Thursday, August 7, 2008

Brantastic!

I really enjoying making healthy, but still yummy dishes. With blueberries being in season I wanted to make blueberry muffins. Using the Food Blog Search I started browsing for a good recipe. I came across a wonderful blog, Foodie Farm Girl. Her muffin recipe is very very good for you, and very yummy at the same time. I mean, her mother said they were the best bran muffin recipe ever. You can’t go wrong with a promise like that! What I liked MOST about this recipe is how healthy the ingredients are. It’s 100% whole grain & there’s NO added sugar. I don’t like muffins that are pretty much just a cupcake, and this one is definitely not. It’s a muffin; and a mighty good one! The only bummer was my own fault. I was out of my favorite all-natural yogurt, Cascade Fresh, and had to use Publix brand, which has artificial sweetners in it. Next time I’ll make sure and use the Cascade Fresh though.

She provides variations on this basic recipe. I wanted to try out the Blueberry Banana Bran version, and but The Boy doesn’t like blueberries, so I wanted to make half a different flavor. Before adding the blueberries I seperated the batter. One half got blueberries, the other half got crushed walnuts. Here’s the recipe. Now, what are you waiting for? Go bake these! You won’t be disappointed!

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Foodie Farmgirl Susan's Basic Bran Muffin

Ingredients:

2 cups (3oz/86g) wheat bran
1 cup (5oz/141g) oat bran
1 cup (6oz/170g) whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons (12g) baking soda
1 teaspoon (6g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (4g) salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup (5oz by weight/156g) milk
2/3 cup (5-1/2oz/156g) yogurt (I used vanilla flavored as that's all I had)
1/3 cup (2-1/4oz/65g) canola oil
1/3 cup (3-3/4oz/108g) molasses or cane syrup (I used local Tennessee sorghum)
1/3 cup (3-3/4oz/108g) honey
1 teaspoon (6g) vanilla extract (optional)

Directions:

Place oven rack in middle of oven and heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a standard size muffin pan. (I used liners but still sprayed them with cooking spray)

Combine wheat bran, oat bran, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

Combine eggs, milk, yogurt, canola oil, molasses, and honey in a small bowl and mix well. (Note: you can use all honey or all molasses instead if desired.) Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until combined.

Generously fill muffin cups with batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool muffins in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then carefully remove from pan and serve warm, or let cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy them plain, drizzled with a little honey, or spread with peanut butter and a slather of your favorite jam. Store muffins in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze. Defrost muffins at room temperature, or in the microwave if you are in a hurry.

Blueberry Bran Muffins
Makes about 10 large muffins. Follow Basic Bran Muffin recipe, but gently fold 1-1/2 cups (7-1/2oz/214g) fresh or frozen blueberries into the batter. There is no need to defrost frozen berries, but do quickly rinse off any ice with cold water.

Blueberry Banana Bran Muffins
Makes 12-14 large and very moist muffins. Follow Basic Bran Muffin recipe, but stir mashed very ripe banana (2 small bananas, about about 9 oz/255g including peel) into wet ingredients. Then gently fold 1-1/2 cups (7-1/2oz/214g) fresh or frozen blueberries into the finished batter. Baking time may need to be increased to 25 to 28 minutes.

Cranberry Orange Bran Muffins
Makes about 10 large muffins. Follow Basic Bran Muffin recipe, but replace the 2/3 cup milk with 2/3 cup orange juice and omit the vanilla extract. Stir 1 cup (4-1/2oz/127g) orange flavored dried cranberries or regular dried cranberries to finished batter. For muffins with more orange flavor, stir 1 teaspoon finely chopped or grated orange zest into the wet ingredients. (When I make this version of them, I might try & use Cascade Fresh's Orange Cream flavored yogurt)

**Since posting this original post, I have also made the Cranberry Orange ones. They were equally delicious.

The pictures just don’t do it justice. These are great! Thanks again to Foodie Farm Girl. She has a GREAT blog, and this recipe is a keeper!

Click this picture to see the gorgeous texture of the bad boys!


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Summer Vegetable Tostadas

I’m a proud member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). It’s been an enjoyable experience. Sometimes it’s challenging, but it has really helped me to broaden my cooking, and really learn how to cook in season. Here’s a recipe that uses great summer veggies, zucchini & corn I cut off the cob!

Overall we really liked this.  I know I did any way.  It definitely did make 4 servings.  I only ate 1, but The Boy had two.  I served it with refried beans (I LOVE refried beans).  This one’s a keeper!

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Chicken and Summer Vegetable Toastadas

from Cooking Light
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons canola oil
12 ounces chicken breast tenders
1 cup chopped red onion (about 1)
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
1 cup chopped zucchini (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup green salsa
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided (we're not cilantro fans, so I skipped this)
4 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Directions:

Preheat broiler.

Combine first 3 ingredients, stirring well. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the spice mixture evenly over chicken. Add chicken to pan; sauté for 3 minutes. Add onion, corn, and zucchini to pan; sauté for 2 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in salsa and 2 tablespoons cilantro. Cook 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring frequently.

Working with 2 tortillas at a time, arrange tortillas in a single layer on a baking sheet; lightly coat tortillas with cooking spray. Broil 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Spoon about 3/4 cup chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla; sprinkle each serving with 1/4 cup cheese. Broil an additional 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Repeat procedure with remaining tortillas, chicken mixture, and cheese. Sprinkle each serving with about 3/4 teaspoon of remaining cilantro. Serve immediately.

CALORIES: 398 (30% from fat); FAT 13.1g (sat 5.9g,mono 4.1g,poly 1.2g); IRON 1.4mg; CHOLESTEROL 75mg; CALCIUM 236mg; CARBOHYDRATE 36.7g; SODIUM 799mg; PROTEIN 32.5g; FIBER 3.1g

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Blondies!

Baking & desserts are two things I’m fairly new at.  Growing up my older sister was always baking cookies, cakes, bars, & candy.  I never really had to learn, because if I wanted something sweet she was bound to make it.  She’s the same way today, always making desserts.

During all my time ogling food blogs I kept seeing lots of blondie recipes.  That is one thing I honestly didn’t remember my sister ever baking.  After attending the  Hot Chicken Festival on the 4th of July, TB had to go into work (one of the downfalls of working at a television news station). I went home to relax on my day off (one of the pluses of working in post production & not live!). I started reading all the blogs again, and one of my favorites is Yumsugar . I saw this recipe and decided I had nothing better to do, I had all the ingredients except the chocolate (I don’t trust myself to keep THAT in the house!!), and I REALLY wanted to bake because I had just purchased REAL vanilla extract.  I had previously been using the Always Best brand of imitation.  I know… horrible right?  Up until now, it’s all I knew.

No chocolate, no problem. I have a grocery store right across the street. I walked over there, to pick up the white chocolate only to discover they were closed! What!?! Grrr…. By this time I already had it set in my mind I was gonna bake this goshdarnit! Luckily Walgreens is up the street on the other corner. I spent about 10 minutes (I’m really indecisive) trying to determine the best chocolate to put in the blondies. They didn’t really have anything like white baking chocolate. But I did discover….

It just so happens TB loves toffee flavored anything.  These chocolate bars were buy one get one free.  So I was off with my purchase ready to begin baking.

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Toffee Peanut Crunch Blondies

adapted from Food Network

Ingredients:

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 bar Dove Peanut Toffee Crunch (or whatever chocolate you want)

Directions:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking pan with sides at least 1 1/2 inches high. Using an electric mixer or mixing by hand, beat together the sugar and egg until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and butter and beat to mix well. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the butter mixture, beating until just incorporated. Do not overmix. Using a spoon, stir in the chocolate.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and use a flat metal spatula or a butter knife to smooth the top. Bake the blondies for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is dry and golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached (not wet, but not perfectly dry). Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Cut the blondies into 2-inch squares. The blondies can be stored, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 3 days (these seem to get better as they sit) or frozen for up to 2 months (thaw before serving).




Sunday, August 3, 2008

Hot Chicken!

So many of you (again, possibly 4 readers, right?) might not be aware that Nashville has it’s own food specialty.  I’m not quite sure how it started, or who did it first, but it’s hot chicken!  I’ve lived here for 2 1/2 years and heard a lot about it, but never tried it.  When 4th of July rolled around, instead of heading out of town to visit family like usual, the gas prices plus other circumstances kept me here.  I decided it was a fine time to check out the hot chicken at the Hot Chicken Festival!

It’s a sampling of all the different establishments that make hot chicken.

All I knew was the first 500 got free samples.  My two favorite words are “free” and “food”.  The festival began at noon.  To be on the safe side, we got there around 11:30am.  Around 11:45am the line started to form.  We hopped in line.  Very quickly after that, this is what I saw behind me.

We only had to wait about 10 minutes then it was our turn!  I was VERY impressed with the size of the samples!

Everything I got, I chose “mild”.

Everything TB got was “hot”.  Except for Prince’s.  Prince’s has 100 degrees, 200 degrees, & 400 degrees.  He got the 200 degrees.

After getting through the line we high-tailed it to the Yazoo beer tent.  Thanks to Nashville’s weirdo laws, we had to stay under this crammed tent to drink the beer.  I think we paid like $5 and we could drink all we want.  I was just excited about the free cups.

Here comes the 200 degrees.

Notice the sweat.  It’s not just weather induced.

He completed the challenge barely.

Again, excited about the free cups.  I love souvenirs.

The aftermath.
Verdict: I was really surprised that they each had their own distinct flavor, taste, & texture.  Some were a very dry rub hot, some were really wet hot, some were sweet hot, and so on…  I can’t wait to go try it out at one of the restaurants!


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Trying New Things "Greek Inspired Turkey Burgers"

Well, this is it.  I’ve finally done it.  I’ve finally gotten around to starting my own blog.  I’m really excited to share my cooking adventures with the world!  (All 4 people that will end up reading this that is…)  Along the way I plan to share a little bit about myself as well.

I have a great boyfriend.  A REALLY great boyfriend!

Isn’t he dapper?

The Boy is a little wary of trying new things. I’ve really pulled him out of that shell.  But sometimes he’s still a little wary.  For instance, a couple weeks ago we decided to have turkey burgers. They were good, but he chose the one that seemed to have the fewest add-ins.  It was good, but not great.  One thing I think I really learned from that is, turkey burgers need a lot of dressing up.

I decided, we could do better!  I had made some homemade tzatziki earlier in the week, and was really wanting to make something greek with it.  I stumbled across this recipe.  And it was SO good!  I varied a little bit from it.  Here’s what I did:

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Greek Inspired Turkey Burgers

adapted from Everything Rachel Ray

Ingredients:

Burger:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan, plus some for drizzling
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 small red onion chopped
1/4 red onion chopped
2 chopped garlic cloves
handful mushroom heads chopped (I eyeballed this amount, it wasn't in the original recipe)
One 10-ounce box frozen spinach, thawed
2 teaspoons dried oregano, lightly crushed in the palm (I used Mediterranean Oregano)
1 1/3 pounds ground turkey breast
1/4 pound crumbled feta cheese (I honestly just eyeballed the amount & put in what I wanted)
1 tablespoon grill seasoning, such as Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick (a palmful)

Salad Topping:
1/4 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced, plus one 2-inch length of cucumber--peeled, trimmed and coarsely chopped
1 plum tomato, thinly sliced (I used roma)
1/4 red onion chopped
1/2 thinly sliced red onion
lemon juice (I used the squirt kind this time, but often use fresh, and just eyeballed the amount)

Directions:

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the EVOO (1 turn of the pan) and the butter. When the butter melts, add the chopped red onion, chopped red pepper, and chopped garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer the onion and garlic to a large bowl to cool.

Combine the sliced cucumber and tomato with the sliced red onion, & sliced red pepper. Dress with lemon juice and EVOO to taste and season with salt and pepper; reserve.

Wring the thawed spinach dry by twisting it in a clean kitchen towel over your sink. Break up the block of spinach as you add it to the cooled onion and garlic. Add the chopped mushroom. Season with 1 teaspoon of the oregano (one-third palmful).

Add the ground chicken and feta, then the grill seasoning. Mix it all together, then divide the mixture with the side of your hand into 6 equal sections. Form 6 patties, each 1 inch thick. Fire up the George Foreman, the grill, the skillet, or however you cook your burgers & cook till done. I flipped mine on the George Foreman to make pretty grill marks.

Spread the tzatziki sauce on the bottom of the bun (I toasted TB's bun, and ate mine bunless with the tzatziki on top of the burger). Then top the burger with the salad mixture.

Nom, nom, nom. He’s just glad I stopped taking pictures & just let him eat it.