pick people who haven't done this...

I'm tagging:

1. She Runs, She Eats

2. Vanilla Sugar

3. Obsessed with Baking

4. Zen Chef

5. A&N

If you've done of these before and can't it's cool... but hey if you're a little bored and want to tell the world how cool you are... reach for the sky.

Rollin' With a Cause


Posted by Adam | Posted in , , , | Posted on Monday, July 21, 2008

I was home this past weekend, visiting the family and taking care of the usual business. It was great to just get away, relax, and not to have to cook for once. The most difficult question of the day is always "What do you want to have for dinner?". Sometimes we start talking about it at 9am, right after breakfast and during coffee. It's like this huge-normus event, like the Superbowl of food that day. Funny thing is though... I usually say the typical "I don't care". I know a lot of people say that... but usually I mean it. I don't like super heavy, sit in your gut, grizzly bear hibernation comafest dinners. My mother is the same way, so when it's just the two of us, dinner is light and quick.

Simple dinner is what we both wanted, so we went with a quick favorite in my house. I thought this would be a great entry for the Tried Tested and True...Take Two Event over at Equal Opportunity Kitchen. The theme for this event is "sure-fire hits" in your home, but changed to make them more healthy. Every family needs delicious nutrition right? This is a quick recipe that I have had several hundred times growing up, and I've changed it to be more healthy. These are light, tender, crepes... which we call Nalesniki.

First thing you do is grab a scorching hot skillet, place a small ladle full of thin pancake type batter in the pan, and swirl is around so it coats the bottom. Cook for a quick minute, flip to the other side for a few seconds, and presto... you're D-U-N done. They are not sweetened in any way, so usually a thin layer of jam is spread onto the crepe, and then they are rolled up, and sprinkled with some powdered sugar. If you're in an adventurous mood, try filling them with whatever you like. Sweet or savory. Applesauce, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, chocolate, whatever. I like to get my protein in, so I usually go with cottage cheese and a touch of cinnamon.

To make these healthier for this event. I've taken the canola oil down to a teaspoon or two, used a combonation of whole wheat and AP flour, and... well that's about it. There's not much to these crepes, so they can't really be changed. Oh, how about non-fat milk. There ya go.

Simple Crepes
Recipe by the Bizan Family
-1/2 cup whole wheat flour
-1/4 cup AP flour
-1 1/2 cups non fat or skim milk
-2 eggs
-1 tsp canola oil
-pinch of salt
In a large bowl, beat all ingredients in well with a wire whisk. There should be no lumps, and the batter should be slightly thinner than pancake batter. Add more milk if the batter is too thick.

Prepare a large, non stick, skillet lightly with oil or sprayed with cooking spray. Turn your stove top on to medium high, and get the skillet scortching hot. Using small ladle fulls, approximately <1/4>

Cook on one side for about one minute, or until the edges of the crepe slightly curl up. This is your key to knowing that one side is finished. Using a small spatula, grab the end of the crepe, and flip over, using your hands to help guide if you need to. Cook the crepe on the new side for another 30 seconds, or just until the batter sets.

Empty the crepe onto a warm plate, lightly oil the skillet again, and repeat as neccessary. I have no idea how many crepes this makes, probably about 20 or so, depending on the size of your pan.
Fill the crepes lightly with whatever filling you like, (slightly less than a tablespoon) and then either roll them up, or fold them in half twice, so they make a triangle. Sprinkle with some powdered sugar, and you're done.

I love breakfast for dinner, and these crepes make a basically no fat, very light, and still filling, little fuss dinner. They have fiber, a good carb source, healthy fats from the eggs, and a little protein. They can be adaptable to whatever mood you're in at the present moment. Any other "breakfast anytime lovers" out there? Make sure you check out the other entries over at Equal Oppertunity Kitchen. They have a great site over there, and raising awareness in a noble cause like organ donation is a wonderful thing to do.

Oh and I want to thank Mom for helping me with the photos. She has quite the decorative side, and anything I've learned is all from her :) Oh, and I know I was tagged last week. If anyone wants to learn some cool things about Adam, get your eyes and laughs ready for Wednesday :)

Fun Fitness Friday #2 - Carbohydrates


Posted by Adam | Posted in , , | Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2008

Welcome back for week number two of Fitness Fun Fridays. I had really great responses to last weeks post, so I want to thank everyone for their enthusiasm and input. I'm very happy that you guys learned something, and that there is such clamor and desire for nutrition and workout advice. I'll definitely keep this going every Friday. We have quite a bit of ground to cover, so let's get rock like my man Elvis.

Today we're going to enter some heated territory... the land of Carbohydrates. That's right. Put on the flame suits :) Nah, its' not that bad. Depending on who you talk to, there are VERY different opinions on carbohydrates and if you should eat them. I think it's similar to Dr. Seuss' "The Butter Battle Book", where there's quite a bit of fighting for no reason. So, with that in mind... I'm going to give you facts about carbs, how they interact in the body, and a little bit of my personal opinion. I think it works best that way, because with this knowledge you can make an informed decision about your personal tastes and diet. Oh, and by diet I mean lifestyle.

I like to classify and group things, because it helps to organize. Carbohydrates are broken into groups... the most common being monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides. Now, don't get worried about the "funny looking words", we're not going to learn Latin here. I hate Latin... especially Ricky Martin :) I use the "Green Eggs and Ham" approach when it comes to Latin words. Break it down and sound it out.

"Mono" means one. "Di" means two. Poly means "many". So basically we have one, two, or many saccharides, or sugars. That's not too bad, right? The reason this distinction is important for nutrition is because complex and simple carbohydrates react differently in the body. Let's take a look...

Monosaccharides include: Glucose, Fructose, and Galactose... these are sugars found in blood, in fruit, and in milk, respectively. They are very simple, and therefore easily absorbed. The role of carbohydrates, which are sugars... is energy. They are the primary fuel for the body, kind of like gasoline for your car. With these specific sugars, no digestion is needed. Why is that important? Well, because the blood stream takes them up immediately. They don't have to visit the stomach or intestine to be broken down and absorbed. Eat them, and BAM, you have some energy ready to go.

Disaccharides are a combo of two monosaccharides. Examples are sucrose (table sugar), Lactose (yup the intolerant milk one) and Maltose. These sugars require digestion, so they have to stop by the mouth, stomach or intestine. Digestion breaks up sucrose into fructose and glucose, so the body can use it for energy.

Polysaccharides are starches, either animal or plant, and include glycogen, amyleopectin, and cellulose. These carbohydrates are long and complex, and require extensive work by your body to break them down.

So what's the big picture? Who cares about all this stuff right? Snoozefest dude. Well, hold on, I'll get to it.

When you eat carbohydrates... the amount of sugar in your blood rises... and your blood just can't keep it that way for long. It's like a bunch of crazy kindergartners running around, coloring on the walls and eating paste. So Kindergarten Cop, my bud Arnold, comes in on and sends them to different bus stops. He sends the kids, to one of three places... in this order, their fates are...

1) To storage in the liver or muscle as glycogen
2) To use instantly as energy in the body via glycolysis (gly=glucose, lysis= to break)
3) Trigylceride synthesis - aka "make into triglycerides" aka "turn into fat"

Arnold, Kindergarten Cop, is Insulin, and his job is to regulate blood sugar by sending it to one of those three areas. Sugar is sent to those places based on the bodies' given need at that time. So, if liver glycogen is depleted, the carbs you just ate will go there first, and then to the other destinations. If number 1 is full, then the sugar is shuttled to number 2, and then number 3.

Our bodies have an outstanding ability to keep and store energy for future use, as either fat, or glycogen, which is fancy, complex, stored up glucose. In a 70 kg individual (~155 lbs), the liver holds about 75 grams worth of glycogen, and about another 250 grams in muscle. Muscle glycogen is only used during activity, exercise, and movement, while the liver glucose is used for "bodily processes" beyond your control, and to maintain plasma. Liver glycogen runs out in about 3 hours. Do you every feel hungry 3 hours since you last ate? That's partly the reason. Let's put this all together.

Let's say you eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich... peanut butter jelly time!

The bread (let's go with white to make it easier) and jelly are mostly carbs, and get broken down in the body. Look at the label...the jelly is composed of table sugar and fruit, which is simply sucrose, and fructose. The sucrose, a disaccharide, gets broken down in the mouth and stomach into glucose and fructose. The bread is made of flour, some fat, sucrose, and whatever else is on the label. While white flour is technically a polysaccharides, and therefore complex... it is refined, and without fiber, so it is easily broken down into monosaccharides also. So what our sandwich turns into is...

Jelly = fructose and glucose, and Bread = glucose. The peanut butter... that's fat and another post :)

The new fructose and glucose enters your blood stream after you eat it, and signals insulin to be released. Arnold comes along and shuttles the kids along to where they are needed. If it's been awhile since you've eaten... it'll go to the liver, or maybe you'll use it for energy, or maybe you'll store it for later as fat. The whole key to this process, if you think about it, is controlling insulin, and controlling where the carbohydrates will be utilized within the body.

If you just worked out... stored glucose in the muscle, or glycogen, is depleted. Any carbs you eat will go there, and therefore, cannot not be used as fat. If you took a relaxing day off and laid out in the hammock with a sandwich, the carbs will act in the same manner, and make the associated bus stops, but will may have a different final destination. Muscle glycogen is most likely already full, so when your liver glycogen is full, there's a good chance they will converted into fat.

I know we covered quite a bit of information there. But that's basically how carbohydrates work. They get a bad reputation because they have the ability to make a person fat. They get converted to fat if they are not needed at the given time. If you read and understand the "3 bus stops" insulin makes, you can use carbs to your advantage without getting fat. For example...
  1. If the liver only has a 3 hour supply of blood glucose ready... it's a good idea to replenish that with small amounts of carbs - especially with breakfast (its been like 8 hours since yesterday right?)
  2. After a workout, your body needs carbs because glycogen is gone... it's the number 1 stop
  3. Try to eat carbs at the time of day you are the most active, and less when you are less active, because if you do not burn them, they have to go to stop #3.
I hope this clears up some confusion about carbohydrates in general. If any of this material is above anyone's head, or is too confusing, let me know. I'll field any individual questions when they arise. Next week we'll tackle the glycemic index, more carb theory, and some more practical information you can use for your own personal diets and food choices. Any recommendations, just shoot an email.
Green eggs found here.
Kindergarten Cop here
PB & J found here

Hey, Who You Calling Dumpling?


Posted by Adam | Posted in , , | Posted on Monday, July 14, 2008

You ever ask your mom for something, even though you already know what the reaction will be? Mom, can I pleeeeeze stay out on a school night? Can I pleeeeze get... (Super Mario, Power Ranger, whatever). Sure, you knew it could possibly go 50/50, but you the answer is probably no. She does this single eye squint, with a half wrinkled smile, and a usually a long winded sigh. Anybody else ever get any of those? Maybe it's just me...

That is the response my family gives when it comes to making certain dishes. The two most notable are Pierogi, (stuffed dumplings) and Golabki (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls). They were always saved for special occasions like graduations, Christmas, or birthdays, and they were always a treat. When I was younger, I never questioned why we have them so sparingly throughout the year, until I started making them with my Babcia (grandmother).

They are A LOT of work.

The ingredients are simple. There is nothing special to buy, and by no means are they expensive to produce. They are just labor intensive. If you ever want to make pierogi, totally go for it. A word of advice though... get an assembly line going. Have one person roll and cut the dough into circles, and two or three people stuff and pinch the dough, (the most important step) and another to boil them. These types of recipes make 60 or 80 pieces, so making that many by yourself is a chore. Actually like seven chores. Like cleaning out the garage that hasn't been touched since 1985.

So I mentioned pierogi's in my other post, and I had some left over plums, so I came up with Plum Breakfast Pierogi. While pierogi are famous for a potato and cheese filling, the dough itself can be filled with anything. The dough is a blank slate, so anything from mushrooms, beef, onions, kapusta, cottage cheese, strawberries, literally anything can be used. When I was younger, we would use blueberries and raspberries and have them for breakfast. Just boil them up, melt a little butter on top, and sprinkle with some sugar. If you can find a kid that won't eat that, well too bad for him/her.

Pierogi dough recipes are all over the web. They can be as elaborate or "bare bones" as you want. My fridge is getting empty, and I'm going back home for a few days, so I used a simple dough. Feel free to change the ingredients to your own tastes.

Breakfast Plum Pierogi
Recipe by Adam

-3 1/2 cups AP flour
-1/2 cup sugar (if making savory, leave this out)
-1 tsp salt
-1 cup milk
-1 egg, beaten

-2 tsp canola oil

-10-12 plums, depending on size, peeled, seeded, and chopped fine

-1/2 cup sugar

-1/2 tsp lemon juice

-1 tsp honey

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt, mix well. Make a well in the center, and add egg, milk, and oil. Stir with a wooden spoon or your hands until a sticky dough comes together. If it is absolutely too wet or dry, add water or flour as needed until it is smooth. Let rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

For the plum filling, in a small sauce pan over medium heat, place plums, sugar, lemon juice, and honey. Let the mixture simmer until the plums soften up and a bit of the juice releases. Add more sugar or lemon juice to taste. Let the filling completely cool in a bowl in the fridge or freezer.

Once you are ready to rock, divide the dough in half and place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for a bit, and add more flour if it is too sticky. Roll the dough out until fairly thin, maybe 1/8", a little thinner than a pie crust. Take a round glass, dust the edge with flour, and cut out circles, about 2-3 inches across. Tear remaining dough away and keep covered with a towel so it won't dry out.

Lift each circle off the surface, and stretch out a little with floured fingers. While holding in one hand, place a small amount of the filling in the center of the dough, and carefully, fold over and pinch the dough closed. Make sure it is completely pinched together and has a good seal. This is very important. (They will open up while boiling if you don't). Place finished pierogi on a damp towel, and complete these steps with the rest of the dough.

While making and pinching the pierogi, start up a medium pot of boiling water. When it comes to a rolling boil, add pierogi in batches, about 10, to the boiling water. Stir a bit to make sure they don't stick to each other. Boil for about 3 minutes, or until they float up to the top of the water. Once they float they are done.

With a slotted spoon, fish out the pierogi, and place in a dish that is coated with a little butter. This will help them not stick to each other.
Serve with a little sprinkled sugar. Finish all these steps with the remaining dough. I know. I'm tired too.

So there you have it. I made about 30, start to finish, in about an hour. This is kind of a rainy day recipe, when you have some time to kill. I promise you something though... you will appreciate them. These are not your Mrs. T's or whatever. Those look so white and fake. I pity that foo. Polish or not, give pierogi a try. If you need some help, get me a plane ticket, some floor space, and a nice cup of coffee. We'll roll together, er... pinch together.
Mario found here

Fitness Fun Fact Fridays


Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Friday, July 11, 2008

Starting with this first post, I have decided to give a weekly/biweekly post on exercise, nutrition, and possibly overall whole person wellness. I know school is Zzzz... boring, but I'll try to make it as fun as I possibly can. I came across this idea based on the notion that:

1) I can’t bake all the time due to money/time constraints

2) General knowledge of nutrition is both varied and confusing

3) This is good practice for me as an educator, because I’m going to incorporate all of these aspects into my chiropractic practice

4) Mom always said, try to learn at least one thing a day

So, this is going to be my version of a nutrition/workout/wellness “crash course”. My goal is to have each week build on the topic from the week prior, while addressing any comments or questions that happen to arise. If anyone has any criticism or input they wish to give, by all means, do so. I don’t turn into the Hulk or anything…I just want to look like him :)


I am not a certified nutritionist, and do not have a nutrition degree. I do however, have a Bachelors of Science in Exercise Science, and will have my Doctorate in Chiropractic. Both of these programs have exposure to nutrition, exercise, and overall wellness. These opinions, along with everything else you find on this blog, are strictly the thoughts and expression of Adam Bizan (me). Please read and use at your own risk. Always consult a licensed professional before partaking in any diet or exercise program. Thanks.

So I’m going to start out really, really, slow and simple. If you already know much of this information, just hang on for a bit, we’ll uncover new things in coming weeks.

The most common question people ask is “How Do I Gain/Lose Weight?” This has been as hotly debated as which actor plays the best James Bond. (The correct answer is Sean Connery). The easiest way to understand and utilize your body weight is to look at it as a math equation…

Calories In (Eaten) = Calories Out (Burned by the Body)

So with this in mind, you need to tip the scale one way or another to see a change in that direction. Forget the whole low carbohydrate, low fat, protein, or cupcake diet; if you consume or burn more TOTAL calories, your weight will go in that affected direction. That’s it. End of story. I can’t stress this enough. With that being said… we do not live in a black/white world, and all calories are not technically created equal, but this is a good jump off point. Next, you simply need to find out what side of the equation you want to be on.

Once that is done, the next step is figuring out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is a fancy word for how many calories you burn throughout the day, while you are at rest. Let’s say a person works at a paper company (yes like Dunder Mifflin Inc.), and has a desk job. They do not exercise, and are not very active throughout the day. It is safe to say, therefore, that probably 90-100% of their daily calories are expended via their BMR.

While there are many formulas out there, I find BMR is roughly your body weight, in pounds, (sorry Euro and NZ people) multiplied by 10. For example, with myself currently:

155 pounds x 10 = 1550 calories burned at rest

This number is only a very rough estimate. You can find more detailed results online, at here, or use a search engine.

This number is what most people mean when they say “metabolism”, which is determined by both age and lean muscle mass. So if two people weigh the same, but one is younger, the younger person will have a higher BMR, and burn more calories than the older person. Gender also plays a role, because men (usually) have more muscle mass than women. Muscle mass is living tissue, and requires energy to sustain it, so the more muscle you have, the higher calories you burn and the higher your metabolism. This is why, EVERYONE should do some sort of resistance training. Use soup cans if you want… but that’s another post.

So what’s the big picture? First, figure out how many calories you burn per day, if you did nothing but sit and watch television or use the computer. Divide that amount into how many meals you eat in a day, and you have your caloric portion size. If you ate that amount, and became more active, you would lose weight. If you ate more calories to go over that number, and did not burn them off, you would gain weight.

I know seems pretty simple, and you might be saying ‘Duh’ like Michelle from Full House, but this is the first step towards changing and manipulating weight.

Next week we’ll delve a little more into types of macronutrients and how they affect your body, unless someone has something a suggestion. By all means, drop me an email (found in my profile) or comment on this post if anything crosses your mind. Enjoy the weekend :)

Full house image found here

School image found here.

Thinking Outside the Tart


Posted by Adam | Posted in , , | Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Ok, I maybe was a little crazy today. To quote one of my favorite Jack Nicholson quotes "Go sell crazy somewhere else, we're all stocked up here". Here's my story:

See plums are one of my favorite fruits in the summer. They have a nice mix of sweet and sometimes sour, they don't make a mess when you eat them, and they are made for baking. I never ate them much growing up, but ever since I've started my "healthy eating revolution" about 3 years ago, fruits and vegetables have become good friends of mine. So I had these nice, firm, dark purple plums chilling in the back of the fridge, and I got an idea. Plum tart. Plums go with tarts just like coffee goes with mornings, or wine goes with good times.

So I was throwing together my verison of a more healthy tart dough. I've watched my Alton Brown before, and I know about how butter and flour work together... and how butter is the secret to a flakey, crumbly crust. So I went to the fridge and I only had a like 2 Tbs of butter. Bummer. What's a guy to do? If you're looking for someone who likes to run out to the market for one thing, you're not going to find him here. So... I thought back to making pierogi dough with my grandmother, and it came to me. Sour Cream. Beautiful. If you're Polish, you ALWAYS have Sour Cream in the house. So, I put on my best MacGuyver hat, and went with it.

The house was hot. It's about 87 today. I really, really, really didn't want to use the oven. I looked over at the grill and a lightbulb went on. I've grilled pizza before... and a tart is sort of a fruit-ish pizza right? So how about that? Once I assembled the tart, I turned on the grill, got the temperature where I wanted it, and put it on a baking sheet on the grill. Fingers crossed, I waited for about 30 minutes, and I realized something...

Crazy and genius is a fine line, ladies and gentlemen.

Chill it and Grill it Summer Plum Tart
Recipe by Adam

-1 1/2 cups AP flour
-1/4 cup sugar
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
-4 Tbsp light sour cream
-1/4 cup of cold water, about - give or take a Tbsp

-4 ripe, firm, purple plums, cut into ~1/8ths

-1/2 cup almonds, chopped semi fine
-2-3 Tbsp cherry jam/preserves
Powdered sugar, for dusting

In a medium sized bowl, add flour, sugar, and salt. Place small butter pieces in the bowl and mix with a food processor, or your hands (if you're poor like me) until it resembles crumbs. Add sour cream, mix until it sticks together, and add water slowly until a wet, very soft dough forms. Form into a disc and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough until about 1/8" thickness, into a circle or rectangle. Spoon jam/preserves over the dough, leaving about 1/2 inch border around the outside. Place sliced plums, cut side down, in a few rows, over jam. Sprinkle chopped almonds over the plums, and fold edges up and over the plums, so a loose border is made. It should look "rustic" or like a tart only a mother could love.

Place tart on a baking sheet, and onto a preheated grill. The grill should register about 425-450* on the thermostat. Bake on the grill, checking occasionally, until the crust is golden brown, and plums soften up. Remove, cool on a wire rack, and dust with powdered sugar when completely cool.

For kind of throwing this together, I really like this tart. I'm going to try it in the future with other seasonal fruits. If it isn't sweet enough for you, try adding some brown sugar with the fruit before baking/grilling. I think I'm going to enter this into Lore's Culinarty "Originals Recipe Round Up".

So that's it. End of story. Whew. If you're still reading this, I put a poll on the right about whether I should start a weekly post about exercise/nutrition/workout advice. I'll still post a recipe or two a week, but on weeks that I can't bake, I think this would be a great idea to educate anyone that has any questions about gaining/losing weight, or about being more healthy in general. I am not a registered dietitian, but I have training through my undergrad, chiropractic, and what I read on my own. Let me know what you think, and if you have any particular questions I should address. Thanks cool cats.

Why did the Blondie stare at the OJ? Because it said "Concentrate"


Posted by Adam | Posted in , , , , | Posted on Sunday, July 06, 2008

Blondies are always a surprise. I can't even keep count how many times I've been to a party and saw them on the buffet table, or at the supermarket bakery, or on a dessert menu at a restaurant. Oh wait, hold on... zero. That's right, zero times. Does anybody know why they don't get any love? Does it have to do with the sweet siamese flavor of brown sugar and butter? Or maybe it's because you can throw whatever you have in the pantry into the mix, and they turn out waaay better than you planned. I don't know why, but that bothers the baker in me. Blondies are not an anti-brownie, they are their own race of baked magic.

I know just about every restaurant in America has a Browine a la Mode of some kind, you know, that chocolate slab of blacktop with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. Don't get me wrong, for chocolate lovers that's happiness on a platter. Trying not to smile when the waiter brings that to your table is like trying not to laugh when Jimmy McStink farted in Art Class. However I have a question for the bakers out there...

If there was a Blondie a la mode... Picture a golden brown square with butterscotch and bits of chocolate, topped with cinnamon swirl vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel glaze, would you eat it? Let me know if any hands go up. I think I would put that on the menu at Le Adam de Awesome. So that brings me to today's post... Blondies, Blondies, Blondies...

Honey Cinnamon Blondies
Recipe by Adam

-2 cups AP or white wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp salt
-6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
-2 eggs
-1/4 cup honey
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 1/2 - 2 cups "add ins" (chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, almonds, etc)

Preheat oven to 350*. Line a 13x9 pan with aluminum foil, and grease with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, take a wooden spoon or electric mixer and mix the brown sugar and butter until the lumps disappear and it is creamy brown looking. Add the eggs, vanilla, honey and mix throughly. Add the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon to the bowl, and fold until the batter becomes thickened and smooth. It should be a little stiff like cookie batter. Add in your "add ins" and fold into the batter gently.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. These bars are a little thinner because of a large pan, so keep both eyes on lookout.
Cool on wire rack, remove from the pan with the foil, and slice and serve.

I really like these bars. I adapted them from a post over at Simply recipes, however I put a couple spins on it. I took the butter down, added in some honey, cinnamon, and sliced almonds. In my mind, peanut butter and chocolate chips are a must, but you can subsititute whatever you'd like. I'm sure a few changes won't make them blow up on you, the only dynamite here is the taste.

Thanks everyone very much for wishing me luck this past weekend, and for throwing some love at both my dog and I. I have to admit it, we are both two good looking gentlemen :) I'll definately tell Remy how famous he is when I see him in a few weeks.

VA was awesome this past weekend. There was BBQ-ing, boating on the James River, soaking up the sun, and great weather and people all around. If good times were money, I think I'd be out of debt by now ;) We're talking Scrooge McDuck rich. I'm not going to say anything about how things certain business things went (I believe in jinxes sometimes), but I'll let you know when I do. Hope everyone else had a fanstastic 4th of July, whether you are American, Canandian, Martian, or whatever.

Month-Aversaries? Do People Still Do That?


Posted by Adam | Posted in , , | Posted on Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Well a monster has been created. A pretty good looking monster, but a monster none the less. I'm not really a guy that celebrates month-versaries, but I've been doing the food blog thing for that long already. I know it's not that long compared to some of the foodie flying veterans on here, but as AC/DC once said "it's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll".

I want to thank Jenn over at The LeftOver Queen, for putting together the blogroll, and letting me join. I think it's a great idea to link everyone together, and it makes this small world of ours seem even more close knit. Thanks to alphabetical listing, and signing up only yesterday, I'm first on the "new" list, and have met cool new people already. When you have people from as far as Australia saying "Yo cool food dude" or something, it's a nice feeling. I swear if the rest of the world can bond over food like this, world peace would be easy beans.

So personally, internet-lly, I'd like to tell all the cool people I've met that I appreciate your help and comments. Everytime you make comment at Baking with Dynamite, an Adam smiles and a college kid finds a quarter in a couch... seriously. I'm having a blast with this blog, with most of it being due to the nice people I have found.

I'm sad to say though, there is no baking today, and maybe not until Sunday. Tomorrow I am taking a bus down south to Richmond to meet an old friend of mine, and look at a few job prospects. I'll be busy interviewing and checking out what Virginia has to offer a young soon to be graduate, besides awesome southern food. If anyone has any stories about areas they've lived and visited, I'm all ears. Mmmm I do love my cornbread. However, I'll see if I can post later this week for First Thursdays, where I am attempted a recipe to test out my Polish roots. I don't want to give it away, but the recipe is famous, and you might stain your hands while making it...

I figure if there's no food, then why hang out here? Um, because... I'll put cool pictures up! For your viewing pleasure... if you'd like, I'll put a couple pictures up of things not food related, including a bit about me.
Here's our dog Remy, with a kind of before and after picture. Yes he's a Great Dane, and he probably outweighs a lot of you, but he's the most gentle creature I've ever had. He's a little over a year old now, and I try to spend alot of time with him whenever I come home. Oh, and my old man is about 6ft tall.

Here's a couple old bodybuilding pics from 2007. One is a few weeks out and the other is at the competition. I weight a little more nowadays.

And this one is from Saturday with my family to celebrate my sister's birthday. I think it's nice.

That's pretty much it. I'll be back later this weekend to talk about good food and good times. Hopefully I'll get some nice summer pictures, some real good news, and some Virginia food for you all. Have a safe 4th of July, and don't go lighting fireworks with Johnny 8 Fingers, you know they call him that for a reason. Until then, in the words of Will Ferrell, I'm outtie 5000...