Thursday, May 27, 2010

Whole Wheat Breakfast Muffins with Mix-Ins…Muffin-Top Shop Open for Business! (J/K, these are healthy)

I am trying to become a better baker...really, I am.  But, I am also trying to become a healthy meal-maker.  So, I found a traditional muffin mix recipe and modified it by reducing the sugar and substituting the butter (some).   I also used whole wheat flour which I am really starting to enjoy.   Give these a go, they are pretty tasty and you can feel good about it.

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup whipped honey

1/2 stick butter (I used 50/50 Smart Balance butter)

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup reduced fat sour cream

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla

Mix-ins - I had a few bananas-gone-bad, so I diced them up small and threw 'em in with some toasted walnuts.  This mix would be great with lots of fruit variations diced and folded in with almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.  One thing to keep in mind, this mix isn't super sweet so if you like the sugary goodness, try dusting powdered sugar on top of warm muffins or add a drizzle of honey.  Oooh, or a sugar glaze made from powdered sugar and lemon juice.  Yum!

Spoon into a muffin pan, 2/3's full in each cup and bake at 325 for about 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Anyone tried using the cookie dough scoop from Crate & Barrel for batter?  Easy and clean!

Now go! And bake something healthy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ground Chicken and Basil Burgers

Remember how I told you that I am into the ground chicken these days?  Well, last night I made one of the best burgers I've had in a while thanks to the chickens chasing the cows right out of the barn.  For the health kick that I am on, I chose to go with an open face burger on one slice of multi-grain, whole wheat bread.  The burger was so moist and flavorful, the bread was hardly missed.  Here's how it all came together...


1 lb Perdue Ground Chicken

2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley

lots of fresh-cut basil leaves

sea salt

coarse ground black pepper

lemon zest of 1 lemon

2 tbsp Oikos non-fat Greek Yogurt

That's it!  It all goes in the bowl, mash together with your greatest kitchen tools - clean hands, quarter the meet (or half depending on your hunger pangs) and form into patties.  Don't forget they will shrink a little on the grill so make sure to make them flatter and rounder than your bread bun.  It also helps the burger to cook evenly and not puff into a muffin top when you put an indentation into the center of the patty.  Grill away!  Ours went onto a grill around 325 degrees for about 5 minutes on each side.

I served this delectable delight on a grilled slice of mutli-grain, whole wheat bread with romaine lettuce and a few slices of roma tomato.  On the side and for more protein and fiber, I also grilled up some chick peas.  This one's easy to and comes together in 5 minutes flat:

In a saute pan on the grill add EVOO, at least one clove minced garlic, 1 can drained chick peas, juice of half of a lemon, 1 chopped roma tomato and at the very end finish with about 5 to 6 basil leaves.  A fancy chiffonade cut to get the flavor going in the basil never hurt anyone.  Salt and pepper to taste and time to eat!

Hope you enjoy these two recipes this summer.  Now that June is almost here, my herb garden is getting full usage and basil is one of the star performers.  With easy recipes like these, I am sending good thoughts to the universe for a bountiful harvest throughout the summer...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Homemade Ravioli…What what??

I having been itching to make homemade pasta for some time now but kept putting it off because I thought it would be too complicated.  Um, hello?  Can you say easy and scrumptious?  Fuhgettaboudit.

Tonight's dinner:  whole wheat ravioli stuffed with a blend of italian sausage, roasted asparagus and cheeses and topped with homemade marinara.

Pasta first:

In a food processor, blend 2 cups whole wheat flour and 2 cups white flour.  In a separate bowl, blend 6 eggs and 3 tbsp olive oil.  With the processor on, slowly pour in the egg mixture and process until a ball is formed.   Add a little bit of room temperature water if needed.  Once the dough ball is formed, transfer to a greased bowl and cover with a clean dishtowel.  Let rest for 30-60 minutes.

While the pasta dough is doin' its thing, get your filling going - my filling tonight was a mild italian sausage with cheese and roasted asparagus.  I started by sauteing one minced shallot in a little bit of olive oil and then added the italian sausage to brown (be sure not to overcook since it will be boiled with the pasta). I drained the sausage on a paper towel and then transferred to a mixing bowl, added about 5 ounces of marscapone cheese and 3 ounces shredded parmesan. I had leftover roasted asparagus so I chopped the stalks and added that in also.

Let the fun begin! To make the dough manageable, cut into quarters.  Dust your countertop with flour, grab your rolling-pin and have at it.  As Ina says, "Always keep the dough moving on your board."  I found out the hard way when I tried to move my first batch of cut ravioli and it wouldn't budge off of my counter.  Roll the dough out pretty thin but still thick enough to handle a stuffing.  To stuff the pasta, mound spoonfuls of the mixture onto the dough a few inches apart.  You can either then fold the dough over to seal or add a 2nd rolled out pasta sheet over the first.  Once covered, push down around each mound to remove as much air as possible.  I used a Pampered Chef sandwich cutter/sealer to make large ravioli but you can always cut each piece out and then use a fork to seal the edges.

Once you have formed your pasta, let it rest for about 10 minutes.  Bring water to a boil, salt it up and drop a few in at a time.  They only need about 4-6 minutes to cook depending on how thick you rolled out the dough.  The ravioli will start to float to the top when they are about ready.

Tonight's ravioli was topped with homemade marinara which is also as easy as 1-2-3:

1 diced shallot

2 cloves garlic minced

1 can San Marzano tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato paste

fresh herbs - thyme, oregano, parsley, basil

1 large bay leaf

red pepper flakes

s & p

Start by sweating out the onion and garlic in a sauce pan with a little extra virgin olive oil and over medium heat.  Add the can tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped herbs, red pepper flakes and season with s & p.  I use my Cuisinart hand blender to mash the tomatoes and blend everything right in the sauce pan.  Lower the heat and let the sauce simmer for at least 30 minutes with the bay leaf.  That's it!

The whole wheat pasta is very hardy with a slightly nutty flavor.  I reserved the other half of our dough to try a stuffing of sautéed mushrooms or roasted butternut squash...I think I'll be dreaming of stuffed pillows of pasta tonight!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What to do with that dijon mustard clinging to the jar…

Don't toss the jar or rinse the mustard down the drain.  Add in olive oil, red wine vinegar, a few drops of red wine and salt and pepper to flavor.  Fresh herbs from the garden?  Throw 'em in! Give it a shake and you've got fresh mustard vinaigrette for a salad or sandwich dressing. Doesn't it feel good to get every last penny's worth?!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Stuffed Chicken Breast with Sage Butter Sauce

New York City is definitely the place to be for delicious food and trying new things.  We got back a few hours ago from a trip to celebrate our 1 year anniversary and I can't stop thinking about all the tastes of NYC.  Hoping to extend the celebration for just a little longer, I thought I would try my hand at a special dinner.  Here's what I came up with:

Stuffed Chicken Breast with Sage Butter Sauce and Pomme Frites

1 large chicken breast halved lengthwise

1/2 cup raw broccoli florets

1 shallot

1/4 cup chopped mushrooms

1/4 cup marscapone cheese

2 tbsp shredded mozzarella

olive oil

2 tbsp butter

6 sage leaves

chicken broth

1 tbsp dijon mustard

s & p

1 baking potato

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Slice potato in half, lengthwise, then slice each half into 4-5 strips.  Coat in olive oil, s & p and put into oven for about 20-25 minutes, flipping once.

Bring salted water to boil to blanch broccoli (boil for about a minute, then soak in ice bath to stop cooking).  In a separate sauce pan, saute shallots and mushrooms in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, butter and season with s & p.  Drain the broccoli and transfer to a mixing bowl.  Add shallots and mushrooms and mix in marscapone and mozzarella cheese.  This will be your stuffing for the chicken.

Pound both pieces of chicken flat, salt and pepper both sides.  Next spoon the mixture over one entire side of both pieces of chicken.  Roll the chicken from top to bottom and secure with toothpicks.  

Brown the chicken breasts in a little EVOO and 1 tbsp of butter on the stove top in a saute pan that can be transferred to the oven.  Start with the seam side up and brown for about 3 minutes on each side or until a good caramel color develops.  Once both sides have browned,  transfer the entire pan to the oven for approximately 10 minutes.

Sage Butter Sauce

Once you pull the pan out of the oven, transfer the chicken breasts to the serving plates.  I plated ours over arugula for an extra bite.  On low heat on the stove top, add 1 tbsp butter to the saute pan used for to cook the chicken breast.  Add chicken broth (about 1/4 cup) to sauce and use a whisk to work all of the brown bits off of the bottom.  Next whisk in a tbsp of dijon mustard and finish with the chopped sage.  Let the sauce simmer a bit and s & p to taste.

Spoon the sauce over the chicken, plate the fries and you are done! Don't forget to remove the toothpicks before serving...sauteed splinters tend to be a little chewy. ;)