Thursday, July 31, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ribbon Dessert

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ribbon Dessert

I made some substitutions to the original recipe by using Splenda instead of sugar, lite whip cream, all natural peanut butter and Dutch Baking Chocolate for the middle was divine.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Eating Healthy

I've been thinking about this for a few weeks, but haven't had much time to "blog" about much of anything, but Jamie's post at Oh! How Lovely! inspired me to mention this today.

Since I have started my involvement with food blogging, I have wanted to try new things, learn how to bake, and cook often in order to have new content for this thing (if only for myself, since I don't have too many loyal followers as of yet;) ) but in doing so, have just started cooking way too much outside of the way I prefer to eat.

I was talking about this yesterday to my brother, when I had him over for supper. I made Chicken Fajita Burgers (YUM!) which actually aren't horrible for you, but of course I had some dessert left over from when I made the Chocolate Peanut Butter Ribbon Cake a few days ago...don't worry pics to come. ANYWAYS, we were talking about how I am lucky because I generally just like, and prefer, to eat healthier foods. Of course I have my weaknesses and there are days when I can sit on my couch in front of the TV and meal out on chips and 7 Layer Mexi Dip, or when M orders the Gotham Pizza from Domino's and I (of course) have to have a piece (or three). But in general, I really would rather eat healthy foods.

So, in addition to the fact that I need to get my rear back into training condition (for a half marathon, I don't care what MN says, I just cannot force myself to marathon train right now) I am going to cease baking all these sweet things that taste so good...but are soooo bad for us.

With M starting to run with me now, it is the perfect time to regain my healthy cooking be on the lookout for some recipes that you won't feel guilty about throwing together...if I can get some time with our big move coming up this week!

When I commented on Jamie's post, I mentioned that what helped me really learn what I should be eating was That thing is a life saver! Since I started using it last year (although I don't anymore cause I generally got the lay of the land and decided to quit paying the measly $9 a month because I am THAT broke) I have gotten my bff to use it, her mom, my other bff MN, and I have tried (unsuccessfully) to get my mom on board as well as M's sister. Point is, it is a really great tool and I like it better than other online food trackers because they have a ton of brands in their database as well as hundreds of restaurants, so it makes it that much easier to log what you eat.

If you're having trouble with your weight, try it out. I think you would be surprised at how much you actually consume, and how that has affected that horrid number on the scale.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mexican Taco Salad with Soyrizo

I made this salad with leftover soyrzio/ground turkey that I used to make Soyrizo Burgers, but you could also make this with any regular chorizo sausage or taco meat. Simply mix up a salad with iceburg lettuce, diced organic tomatoes, diced organic avocado, chopped onion and the soyrizo meat.

The dressing I used was a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, lime juice, salt, chopped fresh cilantro and crushed red pepper flakes...mix it 'till it tastes good!

Toss the salad with dressing and top it off with some course salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Roasted Zucchini and Squash with Fresh Herbs

Adapted from Kayln's Kitchen

  • 3 to 4 medium sized zucchini and/or squash
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs, washed and chopped (I used basil, sage and oregano)
  • 1/2 medium white onion, chopped
  • 2 T olive oil (more or less)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 and spray a baking sheet with nonstick olive oil based cooking spray.

In a medium sized bowl, combine all ingredients and toss to coat. Spread along baking sheet in single layer and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until soft.

The KBo Conclusion:
While M didn't like his portion of this veggie-licious treat, I ate mine and his! It was just the right amount of spices and oil and the baking made the veggies tender and delicious.

M said he didn't like it because I "spoiled" him with a similar dish which I doused in melted mozzarella cheese. Oh well, maybe next time I'll sprinkle some on there so he will eat it...or I could leave it out so I could have extra. :)

Coffee Break Muffins

Mmmmm.....Can you see the espresso flakes? These muffins are just the right amount of sweet balanced with that coffee flavor. There is a whole cup of coffee in these babies, as well as some ground espresso and brown sugar!

I'm not posting the recipe, but if you want it, pick up a copy of Baking, by Dorie Greenspan!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Heading (Further) Down South

Well it has been a long time coming, but now that I have put in my two weeks notice at work, it is a definite!

M and I will be moving to Charleston, SC at the end of July and we couldn't be more excited. I have been adding some Charleston food blogs to my blog roll just so that I can get acclimated to the foodie culture in the lowcountry, and I must say that I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.

First of all, there is definitely no shortage of seafood restaurants down there, which makes me giddy! There are not so many in this area, so I'm pretty stoked about that. Plus, the Charleston Culinary Institute is down there and from what I hear has a pretty good program. I might enroll in some night classes so I can actually learn a few things!

Our apartment is great, and while smaller than what we are used to now, its a bit cheaper and our balcony overlooks the harbor and the Charleston Yacht Club! One drawback though is that the kitchen (gasp!) is a bit smaller than the one here and doesn't have a dishwasher...

So yeah, going to have to get used to that. But I can make it work! Once we get down there I will post pics of everything!

In the meantime, later today I'm going to post pictures of Dorie's Coffee Break Muffins that I made yesterday good!

Hope everyone is having a great Monday! :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Creamy Vegetable Risotto with Moroccan Chicken

  • 12 oz. arborio rice
  • 4 cups heated stock (I used low sodium chicken)
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 chopped zucchini
  • 1 chopped squash
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes (or other small tomatoes), halved
  • 1/8 cup dry white wine
  • 1/8 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • three chicken breasts
  • Moroccan Spice mix
  • olive oil
Preheat oven to 375. Spray baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, and place chicken breasts into dish. Drizzle with olive oil to coat. Rub Moroccan spices onto both sides of the chicken generously and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until done.

If preferred, you could also cook this chicken in a heated skillet with some olive oil, although baking is a bit more healthy!

While the chicken is baking, prepare veggies and then start with risotto about 10 minutes into chicken baking time. Risotto should only take 18 to 20 minutes so keep that in mind.

Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil on medium in a large pot, cook onions until translucent. Pour in other hard veggies, such as zucchini and squash, and cook until golden.

Stir in rice and coat with oil until translucent. Add carrots. Pour in wine and cook until evaporated. Pour in one cup of heated stock at a time, and let simmer until absorbed. Add tomatoes at this point, you don't want them to cook too long or they will get mushy!

Continue adding stock until you have used all four cups and rice has cooked about 18 to 20 minutes.When all liquid is absorbed, add in cream and cheese and stir. Take off heat and let sit covered for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.

The KBo Conclusion:
I set out to make a risotto dish last night, and followed slightly the rice cooking directions on the back of the box. You can add any vegetables you might like, I just used what I had on hand. I also think this would be great (and a bit healthier) without the cream and parmesan cheese. I tasted mine before I added these two ingredients and it was very, very good.

The chicken was great with the Moroccan seasoning and it was pretty easy to fix. I bought my spices already mixed, but I have seen a Moroccan spice mixture here that you can whip up yourself. In fact, I bought the spice mix to make Kayln's Crispy Moroccan Chickpeas the other night and they were delicious!

Friday, July 11, 2008

KBo's Essential (read: EASY) Banana Pudding

I'm pretty sure that every American can at least make banana pudding...the ones who can't, I'm assuming, are also the poor souls who cannot boil water.

I'm sure there are better, fancier, tastier recipes for this but I really just love what's easy and good.

2 packets of instant JELLO Vanilla Pudding
6 cups milk (I used skim)
4 organic bananas, sliced (more or less)
1 package Trader Joe's Ultimate Vanilla Wafers
Cool Whip (I used the new kind, in a can!)

Prepare the pudding packets as instructed in a large bowl, (whisk pudding with milk for a few minutes until all combined and then let stand until thick).

In a large bowl, preferably glass so you can show off the layers, start by layering the 'nilla wafers at the bottom of the bowl. Then add a layer of pudding, then a layer of bananas, then a layer of Cool Whip. Repeat until you use all ingredients, or you get to the top of the bowl, whichever comes first. :)


The KBo Conclusion
I was planning on making this last night because M's parents were coming into town yesterday through to the weekend. I had a whole menu planned, and even had a chicken cooking in the crock pot yesterday morning (If you know me, you know that doing things ahead of time is not usually my forte--and I'm not even going to try to lie here, M had to put the chicken in after I was already at work because I forgot to thaw it the night before...thus entrapping the gizzard packet inside the frozen chicken). But when a family emergency forced the 'rents to turn around mid-trip, we had a crap load of food to cook (and an immaculately clean apartment, thanks M) so I went ahead and made the dessert anyways.

So when I stopped at the store on my lunch break yesterday to get the pudding, I was debating whether or not to actually follow a fancy recipe, such as this one, or just make it the easy way to save time....when I saw "cook and serve" on those JELLO packs, I said NOPE...and picked up the two instant packs.

I know, I blogging is supposed to be about creating, cooking, baking new things. But whatever, we're not all Martha Stewart and everyone knows that this classic is a classic for a reason--It tastes good! So there you have it.

Although, I will say I did put a spin on this by using the Trader Joe's wafers, this was an excellent choice! These are 'ultimate' for a reason, they're packed with vanilla beans and offer a crisp, sweet flavor that Nilla Wafers just can't promise! Pick some up today, you won't be sorry :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How to Use Applesauce in Baking...Or, How NOT to....

Since I am still learning how to bake, and alter recipes, I have a question for any readers out there...

I have yet to figure out how to perfectly substitute applesauce for butter and/or oils. I attempted to make my Whole Wheat Carrot Cake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies last night with this method and you can basically stamp a big FAIL on that. They turned out nasty, ugh.

I know that doing this can in turn make your finished product dry, but is there are way to use applesauce that keeps a somewhat similar flavor and texture to the original?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Don't have time to pack a fresh lunch?

Try this!

While I don't usually condone eating frozen food or canned foods on the regular, the average working woman sometimes has to resort to frozen meals or canned veggies every now and then. I even posted about my favorite frozen meals in May, with another installment to come soon. As long as you're getting something healthy out of it, not loaded down with salty sauces or creamy cheeses, sometimes a "convenience meal" might be the way to go.

Today I grabbed whatever I had on hand at home and rushed out the door to work, and threw these two things together in a bowl for a very satisfying lunch.

BumbleBee has jumped on the wagon of flavored tuna packets, and my favorite is the sun-dried tomato and basil flavor. So that was my first ingredient, then I searched the freezer and found my new favorite go-to veggie Green Giant's Weight Management mixture, that includes snow peas, carrots, black beans and edamame in a light butter sauce.

I heated up the veggies and mixed these two together and came up with a quick, pretty healthy meal in no time at all.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Nana's Easy Fruit Cobbler

"All the old southern ladies around here use this simple recipe for cobblers--cuppa, cuppa, cuppa. Which means one cup milk, one cup flour, and one cup sugar." -Nana

  • 1 cup self rising flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk (low fat is fine)
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • Fruit of choice (I used about 8 fresh peeled and sliced peaches, you need enough to make a solid layer on the bottom of whatever pan you are using)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 T cinnamon (more or less for your liking)
  • 3 T sugar
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel and slice your fruit of choice (if using blueberries or blackberries no peeling or slicing needed :)) and arrange on the bottom of a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan.

Sprinkle a few tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon over the fruit mixture, as much or as little as you would like.

Mix togethe
r flour, sugar and milk until no lumps appear. Stir in vanilla extract. Mixture should be runny. I also added a few teaspoons of cinnamon to the batter, and I actually used about 1 1/2 cups each because I was making a bit more which turned out perfect. I also added a few more spoonfuls of flour just so that the mixture wasn't too watery, but that is all up to you.

At this point, I was a little unsure as to when I should pour the melted butter over the top of the dish, and so I just poured it in over top of everything before baking. I thought afterwards though that it might have been good to let the dessert bake and then take it out, pour the butter on and sprinkle with some more sugar and cinnamon. Either way, it will come out yummy.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, or until pastry is lightly browned.

The KBo Conclusion:

I thought that this dessert was perfect for summer, especially for our July 4th BBQ! I would like to try it again, however, and turn it into something a little healthier...I might try it with some honey or agave nectar and Splenda, also with less butter and perhaps use Smart Balance instead. I will let you know how that turns out!

But all in all, this was melt in your mouth good, and oh so easy. The part that took the most time was peeling and slicing all those peaches! Some of mine were at their peak ripeness and it was pretty hard to get the skin off those babies.

I would suggest this for any summer celebration, and it would be great with apples, cherries or blueberries as well. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Happy Indepence Day, Thank you Veterans

I hope everyone had a great 4th! We went to the mountains (Boone, NC) to hang with some of M's friends this weekend. We grilled out and feasted on hamburgers, hotdogs, potato salad, coleslaw, plenty of potato chips and I made peach cobbler! We also made these cute cupcakes for the crew!

I hope you are all enjoying your weekend and celebrating safely.

I wanted to dedicate this post to all veterans who have served for our country and put their lives on the line so that we back home can safely celebrate holidays like Independence Day. Thank you for everything that you sacrifice for us. We would not be free if it weren't for you. :)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

From Scratch Double-Delight Peanut Butter Cookies


PB Cookie Dough

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth, national brand)

Filling and Topping
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy, national brand)
1/2 cup confectioners’/powdered sugar
generous pinch salt (recommended)

Make the cookie dough. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light. Beat in egg, followed by the vanilla and peanut butter.

Gradually add in dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just combined.
Spoon dough onto a sheet of wax or parchment paper, shape into a roll about 3-inches in diameter and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Prepare topping and filling. In small bowl, mix chopped peanuts, granulated sugar and cinnamon; set aside.

In another small bowl, stir peanut butter and powdered sugar (and a bit of salt, if using) until smooth. Shape mixture 20 small (1/2 inch) balls and place each on a sheet of parchment paper. Set aside.

Remove cookie dough from fridge. Cut the log lengthwise in half, then make 10 horizontal cuts to slice the dough into a total of 20 even pieces. Each piece should be a semi-circle in shape.

Flatten each piece of dough and place a peanut butter ball into it. Shape each cookie dough piece around the filling, making sure to cover the ball completely. Repeat with remaining dough and balls.

Roll each ball in peanut-sugar mixture and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about 2-inches between balls. Use a flat-bottomed drinking glass to flatten the cookies down to 1/4-inch thickness.

Bake for 9 - 11 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

Cool for 1-2 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 20 large cookies

The KBo Conclusion
As a big (almost huge) fan of peanut butter anything I knew that I simply must make these cookies. Since finding this recipe, I have made them a few times and each time they simply get better. For me, it was a little bit easier to simply scoop small spoonfuls of the peanut butter mixture into the cookies, rather than making peanut butter balls and then putting that in the cookies, but you guys make them however you would like!

I especially love the warm peanut butter mixture in the middle of the cookie, it really is heavenly. Four thumbs up!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Soyrizo Cilantro and Avocado Burgers

1 12 oz. package of Soyrizo* (Soy chorizo sausage, you can also use regular chorizo if soy isn't your thing)
1 pound lean ground beef (anything above 93% lean is good)
1 small white onion, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 sliced tomato
iceberg lettuce leafs
2 avocados sliced
1 package thickly sliced Muenster cheese
low fat mayo for spreading
salt and pepper
4-6 whole wheat buns

*This is the only kind I could find online, but I used a different brand that I bought at Wal-Mart.

Start by mixing the soyrizo (in my case, you had to remove the sausage from the casing and crumble into the bowl), ground beef, cilantro and onion in a large mixing bowl. After everything is mixed well, form into 4 to 6 patties. This step can be difficult if the ingredients don't hold together so be careful!

Heat a medium to large sized nonstick skillet on medium heat and then spray with non-stick cooking spray. I like to use Pam Organic Olive Oil spray. Gently place the burgers on the heated skillet and let cook on one side until a nice crust forms. Gently flip to cook the other side through. This should take about 10-15 minutes. If you are using the Muenster cheese, place one slice on each burger while still in skillet to melt.

Once the burgers are cooked, arrange on toasted whole wheat buns with the mayo spread on each side. Spread the avocado slices on the top bun half and sprinkle with salt and pepper, place the burger (with or without the cheese) on the bottom bun half, then add your tomato and lettuce. Enjoy!

The Kbo Conclusion
These burgers turned out way better than I thought they would! Although they were a little messy in the making, once everything came together the flavors of the soyrizo, cilantro, and the avocado were fabulous. I also ended up only making about three burgers for me and M to enjoy and then crumbling the rest of the meat mixture to save for leftover taco salad! (Recipe to come.)

All in all this was a flavorful and pretty healthy way to spice up the average burger, perfect for a July 4th cookout!