Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's a Girl!

Introducing Adeline Rose
Born October 21, 2009
9:39 pm
7 lbs. 10 oz.
21 inches long

Our sweet Adeline is almost 1 month old now. I still can't believe she's here! She is so precious and wonderful and we are having so much fun with her. I started writing this post when she was a week old, but as you can see I have been on baby time and everything takes longer! We are so lucky to have a healthy baby (and Mama too). My recovery has been surprisingly easy and Addy has been a good baby from day one. Hopefully I can find the time and inspiration to do a little more blogging than I was doing before...but we'll see ;)

Addy - 1 week old

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ginger-Carrot Muffins

This recipe comes from the August 2007 issue of Cooking Light magazine. I made a few small changes, using fat free milk instead of 1% and raisins instead of currants. Also I only had 3 carrots which turned into 2 cups when grated and you can see they are definitely full of carrots, so don't give up if you don't have enough for the full three cups. The recipe still made 18 muffins even without the extra cup of grated carrot. When I make these again I would like to add some fresh grated ginger for even more ginger flavor. They were still delicious and they freeze well.

Ginger-Carrot Muffins
Makes 18 Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 oz.)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup 1% lowfat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
3 cups grated carrot (about 6 medium)
1/2 cup dried currants
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place 18 paper muffin cup liners in muffin cups and coat liners with cooking spray.
  • Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Make a well in the center of mixture. Combine sour cream and next 5 ingredients (through egg), stirring well with a whisk; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Add carrot, currants, and pecans; stir just until combined.
  • Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in the center. Remove muffins from pans immediately and place on a wire rack to cool.
These are 143 calories each according to Cooking Light. If you make them exactly as I did, they turn out to be 135 calories per muffin.

In other news, Baby Cookie is coming along just fine. I feel great most days and most of the time all I can think about is when I'll finally get to hold my sweet little baby. Only 8 weeks until my due date! I'm starting to feel the pressure of really needing to get things done. About every other week I spend a couple days cleaning and organizing like a maniac, then I get tired and have to take a break from it for a while. I have this fear that I'll have to bring the baby home to a dirty/disorganized house and then I'll never get ahead (most people think my house is always clean but I can be a little OCD at times)! At least now I'm at the point where there isn't really much left I can organize and I just have to keep up with the routine cleaning and laundry. I've started making a list of foods I can make and freeze for later. It won't take much to fill up my dinky little freezer, but my goal is to have enough food on hand that requires minimal preparation so it won't be necessary to cook or shop for food for at least two weeks after the baby is born. Today I made a double batch of banana bread from a new recipe I'll have to share later. I hope everyone is having a great summer! It seems like time is just flying by for me.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Soap Nuts Giveaway

Lindsay over at Passionate Homemaking is having a giveaway of soap nuts, and there will be 20 winners! I know this is a departure from my usual food related posts, but I'm always interested in finding ways to save money around the house and I was fascinated to learn from Lindsay's recent post about natural detergents that they are actually much cheaper than conventional detergents. That, combined with my sensitive skin problems with fragrance, has inspired me to try some new ways to wash my clothes. I've never tried soap nuts myself, but I really like the idea. If I don't win, I will buy myself a sample and let you know how well they work for me. Hurry on over and check this out, the deadline is 5PM PST, so there's not much time left. Go here to read Lindsay's review of natural laundry detergent options, or here for her post on natural dishwasher detergent.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pimento Cheese Spread

I've always had a weakness for pimento cheese sandwiches. They remind me of summer time when I was a kid. More recently, I rediscovered them for our 4th of July family get together (last summer). I found this recipe on the Martha Stewart recipe and modified it to make it lighter and I'm very pleased with how it turned out. The original recipe called for all full fat ingredients. I don't know what the calories and fat content would have been in the original version, but mine works out to be about 37 calories and 2.5 grams of fat per tablespoon. I like to use a 1/4 cup for a sandwich made with lightly toasted whole wheat bread. It's also great for spreading on crackers.

Pimento Cheese Spread, adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 2 1/4 cups

12 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese made from 2% milk (grated, about 1 1/2 cups)
1 4 ounce jar pimentos, drained
1/8 t0 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Process cream cheese, cheddar, pimentos and Tabasco in a food processor until pureed to your desired consistency. Transfer to serving bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What I've Been Doing Lately

     So I'm sure that those of you who haven't yet completely lost interest in my blog are wondering what I've been up to lately.  Well, here it is!  Baby Cookie's first picture.  We found out for sure a week after Valentine's Day.  Since then I've been doing all kinds of things...not much cooking going on though.  Fortunately I only suffered a little nausea in my first trimester but I was not in the mood to do much cooking or baking because making a baby can sure make you tired and I had some food aversions there for a while.  I did manage to squeeze in a ski trip to Jackson Hole, WY at the end of February and a trip to Hawaii in April.  My husband and I enjoyed both very much and we're trying to make the most of the time we have left with just the two of us.
     I'm so excited about the baby though, its hard to think about anything else sometimes.  I'll be 19 weeks tomorrow and next week is the big ultrasound where we can find out the sex of the baby if we want to...only we aren't going to!  We want it to be a surprise, but I'm still excited about seeing the baby again.  I'm feeling much better these days so I'm going to start posting more regularly.  The focus will probably change a little bit towards nutrition during pregnancy and there will be no coffee and fewer cookies, but you can still expect some great healthy recipes and the occasional baby related post.  
     I'm going to take a break from Daring Bakers for a while, although I'll miss it, I'm trying to focus on good nutrition for baby and something like a whole cheesecake sitting around is just too tempting!  So I apologize for those of you who have come by looking for the Daring Baker's challenge posts.  The last one I completed was February and I will post that at some point so you can check it out.

Sunset on Maui

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Special Valentine's Dinner

I hope everyone had a good Valentine's weekend.  I know mine was special.  On Friday afternoon my husband brought me these beautiful flowers.  Gerbera daisies are special to me because they are the first flowers my husband ever gave me (on our very first date).   Friday night I made a special dinner for just my husband and I.  He took me out to my favorite restaurant for lunch on Saturday.  He also bought me a new digital camera, a Canon PowerShot SD 880 IS, which I am very excited about.  Everyone should be as lucky as I am to have such a wonderful sweetheart!  

For our Friday night dinner, I tried a new recipe from Cooking Light for Pumpkin Ravioli with Gorgonzola Sauce.  We also had a spinach salad with toasted walnuts, strawberries, a little 
Gorgonzola cheese, and a raspberry vinaigrette.  Then there was some garlic bread to top it off.  I will post about the delicious dessert another day.
Pumpkin Ravioli with Gorgonzola Sauce
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
30 round wonton wrappers
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Cooking spray
1 cup fat free milk
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup (2 oz.) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
3 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts, toasted ( I used toasted walnuts)
  • Spoon pumpkin onto several layers of heavy duty paper towels, spread to 1/2-inch thickness and cover with more paper towels.  Let stand 5  minutes.  Scrape pumpkin into a medium bowl using a rubber spatula and stir in breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt, minced sage, pepper, and nutmeg.
  • Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time, spoon 2 teaspoons pumpkin mixture into the center of wrapper.  Brush edges of wrapper with water and fold in half, pressing edges firmly to seal.  Place on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch.  Repeat with remaining wonton wrappers and pumpkin mixture.
  • Fill a large Dutch oven with water and bring to a simmer.  Add half the ravioli to the pot.  Cook ravioli for 4 minutes (do not boil), or until done, stirring gently.  They should float when perfectly cooked.  Remove ravioli with a slotted spoon, lightly coat with cooking spray and keep warm.  Repeat with remaining ravioli.  
  • Combine milk and flour in a saucepan, stirring with a whisk.  Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add butter, stirring until butter melts, then gently stir in Gorgonzola.
  • Serves 6 - 5 ravioli, 3 tablespoons Gorgonzola sauce, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of nuts per serving.  Serve immediately.
This is the first time I've made ravioli and I thought this recipe was delicious.  I did half it since I was making it just for two and it was the perfect amount.  I also couldn't find fresh sage and I had to substitute dried sage.  I think it would have been even better with the fresh sage.

The salad is something my mom made for me a while back when she was trying to recreate a salad she had at a restaurant.  The recipe is my own approximation of how I make it and you can adjust the amounts to suit your own taste.

For each single serving salad:
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
2 tablespoons crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
2 tablespoons toasted walnuts
2 tablespoons raspberry vinaigrette (I like Annie's Naturals)

This is a very simple salad to make, yet it seems a little fancy and special to me.  Yummy too!

I apologize for the poor quality of the last three pictures.  They were taken in a hurry and in low light with my old camera.  The picture of the flowers at the top was taken with my new Canon and wow what a difference!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup

I found this recipe on Notes from the Vegan Feast Kitchen.  I have made it many times now and it is delicious and very easy.  I've also made a few changes to suit my taste - decreasing the oil and leaving out the onions.  You can also make this soup using wheat bread or whatever you have on hand and it is just as good in my opinion.  You can even throw in the crusts unless you are using bread that has a very chewy or crispy crust than won't break down during cooking.  

Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil 

1 medium onion, chopped (optional)

3 medium garlic cloves, minced 

1 bay leaf 

1 (28-ounce) can good quality whole peeled plum tomatoes packed in juice (unsalted) 

2 tablespoons brown sugar (or to taste-- it depends on your tomatoes)

3 large slices commercial Italian bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces 

2 cups chicken-style veggie broth

1 teaspoon salt (less if you use salted tomatoes, in which case, salt to taste) 
freshly-ground black pepper to taste 

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, and bay leaf. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes (less if not using the onion).
  • Stir in the tomatoes and their juice. Using a potato masher, mash the tomatoes until no pieces bigger than 2 inches remain. Stir in the sugar and bread and bring the mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, which takes about 5 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf. 
  • Transfer the mixture to blender (or use an immersion blender like I did). Process until the mixture is smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Rise out the pot and return the blended mixture to the pot. Stir in the broth. If using an immersion blender you may add the broth to the pot before blending.  Reheat soup to your liking, add salt, and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Serve soup in individual bowls.  Yield: about 4 1/2 cups 

Monday, February 9, 2009

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Filling

When I saw this recipe on Baking Bites, I thought about the bag of organic lemons languishing on top of my refrigerator and I knew I had to try it.  I've been craving something light and lemony and these are just the thing.  This cupcake recipe makes 24 cupcakes and the lemon curd recipe makes enough filling for 24.  You may half both recipes if you just want to make 12 cupcakes.

Lemon Cupcakes Filled with Lemon Curd
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest (or 1 tsp lemon extract)
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk (I used fat free milk)
approx 1 1/2 cups lemon curd (see recipe below)

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Adding the lemon zest early helps release more of its flavor. Blend in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla extract. Stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk. Add another 1/3 of the flour and the remaining milk, then stir in the remaining flour, mixing only until no streaks of flour remain.
  • Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups, filling each approx 2/3 to 3/4 full.
  • Bake for 16-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.
  • Cool completely on a wire rack.
  • To fill, use a melon baller to scoop a small hole in the top of each muffin. You can also use a small knife to carve a small cone of cake out. Fill the depression with 2 tsp lemon curd.

Serve shortly after filling. Unfilled cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container until ready to fill and serve.  Makes 24 cupcakes.

Light Lemon Curd
(from Chocolate and the Art of Low Fat Desserts)
2/3 cup strained, fresh lemon juice
4 tsp fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
  • In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, combine sugar and lemon juice. Add zest and stir until sugar is dissolved completely.
  • In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs. Whisking constantly (or with an electric mixer on low), very slowly stream the hot lemon-sugar syrup into the egg. Beat for 2 minutes (only 1 if you’re using a mixer), then transfer back into the saucepan by pouring the mixture through a sieve.
  • Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the curd just comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Watch it closely when you return the lemon mixture to the saucepan.  It doesn't take long to boil and will burn if you don't remove it from the heat quickly.  Transfer to a small airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
I recommend making the lemon curd first (even the night before) so it has time to cool in the refrigerator.  I think these cupcakes are delicious on their own and I would like to try them with other fillings or toppings such as a strawberry buttercream or something like that.  They have a nice vanilla flavor with a hint of lemon.  The lemon curd really tops them off well.  This is the first time I've made lemon curd and I'm really pleased with this recipe.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Daring Bakers: Tuiles

    I really lost track of time this month.  I was happy to see a light, seemingly easy dessert for the January challenge, and then I just forgot all about it.  I started to notice other Daring Baker's posts popping up and I thought uh-oh!  So hopefully I'm not too late...

     This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

     I had more difficulty with this challenge than I expected, but the issues should be easily corrected the next time I make this recipe.  I spread the batter too thick and this resulted in my pretty shapes turning into indistinguishable puddles in the oven.  They were more difficult to shape immediately out of the oven too.  But a little melted chocolate hides all kinds of problems!  I topped them with fresh blueberries and melted semisweet chocolate drizzled on top.  Delicious!  Since I was short on time, I chose to make only one recipe option, the tuiles from “The Chocolate Book”, by Dutch Master chef Angélique Schmeinck.  That is the recipe I will post here.

Yields: 20 small butterflies/6 large (butterflies are just an example)
Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch.

65 grams / ¼ cup / 2.3 ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)
60 grams / ½ cup / 2.1 ounces sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
65 grams / 
1/2 cup / 2.3 ounces sifted all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Preheat oven to 350F.

Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly. Press the stencil on the baking sheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.

Bake butterflies in a preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from baking sheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, so you might want to bake a small amount at a time.  Or you can place a baking sheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable until you can shape them.

If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones….

This is a fun, easy recipe to make (if you know what you are doing!) and I would like to try it again with some of the fun fillings I've seen other Daring Bakers use.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I've been tagged!

A little while back I was tagged for a meme by Claire of Cooking is Medicine.  I promise I didn't forget!  I am supposed to come up with seven random or odd things about myself.  So here is what I have.
  1. My husband thinks it's gross that I put ketchup on my grits.  I never used to do that until a few years ago when I was doing Weight Watchers and needed something to flavor them besides butter or cheese.  Yummy!  I also like ketchup on french fries, hash browns and veggie burgers.
  2. Speaking of veggie burgers, I was raised a vegetarian and never tasted meat until I was 19.  My mom never learned how to cook meat or fish because my grandma is vegetarian too so we never ate it.  My first taste of meat was barbecue chicken from KFC. Yuck!  I ate fish and chicken occasionally for a while but now I prefer to stick to the veggie stuff.
  3. I am a Registered Nurse.  I haven't worked since I got married almost two years ago, but before that I worked as a critical care nurse for almost four years after college.  My last job was in a combined Neuro and Trauma ICU.  It was exciting, sometimes too exciting and I was pretty burned out when I left.  Eventually I'll go back to work and when I do I would like to work in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  
  4. I'm not the only nurse in my family.  Besides me there are at least a dozen other RNs including my brother, both my parents and a bunch of aunts, uncles and cousins.
  5. I consider myself to be one of the luckiest women on the planet because my husband doesn't watch sports!  And I mean never!  I don't have to care about the Super Bowl or the World Series or any other sporting event.  I will never be a football widow.  I will never have to listen to those annoying Nascar races blaring in the background.  It is so awesome!  (Obviously I'm not a sports fan either.)
  6. I met my husband on the Internet, on a Christian dating website.  I realize it's not that uncommon these days, but I can't say I know any one else personally who met their spouse that way.  At the time we met, we lived 550 miles apart.
  7. Bright light, particularly sunlight, makes me sneeze.  Some people may think I am crazy, but I looked it up and it has an official name - Photic Sneeze Reflex.  It occurs in 17-25% of humans, is more common among Caucasians and is an autosomal dominant trait.  I inherited it from my Dad.  Apparently it can prevent you from becoming a fighter pilot.  Bummer.
I'm supposed to tag seven more people, but I'm terrible at figuring out who to tag, so I will add them as I figure it out!  If anyone has already done this recently, don't feel bad about not doing it again.

Here are the rules:
1. Link the person that tagged you and post the rules.
2. Share 7 random or weird facts about yourself.
3. Tag 7 people at the end and link to their sites.
4. Let each person know about the tag in the comment section of their site.

1. Jess from Chubb
2. Renee from Cafe Nay Nay
3.  Ashley from Introducing Ashley
4. Cristine from Cooking with Cristine
6. ?
7. ?