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Monday, August 5, 2013

Pizza Party!



"Pizza in the morning pizza in the evening pizza at supper time...When pizza's on bagel pita you can eat pizza anytime" <-great song. I made these mini pizzas as a healthy alternative to regular pizza bagels/Papa Gino's delivery.



I love these because there fast, cheap, and so easy to make you can do it stoned (just set a timer). I spread my favorite no sugar added tomato sauce on whole wheat pita breads, sprinkled some part skim pizza cheese then added a liberal amount of turkey pepperoni. Yes, turkey pepperoni is just as good as regular pepperoni.
I'm not writing out a recipe because this is super simple. Bake about 10 minutes at 425 degrees. Don't forget to line your cookie sheet with tin foil for easy clean up.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Coconut Cupcakes




These coconut cupcakes are a little different from regular cupcakes. They are gluten and refined sugar free, even the frosting! But while they are healthy, they're still cupcakes and have calories. They're made using coconut flour which is high in fiber, coconut oil which is full of good for you medium chain fatty acids, and raw agave nectar which doesn't spike your blood sugar levels like white sugar does. They also have shredded coconut in the mix for extra coconutty flavor!

The frosting is Swiss meringue buttercream. I substituted coconut sugar in place of white sugar for the recipe. The taste was great, smooth and creamy from the butter with slight hint of carmel. Unfortunately, I don't think I will be using coconut sugar for SMB again. i=Its less refined and therefore there are some imperfections. These imperfections prevented the egg whites from whipping up to their desired stiff peaks. I beat them for 25 minutes and all I could achieve was medium peaks. This frosting did not pipe well which was very disappointing because I had to use it for cake decorating class.



Coconut Cupcakes 

makes about 10 cupcakes

3 eggs, room temperature
½ cup coconut oil
½ cup agave nectar
½ cup coconut flour
½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 and gather ingredients.
In a small bowl blend eggs, coconut oil and agave nectar with a hand blender
Pulse in coconut flour, salt, baking soda and shredded coconut
Allow batter to sit and thicken for 2 minutes
Line a cupcake tin with paper liners
Spoon ¼ cup cupcake batter into each cupcake liner
Bake for 20-25 minutes
Remove cupcakes from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes
Frost with desired icing and serve
Makes about 10 cupcakes

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wilton Course 1 Lesson 2



For the second class we were required to bring in a cake and frosting to decorate it. We first practiced bead borders and building up 3d designs on the practice boards. We were also shown how to transfer a design from parchment paper onto the cake using parchment paper. I used a Swiss meringue butter cream to frost my cake which doent harden up like regular butter cream, so I wasn't able to use the parchment paper trick and just free handed my cupcake design. I think it came out pretty good, I need to practice more on making borders as mine are a little uneven. This was a very fun class because we were decorating the whole time.

The cake I made had no flour, butter, or sugar and it was delicious! Its a healthy low carb cake made from black beans, eggs, and coconut oil that I adapted from Healthyindulgences.net. The texture was similar to carrot cake and the coco powder covered up any bean taste and the cake just tasted chocolaty. I think next time I'll add some mini chocolate chips or walnuts to camouflage the not perfect texture. I gave a piece to my boyfriend without telling him what it was and he really liked it, he said it tasted just like cake!



The frosting I chose was not healthy at all. Swiss meringue buttercream, dangerous stuff. Creamy buttery taste, silky smooth texture, and beautiful satiny finish makes this my new favorite frosting. Its also wonderful to pipe with, the egg whites really stabilize it so you don't need to add a ton of powdered sugar to make it stiff enough for decorating. Unfortunately, it contains a pound of butter, I'll have to reserve it for special occasions because that's way too much saturated fat to be eating regularly.



Healthy Indulgence Chocolate Cake

adapted from Healthyindulgences.net
makes one 9 inch cake

Ingredients:

1-15 ounce can of low sodium black beans
5 large eggs, room tempuratue
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Truvia brand stevia
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon water


Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease one 9 inch cake pan and dust with coco powder.

Drain and rinse beans and shake off excess water. Blend beans in a food processor until they are very smooth and set aside.
Sift together cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder, set aside.
In a heat proof bowl, combine the stevia and coconut oil. Whisk in the eggs until smooth. If the coconut oil hardens up, whisk the mixture over a pan of simmering water until it is completly smooth. Whisk in the vanilla and water. Beat in the pureed beans until completely combined. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and blend well.
Pour into the cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. It will dome up while baking but fall flat as it cools. Let it cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before removing it.

Notes
I think the chocolate flavor could really be enhanced with a little espresso powder. As for a healthy frosting, Peanut Butter & Co's Dark Chocolate Dreams, fresh fruit, or I'm thinking of a greek yogurt and cream cheese combo I wanna try out.


Swiss Meringue Buttercream

from Bakersroyale.com, they have a wonderful how-to post

Makes approximately 3 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

5 large egg whites
11/2 cup sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter, sliced and softened
1/4 teaspoon salt


1.Combine egg whites and sugar in a stand mixer bowl and place it over (not on) simmering water. Heat mixture to 160 degrees F while whisking constantly.
2.Transfer mixer bowl to stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium high speed (speed 8 on a KitchenAid stand mixer) until mixture cools, doubles in volume and forms stiff peaks; about 10-12 minutes.
3.Add butter in one piece at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. The mixture may appear clumpy and almost curdled looking at first—this is normal. Keep mixing and it will become even and smooth again.
4.Add flavoring, such as vanilla extract, mix to combine.


Crunchy Mustard Baked Salmon


The topping on this is absolutely delicious, I will definitely be making it regularly. Its lightly seasoned fresh bread crumbs mixed with whole grain and Dijon mustards and a tad of butter to hold it all together. I could eat this mix with a spoon right out of the food processor. It reminded me of hot dogs during the summer time! I used to love eating hot dogs topped with lots of mustard but haven't had any since giving up meat 2 years ago. This is a wonderful replacement, I guess what I really missed was mustard. 
The fish itself was on the dry side. I'm not sure if I overcooked it (I cannot eat undercooked fish!) or if It needed a marinade prior to cooking. Next time I plan on trying it with white fish.


Crunchy Mustard Baked Salmon

adapted from Serious Eats

2 slices wheat bread, torn into rough chunks.
4 boneless skinless salmon fillets, about 3-4 ounces each
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (optional)


Preheat the broiler to high and adjust rack to 6 inches below the element. Pulse bread in the bowl of a food processor until coarse crumbs are created, add both mustards, butter, salt and pepper, and thyme if using. Pulse to combine. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and add a about a tablespoon of oil and a little butter. Add salmon skin-side down and cook without moving until a nice crust has formed, about 2 minutes. Only sear one side. Pile the crumbs on the salmon, then transfer to the broiler. Broil until the crumbs are crunchy and browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.








Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mocha Bouquet




I made this cupcake flower bouquet to give to my mom for mother's day. It was really easy to put together. Its green flower foam inside of a terra-cotta flower pot and the cupcakes are stuck in using a combination of toothpicks and lollipop sticks. I used the square flower foam but net time I will defiantly be using the sphere shaped variety.

I baked chocolate wacky cake cupcakes for the cake base because it is egg and dairy free and my mom is allergic to eggs. This cake was a snap  to make, pretty much just dump and stir, I didn't even need to break out the electric mixer. I surprised how tasty they turned out considering no eggs or butter. They had a strong chocolate flavor and enhanced by the coffee added to the batter with mini chocolate chips throughout the cake. They were also super moist, I like these better than Martha's one bowl chocolate cupcakes. Great tasting and really quick and easy to mix up and bake.



My mom loves coffee so I made a coffee buttercream frosting for piping on the roses. The frosting had an intense coffee flavor and aroma and was really creamy and delicious, at first. I had to add more powdered sugar to the buttercream to make it stiff consistency in order to pipe the roses, in the end, it was a little sugary for my liking but the flowers looked and smelled beautiful. I also used half shortening in the buttercream for decorating reasons but for the best taste I recommend using all butter.




Double Chocolate Wacky Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream

Double Chocolate Wacky Cupcakes

slightly adapted from gingerbreadbagels.com
makes 24 standard size cupcakes

3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cooled coffee
1 cup tap water
3/4 cup vegetable oil (not olive)
2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips mixed with 1/2 tablespoon coco powder

Coffee Buttercream

makes enough to pipe 24 buttercream roses

4 cups powdered sugar, add an additional 1/2 to 1 cup for stiff consistency
12 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening, softened
2 Tablespoon instant coffee (I used sanka)
2 Tablespoon hot water
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
milk or cream as needed for desired consistency


For the Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
In a large bowl, stir or sift together the flour, sugar, sifted cocoa powder, baking soda and kosher salt.
Ina separate bowl or large measuring cup mix together the coffee, water, oil, vanilla extract and vinegar. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir well until combined.
Fold in the coco coated chocolate chips, coating them prevents them from sinking to the bottom of the cupcakes during baking.
Dived batter evenly among the cupcake liners. I like to pour it in a measuring cup and then pour it into the  liners but an ice-cream scoop also works well.
Bake for 20 minutes rotating the pans halfway through if your oven doesn't cook evenly.
Cool for 10 minutes in the pan then remove from pan and allow to fully cool.

For the Buttercream
Sift the powdered sugar. Set aside. Mix together 1 tablespoon of instant coffee and 1 tablespoon of hot water in a small bowl.
In a medium bowl cream the butter and shortening until fluffy, 1-2 minutes.
Add the coffee mixture, vanilla, and kosher salt to the butter and shortening and mix to combine.
Slowly add the powdered sugar on low speed, 1/2 cup at a time. Once it’s combine, increase the speed to high and mix for 2 minutes.
Add desired amount of milk or cream and mix until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.




Saturday, May 12, 2012

Lime Cod with 7 Grain Pilaf


I recently bought a big box of Kashi 7 whole grain pilaf for only $2.49! This was a great deal compared to quinoa, my grain of choice, that cost around $5 for a small box and the nutritional profile is very similar. At first I was concerned this pilaf was going to take forever to cook because even though the directions claim 25 minutes, it does contain brown rice which takes about 40. after 25 minutes, it was still hard so I added about a 1/4 cup more water and when that was fully absorbed the grains were still chewy. Well, the fish and veggies were done so, being impatient, I decided this grain mix was done. I was shocked at how delicious it was. It had a chewy bite similar to steel cut oats and was perfectly savory with the asparagus, mushroom, and spinach garlic mix I served with it. I will definitely be making it again and will post a more accurate cooking method.
Cod is one of my favorite white fishes and its usually cheaper than haddock. I like tilapia but only farm raised was available and I stay away from that. I marinated the cod in fresh lime juice along with some salt and pepper then seasoned it with old bay and some paprika. I baked it in the oven until it flaked with a fork. The mild fish had a light citrus flavor enhanced by some cilantro. Everything on my plate got a hefty helping of cilantro.


7 Grain Pilaf

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup pilaf mix
2 cups water
hefty pinch of salt
1/4 cup water

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute until golden. Add the 2 cups of water and bring to a boil then add the pilaf and stir. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium low, let it simmer for 25 minutes then add the 1/4 of water and let it simmer until all the water is absorbed. This pilaf mixture is not sensitive to stirring or being uncovered during cooking, super easy to make. Fluff with a fork when done.

Asparagus, Mushroom, and Spinach Saute

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 a container of baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
1/2 a bunch of asparagus, woody ends removed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
hefty pinch of salt
pepper and paprika to taste
3 handfulls of baby spinach
1/4 cup of cilantro
juice of half a lemon

Heat oil in a medium skillet until it begins to shimmer. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and saute until golden. Add the next four ingredients and continue to saute until the asparagus is fork tender, adding a little water if anything begins to stick to the pan. add the spinach and cilantro and cook until the spinach wilts. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and serve over the pilaf.

Lime Cod

1 pound fresh cod, cut into fillets
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 3 limes
1/2 teaspoon old bay seasoning
pinch of paprika

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper. Place the fish in a shallow baking dish and squeeze the juice of 3 limes over the fish. Let marinate for no more than 15 minutes, flipping half way.
Drain the juice. Sprinkle the old bay and paprika evenly over both sides of the fillets. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
Garnish with cilantro.



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wilton Course 1 Lesson 1



I signed up last week to take the Wilton cake decorating classes at my local Micheal's Craft store. I have been wanting take the class for a while and finally found the time to sign up. Last night was the first class. According to the syllabus, students are required to buy Wilton frosting and the decorating kit which was $35 at the store but I think I bought mine for about $16 a few months ago on amazon. The kit includes various tips, reusable and disposable piping bags, icing spatula, decorating lessons to practice on and more. We were given the course 1 booklet at the beginning of class which includes many color photos displaying proper technique and step by step instructions but of course it also pushes the use of Wilton products. The four lesson course was only $22 which I think is a very good deal.

The class began with a thorough introduction from the personable Wilton instructor. She explained what was in out decorating kits, tips for baking cakes and what we would be learning in course 1. Then she demonstrated different butter cream consistencies and also demoed how to torte, fill, and smoothly frost a cake using a spatula. Then it was the students turn to practice on cookies. After filling piping bags we used the star tip (18) on the practice board and then we decorated our cookies so we could bring them home and show our families what we did in class.

Students were also required to bring in cookies from home to practice decorating on. I used a sugar cookie recipe from Bake at 350 which was very delicious and sturdy enough to bring to and from class with out breaking. This was a fantastic recipe for rolled cookies. The only thing I did not like about it was there is no measurement given for recommended thickness when rolling out the dough, I rolled mine to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness. I think 1/4 inch would give best results. I also used room temperature butter even though the recipe calls for it to be cold, I only have an electric hand mixer and it would have been difficult to cream cold butter. To compensate for the temperature,  I let the dough chill in the freezer for about 15 minutes prior to rolling it out. The cookies did not seem to spread at all during cooking and held their shape extremely well. The cookies themselves were very tasty, just sweet enough and the texture was almost shortbread like. I would definitely use this recipe again to make rolled cookies.


Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies

Slightly adapted from Bake at 350

Ingredients
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
 2 sticks (unsalted) butter, room temperture
 1 egg
 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour, salt and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Add the flour mixture in three additions and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling. Chill the dough if neccessary.

Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets (To prevent spreading, freeze the cut out shape on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking) and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.