Country Style Pork Ribs

Country Style Pork Ribs

Country Style Pork Ribs

Talk about finger-lickin’good, these ribs go beyond that!  I licked the spoon, the spatula, and my fingers.  Before the first bite of these succulent pieces of pork rib reach your tummy, you’ll be reaching for another bite.  Guaranteed!

The time spent on these ribs takes place at the beginning–the morning, or evening before you’re planning to serve them.  At that time you will need to season and brown the meat, and sauté onions.  Then layer it all up in your slow cooker and forget about it (if you can, with all that tantalizing aroma), until dinner time rolls around.  Be sure you have a can of beer–any kind–on hand because this is the basis of the sauce.  WOW, talk about good!  Note to self:  have more beer on hand to sip while eating these fantastic ribs.

Ribs with onion sauce served over rice.

Ribs with onion sauce served over rice.

This recipe is on a clipping from an old newspaper, probably the Hartford Courant,  but I don’t have a date.  The clipping has notes written all over it about how good the ribs are, and also how I modified it.  The original recipe called for slow cooking the ribs, then taking them outside to your grill and charring them a little before indulging, but I found them to be so falling-apart tender that I was afraid they would fall through the grates and I would lose them.  Maybe if you put a sheet of foil on the grates first, it would work, but I just could not wait to dig into them, so I skipped this step.  As you read on, I’ll explain what I did.

COUNTRY STYLE PORK RIBS

Yield:   4 – 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 8  country-style pork ribs  (Choose ones with lots of meat on them)IMG_7058
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika (I used 1 T. regular and 1 T. smoked paprika.)
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced, to make 3 – 4 cups
  • 1 bottle or can of beer ( I used Budweiser)
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

1.  In a very large bowl or zip-top bag, mix together the seasonings, i.e., salt through black pepper.

All the lovely spices!  They smell wonderful.

All the lovely spices! They smell wonderful.

2.  Add the ribs, shake around  to coat well.  If there is seasoning left, save it,

3.  Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet on medium-high.  Add the oil and swirl to coat.  Put a couple of ribs at a time in the pan and sear on all sides.  Do not crowd the pan.

Beautifully browned ribs.

Beautifully browned ribs.

Do this in batches till they are all browned, adding a little more oil if necessary between batches.  Place on a large platter and set aside.

Set ribs aside while you sauté  the onions.

Set ribs aside while you sauté the onions.

4.  Into the drippings left in the pan, add the sliced onions.  Stir to coat all the onions.  I added the remaining seasonings to the onions at this point, letting them get all golden and softened as I sautéed them.

Getting the onions golden and softened.

Getting the onions golden and softened.

5.  Place onions in the bottom of slow-cooker, layer ribs on top of onions.  Carefully pour beer over the top, taking care not to wash that nice sear and layer of seasoning off the ribs.   Cover and cook on low for 8 – 10 hours.

Layer them up in the slow cooker.  Pour beer over the top.

Layer them up in the slow cooker. Pour beer over the top.

6.  Optional step:  When done, remove ribs, and place on a preheated grill.  Grill them until slightly charred.  Brush on your favorite BBQ sauce if desired.

7.  Turn the heat of the slow cooker to HIGH.   With a small whisk, mix the cornstarch and water together.  Pour into the juices in the cooker and cook briefly to thicken. You can also pour the juices into a saucepan and make the onion sauce on the stovetop.  Serve with the ribs.  This is a nicely flavored onion sauce to pour over rice along side the ribs.

Ribs and onion sauce.

Ribs and onion sauce.

IMG_7067

SOURCE:   old newspaper clipping,  Hartford Courant,  ? date.

 

Advertisements

Layered Strawberry-Coconut Panna Cotta

Strawberry-Coconut Panna Cotta

Strawberry-Coconut Panna Cotta

After this year’s seemingly never ending winter, it’s a joy to see the arrival of spring and the arrival of fresh vegetables like asparagus, baby artichokes, and new beets.  Early fruits include rhubarb and strawberries, and I can’t wait to start to use them in my meals.

One of the first things I made was this sweet, creamy strawberry-coconut panna cotta.   The strawberries are served up in two ways–sliced and sweetened as a topping, and cooked into the ruby-red gelatin. I showcased it’s pretty layers by serving it in wine glasses.

IMG_7096

This dessert gets it’s coconut flavor thru coconut milk, and the recipe calls for both regular coconut milk and light coconut milk.  If you prefer to use all light coconut milk you certainly can, but it’s amazing how much flavor and creamy consistency you get from mixing in a little full-fat coconut milk.  I already had some cream of coconut open in my refrigerator, so I used that, and thinned it with skim milk.  This allowed me to keep the fat content low, but still get the coconut flavor.  The cream of coconut is sweet, so I used only 1 Tablespoon of sugar in the panna cotta.

LAYERED STRAWBERRY-COCONUT PANNA COTTAIMG_7095

Yield:   Serves 4

Ingredients:

Strawberry Gelatin:

  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 3/4 cup sliced strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  •  1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup water

Panna Cotta:

  • 3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk**
  • 1/4 cup light coconut milk **
  • 2  1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar  ( I used only 1 Tablespoon sugar, here.)IMG_7099
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  •  ** If using cream of coconut, make a 50-50 mixture of cream of coconut and fat-free milk for a total of 3/4 cup of liquid.

Strawberries:

  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1  teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Directions:

1.  To make the strawberry gelatin:  Sprinkle 1 teaspoon gelatin over 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl.  Combine the strawberries, the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan;  let stand for 5 minutes.  Mash mixture with a fork or a potato masher.  Place pan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a simmer;  cook 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves.  Add the water; return to a simmer.  Remove from the heat.  Add gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin dissolves.  Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a measuring cup, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible.  Discard solids.  Divide strawberry mixture evenly among 4 wineglasses.  Chill 1 hour or until set.

2.  To make the panna cotta:  Sprinkle 3/4 tsp. gelatin over the 1 tbsp. water in a small bowl.  Combine coconut milks, sugar, and 1 tsp. lemon juice in a saucepan; bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat.  Add gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin dissolves.  Cool to room temperature.  Carefully pour one-fourth of this mixture on top of each strawberry gelatin.  Chill 1 hour or until set.

3.  To prepare strawberries:  Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl;  toss gently.  Let stand  5  minutes.  Divide strawberry mixture evenly among the glasses.

IMG_7102

 

IMG_7097

 

SOURCE:   Cooking Light Magazine

Pasta Primavera with Crab Meat

Pasta Primavera with Crab

Pasta Primavera with Crab

 

A walk through the produce section of the supermarket at this time of year makes me think of pasta primavera.  The word primavera means “first green” in Italian.  So pasta primavera is, technically, pasta with the first green vegetables of spring,  Many restaurants disregard this meaning, however, and include just about any vegetables they have on hand.  Personally, I’d rather not find corn, summer squash or sweet peppers in my primavera.  I also find that a sauce made with heavy cream and butter is much too thick and rich for what should be a light springtime meal.

IMG_7110

What is supposed to happen goes something like this:  the chef gets up at dawn to browse the farmer’s market, finds the most awesome display of spring vegetables, then goes back to his kitchen and prepares them in a light cream sauce on perfectly cooked pasta.  Unfortunately that chef probably lives nowhere near you.  But here’s the good news!  That chef can be you (and me).  Walking through the market and filling your basket with whatever catches your eye is fun.  You’ll be surprised  at how easy it is to find beautiful spring produce when you actually shop for it in the spring.

Making pasta primavera is quite easy, with the most time spent cutting up the vegetables.  They should all be cut in uniform size so they will cook in the same amount of time. I like to jullien cut my vegetables so they are the same shape as the pasta. Once that’s all done, cooking the veggies till they’re tender and making the sauce takes place while the pasta cooks.  Put it all together, and you will have a dish that is fresh, bright, and attractive to serve.  The version that I put together uses only 8-ounces of fettuccine, lots of vegetables, and some crab meat for added protein. Vegetarians can omit the crab meat.  This dish makes 6 generous servings, so the calorie and carbohydrate content  per serving is low.

IMG_7113

 

PASTA PRIMAVERA WITH CRAB MEAT

Yield:   Makes 6 generous servings    Recipe can be halved.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

    Have all the vegetables prepped before you start cooking.

    Have all the vegetables prepped before you start cooking.

  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup sliced asparagus
  • 1 cup spring peas
  • 1 cup carrots, jullienned
  • 1 medium zucchini, jullienned
  • 1 large spring onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped, or 1/2 tsp. dried
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped, or 1/2 tsp. dried
  • 3/4 pound crab meat, or similar amount crab-flavored chunks
  • 1 cup half and half, or light cream
  • 8 ounces linguine or fettuccine, cooked according to package directions, drained and hot.
  • black pepper to taste
  • grated Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Sauté  vegetables 2 -3 minutes or until crisp tender.

 Sautéing the vegetables.


Sautéing the vegetables.

Add herbs and crab meat; sauté 1 – 2 minutes.

Add in the herbs and crabmeat.

Add in the herbs and crabmeat.

Add half and half, heat to boiling.Drain pasta, saving about 1/2 cup cooking liquid.  Add to skillet with vegetables and sauce.  Gently toss with pasta, adding some cooking liquid if necessary to loosen the sauce.

Adding in the sauce and pasta.

Adding in the sauce and pasta.

 

Toss all together in a large bowl and serve.

Toss all together in a large bowl and serve.

Transfer to a large serving bowl.  Season to taste with pepper.  Serve with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

 

SOURCE:   A Carolyn Original

In the archives there is a former recipe for pasta primavera that I have worked with to come up with this new and improved recipe that I believe is lighter and healthier.

 

 

 

 

(Lighter) Spinach-Bacon Quiche

Bacon Spinach Quiche

Spinach Bacon Quiche

If brunch is in your plans in the near future, one favorite menu item is quiche.   Quiche, however, can contain lots of hidden calories and fat.  One wedge can contain in the neighborhood of 600 (or more) calories.  Yet we love it, so the dilemma is how to lighten it up, and still get all the creamy goodness that we love.

One way would be to eliminate the crust, but really, who likes a quiche with no flaky crust to support all that eggy, cheesy filling.  This recipe uses a crust made with olive oil instead of the traditional butter or shortening.  The heart healthy olive oil lends a “green”, flavor to the crust.  The filling is bulked up with mushrooms and spinach, adding few calories, but great nutritional value.  A nutty flavored cheese like Gruyère, or Swiss is the perfect compliment to the vegetables, and only 2 ounces go into this quiche.  The egg custard is made using mostly low fat milk (I used skim milk) plus a splash of half-and-half that adds richness but fewer calories and fat than heavy cream.  The quiche is finished off with a sprinkle of crisp bacon on the top, which you taste first, so you get a savory crunch in every bite.  One sixth of this quiche is a 317-calorie slice of heaven.  Vegetarians would find this quiche very satisfying even without the bacon, or could use a substitute.

I tested out this recipe earlier this week, served it for dinner with a side salad, and Mr. D.  loved it,  never suspecting it was a “lighter” version. I thought it was luscious.

This quiche with salad and bread makes a complete meal.

The quiche with salad and bread makes a complete meal.

(LIGHTER) SPINACH-BACON QUICHE

Yield:  Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 5.6 ounces all-purpose flour, about 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons

    Ingredients ready to start cooking.

    Ingredients ready to start cooking.

  • 3/4 kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
  • cooking spray
  • 3 slices bacon, lean center cut, if possible (vegetarians can omit bacon)
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 (8-ounce) package sliced mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 1 cup 1 % low-fat milk (I used fat-free)
  • 1/3 cup half and half, or light cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (swiss cheese, or any good melting cheese may be used instead)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.

2.  ** Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cup.  Combine flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and baking powder in a food processor; pulse 2 times to combine.  Combine oil with 3 tablespoons water.  With processor running, slowly add oil mixture through food chute; process until dough comes together.  Turn dough out onto slightly floured surface.  Knead 1 minute.  Press dough into a 5-inch disk; wrap in plastic wrap, and chill 20 minutes.

3.  Roll dough into a 12-inch circle.  Fit into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate coated with cooking spray.  Line dough with foil;  arrange pie weights or dried beans on foil.  Bake at 425*F. for 12 minutes until edges are golden.  Remove weights and foil; bake an additional 2 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack while you make the filling.

4.  Reduce oven temperature to 350*F.

5.  Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings;  crumble and set aside.  Return pan to medium-high heat.  Add shallots to drippings in pan; sauté 2 minutes.

Bacon crisped, shallots being sautéed

Bacon crisped, shallots being sautéed

Add mushrooms and thyme; cook until tender, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in spinach; cook 2 minutes or until it wilts.  Remove from heat.  Drain any excess liquid.

Mushrooms and spinach added to skillet.

Mushrooms and spinach added to skillet.

6.  Place milk, half-and-half, eggs, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a blender; process until smooth.

Prepare egg custard in a blender.

Prepare egg custard in a blender.

7.  Arrange half of cheese over bottom of crust; top with spinach mixture and remaining half of cheese.

Cheese goes into the crust first.

Cheese goes into the crust first.

Next goes the spinach mustard mixture.

Next goes the spinach mustard mixture.

Cover with remaining cheese.

Cover with remaining cheese.

Carefully pour milk mixture over cheese.  Sprinkle with bacon.

Sprinkle crumbled bacon over all, and pour in milk mixture.

Sprinkle crumbled bacon over all, and pour in milk mixture.

Bake at 350*F for 45 minutes or until filling is set and top begins to brown.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Bacon Spinach Quiche

Bacon Spinach Quiche

**As a time saving step, and if calories in the crust are not a concern, you could use a frozen pie crust.  Bake as directed in step #3, according to package directions.

Serve with salad.

Serve with salad.

IMG_7091

 

 

SOURCE:     Cooking Light Magazine

 

Kielbasa Apple Skewers

Kielbasa-Apple Skewers

Kielbasa-Apple Skewers

Whenever our family gets together for a holiday gathering we usually start around mid-afternoon, but dinner is not served for several more hours.  Of course, everyone is hungry so we always have appetizers, and each of us brings one to share.  These were part of my contribution to the family gathering.  Bonkers awesome is what they were.  The men just loved them, and all that I brought disappeared in a flash.  Had I anticipated how good these would be I would have prepared more.

IMG_0297

Even when our main entreé is ham, I like to have kielbasa for Easter as well.  So I thought these appys would be a good way to work it in.  I used a precooked kielbasa that weighed about 1 pound, and warmed it through before cutting it up for the appetizers.  I paired it with Granny Smith apples because of their tartness.  I did not want a sweet apple.  The dipping sauce I made consisted of light sour cream,  whole-grain mustard and horseradish.  These were hearty enough to quiet the “hungries”, but not heavily laden with fat and calories.

Dipping sauce, all made, and its ingredients.

Dipping sauce, all made, and its ingredients.

These can be put together at the last minute by simply slicing the kielbasa, slicing up the apples, match them up in pairs, thread onto  skewers, and serve with the dipping sauce.  Easy.  Beautiful.  Deeeelish!

IMG_0295

KIELBASA APPLE SKEWERS

Yield:   I made about 36 skewers with the quantities given below.

Ingredients:

  • 1   (1-pound) precooked kielbasa, warmed through in a saucepan with some water, or grilled.
  • 1 -2 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced or cubed
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons, chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 2 teaspoons horseradish
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1.  Slice the kielbasa into 1/4-inch thick slices.

2.  Cut the green apples into thin slices or small cubes.   Thread kielbasa and apples onto skewers. (toothpicks)

3.  In a small mixing bowl,  stir together the sour cream, parsley, mustard, horseradish and salt.

4.  Arrange the skewers on a serving tray and serve with the dipping sauce.

IMG_0296

 

SOURCE:   Adapted from Food Network Magazine

 

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Mustard-Thyme Sauce

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Mustard-Thyme Sauce

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Mustard-Thyme Sauce

I have spent uncountable hours of my life cooking chicken.  Chicken with and chicken without.  Chicken whole and chicken parts.  Chicken roasted, broiled, grilled, sautéed, fried, sauced, souped, and brothed.  (new word here.)  Am I bored with chicken, you ask? No, in spite of umpteen ways of cooking chicken, I am not bored with it, and hope you are not either.  I like to compare chicken to someone who is a “universal blood donor”,  having something for everyone.  (Sorry about the example, but I’m a medical person.) Everyone probably has a favorite dish that uses chicken in one form or another.

So, if all of the numerous chicken recipes already on this blog have left you feeling bleh, maybe, just maybe, this is the one that will compel you to march into your kitchen and start cooking.  I particularly like this one because of the sauce.  I’ve grown very fond of mustard sauces and paired with thyme, this is very good.  It also makes enough to spoon over the chicken and rice, noodles or potatoes that you may serve with it.  In my opinion, chicken with sauce is always better than chicken without.

When I am using my oven to prepare an entree like this, I like to also make a side dish that will be oven cooked as well.  The side dish I made was roasted red skin potatoes with green beans, since they cook at the same oven temperature as the chicken and for a similar length of time.  Turns out they were a good accompaniment to the chicken.  While all that was roasting in the oven I was able to make a salad to complete the meal.

IMG_7043

 

ROASTED CHICKEN THIGHS WITH MUSTARD-THYME SAUCE

Yield:   Serves  4

Sauce ingredients.

Sauce ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1 cup no-salt added chicken broth, divided
  • 4 teaspoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 425*F.  Lightly grease an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.

2.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.  Remove chicken from pan and place in the prepared baking dish.

IMG_7033

Bake at 425*F for 16 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165*.   Remove chicken from dish and reserve the drippings.

3.  Return skillet to medium-high heat.  Add butter; swirl to coat.  Add onion and thyme; sauté  5 minutes or until tender.

Sauté onions with thyme.

Sauté onions with thyme.

Combine 3 tablespoons chicken broth with the flour in a small bowl.  Add flour mixture, remaining broth and reserved drippings to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.   Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat, and add mustard, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, stirring with a whisk.  Serve sauce with chicken.

To make the Roasted Potatoes with Green Beans:   Wash and quarter 4-5 red skin potatoes, and place in a shallow baking dish.

Red-skin potatoes, quartered.

Red-skin potatoes, quartered.

Add in about 10 oz. fresh green beans and 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves.  Drizzle over the top 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and toss to coat well.   Bake at 425*F for 25 – 30 minutes, stirring once.  Pierce the potatoes with a sharp knife to test for doneness.  Serve with chicken, spooning the sauce over all.

Roast potatoes with green beans.

Roast potatoes with green beans.

IMG_7043

 

SOURCE:  Cooking Light

Cheese Ravioli with Zucchini

Cheese Ravioli with Zucchini (and peppers)

Cheese Ravioli with Zucchini (and peppers)

Often my cravings dictate what I cook more than what’s available in the produce department of the supermarket.  However today’s meal is not one of them.  At the market this week bell peppers in all colors were specially priced, there was a load of zucchini, medium sized and tender and in the frozen foods section cheese ravioli in all shapes and sizes were being featured.  All that spoke to me, no, shouted at me, ” hey, don’t you think we belong together?”   Embarrassed by all that shouting, I quietly gathered them up and put them into my grocery cart, while thoughts of sugarplums, casseroles, danced in my head.

IMG_0288

Somewhere in the farthest corner of my brain I remembered seeing a recipe that used cheese ravioli and zucchini together. At the time I thought it seemed rather bland, but after I searched it out, and thought about how I could tweak it, I used it as a basis for this version that turned out to be rather fabulous.  Mr. D. said he thinks he likes it better than vegetable lasagna.  The ravioli and vegetables are surrounded by a creamy, not-too-thick cheese sauce, giving the whole lots of flavor.   This was so satisfying, all it needed for completion was a green salad.  This is definitely  a make-again meal.

A bonus to this meal is that it takes very little time to prepare making it a good week night meal, and its meatless too!

 

CHEESE RAVIOLI WITH ZUCCHINI

Yield:    Servings,  4IMG_7048

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 package ( 9-ounces) cheese ravioli
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium red pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 medium zucchini, julienned
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/teaspoon dried parsley

Directions:

1.  Cook the ravioli as its package directs.

IMG_0286

2.  Combine cream and chicken broth in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.

3.  Melt butter in a large skillet, sauté the onion until translucent.  Add the pepper strips and cook 2 minutes.  Stir in the zucchini, salt and garlic powder.  Cook 1 – 2 minutes until tender.

Sautéing the vegetables.

Sautéing the vegetables.

4.  Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, basil and parsley to the cream sauce.   Drain the ravioli and add to the cream sauce.  Add the skillet vegetables.   Toss to coat.

Veggies and cream sauce mixed together.

Veggies and cream sauce mixed together.

5.  Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle remaining cheese over the top before serving.

Ready for serving.  Makes a colorful presentation.

Ready for serving. Makes a colorful presentation.

This is so good. :)

This is so good. 🙂

 

SOURCE:   I made major modifications to a recipe from Taste of Home.

Skinny Chocolate Strawberry Frappé

Skinny Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappé

Skinny Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappé

Has anybody besides me come to the realization that it’s time to get serious about shedding some pounds and inches in order to fit into the summer wardrobe.  I mean really serious.   😦  I thought I would begin with this beverage which is delicious, but low in calories, fat and carbs.  The end of this post will give you the specifics on that.  You will be amazed.

This yummy, frappuccino is really rich and flavorful.  It’s a copycat of the McDonald’s one with a fraction of the cost and calories of the original.  Full of real fruit and chocolate, this is one drink you won’t want to miss! It reminds me of chocolate covered strawberries.

Before making it I decided to research the original Strawberry Frappé to find out what it was made of.  Before too long, I learned that this beverage had earned many negative reviews.  Two things became glaringly apparent :  the strawberry flavor tasted completely artificial; and chunks of chocolate clogged the straw, making it impossible to drink.

IMG_6712

Ahaa!  I knew I could do better than that.  So, I pulled my trusty blender out and started measuring out ingredients.  Mr. D. was at home and he was willing to be my official “taste tester”.   I have to admit my first go at it left something to be desired…it was very unsweet with a prominent chocolate flavor.  I remedied that by adding more strawberries, and more sweetener.  My choice, and what I had on hand, was agave syrup.   I added about 2 Tablespoons to each drink, and this was adequate for us.

You can whip up this ridiculously easy recipe with only 5 ingredients:   dark, strong coffee, milk, cocoa powder, strawberries, and some sweetener.  You probably have all of these in your pantry -and fridge- already!

IMG_6713

I strongly recommend using frozen strawberries instead of fresh ones.  Fresh strawberries, with their juice, will add too much liquid to the frappuccino.  Frozen strawberries are generally picked at their peak of ripeness and flash frozen which preserves their bright fruity taste.  In addition to flavor, the frozen strawberries also act as ice and help thicken the drink without watering down the taste.

To fix the second problem of chocolate chunks clogging the straw, I opted to use cocoa powder instead of pieces of chocolate.  It still adds a whole lot of chocolate flavor, but as a fine powder, it won’t plug up the straw.  Cocoa powder also has a greatly reduced number of calories and fat without sacrificing any flavor.

SKINNY CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRY FRAPPÉ

Yield:  Makes about 16 ounces.  Enough for 1 hugh drink or 2 smaller ones.

Ingredients:IMG_6710

  • 3/4 cup double-strength coffee, chilled
  • 1/2 cup skim milk (Any kind of milk will do, I used almond milk.)
  • 1  1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup frozen unsweetened strawberries
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • sweetener to taste  (agave, honey, etc.)

Instructions:

1.  Add only the coffee, milk, and cocoa powder to your blender container to begin.  You want to thoroughly mix those together before adding the frozen ingredients, so the cocoa gets uniformly mixed in, avoiding any little pockets of cocoa powder.

2.  Pour in the frozen strawberries and ice, and any sweetener desired, and blend till smooth.  Pour into a large glass and serve with a straw.   YUM!

IMG_6711

Here’s the hugh payoff—-when compared with McDonald’s, my version contains 621 fewer calories, 26.6 fewer grams fat, 89.9 fewer grams of carbs, and 89.8 fewer grams of sugar.

I am also going to keep this recipe in mind when hot weather arrives, and make it to pour into my popsicle molds.  I think this is going to be a delicious summertime cool-down treat.

 

 

Banana Chip Muffins

Banana Chip Muffins

Banana Chip Muffins

It’s hard to know when would be the best time to eat these wonderful muffins.  Certainly, for breakfast, but they make a mighty fine dessert or snack as well.  I tested out this recipe last weekend because I plan to make them for an Easter Bake sale.  Muffins are always great with coffee on Easter morning, when you know there will be a big meal sometime later in the day.

When I was a teenager our youth group always got up really early to attend an Easter sunrise service.   At that hour of the morning, it was quite chilly outside, so when the service was over we always went to someone’s house or back to church for hot chocolate and whatever other goodies were provided.  Moving and beautiful as the service was, I always looked forward to the refreshments that followed.  These muffins are the essential accessory  to a hot beverage, and would be perfect served at an early morning function, or maybe an early meeting at the office.

Muffin and a hot beverage.

Muffin and a hot beverage.

These are sturdy muffins chock full of flaked coconut, chocolate chips, and nuts if you care to add them.  The tropical taste of the coconut blends beautifully with the banana flavor and develops the batter along the way; the inclusion of  chocolate chips is a necessity for those  individuals who require chocolate in every bite of muffin.

IMG_7057

What makes the texture of these banana muffins somewhat cake-like and soft is the process by which the batter is assembled: the butter and brown sugar are creamed together until fluffy and smooth.  This builds the batter’s creamy quality and prepares the mixture for the addition of the whole eggs.  Once the eggs are added, the flavoring extract and the mashed bananas are incorporated, followed by the final mix-in of the dry ingredients and enough buttermilk to moisten the whole.  The batter is now ready to accept the shredded coconut, mini chips and nuts.

Spooned into lined muffin cups and baked, the batter bakes up into plump muffins that have lovely rounded tops.  When you break open a warm muffin, you’ll find a tender, moist, “crumb” holding chocolate chips and coconut, all wrapped by the taste of banana.  Sigh!!

Can anything make them better?   Yes, butter!!

Can anything make them better? Yes, butter!!

BANANA CHIP MUFFINS

Yield:   12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup white whole wheat and 1 cup regular flour.)IMG_7014
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons ( 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas)
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips ( I used mini chips.)

IMG_7015

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 375*F.  Line 12 muffin cups (3-ounce size)  with paper liners, or grease lightly.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and the brown sugar for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.

3.  Beat in the eggs to incorporate,  add in the banana and vanilla.   The mixture may look curdled.   Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, continuing to mix just to combine.

4.  Reserve 2 tablespoons chocolate chips.  Add the rest of the chips, the coconut, and nuts, (if using) to the batter and stir in to distribute evenly.

5.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.  Sprinkle the tops with the reserved chocolate chips.  Bake 25 – 30 minutes until a toothpick into the center of one muffin comes out clean.

IMG_7016

6.  Remove the muffin tin to a wire rack.  Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes.  Remove muffins from the cups and finish cooling on the rack.  Serve warm or cool completely and store the muffins in an airtight container at room temperature.

IMG_7021

Happy Easter!  :)

Happy Easter! 🙂

 

SOURCE:   Chocolatier Magazine

 

Nutella Cream Puffs

Nutella Cream Puffs

Nutella Cream Puffs

Today I thought I would dazzle you with these decadent cream puffs.  Really, who can be good all the time?  I just couldn’t help myself when I found this recipe.  They are so delicious!   It just wouldn’t be fair to make them and not share them with all of you.   I think these would make the perfect dessert for Easter dinner.

Creamy Nutella filling with a rich chocolate glaze.

Creamy Nutella filling with a rich chocolate glaze.

Cream puffs are not a dessert that I make on a regular basis; more likely for special occasions. I’d almost forgotten how much I love baking choux–the way it magically puffs in the oven, creating a secret hiding place for a rich filling. The pastry itself is very simple and the Nutella whipped cream couldn’t be easier.  You can substitute any cream filling or pudding if you would like. This is one of those desserts that looks like you spent hours making it and is super complicated, but instead is incredibly easy.  This is a dessert that can be made over two days, though it doesn’t need to take that long.  The first day I like to leisurely make the paté choux, and the next day I’ll make the filling and frosting.

The puffs, though easy to make, do need ample time in the oven to puff up.  Give them the full time allotted and don’t open the oven door until they are fragrantly eggy and golden.

 

NUTELLA CREAM PUFFS

Yield:  12 to 14 puffs

Ingredients:

For the pastry:IMG_7005

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (only if using unsalted butter)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 eggs

For the whipped cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup Nutella

For the chocolate drizzle:

  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil or shortening

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400*F.    Bring the water, salt and butter to boil over medium high heat, and stir occasionally.  At the boil,  remove from heat and sift in flour, stirring until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball.  Stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool a little.  Add eggs one at a time, stirring well after each one, until the mixture is smooth and satiny.

2.  Drop scoops of dough ( or pipe rounds for smooth even puffs) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone liner.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the puffs are golden and puffed up.  Puffs are done when they are hollow inside.  Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool.

Baked puffs, nicely browned.

Baked puffs, nicely browned.

3.  While puffs are cooling, whip the cream using a stand mixer or hand mixer.  When the cream forms soft peaks beat in the powdered sugar until combined.  Add the Nutella and beat until light and fluffy.  Cut cooled puffs in half horizontally and fill with whipped cream.

4.  To make the drizzle, add the chocolate chips and coconut oil (or shortening) to a microwave safe bowl.  Heat at 50% power for one minute and stir.  Continue heating for thirty second intervals at 50% power until melted and smooth.  Pour the chocolate into a ziploc bag or piping bag and cut a small piece off the corner of the bag.  Drizzle over the filled cream puffs.  Store cream puffs in the refrigerator.

IMG_7024

IMG_7032

 

SOURCE:   Chocolatier Magazine