Monday, April 30, 2012

Sweet Potato Sourdough Pancakes

California girl marries Midwest guy…  I have previously blogged about Sweet Potato Oats Pancakes, but they were a bit too "California" to appeal to my Midwestern hubby…

Sweet Potato Sourdough Pancake with
fresh Pear Pinwheel & Sugar Free Syrup
This recipe is an attempt to move those pancakes into the Midwest… and it uses Sourdough Starter (Levian) which I keep around for making bread… I'm frequently having to find ways to cook with the excess starter (I hate throwing good foodstuffs away)…  

These come out quite moist, if you wanted you could add some All Purpose Flour to dry them out, but I like them moist & the flavor combo is delicious!

  2 cups cooked & mashed Sweet Potato
  1 cup Sourdough Starter (levian)
  1 cup Egg Beaters
  1 tsp Baking Soda
  1 tsp Salt
  2 tsp Ground Cinnamon (recommend Penzeys Chinese or Vietnamese)
  1 tsp Ground Ginger
  1/2 tsp Fresh Ground Nutmeg
  1/4 tsp Ground Cloves

  Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.  Set a griddle / skillet wiped or sprayed with oil on Medium heat, allow the griddle to warm (a drop of batter should sizzle).  When the top of the pancake is looking mostly (75%) dry carefully flip & allow to cook on second side for a minute or two.  This recipe makes 4 large (as shown above) or 8-12 smaller pancakes.  One large topped with fruit & sugar free syrup makes a filling breakfast!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

In Case You Were Wondering….

First cake… thanks to a hint on the Betty Crocker site
I was able to turn a circle into a Butterfly… but it was a
pain to frost all those crumbly internal edges… 
I'm no professional cake decorator… but I had fun making these cakes for a sweet little girl's 1st birthday party…

Mini-cake (Smash Cake) for the little darling...

I've been busy the last few days helping to prep for & hosting the party, then recuperating…
Just something fun… a flower...

Another simple one, butterfly...

My friend Jen (its her little girl Larkin) did most of the food, I just did the cakes & some Guacamole…

Sorry friends, Guacamole isn't light food, you just have to watch the portions…

No recipes today,  just some food pics…. 

Oh, you want to see the after photos don't you… :)

Here's the cake…

Here's the birthday girl…
Thanks for sharing your special day… Happy Birthday Larkin!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sweet Potato & Onion Soup

This recipe has its roots in this Wonderful Book that I recommend highly for anyone who enjoys a good Soup Recipe…

But I did say roots, as I've made significant changes to the original, trying to lighten it up for my own use… so here's my recipe:

Balsamic Onions Ingredients: (original recipe was Caramelized Onions)
  1 large Yellow (Spanish / Vidalia) Onion, sliced
  2 Tbl good Modena Balsamic Vinegar
  Olive Oil Spray
  Salt & Pepper

Balsamic Onion Directions:
  Spray a non-stick skillet with Olive Oil Spray, sauté the Onion with a little fresh ground Salt & Pepper on Medium heat until translucent, add Balsamic and continue to cook until Balsamic is mostly evaporated/absorbed.  Set aside to cool.

Soup Ingredients:
  2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  1 cup coarsely chopped Yellow 
      (Spanish / Vidalia) Onion
  1 cup coarsely chopped Carrot
  1 rib Celery, coarsely chopped
  4 medium Sweet Potatoes, cubed (about 8 cups)
  6 cups Chicken Broth (I use 6 cups Water + 
      2 Tbl Better Than Bouillon Chicken)
  1/4 tsp Fresh Ground Nutmeg
  1 Tbl Worcestershire
  Olive Oil Spray
  Salt & Pepper

Soup Directions:
  Spray a soup pot with Olive Oil Spray.  Sauté the Garlic, Onion, Carrots, and Celery until the Onions are translucent and slightly browned.

  Add the Sweet Potatoes & Chicken Broth, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Let simmer, covered, for about 1/2 hour (allows everything to get nice and soft).

  Once the vegetables are soft add in Nutmeg & Worcestershire.  Blend the soup using an Immersion Blender (or work in very small batches with a traditional blender - not recommended).  If you don't have an Immersion Blender & are in the market, I suggest finding one that comes apart (like mine) since it makes cleanup much easier. 

  Stir in the Balsamic Onions, season to taste with Salt & Pepper.

This can be made ahead and kept warm in a Crock Pot… Enjoy!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lamb Kebobs

This recipe was adapted from one I've had around for a while, I've made adjustments over time to lighten it and to adjust to the quantity that my husband and I eat… so I'll say its 2 servings, but that's really up to you… 

The spices on these Kebobs are Indian in nature, how authentic I don't know, but we like it!  These aren't spicy-hot despite the fact that there is Cayenne in the spice mix, probably due to mixing it with yogurt…

You will need to plan ahead a little bit, as the lamb must first tenderize for 10-24 hours… otherwise this is a simple and easy recipe, enjoy!!

Cubed Lamb

Tenderizing in Yogurt & Water

  1 pound Lamb, leg steak trimmed and cubed to about 1" in size.
  1 1/2 cups Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt, divided
  1 cup Water
  3/4 tsp Ancho Chili Powder
  1/2 tsp Turmeric
  1/4 tsp Cayenne
  1/4 tsp Sea Salt (grind fine if coarse)
  1 Garlic clove, pressed
  1 tsp Fresh Lemon Zest
  1 Tbl Fresh Lemon Juice
  1 Tbl Unsalted Butter (melted)

Mix 1 cup of the Yogurt with the Water, put Lamb cubes into the mixture and allow to tenderize 10-24 hours in the refrigerator.

After tenderizing drain off the liquid and pat the Lamb cubes dry with paper towels (don't rinse off the meat).

Marinating in Spiced
Yogurt Mix

Mix the remaining 1/2 cup of Yogurt with the Ancho, Turmeric, Cayenne, Sea Salt, Garlic, and Lemon Zest.  Place the Lamb cubes into the Yogurt mix, allow to marinate for 20 minutes.

Mix the melted Butter and Lemon Juice in a small bowl, this combination will be used for basting while grilling.

On the Grill

Set the Grill on Medium High heat (ours is gas), put the Lamb cubes on skewers, coating the skewers with the excess marinade.

Once the skewers have begun to char, baste with the butter/lemon mix for the remaining of the cooking time - estimated about 7 minutes (grills vary).

Monday, April 23, 2012

Chicken Dumpling Casserole

Jeff and I had been calling this by another name… but the other name didn't really fit… so tonight at dinner we gave this the new name of Chicken Dumpling Casserole.

  1 pound Ground 99% Fat Free Chicken
    (alternately 1 pound skinless Chicken Breast, diced)
  Spices (see variations below)
  1 can Campbell's Light Cheddar Cheese Soup
  2 small (1/2 pound total) Zucchini, chopped
  1 Bell Pepper (Red, Orange or Yellow), chopped
  1 rib celery, sliced
  1 cup chopped Portobello (Crimini) mushrooms
  1/2 cup water
  4.5 oz (by weight) All Purpose Flour
  1/2 Tbl Baking Powder
  1/2 tsp Table Salt
  1/4 cup Fat Free Sour Cream
  1/4 cup Sparkling Water (unflavored)
  1/2 cup finely shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  1 Tbl Egg Whites or Egg Beaters

Spices - I've done 2 variations & they've both gotten the approval of Jeff, here they are:
  Variation 1:
    2 tsp Sausage Spice (see recipe)
    1 tsp Ground Sage
Chicken cooked with Spices
  Variation 2:  Grind together in a mortar & pestle
    1 tsp Coarse Sea Salt
    1 1/2 tsp Dried Sage Leaves
    1 tsp Dried Whole Rosemary

Cook the chicken with the Spices in a non-stick skillet/wok sprayed with Olive Oil until the chicken is cooked through & slightly golden.  Preheat oven to 400F.

Vegetables cooking in the Sauce

Add in the  chopped vegetables, soup, and water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, leave on simmer until the vegetables are cooked through.  If the sauce gets too thick additional water can be added, but you want a thick sauce.

Dumpling Dough

While vegetables are cooking, mix together in a small bowl the Flour, Baking Powder, Table Salt, Sour Cream, Sparkling Water, and shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese.  This will make a biscuit-like dough for the "dumplings".

Dotting the Dough on top.

Spray a 8" round Casserole dish with Spray Olive Oil, place the Chicken & Vegetable mixture into the Casserole, dot the Dumpling Dough on top, covering the top as much as possible.

Dumpling Dough covering top

Use a brush to brush the Egg Whites / Egg Beaters onto the top of the dough (this is just for color and can be skipped).

Pop the casserole into the oven for 20-25 minutes, just long enough for the "dumplings" to cook, remove & let rest a few minutes before serving… enjoy!!


Saturday, April 21, 2012

More Breakfast Cookies (variations)

Clockwise from top right: Bacon Maple, Mango Clove,
Banana Chocolate Chip

I started out with a basic Breakfast Cookie, that was the result of an experiment gone right. Tried a variation that had some extra Spice (also on the page with the Basic recipe).  At hubby's suggestion tried Chocolate Bacon, wonderful!  Now I'm on to other variations… here's my results thus far & where I'm headed in the future...

For all variations, preheat oven to 450F

Banana & Chocolate Chips - Yes!!

  1 Banana, mashed up
  1/2 cup Levian (Sourdough Starter)
  1/2 cup Quick Oats
  1/4 cup Mini-Morsels (miniature chocolate chips)
  2 Tbl Honey
  1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  1/2 tsp Sugar
  1/4 tsp Salt
  1/4 tsp Baking Soda (wait until the last minute to add this)

Bacon & Maple - Fabulous!!

  2 slices of Bacon cooked very crispy (almost burnt) & diced
  1/2 cup Levian (Sourdough Starter)
  1/2 cup Quick Oats
  1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  2 Tbl All Purpose Flour
  1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  1/2 tsp Sugar
  1/4 tsp Salt
  1/4 tsp Baking Soda (wait until the last minute to add this)

Mango & Cloves - texture wasn't what I expected…  I'll explain *

  1 Mango, processed in a food processor
  1/2 cup Levian (Sourdough Starter)
  1/2 cup Quick Oats
  2 Tbl Honey
  1/2 tsp Sugar
  1/4 tsp Cloves
  1/4 tsp Salt
  1/4 tsp Baking Soda (wait until the last minute to add this)

Instructions (for all variations):

I mixed up all but the Baking Soda.  Once the oven was up to temp I added the Baking Soda, let the batter rise (it takes about a minute to double in size).

I placed 8 dollops of batter onto a piece of parchment paper, popped it into the oven, watched & waited… 10 minutes later I removed my "cookies"… I put the word cookies in quotes because these are softer than a typical soft-baked cookie, and not nearly as sweet, much more suited to be a breakfast item than a traditional cookie.

For all of the above the recipes make 8 "cookies"

* Mango & Cloves - the flavor was fine, might even need a bit more cloves, but the cookies flattened out & weren't cooked well - I had to put them back in the oven for another 6 minutes… they finally cooked but ended up thin & chewy, not bad just not what I was expecting.  I think it may have been too much mango… look for an update in the future...

Variations I still want to try:
  Chocolate Espresso Bean
  Strawberry & Chèvre
  Banana & Maple
  Peach/Pear & Cloves (if I can get the Mango one sorted out)

I encourage you as well to play with your ingredients… have fun & create new wonderful flavors of your own… :)

Balsamic Mushrooms

These mushrooms are so yummy, they are first cooked in a pan and then parchment baked… enjoy!!  The amount here serves 2.

  2 cups Sliced Mushrooms (more is ok, I used Crimini)
  2 tsp Fresh Rosemary leaves (no need to chop up, just pull of the sprig)
  2 cloves Garlic, sliced thin
  Sea Salt
  A good Balsamic (I like 12-year-old)

Spray a skillet with spray oil (I like Olive Oil for this), place first 3 ingredients in the skillet, season with a bit of fresh ground salt & pepper, cook until mushrooms are soft & brown.

Set oven to 425 F.  Place skillet-cooked mushrooms into an oval-shaped piece of parchment paper, drizzle with Balsamic, crimp the pouch closed. Place the parchment pouch onto a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 7-8 minutes.
Balsamic from Modena

Parchment Pouch

Remove from oven and carefully (contents are hot) open the pouch… the smell is amazing, the taste wonderful!

Parchment Baked Chicken

Parchment Baking, a fun way to cook skinless chicken breasts that keeps them nice and moist… I don't like dry chicken!!

When I parchment bake chicken I make sure to give it a bit of a sear in a skillet first…

Spray a non-stick skillet with a bit of spray oil, heat the skillet, throw in the chicken breasts & sear - you're just getting a little color on them, this will make them look more appealing when finished.  I had a little bit of green onion in the pan while searing, you could put garlic in the pan as well… add spices if you choose, its up to you.

Seared for color

Once seared you'll place the chicken on a piece of parchment paper, add herbs & spices of your choosing (pick something flavorful).  I cut my parchment paper into a long oval, fold in half, place the chicken in the center, then crimp the edges to form a pouch.
In its parchment pouch

I like to put a temperature probe into the center of the largest breast, that way I make sure they get cooked to the proper temperature, I just crimp the paper around the probe as well.

Ready for the oven

I place my pouches on a cookie sheet and pop them into an oven that has been preheated to 425 F, and bake until the temperature probe reads 170 F.


Take out of the oven and carefully remove the breasts from the parchment - watch out for steam - Jeff likes it when I put the juices on his plate with the chicken, its your choice as to what you'd like to do.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Chocolate Bacon Breakfast Cookies

On request from my hubby I tried another version of my Breakfast Cookies… this time with Chocolate and Bacon.

Manly Breakfast Cookies!!
Set oven to 450 F

  2 slices of Bacon cooked very crispy (almost burnt) & diced
  1/2 cup Levian (Sourdough Starter)
  1/2 cup Quick Oats
  2 Tbl Honey
  2 Tbl Penzeys Natural High Fat Cocoa (a good Cocoa powder)
  1 Tbl Sugar
  1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  1/4 tsp Salt
  1/4 tsp Baking Soda (wait until the last minute to add this)

I mixed up all but the Baking Soda, let the mixture sit for a few minutes while the oven was warming.  Once the oven was up to temp I added the Baking Soda, let the batter rise (it takes about a minute to double in size).

I placed 8 dollops of batter onto a piece of parchment paper, popped it into the oven, watched & waited… 10 minutes later I removed my "cookies"… I put the word cookies in quotes because these are softer than a typical soft-baked cookie, and not nearly as sweet, much more suited to be a breakfast item than a traditional cookie.

Makes eight 3" diameter "cookies" (two healthy servings)...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Experimenting… to be continued...

I was experimenting with roasted chicken & vegetables, inspired by a recipe I'd seen that roasted chicken and potatoes with Spanish Chorizo… but of course I wasn't going to do things their way, so I played a bit…

I created a new custom spice mix inspired by a Spanish Chorizo, I call it Cho-Cho Spice…  I cooked up some Portobello Mushroom & Onion, ground it fine, added some Cho-Cho and some Bacon Salt… 

I laid some boneless/skinless chicken breasts in a shallow casserole dish sprayed with spray olive oil, covered the chicken with a variety of root vegetables (potato, parsnip, onion, carrot) mixed with my spicy concoction.

Shook on a bit of Oregano & Orange Zest, baked…  

It came out pretty tasty… the vegetables were particularly good, we decided the chicken would have been better parchment-baked (moister)… I'll post a recipe if/when I get just what I want, in the mean time I decided to let you know what I've been playing with.

If nothing else I have a new spice mix now, and I love coming up with my own blends…

Bacon Spice, what a wonderful idea!!

In attempting to loose weight I have worked to remove/reduce items from my diet that might undermine my effort… so I'm constantly on the look-out for products that can give me flavors I love without the fat I fight…  This is a product I've only recently discovered (actually its one of a series) that I picked up off of the Amazon web site… I like it, so I thought I'd share my discovery.

I've already used it in one experiment & liked the results… 

I'll share more with you when I'm ready...

Cho-Cho Spice

I've been doing some experimenting, inspired to come up with some spices to imitate Spanish Chorizo, and ended up with this blend.  I'm no Chorizo expert, and certainly no Spanish Chorizo expert, but I like these spices… lacking any other description I called it "Cho-Cho" after the inspiration of Chorizo…

  1/2 Tbl Red Pepper Flakes
  1 Tbl Cayenne (ground)
  1/2 Tbl Garlic Powder
  1/2 Tbl Oregano (flakes)
  1/2 Tbl Fresh Ground Pepper
  1 Tbl Paprika (ground)
  1/2 Tbl Cumin (ground)
  1/2 tsp Fennel Seed (whole)
  1 tsp Sea Salt (ground fine)

Put all these into a tall spice jar, put the lid on, shake it up…

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Frozen Fruit & Yogurt Smoothie

This is one of those great ideas that has a ton of amazing variations… this is one variation.

  1 cup Plain Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
  2 cups Frozen Fruit
  cool water (if needed)
  Sweetener Packets (if needed)

Throw the Yogurt and Fruit in a blender (no, I don't have a smoothie maker), blend it up… please don't ask me how to get your blender to behave, I have enough trouble with my own (I should be tried for crimes against small kitchen appliances)…  If I have a lot of trouble I will add a bit of cool water to help things get moving… Add a bit of 0 calorie sweetener if its too tart (I like Stevia).  I had fun with mine today & put a dollop (technical term) of fat free Cool Whip and a fresh Blackberry on top - I had to dress her up if I was going to take her picture.

  Replace some of the frozen fruit with a Banana.
  Add flavored soda

Today's is Strawberry Blackberry.  Jeff's favorite is Strawberry Orange Banana made with a Banana, Frozen Strawberries, and Stewarts Diet Orange Soda.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mashed Sweet Potatoes w/Chèvre, Honey, and Roasted Grapes

I saw a recipe on Pinterest that caught my eye, the original can be found here… but I just had to try to lighten it a bit, simplify it a bit… and make it my own… Enjoy!!

Makes: 2 large or 4 small servings

  1-2 cups Red Seedless Grapes
  Sea Salt (or table salt)
  2 large Sweet Potatoes
  2 oz Chèvre
  1.5 Tbl Honey
  1/2 tsp Cinnamon (Penzey's Vietnamese recommended)
  1/8 tsp Nutmeg (fresh ground is best)
Set oven to 450 F.  Line a small baking dish with foil, rinse & place the grapes in the dish in a single layer, lightly salt the grapes.  Bake for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, microwave the Sweet Potatoes for 6 minutes, let rest a few minutes, flip them over and microwave for another 5 minutes.  For best results use pre-wrapped sweet potatoes such as "Biguns", but unwrapped sweet potatoes will also work.  Note: microwaves vary in intensity, the sweet potatoes should be cooked soft at this point.
While still hot (carefully) remove the meat of the sweet potatoes from the skin & place in a bowl for mashing.  Add to the bowl the Chèvre & Honey, along with Cinnamon & Nutmeg.  Mash these ingredients together.
Serve the mashed Sweet Potatoes topped with the Roasted Grapes.

Note: you can swap Butternut Squash for Sweet Potatoes and it also comes out nicely.

Sourdough Raisin Spice Bread

Phew!!  This took a while to get sorted out… Sourdoughs take longer to rise than traditional breads, and my Raisin Spice Bread takes longer to rise than just a plain Sourdough, so this took a while to get right (several tries & lots of hours of not-so-patient waiting)… finally success!!  I need to try a free-standing version again (check back for updates), but this mini-loaf version worked like a charm.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (instructions based on my Kitchenaid model) place:
  1 cup of Sourdough Starter
  19 oz (by weight) of Bread Flour
  8 oz (by measure) of Warm Water
Put the stirring paddle attachment on the mixer and briefly mix the ingredients together on the lowest setting (mine says “Stir”), just long enough to blend (at most a minute).
Remove the stirring paddle, cover the bowl with a towel, and let sit 1/2 hour.
Put the dough hook attachment on the mixer, then add to the bowl:

  5.5 oz (by weight) Sugar
  4 oz (by weight) Golden Raisins
  2 tsp Salt
  2 tsp Cinnamon
  1 tsp Ginger
  1/2 tsp fresh ground Nutmeg
  1/4 tsp Cloves
Knead for 3 minutes on a low setting (I use “2”).
Turn the dough into a bowl sprayed with Olive Oil (see my Toys tab for information about the Misto oil sprayer), spray the dough lightly with Olive Oil, cover with a towel and allow to rest for about 5 hours in a warm (about 72 degrees F) location.
Turn the dough out onto a floured board, gently press & fold it a bit, split into 4 even portions then form each into a mini-loaf, once formed place the dough in a mini-loaf pans (I have a stoneware 4-loaf pan), cover with a towel and allow to rest for about 5 hours more in a warm location.
Covered it with plastic wrap & refrigerated overnight, the next morning I take it out and set it in a warm location for about 4 hours.
About 45 minutes before baking place a cast iron pan on the rack below the one you'll use for your bread, set the oven to 375 F and let everything heat up nicely.
Baking: place the bread in the oven.  Put 1 cup of water into the cast iron pan (adds steam to the oven) and close the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes, remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from loaf pans.  Note: you may need to adjust time if you're not using stoneware loaf pans.