Friday, March 30, 2007

Brief Update

Hi everyone - I'm sorry I haven't been posting, but I've been in Atlanta. We won a big job at Georgia Tech and then we had a big conference in Atlanta, so that's where I've been. Believe me, the food there sucked, I'd much rather be home cooking and baking and posting, but now that I am back, the exhaustion from traveling and running around has hit me a little and I'm either fighting a cold, or allergies (Georgia was in full bloom) so I won't be posting again until at least after the weekend. Sorry everyone, I hope all of you are doing well. I'm still checking emails and posts, so feel free to drop me a line. Thanks Everyone, see you on the other side of the weekend. JB

Friday, March 23, 2007

Whole Wheat Scones with Orange Scented Cranberries

I realized the other day that I never eat white bread, when I do eat bread, its always wheat, rye, or some other dark veriety. I began to wonder why whenever I cook I always use white flour and not a more healthful choice. So, here are whole wheat scones, made with orange flavored dried cranberries, which I always buy at Trader Joe's, they are great for snacking, putting on cereal, using in stuffings, and now - scones. I used skim milk in this recipe to cut out a bit of the fat, it does make a more dense and dry scone, but that's a fair trade off for a more healthy scone.

½ c milk
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
3 Tbs sugar
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Beat together the milk and the egg and then set aside. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Rub the butter into the flour mixture, working until you have no lumps bigger than a pea. Add the sugar and whatever additions you choose, and stir or toss to mix. Pour the wet ingredients into the dries, reserving just a tad of the milk-egg mixture to use as a glaze. Bring dough together gently with a wooden spoon.

Turn dough out onto a clean counter and knead it no more than 12 times. Pat dough into a round approximately ½-inch thick, and cut into 8 or 12 wedges. Place on an ungreased baking sheet or a Silpat, if you have one. Using a pastry brush, glaze wedges.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack.

Rating = Good

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I'm a Crockpot Whore...aka Slow Cooker Corned Beef

I'm a little late on making the whole Saint Patrick's Day dinner because I was traveling for work last week, and then CB and I were in VT for the weekend. There was 15 inches of powder on Saturday morning, and any form of culinary behavior was not going to happen that day. It was a sip Irish coffees at the lodge and listen to the band all afternoon kind of weekend - it was a March Madness scream at the tv kind of weekend - it was a build a fire and listen to the wood crackle and snap kind of weekend, but it was most definitely (for me) not a cooking weekend. So the corned beef, potatoes and carrots had to wait until now, and man o man was it worth the wait. I've never cooked corned beef in the slow cooker, and I'll be damned if I'll cook it any other way again. It was amazing, and juicy, and the carrots and potatoes had so much flavor. Mmm.

3-4 lb corned beef brisket
1 cup water
4 red skinned potatoes, whole
3 small onions quartered
1 bag baby carrots
2 bay leaves

Pierce potatoes with fork and put in bottom of slow cooker, put brisket on top. Reserve juice from brisket bag and pour into measuring cup, and enough water to equal 1 cup. Pour on top of brisket. Place onions on top of brisket, along with the carrots and bay leaves. Cover and cook on LOW for 10 hours. Enjoy with a nice loaf of Irish Soda Bread.

Rating = So God Damn Good

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Moroccan Chicken Thighs with Chickpeas and Cumin

This is another crockpot adventure, and it is awesome; so simple and so delicious. This recipe came from a book that I've posted about before, Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook.

Does anyone else feel like they are cheating when the cook in a slow cooker? I always feel as if I haven't put enough elbow grease into the meal, even though it always tastes amazing, I somehow feel as if I've cheated CB out of a real home cooked meal. Does anyone else feel like this?

Two 16-ounce cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans) rinsed and drained
One 15-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch squares
1 medium onion chopped
1/4 c golden raisins
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp water
1 1/4 tsp ground cumin
pinch of paprika
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 6)
2 Tbsp cream peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter

For Serving:
Hot cooked couscous or brown rice
3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1. Put the chickpeas, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, raisins, tomato paste, water, cumin and paprika in the clow cooker; stir well. Scatter the chicken on top. Cover and cook on LOW until the chicken is tender and cooked through, 6-7 hours.

2. Stir in the nut butter. Serve hot over couscous, garnished with cilantro.

Rating = So Damn Good

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Low Fat Zucchini Muffins

If you read yesterday's post then you know that I was left with over a cup of pineapple frosting when I was done icing the carrot cake. Not wanting it to go to waste, and not wanting to make another carrot cake esque treat to use it with my dad suggested that I make zucchini muffins. What a great idea. I got a lower fat muffin recipe, which used half white flour and half wheat flour, and also cut down greatly on the fat content by only using 1 tablespoon of oil, and one egg. This way I didn't feel so bad about lathering the muffins with cream cheese goodness. I personally think it was a win win situation. Instead of finely grating the zucchini, I coarsely grated it, which gave the muffins a really earthy texture, not a cake like texture; a welcome change to the usually dessert like substance muffins usually take on. I got this recipe from an recipe search, which came back with this recipe from Fiona Haynes, Low Fat Cooking.

"A sprinkling of raisins and heart-healthy walnuts make these low fat muffins the zucchini equivalent of Morning Glory Muffins. Enjoy with a low fat smoothie for a great start to your day."

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup shredded zucchini, packed
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 tbsp canola oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup fat-free milk
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (I used Pecans because I absolutely hate walnuts)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper cases or spray pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and sugar. In a medium bowl, combine zucchini, lemon zest, canola oil, egg and milk, stirring well.

Make a well in the dry ingredients; add zucchini mixture, raisins and walnuts. Stir until just moist. Do not over mix. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Per muffin: Calories
172, Calories from Fat 40, Total Fat 4.5g (sat 0.4g), Cholesterol 18mg, Sodium 185mg,

I topped half of the muffins with the left over pineapple cream cheese frosting, and sprinkled them with toasted coconut. Yum.

Rating - Damn Good

Monday, March 12, 2007

Cooks Illustrated: Tropical Carrot Cake

My friend Emily who works at America's Test Kitchen, after reading my sans chocolate blog post and my request for carrot cake recipes, was nice enough to send me the May 2007 issue of Cook's Country which features a lovely recipe for Tropical Carrot Cake. Upon looking at the recipe I thought, this is way too much freaking work, but when Saturday came and CB mentioned that he wanted to make a cake for my birthday together I knew it would be fun to tackle an interesting recipe. What's that saying? a couple that bakes together stays together, or gets fat together, not quite sure how that goes, anywho. Saturday came and we had a great time baking this cake, and we were so happy with the results, we actually high fived outselves when we saw the finished product. We are so gay.

Cook's Illustrated: Tropical Carrot Cake Recipe (ver betam)
Serves 12
You'll need one 14-ounce bag of sweetened sheredded coconut for this recipe. To toast the coconut for the frosting, spread it on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a 325 degree oven, stirring often until golden brown.

Pineapple Pudding
1 pound frozen pineapple chuncks thawed
1/2 C frozen pineapple juice concentrate thawed
6 tbs cornstarch

2 1/2C all purpose flour
1 Tbs B. Powder
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 lb carrots (about 6) peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1C sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/4C granulated sugar
1/2C packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2C vegetable oil

Cream Cheese Frosting
12 tbs unslated butter (1 1/2 sticks) softened
3C confectioner's sugar
16 ounces cream cheese softened and cut into 8 pieces
3C sweetened shredded coconut, toasted (see above)

1. FOR THE PUDDING: Process pineapple chunks and concentrate in the food processor until smooth. Transfer to meduim saucepan and whick in constarch until smooth. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and regrigerate at least 1 1/2 hours.

2. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray. Line pans with parchment and spray parchment with cooking spray. Whisk flour, b. powder, pumpkin pie spice, giner and salt in a large bowl.

3. Process carrots in food pricessor until finely ground. Transfer to a large bowl and wipe processor bowl dry. Process coconut with granulated sugar until coconut is finely chopped. Add brown sugar and eggs and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. With machine running, slowly pour in oil and process until combined.

4. Transfer mixture to bowl with carrots. Add flour mixture and 3/4 C pudding mixture and stir until no streaks of flour remain. Pour into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack, peel parchment and let cool completely for two hours.

5. FOR THE FROSTING: With electric mixer at medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, 1 peice at a time, and beat until incorporated. Beat in remaining 1C pudding mixture. (Mixture will appear slightyl grainy.) Refrigerate until ready to use.

6.When cakes are cooled, spread two cups frosting on 1 cake. Top with second cake and spread top and sides with remaining frosting. Regrigerate for 15 minutes. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top and press into sides of cake. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 2 days.

NOTE: I still had a little over a cup of frosting left, because it just seemed like way too much to put on the cake. I was happy that I didn't use it all, but now I have this frosting left over that I would love to top carrot cake muffins with if anyone has a good carrot muffin recipe pass it along. Thanks.

Rating = So God Dam Good - My Dad says that this is the right rating for this!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Lemon Poppyseed Scones

So, this was my first try at making my own recipe from scratch, and yes I cribbed it a bit from other scone recipes I had used, but for the most part, I was winging it.

All in all, I'd say they didn't come out half bad. I used skim milk to cut down on the fat. I also used real lemon juice and not lemon extract. I think that this caused a bit of a reaction with the milk when I was mixing it all up, which could explain why the scones were so light and almost cake like. I expected the scones to be dry because I used skim milk, but they were actually very fluffy. In addition to the juice of one lemon, I used the zest of two lemons in the batter. All in all a pretty good job for my first official sans recipe baking adventure.

Recipe: Lemon Poppyseed Scones
3 C flour
1/2 C sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C butter
1/2 C milk (I used fat free)
Zest of two lemons
Juice of one lemon
1 1/2 tbs poppy seeds

Combine dry ingredients together including zest and poppyseeds. Cut in butter, but don't mix too much. Add milk and lemon juice to batter. combine until batter is wet and all dry ingredients are incorporated. Place on floured surface and knead about 8-10 times. Create circle with the dough, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inc thick and about 8 inches in diameter. Create 8 pie pieces out of dough. Place on a greased cookie sheet, bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Rating = So Damn Good

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Panko Crusted Chicken and Pesto Mashed Potatoes

I have no time. I am literally without extra time. March is always bad for me. Work seems to ramp up, I end up having to do day trips for work, it's the end of spring skiing so CB wants to be in VT as much as possible, I end up being all over the place, and now I have a cold. Great. What did you get for your birthday this year? Me? PHLEM! That's what I got. Big honkin globs of PHLEM.

So last night, I wanted a quick homestyle meal and this was perfect. I took some chicken breast, banged the shit out of them with a meat tenderizer, and then dunked them in a little egg/milk mixture and coated them with panko style bread crumbs, or Japanese style bread crumbs. I then took some regular old potatoes, peeled and boiled them until fork tender, and then mashed then slightly with a little pesto. I served this with fresh baby spinach. Wham bam thank you maa'm dinner in a jiffy. And the pesto had enough flavor that I actually tasted it, which is hard for me right now with this cold, I'm just not tasting much.

Rating Potatoes = So Good Chicken = So Good