Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mouth-Watering Mint Brownies

Well, I don't usually make things that are very decadent anymore, but as I love a good homemade peppermint patty, this recipe (from another Laura), intrigued me. At first I was going to make it just like the recipe, but when I saw that it only made a 9x9 pan and had 2 1/2 sticks of butter in it, well, let's just say I had to "healthy-ize" it! Here's my version, along with changes I will make the next time to make it even better.

1/4 c beet puree (just roast the beets and then puree in blender or magic bullet)
1/4 c spinach puree
1/2 c melted coconut oil (extra virgin, organic)
1/2 c organic semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c Sun Crystals (blend of stevia and evap cane sugar) (I will probably cut to 1/3 of a cup next time)
2 eggs
1/2 organic all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
real vanilla extract, about 1 tsp

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x9 glass baking pan. Melt coconut oil and chocolate in pan on stove over low heat or in microwave (do slowly so you don't burn the chocolate). Stir until smooth. Transfer to mixing bowl and add purees and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in vanilla, salt and flour. Pour into pan and bake about 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. The beets will give the brownies a wonderful red tint, but a delicious flavoe! It should look something like this:

 Let the brownies cool completely before moving on to the next step.

Mint Layer
1/2 c cocnut oil, melted
olive oil
2 cups organic powdered sugar (I will probably cut to 1 1/2 c next time)
1 T organic peppermint extract

Melt coconut oil and combine with sugar using a whisk. You may wish to sift the sugar first, although I didn't this time. Add peppermint extract and enough olive oil as needed to make it a thick paste to spread on brownies. Cool in refrigerator as you complete the next step.
 Chocolate Topping Layer
1 c organic semi-sweet chocolate chips (I will probably cut to 3/4 c next time)
1/2 c coconut oil (I will try to leave out all together next time)

Melt chips and oil together and pour on top of mint layer, cool in refrigerator about 30 minutes before eating. Enjoy, and beware, they are very decadent! I want to try doubling the brownie recipe and making them plain sometime. When cutting, my brownie layer kept separating from the other layers and the top layer melted in your hands (which is why I want to try to leave out the coco oil, or maybe let them harden up more next time!)

Pesto Pasta

When my wonderful sister was home a few weeks ago she made pesto for me. I had never really had it before but always wanted to try it because it can be used for so many things and is very healthy! And my friend Jess showed how it can easily be made ahead and saved.

In a blender, food processor, magic bullet, etc:)...

10-12 fresh basil leaves
2 Tbs of pine nuts
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs fresh lemon or lime juice
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt

Blend it all together until a green paste forms, mix with hot pasta, and another 2 Tbs of pine nuts, then serve. The fun thing with pesto is that you can totally mix it up to the way you like it. Go more or less on any of the above ingredients. The basic pesto is some form of leafy green blended with nuts and olive oil. If you don't have fresh basil leaves, you can also use spinach and add basil spice to get a similar flavor. Feel free to add a small chunk of Parmesan cheese to the mix... you can even serve this as an appetizer over some bread.

For ours, April used spinach instead of basil and lime. She also said that if you don't have pine nuts (organic ones are very expensive) walnuts are a good (but different) alternative. I think almonds would be good as well.

We tossed the pesto with some whole wheat organic Amish noodles that I get at Sensenig's or Perrydell Dairy. My apologies for the pictures, I forgot about taking them until it was almost gone! Here's 2 different pics, one w/out flash and one with...both of them do not show the depth of the green :)

Soft Pretzels

*Update* I made these into pretzel pockets using the empanada maker from Tupperware. I love this tool but it doesn't work well for soft pretzel dough. So I ended up making 2 with it and 2 without. I put ham/provolone in some and turkey/provolone in some. You can get Applegate Farms lunch meat/cheese slices at BJ's for a good price! They were not the prettiest, but yummy!

*Update* I made these pretzels wrapped around organic hotdogs, and, wow, they were delicious! I also used a mix of bread flour and all-purpose flour and I think that helped the dough to have a better flavor. I can't wait to make these again! This made 8 dogs and 7 pretzels but could have easily made a few more had a stretched the dough better :)

Update: Here is a pic of a better (prettier) batch of pretzels, some twisted for buns, some dogs and some plain pretzels. Still have yet to try cinnamon ones...Also another new pic at the bottom :)

So, I am always finding numerous blogs to read (as you can tell by my ever-growing list on the sidebar) and came across Sweets by Sarah when I was looking for an "Auntie Anne"-like soft pretzel recipe. We loved this recipe, although I do think it tastes different than the commercial ones, they are probably healthier and still good, just different. Here's my version of the recipe (only slight changes made). This made about 18 pretzels although we didn't make them huge (I easily ate 3 to go along with my soup for supper :)

1 1/2 c warm water
1 package yeast (I have started using one made for whole wheat flour from Hodgson's Mill and LOVE it!)
2 T sucanat (although I can't say I measured it exactly)

1-2 turns of my sea salt grinder

2 c King Arthur organic bread flour
2 c King Arthur organic all purpose flour

2 c warm water
2 T baking soda

melted butter (I used Earth Balance)
sea salt

Turn on oven to 200 degrees and then turn off once preheated. Dissolve yeast, salt and sucanat in warm water and let sit a few minutes.Add flour, stir until dough forms a ball and then knead about 5 minutes. Place dough in metal bowl coated with nonstick spray, cover with warm damp towel and place in oven about 30-40 minutes.

When done rising, flour or grease your hand and punch down the dough, turn onto floured surface and knead slightly to get out some of the bubbles. Mix warm water and baking soda and stir frequently during the next steps. Then cut off small pieces (I used my official Auntie Anne's plastic cutter), roll into a long, thin snake and twist into desired shape, dip in water/soda mixture and place on greased cookie sheet. When done shaping all of the dough, preheat oven to 450 degrees and let the dough rise for about 10 minutes before baking about 10 minutes. Melt butter and brush onto pretzels as soon as they come out of the oven and sprinkle with salt or cinnamon/sugar (I didn't think about the cinnamon until much later, bummer). Enjoy warm, or wait and eat cold (yes, I had a moment of weakness and ate my 4th pretzel after they were cold, and it was still wonderful, light, fluffy, delicious!).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Spaghetti Squash and a New Fruit

Spaghetti squash. Those two words evoked immediate disdain from me as a child. I don't remember exactly what it was, but I NEVER enjoyed eating it as a child, no matter how much I loved spaghetti! So, when my sister suggested it for a meal while home on a visit the other week, well, let's just say I was a little skeptical. Fortunately, it was AWESOME, delicious, filling, and guiltless, and went perfect with a side of garlic-cheddar biscuits! To make the squash, simply cut in 1/2, remove the seeds and boil in a covered pot of water until tender (this didn't take too long, maybe 10-15 minutes. Then simply scoop out the flesh with a fork and it will turn into short, noodle shaped pieces. After scooping out, we put back in the shells to serve, what a fun and cute way to save washing more dishes! My sis used a store bought sauce (Nature's Promise) but added garlic, onion, and I believe spinach.

We also had the opportunity to try a new-to-us fruit, a pomelo. We saw it at Sonnewald's and thought it looked fun to try. It is actually a Chinese grapefruit although it is a lot less bitter but not as sweet as an orange. It is very large (I forgot to take a picture of it before cutting, I'm guessing it was the size of a small soccer ball) but does have a thick rind and one gave the four of us one decent sized quarter. I think it would be delicious in a citrus fruit salad, and was somewhere around $1.85 if I remember right, so not too expensive either!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Baked Oatmeal

After finally finding an oatmeal that I like, I wanted to try a baked oatmeal. I saw that Christina's, a local bakery had some that looked really yummy and after trying it last Friday I can attest that it IS really yummy!), and then my friend Jess posted a recipe on her blog as well. So, it was time for me to try it myself. And of course I picked a night when I was making pasta salad, "mock"tarts, hard-boiled eggs, fixing a veggie tray and packing my lunches for the week :) So here is my version of Jess' recipe (I just realized that she added flax and wheat germ to hers as well, totally forgot to this time but will definitely do that the next time I make it!).

Baked Oatmeal

2 c rolled oats
1 c steel cut oats (or you can use another cup of rolled if you don't have steel cut)
1/4 c sucanat (or organic brown sugar or evap cane sugar, but please, no refined white sugar!)
1/4 c honey
cinnamon (LOTS! not sure, but probably at least a tablespoon)
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 c coconut milk (unflavored and unsweetened) (or your favorite milk)
2 eggs
1/2 c melted butter (I used Earth Balance) or 1/2 c coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 c slivered almonds or whole almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a pie pan with nonstick spray.  In a large bowl, mix together oats, sucanat, cinnamon (Did I mention LOTS??), baking powder, and salt. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. You may want to take a quick taste to see if it is sweet enough for you. That is how I knew I totally forgot to put it ANY sugar and then added the sucanat and honey for just enough sweetness! Pour into pie pan and bake about 35 minutes. Enjoy warm, I liked mine with a little milk. I can't wait to heat this up for breakfast tomorrow!

Shrimp Fest

One of my most favorite foods to make and eat is shrimp! Of course, after changing to a whole, sustainable diet I had to change my shrimp. Most shrimp in your grocery store comes from other countries and is farmed. The shrimp is pumped with antibiotics and fed chicken parts and often chicken feces. Farms have even been known to have chickens in wire cages right above the water so their feces go right in the water (yuck!). You can find out more here. This site also has a plethora of information on seafood and which ones to avoid and which ones are viable options to eat. Thankfully I have been able to go to Route 30 Seafood and purchase wild caught gulf shrimp.
Here's a picture of me working on the shrimp taken by my sis, April:
Here's the shrimp scampi in the back (the rest of the pictures taken by my daughter, Leah):
Here's the fried shrimp:

And more:
Ok, so now that you are thoroughly hungry, here's the recipes!

Steamed Shrimp (not pictured)
This recipe is good for up to 1 pound of shrimp, if more than that double the recipe.
1/3 c vinegar
2/3 c water
Old Bay seasoning (to taste- the more you add, the spicier it is!)
shrimp (with shells on)

Boil the liquids and seasoning in a medium to large pot. Add shrimp and more seasoning if you like, stir, cover and turn down heat. Let the shrimp steam for about 5 minutes. I usually stir and then cover with the heat off for a few more minutes. Serve hot or chill and serve cold later! We usually have extra Old Bay for those who like it really hot! I have seen others dip them in cocktail sauce, although I am not a fan, and if you do beware of HFCS!

Shrimp Scampi

olive oil
minced garlic (about 2 T)
Old Bay seasoning
shrimp (peeled, with or without the tail)

Pour enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. On medium heat saute the garlic, then add a small amount (maybe 1 tsp) of Old Bay to the oil, stir and add shrimp. Saute for about 5 minutes and then turn until pink. Add a pinch of parsley. You can use the same recipe with the shrimp on skewers and let it marinade in an olive oil/Old Bay/garlic/parsley mix for 10-30 minutes before grilling. I prefer grilled, but when it is cold outside sauteed is just fine!

Fried Shrimp (My favorite! No, seriously, I could have eaten all of them myself! You think I'm kidding, but I am NOT!)
shrimp (peeled, tails on)
panko (japanese bread crumbs, whole wheat and/or organic if possible) about 1 cereal bowl full (you can use whole wheat organic bread crumbs although I recommend panko for shrimp)
1/2 T each parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, Old Bay
2 tsp paprika
2 eggs
organic all-purpose flour
olive oil (I really wanted to try this with coconut oil this time but forgot until my oil was already heated.

Pour enough olive oil in a pan to go about 1/2 way up the shrimp. (I was excited to use my new Green Pan for the first time!)Turn on medium heat. You know the oil is hot enough if you drop in a piece of panko Mix panko and spices together (I usually use a cereal bowl). Beat 2 eggs in a separate cereal bowl. Fill a third bowl about 1/3 of the way with flour. This next step works best if you have one hand be the "dry" hand and one be the "wet" hand. With your "wet" hand (for me it is usually my right) hold the shrimp by the tail and dip lightly into the flour and then into the egg. While still holding onto the tail set in the bowl of panko and then use your "dry" hand (usually my left) to cover the shrimp and press down to seal it. Set in the pan of oil. Usually by the time I get 1/2 of the pan full it is time to start turning the shrimp and then usually once the pan is full the first few are ready to come out. I have found that the shrimp in the middle get done much faster. I set them on a cooling rack so the excess oil can drip off. If you are not serving them right away you can put the cooling rack on a cookie sheet in the oven at a low heat to keep them warm and crunchy. I don't know how well they are heated up for leftovers, because there are never any left! 

Onion Rings- To make delicious onion rings follow the same recipe except use bread crumbs, and well, onion rings of course instead of shrimp! Wonderful! I prefer to use a purple onion the most!

Update- If you want to make coconut shrimp, simply use coconut oil to fry, first dredge shrimp in flour, egg, and then organic unsweetened coconut. Easy and delish! For more of a crunch, mix panko and coconut together for coating. Sorry only a picture of one lonely shrimp, they were eaten pretty quickly!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Garlic Biscuits x2- Finally!

It's the recipe you have all been waiting for! And I have 2 delicious ones to share! The first is technically closer to those lovely cheddar biscuits from a famous seafood restaurant (but not as healthy), but the second got better reviews from the family (although I didn't add cheddar this time, but will try it that way the next time!).

Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

To make this I found a knock-off recipe but then needed to modify and make my own Bisquick (you didn't REALLY think I would use it, did you?). Apparently you can make up a large batch and store in the fridge but it really is not that hard to make up. Here's my modified concoction:

2 1/2 cups flour (I used organic whole wheat all-purpose flour)
1/8 cup baking powder
2 Tbsp. sugar (organic pure cane sugar)
1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 cup organic unsalted butter
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
 ¾ cup cold skim milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and garlic powder. Cut butter into small pieces and work into the dry ingredients with fingertips until crumbly (there will still be pieces of butter- that's OK). Add in milk and cheese and mix by hand. Shape into balls (whatever size you want- use an ice cream scoop if you want more uniform sizes) and place on greased cookie sheet. Mine made 11, but next time I'll try to make 12 so it is more even for each person :) While they are baking prepare this to brush on top:

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
1Tbsp garlic powder
pinch salt

When the biscuits are starting to brown (after about 15 minutes) remove from oven and brush butter mixture on top. They will taste even more like the restaurant version if you sprinkle a little extra sea salt on top, which I don't mind doing as much when I am making things from scratch. Put back in the oven for about 5 minutes to allow the butter to soak in and brown the biscuits a little. These are phenomenal!

Are you finally ready for the next version, which, happily is more my own creation? And SO easy! I could eat them every night, and we did tonight so I have pics (taken by my daughter, Leah)! (I forgot to take pics the first time...well, actually they got eaten so fast I didn't have a chance!)

Laura's Low-Guilt Cheddar n Garlic Biscuits

2 c flour (I used 1 c whole wheat organic all purpose and 1 c whole wheat organic bread flour)
11/4 c buttermilk (may need more or less depending on your consistency, start w/ 1 c and add as necessary)
1 tsp baking soda (this is approximate- I don't measure!)
salt (I used about one turn of my sea salt grinder)
garlic (as much as you want to taste, I probably put in at least 1/2 T)
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese

Butter Topping (make when the biscuits are baking)
2 T butter (I use Earth Balance. I would like to try with olive oil but have not yet)
garlic, salt, parsley To your taste, I really cannot say how much I used, perhaps 1/2 T garlic, 1 turn of salt and 1/2 T parsley (at least!)

Melt butter and add garlic, salt and parsley and stir to combine.

Combine dry ingredients and cheese. Add buttermilk and stir until mixture rolls into a ball. Knead slightly. (I just kept it in the bowl- since this is a soda bread and not a yeast bread you don't want to knead too much!) Then separate and form into desired shape. I started out wanting to make breadsticks but the dough was too sticky which is why I went with the drop biscuit shape, which worked great! This time it made 6, the first time 4 but they were bigger. Place onto greased cookie sheet in 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Once the tops start to brown ever so slightly, brush butter mixture on top and return to oven for 5-10 minutes or until lightly browned. These are very moist so if you need them to stay in the oven longer at a lower temperature they should be fine. I don't know how well they do if you save some and heat up the next day, as so far none have been left! Enjoy!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...