Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gingerbread Biscotti

From, submitted by Cristina Gomez.

Prep: 25 minutes, Cook: 40 minutes
Yields: 48 servings
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 1/2 Tbs. ground ginger
3/4 Tbs. ground cinnamon
1/2 Tbs. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, mix together oil, sugar, eggs, and molasses. In another bowl, combine flours, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg; mix into egg mixture to form a stiff dough.

Divide dough in half and shape each half into a roll the length of the cookie. Place rolls on cookie sheet and pat down to flatten the dough to 1/2 inch thickness.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

When cool enough to touch, cut into 1/2-inch thick diagonal slices. Place sliced biscotti on cookie sheet and bake an additional 5-7 minutes on each side, or until toasted and crispy.

- I tend to cut my biscotti in half because they always come out really long.
- Dipping or drizzling the biscotti with melted white chocolate adds a really nice touch.
- The dough is REALLY sticky, so it helps to use floured hands and a floured surface to shape it. (I use part flour, part powdered sugar.)

Layered Peppermint Bark

From, submitted by Carol.

Prep: 30 minutes, Ready in: 1 1/2 hours
Makes: 32 servings
20 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped, divided
30 peppermint candies, crushed, divided
10 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 Tbs. heavy cream
1 tsp. peppermint extract

Line a 9x12" baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

Melt half of the white chocolate in the top of a double boiler over just barely simmering water, stirring frequently and scraping down the sides with a spatula to avoid scorching. Spread the white chocolate into the prepared pan Sprinkle 1/2 of the crushed peppermints evenly over the white chocolate. Chill until firm, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the dark chocolate, heavy cream, and peppermint extract together in the top of a double boiler over just barely simmering water, stirring frequently, until just melted. Quickly pour the chocolate layer over the chilled white chocolate layer; spread evenly. Chill at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining white chocolate in the top of a double boiler over just barely simmering water, stirring frequently, until just melted. Spread quickly over the chilled bark. Sprinkle with the remaining peppermint pieces; chill until firm, about 20 minutes. Cut or break into small pieces to serve.

- Using a 9x12" pan produces very thick "bark," so I will likely use a jelly roll pan next time instead.
- I used two bags of white chocolate chips, which was closer to 24 ounces instead of 20.
- If you don't have two double boilers (by a fluke, I do), you can melt the white chocolate in the microwave (in two batches). Start with a minute at 50% power, and then add 15 seconds until the chocolate is smooth when stirred. You can also make a double boiler by placing a glass bowl over a pot with a little of simmering water.
- Be very careful (and quick) when spreading the final layer of white chocolate. The dark chocolate will never completely set up, so it's easy to end up swirling it into the white.
- Don't get any water into your melting chocolate! It will cause big problems. (If you do, add a little oil or shortening to help fix things.)

Chocolate Toffee Crunch Squares

From Hershey's Made Simple, page 22.

Makes 3 dozen squares.
4 cups (two 11.5-ounce packages) chocolate chips
1 cup Heath Bits 'o Brickle toffee bits
1 cup lightly salted peanuts
1 cup halved pretzel sticks
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes (optional)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 tsp. shortening (do not use butter, margarine, spread, or oil)
Paper candy cups (optional)

Line 9-inch square pan with plastic wrap. Place chocolate chips in large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at medium (50%) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at medium an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating just until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Immediately add toffee bits, peanuts, pretzels, and coconut, if desired; stir to coat.

Spread mixture in prepared pan; cover with plastic wrap or foil. Refrigerate 45 minutes or until firm.

Place white chips and shortening in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at medium (50%) 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave at medium an additional 10 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating just until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Using a fork, drizzle white chips mixture over chocolate mixture in pan. Cover; refrigerate 5 minutes or until firm.

Bring to room temperature. Remove chocolate mixture from pan and place right-side up on cutting board; remove plastic wrap. Cut into 1 1/2-inch squares. Place each square in a candy cup, if desired. Store in covered container in a cool place.

Variation: Chocolate Toffee Haystacks
Prepare mixture as above. Instead of spreading into square pan, drop chocolate mixture by slightly heaping tablespoons onto wax paper-lined cookie sheet or tray. Refrigerate until firm. Melt white chips as directed above; drizzle over haystacks.

- I made my squares in an 8x8" pan. (Who owns a 9x9" anyway?)
- My squares were smaller than 1 1/2 inches, so I probably got closer to 4 dozen candies.
- I like to use one bag of milk chocolate and one bag of semi-sweet chips.

Double Peanut Butter Paisley Brownies

From Hershey's Made Simple, page 12.

Makes about 36 brownies.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1/4 creamy peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 2/3 cups (10-ounce package) peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chocolate syrup (milk or dark)

Heat oven to 350F. Grease 9x13" baking pan.

Beat butter and peanut butter in a large bowl. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in vanilla.

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt; mix into peanut butter mixture, blending well. Stir in peanut butter chips. Spread half of batter in prepared pan; spoon syrup over top. Carefully spread with remaining batter; swirl with metal spatula or knife for marbled effect.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares.

- I use dark brown sugar--I prefer it over light.
- This recipe needs more chocolate. Next time I make it, I'm going to add chocolate chips along with the peanut butter chips.
- These keep very well if stored in an airtight container or ziplock bag.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Grilled Burritos / Grilled Soft Tacos

We really like Taco Bell's grilled stuffed burritos, so we decided a while ago to start grilling our own at home. Sure, ours aren't "stuffed," but they're yummy. The nice thing is you can customize them to your own liking.
Fill burrito-sized flour tortillas with any combination of the following:

Taco-seasoned meat (beef, turkey, etc.)
Black beans
Mexican rice (we used Knorr brand)
Sour cream
Nacho cheese sauce

Fold in two opposing sides and roll up, starting on one of the other sides. Grill over medium-low to medium heat sprayed with cooking spray. Each side only takes a minute or two; just keep an eye on it.

Other good fillings I can think of:
- Guacamole
- Refried Beans
- Taco Bell sauce
- Peppers
- Corn
- Onion
- Anything else you like!

- To make meatless, omit the taco-seasoned meat or replace with refried beans.  Cook black beans in taco seasoning and water before adding to burrito to maintain the general flavor of the dish.
- Consider using Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix to reduce the sodium!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Malibu Chicken Bundles

From Healthy Cooking (Dec./Jan. 2009), page 55.

We tried these for dinner last night, and they were delicious! The crushed pineapple and honey Dijon mustard add a nice touch to the classic flavors of chicken cordon bleu. The recipe came from my Healthy Cooking magazine, and so it came with nutrition information.
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
1/2 cup honey Dijon mustard, divided
4 thin slices deli ham
4 slices reduced-fat Swiss cheese
1 can (8 ounces) unsweetened crushed pineapple, well drained
1-1/2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

1 can (10-3/4 ounces) reduced-fat reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/8 tsp. tarragon

Flatten chicken breasts to 1/4-inch thickness. Spread 1 Tbs. mustard over each; layer with ham, cheese, and pineapple. Fold chicken over pineapple; secure with toothpicks. Brush bundles with remaining mustard.

In a shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Roll bundles in bread crumb mixture; place in a 11x7x2" baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, at 350F for 45-50 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 170F.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the sauce ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Serve with chicken.

- I think the only reduced-fat items I had were the soup and sour cream. Obviously you can use full fat items if that's what you have (or what's on sale!), but it's going to make the dish, well, fattier.
- I bought pineapple tidbits and chopped them up instead of using crushed pineapple.

Nutrition Facts (as recipe is written): 1 chicken bundle with 1/3 cup sauce = 400 calories, 12 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 86 mg cholesterol, 784 mg sodium, 41 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, and 36 g protein.

Diabetic Exchanges (as recipe is written): 3 very lean meat, 2 starch, 1-1/2 fat, 1/2 fruit

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tangy Lime Chicken for Two

Story: One night Matt said to me, "You know what sounds really good? Lime chicken." From that small dinner suggestion, this delicious creation was born! I've already made it again, but with modifications (example: I left soy sauce out of the sauce--it's so much prettier when it's green instead of brown). I'll let you know if I make any more changes . . .
2 chicken breasts, cut in half
1 Tbs. honey
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. lemon or lime juice
1/2 tsp. grated/minced fresh ginger
Zest from 1/2 lime
Juice from 1/2 lime

Microwave lime zest, all juices, ginger, honey, and soy sauce on high for 10 seconds. Mix well.

Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 Tbs. oil over medium heat. Add chicken. Pour half of above mixture over chicken pieces and cook for about 8 minutes. Flip chicken and coat with remaining mixture. Cook until chicken is done, approximately another 8 minutes.

Lime Sauce:
1 Tbs. honey
1/2 Tbs. butter or margarine
1/2 Yoplait Light Key Lime Pie yogurt
1/2 tsp. grated/minced fresh ginger
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Zest from 1/2 lime
Juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. flour/water mixture
Several drops green Tobasco sauce
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook first 7 ingredients over low heat. Add butter; once melted, mix into sauce. Add flour/water mixture and turn the heat up slightly. Stir to keep from burning. Once thickened, add Tobasco sauce and salt and pepper to taste.

Drizzle over chicken to serve.

- If you have time, marinate the chicken for about an hour before cooking it.  You could also put it in a ziplock bag in the freezer to use another time.
- I also want to try making the chicken on the grill instead of in a skillet.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Flax Seed Waffles

I modified the waffle recipe on the Bisquick box to include more flax seed in our diets.  We've found this is actually a really easy way to do it, and you can hardly taste the flax seed.

1 cup Bisquick
1 egg
1 cup milk (more or less, depending on how thick you prefer the batter)
3 Tbs. flax seed, finely ground
1 Tbs. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla, optional
2 dashes cinnamon, optional

Whisk together all ingredients.  Cook as usual.  Eat with your favorite toppings.

- You can also modify the pancake recipe--just make sure to add more liquid.  If you half the recipe on the box, still use the amount of eggs for a full recipe.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Matt's Award-winning Brownies

Makes one 9x13" pan of brownies.
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cup flour
1 cup (2 handfuls) nuts, chopped
2/3 cup oil
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt (scant)

Beat eggs, sugar, and oil until smooth.  Add flour and beat again.  Add baking powder, salt, cocoa, and vanilla and mix again.

Mix in nuts.

Bake 25-30 minutes in a greased 9x13" pan @ 370 degrees F.

- Works best in a clear glass baking pan.  Times and temperatures may need to be adjusted for metal or tinted glass.
- Leave the nuts out if you don't want them (we chop them into pretty small pieces).
- Dust slightly cooled brownies with powdered sugar.
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