Sweet Cooking

Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

Sailing Hiatus

In Miscellaneous on April 30, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Don't be jealous!

Happy Friday everyone! I’ve been blogging for over a month now, and I have to say, I really love doing it. Thank you for reading and sticking with me. I’ve had over 1,000 hits, and I really appreciate your encouraging comments.

I am really going to miss blogging while I’m on vacation. That’s right, I am one lucky girl! I will be spending the next week sailing around the British Virgin Islands with girlfriends. Woo Hoo!! We will be aboard Shiwara with Captain Kirk (yes, that’s really his name). So….today I didn’t cook anything! I am busy packing, working, and doing things around the apartment. I apologize to the kitchen for not being there today.

So sad.

During my vacation, the blog will go on. I have asked friends and family to submit “guest blogs” for the days I’m away. I really hope you’ll keep reading because you  definitely want to know about homemade buttermilk biscuits, a great salad, some very creative pancakes, to-die-for empanadas, and a delectable Boston Butt.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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The Opposite of a Healthy Muffin

In breakfast, Muffins on April 29, 2010 at 6:00 pm

As I’ve posted previously, I would like to find a healthy muffin that is really delicious. This muffin, is very delicious, but healthy? Not so much. I had a granny smith apple that needed to be baked. It just stared at me from the kitchen counter and begged to be put into a muffin.

I've seen this look before.

I researched some apple muffin recipes and found something interesting on another food blog: Sugar Plum. Sugar Plum is written by a young woman (seriously young – like 20) who also loves to bake. Her photos and recipes all look amazing. This is the first one I’ve tried: Cinnamon-Apple-Butterscotch Muffins.

I followed the recipe with a few exceptions. I did not have any butterscotch handy, so I substituted white chocolate. I love white chocolate and always have it around. I do not think the muffins minded. Also, I didn’t add the topping that the recipe mentions. If you really want to make a crazy, decadent muffin…sprinkle the tops with cinnamon-sugar, drizzle a little maple syrup over each muffin and add a slice of dried apple. Oh my god, that sounds so good! I restrained myself – mostly because I was out of syrup.

Ready for the oven (sans topping).

I feel like I need to go to the gym.

These are serious muffins – big, moist, decadent, definitely a treat – not something you can eat everyday (unless you are seriously young – like 20). I took them from New York to Florida to enjoy with family. Unfortunately, the muffins did not travel so well. They were in a zip-lock in a back pack that I carried on, and the travel was rough on the poor guys. They crumbled a lot. We ate them anyway, and they still tasted great.

Maybe one will accidentally fall onto the floor.

Ten Reasons to Eat Oysters!

In Just Good Food on April 28, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Oysters on the half-shell

1. Oysters are one of the most concentrated natural sources of zinc, which is essential to maintaining a strong immune system, supports wound healing and maintains the senses of taste and smell.

2. Oysters are a good source of protein. Each serving contains six grams of protein. The protein found in oysters is high in tyrosine, an amino acid used by the brain to help regulate moods and adapt to stress.

3. Oysters are low in fat. A serving contains just 2 grams of fat.

4. You might find a pearl!

5.  Oysters are very versatile. They can be eaten raw, steamed, grilled, fried or baked.

Fried Oyster Po Boy. Delicious!

6. Oysters help maintain collagen and elastin fibers that give skin its firmness and help prevent sagging and wrinkles. Seriously, that is reason enough. Forget the other nine.

7. Feeling frisky? Oysters are a known aphrodisiac because they are rich in amino acids that trigger increased levels of some pretty important hormones.

8. Six medium-sized oysters have roughly 60 calories. It’s diet food!

9. Oysters are fun to eat!

Eat them on the patio at The Oyster Bar with a cold beer!

10. Oysters are one of the few foods you can mix with vodka. Make an Oyster Shooter!

Fend For Yourself

In Just Good Food, Wine on April 27, 2010 at 6:16 pm

My husband: What’s for dinner?

Me: I don’t have anything planned. You’ll have to fend for yourself.

My husband: I’ll order take-out.

Me: (standing in front of open refrigerator) I have some broccoli and rice. Do you want me to make some for you too?

My husband: (disgusted looking face) I’m still ordering take-out.

“Fend for yourself” – dreaded words in our house. Truth be told,  I did have a lot of rice on my hands. You see, our pup, Chance, had a difficult time in the tummy area, if you know what I mean. The vet said to feed him nothing but rice and ground turkey. So in addition to cooking for my husband and me, I was cooking for the dog too. Perfect. So, I made this ENORMOUS pot of rice. Chance loved it, but he didn’t get any better. As a matter of fact, he was marginally worse.

I decided to eat Chance’s rice. I put it with some steamed broccoli, grated Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper.

Gourmet dog food.

I was so distraught about eating the dog’s rice, that I needed to wash it down with something tasty. I chose a bottle of rosé. I am big into rosés these days. They are the perfect spring wine. I’m not sure it was a technically correct pairing with the broccoli and rice, but I enjoyed it,  so that’s all that matters! If you haven’t tried rosé since the last time you had white zinfandel out of a box, please reconsider! This rosé is very dry – not sweet at all.

If you tasted this blind, you would swear it was a white wine. Promise!

I had County Line Rosé (2009). It’s about $20 in a wine store. Give it a try!

P.S. Chance is much better now!

Updated Oatmeal Cookies

In Cookies on April 26, 2010 at 6:17 pm

I subscribe to several cooking magazines. One of my favorites is Food & Wine. How can you beat Food AND Wine? The title literally names two of my three favorite things. The third favorite thing, you ask? Football. They should change the name to Food, Wine & Football. Now THAT would be a killer magazine! Hmmmmm…maybe I should go into publishing.

I got the May issue in the mail, and I found several great recipes to try. First up – “Granola Cookies with Chocolate Chips.”

The little specs of orange are dried apricots.

I was surprised to see dried apricots on the ingredient list, and I reluctantly put them in the cookie. I’m not a huge fan. But the apricots are barely noticeable….the chocolate, pecan and oatmeal flavor,  however, is perfect. This cookie is really wonderful.

Granola Chocolate Chip Cookies

I took these to the office and they were gone within minutes. Literally, it was like a swarm of piranhas around the plate of cookies! Luckily, no one was injured.

This recipe makes 40 cookies (give or take). That's a lot of cookies!

Who Doesn’t Love a Hush Puppy?

In Muffins on April 23, 2010 at 4:27 pm

I am soooo excited! Dan and I are visiting family this weekend in Perdido Key, Florida and Lake Martin, Alabama.

It’s been almost a year since I’ve been to the Gulf Coast, and when I think of the beach, I immediately think of good, fresh seafood. Like a grouper sandwich. Or peel and eat shrimp. Or a heaping bowl of gumbo. I love it all! What’s the best thing to eat with seafood? Hush puppies.

The perfect little hush puppy bite.

I do not really fry foods. There are several reasons. Number one, I don’t have room for a fire extinguisher under the sink, and I’m afraid I’ll burn down the apartment. Number two, it’s not healthy at all. Number three, it’s messy, and who wants to clean up all  that stuff.

Hush puppies are usually fried, but I have a perfect solution. This hush puppy muffin provides the flavor and satisfaction of a “real” hush puppy without the fire/health hazard or mess.

This is from my Southern Living archives (another one that’s too old for the Internet).

Hush Puppy Muffins

(Makes 1 1/2 dozen mini muffins)

2/3 cup corn meal

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 small onion, minced

1/3 cup skim milk

1 large egg

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/8 tsp. pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450º.

2. Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

3. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring just until blended.

Stay with me. I know this is not pretty.

4. Spoon batter evenly into lightly greased mini muffin cups. Fill them about 3/4 of the way full.

Looking better.

5. Bake for 10 minutes or until muffins are golden brown.

Beautiful, not messy and tasty!

This is such a simple recipe. I hope you’ll make these puppies the next time you have seafood. Have a great weekend everyone. Enjoy!

The Quest for a Healthy Muffin

In breakfast, Muffins on April 22, 2010 at 2:55 pm

I really like the idea of having a muffin for breakfast. The problem with muffins, though, is that it’s really just a piece of cake parading around in a muffin costume. Now, you really wouldn’t have cake for breakfast (unless it’s your birthday), so why would you eat a muffin for breakfast? It’s like starting the day off in the calorie hole.

I clip out muffin recipes all the time in hopes of finding one that is tasty and healthy. This is my latest attempt: “Kathie’s Zucchini Muffins” from Cooking Light. The ingredient list seems relatively healthy….zucchini, minimal sugar and oil, whole wheat flour…sounds good for you, right?

This muffin recipe calls for 1 1/3 cups shredded zucchini.

I followed the instructions exactly.

Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

I was actually happy with the way these turned out. For only 145 calories each, they have a great cinammon flavor and moist texture. Warm them up in the oven for a minute and crumble over yogurt for a calcium boost. If you have a healthy muffin recipe that you like, please share it!

Kathie's Zucchini Muffins

Chance would like a muffin.

A “Cake” for My Mom on Her Birthday

In Just Good Food on April 21, 2010 at 4:35 pm

I thought a lot about what kind of cake my mom would like on her birthday. She loves all kinds of cakes (really, I can’t think of a cake she wouldn’t enjoy). But her all time favorite “cake” is crab cake. She came to visit us last summer at the beach, and had crab cakes for lunch 3 days in a row. We ate at different restaurants and each time she would review the menu and say, “I just have to try their crab cake.” I think she could eat them every day! So, in honor of her birthday, I made crab cakes for the very first time.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Over all, I think it was a success. The taste was great, lots of crab and just a little filler. The rémoulade was very tasty. My husband and I ate them with gusto and I got some nice reviews from him. I’m not 100% satisfied though because I thought that the cakes should have stuck together a little more. I was imagining a perfect little circle of lightly fried crab, and it just wasn’t so. There were jagged little pieces of crab sticking out everywhere. They looked like crab cakes that had just gotten out of bed.

The little pieces of crab sticking out everywhere drive me nuts.

I was petrified as I was handling and flipping them that they would fall apart. A few of them did a little. I wonder if I should have used another egg white (for any of you scratching your head right now….egg whites are like glue in cooking) to help them adhere a little better. Or maybe I flattened them too much. Or maybe it’s just a technique that requires some practice. I’ll experiment and get it right eventually!

I used Cooking Light’s recipe for Crab Cakes with Spicy Remoulade Sauce. The crab mixture is very yummy, and I like that there isn’t a lot of breading in here. It’s just crab, some panko crumbs, a little mayo, an egg and fresh herbs.

Lots of big pieces of crab in there!

The rémoulade was great. Next time, I’ll cut down the mayo and add more lemon juice. I would have preferred it slightly thinner, I think. And a little more spicy – maybe double up on the Cajun mustard and crushed red pepper.

Remoulade is a fancy name for tartar sauce.

I have several crab cake recipes in my kitchen. I’m encouraged by my first attempt and will definitely make these again. The biggest disappointment is that I couldn’t actually share one with my mom!

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

In Lunch on April 20, 2010 at 5:21 pm

I’ve been going to the gym pretty religiously over the last several weeks, and I’ve been doing some pretty intense workouts. When I exercise like a maniac, I am hungry all the time. Literally ALL of the time. I could leave the gym and consume an entire pizza, but that’s obviously not the point. So, when I get home from the gym, I am ready to ravenously consume a hearty (yet healthy) lunch.

This week I made Cooking Light’s Mediterranean Turkey Burgers.

Those little white chunks are feta cheese. Brilliant!

They are tasty, quick and filling. The recipe makes four servings so you have lunch for most of the work week. I prepare all of the patties at once and wrap them individually. I freeze them if it’s going to be a few days before I eat them. Otherwise, they are fine in the refrigerator. Then I cook the burgers individually on a grill pan when I’m ready.

Grill for 6-7 minutes on each side.

I pretty much followed the recipe as instructed. I opted to put my burgers in toasted whole wheat english muffins rather than a pita, and I used hummus as a  spread on the muffin. Usually, I think turkey burgers are kind of weak – they just don’t pack the same flavor as beef. I like this recipe because the pesto, red onion and feta give the burger a lot of character.

Mediterranean turkey burger topped with arugula and hummus on an english muffin.

Enjoy the burger with fresh cut veggies, sweet potato chips or a salad  (or a slice of pizza if you’re still starving). Deelish!

Breakfast at The Beach

In breakfast on April 19, 2010 at 6:08 pm

We spent the weekend in Westhampton Beach at our “little beach shack.” We all had a fantastic time. Chance included.

Chance enjoying the day at Westhampton Beach.

On Sunday morning, I made blueberry pancakes from scratch. I followed a recipe that I received from Tasting Table. Tasting Table is an on-line newsletter dedicated to restaurant and food news. From time to time, a restaurant recipe is  featured, and that’s how I decided to make pancakes. The recipe for “Light and Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes” from The Blue Ribbon Cookbook just spoke to me. I knew I had to make these pancakes.

Sign up to receive Tasting Table at http://www.tastingtable.com. It's free!

I followed the recipe exactly for the most part. I added about a cup of blueberries to the batter at the very end. I was very particular about NOT over mixing the batter. Even though it upsets the perfectionist in me, I left the batter full of lumps. The recipe says to melt the butter over medium-high heat, but I chose medium to medium-low. I prefer lightly browned pancakes. You know they are ready to flip when the edges start to bubble (as shown below).

Just about ready to flip.

You must constantly attend the pancakes. Do no step away. Even to see a family of deer or flock of geese landing in your yard. The pancakes will burn and turn into a smoky, smelly mess. Cue the fire alarm. Luckily this recipe makes a boat load of pancakes, so if you burn a few, no harm done.

Light and Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

My husband declared these pancakes "damn good." I agree.