Saturday, March 21, 2009

Homemade Peeps

There are two types of Peeps-lovers. Those like them only when their fresh out of the package, soft & stretchy. And those that like them once they are a little stale and stiff. I’m strictly in category 1, and my mom is in category 2. But I think I’ve found a sub-category, those like their Peeps homemade!

After eyeing this recipe for over a year, I’ve developed my marshmallow making skills enough to have the guts to try it. I don’t own a piping bag, so I just used a large Ziploc freezer bag. I think these would of been a little cuter with the correct bag and tip. Whatever you do, DON’T use your regular marshmallow recipe. I didn’t pay enough attention the first time I attempted this, and they did NOT turn out. Be sure to use the marshmallow recipe for piping. I followed Martha’s tips exactly for making these, except for the eyes. I had planned on doing what theKitchn suggested, and just mix cocoa powder and water and apply with a toothpick, but I was so excited I forgot! (Update, I decided it was cruel and unusual punishment to create peeps but not give them eyes, so I did it and had another photoshoot the following day) I’m proud that some of them came out pretty cute! They didn’t all turn out this cute, some were definitely not photogenic. I would like to try this again, as I got better at it the further I went along.

While making these, about halfway through, I needed to pop the marshmallow in the microwave for a little softening up. Don’t leave it in there long, just a couple seconds is fine. I made these on a cookie sheet with 1 inch tall edges to catch all the stray sugar. I had a hard time coating them completely in the sugar. I found though, these were pretty easy to pick up and just dip the uncoated parts in leftover sugar granules once they had dried for a little while. If you need help forming the shape after piping, keep a small bowl of water nearby and dip your fingers in it, then smooth the marshmallow to the shape you want. It’s pretty easy I swear! This marshmallow recipe is nowhere near as sticky as regular marshmallow recipes.

I had a lot of fun making these, and they weren’t nearly as hard as I imagined they would be when I first saw the post. I definitely recommend you giving it a try!

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Homemade Marshmallow Peeps

Ingredients:

1 packet unflavored gelatin (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1/3 cup cold water, for gelatin, plus 1/4 cup for syrup
1 cup sugar

Directions:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water. Allow gelatin to soften, about 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup water and sugar, and stir over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring, and place a candy thermometer into sugar water; wipe sides of pan with a wet brush if sugar crystals have splattered up. Boil sugar until temperature reaches the soft-ball stage (238 degrees).

Remove syrup from heat; add to softened gelatin. Using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer, hand-stir the mixture a few minutes to cool; place bowl on the mixer stand. Beat on medium high with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form and the marshmallow mixture holds shape, 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer marshmallow mixture to a large (14-inch) pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (No. 11 Ateco) tip, and use immediately.

Chick How-To
1. Pipe an oval shape onto sugar, about 1 inch wide, tapering the end and pulling upward to finish with the tail.

2. For the head, pipe a mound on the end opposite the tail, about the width of the body, pushing toward the tail and up. Pull away from the head to form the beak.

3. Immediately sprinkle sugar over the entire surface of the chick. Allow a few minutes for the shape to set.

4. Make eyes with either royal icing, or cocoa powder mixed with water.


Which type of Peeps lover are you??

Friday, March 20, 2009

Strawberry Banana Whole Wheat Muffins


I’m kind of a muffin stickler. I want my muffins packed full of healthy healthy stuff. You have to begin your day as good as possible right? So, when I make muffins I usually want them to use whole wheat flour and any other healthy stuff I can throw in like bran, wheat germ, flax seeds.

Anyone still here? I bet I lost some of you who happen to like the cupcake kind of muffins! If you’re still reading, let me share with you this recipe I’ve had bookmarked for ages. It’s a strawberry banana whole wheat muffin. Taste-wise, this was a yummy muffin! I love the banana strawberry combo. Now, I did have a problem with these actually being TOO moist. They are ok, as long as you eat them warm, but if their cool, the moistness is a little weird. I think if I make these again, I might decrease the flax seed to an 1/8 of a cup, and maybe decrease the bananas to two instead of three. I’m still glad I made these though. After baking, once cooled, I immediately froze these. Then I just pop one in the toaster oven when I hop in the shower. Yum! A healthy and filling breakfast treat.


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Strawberry Banana Whole Wheat Muffins

Ingredients:

2 egg whites
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup fresh sliced strawberries
handful of rolled oats, for topping (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 12 large muffin cups, or line with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, applesauce, oil, brown sugar, vanilla and bananas. Combine the flour, flax seed, wheat germ, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon; Stir into the banana mixture until moistened. Stir in the strawberries until evenly distributed. Spoon batter into muffin cups until completely filled. Top with optional oats.

Bake for 17-20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when pressed lightly. Cool before removing from the muffin tins.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Blondies

I knew the instant I saw these White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Blondies that they were right up The Boy’s alley. He often goes for a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie, and he also loves blondies. So, to combine then into one dessert, would truly be a special treat for him! Which is why I decided to save them until his birthday. You might be wondering, why I made these for his birthday, if I also made the Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting. Well you see, poor pitiful Boy had his birthday fall on a Tuesday this year, and he had to work. We had made plans to go out of town to Atlanta to celebrate, but not until the following weekend. So he had 4 days in between the actual birthday and the cake. I knew I wanted to give him something sweet to tide him over!

And sweet these were! They are a VERY VERY rich dessert! The smell was so intoxicating as these baked. It’s best to wait until these cool completely before cutting them, but we couldn’t wait, and sort of cut into them right away a little. I honestly think he had three that night. I could be wrong though, maybe he had just two. If you’re looking for a bar dessert that is easily transportable and highly addictive, I suggest you give this recipe a try!

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White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Blondies

from Emeril Lagasse, as seen on LovestoEat

Ingredients:

1/2 pound, plus 1 teaspoon butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup macadamia nuts, toasted and rough chopped

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place 1/2 pound of the butter and the brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until a smooth batter is formed. While the machine is running, add the eggs and vanilla extract, until incorporated into the batter.

Sift together 3 cups flour and baking powder. Slowly add the flour mixture to the batter and mix on low speed until a dough is formed. Very gently, by turning the mixer on and then off, fold the chips and nuts into the dough.

Once the dough is all blended, grease a 9 x 9-inch baking pan (I used a 9x13 pan, and still felt they were sufficiently thick) with the remaining butter and dust with the 1 tablespoon of flour. Pour the batter into the pan and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until set yet still moist.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Chicken Green Chili with White Beans

This isn’t the most appetizing looking dish. But it was healthy, yummy, and a great way to use up chicken leg quarters I had in my freezer! For better pics, check out Cooking Light’s page.

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Chicken Green Chili with White Beans

Ingredients:

6 Anaheim chiles
1 tablespoon peanut oil
3 chicken leg quarters, skinned (about 1 3/4 pounds)
1 3/4 cups chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 (15.5-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
6 lime slices

Directions:

Preheat broiler.

Cut chiles in half; discard seeds and membranes. Place halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 5 minutes or until blackened. Place in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel chiles; discard skins. Chop chiles.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from pan. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 6 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Return chicken to pan. Add broth, 1 1/2 cups water, and cumin; bring to a simmer. Cook 20 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken; cool slightly. Remove chicken from bones; cut meat into bite-sized pieces. Discard bones. Add chicken to pan; stir in chopped chiles and beans.

Combine 1/2 cup water and flour, stirring with a whisk. Stir into chicken mixture. Bring to a simmer; cook 15 minutes. Stir in salt. Spoon about 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 6 bowls; top each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons sour cream. Serve with lime slices.

Nutritional Information: Calories:248; Fat:5.6g; Protein:19.1g; Carbohydrate:25.1g
Fiber:4.8g; Sodium:903mg