Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sugared Pomegranate Cocktail

I was first introduced to this adult beverage at my bachelorette party, that was over 3 years ago and I haven’t had it since. I am normally a wine drinker and have no shame in admitting that I imbibe in a glass or two every once in a while for no special reason other than I want to, so ha! Well, with the Academy Awards Sunday night, (I watched only because I am a major Melissa McCarthy fan and just had to see what she was wearing!) I made these for myself. I went all upscale and had champagne. No she didn’t, oh yes I did. Wink.

It is as good as I remembered it being.

I apologize for not having exact amounts, it’s more of an eyeball it out type of recipe.

Sugared Pomegranate Cocktail
recipe from memory

bottle Brut Extra Dry champagne
pomegranate juice*
sugar cubes

Place one sugar cube into the bottom of a champagne flute.

Top with a splash of pomegranate juice.

Then slowly pour the champagne over the juice.

*I used blueberry pomegrante juice but the original is just as good.

Simple as that and it makes one amazing drink.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Grilled Mexican Style Corn

After the last Cook This Not That fail I was a little disenchanted by them, honestly speaking, but they have more than made up for it with this recipe. Who doesn’t love corn on the cob? Maybe people with dentures and babies without teeth yet but heck I love it so much I would probably just gum it to death. I know I’m not alone on this one.

Grilled Mexican Style Corn
recipe from Cook This Not That cookbook, pg. 296

4 ears of corn, husked
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
juice of 1 lime
½ tablespoon chili powder
finely grated parmesan cheese

Heat a grill until hot. While the grill is warming up, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the corn and salt. Boil for 5 to 7 minutes, until the corn is slightly tender, but not cooked all the way through. Drain the corn and transfer to the grill; lightly char the kernels.

Mix the mayonnaise and lime juice. Remove the corn from the grill; paint with a bit of the citrus mayonnaise, then dust with chili powder and parmesan cheese.

Oh my golly gee good you guys. Used to be I would drown corn in butter and black pepper but in the last year I have come to realize that good corn doesn’t need anything. Well, it may not “need” anything but it sure tasted great served this way too.

Company worthy recipe!

The cookbook shows a calorie count of 210 per ear but when I put the recipe into calorie count is came back showing 194 calories per ear. As usual use your own judgement here, but I always pick the higher caloric value just to be safe.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Firecracker Crackers

These are the best crackers I have ever eaten.

I originally made these to take to a girls night but I came down with a cold or something equally terrible and wasn't able to attend the night time festivities with all my sister's and sister-in-laws. I, however, did make it home after the day of shopping with them with a little baggie of these crackers to eat with some chicken noodle soup. They go surprisingly well with a hot cup of soup.

This is another recipe that I got from my Mother-in-law, she makes them occasionally and I always eat too many of them when she does.

The pictures do not do these flavorful crackers justice. They have so much going for them that is unseen with the naked eye.

Firecracker Crackers
recipe from Lynn Bennett

1 box whole wheat saltine crackers
1 cup canola oil
1 package dry ranch dip and dressing mix
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes

Place crackers in a large Ziploc freezer bag.

In a measuring cup or bowl stir to combine the oil, ranch mix, and red pepper flakes.

Pour the mixture over the crackers in the bag and seal the bag shut. Shake and flip the bag around for a few minutes or until all the crackers are evenly coated.

Allow to sit for 1 day. This lets all the flavors and oil absorb.

If you would like it spicier add more red pepper or some cayenne pepper along with it. I am not truly a fan of spice so this amount is perfect.

I could literally eat them all by myself, I didn’t, but I could.

My brothers highly enjoyed them as well as Baby Cakes. He ended up eating the majority of the small amount I made it home with, all but the handful I had with my soup.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chicken Pot Stickers

As of late when I have had a hankering for chinese food, and let me tell you that it happens often, I have been ordering special won ton soup (it’s my favorite!) and I might allow myself one eggroll if even one. But let’s face it, it is positively torturous to go to a chinese restaurant and only eat soup (although as I said above, I do love me some special won ton soup), I would much rather have lo mein noodles or crab puffs, oh or fried pot stickers. That is where this recipe comes in.

I would tell you that I intend to make special won ton soup but the little restaurant that is so conveniently located on my way in from work sells a massive amount of the liquid gold for way cheaper than it would cost me to make it. It is chalked full of dumplings, leeks, shrimp, pork, chicken, bamboo shoots, all kinds of good stuff. So instead I am going to focus on making the worst offenders healthier. And thanks to, once again, the Cook This Not That cookbook I am starting now.

I did have trouble finding a bag of frozen pot stickers, or dumplings as I’ve also heard them called, but I finally found little boxes of them in asian section of frozen foods. I did have to buy 4 boxes to get to 24 of the pot stickers. Let me tell you, it took a lot of willpower not to toss in a box of egg rolls while I was at it. Although I should have just went crazy with the caloric faux pas I had. Let me explain...

I followed the recipe to a tee only it wasn't working. For starters it wasn't enough oil so I added more and then more to make the pot stickers un-stick, and then after the wontons where cooked and I added the soy sauce and rice vinegar it didn't make near enough sauce. I read and re-read the recipe. I followed it exactly to no avail. The pot stickers came with dipping sauce so I opened three of them and used them in the end. The only problem is that it raised the calorie count by a ton. However, it tasted really good.

Chicken Pot Stickers
adapted from the Cook This Not That cookbook, pg. 90

24 frozen pot stickers (chicken, pork, or vegetable)
1 tablespoon sesame or peanut oil
4 ounces mushrooms (preferably shiitake), stems removed, sliced
2 cups sugar snap or snow peas, tough ends removed
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
3 dipping sauce packets from the pot stickers boxes
2 scallions, sliced (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the pot stickers and cook for a few minutes until tender but not gummy. Drain.

Heat the oil a large nonstick skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the cooked pot stickers to the pan and cook, undisturbed, until crispy and brown on the bottom, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the pot stickers to a plate. Pour in the dipping sauce and bring to a simmer, toss in the snap peas and warm through.

Garnish with scallions (if using).

Now let me share what we thought of these little meat filled gems- simply put, Amazing! I could totally eat these instead of the fried resturant version for the rest of my life and never miss them although with my adaptations it really isn't any better for you.

By the book calories: ¼ of the skillet, 6 pot stickers and 1/4 cup of sauce with peas and mushrooms equals 202 calories.

Adapted calorie count: 1/4 of the skillet, 6 pot stickers and 1/4 cup of sauce with peas and mushrooms equals 465 calories. (I am ashames to say I ate 2 servings before I realized how many calories the sauce alone caused it to rise. That's a whopping 930 calories in 1 meal! Bad, very bad.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s no secret that Baby Cakes loves peanut butter. He does. I am fairly certain that if he could eat it for every meal he would. He already eats it every day and yet he still goes out of his way to eat more constantly. The man also loves cookies, he eats those everyday as well. Well, in honor of his love of peanut butter and cookies, not to mention in honor of my amore for him, I am surprising him with Valentine’s cookies. You got it, peanut butter cookies. It’s the least I can do, the man brought home 10 pounds of dark chocolate for me for V-day (he knows I am on a diet and that dark chocolate is better for you than milk chocolate, just ignore the fact that he brought home enough chocolate to feed a third world country. It was really sweet though, he hid chocolate bars all over the house that I randomly found throughout the day. Grin.), seriously I don’t know how I am going to eat it all. Anyone have any good healthy recipes using dark chocolate?

Back to the recipe; growing up my Dad make peanut butter cookies all the time. I am not a fan, and although I was going to use my Daddy-O’s recipe, once I decided to add chocolate chips (BCakes’ other favorite cookie) I knew that my Dad’s recipe wouldn’t work. No worries, I will eventually share my Dad’s recipe, I had kind of forgotten about it until today. So, I knew I needed a heavier cookie dough so in my normal fashion I took to the world wide web. Here is what I found:

Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from allrecipes.com

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the corn syrup, water, and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the peanut butter mixture. Fold in chocolate chunks. Drop by 1/4 cupful’s 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are golden. Allow cookies to cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Are they fantastic? You know it! Baby Cakes hasn't given his opinion yet because frankly he hasn't arrived home from work to eat any yet but I did swipe one and they are fantastic.

Makes 18 cookies, 1 cookie per serving.

Now, eater beware, these babies have 253 calories each! They are huge though, the picture showing just one cookie is on a large salad plate. So just think of it as 3 smaller cookies. lol.

Happy Valentine's Day Y'all,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Oven Roasted Asparagus

I cannot tell you how many times we have had asparagus cooked this way at our house. It is so delicious and truth be told I often eat chopped asparagus cooked in an egg scramble. I love the flavor. This recipe was the first way I ever tried it and I am happy to say the reason that I am a convert.

The most recent time we had it was the other day with the Honey-Mustard Salmon.

Oven Roasted Asparagus

1 pound asparagus stalks
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat an oven to 400.

Prep the asparagus by breaking each stem where it naturally breaks when slightly bent. Discard the hard end, keeping the tops.

Place the asparagus on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat.

Roast in oven until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

I swear once you try it this way you’ll never make it differently again.

Calories for 1/4 of the pan is 64 calories. Whew, you can't beat that!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Honey-Mustard Salmon

Part of getting healthy is not only losing weight but also about eating healthier things. It’s about the nutrients I have going into my body as well as the calories I take in.

Baby Cakes has never really been one for fish, sure he’ll eat one of my tuna fish sandwiches every once in a while but as far as simply eating some grilled tilapia, or baked whitefish, or some salmon, nah, he’ll pass. He no longer has a choice if he’s eating in my kitchen because we will be eating fish twice a week from now on. I’m sure I can spare you how healthy fish is for you, if cooked right that is. Battered and fried fish pretty much defeats the purpose of eating healthy fish.

I’ve noticed that I have been choosing a lot of recipes, I even have two more for next week, from my Cook This Not That cookbook and this is one of those recipes.

Honey-Mustard Salmon
recipe from Cook This Not That cookbook, pg. 232

1 tablespoon whipped butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
dash salt
dash pepper
4 salmon fillets, 6 ounces each

Preheat the oven to 400.

Combine the butter and brown sugar in a microwavable bowl and microwave for 30 seconds, until the butter and sugar have melted together. Stir in the mustard, honey, and soy sauce.

Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and add to the pan flesh side down. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until fully browned and flip. Turn off heat and transfer to an over proof baking dish skin side down.

Brush with half of the glaze and place in the oven and bake until the salmon is firm and flaky (but before the white fat begins to form on the surface), about 5 minutes.

Remove, brush the salmon with more of the honey mustard, and serve warm.

In the book they recommend serving it with asparagus so that’s just what I did; so simple to make see that recipe here.

The calorie count per 6 ounce fillet with sauce already on it is 418 calories. Paired with the right side dish and you have a super healthy meal.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Huevos Rancheros

When it comes to breakfast and lunch in our household Baby Cakes and I are incredibly routine, the exception being the weekends as we’re almost always running the roads all weekend long. He eats the same breakfast every day and either the same sandwich or leftovers for lunch. I have a cup of coffee every morning with a banana and the same lunch consisting of the same salad along with the same snacks every single day. Now to some that might be boring and to a self-proclaimed food blogger I can admit that it is odd, but to keep things interesting I am always making and trying new recipes for supper and special occasions.

Because we don’t often make breakfast on the weekends and I’ve already shared that we are creatures of habit during the work week I occasionally find myself making breakfast for dinner. I had taken notice that Baby Cakes orders Huevos Rancheros often so I thought I might try and make it. While thumbing through a cookbook I had stashed away I came across a delicious looking recipe for Huevos Rancheros, not to mention a healthy version. Sold!

The best part about this recipe, aside from the amazing flavor, is how quick it was to make, especially the second time. Because it makes 4 servings, I made the entire recipe and then split the ingredients. I used half of the salsa and beans and stored the other half in separate containers, as in beans in one and salsa in the other, so 2 days later I made it again but that time all I had to do was lightly nuke the beans to take the chill out, toast the tortillas and cook the eggs. Viola! A simple and really quick weeknight meal or heck a quick weekend breakfast, maybe I can talk Baby Cakes into staying in just once.

Huevos Rancheros
recipe from Cook This Not That cookbook, pg. 50

16 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes with juice
½ small onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped chipotle pepper
juice of 1 lime, divided
salt and pepper to taste
16 ounce can black beans
pinch cumin
8 eggs
8 corn tortillas

Combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, chipotle, cilantro, and half of the lime juice in a food processor and pulse until well blended but still slightly chunky; season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl mix the black beans, cumin and remaining lime juice; season with salt and pepper. Use the back of a fork to lightly mash up the beans, adding a splash of warm water if necessary.

Coat a large nonstick skillet or sauté pan with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Break the eggs into the skillet; cook until the whites have set but the yolks are still loose and runny.

On a separate burner, heat a medium skillet over medium heat and add the tortillas, 2 at a time; cook for 1 minute on each side, until lightly toasted.

To assemble the dish, spread the tortillas with the beans, top with the eggs, and top the eggs with the salsa. Garnish with more cilantro, if you like, and serve immediately.

This recipe makes 4 servings and according to the book each serving is 480 calories. When I put the recipe into Calorie Count it came back with 522 calories per servings so to play it safe I would count the higher amount. Still, 522 calories for dinner is not bad, not bad at all.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sausage Broccoli Calzone

While searching through the newest Taste of Home Magazine the other night I came across this recipe, among many others, that looked too yummy not to try. I put the ingredients on my shopping list and counted the days until I could make it.

I wasn’t 100% sure that it would turn out that well seeing how I tend to get mixed reviews on the recipes I try from this, and other, magazine(s), but I was pleasantly surprised. The sausage gave it quite a bit of flavor. I didn’t season anything and turns out I didn’t need to. The only thing I did differently was add onions, use sage sausage, and up the amount and modify from just broccoli to a broccoli and cauliflower mix.

This would make a great Super Bowl snack and I know that because Baby Cake hinted that I should make it for just that.

Sausage Broccoli Calzone
adapted from Taste of Home Magazine, February/March 2012, p37

12 ounces bulk sage pork sausage
½ onion, diced
1 tube refrigerated crusty french loaf
3 cups frozen chopped broccoli and cauliflower, thawed and drained
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cook the sausage and onion in a skillet over medium heat until no longer pink and onions are translucent; drain.

On an ungreased baking sheet, unroll dough starting at the seam; pat into a 14-in. x 12-in. rectangle. Spoon the sausage lengthwise across the center of dough. Sprinkle with broccoli/cauliflower and cheeses. Bring the long sides of dough to the center over the filling; pinch seams to seal. Turn calzone seam side down.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Oh, we will be making this again and again and again. It was soooo good!

In the magazine it says that this makes 6 servings and that the calories per serving are 369 calories. I however, made it into 4 servings making the calorie count per serving 520 calories. No guilt though. It was totally worth it.

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