Posts Tagged 'hint'



Chocolate Marble Banana Bread

Still cold. Makes me feel like baking. Turn on the oven and the kitchen becomes warm and cozy. Since my family room is part of the kitchen, I have a toasty place to read and catch up on household tasks at the kitchen table. I’ve already baked 2 loaves of my regular no fat banana bread, one of which is sliced and in the freezer to take for lunches. I still had bananas, so I decided to make a banana bread that I made quite a few years ago.

Back then, the non-profit organization that I manage was just starting out, and we wanted to have a press conference to announce some accomplishment – I don’t remember the details.  Knowing that  mostly junior reporters get sent out to cover low-level community events, we decided to lure the press with home made baked goods. We were then small and new, and we invited everyone we knew for goodies so the press would see a little crowd. We did get some television coverage, which thrilled us.  This was one of the home baked goodies I made.

The original recipe came from Cooking Light. It is not as dense and moist as my regular banana bread, and it seems much sweeter to me, almost like cake.

Chocolate Marble Banana Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesaucw
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/3 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1/2 cup  semisweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan (see note) with cooking spray.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add banana, egg substitute, applesauce and yogurt. Beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist.

Place chocolate chips in a medium microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring until smooth. Cool slightly. Add 1 cup of the batter to chocolate, stirring until well combined. Spoon chocolate batter alternately with plain batter into prepared pan. (I did 3 layers of plain batter and 2 of chocolate.) Swirl batters together using a knife. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.  This makes 12 servings at about 4 grams of fat/serving.

marble banan

NOTE: This recipe called for an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, which I used.  I wasn’t totally satisfied with the way it baked – a little too dark around the edges.  I think the last time I made it I used a regular 9 inch loaf pan, and it might work better in that pan.  Also, the original recipe said 16 slices, which in the smaller loaf pan was really not realistic.  A slice would be only /2 inch thick.

HINT: Many recipes call for softened butter.  I don’t use much butter, so I keep my butter in the freezer.  When I need softened butter, I really do not want to defrost an entire stick to cut off a piece and and then refreeze it.  But trying to hack off two tablespoons from a hard frozen stick of butter really isn’t feasible. So I cut thin slices off the stick of butter until I have the proper amount. The thin pieces soften quicker than a whole chunk, too.

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Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

I have been wanting to make home-made ranch dressing for a while now.  I’m not a big fan of bottled ranch dressing, so I though I could make one that suited me better. I took this basic idea from Relish magazine, one of those weekly publications that is tucked in my local newspaper once a week – usually on the day that they are running the food ads.  The original recipe uses buttermilk, light mayonnaise, and sour cream – and I lightened it up a bit.  And here is an important hint about light mayonnaise.  I am not a big mayonnaise eater – usually just in tuna salad.  So I usually only buy a small jar of it.  When I went to make this recipe I discovered that there wasn’t enough left in the jar, so I went to the store to get more, and even bought a larger jar because it’s summer, and I’m liable to want to have tuna salad more often.  I grabbed a jar of the brand I usually buy that was labeled “light” mayonnaise.  Somewhat to my surprise, the label said that it had 6 grams of fat/tablespoon.  I don’t like non-fat mayonnaise – it tends to be too sweet.  So I did a little searching and discovered that the same brand has a “low fat” product that only has 1 gram of fat per tablespoon.  This makes a big difference in the fat gram count of the final product, so check your labels.  By the way, I’m using Best Foods Low-Fat Mayonnaise Dressing.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

½ cup reduced-fat buttermilk
½ cup non-fat sour cream
½ cup low fat mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons chopped chives
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
Coarsely ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in bowl. Whisk well. Refrigerate for one hour.  I actually think this tastes better the next day when the flavors have had a chance to blend. Makes 1½ cups. A two tablespoon serving has just under 1 gram of fat/serving.

This is the reason that I actually made the dressing – to serve as a dip for snap peas that are showing up in the market now.

ranch dressibg

However, I made a double recipe so I can experiment with it.  More about the experiments later.

Moroccan Spiced Oranges

This is a delightful dish – a slightly exotic fruit salad that is very easy to prepare.  The original recipe, from Cooking Light calls this a dessert.  But I typically serve it as a buffet side dish (it doubles easily).  It is a refreshing complement to heavier meat and vegetable dishes.  It is also a great leftover for breakfast or lunch.

Moroccan Spiced Oranges

2 ½ cups orange sections, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 6 oranges)
¼ cup slivered almonds
2 ½ Tablespoons chopped pitted dates
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, tossing to combine. Cover; chill 20 minutes.  This makes 4 servings at 3.6 grams of fat/serving.

Variation: The fat in this recipe comes primarily from the almonds.  I have made it without the almonds, which will make it virtually a no fat recipe.  It is still quite good, although perhaps not quite as exotic.

HINT: I always struggled to peel the oranges and get enough of the white pith off the sections (the pith is bitter).  I was making a double recipe, and got tired of peeling, when it occurred to me that a grapefruit knife, with its serrated curved blade, would make quick work of the orange sections. I cut the oranges in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 4-5 pieces.  I used the grapefruit knife to cut the orange away from the skin, then cut each section into pieces.

moroccan-spiced-oranges

Chicken and Feta Tabbouleh

I almost forgot to post this – I mentioned it a bit ago when I made the honey-roasted chicken. This was how I used the remaining chicken breast. It also used up a number of other odds and ends, like tomatoes, parsley, and cucumbers that were beginning to show signs of age. It almost seems more like a chopped salad with bulgur rather than tabbouleh, but I think I added a little more of the vegetables to it. The original recipe was from Cooking Light, but I lightened it by eliminating the olive oil and using fat free feta. I wanted fewer fat grams because I plan to take it for lunch.  Here’s a secret: people always rave about my tabbouleh and I have been leaving out the olive oil for years. No one seems to notice the difference.

Chicken and Feta Tabbouleh

¾ cup uncooked bulgur
1 cup boiling water
2 cups diced cooked skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 cup coarsely chopped plum tomato
1 cup coarsely chopped English cucumber
¾ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup (2 ounces) fat free feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
¼  cup chopped fresh mint
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
¼ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Place bulgur in a medium bowl. Add 1 cup boiling water, making sure bulgur is covered. Let stand 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Combine chicken and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add bulgur to chicken mixture; toss gently to combine.  Easy, wasn’t it. This makes 4 servings with about 2 grams of fat/serving

chicken-feta-tabboleh

HINT: I don’t have an electric or other fancy juicer.  I use my grandmother’s old glass juicer, which works quite well.

juicer

If you want to maximize the juice you get from lemons, limes, and the like, there are two ways to make citrus fruit juicier. The first way is to poke holes in the skin of the fruit and microwave them for about 2 minutes on half power.  You need to let them cool before you juice them.  If you don’t want to microwave them, or you’re in a hurry, you can roll the fruit around firmly on the counter for a bit.  This breaks down the inside and makes them easier to juice.

Carrot Cucumber Salad

This is a quick salad with a Korean flair.  It first appeared in Cooking Light and is a nice buffet dish. It also makes a good lunch take-along with a bit of kick.

Carrot Cucumber Salad

3 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil (available in the Asian section of the grocery)
½ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
2 cups chopped peeled and seeded cucumber
1 (10 ounce) bag matchstick-cut carrots (or cut your own)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Combine first 7 ingredients (soy sauce through red pepper) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.  Add cucumber and carrot and toss well. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Makes 8 servings at 2.7 grams of fat/serving.

HINT: To seed cucumbers, cut cucumber lengthwise into quarters.  Use a knife or spoon to scoop out the seeds.

cucumber-carrot-salad

Buffalo Shepherd’s Pie

This recipe makes me giggle. Imagine a buffalo shepherd. What would you use for the shepherd’s staff – a 2 x 4 board with a bow on it?  And do they come home, like Bo Peep’s sheep, waging their big shaggy tails behind them?

Shepherd’s Pie is a savory meat pie topped with a mashed potato crust.  Instead of spooning the meat stew over mashed potatoes, you put the mashed potatoes over the meat and bake it.  It dates from the late 18th century, and was a means of using up – and stretching – leftover roasted meat.  Now it typically is made with lamb or mutton, with the suggested origin being that shepherds are concerned with sheep and not cattle (and certainly not buffalo), however this is probably folklore. There are probably as many recipes for it as there are cooks – a close friend makes it with ground beef and onion soup mix and puts a layer of peas under the potato topping, another makes it with leftover pot roast.

At any rate, someone passed me this recipe because they knew I liked to cook.  The original had beef and lamb mixed. Naturally, I thought buffalo.  I think it may be a British recipe, because they refer to the meat as being “minced”.   I took a number of liberties with the recipe to make a shepherd’s pie that is very tasty and filling – and still low in fat.  An added benefit to this dish is that it can be made ahead, or in stages.  I made the meat filling one day, and put it in the refrigerator in the baking pan.  When I had more time the next day, I made the potato crust and baked it.  I expect you could assemble it completely and refrigerate it to be baked the next day, but you might have to bake it a few minutes longer.

Buffalo Shepherd’s Pie

Cooking spray
1 ½ pounds buffalo roast trimmed of all visible fat and gristle, ground (do not use purchased ground buffalo – it is much higher in fat)
2 medium onions, diced fine – I use the food processor
3 carrots, peeled and diced fine
½ pound cremini or button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
1 can of low sodium, reduced fat beef broth
Salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds Yukon gold or red potatoes
2 Tablespoons light butter
1 cup green onions, finely chopped

If you are making the entire dish to serve immediately, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Otherwise, preheat it to 400 when you reheat the pie.

To make the filling: Spray a large Dutch oven or non-stick pan with cooking spray. Brown the ground meat over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove meat from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onions and carrots to the pan and sauté until they are limp and just beginning to color – about 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally to prevent burning.  Add mushrooms and sauté for an additional 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste, thyme, parsley and cinnamon.  Stir and sauté for 2 minutes.  Stir in the flour, and then add the wine and beef broth.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.   Return the meat to the pan, bring to a boil, cover and turn down the heat to low, simmering  for about 30 minutes.  Remove the filling from the heat, and spread in a 9 x 13 pan coated with cooking spray, smoothing it until even.

To make the crust
: Peel the potatoes and cut them into large, even pieces.  Place in a pot of water and cook until the potatoes are tender.  Drain the potatoes thoroughly, add the 2 tablespoons of light butter, and mash until smooth. Mash the green onions into the  potatoes. Spoon the potatoes over the filling and spread evenly to cover the meat.  Bake at 400 for about 25 minutes, until the crust begins to brown.  This makes 8 hearty servings at 4 grams of fat/serving.

Variation: If you wanted to substitute ½ pound of very lean ground lamb for ½ pound of the buffalo, it would have a more “British” feel, and would be about 6 grams of fat/serving.
shepherds-pie-2

Hint: I grind my own meat so that I know how much fat is in it.  Store-purchased ground meat tends to be fatty, even the beef that is labeled “extra lean” has almost 5 grams/ounce.  I used to grind eye of round – 1.2 grams/ounce, and now I grind buffalo – .6 grams/ounce.  I usually grind a large amount of meat using the electric grinder on my KitchenAid.  It is a big, all-morning production. I just discovered that it is possible to grind a pound of so of meat by cutting it into medium sized chunks and pulsing it in the food processor.  This has interesting implications for ground chicken and pork, to be experimented with soon.

Hint: Tomato Paste is one of those annoying ingredients that you tend to need a spoonful of, but it doesn’t come in single spoon packages.  I have been freezing the leftover tomato paste in a plastic zip-top bag, and then I can defrost slightly it when I need a bit and refreeze it.

Warning: this pie is very filling.  Every time I eat a slab, I have the overwhelming desire to curl up under a down blanket and take a nap.  Maybe it’s the weather.

Big Red Buffalo Chili

Chili is a dish that has regional variations, and aficionados that advocate for the right way to make this satisfying dish.  Traditionally, chili is a spicy stew made from chili peppers, meat, garlic, onions, and cumin.  In some places they add macaroni, beans, or other stuff. Sacrilege. This is a Texas chili, with a deep red color created by the ancho chilies.

ancho-chilis

Texas-style chili contains no beans, tomatoes, or other vegetables besides chili peppers. By the way, chili con carne is the official dish of the state of Texas.

Big Red Buffalo Chili

2 dried red ancho chilies
2 pounds of buffalo roast, cut into quarter inch pieces
1 Tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin, or more to taste
1 teaspoon oregano
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt to tase
2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)

Preparing the ancho chilies: Remove the stems and seeds from the pods.  I did this by cutting them in half with a scissors (see hint) and shaking the seeds out. Simmer the pods over low hear in water until they are tender. Allow to cool.  Press the simmered peppers through a sieve or strainer to separate the pulp from the skins.  I found this hard to do, but I may have used a strainer with too small of a mesh.  Discard the skins, which tend to be bitter.

Heat the  canola oil in a large pot.  Saute the meat in the oil until it turns grey (you don’t have to really brown it.). Add the ancho chili puree to the meat, and cover with 2 inches of water. Don’t put in too much water, like I did, or you will have to cook it down forever. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer 30 minutes. Add the cumin, oregano, garlic, salt, and brown sugar if you’re using it.  Cover and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Add a little water if the meat starts to stick.  This is one of those dishes that tastes better the next day when the flavors blend. It makes 6 servings at 6 grams of fat/serving. Top with onions and/or 1/2 ounce  shredded reduced fat cheese/serving (adding 3 grams of fat/serving).

buffalo-chili

Variation: add beans if you must.

Hint: When you handle chili peppers, wear protective gloves. Otherwise, the volatile chemical capsaicin will get on your skin.  It is very difficult to wash off. The capsaicin will burn whatever it touches – your eyes (this is the voice of experience), lips, other sensitive areas, and even your baby or dog.

Hint and warning: Cayenne pepper is potent stuff. Add it gradually until you have the right heat for your taste.  I got carried away and made it too spicy


ABOUT KAREN

I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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