Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

I found this recipe on Pinterest, which originally came from Taste of Home.  It combines some of my favorite fall flavors with chocolate, so what is not to love?!


Recipe Notes
Be sure to watch your oven - the recipe calls for 60-70 minutes of baking time, but my convection oven was done in 50 minutes.

  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 c. canned Pumpkin (approx. one can)
  • 1-1/2 c. canola oil
  • 1-1/2 c. chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
1.  Beat the eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and oil until well-combined.  I recommend using a stand-up mixer, because the oil can be difficult to incorporate.
2.  Add flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.
3.  Fold in chocolate chips with a spatula until fully incorporated.
4.  Pour into two greased loaf pans.  
5.  Bake at 350 degrees until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and loaves are cooked through.  The recipe suggests 60-70 minutes, but mine were done in 50.

Fall Vegetable Hash

I lightened up this Southern Living recipe a bit.  It's a nice alternative for a starchy vegetable when you are trying to cook healthy and don't want all of the extra carbs from mashed potatoes or pasta.


Recipe Notes
The original recipe calls for "thick bacon slices".  I used center cut bacon and it worked great while trimming fat and calories.  The original recipe also called for 2 tbsp. of olive oil.  I eliminated the olive oil and just used the limited bacon drippings in the pan for sauteing the vegetables, which further eliminated fat and calories from the original recipe.

  • 4 slices of bacon (I used center-cut), chopped
  • 1 medium-sized sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 medium-sized sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium turnip, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 lb. small fresh Brussels sprouts, halved with bottoms cut off
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
1.  Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until cooked through but not crisp.  Remove bacon to paper towels and pat dry.
2.  Add onion and sweet potato to hot skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 5 minutes.  Add turnip and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes.
3.  Add bacon back to skillet.
4.  Add Brussels sprouts and garlic to skillet.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until Brussels sprouts are softened (5-10 minutes).
5.  Mix vinegar with 2 tbsp. water.  Add vinegar mixture to skillet.
6.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until all vegetables are tender.
7.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gingerbread Souffle

Southern Living at its creative finest!  My husband (who generally says he "hates dessert") loved this recipe and had seconds.  Just beware of the baking time if you are trying to coordinate your dinner courses.  If you make this dessert in ramekins, the cooking time is about 25 minutes.  If you make this dessert in a souffle dish (as I did above), baking time is more like 50 minutes.


Recipe Notes
Southern Living recommended serving this dessert with whipped cream and crushed gingersnaps.  I bought the gingersnaps but had no time to crush them, and I served mine with Blue Bell homemade vanilla ice cream instead of whipped cream.  I think that Blue Bell is a great accompaniment to this dessert.

The recipe notes that you can make this dessert in individual ramekins (which requires 10 and I only have 4).  Alternatively, you can use a 2-1/2 qt. souffle dish, which is what I used.  As noted above, the cooking time doubles if you use a souffle dish over individual ramekins.

  • 1 c. milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. molasses
  • 2 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Prepare either 10 individual ramekins or one large souffle dish: butter dish(es) and sprinkle with sugar to coat.  Shake out excess sugar.
3.  Combine first four ingredients (milk, sugar, flour, and salt) in a medium saucepan with a whisk until smooth.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.
4.  Whisk in molasses, butter, pumpkin pie spice, ginger, and vanilla.  
5.  Allow pan to cool slightly (10-15 minutes).  Whisk in egg yolks.  (Note: the recipe calls for a cooled mixture so that the egg yolks won't curdle/scramble from the heat when added.)
6.  Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed until stiff peaks form.  I used a hand mixer but you can also use a stand mixer.
7.  Whisk 1/3 of egg white mixture into milk mixture until well-blended.  Fold in remaining egg whites using a spatula until fully-incorporated.
8.  Spoon batter into prepared dish(es), leaving approx. 1/2-1 inch of space at the top.
9.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (if individual ramekins) or until puffy and set.  For the souffle dish, bake for 50-55 minutes until same result is achieved.
10.  Serve immediately with whipped cream or ice cream and crushed gingersnaps.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Asparagus with Lemon & Pecorino

This is a great, simple Cooking Light side dish.


Recipe Notes
I used shaved Parmesan because I couldn't find pecorino Romano that day.  I recommend a Microplane grater for your lemon rind.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
53 calories - 3.1 g. fat

  • 1 lb. thin asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon rind
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 oz. shaved pecorino Romano cheese
1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add asparagus and cook for 2-3 minutes or until crisp/tender.
2.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add oil to the pan and swirl to coat.  
3.  Add asparagus and cook 1-2 minutes.
4.  Sprinkle asparagus evenly with lemon rind, salt, and pepper.  Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Sadie's Corner: Rosemary Chicken and Corn Quinoa

This Southern Living meal (recipe here) looked really great.  It has a great flavor combination (corn and kale) and good, complimentary herbs (rosemary) for the chicken breast.  However, there are two lessons here that I considered before I tried the recipe, and I wish that I'd listened more closely:

1.  This recipe needs a sauce.  When I was reading the ingredient list, it was clear that there was no sauce component to the dish, just a small amount of lemon juice squeezed over it at the end to boost flavor.  My fears were confirmed when we tried the dish: it really needed a sauce.
2.  Never, ever believe the recipe for the amount of time it will take to cook chicken in a pan.  This particular recipe suggested 6 minutes per side.  I left the chicken in the pan for a total of 18+ minutes and Corey's (which was a thicker chicken breast than mine) was unsafely pink when he cut into it.  There is a very fine line between cooking chicken in a pan thoroughly and either burning it or drying it out.  My advice?  Bake chicken (or pan sear it and then finish it in the oven) when possible.  It will maintain more moisture and stand a better chance of cooking through.

Sadie was very excited that she got to try my chicken.  Doesn't she look deserving of some leftovers?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Roasted Shrimp & Broccoli

I found this recipe on Pinterest and I have adapted it from an original recipe found on Amateur Gourmet's blog.  While this is not the best shrimp recipe I've ever had, it was generally "one pot" and very easy, so I would recommend it and plan to make it again.
Recipe Notes
Adapted from The Amateur Gourmet.  Original recipe calls for tail-on shrimp.  I like peeled and deveined shrimp with the tails already removed.  I also used considerably less olive oil in this version than the original recipe specifies.
  • 2 lbs. broccoli florets
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp
  • Lemon zest from one lemon
1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
2.  Combine broccoli florets, 1 tbsp. olive oil, coriander, cumin, salt, pepper, and chili powder in a large bowl.
3.  Spread over a greased cookie sheet or jelly roll pan covered in aluminum foil.
4.  Roast for 10 minutes.
5.  While broccoli is cooking, combine shrimp, lemon zest, 1 tbsp. olive oil, and additional salt and pepper in the bowl just used for broccoli.
6.  When the broccoli has been in the oven for 10 minutes, remove the jelly roll pan from the oven and carefully mix in shrimp.
7.  Return to the oven for 10 more minutes.  Toss shrimp and broccoli once after 5 minutes of cooking.  Shrimp should be cooked through and broccoli should be tender and golden when the dish is ready.
8.  Serve over rice with a squeeze of lemon juice and perhaps a small amount of soy sauce.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Orange and Mixed Green Salad with Chicken

This recipe is a great use for leftover grilled chicken.  Slice it thin along the grain.  Very light, very healthy weeknight meal that takes very little time.  Weight Watchers Points Plus on this meal is 6 PP+.
Recipe Notes
The original recipe called for watercress, but I like an herb mix salad blend with a little arugula for this meal.
Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
214 calories - 9 g. fat - 13 g. carbs - 2 g. fiber - 21 g. protein
  • 2 grilled skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • Dash of salt
  • 4 c. torn mixed lettuces or watercress (I prefer herb mix salad blend)
  • 2 medium navel oranges, peeled, seeded, and sliced crosswise
  • 1 tbsp. toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 c. crumbled feta cheese
1.  Toast hazelnuts in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until lightly toasted.  Place hazelnuts in a kitchen towel or paper towel and rub until brown paper skins come off.
2.  Whisk together chives, olive oil, honey, lemon juice, water, and salt.
3.  Add dressing to salad greens and toss to coat.
4.  Divide salad among four plates. 
5.  Arrange chicken and oranges on plate. 
6.  Sprinkle with feta cheese and hazelnuts.  Sprinkle with ground black pepper, if desired.  Serve and enjoy!


Coconut Shrimp with Mango Rice Pilaf

I found this recipe in a "Fast and Healthy" cookbook I picked up in the airport.  This is a quick and truly healthy version of coconut shrimp (which is more typically fried).  The nutritional information included here is for both the serving of shrimp and also the mango rice pilaf.
Recipe Notes
For those following Weight Watchers, I ran the Points Plus and this recipe is 8 points plus per serving.
Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
303 calories - 7 g. fat - 36 g. carbohydrates - 3 g. fiber - 23 g. protein
  • 1 lb. peeled and deveined medium shrimp
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 c. finely-crushed low-fat shredded wheat crackers (I used Triscuits)
  • 1/3 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. white/basmati rice cooked according to package directions
  • 1/2 c. chopped fresh mango
  • 1/3 c. sliced green onions
  • 1/3 c. chopped cilantro
1.  Rinse shrimp in cold water, pat dry with paper towels.  Set shrimp aside.
2.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
3.  Lightly coat a large baking sheet or jelly roll pan with cooking spray and set aside.
4.  Place egg whites in a shallow dish.
5.  In a separate shallow dish, mix Triscuits, coconut, ginger, and pepper.
6.  Dip each shrimp first in egg whites, then in cracker mixture.  Arrange shrimp in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
7.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until shrimp are opaque and cooked through.  Coating should be lightly browned.
8.  Combine rice, mango, green onions, and cilantro.  Serve shrimp (approx. 8-10, depending on size) over rice pilaf.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fall Snack Mix

I made this for a playdate and I thought it was a great combination of sweet, salty, and crunchy.  My kids basically enjoyed picking the marshmallows and M&M's out of it!


Recipe Notes
The original recipe doesn't specify which type of Chex cereal.  I used corn Chex here and it worked out well.

  • 6 c. Chex cereal
  • 1 c. pretzel rods
  • 6 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. marshmallows
  • 1 c. M&M's
  • 1 c. candy corn
1.  Stir butter and brown sugar until well-combined.
2.  Place Chex cereal and pretzels in a large bowl.  Pour butter and brown sugar mixture over cereal and pretzels.  Toss gently until cereal and pretzels are coated.
3.  Bake on a foil-lined jelly roll pan for 20 minutes at 275 degrees.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
4.  Combine cereal, pretzels, marshmallows, M&M's, and candy corn in a large bowl.  Serve and enjoy!  Stores well in a glass jar with a tight seal.

Neiman-Marcus Bars (aka Texas Gold Bars)

Who can argue with five ingredients?  These have had many names over the years....Neiman-Marcus bars, Texas gold bars, chess squares, gooey butter cake.  This list goes on and on.  This is a classic recipe that is great for bake sales, teacher appreciation luncheons, or party buffets.


Recipe Notes
I often try to go lower fat in my recipes, but baking is one place that I typically do not skimp because it ruins the consistency and/or the taste of the goodies.  This is another case where I would say use full fat everything and just enjoy the ride.

  • 1 box yellow cake mix (I used Pillsbury Butter Yellow)
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 lb. box of powdered sugar
1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2.  Spray a 9x13 inch glass dish with cooking spray.
3.  Mix cake mix, melted butter, and one egg until if forms a soft dough.
4.  Press dough into the bottom of greased dish.  
5.  Mix powdered sugar, cream cheese, and two eggs until smooth.  Pour on top of cake mix layer.
6.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until top is golden brown.  Allow pan to cool completely, slice, and enjoy!