Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Baking Bonanza (with bananas and oats!)

I know that everyone hates Monday's. Its the day that feels like the beginning of the end. So in an attempt to refocus my manic monday mood i decided to NOT give into the looming dread and do some baking last night. It was also a great way to use up those brown bananas in my freezer, try out some easy/fun recipes that have been gathering magnet dust on my fridge AND feel productive on a cold monday! turn on that oven!

In my reading of daily food blogs I came along a great baking post from Bobbi at N Her Shoes ! She made Low-fat Banana Donuts. Now I love donuts, and always have bananas hanging around and after reading the ingredients I had everything required! They seemed simple and looked delicious...they did not disappoint! I would be amiss if I didn't mention that this recipe originally came from Angela! She comments that she would sub. 1/2 a cup of oats for 1/2 a cup of the white flour next time...so I tried that out. Honestly I think oats should be in everything!!! (okay that's a bit dramatic haha). I also used unsweetened applesauce for the little oil called for.

I baked half on my baking stone, and the other half on a cookie sheet so I could spray them (see this post to see why, im just not sure if the stone has lost it's power!). I also had to put one tray on the bottom of the oven and one on the top...yup burned the bottoms on the bottom tray (rookie mistake)! Instead of throwing 1/2 away i simply peeled the burned bottoms off and enjoyed. (um...i also set off the fire alarm in our apartment...to which erin said "well at least we know the alarm works!").

They were hearty and gooey and perfect! Obviously you can add frosting to these, powdered sugar, but my smarty-pants girl added...PEANUT BUTTER (which I knew would be a huge hit in foodblog land!).

After cracking some windows... I moved on to these Oatmeal Softies. I love oatmeal cookies. I love them with chocolate in them. I love them with raisins in them. I love them with craisins in them..which is what I tried in this one. I also made 12 small cookies as oppose to the 6 large ones the recipe calls for (then you can have two for the price of one). Other than that I followed everything else to the T! LOVED THEM :). and didn't burn these either. erin said these were definitely healthier tasting but still good.
Now we have baked goods for the week, and what a way to start out a Monday!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Foodbuzz Friends!

I got another package today in the mail!!!!! YEAHHHHH. Seriously I don't think I will ever get sick of mail and packages.
(as you can tell I ripped right into this envelope!)

Foodbuzz has been so nice to send me tasting goodies and in this little envelope....

BUSINESS CARDS for my blog!!!!! They are so cute with pictures of fresh produce on the back and my url on the front. erin's been urging me to get some of these made, so apparently foodbuzz beat me to the punch! Okay I know its a great way to advertise the company that made them as well because hopefully I run out of these quickly and re-order through Moo.

It was great timing too because we had some friends over that night and i quickly passed out the goods.
Thanks foodbuzz. here's to sending the buzz along for my blog!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hello, lava...cakes!!!!

Valentines day came early this year for me! One of the downfalls of working in the restaurant business is that you pretty much work any "major dating holiday!" So Erin and I decided to celebrate our day on Thursday. She was in charge of snacks/dinner and I took over desert duties!

She came up with an amazing spread of my faves:
-kashi crackers with hummus
-guiltless gourmet chips with salsa
-goat cheese (YUUUUMMMMM)
-trail mix
-fresh fruit

I think I had it much easier in my selection of desert because as well all must agree:Valentine's Day = Chocolate Goodness
When I received an email titled "
hello lava" I knew it was talking right to me. (well as much as emails can actually talk to you...okay moving on). These Lava cakes are really simple. I will tell you up front...erin gave these a 10!!!!! I mean usually there is something to improve on, but on this one she was really impressed. YEAH!

The other nice thing is the recipe calls for parts of ingredients so when you purchase the fixins you have enough to do this one again! That might be a dangerous thing in our house :).

I started by prepping the liquid filling (that's actually solid of course when you make it) and placing those in the freezer for the alloted 25 mins. I thought about going through the process on the blog for this one...but it's much easier to just follow her directions, to a T! I got to use these great silicone ramkins that my friend Molly's Mom, who works at the amazing King Arthur Flour, picked up for me. I have been wanting to use these forever! The only potential heads up needed is that when they have baked in the oven for 15 mins. they don't look completely done like a normal cake. Due to the lava center they look shiny and almost under baked. I let them sit for about 15 mins out of the oven and they quickly looked done on their own!!!

We flipped these babies into a bowl and topped them with some Fat Free Whip Cream...HEAVEN. These were AMAZING. They were so light and moist with an amazing chocolate center. I also think this one has great potential for options. If you are a peanut butter fan, substitute peanut butter chips, butterscotch? white chocolate? the possibilities are endless!!!

I have to say if you are looking for love... you should start with this dish...DELISH!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Spicy Shrimp Stir fry

My meal of the week ended up taking a few weeks to prepare. Now don't let that steer you wrong, it was super simple and easy...but I had stumbled upon this recipe and little by little the ingredients were purchased!

The recipe was Sichuan-Style Shrimp, but I just dubbed it Spicy Shrimp Stir-fry!
I started by making the Sichuan Sauce (recipe follows)
Sauce: (although i halved the other parts below I did NOT half this part because we always love the extra sauce!)

3 tablespoons reduced-sodium chicken broth (i used a bit more to thin it out because of the amount of veggies!)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons Chinkiang vinegar (see Ingredient Note) or balsamic vinegar (i used the balsamic)
1 teaspoon sugar (sub. splenda)
1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
This was spicy, but good! I threw in some tofu noodles as well to really make it a stir fry. It sort of had a sweet/spicy taste to it. erin commented that the sauce was a bit thin...perhaps a bit more cornstarch?

I did half the recipe below: (with my changes)
1 pound raw shrimp (21-25 per pound), peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided (just used cooking spray!)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch dice (erin isn't a big pepper fan so I substitute a bag of stir fry veggies)
1/4 teaspoon salt

You cook the shrimp in the spray, garlic and ginger for about five mins. or until the shrimp is pink. Then add in the veggies and sichuan sauce!
Start to finish this baby took all of ten mins. a must make, fast, delish dinner!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Saturday/Sunday Surprise!!! (early valentine's day post...)

I got home late Saturday night (from a long night waitressing) to a lovely note from my local post office letting me know that I had a package to retrieve....what could it be.....
First off what is better than a brown paper package...so many possibilities. While i love emails, nothing beat getting something in the mail.

The lovely
Jenni over at jenniisst.wordpress.com sent this thought full package! and I think my valentine did a great artistic job of capturing all the goodies she sent:


Monday, February 2, 2009

Superbowl Snack Time

Of course I had to make healthy snacks for the Superbowl :)...and erin pointed out that ironically this is the first year that we are in Boston for the Superbowl...and the Pats aren't even in it :(. OH well we figured why not indulge anyway!! Erin opted to root for the Cards and I went with the Steelers, just in the spirit of rivalry.

We had planned to have some people over and so began the planning of my spread...

I have really wanted to try some snack recipes for awhile so this was the perfect opportunity. I opted to make: HG Jalapenos Swappers, HG Pig in a blanket, and mish-mosh of HG ATE-layer dip and Eating Well's Southwestern Layered Bean Dip AND finally Oven Fried Zucchini stick french fries!
These were all super simple to make.

I have made the Pigs in a Blanket before and even had the leftover Veggie-dogs in the freezer. Yummy as always. This swap out really tastes exactly the same as the full fat version...give it a try!!!

Having such great results with HG's snack food I tried the jalapenos poppers next. Now erin is a HUGE fan of these snacks so I was anxious to see if she liked them. The process of making them was a bit messy but oh so worth it. I took a picture of them stuffed and ready to be breaded and then post cooking. You can prep these ahead of time and that way all you have to do is pop them in the oven when your guest arrive are ready! She seriously FLIPPED over these. A must make again!!

Moving on to the Mexican Dip I had mentioned before that I made a mish-mosh of two different recipes but erin isn't a fan of some of the ingredients in the HG dip (Soy Crumbles specifically) however I was really intrigued at her use of Butternut Squash for the refried beans...so I definitely wanted to try that. The Eating Well dip was more along the lines of what we were looking for.

Best of both worlds Mexican Dip:

-bag of frozen butternut squash (of course you can use fresh...but to save time:), defrost in the microwave or on the stove and mash up to desired consistency.
-can of black beans
-1/2 cup salsa
-chopped cilantro to taste
-tsp of cumin and tsp of chili powder
-1/2 chopped red onion
-six diced jalapenos (and by six i mean six slices out of a jar NOT six whole jalapenos!!)
Combine all of the above items in a microwaveable dish. Sprinkle with cheese (I used Fat Free cheddar but of course you could use Mexican...any kind you like!). Microwave for 3-5 mins or until cheese is fully melted. This takes longer if the cheese is fat free!

Next I topped the hot concoction with:
-Fat Free Sour Cream (spread out)
-can of diced tomatoes (these were flavored with green chiles)
-shredded lettuce
-diced onions
-one diced avocado

This was SOOOO good. erin tried to capture the layers of the dip...but it didn't last long! we ended up scooping our portions onto a plate to get all the taste together:

The last addition to the spread were the Oven Fried Zucchini sticks. They were fairly straightforward to make came together fast. NOW, I cook on a "stone" and you never spray it or use foil because it is non-stick! Obviously the recipe says to spray these...but I didn't because I couldn't on my bake ware. Needless to say...they did not turn out great. As instructed I went to flip them half way through cooking and they would not budge! The ones I could get up totally lost all their "crunchy skin". I just popped them back in for a few more mins to continue to crisp up but they never really got there. Also I found the flavor of the coating to be rather lack luster :(. Ah well you can't win them all. I'm sure I will attempt these again but i plan on using a regular cookie sheet (so i can spray the heck out of them) AND adding something to the coating...we shall see! (these were the sticks prior to being cooked...but they looked pretty similar after being cooked haha :).

All in all the spread was delish. Erin and I nibbled away as we watched the game.
I think perhaps we had just enough food to feed one of those large football players!