Monday, January 23, 2006

I guess it's a good change

It's something I've realized recently. I've lost my taste for very rich foods. Or maybe I'm just more sensitive to butter. I don't eat it on my bread anymore, at least not usually. I like the taste of a good bread or biscuit, and I think that butter hides it.

The reason I bring this up is that I made chocolate chip cookies tonight. And for the second time, I've made chocolate chip cookies and felt that they were too greasy/buttery. I hope that it's more the recipe than my taste, though. I like chocolate chip cookies.

Maybe I should go back to basics. Try the original Toll House recipe the next time.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

One of those just do it nights

I didn't do much cooking last week. For some reason, I just wasn't in the mood. Probably stuck in overplanning mode. Anyway, last night I was trying to plan this week's meals. I already had found a recipe for ARF, and was planning on making it tonight. Oh - it's Sunday, just to give a sense of what I mean by tonight. Anyway, I was resisting making the ARF meal tonight, because it's fairly easy to put together, and since I had an entire day to play, I figured I might as well do something slightly more involved. I had had a frozen pizza Saturday night, so that put it into my mind - homemade pizza time!

This recipe is a new one to me, both crust and topping. The recipe is from Weight Watcher's Simply the Best Italian. The cookbook is one that I got for free from someone on one of the boards I used to post to. She had bought it, and didn't think she would cook from it. It is a little more "Italian" than the casual eater might think - more in depth than spaghetti with meatballs, I can tell you that. I've actually made another pizza from this cookbook that turned out well. Tonight's pizza turned out so nicely.

First of all, I am thrilled to say I had the patience to let the dough rise without rushing it. I let it go for longer than the recipe said, and by the time I got back to it, it was perfectly risen. Secondly, it was incredibly easy to work with. I've made pizza before, and have never been able to stretch the dough out to the 12-inch size. This dough went to 12 inches beautifully!

The toppings on this pizza were great. It's a white pizza, no sauce. The book says that the cheese doesn't melt like mozzarella, but it melted well enough for me. The way the book talked, it sounded like it would stay in the crumbles, but it didn't.

I really like the gorgonzola on this. It's a great pizza, all around! And I can count it for ARF too - artichoke hearts.

And I did end up counting it for ARF. Round up is here

* Exported from MasterCook *

Artichoke and Red Pepper Whole-Wheat Pizza

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 4 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1/2 cup warm water -- plus 1 tablespoon
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 ounce active dry yeast
1 cup bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups artichoke hearts -- chopped
1 red bell pepper -- julienned
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ounces gorgonzola cheese -- crumbled
freshly ground black pepper -- to taste

To make the dough, combine the water and sugar in a small bowl. Whisk in the yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Combine both flours and half the salt in a food processor. With the machine running, scrape the yeast mixture through the feed tube. After the dough forms a ball, continue to run about 30 seconds to knead.

Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray; put the dough in the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Work the dough into a 12-inch circle on a nonstick baking sheet or pizza pan. Cover loosely and return to the warm spot 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 500.

Combine the artichokes, bell pepper, oil, and the remaining salt. Spoon over the dough; sprinkle with the cheese and pepper. Bake until the crust is lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

"Simply the Best Italian"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 312 Calories; 9g Fat (24.8% calories from fat); 13g Protein; 49g Carbohydrate; 8g Dietary Fiber; 13mg Cholesterol; 414mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Black bean soup (ARF!) and cheddar biscuits

I'm trying to work from cookbooks that I own but are not one's that I immediately reach for. It's a matter of culling my collection, painful though it might be. I decided to work from Crazy Plates and Looneyspoons, two cookbooks written by the same authors. The books themselves kind of get on my nerves - a little too cutesy for me. The recipe names are bad puns. But I didn't want to close my mind, so I decided to try a pair that I had looked at and thought I might like.

The first is Bean Me Up, Scotty. It's a basic black bean soup. It includes carrots, red peppers, garlic, onions, and jalapenos, and of course black beans. The ingredients are cooked together, and then blended to what should be a somewhat thick soup, I would think. Unfortunately, it's not one that I think I will repeat. I wasn't too excited by it the first night. I decided to try it the next day, hoping that it would improve, as they mostly do the next day. Unfortunately, this didn't. It's a little too sweet for me. I didn't include the cilantro that it called for, but even with it, I can't see it being a favorite.

The second recipe is called Takin' Care of Biscuits. They are biscuits, made with reduced-fat cheddar cheese. I like the texture of these, but I don't actually taste any cheese in them. I did like the fact that the recipe has whole wheat flour.

So, nothing so far to make me keep this cookbook.

And, to see the roundup for ARF #3, go to Sweetnick's

* Exported from MasterCook *

Bean Me Up, Scotty

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 6 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : Soups/Stews

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped carrots
1 clove garlic -- minced
1 jalapeno chile pepper -- seeded and minced
2 cups beef broth, ready to eat
1 cup vegetable broth, ready-to-serve
8 ounces tomato sauce
25 ounces canned black beans -- drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, red pepper, carrots, garlic, and jalapeno. Cook and stir for 5 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften. Add all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Working in batches, transfer soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Top each bowl with a tablespoon of sour cream.

"Crazy Plates"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 173 Calories; 3g Fat (16.3% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 28g Carbohydrate; 9g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 1042mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

NOTES : 4 points - 12 grams of fiber!

Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

* Exported from MasterCook *

Takin' Care of Biscuits

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 10 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 1/4 cups unbleached flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 ounces reduced fat cheddar cheese -- sharp, shredded
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon honey

Preheat oven to 425.

In a medium bowl, combine both flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cayenne pepper. Stir in cheese. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Combine buttermilk and honey. Add to dry ingredients. Using a fork, stir to form a soft dough. Turn dough out on to a lightly floured surface. Form into a ball. Roll out dough to 3/4 inch thickness. Cut into 2-1/2-inch rounds using a biscuit or cookie cutter. Place biscuits on a cookie sheet coated that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 12 minutes, until biscuits have puffed up and are golden brown. Serve warm.

"Crazy Plates"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 133 Calories; 4g Fat (27.9% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 11mg Cholesterol; 338mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Monday, January 16, 2006

A beautiful muffin

I still had cranberries frozen from last year, and thought I would try out another recipe for cranberry muffins. I decided to pull from a cookbook that is very helpful as a recipe resource, as well as for learning about ingredients and techniques. The cookbook is How to Cook Everything.

The recipe I used was one that is meant to be all-purpose, and work with a variety of additions. I did the Cranberry-Walnut variation.

This recipe came out beautifully. The texture was perfect - tender, with tiny crannies. The flavor of the muffin was perfectly sweet, to balance out the tangy-ness of the cranberries.

I think this recipe could be repeated, with the different variations.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Cranberry Muffins

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 11 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400.

Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat together the egg, milk, and oil. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, combine the ingredients swiftly, stirring and folding rather than beating, and stopping as soon as all of the ingredients are moistened. Stir in cranberries.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling about 2/3 full. Bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until the muffins are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of one of them comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before taking them out of the tin. Serve warm.

"How to Cook Everything"

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Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 197 Calories; 8g Fat (34.4% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 28g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 20mg Cholesterol; 248mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Fruit; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Friday, January 13, 2006

Cold weather comfort food...even though it doesn't feel like winter

It's been a weird winter so far. One snowfall. And then today - temps in the 60's. I'm not looking for blizzards; I'm not a snow fan. It's just very weird.

Anyway, the recipe I made tonight is definitely a traditional comfort food. Of course, since most comfort food is a little heavier than I like to make for myself, I went with a revised version of the recipe, from Cooking Light. The recipe? Tuna Noodle Casserole.

I know a lot of people have emotional associations with this casserole. It's also stereotypical of bland food. Maybe because my mom didn't cook it when I was a kid, but I am very open to finding a good recipe. Unfortunately, this one wasn't it. Maybe it's because the recipe called for a specific brand of cream of mushroom soup that I couldn't find. I used a regular low-fat mushroom soup, while the one they called for had cracked peppers and herbs.

I do have half portions of some of the ingredients left, so I may repeat this sooner rather than later, if I can find the specific soup the recipe calls for.

Since I didn't love this recipe, I'll hold off posting, until I can see if it's the recipe or if it's my ingredients.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A possible new repeater - Chicken Basquaise

I can get particularly lazy sometimes. I buy ingredients for one recipe, and because of the delay in making it, I end up making something totally different. I have the ingredients for a tuna-noodle casserole that I am planning on making tomorrow night; I think I have had the ingredients for over a month (no, nothing perishable). Anyway, I had the chicken breasts for this recipe sitting in the fridge. The date on the package was January 11. I knew I had to buckle down and just do it. Problem is, I don't cook with meat that often, because I always feel like I overcook it. But I had bought the chicken; no turning back.

This recipe came out wonderfully. It had enough oil to cook the chicken (which is always an issue for me). The chicken cooked up to gorgeous golden color, with some specks of the paprika spice mix for contrast. I did use a orange pepper instead of the green pepper that the recipe originally called for, so the end result was a mixture of yellows, oranges, and red (from tomato & pepper). Sometimes that can be a little boring, but there were enough shades of color that it was just gorgeous. And not only did it look good, but it tasted wonderful as well. The chicken was tender, the veggies were perfect, and the rice really became a part of the dish, instead of being a separate component. Absolutely marvelous.

Of course, I then had to ruin my one day streak of great cooking by burning evaporated milk TWICE when trying to make brownies...

* Exported from MasterCook *

Chicken Basquaise

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 4 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast -- cut into 1" pieces
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
freshly ground black pepper -- to taste
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion -- chopped
1 medium red bell pepper -- seeded and chopped
1 medium yellow bell pepper -- seeded and chopped
2 plum tomatoes -- chopped
1 garlic clove -- minced
2 cups cooked white rice

Place the chicken pieces in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine the paprika, basil, salt, cayenne, and pepper. Sprinkle 1 tsp of the seasoning mix evenly over the chicken; toss to coat.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Swirl in the oil, then add the chicken. Cook until nicely browned and cooked through, 7-8 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a clean bowl.

Add the onion and the red and green bell peppers to the skillet; cook until the peppers are tender. Add the chopped tomatoes, the garlic, and the remaining seasoning mix. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes are softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the chicken is heated through, about 10 minutes. Serve over cooked rice.

"Best of Weight Watcher Magazine"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 305 Calories; 4g Fat (12.8% calories from fat); 30g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 66mg Cholesterol; 316mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 3 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat.

NOTES : 6 points

Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Monday, January 09, 2006

ARF Monday - Better early than never

So, I decided to try early the recipe I had made for ARF. It's a recipe I've had on my list since I saw it posted on another blog. Orangette posted a recipe for stewed prunes. I have a weakness for prunes - but a little bit of disdain for stewed foods. I just associate stewing with tomatoes. I love tomatoes - stewed ones make me shiver.

I made this recipe Sunday night. It was easy to make - just mix, put on the heat, and simmer until ready. When I tasted it Sunday night, I thought I tasted it slightly burned. I cooled it, and put it in the fridge to sit as suggested. When I tried it again Monday evening, I thought I tasted the burnt part a bit in the sauce. I decided to give it a chance. I'm glad I did. The prunes had softened and plumped beautifully. What made the recipe for me however was the orange slices. They softened beautifully, and I ate them, peel and all. It was all delicious.

The cinnamon flavor that should have come from the stick was not there. It may be that I was expecting too much. Either way, I enjoyed this recipe. And it was healthy, which is always an added benefit.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

ARF Tuesday - Waldorf Salad

Sweetnicks is one of my favorite blogs - I can't believe she manages to cook just about every night, spend time with an adorable child, and still manage to write some wonderful entries every day to her blog. She's inspirational - so when I saw she was going to do a new weekly challenge, I decided to join in with abandon.

I'm late on this entry - but hopefully will do better next week.

Anyway, last night's entry included pecans. I decided to do a simple recipe - because I came back from NJ on Monday, and didn't have much time to shop & cook. The waldorf salad came from 1,001 Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes. I've actually done another challenge with this book. I cooked 5 recipes from it, and they were pretty good. Although of all the recipes I've made from it, I think I like this salad the best. It was easy to make, held well overnight, and was very tasty. I can definitely see repeating this.

I did make a simple sub in this recipe - I used nonfat plain yogurt instead of sour cream. I also halved the recipe, and just used 1 golden delicious apple.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Waldorf Salad

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 4 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
2 cups chopped apple -- unpeeled, cored, and cubed, red and green
1 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped pecans -- toasted
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
lettuce leaves -- as garnish

Combine apples, celery, raisins, and walnuts in medium bowl. Mix remaining ingredients, except lettuce leaves, and stir into apple mixture. Serve on lettuce-lined plates.

"1,001 Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 193 Calories; 10g Fat (44.3% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 27g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 8mg Cholesterol; 115mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 1 Fruit; 2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0