Friday, February 6, 2009

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Whole Wheat- Healthy Banana Bread

Dried figs, dates, prunes... they all pretty much gross me out. You wouldn't catch me snacking on them, and I've rarely used them in recipes. In my quest to cook more healthfully and revise recipes to fit into my new lifestyle, I've reluctantly begun to let these ugly little dried fruits make their debut as a sweetener in some of my baking experiments. My first successful attempt: Whole Wheat- Healthy Banana Bread.

Don't let the 'healthy' reference in the title scare you. It didn't taste like the dry and flavorless bread that you might imagine a healthier banana bread to be. This one is made with whole wheat pastry flour and only 3 Tablespoons of brown sugar. Besides this small amount of sugar, additional sweetness comes from dried dates, dried apricots and bananas. It's important to buy the right apricots... the Turkish sort don't have as much flavor as the California apricots. I always buy the CA kind. And I was happy to find that you don't really taste the dates- they're chopped up and added in for sweetness.

If you cut the loaf into 12 slices, you can package them in zips individually and throw them in the freezer. Each slice is 120 calories (or 3 Weight Watcher's points).

This turned out to be a great, healthy version of banana bread. No white flour, very little sugar, and ZERO added fat made it pretty much guilt-free. Amazingly enough, it was moist. I'm very careful about not overbaking breads because there is nothing worse than dry banana bread. The family gave this one the 'make it again Mom' label, and I will be happy to do so!

This recipe can be found HERE.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Ultimate Super Bowl Recipe Smackdown- The Recipe Round-Up

Wow, what a roundup of great recipes for Super Bowl parties! Thanks to all who participated in this contest to win a $250 Sam's Club card. Here are the Super Bowl recipe entries... recipe titles are linked to the blog on which they originated. Have fun exploring!

From the Blog- Baking Like Betty
Homemade Root Beer
, Lil Piggies in a Blanket, and BBQ Pulled Pork (Crockpot)

From the Blog- Barbara Bakes: Caramel Corn

From the Blog- BigSisLilSis: Lil Sis's Chili Con Carne

From the Blog- Sweet Basil
Ranch Sausage Stars & Artichoke Dip

From the Blog- Tiny Biscuits
Jambalaya- Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers

From the Blog- Two Peas and Their Pod
Cilantro- Lime Hummus

From the Blog- Big Red Kitchen: Stromboli

From the Blog- Real Mom Kitchen
Special K Treats
Slow Cooker Fajitas
Crockpot Southwestern Chicken Nachos

From the Blog- Gourmet Mom on the Go- 4 recipes but only 3 entries allowed :)
Time Out Taffy & Touchdown Taco Pockets
False Start Fun Fondue
& Finger Lickin' Fruit Dip

From the Blog- One Ordinary Day: Salted Fudge Brownies

From the Blog- Megan's Cookin: BBQ Chili

From the Blog- Cinnamon, Spice & Everything Nice: Fruit Pizza

From the Blog- The Mickles
MeMe's Cookies, Hot Wings, & Artichoke- Spinach Dip

From the Blog-
Jersey Girl Cooks: Crockpot Chicken Tacos

From the Blog- Panini Happy
Grilled Navajo Tacos & Pittsburgh- Style Cheesesteak Panini

From the Blog- We Eat: What Else Is There?
Southwestern Eggrolls, Coconut Chicken Bites and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

From the Blog-
Peanut Butter Boy
Super Peanut Butter Chili Bowl
, Indonesian Meatballs w/ Peanut Sauce & Butternut Squash Fries

From the Blog- Karen Cooks: Armadillo Eggs

I did this the old-fashioned way since my 7 year old was excited to be a part of the contest. I had slips of paper with blog names written on them (up to 3 per blog, depending on how many recipes were submitted). We drew a name last night....

AND THE WINNER IS...Congratulations Barbara!
I know you'll have fun spending those Sam's Club dollars. Please contact me to claim your prize!

Thanks so much to all who participated in the contest. We sure got a great collection of recipes out of it all. Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Honey- Glazed Chicken Wings

A Super Bowl Party isn't a SuperBowl party without some sort of chicken wings, right? My absolute favorite are the deep fried type buffalo wings dipped in gobs of blue cheese. Can't even think about those this year though. In fact, I might as well just forget those even exist since I intend to avoid evil, deep-fried foods for a good, long while!

Here's an easy crockpot-style recipe that we enjoyed during the playoffs this year: Honey- Glazed Chicken Wings (not health food by any means, but certainly not fried either!)

The How To:

Costco and Sam's Club both sell big packages of chicken wings for a good price. First off... how to trim the chicken wings.

Cut off the tips of the wings. You can do this with a sharp knife (or kitchen shears). Toss the tips or save them to make chicken stock. Store them in the freezer if you don't feel like making chicken stock right now.

You'll probably need kitchen shears to snip the other part- this will give you a little leg and a little wing (the two parts you'll use in your recipe).

This is what you'll be needing for the recipe. Nothing exotic.

After the wings are trimmed, the recipe couldn't be simpler. Chicken is placed into the crockpot and salt & peppered well.

The marinade ingredients are whisked together and poured on top of the chicken. It simmers all day in the crockpot. I was afraid that simmering them too long would make the chicken fall apart, so I let them simmer for 4 hours, and then I took them out, drained them a bit and finished them in the oven. The oven also dried them out a bit too so they weren't so wet for picking up and eating. You can also choose to do the whole thing in the oven in lieu of the crockpot.

The result was delicious, sweet-flavored wings. If you want them spicy, add additional cayenne pepper. Perfect for Super Bowl. Hate football? Have a party anyway. It's a good excuse to have friends over.

This recipe can be found HERE.
More Super Bowl recipes can be found HERE.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

It seems so wrong to be posting about brownies when I'm in the middle of my healthy eating venture. But these were offered at a little party we attended for the last Charger's playoff game (and that happened to be one day prior to the start of my venture). They didn't serve as good luck by any means as we sadly lost the game to the Steelers, but they were held in high praise by a whole bunch of hungry football fans. If you're a lover of all things chocolate + pb, then this one is for you: Peanut Butter Cup Brownies.

Yes, those yummy little Peanut Butter Cups that we all love to devour get the starring role in this brownie.

Here's the How-To:

Here are the goods... you'll need some sort of unsweetened chocolate. I used Scharffen Berger since I had some leftover from Christmas. There's also a specialty ingredient: Chocolate Extract. You can find it at Whole Foods or online, but if you'd rather not use it then just sub vanilla. And then for the peanut butter lovers in the house, not only are there Peanut Butter Cups in these brownies but added peanut butter and peanut butter chips too.

Sugar, butter, peanut butter, eggs and extract are mixed together.

Melted chocolate is blended in.

The flour is mixed in next.

And the peanut butter chips are stirred in last.

The batter is spread into a foiled and greased pan. I used a quarter-sheet pan (about 13x9) as I find that that's the easiest for getting brownies out of the pan safely. You can also use any other 13x9 inch pan.

If you chill the brownies well, you can easily get the brownies out of the pan without breaking them apart. Place a cutting board upside down on top of the pan and gently flip it over. Peel the foil off. Your brownies will now be upside down, so place another cutting board on the bottom of the brownies and then flip them back over. They'll be nice and firm and easy to cut clean squares.

I like to cut the edges off of the brownies and make nicely cut squares. We save the edges for sampling :)

These were everything a brownie should be... chocolatey, fudgy and moist. And all of that added peanut butter stuff happened to be quite a good idea. Kids and adults alike really loved these, and they'll go into that 'definitely make these again' pile.

This recipe can be found HERE.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Brown Butter Cornbread with Farmer Cheese and Thyme

The weather has been weird this year. It's far below freezing in places that don't really know that kind of cold. And it's 'flip flops' weather out here in Southern California during a time when we're supposed to be donning our 'winter' sweaters and little-used jackets. So as soon as the clouds come out, I'm excited for our 'soup and chili weather' and start scouring the cookbooks for something to try. Unfortunately, the chili I tried recently wasn't anything worth talking about, but the cornbread recipe that I made to go with it was: Brown Butter Cornbread with Farmer Cheese & Thyme.

The butter is browned in a cast-iron skillet, and the other ingredients are mixed together and poured on top of the browned butter.

I didn't have the right size cast-iron pan, so I browned the butter in a saucepan and then poured it into a 9-inch square pan and continued the recipe from there. The batter contains whole grain cornmeal, which I love. It gives the bread a slight crunch. If you don't like that of course you can use regular ground cornmeal.

Sour cream, Farmer's Cheese, and the nutty-flavored browned butter help to make this cornbread a moist creation. No dry cornbread here. Chunks of corn and freshly chopped thyme are mixed in there too. There are three Tablespoons of sugar in this one, so it's not terribly sweet- the savory flavors take over in a good way.

Farmer's Cheese is a softer specialty cheese that you'll find in the area of your supermarket where you might see things like Gouda cheese. You can always try to sub another type of cheese but the Farmer's Cheese works very well with the fresh thyme so you might wish to give it a try.
The Barefoot Contessa's cornbread used to be my all time favorite, but this cornbread was unique and tender, and it has since moved to the top of my list. It definitely enhanced the average chili that we had!

This recipe can be found HERE.