Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Zucchini with Cheese

I have a bunch of different "recipes" for veggie side dishes that I tend to make over and over and over again. I say "recipes" because they're all super simple and really just a quick way of giving the vegetable a bit more flavour. They're so simple that I feel it's almost silly to blog them. But they're tasty and are a real staple in our household.  So I've decided to gradually put these up as we make them. 

In the winter, we tend to often pull our main dish out of the freezer from all of the things I've made that we still haven't gotten around to eating - speaking of which, I have no idea what we ate tonight.  And no idea how long it's been in our freezer.  It was some random bean/cauliflower curry or something and was quite good, but I'd have no idea how to find the recipe for it again if I wanted to.  That's just how full my freezer is!  

Anyhow, in winter we pull out of the freezer and in the summer we often bbq.  So quite frequently, I just need to add rice/quinoa or something and veggies to go with the meal.  So I alternate between these staples, as they're all quick to make on a weeknight when you're getting home from work (not that I've actually done that for awhile, but you get the point...).

Zucchini with Cheese

1 zucchini
olive or canola oil
garlic powder
grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1.  Cut the two ends off of the zucchini and then slice it lengthwise, making two long sections. 

2.  Use a Misto sprayer to spray each piece with a bit of oil.  Alternatively, you could use a bbq brush to brush on a bit of oil.  Sprinkle zucchini pieces with garlic powder (I like to put on lots).

3.  Bake in the oven at 400 degrees Farenheit for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the zucchini.  Use a fork to test that it is cooked when ready.

4.  Sprinkle the zucchini with a bit of grated fresh Parmesan cheese.  Place in the oven on broil.  Watch closely, and bake until the cheese just starts to turn brown.

My favourite is to make this with fresh Parmesan cheese, but when I run out, I also occasionally use regular Parmesan or even shredded mozzarella.

Makes 2 servings.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Chicken Burgers with Peanut Sauce

Yes... I am still on my peanut butter kick. I had also wanted to make a kale/peanut butter/chickpea recipe that I have (that sounds gross but isn't), but the grocery store was out of kale, so I'll have to wait until next week. Sorry Ash... I know that you're on a cooking binge and can't make any of these.

I didn't actually read the directions for the burgers until typing them out just now, so I didn't process everything in the food processor, but just mixed them all together. And that worked just fine too. Also, I got 5 burgers from the recipe, so I guess that I made mine a bit smaller. Which explains why the bun looks so big compared to the burger in my picture, I suppose.

2 tbsp. peanut butter
2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. dark sesame oil
1 tsp. water
1 tsp. rice vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced

1.  To prepare sauce, combine the above ingredients, stirring with a whisk until smooth.  Can heat slightly to thicken, if desired (I did this).

1/2 C finely chopped green onions
1 tbsp. chile paste with garlic
2 tsp. grrated peeled fresh ginger
2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 tsp. salt
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast, chopped (I used extra-lean ground chicken breast)


1.  To prepare burgers, place onions and next 5 ingredients (through chicken) in a food processor; process until coarsely ground.  Divide mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch thick patty.

2.  Serve burgers with 1 tbsp. sauce

Makes 4 servings. 

The burgers are freezer-friendly without the sauce once cooked.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Peanut Butter Banana Swirl Loaf

I didn't ever get around to making this on the long weekend as I had posted that I would. Well really, it was partially because we still had some of the peanut butter banana bread that I'd made left knew we couldn't get through it all (and yes! my freezer is still packed... I need to get on top of that in the next few weeks so that we have room for strawberries) . 

So I finally got around to making it this weekend. Lesson learned while making this bread: yeast that says it has expired for almost a year... really has. Which led to me having to make this twice. And run to the grocery store to get more yeast. Thankfully, it worked the second time, as my peanut butter cravings have not subsided in the slightest since I began eating it again. 

The directions look long and complicated. It's not actually all that complicated. You need to do it on a day when you're home quite a bit, but a lot of the time involved in making this is just the waiting - waiting for the dough to be made, waiting for it to rise, etc. In all, it probably takes a bit over 4 hours to make this, but probably only 15-20 minutes of your time to do it.
I very, very sadly forgot to sprinkle the peanuts on this. And I only realized it once it was all rolled up and figured I was only asking for disaster if wanted to attempt to unroll it, just to add peanuts. I decided that a peanut-less roll was better than a second wrecked roll.  

If you use natural peanut butter like I do, you'll want to take it out of the fridge for awhile before starting the recipe so that it will be soft enough to spread.  To make this again, I wouldn't mix the peanut butter with the sugar, but would spread the peanut butter first and then sprinkle it with sugar. I found it too hard to spread when mixed together. Though this probably works well if you use good ol' Kraft pb. I doubled the filling (hey, I really like peanut butter!) and then still had to spread a bit more around the edges to cover the entire surface.

1/2 C water
1 C mashed ripe banana
1/4 C skim milk powder
3/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. butter
3 C whole-wheat flour
2 tsp. bread machine yeast

Slightly overcooked, but still tasty
1.  Measure loaf ingredients into machine's baking pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer (I put them in in the order above).  Insert pan into the oven chamber.  Select Dough cycle.

Peanut Butter Filling:
1/2 C peanut butter 
1/3 packed brown sugar (I would have used 1/2 as much brown sugar Splenda if I wasn't pregnant)
1/2 C unsalted peanuts

1.  In a bowl, combine peanut butter and brown sugar.  Set aside.

2.  Remove dough to a lightly floured surface.  Cover with a large bowl and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.  Roll out to an 18- by 8-inch rectangle.  Spread the filling to within 1/2 inch of edges.  Sprinkle with peanuts.  

3.  Beginning at short side, roll jelly style (I rolled from the long side, as I felt the roll was going to be more than thick enough this way. I then cut it in two).  Place seam-side down, in prepared loaf pan (oops... just read this part now. I placed it on a baking sheet).  

4.  Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30 to 45 minutes or until doubled in volume.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

5.  With a long skewer, poke several holes through the risen dough.  Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Variation:  for a milder flavour (who would ever want milder peanut butter flavour?????), add 1 to 2 tbsp. mashed banana to the filling.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tomato Soup Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

I made this recipe ages ago when my parents were down visiting, but am only getting it up on my blog just now. I think I made it in the middle of last summer... My grandmother used to make this cake for us when we were kids. The name is odd indeed... and yes, it really does have a can of tomato soup in it! But it really just tastes like spice cake. I learned when my grandmother was visiting recently that this recipe originates from Atlantic Canada.

Many of you already know this story, but I had made this back in university, right before I got married and had been serving it to my husband and his best friend for several nights for dessert. They both loved it and went on and on about how great it was. Until one day when his best friend asked the name of the cake... and from that point on, no one touched the cake again and I ended up tossing the second half of it. So don't let people know what it is until they've already eaten it! As it's quite delicious, despite the name.

It's wonderful with cream cheese icing, which makes it nice and decadent. I had made this awhile back and ended up freezing it, icing and all. And it came out of the freezer just fine and I served it to my parents for dessert on one of their visits to see Logan.

This recipes comes from the Campbell's Quick and Easy Recipes cookbook. If I recall correctly, I believe that I got this cookbook back when I was in school by sending away a bunch of soup labels. Yes... admittedly, I'm probably the only person in the world who would actually do that :)  I barely use it at all anymore, but this is the one that I still make from time to time.

Classic Tomato Soup Cake

2 C flour (I use whole-wheat)
1 1/3 C sugar (can reduce to 1C)
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 can condensed tomato soup 
1/2 C vegetable shortening (I use light Becel)
2 eggs
1/4 C water
cream cheese frosting or buttercream frosting

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.  Prepare a 13 x 9 inch dish.

2.  In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, allspice, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, soup, shortening, eggs and water.  With mixer at low speed, beat well until mixed.  At high speed, beat 4 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl.  Pour batter into pan.

3.  Bake 35 to 40 minutes.  Frost with cream cheese icing, if desired.

The book says that the recipe makes 8 servings, but it makes way, way more than that.

My recipe for cream cheese icing comes from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

Cream Cheese Icing

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 C butter, softened
2 C confectioners' sugar, sifted if lumpy
1 tsp. vanilla

1.  Combine the cream cheese, butter, confectioners' sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl.

2.  Beat well until perfectly smooth and spreadable.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Logan has weaned himself over the past week :( And although I had wanted him to breastfeed a bit longer and tried my best to keep doing so, he just wasn't interested. And when he got himself down to barely eating anything on his only feed of the day, it dawned on me that if I just accepted that he was weaning himself anyhow, I COULD EAT PEANUT BUTTER AGAIN!!!!!!!!!! Yes, this is actually how exciting this was to me.

Our doctor had advised me to avoid nuts while breastfeeding (though apparently ok while pregnant) because of lots of family allergies. The research isn't clear as to whether or not this really helps, but I figured I'd follow his advice nonetheless. So I haven't had nuts, except on a few occasions by accident, since Logan was born. And Jerome has been eating a lot more nuts than he did before since he was diagnosed with diabetes. Sometimes, I would just stand over the jars and smell them. Yes, that's how much I love them :) Well, particularly peanut butter, though I do like most nuts. Which is kind of funny, because up until maybe 10 years ago, I don't think that I liked any nuts, outside of peanuts. But that's besides the point.

So my mind has been whirring with all of the wonderfully delicious things I can now eat. Logan wails and throws a complete fit every morning as I eat my peanut butter and toast. He's in a stage where he just wants to have everything that we're having and... well... he just can't have peanut butter yet. So I listen to him scream his little head off as I try to quickly finish my breakfast. And sometimes I hide behind his highchair to eat it :)

He's also like this with yogurt. I have to hide anytime I want to have a yogurt. We give him plain yogurt with fruit stirred in and I like Activia. And I don't really want him having Activia just yet (well at least, not regularly) because of the sugar in it. So I hide like a thief everytime I want a yogurt because if I eat one in front of him he throws a complete fit. In fact, he threw one at the grocery store this week as I stood in front of the yogurt aisle, deciding what to buy. I guess he was upset that he wasn't getting any.

Today, we went to Baskin Robbins to enjoy some of their peanut butter 'n chocolate ice cream. I think that this is probably one of the best inventions known to men. Huge (I mean HUGE!) chunks of delicious peanut butter. We got Logan his own little vanilla, since he couldn't have any of ours. He started freaking out the minute we walked in there and saw the ice cream the kid beside him had. He nearly screamed with impatience the whole time the lady was serving us and then gobbled down a good portion faster than you could imagine. Jerome and I had to take turns feeding him so that we could actually eat our own before it melted. I guess he thinks it's just yogurt, but
way better. Note to self: keep ice cream out of his sight!

Ok, so that was so completely off-topic... back to wonderful peanut butter :) One of my favourites is peanut butter on an All-Bran bar with a little bit of low-sugar jam. Mmmm... I've had this as a snack every afternoon since weaning him. The mixture of the slight sweetness of the All-Bran bar is delicious with the saltiness of the peanut butter.

Another one of my favourites is to spread peanut butter on Pita Break's museli breakfast pita. Mmmm.... With a bit of jam or banana, of course. You can get these at Costco, or in most regular grocery stores. I love this for breakfast, lunch... both??? Ok, I don't go that far, but I could :) The pitas are full of all sorts of healthy things such as flax and sunflower seeds and have a decent amount of protein and fiber in them. My only complaint is that although they have whole-wheat flour in them, they're not completely made with whole-wheat flour (and whole-wheat flour isn't even the first ingredient). But they're so good that I choose overlook that...

Ok, now I know what you're all thinking. How can one person have so much to say about peanut butter?????????? Trust me, it's been a full year. I'm actually restraining myself here.

I haven't eat regular old Kraft peanut butter in years. Ever since I went bought some of the fresh-pressed pb at the health food store, I haven't been able to turn back. It's a bit drier, but so much more authentic tasting. And if you add jam or bananas on top, you don't even notice that it's a bit more dry. Awhile back, I spotted a natural, organic peanut butter at Costco. It's Kirkland Signature Organic Creamy Peanut Butter. And this has been my new favourite ever since.

The only thing is that the oil separates from the peanut butter, so you have to stir it in and then keep in in the fridge. A word of warning:
do not let your husband stir the peanut butter!!!! This is vital. A few years back, I was having a hard time mixing the peanut butter together in the jar, so I asked my husband to do it for me. And was dumb enough to leave the kitchen. He got out the electric mixer and stuck it in the peanut butter to mix. And the next thing I knew, my entire kitchen was covered in peanut butter. I guess the beaters somehow came out while it was still running and sprayed peanut butter all over everything. I could only laugh. And spend hours scrubbing my kitchen ;) So now, I transfer all of it to a huge bowl and then mix it with beaters. Myself.

So my first "peanut butter project" was to make peanut butter banana bread. I got this recipe awhile back off of About.com. I had intended on reducing the sugar to 1/2 C, but was on auto-pilot while making it, so I didn't remember that until I was pouring in the full 2/3 C. So next time. I also learned in the making of this recipe that if your friend calls you to go to the park once the loaf has been in the oven for 7 minutes, you can just pull it in and cook it when you get home ;)

1 3/4 C flour (I substituted 1 1/2 C whole-wheat flour and 1/4 C of ground flax seeds)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 C shortening (I used light Becel)
3/4 C peanut butter, crunchy or smooth
2/3 C granulated sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten (I used the equivalent of egg whites)
1 C mashed bananas

1. Cream shortening and peanut butter, then beat in sugar and eggs.

2. Alternately add dry ingredients and bananas, stirring with a wooden spoon.

3. Pour batter into a well-greased and floured loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 1 hour.

My next project is going to be to make this wonderful peanut butter bread that I remember making in my bread-machine awhile back. If I remember correctly, it has peanut butter spread down the middle, with peanuts sprinkled in it. Mmm... on the to-do list for the long weekend :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mom's Trifle

This recipe is one that I remember as a kid. My mom used to make this with company over. And I remember how I always thought the layers of cake, jello, whipping cream and fruit looked so delicious and couldn't wait to have some. Until I'd get down to the bottom and taste the sherry-soaked cake and... bleck... I'd remember how awful the adult version was. I didn't like it as a kid and I still don't like it today. So I opt to leave the sherry out. Probably not what most people would prefer (well, most adults, anyway), but I prefer it like that.

This is another great recipe for when you have a crowd over, as it makes immense portions. We just made it for my sister's baby shower. It's quick and easy to throw together, is always a crowd-pleaser and you'll have enough, no matter how many people you have over.

1 red jello
custard or vanilla pudding
1 can of peaches or fruit cocktail
whipping cream (I use light cool-whip)
lady fingers
port or sherry
fresh fruit to decorate

I usually use the lazy-man's instant vanilla pudding. My mom usually uses cooked vanilla pudding. And I guess a really ambitious person would make homemade custard to make it that much more delicious, such as the one in my Strawberry/Blueberry Tart. But then that would just take away the simplicity of this recipe.

I have always used fresh strawberries and blueberries for the fruit. My mom has always used the fruit cocktail. When we made it for my sister's shower, we made it with a bag of frozen mixed berries and I think that's my favourite to date. The extra juice in the berries mixes in nicely with the rest of the ingredients.

I also use pound cake instead of the lady fingers. I find it richer, which makes it just that much more delicious. Haha... I just noticed in getting the link for the pound cake that on July 10/10 I said I'd post the recipe for the trifle shortly. Does within a year mean shortly?? Apparently it does when you have a baby :)

1. Place lady fingers in a bowl and soak in port or sherry for 5 minutes.

2. Drain fruit and save juice to substitute for part of liquid when making jello.

3. Add peaches on top of lady fingers.

4. Make jello and custard and put both in the fridge to cool.

5. When ready, spread jello on fruit, then spread custard on jello.

6. Add whipping cream and garnish with fresh fruit.

Mmmm.... writing this post, I can't wait for strawberry season to begin. I love to pick basket upon basket of strawberries and freeze them for the winter.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Triple B Health Muffins

I made these this weekend and gave Logan his first taste of muffins. And holy flip, he fell head over heels in love with them. He's eaten almost 4 of them all by his lonesome since Saturday morning. I can't quite understand where such a little guy can put so much muffin! He'll take
massive mouthfuls of them at a time and whines for more the second it's gone. He clearly knows the good stuff... Oh well... at least he'll probably have put on some good weight for our pediatrician's appointment this week and then maybe they'll stop making me go so often...

Here's a peek at just how much he enjoyed them (this was his fourth):

I should have taken a picture of my white/not so white anymore kitchen floor after every time he eats these things...

I got this recipe from the Canada's 150 Best Diabetes Desserts cookbook... that I am going to go onto Chapters online to buy as soon as I am done blogging this post. In passing, it's $8 cheaper on-line than it is in-store. And since I have another book I want to buy, which gets me free shipping, I passed on picking it up at Chapters this week while at girls' night.

The recipe calls for either natural wheat bran or oat bran. I used oat bran, primarily because it was way closer in the cupboard than the natural wheat bran and I didn't feel like digging all the way to the back. I'm sure they'd be good with either though.

Totally unrelated to these muffins, but quite related to the topic of my blog, in the background as I type this the tv is on to some French tv game show about food. Not quite sure what it's called... but I'm realizing sadly just how darned much I know about food. And thinking that I need to get myself on this game show to make ourselves a million dollars so that I can quit my job and just hang out with Logan all day :)

In any case, here's the recipe. Enjoy the muffins. If you have a little Logan at home, you might just want to double the recipe so that you don't have to make them again 3 days later.

1 C whole-wheat flour
1 C natural wheat bran or oat bran
1 C fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 C)
1 egg, lightly beaten (I used 2 egg whites)
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C milk
1/4 C vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla

1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, wheat bran, blueberries, baking soda and baking powder.

2. In a large bowl, combine bananas, egg, sugar, milk, oil and vanilla. Fold in flour mixture until just combined.

3. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups, filling each two-thirds full.

4. Bake in preheated 400 degree Farenheit oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.

Nutrients per muffin:
153 calories
25g carbohydrates
4g fiber
3g protein
6g fat