Sunday, July 31, 2011

What Do You Do When....

Hey everyone! It's been a busy couple of days for me. In a little over a week I will be on my way over to Fayetteville to move into my dorm. It's crazy to think that I will be on my own!

In preparation, I got my hair cut and colored and man is it short! I can't wait to post a picture once I actually get around to taking one :P

I thought I'd dedicate this post to creative ways to use up that "What should I do with this?" food item. I'm always one of those people that will go out of their way to find some way to use up the odds and ends in the pantry and fridge. I'm definitely not the one to open a can of coconut milk and then throw away the remainder I don't end up using. Here are just a few delicious examples of food items I've been trying to use up lately.

For example, what do you do when you have extra lemon cream cheese frosting from the lemon cake you made a while ago? Well, I froze some of it. Cream cheese frosting is a great candidate for freezing because it thaws perfectly. Just leave it in the fridge overnight and whip it up a bit right before frosting.

But before I put the leftovers in the fridge, I had the idea to make up another batch of Kayla's carrot muffins 'cept this time I would call them "cupcakes" :P They're whole grain and low fat yet can totally pass for a decadent cupcake. Love it!
I made a double batch (which originally makes 4 big muffins) and got 12 mini muffins and 9 regular sized muffins! Err...cupcakes...
Instead of raisins, I used half crystallized ginger (chopped fine) and half chopped dates. Loved that combo! The dates are sooo gooey and the ginger adds a nice kick to each bite :D
In addition to the frosting, I also topped each cupcake with toasted walnuts and shredded coconut. :D

I made a few in silicone cups and it made them look like they had cute little liners on them; almost too cute to eat!
You saw that coming, right? :D

Anyway, these "cupcakes" were just as delicious as they were the first time I made them but even more so. The ginger/date combo is a winner and the not-so-sweet lemony cream cheese frosting worked out perfectly!

But, I had another pressing issue in the refrigerator. My mom had bought a big bag of juicy, ripe peaches at the farmers market and then days later my dad brought home a bag of ripe peaches back from a "free for all" box of peaches at work. Hmmm. 

Of course I grilled a few, that's a given. But I also had to think of something else. First I thought jalapeno peach jelly or maybe some sort of cobbler. Then my mind traveled to coffee cake and I remember that the walnut tourlouche cake I made a few months ago (that everyone loved) had a peach variation. Perfect!

And so he was born...
Think simple spice cake, saturated with peach juices and maple syrup. An upside down cake of the peach variety, if you will. 
Last time I made the original version, I made it for dessert. This time I wanted to "healthify" it to make it breakfast worthy. Since it was already low fat, this only meant that I switched out the all purpose flour to whole wheat pastry flour. The cake is pretty sweet, so I only added half as much maple syrup to the topping. The juices from the ripe peaches (kept the peel on for fiber & nutrients!) make up for the lost moisture.
Besides the addition of sliced peaches, the amount of walnuts in the topping are significantly reduced from 1 1/4 cups to 1/2 cup. 

I had my slice with a dollop of Greek yogurt and mmm mm MMM!
The cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in the cake combined with the walnuts, maple syrup, and sweet peaches make for a delicious combination. It reminded me of Christmas morning (even though, we have never had anything like this on Christmas morning so I have no idea why.)

I gotta say, I think it's better than the original walnut tourlouche! And man, this cake tastes and looks decadent but its really quite healthy! It has healthy fats from the walnuts, gets some of its sweetness from natural sugars, completely whole grain, and gets a protein punch from the Greek yogurt and the nuts. This guy is golden!  Here's the link for the recipe (the peach variation is written to the side). Anything's better with peaches, right?

Okay, so I got peaches covered, but what do you do when you make horribly dry brownies that don't even taste good drowned in ice cream?!

I tried making a brownie recipe a few days ago, but wanted to make it just a bit more low fat. A lot of the time, I have success with making things lower in fat but I should learn that with brownies, I should just keep them as they are.

I could never throw them away but most definitely did not want to eat them. The flavor was good but they were SO dense and dry!

What did I do? Turn them into brownie truffles!
 I crumbled the leftover brownies and added just enough plain Greek yogurt so that they would come together into a ball (basically same process as if you were making cake balls). I added yogurt instead of frosting because, this way, they wouldn't get too sweet. I decided to have some fun and rolled a few in cocoa powder, others in cocoa nibs, and the rest I dipped in a mixture of dark chocolate and peanut butter.
The balls with crushed pretzel M&M's on top have a pretzel M&M stuffed inside!
These were fudgy, perfectly sweet, and honestly tasted like a truffle with a little extra kick of flavor. Plus, these are probably much lower in fat than the tradition truffle which is typically made with just heavy cream and chocolate. I would mess up brownies just to make these again!
Alright, so the M&M looks a bit gross in this picture but trust me, the sweet and salty combo with the contrast of smooth chocolate and crunchy pretzel was amazing. 

Want the recipe? Simply take this (most likely) delicious recipe for brownies by The Wannabe Chef and sub 2 tablespoons of applesauce for two tablespoons of the oil. Use 1/2 whole wheat flour and add 1/2 teaspoon of instant coffee granules and you're one your way to the perfect candidate for these brownie truffles! Bake time will be 6 minutes less than the original brownies. (AKA: do NOT use these modifications of you want delicious brownies because you'll be left with dry, almost inedible ones that only have good flavor)

All jokes aside, these really were amazing. You can have fun with what you coat them with like use white chocolate or even roll them in crushed toffee.  The one thing I would change next time is add a sprinkle of kosher salt to the tops because the sweet/salty combo I got from the ones with the pretzel M&M's on them was just too good. I might even mix some crushed pretzels into the truffle mixture!

Have you ever thrown away a failure? I always find something to do with it! I hate to waste:P

<3 Carlyn

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Four Burger Recipes that are Perfect for Summer!

When I think of summer meals I think of the grill. I've grilled in the dead of winter and it's just not as fun! My family are really big burger people; so when summer rolls around you'll see LOTS of burgers on the menu.

I, of course, love to experiment with new recipes. Some burgers are flops but, for the most part, they turn out to be absolutely delicious! I can't believe I've kept from the world four AMAZING burger recipes that I've tried recently that have blown me and my family out of the water. Whether you prefer a burger made with beef, turkey, or chicken I've got a recipe to please them all :D

Unfortunately, I haven't come across a vegetarian burger that is blog worthy. I've tried many, but they all don't work out for some reason or another. I want to see a veggie burger recipe that isn't all beans or breadcrumbs. I want a veggie burger that is the most part actual veggies like carrot or zucchini (and I've tried the portabello mushroom thing; did not work, way too juicy!). Is that too much to ask?!

So anyway, sorry vegetarians. I only have meat filled burgers on the menu today, but for all the meat eaters out there, you're going to love these! :P

First up, I have to share a recipe for the classic beef burger. You know, an all beef patty with all the fixins?
I found the recipe in my Health magazine about half a year ago and haven't used any other recipe since (when I do beef burgers which I admit, is pretty rare). It's originally for sliders (and for a large amount of meat) but it works just as well as normal burgers. I, of course, use whole wheat buns and super lean ground beef. People say that all the flavor is in the fat, but these burgers are flavor bombs so who needs it all?

The Classic Beef Burger
adapted from Health
1 pound lean ground beef
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
a couple dashes of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
4 slices sharp cheddar cheese (or cheese or choice)
4 whole wheat hamburger buns

Mix all ingredients (except cheese and buns) and divide evenly into 4 patties. Grill on medium high for about 5 minutes, flip, add one cheese slice onto each burger and cook for another 5 minutes or until burgers are cooked through.

Obviously the traditional toppings are killer on these burgers. Tomato, lettuce, mustard, ketchup, and dill pickles if you have them. Some special toppings that I love are grilled onions (just grill them along with the burgers) and turkey bacon. It's always fun to have a bunch of toppings out for everybody to pick and choose which ones and how much they want.
Here's my burger. With the normal fix-ins and a slice of turkey bacon. Grilled squash and grilled peaches with Greek yogurt on the side. A summer meal indeed! I think what sets the burger recipe apart from all the others for me is that wonderful smoky paprika taste and I love how it uses Worcestershire sauce!

Now I know there's people out there that prefer to not eat red meat. Chicken to the rescue! Enter Barbeque Chicken Burgers. These ones have a slightly less traditional flavoring, but not so crazy that kids would be scared away. I think they would be perfect for a cookout!
This recipe comes from How Sweet It Is and has barbeque sauce right in with the burgers along with many of the same seasonings that are in the above recipe. The barbeque sauce keeps these burgers moist and absolutely flavorful!

I didn't change a thing from her recipe, so go ahead and check it out here. I've made these twice and both times the burgers have fell through the grates a bit too much and I think that's because of the addition of too much liquid. My advice to you is to cook these burgers stove-top, grill plate, or via broiler method unless you want a good quarter of your burger inside your grill!

Serve with sweet potato fries and top with caramelized onions, lettuce, cheddar cheese, and more barbeque sauce for a delicious delicious treat.
She may be ugly but dang, she tasted good!

I'm a huge fan of chicken burgers, so I actually have two recipes I want to share. This next one is a Chicken Parmesan Burger! You know, that time-consuming dish known to all as chicken parmesan? Well this one takes no time at all and is in burger form! 
I've actually seen this recipe idea pop up on many blogs, but the one I used is from Ella Says Opa. You combine ground chicken with parmesan (of course!) and breadcrumbs (I went with Italian seasoned whole wheat) with other Italian flavors like parsley. The fun part is that you then broil the burgers with a little tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese on top to complete the "Chicken Parmesan" vibe. I'm sure it could be grilled as well!
This burger doesn't work with traditional toppings like mustard and pickles, but is great with sauteed mushrooms. We had a Caesar salad on the side so I decided to try a bite with some of the salad on the burger and that ended up also being a great topping! The tomato sauce acts as the "ketchup" so it's kind of a fun take on the classic. :D

SO delicious, and so easy! It really takes no time at all to prepare. You can find the recipe here. (And I just realized both of my pictures are very similar in composition to the two pictures on Elly's funny!)

The last burger recipe I have to share is for Greek Turkey Burgers! When it comes to choosing chicken or turkey for burgers, I usually gravitate towards chicken because it has a less assertive flavor and tends to be more juicy. This recipe, however is definitely one of the best turkey burger recipes I've found because the burgers are so juicy and flavorful!
This burger is packed with feta cheese and has other Greek ingredients such as red onion, oregano, and lemon zest. I love how light and fresh these are! Comparing this picture to the first picture of the beef burger with cheese and turkey bacon, this one seems to be much more refreshing. Of course, I'm not saying anything about my beloved beef burger. Sometimes you want cheesy, beefy goodness!

Anyway, I got this recipe from Southern Living via My Recipes but changed it up a bit, so here it goes-

Greek Turkey Burgers
adapted from My Recipes
One (19.2 or 20 oz.) package of lean ground turkey (I used 19.2 oz. of 93/7)
3.5 ounces crumbled feta (Reduced fat worked for me, but do not use non fat)
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh if you have it)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest*

4 whole wheat hamburger buns, toasted
Store bought tzatziki sauce (or homemade)
Lettuce, red onion, tomato, black olives, and thinly sliced cucumber for serving

1. Combine the first 8 ingredients. Shape mixture into 4 (1/2-inch-thick) patties or 5 smaller patties.
2. Heat an outdoor grill. Brush with olive oil and add patties; cook 5 minutes on each side or until done.

*I only had a lemon that had already been zested so I didn't add zest to the burgers. I did, however, squeeze a squirt of lemon onto my burger before eating and it worked out great.

 This recipe makes large burgers with 4.8 ounces of meat plus tons of feta cheese in each one. It was definitely satisfying! The feta really adds a great moistness to each burger and gives it that little salty, tangy bite. Love it!!
I used store bought tzatziki, but if you want to make your own the original recipe on My Recipes has a recipe for one. Since I didn't make my own tzatziki sauce, the only prep required for this meal was slicing up all the toppings while the burgers where grilling! Gosh...looking at these pictures makes me want to make these burgers again; like ASAP. :D

So we've traveled to Greece, Italy, and America for some fabulous burgers that are bound to be a hit with anyone. No one wants to be in a hot kitchen for too long on a summer day and these burger recipes are fast (how many times have I mentioned that in this post?) and for the most part can be prepared outdoors. Perfect!

Which recipe sounds the most delicious to you?
And do any of y'all have a really good vegetarian burger recipe? I would love to try one out again!

Have a great weekend!
<3 Carlyn

Monday, July 18, 2011

Lemon Raspberry Cake With Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Hey guys, happy Monday! :D

My sister’s birthday was 2 days ago and she just turned 21! For dinner, she requested steak, mashed sweet potatoes, fried okra, and fresh tomatoes to be prepared by my mom. And since she was turning the big 2-1, she requested that my dad make her a glass of his famous margaritas :P
Awesome margarita glasses, right?

And here's the spread. My mom bought possibly the hugest steaks possible and even though she gave me the smallest one I still had to cut it nearly in half!
My place is where the green cup is; huge right?!

The tomatoes and okra where from the farmers market that my sister and my mom bought earlier that day. My dad "fried" the okra by mixing the sliced okra with one beaten egg and enough corn meal to coat. He then cooked them in a pan sprayed with olive oil; stirring occasionally, until everything was cooked and crisped up. So good with ketchup!

I made a simple chimichurri sauce (minced parsley, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, salt , pepper) to go with the steaks.

It was a beautiful spread-
Of course, my sister put me in charge of the dessert (and if she didn't, I would probably get upset because making cakes are possibly one of my favorite things to do!). She didn't request anything specific so I just went on what I thought she would like. She's a HUGE fruit and lemon fan (just like me!) so I knew I couldn't go wrong with a cake that accenstuated both of those flavors.

Enter Lemon Cake with Raspberry and Lemon Curd Filling with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting!
Man, that's a mouthfull!

I dreamt up this cake idea while I was at the gym and knew it would be perfect. I then found a lemon cake recipe that I could use, a frosting recipe to base mine off of, and then used my own recipe for the lemon curd and raspberry fillings.

My sister, posing with my cake and the flowers my dad got her:
 Excited to dig in? I think yes (:
And finally, I was able to see the fruits of my labor after I took out the first slice of cake.
Everyone ooed and awed. Hello, layers!
It's really only two layers of cake, but I cut them both in half to make 4 layers. Fancy!

After taking pictures, I decided the best plan of attack for eating this thing would be to turn it in on its side since it was so tall.
Twas a good idea :D

This cake was so perfect for a hot summer day. Very refreshing and not heavy. The lemony cake layers are light in texture because the recipe requires you to whip the egg whites (and nix the yolks) before folding them into the batter. The raspberry layers add a hint of fruity sweetness to each bite while the lemon curd layer adds that extra sour lemony zing. Then, to finish it off there's that wonderfully creamy, dense frosting that is just barely sweet and has just a hint of lemon flavor that ties everything together. It was perfect!

With my modifications, this cake is lower in fat than most and isn't cloyingly sweet although you'd think it would be with all of those layers. There's a lot of steps but in the end you get a very beautiful cake, so I think it's worth it! You can also modify it using any berry you want. This would be fabulous with strawberry jam or blueberry jam as well!

Lemon Cake with Raspberry Filling and Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Cake portion adapted from this recipe; everything else my own.
Serves 8
For the cake:
9-1/4 oz. (2-1/3 cups) cake flour; more for the pans
2-3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbs. lightly packed finely grated lemon zest
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, completely softened at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce, room temperature
1 cup milk, at room temperature (low-fat is fine)
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

For the filling:
1/3 cup homemade lemon curd, chilled (see below)
2/3 cup low sugar or no sugar added raspberry jam

For the frosting:
9 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
6 tablespoons butter
1 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
dash of salt
1 tablespoon homemade lemon curd (see below)

Make the cake:
Position a rack in the middle of the oven; heat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter and flour two 8 x 2-inch round cake pans. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. Pulse 1/4 cup of the sugar with the zest in a food processor until well combined.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and lemon sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 1-1/2 minutes). Add the remaining 1-1/4 cups sugar and applesauce and beat until smooth (about 1-1/2 minutes). Beat in a quarter of the milk just until blended. On low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk in three batches, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula; beat just until blended.

In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer (with clean beaters or the whip attachment) on medium speed just until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium high, and beat just until the whites form stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted. Add a quarter of the whites to the batter and gently fold them in with a whisk or a rubber spatula; continue to gently fold in the whites, a quarter at a time, being careful not to deflate the mixture.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Smooth the tops with the spatula. Bake until a pick inserted in the centers comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a table knife around the inside of the pans and carefully invert each cake out onto the rack. Flip them right side up and let cool completely.

With the palm of one hand pressed on top of a cake layer, cut each in half horizontally, using a long serrated knife. Put one of the four cake layers on a serving plate, cut side up. With an offset spatula or a table knife, spread a heaping 1/3 cup raspberry jam on top of the cake layer. Lay another cake layer on top, spread it with 1/3 cup lemon curd (you will not use all of the homemade lemon curd, but will use most of it), and repeat with the third cake layer, using another heaping 1/3 cup raspberry jam. Top with the fourth cake layer.

Make the frosting:
In an electric mixer beat the cream cheese and butter on high until smooth. Then add confectioners' sugar. Continue to beat on high until the lumps have all dissolve. Finally, beat in vanilla extract, lemon curd, a dash of salt, and lemon juice on low speed until the frosting is completely mixed. (You can make the frosting a couple of hours ahead and store it in the fridge.)

Frost the cake:
Up to a few hours before serving, spread a thin layer of frosting on the cake, filling in any gaps as you go. Chill until the frosting firms a bit, about 1/2 hour. (This "crumb coat" will keep crumbs from catching on your spatula and marring the finished cake.)

Spread the remaining frosting decoratively over the top and sides of the cake. Scatter with bits of lemon zest or garnish with fresh raspberries.  

Low-Fat Lemon Curd Recipe
Adapted from Baking Bites
1/3 cup strained fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 egg, room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, combine sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Stir until sugar is dissolved completely.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat egg. Whisking constantly (or with an electric mixer on low), very slowly stream the hot lemon-sugar syrup into the egg. Beat for 2 minutes (only 1 if you’re using a mixer), then transfer back into the saucepan by pouring the mixture through a sieve.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the curd has thickened but is still a bit runnier than you want it to be (because it will firm up in the fridge). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Transfer to a small airtight container and store in the fridge. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Feel free to use store bought lemon curd, but this recipe is much healthier and oh so sour! (in a good way)

It also helps if you do a few things in advance. You can make the lemon curd days in advance and make the frosting while the cakes are cooling. After that, its just cut and assemble! Also one more note- I used all organic lemons in this cake and for the curd because there's a lot of zest going into this thing. I highly recommend going the extra step and using organic lemons; they're remarkably cheap when you buy them in 2 pound bags! I also used organic raspberries that I got at Costco for $3.99 for a big 12 ounces container. Score!

And obviously, the cake didn't even stand a chance in our household (:
Didn't even last 24 hours...

And what does one do with leftover organic lemons, raspberries, and egg yolks? Make raspberry lemon bars! I've made the blueberry lemon bar version two times since I first made them at the end of June and have the raspberry version chilling in the fridge right now for dessert tonight. Can't wait!
<3 Carlyn

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Three Recipes You Need to Make NOW!

I was at Sprouts the other day and along with getting my essential-to-life dark chocolate honey comb, I got a new-to-me ingredient. Oh, and I also got milk chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels that were on clearance for $3.99 a pound! OH MY GOD SO GOOD! The chocolate layer is like over a centimeter thick!! Think Reeses PB cups but with the addition of salty, crunchy pretzel.

I digress. Anyway, I got an ingredient that I have seen all over the blog-world but have yet to try out myself. I got nutritional yeast! I had the impression that nutritional yeast was some super expensive item that I would never find, but lo-and-behold there was a box of the stuff that probably contains 2 or 3 cups for only a bit over 2 dollars!
Nutritional Yeast. source
It's basically deactivated yeast that is packed with amino acids, vitamin B12, fiber, and protein. Each two tablespoon serving is 50 calories and has 4 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein, and has 130% of your daily requirement for vitamin B12! Holy health-bomb!

After an apprehensive taste test, I was impressed. It tasted just like how people have described it, and definitely had a cheesy, slightly salty taste to it.

So what did I make? "Cheese" sauce, of course!
I made a half batch of the cheese sauce recipe from No Meat Athlete to go along with dinner and I loved it. It did get rather thick on me , though, so remember not to cook it too long! My parents were impartial/didn't like it for some reason... I honestly don't know why. I can't wait to use this sauce in an egg sandwich, in a bean burrito, on enchiladas, or with a veggie burger! So many possibilities :D

I'm excited about trying out nutritional yeast in other applications as well...sprinkled on veggies, mixed into popcorn, on top of pasta, etc.  
Any other ideas or great recipes y'all have? I also want to try it in baking! ("cheesy" biscuits, anyone?)

Second thing you must make NOW is bean blondies. If you've been living under a rock for the past, oh, couple months then you may have not heard of Katie's garbanzo bean blondies. They have taken the blog world by storm and are pretty much magical, to say the least. I already made her cookie pie ,which was inspired by the blondies, so I knew I had to try out the original, and it's about time!
I left the kitchen after I put them in the oven and when I returned the timer had gone off but I didn't hear it! I had no idea how long I over baked them, but was hoping I didn't have a dry brick on my hands....

Luckily, not the case!
That's the good thing about bean based desserts...They never seem to overbake or dry out, no matter how hard you try (: 
Yeah, I went a little crazy with the pictures; wouldn't you?
Topped with a little frozen yogurt ice cream, naturally.
Had a second piece, naturally. (:

Now after having both the cookie pie and the blondies, I can't decide which one I like better. Both fudgy, but the cookie pie is more cookie dough-esque while the blondies are more dense and fudgy with an underlying peanut butter flavor. I'm leaning slightly more towards the cookie pie (because I lurve cookie dough) but honestly both are delicious and nutritious! Can't beat that!

Third recipe that you need to make NOW? Carrot Raisin Muffins by Kayla!
Little Miss Healthify did a fabulous job healthifying these muffins to utter amazingness. 100% whole grain, no sugar (sweetened with agave), and no added fat!

Now that sounds all good in theory but the real test is how great the taste and texture is (because a healthy muffin is no fun when it tastes like cardboard, right?) and oh my these hit the nail right on the head!

When checking her recipe, I realized I only had 2 eggs while hers calls for 3. Then, I realized that her recipe perfectly divides by 3! No crazy fractions anywhere, and I love myself a good small batch of anything.

So, I made four. Four huge, delicious muffins.
When I think of a carrot muffin, I think of a dense muffins that may taste delicious but is way too gummy and dense. Even with the addition of oat flour, these muffins were honestly like cupcakes! How did you do it, Kayla?!

And they rose like a dream!
And that amazing orange hue? These muffins do NOT skimp on the carrot. I shredded them fine since it was a muffin and therefore bakes in less time than a cake or loaf would. This gives the carrot the opportunity to soften.

And I wasn't joking about the size...
Oh, and I know you're dying to see the inside, so here you go-
Topped with cream cheese, oh yes.

As you can see, I'm quite enthused by these muffins, and you need to make them NOW. Make a small batch just for you and a friend for breakfast, or triple the batch and whip up a cream cheese frosting and you got cupcakes for a crowd. How perfect!

I did a few things differently (like soaking the raisins first!) so I'll repost the recipe below.

Oatmeal Whole Wheat Carrot Raisin Muffins
Adapted from Little Miss Healthify
Makes 4 large Muffins or 5 normal sized muffins

1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup oat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
a couple dashes of salt
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or alternative)
1/4 cup agave syrup
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8-1/4 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
1/3 cup raisins (or other dried fruit, or nuts)
2/3 cup finely shredded carrots

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray 4 or 5 muffin cups with non-stick spray ( I don't advise using paper cups).

Put raisins in a measuring cup and cover with water, microwave for 45 seconds, let stand.

Whisk together the egg, milk, the extracts, and agave in a small bowl. In another mixing bowl combine ground oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the dry ingredients gradually to the wet, stirring gently, careful not to over mix.

Drain the raisins and rinse with clean water. Lay on a towel and lightly pat them dry. Fold shredded carrot and the raisins into the batter, only until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among cups (if making 4, the cups will be completely full) and bake for 22-26 minutes. Check with a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Soaking the raisins really help since I'm not a huge raisin lover. They plump up and loose their bitter coating. Other alternatives would be to used chopped dates, craisins, or even chopped crystallized ginger! Feel free to add up to 1/4 cup chopped toasted nuts such as pecans or walnuts.

These muffins are so light and absolutely lovely. They don't sit in your stomach like a brick like some other whole grain muffins. I let my parents have the other two muffins I didn't eat and they both loved them! Thanks Kayla; what a great recipe!

So there you have it, three recipes you NEED to make. Yes, it IS a necessity. :D

<3 Carlyn

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Two Fabulous Vegetarian Meals - Pizza & Tacos!

I know there’s a lot of people out there that can’t imagine a meal without meat. Luckily, I have two recipes that would blow any meat-less non believers away. I also know I have a lot of readers who love vegetarian meals like me, or are vegetarian, that would love these recipes.

I’m making another one of my delicious homemade pizzas tonight and it got me thinking about the wonderful vegetarian, yet meat-like, pizza I made a while back. This pizza uses a spiced shredded zucchini mixture to imitate Italian sausage.  The other ingredients are quite simple, like a tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, and fresh basil, so the “sqausage” (as it was called) gets to really stand out.
 I found the recipe looking through the monthly Sprouts magazine they give out in store, but I found the recipe again online on this site for a magazine called Delicious Living. Regardless of who’s recipe it is, it’s delicious!

The squasage mixture takes some time to prepare, since you have to let it drain for a couple of hours, but it’s worth it. The final product is a zucchini mixture that is high on flavor and remarkably dry instead of soggy and unpalatable. The recipe makes double the amount of zucchini mixture as you need for some silly reason so I’ll half it below.

Also, I used jarred tomato sauce instead of the home made one provided in the recipe.  I’m sure it tastes great, but I wanted to save time and already had a jar open! If you want the recipe for the tomato sauce, click this link.

Tomato, Mozzarella, and Zucchini Pizza
2 packed cups grated zucchini
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon fennel seed
½ teaspoon coriander seed (I used ground coriander and it worked out fine)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika

Whole wheat pizza dough, rolled into one 9-inch crust
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
¾ cup tomato sauce, or as much as needed to cover the pizza dough
About ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh parsley or basil, for garnish

1. Combine all “Squasage” ingredients in a large, nonreactive bowl. Toss to combine. Marinate 2 hours at room temperature, tossing ingredients every 20 minutes or so. After 2 hours, squeeze zucchini and discard water. Taste and adjust seasoning. (Makes about ¾-1 cup.)

2. Place a pizza stone in your oven and preheat to 475 degrees 30 minutes prior to baking.

3. Top pizza crust with tomato sauce and then top with sliced mozzarella and zucchini mixture. Grate a couple tablespoons of parmesan over pizza.

4. Transfer to oven and bake for 10 minutes. (If you don’t have a pizza stone it may take longer, just keep an eye on it.) Once done, sprinkle with another tablespoon of parmesan and garnish with parsley or basil.
  Since the zucchini mixture drains for quite some time, you will need to add more seasonings (since some of it drains out with the water). I already upped the seasonings from the original recipe, but I still advise that you taste and add more salt, parika, pepper, etc. The fennel seed really hits home the "sausage" flavor so don't skimp on it!
This pizza is probably my second favorite pizza EVER. First would go to the tomato basil pizza I made recently. But honestly, this one is so good!  

Vegetarians you will love this! I'd even encourage vegans to try this out with some vegan "cheese". Nothing beats fresh mozzarella, but it will still be killer!
Yummmmmmm. :D

We take a turn from Italy and travel to Mexico for this next vegetarian delight. Poblano Mushroom Tacos!
I followed the recipe from Epicurious exactly, except for that I used shredded monteray jack cheese and used much less oil.

This recipe took no time to make and was so easy! Basically just chop, saute, and fill the tacos. I doubled it and it was just enough for 3 people FYI.

Served with some traditional taco toppings, like shredded lettuce, tomato, "sour cream" (greek yogurt), cilantro, and salsa. The recipe suggested to add a little feta cheese to the tacos and boy was that a delicious addition!
I made the mistake of putting on the salsa before tasting the taco. Turns out poblano peppers are much hotter than I thought! I made these yesterday and my fingers are still burning from cutting the poblano peppers; I had no idea!
Anyway, these were beyond yummy. They're really "street food"-esque and felt a little fancier than the average taco I usually make.

The recipe calls for folding the tacos, after you add the cheese, and cooking them on the skillet so they get a little crisp and browned on the outside. It almost reminded me of making quesadillas and I'm sure you could transform this recipe into quesadillas using some whole wheat tortillas. 

These babies were SO full of flavor, even though they have a seemingly simple ingredient list. The only spice called for is cumin and that's all these tacos need. My parents really loved them, too. And trust me, no one missed the meat.

These are two great summer meals that are refreshing and satisfying at the same time and are honestly two of my favorite meals. Give them a try! (:

I hope everyone had a GREAT weekend! 
<3 Carlyn