Friday, January 30, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
Favorite Food Finds Friday is all about rushing today.
Your mother told you that breakfast was the most important meal of the day and you know she was right. But sometimes mornings can be so chaotic that you just don't have time to eat a balanced meal. That's where my favorite food find comes in...it's a grab and go breakfast that when paired with a yummy yogurt smoothie becomes a tasty quick breakfast.
Today's favorite food find is...
Kashi's Tasty Little Chewies (TLC) all natural chewy granola bars.
When our local Whole Foods opened last year, the week before the grand opening was a fundraiser tour week. Where for $5.00 you were given an inside peek at the new Whole Foods and the money raised would be donated to assorted local charities (isn't that a brilliant idea?). Each person who toured was given a cloth shopping bag filled with various samples and coupons. One of the samples in my bag was a Kashi TLC bar. Not being someone who can turn down a free food sample I tasted my Kashi Honey Almond Flax bar that very day.
Loved it. It was sweet and chewy (with 4 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein). The bars have become my breakfast in a rush go-to. The bars come in several varieties: Cherry Dark Chocolate, Honey Almond Flax (my favorite), Peanut Peanut Butter and Trail Mix. There are no partially hydrogenated oils and no high fructose corn syrup.
What's the perfect way to "wash" one of these babies down? A yogurt smoothie. Made quick and easy in my (favorite mini-appliance) The Magic Bullet, this smoothie and TLC bar breakfast is ready in 5 minutes. (Oh I've been known to eat this for lunch too).
Yummy Yogurt Smoothie
1 (6 ounce) container raspberry yogurt
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 ripe banana
1/4 cup skim milk
3 ice cubes
Combine all the ingredients in a blender (or Magic Bullet) and blend until smooth.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
One of my favorite things about delicious sticky buns has always been that they are difficult and time consuming to make. Yes, you read that right. I like that they are difficult. If there is one thing I don't need it is an easy way to make something as delicious as sticky buns. For all these years my laziness has kept me safe from the high calories and fat of this decadent treat...until now.It's Barefoot Blogger Thursday-that day when bloggers across the blogosphere prepare another delicious recipe created by the talented Ina Garten (aka: The Barefoot Contessa). Why don't you join in? (It's fun!) Thank you to Melissa of Made by Melissa for her selection of this week's recipe.
Here's the concept: Instead of the normal dough needed for sticky buns which needs to rise overnight, Ina very cleverly took frozen puff pastry and transformed it into a ready in 45 minutes "sticky-bun-like" treat. I made only one change to the recipe-I did not have raisins so I substituted dried cranberries. The cranberries were a tasty substitution and next time I would add some orange zest and make them cranberry-orange sticky buns.
Here's the result: While not as tender as traditional sticky buns the buns were however sweet and delicious. A word of caution-remove the buns from the pan while they are still warm! I let some of them cool in the pan while I was taking pictures and this is what happened:
While the warm ones came out quickly and the sugary, buttery topping came out wonderful the ones that I let cool in the pan were difficult to remove and the topping hardened. Eaten warm the buns are tender, but once cooled they have the texture of almost a cookie...delicious, but not really tender and cake-like. I loved the ease of this recipe and unfortunately I know I will be making them again.
The Barefoot Contessa's Easy Sticky Buns
From Back to Basics
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces
1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
for the filling:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 12 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of the mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture. Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with half of the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of the raisins. Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down.
Trim the ends of the roll about 1/2 inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.
Friday, January 16, 2009
I can't believe with sub zero wind chills around here I've decided to write about something frozen...but, it is Favorite Food Finds Friday and chilled to the bone or not what I found is something frozen.
My favorite food find this week is....
Dorot frozen herbs!
I was so excited when I found these in the supermarket. As I have mentioned in the past, I do not have much of a green thumb so the idea of a darling row of fresh herb pots on my window sill while in theory seems simple, is really out of the question. I know that the horticulturally blessed among you spent the better part of August and September processing your fresh herbs and freezing them in ice cube trays in your freezer and for that I am envious. And while I frequently buy fresh herbs during the summer at the local farm stands and in the winter at the local supermarket, sometimes a particular herb (usually cilantro) isn't always available. So for me the idea of having little mini trays of herbs at the ready is...well, nothing short of fantastic.
Dorot is an Israeli based company selling not only packaged herbs but chopped garlic and chopped ginger as well. I didn't see the ginger at the supermarket where I purchased the herbs (Stew Leonard's) but they are also available at Trader Joe's stores so next time I am there I will have to keep an eye out.
The small cubes are easy to use, just pop them out what you need then return the small trays to the freezer. In this bone chilling weather we're having I can think of nothing better to make than soup. The recipe I'm sharing with you is for my absolute favorite winter soup. The recipe is from the Southern Living Christmas Cookbook from 2001 and while it's not low cal or low fat there are some minor adjustments you can make to make it a bit more healthful: for starters you can try exchanging evaporated skim milk for the heavy cream and leaving out the cheese. I'll confess though, since it is my very favorite I usually just make the recipe full tilt. The recipe calls for garlic (3 cubes equals 3 cloves) and parsley to be stirred in at the end and the Dorot cubes work perfectly.
Steak and Two Potato Soup
from Christmas with Southern Living 2001
1 1/2 pounds lean boneless round steak, cut into 1" cubes
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I usually leave this out)
2 celery ribs, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups beef broth
2 cups water
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 3/4" cubes (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1 medium sized sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4" cubes (about 8 ounces)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper; brown beef in batches in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Remove beef from pan; set aside.
Add celery add onion to pan; saute 5 minutes. Add garlic; saute 30 seconds.
Return beef to pan; add broth and 1 3/4 cup water. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour.
Add Yukon Gold potato to pan; cook, covered, 10 minutes. Add sweet potato; cook 20 minutes or until beef and potatoes are tender.
Combine flour and remaining 1/4 cup of water, stirring until smooth. Gradually stir into meat mixture; cook, uncovered, 5 minutes. Stir in cream; cook 5 more minutes. Stir in cheese and, if desired, herbs; cook 1 minute or until cheese melts. Sprinkle each serving with freshly ground pepper just before serving.
Yield: 10 cups
Super tips: I find that it is really not necessary to cook the meat in the oil, just use a well seasoned pan, non-stick pan or cooking spray. For an even richer tasting soup I will often use beef broth in place of any of the water called for in the recipe. For best results have the cheese at room temperature it makes it much easier to melt in.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
For a few months now I have been a member of food blogging group known as the Barefoot Bloggers. The Barefoot Bloggers prepare two of Ina Garten’s (a.k.a. The Barefoot Contessa)recipes each month. And, well, I’m late. I am a week late to be exact. I suppose I could have just skipped this recipe, but quite honestly I was particularly drawn to the idea of banana pancakes and I was very curious to see how Ina’s addition of sour cream would affect the texture. So I didn’t just skip, I just came late to the party.
First a thank you to Karen of Something Sweet by Karen for selecting this recipe it was a really nice choice. It came as no surprise to me that Ina could improve upon something as tasty and simple as pancakes-her version did not disappoint
In this supermarket world of ready-to-eat pancakes and boxed complete mixes that you only need to add water to, it is so easy to get lazy and choose to not make homemade pancakes. But let’s get real- what could be easier than making pancakes? By adding a few extra steps to the simple “just add water” you can achieve “International House of Pancakes” breakfast greatness (or for the more refined among you “Elegant Bed and Breakfast” breakfast greatness). There honestly are no boxed mixes or microwavable pancakes that come out as tasty, light and fluffy as homemade pancakes and we’re only talking an extra maybe five minutes worth of effort.
I used low fat sour cream and skim milk and I still felt the texture was superb (I can only imagine how delicious full fat would be…but alas the resolution). The bananas almost melted right into the batter while cooking. For the butter, I decided to make a quick spiced walnut butter which gave a little bit of a crunch to contrast the velvety texture of these positively divine pancakes. Try, try, try if you can to use pure maple syrup, it truly makes a big difference.
Banana Sour Cream Pancakes by Ina Garten
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
2 extra-large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 ripe bananas, diced plus extra for serving
Pure maple syrup
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones mixing only until combined.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it bubbles. Ladle the pancake batter into the pan to make 3 or 4 pancakes. Distribute a rounded tablespoon of bananas on each pancake. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned. Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute until browned. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used. Serve with sliced bananas, butter and maple syrup.
Spiced Walnut Butter (my recipe)
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon finely chopped toasted walnuts
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
In a small bowl combine all the ingredients and stir until well combined.