Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Light and Fresh

**Sorry for the re-post, but I fixed the link for the Shrimp, Jicama & Mango Salad!!*

Today was absolutely gorgeous outside. So much so, that it was impossible to work ;-) Maybe it was just the blue skies after a few days of rain, but I couldn't stop staring out the window! I went in for the morning to do what was absolutely necessary, then took off. Hey, it's the last day our boss is out of town, so i took advantage and went on a nice, long 5+mi walk! (shh, don't tell!)

When I got back and saw these photos on my desktop waiting to be posted about, I knew the timing was perfect. First one featured some mangoes and jicama that were on sale...

Shrimp, Jicama, & Mango Salad

You can find the recipe here. I love the crunch of jicama and the sweetness of the mango in this dish!! I had some Maple-Glazed Butternut Squash & Parsnips alongside, to use up things that were in my fridge. It was a little camera-shy though :) Besides for cutting back a bit on the butter and using dried rosemary instead of fresh, I followed the recipe. This also had a nice textural contrast with chopped marcona almonds amidst the creamy roasted roots! This would make a nice side on your winter table!

The parsnips became another fabulous side dish, this time inspired by Esi-- Parsnip, Carrot & Scallion Fritters. I had more parsnips than carrots in my mix, used WW panko bread crumbs, and egg whites instead of the eggs. I cooked mine up in my favorite nonstick pan (which apparently is no longer available?), no extra oil needed! Served on a bed of baby spinach with a large dallop of hummus. These were awesome!! I don't know why, but these really exceeded my expectations and I can't wait to make them again :)

Parsnip, Carrot & Scallion Cakes

I almost forgot--giveaways!! Sarah has got it goin' on with Bob's Red Mill, and Rose-Anne also has a giveaway going on. Click on over and you might even get to learn how to use your kitchen to fall in love ;-) You can also participate in a scavenger hunt to find something chocolate-covered and win some great loot!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Choc Hazelnut Gelato

Phew, what a week! Here are more doggie pics and nutella-like treat as promised!!

About a week or so before my parents came to visit, my dad casually mentioned that someone he works with had given their son an ice cream maker for christmas. When they went to visit him, he had made two kinds of ice cream for them. I took this as a hint :) I knew I wanted it to be a tad richer than my first ventures, and when I saw Elra's Hazelnut Praline Gelato I knew just what I was going to make for my parents.


I tried to make my own hazelnut praline, as I already had some hazelnuts in my freezer. If you can find roasted, peeled hazelnuts, buy them. Whatever they cost. I think this is my least favorite thing to do in the kitchen. Seriously, I've done it twice now and find it so frustrating, not even half of them peel nicely.


Back to the candy. I think my patience was lacking when I tried this step, but my sugar never really completely melted. I went ahead anyways, and ended up with some nuts that had some hardened sugar around it. When I went to grind this in my food processor, the furthest I could get it was a very fine powder. Hmmm. How to make it a paste?? I thought about adding a bit of oil, but then it hit me--melt some chocolate and mix that with the ground hazelnuts!!! (I'd be lying if I said this came quickly, I think it took a few hours, but I was doing this in steps, ahead of time) I took a small handful of bittersweet chocolate chips, melted them in the microwave, then added it to the hazelnuts to make a lovely chocolate hazelnut spread. And then I almost ate it all before it went into the ice cream. :)

Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato

Luckily I saved most of it from immediate consumption, and weighed it at 6-8oz if i remember correctly. I had 3c of milk, so used that and scaled back the cornstarch a bit. The link above has the method for actually making the ice cream. Oooh yeah, it came out fantastic, tasted just like nutella to me!! Mom thought it almost had the consistency of ice milk, which I've never tried. I thought it was nice and creamy-- awesome since it didn't have the egg yolks and heavy cream that find their way into regular ice cream. And I used fat free Lactaid milk with this, as that's what I always have on hand. (Although that may change, as I recently tried Smart Balance Lactose-free Skim milk and it might win out!)

If I did this again, I'd skip the whole candy-making step, maybe even using almond flour (which I can get pretty cheaply at trader joe's) and melted chocolate instead of the praline paste and jumping right into ice cream making!! Luckily I have one scoopful left! Who's ready for summer? :)


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Not so much fresh

Before I forget, I wanted to thank Justin, from Marx Foods, who sent me samples of some of their whole spices!!

Totally made my day :) I can't wait to use them! And I finally took down the snowflakes... we did pass the first day of spring after all.

Part of the reason for my lack of posting?

Dante & Sampson

More doggie time!!!! Seriously, I can watch them play with each other for hours :) So entertaining! And when Dante wants to cuddle on the couch with a movie, who am I to fight??

Oh right, food. For now all I got is this Beet, Fennel & Jicama Salad w/Macadamia Nut Dressing. It was just ho-hum. I like fennel better caramelized, not so much a fan of it fresh (hence the title of this post). But hey, I tried! The tomatoes seemed slightly out of place, and the dressing had potential, but didn't seem to fit here. Maybe in cookies ;-) I could've just been in the mood for something warmer given this weeks' *chilly* temperatures in Boston.

Next time I promise something more tasty... and I got one word to entice you back-- nutella. You'll be back to see what it is, right? :) Thought so!!

Still more contests... Ricki is having another sweet contest, and I only wish I was closer to Toronto! Trust me, this one's good, b/c I never thought I'd say that :) Elina and Abbie are taking their turn playing Granola Mix-a-lot. There are also a bunch Newman's Own goodies up for grabs, and last but not least, there's also a chance to get your paws-err, hands, on Barney Butter! That should keep you all busy :)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

WW Oat Bread

More bread baking since I couldn't bring myself to spend even $2.50 on a loaf of bread at the store. It's not that much, but knowing that I could make my own loaf for less than that, I opted for the latter. I probably just spent the $2.50 on something else, but that's besides the point!

On to the bread... I had copied this recipe down awhile ago so I went ahead and made a loaf of Whole Wheat Oat Bread. For the flour I used a mix of WW, WWW, and AP flour. I also needed more flour than called for, easily another 1/2c. As temperature, humidity, elevation can all play games with bread recipes, I went with my yeast experiences and added as much as needed so the dough was no longer sticky.

The result was a fantastic loaf of bread!! Maybe my best loaf yet ;-) Nice and moist, full of flavor it was fantastic on the side of a bowl of soup, or Winter Ratatouille w/Poached Egg.

I'm so behind with my blogging and reading (sorry!!), but I did happen to notice a Vita-Mix giveaway over at Jumbo Epanadas. Oh how I would rock this puppy out :) Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Not your average Chicken & Rice!

Another great recipe from FatFree Vegan Kitchen, this Turkish Pilaf did not disappoint! Instead of cooking my own rice, I took a shortcut with a brown and wild rice pouch. I also took Susan's suggestion and made it ahead of time. My parents and I went back for seconds!

To go with this, I served up Crispy Panko Mustard Chicken, and somehow forgot to take a picture--oops! I doubled the mustard and used a combo of regular yellow mustard and whole grain dijon. Quick, easy, and tasty!! Although next time I'd probably cut back on the butter... but that's just me :) While the two dishes don't necessarily go "together," I was going for speed and we all enjoyed the party of flavors!

More contests!! Chances to win Mix My Granola at Soap & Chocolate and Missy Maintains. Remember how I joked about looking for a YouBar giveaway? My prayers were answered at Run to the Finish :) And don't forget about Jenn's giveaway for her 1st Blogiversary.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Brunchin it :)

While my parents were in town, I got to host a brunch with my mom's cousin and his wife. I did alot of the prep ahead of time so that the morning was very relaxed :) On the menu...

Sweet & Spicy Bacon

Sweet & Spicy Bacon
I've seen this everywhere, I think it originated from Gourmet

1 pkg bacon
2T turbinado sugar
1/8t cayenne pepper
1/4t fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350deg. Line two baking sheets with parchment, and place bacon in single layer. Bake 20min. While this is baking, mix spices. After 20min, I drained this and lined them with a fresh sheet of parchment, flipping them over in the process. Sprinkle spice mix over the bacon, and bake for another 20min or so until nice and crispy. Drain on paper towels before serving!

Monte Cristo Bake

The challah I recently posted was fabulous in a Monte Cristo Bake. As you all mentioned, it is a fabulous vehicle for french toast!! And this was a great savory take on the breakfast dish.Yes, I'm aware this defeats the purpose of a vegan challah, but it was the whole wheat and flax that appealed to me :)

Monte Cristo Bake
adapted from feelgood eats (blog no longer exists)
(serves 6-8)
  • 1 loaf of challah (or brioche)
  • 6 large eggs, beaten  (or a mix of eggs and whites)
  • 1 cup milk (or unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 pound sliced deli ham
  • 1 1/2 cups finely shredded cheddar cheese and/or cave-aged gruyere
  • 1/4 cups maple syrup, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
Preheat the oven to 375F. Spray a large casserole dish with nonstick spray.

Slice the bread into 1/4″-1/2″ slices. Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Dip the bread slices in the batter and then place them in the bottom of the casserole dish in a single layer - you can scrunch and tear to get a nice layer without gaps.

Layer all of the ham over the slices and then cover with cheese. Dip the remaining bread slices in the batter and arrange on top of the ham and cheese to cover. Drizzle over 1/4 cup maple syrup.

Loosely cover the casserole with foil and bake for 55 minutes. To finish, place the casserole directly under the broiler and broil on high for 3 minutes - you just want it to crisp up a bit, so keep your eye on it! Place the confectioners sugar in a fine mesh sieve and then lightly tap the sieve over the casserole for a nice dusting of sugar on top. Serve immediately with maple syrup as garnish.

Breakfast Casserole

To incorporate some veggies into the meal, I also made a Breakfast Casserole with asparagus, portabellos, sundried tomatoes and goat cheese. It was inspired by Kalyn's recipe, and I pretty much followed her lead! I added some sundried tomatoes, crumbled in some goat cheese (~2oz?), used thyme instead of Spike seasoning, and baked it in a 9"sq pan. Oh, I used a mix of eggs and egg whites here too.

My guests brought along a nice fresh fruit salad, completing the meal quite nicely :) Great food and great company, what more could you ask for??

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Hearty Challah

Stress has got the best of my sleeping, but I'm looking forward to a visit from my parents this weekend :) I'll have a lot to post, but for now I leave you with an awesome whole wheat challah that will be featured at brunch tomorrow. Whaddya know, it's even vegan!!

I also have to tell you about the lunch I threw together today, but no picture because I didn't have time to find batteries this morning. Imagine this: baby spinach, 1 pouch mango chipotle salmon, ~1c cooked wheat berries, leftover roasted eggplant and sweet potato (prob ~2T each), the butt of a red pepper diced, and goat cheese (~1oz). Warmed up just a little bit, mixed all together, it was pretty delicious!! And random :) Talk about cleaning out the fridge!

Some more contests...
Granola giveaways galore, at Lucky Taste Buds and N Her Shoes. If you like Pure bars (or wanted to try them), head over to An Apple a Day for a chance to win some! How about the first Morels of the season? Marx Foods is giving away 2lbs to one lucky winner! Hope you guys have a great weekend :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Is it Thursday yet??

As I wrote the last post, I was wondering about what makes something ice cream vs. frozen yogurt vs. gelato, etc. Thanks to Lee who asked the same question, I found this informative link The Buttermilk Sorbet is actually more sherbet, as it contains dairy. Semantics, sure, either way it tasted very refreshing!

Bear with me the next few weeks, things will be busy and I'm not sure how much I'll be able to cook, post, and comment on all of your lovely blogs. A few random things tonight...

Some buffalo chicken, that I served up with some pasta and leftover roasted red pepper and tomato sauce. I had some crushed Buffalo chips that I mixed with a little bit of ground Fiber one and WW panko bread crumbs. This mixture was used to bread chicken breasts (patted dry, dip in egg sub, then breading) before baking at 350 until I remembered about them. Topped off with some Franks, this was very yummy :)

Next up was a Chicken Chorizo, Sweet Potato & Black Bean Soup. It was just ok, though, so I don't think it's worth posting the recipe. Maybe I'll play with this a bit...

Last up is my entry for the Great Peanut Butter Exhibition, Sandwiches. Any guesses as to what's in it??

Let's not forget the contests... Another chance to try Erin Bakers products at Missy Maintains, and Turtle Mountain coupons up for grabs by Heather, who *may* love almond butter almost as much as I do :)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Frozen Buttermilk Goodness

I have been working my way through the freezer (full of veggies, fruits, baked goods, meats, soup) to make room for my christmas present. With an almost-full container of buttermilk in my fridge, and my bowl good and frozen, I got churning!

First up was a Buttermilk Sorbet from Cooking Light. So light and refreshing, with a little tang from the buttermilk, this would be fantastic in the summer! I enjoyed it on top of a vitatop, out of the container, and topped with fresh berries :)

Buttermilk Sorbet w/Vitatop

To use the bag of strawberries in my freezer, I also did a half batch of Strawberry Buttermilk Gelato, also from Cooking Light. Good thing, too, this was was just as good! I don't like to discriminate when it comes to ice cream... or nut butter, for that matter :) They each shine in their own right!

Strawberry Buttermilk Gelato

And in other exciting eats, I finally tried a bowl of blended wheat berries (with milk and half a banana),a la Katie, topped with Heather's chocolate pudding. Delish!! Mine were probably half-blended, but i like the chew :)

And while I'm at it, visit Foods that Fit for a giveaway to celebrate her new site :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Green Monster Muffins

Two posts in two days! Aren't you guys lucky? :) A hello to any first-time readers who found me via Miz!

Imagine my surprise when the amazing Mizfit asked me to do a guest post for her! Quite intimidating, but one morning the perfect opportunity arose. Check out the post :) Here are some action shots from those babies...

Up close and personal!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A trip to Spain, no France... oops!

Ever since trying my first Tortilla Espanola at Tapeo, I've wanted to make this at home. I had picked up some chicken/turkey andouille, which I kept thinking was chorizo, so I had this dish in mind. When I went to make it and realized my mistake, I went ahead anyways. It should work, right? Slightly different seasonings, but still delicious! I used a nonstick pan, so got away with a bit less oil, and also snuck in some egg substitute for some of the eggs.

This was awesome for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and reheated very well! If you ever make it to Tapeo, they had some pretty tasty sangria!! Went down nice and easy ;-)

Like to pave your own way? Visit Fit for Free and HealthingIt to enter a chance to create your own granola and cereal, respectively :) Any YouBar giveaways going on I don't know about?? There's also a chance to go raw with Mom on the Run!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Broccoli Rabe

Thanks to everyone for their broccoli rabe/raab/rapini suggestions! I will try the simple saute with it next time, but I was worried a bit by its bitter smell so I chickened out. Here's what I came up with instead...

Pasta w/Sausage & Broccoli Rabe
Serves 2

5oz orecchiette (if you want to make your own, check this recipe out!)
1 bunch of broccoli rabe, tough ends removed, then cut into ~1" pieces
1/2lb sweet italian chicken sausage
2 cloves garlic, pressed
a few shakes of red pepper flakes
5 sundried tomato halves, revived in some boiling water and diced

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt, then add pasta. Towards the last few minutes of cooking, add the broccoli rabe. When pasta is al dente, drain pasta and rabe.

While water is coming to a boil and pasta cooking, saute sausage. Once starting to brown, add garlic, red pepper flakes and sundried tomatoes. (I wait to add the garlic until the end b/c it always cooks so fast, this way it doesn't burn) Cook a few minutes, then turn off the heat.

When sausage mix and pasta/broccoli rabe is done, combine and toss. Separate into serving dishes (or tupperware). I finished it off with a drizzle of lemon EVOO and some freshly grated parmesan.

My thoughts? Very yummy, and I didn't really notice the bitterness I smelled when it was raw. The broccoli rabe sure beefs up the size of this dish!! The sausage is completely optional, and you could also saute the broccoli rabe before tossing it with the cooked pasta.

Apparently 'tis the season for giveaways! Hit up Oh She Glows for a chance to get shredded. Is that a word? Anywho, there's also some Barney Butter up for grabs at Lucky Taste Buds. Help a girl out and go visit her site and NOT enter the contest. just kidding :) And ever tried Erin Baker's breakfast cookies? If not, pop on over to One Frugal Foodie for a chance to win :) And Trek on over to Simply Fabulous for another giveaway. And health nut for a BPA-free water bottle. Phew! Hope everyone had a great weekend!
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