Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Strawberry Avocado Smoothie

On a random note, I was perusing through foodgawker, one of my favorite sights and saw a picture of oatmeal and blueberries. One of my favorite memories of my mom making me a special yet healthy breakfast. I had to click on it and it was this description of why breakfast is so important to eat (http://blogs.babble.com/family-kitchen/2011/02/14/breakfast-club-join-in/). I think I've forgotten that. I wake up with barely enough time to brush my teeth and run out the door. I think it is time for a change. I need to get to bed earlier so I can wake up and actually eat something better than a few cheep breakfast bars. I would love it if I could spend time and eat a yummy avocado smoothie, or fruit oatmeal, or toast and yogurt.

So I decided to try an avocado/green smoothie. As I looked around at tons of recipes there were lots that looked really good. One that I liked was Enzo's Green Smoothie (http://www.kitchencorners.com/2011/02/green-smoothie-because-enzo-thought-it.html) because it didn't have dairy in it (because even though you may not have guessed I am lactose intolerant). So this one was my inspiration though its not really a lot like it. I also have watched my roommates make them a bit. There's typically didn't have avocado in them, or I don't think they did. But I remember trying it and being surprised at how tasty they were! Now, I did go through and look at some of the nutritional values for this lovely drink. I went onto nutritiondata.self.com and looked up each ingredient. I found that this drink is probably about 560 calories! So, this is something to eat on its own and is its own meal. I ate it after I got home from doing a cycling class and it felt great. I think the good thing with this is all the vitamins. If you use water instead of orange juice and cut back on some of the honey it would help also. But I was mostly going for for flavor and seeing what happened with an avocado smoothie.

So, this particular one tastes like strawberries. Its delicious! It does have a healthy flavor to it, in that its not overly sweet, but especially for breakfast this would be wonderful.

Strawberry Avocado Smoothie
Serves: 1

1/2 avocado
1 c frozen strawberries
1/2 c spinach (mine was frozen but I don't think it needs to be) 
4 baby carrots (or equivalent)
3 tbsp honey
1/2 c orange juice

      1) Blend all the ingredients together in a blender. 
      2) Add more orange juice till desired consistency. Then drink! 

Nutritional Facts: Calories about 560, Fat: all from avocado - 10.5 g, click on the links for all the vitamins and such. Cuz there are lots!
Avocado: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1844/2
Strawberries: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/2066/2
Carrots: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/3026/2
Spinach: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2626/2
Honey: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/sweets/5568/2
Orange Juice: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1973/2

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Focaccia bread

I remember my sophomore year in college when one of my roommates, Lydia, would make focaccia bread. I have been craving it for about a week or so. So for dinner group I decided it was time. I googled and looked around for a good recipe and found one on allrecipes.com (i love that website) and read through the reviews to make sure that I wouldn't end up with something nasty.  I added some veggies on top, added in a little wheat flour (cuz basically I'm obsessed) and it was delicious!

It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to serve with it. I thought pasta, but then I thought that is too many bread like food. So I started thinking Chicken and decided to do a breaded chicken of some sort. At first I wanted to coat the chicken and then dip it in some shake n' bake like recipe. When I went into my kitchen, I found that I had italian bread crumbs so I just decided to use those. But I think that if there was a little more salt or something in them it would have been better. So, I did all this research to see which moistener/adhesive would be best - olive oil (http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fats-and-oils/509/2), mayonnaise (http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fats-and-oils/7520/2), or egg white (http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/112/2). Typically recipes I've seen use one of these. So, in the end it seems as though egg white is the healthiest (ha ha.. surprise surprise.. but I wanted fact not just my thoughts). But whats funny, is that I ended up just using water! I had thawed the chicken in a bowl of hot running water and it was moist and so I just dipped it in the bread crumbs and put them on the pan. Sprinkled some Parmesan on them Baked 'em for like 20 minutes. Delicious. Then I also served it with an apple salad with lemon dressing.

Veggie Focaccia Bread
Source: Adapted from Terri McCarell at allrecipes.com (http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/focaccia-bread/Detail.aspx)
Makes: 1 cookie sheet sized foccacia

1 cup water
1 tsp white sugar
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (2 cups white flour, 3/4 cups wheat flour)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 pinch ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 Roma tomato, thinly sliced
1/3 small zucchini, thinly sliced
2 tbsp onion, thinly sliced
1/4 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Take about a cup of warm water from the tap (roughly 110 F) and put it into the bowl, mix in the sugar, then add the yeast. Let it sit for about 10 minutes or till its all foamy. 
  2. Add in the 1 tbsp olive oil and salt. Stir and then add the dry ingredients - flour, oregano, thyme, basil, pepper. (I combined the dry ingredients first to make sure they were evenly mixed throughout the flour).
  3. Kneed dough till smooth and elastic on a floured surface. If it is dry you can add a little more water, I think I added about an extra 1/4 c. warm water at this point.
  4. Place in a bowl, turn to coat with a little oil. Then cover and let rise for about 20 minutes in a warm location. 
  5. While the bread is rising, make sure all the vegetables are prepared and ready to be put on the bread. 
  6. Preheat oven to 450 F. Put parchment paper down on the cookie sheet (this helps SO much with preventing the bread from sticking)
  7. Punch down the dough. Spread it on the parchment paper on the cookie sheet. Brush on about 2 tbsp of olive oil. Spread the garlic, tomatoes, bell pepper, zucchini and onions on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
slicing the veggies!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chocolate Banana Soup

Tonight was one of those fun girls nights. Watched Nacho Libre, made chocolate banana soup and ate pizza. We had decided we wanted to make something a little experimental. I was looking through one of my cookbooks that I love to just read. Its called "Dessert Circus" by Jacques Torres. Its basically fancy dessert cooking. I came across this soup and thought well this is interesting and has potential.

We made a few alterations to the original, number one we didn't soak the bananas in rum... but in a makeshift rum. Which is made through molasses, pineapple juice and almond extract (http://homecooking.about.com/library/archive/blalcohol6.htm). Who knows if that's really what its like or not but it was tasty either way.We also wanted to eat the end product a little faster so I added a thickener to the chocolate soup portion, like 1/4 cup of flour, this way it would get thick enough for the meringue with just like half an hour of cooling instead of 2 hours. Yes... sometimes I'm a little impatient. We also made the dish in a souffle dish, next time I do think it would be better in smaller dishes, this way I think everyone would get a more even bananas to chocolate to meringue ratio.

We also attempted to caramelize the sugar about 5 times and every time it just didn't work. I've put the links to some youtube videos that will hopefully help you on your venture of caramelizing.The first one lets you see the whole process very nicely and the second seems very similar to what we want to do for this caramel since you add in the butter. We kept having the issue of the caramel becoming rock hard when we added anything into it. Now when I googled why it hardens, it seems as though we got the temperature to high. It shouldn't get above 250 degrees. I will have to try this again and see if I can ever really caramelize sugar!


Wow, it was so rich! (It tasted like something you should be eating at a restaurant!) Very yummy though. Especially when you are eating the bananas in the chocolate it tastes like a chocolate covered banana. It only gets better when the light fluffy meringue gets added in. :)

Banana Chocolate Soup
Source: Adapted from Dessert Circus by Jacques Torres. Copyrighted 1998. p.104
Makes: 8 servings

Caramelized bananas
4 large bananas, peeled and sliced
1/2 tbsp molasses
1/4 c pineapple juice
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 tbsp unsalted butter (optional)

4 c Whole milk
1/4 c flour
10 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

7 large egg whites
1-3/4 powdered sugar
  1. Mix the molasses, pineapple juice, and almond extract in a mixing bowl. Here you are just diluting the molasses to get 1/4 cup of this mixture. 
  2. Mix the sliced bananas into this mixture till covered, let sit as you make the caramel. 
  3. Heat a pan on medium high heat. When it is warm add the sugar. Coat the bottom of the pan evenly.
  4. Shake and sift the sugar around (a good demonstration is in the first youtube video) till all is melted then add in the butter to add smoothness to the caramel. 
  5. Add in the banana mixture and mix the bananas and caramel. If there is a lot of extra liquid let it sit in the pan a little longer on heat till it evaporates a little then put into your dish/dishes. (I used a souffle pan)
  6. Mix the milk and flour in a sauce pan.
  7. Heat the whole milk in the sauce pan till boiling then add the chocolate. Stir till melted. Take off heat, Pour into your baking dish/dishes.
  8. Put dish/dishes into a 13 by 9 inch pan and place in the fridge till thick enough to support the meringue. Suggested 2 hours. (I probably only had it in there for a half an hour to an hour) 
  9. Make the meringue by beating the egg whites in a large mixing bowl till frothy. Then 1 tbsp at a time add in the powdered sugar till it creates stiff but not dry peaks. 
  10. Take the chocolate soup out of the fridge and top with the meringue in a decorative manner. If your soup has gotten cold inside (feel the outside of the dish on the sides) cover the sides of your dish as close to 1/3rd of the way up as you can with warm water and let it sit for 30 minutes to warm the soup. 
  11. Heat the oven to 450. 
  12. Remove the soup from the warm water bath and place on a baking sheet. Put in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes or until the meringue begins to brown. Then serve! 
The chocolate soup after cooling.. mmm.... 
Delicious toasted meringue topping

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Meringue Frosting

I borrowed a mini cupcake pan from a friend and decided I needed to make cupcakes! So I started my search for a delicious recipe and found this one by El at freshnewengland.blogspot.com. Her blog is so beautiful and these cupcakes were no exception. 

I decided to do an experiment - try half of the recipe with white flour and half with wheat flour and see if I could tell a difference -- verdict is no. So go for wheat flour!!

Secondly I thought that these cupcakes were so rich so it might be nice to add something fresh to them to kind of make them my own. I decided to dice up strawberries and sprinkled them into a meringue and put that on top of the cupcakes. That was divine! Like a chocolate strawberry shortcake! I also made that meringue with honey, to see if the natural sugar was still good. You could taste the honey a little in the meringue, but I found if you toasted the meringue once on the cupcakes, the honey flavor wasn't overpowering.

I also made a chocolate meringue frosting and a white chocolate meringue frosting. They were all delicious. These were both very yummy. Much like a mousse. I especially enjoyed the chocolate frosting. I felt the texture was very yummy and it was extremely chocolaty. In my pictures I accidentally flattened my white chocolate meringue so it doesn't look as fluffy, but originally it was fluffy. I just learned don't beat the meringue when you add the chocolate. Fold it in! Otherwise, all fluffiness leaves!

Ultimate Dark Chocolate Cupcakes 
Makes:50 mini cupcakes

1/2 cup plus 2 tsp. cocoa powder
1 cup plus 2 tbs. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups (whole wheat) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
12 tbs. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2.  Mix milk and cocoa powder together in pan. Heat gently until well blended. Mixture should be warm but not hot. Turn off heat. Add vanilla and stir.Whisk remaining dry ingredients together and set aside.
  3. Beat butter in bowl fitted with paddle at medium high speed about 35 seconds. Scrape down bowl. Gradually sprinkle in sugar; beat until white and fluffy 3-5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time beating a full minute after each addition. Scape down bowl.
  4. With mixer on lowest speed add 1/3 dry ingredients mix until almost incorporated. Add 1/3 chocolate mixture mix until almost incorporated. Repeat process until ingredients are added. Be sure to scrape down bowl. Beat until mixture looks satiny about 15 seconds.
  5. Line cupcake tin. Fill 3/4 full of batter. Bake for 20 minutes.(For mini cupcakes, bake for about 13 minutes) Allow to cool before frosting.

Chocolate Meringue Frosting 
Makes: enough to frost 24 cupcakes

2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tarter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
3 oz semi sweet chocolate
1 tbsp heavy whipping cream (could probably just use milk)
  1. Separate the egg whites and put into a bowl add the cream of tarter and vanilla. Beat until frothy. 
  2. Add sugar slowly and beat until soft peaks form (they may never quite get there.. if not as long as really soft peaks form). 
  3. Melt the chocolate (best way is in a double broiler) and add the heavy whipping cream. Allow the chocolate to cool a little. 
  4. Fold in the meringue till combined and smooth. 
  5. Put a dollop onto each cupcake. 

White Chocolate Meringue Frosting
Makes: enough for 24 mini cupcakes

2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tarter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tsp sugar
2 oz white chocolate (or vanilla almond bark)
  1. Separate the egg whites into a bowl. Add cream of tarter and vanilla extract. 
  2. Beat till frothy
  3. Slowly add in the sugar beating between each addition
  4. Beat till forms soft peaks
  5. Melt the chocolate, let cool slightly
  6. Fold the chocolate into the meringue till combined and smooth. 
  7. Top cupcakes with frosting.
Strawberry Honey Meringue
Makes: enough for about 24 mini cupcakes

2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tarter
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 tsp honey
7 strawberries, diced
  1. Separate the egg whites into a bowl, add the cream of tarter and vanilla. Beat until frothy. 
  2. Add the honey slowly, beating between each addition until soft peaks form. 
  3. Add diced strawberries and fold in, then top cupcakes with the frosting.
  4. If desired, broil the tips of the frosting to toast the meringue.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Banana Cream Pie

So the other day my friends and I decided to celebrate Crisco. Now, I thought it was the 75th anniversary, but after further research I believe it was the 100th anniversary. 

So one of my favorite pies that I've been making recently is Banana Cream. At this lovely pie celebration we (friends from dinner group and me) made 6 pies! But the one we will talk about today is the Banana one. Sadly I didn't get any pictures of it before it was demolished.. but maybe next time I make it I'll take one and add it to the blog. But this particular recipe is delicious! I have found that I am a lover of meringue! It mixes perfectly with the bananas and pudding and is healthy (or healthier than cream :) ). At least I feel it is healthier than cream. I have also been converted to making homemade pudding. mmm... it is amazing...  (Is this healthier? probably not... but it tastes better!) We also put this in a vanilla wafer crust. It added an extra sweetness but didn't take away from the pie. You could do a normal pie crust, but I just really like it with the vanilla wafer crust.

Now this is my first non-healthy recipe... who would have thought. I really didn't think I would be doing a health food blog, but it is kind of turning into that. So just to mix it up I think I needed to add a pie recipe in here. Plus pie is my favorite dessert so it needs to be represented! 

Banana Cream Pie
Source: adapted from Rhonda at All Recipes and comments (http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/banana-cream-pie-i/Detail.aspx)
Servings: 8

Vanilla Wafer Crust

1-1/2 c crushed vanilla wafers
6 T melted butter and bake for 5 minutes at 350
  1. Mix ingredients till all is moistened. 
  2. Press mix into pie plate to form a crust
  3. Bake for 5 mins at 350

¾ c white sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
2 c milk
3 egg yolks beaten (save the egg whites for the meringue)
2 tbsp butter
1 ¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
4 bananas, sliced
  1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, and salt. Add milk in gradually while stirring gently. Cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is bubbly. Keep stirring and cook for about 2 more minutes, and then remove from the burner. 
  2. Stir a small quantity of the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks, and immediately add egg yolk mixture into the rest of the hot mixture. Cook for 2 more minutes; remember to keep stirring. Remove the mixture from the stove, and add butter and vanilla. Stir until the whole thing has a smooth consistency. 
  3. Slice bananas into the cooled baked pastry shell. Top with pudding mixture. 
  4. Chill for three hours and serve.
Nutritional Data:  Calories per serving: 303     Total Fat: 11.1 g     Cholesterol: 89mg


3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp vanilla
3 tsp sugar
  1. Beat the first three ingredients until frothy.
  2. Gradually add the sugar and beat until soft peaks form.
  3. Spoon onto pie and decorate as desired, then toast it. (I use the broiler because I lack a cool cooking torch - but keep a close eye on it!)
  4. Put back into fridge till time to serve.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Light Brown Sugar vs Dark Brown Sugar

Tonight I was at a friends house eating some delicious pumpkin cranberry bread pudding (I believe it was from a weight watchers cookbook). It helped me to remember how wonderful it is to have small groups over to share in the yummy baked goods. I do this often with dinner group, but this was just a random small group of girls and it made my night to just sit and talk about life.

Now a question was brought up while we were there. Is there a different between light and dark brown sugar. So I looked it up. According to Taste of Home, light brown sugar has a "delicate flavor" while dark brown sugar has a "stronger more intense molasses flavor." Does it matter which you use? They say its just depends on what you prefer. (http://www.tasteofhome.com/Cooking-Tips/Ask-the-Test-Kitchen/Light-Versus-Dark-Brown-Sugar) So sounds like the flavor/color will differ, but the texture/product will be basically the same which ever you use.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Stir Fry

So tonight I decided to make stir fry for dinner. If I had to eat one thing for the rest of my life.. stir fry would be it. This one turned out delicious. My roommate helped in this one though. I was making it and then she suggested to use this sauce that she likes. It was awesome. So I dumped it in! :) I enjoyed this recipe because it had so many different things in the stir fry. The only extravagant ingredient was the almonds which could be easily omitted - it was fun to have an extra crunch though. Adding cabbage is nice. I feel like it gives the meal more body - so kind of like a filler. I also served this with rice and as a side I had grapes and mini oranges.

Stir Fry
Source: adapted from Hailey and Bill at primal palate (http://www.primal-palate.com/2011/01/chicken-and-vegetable-lo-mein.html)
Serves: 4

1 lb Chicken  cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup water chestnuts
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1/2 of a red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1 tablespoon minced Ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups broccoli
2 cups shredded cabbage (about half the head)
Toasted sesame oil
Mr. Yoshidas Marinade and cooking sauce - original gourmet, sweet and savory
Sesame seeds to garnish (optional)
  1. Prepare the meat and vegetables by cutting them into bite sized pieces.
  2. Chop almonds, green onion, celery; mince garlic and ginger.
  3. Heat pan over high heat and add sesame oil and swirl so it coats the bottom.
  4.  Add meat and cook for 3-5 minutes until mostly cooked.
  5. Add in broccoli, water chestnuts, celery and pepper; cook for 2 minutes
  6. Add in almonds, cabbage, ginger, green onion and garlic. Add a splash of Mr. Yoshidas (2-4 tbsp or more if you want more sauce. just till it looks yummy). Cook 2-3 minutes, until cabbage softens a little.
  7. Remove from heat add sesame seeds if you wish and partake :)