What’s for Dessert?

New Years Eve is a fun night!  We usually go out for dinner and then head home for some wine, lots of junk food and a new dessert.  This year, there will be two new recipes: chocolate mousse and sweet potato pie!

 

There is a restaurant across from my old apartment that makes the most amazing chocolate mousse.  I think they add some alcohol for flavor.  Since then, I have been trying to make a chocolate mousse on my own.  The first one was a healthy recipe and a total disaster.  The second try tasted ok but the texture was way off.  This year, I found a new recipe in Rachael Ray Magazine that looks like it could be a success.

 

I melted down my chocolate and set it on ice.  Again, I needed to whip my egg whites.  I put the immersion blender back to work.  Luckily, I had some practice yesterday and knew what to look for.

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I thought the mousse would be perfect in my cute ice cream bowls.  Into the fridge, but not before I stole a spoonful.  This is a tasty mousse with the right amount of chocolate and VERY fluffy!  Definitely a success!

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Sweet potato pie is one of my favorite southern desserts from when I lived in Tennessee. I have never tried to make it before, so I headed to the Food Network for a recipe to try.  If I conquer this, maybe then I can try some of my other southern favorites like fried pickles.

 

Yesterday, I roasted the sweet potatoes and instead of pushing them through the sieve (which sounded like it would be way too much work), I put my trusty immersion blender back to work to make my puree.

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T minus 3 hours before our dinner reservations and I am set to begin my pie.  For my first ever pie, I used a store bought frozen crust.  Per the directions, I baked it and brushed it with egg whites.  I felt very professional using my brush until I almost took off half the edging on the crust.

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I combined my sweet potatoes with all the spices and sugar.  Then whisked the egg whites and cream.  I combined everything and poured it into my crust.  The pie goes into the oven on a baking sheet.

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While the pie bakes, I can hop in the shower with more than enough time to pick out an outfit for tonight.

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I can’t wait to try the pie and I am hoping it turns out, but if not, there is always chocolate mousse!

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Tomorrow’s agenda: the day off to play and shop in downtown Chicago!

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Peanut Butter Banana Bread

I love making banana bread.  There are always extra bananas around (as I am the only one in the house who eats them), so I have a long list of banana recipes to try.  I saw this one on the cover of Cooking Light and since PB and bananas are one of my favorite combos, I knew I had to try it.  See full recipe.

 

And then there were two.  One of my bananas was sacrificed to a smoothie yesterday. I used a newer banana to get the full 1 ½ cups needed for this recipe.

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I collected my ingredients, which is always a nice place to start.  I realized I don’t have peanuts, but I figured it would be okay without.

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I added my wet ingredients.  And then my dry.  I don’t have allspice, but substituted nutmeg and ground cloves.

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Then I added my dry to my wet ingredient.  I used the mixer until almost everything was combined and then stirred the rest.  Into the oven it goes…

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Since this bread is going into the freezer for next year, CL recommends waiting to make the glaze.  The whole house smells delicious…it’s hard to resist cutting off a slice!  Something to look forward to in 2011!

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Baking Bread

 

Nothing pairs with day time television as well as a fresh baked quick bread.  I have wanted to make this bread for awhile because it looks delicious and I just happen to have all the ingredients in my house.  I am slightly intimidated by the stiff peak of egg whites, so I figured googling a picture would help.

See full size image

 

I started by boiling my carrots and mixing my dry ingredients.

 

I realized I had a little helper in the Kitchen.

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Then, I separated my eggs with the help of my egg separator (another Bday present from Sur La Table).

 

And then the I began to whip my egg whites.  I figured after a tough TRX workout at the gym this morning, I would give my arms a break and use my immersion mixer.  I started mixing, and then kept mixing, and mixing…and then assessed the egg whites which were ‘stiff’ but not yet a ‘peak’.  So I continued to mix…I revisited my picture as a reference and decided I had a good enough peak to move on.

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And continued on my way…until my bread was ready to go into the oven.  I used an aluminum pan for easy transport.   The bread looks a little flat so I am hoping it would expand in the oven.

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It grew a little and looks pretty good.  The author recommends toping it with applesauce.  I think next time, I need to cut my carrots a little smaller, but you learn as you go.

 

Next up…old bananas.  So many recipes, so little time!

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Carrot Bread

Ingredients

1 lb loose sweet carrots, peeled and graded

1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour

1 ¼ cups cornmeal

Pinch sea salt

¼ cup flax meal

1 ½ tsp baking powder

3 egg whites

1 egg yolk

2 Tbsp canola oil

¼ cup honey

¾ cup skim milk or low fat soy milk

¼ cup raisins

¼ cup dried cranberries

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375.

In small saucepan place carrots and enough water to just cover them.  Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, drain, and let cool.

In a medium bowl, place dry ingredients: flour, cornmeal, salt, flax meal and baking powder.

In another bowl, whip egg whites until stiff.

In a small bowl, put egg yolk, oil, honey and milk.  Mix well.  Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Add whipped egg whites and fold until just combined.  Add dried fruits and cooked carrots and mix until just combined.  Do not over-mix, or loaf will be tough.

Prepare a 9×5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.  Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Makes 10 servings (depending on how you slice the bread).

Research

So I figured if I was going to write a blog and one that people would want to read, I should check out what is out there.  There are a lot of inspirational women writing about leading a healthy lifestyle.  I think it’s amazing that as our nation’s obesity rates soar, there are so many people interested in how to lead a balanced life.  I have a similar history to many of the popular bloggers and currently, I strive to live my life to the fullest while incorporating satisfying healthy foods with exercise and yoga/meditation.

 

I like to challenge myself to try new foods (this summer it was squash…acorn, butternut, etc.) and share my new found recipes with family and friends.  I also love to bake, finding unique and difficult recipes to try.  I also love all the gadgets that come with life in the kitchen.  I can’t get enough of Sur La Table and Crate and Barrel!  I have been running since 6th grade.  It is my weight management and stress relief.  Last year, I bought a my first bike since 6th grade and I have truly enjoyed the benefits of cross training.

 

With all that being said, I feel that I need to say that I am by no means an expert on nutrition and not a running or endurance coach (although I do know a thing our two about exercise).  My goal, like many other healthy living bloggers, is just to share my insight, recipes, and accomplishments with you and inspire you to ‘Do what you luv and luv what you do!”

 

What a fun surprise.  I subscribed to Clean Eating Magazine and got a brand-new cookbook in the mail today.  Looking forward to getting back into the kitchen tomorrow.

 

 

Leftovers

The joys of cooking on Sunday…Monday leftovers.  I heated up my breakfast grains with applesauce and added blueberries and some more cinnamon.  They were very tasty and filling!  They gave me the energy I needed to get through my spin class, which was an endurance ride this morning.  Dinner is left over stuffed peppers…with the goat cheese this time.  So good!

Sunday Grains Part II

I found this recipe on another fabulous blog site www.dailygarnish.com and it looked fantastic.  I thought the hardest part would be convincing my boyfriend (and roommate) to try this vegetarian recipe, but it proved to be easier than I thought.  All I had to do was agree to add some goat cheese (which I totally forgot…oops!).

 

Curried Millet and Chickpea Stuffed Peppers

From The Daily Garnish

Ingredients

1 cup dry millet

3 cups water

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp curry powder

1 can chickpeas

¼ cup raisins

4 bell peppers

 

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Start by toasting the millet in a sauce pan.  I learned that this gives the millet a really great nutty taste.  Once toasted, add 3 cups water, cover, and simmer for 20ish minutes-or until the water has been absorbed.  It took me more like 30 minutes.  While the millet simmers, use a large non-stick sauté pan to cook the rest of the filling.  Add a little olive oil (I used 2 teaspoons) to your hot pan.  Sauté the onions, carrots, and garlic until they are soft (about 10 minutes).  I also added celery since I had some in the house.  Once soft, add the curry powder and chickpeas.  Cook for another 2 minutes or until everything is heated through.

 

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The author (Emily) recommends stuffing your peppers lengthwise so I tried this too.  Cut peppers and layer in a glass baking dish with a bit of water covering the bottoms.  Drizzle peppers with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

 

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Once my millet was cooked, there was way too much.  I decided to add only half the cooked millet (2 cups) to the chickpea mixture, and then added the raisins.  Fill the pepper halves and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

 

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The peppers smell delicious and I served them with a side of steamed broccoli.  The millet is very filling and even my boyfriend liked them, although he immediately noticed the missing cheese.  I will add the cheese when I reheat the leftovers tomorrow and next time I will add a few more spices to the peppers.  Now if I can just convince him to do the dishes.

Sunday Grains

A snowy Sunday complete with some football and new recipes.  Now I just have to remember which is the quinoa and which is the millet.  I think next time I will have to label my bags at the Whole Foods.

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I started with a breakfast dish.  Unfortunately, the first step is soaking the quinoa for 2 hours.  Who wakes up and has two hours before they are ready to eat breakfast?  So I decided I could make it this afternoon and refrigerate it for tomorrow.

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I started by soaking my quinoa as recommended to remove the saponin.

After a trip to Target for a sieve, I was able to rinse my quinoa without losing most of it out of the strainer.

Next step is to combine oats, quinoa, water and salt.  Bring to a boil and simmer covered for 30 minutes.  After about 20 minutes, the mixture was looking pretty thick so I removed it from the heat.

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I stirred in cinnamon, vanilla, and raisins (but you can add anything else you enjoy in your warm breakfast cereal).

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Since it’s supposed to be served warm, I will definitely try some now.  It has a great texture, but is pretty plain tasting.  It tastes GREAT with some applesauce mixed in.  The rest is divided into individual servings.  I love the idea of a quick healthy breakfast option on week days.  I’m already excited for tomorrow’s breakfast!

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QUINOA WITH OATS

The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno

“To sweeten, don’t reach for the sugar bowl, try fresh fruit, unsweetened applesauce, or pumpkin.”

1 cup quinoa, soaked for 2 hours

1 cup steel-cut oats

¼ tsp sea salt

3 cups water

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

¼ cup organic raisins

 

-In a medium saucepan with a lid, place soaked quinoa, steel-cut oats, sea salt, and water.  Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce heat.  Cover and let simmer 30 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in cinnamon, vanilla, and raisins and let sit for several minutes.  Serve hot.

-Makes 4 one cup servings.

Nutrition

Calories: 187

Protein: 6g

Carbs: 37g

Dietary Fiber: 1g

Sugars: 8g

Fat: 3g

Sodium: 6mg

 

Up Next…Dinner using the millet.