Monday, June 10, 2013

Bread Machine English Muffins

     Each month, I look forward to the email that contains my assignment for the Secret Recipe Club. This month was no different. Although, maybe a little bittersweet. This will be my last month to participate in the club. I really like it. I love being introduced to new blogs and finding new recipes to try. The problem is that I don't have the time to blog much instead of being a fun hobby of mine, sometimes the posts become another thing to do on a really long to-do list. Maybe, at some other point in my life, I will be able to join up again, but for now this good thing must come to an end.
     A few weeks ago, I had twenty dollars in my pocket...oh wait...I went to the thrift store and found a bread machine! I've been wanting one for a while, but they are so expensive. I'll admit, I was a little afraid to buy on at the thrift shop, but this one looked like it had never been used and it had the manual inside. Naturally, when I got my secret assignment, Danielle's blog Mostly Food and Crafts, I knew I would make one of the many bread machine recipes found on her site. Now, don't get me wrong. I find making bread, from scratch by hand a little therapeutic...but remember, I don't have as much time on my hands these days. The bread machine is the perfect solution for me...And, this English Muffin recipe was a great recipe to start with. I love English Muffins. I love homemade bread. Seriously, it's a win-win.
     I've never tried making homemade English Muffins before. I've always been curious, but have never actually done it until now. Basically, you let the bread machine take care of the kneading and rising by setting it up for the dough cycle. Then, when the dough is ready you roll it out, cut it in circles and let it rise once more before cooking them up. It was a little time consuming since you have to roll and cut the muffins out, but they are worth it. While there weren't the regular nooks and crannies in these homemade muffins, the flavor was there, and it turned out to be a great breakfast paired with our usual yogurt parfait.
     I pretty much followed the recipe except changing the flour to whole wheat flour. When you do this in a yeast bread, you also have to add wheat gluten to aid in the rising.

Bread Machine English Muffins

by Robin
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 7-10 minutes
Ingredients (8-10 muffins)
1 cup of milk
3 tablespoons of butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of sugar
2-1/2 cups + 2 Tbl white whole wheat flour
2 Tbl wheat gluten (to aid in rising when using whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast

  • Combine all ingredients, except cornmeal, in your bread machine according to manufacturers suggestions. Turn the machine on the dough cycle.
  • After this cycle is complete, sprinkle cornmeal on a cutting board and place the dough on the cornmeal. Sprinkle the top side with cornmeal as well and flatten the dough out to a 1 inch thick rectangle
  • Cut your dough into rounds (8-10) using a cup or biscuit cutter.
  • Place these rounds on a cookie sheet and let rise for 20 minutes.
  • Heat griddle to 350*.
  • Place those rounds on the griddle and cook for about 7 minutes a side and then flip (they will begin to rise, if you feel they are too puffy you can flatten a bit with a spatula.)
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Monday, May 13, 2013

Triple B Muffins

    Each month, I anxiously await the email that tells me my assignment for the Secret Recipe Club. This month was no different. I was assigned Jane's wonderful blog; Jane's Adventures in Dinner. Jane is a classically trained chef. When I read this, I knew it would be hard to pick a recipe!
     Finally, I settled on Triple B Muffins. You may be surprised that I picked a banana berry muffin. It's been done. And, it's been done well. This recipe is different. It had a special ingredient that surprised me and intrigued me to the point that I had to make these muffins. I mean, really? Who puts Chinese Five Spice powder in a muffin? I had to taste it.
     What else is in these muffins? Why triple B? The original recipe from Jane's blog is banana, bran, and blueberry. I thought that I had enough blueberries to make the muffins, but I didn't so I added in strawberries too. So, I guess my triple B muffin includes banana, bran, and berries. I would give these muffins an "A" for a health grade. With whole wheat flour, lots of fruit, and natural sweeteners, these are a great start to any day. With my variation, each muffin has 132 calories, 27g carbs, 2g fat, 5g protein, 12g sugar, and 3g fiber.
     What is healthy without taste? This muffin does not disappoint. It's filling and delicious. It has just the right amount of crumb and it's not overly sweet, so you can feel good about having it for breakfast.  Pair it with yogurt or a slice of bacon for some added protein, and you will be filled up until  lunch. And, what about the Five Spice Powder? There is a hint of a secret ingredient in there, but it isn't really identifiable. J couldn't guess it was anything unusual, and just said it tastes like a good muffin.

Triple B Muffins

slighty adapted from Jane's original
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients (20 muffins)
2 bananas
4-oz blueberry greek yogurt
3 eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp. chinese five spice
1-3/4 cups whole wheat flour (or 2 cups white)
1 -1/2 cups oat bran
1 -1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups berries (blueberries and strawberries for me)
  • Mash the bananas and cream them together with the yogurt, eggs, maple syrup, honey and five spice powder.
  • Stir in flour, bran, and baking powder.
  • Gently stir in berries.
  • Divide evenly among muffin cups.
  • Bake @ 350* for 20 minutes.
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Diaper Box Storage

     Anyone need extra storage? If your house is like mine, it was obviously designed by someone who didn't have any stuff. My kitchen has a whole wall that could have cabinets on it, but it's just bare. My plan is to build a hutch for that, but that is a post for another day. For today, I have a cheap and easy solution to some of my storage needs.
     We have lots of diaper boxes. Some of them are currently holding things for a big yard sale, but some were just being saved for a rainy day. On Pinterest one day, I saw people recovering their diaper boxes with fabric to turn them into beautiful storage. Well, fabric is expensive...and we get the big diaper boxes. Seriously, the cheapest fabric I could find that would come close to fitting my decor was . I also found some using wrapping paper. This would probably be fine if you mod podged it on so it wouldn't tear. My solution is a little different.
     I was looking at storage boxes at the store one day, and saw one that would fit perfectly above my kitchen cabinets. You know, the unused vertical space between your cabinets and the ceiling. I thought this would be the perfect space to put things you don't use very often. The problem was that basket was $20! Seriously, I was going to buy 3 or 4 of them. That was just not going to work for me. That particular basket had stripes on it, and I thought I could do that would yarn and a diaper box. Originally, I set out to find a few colors of coordinating yarn to do stripes, but then I found some bulky yarn on clearance for $1.99 that matched the greens and browns in my house. I also bought some contact paper to cover the print on the diaper box...because yarn is hard to get so close together that you can't see what's under it.
     The result: An over the cabinet "basket"...Now, I just have to make about 10 more of these!
  • Cut diaper box top off and trim sides down to fit your space if needed.
  • Cover box with contact paper. You could stop here I guess, but I was going for a different look.
  • Wrap yarn around the box until covered. I used glue to secure it every now and then.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Microwave Sea Salt Caramels

     When I got this month's assignment for the Secret Recipe Club, I got right to work picking and trying out several recipes. Ellie, from The Bitchin' Kitchin', has tons of recipes that appealed to my sweet tooth! Over the last month we have tried the Cookie Butter Cupcakes, Chai Spiced Scones, and Brownie Batter Pancakes. All of these were just great, and you should try them if you get the chance. One recipe stood out above the rest.
     I was skeptical when I saw the recipe for caramels in the microwave. Really, is there anything good that can be made in the microwave? Somehow this wonderful machine can magically transform chicken into rubber, and it can also turn a few ingredients into delicious caramels! I could not stop eating them...and the recipe makes a ton. J had to take them to work before I ate them all.
     Overall, the caramels are easy to make. A word of warning to you: You have to watch it as it cooks, because it will boil over into your microwave and you'll have a mess! I recommend stirring every minute or when you see it's starting to boil over instead of every two minutes. Stirring helps the caramel settle back down. At one point, I wondered if making caramels in the microwave was really easier than standing over the stove and stirring constantly. Either way you do it, these caramels taste amazing. Just make them.
     I pretty much followed Ellie's recipe. I didn't have sweetened condensed milk, so I found a recipe to make some homemade. I may never buy it again. You can adjust this according to how much your recipe needs so you won't have any left over. Brilliant.

Microwave Sea Salt Caramels

by Robin
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 6-7 minutes
Ingredients (24-40 caramels)
1/4 cup butter, cut in 8 pieces
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Coarse sea salt
  • Combine the sugars, corn syrup, vanilla, butter, and sweetened condensed milk in a microwave proof bowl. The bowl should be at least 2 quarts to allow for the caramel to expand as it cooks.
  • Cook it in the microwave on full power for 6 minutes (for soft & chewy texture) or 7 minutes (for firm yet still chewy texture), stopping and stirring often during the cooking time.
  • Line an 8x8 baking dish with aluminum foil, making sure the foil extends up the sides. Coat the foil with cooking spray.
  • Pour the hot caramel into the dish and Sprinkle generously with coarse sea salt. Put it in the refrigerator until it is firm enough to cut, 40-60 minutes.
  • Remove from the fridge. The firmed up caramel will have taken the shape of the dish, so you can lift by the foil edges to remove the entire piece at one time. Peel off the foil.
  • Use a large knife to cut the caramel into whatever size you prefer.Put the caramel on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper for easier cutting and removal later. Otherwise, it may stick to the cutting board.
  • Wrap individual pieces in parchment paper and twist the ends.You can also layer them on top of parchment paper in a covered container.
  • Store in fridge or at a cool room temperature. If refrigerated, make sure to bring the caramels back to room temperature before indulging.
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pinteresting Review: Oatmeal Packets

     Every time I ask my four year old what she wants for breakfast, I get one of two answers: yogurt or oatmeal...with sprinkles of course. Apparently, everything is better with sprinkles.
     Now, I realize that it doesn't take that long to make good ole' old fashioned oats. It does take more than a minute, though, and that is how long instant oatmeal packets take to cook. Buying a box of weird ingredient oatmeal packets every week is out of the question, so when I saw these homemade oatmeal packets on Pinterest, I had my solution. I can give my sprinkle-lovin' princess a hot, healthy breakfast and save money at the same time.
     Basically, I followed the same recipe I found on Pinterest. Sometimes we add a splash of vanilla after the oatmeal is cooked. Sometimes, I make the packets with only one teaspoon of brown sugar and add a splash of maple syrup for a different flavor. You could also leave out the sugar altogether and add your sweetener of choice cookie butter! Then suddenly oatmeal isn't as healthy but is more delicious.
     I put the packets in those snack size bags. I found the butterfly bags pictured in the dollar section at Target. Then I put all the bags in an empty oatmeal container. I have the recipe taped onto the outside, so when we run out of packets I don't have to look for it. I even made it all fancy with argyle duct tape. Nice, I know.
    As far as the nutritional information goes, these are very similar to the store bought packets. We compared them to Trader Joes Apple Cinnamon oatmeal packets since that is what we had at home. Each packet is 139 calories, 27 carbs, 2g fat, 4g protein, 10g sugar, 3g fiber. If you use Stevia instead of the brown sugar, you save 30 calories and 8g of sugar.

Homemade Oatmeal Packets

by Robin
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute
Ingredients (20 packets)
1/3 cup quick oats
1 tsp milk powder
pinch of salt
2 tsp light brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Combine all ingredients in a snack-size bag.

To make for breakfast...
  • Dump packet into bowl.
  • Add 1/2 cup water.
  • Heat in microwave for 1 min 10 sec.
  • Stir (Optional: Add in dried fruit, granola, apples, maple syrup, etc)
  • Add Sprinkles for princesses (optional)
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Monday, March 18, 2013

Pirates, Mermaids, Lalaloopsies, & Cake!

    Pretty much all of my time lately has been devoted to making Big E's special day, well...special. This girl is convinced she is going to be a mermaid when she grows up! She even has a name, "Pink Tail." When asked how she will grow a tail, she says, "I will just walk into the sea, and there will be a tail." Magically, I guess? I love her creative imagination.
     Her favorite toys right now are Lalaloopsies, so naturally her party would be based around them. There is a Mermaid and a Pirate Lalaloopsy so that was the starting point on this crazy party planning process. Then, I got on Pinterest and started a party board to store all my ideas. You can find my board here.
    All the girlies got mermaid tails and the boys got pirate vests. There was going to be some outdoor activities like walking the plank and digging for treasure in the sandbox, but the weather didn't cooperate. We just had our treasures inside and they could pick out what they wanted. The pirates kept stealing the treasure from the mermaids as you would expect, I guess. In the end, everyone got to take home what they wanted.
    For food, we had a variety of themed food. There were lots of gluten free options since four of our guests have to eat that way. We had octopus (hot dogs), shells & cheese (mac and cheese w/ gf shells), rubies, emeralds, and sapphires (strawberries, green grapes, and blueberries), sushi (peanut butter banana roll ups), pirates gold (cheese), seaweed, (gold) fish and chips, and driftwood (pretzels). To drink we had sea water, muddy water (tea), and coral splash (pink lemonade). Of course we also had cake! The chocolate cupcakes were gluten free. The white cupcakes were angel food cakes made a little healthier.
     The white cupcakes were inspired by a Jessica Seinfeld recipe, and the icing was my own creation. I used the icing on both flavors of cupcakes and it was delicious and light with just the right amount of sweetness. It's fluffy like whipped cream and sturdy like cream cheese. I think I have found my go-to frosting! If you are interested in the nutritional information: each white cupcake had just 93 calories, 14 carbs, 3g fat, 4g protein, 10g sugar, and 1g fiber!

Angel Cakes with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

by Robin
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients (24 cupcakes)
10 large egg whites
1-1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 cup white whole wheat flour (almost...see instructions)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup yellow squash puree
2 tsp vanilla extract
8oz cream cheese, softened
1 tub whipped topping (I used Trader Joe's House Whip)
4 Tbl powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
  • Preheat the oven to 350*. Line muffin tin with baking cups.
  • In bowl of electric mixer, combine egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt. Beat until the eggs double in volume and stiff peaks form.
  • To measure flour, add 1 scoop of protein powder into your cup measure, then fill the rest of the way with white whole wheat flour.
  • Add flour, protein powder, sugar, squash, and vanilla to the egg whites. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold together until just combined.
  • Divide batter into muffin cups and bake until lightly browned and spring back to touch 18-20 minutes.
  • Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
  • For the frosting, beat the softened cream cheese until light and airy. Add in whipped topping, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Add gel food coloring if desired.
  • Use 1M tip to frost cooled cupcakes.
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Monday, March 11, 2013

Tex Mex Spring Rolls

     It's Secret Recipe time again. This month, I was assigned Sarah's blog Sarah's Kitchen. If you haven't yet, you need to go check out her blog. Some of my favorite dishes are found there, and most recipes are pretty healthy. I found so many recipes that I want to make! This vegetable lo-mein looks like a quick and easy weeknight dinner. In fact, I plan to make it later this week. I also pinned this recipe for English Muffins. I keep seeing recipes for them, and I think I could save a lot of money by making my own. Finally, I'm just looking for an excuse to make these chocolate cupcakes with cookie butter buttercream. Chocolate and cookie butter rank among my favorite foods, so these have to be the best cupcakes ever.
    Now for the recipe I ended up making for this month's reveal. I saw them, and I just couldn't stop thinking about these Tex Mex Egg Rolls. I've never had such a thing, but when I told my friend about them she knew what I was talking about. I wasn't sure if they were an appetizer, side or main dish. Really, I think it could be any of those things. We at them as more of a main dish since there is a lot of rice and meat stuffed inside.  I ended up buying spring roll wrappers instead of egg roll wrappers so these would be gluten free and we could serve them to our gluten free guests. Yup, I'm brave like that; serving up something I've never made before. As it turns out, these things are amazing. Apparently, there is a bit of a learning curve with the spring roll wrappers. I gave up, and wrapped some rolls in whole wheat tortillas. After tasting them, I decided the filling flavor was overpowered by the wheat. So, I researched how to use spring roll wrappers and found that if you soak them for a bit in warm water, they soften right up and they were much easier to work with. I didn't fry mine in oil, I used the griddle to brown them. I wonder if browning them in the oven would be better for more even browning. In the end, everyone loved them and we will definitely be making them again!

   Nutritional info (one roll with 1/3c filling): 173 cal, 21 carbs, 5g fat, 11g protein, 1g sugar, 1g fiber
Tex Mex Spring Rolls

by Robin
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (serves 20)
1 box yellow rice (I used Zatarains yellow rice)
1 lb lean turkey sausage
1 can black beans,drained
1 can rotel, drained
2 cups shredded monterey jack
1 packet taco seasoning (or 3 Tbl)
Spring roll wrappers ( or egg roll wrappers)
  • Cook the yellow rice according to the directions on the box and leave to cool completely.
  • Cook the sausage until no longer pink, drain and leave to cool completely.
  • Stir together the rice, sausage, black beans, rotel, cheese and taco seasoning.
  • Soak each wrapper in luke-warm water for about 30 seconds to soften it up before using. Place a third cup of mixture onto the center of each wrapper. Fold one side of wrapper over the filling, tucking the tip of the wrapper under the filling. Fold left and right sides over filling. Tightly roll the filled end toward the remaining edge and press to seal.
  • Fry the egg rolls at 375 for 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown.
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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Banana Yogurt Protein Muffins

    The other day on my Facebook page, I mentioned some banana yogurt muffins that were high in protein and delicious. I can't believe how well these turned out. Basically, I just took my favorite banana bread recipe and made a couple of healthy substitutions.
     I was inspired by the container of Greek yogurt sitting in my fridge. Then, I went on the chobani website, where you can find ways to substitute Greek yogurt into your recipes (scroll to bottom of page for the chart). There is actually a recipe for banana muffins on the chobani website, but it calls for a lot more sugar than my version...and my version is fabulous if I do say so myself.
     I'll admit I was a little wary of the substitution making the muffins have a different texture. Have no fear, these muffins are moist and flavorful. You won't even know they are healthy! These are loaded with healthy whole wheat, protein, and fiber, and they taste great. The nutritional information per muffin is 134 calories, 17g carbs, 2g fat, 5g protein, 4g sugar, and 2g fiber.

Banana Yogurt Muffins

by Robin
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients (12 muffins)
  • 2 c flour (1-3/4 c if using whole wheat like me)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c Chobani vanilla with chocolate chunks
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 3 tsp stevia
  • 1 egg (or 1Tbl flax + 3Tbl water)
  • 2-3 bananas (I like to use the over-ripe bananas left at the end of the week)
  • 3 Tbl chobani vanilla with chocolate chunks
Preheat oven to 350* Line muffin tin.
Combine yogurt and sugar. Beat thoroughly.
Add egg.
Peel and mash bananas with a fork. Add to creamed mixture.
Then add the rest of the yogurt and dry ingredients alternately. Mix until blended.
Pour into muffin cups
Bake about 20 minutes at 350* or til toothpick comes out clean
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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

     In honor of Fat Tuesday, I'm posting a sinful cake. It's so good, you wouldn't even know it's gluten-free. I was worried about it having a strange aftertaste like some things do, but no this cake. It's moist, chocolaty, and delicious, just how chocolate cake should be. Be sure not to over bake the cake, as it will dry out. If you decide to make cupcakes instead, use foil liners with the papers removed or silicone baking cups. Gluten free things tend to stick to paper liners. If you are interested in the nutritional information, it's at the bottom of the post. If you would rather not know, don't look there!
     I made this for my husband's birthday last week. We don't personally eat gluten free, but our friend and my sister do. Of course, the decoration is up to you, but my husband is very loyal to his team.
Adapted from King Arthur Gluten Free Cake
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

by Robin
Prep Time: 15
Cook Time: 30
Ingredients (2 - 8 or 9 inch round cakes)
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour
1 cup Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa -- check brand for GF
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 cups sugar -- divided
2/3 cup butter -- softened
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Strawberry fruit spread
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Cake:
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare two 8" or 9" round pans with cooking spray and lining the bottom of each pan with parchment.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the multi-purpose flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, and 1/2 cup of the sugar.
  • Place the butter and 1 cup of the sugar in the bowl of a mixer and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, buttermilk, water, and vanilla into your mixer bowl, and mix until well blended.
  • Blend in the dry ingredients 1 cup at a time, beating for 1 minute and scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.
  • Once all of the dry ingredients have been mixed in, beat at medium-high speed for 2 minutes, to make a smooth batter.
  • Pour the batter equally into the prepared pans. Using a kitchen scale helps to get the batter evenly divided.
  • Bake the cakes for 30 to 33 minutes, about 3 to 4 minutes past the point where a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.
  • Remove the cakes from the oven, and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn pans over onto a rack and cool cakes completely.

For Frosting:
  • In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.

To Assemble:
  • Place one round cake on a cake circle. Spread strawberry fruit spread on top, and then place the other cake on top of that one. Spread on frosting and decorate as desired.
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Nutritional information for 1/16th of the cake: 372 calories, 46 carbs, 20g fat, 5g protein, 30 sugars, 2g fiber

Monday, January 28, 2013

Trini Chicken

     This sweet and savory chicken  is from the Trader Joe's Cookbook: Lighten Up! The recipe is an adaptation of one from Trinidad. I googled some other recipes from Trinidad just to see some similarities. I found they all have a somewhat sweet sauce with savory flavors mixed in.
     I really enjoyed this chicken. I looked forward to eating the leftovers the next day too. There is just something about it that is really different. I just couldn't get enough of it. We have made it twice since Christmas, when I got the cookbook that it's from.
     I paired this with tricolor quinoa and a salad. This meal is loaded with vitamins. The nutritional information per serving (of chicken) is 200 calories, 7g carbs, 8g fat, 26g protein, 5g sugar, and 3g fiber

Trini Chicken

by Robin
Prep Time: 5 + marinating
Cook Time: 40
Ingredients (4 servings)
16 oz chicken breast or tenderloin
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger
2 Tbl soy sauce
1/4 cup diced onion
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil
1 tsp chive
1 tsp oregano
3 Tbl olive oil, divided
2 Tbl brown sugar
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • Combine garlic, ginger, soy sauce, onion, herbs and 2Tbl oil in a dish.
  • Add chicken and cover with marinade. Cover and marinate at least an hour.
  • Heat 1 Tbl oil over medium heat. Before oil gets too hot, add sugar. When sugar starts to bubble, lower heat a little. Don't allow to get dark or burn.
  • Add chicken and marinade to the melted sugar.
  • Cover pot for a minute, then uncover and stir until browned. Cover again, and turn heat back up to medium.
  • Turn pieces occasionally, allowing liquid to evaporate a little. You can add 1/2-1 cup water if needed.
  • Cook until chicken is tender, 30 minutes or so. During the last 10 minutes, add tomatoes and bell peppers.
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Healthy Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Cookies

    After a break during the holidays, the Secret Recipe Club is back. I was so excited to get my assignment and start searching for the "one." This month, I was assigned to Jennifer's blog; Peanut Butter and Peppers. Jennifer is a lot like me in some ways. I used to think eating healthy and losing weight was about eating as little calories as possible. Now I know, as Jennifer discovered, the more you eat, the more you moderation of course. A little exercise doesn't hurt either.
     Right after I was given this month's assignment, my sister told me she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  I found two recipes to test out that are not only gluten free, but also delicious. I sent them to my sister, and told her I tried them and loved them. I was most impressed that I didn't have to buy any special ingredients to make these gluten free! The first recipe I tried was Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cashew Butter. I ate some plain, then I rolled some up with a banana in a tortilla for a to-go lunch. Oh.My.Yum!
     I chose to make healthy dark chocolate oatmeal cookies for this month's reveal. Besides being delicious and easy to make, they are good for you! It's dairy, flour, and sugar free so it fits into everyone's diet...and for about 60 calories/cookie, you can even eat two or three! I'm sure you are thinking, how can these cookies be good? They are! They are rich and chocolaty. If dark chocolate isn't your favorite, just substitute whatever chips you do like.
     I made three changes from Jennifer's recipe. I used real maple syrup rather than sugar free syrup. I also used Ghiradelli chips instead of squares that you had to chop up. Finally, I only ground up half of the oats so the texture would be more like traditional oatmeal cookies.  Nutritional information/cookie:
61 calories, 8g carbs, 3g fat, 1g protein, 3g sugar, and 1g fiber

Healthy Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

by Robin
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 12 min
Ingredients (12-15 cookies)
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbsp. real maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup oats, (1/2 cup ground, 1/2 cup oats)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 oz Ghiraradelli 60% Cacao Semisweet Chocolate Chips or chips of choice
Preheat oven to 350*
Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat; set aside.
In a large bowl add coconut oil, applesauce, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Add oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt; mix until combined.
Fold in chocolate
Take a teaspoon size of batter or use cookie scoop to place batter on cookie sheet, about 2" apart. The cookies do not spread.
Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until bottom is lightly golden. Let them rest on the baking sheet for about 2 minutes and cool on a baking rack.
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Friday, January 11, 2013

Spicy Szechuan Beef

     I really wanted Chinese takeout tonight. We've been homebound most of the week with a feverish kiddo, so that wasn't really an option. This asian-inspired dish took the craving away, and didn't leaving me wishing I had the real deal. 
     I found this recipe in a Trader Joes Cookbook (find the link at the end of this post). The description says this recipe was inspired by a specialty of the Szechuan province of China; Ma Po Tofu. I've  never tried tofu, and honestly, I'm a little scared to. I have texture issues with certain things, and it seems like tofu would be squishy. I substituted one pound of lean ground beef  instead of one pound of tofu and a half pound of meat.
    This was my second time making this dish, and we really like it. It gets my family to eat peas...once you can convince them they don't taste like peas when they are coated in this tasty sauce. We used the General Tsao sauce from Trader Joe's, and I wouldn't say it was spicy really. I guess depending on the brand you use, it could be. If you like a little more spice, add in some red pepper flakes.
     I served this with mandarin oranges and brown rice to make a balanced, nutritious meal. If you are curious, the nutritional information follows:
Per Serving: 306 calories, 22g carbs, 12g fat, 25g protein, 16g sugar, and 2g fiber

Spicy Szechuan Beef

by Robin
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Ingredients (4 servings)
1-lb lean ground beef or turkey
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp crushed ginger
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup General Tsao Stir Fry Sauce
1Tbl soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
  • Brown meat of choice. Add garlic, ginger, and peas. Cook 2 minutes longer.
  • Add stir fry sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Cook for 3 minutes or until heated through.
  • Remove from heat and serve over rice.
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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Healthy Turkey Chili

     Is it snowing there? It didn't snow today, but we still have about a foot on the ground. I think winter should be over after Christmas, but unfortunately it just started. If I didn't care so much about being close to family, I would totally move someplace warm. Since that isn't an option for me, I have this chili to warm me up on a cold winter's night.
     The best part about this chili is that it's healthy. It's full of protein and fiber. It's also spicy, so it's perfect for winter. The "secret" ingredients are salsa and taco seasoning. These really set this chili apart from other chili's. It's a recognizable kick that leaves you wondering why you didn't think to add it before! The beans and turkey make this a hearty chili that is sure to fill you up.
     Nutritional Information:
Makes 6-7 cups
1 cup serving: 224 calories, 22 carbs, 6g fat, 19g protein, 6g sugar, 7g fiber

Healthy Turkey Chili

by Robin
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Ingredients (6-7 cups)
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 t. ground coriander
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • dash red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 3 T. tomato paste
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 c. salsa
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (5 oz) can chopped green chile peppers
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 1/3 cup diced green pepper
  • 1/3 cup diced red pepper
  • 1/2 c. low-fat sour cream (optional)
  • 1/2 c. shredded low-fat Cheddar cheese
In a large stock pot cook the turkey over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Season with taco seasoning mix, coriander, oregano, hot sauce, and tomato paste. Mix well and continue cooking until turkey is well browned.

Pour in beef broth and simmer to reduce liquid, about 5 minutes. Add salsa, tomatoes, black beans, and green chilies. Continue cooking at a moderate simmer for 10 minutes.

While the chili is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent and bell pepper is lightly browned. Add onion and bell pepper to the chili in the stock pot, and continue cooking at a very low simmer.

Continue cooking the chili for an additional 15-30 minutes. Add in a half cup of water if it gets too thick.
Ladle chili into serving bowls. Top with sour cream and cheddar cheese. Serve hot.
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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Year and Some Healthy Recipes

     I'm not one for resolutions. I'm not really sure that I've ever seriously made one. In June (2012), after having my second baby, I got really motivated to get healthy. I've stayed motivated, and plan to continue my journey into the new year. As I reflect on this blog and look at the top posts of 2012, I see that most of the top ten are not healthy recipes. Sticking with my "Restored" theme, I'm going to make a resolution this year. I want the majority of my recipes to be healthy. Maybe some will be a healthy remake of an old favorite. Maybe some will be about trying new things. Maybe some won't even be recipes, but health notes.
     Here are a couple of healthy highlights from 2012. These recipes are among family favorites, but didn't have enough clicks to make it into the top ten for the year.

Chicken Broccoli Stir Fry

Oven Fried Chicken

If you are interested in the top 10 posts of 2012, they are:

  1. Millionaire's Shortbread
  2. Monkey Bars (A healthy choice!)
  3. Blueberry Delight
  4. Banana Split Bites
  5. The BEST Blueberry Muffins (A healthy whole grain choice!)
  6. DIY Planter Umbrella Stand
  7. Strawberry Lassi
  8. Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese
  9. Strawberry White Chocolate Scone
  10. Pumpkin Nutella Cream Cheese Muffin

Special Note

For the present, anonymous comments are not allowed at Robin, Restored due to the large number of spam comments that make it through Blogger's spam filter. I'm sorry about those of you who comment as Anonymous and sign your names. I'll try later to enable the function again.
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