Monthly Archives: September 2012

Hasty Tasty Pecan Tea Cakes

This recipe idea came from watching Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade. I modified her recipe to make it a bit more healthful. These cakes are good as a dessert, as a breakfast, or anytime you want to enjoy one with a hot cup of tea!

RECIPE

Pecan Tea Cakes

12 Servings

Ingredients:

Muffins:

  • 2 cups Bisquick®
  • ¼ cup egg substitute
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

 

Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 12 pecan halves

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Add paper liners to a 12-cup muffin pan.

In a medium bowl, beat together the syrup, egg substitute, cream, and vanilla, about one minute.

Gradually add the 2 cups Bisquick® and mix about one minute. Don’t over mix. Fold in the chopped pecans.

Scoop 1/12 of the mixture into each cup of the muffin pan.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted tests clean. Remove from oven and cool muffins on a wire rack.

While muffins cool, combine the powdered sugar, spice, milk, and maple syrup to make a glaze. Whisk until thick. If mixture is too tight, thin with additional milk.

Dip muffins into the bowl of glaze to coat the tops. Garnish each muffin with a pecan half. Serve.

Pecan Tea Cake

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Filed under Cake, desserts, Healthful Eating, Recipes

Creative Leftovers

Those who know me, know I’m all about cooking ahead.  I have at least two meals (often three!) in mind when I cook one.  This is a great creative outlet for me, but it also saves money.  Times are as tight as they’ve been in years and years, so read on even if you don’t like to cook.

Leftovers don’t have to be last night’s dinner warmed in the microwave oven, or what I call cuisine deja vu. 😉 My favorite leftover recipes are burritos.  I don’t limit us to Mexican burritos, either.  (The difference between a burrito and a wrap–as I see it–is hot and cold.  A wrap is like a sandwich rolled in a tortilla; a burrito is like a hot casserole rolled in a tortilla.)  One of my favorite recipes is the Hoppin’ John Burrito.  It’s Cajun, and here’s the sequence.

Meal One: I make a Cajun dinner.  I cook lots of brown rice and black-eyed peas, about twice the number of servings I need for this meal, along with some greens, cornbread, and blackened catfish.  If you don’t mind a little spice, season the catfish with lots of Cajun spices.

Meal Two: I make dinner the next day with green beans, steamed kernel corn, grilled chicken breasts, and Hoppin’ John.  After dinner, stir the leftover corn into the Hoppin’ John and refrigerate.

Meal Three:  Two or three days later–you don’t want to wear out the Cajun cuisine’s welcome by having this meal on the heels of the first two–mix the Hoppin’ John and corn with a cup of salsa (or a can of green chilies and diced tomatoes) in a two-quart saucepan.  Add a cup of diced onion.  Bring all ingredients to a simmer over medium-low heat until heated through.  Meanwhile, warm eight whole wheat tortillas in the microwave oven.  Remove Hoppin’ John mixture from heat.   Divide the mixture into eight equal portions.  Spoon one portion into each of eight whole wheat tortillas, add 1 ounce of shredded Monterrey Jack (or any cheese you like) to each,  fold tortilla over, and serve.

I have many variations of the burrito theme, but let’s move on to another cuisine: Italian-American.

Meal One: Make veal Parmesan with breaded veal cutlets covered with your favorite recipe pasta sauce (I usually make my own) and serve over whole wheat spaghetti cooked al dente. Make at least a cup more of the pasta sauce than you’ll need and refrigerate.

Meal Two: Place four whole wheat tortillas on cookie sheets.  Brush on two ounces of the leftover pasta sauce.  Add toppings of your choice, including shredded mozzarella cheese.  Bake in a 400° oven just until cheese melts, approximately ten minutes, depending on the type of pan used.  Voilá!  You have four individual pizzas.

You’ll notice I use whole grains, but that’s my choice. I like the taste of brown rice over white, and whole wheat pasta over semolina, but use whatever you like. Also, don’t forget the more obvious leftover dishes, like stir-fry, stew, and vegetable soup. My husband and I once brought back leftover steak from a restaurant dinner. The next night, I cubed the steak and made fajitas, another dish using the tortilla wraps.

Regardless of who does the “cooking ahead,” use your imagination and develop dishes for leftovers. Your family won’t know, or if they do, they won’t mind!

(originally appeared June 22, 2009, as a post for the Clever Divas)

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Filed under black-eye peas, Burritos, cooking, Healthful Eating, Recipes, salsa, whole wheat

Make Your Own Taco Shells…or Not

We should strive to consume more whole grains in our diet, so I try to choose whole grain products over refined flour products. That’s why I wanted to try those Tortilla bowls. (see previous post)

I wanted to make tacos but with whole wheat taco shells, not the traditional corn taco shells.  As far as I know, whole-wheat taco shells aren’t marketed.  After this experiment, I suspect I know why.

                       

Drape tortillas over the oven rack

 I took whole-wheat tortillas and arranged them in a preheated 400°F oven by draping each one over two of the grids on the baking rack. (See photo)  I baked them for ten minutes, at which time they were crispy and hard.  Success!  I had whole wheat taco shells.

Baked 10 minutes @ 400°

Buoyed with confidence, I proceded to cook my meat filling (ground turkey breast seasoned with chili powder), shred my iceberg lettuce, and dice my tomatoes and sweet onion.  I shredded reduced fat Colby and Monterrey Jack cheese then assembled my tacos as follows: 2-3 ounces ground meat, 1 – 2 ounces cheese, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and onions.  (The Vitamix makes quick work of shredding cheese and chopping onions)

The whole wheat tortillas yielded slightly larger taco shells than the standard shells, so I was generous with my fillings.  My presentation was impressive, and I served them alongside my homemade salsa.

Fill with meat, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cheese

The end result = delicious tacos in crunchy shells . . . crunchy, crumbly shells.  Very messy eating.  But we enjoyed them.  Were they worth the extra effort of baking my own shells?  No way, José!  Next time, I’ll buy already baked corn taco shells.  Or make taco salad.  Or maybe we’ll eat tacos at our local Mexican restaurant.

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Filed under Healthful Eating, Mexican, Recipes, Turkey Recipes, whole wheat

Tortilla Bowls

Tortilla Bowls Kit

This week’s post is more a product review than a recipe. I had seen the “Perfect Tortilla Pan Set” advertised on television and waited to find it available retail to test drive. It’s marketed by Allstar Products Group in New York, but the pans are made in China. Score zero for made-in-USA. The box contained four non-stick bowls for shaping/baking any size tortilla, promising “golden, crispy bowls in 5 minutes.”

I made bowls using corn tortillas first, after which I tried whole wheat tortillas. I’m puzzled by the “5 minutes” claim because cooking time alone was 7 to 10 minutes. Add in preheating the oven to 400° and you’re up to 20 minutes for a crispy bowl.  Directions state to wait 5 minutes before removing the tortilla bowl from its pan, during which time it cools and “shrinks” from the pan’s surface. Speedy this ain’t. But it is simple to use and performs as advertised (except for the “5 minutes” thing).

The corn tortilla, even after baking the maximum time, was chewy. Not crunchy. Not good. I won’t make corn tortilla bowls again. The whole wheat tortilla, which I preheated 10 seconds in the microwave to make it pliable and to prevent tearing, turned out crispy and delicious.

I plan to use the bowls for side dishes of refried beans or chili, although I may try using larger tortillas to create a taco salad bowl. If you have children or if you entertain, you may find a use for the tortilla bowl kit.

Bottom line: Tortilla Bowls work, but not in 5 minutes. As for tortillas, flour, sì. Corn, no.

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Filed under cooking, Healthful Eating, Mexican

Penne Alfredo Fake-out

In a perfect world, we cook everything from fresh and make our own sauces, etc. But real life often challenges us with unexpected company or a rushed schedule. There’s no need to resort to take-out, not when you can fake out. Take a little help from the store and keep a few cheat items in your pantry and freezer. Here’s a favorite emergency dish I make in twenty minutes. I read labels and shop as wisely as possible to ensure my fake out is as healthful as possible.

RECIPE

Penne Alfredo Fake-out

Ingredients:
• 2 cups whole-wheat penne pasta
• Salt
• 1 jar reduced fat Alfredo sauce
• 1 cup frozen vegetables
• ½ pound medium shrimp, with veins and tails removed
• ½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
• ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:
1. Cook penne pasta according to package instructions in salted, boiling water.
2. In a 2 quart covered saucepan, gently heat shrimp and vegetables over medium-low heat until shrimp turns pink and sauce is bubbly (approximately 10 minutes)
3. Drain cooked penne and toss with the shrimp sauce mixture.
4. Serve, garnished with chopped parsley and shredded cheese, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings

Variations: Chill leftovers for a tasty pasta salad.

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Filed under casseroles, Healthful Eating, pasta, Recipes, Shrimp, whole wheat

Juicy Chicken Breasts

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts–frozen or fresh–are so convenient, but they can be unforgiving if you overcook them the least little bit. I’ve tried marinades, brines, and sauces. An easier solution is to buy skinless chicken breasts with the bone intact. The bone adds cooking time, but it also keeps the chicken meat flavorful and moist.

Here’s how I “fry” a chicken breast. First, I preheat a dry skillet over medium-high heat (this needs to be a quality stainless or cast iron skillet; aluminum may warp). Then I position the breast in the pan (do not move or the meat will tear). It will stick to the skillet. Cover, lower the heat to medium, and time for 20 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook another 5 minutes or until juices run clear. Remove the chicken then add a little liquid to the pan and whisk up the cooked on “fond” for au jus gravy. The chicken is crusty good yet tender and moist on the inside.

In the time it takes to cook chicken breasts, you can have your vegetables steamed, your drinks poured, and the table set. Thirty minute meal!

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Filed under chicken, cooking, Healthful Eating