Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Low Fat Scalloped Potatoes

I've always loved scalloped potatoes, but considered them a treat rather than a side dish we could eat on a regular basis. However, this recipe completely revolutionized my concept of scalloped potatoes! It's based off of a Cooking Light recipe that I simplified to make it more everyday-friendly. These potatoes taste cream and will never guess they're low fat!

Low Fat Scalloped Potatoes
6 red potatoes or three large russet potatoes peeled and very thinly sliced
2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (or a little more if needed :) )
2 tbsp shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup skim milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Place half of the sliced potatoes into the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the salt and half of the cheese. Top with freshly grated pepper. Drizzle 1 tbsp butter over the top. Layer the rest of the potatoes and top with the rest of the cheese, salt, pepper and butter. Sprinkle the cheddar over the top. Pour the milk over the top of the potatoes. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until nicely browned on top.

Whole Wheat Tortillas

My parents live in The Woodlands, TX, where they have an incredible grocery store chain called H.E.B. The initials stand for Here Everything's Better, and I have to say that I completely agree. It is a fantastic grocery store. One of our favorite treats we always purchase there are their freshly made whole wheat tortillas. They literally are warm when you purchase them- and they melt in your mouth! This recipe came about as an attempt to find a whole wheat tortilla recipe that could compare with those H.E.B. jewels that I love so much. I was making breakfast burritos for 50 people and thought a homemade tortilla would be yummy. Before I made a huge batch, I wanted to test several recipes to see which one I liked the best. Some recipes had too much oil and some had too little oil. I also found that I preferred the flavor that butter gave to the tortillas vs. oil. However, if you are trying to avoid saturated fat or are a vegan, oil works perfectly fine. This recipe is simple and yields 10-12 tortillas, depending on how big you want them to be. It only takes 30 minutes to make a batch, so they really aren't too time consuming. Trust will not regret making these!!

Whole Wheat Tortillas
2 cups white whole wheat flour (I haven't tried substituting plain whole wheat flour...but I can imagine you'd probably have to add a touch more water)
5 tbsp melted butter or oil, or a combination
1 tsp salt (I use finely ground sea salt)
3/4 cup warm water

In a bowl or stand mixer bowl, combine the melted butter or oil with the flour and salt. Mix until a sandy mixture forms. Pour in the water and mix until a slightly sticky dough forms. If dough is dry, add more water. It should be sticky to the touch and cling a bit to the sides of the bowl. Form a log 10 inches long for 10 larger tortillas or 12 inches long for 12 smaller (taco size) tortillas. Wrap in plastic wrap. Allow to sit on the counter for 15 minutes.

Cut log into 10 or 12 equal pieces. I always divide it in half first, then cut each half into equal size pieces. Heat a cast iron skillet or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pull off one of the pieces of dough and roll into a thin, flat circle, making sure to use a dusted surface and rolling pin as the dough is sticky. Place dough in the preheated pan and cook about 30 seconds on one side, until it is very light brown and starts to slightly bubble. Flip over and cook a few more seconds on the other- until light brown on the other side (about 30 seconds but possibly less depending on how hot your pan is). I usually place one in the pan, roll out another one, then flip the one that I'm cooking. The timing is perfect and usually makes the process really quick.

Serve tortillas immediately, or store in a plastic zip-top bag in the refrigerator. I've kept them for a week without any problems. Reheat in the microwave or toaster oven, or make a really yummy quesadilla!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mom's Shrimp Creole

This is a dish I grew up eating and always loved. I will admit that, when I was little, I'd pick out the shrimp and eat only the sauce. However, my taste buds have changed quite a bit (as my mom ALWAYS used to tell us they would!) The beauty of this dish is that it is SO full of flavor, yet it's pretty simple. It does involve making a roux, but I think it's the perfect place to start if you've never made a roux before, since it's a light roux, as opposed to a time-consuming, labor-of-love dark roux. My mom grew up in Alabama, so she has a great repertoire of southern recipes and this is one that we always looked forward to eating. It's great served over a big bowl of rice with fresh french bread and a salad.
3 lbs raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbsp vegetable oil (typically, you would use 1/4 cup, but I've found that you can cut back on the fat without a problem)
1/4 cup flour
1 cup diced onion
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup diced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt (or creole seasoning)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp Tabasco
2 tbsp chopped green onions

Heat oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Add the flour and stir continuously until it reaches a light, golden brown color. It should smell nutty. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic and celery. Cook until tender. Add all remaining ingredients, except shrimp and green onions. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will be pretty thick. Add shrimp and cook an additional 15 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through and sauce has thickened back up (the liquid from the shrimp thins it a touch at first). Serve over rice. Serves 4 (generous size portions or 6 smaller portions)

Vegetarian Chili

At the beginning of the year, our church spends three weeks fasting. My husband and I usually do a Daniel fast, taken from the book of Daniel in the Bible. It consists of eating only fruits, veggies and whole grains. Thus, I'm often on the hunt for vegetarian/meatless recipes. The beauty of this dish is it is extremely kid-friendly. I topped our kids' bowls with a generous amount of sour cream, cheddar and organic blue corn chips and they went to town :). I think we'll be eating it year-round!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups white onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 poblano chilies, seeded and diced
2 heaping tsp chili powder
1 heaping tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups water
1 can chili ready tomatoes or diced tomatoes
2 cans great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can hominy rinsed and drained
Cooked brown rice

crushed tortilla chips
sour cream
shredded cheddar
sliced green onions
Chalula sauce

Saute the onion and poblano peppers in olive oil for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add the garlic, spices, salt and pepper and saute another 2-3 minutes. Place 1/2 cup of the great northern beans in a bowl and mash. Add the rest of the soup ingredients, including mashed beans, to the pot. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Ladle over a spoonful of brown rice and top with desired toppings.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spinach, Bacon and Onion Mini Quiche

I have been quiche hungry lately, but tend to not have 2 hours in the morning to make breakfast (a quiche usually takes about an hour to bake, not to mention the time to prep filling and make the crust). So, the thought popped into my head to make a smaller version. I looked at the ingredients I had on hand, and these yummy little breakfast goodies were born!

4 slices turkey bacon
1 cup diced onion
2 cups fresh spinach, stems removed
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4 eggs
3/4 cup lowfat sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 store bought or homemade pie crust (I halved my regular pie crust recipe and it made 10 muffin size quiches

Cook bacon in sautee pan. Allow to cool on a paper towel. In the same pan, add the onion and sautee until tender. Stir in the spinach until wilted. In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, milk and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Add the veggies, chopped bacon and all of the cheese. Stir until combined. Cut pie crust into 4 inch circles. Line muffin tins with circles (you should have about 10). Fill each crust with the filling. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until filling is set. Yield 10 muffin sized quiches

Friday, November 12, 2010

Amazingly Simple and Delicious Homemade Hot Chocolate

I am seriously addicted to this hot cocoa recipe. It's so easy to make and tastes amazingly rich, even when made with fat free milk. It's perfect by itself or served with some crisp cookies.

Serves 2

2 cups milk (I used fat free)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vanilla

Whisk together the milk, cocoa powder and sugar in a sauce pan and heat until steaming. Remove from heat and add the chocolate chips and vanilla. Whisk until the chocolate chips are melted. Enjoy!

Honey Mustard Turkey Wraps

I know recipes can be ridiculously simple at times, however, I think it's always nice to get fresh ideas for how to use typical ingredients. I made these wraps for lunch the other day and my 2-year-old son and I really enjoyed them. They would be great for busy, working ladies to take on the go or for moms at home who need something a little different to eat for lunch. They fresh and very low fat.

Serves 2

1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 whole wheat tortillas (my favorite brand is Tumaros Honey Wheat, made without lard and with very little added sweeteners)
1 cup spring mix salad
4 sliced turkey deli meat (I used peppered turkey breast and it was awesome!)

Combine the honey and the mustard. Spread a 1/2 the mixture down the center of each tortilla, reserving the other half. Spread it around the tortilla, using the back of the spoon. Place two slices of turkey down the center of each tortilla and top with 1/2 cup of the salad. Drizzle the remaining honey mustard over the salad. Roll up and slice on a diagonal in half. Enjoy with fresh fruit and brown rice chips for a perfect lunch!

Baked Chicken with Brown and Wild Rice

I adapted this from a recipe I found in a cooking magazine that called for white rice and chicken thighs. I found that chicken breasts and par-boiled brown and wild rice worked great! This is a sneaky way to get kids to eat veggies because the rice is made with carrots and mushrooms.

Serves 4

1/4 cup wild rice
3/4 cup brown rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
Salt, pepper, garlic powder
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 small package button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sherry cooking wine, or regular wine
1/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup plus 3 tbsp chicken broth, divided
Parmesan cheese

In a small saucepan, combine the rices and 2 cups chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in an oven-proof skillet (one with a lid). Season chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Brown chicken on both sides, then set aside. Add the carrots, mushrooms, onions and 1/4 tsp salt to the pan. Sautee until all of the liquid is evaported from the veggies and browned bits begin to form on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the garlic and black pepper and cook one more minute. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Add the half and half and the 1/2 cup chicken broth. Stir in the rice and mix well. Spread rice mixture evenly on bottom of pan. Place chicken breasts on top of the rice and drizzle the 3 tbsp chicken broth over the chicken. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Cover with the lid of the pan. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and cover again. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, to make sure rice doesn't stick in the pan.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

This is another go-to dish for our family. We love to eat sweet potatoes year-round, but especially in the fall. I prepare them with fat free milk and a touch of butter, so they are light and not extremely rich. The walnuts add such a nice bite to the dish. The crunch is a nice contrast to the soft potatoes.

Serves about 6

3 medium to large sweet potatoes, rinsed and pierced with a fork
1/4 cup milk (I use fat free and sometime add a splash of half and half)
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp real maple syrup
Nut topping:
1/2 cup walnuts
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp half and half
dash of salt
cooking spray

Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for approximately 40 min, or until you can easily poke them with a fork. Remove the skins from the potatoes and place in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, through maple syrup. Beat with a hand mixer or a fork until smooth. For the nut topping, combine ingredients and mix until the nuts are well coated in the sugar/half and half coating. Pour onto a cookie sheet coated in cooking spray (you can cover the sheet in foil first and grease the foil). Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes, until the nuts are toasted and the topping is bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to cool. I make them in my toaster oven and just toast them once on medium-dark. Sprinkle nuts over the bowl of potatoes.

Quick Greens

Greens are one of those veggies that are SO good for us, but often take a long time to cook. This is a recipe that turns them into a side dish that can be prepared in under 20 minutes. Thus, they can be eaten any night of the week. The hint of turkey bacon and loads of garlic and onions make them taste like they've been simmering for hours. I serve them alongside roast chicken and mashed sweet potatoes for a perfect fall dinner.

Serves 4

1 bunch collard greens, turnip greens or kale rinsed well and hard stems removed and chopped into bite-size pieces
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp olive oil
3 slices turkey bacon, chopped into bite size pieces
1 c finely diced onion
3 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 cup chicken broth
black pepper

Season a large pot of boiling water with salt and add greens. Boil greens for 7 minutes; drain. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the bacon. Sautee until light brown and crispy. Add the onion and sautee until tender. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Stir in the drained greens, the chicken broth and season with the black pepper. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Caramel Popcorn

We love popcorn in our family- it's cheap and pretty versatile, not to mention tasty! This is my go-to recipe for caramel popcorn (my 2 year old actually asks me to make it for him). I combined a few recipes that I found in one of those company cookbooks where everyone contributes their favorite recipes. The caramel is made in the microwave, so it's really easy (I've only burnt it once! :) )

Makes about 10 cups popcorn

1/2 c popcorn kernels
1/2 c dark brown sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 c unsalted butter
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Pop popcorn in an air popper or in a pot on the stove. In a glass bowl, combine sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt. Microwave for 2 minutes. Stir. Microwave 1 1/2 minutes longer. Stir in the baking soda. Pour over popcorn and stir to coat. Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet. Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. It's totally worth the effort!!

Multi-Grain Waffles

I'M BACK!! It's been so very long since I've taken time to update my blog, but at least I've been productive! I am now a mommy of 2, so life has become somewhat busier. However, my baby girl is now 8 weeks old, so I feel like I'm finally finding my way back into my kitchen again. Breakfast, as we all know, is a very important meal. So, I'm starting to collect more breakfast recipes, in order to keep things interesting. This is my new favorite go-to waffle recipe. I found it on my new favorite iPhone app- SparkRecipes. Although you have to purchase several items that you might not have on hand (ground flax seed and wheat germ), you'll be able to make OODLES of waffles once you buy them! It's a good idea to store the ground flax seed and wheat germ in the fridge for longevity. These babies are packed full of great nutrients and they're lowfat! I make them with my round waffle maker. The full recipe makes around 10 waffles, so I usually halve it for us. Enjoy with some real maple syrup and sliced fruit!

Makes 8-10 round waffles

1 3/4 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c oats
1/4 c ground flax seed (AKA flax seed meal- buy it in the flour section of your grocery store or
health food section)
1/4 c wheat germ
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
2 egg whites
1 3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp applesauce
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine dry ingredients, through salt. Set aside. Combine wet ingredients and stir into dry ingredients. Bake in waffle iron until golden brown and crispy. Serve immediately or keep warm on a cooling rack in a 200 degree oven.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rainy Day Smores

So, I happen to love smores, like most of America. However, I don't often have a big fire burning in my backyard to cook them on, so I had to get creative! Here is a very easy method for making smores indoors. You can be so creative with them. Try different fillings, like marshmallows, butterscotch chips and pecans, marshmallows, Nutella and bananas, marshmallows, peanut butter, white or milk chocolate and bananas or marshmallows, strawberries and chocolate- yum!

Mini marshmellows
Chocolate chips, dark chocolate or milk chocolate bar (whatever chocolate you have!)
Graham crackers
Slice bananas

Preheat the broiler on your oven or toaster oven. Top graham crackers with chocolate and then marshmallows. Place the marshmallow and chocolate covered graham crackers on a baking sheet. Broil for 3-5 minutes or until the marshmallows are toasted to your liking. Top with sliced bananas and another marshmallow. Imagine you're sitting outside in front of a warm fire and enjoy!

Creamy Vegetable Lasagna

This recipe was based on a recipe I saw for lasagna with sausage and mushrooms. I decided to leave out the sausage and substitute roasted red bell pepper and roasted zucchini. It was delicious! Eli literally ate his entire bowl (this rarely happens). The secret to building a lot of flavor into this lasagna is to brown the mushrooms and onions in the butter (don't rush this step) and to broil the zucchini until the edges are golden brown. You could add italian sausage or left over cooked chicken if you'd like. I served it with a large helping of sauteed broccoli with olive oil and garlic and a piece of my
french bread toasted with olive oil, garlic and parmesan.

6 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into four strips each
2 red bell peppers, cut in half stem and seeds removed or 1 jar roasted red bell peppers in water (NOT vinegar!)
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
1 package white mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1/2 tsp salt (taste sauce for seasoning once it's finished. If your chicken broth is low sodium, you'll probably want to add more)
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
12 whole wheat lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions (or use the regular oven-ready lasagna)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat your oven on broil. Place the bell peppers and sliced zucchini on a baking sheet. Brush both sides of zucchini with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Broil 5-10 minutes, until the skin of the bell peppers turns black and the zucchini are golden brown around the edges. Remove from oven. Cover bell peppers in foil to allow time to steam, in order to remove the skin (approx. 5 minutes). Chop the zucchini into bite-size pieces. Set aside. Remove skin from bell peppers and dice. Mix with the zucchini.

In a large saucepan, on medium-high heat, melt 2 tbsp butter with 2 tbsp olive oil. Add the mushrooms. Sautee 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the onions and garlic. Season with pepper and 1/2 tsp salt. Sautee until the onions are tender and light brown. Add the 4 tbsp flour, stirring to coat all of the mushrooms. Add the broth and milk, stirring well. Simmer about 5 more minutes on medium-high heat, until thickened.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. To assemble lasagna, spoon 2/3 cup of the sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Layer three noodles. Top with 1/3 of the zucchini/bell pepper mixture. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup mozzarella. Repeat layers two more times, ending with a final layer of noodles. Pour the rest of the sauce over the top and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and the 1/4 parmesan. Bake, covered with foil, for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 more minutes, or until very bubbly and cheese begins to brown. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

No-Fry Cinnamon Sugar Potato Doughnuts

Okay, I must admit that I LOVE doughnuts! Who doesn't? But, I would never make them at home because we don't eat fried food at home and I wouldn't want a whole dozen doughnuts sitting around my house. So, you can imagine how excited I was when I found this recipe! It was in an old Taste of Home magazine that my mom handed down to me when I got married 7 years ago. Mundo and I really enjoyed munching on these for breakfast. I served them with fruit salad and scrambled eggs with bell peppers and potatoes. It was a great breakfast! I halved the recipe and it made a little over a dozen. They only had 2 tbsp of butter in the whole batch, so I felt pretty good about eating them. They would also be yummy with a chocolate glaze or dipped in powdered sugar (or any other creative topping!) If you experiment with different toppings, let me know. I'd love to try them!

1 cup cooked, mashed potato (completely plain. I peeled and diced it, then cooked it in water in the microwave for about 5 minutes)
1/4 cup cooking liquid from the potatoes
1 cup warm milk
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups bread flour or 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and 3 cups bread or unbleached white flour
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) fast rise, active dry, yeast

3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp melted butter

Kitchenaid Mixer Method:
Dissolve yeast in mixer bowl in reserved 1/4 cup potato cooking liquid. Add a few tbsp of the warm milk to the eggs to temper them, then add eggs and milk to the mixer bowl. Add sugar, salt and flour. Beat on speed 2 until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and a ball forms. Allow to knead on speed 2 for 2 more minutes. Grease bowl with cooking spray. Warm oven for 1 minute on 200 degrees F. Turn off. Place bowl with dough in the oven and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Allow to rise 30 minutes.*

Hand Mix Method:
Dissolve yeast in large mixing bowl in reserved 1/4 cup potato cooking liquid. Add a few tbsp of the warm milk to the eggs to temper them, then add eggs and milk to the bowl. Add sugar, salt and flour. Mix by hand until a ball of dough forms. Knead about 10 minutes on a floured surface until dough is nice and smooth. Grease bowl with cooking spray. Warm oven for 1 minute on 200 degrees F. Turn off. Place bowl with dough in the oven and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Allow to rise 30 minutes.*

*Roll dough out on a flour service into a 1/2 inch thick disk. Cut, using a doughnut cutter, into approximately 30 doughnuts. Place on greased baking pans. Cover with a towel. Warm the oven for 1 minute at 200 degrees and turn off. Place baking pan with doughnuts in oven. Allow to rise 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately brush both sides with melted butter and dip in cinnamon/sugar mixture. Serve warm. Yield 2 1/2 dozen.

My Minestrone

I've been trying really hard to stick to my grocery budget. One of my secrets is to plan 2 meatless meals a week. I usually make soup and salad or soup and panini sandwiches for one of those meals. Today, it was minestrone soup with my homemade french bread topped with oilve oil, mozzarella, tomato and basil and broiled until bubbly. I had the hardest time finding just the right minestrone soup recipe, so I decided to combine a few of them to make my own. It came out so good! I think my secret is the can of beef broth. It gave the soup a rich flavor that probably would be missing if only chicken broth or vegetable broth was used. I used orzo pasta that I had on hand, but you can really use any type of pasta that you have left over in your pantry. Spaghetti can be broken into little pieces and works great in a soup like this. This is a healthy, satisfying fall or winter soup that your family will love (even my 1 1/2 year old loved it!)

2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. carrots, diced
1 c. celery, diced (2 stalks)
2 zucchini, diced
3 small yellow squash, diced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp salt (use less if your broth isn't reduced sodium)
dash of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 c. kale, pulled off the stem and chopped
1 can great northern beans rinsed and drained
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 28 oz can whole tomatos, crushed between your fingers when adding to the pot
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 14 oz can beef broth
1 box reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. uncooked orzo, ditalini tube pasta, elbow macaron, vermicelli or spaghetti broken spaghetti (whatever you have on hand!)
Parmesan cheese for topping

Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sautee until just beginning to brown. Add the celery, carrots and garlic. Sautee until celery is tender. Add the squash and zucchini and the herbs, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Sautee about 5 minutes, until tender. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the pasta. Simmer 20 minutes. Add the pasta and simmer about 10 more minutes, or until the pasta is al dente. Serve with parmesan cheese and my multi-grain french bread. Yummy!!

Multi-Grain French Bread

I was looking for a french bread recipe similar to the multi-grain bread I buy at our grocery store, but I had a hard time finding one. I decided to adapt a regular french bread recipe and make it my own. The results yielded two loaves of whole wheat french bread with nutty notes and a really great crunchy crust. It tastes the best straight from the oven with butter.

2 envelopes fast-rise (active dry) yeast
1 tbsp plus 2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups warm water
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp raw sunflower seeds
2 tbsp millet
2 tbsp flax seed
4 tbsp cornmeal
2 tbsp half and half. milk, or one egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp water

Kitchenaid Mixer Method:
Combine the yeast, warm water and sugar in the mixer bowl. Stir to dissolve the yeast. Attach the dough hook. Add the salt, flour, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, millet, and flax seed. Turn mixer on speed 2 and mix until a ball of dough forms. Mix 2 more minutes to allow the dough time to knead. Remove bowl from mixer and grease the sides of the bowl with olive oil, so the dough won't stick once it rises.*

Hand Mix Method:
Combine the yeast, water and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir to dissolve the yeast. Add the salt, flour, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, millet, and flax seed. Stir or use hands to combine. Dough should form into a nice ball. Turn out onto a floured surface. Knead about 10 minutes, or until a smooth dough is formed. Grease the inside of the mixing bowl with olive oil. Place dough in bowl.*

*Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a towel. Turn oven on warm (170-200 degrees) for one minute, then turn off. Place bowl in oven. Allow to rise for 25-30 minutes or until doubled in size. Divide dough into two portions. Sprinkle cornmeal on a baking sheet. Shape each dough portion into a long baguette (I do them side-by-side on one tray and they fit nicely). Cover with a towel and place back in the warm oven (you might need to turn it back on to 200 degrees for one minute to warm it up again). Allow dough to rise 30 more minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a sharp knife, make diagonal slices about 1 inch apart along the top of each loaf. Brush with half and half or egg yolk. Using a spray water bottle, spray the top of the loaves with water and the inside of the oven. Place a dish of hot water on the rack next to the bread tray. Bake bread for 35-45 minutes, until nicely browned on the bottom and on top.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Flan (just like my Abuelita's!)

I LOVE flan!! I could eat it all day long and be quite happy! My husband, Mundo, who is Nicaraguan, gave me the idea of baking it in individual servings instead of one big dish (the way his mom used to do it :) ). It worked great! It was easy to eat and looked really pretty when served. If you've never made caramel before, this recipe is a great place to start! The trick is to make sure you don't walk away from it and to read the directions carefully before you start making it. You'll be SO proud of yourself!

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

5 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3 cups whole or low-fat milk
3/4 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. For the caramel: pour 3/4 cup sugar into a saucepan. Drizzle with the 1/4 cup water. Don't stir! Place the pan over medium heat and, without stirring, very gently swirl the pan by the handle until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is clear. It should take about 5 minutes. It's important to make sure the syrup is clear before it starts boiling so don't allow it to boil yet! Once clear, increase the heat to high and bring the syrup up to a boil. Cover and boil for exactly 2 minutes. Uncover and cook the syrup until it begins to darken into a caramel color- about 2 minutes (still don't stir it!) Gently swirl the pan by the handle once again and cook until the syrup turns a deep caramel color. Quickly pour the caramel into 8 6-ounce bowls/ramekins or a 2 to 2 1/2 quart baking dish (about 2 tbsp per bowl). It will harden immediately once poured.

For the custard: Microwave the milk for 2 minutes, or until steaming. Combine the eggs, sugar and salt and whisk until smooth. Slowly stir in the milk. Add the vanilla. Pour into the caramel-lined bowls or baking dish. Place custard-filled bowls/baking dish into a large baking pan and place in the oven. Fill the baking pan halfway with boiling water, creating a water bath. (it's always easier to pour the water into the baking dish once it's in the oven). Bake for 40-60 minutes for individual bowls or 1 to 1 1/2 hours for a baking dish (jiggle the bowl to see if it's done. If the center seems to still have a liquid consistency, bake a little longer). Refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours before serving. Run a knife around the edge of the bowl and dip in hot water to release the custard. Flip over onto a plate to serve. It's SO yummy!!

Granola bars with Apricots and Cranberries

I saw this recipe on Barefoot Contessa (0ne of my favorite Food Network shows). The only changes I made was to leave out the dates called for in the original recipe. I used what I had in my pantry- dried apricots, cranberries and raisins.When individually wrapped and stored in an air-tight container, these granola bars will taste great for a month!

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed (I used unsweetened)
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots*
1/2 cup dried cranberries*
1/2 cup raisins
cooking spray
*or any dried fruit you have on hand, such as raisins, apples, etc.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour the almonds, coconut and oatmeal onto a baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the almonds and coconut are lightly toasted. Remove from oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Combine the butter, honey, sugar, vanilla and salt in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for one minute and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour coconut/oatmeal mixture into the bowl. Stir in the wheat germ and dried fruit. Spread into a greased 8 x 12 inch baking dish lined with foil (make sure it hangs over each side of the tray to make "handles" so you can pick up the large bar and pull it out to cut it easily into individual granola bars). With wet fingers, press the mixture into a flat bar. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until browned and allow to cool 2-3 hours before cutting (if they're too warm, they'll fall apart). Using the foil handles, pull out the baked granola bar and cut into individual pieces. Wrap each bar in foil and place in an air-tight container. It should make 16 rectangle shaped bars.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Amazing Lightened Up Fudge Brownies

You will NEVER believe that any of the fat has been lessened in these brownies. They are so moist and chocolaty. We eat them warm with a scoop of low fat vanilla ice cream.

3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp canola oil
4 oz semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tbsp cold brewed coffee
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips, butter and canola oil. Microwave for one minute, or until chocolate is melted. Stir in the sugars, vanilla, salt, eggs and coffee. Combine the cocoa powder, flours and baking soda. Stir into wet ingredients, until just combined. Fold in the nuts. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.