Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fig and Oatmeal Bars

After running a 10k this morning, I decided to treat us to some tasty treats for maximum recovery!

Whole wheat pizza (Trader Joes pizza dough) with a roasted tomato sauce (from the freezer), prosciutto, spinach and goat cheese.

And of course something sweet!
Fig and Oatmeal Bars
14 oz. whole dried figs, stems removed
(about 2 ½ cups)
1 ¼  cups water
2 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ cups oats
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup millet
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
2 eggs
Place figs, water and vanilla in a small sauce pan; bring to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes until tender. Place in food processor and pulse until smooth.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat together oil and eggs. Fold egg mixture into dry ingredients; mixture will be crumbly.
Line a 9x 13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving about an inch of foil hanging over edge (this will make removing bars from pan easy). Coat with cooking spray and press half of the crumble mixture evenly into pan for crust. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven.
Spread fig puree evenly over crust and top with remaining crumble mixture. Bake for an additional 15- 18 minutes until golden brown. Cool in pan for about 20 minutes; use foil to lift bars out of pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.  Cut into 25 squares.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Honey Scented Apple Butter for Jar Hoarders

They said I shouldn't use red delicious apples for making apple butter, but because I had a plethora of them, I decided to take my chances!
Most resources say that red delicious apples are for eating only, not cooking or baking; I would typically agree. These appples tend to be mealy/starchy and not as flavorful compared to Galas or Fujis. But last Friday, I hit the red delicious apple jackpot at work. I certainly was not going to make apple pie with these babies! And apple sauce just plain boring! Apple butter- the perfect way to use up 5-6 lbs of apples:)
It is a long process, but there really is not much work involved. A bit of planning is a good idea. I like to start this in the evening, around 6 pm, so that by 9pm, I can walk away for 7-8 hours (and sleep!!). In the morning, some stirring is involved and maybe a little pureeing if you have an immersion blender. Don't worry about pureeing at this point if you don't have one, just wait until the end.
Some recipes call for apple cider or grape juice, and I have used these in the past, but water works just fine. I never have juice around anyway (like a good clean eater). I have also used Sucanat or regular sugar, but honestly, with this batch, I was just trying to use up my ginormous Costco sized honey. Use what you like or what "must-go".
By the way, NO NEED TO PEEL YOUR APPLES!! Save your time and let the heat break the peel down for you.
Honey Scented Apple Butter

10 red delicious apples (about 5 lbs.)
2 cups water
1 cup honey
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. cinnamon
1 ½ tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves

Wash apples well to remove waxy coating. Use a bit of dish soap or a fruit and vegetable wash. Core apples (no need to peel) and place in a large slow cooker; 10 apples filled my slow cooker.
Add water, drizzle with ¾ cup honey and toss with spices. Set slow cooker to high heat for 3 hours, stirring about twice during cooking.
After 3 hours on high, the apples are quite soft. Stir in remaining honey and set slow cooker to low for an additional 7-8 hours; I like to do this part over night;waking up to the apple butter aroma is amazing!
In the morning,the apples will look nice and caramelized. Puree (I use an emmersion blender to make it easy). Skip this step if you dont have an immersion blender (just too much work in the morning), and just puree at the end of cooking. Set slow cooker for another 7 hours on low, before heading to work and the apple butter will be waiting once you are back.
After 7 hours or so, the apples will be deeply caramelized, and buttery!

I am sort of a jar hoarder; I save jars (and sometimes people save them for me) for multiple uses: storing Herbie's toothbrush, keeping cotton balls, as snack containers, for storing salad dressings, and for "jarring" homemade goodies like you see here! I either give these away, or hoard them in my freezer. My hubby made we watch the show Hoarders, as a way to intervene. But I love my jars, and they have purpose!

Love my apple butter: over cottage cheese with chopped almonds, swirled into yogurt, over pancakes instead of syrup, French toast, by the spoonful...dessert pizza, over vanilla frozen yogurt, with almond butter in a sandwich....

Or simply spread over whole wheat toast!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kale Addiction

Hi, my name is Jacqui, and I have a kale addiction. Not just any kale preparation, but specifically kale chips with nutritional yeast (aka crack!). Turns out, my hubby has recently picked up my habit; he too is a kale addict.

Seriously though, I made kale with with Nutritional yeast over the weekend (again) and sent a bag with Chris for his ride to Harrisburgh. Apparently, there are now a couple of other consultants who are also hooked on the green stuff. Pretty soon, kale chips will be on the black market LOL.

Kale belongs to the Brassica family which includes cruciferous veggies like cabbage, collard greens, broccoli,Cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.

One cup of kale; 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

Kale Chips with Nutritional Yeast

1 bunch kale, washed and dried
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper for seasoning
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast (or more), divided

Preheat oven to 450F.Revome tough stems from kale, keeping kale in large pieces for chips. Place in a large bowl (do this in batches if needed) and toss to coat with oil (clean hands are best for this job).

Spread kale on 2 baking pans, being careful not to crowd kale. Season with salt and pepper; sprinkle evenly with 1 tbsp. nutrional yeast. Bake for 7-10 minutes until crispy and lightly browned. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining nutritional yeast.

 Eat up and get hooked!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Insanely Dark Chocolate Treats Tonight

It was a long day in the recipe development world; editing, running nutrtion facts, estimating moisture loss, and a lovely lunch in a warm sunny area.

I could not, however, get ahold of any rattlesnake for my cassoulet project! Out of season????!!! "OK, I see, tell that to the copywritter!"

I also went blank for about an hour...Venison chops?? I just could not figure out what in the world to do with them. Blank I tell you! But finally after deep intense brainstorming, multiple trips to the peanut butter filled pretzel stash and several huge gulps of my apple cider vinegar mocktail, I finally brought it to life....Pepita Crusted Venison Chops with Apricot Mole sauce...perfect!

And now, the end of the day calls for chocolate, the kind that actually has some health benefits; dark chocolate!!!There is plenty of evidence that the antioxidant flavonoids in dark chocolate are beneficial to cardiovascular health, so enjoy every so often!


Insanely Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirled Brownies

Inspired by Clean Eating Magazine October Issue

1 oz. 90% dark chocolate (about 4 disks)
3 oz. 70% dark bittersweet chocolate
3 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 eggs, at room temp
1/3 cup maple sugar or organic evaporated cane juice
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour or other whole grain flour
3 Tbsp. peanut butter, room temp

Preheat oven to 350F. Melt chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl; microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring until melted.

Whisk in eggs, sugar, vanilla and flour. Spread in an 8X8 inch foil lined pan (sprayed).

Drop small mounds of peanut butter in batter. Swirl using a knife or fork. Bake for 18-20 mimutes until set in the center.
And finally, a "little" snack to end the evening, and welcome the hubby home!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Crustless Acorn Squash Pie

I made acorn squash pie today, three different times!!! No, I’m not a bad chef, I just started with a bad recipe that called for too much of everything. The first attempt, even after scaling it down carefully, still yielded too much filling. Lesson of the day: a 9-inch pie pan can only hold about 3 cups of filling…good to know…
For my second attempt, I had to go to the store to get another graham cracker pie crust (I know, I should have made my own). I scaled down the proportions of the recipe to have 1 less cup of filling. The problem this time was temperature. The recipe said “bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 for 45-50 minutes”. This proved to be the wrong thing for a custard pie. I should have known better; In my defense, I was trying to give the person’s recipe the benefit of the doubt! So the outcome…a pie with lots of cracks in the center.
For the third attempt, I was out of time and patience. I did not want to go back to the store and I also did not have a 9-inch pie pan (only a 10-inch). If I used the larger pan, the time would be affected and that was exactly what I was trying to measure. So, I transferred one of the cooled pies to my larger pie plate and decided to go CRUSTLESS!!! So third time is a charm! I baked it at a lower temperature for a longer time! So here is final version, using almond milk instead of cream (like it originally called for).

Crustless Acorn Squash Pie

1 large or 2 small acorn squash
2 tsp. cinnamon, divided
½ cup honey, divided
 2 eggs
¼ cup almond milk
½ tsp. ginger
½ tsp. kosher salt
 Pinch of nutmeg
Stevia to taste if desired

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut squash in half and scrape out seeds.
Place on a baking pan and sprinkle with 1 tsp. cinnamon and drizzle with 1 tablespoon honey. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45-55 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from oven and cool.
Scrape out flesh, reserving 1 ¾ cups for pie.
Place squash, remaining cinnamon and honey, eggs, milk, spices and salt in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and adjust sweetness with Stevia if desired.
Coat a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray and place on a baking pan (easier to handle); pour mixture into pan. Bake for about 45 minutes, until center is set.

Acorn Squash #1-Beautiful, but had an extra cup of filling left!
Acorn Squagh Pie #2: Notice the cracking? 

Acorn Squash Pie #3-Crustless, leaner and no cracking! Still a little warm and gooey, but I could not wait to slice it up so I can finally sit with it (and eat it)!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Autumn Spice Cake Surprise

Autumn Spice Cake Surprise with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing

2 cups King Arthur® white whole wheat flour
½-3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 ½ tsp. cinnamon
1 ¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. nutmeg
Pinch of cloves
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup almond milk plus 2 Tbsp.
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
 3/4 cups grated carrots and/or zucchini, finely chopped* (optional)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
For the Frosting:6 oz. low fat cream cheese
½ cup pumpkin puree
¾ cup powdered sugar
Cinnamon for dusting
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a large loaf pan with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Combine flour sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in a large bowl. In another bowl, mix pumpkin, milk, applesauce, vanilla and eggs. Fold in carrots and cranberries. Stir into flour mixture. Pour into prepared loaf and bake for about 55-60 minutes toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on rack.
While cooling, combine frosting ingredients in medium bowl. Beat until light and fluffy. Transfer to a small serving bowl/dish and dust with cinnamon; refrigerate until ready to serve.
Once cool, slice cake into 12-15 pieces and serve with alongside frosting. Allow guests to smear a portion of frosting on their slice of cake.
*I prefer to finely chop the shredded/grated carrots to create small pieces that end up speckled throughout the cake. Also, if my hubby sees large pieces of vegetable in his cake, chances are he won’t eat it. Skip this step if you want.
I used a Paific Organic Pumpkin Puree, so the frosting has a bit of a yellow hue. This did not seem to bother my guests; they smeared it on without a care! THe hubby however, was not too thrilled lol.

This stuff is awesome! You get a 100% whole grain product, with it tasting like cardboard;)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Simple Roasted Tomatoes

Because I have tomatoes galore from my garden, and I cannot seem to eat large enough quantities on a daily basis, I decided to extend their shelf life. Sure, I could have made tomato sauce, but let's face's sort of boring and it takes hours!

Instead, I opted to roast my fruitful treasures. The sweet aroma of starches converting to sugars and fresh alliaceous garlic roasting is sure to entice even the pickiest palates.

Wapsipinicon peach, green zebra, lemon boy, black zebra, and a couple red varieties too. So good and versatile...and the heating increases the lycopene content!

 Tomatoes have outstanding antioxidant content too and are an excellent source of NUTRIENTS such as Vitamins C, A and K! So eat up!

Combine 1 1/2 Tbsp. EVOO, 4 chopped garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper.

Pour over cut tomatoes
Lay on a foil lined pan (for easy clean up!)
Roast at 400F for 10 minutes; lower heat to 350F and roast for 22-25 minutes...or until it starts to smell AMAZING!
These roasted tomatoes last for about 1 week or so in the refrigerator; or freeze them in baggies for a few months. Toss them on pizza, pasta, serve over salads or mash them up to spread over goat cheese. They can make a lovely addition to my morning eggs and toast! Can't wait!

I like to pack them in little containers so they are ready to go! I can eat these around 3pm at work with some whole grain crackers and lowfat  cheese!
And since I could not wait until is a little night time snack to help stabilize my blood sugar and keep my belly happy!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cranberry Beans in my Burger

I purchased cranberry beans at the local farmer's market just based on their appearance; these pretty little gem like beans immediately caught my attention. Never having cooked with fresh shelling beans, I asked the farmer for some cooking tips. He told me to cook them just like regular dried beans, except they required no soaking. And so, I took my pretty beans home, along multiple bags of other locally grown produce, and decided to turn them into burgers to share at our Labor Day cook-out.

Cranberry Bean Veggie Burgers

For the Cranberry Beans3/4 lb. fresh cranberry bean pods
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups chicken broth or water
a few sprigs fresh herbs such as thyme or sage
For the Burgers1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
½ zucchini, finely chopped
2/3 cup old fashioned oats
½ cup cooked brown rice
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
2 Tbsp. flour
1 egg, beaten (add another Tbsp. chia seed to omit egg)
Salt and pepper for seasoning
about 2 Tbsp. oil for frying

Rosy pink hues speckled along the little pods

Little gems exposed in their pods

And now these fresh shelling beans, out of their pods, they are ready for cookin'
Heat oil over medium. Saute garlic for a few minutes and add beans; add broth and herbs. Simmer covered for about 45 minutes until tender, stirring every so often and adding small amounts of water as needed. You can do this a few days ahead of time.
Caramelize onions with oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, about 15 minutes. Place them in a food processor to finely chop them. Drain cooled cooked beans and puree until smooth. Pulse oatmeal in processor if desired and combine burger  ingredients in a large bowl. Season well with salt and pepper and mix well. This step can be made a day ahead.
Divide mixture into 8-10 patties, depending on how large you want them. Cook them for about 5 minutes on each side, in batches. Make sure they are nicely browned on one side before turning them. I like to use a non-stick skillet because you can get away with using less oil while still getting beautiful browning.
My vegetarian friends were quite happy at the cook out! and I have plenty left for this week's lunches!