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: