Shrimp and Corn Chowder

Shrimp and Corn Chowder

Shrimp and Corn Chowder

This is a thick and creamy chowder without all the added fat that chowders are usually prepared with.  Using a combination of chicken broth and low-fat milk lowers calories, and blending part of the soup helps thicken it.

Great flavor is achieved by sautéing lots of celery and onion in a small amount of butter till softened, then adding the flour and cooking to incorporate it.  Add the corn, diced potato, chicken broth and seasonings and cook until potatoes are tender.  Then about 1/3 of this mixture is blended in a blender and returned to the soup kettle along with the milk and shrimp.

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To make this a gluten-free meal, omit the flour.  The soup may be a tiny bit less thick, but still deliciously seasoned and filling.  This makes four generous servings with calorie count only 394/serving, and fat at 8g.

We love this soup, and summertime is the perfect time to make it with summer corn at it’s sweetest.  However I made it recently because I ended up with an opened package of frozen corn to use up.  Mr. D. suggested I make corn chowder, so that’s the back story of why I made it now.  Although frozen corn is not ideal, it still gave thickness and corn flavor that was satisfying.

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At serving time I added some chopped green onion, (green parts only) and chopped celery leaves for garnish.  A salty cheese would also be good sprinkled on top such as queso fresco, cojita or feta.  This will add calories and fat so be mindful of that if you are counting calories.

SHRIMP AND CORN CHOWDER

Yield:   Makes 4 servingsIMG_9182

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • 3 medium or 4 small potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepperIMG_9184
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 bunch scallions, green parts only, chopped
  • celery leaves, chopped

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Directions:

1.  Melt the butter in a soup kettle or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Stir in the celery and onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until they begin to soften.

2.  Stir in the corn and potatoes, then stir in the flour until incorporated.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, thyme and bay leaves, plus 1/2 tsp. salt and a few grinds of black pepper.  Cook until potatoes test done.

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3. Remove bay leaves;  transfer about 1/3 of this mixture to a blender and puree until smooth, then return to the pot.

 

IMG_9187 Return to a simmer, add the milk, and shrimp.  Reduce heat to low, and cook until shrimp are pink, about 4 minutes.  Season with additional salt if needed.  Soup may be thinned with additional chicken broth if it’s too thick.

4.  Divide among serving bowls and sprinkle with chopped scallions and celery leaves.

Shrimp and Corn Chowder

Shrimp and Corn Chowder

 

SOURCE:  a major adaptation of a recipe from Cooking Light

 

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Italian Lemon Almond Cake

Italian Lemon Almond Cake

Italian Lemon Almond Cake

Call me sentimental, folks, but I think there’s something downright romantic about the way all those bright oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and limes show up in the produce aisles just when we’re needing them most.  When the wind is whipping and we haven’t seen green grass since I don’t know when, who couldn’t use a little warm weather fling to reminder them of warm, sunnier times?

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No matter if stirred into a salsa, or baked under a fluffy layer of meringue, these seasonal beauties remind me of how much I long for the sunshine, and so I do my best to incorporate citrus fruits into our diet and our lives whenever the opportunity presents itself.   I would never turn away from the kiss of citrus.

This grain-free lemon cake (also known as Torta Caprese Bianca) is just perfection in my mind.  I would like to say it is “to die for”, but that phrase is so over-worked, that I won’t use it, but you get my meaning, I’m sure.

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The cake is made with almond flour and is full of lemon flavor!  It’s yellow, like a ray of sunshine, a happy color.  Just the thing to cheer you up as this winter weather drags on endlessly.  If you love lemon, this is a dessert you will love.  There are three sources of lemon flavor;  lots of lemon zest, lemon extract, and limoncello ( or lemon juice).

After baking it may look a bit underdone in the middle, that’s what gives the cake its dense texture.  When you remove it from the oven it will be puffed up, but slowly sinks as it cools. It that doesn’t suit you, you can bake it a tad longer.  I loved the edges of the cake–kind of crispy and kind of chewy!   The texture reminds me of marzipan, but with the flavor of lemon.   We loved this cake so much, Mr. D. is asking when I’m going to make it again (his favorite flavor is lemon.)

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 ITALIAN LEMON ALMOND CAKE

Yield:   Serves 8 – 10

Ingredients:

  • 320 Gm (about 1 1/2 cups) almond flour, or blanched almonds ground into flour
  • 200 Gm ( a little over a cup) white chocolate, chopped ( I used white chocolate chips)IMG_9198
  • 2 Tbsp. cream or milk
  • 180 Gm butter, softened     1 stick + 4.5 Tbsp.
  • 130 Gm granulated sugar    about 1 cup
  • zest of 2-3 lemons,  2 Tbsp.
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
  • 40 Gm (about 2 Tbsp.) limoncello or lemon juice
  • powdered sugar for garnish

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Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease a 10-inch round pan ( a spring-form pan is good) and line it with parchment paper.

2.  Combine the white chocolate and cream/milk in a microwave-safe bowl.  Heat in 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool.

3.  In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and 100 Gm sugar (3/4 cup) until fluffy.

4.  Add egg yolks, lemon zest and extract and beat to combine.

Add eggs, zest and extract.

Add eggs, zest and extract.

5.  Add almond flour and melted chocolate.  Add limoncello and beat to combine.

6.  In a clean bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites to soft peaks,  slowly adding remaining 1/4 cup (30 Gm) sugar.  Fold into almond batter and combine gently.

Beat whites to soft peaks.

Beat whites to soft peaks.

Spoon into pan and bake for 40 – 45 minutes.

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A toothpick is not a reliable test for doneness, as the center may still be moist.  The cake should be golden brown, puffed, and spring back when touched.  As it cools it will sink in the center a bit.

Baked when golden brown and springs back when touched.

Baked when golden brown and springs back when touched.

7.  When cool, invert onto a cake plate and dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

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Note:  This recipe can be halved easily.  What you see here in my photos is half a recipe.  To bake the smaller volume, use a 7-inch round cake pan and bake for 30 minutes.  Unfortunately I do not have a 7-inch round pan, so I used an 8-inch cake pan, thus my cake is thinner than it should be.  A 7-inch pan will give you a taller cake.

P.S.  I will love this cake in any size 🙂

SOURCE:  Texanerin Baking

Lasagna Soup

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Here in Ct. we’re having what has been predicted as “the Blizzard of the Century”, although at the half-way-point it seems to have lost some of its strength, at least where I live. The snow is no longer falling, but there is a lot of it out there.  On such a day as this I’m making soup for dinner.  That should come as no surprise, as my mind and taste buds turn to a good hot soup on a cold and wintery day, as many of you well know.

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup

In my opinion there is no  better way to keep warm than with a bowl of steamy, hot soup!

Within the past few days two different recipes for Lasagna Soup have come to my attention, so I feel that I was destined to make this soup.  It’s so nice when you decide on the spur of the moment to make something and find everything that’s needed right in your refrigerator or cupboard.  Lucky me, since cars are forbidden on the roads, no trips to the grocery store are allowed.

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In a bowl of this soup, you will find everything you love about lasagna….sausage, lasagna noodles, marinara and cheese.   It’s filling, easy to make, and hearty.  Everything you want in a soup and perfect for a cold winter’s night.  It’s also family friendly–kids will love it.  The dollop of cheese on top really makes it.  You can use regular Italian sausage, sweet or spicy, or chicken sausage, any of which will give it great flavor.

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Two other benefits of this soup;  there are fewer calories than eating “for real” lasagna, and it’s all made in one pot.

LASAGNA SOUP

Yield:  Makes about 8 servings

Ingredients:

For the soup:

  • cooking sprayIMG_9049
  • 14 oz.- 1 lb. Italian sausage, pork or chicken, casings removed
  • 1/2 a large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  •  4 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 cups low-sodium, fat free chicken broth
  • 2  1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups jarred marinara sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • fresh black pepper
  • 6 oz. broken lasagna noodles, regular, whole wheat, or gluten free

For topping:

  • 6 Tbsp. part skim shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • basil leaves for garnish, if desired

Directions:

1.  Heat a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, spray with cooking spray and add the sausage.  Cook until browned, breaking it up as it cooks with a wooden spoon, about 4 to 5 minutes.

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2.  Add the chopped onion and crushed garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes.

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3.  Add the broth, water, marinara sauce, parsley, bay leaves and black pepper.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes.

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4.  Add the broken lasagna noodles and cook uncovered according the package directions.

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While noodles cook, make topping:

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, and parsley and stir to mix well.

To serve:  Ladle soup in bowls, and top each serving with 2 Tbsp. ricotta cheese mixture, some mozzarella, and fresh basil on top.

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SOURCE:  adapted from  Skinny Taste

Here’s  a selection of some other easy, healthy soup recipes that are in the recipe index:

Winter Immunity Boost: Roast Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes

Honey-Mustard Glazed Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes

Honey-Mustard Glazed Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes

Flu season is upon us.  Am I going to get it?  Nope!  Not going to do that.  Cold season?   No, get outta here with that stuff.

Feeling achy?  Sniffles?  Congestion?  Don’t have time for it!

There’s no guarantee, of course, but I’m doing everything I can to keep the sickness ‘bugs” away from our door.  How, you might be asking?  I’m preparing as much healthy produce as I possibly can and shoving it into our mouths 2-3 times a day.

In the morning it could be a green smoothie,  for lunch a salad with both cooked and raw veggies, throw in some citrus for good measure; and for dinner at least two veggie side dishes per meal.   I haven’t  fallen in love with every combination I’ve put together, but there have been several that I will be making again.  This is one of them.

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Parsnips are a late fall vegetable, harvested after frosts have set in, as they need the cold weather to convert their starches into sugar.  They are not a vegetable that I cook with any frequency, since up until now, I hadn’t found a way to prepare them that was terribly appealing.  In this dish, however, the parsnips are combined with sweet potatoes;  two vegetables that each have their own kind of sweetness.  Roasting them concentrates and blends their flavors, and then just before serving you pour a simple glaze of honey and Dijon mustard over them and toss to coat.  Well, that sauce is the magic that makes this dish sing.

I went from “not sure I’m going to like this” to “Wow, I love these”.  As I write this, it’s two days since I made the original dish and this evening  I’m making it again.  That’s how much I loved these veggies.  And Mr. D. loved them too!!  So I know I’ve got a winner in this dish.  Won’t you try it and see if you agree?

HONEY-MUSTARD GLAZED PARSNIPS AND SWEET POTATOES

Yield:  Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/4 pounds parsnips  (about 3 large or 4 medium)IMG_8954
  • 1 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • chopped parsley (optional)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.  Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

2.  Prepare the vegetables.  To cut parsnips:  Trim tops and bottoms; peel, and slice in half crosswise to separate thick and narrow parts.  Halve or quarter thick parts lengthwise, until all parsnip pieces are roughly the same size. Then cut on a diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick pieces.

Cut the narrow end from the thick end, then quarter the thick end.

Cut the narrow end from the thick end, then quarter the thick end.

 To cut sweet potatoes:  quarter them lengthwise so they are about the same thickness as the parsnips, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick pieces.

3.  Put the parsnips and sweet potatoes in a large bowl, and add the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat evenly.  Spread in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Spread seasoned veggies on a baking sheet.

Spread seasoned veggies on a baking sheet.

Roast until tender and golden, tossing once or twice, about 30 minutes.  Transfer into a serving bowl.

4.  In a small bowl, stir together honey and mustard.

Whisk together the honey and mustard.

Whisk together the honey and mustard.

Pour over vegetables, toss to coat.  Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.  Serve immediately.

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Isn’t this dish brightly colored and beautiful?   I mean… vitamin C,  vitamin A…..   There’s no way a cold is getting us down.   Knock on wood!

 

SOURCE:   Martha Stewart Living

 

 

Twice Baked Potatoes with Kale

Twice-Baked Potatoes with Kale

Twice-Baked Potatoes with Kale

It’s the weekend after Christmas and we’ve been to three parties plus a family get-together this past week.  I’ve eaten so much rich food, appetizers and dips, cheese this and cheese that, not to mention all the desserts,  that I woke up this morning with the urge to eat pie for breakfast.  Is this where the holiday festivities have brought me?

No, no, and no way.  I will not succumb to any more temptation.  I will overcome the gravitational pull to the wrong foods and make wholesome choices once again.  Yet somewhere along this righteous path to eating kale salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I remembered that kale salad tastes absolutely nothing like pie, cheesecake, or chocolate thumbprint cookies, so that was the end of that.

However, my reasoning tells me that there must be a middle ground here.  By Sunday dinnertime I’d found that middle ground; a happy medium between total submersion in butter, cream and chocolate, and the kind of austerity measures that never quite make it past the 24 hour mark.  I give you the twice-baked potato, restuffed with not only the usual sour cream and cheese, but a whole lot of greens.   Greens make everything healthy,  don’t they?  Of course, we all know that!

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The basis for this recipe came from Healthy Eating food blog, but I ended up veering a bit off the recipe, using less cheese (I know, I can’t believe it either) and sour cream, adding a softly cooked onion, and then, although kale was supposed to be the green used, I actually used a combination of baby kale that I had on hand, and some baby spinach.   What that means is that you, too, can take liberties with this recipe:  any green of your choice such as Swiss chard, or all spinach.  For the cheese you could use parmesan, goat cheese or cream cheese instead of the traditional cheddar.  If you’ve got a surplus of scallions, shallots or leeks you could use them where I used a small onion.

I really hope you make these potatoes, because I can’t emphasis loudly enough how much they hit the spot—toasty and a little decadent, but green enough that I didn’t even feel the need to make a salad on the side.  I served this with sautéd asparagus and it was the perfect light dinner to cap off a week of heavy eating.

TWICE-BAKED POTATOES WITH KALE

Yield:  Serves 6 as a side dish,  3 as a hearty main

Ingredients:IMG_8813

  • 3 russet potatoes ( mine were 8 to 9 oz. each)
  • 1 bundle lacinato kale or swiss chard or spinach
  • coarse salt
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup coarsely grated cheddar,  or 2/3 cup finely grated parmesan, or 1/2 to 2/3 cup cream cheese, or goat cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400*F.  Cook potatoes the first time.  Gently scrub potatoes but do not peel.  Pierce all over with a fork so steam can escape.  Bake about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced in center with a skewer.  Remove potatoes, but leave oven on.

2.  While potatoes bake, prepare your filling:  Tear kale, chard or spinach leaves from stems.  Plunge into cold water to remove any dirt or grit.  No need to dry them.   Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add greens and a pinch of salt. Cook them in the pan with just the water clinging to the leaves until they wilt and collapse.  Transfer to a colander and when cool enough to handle, wring out any extra moisture in small fistfuls.  On a cutting board, finely chop greens.  You will have about a cup of wrung-out, well chopped greens;  a little more or less won’t matter.

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3.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add butter and oil.  Once both are warm, add onion and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook until softened, stirring occasionally.  Try not to let it brown.  Add chopped greens into the skillet and warm up with the onion, 1 minute.  Transfer mixture to a bowl.

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4.  Prepare the potatoes:  When potatoes are cool enough to handle, halve lengthwise and scoop out all but the last 1/4-inch thickness, so you are leaving a shell inside for stability.

A melon-baller is a good tool for scooping out the potato.

A melon-baller is a good tool for scooping out the potato.

Add potato filling to the bowl with the greens.

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Arrange the potato shells on a baking sheet or shallow baking dish.  Mash potatoes, with onions and greens until smooth.  Stir in sour cream, 3/4 of cheese and more salt and pepper that you think you need.

Potato filling and greens mixed with sour cream and cheese.

Potato filling and greens mixed with sour cream and cheese.

Heap the filling into the potato shells.  Sprinkle with remaining  1/4 of cheese.

Fill potato shells with the filling.

Fill potato shells with the filling.

5.  Bake potatoes a second time:  for 20 to 30 minutes, until bronze and crisp on top.

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A light meal to cap off a week of eating too many rich foods.

A light meal to cap off a week of eating too many rich foods.

 

 

 

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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

 

 

Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Mango

Tapioca Pudding with Mango and Coconut Cream

Tapioca Pudding with Mango and Coconut Cream

Are you still sticking with your New Year’s Resolution?  You know, the one about exercising and losing weight.  You are?  Why that’s just  great!  And I’m here to help with that.  Isn’t it hard going without desserts though, denying yourself those sweets you love?  What happens most often is–you can hold out for a while, but then youabsolutelymusthavesomething for dessert.IMG_6265

For me pudding seems to be the answer.  I cannot completely cut desserts out of my life, so I think that having a limited quantity of a dessert that is not excessively decadent is exactly what’s needed.  It keeps me sane (at least I think so). In my opinion there is no better dessert for this purpose than pudding.  This week my pudding of choice is tapioca.   OK, so call me old-fashioned.  I served it in dessert cups that I found in my parent’s attic;  I love these old vintage dishes, too.

Served in vintage dessert dishes.

Served in vintage dessert dishes.

Tapioca is a pudding that doesn’t get much attention in the pudding/dessert world.   It’s a puzzle to me, as I think it’s gorgeous, has a chewy starchy texture, and comes from the plant world.  Tapioca pearls come in several sizes, but I like the tiny ones.  They get cooked in a custard to which you can add vanilla or lemon, orange, or cinnamon.  Tapioca pudding is like a blank slate.  In this case, since I am feeling the effects of this long cold winter, I included ingredients that I associate with the tropics;  mango, lime and coconut.  I used mango pureed with lime juice, and topped off the whole thing with whipped coconut cream, and toasted coconut chips for garnish.

A luxurious, but surprisingly low-fat dessert.

A luxurious, but surprisingly low-fat dessert.

If you are dreaming of warmer places, places with palm trees and tropical fruits, places where one does not need to pull on heavy snow boots with ski socks, a down-quilted jacket, knit hat, scarf and gloves just for a grocery store run, then this dessert might just be the dessert for you.

As I write this, the southern parts  of the U.S are feeling the full brunt of a winter snow-sleet-ice storm.  I feel your pain, people.  We here in the northeast know just what you’re going through.  Hang in there, Spring is on its way!

COCONUT TAPIOCA PUDDING WITH MANGO

Yield:    4  1/2-cup servings,  plus toppings

Pudding:

Tiny pearl tapioca, plus "light" coconut milk.

Small pearl tapioca, .

  • 1/3 cup small pearl tapioca, such as Bob’s Red Mill
  • 2  1/2 cups coconut milk ( light or full-fat, or use regular milk)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

 Mango Puree:IMG_6258

  • 1 very ripe mango, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar, optional ( I used it, but would skip it next time)
  • 1 squeeze or two of fresh lime juice

Optional garnishes:

  • whipped coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut chips or flakes
  • few gratings of lime zest

Make Pudding:  In a medium saucepan, soak tapioca in coconut milk for 30 minutes.  Whisk in egg yolk, sugar, and salt.  Place saucepan over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer, then reduce it to very low so it’s barely bubbling, and cook it until it thickens, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Cooking the tapioca vanilla custard

Cooking the tapioca vanilla custard

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.  Pour into pudding cups to chill for several hours.  Pudding may seem thin going into the cups but after chilling in the fridge, it will set on the firm side.

Pour pudding into dessert cups to chill.

Pour pudding into dessert cups to chill.

To make a softer, lighter pudding you may want to beat the egg white you separated from the yolk, separately with a spoonful of sugar you would otherwise have added to the tapioca.  Beat until glossy peaks form.  After the pudding has cooled for about 15 minutes, spoon some of the pudding mixture into the egg white and fold in, then pour all of it back into the pudding, folding in until it has all been uniformly incorporated.

Make Mango  Place mango chunks in a small food processor or blender with lime juice and sugar and blend until very smooth.  Refrigerate puree until needed.

Make Whipped Coconut Cream:  Place 1 can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight.  This will cause the coconut fats and thin milk/watery part to separate.  Also place small/medium mixing bowl (ideally metal) in the freezer.  The next day, turn the can of coconut milk upside down before opening it, so that the thickened coconut fat will be at the bottom.  Pour off the thin coconut milk;  you should have about 1 cup and this can be used towards the amount needed for the tapioca.  About 2/3 thickened coconut fat will remain at the bottom of the can.  Scrape this into the chilled bowl, and beat it with an electric mixer until thick and whipped, like cream.  Dollop it over desserts such as this, though you will have more than you need for 4 puddings.  It will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for several days.

Thick coconut milk whips up like cream.

Thick coconut milk whips up like cream.

To Toast Coconut Chips:  Heat an oven to 350*F.  Spread coconut flakes on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes, tossing once if needed to help them brown evenly.  Let cool before using.

To Serve:  Dollop a spoonful of mango puree on the tapioca, then top it with a some coconut cream.  Sprinkle with toasted coconut before serving.

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SOURCE:  Smitten Kitchen

Roast Chickpeas

Roast Chickpeas

Roast Chickpeas

This is something you may not have noticed, but there are very few recipes for bean dishes on this blog.  That’s because beans in general are not one of my favorite foods.  Sure, I include beans in soups where I like eating them, or I enjoy baked beans at a cookout, but for the most part I’m not a big fan of beans, and most especially I don’t use chickpeas.  I think it has to do with their mealy texture.  Therefore it has come as a hugh surprise to me that I LOVE these Roasted Chickpeas.

A crunchy and nutritious snack.

A crunchy and nutritious snack.

Say hello to my new favorite snack.  I could eat these almost every single day, one by one out of my hand, or added to salads.  They make everything so much more crunchy.  Besides the pure enjoyment of eating them, there’s the nutritional value of chickpeas:  good quality carbohydrates by way of their fiber, and valuable proteins, plus, not a fat or sugar anywhere except if you add some.  So how about getting on the bandwagon with me and trying out these healthy, nutritious, snacks.  This is how I make them….

First, I want the oven to be HOT.   Partly because I have no patience waiting for them, but also because I want them to be as crispy as I can get them.  So crank that oven up to 425*F.  Hot, hot, hot.

Most of the time I use canned chickpeas, but I have also soaked and cooked them myself.  So the chickpeas are always cooked to start with.  If using canned, be sure to rinse and drain them well.   Then place them in a dish towel or paper towel and really dry them off.  Roll them around to get them super dry. This may loosen the skin on some of them.  No worries, just pick off what’s loose and continue.

Drain well, roll in a towel and pat dry.

Drain well, roll in a towel and pat dry.

Next I spread them on a baking sheet that is lined with foil, because—it just makes life a little easier.

Pour onto foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer.

Pour onto foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer.

Then I give them a quick spray of olive oil.  Olive oil in a spray can or a misto works best, but if you don’t have either, a teeny, tiny bit of olive oil sprinkled on works too.  Toss to coat well.  Using a very small amount is key.

Spray lightly with olive oil.

Spray lightly with olive oil.

After that, I season the beans with whatever I feel like.  My first version included salt, pepper, garlic powder, and sweet paprika.  This has become my go-to standby.  I don’t measure anything, just do a few shakes of each, then toss them around to coat.  Other seasonings have included cinnamon, nutmeg,  dried herbs, chili powder, and whatever else is in your spice cupboard.  It’s fun to play around with the flavors!

Sprinkle on seasonings of choice.

Sprinkle on seasonings of choice.

If you would like a sweeter version you can add some sort of sugar ( brown sugar, white sugar, honey) and it will make a caramelized outer layer.

Anyway, after seasoning, toss, toss, toss.  Make sure they are in a single layer while baking.  Bake for 15 minutes, remove and do a quick mix-around with a spoon or spatula, and bake for another 15 minutes or so till crispy.

Roast till crispy.

Roast till crispy.

My gosh, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love these chickpeas.  Unfortunately, they don’t stay real crispy for more than a day or so, so what I do is make 2 cups at a time ( 1 can of chickpeas), eat about half of them right away, and store the rest in a small plastic container lightly covered with foil, on my counter.  We then eat them for dinner in salad, or I give some to my husband in his lunch.  He loves them as a afternoon snack when he’s starting to feel lethargic.

HOW TO ROAST CHICKPEAS

Yield:  2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (if canned, rinse and drain)
  • 1-2 tsp. olive oil, or olive oil spray/mist
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.   Line a baking sheet with foil.

2.  Place chickpeas on a paper towel or dish towel and pat completely to dry.  Remove any loose skins.

3.  Place on the prepared baking sheet and mist with olive oil.  Roll around to coat.  Sprinkle with seasonings of your choice and toss well to coat.  Make chickpeas are in a single layer.

4.  Bake for 15 minutes, toss well and flip, then bake for about 15 minutes more.  Let cool and eat.  Enjoy!

And that’s all there is to it.  😀

Roast Chickpeas, you gotta love them.

Roast Chickpeas, you gotta love them.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake

Gluten-free Pumpkin Cheese Cake.

Gluten-free Pumpkin Cheese Cake.

Not too long ago a member of my family was diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity.  So for Thanksgiving, I wanted to make a dessert that she particularly likes and could eat.  Pumpkin pie has always been a favorite, so I knew that anything with pumpkin would work out well.  I also needed it to be something that didn’t have a crust.

Remembering a cheesecake recipe that I have made in the past that was crustless,  I devised this recipe for a cheesecake that is crustless, but gives all the flavor of a pumpkin pie.  We all loved it.  So for anyone who needs a gluten-free dessert, this one is very good.  You can also reduce the fat content by using low-fat cream cheese and low-fat sour cream.  It mixes up easily and can be all made in a little over an hour.  Chill until ready to serve.

Oh, soooo good.

Oh, soooo good.

GLUTEN-FREE PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE

Yield:  serves 8

Ingredients:

Looks like someone's making a pumpkin cheesecake!

Looks like someone’s making a pumpkin cheesecake!

  • 2  (8-oz.) packages cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 eggs

Topping:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Spray or grease a 9-inch deep pie pan, or 10-inch regular pie pan.

2.  In the large bowl of an electric mixer,  put in cream cheese and sugar.  Beat until smooth and thick. Add eggs one at a time beating smooth.  Add vanilla, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice.  Blend in well.  Pour into prepared pie pan.  I had enough filling for a 9-inch deep dish pie plate plus 3 custard cups.

This makes a lot of filling.  Use a 10" pan or several extra custard cups.

This makes a lot of filling. Use a 10″ pan or several extra custard cups.

3.  Bake at 350*F for 40- 45 minutes.   Test center for doneness.  The cheesecake may develop cracks in the top, but this will be covered by the sour cream topping.

It will puff up as it bakes and may crack like this one did.

It will puff up as it bakes and may crack like this one did.

4.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.  While cooling the center will become slightly depressed.

A depression forms in the center as it cools a bit.

A depression forms in the center as it cools a bit.

Meanwhile mix up the topping mixture using a bowl and whisk.  Pour over cheesecake, and bake an additional 10 – 15 minutes.  The topping should fill the depression in the cheesecake, creating a white center with raised edges that are light pumpkin color.  A pretty effect!

Before baking--fill center with sour cream topping.

Before baking–fill center with sour cream topping.

After baking.

After baking.

5.  Cool on a wire rack and then refrigerate until ready to serve.

A light and fluffy texture.

A light and fluffy texture.

Oh, soooo good.

Oh, soooo good.

SOURCE:   a  Carolyn’s Original

Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs and Sauce

Roast spaghetti squash with meatballs and marinara sauce.

Roast spaghetti squash with meatballs and marinara sauce.

Roasted spaghetti squash topped with a simple fresh-tasting tomato sauce and Italian-style meatballs.  I’m getting hungry all over again just thinking and writing about it.  This dish is so darn good you won’t even miss the pasta, and think of all the calories you’ll be saving.

This recipe can be reinvented in different ways.  For instance, instead of meatballs,  brown up ground beef ( or turkey) and add it directly to the sauce for a meat sauce.  Cook up some pasta for anyone who won’t eat meatballs and sauce without it, while you enjoy the squash.  This is a meal that will make the whole family happy.  It is low-carb, gluten-free, and paleo friendly.

A large spaghetti squash provides enough “Noodle-strands” for four generous servings.  It can be cooked in the microwave as a time saver instead of roasting it.  The sauce can be frozen and reheated for a busy night.

Serve strands of squash with sauce and meatballs.

Serve strands of squash with sauce and meatballs.

SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH MEATBALLS AND SAUCE

Yield:  4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash, about 3 pounds
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 an onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup white wine, or chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1  lb. lean ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp. flavored fine bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil for browning meatballs

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 *F.  Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and membrane.  Season with salt and bake about 1 hour, or longer if needed in a shallow baking dish.  It should pierce easily with a sharp knife when done.

Roast the spaghetti squash.

Roast the spaghetti squash.

If you prefer the microwave, prepare squash as directed above, place in a microwave-safe  dish and cover.  Microwave for 8 – 9   minutes or until soft and pierces easily.

2.  In a large deep sauté pan, melt butter and add oil.  Add onions, celery and carrots and sauté on medium-low heat for about 3 – 4 minutes, until soft.

Sauté celery, onions, and carrot till soft.

Sauté celery, onions, and carrot till soft.

Add the wine, tomatoes and bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper.  Let mixture come to a simmer while you make the meatballs.

Add in crushed tomatoes, wine, and seasonings.

Add in crushed tomatoes, wine, and seasonings.

3.  In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and egg.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Blend well.  Form into meatballs (I like mine medium sized).

4.  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, and in batches, brown the meatballs on all sides.  Add them to the tomato sauce and let them finish cooking in the sauce.  Simmer the sauce with meatballs for about an hour.

5.  When squash is cooked, let it cool for about 10 minutes.  When cool, use a fork to remove the spaghetti-like strands.  Keep covered and set aside to keep warm until sauce is ready.  Serve topped with sauce and meatballs, and grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Top each serving with grated cheese if desired.

Top each serving with grated cheese if desired.

SOURCE:    Martha Stewart