Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Christmas cookies have always been a great tradition in my family. I remember my mom making a handful of varieties of cookies and making dozens of each variety. We would get to snack on them through out the Christmas season as well as make up trays for our teachers, take them to cookie exchanges and walk a few over to our neighbors. In past years I have also kept up the tradition of making a bazillion kinds of cookies over the holidays. In fact, at my own wedding I had a homemade cookie buffet in which I served over 100 DOZEN homemade cookies made by myself and the women in my family.

But the last two years have been a little bit of a dry spell for me in the cookie making department. Last year, I had just had foot surgery 1 month prior to Christmas and had a hard time hobbling along in the kitchen on one foot and crutches. We also lived in a TINY apartment with a poor excuse for a kitchen for the small amount of time between when our old house sold and we were building our new house. So, Christmas of 2009 was cookie-less. Christmas 2010 rolled around and I never seemed to have the time make cookies. I'm not sure if having a new child threw my cookie making schedule a curve ball but it just seemed it wasn't going to happen this year.

Finally, on December 23rd, I got the Christmas treat bug and jumped to action. I decided I would make one batch of cookies and would try to make them healthier. I had saved a link to the Swanky Pear's Pumpkin Whoopie Pies a few months back and thought I could still bake with pumpkin in December. So that was the start (and end) of my Christmas cookie baking this year.

Each cookie in the original recipe provides:
161.5 calories
7.8 g fat
24.3 g carbohydrate
0.8 g fiber
1.5 g protein

These cookies have almost a cake like consistency and therefore, could handle a few changes in them. First, I substituted unsweetened applesauce for the oil. (Obviously I canned a lot of applesauce this fall!). Next for the filling I used fat-free cream cheese instead of full fat cream cheese. I also used 1/4 cup butter, instead of 1/2 cup butter (actually by accident as I read it as half a stick but really it was supposed to be a full stick). But, either way, it turned out delicious!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies - BETTER

3 cups flour
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 cups chilled pure pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

3 cups powdered sugar
8 oz. fat free cream cheese
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, all-spice and nutmeg. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the granulated sugar, the dark brown sugar, and the unsweetened applesauce together. Add the CHILLED pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.

4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.

5. Use a small cookie scoop or a large spoon to drop a rounded, heaping tablespoon of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. I also kept the bowl of batter in the freezer between batches to keep it chilled. The batter is quite thin and works better a little chilled.

6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, making sure that the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. The cookies should be firm when touched. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on a cooling rack.

7. To make the filling, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth with no visible lumps, about 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth and combined, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, then add the vanilla and beat until smooth.

8. To assemble the whoopie pies: Turn half of the cooled cookies upside down. Pipe the filling (about a tablespoon) onto that half (I used a ziplock bag with the corner clipped, made quick work!). Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spread to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whoopie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm before serving. These also freeze well for later.

I made 52 sandwiches in my batch.

Each cookie provides:
107.5 calories
1.3 g fat
25.0 g carbohydrate
0.8 g fiber
1.8 g protein

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Candied Walnut Salad

As I stated before, I was assigned salad for Christmas dinner at the in-laws. Now, to ME, "salad" means something green and leafy with a bunch of tasty toppings, likely fruits or vegetables. I've learned over the years that "salad" can be interpretted in many ways. Salads can be made out of gelatin (although in my family growing up, anything made out of jello was always a DESSERT), salads can be made out of cool whip, salads can also be made out of coconut and mandarin oranges. I once asked someone (who will remain nameles... ahem... my MIL...) to bring a salad thinking it would be green and leafy. I was much surprised when something including coconut, cool whip, mandarin oranges and pineapple appeared on my table. ANYWAY, so when I was assigned a salad, I made sure to bring a good old vegetable based salad.

I also decided to stir things up a bit. My husband's diet growing up was pretty traditional, not much outside the box. So any time I have ever had salad at his parents house, it has always consisted of iceberg salad in a bag, 2 cucumber slices, 1 tomato wedge and ranch dressing. I wasn't quite sure how this salad would go over with such a crowd.

Much to my surprise, this salad from Our Best Bites was a hit! It was gobbled up by almost all the guests (still a few stubborn ones in the crowd!) and I received complements from everyone who enjoyed it. It is quite the tasty salad, I must admit. I even made a leftover salad out of the remaining ingredients for dinner for myself tonight. This salad would be delicious a piece of grilled chicken breast or grilled salmon on top as an entree.

I did not make any nutritional changes to this salad as it is pretty healthy as it is. The walnuts in the salad are a great source of vitamin E as well as receiving lots of antioxidants from the dried cranberries. Being from Michigan, I would imagine dried cherries would also be a delicious substitute for the cranberries.

Candied Walnut Salad

2 heads of leafy greens: (I used a head of romaine lettuce and a bag of spring mix greens)
3/4 cup craisins
2 crisp apples, chopped
orange juice (enough to toss the chopped apples in to prevent browning)
2 oz blue cheese or Gorgonzola (I LOVE gorgonzola cheese!!!)
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
1 recipe Honey Red Wine Vinaigrette

Wash and chop lettuce, set aside to drain.

Place walnuts and sugar in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir constantly. After a few minutes, the sugar will begin to appear very fine, then a few minutes after that, it will start to liquefy. This is when you must be absolutely vigilant about scraping the bottom of the pan. The syrup will begin to darken and stick to the nuts. When it reaches a golden brown color, remove from heat. Stir nuts a few minutes until they begin to slightly cool and nuts are well coated. Spread onto wax paper or parchment paper and allow to cool completely.

Chop blue cheese or Gorgonzola finely into crumbles. Chop apples and toss in orange juice.

When ready to serve, toss lettuce, apples, cheese,walnuts and cranberries. Add dressing. I used about a quarter of the dressing tossed in and served the rest on the side if people desired extra.

Makes 8 servings (without dressing):
176.4 calories
8.4 g fat
23.9 g carbohydrate
3.2 g fiber
4.5 g protein

Honey Red Wine Vinaigrette

I very RARELY make a homemade dressing. I have a huge selection of bottled dressings in the grocery aisle, so why bother? Well, special occasions may be a good reason to try a homemade dressing. After being assigned to bring a salad to my in-laws for Christmas I went in search of the perfect salad. After finding a recipe for Candied Walnut Salad on Our Best Bites, I followed their link to Honey Red Wine Vinaigrette. It seemed simple enough.

In the craziness of Christmas, my husband and I were frantically getting ready for a trip to his parents at 10 pm on Christmas Eve. I was candying the walnuts for the salad and my husband quickly was able to assemble the dressing ingredients. Now in our family, I am numero uno in the kitchen. My husband can pretty much make himself some chicken nuggets, but otherwise the kitchen is MY domain. So apparently putting together a homemade dressing isn't too difficult!

I didn't make any nutritional changes to this recipe. With dressings, unless you are eliminating or decreasing the amount of oil that is in the dressing, your best idea is just to limit the amount that you are using. I calculated the nutrition facts for a 2 Tablespoon serving, but I would estimate that I had actually half of that on my salad portion. I also substituted apple cider vinegar for red wine vinegar (because that's what I had!) and I added a Tbsp of poppy seeds just to add a little pop on the salad.

Honey Red Wine Vinaigrette

1/2 cup red wine vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
1/2 cup honey
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp fresh coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil

In a blender combine vinegar, honey, garlic, salt and pepper. Place lid on blender and blend on high. While blender is running, add oil in steady stream. Store in refrigerator for up to 2-3 weeks. Shake well before serving.

*** I also added 1 Tbsp poppy seeds although did not include that in the nutrition facts.

Per 2 Tbsp serving:
125 calories
9.1 g fat
194.6 mg sodium
12.5 g carbohydrate
0.1 g fiber
0.1 g protein

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Foods

Here's a list of the foods I made for Christmas gatherings both at my parents house and my in-laws house:

Cinnamon-Sugar Pretzels

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Candied Walnut Salad

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Low-Fat Cheesy Potatoes

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Quick Cheese Ball

Orange Pecan Baked French Toast

Puppy Chow

Recipes to follow for all those which don't already have recipes on here.

I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays and are resting up for the New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Puppy Chow

There are certain foods that with just the mere mention of their name causes my husband to drool. Hot dogs, wings, baked French toast, German chocolate cake, etc. Puppy Chow is definitely one of the top 5 drool-worthy snacks in my husband's book. When Crispix was on sale a few weeks ago, I decided to buy a couple boxes so I could make a large batch of Puppy Chow to give out with some Christmas gifts and to also take to our parents' houses for munchies.

Puppy Chow, the sweet, distant cousin of Chex Mix, is typically some combination of Crispix, chocolate, peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar. I used this recipe from allrecipes. Now I made the full fat, not good for your hips version. But as I was making it, I was thinking to myself. If I were going to make this healthier, what could I do? I came up with a few options for you to try.

  • Use solely wheat Chex, instead of Crispix, for higher fiber content.
  • Use half as much butter, or try none at all. It might take a little experimentation as you still want it to be able to coat the cereal.
  • Try natural peanut butter or almond butter instead of regular old creamy Jif.
  • Add in dried cherries or raisins for fiber, vitamins and minerals.
  • Use half as much chocolate or try with dark chocolate chips for antioxidants.
  • If worse comes to worse - portion out small portions of this delicious treat into snack size ziplock bags to prevent possibly inevitable over-eating.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Homemade Crescent Rolls

Some packaged foods have become so main stream that you forget that there is probably a way to make them homemade. When Janae posted a recipe for Crescent Rolls on Hungry Runner Girl (recipe originally from I honestly thought to myself...huh - I never thought about making homemade crescent rolls! I wonder if future generations will not know that you can make things like biscuits or cookie dough homemade? I'm not sure if we're moving in a positive direction....

As posted in this recipe, each crescent roll provides:
195 calories
9.3 g fat
24.3 g carbohydrate
0.7 g fiber
3.3 g protein

One way to decrease the fat and calories of a recipe is to decrease the portion size. When I made these, I cut each circle into 12 rolls, instead of 10, yielding 24 instead of 20 rolls total from the recipe. I also used whole wheat flour for ALL of the all purpose flour. I liked them, if I thought of them as a wheat roll, and not necessarily a crescent roll. They were a little too "wheat-y" for my husband. You may sacrifice a little of the fiber and try half whole wheat, half all purpose flour. I also did not brush the tops with butter after coming out of the oven.

Overall, these changes saved almost 50 calories, 2 grams of fat and added 2 grams of fiber - PER ROLL.

Crescent Rolls - BETTER

2 (0.25 oz) pkgs active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup shortening
4 cups wheat flour (or 2 cups wheat + 2 cups all purpose)
1/4 cup butter, softened

Dissolve yeast in warm water.

Stir in sugar, salt, eggs, shortening and 2 cups wheat flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in remaining flour until smooth. Scrape dough from side of bowl. Knead dough, then cover it and let rise in a warm place until double (about 1 1/2 hours).

Punch down dough. Divide in half. Roll each half into a 12-inch circle. Spread with softened butter. Cut into 12 wedges. Roll the wedges starting with the wide end. Place rolls with point under on a greased baking sheet. (I used a sheet covered with parchment paper). Cover and let rise until double (about 1 hour).

Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Per serving (24 servings):
146 calories
7.0 g fat
19.0 g carbohydrate
2.5 g fiber
3.3 g protein

Monday, December 20, 2010

About Me...

Kristy from Sweet Treats and More nominated me for a "Stylish Bloggers" award. I'm not sure if I really meet the criteria, but I thought it would be fun to share 7 random things about me.

1. There are two main categories of food that I HATE- Condiments (specifically ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise) and anything in a casing (like hot dogs or sausage links).

2. I became a recreational runner (i.e. NOT FAST) when I met my now husband, who is a college track & field coach. I've run mostly 5k's and higher mileage for exercise but have also run two 25k's. I had major foot reconstruction, with screws and all, a year ago and now I'm not really able to do long distance training anymore. My new goals are to improve my 10k time.

3. I've been married to my husband Paul for over three years and we had our first daughter, Finley, in August of 2010. We also have a dog named Moses. He is an extremely skinny, black lab mutt. We got him because we thought he'd be a good running dog, unfortunately he just prefers to lay on his mat all day.

4. I played field hockey and was a cheerleader in high school. Apparently I liked to do sports which required skirts. (Although I'm not saying cheerleading is a sport, at least for me it wasn't!)

5. I work as a Registered Dietitian for a corporate wellness consulting firm. Essentially I work with employees of corporations to help them eat healthfully, stay healthy and keep the company's insurance costs down. I've also worked in outpatient counseling and in a hospital setting previously.

6. When I was a freshman in college, a friend and I got trapped in a car in a flash flood. We had to be rescued and everything. We ended up sleeping at the house of the stranger who rescued us since all the roads around had been closed due to the flood. We were terrified we were going to be kidnapped but when we woke up, they were cleaning and repairing my friends car and making us a hot pancake breakfast! I'm still quite terrified of driving in the rain.

7. I love to travel and love watching baseball. My husband and I try to go on two vacations each year. One tropical and one to go to baseball games. We're trying to go to every stadium in the country.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Poppyseed Bread

I am a new mom with a now 4 month old. (Today is her 4 month birthday!). I went back to work full time at 8 weeks post partum. I get a lot of questions from people who sympathetically ask, "How's it going?", "Are you doing ok without your little girl?", "Is it hard to leave her at daycare?". I have to be honest with people. I like working. I love my job. I like the interaction with adults and the perks of my job.

BUT, none of this would be possible if I didn't have the most ideal daycare situation - but I do. I work early shifts a few days a week. On those days, my husband stays home with our daughter then goes into work for later in the afternoon for practice after I get out. Two days a week, however, I work later and we need someone else to watch her. When we built our house earlier this year, we specifically built on a cul-de-sac that has three other friends living on it. (Its like college dorms for grown ups!). Our next door neighbor are two of my husband's good friends from college. They had a baby in February and the wife decided to stay home from her job as an elementary school teacher to be with him. So two days a week, she watches her for us. We often joke that our daughter is going to learn more at the neighbor's house than she will at home.

I knew that she wouldn't accept any monetary gifts for Christmas, but we wanted to do something special for her. So I made up a basket of homemade apple butter, puppy chow, a gift for their son, and a loaf of poppyseed bread. I got the recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

As posted in her original recipe, each serving (32 total) provide:
204 calories
9.2 g fat
28.6 g carbohydrate
0.4 g fiber
2.3 g protein

This looks absolutely delicious! I didn't want to put any whole wheat fiber in here and risk making it tough or too grainy. I did, however, feel like I could substitute unsweetened applesauce for the oil. I also made sure to use skim milk in the recipe. The end product was awesome! The recipe says it makes 2 large or 6 small pans. I used medium sized pans and created 4 loaves. We ate one, one will go to the sitter, one will go to my boss and one to a family that hosts my small group from church every other Sunday - PERFECT GIFTS!
Poppyseed Bread - BETTER

3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 1/8 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 1/2 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp melted butter (or butter flavoring extract)

Mix all together. Pour into greased and floured baking pans. Makes 6 small loaves or 2 large loaves. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes for large pans and less for smaller pans. If you have a dark metal pan make sure to bake it for less time at a lower temperature.

1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp melted butter (or butter flavor extract)

Pour all ingredients into a small saucepan and let cook on stove on medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove bread from pans and pour glaze over warm bread. Use knife or spatula to bring the glaze that has run off up and over the warm bread until it stays on.

Per serving (32 servings):
137 calories
1.2 g fat
29.7 g carbohydrate
0.5 g fiber
2.3 g protein

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pardon the interruption...

This post has nothing to do with food. I do, however, have a couple recent recipes that I need to calculate the nutrition facts for and plan to do so tomorrow. So be on the look out for a couple new posts on food tomorrow.

Instead, today I show you what healthy eating during your pregnancy produces.....

The cutest Santa's little helper you've ever seen!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chicken a la King

Sometimes when I surf the blog food world I feel like there are recipes that everyone else have been eating their whole lives and for some reason I've missed out on it since I've never heard of it. Chicken a la King is one of those recipes. A few weeks ago I put this on my "To make" list and since that time I have seen variations of Chicken a la King on several different food blogs. Ultimately, I ended up choosing the recipe posted by Real Mom Kitchen.

As posted, this recipe provides:
412 calories
21.0 g fat
11.8 g carbohydrate
1.4 g fiber
43.1 g protein
(Just the chicken topping, not including whatever you serve it on)

Unfortunately this recipe calls for mushrooms which are a no-go for the husband. So I substituted carrots for mushrooms. (I know this is not an equal substitution but I was just trying to use up some of the crisper drawer). I will post the recipe with mushrooms, however.

There were two big substitutions that I made. I substituted 2 Tbsp olive oil for the 1/2 cup of butter. a.) olive oil is made from monounsaturated fats which are heart healthy fats vs. butter which is full of saturated fats or artery clogging fats and b.) 1/2 cup of butter seemed like a WHOLE HECK OF A LOT of butter to saute and I felt I could get the job done with 2 Tbsp of olive oil. I may have missed out on the richness in taste but I think my heart thanked me. I also substituted skim milk for half-and-half. This obviously cuts out on a ton of fat and calories. Another substitution would be to buy fat free half-and-half. It would make it a little more creamy like the original recipe.

I served this on reduced fat Grands biscuits but you could also cut down on calories/fat by serving on whole wheat toast or other low fat/high fiber carb.

Chicken a la King - BETTER

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced celery
1 cup fresh mushrooms
2 cups diced onion
5-6 Tbsp flour
3 1/4 cup chicken broth
1 (4oz) jar diced pimento
2 cups skim milk (or fat free half-and-half)
3 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken breasts
puff pastry shells, toast points, biscuits, rice or noodles to serve over

Saute celery, mushrooms, and onion in olive oil over medium-low heat to reach desired tenderness.

Gradually add 5-6 tbsp flour, stirring constantly to incorporate.

Turn up heat. As mixture thickens, add chicken stock and milk.

Then stir in chicken and pimento. Spoon chicken mixture into puff pastry shells or over toast points, biscuits, rice or noodles to serve. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving (not including whatever you serve it over):
283 calories
6.0 g fat
12.2 g carbohydrate
1.4 g fiber
43.3 g protein

HOT and creamy enchiladas

I make a menu plan each week before I go grocery shopping. It is super helpful in a.) knowing what ingredients to buy and b.) preventing us from going out to eat or getting pizza ALL THE TIME! I'm usually pretty ridiculous when it comes to my meal plan, grocery list, coupons, etc. Well apparently when you throw working full time, a 3 month old and Christmas shenanigans into the mix, sometimes your grocery list forgets a few items.

I planned on having tacos for dinner the other night but figured out that I didn't have any lettuce (How'd that happen?). I really don't like tacos without lettuce. But I REFUSE to go to the grocery store more than once a week for a single item. So I needed to come up with some kind of baked enchilada type dinner that didn't require lettuce. I pulled all these ingredients together from the pantry and made it up as I went.

I must warn you, my husband and I like spicy food and this was pretty much at the top of my comfort level of hotness. You can alter the hotness though by what type of tomatoes you put in. Just plain diced tomatoes for wussies, mild Rotel for moderates and HOT Rotel for the adventurous. I must also note that when I had leftovers for the lunch the next day, THEY WERE AWESOME! Like even better than the original night. So keep that in mind.

Add a vegetable to these enchiladas and you have a complete meal!

HOT and Creamy enchiladas - Original recipe

3/4 pound ground sirloin
1 small onion, diced
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes with chilies (I used HOT)
4 oz. fat free cream cheese
1 Tbsp taco seasoning
4 oz. 2% Cheddar cheese, divided
6 flour tortillas (I used the 6" small size)

Brown ground sirloin in skillet. Once cooked, drain any excess fat. Add diced onion and saute until translucent. Add can of Rotel, do not drain, and taco seasoning. Allow to simmer for a few minutes to reduce a little bit of the liquid. Add the cream cheese and stir until combined.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray. Assemble enchiladas by scooping 1/6th of the filling into each tortilla, sprinkle with a little cheese (reserving 2 oz cheese for later), roll and place seam side down in baking dish. Spray tops of tortillas with nonstick spray so they get a little crispy in the oven. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Take out dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake additional 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Makes 4 servings (1.5 enchiladas each).
452 calories
19.9 g fat
31.7 g carbohydrate
2.2 g fiber
27.9 g protein

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

Apparently everyone knows that if you are trying to take good food pictures you just cart your dish out onto your back porch and take a picture. Well, I actually tried that and - what do you know? - this is by far the best food picture I've taken so far. Too bad that it's winter and when I'm usually making dinner it's pitch black outside so I can't guarantee good pictures every time, just when I cook in the daylight :)

My husband loves cinnamon raisin bread. He honestly got a little giddy when I told him I made a loaf of it this day. When I saw the recipe from Annie's Eats for Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread, I knew I would get this reaction from him.

As originally posted, each slice (1/16 of the loaf) provides:
200 calories
4.3 g fat
36.8 g carbohydrate
1.2 g fiber
4.1 g protein

As I've said before, baking with yeast requires precise chemical reactions. So I am often afraid to make HUGE changes to a recipe which includes yeast. So I just made sure I used skim milk and I substituted 2 cups of the flour for wheat flour. Did it taste awesome? YES .... Did it make a huge difference? Not so much but at least you save 10 calories, 0.3 g fat and gain 1.4 grams of fiber per slice.... ehhh, I tried.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread - BETTER

1 1/8 tsp instant (rapid rise) yeast
1 cup warm SKIM milk (105-110 degrees)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/4 tsp coarse salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
vegetable oil

For the filling:
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp water
1 egg, lightly beaten

In the bowl of a standard mixer, combine the yeast, warm milk, both flours, butter, sugar, egg, salt and cinnamon. Mix briefly until a dough forms. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until the dough is mostly smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes. Add in the raisins and allow to continue kneading about 3 minutes more, until the dough is smooth and supple and the raisins are evenly incorporated.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl; turning once to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat into a round circle. Fold the bottom third of the dough up and fold the top third down, in business-letter fashion. Then fold the right and left sides into the center in thirds, forming a rectangle. Press down to seal. Return to the bowl, cover and let rise again until doubled, about 40 minutes. (See Annie's Eats for a GREAT picture guide to this step).

Generously butter a 9x5" loaf pan. To make the filling, combine the sugar, cinnamon and water in a small bowl and whisk until well combined. Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into a 10x12" rectangle. Brush lightly with the some of the beaten egg. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture, leaving a thin border around the edges. Fold in the edges of the long sides of the dough about 1 inch. Beginning with the short ends, roll the dough up into a tight spiral log, gently pressing as you go.

Pinch the seam shut and place the loaf, seam side down, in the prepared baking pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rise until dough rises just above the edges of the pan, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. When the loaf has risen, brush the top of the loaf lightly with the remaining beaten egg. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until the loaf is golden brown, about 45 minutes. If the surface seems to be browning too quickly, tent loosely with foil (I did this about 15 minutes into baking). Cool in the pan 5 minutes, then turn the loaf out and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Makes 16 slices, per slice:
190 calories
4.0 g fat
35.9 g carbohydrate
2.5 g fiber
4.6 g protein

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fit Friday's Guest Post

I'm stepping away from the recipe revamps today and guest posting over at Sweet Treats and More. Kristy is starting a feature called "Fit Friday's" every Friday and I thought I'd discuss pre and post workout eating. Check it out!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

Sometimes I get in a potato rut. In the summer, I like to slice potatoes into thick coins, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and throw them on the grill. In the winter, my husband LOVES mashed potatoes. But I'm always looking for a variation.

The Sisters' Cafe provided me with that variation when I was making this chicken dish. It looked pretty straight forward and would compliment my meal nicely.

As stated in the original recipe, each serving provides:
172.9 calories
4.1 g fat
30.5 g carbohydrate
3.7 g fiber
4.3 g protein

I didn't really make a whole lot of changes. I omitted the olive oil and just used nonstick spray instead. I also swapped the amounts of the bread crumbs and Parmesan - didn't make a huge difference in nutritional content, I just wanted them to be more Parmesan-y. They turned out tasty and a great alternative to the old potato stand-bys.

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes - BETTER

4 red potatoes (or 8 new potatoes)
nonstick spray
1 Tbsp bread crumbs
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
Various seasonings (I used garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasoning)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice potatoes into wedges and place in bowl. Spray with nonstick spray for just a second or two. Add all the other ingredients and toss until evenly coated. Bake in preheated oven 30-40 minutes or until desired degree of crispness, turning the wedges over halfway through baking.

Makes 4 servings, per serving:
142.2 calories
1.0 g fat
29.4 g carbohydrate
3.6 g fiber
4.6 g protein

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Chicken

In the summer, we grill A LOT of chicken. In fact, one summer we ate grilled chicken sprinkled with Montreal Steak seasoning with grilled green peppers, onions and potatoes probably 3 or 4 nights a week and we called it "summer meal". Since that summer, I've tried to be a little more creative with my grilled chicken.

My meal plan for the week called for grilled chicken with potatoes and vegetables one night so off I went in search of a great grilled chicken recipe. I found this recipe on Real Mom Kitchen for Sweet and Spicy Grilled Chicken and thought I'd give it a try.

To be honest, I made no nutritional changes to this recipe! The rub itself is pretty healthy and plain old chicken breast can't really be made healthier. The recipe does, however, call for a 6 oz chicken breast per person. Traditionally I recommend 3-4 oz protein portions at meals. I had a pretty hard work out after work on this day and ate the full 6 oz portion myself.... so I can't judge if you do too!

I did make one small change to the recipe. I didn't grill the chicken. See, we live in Michigan and we have this thing called CRAZY winters that last forever. And since it was December, I kind of forgot that we had moved the grill to the storage area since winter grilling on our deck is out of the questions as it is freezing and crazy windy all the time. So I seared this chicken in a dry frying pan instead.

Sweet and Spicy Chicken
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
5 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each... or I used chicken tenders)

Combine the first five ingredients; rub over chicken. Coat grill rack with cooking spray for grills or brush with olive oil before starting the grill. (Or just put it in a dry nonstick pan, like me). Grill chicken, covered, for 4-5 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees.

Makes 5 servings, per serving:
209 calories
2.4 g fat
6.5 g carbohydrate
0.7 g fiber
39.6 g protein

Super Easy Spaghetti Pie

Pasta is often my go-to dinner when short on time or I don't have anything planned for dinner. I always have an abundance of pasta, sauces (gasp! I RARELY make homemade) and protein to add on hand, so its something I can quickly throw together. For my real job, I came across this recipe on The Pioneer Woman's recipe site Tasty Kitchen. Sounded like a good variation of my traditional pasta dishes, so I gave it a try!

As listed, each serving (6) of this recipe provides:
607 calories
38.9 g fat
38.1 g carbohydrate
3.2 g fiber
24.8 g protein

Like usual, I was making this the night before. I put half of the recipe in a 9x5 loaf pan for the next night and kept it in the fridge. I put the other half in a foil lined 9x5 loaf pan for a freezer meal. Afterall, there's only two of us eating real food in the house and I figured that it would be enough for the husband and myself, plus leftovers for lunch the next day.

I made quite a few changes to the recipe but I think I still got the same tasty outcome:
  • substituted whole wheat spaghetti for traditional
  • used 4 egg whites instead of 2 whole eggs
  • used 1 green + 1 red pepper instead of just one pepper
  • used 3/4 of a pound of Italian sausage instead of a full pound
  • Omitted the olive oil as there was plenty of oil in the pan from the cooked sausage
  • used reduced fat sour cream instead of full fat
  • used part-skim mozzarella instead of whole milk mozzarella

I know that sounds like a whole lot of change, but really, it was what we already had in our house - so it was no big deal. I also omitted mushrooms because I'm pretty sure my husband might die if a mushroom crossed his lips, or so he makes me believe.

When all was said and done, this was delicious! The sausage gave the dish a really powerful flavor. I'm sure I could have decreased the fat even more if I had used turkey sausage, but that's not always so easy to find. The peppers also added a lot of flavor. I'm looking forward for when I pull the other half out of the freezer!
Super Easy Spaghetti Pie - BETTER

1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti, cooked
4 egg whites
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 whole onion, chopped
1 red + 1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup mushrooms (optional)
3/4 pound Italian sausage
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 cup spaghetti sauce
1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese

Combine 1/2 pound of cooked spaghetti while it is warm with beaten egg whites and Parmesan. Pour coated pasta into a deep dish pie pan or a 9-inch baking dish. Set aside. (I put half in a loaf pan for now and half in a loaf pan for the freezer).

Saute Italian sausage in a large pan. After about 5 minutes, move sausage to the side. Cook the chopped onion, peppers and mushroom in the same pan. Saute until veggies are soft. Remove the sausage and set aside.

Take pan off of the heat and add about a 1/2 cup of reduced fat sour cream and stir into the veggies.

To assemble the pie - pour the creamy vegetable mix onto the spaghetti "crust". Next cut up the sausage and place a layer of pieces on the vegetables. Cover it all with a layer of spaghetti sauce and then a layer of shredded mozzarella.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Makes 6 servings, per serving:
436 calories
25 g fat
31.3 g carbohydrate
5.1 g fiber
23.8 g protein