Thursday, March 25, 2010

Peanut Butter and Pretzel Truffle

I think these little truffles taste a lot like Tagalongs. The crunchiness of the pretzel bits are like the crunchiness of the cookie in the Tagalongs. I used Skippy natural no-stir peanut butter and stored them in the fridge. I also doubled the recipe. I think that the peanut butter that you pick will affect the consistency of the truffle. Of course, if you keep them in the freezer or fridge that can also change the consistency. I thought mine were good just refrigerated. Yum.

Peanut Butter and Pretzel Truffle

1/2 cup crunchy natural peanut butter
1/4 cup finely chopped salted pretzels
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips, melted

Combine peanut butter and pretzels in a small bowl. Chill in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. Roll the peanut butter mixture into 20 balls (about 1 teaspoon each). Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper and freeze until very firm, about 1 hour. Roll the frozen balls in melted chocolate. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

Make Ahead Tip: Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Tip: To melt chocolate, microwave on Medium for 1 minute. Stir, then continue microwaving on Medium, stirring every 20 seconds, until melted. Or place chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water. Stir until melted.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pickle Showdown

When I got some of those little pickling cucumbers in my produce basket, I just had to try a pickle recipe. I didn't want to do the recipe that requires several days of fermentation. I found 2 different recipes for the overnight sweet pickle variety. Two of my favorite Food Network chefs, Tyler Florence and Alton Brown. I have to say, Alton's are much more flavorful. I think he is the winner of the pickle challenge. Next time, dill pickles!

AB's B and B's
(Alton Brown)

1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
Pinch kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon pickling spice

Combine onion and cucumber slices in a clean spring-top jar. Combine the remaining ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 4 full minutes to wake up the flavors of the spices. Slowly pour the hot pickling liquid over the onion and cucumber slice, completely filling the jar. Allow the pickles to cool to room temperature before topping off with any remaining pickling liquid. Refrigerate.

Quick Sweet Pickles
(Tyler Florence)

6 kirby cucumbers or 2 regular cucumbers
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 cup water
1 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
1 bay leaf

Wash and dry the cucumbers. Using a sharp knife or a mandolin, slice the cucumbers thinly and place in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. Place the colander over a bowl and allow it to sit, covered, for about 1 hour. Rinse off the salt and dry the cucumber slices well. Place them into a sterilized quart jar.

In a small saucepan add the remaining ingredients. Stir to dissolve sugar and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow it to cool. Pour the brine over the cucumbers in jar. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Will keep, refrigerated, for about 2 weeks.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bev's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Have I mentioned that I love chocolate chip cookies? I found this recipe on I do already have an awesome recipe for chocolate chip cookies. However, I am trying to make my food a little healthier. As my sister has pointed out to me on my "healthier" zucchini muffins, they aren't that much different. Cookies and muffins are never going to be health food. But a a few things like while wheat flour and oatmeal --which is good for lowering cholesterol and adding fiber--can help. These are very good. Excellent even.

Bev's Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray. Grind oats in a blender or food processor. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg and vanilla; beat until smooth and creamy. With the mixer running, add the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop the dough by heaping teaspoonfuls, at least 1 inch apart, onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until firm around the edges and golden on top, about 15 minutes. Cool the cookies for 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gluten-Free and Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Another attempt to make decent gluten-free baked goods. These were good. They had a bit of texture and nuttiness to them and were a bit soft. They would never replace my chocolate chip cookies, but they are pretty good. I made the vegan version (so that my vegan sister could eat them). There is also a version that uses butter if you are so inclined.

can you see the little almond bits?

Gluten-Free and Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 ½ cups blanched almond flour
½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup agave nectar
1 cup dark chocolate 73% chips

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir together wet ingredients in a smaller bowl. Mix wet ingredients into dry. Form ½ inch balls and press onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 7-10 minutes. Cool and serve

Just Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 ½ cups blanched almond flour

¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup agave nectar

Directions same as the above recipe.
Source: Elana's Pantry

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Steak Tips with Peppered Mushroom Gravy

This recipe from Cooking Light magazine reminds me of a beef stroganoff without the tangy sour cream flavor---which is a good thing for me. Very tasty and pretty easy to make.

Steak Tips with Peppered Mushroom Gravy

2 cups uncooked egg noodles

Cooking spray
1 pound top sirloin steak, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 (8-ounce) package presliced baby bella mushrooms
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (optional)

Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. While noodles cook, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add steak; sauté 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan; cover.

Melt butter in pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Stir in soy sauce. Sprinkle flour over mushroom mixture; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly. Add pepper, salt, and thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until thickened. Return beef to pan; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Discard thyme sprigs. Garnish with thyme leaves, if desired

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gluten-Free Brownies

I am lucky not to have to worry about avoiding gluten, but I have at least one friend that I know that does. I thought I would try and have a few recipes in my repetoire that I know taste good. I found this recipe on the food blog Elana's Pantry. She does all gluten-free using mostly almond flour and has a cookbook out as well. Since Elana does not recommend Bob's Red Mill almond flour for her recipes, I ordered some flour from Honeyville online. I thought these brownies were very good. They were fluffy and did not taste like beans--so that was good. Some flours have garbanzo bean flour in them and it can be a little overpowering. These are definitely the cake-like brownies. I recommend them for any celiacs out there.

Gluten-Free Brownies

1 (16) ounce jar salted almond butter, smooth roasted
2 eggs
1 ¼ cups agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dark chocolate chips 73%

In a large bowl, blend almond butter until smooth with a hand blender. Blend in eggs, then blend in agave and vanilla. Blend in cocoa, salt and baking soda, then fold in chocolate chips. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan. Pour batter into pan. Bake at 325° for 35-40 minutes

Monday, March 8, 2010

Banana, Wheat Germ and Oats

Homemade oatmeal doesn't always have the flavor of the instant stuff, but it's much better for you. I think this one was pretty tasty. This recipe from Cooking Light magazine combines wheat germ with oats and makes it much creamier than regular oatmeal. The bananas are good, but you could use blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, apples etc. Or add cinnamon or sliced almonds. There are many possiblities. And it's good for your heart and cholesterol.

Banana, Wheat Germ and Oats

3 3/4 cups water

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2/3 cup toasted wheat germ
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sliced banana (about 2)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 6 minutes or until thick and thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Divide cereal evenly among 3 bowls. Top each serving with 1/2 cup banana, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon butter.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chicken Fried Steak

I never really liked chicken fried steak from the frozen food department, but for Valentine's Day I thought I would make this for my husband. I guess I really don't like it homemade either. I didn't hate it, but it's just not my thing. If you love chicken fried steak, give it a try. Oh, and I am terrible at making gravy. This one did not turn out for me. It tasted like thick milk. But I am sure that is my inability to make gravy.

Chicken Fried Steak

3 pounds cube steak
2 eggs
3 cups milk, divided, more as needed
2 1/3 cups flour, divided, more as needed
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more if you can handle it
1 teaspoon black pepper, plus extra for seasoning the steaks and gravy
Canola or vegetable oil for frying

Begin with an assembly line of dishes for the meat, egg and milk mixture, and flour mixture. Pound the cube steaks until extremely tender (if already pounded, pound a little more to make sure they're sufficiently tender), and cut the steaks into smaller pieces if they are larger than 5 to 6 inches in diameter (this will make them easier to bread and fry). Place the prepared steaks in the first dish. Beat the eggs and 1 cup milk in the second dish with a fork. In the third dish, combine 2 cups flour with the seasoned salt, paprika, cayenne and black pepper.

Lightly season a piece of meat with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Then, dip the meat into the milk and egg mixture on each side to coat. Place the meat on the seasoned flour, turning to evenly coat both sides. Dip the meat in the milk and egg mixture once more to coat, then the flour mixture once more to coat completely. Place the prepared steak onto a rack on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining steaks.

In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottom skillet, heat one-third cup oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is sufficiently heated (I drop a few sprinkles of flour, if it sizzles, it's ready!), fry 2 to 3 pieces of meat at a time (be careful not to crowd). Cook on one side until the edges start to look golden brown, about 2 1/2 minutes, then flip over and fry until the other side is golden, another 2 to 3 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed.

Remove the steaks to a paper-towel-lined plate and keep warm. Repeat until all of the meat is fried, adding a little extra oil if needed. Set the steaks aside in a warm place while you make the gravy.

To make the gravy, pour the grease from the skillet into a heat-proof bowl. Without cleaning the pan, return it to the stove over medium-low heat. Add one-fourth cup of the grease back to the pan, discarding any remaining grease. Sprinkle one-third cup flour evenly over the grease. Using a whisk, mix the flour with the grease, creating a golden brown paste, or "roux." You want the roux to attain a deep, rich color. If the paste seems more oily than pasty, sprinkle in additional flour, a tablespoon at a time, until the right consistency is achieved. When the roux is golden-brown, whisk in 2 cups milk, then wait for the gravy to come to a slow boil. The gravy will thicken gradually, but if it seems too thick at first, add a little milk as needed, whisking to combine. The total cooking process should take 4 to 5 minutes. Add additional salt and pepper as desired, tasting to ensure that it's seasoned adequately. Under-seasoned gravy is one of life's great sacrileges. Place the warm meat on a plate and drizzle over the gravy as desired. Serve this to a hungry cowboy and you've earned an admirer for life.

Source: Pioneer Woman

Monday, March 1, 2010

Soy, Garlic and Ginger Chicken Burgers

While I do love a classic burger, I also like the not so classic burgers. These are a Rachael Ray recipe and they are pretty darn tasty. We grilled them and I used soy sauce because I didn't want to buy the tamari.

Soy, Garlic and Ginger Chicken Burgers

3/4 pound ground chicken
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 rolls, split and toasted
4 pieces of leaf or Bibb lettuce

Mix the meat with the garlic, ginger, cilantro, tamari, a little salt and lots of black pepper. Form 2 large, inch-thick patties - they’ll hang off the bun! Add the oil to a skillet and get it screaming hot over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook them for 5-6 minutes on each side. When done, place the burgers on the rolls and top with lettuce.
Source: Sweetnicks