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Month: January 2012

Peanut Butter Choco-Wheat Muffins

Peanut Butter Choco-Wheat Muffins

Doesn’t have the same ring to it as say, EVOO, does it? PBWW stands for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Whole Wheat Muffins, or for short…muffins. The easiest foods to tote along on a road trip seem to always be loaded with carbs. I know that carbohydrates themselves are not bad guys, but when they are all you eat, you just end up feeling like a spacey, bloated bagel (who is still hungry for more). I was happy to find this recipe, which uses all whole wheat, has minimal sugar and a bit of protein to boot. I hate that saying, “to boot”. I’m sorry for using it.

Attention grammarophiles: I know that the period almost always goes on the inside of quotation marks. I did some extensive research on that sentence and found that placing the period on the outside of the quotations is correct in this instance. For the rest of the world that doesn’t care, I’m sorry for my nerdness.

Back to the muffins at hand. Here is what the creator of the recipe says about the benefits of these puppies.

Peanut butter * a great source of manganese, Vitamin E, tryptophan (calming!), niacin, folate, and copper! Peanuts also contain lots of healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants! They have been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and have been shown to significantly lower your chances of getting colorectal cancer. Whole wheat flour * ffiiibbbeerrr! And B vitamins!

Whole Wheat or Bust 

chocolate chip wheat muffins

These muffins are not super sweet, but they are a nice change from the typical cake-like muffin in the fact that they fill you up and leave you satisfied. Normally, I could keep popping muffins like popcorn, but the whole wheat and the fat from the PB really do a good job and holding my hunger over.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Wheat Muffins
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Baked Good
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • Dry ingredients:
  • 2¼ cups whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup sugar plus 2 tbsps
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • a dash of salt
  • Wet ingredients:
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup crunchy peanut butter plus 2 tbsps (I used creamy, but crunchy would be fun)
  • as much water as needed to thoroughly mix (I added the water to the mix of wet/dry and used about ¾ cup)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Mix wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls. I used an immersion blender in the wet bowl to break up the peanut butter.Once you’ve mixed the wet and dry, add around ½ cup chocolate chips (more or less, depending on taste) Pour the wet over the dry and mix with as few swoops as possible. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until they pass the toothpick test.
 

Now just for fun, I wanted to throw in a picture from Dallas’ first Lil’ Baseball (that’s the name of it) practice. It is so fun to watch him grow up. Gotta go take care of my kids now. Max is running around with dry erase markers (three of them), all without caps, some on his face. Dallas is watching an especially scary episode of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. 

Avocado – Turkey – Apple

Avocado – Turkey – Apple

I’ll start by mentioning that the e-mealz worked well for night one. Especially the whipped cream with fruit, the real stuff blows cans and Cool Whip out of the water.

Today’s food is an avocado, turkey and apple sandwich. While I guess you could eat this for lunch, this is one of my favorite breakfast meals. I’m not huge on eggs in the morning (if you hear me ask for eggs and ham, watch out…it means I’m pregnant.) The constant struggle for a protein filled breakfasts sans eggs is a big one! Most of the time, peanut butter is my morning protein of choice, because it is fast!

When I have an extra minute, and an avocado on hand, I will make this tasty treat! This sandwich is best on toasted bread (whole wheat) and with a few sprinkles of salt added to the smashed up avocado. I love my handy little mandolin for slicing my apples nice and thin. They are pretty cheap, grab one for your kitchen if you don’t already own  one!

I’m not sure what else to tell you about this sandwich, I’m thinking you can probably figure out how to make it if you can read the title. So, I’ll talk about something else now.

avocado turkey apple

I stayed up past midnight watching a stupid Lifetime movie last night. They always drag me in. The worst part is they always leave you pretty unsatisfied, you know exactly what is going to happen. What is their power over women? I love/hate that station! Do you watch Dowtown Abby? I’d love to start that show. I’m really only hooked on Once Upon a Time, a silly show on CMT called Sweet Home Alabama and the awful Desperate Housewives. I need some good quality cable shows! What do you suggest?

Did you know?

Hey, did you know that rump roast isn’t really a pig’s rump? It’s the shoulder! I just learned that today.

Did you know that Garnier’s dandruff shampoo will clean a dirty bathtub just as well as Head & Shoulders? (And way better than Comet).

Did you know that every seven years you are scheduled to have a “transitional” year? 7,14,21,28,35,42,49…(Don’t ask me who scheduled that).

That’s all I’ve got. You probably know anything else I could throw at you. You are smart, I can tell. Hope you make it back tomorrow for another road friendly food topic. Happy Tuesday!

If Two Cookies Had A Baby

If Two Cookies Had A Baby

I just made some really yummy cookies and have no idea what to call them! The best way I can describe the taste is to say that this cookie tastes like the baby of a Pecan Sandie and a Samoa (Girl Scout cookie, not actual Samoan). The cookie is adapted from Maria Emmerich’s blog, which holds a recipe for homemade Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies. I wavered from her suggestions and used raw cane sugar, instead of 3 different sugar substitutes. I also skipped the chocolate drizzle over the top and poured small ramekins of fudge for cookie dipping.

These cookies are gluten free and can be egg free if you wish. They aren’t just for the gluten sensitive though, they are seriously fantastic. I just ate four. Yes, four. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

Sandie-Moas
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Cookie
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup blanched almond flour
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp Celtic sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a medium bowl, cream the oil and sugar (add in egg if using). Cream for a few minutes until very fluffy. In a separate bowl mix together the almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add in the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth.
  2. In between 2 pieces of parchment (greased parchment), roll the dough out into ¼ in thick dough. Roll dough into balls and press into cookie shape.
  3. Place cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake in preheated oven for 17-20 minutes or until golden around the edges. Cool completely on the baking sheet before removing from cookie sheet.

Maria’s Blog

Oscars 2012: The Artist

Oscars 2012: The Artist

Movie Fuel is back with his list of the top 5 movies of 2011 (just in time for the Oscar nominations). Movies & Munchies will spend the next few weeks focusing on Oscar nominated films and some food to go along with! Before I introduce you to today’s recipe, let’s hear from Mr. Movie Fuel, shall we? Here are his top five movies of 2011:

5. Tree of Life

Starring: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain

Directed by Terence Malick

Tree of Life tries really hard to make you hate it.  Between the origin of life clips, the spinning world of the main characters adult life, to the lack of any coherent dialogue (it’s like watching a movie with Best of Classical blasting through your iPod ear buds), it doesn’t take long before you are asking yourself, “what is this I’m watching?”  If you can sit through the entirety, the film as a whole is well worth it and will stick with you for a long time after.  Often compared to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the film primarily follows a family in 1940’s and 50’s middle America. A father (Pitt) broken by the world internalizes his bitterness and believes you can only benefit in life by taking control of everything around you and a mother with a passion for God and her children who believes in letting life take its course and having faith.  Nature vs. Grace is not only represented by the parents of a young man finding his way through life, but also through flashes of moving images demonstrating scientific and spiritual analogies all in an effort to answer the question: what is the meaning of life?  It’s not light fare obviously, but is well done and leaves you relating in some way to almost every character in the film.

4. Bridesmaids

Starring Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Melissa McCarthy

Directed by Paul Feig (produced by Judd Apatow)

Let’s call it what it is, a girls version of The Hangover.  But, just like the difference between men and women, this version is more personal and vulnerable in its story telling.  It is bold and raunchy, but with a sense of humanity and heart.  Kristen Wiig steals the show here as a can’t-do-right bridesmaid who could use a hug.  There are very few stars who do physical comedy well and even fewer actresses, but Wiig certainly has a bright future after strutting her stuff in this film. If you’re looking for a laugh out loud comedy, this is your movie.  If you’re looking for something to watch on a date, this is your movie.  If you love toilet humor, this is your movie.  Bridesmaids has something for everyone (with a strong stomach).

3. X-Men: First Class

Starring: James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn

For those of you who have never heard of director Matthew Vaughn…join the club!  With only a few films under his belt (including 2010’s Kick Ass!), he convinced me and so many others that the X-Men franchise, which was thought to be dead, can be resurrected with quality filmmaking and an interesting story.  Set over several decades, starting in the 1940’s and spanning through the 1960’s, the film tells the origin story of how the X-Men (super powered loners) came to be, while slyly  infusing some of our own human history into the tale along the way.  With solid acting all around and enough humor and action to keep even the non-comic book fan interested, X-Men: First Class won’t leave you unsatisfied.

2. Crazy Stupid Love

Starring: Steve Carrel, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone

Directed by: Glen Ficarra

As the tagline describes it: “This is Crazy.  This is Stupid.  This is Love.”  Love is all those things; never completely understood but desired and enjoyed just the same.  While the story centers around a man down on his luck who meets a new friend that picks him up, the true theme here is about confidence.  Every character is rich in the way they support the story and every character ebbs and flows with how convinced they are that they know how to define love and take control of it.  As you put the pieces together, discovering what is going to happen next, you come to realize that you really like every character in the film.  Sharply written and full of surprises, the beauty of Crazy Stupid Love is that the film demonstrates that love is not always happy and joyous, it can also be boring and painful, but even with that, is the best thing in the whole world.  Painting a realistic picture of the challenges faced in life and relationships through a comedy writers eyes, reminds us that we’re not alone and that love is about going through things together and enjoying every moment.  There are very few true romantic comedies made that can pick you up and provide a quick getaway, so it is that much more refreshing that a movie like this would come along and sweep you off your feet.

1. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Starring: Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara

Directed by David Fincher

On occasion a performance will supersede the quality of a film and even be so good that the viewer is blinded by any flaws that may exist outside of that performance.  Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander (the now infamous literary character) has such a subtle power as a fierce hacker with an equally soft innocence that you believe she truly exists (I was shocked to find out this was the same actress who played the girl who dumps Mark Zuckerberg in Social Network?).  While the performance is incredible, the other pieces of the film do a lot to keep pace.  Director David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven, Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network )does masterful work building the intensity of well written script.  The story centers on a journalist (Craig) researching a decade’s long mystery of a lost heiress on an island in Sweden.  While the film explores some very harsh themes, it is the overlaying idea of redemption that draws you in and sticks with you days after you’ve seen the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Notable films I still haven’t seen: The ArtistThe DescendantsMoney Ball, and The Help

While I was tempted to make some X-Men food (Wolverine Waffles?), I decided to opt for my favorite film of last year, The Artist. Yes, it is a silent film (with music), it is in black and white and stars only a couple of recognizable faces, but it is fantastic! It is one of those, you have to see it for yourself movies. Thanks Stephanie, for getting me out of the house to see it!

Jy and I put on our first Oscar party back in 2003 and served a crazy array of movie themed food. Chicago Chili is all I can seem to remember. Now that we have kids, we set the dvr and hope for the best! There will come a day when we host another Academy Award party, that day will probably be far, far away.

The first Oscar food of the series is a healthy-ish one. It works well with the movie The Artist, as it is a white dessert with a bit of black on top. Ready for it? It’s Probiotic Pudding. No, stay with me! Listen, there seems to be a new reason each week to eat loads of crap. While I love the Oscars, it is hardly worthy of Easter brunch calories. PLUS, this is a dessert you can make more often, now that you know it ain’t so bad for ya.

I took Mark Bittman’s recipe for vanilla pudding and swapped out the main ingredient, whole milk (or half-and-half) for a low-fat, probiotic filled Kefir! I also left out the butter. (FYI: I’m too mad at Paula Deen to continue butter love. More on that another time). The pudding tastes like a tart frozen yogurt, with a touch of sweetness. It’s really worth trying!

 

Probiotic Pudding
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Healthy
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 cups low fat, plain Kefir (you could try flavored too)
  • ½ cup milk
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 T. cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • chocolate shavings (unsweetened is fine too)
Instructions
  1. Put 2 cups of Kefir, sugar and salt into a medium saucepot over medium heat. Cook until mixture begins to steam or looks like it may start to boil (don’t let it).
  2. Combine cornstarch and milk in a bowl and blend lumps away. Add mixture to pot, cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture starts to thicken and barely reaches a boil, about 5 minutes. Immediately reduce heat to low and stir for 5 minutes or so until thick. Stir in vanilla.
  3. Pour into 1 quart dish or 4 to 6 small bowls. Cover with plastic wrap to avoid skin forming on top (or don’t cover if you like the skin). Keeps for a day in the fridge. Whisk to remove lumps if needed.
Add chocolate shavings to the top for the black and white effect.

To see more nominated films and their paired up foods, visit the main FoFo Oscar page!

Road Trip Series: Kettle Corn & Smoothies

Road Trip Series: Kettle Corn & Smoothies

Please excuse my two day absence. I won’t lie, I was playing hooky. I totally hate that it is spelled that way, I prefer hookie. Hooky looks too much like “hooking,” which I definitely wasn’t doing. Anyway, I needed a boost of energy and here I am, energized and ready to blab your ear (well, eyes) off again!

So, I talk about my friend Lisa all the time. Lisa as in Lisa’s Apple Cake Lisa.

Lisa is so rad.

Guess what my friend brought to a park playdate last week? Kettle corn! Not a left over sack from the farmer’s market, not a bag of Orville Old Man kettle corn, but the real stuff. What makes Lisa extra rad, is that she had emailed out the super simple kettle corn instructions by the time we were home from playing.

Now, I should say that I think my mother would kill me extra dead if I let my kids eat popcorn in their carseats. Let me take a second and share information that my mother would want me to tell you about (if you don’t already know).

The top ten foods that children choke on are:

  1. hot dogs
  2. peanuts
  3. carrot
  4. boned chicken
  5. candy
  6. meat
  7. popcorn
  8. fish with bones
  9. sunflower seeds
  10. apples

-NY Times

So, please don’t piss off my mother. Is “piss off” profane? Kettle corn is easy to bring on a road trip, but not for letting your kids eat while you have your eyes on the road, mkay?


Kettle Corn
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Snacks
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Lisa's Kettle Corn
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup popcorn kernels
  • salt
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large pot, over medium heat. Stir in sugar and then popcorn. Put the lid on the pot and give it (the pot, not the lid) a few shakes, back and forth over the burner until you hear some kernels pop. Remember the Jiffy Pop pans? Shake like that. Then add in some salt (to taste) and pop that corn in your belly!

Don’t let the kernels over-cook (I let mine go a minute too long). Dang it, Tina!

This item is sold out 🙁

I’m sorry, but is there really anything funnier that you can think of than Napoleon yelling, “Tina, you fat lard, come and get your dinner!”

As for the smoothie, I have a new and most favorite combination. The measurements are not specific, nor do they need to be. It’s just the fabulous flavor combo of:
  • strawberries
  • mango
  • orange juice concentrate
  • protein powder
  • honey
  • flax or chia seeds

I add water to thin the smoothie out a bit, but it is just a no-fail combo, I promise! Once again, I would suggest packing a cooler with some large Mason jars full of smoothie. You could give them some good shakes before drinking (don’t forget to pack straws). The fruit and protein powder are a great balance to the carb-o-licious popcorn.

Thanks for giving me a couple days off. I mostly felt crummy from eating too much sugar. I know, I know, do I even read my own blog? Stop with the sugar already! But I’m back and ready for mo’!

Nerds Follow The Rules

Nerds Follow The Rules

Now that all of the macronutrients have been sufficiently attacked (fat, carbs, protein), the psuedo-nutrition world has taken to becoming more specific. There seems to be no area of food left unscathed. I am wondering how many of the following claims and defenses you are familiar with. Let me add that I agree with plenty of these, not all, but enough.

  • Cows milk is for baby cows
  • Nutritionally speaking, dairy foods are essentially “liquid meats”—but worse, because people drink milk, and eat cheese, guiltlessly—often thinking “milk makes my bones unbreakable, helps me lose weight, and makes my skin as soft and beautiful as a baby’s tush.”  In their haste to sell products, the dairy industry has created an obsession over calcium that has become, in effect, a major contributor to the suffering and death of more than one billion people annually on Planet Earth from diseases of overnutrition—obesity, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and diabetes – McDougal Newsletter
  • The only people who consume dairy are those with in countries with dairy lobbies

  • Wheat flour raises blood sugar
  • Wheat causes a bloated stomach or “wheat belly”
  • Eating wheat is like eating paste or sludge

  • Fat makes you fat
  • Fat causes cardiac disease

  • Nightshade vegetables worsen arthritis
  • Nightshade vegetables cause inflammation

  • Meat is murder!
  • Consuming meat is harmful to our ecosystem
  • Conventional meat is full of antibiotics, hormones and dead bacteria
  • We weren’t meant to eat so much meat

And more…

  • No “white” anything. No white pasta, no white potatoes, no white tortillas: it’s all processed junk
  • No white sugar
  • No brown sugar (it’s just white sugar anyway)
  • No preservatives
  • No additives
  • No corn (it’s in 90% of supermarket items)
  • No corn syrup or even worse, high fructose corn syrup
  • Only eat organic
  • Cheese is a condiment, not a food group
  • No soda
  • A glass of wine every night is good for your heart
  • A glass of wine every night is bad for your liver
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
  • There is no research which proves the previous statement is important
  • Eat protein in the morning
  • Drink only organic, fair trade coffee
  • Make your own mayonnaise, bbq sauce and taco seasoning
  • Eat more greens
  • Avoid anything with the word hydrogenated in the ingredients
  • At least half of your plate should be vegetables

Let me break up all these words with a funny picture.

Found on Pinterest. No original website to source.
And some nuggets from Michael Pollan:
  1. Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. “When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can’t pronounce, ask yourself, “What are those things doing there?”
  2. Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
  3. Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.
  4.  Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot. “There are exceptions — honey — but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren’t food,” Pollan says.
  5. It is not just what you eat but how you eat. “Always leave the table a little hungry,” Pollan says. “Many cultures have rules that you stop eating before you are full. In Japan, they say eat until you are four-fifths full. Islamic culture has a similar rule, and in German culture they say, ‘Tie off the sack before it’s full.'”
  6. Families traditionally ate together, around a table and not a TV, at regular meal times. It’s a good tradition. Enjoy meals with the people you love. “Remember when eating between meals felt wrong?” Pollan asks.
  7. Don’t buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car

Ok, got all that?

These are the reasons I have become totally overwhelmed while grocery shopping lately. After spending months avoiding most packaged snacks, sauces or other food that I could “make a healthier, homemade version of,” I noticed our grocery bill had grown out of control. In an effort to have most of our food made from scratch, I found that we wasted more ingredients, ate out more and consumed more sugar. The harsh reality of being a mom: if you don’t have some quick go-to food at home, you’ll find it somewhere else.

So, I have started buying more packaged snacks. I am back to buying bbq sauce, hallelujah! Fresh & Easy, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s all have packaged snacks I can deal with. I still avoid the 100 calorie packs, mostly because I think they are a total rip-off. I can pack a small amount into a ziplock bag too!

It has taken me almost five years to really get this grocery shopping thing down. Making one trip a week and stocking up on enough food to satisfy the tastes of four different people, avoid junk and have enough ingredients on hand to create a week’s worth of breakfasts, lunches and dinners takes some serious practice. Oh, and you can’t be spending too much money either!

***Sometimes, you’ll have to take your kids, too.***

Read this ehow article of making shopping fun!

One of my favorite blogs is from funny mom, Iris. The Bearded Iris is full of naughty words and hilarious stories. Here’s her recap on taking her son shopping. So funny.

Thanks for reading my Sunday post! I’m off to enjoy some coffee and the newspaper and then head out to pick up Dallas from a sleepover. Good Sunday, right?

Tomorrow’s post is inspired by the super healthy friend I ran into on Saturday. Hmm? Could it be you? Probably not. Ha! That was mean. Anyway, this week I will be talking more about food planning, food organizing and of course have a couple recipes to throw in. My guilt worked on Mr. Movie Fuel, as he will be back this week with a recap of 2011’s top ten movies. Happy Sunday, friends!

Superfruit Cider

Superfruit Cider

It’s Friday, friends! How about a cocktail recipe? I never party it up here on Food It Forward and a rainy, Friday afternoon seems to be the perfect opportunity. Especially a Friday afternoon before taking a toddler to get his photo taken at the mall.

Have you heard of Veev? I held a Veev party last year and taste tested a few mixed drinks with friends, using the Acai infused spirit. One bottle is close to $30, so it isn’t something I would buy often. Luckily, I had a bit left from the party and gave a new recipe a try.

Veev is great for sangria, margaritas, lemonade and now cider!

Superfruit Cider

  • 2 part Veev or other acai spirit
  • 3 parts apple cider
  • 1 part POM

Pour over ice and enjoy Friday along with me! Today is short and sweet, but come back tomorrow for some (extra long) thoughts on wheat. You might want a drink for that post, too. Nothing says party time like wheat!

Cocoa Muffins

Cocoa Muffins

While waiting to pick Dallas up from Awanas Tuesday night, I checked a few new cookbooks out of the library. One promising book, Farmstead Chef, caught my eye and came home with me.

There are countless cookbooks out there and most are not the best home cook companions. If you find a book that is meant to cut costs, feed families or prep dinner ahead, you’ll find that most of the recipes are just junk. How many white pasta, marinara, cheese covered meals can one family eat in a month? According to these cookbooks, tons. Then there are the crop of cookbooks offering new and fresh recipes to liven up our palates. Open those books up and you’ll find plenty of recipes for eggplant reduced mango relish a top a bed of endive rolls with salmon pate’. You know, the stuff we eat every day. There is the Rachael Ray crop (35 hamburgers in 30 days) or the healthy bunch (all brown rice and broiled chicken, all the time)!

So far, I am loving this cookbook. Not every recipe is covered in marinara or uses 3 cups of white flour. I’m looking forward to sharing more of these recipes with you. Casablanca Couscous, Frozen Mochachinno and No Nead Dutch Oven Artisan Bread are all on the to be created list.

This morning, I flipped through the pages of the breakfast section, offering Dallas his choice of muffins. I could barely get the words, “Cocoa Muffins” out of my mouth before he could yell for me to stop talking! Cocoa Muffins it would be!

What I really like about this recipe is the use of cocoa powder, rather than chocolate chips or chocolate syrup. Cocoa powder on its own is a good thing, lots of antioxidants. The darker the powder, the better. While the muffins call for 1 1/2 cups of white flour, I swapped in 3/4 cups whole wheat flour and the taste did not change a bit. Next time I make these (and there will be a next time) I plan to try using whole wheat flour exclusively.

One cup of sugar is also called for. These muffins turned out nice and sweet, so I think the sugar could even be reduced to 3/4 cup. I used raw cane sugar, but I would be willing to bet honey or syrup would do the trick as well. One last substitution made happened when I switched out the vegetable oil for applesauce.

Even with all the swaps, these turned out very cake like in flavor, which always makes my kids happy (and me).


Cocoa Muffins
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breads
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp. canola or vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¾ cup white flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 T. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. vinegar
  • ⅓ cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup water
Instructions
  1. Lightly oil 12 muffin cups. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Fill muffin cups until almost full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Once cool, dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Cocoa Muffins

Adapted from Farmstead Chef

  • 1 tsp. canola or vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup white flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 T. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. vinegar
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup water

Lightly oil 12 muffin cups. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Fill muffin cups until almost full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Once cool, dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Let’s talk about my husband. This is Jy and Dallas in 2009. Cute, huh? He is great. He is a great dad, a great husband and a fantastic movie reviewer. He is so great, that he started his own facebook page called, Movie Fuel. Sound familiar? Ring any bells? Oh yeah, Thursdays are Movies & Munchies days aren’t they? So where is today’s M&M? Jy even watched The Rise of the Planet of the Apes this week. Here’s the plan folks, go to Movie Fuel’s Facebook page and tell him I sent ya.

Jamie Oliver Revisited

Jamie Oliver Revisited

Every day at least one person finds their way to this blog through a google search for Jamie Oliver’s Asian Chicken Noodle Broth. I gave the recipe a try last April and apparently, lots of other folks want to give it a go as well. I thought I should give the dish another try, mostly for the selfish reason of wanting a new photo of the soup on the blog, I don’t love the original.

Per usual, I went with an added twist. Rather than using rice noodles (which my kids love, but can’t seem to get from the bowl to their mouths without fingers), I used Israeli Couscous. I left out the chili and Asian Five Spice called for as well. I was worried the dish would lose its flavor without the main spice, but the ginger picks up the slack!

The whole family was once again, impressed with this dish. I have to add, the photo of this bowl just doesn’t do any favors to the recipe. The look doesn’t represent the taste, which is so odd to me! You should be able to look at a photo of food and have a vague idea of what it tastes like. I think this is why I was so originally blown away by Jamie Oliver’s recipes. They taste fantastic!


Jamie Oliver's Asian Chicken Noodle Broth
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Meal
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • Serves 2 (We had enough for 2 adults and 2 kids)
  • 1 tablespoon mixed seeds (pumpkin, poppy, sun flower)
  • a small handful of raw cashew nuts
  • 1 quart chicken broth, preferably organic
  • 2 skinless chicken breast fillets, preferably free-range or organic
  • 2 teaspoons five-spice powder
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • a thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger
  • ½ to 1 fresh red chili, to your taste
  • 4 ounces rice sticks or vermicelli
  • a handful of snow peas
  • 6 thin asparagus spears or 4 regular-sized spears
  • 6 fresh baby corn or ½ cup fresh corn kernels
  • soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • a small handful of spinach leaves
Instructions
  1. Put a medium frying pan or wok on a high heat and add the seeds and cashew nuts to it straight away, while it’s heating up. Put a large saucepan on a high heat. Fill the saucepan with the chicken broth, heat until very hot, and put a lid on it.
    Toss the seeds and nuts around until heated through nicely — this will take a couple of minutes. While this is happening, slice your chicken breasts lengthways into 3 pieces and put them into a bowl.
    Sprinkle the chicken with the five-spice powder and a good pinch of salt and pepper and stir. When the seeds and nuts are done, transfer them to a plate. Put the empty pan back on a high heat. Add a little olive oil to your hot pan with your slices of chicken and cook for 5 minutes, until golden, tossing and turning every now and again.
  2. While the chicken’s cooking, peel and finely slice your ginger and slice your chili. Take the lid off the pan with the chicken broth and add half the chili, all the ginger, your rice sticks (or vermicelli), snow peas, asparagus, and corn, with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring. Halve the lime and squeeze in the juice. By the time the rice sticks (or vermicelli) and veggies are done, the chicken will be cooked. Take a piece of chicken out and slice it length-ways to check if it’s cooked all the way through — when done, remove all the chicken from the pan and slice each piece in half to expose the juicy chicken inside (please don’t be tempted to overcook it). To serve, divide the spinach leaves between your bowls and pour over the broth, rice sticks (or vermicelli), and vegetables. Divide the chicken pieces over and scatter with the toasted seeds, cashews, and remaining chili.

**Again, I used Israeli Couscous and no spicy stuff. Feel free to play around, but don’t skimp on the extra detail of toasting the seeds and nuts, you’ll be missing out!

Forgotten Cookies

Forgotten Cookies

These are sometimes referred to as Overnight Cookies, as they bake throughout the course of the night (you forget them in the oven). They are to baked goods what the crock pot is to chili. I tasted my first Forgotten Cookie this past Sunday, where else, but at church. A long time member and church book shop assistant brought the snacks to a group study. I really adore her and her husband. They met in Kindergarten and the husband worked on his Eagle Scout senior project sometime in the 40’s, if that helps with the math.

I could tell the cookies were a type of meringue and was a bit confused at the first bite. By the third bite, I was melting! These light meringues have nuts and chocolate chunks hidden inside and are of course…addicting! Ack! The baker told me just how easy these guys are to make and recited the recipe across the table.

These light cookies are flourless and would be a fun treat to bring out in the middle of a long trip. I always want to bake the night before we go somewhere, but there is never enough time. The next trip we head out on, I plan to start these the night before, as well as a large crock pot of overnight oatmeal. Who says you have to have cold cereal or a $3 Starbucks scone the morning you start your vacation?

As with all meringues, the egg whites need to be beaten until stiff. Both boys were asleep, so I couldn’t turn on my blender last night. To make matters  more complicated, Mr. Movie Fuel had been watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes all night. I don’t care if they are going to turn evil, I felt so sad for those caged monkeys. It was a creepy movie and I chose to hide out in my bedroom, while trying to quietly whisk egg whites. If you haven’t tried that before, let me offer you this suggestion, don’t.

All I could think of, while whisking away in my bedroom, was the poor Amish women. Sure, they are happy as long-haired, makeup-less, peaceful clams, but they must have a lot of cooking induced injuries. I wonder about their forearms, are they bigger than the rest of ours? With all the hand whisking and dough rolling, those chicks could probably arm wrestle Hulk Hogan without breaking a sweat.

In hindsight, I should have kept whisking until I popped a socket. Next batch, I’ll remind myself to “Think Amish!”  The cookies turned out more flat than they were supposed to. I crowded one pan instead of using two, which didn’t help in cookie shaping, either. Regardless, they tasted fantastico!

Forgotten Cookies

  • 2 egg whites (at room temperature – this is important!)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 cup chopped milk chocolate chunks or milk chocolate chips

HEAT OVEN to 350 degrees, do NOT wait to do this until later! Beat the egg whites until they are stiff (avoid bedroom quiet beating, as noted above). Whisk in sugar and vanilla and keep whisking until you have firm peaks or your arms just give out. Gently fold in nuts and chocolate. Drop scoops of dough onto greased pan. I used a 2T. measuring spoon to create large cookies. Place pan in oven and immediately turn off the heat. Try to sleep and dream of your little sweetlings in the oven. Get up in the morning, grab that pan and eat cookies for breakfast. (Don’t judge!)

Whipped Coconut Cream

Whipped Coconut Cream

Ah, Pinterest. It’s like a visual Siri with a better sense of humor. I just sent my mother a Pinterest invitation, because she has yet to join (even though my dad has). Please let me know if you’d like an invite as well. I’m truly excited to see just how addicted my mother will become to the site. My dad swears he will only be using it for recipe ideas, but, we’ll see Dad, we’ll see.

If you aren’t familiar, there is something called a “Pinterest Fail.” A fail happens when you try to recreate the fantastic project you pinned on Pinterest and it just doesn’t turn out. Let me introduce you to my thrice over Pinterest Fail:

http://www.lexieskitchen.com/
http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com

These two Pinterest finds are whipped coconut cream, each from a can of coconut milk. What a fun idea! This is what TheKitchn.com has to say about this little treat:

I found that this works really brilliantly;”the cold cream whips up into thick yet airy whipped cream. It does taste strongly of coconut, however, as you might expect. So if you do not like the flavor of coconut, this is not for you. But if you want something creamy and non-dairy to go with a summer dessert, then this is a fantastic option. The coconut cream is naturally a little sweet, so you can leave it unsweetened. Or you can add a touch of vanilla and sugar to make it a little sweeter — up to you! –thekitchn

 

I’ve bought four cans of coconut milk to date and just today was able to get something resembling whipped cream. Let me tell you what won’t work.

Fail #1: Don’t use light coconut milk. Even if it is the only variety that Trader Joe’s carries. Go to another store. It doesn’t work.

Fail #2: If you buy coconut milk from an Indian market, don’t turn it upside down to open it. Even if the bottom edge is easier for your can opener to open. The coconut water won’t be separated from the milk and you’ll have the same results you I had in fail #1, no whipped cream.

Fail #3: The can must be chilled. Almost gave up.

First success: I chilled the can, pulled out the cream (as per these instructions at Happy Healthy Life) and I went out back to blend with my hand mixer for a good five minutes. Max was napping and I’ll do almost anything to not wake that kid up. I thought my little mixer was going to start smoking, but I kept on!

Dallas joined me once I was back in the kitchen and insisted on adding eighty-four pounds of sprinkles to the whipped cream. I was able to snag a couple spoonfuls away for a photo first.

So, would I recommend this Pinterest find? Only if you are looking for a non-dairy topping AND you like coconut flavor. That sort of shrinks the population that would benefit from this byb (bust-your-budonkadonk) recipe. However, if you are up for a challenge, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 T. sugar or other sweetener
  • A mixer that can whip anything into submission

Spoon out the coconut milk, leaving the watery substance in the can. Add ingredients into a metal bowl (works best if chilled) and let your mixers show you what they are made of!

Tomorrow is another Road Trip segment! We are deciding between a trip to Yosemite or Disneyland right now and I think the mouse may have won. I’m hoping all this road trip talk will keep driving food on my mind and make the long drive a breeze. Keep wishing? Ok.

 

Banana Berry Risotto

Banana Berry Risotto

I love risotto and all the calories that come with it. Wouldn’t you love to try out a fabulous risotto recipe that is full of protein and only has a few calories? Me too, let me know if you ever find that recipe.
Depending on your preference, this can either be a breakfast or dessert risotto. If you plan to enjoy it at breakfast, do it on a weekend morning when you don’t have anywhere to rush off to. Risottos are totally easy to make, regardless of what you have heard. They just needs to be constantly stirred, there is no way around it. So, if you have the patience, I have a recipe for you!
This was inspired by the Stove Top Rice Pudding for Emergencies recipe (yeah, it’s really called that) in Nigella Lawson’s book, Nigella Bites. Don’t be afraid to swap in different berries (or other fruit, for that matter), but don’t leave out the banana!
Banana Berry Risotto
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • Ingredients
  • 2¾ cup milk
  • 1 banana (diced)
  • 1 T. butter
  • 2 T. sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ cup arborio rice
  • 2 T. cream
  • ½ cup berries
Instructions
  1. Heat milk for 2 minutes in microwave, do not let it boil. Melt butter and 1 T. sugar in a large, heavy based pan, on medium-low heat. Once butter is melted, stir in the rice and let the buttery sugar coat the grains (it will be sticky). Gradually add milk, stirring rice all the time, and letting each pour of milk absorb before adding the next bit. You can start tasting the risotto at 20 minutes, but you'll most likely need to wait until 35. Add the bananas in at about 20 minutes of stirring. You may need more milk, too (and if the rice tastes cooked before all the milk is absorbed, don't use it all).
  2. When the rice is sticky and creamy, but not crunchy, take it off the heat and add in vanilla, remaining sugar and cream. Top with blueberries and curse the day you read this recipe.

Maybe all the stirring will burn enough calories to balance things out??

Oscars 2012: The Help – Caramel Cupcakes

Oscars 2012: The Help – Caramel Cupcakes

As I mentioned yesterday, Movie Fuel is off this week. He wanted me to tell you that I incorrectly wrote M&M’s happens on Wednesdays, when in fact in comes out on Thursdays. Either way, he still hasn’t seen the movie. After all, there is homework to be done, basketball back on t.v. and if he had the time to watch a movie, it would definitely be Rise of the Planet of the Apes, not The Help. So, I’m gonna go ahead and do the dirty work this week.

The Help (2011)

Directed by: Tate Taylor

Starring: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Howard and Octavia Spencer

I have spent many hours coming up with the following summary, so get cozy and take it all in. The movie was just as good as the book. 

Ok! Now that you have a great sense of what the movie is like 😉 let’s talk about the numminoes. This movie is FULL of fun foods and drinks! Tomato aspic, anyone? While I was tempted to post about fried chicken, I lack the Crisco and didn’t want to scare my neighbors away with the inevitable smoke. Instead, I took a crack at a caramel cake. Apparently, this type of cake is as popular to the south as tofu is to the west.

I found a perfected caramel cake recipe at the Modernmom site, but gave a little twist. I thought I’d create some cupcakes, instead of a full 8″ round cake. A cupcake has clear boundaries. I hate always having to be the one to even out a cake by taking bites here and sneaking slices there, but who wants an uneven cake? This recipe creates a cake that is a little more dense than a boxed cake and a little lighter than cornbread. It is going in my permanent recipe folder. Yeah, that’s right, it’s going to have a PERMANENT RECORD.

This recipe will make about 18 cupcakes and I found that my oven needed 26 minutes instead of the 20 called for. The other cupcake bonus is cutting out the tough work of slicing round cakes through the middle to create layers. Another tip to take note of, you can use all-purpose flour, not the cake flour that is noted. I’m sure cake flour will produce a prettier, lighter cake, but I never keep that stuff in the house. It’s like having chocolate chips around, the ingredient just begs to be turned into dessert.

*Follow recipe as written, just use a cupcake pan. Um, duh.

Ingredients:

4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, divided (1/4 cup and 3/4 cup)
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (cut into small pieces), at room temperature

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour three eight-inch cake pans (or use nonstick spray) and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the egg whites, ¼ cup milk, and the vanilla extract and set aside.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and combine on low speed. Scatter the butter pieces on top of the flour mixture and add the remaining milk. Blend on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Add the egg white mixture a little at a time and beat on medium speed until just combined. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The cakes will appear slightly golden on top, not browned. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool completely. While the cake is cooling, make your icing.

*This is the consistency my cupcakes took on. Not too lumpy, not too liquidy.

For the icing, there are a few routes you can take. I chose the easy one. If you do an internet search for caramel cake icing or caramel frosting, you’ll find a plethora of Betty Crocker Mensa members who can teach you to make the type of frosting her grandma made (and it is just the best ever). Ignore those women! You’ll need corn syrup and a candy thermometer, two of the top ingredients in a recipe for disaster cake. If you are brave, have plenty of time and sugar on your hands, go for it. Otherwise, follow my lead.

Icing

4 T. butter (melted)

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup half and half (or whole milk)

Melt half of the sugar with the butter on the medium low. Turn off the heat and add the half and half and remaining sugar. Use immersion blender or something similar to blend into drippy icing.

Drizzle over cupcakes and go to fat town!

Road Trip Series: The First Drink

Road Trip Series: The First Drink

Days like today, I could really use a DeLorean and 1.21 gigawatts to get back to this morning. My kids sucked my time away like I was a giant Pixie Straw today. If I’m not cooking for them, I’m cleaning up after the cooking or wiping their ketchup chins. They eat all the time, they are always hungry. I can’t believe I don’t have two fat Maury Povich babies. I should be on stage defending myself by saying, “If I don’t give him the Kentucky Fried Chicken, he cries!”

Alas, they are both asleep and I am just now able to sit down and talk to you. Ah, you. Have I told you lately that I love you? When I cook for you, there are no crumbs or sticky condiments to wipe up afterwards. Thank you for not complaining that ___________(insert any food) has little _________(insert any color here) spots or specks. Of course I love my children, but sometimes I wonder if they have a bit of Tasmanian Devil or woodchuck DNA. Well, only Max seems to have the woodchuck tendencies of chewing crunchy fruits or vegetables into little diced bites, before spitting them all back out onto the plate.

We were going to talk about more road trip food today, make that tonight.

The first thing I am always wanting when I hit the road is, a giant coffee. My mind is in vacation mode and has already decided that a Venti mocha is an acceptable road companion. It isn’t until an hour or so later, when the only things I can think of are bathrooms and spin class. While the caffeine and sugar help to pop my sleepy eyes open, they also play games with my nerves, which are stuck in the seated position for the foreseeable  future.

What works well? A coffee smoothie! You get the caffeine, but you prevent the crazy rave from visiting your nervous system by adding in some protein. Quick 90210 insert here…

Whenever I talk about raves, I am reminded of the episode of Beverly Hills 90210 (the O.G. of 90210’s) where the kids of West Beverly hit a convenience store to get the secret rave address. They are only privy to the information if they brought the secret prop, an egg. My friend Karla would always giggle about this episode.

The hardest part of this drink is remembering to freeze the banana the night before. Brew your coffee stronger than you typically drink it. Even better, if you have a Keurig, use the iced drink setting. If you don’t have the coffee brewed a bit stronger, it will be watered down by the rest of the smoothie and you’ll end up driving through Starbucks anyway. This is enough to make 1 big, fat drink. If you are travelling with another adult, make an extra, I promise they will want to share. And I don’t share drinks.

 

Coffee Smoothie
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cold brewed coffee
  • 1 small banana (frozen)
  • 1 scoop whey protein powder
  • 1 cup chocolate milk (can be almond or other type if desired)
  • 1-2 T. creamy peanut butter (depending on your love of the p.b.)
  • ice
Instructions
  1. Freeze bananas the night before. Blend. Drink.