Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pancakes, Pancakes Everywhere!

My absolute favorite breakfast are pancakes. They are the breakfast of champions! I love piling up each steaming, luscious pancake between layers of melted butter. Then, lovingly dripping fresh maple syrup all over the lovies. Are you hungry yet? What could be better?

My favorite pancakes are Whole Wheat Buttermilk pancakes. Ante, on the other hand, adores Nutter Butters (sometimes with a few mini chocolate chips...if he was a really good boy!) 

I usually make a double batch of whatever perfect pancakes fits my fancy and freeze the leftovers for future breakfasts. Ante loves pancakes and it is currently a breakfast staple. So, here are a few different pancakes currently in our freezer:

A few random caviots...You can use any type of flour you would like...don't have whole wheat flour, you can use its bleached or unbleached flour counterpart. Whatever fits your fancy! Also, when making the batter mix just until all the ingredients are combined. If you continue to mix you will activate the wheat glutten making your pancakes chewy. No one wants a chewy pancake!

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp oil

Combine everything and cook on the griddle!

Nutter Butter Pancakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I use half white and half wheat flour)
6 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk (or 1 can evaporated milk)
1/2 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
1 tbsp Olive oil (or any type you prefer)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Combine all dry ingredients in one bowl and all the wet in a seperate bowl. Combine the wet into the dry and cook!
***For Peanut Butter Chocolate Chips pancakes...put the pancakes on the griddle and then add a few to the pancakes as the cook. For Peanut butter Banana Pancakes,  You can also add a few thin slices of bannana to the pancake one on the griddle, or mash it up and serve on top. Another alternative is to serve the pancakes with a bit of jam (PB&J pancakes)

Eggnog pancakes
***This is a great way to use up that left over eggnog

2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups eggnog
¼ cup canola oil

Combine all dry ingredients in one bowl and all the wet in a seperate bowl. Combine the wet into the dry and cook!

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
***This is a great way to use up the left over ricotta in your fridge. I use fresh lemons from my trees, but you can use the juice in the plastic lemons in you like.

4 eggs, separate yolks and whites

1/3 cups ricotta
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 cup flour
**Optional: 1tsp poppyseeds

Combine egg yolks, ricotta, sugar, zest and flour (also poppy seed if using). Beat the egg whites until peaks form (this works best when the egg whites are at room temp.) Fold egg whites in. Then cook. If the center still looks a bit soft, turn the heat to low and cook a touch longer.
***You do not have to seperate the whites and the yolks if you do not have the time. Beating the egg whites will make the pancakes really light and fluffy.

Orange Sour Cream Pancakes
***This is a great way to use up that left over sour cream (or Ricotta). I use oranges fresh from our tree, but if you only have OJ from the carton that is fine too. Just skip the zest and use 1/4-1/3 cup OJ.
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup milk
Juice and zest from one orange
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
Optional: 1 tsp cardamon

Combine eggs, butter, milk, ricotta, orange (zest and juice) and sugar. In a spereate bowl combine flour and baking powder (and cardamon is using). Mix wet ingredients with dry. Batter does not have to be perfectly smooth, just no large lumps. Cook!

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
***These are a great way to use up those yummy apples and no, I do not have an apple tree! :)
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups greek yogurt (or regular yogurt, plain or vanilla)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar or honey
3 apples, peeled and shredded
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (I prefer extract)

Combine all wet ingredients in one bowl and all dry in another. Then, fold the wet into the dry; cook!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Book Review: Hungry Girl 200 under 200

I guess this is a fitting review coming right after the holidays. If you are looking to cut calories while still eating yummy, creative foods...then this is the book for you. Lisa Lillien does an outstanding job showing the average cook how to simplify their recipes to be much more figure friendly! I LOVE this idea! Many times recipes are yummy but tend to add too much to the backside! So, this cookbook shows you how to keep it under control!

I had some difficulties with these recipes because I prefer to make everything from these recipes did not really work well with my cooking style, but they will probably be GREAT for the average mom. I chose to make a LOT of changes to these recipes to accomodate my families eating styles, yet the premise was the same. By this I mean I substituted things like...egg substitute for real organic eggs, Splenda/sweetener for agave nectar, honey, stevia or plain ol' sugar. I also nixed things like Coffeemate creamer, whip cream/Reddi-wip, boxed cake mix, ect... I know this added the calories back into the recipes, but the calorie count was not my focus.

This cookbook include some fabulous breakfast options, sensational salads, happy appis and mini meal mania. The author, Lisa Lillien, does a great job of dialing down the fat and calories in many of our everyday recipes while also intermixing some fun new ones! Yet, I focused on the sweets. Since the holidays, I have had my eye on baking and with baking comes lots of tasting. So, I figured the least I could do was try to the lightened calorie count on these tasty treats.

(By the way, there are a bunch of fun cupcake should check them out!)

Tiramisu Pudding
1/2 c ricotta
1/2 Jello sugar free Vanilla Pudding mix (organic sugar free vanilla pudding)
1/4 c Cool whip (I made my own)
2 T Splenda (Stevia)
1/4 t vanilla
1/4 t unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Combine everything (except the cocoa powder) until smooth and sprinkle the cocoa powder on top. This was super simple and yummy. This is a fun little pudding snack!

***I added a bit of instant espresso powder to mine.

Gooey Crunch Fruit Tartlets
1 1/2 c strawberries, halved
1 1/2 c peaches, sliced
2 T Splenda (Agave Nectar)
2 T cornstarch
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t vanilla

12 small wonton wrappers
Non-stick spray

1. Combine Splenda,  cornstarch, cinnamon, vanilla, and a dash of salt. Add 1/2c cold water and stir until all ingredients are dissolved.
2. In a non stick pan over medium heat, boil the Splenda mix, strawberries and peaches. Stir constantly until a thick syrup forms. Then, cool completely.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the cups in a mini muffin pan with nonstick spray. Place the wanton wraps in the munnin cups then spray again with non stick spray. Bake for 10 minutes or until firm and brown. Allow to cool, then transfer  to a plate.
4. Spoon chilled fruit filling into the cups. Top with cool whip.

***These were good! I could have personally cut pack on the syrup. These would also be great as an actual tart. Using 4" tart pans with fresh fruit and cover top with syrup (ooh and a cream under the frash fruits would be delightful)

Fuji Fritters
Apple Mix:
3c Peeled Fuji apples
3 T Splenda (Sugar)
1 T cornstarch
1 t cinnamon
1 t vanilla

Fritter Base:
1 1/3 c regular oats
2/3 c Bisquick mix (I made my own Biscuit mix)
2/3 c vanilla soy milk
2 T brown sugar
1 1/2 T butter
1 t baking powder

1. Preheat over to 400 degrees. Place apple chunks in micro with 1/4 c water for 2 1/2 minutes. Drain water and set aside. (I did on the stove instead)
2. In a pot, combine the Splenda, cornstarch, cinnamon, and vanilla with 1/2 c cold water. Cook over medium heat until the sauce has thickened to a caramel like consistency. Remove from heat and stur into apple chunks.
3. In a mixing bowl combine fritter mix and fold into apple mix. Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray and spoon 12 mounds onto sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes until centers come out clean.

***I made these, but used half zuchini and half apple. They were yummo! Could also be done with sweet potatoes, carrots, ect... be creative.

Fluffy Lemon Squares
1 1/2 c Fiber One Cereal
1/4 c butter, melted
2 T water
4 T sweetner (Powdered sugar)

1 c egg substitute (4 organic eggs)
1 2/3 c Splenda (Stevia)
1/3 c White sugar
6 T Whole wheat flour
6 T fresh lemon juice
2 T lemon zest
2 t baking powder

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. In a food processor, grind up cereal. Combine with butter, water and sweetner.
2. Spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray. Press crust evenly on the bottom of the pan and bake for 5 minutes.
3. In a seperate bowl, combine filling ingredients and mix well. Pour into crust and bake 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely. (I sprinkled powdered sugar on top and served)

***These were a nice way to use a up a few lemons from my tree. The crust was a healthy alternative, but I still prefer a fattening butter, flour and sugar alternative.

Oh My! Oatmeal Cookies
3/4 c regular oats

1/3 c whole-wheat flour
1/4 c raisins, chopped ( I left whole)
1/4 c brown sugar
2 T Splenda (1 T honey)
2 T light whipped butter
2 T applesauce
2 T egg substitute (1 organic egg)
1/4 t vanilla extract
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t cinnamon
dash salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine brown sugar, Splenda, butter, applesauce, egg substitute, and vanilla extract, and mix thoroughly. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and stir until completely mixed and smooth. Add oats and raisins.
2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon 6 cookie mounds onto the sheet. Using the back of a spoon, spread and flatten batter into circles about 3 1/2 inches wide.
3. Bake for about 10 minutes.

***These were great alternatives to the trad oatmeal cookie recipe. As always I added in a bit of shredded carrot.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Book Review: The Sneaky Chef, How to Cheat on Your Man (in the Kitchen)

I remember when Missy Lapine's first book came out. My first thought was...well that is a dumb concept. How can you teach children to eat and enjoy vegetables if you never serve them? I have always loved veggies especially grilled teriyaki veggies, but my husband is not a veggie man. Unfortunately, my son takes after his father...100%!

My husband is a meat and potatoes man! I even had to introduced him to romaine lettuce because iceberg was the standard in his home. Spinach, something I love, is still out of the question. Needless to say, I do not want my mini picky eater to end up the same way. Hence, the Sneaky Chef has vetured back into my library.

I was really excited about the concept this time around, but leery about my husbands reaction. I have always added vegetables secretly into our food, but this took some recipes to a new level. It has given me a new creative edge on how easy it really is to add some vital nutrients into my vegetable-free boys.

Here are some of the recipes I tried:
****Just a note...all the recipes call for pureed (steammed) veggies. I steamed a few large batches, pureed veggies and froze the left over for later recipes. The book also says that you can use jarred baby food instead of making your own.

Banana Nut Pancakes

4 egg whites              
1 t vanilla               
1/4 t salt                    
1/2 c  pureed sweet potatoes and carrots
2 t honey or syrup    
2 bananas, mashed  
2T ground walnuts     
3/4c Flour (1/4c wheat, 1/2c white flour)
2 t baking powder     
1/2 t cinnamon        
1/4-1/2 c milk          
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips, optional

Mix all ingredients together. Adjust milk to thin mix to desired consistency. Cook pancakes on griddle.

**These were really yummy! Ante has been anti-pancakes for quite a while, yet he ate 3 in one sitting!

Chicken Waldorf Wrap
1/4 c mayo                       
2 T pureed Garbonzo beans             
4.5 t lemon juice
2 T wheat germ                
Salt and pepper                                
1 Granny Smith, peeled and chopped
1/2 c chopped nuts (these are great dusted with a bit of cayenne, cinnamon and ginger)
3 celery ribs, chopped     
2 c grapes, halved                             
Whole wheat tortillas
2 c cooked, cubed chicken

1. Combine all the ingredients together and foll up in the wrap with a few stalks of romaine.

***I love Waldorf salad, so, this was really good! I skipped the mayo and used plain yogurt instead. I also opted for shredded chicken breasts, but a rotissery would work well here. Toasting the nuts and then dusting with spices was a yummy addition. Another easy idea would be to make this as a curry chicken salad.

Hashbrown Patties
1 c hashbrowns               
Salt, onion powder                            
1/4 c pureed white beans
1/4 c oat bran                   
1/4 c cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400. Mix all the ingredients together. make patties and place on a greased cookie sheet. Spray a bit extra spray oil on the top of the patties. Bake for 20 minutes then remove and flip over patties. Bake 20 minutes longer. (serve immediately or freeze for up to 3 months)

***These were really yummy. I allowed to cook a bit longer because I like really crispy hashbrowns. I also left the cheese out. I made a large batch and froze the extra and I am super happy I did!

Not His Mother's Meatloaf

1 egg                                
1/2c Garbonzo bean puree                
1/4 c Tomato puree
2 t Worcestreshire            
1 med onion, pureed                        
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c Oat Bran                   
Salt and Pepper                               
1 pound ground Turkey
2 T Ketchup

Combine all the ingredients except the Ketchup. Mix and shape. Then add the ketchup on top and bake in a 350 degree oven for 50-55 minutes.

***This was good, but I would have taken this a step father. Meatloaf is an awesome place to add hidden veggies. I mixed beef and pork and then added pureed sweet potato, spinach and broccoli. (sounds gross, but my husband didn't notice it at all!)           

Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
4 potatoes, peeled and mashed                   
3 T parmesan, Grated
1/2 c pureed cauliflower, zucchini               
1/2 c plain yogurt     
Salt, pepper and a dash of sugar

Boil potatoes until tender, then combine with remaining ingredients and serve.

****This didn't work well. Mashed potatoes in my opinion should not be messed with! The cauliflower was overpowering and bitter. I think you could do this with zucchini for sure and no one would notice or zucchini and a white bean. Personally I will stick to strictly potatoes!

Burly Burritos
1/2 c bean dip: Food process together-1T olive oil, 1 small onion, pureed, 1 clove garlic, minced, 1c pureed zucchini and cauliflower, 1t chili powder, 1/2 t cumin, 1 (15oz) can refried beans, 1 cup Salsa (optional)
1/2 c cooked brown rice   
2 whole wheat tortillas                   
1/4 c shredded cheddar
Optional toppings: romain, slasa, black olives, thin onions

Spoon 1/2 bean dip and 1/2 rice on to the bottom of the tortilla. Top with a bit of cheese and any other optional toppings.  Roll up and serve. (Or, roll in parchement and freeze, microwave 1 minute and serve)

***I personally think bean burritos are boring, so I jazzed it up with a bit of shredded chicken and pimentos. I warmed in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes, then served with sour cream and a peach salsa. They were yummy! Now imagine making these as flautas or chimis...umm!

Bowling Night Bolgnese
1T olive oil                        
1 med onion, pureed                     
1 oz bacon (turkey bacon)
1 pound ground meat         
3 cloves garlic, minced                 
3/4 c pureed spinach, broccoli, and peas
1(6oz) can tomato paste    
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes          
1 c evaporated milk
1/4 c Oat Bran                 
Salt and Pepper

1. Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil. When translucent, remove ans set aside. Then, brown meat and bacon. Add cooked onions/garlic and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and the reduce heat to low and simmer 30-40 minutes. Toss with pasta and serve.

***This was yummy! I have tried a lot of Bolgnese in Europe and I always loved when the bolognese was lovingly packed full of veggies...Tomatoes can mask the flavor well! This recipe was great as is, but I added some diced carrots and peppers along with pureed sweet potatoes. You could also add mushrooms!

Everyone Loves Romano Chicken
1/2 c Wheat flour             
2 egg whites                                   
1/4 c pureed Cauliflower and Zucchini
3/4 c wheat germ             
Salt and Pepper                             
1/2 c Parmesan
4 chicken cutlets

1. Preheat oven to 400. Put flour in a dish and then in a seperate dish combine the egg whites and pureed veggies. In a third bowl, combine wheat germ, salt, pepper, and cheese.
2. Dredge cutlets in flour, then eggs then wheatgerm. Press breading eavenly on each side.
3. Put chicken on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. Spray the top of the chicken with oil and bake 10-12 minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes or spaghetti or asparagus.

***This was very simple and yummy. The breading masked the bitterness of the cauliflower. I cut one of the cutlets up into smaller pieces and make little romano nuggets for Ante...surprisingly even Mr. No Meat ate them!

Stuffed Manli-cotti
1 pkg Manicotti                
1 c  Ricotta                                   
1 c firm tofu, pureed         
1 clove garlic, minced        
6 T parmesan           
1 1/2c Left over Bolognese (or 1 1/2 c store bought sauce and 2 c pureed cauliflower and zucchini)

1. Cook manicotti according to directions. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except sauce. (if using store bought sauce...add 1c of purreed veggies to manicotti stuffing and other 1c of pureed veggies to sauce)
2. Fill manicotti shells. Place 3/4c of sauce in bottom of a greased baking dish, place manicotti on top and finish off with remaining sauce. Cover with foil sprayed with oil and bake for 30 minutes.

***I am not a master at manicotti, so I was pleasantly surprised! I would definitely make these again (I actually froze some leftovers...You couldn't distinguish the tofu in the manicotti, so that was a nice bonus. I was a bit worried about that! I also added an extra cup of shredded mozzarella to the top before baking. Then, baked for 20-25 minutes before removing the foil for the last 5-10 minutes.

Overall I was very impressed with the recipes I tried. I will definetly be tracking down the other books to check them out as well. Adding the veggies is a great way to ensure my boys are getting the nutrients they need, but it is equally important to serve the veggies in their natural state. That is the only way I might manage to get my wee boy to try them.

If you would like some other free hidden veggie recipes, check out the website at:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Muffins, Cakes and Bread...Oh My!

Here are a collection of muffin recipes that I love to make. I do a lot of baking for my mother-in-law. My MIL has a whole host of very serious medical problems that keep her bed ridden. So, she loves to watch baking shows and often calls me begging for something she saw on TV that made her mouth water. How can I resist the challenge of a new recipe or the delight when I show up with her grandson and some delicious homemade goodie. One of the things she loves are fruit breads/muffins/ here are some of Baka's (Gramma in croatian) favorites.

Lemony Lemon Muffins
For the muffins:

3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the streusel:

1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cold butter

For the glaze:
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, butter, lemon peel and lemon juice. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix, just until moistened. Grease or paper line muffin cups and fill the batter 3/4 full.

2. In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar and butter. Using your hands or a pastry blender, mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the streusel over the batter.
3. Bake muffins at 350 degrees for about 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes and remove onto a wire rack.
4. Mix together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and drizzle over muffins.

(I have a huge lemon tree in my yard that produces HUGE juicy lemons. So, I am always looking for new recipes to try to use up as many as I the way lemons are in season right now! Let m eknow if you would like any!)

Strawberry Muffins with Pecan Crumble
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup strawberries, cut into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces

1 tablespoon sugar for sprinkling

Pecan crumble
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peal
1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12- cup muffin tin with muffin papers (or butter and flour the cups, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.)

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, and eggs until smooth - no lumps. Whisk in the heavy cream and milk until combined.
3. Add the zest to the flour mixture and with you hands, gently rub the mixture together, releasing the oils and breaking up the bits. Add the fresh fruit and gently toss with you fingers to combine. Make a well in the center of the bowl. Pour the butter mixture into the center of the well and, using a rubber spatula, gently pull the flour mixture into the center of the well until just combined.
4. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each cup until full. Sprinkle pecan crumble (if using) evenly among muffin tops and gently press. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack and sprinkle with sugar (if not using pecan crumble.) Let cool to warm.

(Strawberries are my absolute favorite fruit...Ante's also! I never understood why you would want to cook a perfectly good strawberry, but what Baka wants...Baka gets! :) BTW, I would use frozen stawberries. Save your money!)

Pineapple Carrot Bread
3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
3 eggs
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup vegetable oil
1 can (8oz) crushed pineapple, drained
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1. Preheat the oven for 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, beat the eggs; add carrots, oil, pineapple, and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. The batter will be very thick. Fold in nuts, if desired.

2. Spoon into two greased 8-in. by 4-in. loaf pans. Bake for 50-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove loaves from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

(Note: This bread was great the day-of, but it wasn’t until after I wrapped it up and let it sit over night, that I fell in love with it.)

Orange Spice Cake
For the cake:

2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1-1/4 cups sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk

For the glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon orange juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a fluted tube (bundt) pan. Stir cake flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl to blend. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, orange peel, and spices until light and creamy. Mix in vanilla extract. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in dry ingredients alternately with milk in 3 additions.

2. Spoon batter into pan. Smooth top. Bake until tester inserted near center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack. Turn out onto platter (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; let stand at room temperature).

3. For glaze: Mix powdered sugar and orange juice in a small bowl. Drizzle or brush glaze over cake. Let stand until glaze sets, about 30 minutes.

(I also have a nice orange tree in my backyard that produces awesome Honeybells. They are so sweet, juicy and delicious. Needless to say, you can only make so much marmalade and, here is a nice alternative)

Zucchini Pineapple Loaf
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup crushed pineapple
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 cup raisins (optional...or chocolate chips)

1. Whisk eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar together in a large bowl. Stir in zucchini and pineapple.
2. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, nuts and raisins.
3. Mix dry ingredients together with wet ingredients...and stir until moistened.
4. Pour into two large, greased loaf pans. Bake at 350° F for 1 hour.


Peaches and Cream Muffins

2 eggs
3/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt 1 cup sour cream
1 cup chopped peaches, canned or fresh

Streusel Topping..(optional)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp soft butter

1. Beat eggs, add sugar gradually. Continue beating while adding oil. Stir in vanilla.In separate bowl mix together flour, baking soda and salt.
2. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture alternately with the sour cream only until dry ingredients are moistened.Fold in chopped peaches.Spoon into greased muffin tins.
3. Topping: Mix till crumbly and sprinkle on muffins before baking.Bake at 400º for 20 min.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
1 1/2 cup shredded raw zucchini
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a loaf pan (9×5x3) with nonstick cooking oil.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt, then setaside.
3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer beat the oil, sugars, eggs, vanilla extract and coffee granules for about 2 minutes.
4. Add the shredded zucchini to the dry ingredients and then in batches add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients; use a spatula to incorporate everything until just mixed. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake in the oven for 55 – 65 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted in the bread and then be removed clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

(This is a bread, but is so delicious it should be a dessert cake. Hey, atleast you can say it is has zucchini...right! Work with me here!)

Book Review: Art of the Slow Cooker by Andrew Schloss

I order this book last week from the library and was really excited to get started. I honestly hate buying cookbooks unless I have had a chance to preview it because my family has very traditional eatting habits and I often find that the recipes in the books are great but not practical. So, I thought this would be great! I mean slow cookers are a great time saver and mine does not get enough use. I will go a month of using it weekly and then I get bored with it.

My criteria for a good cookbook is simple...I am looking for simple straightforward ingredients and easy to fix meals. I do not mind buying a few specialty items, but I shouldn't have to for every recipe! The point is to be economical! Plus, in my household green things in food (ie herbs) are a big faux pas! So, I either cook them whole and remove them or I strip the recipe down! So, enough blabbing...

Overall, the cookbook was ok...maybe a B. The book itself is beautifully made with nice pictures, heavy pages and great directions...but remember criteria number one...simple ingredients and simple directions...Not here! The recipes could be simplified, but this is not your gramma's frugal cookbook! The other thing I did not like is the recipes require a lot of prep prior to being placed in the slow cooker. So, these are not speedy recipes although they are tasty!

I set out to make 4 recipes this week: Chicken Teriyaki, Beef Carbonnade, Pork and Beans and Chicken dinner.

Chicken Teriyaki
1 T veggie oil
4lbs. skinless chicken thighs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1T finely grated ginger
1/4c water
1/3 c soy sauce (I used low sodium)
1/4c sherry or Apple juice (I used the apple)
1 T rice wine vinegar (if you don't have use apple cider vinegar)
2T molasses
3T honey
2 t cornstarch
2 scallion, trimmed and sliced thin

1. Brown the chicken thighs in veggie oil over high heat. Cook about 3 minutes per side then place in the slow cooker.
2. Add the garlic and Ginger to the pan and cook over mediu heat about 30 seconds. Add water to deglaze (meaning let the water loosen all those brown stuck on bits). Add soy sauce, apple juice, vinegar, molasses and honey. Stir to blend. Pour over chicken and cook on high for 2-3 hours.
3. Preheat your oven to broil. Remove chicken from the slow cooker and place in the broiler for 2 minutes per side. While the chicken broils, remove the sauce and place in a sauce pan with a mix of 2t cornstarch and 1.5 T water. Allow to thicken about 1 minute.  Then, drizzle over chicken.

***This was super yummy! Not the easiest recipe with the final steps of broiling and thickening the sauce. Too many dirt dishes if you ask me! Instead, I put the cornstarch mix and sauce in a glass measuring cup and microwaved  in 30 second intervals until you achieve the desired thickness. I did broil the chicken, but you can skip this is not essential. I served over brown rice, but would also be really yummy with rice noodles. We used the left over sauce on chicken wings the next day...they were delish!

Beef Carbonnade
1/4 c flour
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
3 lb beef cubes, cut into 1/4" cubes
3 T olive oil
5 large onions, halved and sliced thin
2 sliced salt pork or bacon, finely diced (I used bacon)
1 T herbs or 1/2 t each thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, and basil (I used whole rosemary, basil and's what I had and I removed the evidence from the pot before serving)
2 t brown sugar
1 bottle ale or lager beer (I used Newcastle)
2 bay leaves
Boiled noodles or potatoes (optional)

1. Combine flour, salt and pepper. Dredge beef. Heat oil in a large skillet (I used a cast iron) over meduim-high heat and brown in batches, 3-4 minutes per side.
2. Reduce heat to meduim-low, add onions and cook until tender (about 10 minutes). Transfer to slow cooker and place beef on top of onions.
3. Add bacon to skillet and cook through, but not crisp. Add herbs and reserved seasoned flour. Cook until flour browns (Watch your flour closely so it does not burn, you can skip this step if you want) Pour the sauce over the beef. Bury the bay leaf. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 8-10 hours (but who has that time).

**I served over egg noodles with a spinach salad. It was a nice, easy recipe...we did it onion free because my hubbies hates them. It was only half as good, but that one I can't get past him! It was basically an onion I would use vidalia onions.

 Barbeque Pork and Beans
1 c dried beans- white beans, pinto, kidney, or a mixture (I used white beans)
2 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into cubes
3 T Southwest Spice rub- 1 T salt, 2T paprika, 1/4 c brown sugar, 2 t chili powder, 1/2t cumin, 1/2t pepper
2 slices bacon, chopped finely
1 medium onion (I grated half an onion)
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2" chunks
1 t cuin
1 T flour
3c chicken broth
1/2 c BBQ sauce- 1/3c ketchup, 3T brown mustard, 3T cider vinegar, 3T brown sugar, 1T tabasco, 1/2t pepper
1 (15oz) can diced tomotoes (I used petite diced)

1. Put the beans in a bowl, cover with water and leave overnight. OR, put in a saucepan cover with about 3" water and boil for 3 minutes, then soak for 1 hour (this method is what I did one because I had beans leftover from making bean bags and because it helps limit the noise later int he evening). If I didn't already have the beans I would have skipped whis altogether and just used canned beans.
2. While the beans are cooking rub the pork cubes with 2t of the Southwest rub, wrap well and refridge.
3. In a large skillet, brown the bacon; remove. Turn the heat up to medium-high and brwon the pork cubes. Transfer to the slow cooker, add the beans and bacon. Toss to combine.
4. Add the onion and carrots to the skillet and saute until tender and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Stir in the cumin, any remaining rub, and the flour. Stir. Add the chicken broth and simmer until slightly thickened. Stir in the BBQ and tomotoes and pour into the slow cooker. Cook 8-10 hours on low (or 3-4 hours if using can beans).
***This was a very easy recipe and great with corn on the cob. We will defiitely make this again...we are big pork and bean eaters here...not alway together, esp. not like this! :)

Chicken Dinner
1/3c flour
1/4c All Purpose Spice Rub- 1T brown sugar, 1T salt, 1t paprika, 1t dry mustard, 1t dried sage, 1t dried thyme, 1/2t dried rosemary, 1/2t garlic powder, 1/2t pepper (I used a bit of Italian seasoning, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder and pepper)
1 roasting chicken- about 7 lbs (I bought the already cut up one..a bit more expensive, but much easier to work with unless you are skilled with cutting up a chicken)
1 1/2lbs. red potatoes (or any potatoes)
2T veggie oil
1 onion, chunked
24 baby carrots
1/2c white wine
2c chicken broth
2T mashed potatoes

1. Mix the flour and spice rub in a mixing bowl. Cut up the chicken and remove the skin. Dredge in flour mix.
2. Boil the potatoes until cooked and then  place in the bottom of the clow cooker.
3. Heat half the oil over medium high heat. Brown the chicken on both sides, about 4 minutes. Set aside. Add the remaining oil  to the skillet along with carrots and onion. Saute until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the left over flour along with wine and bring to a boil. Add the chicken broth and simmer until thick; pour into the cooker. Put the veggies on the bottom, then arrange the chicken in the pot with dark meat on the bottom. Cover and cook 3-4 hours on high or 5-6 hours on low.
4. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and surround with veggies. Turn the cooker on high and stir in the mashed potatoe flakes. Allow to thicken about 3 minutes. Spoon over the chicken.

***This was easy and yummy spin on roasted chicken. I still prefer a traditional baked/roasted whole chicken, but I did have plenty of leftovers which were awesome in soup (or chicken tacos, empanadas, chicken salad...) Since I am not much for processed foods, I skipped the potato flakes and used cornstarch instead. I served with a nice garden salad.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Toddler Friendly Halloween Recipes

Now that you have a little one...are you ready for Halloween?

Halloween is a fantastic time to have fun with food! So, we each shared our favorite Halloween recipe in preparation of this fun filled holiday. Below you will find a collection of kid friendly treats and then some ghoulish adult treats.

Ghastly Toddler Treats:

Bugs in the Mud
12 small plastic cups
2 pkgs instant Chocolate pudding
3 1/2 c milk
1/2 pkg Oreos
12 Gummi Worms
12 plastic bugs ( I use the bug/spider rings)

1. Combine pudding mix and milk. Mix. Fill each cup with approximately the same amount of pudding.
2. Put the Oreos in the food processor and disperse between the cups. Add a plastic bug and gummi worm to each cup.

Edible Eyeballs
1 tub of Vanilla Yogurt (Greek yogurt is super yummy)
1 small pkg gummi lifesavers
24  raisins
2 styrofoam egg carton (cleaned)

1. Stuff each gummi savers with a raisin and place at the bottom of each egg hole in the egg carton. Then, fill with yogurt and freeze. Serve cold!
**Variations: Instead of yogurt, you can use jello or pudding.

Kitty Litter Cake
1 spice or German-chocolate cake mix

1 white cake mix
2 large packages instant vanilla pudding
1 large package of vanilla or lemon sandwich cookies
Green food coloring (optional - blue food coloring)
1 dozen small Tootsie Rolls®
1 new kitty litter pan
1 new kitty litter scoop 

1. Prepare the cake mixes, using any size or shape of pan, according to package directions and allow to cool to room temperature. Then, Prepare pudding mix according to package directions and chill until ready to assemble the cake.

2. Crush the sandwich cookies in small batches into a food processor, scraping often. Set aside all but about 1/4 cup. To the 1/4 cup of cookie crumbs, add a few drops of green food coloring.

3. When the cake is cooled to room temperature, crumble into a large bowl. Add 1/2 of the uncolored cookie crumbs and the chilled pudding. IMPORTANT: mix in just enough pudding to moisten and hold the mixture together. Too much pudding will render the finished cake too soggy. Gently fold to combine.

4. Spoon the cake/pudding/cookie mixture into the litter box and smooth the top. Heat three Tootsie Rolls® in the microwave until soft and pliable. Shape the ends so they're no longer blunt, but rounded and slightly curved. You know the effect you're trying to achieve! Repeat with three more Tootsie Rolls® . Stick these six Tootsie Rolls® in the cake/pudding/cookie mixture.

5. Sprinkle the remaining uncolored cookie crumbs over the top of the cake/pudding/cookie mixture. Scatter the green cookie crumbs lightly over the top - the idea is to make it resemble the colored chlorophyll / deodorizer particles found in kitty litter.

6. Heat five Tootsie Rolls® in the microwave until almost melted, then scrape them onto the top of the cake and drag through and/or sprinkle with some of the cookie crumbs. Heat the last Tootsie Roll® in the microwave until pliable, then stick it over the side of the litter box and sprinkle lightly with the cookie crumbs.

7. Place a sheet of newspaper on your serving table, place the kitty litter box in the center and sprinkle with some of the cookie crumbs on the newspaper. Place the kitty litter scoop on or next to the little box.

Mummy Dogs
1 pkg crescent rolls
1 pkg hot dogs

Hot dogs wrapped in Pillsbury crescent dough. Wrap dogs to look like mummies covered in bandages then dot two eyes out of mustard. The look and taste fantastic!

Mud Pie
16 Oreo Cookies or Chocolate Graham Crackers
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1 pint icecream
5-10 gummy worms
1 cup fudge
Whipping cream, optional

1. Crush cookies in a plastic bag with a rolling pin. Empty into a bowl and combine with melted butter. Press the mixture into a 9" pie pan to form shell. Freeze for 20 minutes.
2. Remove icecream from the freezer and allow to soften.  Drop a few gummi worms into the icecream and spoon into pie shell. Top with a thick layer of fudge sauce and freeze for atleast 1 hour before serving. Decorate the top with a few left overgummi worms. Serve with whipping cream.

Witches Hats

10 Chocolate Chocolate chip cookies or Keebler Fudge stripped cookies
1 bag of Hershey Kisses
1 tube of orange icing

Use the icing to to cement the Kiss to the cookie (if using Keebler striped cookies, place striped side down). Then put a decorative ring around the hat where the kiss and the cookie connect.

Ghoulish Adult Treats

Halloween Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites

8 whole Oreos, finely ground in food processor

1 1/2 Tbsp melted butter
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 Cup pumpkin puree (I used Libby’s)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
3 Caramel Sauce (I used just a jar of carmel topping)
12 Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses, unwrapped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine ground Oreos and melted butter into a bowl until well combined. Spoon into 12 mini cheesecake cups that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Press into the bottom of each cup so the crust is flat. Partially bake for 10 minutes then remove from oven.

2. In a stand or electric mixer beat the cream cheese, sugar and pumpkin until smooth. Beat in egg, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg until combined. Pour evenly into the 12 cups filling about 3/4 way full. Spoon about a teaspoon of caramel into the tops of each filled cup and swirl with a toothpick gently. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until cheesecake is cooked through. Let cool completely.
3. Remove cheesecakes from pan and top each with a spoonful of remaining caramel and a Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kiss. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sweet Popcorn Balls

12 cups popped popcorn (or 3 bags of microwave popcorn)

3 cups mixed dried fruit such as golden raisins, cherries, and chopped apricots and figs
2 cups sunflower seeds
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 cups corn syrup
1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne

1.Toss popcorn and dried fruit together in a large, lightly oiled, heatproof bowl. Oil 2 waxed paper-lined baking pans and a long metal fork. Set aside.

2.Bring sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, and water to a boil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer. Reduce heat to medium and cook until mixture reaches 260 degrees F.
3.Carefully pour the syrup over the popcorn mixture. Stir with the fork to distribute. Let sit for 1 to 2 minutes.
4.With well-oiled hands, form 3-inch balls, place on pans, and cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Pumpkin Bread

1 ½ cup sugar

½ cup shortening
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups of flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ cup water
1 cup canned pumpkin
½ c chopped walnuts

Blend together first nine ingredients. Add water, pumpkin and walnuts. Bake in a loaf pan at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Favorite Family Recipes

Well our first Domestic Diva's meetup was a complete success! The kids had a great time playing with all the toys and even had a bit of pudding to cap off their adventure today. Thank you ladies...I can't wait until next month!

So, What is your secret family recipe? We decided to dust off ye ole family cookbook and share our favorite family recipes.

Quick Greek Pasta Salad with Steak

8 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 (1 pound) beef rib eye steak
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup sun-dried tomato pesto
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 tsp basil
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 Tbsp sunflower kernels

1. Cook pasta according to package, then toss with olive oil, and keep warm. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the rib-eye on both sides until rosy-pink in the center, 7 to 10 minutes depending on thickness. Remove steak from skillet and cut into bite-size pieces.
2. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the skillet, and stir in the garlic and shallots. Cook 5 to 10 seconds until fragrant, then return the steak to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes or to desired doneness. Stir in the soy sauce, and cook a few seconds longer, allowing it to evaporate.
3. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the sun-dried tomato pesto, olives, spinach, basil, parsley, feta cheese and sunflower kernels. Toss with the pasta in a large bowl and serve.

Allie's Homemade Spinach Garlic White Lasagna

1 box lasagna noodles (may need a second box)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 boxes frozen chopped spinach
1 large container part-skim ricotta cheese
1 and ½ c grated parmesan cheese
1 and ½ c shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tsp minced garlic (or fresh chopped garlic cloves)
½ medium yellow onion, diced
1 tsp salt
1tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 jar roasted garlic alfredo sauce

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a pan of water to a rolling boil. Add olive oil. Add lasagna noodles and cook until soft. (Oil keeps noodles from sticking together).
2. Cook frozen chopped spinach according to package directions. Strain.
3. Combine ricotta cheese, ½ c parmesan cheese, ½ c mozzarella cheese, spinach, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, oregano and Italian seasoning in a large bowl and stir well.
4. Spread one layer of cooked lasagna noodles on the bottom of a 9x13” pyrex serving dish. Spoon ricotta spinach mixture over lasagna noodles and using a spatula, spread evenly over noodles.Repeat layers of noodles and ricotta spinach mixture until 9x13” dish is filled to the top.
5. Pour entire jar of alfredo sauce over the top of the lasagna. Spread evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheeses evenly over the top. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve hot.

Perfect Pesto

3 large garlic cloves, chopped
½ cup pine nuts
2/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, coarsely grated
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
3 cups loosely packed, chopped fresh basil
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine ingredients in blender and finely blend.Toss with penne or your favorite type of pasta.

Makes about 1 and 1/3 cups.

**can add additional olive oil to thin mixture if needed
Croatian Chicken Stew

1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 whole (3ish lb.) chicken, cut into pieces and skinned ( I use leg quarters)
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups water
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
4-5 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into sixths
1/2 pound green beans, prepared
2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and then add to the hot oil, in batches if necessary, to brown. Remove.

2. Add more oil to the pot if necessary, and then add the onions, sauté until tender. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste until the garlic is fragrant. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, being sure to scrape up the browned bits. Cook until the wine and tomato paste are well-incorporated.

3. Add the water, parsley, bay, cinnamon, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices back into the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Season to taste. Add the vegetables and cook until fork-tender (If you don’t think you’ll have enough liquid, add more water. )

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp (without tails) , Butter, a little olive oil, garlic, roasted red peppers diced, sometimes onions, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, fresh Basil and oregano, (simmer on skillet). Serve with noodles..... ummm ummm EASY goooooooooood

Confetti Chicken

1 1/2 cup Jasmine Rice (or any type you prefer)
2 1/4 cups water
1lb boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tsp Olive oil
1 10oz can RoTel Mexican Lime and Cilantro Tomatoes
1 15oz can Black Beans
1 15 oz can Corn, drained
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Fajita Seasoning
Shredded Cheddar
Sour cream (optional)

1. In a medium sauce pan, bring water to a boil. Add rice and simmer on low for 12 minutes.
2. Season the diced chicken with garlic powder, onion powder and fajita seasoning.
3. Heat olive oil in a skillet over meduim heat. Saute chicken for about 10 minutes. Then, remove chicken and set aside. In the same pan, combine tomatoes, beans and corn, warm thoroughly.
4. To serve, place rice on the bottom, then a layer bean mix and top with chicken. Garnish with cheddar cheese and a dolup of sour cream.

Mac and Cheese

1 8oz package Elbow Macaroni
1 8oz package sharp cheddar cheese
1 12oz container of small curd cottage cheese
1 8 oz container of Sour cream
1/4 cup grated parmesan

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package. Drain.
2. In a baking dish, combine all ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bake for 30-35 minutes.