Sunday, January 30, 2011

So you've seen...

Carrot cake on the blog, but have you seen carrot bread? Well I'll tell you right now that you haven't. I call it carrot bread because instead of carrot cake which got its' rise from chemical agents, this one is an actual bread made with yeast!
I followed a recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, except adapted it for the bread machine (by decreasing the amount of water) and used all whole wheat flour (the original calls for half white). The doughs from HB5 are no-knead doughs that are much wetter than the normal dough. I've tried this same recipe a while ago using HB5's no-knead method and the dough barely rose. So this time I wanted to see if it would fare any better if I made it in the bread machine!
Here's the dough before the oven-
Okay so it didn't rise as much as I hoped (there was a huge amount of dough) but rose much better than last time.
This had all the goodies a normal carrot cake would have: carrots, toasted pecans, coconut, cinnamon, and crystallized ginger (because I'm not really a fan of raisins)
Out of the oven!
Hey! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder...
While the outside didn't look very promising, I had to wait for it to cool before I could take a peak at the inside.
Not too shabby! The dough was too wet, so the bread was pretty moist. It seemed dense, yet light at the same time. Great flavor, though! My parents love this bread.
Sadly you can't taste the coconut (even though I toasted it!) so I think next time I might not add the coconut and add some coconut extract instead. This way, it will lighten the loaf (not as much bulk weighing it down) while still imparted that great coconutty flavor you associate with carrot cake (or bread).
I had a couple slices(toasted) the next morning for breakfast slathered with a hodge podge of toppings.
 Both had cream cheese on them, one had lemon curd and the other had ginger jam. YUM!
I am definitely going to try this bread again with my modifications very soon.

Speaking of quick breads..and coconut, I made Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze a few nights ago when I saw we had some bananas about to kick the bucket and had a hankering to bake something. This is by far my favorite banana bread and have made it many different times in both bread form and muffin form with success every time. The lime glaze is essential to get the full effect of this amazing bread..
This time, I made a half recipe. And though I could have made the batter into muffins, I decided to just go the loaf route and just have a short loaf. It's easier (and less messy) for the glaze this way.
I used this recipe from Cooking Light but changed it up quite a lot.
Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze:
 2  cups  whole wheat pastry flour
3/4  teaspoon  baking soda
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup  granulated sugar (or turbinado sugar, if you have it)
1/4  cup  butter, softened (can also use applesauce, coconut oil, or Brummel and Brown.)
2  large eggs
1 1/2  cups  mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas) mixed with 1 tablespoon lime juice ***
1/4  cup  plain low-fat yogurt or greek yogurt
2  tablespoons  fruit juice (any flavor)
1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
1/2  cup  flaked sweetened coconut (toasted)
Cooking spray 
1  tablespoon  flaked sweetened coconut

1/2  cup  powdered sugar
1 1/2  tablespoons  fresh lime juice

Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk to combine.
Place granulated sugar and butter (or alternative) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, juice,coconut extract, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Stir in 1/2 cup toasted coconut. Spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon coconut. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. 
Combine powdered sugar and juice, stirring with a whisk; drizzle over warm bread. Cool bread completely on wire rack.
 ***Put bananas in microwave safe container and microwave for a minute or two so the bananas get all gooey and sugary. (aka- Katie's melted banana trick) Let cool before combining with the rest of the ingredients.

As I said, the glaze makes this bread y'all! It really adds a lot of sweetness and if you let the bread sit for a day the glaze will kind of melt into the bread making it super moist. If, for some reason you're crazy and don't want to add the glaze, then increase the sugar to compensate.

Oh, and make sure you toast the coconut. I once made this and forgot to toast the coconut and it didn't turn out as well. If you follow these simple modifications you will come out with the most perfect banana bread that will likely become your favorite, guaranteed.
A trip to Costco and we came home with 4, 1 pound 11 ounce containers of ground turkey (along with chocolate covered pomegranates, of course) and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with (one of) them.
Turkey burgers!
The weather was was perfect for grilling and it would be my only chance to grill for a while with all these cold fronts coming through so it was either now or never.

I made these Spicy Chipotle Turkey Burgers from All Recipes. The only changes I made was use more chipotle chiles then called for and half the burgers were topped with colby jack while the other burgers were topped with jalapeno jack cheese (instead of mozzarella). I also made my own buns using the same recipe as this bread. Since that recipe made such a huge loaf, I took some dough out for the buns and used the rest of the dough to bake a sandwich loaf. I made 5 buns by taking 3 ounce balls of dough, flattening them out on a parchment lined baking sheet and let them rise for 30 minutes, then baked them at 350 until they registered 200 degrees.
Here's my burger before being dressed-

I opted for the colby jack because I thought the combination of jalapeno jack cheese plus the chipotles would be a tad spicy.
Look at the cute bun!
We just might be making our own buns from now on :D
Then I loaded on the toppings
It has tomato, ketchup, avocado, lettuce, pickles, vegan non fat mayo, and mustard..phew!
This guy looks like a slider but he was really quite large and delicious :)
As for the burger itself? I loved this recipe! It was oh so flavorful and no one missed the beef at all. The only change I would make is add more chipotles, it had spice but wasn't super spicy. I can't wait till the weather is warm so we can have these again! Plus, we have 3 more boxes of ground turkey in freezer..score!
Here's the rest of the loaf-
A much more manageable loaf! I sliced it up and put it in the freezer for whenever I need some sandwich bread.
Perfect slices! The trick is to let it sit out for a day so it firms up a little. This way you can get much more even slices and the bread doesn't scrunch underneath you as you slice!

And for dessert I tried something new that I have been wanting to try but have been a bit apprehensive about. The Zevia ginger root beer diet soda drink. 
You see, I stay far, far away from artificial sweeteners. I gave up gum this summer and haven't looked back. The last time I drank diet soda (or any soda) was I don't even know when! Even though, yes there is some debate as to if artificial sweeteners are really bad for you or not, I'd rather stick with the real stuff in moderation.

I have done some research on Stevia, however, and it seems like a very natural way to go. I still don't want to use it regularly but I'm willing to give it a try once in a while. With my first sip my impression was "sweet". I never drink sweetened beverages (besides some creamer in my coffee sometimes when I feel like it) and don't drink fruit juice so this soda was way too sweet for me. Once I watered it down with some club soda (carbonated water) I quite enjoyed it. It was like the root beer I remembered drinking as a kid  but with an extra level of spiciness (from the ginger) that really kicked it up a notch. It really had me craving a root beer float! It kind of feels like cheating when something is so sweet and registers in your body as sweet, yet has no caloric impact. I don't want my body getting used to my beverages being much sweeter then usual (which is normally tea, water, or lemon water) so this will definitely be a once in a while treat.
What's your opinion on artificial or zero calorie sweeteners?

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