Friday, January 23, 2009

Lemonade Awards!

I have been awarded the Lemonade Blog Award by Erica's Kitchen Adventures. This award comes with some guidelines:
- Add the logo in your blog.
- Add a link to the person who gave you the award.
- Nominate 10 other (refreshing…like lemonade) blogs of your choice.
- Don’t forget to add links to those blogs in yours.
- Also leave a message for your nominees in their blogs, informing them about the award.
And so, while I may not have ten and don't wish to obligate the next to have to come up with that many, here are some of the most refreshing blogs I read. (Get it? Refreshing. Like lemonade.)
Savory, Spicy, Sweet (Liz's Cooking Blog)
These aren't all food blogs, but they are all excellent. And quite refreshing.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pineapple Flax Muffins

from Flax Seed Recipes

I decided to make something healthy for snacks and lunches, and I have a bag of flax seed languishing in my cupboard, so I was looking for something flaxy. This looked good - and it is. It isn't a coffee shop muffin. You won't mistake it for cake. The muffin part is not very sweet at all, and they're very dense. The fruit, however, makes it a really nice snack. I love the pineapple. Crushed might be better than the tidbits the recipe recommended, though, as I find the pieces kind of big in proportion to the muffin.

These make a great breakfast on the run (although you'll either want 2 or a piece of fruit on the side).

Alas, the digital camera appears to have left me to go to a wrestling tournament. I'll update with photo tomorrow, perhaps.

Pineapple Flax Muffins
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 3/4 cup oat bran
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup pineapple tidbits, drained
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon egg substitute
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In large bowl, mix flours, flax, oat bran, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
  3. Stir in carrots, pineapple and raisins.
  4. Combine eggs, milk, lemon juice, applesauce and vanilla in separate bowl.
  5. Add liquids to dry ingredients, stir until moist (batter will be lumpy).
  6. Coat muffin tin with non-stick spray. Pour batter in tins.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Baking time: 15-20 minutes

Yield: 18 muffins

Nutrition Info (per muffin): 113 calories, 1.4 g fat, 23.4 g carb (2.2 g fiber, 2.7 g sugar), 3.5 g protein. 2 Weight Watchers Points .

Monday, January 5, 2009

Roasting Coffee Beans with a Popcorn Popper

I have a strange love for doing things at home that normal people just buy from the store. Exhibit A: homemade mozzarella cheese. Exhibit B: homemade deer jerky. And now Exhibit C: home roasted coffee. The beans on the left are the Columbian Supremo beans I received for my birthday. I'm not sure of their cost because they were a gift, but green beans are typically about half the price of roasted ones. A few months ago, I read this article on Lifehacker which pointed me at this series of Flickr photos. It looked pretty easy, and I already own a hot air popcorn popper (which I consider to be the only way to make popcorn - never burnt, never greasy).

This morning, I dug out the popper and aimed it at my sink. I poured in beans up to the popcorn fill line, cranked it up, let it do it's thing for about 7 min (6 min= light roast, 8 min = very dark roast). Then I poured them into a bowl and chilled them in the porch for a few minutes (a fridge or freezer is fine for those of you not in the arctic).

Verdict: delicious. Not a trace of bitterness. A very fine cup of coffee. The roasting process did make a little smoke, but no more than my blackened salmon. I hit the "ignore" button on my smoke detector, though, to avoid that issue. There wasn't a lot of chaff, and it all stayed in the sink. It really was a 10-minute, less than $5 experiment that was well worth it.

If you don't have a hot air popper, there are other alternatives in the Lifehacker link, but they're more involved. Like shaking a frying pan for 15 minutes. I really think investing in a used air popper (if you can find one) is the way to go. Mine was $5 at a garage sale almost 10 years ago. The things last forever... and also make popcorn, in addition to roasting coffee. Part of me now wonders if you can toast nuts in there. I hate stirring those things.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Eggs Mini-session

I have realized something: I am having a crisis of freezer space. I need to repack things more efficiently and organize it properly. So chicken has been put off for a while, but the egg dishes needed to be done, as I bought the eggs and mushrooms. I only made 2 dishes:
Aztec Quiche (doubled recipe)
So- Easy Stuffing-Egg Bake (new recipe, review to follow when we eat it)

Several failed attempts to freeze quiche without spilling some of the filling before it freezes have led me to just freeze the filling in a ziploc bag this time. The plan is to thaw it in the fridge, then dump into a pie shell to bake. I subbed a jalapeno and a red chili for the canned green chilis, which I just don't like. I also omitted the green onion and tomato from the stuffing bake, although I added just a bit of salsa to the top to add back a bit of flavour.

This was a small session, and thus, a very quick session. It only took about half an hour to assemble 3 meals. Eggs are not cooked before freezing, so prep time is really minimal. And yet... it's so nice to have quiche ready for the oven in about a minute.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Ground Beef Mini-session

I'm still on holidays and I want to restock my freezer before I head back to work. Unfortunately, my lower back has been bugging me and standing for long periods really aggravates it. I decided to break my plan into a beef day and a chicken/eggs day.

So today in 2 hours, I made myself:
Chili (see below)
Simple Lasagna (split into 2 8"x8" pans)
Sloppy Joes

Chili sauce is weirdly expensive here, so I sub salsa for the sloppy joes. I also sub cottage cheese for ricotta in the lasagnas because of cost, and to reduce fat. I improvise my chili as I go, and it generally turns out fine. All in all, there was 3 lb of ground beef in those recipes, and there was 6 or 8 servings of chili, 8 of lasagna, and 4 of sloppy joes.

Overall, if you're kind of intrigued by the idea of having a few meals in the freezer but don't want to spend a lot of time or money on something you feel may not work out, this is a great way to start. If you like ground beef, you will like these recipes. It only takes a couple hours, it doesn't take any expensive or extraordinary ingredients, and it doesn't take a lot of freezer space. Nothing is nicer than a warm bowl of chili on a cold evening... unless it's eating it after deciding it's a lazy, non-cooking day.

OAMC Steps:
1. Get out recipes, canned goods, spices, and fresh ingredients. Have everything out before you start.
2. Brown all beef in your largest frying pan. I did mine in two batches. Drain beef well (rinse with hot water if desired. It really does take all the fat out.)
3. Divide meat into 3 parts: one into chili pot, one into a dish to mix with sauce for lasagna (doesn't need to be heated again), one back into frying pan for sloppy joes.
3. Assemble chili so it can simmer.
4. Make sloppy joes so they can simmer 10 min.
5. Assemble lasagna(s) and bake as directed, 60 min.
6. As things finish, label freezer bags or containers. Package, allow to cool about 30 min on counter, then move to fridge or freezer.

Simple Chili
1 lb ground beef
1 large can crushed tomatos (28 oz)
1 can tomato paste
1 can kidney beans or mixed beans or black beans
1 cup frozen corn (or 1 can corn)
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder

Brown beef and drain. Put into large pot (chili always takes more room than I think) or slow cooker. Add everything and simmer at least 1 hour or until you want to eat it. Add chipotle powder or cayenne pepper to taste if you like it more spicy. This is just a base recipe; other veggies or additional beans could easily be added.