Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chocolate Banana Muffins

I love everything about cooking, but what I really LOVE is baking.  When I'm stressed, want to relax, am bored, or want to do something nice for someone.. I bake.  The diet I've been on to help determine what I'm allergic to doesn't include any kind of sugar, so not baking for the past month has been pretty tough on me.  I  made an exception one day last week when all of us had to be at work early, and I thought I would treat my co-workers to some breakfast muffins.  Although these do have sugar in them, they're a healthier muffin, and very delicious!
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a muffin tin with baking cups and set aside.  In a large bowl mash the bananas with a fork.  Then mix in the sugar, egg and applesauce.  
Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder over the banana mixture.  Mix lightly with a rubber spatula to combine.
Fold in the chocolate chips.  The batter should be just moistened but still a little clumpy.
Using a ice cream scoop, divide the batter into the prepared muffin cups.  Bake them for around 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Transfer them to a rack to cool.
You wouldn't know that these were low fat muffins until I told you.. they're soft and sweet and the chunks of banana and chocolate are so tasty.  What a great way to start your morning!

Chocolate Banana Muffins
12 servings
Adapted from Handle the Heat

3 large bananas
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  
Line a muffin tin with baking cups and set aside.
In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork.
Mix in the sugar, egg, and applesauce.
Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder over the banana mixture.
Mix lightly with a rubber spatula.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Divide batter between the prepared muffin cups and bake for around 18 minutes. 
Transfer to a wire rack to cool, and enjoy!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Turkey Bolognese w/ Spaghetti Squash

Hope you all had a great weekend!  
This is a dish I've been meaning to try for a long time.  My good friend Arran first introduced me to spaghetti squash and I instantly took a liking to it.  The best thing about it is how versatile it is.  It's great as a side, and it's great as a pasta stand in.  Which is exactly how I used it for this recipe.  
Begin by baking the spaghetti squash.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut the squash in half and place a tin foil lined baking dish.  Bake for around 45 minutes, until soft in the center and you can easily scrape out the squash.
While the squash is cooking, prepare the sauce.  Chop up 1 medium onion, 2 celery stalks, 1 large carrot.  Along with 3 garlic cloves, minced.
In a large nonstick skillet add one tablespoon of oil.  Then add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic.  Cook until the vegetables are tender, around 15 minutes.  Transfer to a medium bowl.
Add the turkey to the skillet and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until almost cooked through. 
Add the vegetables back to the pan, as well as crushed tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer, and cook until the turkey is through and sauce begins to thicken.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over spaghetti squash and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  I really enjoyed this dinner.  Total of 300 calories, and you honestly won't miss the pasta one bit!  Try it and please let me know what you think, I guarantee you'll be impressed :)

Turkey Bolognese w/ Spaghetti Squash
Serves 4
Adapted from Everyday Food

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced small
1 large carrot, diced small
2 small celery stalks, diced small
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground turkey breast
2 cups crushed tomatoes, from the can or done by hand
coarse salt and ground pepper
6 cups cooked spaghetti squash
grated Parmesan, for serving

In a large nonstick skillet add one tablespoon of olive oil.
Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic.
Cook, until vegetables are tender, around 15 minutes.
Transfer to a medium bowl.
Add the remaining olive olive oil to the skillet.
Add the turkey and cook, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon.
Cook until almost cooked through, around 5 minutes.
Add the vegetables and tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
Cook until turkey is cooked through and the sauce has thickened.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve over cooked spaghetti squash and top with grated Parmesan.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Steamed Broccoli & Squash w/ Tahini Sauce

Here's another tasty recipe for you to try.  Again, great for you - around 250 calories with the sauce included.  Tons of protein and fiber!  You'll have to forgive my pictures, I was all over the kitchen and only snapped a few. 
Steam 1/2 head of broccoli florets until bright green and tender.  Remove and set aside.  Steam one sliced delicata squash until bright yellow and tender, around 10 minutes.
In a bowl mix 1 cup mixed tender greens, I used kale and spinach, with two teaspoons sliced red cabbage and two teaspoons diced red onion. 
Top with steamed vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with 1/4 cup tahini sauce (recipe below.)  Enjoy the full serving of hearty vegetables.

Have a great weekend everyone :)

Steamed Broccoli & Squash 
Serves 4
Adapted from Whole Living Magazine

1/2 head broccoli
1 delicata squash
1 cup mixed tender greens
1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
2 tablespoons diced red onion
coarse salt and pepper

Steam broccoli until bright green and tender; remove and set aside.
Steam 1 sliced and seeded delicata squash until bright yellow and tender, around 10 minutes.
Toss mixed greens, red cabbage and red onion together.
Top with steamed vegetables, season with salt and pepper.
Drizzle with 1/4 cup tahini sauce.

Tahini Sauce
Makes 1 1/4 cups

1/2 cup tahini
1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chopped garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3/4 cup water
coarse salt

In a food processor, puree all ingredients together.
Season with coarse salt.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge and use as a dressing on greens.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Roasted Garlic & Beet Soup

When I first started making this soup I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, and was really happy with how it came out.  I'm not a huge fan of beats, but really liked the flavor!
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Drizzle 3 medium beets with olive oil an roast on foil until tender.  Should take around an hour.
With around 20 minutes left, I drizzled 6 unpeeled garlic cloves with olive oil and added them to the pan.  Let them cook with the beets.  
One the beets have cooled, peel and quarter. Squeeze garlic from the skin and set aside.
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add one thinly sliced leek and cook, stirring until tender. 
Add the beets, garlic, 1 teaspoons thyme, and 1 bay leaf.
Stir in 3 cups of water, and season with salt and pepper.  
Bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Discard bay leaf and let cool slightly.  Puree in a blender until smooth, adding a couple tablespoons of lemon juice.
This is full of flavor and very good for you!  I am convinced this helped me fight off getting sick, as C has had a bad cold for a while.  Every time I felt it coming on I ate a bowl of this and it never got a hold of me.  It's spicy and unexpected, you're sure to enjoy.

Roasted Garlic & Beet Soup
Serves 6
Adapted from Whole Living Magazine

3 medium beets
5 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 large leek, sliced
1 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  
Drizzle the beets with olive oil, place on foil paper and roast until tender, around an hour.
Meanwhile drizzle garlic cloves with olive oil and roast for around 20 minutes.
When beets are finished, let cool.  
Peel and quarter the beets, and set aside.
Squeeze garlic from the skin and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pot over medium heat, add the leek slices.
Cook, stirring until tender; around 6 minutes.
Add in the beets, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and 3 cups of water.
Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. 
Let cool slightly then puree in a blender until smooth.
Add freshly squeezed lemon juice and adjust seasoning if needed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

San Antonio Part 2

Thought I would share some final pictures of our trip to San Antonio.  We spent New Year's Day and night there as well, and I was happy to get to explore the Riverwalk during the day.
The plant life around the river was very cool.  A lot of time was put into the design, and it paid off!
Thought this building looked really cool - not sure what it is, but it's pretty!
Church still had the Christmas tree up. 

Walking around was very relaxing, the atmosphere was awesome.
Had to visit the Alamo while we were there! 
Me, very excited about seeing the Alamo (as you can tell by my face!)
Had to take a picture of the Christmas tree all decked out with Texas memorabilia :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kale Salad w/ Pomegranate Seeds

The last couple of weeks I've been on a special diet - mainly because I was having some allergic reactions but wasn't sure what was causing it.  The diet doesn't allow any processed food essentially.  No meat, bread, dairy, coffee, drinking..yeah, it's been a blast.  As I start introducing more foods into my diet, I think I've concluded that I'm allergic to dairy - which will make things interesting seeing as much as I love cheese and any dessert with cream in it, but one step at a time.  I have been pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy some of the meals though. I thought I would share a couple with you, starting with this kale salad. 
Start with a bunch of kale.  If you've never tried kale, you really must.  It's a great substitute for lettuce, it's great for you and fills you up easily.  Rub 1 bunch of kale with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger.
I did this in a large bowl, and that worked best. 
Chop two tablespoons of red onion.
I used a half of a pomegranate, but you could easily use the whole one.  Pomegranate seeds are what makes this salad so tasty!
Combine the pomegranate seeds and the chopped onions.  One of my favorite blogs "The Italian Dish" had a post about how to deseed a pomegranate, if you need some help please click here to get step by step instructions.
Add the onions and pomegranate seeds on top of the kale.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  You can also add toasted walnuts on top. This is a tasty dish and great for you.  177 calories, with 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.  Your body will love you after this salad!

Kale Salad w/ Pomegranate Seeds
Serves 4
Adapted from Whole Living Magazine

1 bunch of kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
1/4 chopped toasted walnuts
course salt and pepper

Rub 1 bunch of kale with olive oil, lime juice, and ginger.
Toss and set aside.
Add 1/2 pomegranate seeds, red onions and walnuts and toss.
Season with salt and pepper. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mia Update

 Thought I would give you all an update on Mia.  She's growing fast, and biting everything -- but you can't help but love her!  We took her on a hike yesterday and she had fun exploring.
Could barely keep her eyes open afterward though. 
Good night Mia!  More pictures to come and she get's older and older :) 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Acenar - San Antonio

There are so many restaurants in San Antonio on the River Walk it was really hard to pick one!  We ended up at Acenar on New Year's Eve.  We wanted to sit outside, but not have the river walkers bombarding us as we ate.  Acenar was prefect because their patio was a story over the river walk and looked down on it.  We started with the empanadas.  I was super excited to see this on the menu, as I don't often see it, and love them!
They were stuffed with spicy chorizo and potatoes.  There were two sauces on the plate, both of which were very good, but one was super spicy!  Got your attention :)
C got the duck crepes, crepes filled with duck confit topped with an onion sauce.  They were delicious, and pretty large!
I got the fish tacos, which I've started to order more when I try new places.  I really like fish, so it was just a matter of time.  These were really good, and my favorite part was the coleslaw that came on the fish.  So creamy and delicious.
We ended the night by sharing a dessert, and we tried the chocolate mouse.  It was a little different than I thought it would be, but it was SO good!
Good enough for two pictures.  The shell on the outside was hard, but once you scooped through it, it was mouse.  It came with nuts, and fruit on the side to mix in as well as delicious whipped cream on top.  
I really enjoyed Acenar, the food was creative and tasty, and the atmosphere on the river walk was great.  
For more information on Acenar please click to their website here.