Monday, May 31, 2010

Aunt Eva's Mud Hen Bars

I made these Mud Hen Bars today in honor of my little hen Prissy, who is currently setting a clutch of fifteen eggs under the azalea bush by the front porch. Fifteen? You have to admire that kind of ambition. She's been hiding her eggs for the last couple of weeks, and then the other evening she didn't come to roost. We hunted her down yesterday and found her in a cozy, well hidden nest. And even though she's not a Mud Hen, (the poultry kind or otherwise) the fact that the recipe had the word hen in it was close enough for me.

I found this recipe for bars last fall on Food O' del Mundo, and immediately knew that someday I would have occasion to make them. And today, in Prissy's honor, here they are. And even though I initially chose them only for their name, they have earned a permanent place in my recipe box. They have a bottom layer like a thick chewy sugar cookie, a middle layer full of chocolate, nuts and marshmallows, and a delicate crunchy meringue layer on top. I chose to use pecans in mine because that's what I had the most of, but I think that others would be equally delicious.

So by my calculations, we should have some chicks running around in about 18 days or so- check back for chick updates. :) In the mean time, you should try these bars even if you don't have a setting hen in your yard. They'd be great to take to summer picnics or potlucks, as they're extremely quick and easy to whip up on short notice. Enjoy!

Aunt Eva's Mud Hen Bars
slightly adapted from Food O' del Mundo

1/2 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs (2 of the eggs should be separated)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped nuts
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup brown sugar

  • Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. 
  • Cream together butter and white sugar until completely blended. 
  • Beat in one whole egg and 2 egg yolks. Reserve whites for meringue topping.
  • Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix until blended.
  • Spread into  a foil covered 9x13 pan. (Tip: I like to cover my pan with foil, leaving plenty hanging over the ends. When the bars cool I can lift the entire pan of bars out- this makes them so much easier to cut.)
  • Sprinkle the nuts, chocolate chips and nuts evenly over the batter.
  • Beat reserved egg whites until stiff. Fold in brown sugar. (Tip: To prevent lumps, sift your brown sugar before adding it to the whites.)
  • Spread the egg white meringue mixture evenly over nuts, chips and marshmallows.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until batter is set and meringue is lightly browned and crunchy on top.
  • Cool completely. Using the foil hanging over the edges of the pan, gently lift the baked bars out of the pan. Peel the foil away and cut into bars. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bean and Grain Burgers with Lemon Tahini

I relish a good hamburger as much as the next person. But with our cholesterol numbers haunting us, hubby and I find that more and more we're opting for more healthful vegetarian fare, like this bean and grain burger.  I've enjoyed this burger countless times at one of my favorite restaurants, Sammy T's, for years, but never realized I could have it any time I wanted- until I found the recipe here. It turns out that the burger I had been ordering because it was out of this world delicious, is also a good choice healthwise!

Another way to enjoy this meatless wonder? At Sammy T's it's called the Camper's Special. It's this same burger topped with hummus, sauteed mushrooms and onions, green peppers and tomatoes. It's wrapped in a grilled flour tortilla, covered with melted mozzarella and cheddar, and served with lemon tahini sauce. Try one. Or even two. The cows won't be offended.

Bean and Grain Burgers
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1tablespoon olive oil
1 (19 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed and ground or coarsely chopped
3 slices whole wheat bread, blended in food processor
1/4 cup sesame tahini
1/4 cup tamari or low sodium soy sauce
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/3 cup raw wheat germ

Gently saute onions and garlic in olive oil until onions are slightly browned. Mix onions together with remainder of ingredients EXCEPT the wheat germ. Form mixture into 8-10 patties. Coat each patty in raw wheat germ and grill on a non-stick surface. Serve on a multi-grain roll with lemon tahini (recipe follows) and/or your favorite toppings.

*****Campers Special**** Top your Bean and Grain Burger with hummus, sauteed onions, green pepper, tomato and mushrooms. Wrap it in a grilled flour tortilla and top it with melted mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Serve warm with lemon tahini dressing. Yum.

Lemon Tahini Dressing
1/2 cup sesame tahini
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 clove mild garlic
2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce or tamari (add more 1 tsp. at a time if mixture is not salty enough for your taste.)
Dash of Sriracha sauce or a pinch of cayenne
3/4 cup of water
Place first 6 ingredients (all except water) in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add water gradually until desired consistency is reached. Keeps fresh refrigerated for 7-10 days. This sauce is best if made ahead of time (an hour or so) in order to allow the flavors to blend.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Marbled-Chocolate Banana Bread- Cooking Light

What happens when you have a bowlful of neglected bananas? You make banana bread, of course. Banana bread is the perfect choice when you need a treat that's simple, comforting and delicious. This loaf combines two favorites: chocolate and bananas. Spread with a bit of strawberry jam and you almost have a banana split!

""When they are flecked with brown and have a golden hue, bananas taste the best and are the best for you."    Chiquita Banana, 1944

For best flavor, use bananas that are generously flecked with brown spots. If ever you find yourself with a surfeit of over-ripe bananas and no time to make bread, just peel the bananas and freeze them in plastic bags. They'll be there for you when you need them, and trust me, you'll thank yourself when you bite into the chocolate-banana goodness that is this loaf.

Marbled-Chocolate Banana Bread
from Cooking Light, Sept. 2003
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon  baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
1/2 cup egg substitute (I used one whole egg plus 2 egg whites to equal 1/2 cup.)
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  • Beat sugar and butter together until well blended. Add mashed banana, eggs or egg substitute and yogurt. Beat until blended. Add flour mixture and blend together just until moist.
  • Place chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on High for one minute, or until almost melted. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Cool slightly, then add 1 cup batter to the chocolate, stirring until well combined. 
  • Spoon chocolate batter alternately with the plain batter into an 81/2 x 4 1/2 -inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Swirl batters together using a knife.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan and finish cooling on wire rack. 
  • Yield: 16 servings         Calories 183; Fat 4.7 g; Carbs; 33.4

Friday, May 14, 2010

White Pizza with Bacon, Mushrooms and Sugar Snap Peas

Pizza is good. Not always the healthiest option as take-out, but good nonetheless. This being the case, I often make pizza at home because I can easily control what goes in and on it. Since we've been trying to eat more healthful food around here, I rummaged through my old Cooking Light magazines and found a pizza recipe we could enjoy without guilt or hives. (No tomatoes- yay!) It's a thin crispy crust covered with creamy ricotta, flavorful sauteed onions, shiitake mushrooms and tender sugar snap peas, and topped with the savory goodness of bacon, mozzarella and parmesan. Yum.

I know you're wondering... "Peas on pizza? What's she thinking?" Well, the original recipe called for arugula but alas there was none in my refrigerator. (Confession: I'm not really fond of it anyway.) I did have some lovely fresh sugar snap peas that I picked the other day, so I chopped and added them instead.  I love sugar snaps so it worked. If you're not a fan of what my grandson calls "green balls" you may wish to substitute something more to your liking. As the recipe is written, each slice of pizza is only about 230 calories. I did add a bit of leftover chicken to mine that's not indicated in the recipe, and also a sprinkling of crushed red pepper for extra flavor. Feel free to personalize, cause that's what pizza is all about!

If you are reluctant to make it because you're intimidated by the yeast dough for the crust, please be assured that it's not difficult and takes only a little time to prep. There is a short rise for the dough, but if you use the time to have a cup of tea and watch a couple of Desperate Housewives reruns, the time passes very quickly. (Not that I'd know anything about that.)

White Pizza with Bacon, Mushrooms and Sugar Snaps (printable recipe here)
adapted from Cooking Light, Dec. 2007
Crust: (Thin and crispy)
1 pkg. active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup warm water (100-110 degrees)
1 1/2 cups flour (about 6 3/4 oz.) divided- I used a whole wheat/all-purpose mix
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons yellow cornmeal
2 slices center cut bacon
1/2 cup thinly sliced white onion (I used red)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. Shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup sliced sugar snap peas
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup part skim ricotta
1/3 cup (1 1/2 oz.) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • To prepare dough, dissolve yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Stir 1 1/4 cups of the flour, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1 Tablespoon olive oil into the yeast mixture to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes); add enough of the remaining flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking to hands and surface.
  • Place dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray, turning dough to coat surface. Cover dough and let rise in a a warm place for an hour, or until doubled in size.
  • Punch down dough; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Roll dough into a 14 inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on a pan covered with cooking spray and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Pinch edges of dough to make a rim.
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 
  • To prepare topping, cook bacon in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet, reserving 1 teaspoon of bacon drippings in pan. Crumble bacon; set aside. Add onion, peas and mushrooms to pan; cook until tender and moisture evaporates, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
  • Drizzle 1 Tblsp. olive oil over dough; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Place pan on lowest rack in the oven and bake at 450 degrees for about 5 minutes. 
  • Remove from oven. Spread ricotta evenly over crust. Arrange onion mixture evenly over the ricotta. Sprinkle with bacon, mozzarella, and Parmesan. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Cut into wedges.
  • Yield: 6 servings, about 230 calories each

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Scrambled Hen Fruit?

Do you believe in destiny? This strawberry was destined for me to find it, I'm sure. And to think I almost missed it. It was the very last one I picked before I left the patch today, and soon as I plucked it off of the vine I saw its potential.

This berry gives hen fruit a whole new meaning.  Do you think Ebay is ready for a miracle of this magnitude?

Sour Cream Pound Cake

I'm a pound cake snob. I grew up with my mom's Cold Oven Pound Cake which is so good it pretty much ruined me for others. But I saw this recipe in an older Cooking Light magazine and it looked so simple and elegant I had to break down and try it. It's not "light" by any stretch of the imagination (it's not called pound cake for nothing) but this is a recipe makeover that cuts down (by about half!) on the fat and cholesterol in a traditional pound cake without compromising the taste and texture. It is equally delicious plain as it is topped with fresh berries and whipped cream, which is how I'll be enjoying it. If you're looking for a pound cake to serve with a little less guilt, give this one a try!

Sour Cream Pound Cake (printable recipe here)
recipe by Mary Simpson Creel, Cooking Light magazine
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups egg substitute*
1 1/2 cups light sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Cooking spray
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  • Place sugar and butter in a large bowl, beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). 
  • Gradually add egg substitute, beating well. *Eight egg whites can be used in place of egg substitute, if desired. Add one at a time to sugar mixture. (Confession: I used one whole duck egg for color and made up the rest with egg whites.)
  • Combine sour cream and baking soda. Stir well, and set aside. (Make sure your container holds at least 3 cups- the mixture expands. I found this out the hard way. :P)
  • Lightly spoon sifted cake flour (sift before measuring) into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine 4 1/2 cups flour and salt. Add flour mixture and sour cream mixture alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in vanilla.
  • Pour batter into a 10-inch tube pan coated with cooking spray.
  • Bake at 325 degrees F for 1 hour and 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (Mine needed about 5 more minutes.) Cool in pan 10 minutes on wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.
  • Yield: 24 servings (serving size 1 slice)
  • Lemon: Add 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Coconut: Decrease vanilla to 1 teaspoon; add 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • Almond: Decrease vanilla to 1 teaspoon; add 1 teaspoon almond extract
Nutrition Information per serving: Calories 250 (28% from fat); Fat 7.7g;  Protein 3.5g; Carbs 41.9g; Cholesterol 6mg; Sodium 170 mg; Calcium 25mg

    Saturday, May 8, 2010

    Garlic Scape Butter

    Support your local Farmer's Market! Our local market opened last weekend, but I didn't get a chance to check it out until today. I came home with duck eggs, heirloom tomato plants, a loaf of artisan bread and a bag full of these green twisted beauties. They're garlic scapes-the bright green, curled, twisted tops of garlic that must be cut in the spring to keep garlic bulbs growing until harvest time in the fall. I've never used them before, but I love garlic and they looked too fresh and green to pass up. (Especially since my purchase included a recipe for garlic scape butter which looked simple enough to make on a lazy Saturday afternoon.)

    The recipe is simple. You'll need to let a stick of butter sit out on the counter for a while until it softens. Finely chop -either by hand or in a food processor- 6 (or more) garlic scapes. I only used six this time, but next time I'll probably use a bit more. Put a little of the butter into a saute pan with the garlic scapes, a grind or two of pepper and about 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt. Gently saute until the scapes are tender and aromatic, about 5 minutes. Let this mixture cool a bit and then mix it into the rest of the softened butter. The original recipe called for chopped parsley as well, but I opted out this time around.

    I used some of this tonight on pasta (with pecorino romano and pine nuts) and it was perfect (and alliterative). It added a subtle garlic flavor without being overpowering at all. I'm looking forward to finding more ways to use what's left. Spread on some of my artisan loaf and gently toasted in the oven? Or maybe tomorrow morning to scramble with my duck eggs? Don't worry- it won't go begging!

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    Strawberry Jam With a Twist

    It would have been a shame to waste a perfectly good sundae, wouldn't it? Seriously. Somebody had to eat it before it melted and before I knew it my spoon was scraping the bottom. What was so special about it? It was the strawberry jam made with fresh strawberries and a touch of balsamic vinegar.

    I was looking for something to make with the strawberries I picked this past weekend, and found this recipe for jam on Savory Sweet Life. I don't usually attempt jam on a week night, but this recipe looked so quick and easy I couldn't resist. There was no pectin to worry about, and since it made a small batch, there was no need to sterilize or seal jars. It made just enough to put in my refrigerator to enjoy all week.

    Treat yourself to some of this now that strawberries are in season. You'll be so spoiled you won't even want the stuff from the grocery store again. The good thing is, this recipe is so quick and easy you won't need the stuff from the grocery store again! If adding balsamic vinegar to your jam seems a bit too risky for you, this recipe works just as well with lemon juice instead. Whichever you choose, it will be sure to add a bright spot to your day.

    Strawberry Jam with Balsamic Vinegar 
    recipe slightly adapted from Savory Sweet Life
    2 cups chopped strawberries (packed into measuring cup)
    1 cup granulated sugar
    2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar or lemon juice
    In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stir together strawberries, sugar and balsamic vinegar (or lemon juice) until boiling. Boil, stirring occasionally until your mixture reaches 220 degrees, or until thick and syrupy. (Mine took about 20 minutes.) Pour into a glass jar and refrigerate. Delicious cold or warmed on biscuits, french toast, waffles or ice cream. (Or whatever else that can be made more delicious with some strawberry goodness.)

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    Berry Picking Time!

    Strawberries are ripe in my neck of the woods! They've been plentiful in the grocery stores, but nothing beats fresh strawberries right off of the vine. They smell and taste ambrosial! I picked these from my brother's berry patch this weekend, and they are delicious. It was hard to stop picking even when my bucket was full, and I'm in a quandary over what to make with them. (That actually might not be so hard for me to decide if the berries keep disappearing from the refrigerator at the rate they've been going.)

    As sweet and delectable as strawberries are right out of the patch, they're also good dressed up with a little cream cheese dip that's super easy to whip up in a jiffy. All you need is an 8 oz. block of cream cheese (softened) and a large jar of marshmallow cream. Whip them together and there it is! Serve it with fresh strawberries (or other fresh fruit) and you have a beautiful, simple spring dessert.

    Strawberries. Only 50 calories in a cupful. High in fiber, potassium and vitamin C. Isn't it great when something that tastes so good is actually good for you?

    Related Posts with Thumbnails