Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Breakfast Bars

My breakfasts have gotten boring lately, so I'm trying out different things to spice them up.  This was one of my new recipes.  As a 'bar', I've got to say, it's a flop.  It doesn't stick together enough to form a bar!  But as a granola, sprinkled over yogurt, it's enjoyable, so I can't write it off.  It's quick and easy, so it can be done up on a weekend and enjoyed all week.  It can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks, or frozen for up to two months.

Breakfast Bars
Makes: 24 servings

olive oil cooking spray
1 cup unsalted pecans, chopped
1 cup unsalted roasted almonds, chopped
1/2 cup dried unsweetened apricots
1 cup dried unsweetened figs
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cup unsweetened brown rice cereal
1/2 cup  unsweetened raisins
3 egg whites
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Lightly mist a 13x9-inch baking dish with the cooking spray.

Combine the pecans, almonds, apricots, and figs in a food processor.  Lightly pulse until chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and add oats, raisins and cereal.

In a separate bowl combine egg whites, syrup, cinnamon, sea salt, and vanilla, stirring well.  Add to pecan mixture, mixing well.

Spread mixture into prepared pan, pressing down gently.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let sit 15 to 30 minutes to cool before slicing into 3-inch bars.


Source:  Best of Clean Eating Magazine, page 156.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Coconut Balls

Winter has officially returned.  It's brought the cold and snow back with it.  No more cheating with my summer shoes in February for this girl.  It's probably a good thing, too.  This out-of-season weather was throwing off my routine.  Everyone has, it seems.  My walks have been canceled, or postponed.  My workouts have been pushed in place of other things (like a skate on the canal, or walking my first 1/2 marathon distance of 2012!!, or smaller workouts at home.) But now, it's time to get back to business.  And that means workouts & workout snacks!

Coconut Balls
Makes: 10 - 12 balls, about 1-inch in size

1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup dried pitted dates
1/2 cup dried apricots
2 Tbsp orange juice (could get away with less, for firmer balls)
1 tsp orange zest
small amount of unsweetened, shredded coconut

In a food processor, pulverize raisins, walnuts, dates, and apricots for one to two minutes, or until finely chopped. 

Add juice and zest.  Blend for one to two minutes until mixture clumps together.

Place about 1/2 cup coconut on a plate.  Dampen hands with water, then form mixture into 1-inch balls and roll them in coconut.

 Store balls in refrigerator.

Source: Best of Clean Eating Magazine, page 152.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Salmon Oat Cakes

This week was a stressful, but productive work week.  Outside of work, it was a great week as well.  I got to see lots of the people who make me happy, and that, in my mind is a good week!

This supper is one that almost wasn't.  I have a recipe for salmon patties, that so far, I have no issues with.  This one tempted me because I wanted a little variety.  But then it almost flopped on me!  The salmon cakes wouldn't stick together, so they fell apart after I flipped them.  The collard greens wanted to burn on me, and the potatoes wouldn't cook!  ... maybe it was just a bad kitchen day?  But then, somehow at the last minute it all came together and the end result is below, for me to share with you.

Salmon Oat Cakes with rosemary potatoes & greens
Makes: 4 servings

3/4 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
15 oz wild salmon (canned or pouches)
1 bunch green onions (or 1 shallot), minced
1 tsp mustard powder
2 tsp olive oil, divided
1 pound thin-skinned potatoes, scrubbed well and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick slices
2 tsp dried rosemary, divided
1 pound collard greens, ribs removed and leaves roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped

In a food processor, grind oats into a fine powder.  Transfer to a small bowl and combine with 3 Tbsp water.  In a large bowl, combine the salmon, onion, and mustard powder.  Add in the oat mixture and stir well.  Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pressing down with your fingers, to form 8 salmon patties and set aside.

Drizzle potato slices in 1 tsp olive oil, and sprinkle with rosemary.  Toss to distribute.  Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and distribute potatoes to lie in a single layer.  Cook for 15 minutes until bottoms are golden.  Carefully turn each potato slice with tongs, and cook for another 10 minutes, until golden.

At the same time,  heat a separate non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Working in batches, add remaining 1 tsp olive oil and cook patties five minutes per side, until golden brown.  Transfer to a large plate, and cover to keep warm.

In the same skillet as the patties, reduce heat to medium-low.  Add rinsed, chopped collard greens and sprinkle garlic on top.  Add 2 Tbsp water, cover, and cook undisturbed for 3 minutes.  Stir and cook an additional 2 minutes, until greens are wilted.  Divide greens, patties, and potatoes between 4 plates and serve warm.

Source: Clean Eating Magazine, March 2012, page 78.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Nanaimo Bars

The good thing about ice cream, is that it can be made in advance, and pulled out the day it's needed.  So that part of my sis' birthday gift was done, and safely tucked into my freezer to wait for its debut.  But the second part, the Nanaimo bars, was kind of risky.  It's a recipe I'd never made before, it was due for a birthday (I hate to disappoint!), and based only on the commercial ones I've had -- I don't like the recipe I'd been asked to make.  That, in my mind, makes it risky.

As damage-control, I decided to go to the source: the City of Nanaimo, British Columbia.  From the website, I got the official Nanaimo bar recipe.  It was a prize-winning recipe, so it's got to be good, right?  For a little more assurance, I gave the recipe a test run, the weekend ahead of time, so that if it was a total bust, I'd have time to find another treat for my sister. 

What do you know?  The homemade, non-commercial version of Nanaimo bars is good.  Who knew?  I might even make these, just to be doubly-sure.  I even got a trip to the new giant Ikea in search of a 'real' double-boiler, instead of the bowl-in-a-bowl trick I normally use.  I found an $8 double-boiler insert to simplify my life, and a new yummy recipe to add to my repertoire.  Hmm... whose birthday was this again?!

Nanaimo Bars
Makes: approximately 16 squares

Bottom Layer:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups graham wafer crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped (or ground) almonds
1 cup unsweetened coconut

Middle Layer:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp and 2 tsp cream
2 Tbsp vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Top Layer:
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.
 Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.
 Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.
 How yummy does that look?!

Source: City of Nanaimo, British Columbia website.

Chocolate Ice Cream

For my middle-sister's birthday, I was commissioned to make two things: chocolate ice cream, and Nanaimo bars.  Both of which I did make, on time.  And then never posted, oops!  I could make excuses about being busy, but that gets old fast, right? So, instead, I bring you: chocolate ice cream!  Whoo hoo!

This one was fairly easy, but took longer and had a few more steps than the other ice creams I've made.  But based on how quickly the container was returned, it's one of the most popular.  The only problem I had with it, (I shamefully confess) is I mixed up the amount of unsweetened chocolate I added in.  The recipe calls for 6 ounces, and I only put three!  I switched to a new brand of chocolate, and I assumed it was like my standard one -- one square is one ounce.  But nope, this new brand is only a half-ounce per square, and I guess I was just too focused on getting everything ready to really notice that it looked like an off amount of chocolate.  The recipe turned out quite sweet because of this, but it's still good.  I may even have to make it again, just to be sure!  ... maybe with mint extract, instead of vanilla?

Chocolate Ice Cream
Makes: about 1 quart

2 1/4 cups heavy cream
6 Tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 cup sugar (I subbed with Sucanat)
pinch of (sea) salt
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped (or 3 oz, if you're like me)
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chop your chocolate -- this is where my recipe went off script.
 Whisk together cream, cocoa powder, sugar/Sucanat, and salt in a large saucepan.  Heat the mixture, stirring frequently until it comes to a full, rolling boil (it will start to foam up.)

Remove from heat and whisk in the chocolate until it's completely melted, then whisk in the milk and vanilla.

Pour the mixture into a blender and blend for 30 seconds, until very smooth.
 Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (may take a few hours), then freeze it in an ice cream maker.

Enjoy! You know we did!

Source: slightly adapted from The Perfect Scoop, page 28. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lentil & Sweet Potato Stew

I'm out of hamburger.  It's kind of shameful -- the beef farmer's daughter has no ground beef in her freezer!  It's hard to admit that.  All I've got are sirloin steaks the size of my head, and those I only eat when I've got company.  So, I've been branching out -- some chicken, some shrimp, and lately, some lentils. Recently I've been remaking some old recipes -- I made the lentil & rice soup for the slow cooker, and with the remaining beef I made the beef stroganoff casserole.  It's always a good one!

Tonight I tried a brand new lentil recipe.  Lentil & Sweet Potato Stew.  It's quick to make -- all the makings of a good slow-cooker recipe, but stove-top instead.  The longest part was chopping vegetables.  This one smelled great, and paired well with some whole-wheat crackers to complete the protein.  It's light, but filling, and after Winterlude (I was lucky enough to go twice already this year) and the upcoming Valentine chocolate indulgence, a light, healthy recipe is in order.

In the spirit of Valentine's day, I share with you XKCD: http://xkcd.com/223/

Lentil & Sweet Potato Stew
Makes: 8 1-cup servings

2 tsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch each sea salt and black pepper
2 cups dry green lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 bay leaf
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or pinch dried)

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil on medium. 

 Add onion, celery, carrot, and garlic and saute, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. 
Add salt, pepper, lentils, potato, bay leaf, broth and 2 cups water; stir to combine. 

Bring to a simmer and cook until lentils and potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. 
Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes and parsley.  Remove bay leaf and divide stew among serving bowls.


Source: Clean Eating Classic Comfort Foods 2011, page 26.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rich Cocoa Crinkle Cookies

Today I crave chocolate... today I want chocolate.  I think.  But after a weekend of things like BeaverTails and great burgers, I'm window-shopping my cookbooks.  Today, wasn't a bad day.  Last week, I had a crummy work week, and this week isn't crummy.  But, it isn't great either... so I think I might want chocolate.  Maybe.

My solution is window-shopping.  I'm browsing recipes... I'm admiring the eye-candy that is my chocolate-based cookie stash. I made these over Christmas.  I made this recipe for my friend, because she's lactose intolerant and can't have all the treats the rest of us can.  So, I'm sharing this recipe with her today, and enjoying the eye-candy to help fix my chocolate sorta-craving.

Rich Cocoa Crinkle Cookies
Makes: about 6 dozen cookies

2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup cocoa powder
4 eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups whole-wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
powdered sugar

Combine sugar and oil in a large bowl.  Add cocoa, beating until well blended.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Stir together flower, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.  Gradually add to cocoa mixture, beating well.

Cover; refrigerate until dough is firm enough to handle, at least 6 hours.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. 

Shape dough into 1-inch balls.
Roll in powdered sugar to coat and place about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet.
Bake cookies 10 to 12 minutes until almost no indentation remains when touched lightly and tops are cracked.  Cool slightly.  Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.  Cool completely.

Source: Hershey's Recipe Collection p. 222.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Dijon Chicken

I made this recipe on the weekend, with a few substitutions because I didn't have the ingredients.  The recipe didn't really turn out.  I tried again tonight, and I'm so glad I did.  It turned out great!  I'm glad I tried it again, with the right ingredients.  Funny how when I make it like it's supposed to be made, that it works out, huh?

I'm looking forward to a week of normal.  No more cake course, no social commitments, nada.  This week I can do as I please, and this week, I wish to cook!

Dijon Chicken with Spinach & Lemon Rice
Makes: 4 servings

2/3 cup brown rice
4 4-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp sea salt, divided
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup low-fat sour cream
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
2 packed cups spinach, coarsely chopped
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

Cook rice according to package directions; set aside.

Meanwhile, sprinkle both sides of chicken breast with sea salt, pepper, and paprika.  In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil on medium-high.  Add chicken and cook for 5 to 6 minutes per side, until cooked through.  Remove from skillet and transfer to a large plate.  Cover and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add sour cream, Dijon, lemon juice, and tarragon.  Stir until heated through, scraping up browned bits from bottom and sides of skillet with a wooden spoon, about 20 seconds.  Uncover chicken and spoon 1 Tbsp sour cream mixture over top, dividing evenly.  Cover and set aside.
Heat remaining sour cream mixture on medium.  Add rice, spinach, lemon zest, 1/4 cup water and remaining 1/4 tsp sea salt.  Stir gently until spinach is wilted, about 20 seconds. 
Spoon onto serving plates and top with chicken, dividing evenly.

Source: Clean Eating Magazine, March 2012.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pumpkin Ginger Nut Muffins

I have had this recipe photographed and sitting around for the perfect moment to post.  A week where I was too busy or sick, or drained of energy to cook.  The recipe's been sitting aside, patiently waiting for its opportunity to shine.  Then I forgot about it, oops!

But, January came and went, and all my week night time got sucked into my latest cake decorating class, so, alas, my recipe came to be needed.  I feel like I'm kind of cheating it by posting it as a stand-in. The recipe itself is post-worthy.  I've even made it more than once.  It's delicious, moist, and satisfying.  And since pumpkin isn't a normal February flavour, it'd probably do me a lot of good this time of year!  So please don't misinterpret this one as being a lesser recipe... it's just a side-effect of my busy schedule.

Pumpkin Ginger Nut Muffins
Makes: 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup Sucanat
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

1 cup pumpkin purée (canned or homemade)
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup water
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice

1 cup toasted walnuts or pecans, chopped
2 Tbsp candied/crystallized ginger, chopped, optional (but better if it's there!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray or paper liners. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, melted butter, eggs, water, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice.  Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined.
Fold in the nuts and candied ginger, if using.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Cool the muffins on a wire cooling rack.

Source: The Well-Fed Newlyweds.