Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spicy Sole

Today I made Brussels sprouts for supper, and wanted something a little different from my norm to pair with it.  Digging in my freezer and pantry turned up everything I needed for this little treat.  Nothing could be easier!  It's just fish, oil, and spices.  The longest part is baking the fish.

Spicy Sole
Makes: 4 servings

1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1 pinch cayenne powder
4 sole fillets, thawed

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a bowl, combine olive oil, garlic and seasonings.  Dry the thawed fillets, then dip each one in the seasoning and place on baking sheet.  Pour any remaining seasoning over top of fillets in baking sheet.

Bake for 10 - 30 minutes (depending on thickness of fish).

Source: adapted from 'Tosca's Keep-it-tight Tilapia', Tosca Reno.

Warm Brussels Spouts Salad

In continuing the no-grains, no-sugar theme, I've been looking for recipes that fit the bill... and it's difficult! There are a lot of recipes that look really good, except there's a tablespoon of flour or a tsp of honey, or some other ingredient that disqualifies the recipe.  I was excited to find this one -- first, because of the no-sugar/no-grains criteria, but also because it adds nuts! I enjoy walnuts, and they're a simple, tasty addition to this simple recipe.

Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad
Makes: 4 servings

1 lb Brussels sprouts, stalk ends trimmed and dry outer leaves removed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
juice of one lemon
1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

Using slicing blade of a food processor, or a sharp knife, thinly slice Brussels sprouts an eighth of an inch thick.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant but not brown, 1 minute.  Add the sliced Brussels sprouts, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat in oil.  Cook 3 minutes until heated through and slightly wilted, but not brown, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and walnuts.  Toss to combine and transfer to serving plate.


Source: Tosca Reno.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mexican Bean and Lentil Soup

I'm on a bean kick.  Last week it was bean chili, this week it's bean soup.  Both turned out pretty good!  I've been tempting my coworkers around the microwave come lunch hour.

This one was originally a slow-cooker recipe, but I adapted it a bit to suit my Dutch oven.  Mostly because I didn't want to wait all the next day to eat it.  It turned out pretty well, although I may need to repeat it in the slow cooker to see if there is indeed a difference.

Mexican Bean and Lentil Soup
Makes: 8 2-cup servings

2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
6 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
3/4 cup red lentils
1 19 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 19 oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 19 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper

In a Dutch oven heated on medium, add all onions and garlic. Let cook 3 -5 minutes or until onions are tender.  Add chili powder, stock, water, and diced tomatoes, and heat until boiling.  Add lentils, return to a boil, and simmer 30 - 60 minutes until lentils soften.

Add drained, rinsed beans, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Return to a boil and let simmer 5 - 10 minutes.

Ladle into bowls, and serve.

Source:  adapted from Rachel Hewitt, RHN.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Seafood Corn Chowder

With the temperature dropping back off to normal temperatures, and that summer feeling fleeing, I'm starting to feel like fall.  It makes me think of comfort foods, like the beef chili I made this week, or soups, specifically seafood corn chowder.  It's from Clean Eating's cookbook, and I loved every minute of it!

The recipe's easy to put together, and makes the whole kitchen smell spicy and warm.  It pulls together the comfort food theme, without saying autumn, as well.  Plus, the serving sizes are good enough for supper or work lunches.

Seafood Corn Chowder
Makes: 5 servings (about 2-cups each)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped, seeded (I skipped this)
1 tsp smoked paprika
3/4 tsp dried thyme
1 lb russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cups frozen corn kernels
1 cup low-fat milk
3/4 lb sea scallops
1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced 

Heat oil in a large Dutch Oven or stockpot on medium.  Add onion, carrots, and celery; season with salt and pepper and cook until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add jalapeno (if using), paprika and thyme and cook for 1 minute, stirring well.  Add 3 cups water, increase heat and bring to a boil.  Add potatoes and reduce to a simmer until just tender, 7 - 8 minutes.  Add corn and milk; season with salt (1/4 tsp minimum) and pepper and simmer 3 more minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree some of the soup to allow it to thicken up.  Allow soup to return to simmering.

Add scallops to pot and simmer 3 minutes (time should begin when liquid begins to simmer.)  Add shrimp and simmer for 2 minutes, or until shellfish are opaque in centre.  Remove from heat and taste for seasoning.  Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with green onion (I used leeks because that's what I had in my fridge) and serve.

Source:   The Best of Clean Eating 2.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Beef Chili

I have a new recipe to try out.  It has no grains, or salt, or starch, or sugar.  Nope!  It's largely vegetables.  Really.  And with the warm, spring weather we've been having, it feels like a fresh start!  What a great way to shrug off the winter and start fresh.  Plus, since next week the temperature's supposed to dip back down, chili's a great comfort food that will be that much better in the colder weather.

The recipe didn't come with suggested serving sizes, or very detailed instructions, so I ad libbed a bit.  One thing that's missing, for those with careful eyes, is garlic, but I'm sure it could be added in quite easily if you were inclined to do so.

It's a bright, colourful meal for spring!

Beef Chili
Makes: about 7 2-cup servings

4 medium carrots, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium onions, cut in chunks
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 medium red pepper, chopped
2 small zucchinis, cut in half lengthwise then chopped
19-oz can chickpeas
19-oz can kidney beans
1 can diced tomatoes or 2 cups fresh, chopped
1/3 cup organic salsa
1 1/2 tsp chili powder (or less, to taste)
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 lb ground beef

Brown beef in Dutch Oven or frying pan over medium heat.  Set aside.

In same Dutch Oven or a deep soup pot, heat the onion over medium heat for 2 - 3 minutes.  Add additional vegetables and cook for 3-5 minutes.  Add tomatoes, salsa, and spices.  Add in beans and beef, and stir.

Cover and simmer for 30 - 60 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Alternately you can cook the whole thing in a slow cooker over LOW heat for 8 - 10 hours, or HIGH 4 - 5 hours.

Source: Rachel Hewitt, RHN.   

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dad's Birthday Cake Assembly

It wasn't easy to choose between the frostings.  The butterscotch was creamy and rich.  The chocolate was smooth and would finish up similarly to the buttercream I was used to working with for my cake decorating classes, making it ideal for decorating.  So, what's a girl to do?  Use both, of course!

I set out the cake on a serving board, and layered the cakes with butterscotch icing for the filling.

With the cake ready, I prepared the chocolate icing, and frosted the cake.
I added the borders.
Then I added butterscotch Chipits to top the whole thing off.
Happy Birthday Dad!


Beatty's Chocolate Frosting

The butterscotch frosting turned out delightfully!  But I still needed to investigate my second option: a delicious-sounding chocolate recipe from the Food Network, because really, when does the Barefoot Contessa ever let you down?

Beatty's Chocolate Frosting
Makes: about 2 cups

6 oz semisweet chocolate squares, chopped
1/2 pound (2 sticks, 1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp instant coffee powder

Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler and set aside to cool to room temperature.

With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes.
Turn the mixer on low and gradually blend in the powdered sugar.  Beat on medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary until smooth and creamy.
Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water.*  On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. DO NOT WHIP!

Spread immediately on the cooled cake.
* I skipped the coffee, and just added 1 Tbsp of hot tap water to mine.  

Source: the Food Network.

Butterscotch Frosting

Maybe I should've just repeated the chocolate cake with mint buttercream and fondant.  Maybe I should have.  But what fun would that be?  I got curious, in prepping the icing for Dad's cake, and started dreaming up options.  What I found were two: butterscotch, and chocolate frosting.  And I couldn't choose... so I had to make both to decide between them which was better.  So, option 1: surprisingly harder to find than I imagined.  I had to google a recipe, because my books didn't have one... and I have a lot of books!

Butterscotch Frosting
Makes: about 2 cups

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup Sucanat
4 Tbsp milk
2 cups powdered sugar

Melt butter in saucepan. Add brown sugar; bring to a boil over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in milk; bring to boil, stirring constantly. Cool to lukewarm. Gradually add powdered sugar. Beat until thick enough to spread.

Source: slightly adapted from CD Kitchen.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Martha Washington Chocolate Cake

This week is one of my favourite birthdays all year.  This week is the birthday of my dear ol' Dad!  Each year I bring a new treat for him to try out.  This year, his request was for me to bring the chocolate cake I made for my last cake decorating class.  I had made a Martha Washington chocolate cake, with minted buttercream icing, and rolled fondant on top.  My family loved it, and even after several days it was still moist and delicious.  So, cake it was, and cake it will be!

Happy soon-to-be Birthday Dad!

Martha Washington Chocolate Cake
Makes: 2 9-inch square layers, 3 9-inch round layers, or 4 8-inch round layers (about 10 servings)

4 squares Baker's Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
2 cups sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups buttermilk or sour milk, divided
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F.

Microwave chocolate in medium microwaveable bowl on high 2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring halfway through heating time.  Stir until chocolate is completely melted.  Stir in 1/2 cup of the sugar and 1/2 cup of the buttermilk.  Cool.
Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl.  Beat butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed to soften.  Gradually add remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar, beating until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Blend in about 1/4 of the flour mixture.  Add the chocolate mixture and vanilla.  Add remaining flour mixture alternately with remaining buttermilk beating well after each addition.  Pour into greased and floured cake pans.
For 2 9-inch square cake pans: bake 35 - 40 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.
For 3 9-inch round pans: bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.
For 4 8-inch round pans: bake for 25 minutes minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.
Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes.  Remove from pans. Cool completely on wire racks.  Frost as desired.


Source: Old-Fashioned Favorite Recipes of All Time, p. 250.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Cranberry Pumpkin Energy Bars

I have some leftover pumpkin.  It was from a can, and it's been sitting in my fridge waiting for me to use it up... such is the after life of leftovers from recipes.  So I started googling.  What can I do with a little canned pumpkin?  Not enough for much, I suppose, but then I found these.  I've got enough to make the recipe twice, if I wanted to.

It's easy, and with a few small adjustments, I made it quicker.  It's not overly sweet, and sticks together well which makes it good for a walking snack.  My group did 16k last weekend, and I expect tomorrow we'll get in another good distance.

Cranberry Pumpkin Energy Bars
Makes: 12 bars

1/2 cup raw chopped almonds
1/2 cup raw chopped pecans
1/4 unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup pureed pumpkin
3 oz extra virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of ground clove (optional)
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 large egg
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Toast the nuts and coconut for 6 - 7 minutes, checking periodically to avoid burning them.
At the same time, melt together the coconut oil and pumpkin.  Once melted, stir in the egg, then add the vanilla, syrup, spices, and salt and mix.  Add in the chopped toasted nuts and coconut and mix well.
Turn the oven heat down to 325 F.
Lightly grease an 8x8-inch baking dish and spread out the bar mixture.  Bake the bars for 20 - 25 minutes.
Let the bars cool completely before slicing into 12 pieces.
Bars can be kept in the fridge or freezer.


Source: adapted from Fallon's Cucina.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Crunchy Baked Ginger Dill Salmon

I've had a good week.  I've been in work meetings nearly all week that have resulted in me getting a lot of new tasks.  It's been keeping me busy which is a great way to make the work day pass quickly.  Work meetings can be hit or miss... I know some will be productive, and others leave me more confused about whatever we were discussing than I was before the meeting.

Earlier this week, I started a new class at the gym and really enjoyed that, too.  I was going to top it off with a new recipe, because they rarely let me down.

Well, it was true, the recipe didn't let me down.  But I was so excited in getting it ready to post, that I accidentally deleted the folder off my camera and can't recover it, so the pictures are gone, gone, gone.  I'm so disappointed!  I mean really, how can I show you how great this recipe is, if you can't see the picture?
So, I cheated.  I bring you the photo from the book:
Credit: Donna Griffith (photo copied from The Daily Meal.)

The recipe really is good, I promise!

Crunchy Baked Ginger Dill Salmon
Makes: 4 servings

Cooking spray
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup lime juice
1 Tbsp agave
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp fresh ginger, chopped fine
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup panko
Four 5 oz salmon fillets
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups baby spinach

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Prepare three containers (like small plates) for the breading process.  In one container, place the flour.  Whisk together the lime, agave, dill, ginger, chile, salt & pepper and pour it into the second plate.  Line the third with the panko. Bread salmon by dipping it into the flour, then lime mixture, then panko.  Coat both sides.  When all fillets are ready, bake in oven 10 - 15 minutes until flaky.

While fish is baking, pour remaining lime juice mixture into a small saucepan.  Mix with chicken broth, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Boil about one minute, until mixture thickens, then remove from heat.

Serve by lining each plate with 1 cup of spinach, then one baked fillet, then about 1 tablespoon of the lime sauce. 


Source: slightly adapted from Tosca Reno, The Eat Clean Diet Cookbook 2, page 245.