Sunday, August 29, 2010

SUPER LOW-FAT GRANOLA CEREAL

I really enjoy granola on top of yogurt or just a handful for a quick snack, but I rarely buy it from the store. The higher quality types can be pretty spendy and the lower quality types are either pretty high in fat or just don't taste very good in my opinion. This granola recipe is the first that I've tried in years, and I like that it doesn't call for any butter or oil. It's a simple recipe with pretty inexpensive ingredients, but you could easily add anything you want and come up with your own yummy combination.

SUPER LOW-FAT GRANOLA CEREAL                     Makes 9 cups
(Recipe from Taste of Home)

(Printable Recipe)

8 Cups old-fashioned oats
1 Cup raisins
1/2 Cup chopped dried apricots (I didn't have any so I slightly increased the other two fruits)
1/2 Cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 Cups packed brown sugar (I reduced it a bit by not packing)
1/2 Cup water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. maple extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract

**Update** A a comment was left suggesting to delay putting raisins and other dried fruit in until half way through cooking time to avoid them from getting cripy, and after trying it this way, I would advise doing it this way. You could even omit the dried fruit and just add it in right before serving.
In a very large bowl, combine the oats, raisins, apricots and cranberries; set aside. In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar, water and salt.  Cook and stir over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until brown sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat; stir in extracts. Pour over oat mixture and stir well to coat.

Transfer to two greased 15" x 10" baking pans, Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until crisp; stirring every 10 minutes. Cool completely in pans on wire racks. Store in an airtight container. Serve with milk, yogurt, ice cream, or by itself!

Friday, August 27, 2010

ZUCCHINI BROWNIES

Surprise! It's another zucchini post! The title of this recipe is Zucchini Brownies, but you could just as well call it cake. I made a few modifications to make it "healthier" and wow did it turn out moist and good! So good that I ate way more than my fair share of the 9x13 pan, and just skipped dinner all together. I added a good dollop of Cool Whip (yes, the totally artificial stuff) on top, but it was plenty good all by itself too.

ZUCCHINI BROWNIES

(Printable Recipe)

1 C. wheat flour
1/2 C. oat flour
1/2 C. all purpose flour
1 1/4 C. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 C. Dutch process cocoa
1 egg
1/4 C. coconut oil (can also use Canola oil)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 C. finely grated zucchini (don't squeeze out any of the moisture)
3/4 bag semi sweet chocolate chips
Whipped cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350 F
Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl and set aside. Mix all wet ingredients into medium bowl. Add contents of medium bowl into large bowl and mix well. Spread evenly into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes. (Mine were perfect at 33 minutes)
Cool completely. Top with whipped cream if desired.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

CREAM CHEESE CHOCOLATE CHIP DIP

My daughters were invited to a late night PJ party to celebrate the last night of being able to stay up late before school starts. I thought this would be a fun, kid-friendly treat to send with them; full of all kinds of sugary goodness like cream cheese, chocolate chips, m&m's and Oreos. Not to mention the cookies that will be dipped in the sugary goodness. I thought I'd just have a little taste and be done with it. Oh no, no, this stuff is addicting! The recipe sounded like it would turn out pretty much like a cream cheese frosting, which is somewhat true, but not quite as powdered sugar tasting, and refrigeration makes it a little stiffer. So, if you like frosting, you'll love this!

CREAM CHEESE CHOCOLATE CHIP DIP
(From Confessions of a Cookbook Queen)

(Printable Recipe)

1 cube (1/2 C.) butter, softened
1 8oz. package cream cheese, softened (I used Neuftchatel)
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 C. powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 C. mini chocolate chips
Toppings such as crushed Oreos, mini M&M's, nuts, sprinkles, etc.

Cream butter, cream cheese and vanilla until creamy and smooth. Beat in sugars and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Refrigerate for 1 hour to firm up a bit. Form into a rounded mound on plate and top with various toppings. Serve with graham crackers, Teddy Grahams, Nilla Wafers, etc.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

BBQ CHICKEN BAKED POTATOES

My husband and I used to eat a lot of baked potatoes, but now we seldom have them because of their starch, carbs, glycemic index rating; you know, all the good stuff! I spotted this recipe in the Aug/Sept 2010 issue of Taste of Home magazine. My family loves BBQ chicken, and my husband loves blue cheese so I cut it out thinking I'd make it one of these nights when we weren't being "sticklers". Tonight was that night. I wasn't sure how the flavors would all come together on a baked potato, but there were no complaints here! The reipe makes a lot, so I halved it and used just 2 baked potatoes, and still had chicken left over. You could make the full recipe and use the leftover chicken for pulled chicken sandwiches another day.

BBQ CHICKEN BAKED POTATOES
serves 10


(Printable Recipe)

4 1/2 lbs. bone-in chicken breast halves, skin removed (I just used 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts)
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 large red onion, sliced into thick rings
1 bottle (18 oz) honey BBQ Sauce
1 C. Italian salad dressing
1/2 C. packed brown sugar
1/2 C. cider vinegar
1/4 C. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. Liquid Smoke, optional
10 medium potatoes, baked ( I wrapped in tin foil and put on outdoor grill for a little over an hour)
Crumbled Blue cheese and chopped green onion for garnish (could use Feta if you don't like blue)

Place chicken in 5 or 6 quart slow cooker; sprinkle with garlic powder and top with onion. Combine the BBQ sauce, salad dressing, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire and liquid smoke; pour over chicken.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until chicken is tender. When cool enough to handle, remove chicken from bones, discard bones and onion. Skim fat from cooking juices. Shred meat and return to slow cooker; heat through. Serve over baked potatoes with blue cheese and green onions.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

HEALTHIER ZUCCHINI BREAD

Yes, I am on a zucchini kick; it's hard not to be when I've got it stashed in every corner of my pantry! My daughter has been begging me to make zucchini bread for a while now. I pulled out this recipe that I made once a few years ago because I didn't want a recipe laden with oil and tons of sugar, making it more like a dessert than a bread. A bit of lemon flavors this bread and gives it a nice hint of "freshness", but you could just use all vanilla extract and still get a great result. Grab a glass of milk and a hunk of this bread for a quick and tasty breakfast!

HEALTHIER ZUCCHINI BREAD           makes 2 small loaves
Adapted from Cooking Light, July 2005


(Printable Recipe)

1 1/2 C. all purpose flour
1 1/2 C. white wheat flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. instant vanilla pudding mix, dry (optional)
1/2 C. egg substitute
1/3 C. canola oil
1 tsp. grated lemon zest (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4 C. sugar (I reduced this from 1 1/2 C. so if you want sweeter bread, use the full 1 1/2 C.)
3 cups shredded zucchini (12 oz)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

1. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through pudding mix) in large bowl.

2. Combine egg substitute and next 5 ingredients (through egg) in a large bowl; add sugar, stirring until combined. Add zucchini, stir until well combined. Add flour mixture; stir just until combined.

3. Divde batter evenly among 2 well greased (8x4) loaf pans. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on wire rack, remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES -- My new favorite!

Chocolate chip cookies are funny; we all have "our chocolate chip cookie recipe" that we claim to be THE BEST! And it's a tough sell to get anyone to try your "better" recipe. Well, I tried this recipe, and it's now going to be "my" chocolate chip cookie recipe! I have to give credit to The Pink Peppercorn for this wonderful recipe with a secret ingredient of cornstarch, which I've never used in any cookies other than meltaways.  Thank you for making all my hard exercise and calorie counting fly right out the window! My husband and I both ate so much of the dough that we considered not even baking any because we knew that would lead to us eating even MORE of these perfect cookies, but of course, we had to test the real thing all baked up. I do have to say that these cookies are best when totally cooled and set, so maybe an hour or so after they come out of the oven. Go make them now and let me know how they compare to "your chocolate chip cookie recipe!".

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES


(Printable Recipe)

3/4 C. butter, softened (unsalted)
1 C. unpacked light brown sugar
1/4 C. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 C. all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 C. chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
2. Thoroughly combine butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla and mix well.
3. Add flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt until thoroughly combined.
4. Mix in chocolate chips
5. Using an ice cream scoop, drop 8 balls of dough onto greased baking sheets. Place baking sheets in oven and bake for 6 minutes.
6. Remove baking sheets from oven and gently press each cookie with a spatula to flatten slightly. If dough appears too gooey to squish, place back in oven for another minute or two.
7. Continue to bake for another 4-6 minutes, until cookies appear slightly golden around the edges and still appear slightly raw in the center. This will help keep them soft.
8. Allow cookies to set up on cookie sheet for a few minutes before removing them to wire racks for cooling. Allow to cool only briefly before transferring to a sealed container for storing.

Monday, August 16, 2010

STUFFED ZUCCHINI BOATS

If you have a garden, you likely have zucchini. And, if you are like me, you have a heck of a lot of it sitting in your pantry, piling up wondering what to do with it!  I typically just shred it to make zucchini muffins, but I found this recipe over at Zoom Yummy, and it was just that; YUMMY. This could easily be a meatless main dish too. It was extra easy for me to make because I just happened to have some leftover rice sitting in the fridge from my last post. Give it a shot!

STUFFED ZUCCHINI BOATS

(Printable Recipe)

2 medium zucchinis, halved
1/2 - 1 onion, chopped
1 C. frozen veggies, defrosted (I used peas & carrots)
3/4 C. cooked rice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
olive oil
3/4 C. grated cheese (I used provolone)
Worcestershire sauce
Dry roasted sunflower seeds, optional

Preheat oven to 350

Cook rice according to package, adding chicken broth in place of water, if desired.

Scoop out flesh of zucchini and set aside. Drizzle each zucchini half with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and bake in oven @ 350 for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, chop the zucchini flesh and onion.  Drizzle pan with olive oil and set pan over medium high heat. Saute zucchini and onion until tender, about 7-8 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper. Add the frozen veggies and saute for another 7-8 minutes or until soft. Add rice and a few dashes of Worcestershire and mix well. Remove from heat.
Spoon rice and veggie mixture down center of zucchini "boats", mounding it up a bit. Top with shredded cheese and sprinkle with sunflower seeds, if desired.

Put back in oven for 20 minutes.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

TERIYAKI CHICKEN RICE BOWL

Finally! I'm back to posting! New computer, new wireless modem, all is well... for now. Last night I threw these rice bowls together and they were WAY better than I expected! I'm sure part of the success was due to the home made Teriyaki Sauce recipe I used from Our Best Bites, it's the best and so easy! This is a great meal to throw together when you don't have a lot of time. This is the first time I've used short grain brown rice, which is the type of rice used by a lot of restaurants such as Rumbi, Pei Wei, etc. in their rice bowls. It makes all the difference; nuttier in flavor and with a little more "bite" to it. I definately reccommend using it! I almost didn't add the orange zest in, but I'm SO glad I did! It brightened the dish and gave it a nice orange essence without overpowering it. Feel free to use whatever kind of veggies and meat you like, or omit meat for a satisfying meatless meal. I used all fresh veggies, but you could certainly get a bag of frozen to make life that much easier! I'm tagging this as "healthy" and "low fat" because it is... until you drown it in this sweet, sugary Teriyaki concoction! Use at your discretion for "healthy" :)

TERIYAKI CHICKEN RICE BOWL
Serves 4-6


(Printable Recipe)


Teriyaki Sauce (follow the link above for Our Best Bites)
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast or tenders (or more depending on how much meat you want)
Assorted Veggies of your choice, sliced thin
     I used broccoli, carrots, onion, zucchini, yellow squash
Water or chicken broth for cooking veggies
1 - 1 1/2 C. (measured dry) Short grain brown rice, cooked as directed on package
Zest from one orange, optional but reccommended!
Chopped or slivered almonds, optional


Cook rice according to package directions.


Cut chicken into small 1" cubes. Saute in large pan with a little oil until just cooked and golden, adding orange zest during last minute or two. (If you question whether or not it's cooked through, don't worry, it will get time to cook again later with veggies.)Remove chicken to plate and cover to keep warm. Add veggies to pan, adding a touch more oil if neccessary, cover wid lid and saute until tender, adding water or broth to help steam them and prevent burning. Add the chicken back into pan for the last few minutes of cooking to warm through.


Assemble Teriyaki bowls by layering rice on bottom, then top with veggies and meat. Serve with a generous amount of Teriyaki Sauce drizzled over top and add almonds to garnish, if using.

Friday, August 13, 2010

LOVE / HATE


I have a serious love / hate relationship with computers! I haven't been able to post for a while because of vacation, which was great, but now I'm home, itching to post some more good stuff, and my computer is having major problems! My husband brought his home from work for us to use for a few days, but come to find out there must be something wrong with our DSL! Isn't technology wonderful? So, please don't give up on me. I will be posting again very soon (I hope!) Until then, check out some of my favorite food blogs on my blogroll!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

WHEAT DROP BISCUITS

I must admit that biscuits have never been something I cared to make. But one night I was frantically trying to get some food thrown together to take to my husband who was working late.  I was out of bread and didn't have time to even make bread sticks, so I glanced in my cookbooks and came across this recipe. They were supposed to be rolled and cut out, but because I didn't have time, I just plopped them on the baking sheet and crossed my fingers. They turned out awesome!  I love the contrast in texture the "hills and valley's" give these; a little crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  Now, an "awesome" biscuit to me and an "awesome" biscuit to a southerner are probably two completely different things, but regardless, these are yummy and have become a go-to recipe.

WHEAT DROP BISCUITS    
(recipe adapted from Juleen Ward's Farm Biscuits)
makes 9-12 depending on size


(Printable Recipe)


1 1/4 C. wheat flour
1 C. all purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 C. shortening ( I use all vegetable shortening which is free of trans-fat)


Mix together first 5 ingredients. Cut in the shortening. Gently stir in the following:


2 beaten eggs
2/3 C. milk


Mix just until the dough follows the spoon. Knead 4-5 turns on floured board. (You may need to add more flour to get the dough so it's not sticky.) Drop mounds onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes.