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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Clementine Cake

I had to make this cake because I was unbelievably intrigued.  How the heck did anyone figure that you could puree whole clementines into a cake?  I absolutely had to try this out. And since I just happened to have a box of clementines in my fridge, I had no reason to wait.  It turns out that Nigella Lawson is a mad genius.  This cake is moist and delicious and perfectly orangey...and not so bad to look at either.  An added bonus...the smell that fills the house as the oranges boil is just lovely.  The next time I make it (and there absolutely will be a next time), I would decrease the sugar a little.  I was afraid to do it without trying it as the recipe suggests first because of the bitterness from the rinds.  The batter did not taste overly sweet as I was preparing it - so the finished product was sweeter than I expected it to be.  I tend to decrease the amount of sugar that any recipe calls for, so I shouldn't be surprised.  If you are like me, then you could cut the sugar here as will I in the future.  I'll probably get rid of the extra 2 Tbsp to start (were those extra tablespoons really necessary, Nigella???)  I will update this post when I do and let you know how it goes.

Clementine Cake
from Nigella Lawson

4 or 5 clementines (a little less than a pound)
6 eggs
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
2 1/3 cups ground almonds
1 heaping tsp baking powder
powdered sugar for dusting

Put the clementines in a large pot and fill with cold water.  Bring to a boil and then continue to cook for 2 hours.  (Lawson doesn't say to keep adding water, but I got nervous when the water would boil down too low - so I occasionally added more hot water to the pot and brought it back to a boil so that the clementines would stay mostly covered for most of the 2 hours.)  Drain the clementines and let them cool.  In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and butter and line with parchment paper the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan.  Once the clementines are cooled, cut them in half and remove any seeds.  Put them in a food processor and blend until smooth (or you can chop them finely by hand, but I was afraid to have chunks of rind in the cake.)  In a large bowl, beat the eggs.  Add the sugar, almonds, and baking powder and combine.  Then mix in the clementine puree.  Add this batter to your pan.  Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.  Then cover it with foil and bake an additional 10 to 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a rack for at least half an hour.  Before releasing the springform pan, be sure to run a knife along the sides.  Then you will be able to open the pan and turn the cake out onto a plate.  Dust the top with a little bit of powdered sugar and enjoy with a hot cup of tea.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

I love pulled pork...pork, pork, pork...down in my belly.  So, anyway, I searched high and low for a good recipe for pulled pork, but there are so many different ones and there was not one that I liked from start to finish.  So I decided to just throw one together on my own.  It came out terrific!  I would absolutely make this again.  Alter it as you see fit.  Use the spices you like.  You can pretty much wing it.  You'll love it if you love pork.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

3-4 lbs. pork (I used a pork roast although all the recipes call for butt or shoulder and it was delicious), trimmed of any visible fat
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce plus more for serving

Put the onion and garlic on the bottom of your slow cooker and add the chicken broth.  Mix together the chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and sugar and rub it evenly onto your pork.  Place the pork in the slow cooker, cover, and cook on low for 8-10 hours (I cooked it for 9.)  When it's finished cooking, remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred with two forks.  Strain the remaining liquid into a small bowl.  Discard the solids, and put the liquid into the freezer so that the fat becomes solidified on the top and you can strain it again into another bowl.  Put your shredded pork back in the slow cooker.  Once you are able to strain the additional fat from the cooking liquid, heat it back up in the microwave for about a minute and add 1/2 cup of the hot juice back to the slow cooker.  Add 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce to the pork.  Combine everything and serve on rolls with additional barbecue sauce.  Enjoy!

You can add more or less of the juice and/or barbecue to suit your tastes.  I want to go light on the barbecue sauce to avoid a lot of sugar and calories.

Hyper Smash

Monday, January 21, 2013

Chicken, Kale, and Black Bean Enchiladas

I found the best chicken enchilada recipe ever on the Annie Eats blog about two years ago.  The sauce is simple to make and absolutely delicious.  (I haven't used enchilada sauce out of a can since I found this recipe.  I can no longer stomach it since having made it from scratch.)  There is a bit of time involved in the actual construction of the enchiladas, but it is well worth it.  Trust me.  They are so so good.  I decided to try it out today replacing half the chicken the recipe calls for with black beans and kale.  It came out fantastic!  Feel free  to go back to the original recipe sans beans and kale, but if you are looking for an easy, tasty way to incorporate some beans and greens into your meal, then I recommend doing it this way.  I had some leftover kale in my fridge, so that's what I used.  I love when the ingredients I have on hand lead me toward a delicious meal.  It's serendipitous.

Chicken, Spinach, and Black Beans Enchiladas
adapted from Annie Eats

1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped fine
2 tsp canola oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. sugar
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 oz. fresh kale, stems and ribs removed and chopped into small pieces (I would have used more if I had more)
1 cup shredded reduced fat sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese, divided
½ cup minced fresh cilantro
12 8-inch corn tortillas
Cooking spray

Combine the onion, jalapeno and 1 tsp of the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the onions and peppers have softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin and sugar, and cook just until fragrant, less than 30 seconds. Mix in the tomato sauce, water, and chopped tomato. Bring the sauce to a simmer, lower the heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Nestle the chicken into the sauce. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is completely cooked through (160˚ F on an instant-read thermometer), about 12-20 minutes. Meanwhile, saute the kale in a pan with the other tsp of oil until tender.  When the chicken has finished cooking, transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.

Strain the sauce through a large mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing down on the onions and tomatoes to extract as much liquid as possible. Transfer the reserved solids to a large bowl and set aside. Shred the chicken into bite size pieces (I used a kitchen scissor to get the chicken into even smaller pieces after I shredded) and add to the bowl with the onion mixture. Add in ¼ cup of the enchilada sauce, ½ cup of each of the shredded cheeses, the black beans, sauteed kale, and the cilantro. Stir to combine.

Preheat the oven to 425˚ F. Oil a 9 x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray. Stack the tortillas on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 40-60 seconds, until warm and pliable. Spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of a tortilla. Roll up the tortilla around the filling tightly, and place in the prepared baking dish, seam-side down. Repeat with the remaining filling and tortillas.  Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with cooking spray. Place in the oven, uncovered, for 7 minutes or until the tortillas start to brown slightly.

Reduce the oven temperature to 400˚ F. Remove the enchiladas from the oven and pour the sauce oven the top. Sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is browned. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Hyper Smash

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Green Juice

I woke up this morning with swollen tonsils and a completely stuffed nose.  I therefore decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to try out a green juice.  Two years ago, Jim bought me a juicer.  I've used it twice - both times for cocktail-creating purposes.  I feel like I should use it more.  Well, I've really been wanting to try this out this recipe from the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead about a seriously overweight man who went on a juice cleanse.  It seems like it would be a good way to get a butt-load of nutrients.   By the way...I am planning on eating a juicy (pun intended) steak later - this is just breakfast.  Anyway, I am super sick of my green smoothie by the time the weekend rolls around, so I feel a little lacking in the fruit and vegetable department. Bring on the green juice.  Is this not a magical elixir of health and longevity?  Well if it is, I would rather not live so long.  I really had to force myself to drink the first glass, and every time I took a sip, my face would contort and twist with horror.  (And this is with a completely stuffed nose!!)  Well although it took me 45 minutes, I managed to finish drinking the first glass, and instead of pouring the rest of the green monster down the drain, I actually poured myself another cup - I am not one to waste.  The second is going down a little easier.  I still make a face with every sip, but I am getting used to it.  I am unsure if I will ever go through the trouble to make this again...almost positive I will not actually - but it was an experiment worth trying.  I hope it at least helps make my cold go away.

IF I did make this again, I would halve all the ingredients because my juicer produced a lot of juice.  I only needed half the amount for just me.

Green Juice

2 green apples, cored
6 kale leaves
1 large cucumber
1/2 lemon
1 thumb-size knob of ginger
4 celery stalks

Throw all the ingredients into your juicer and that's it.  Drinker beware.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Kale Chips

I came home this afternoon ready to make some veggie burgers for dinner and was contemplating a side dish...and then I saw the head of kale in my fridge.  It was time to finally bust out some kale chips!  If you love roasted brussels sprouts (a big yes for me), then you will absolutely love these.  They taste just like those crispy little brussels sprout leaves that I love so freakin' much.  I used cooking spray to eliminate the fat and calories from oil, but you could easily use a tablespoon of good oil instead.  I have one of those pump spray contraptions that spray your olive oil, but I hate the way it works.  So as prepared below, these kale chips have little more than vitamins, minerals, and yumminess.

Kale Chips

1 bunch of kale, large stems removed
cooking spray
salt to taste
1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)

Place your oven racks in the middle and top of your oven and preheat to 300 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.  Tear of the kale leaves into potato chip size pieces and place in a single layer on the two baking sheets.  Spray the kale chips lightly with cooking spray and toss.  Spray once more and toss again.  Toss with salt to taste and smoked paprika (if using.)  Rearrange the kale into a single layer and bake in the oven on the two racks for 10 minutes.  Switch the trays and bake for another 10 minutes or until crisp.  If they aren't crisp yet, leave them in a little longer.  (The curly-style kale took longer than when I used a flatter Tuscan kale.)  Enjoy warn or cooled!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Baked Jalapeño Poppers

So now what should I make for this football game??? Hmmmmm...Well I have actually been craving jalapeño poppers as of late.  I have no idea where some of these cravings come from.  I didn't see them on a show recently.  This is not a Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives perpetuated craving.  I'm not even a huge fan of jalapeño poppers to be honest, yet for some strange reason, I want some.  So I am going to try to make them healthy and hopefully tasty.  Well they came out amazing!!!  And the dipping sauce was really good too.  I could see it going with a lot of things - including stir fries - but it was a great compliment to the poppers.  This very well may be a game day staple at my house.  They were absolutely delicious and pretty healthy as far as game day snack food goes.  Jalapeño popper craving definitely satisfied.

Baked Jalapeño Poppers
adapted from The Beer Cook

10 large jalapeño peppers, halved, seeded, and ribs removed
8 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 cup reduced fat cheddar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs
olive oil
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a bowl, combine the cheeses, garlic powder, and salt.  Drizzle some olive oil on a lined baking sheet.  Fill each jalapeño half with the cheese mixture and place on the baking sheet, rubbing the peppers in the oil.  Now place the breadcrumbs in a bowl and dip the cheese side of the poppers in the bowl pressing the breadcrumbs so they stick.  Put them back on the baking sheet and spray them with cooking spray.  Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until golden brown and serve with the following sauce or some sour cream or both.

Apricot Dipping Sauce

1 cup apricot preserves
2 Tbsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced.

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until combined.  Serve along side the poppers and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Upside-Down Fudge-Almond Tart

Nothing makes Mondays better than chocolate.  We can argue that point, but chocolate inarguably makes Mondays better.  Unless you're allergic to chocolate.  Or if you need to fast for some medical or religious reason. mil (mother-in-law) got me two fantastic presents this Christmas that conspired against me and forced me into making a chocolate tart.  What presents could be so fantastic as to coerce you into baking delicious treats you ask?  Well...first off, she gave me a one-a-day calendar from Cooking Light with daily recipes.  This is so up my alley that it must have actually already had a tag that said "to: Amanda" before she even purchased it for me.  Secondly, she got me an awesome set of tart pans (my very first I must add - yay.)  Well when Monday's recipe was for a chocolate almond tart, I had absolutely no choice but to make said tart.  It looked so delicious and I really wanted to try out one of my new tart pans.  It was fate.  Well I'm glad I did, because it was as yummy as it looked in the picture.  If you love almonds and chocolate, you need to make this.  It was easy and tasty.  The recipe called for chopped almonds, but I didn't want to dirty my cutting board so I just used slivered.  Using chopped would definitely make the tart easier to cut so I might (but not definitely) next time.  It also called for golden cane syrup which I also did not have.  So I used a combination of light corn syrup and molasses.  It worked.  All in all, a success, and I would definitely make this again.  Also, it tasted even more amazing from the fridge a couple of days later!  Something magical happened and it became even fudgier and more delicious!  I don't lie.

Upside-Down Fudge-Almond Tart
from Cooking Light

1 cup coursely chopped almonds, toasted
4 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
3 Tbsp sifted cocoa powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 large eggs
6 Tbsp sugar
4 tsp light corn syrup
2 tsp molasses
3/4 tsp vanilla

Put yourr oven rack to the lowest third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9-inch tart pan with cooking spray.  Sprinkle almonds in pan.  Combine the chocolate chips and butter in the top of a double boiler.  Cook over simmering water, stirring occasionally, until chocolate and butter melt.  In the meantime, combine the flour, cocoa, and salt in a bowl.  In another large bowl, place the eggs and beat for 2 minutes on medium speed with an electric mixer.  Continue beating while adding the sugar one Tbsp at a time until the sugar dissolves - about another 2 minutes.  Add syrup, molasses, and vanilla and beat until well blended - about another minutes.  Add flour mixture and beat on low speed for about a minute until blended.  Then add the chocolate mixture and blend until just combined (I switched to a spatula for this part.)  Pour the batter into the tart pan, spreading evenly.  Bake in the lower third of the oven for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.  Cool tart in the pan for 20 minutes on a wire rack.  Then invert the tart onto a serving platter.   

Because this is from Cooking Light and they provide me with the nutritional info, I'll let you in on it as well.  So for those who care...
Serving size: 1/10 of the tart.
Calories: 281
Fat: 19.8 g
Carb: 24.6 g
Fiber: 2.7 g
Sodium: 80 mg
Weight Watchers Points: 8

It's amazing to me that this recipe is from Cooking Light and yet it still has almost 20 g of fat and 300 calories from a tiny slice.  That makes me really wonder how much fat and calories your ordinary chocolate tart is loaded with.  So I still consider this to be a little bit of an indulgence, albeit a more responsible one.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

One Pot Stove Top Mac n' Cheese

Happy New Year!  Last night, me and the hubs rang in the New Year with friends.  With a two year old to manage the next day, we are very, very, very, very, very tired and I want carbs!  My stomach is going "nom nom nom nom."  I must eat, but I don't feel like I have the strength to do, well, anything.  So what's the easiest thing to whip up?  A box of mac n' cheese, right?  So of course, this is what I go to do - but there is none left.  (Thanks for using the last box and not telling me, Jim.)  Leading me to try out making my own.  It's no harder than making the boxed stuff and it doesn't use powdered cheese.  I believe I will stop buying the boxed stuff now.  Doing it this way also allows you to use whatever cheese you want and I am a sucker for gruyere - can't get that in the box.

One Pot Stove Top Mac n' Cheese
serves 3 to 4

2 cups uncooked small-sized pasta of your choice (I used whole grain elbows)
2 cups low fat milk (more if necessary*)
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp salt (you can always add more later to your liking - we don't like a lot of salt in this house)
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup cheese of your choice (I used reduced fat cheddar and then also sprinkled in a handful of grated romano)

In a medium saucepan, combine pasta, milk, butter, salt, mustard, and nutmeg.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat stirring frequently so that the pasta does not clump together.  Keep your eye on it at all times or else when the milk reaches a boil it will quickly overflow onto your once milk-free stove.  As soon as it reaches a simmer, turn the heat down to low.  Continue to stir frequently so that the pasta cooks evenly.  Cook until the liquid is absorbed.  Then check to see if your pasta is fully cooked.  *If not, add another 1/4 cup of milk and continue to cook until the milk is absorbed.  Repeat until the pasta is cooked.  I didn't need to add any additional milk.  My pasta came out perfect after simmering and stirring as is for about 8 minutes.  Now you can add your cheese.  Stir until everything is incorporated.