Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Muffins

It's moving week! Which means I won't be doing much in the kitchen besides packing it up. We will have lots of family and friends around this weekend helping us (thank you thank you thank you!) so I figured we better at least have a few snacks around. After making these muffins, I'm not sure whether they'll actually make it to Friday/Saturday or not. Maybe I'll have to leave out the stuff to make them again...
While not completely "healthy", they do have some healthy spins on them, and you could make them even more so. They are dense and really moist. You could also add nuts to them if you want. Plus, as the authors note, they keep well for several days, which is a great factor! I found them on the King Arthur Flour website, which is filled with lots of other great recipes. I changed around the flour/sugar ingredients a little--noted below.

Apple Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour (**I used 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour + 1/2 cup AP flour)
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt (I cut this back about half)
1 T cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used Smart Balance 50/50 in this place)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup Splenda)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed (I would try half brown sugar Splenda/half reg. brown sugar)
1 large egg, lightly beaten (could use egg substitute or 1/4 cup mashed banana)
1 cup buttermilk or plain nonfat yogurt (if you don't have buttermilk, put 1 T vinegar in a one cup measuring cup then fill with milk and let sit for 5-10 minutes)
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 450. Spray 12 muffin cups (except I got 19 muffins....so be ready for more!) and set aside.
Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and add the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well; stop once to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix in the buttermilk gently (If you over-mix, the buttermilk will cause the mixture to curdle). Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the apple chunks.
Divide the batter evenly amond the prepared muffin cups, sprinkling the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar on top. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the heat down, and bake for an additional 5 minutes (they said 15-20...they must be using mega muffin tins), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pizza Pasta Salad

Norris had football camp for SIX hours a day every day last week. The night practices are from 7-9, which makes for either a lonely or a late dinner, and being gone from 7-11 each morning means a hungry husband when he gets home! I made this to keep in the fridge, but I stole a few bites..really yummy! It would be perfect to bring to a potluck type event, and I think kids would really like it (maybe leave out the spice for them!)

I adapted this from Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet cookbook/magazine, from the Taste of Home Test Kitchen.

Pizza Pasta Salad
8 oz uncooked whole wheat or multigrain spiral pasta
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 T olive oil
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried basil
1/2 t dried marjoram
1/2 t dried red chili flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspooon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes (left out)
1/2 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded part skim mozzarella
1/2 cup sliced green onions (left out)
1/2 cup sliced turkey pepperoni, coarsely chopped
1 can mushrooms, or about 7 mushrooms, sliced (yeah I used canned mushrooms, don't judge--I am trying to clean out the cupboards!)

Cook pasta according to package directions. In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch and water until smooth Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutse or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in Parmesan, vinegar, oil, and seasonings. Drain pasta and rinse in cold water. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredeitns. Add pasta and dressing; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mexican Potato Casserole

I think it should be called Potatoes Ole! But, it's called Mexican Potato Casserole, according to Weight Watchers Simply the Best cookbook. It's basically like a lasagna with the layers, except for thin slices of potatoes instead of noodles. I really enjoyed this. Casseroles don't tend to photograph well (although I don't really get good pictures of foods that are more photogenic!:) but here it is! Serve with garnishes of sour cream, salsa, avocado, etc.--but I liked it just plain!

Mexican Potato Casserole
adapted from Weight Watchers

1 t olive oil
1 lb lean ground beef
8 scallions, minced to oblivioin so your husband doesn't know they're in there but they still give flavor
1 package low sodium taco seasoning
2 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup frozen corn

WW also suggets 2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped plus 2 tomatoes, chopped. I could not hide those, so they were left out of our version. Would be really great in this!

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with Pam and set aside.
2. Heat oil in skillet. Add beef, scallions, corn, and any other veggies (besides tomatoes) and cook until beef is browned and veggies are softened. Drain and rinse with hot water.
3. Add tomatoes and taco seasoning along with 1/4 cup water and bring back to simmer. Simmer for 8 minutes or so, until seasonings are all blended in and water is evaporated.
4. Arrange alternate layers of the potatoes and beef mixture in the baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes; uncover and sprinkle evenly with the cheese. Bake until the potatoes are cooked through and the cheese is melted (about 10 more minutes).

We were talking yesterday about what we will miss most about our current house and what we're looking most forward to in our new house. I asked Bruno--he went and laid like this. I think he will miss the basement and have to find a new wall to stretch his legs out against.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Creamy Poppyseed Dressing

Molly showed off her pretty chicken and strawberry salad, and it reminded me again how much I like that combo (remember this Parmesan Stuffed Chicken with Melted Strawberries? mmm....) and I especially like it in salads. My parents were coming to town, so I needed to make a quick light lunch so we'd be full but still have room for the steakhouse celebration later for my grandparent's 55th anniversary!!

I may have mentioned this before, but I have been slowly working my way into thinking mayonnaise isn't quite as disgusting as I thought it was. But, nutritionally, it's still pretty disgusting (I know, I know, there's fat free also!). I have been trying to use plain nonfat yogurt in recipes lately to add moisture and creaminess, and it worked perfectly in this dressing. I browsed some different options and ultimately decided to make my own version of the creamy poppyseed dressing.

Creamy Poppyseed Dressing

1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/4 cup light mayo (or do all yogurt)
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 T sugar
3 T Splenda
2 t poppyseeds
Combine and let chill.
I served this with a salad of mixed greens, sliced strawberries, chicken (chopped and sauteed in a tiny amount of olive oil plus S+P), and croutons.

LOOK!! Even my dad liked it! (well, he ate it anyway!) And Norris ate it too...double man approved!

We are currently about knee deep in moving boxes. We should probably be elbow deep by now, but instead of packing we are celebrating our last weekend in the house with a fish fry! Norris caught and filleted the fish, I am making homemade hushpuppies, tartar sauce, and chocolate butterscotch cookies, and we are making coffee can mint juleps! Packing can wait, right?.... :)

Struesel Filled Coffee Cake

Another lake food...we normally do a big breakfast, snack attack, and a later dinner, so breakfast goes beyond cereal and fruit! I liked this a lot, except next time I will add a touch more milk to the batter to get some more moisture in there. I got this recipe from an old church cookbook--I think church ladies often have some of the best recipes out there!

Streusel-Filled Coffee Cake

Streusel Filling and topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 t cinnamon
2 T flour
2 T butter or margarine
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Mix together with a fork before mixing coffee cake.

Coffee Cake:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 T baking powder
1/4 t salt
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c butter
1 egg
1/2 cup milk (will increase to 1/2 cup + 2 T next time)

Preheat oven to 375. Sift dry ingredients, cut in butter. Blend in well beaten egg mixed with milk. Spread half the batter in a greased and floured 8 inch square pan. Sprinkle with half the streusel mixture. Add the other half of batter, and sprinkle streusel over top. Bake 25 to 30 minutes in 375 oven. Serves 8 or 9.

From Hattie Orr

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pumpernickel Chips with Dill Dip

Our grocery store sells day old baked goods for super cheap, so I sometimes pick up something from there, and they had pumpernickel bagels out. We were headed to the lake where we snack like crazy (umm...couldn't hardly eat dinner because of 5 o clock snack attack if that tells you anything!!) so I decided on some bagel chips with dill dip. I used this recipe for the bagel chips, but used sea salt instead of garlic powder and oregano, and pumpernickel bagels.

Here's what I put in the dill dip. We really enjoyed this.

Dill Dip

1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 cup fat free sour cream
1 T dill
1 1/2 t minced parsley
salt to taste

Just combine and chill! Great with pumpernickel bagel chips.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lemon Meringue Kisses

These are a perfect summer dessert because they are light and airy, and would go perfectly with summer berries. They take a little time to beat the egg whites, but they are really good! I think they're best after being stored (in an air tight container) for a couple days. Make these on a day that's not too humid and definitely NOT on a rainy day! Meringues hate moisture.

I got this recipe from Sandra Lee's Semi Homemade Cooking Light, but I can't quite figure out how it's only "semi" homemade. Maybe because I didn't make my own vanilla and lemon extract ? When I think semi homemade I think just assembling things that come already made to make a meal out of them... but in any case, it doesn't matter, just probably means I had way too much time on my hands while I was standing there beating egg whites!

Lemon Kisses

4 large egg whites
1 t grated lemon zest
1/8 t salt
1/8 t lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
3 drops yellow food coloring
1. Let egg whites stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (or a Silpat works).
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine egg whites, lemon zest, salt, and lemon juice. Beat on low speed of an electric mixer about 30 seconds or until foamy. Beat on high speed about 1 minute or until frothy. Gradually add sugar, beating until combined. Scrap down side of bowl as needed. Add vanilla extract, lemon extract, and food coloring. Beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Mixture will be glossy.
3. Place the mixture in a pastry bag fitted with 1/2 inch star tip. Pipe kisses onto prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart. Place both baking sheets in preheated oven.
4. Bake for 16 minutes. Rotate sheets front to back and top to bottom. Bake 16 minutes more. Turn off oven and let kisses stand in oven for 30 minutes.
5. Remove baking sheets from oven. Transfer parchment paper with kisses from baking sheet to a flat surface. Cool completely. Gently peel the kisses from parchment paper.
Per kiss: 24 calories, 0 g fat

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Oven Baked Spare Ribs

We plan on moving soon (less than two weeks, guess that means I better start packing?!?), and part of moving is always trying to clean out what food you have stashed in freezers, corners of cabinets, and crisper drawers. Since we bought that portion of a cow this spring, we are still working on clearing that out. No chance we will be done any time soon, but might as well use what we have! That's how we wound up with heavy red meat meals two nights in a row--this night was oven baked spare ribs.
Oven Baked Ribs
3 or 4 lbs spare ribs (boneless are best, but I used bone in)
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 T cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup ketchup
2 T lemon juice

Combine all ingredients. Marinate meat in this mixture overnight or at least all day.
Preheat oven to 400. Remove ribs from marinade and pour marinade in small saucepan. Place ribs in baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for about 45 minutes, turning halfway through. While you bake the ribs, boil the marinade. (MUST bring it to a low boil for five minutes or so since it was sitting with the raw meat; if you're not comfortable with that, remake the marinade and heat it up). Serve ribs with sauce.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tangy Blueberry Salad

Blueberries are finally on sale at the store! Instead of their normally astronomic price that makes me scratch my head and wonder how they can even charge that much and who actually buys them...they are only a buck for a carton! Now I'm the one buying them.:)

This is now in contention for my favorite salad, up against my other favorite apple salad. (Seriously, if you still haven't had that one, try it!!) Try this one too! (while blueberries are cheap!) The dressing tastes really tangy when you first make it, but once you mix it with the blueberries, it's perfect.

Blueberry Dressing

1/4 cup olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 T red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all in air tight jar with lid. Shake until blended. Chill.
Serve over a bed of mixed greens with blueberries and slivered almonds.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Banana Peanut Salad with Honey Yogurt Dressing

I assume you like me if you are taking time out of your life to read this--or you at least think I'm a decent person. I think that even if you don't like me now, you are going to love me if you make this for yourself. If you like peanut butter and bananas together, you probably already have them in your fridge, so this will be even easier to make for you!

I wish I could share it with you. Well, not really, because then I'd get less. It's so good.

I got this recipe from the lady who used to teach in my classroom and now runs her own cooking school (how cool is that???), Bonnie Aeschliman. It's so good. The dressing stuff is amazing, then with bananas and peanuts mixed in. Wow!! Kids would like it too. Just remember that if you're not planning on consuming the whole thing right away (notice the key word is plan..you might consume it all even if you didn't plan on it) that you should dip your banana slices in a little lemon juice sweetened with a touch of sugar.
Who even cares about the picture? Just eat it! :)

Banana Peanut Salad with Honey Yogurt Dressing

2 T peanut butter (I used chunky natural)
2 T honey
1 cup vanilla yogurt (I used nonfat, low cal)
3 large, ripe bananas
1/2 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

To make dressing, combine peanut butter and honey in a small bowl. Stir together with a fork until smooth and creamy. Add yogurt, stirring until well blended. (so you may want to start with a little extra of each ingredient to allow for some taste testing:)

Cut bananas into uniform slices (1/4 to 1/2 inch) and drizzle dressing over bananas. (don't have to use all of it..you decide) Add peanuts. DEVOUR!!!
Bonnie suggests laying out large leaves of lettuce, arranging the bananas in the leaves, and drizzling the dressing over the top then sprinkling with the chopped nuts.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

BBQ Beef and Beans: Which way is better?

I got this from a site of a woman who cooked something every day for a whole year in her crockpot, A Year of Crockpotting, and now has written her own cookbook based on her personal challenge! Definitely not something I would have ever thought of, or plan on doing, but she got reallllly creative!
This recipe is for crockpot barbecue beef and beans. I decided I wanted to see whether oven baked or crockpot turned out a better result, so I did half in the crockpot and half in the oven. Here's the recipe:

BBQ Beef and Beans

3 lb chuck roast
1 yellow onion, sliced in rings (optional)
3 cloves chopped garlic
1 can (16.5 oz) barbecue baked beans
2 T water
1/4 cup prepared barbecue sauce
cheese, optional
jalapeno slices, optional

Cut meat so it fits in your baking dish (if it fits whole, you can leave it whole, but up the baking time; mine was in about 4x4 inch chunks). Add the onion and garlic, then the beans and water. Top with barbecue sauce and cover pan with foil. (or in crockpot, cover with lid)

Bake in 250 oven for 3 hours OR cook on low for 8-12 hours in crockpot.

Serve on rolls, buns, rice cakes, or over rice if you like. Add slices of your favorite cheese and sliced jalapenos.

Turned out we liked it just a little bit better in the oven. Considering how easy it is to put something in the crockpot for the whole day while you're at work, though, I will definitely use this recipe crockpot style again. We have plenty more roasts from our cow!!
And no, there is not a picture. Well, there is, but even worse than the last few! You know what bbq beef looks like right?:)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Back from Florida...again!

The beach is always one of my favorite places to be in the world. Fernandina Beach has become a favorite vacation spot in the last few years---my mom and I have been there three times, the first two with family and friends, and this time by ourselves to celebrate her birthday and her friend's birthday! We have a great hostess there who always welcomes us into her home and takes us in for the week. Thanks Sandy!

We went bike riding in Fort Clinch and stopped at a beach there. It was SO hot.

And then I am forever enthralled with new foods. We went to Moon River Pizza, a local, everything made fresh pizza place and had Greek salads and the best pizza. Their crust was amazing. I can't wait to try to recreate this! We had the white pizza with spinach and mushrooms added, so it included mozzarella, feta and parmesan cheese, olive oil, oregano, black pepper, and garlic, plus spinach and mushrooms. I am going to work on imitating their crust for all future pizzas because it was perfect. Not too chewy and really fresh tasting.
I can't wait to talk about this place. We went to Tento Churrascaria in Jacksonville Beach. It's a building right across from the beach, with no other buildings blocking its view, so it already had me with its location.
It's a churrascaria, Brazilian steakhouse. There is a buffet of hot and cold items with all sorts of fresh vegetables, plus lobster bisque, black beans, rice, and potatoes as other options. There are dipping sauces like chimichurri, pineapple chutney, and mint jelly. The house dressing was really great and something I want to make at home--very simple with different peppers and onions minced and mixed with what tasted like olive oil, garlic, and a little kick of something like cayenne maybe? The gauchos come around and carve the meats at your table to go with the food you picked from the buffet. It's a very nice atmosphere, fine dining type. You get a coaster that's green on one side and red on the other and you choose your side displayed based on whether you want them to bring any more meat to your table. My favorites were the turkey and the lamb. The grilled pineapple with cinnamon was also reallllly great. At the end, we ordered a dessert (not because we were hungry--to celebrate birthdays!) of Kahlua toffee mousse and it was incredible. It had the texture of a cheesecake with a crushed chocolate cookie crust. They also brought us a chocolate lava cake that was just as good. I would love to recreate the Kahlua toffee mousse though.
I will forever be a culinary nerd I suppose, so when I was waiting for my mom and Sandy to use the restroom before we left and I found myself standing next to the guy who seemed to be the owner for a moment, I just had to ask for a quick tour of the kitchen. There wasn't a whole lot of meats going on because we went pretty early and there were also a lot out at the tables, but this guy was so great with his tour he was encouraging me to stick my hand over the flames to feel the heat and to get right in there with them, so I did! They basically just sear the outside of it, go serve that, and come back to cook some more. That way the outside is always done enough and really really flavorful and not dried out. Their cooking technique is obviously working! There was one guy back there who just constantly is moving skewers up and down and in and out of the kitchen to the gauchos to go serve. He has to be constantly sweating--it was so hot in there.
It was such a cool experience to not only go to this restaurant, but get to see the kitchen! It was a great birthday celebration and I would instantly recommend it to anyone vacationing in the area. Hope to be back to Fernandina in another two years!!:)

That new house I was talking about? We're one step closer! Inspections done, etc., and it seems like all we are doing is waiting for closing. I know that anything can happen at any time though, so I have to keep that in my head at the same time. The reason I loved it so much (enough to convince me to sell our current home!) is for the open concept. This is the kitchen as viewed from the living room area. I am so excited to be in the same room as the people hanging out in the living area while I am in the kitchen and to have the kitchen be more of a comfortable gathering place than it was before. Can't hardly wait to get into this place, but want to enjoy our last few weeks at our first home also! Such a bittersweet move, but I know I will be glad.