Monday, January 31, 2011

Buttermilk Cornbread

It’s the end of healthy January month, how did you do? Were you eating your vegetables and getting more exercise? I have to be truthful with you. While I’ve been posting all of these good for you, lower calories recipes for you, I’ve been secretly stockpiling deliciously evil, high fat treats. I know, I’m terrible. You’re in for a dangerous February!



Along with those sneaky desserts, I’ve been eating lots of soup. It’s been that kind of winter in the Northeast, a soup-eating winter. In fact there is another weather front heading for us tonight! The television keeps warning me about it every fifteen minutes. Warning, warning! Snow is coming! Then some ice, lots and lots of ice! Then you’re going to fall down tomorrow morning on your walk into work. Thank you television, now I know to wrap myself in plastic and pillows before I leave for work in the morning.


While the soup has been nothing spectacular, recipes still in the works, I do have some amazing cornbread to share with you. I have tried a lot of cornbread recipes, because nothing is better with soup. They are all different, too bland, too sweet, to bicarby (note: use baking powder when directed, not baking soda). This has become my favorite, it goes perfectly with chili. It’s best right out of the oven, crunchy around the edges and soft in the middle. Now go warm up and watch the snow come down.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chocolate and Peanut butter Mousse Entremet

Welcome to a special Thursday in the kitchen! Why am I posting today? Because today is Daring Bakers reveal day! I have to say, when I originally read the challenge for this month, I was concerned. When I looked up ‘entremets’ on google, I found some pretty daunting looking pastries. Go ahead, Google entremets. You’ll find gorgeous looking French pastries with intricate designs and tempting fillings. Would I be able to complete this challenge successfully? Yes, I would.

Delicious layers, mmmm.  Read on, control your drooling.
The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog Accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an entremets dessert.

My life has been a little crazy over the past month and I had to spread out preparation of this dessert. It took me an entire week, a few hours here and there, to complete this challenge. I can say that I am completely satisfied with my final result. Sure, there are imperfections, but I am amazed what can be done with the right directions. You too can perform like a pastry chef, without all that training.


The first step is to bake to Biscuit Joconde Imprime. When you say it, you must do it with a really bad French accent, it will make your day. Haw, haw, haw (French laughing). The imprime is where you can get fancy and creative. I decided I would get ready for Valentine’s Day and piped pink hearts into my imprime. (Check out some of the other amazing creations in the Daring Kitchen) You’ll see my step-by-step process of creating the shell of the entremets. Now you’re seeing where those fancy patterns come from, right? It’s so simple!


The next step is to get even more creative. What do you want to put in it? I had a massive number of ideas floating around in my head. A key lime mousse with a dark chocolate glaze, an entremets filled with ice cream and topped with meringue, a blackberry cream topped with lemon whip. Oh boy, the possibilities are endless! I decided to go with a personal favorite, Chocolate and peanut butter. Delicious. My entremets is filled with a solid chocolate mousse and topped with a lighter peanut butter mousse and finished with a bittersweet chocolate hat. From the mousse that I’ve licked from the bowls, spatulas and my hands, this is one amazing dessert. I don’t want to share… So here are the directions to make your own!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chocolate Marshmallows


So we’re almost to the end of the month. Where has January gone? I can tell you where. Half of you were sick for at least a week. Facebook, twitter and blog posts have told me this. At least half of you were hiding inside, getting away from the horrific snowstorms, torrential rain and floods. The vast majority of you were busy avoiding your mailboxes and inboxes, afraid of those Christmas bills arriving this month. Luckily, we still had each other.


 


To celebrate our hard work this month, I thought we deserved some sweets. Did you know that you can make your own candy? For the longest time I thought those Hershey and Mars people were magical. How do they churn out those chocolate bars, filled with caramel and cookies? How are these gummy bears so cute? As a kid we didn’t have a lot of candy in the house. It was a special treat for when we went to the movies. I would get cherry Tangy Taffy, it was awesome. If someone can locate some Tangy Taffy, please send me a box!


When I was in college we got cable. Yes, college! I went to college in 1999, not thirty years ago. According to boyfriend, I was a deprived child. I never got to watch Nick at Nite or MTV and apparently I will make a terrible Trivial Pursuit partner in ten years. (Seriously, boyfriend has refused to be my future Trivial Pursuit partner!) This lack of cable until the new millennium meant that I didn’t get to watch the Food Network until ten years ago! And then I was introduced to Unwrapped.


Unwrapped, that fantastic show with Mark Summers (the TV game show host from Nick at Nite, see I know stuff) that shows us exactly how foods are made. Suddenly the mysteries were beginning to unravel. Snickers bars are made in layers, by a robot. Gummy bears are formed in cornstarch molds, by a robot. Luckily we don’t need robots to make candies at home. And for the fact that we do not use robots, we can call our candies “Artisan” chocolates. Enjoy.

Also, the secondary purpose for posting these chocolate marshmallows is... You can bid on them in an online bake sale on Monday, January 31st!  Stephanie at Steph's Bite by Bite is hosting an online bake sale to help raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  She will be running a marathon to benefit this cause and needs to raise $1,900 to help battle against Leukemia, Lymphoma, Hodgkin's Disease and Myeloma.  Stop by and check out all the goodies up for action and help surrport a good cause!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thai Chicken Curry

It’s been a little chilly up here in the Northeast! So cold, that I decided it was unnecessary to leave the house yesterday. I checked the weather channel and found that it was only 18 degrees out, with a wind chill making it feel like 2 degrees. I left Wisconsin to get away from those temperatures, right? Why are these chilly temps following me around the country? Maybe I should move to Florida next time.


I can’t complain too loudly though, because I was invited to go down to Florida this weekend. Boyfriends parents recently moved down south, escaping the cold Buffalo winters once and for all. They are very smart people. A quick check of the temperature in Florida? 74. Curses, why didn’t I take boyfriend up on that offer? Oh right, I have a bunch of stuff to get done at work this week. Double curses. Cold weather and work.

I guess that since I can’t escape the cold weather, then I might as well make something hot. Spicy hot! Curry spicy hot! Nice. This recipe is light, delicious and it’s chicken! I also added zucchini to the curry. The strange thing about zucchini is this. I hate raw zucchini. I will always pick up a piece of zucchini thinking that it is a cucumber. I will bite into the slice of veg and then spit it right out. I think zucchinis have a very bitter flavor when raw. When you cook zucchinis, this raw flavor is cooked out and they are delicious. Plus, I had leftover zucchini from baking the bread last week.


Sorry for the lame-o pic.  Cooking took place pretty late!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Snack Week! - On the Go

There are times that I find myself in need of something to eat, but with no time to cook.  Happens to you too, right?  So, I thought that I would share with you a few of my favorite pre-packaged snack options!  These are the things that a stocked in my fridge and pantry, just in case.  (Disclaimer! - I have received nothing from these companies to say nice things about them!)

My favorite yogurt!  140 calories and so many delicious flavors.  Since it's Greek yogurt, it's a lot thicker than traditional yogurt and it's packed with 14 grams of protein!  Yum!

Nothing special here, it's a banana.  Fruit is the perfect on the go snack, especially ones that come in their own wrapper!  Things like peaches are a little harder to eat on the go, I go for fruit cups then.
We have a hot pot in our office, perfect for heating up some water for hot cocoa.  You could go for the calorie-free version, but in the afternoon I need a little sugar.  Hello mini marshmallows!




Such a neat little product.  I originally got hooked on their hummus, then I discovered these single serve items!  Amazing!  They even come in my favorite flavor, red pepper!



Okay, I'm not suggesting you just eat a wedge of cheese, grab some crackers or celery and enjoy!  The garlic flavor is amazing too and at just 40 calories, so nice.


So that's it!  Snack week is coming to an end, sad.  I hope that you've come away with a few ideas for noshing.  I'll try to include more snacks in my blogging cycle.  Now excuse me, I'm going to go eat some hummus.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Snack Week! - Zucchini Bread

The only photo I have, because they ate it all...
Happy Friday everyone! Where has the week gone? From the sounds of it, half of the world has been sick this week with some cold or flu virus or another. I know that I was. Luckily I had all these tasty snacks in my fridge, ready for that mild hunger pang of a sick person. You know how it goes, you’re hungry, but you just can’t manage to eat something tangible? Snack week couldn’t have come at a better time.


Did you also hear that everything was ready for me? I prepared all of these foods on Sunday! So maybe you have a crazy work week ahead, maybe the kids have an insane amount of obligations or maybe you want to have some free time this week. Take a few hours on Sunday and you’ll be all set for the week. All of the baked goods require nothing more than a bowl and a big spoon.

This last treat for snack week is something that I never actually ate. I brought these loaves into work and they were gone before I even had a slice. It was three o’clock in the afternoon and I was feeling hungry. Thinking, nobody was eating the zucchini bread, I bet I can get myself a snack. Walk walk walk to the break room. Noooo! An empty container! Where did it all go? According to one of my labmates, if it’s there after three, it’s going to disappear quick. Nuts, maybe I should have hidden some.

Tomorrow, for the last day of Snack Week! I'll be posting many of my favorite pre-packaged healthy snacks.  Because sometimes you just don't have the time!  Thanks for tuning in this week!  Oh, what to do next week, last week of healthy January.  Have you been behaving?  Detoxing from all those cookies?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Snack Week! - Fruit Dip


While I really hate being sick, I love the feeling of being well again. I’ve spent the last few days in a fever-induced haze, floating from home to work and back home again. Spending the evenings staring at the TV and eating ice cream. What? Ice cream is good sick food, there is calcium, protein and sugar. Everything a sick body needs. Plus it’s soft and a sore throat likes cold, soft food. Thankfully the haze has lifted and today I have been incredibly productive.


While sick, the dishes piled up in the sink and clothes lay strew across my apartment floor. If I lived with anyone else they would be disgusted with me, or they would have at least picked up after me. Maybe I should wait to be sick again until I move in with boyfriend. After a long, and productive, day at work I decided to clean it all up! Dishes, into the sink! Besides, they were starting to smell. Clothes, into the washing machine! Get rid of all of those sickness viruses. Ooo, I should wash the sheets while I’m feeling productive.

I’m healthy, almost, and ready to get back into the world! I’ve missed working out! It’s so hard to go for a run when your lung capacity is down to 50%! Lifting weights with sick muscles seems so much harder. But that all has changed! Bolstered by my week of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, I’m ready to hit the treadmill, rock my Bodypump bar and bust a move at Turbokick. Ready ready ready! I might be a little hyper from all this energy that got bottled up during my bout with the virus. Forgive me and have some fruit dip.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Snack Week! - Ham & Cheese Scones

There are good scones, and there are bad scones. I’ve been unfortunate enough to have had many, many bad scones. In the winter months in Madison, WI, the Dane county farmers market migrates inside. If you head to the beautiful Monona Terrace, overlooking lake Monona, you can still get local produce, fresh baked deliciousness and dog treats. Although I think it’s mean for them to sell dog treats, when dogs aren’t allowed at the farmers market. Such a tease for the pooches.



It was during one of these cold, wintry weekends that my parents came for a visit. As we’ve discussed before, winter is not the most desirable time of year to visit Madison. Unless you like ice fishing, apparently ice fishing on lake Mendota is amazing. So ice fishers, head to Madison. Back to the parents, I decided we should head to the farmers market, because there isn’t much else to do on a cold Madison Saturday. We stocked up on jams, carrots and cheese then picked up some pastries from the Amish table.


Nothing against the Amish table, I’ve had lots of their baked goods. The pies are amazing, the cookies are perfect, but these scones… let’s just say the dog would have loved them. They were dry and lacking flavor. I was so sad, we stopped at Starbucks and got some cookies. The Amish cart redeemed itself later in the summer with another knock-out pie.


So, while I’ve had some pretty amazing scones, they are so heavy and calorie laden that I try not to indulge that often. The average (delicious) scone from Starbucks has over 450 calories. More of a meal than a snack. Here I introduce a protein rich, lower calorie scone. It’s not filled with sugar and dried fruit, it’s filled with ham and cheese, yum.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Snack Week! - Granola Bars

Monday passed in a bit of a fever-induced haze. You know how it goes, you’re sitting at your desk, staring at the computer, then it’s an hour later and nothing has sunk in. My brain is boiling, or something like that. All I wanted to do was go home and curl up in bed, the lab is so cold! Or it’s the fever.



I’m so glad that I spent the weekend cooking and baking, because right now I have zero energy. I think that I’m running on negative energy, the world is pulling the energy right out of my body. I’m also jazzed that I decided to make these granola bars for snack week. They are chewy, delicious and filling. Adapt them according to what nuts and seeds that you like. I’ve made them with raisins and walnuts instead of craisins and soy nuts. I’ve drizzled them in chocolate on my more crazy days. I think that I’ll have one of these for lunch. Eating sounds like a lot of work today.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Snack Week Begins! - Fruit Salsa

Welcome to Snack Week! An overwhelming percentage of you decided that you would like healthy options for your afternoon snacking. While I’m a big fan of the 3pm Snickers bar I think that my body is craving something a little more nutritious. How can I tell? Because I’m sick.

After coming back from Christmas break, I neglected to buy any groceries. Let’s blame long hours at work, snow and plain old laziness. So for two weeks I’ve been living on the staples in my pantry. Pasta, pre-made sauce, dried beans and rice. Luckily I had some chicken in the freezer or I would have starved or had some serious muscle failure. Luckily, I only have to feed myself. If I had a pet or husband to feed they would have ran away from home, or at least been slightly less lazy than I and ordered a pizza.


Snack week is not only filled with healthy, small portion foods, but it is jam-packed with fruits and vegetables. I’m trying to knock out the sore throat virus with some vitamins and minerals! While at the store this week I stocked up on fruits, veggies and whole grains. I did forget to buy cold medicine though, so instead, I’m going to go to sleep at 9 o’clock tonight. I’m very excited about that.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Raspberry Meringues

When I was teaching a crazy amount of group exercise classes (nine a week, I’m exhausted just thinking about it!) I loved my Fridays. Friday was the only day a week that I didn’t have any classes to teach. It was my favorite day of the week because Thursday mornings I had a 5:30 am class, but Fridays I got to sleep in, ahhh. Sleep. Friday was the ultimate lazy day, or at least as lazy as I can be. I’m pretty sure I have adult ADD.

This is how lazy Friday would go. Alarm goes off at 6:00 am, BOING! I’m out of bed and off to the shower. Unlike boyfriend, who enjoys watching an episode of Saved by the Bell before hitting the shower, I like to wake up with hot water. This is where I start to plan my to do list, which I promptly forget once I start blow drying my hair. My brain has some holes in it. I’ll forget everything on my list once I sit down to eat my cheerios and watch the second Saved by the Bell episode. Oh Slater, how I love your muscle shirts.


Then I’m off to work. My hilly drive to Boulder made me very happy. The sun rising behind me and the moon setting over the Rockies, lovely. Heading into the lab I try to remember what exactly I was planning on doing for the day. Something having to do with chemistry, right? The next ten or eleven hours is when this chemistry would happen. Yes, I said ten or eleven hours. The life of an academic, it’s fun! Come to grad school where the days are long!


Lazy Friday ends with a trip to Wendy’s and a stop at the Redbox. No working out at night, just eating French fries, watching a movie and usually, doing laundry. Oh yeah, I’m exciting, I know how to party. Now, since we’re being ‘good’ this month, I thought a trip to Wendy’s was not the best way to celebrate lazy Friday. So, I made you some cookies. Light, airy and fruity cookies. Plus, they’re pink!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2011 Foodie Resolutions

So, I have been thinking about what I want to accomplish this year.  Aside from getting a "real" job and escaping academia, becoming a "grown-up" and possibly moving in with my favorite person, there is food to think about!  Last year brought many firsts, including deep frying, candy making and homemade bread.  The plans for this year are as follows...

1.  Become an accomplished candy-maker.  I will determine what I need to complete to become "accomplished," but I think this requires at least 15-20 candy recipes this year.  Waistlines beware!

2. Complete the Bread Bakers Apprentice Challenge.  I have taken on four of these recipes, how many does that mean I have left?  My own rule is to complete them all in one year, alphabet thrown to the wind.  Why would I need to do it in alphabetical order anyways?

3. Destroy the notion that "Chicken is boring."  Chicken is so NOT boring!  And I will prove it to you this year.  You may have noticed that I have never posted a beef recipe.  This is because I haven't eaten a steak, hamburger or roast in over fifteen years.  I'll explain this someday, but not today!

So that's it.  I'm looking forward to this year.  It is going to be sweet, yeasty and amazing.

Lentil Chili

Well, that’s what it sounds like if you listen to the news right now. The vast majority of Connecticut schools had cancelled classes before a single flake of snow fell. Libraries, community centers and childcare centers, all closed. Is everyone being overnervous, or am I just hard to impress? The weather channel suggests that we will get between 18 to 24 inches of snow. Is that a lot? Nah.


I can count the number of snow days I experienced as a child on one hand. This is not because I lived in sunny Southern Florida or tropical Hawaii. I grew up in the northtowns of Buffalo, NY. Snow capital of the United States! In reality, Buffalo ranks ninth among cities over 50,000. There is a town in New Hampshire that averages over 200 inches of snow per year, Buffalo averages only 93. Anyways. You’re thinking, “All that snow, now snow days?” There are reasons that all the Western New York children are constantly disappointed.

Problem #1 – Snow Plows! The Atlanta airport has one snow plow. The driver most likely learned how to plow in Buffalo. Every year there is a plowing convention held in Buffalo, where drivers learn the fine art of snow plowing. This means that the snow plow drivers in Buffalo are good at what they do, much to the chagrin of schoolchildren everywhere.

Problem #2 – Winter is long in Buffalo. Some years, snow starts falling in October and will keep coming until long into spring. There is the occasional blizzard, the ones that make the national news, but these are rare and usually only happen when Lake Erie is unfrozen. So 93 inches of snow, spread out over 5 months equals lots of snow, a little at a time.


So our 18 to 24 inches of snow might keep me from heading to work, maybe. My boots only go up to my knees, and I don’t own any snow pants (I recently destroyed a pair while tubing). Just in case the grocery stores are wimps, I decided to prepare myself a big pot of lentil chili to last me through the onslaught of snow. I’m going to enjoy my piles of snow while eating bowls of chili, knowing that if I was still in Buffalo, I would definitely be at work.

Health tip?  Eat the rainbow!  Don't eat the snow.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pineapple Chutney and Chicken

Sometimes, simple can be beautiful. How many times do you find yourself staring at a bright blue sky? Free of clouds, birds and planes, a blue sky is something beautiful in its simplicity. Today I found myself standing at my lab window, staring out to the sky. Maybe this is because I was a little bored with what was going on inside of the lab, maybe.



So, simple things. You don’t have to get fancy to have something fantastic. The perfect chocolate chip cookie will bring anyone to the table. A steak, grilled to perfection, will be excellent without any sauces. And a grilled chicken breast will be amazing with addition of a three-ingredient chutney.


This is the kind of meal that comes together out of necessity. Two factors lead me to make this dinner. Number one – I was very hungry. Number two – I had almost no food in my house. I tend to buy things at the grocery store according to the recipes I want to make for the week. Sometimes I think that I have more time on my hands than I actually do. My original plan was to make a slow cooker recipe, unfortunately the recipe only called for 7 hours of cooking time. I generally work ten hours a day. This just wouldn’t work, and I was hungry! Now, if you’re hungry, read on.

Pineapple Chutney and Chicken

3 Chicken breasts (cut into ½-inch strips)
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
1 cup crushed pineapple
½ yellow onion (diced)
2 tbsp cilantro

Toss together pineapple, onion and cilantro. Allow chutney to sit for ten minutes so flavors mingle.

Toss chicken strips with 1 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on a grill or grill pan until juices run clear, about 6 minutes per side. Plate three strips of chicken with ¼ cup of chutney.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Spicy Peanut Noodles

How is your New Year going? I know it’s only a week in, but that’s 1/52nd of the year! Now doesn’t that sound like a lot of time? Aside from my VERY important resolutions, I’m working on a few smaller goals. One of those is to try and do more things that scare me. I’ve found, in the past, doing these scary things have yielded amazing results.




A number of years ago I joined my first gym. For the first year I spent a good amount of time on the elliptical machine. Walking in place, uphill, downhill. Very fulfilling. Got some killer calves from that year, rock hard. After a while I got a little bored and decided to try out the weight room floor. All those shiny machines were calling to me. After a personal trainer showed me the ropes I dove in, hit those machines, usually on Fridays. This lead to some nice arms and a few too many offers of friendship from the muscle-bound men.

Look at all that color!  Delicious!

The final hurdle I jumped was going to the group fitness classes. I decided that I liked this the best. Not only would I have awesome arms and calves, but I would be able to work my whole body! Pilates, body sculpting, yoga it was all so much fun! But what really caught my eye? One night I spied a kickboxing class while pedaling away on my elliptical. Punching and kicking, all the members in unison like one of those Bally’s commercials. I could do that, right? You bet! Although it took an introductory class and a pair of new shoes to get me into the rhythm with the rest of them. But now I can round house kick like Chuck Norris.  Totally worth it!


The scary thing for this week? I stopped at that imposing looking Asian market on my walk home from work. Walking inside and being greeted with strange candies and bad lighting. I walked up and down the aisles, looking over the bottles and jars with words written in Chinese, Korean and Japanese. I decided to bring home some of these sauces, even though I wasn’t quite sure what they all were. Dinner would be spicy tonight, because the bottle we’re using tonight says chili!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pineapple Upsidedown Muffins

I’ve finally returned to Connecticut, which means I’m back in my own kitchen. I missed all my tools and ingredients, the ability to throw together a meal in minutes. It’s so hard making dinner in a kitchen without even the simplest necessities, like salt, or a mixing bowl. My return also means the beginning of our month of healthy eating! After a quick run to the grocery store, for the more unusual items, I was able to whip up dinner, lunch and breakfast.

Since it makes the most sense, breakfast is first on the menu. I’m a big breakfast fan, especially when it tastes like dessert. I originally made these muffins back in Colorado. They are full of energy and will keep you going until lunch. I liked to treat myself to them after I convinced myself to get up early and workout. Sometimes it would be an incentive to get out of bed in the morning and get to that 5:30am class. Although I found that teaching the 5:30am class to be a bigger incentive, since there would be no class if I didn’t show up!


This thought beings me to one of my favorite fitness tips – Make a Gym Buddy! Being an instructor I have seen it time and time again. Those people that make friends, or bring friends, to a class were more likely to come back. My 5:30am Bodystep class included a group of 8 women who came every week. If one of them was missing they would have some explaining to do the next week! I’ve met so many wonderful people at the gym, friendships that I still have today, even though I don’t live close anymore. You and your buddy will have more fun in class together and you’ll have each other to motivate, cheer on and challenge.

Be sure to vote on my poll!  What types of healthy recipes are you looking for most?  This will help influence the recipes that I post in the next three weeks.  I might even get boyfriend to lend a hand in the kitchen, that way you'll know it's an easy recipe to follow!
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