Low Guilt Dessert: Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake

21 Jan

Chocolate Zucchini CakeA great dessert from the Flat Belly Diet.  All you need is dark chocolate chips, zucchini, greek yogurt, and your basic cake ingredients.  The cake turned out light and fluffy.  The icing is just melted dark chocolate – no added sugar.

 

When Pigs Fly: Apples and Pork Loin

20 Jan

Orange and Herb Turkey Cutlets Pork Loin with Maple-Sautéed Apples

I never thought the day would come.  I cooked and ate pork for dinner!  Over the past five years, Chris has encouraged me to taste and eat foods I never thought I’d try.  While pork is common, I have generally stayed away from it since re-entering the meat-eating world after 9 years of vegetarianism.   When shopping this past week, we couldn’t find the turkey cutlets that I wanted for this dish.  I browsed the meat section, and instead found these beautiful rather lean looking pork loins.  With my heart set on the recipe, I caved to Chris’ delight and bought them.

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  The recipe is from my Flat Belly Diet cookbook, and honestly it looks like a pork recipe that uses turkey to make it healthier.  We rubbed the pork with spices and browned it in a skillet.  It was browning too fast, so Chris had to turn down the heat and cook it for a bit longer to get it right.  The apples were pan-fried with maple syrup, cinnamon and pepper.  The flavors were bold and the pork lean enough for my palette.  We served it with a bit broccoli, which I severely over-salted (sorry Chris!).  Not a bad first go with pork loin.  I just might have to try it again.

 

My Very First Thanksgiving Dinner

20 Jan

This past year Chris and I offered to give my mom a break and make Thanksgiving dinner for the family.  Thanksgiving with my family is usually small (just the immediate family).  We spend the day snacking on appetizers and playing games.  My mom pops in and out of the game while cooking dinner.  Mom’s dinner varied slightly over the years, but it was always delicious.  The staples of the dinner were turkey, potatoes, stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, and pie.  This year I kept the spread the same, but changed the recipes to add my own twist on the evening.
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My sister, Heather, and my boyfriend, Chris, were the perfect helpers for the day.  Heather chopped like a pro and Chris took charge of the turkey and dessert.  They both chipped in and helped out when needed, and delegation was super easy with my 5 page plan right in front of me.  The plan included guidelines for timing, ingredients, materials, and step by step instructions.

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As you can see, the type A side of my personality was in full force.

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The menu consisted of a herb butter turkey and gravy, creamy cheesy potatoes, crispy shallot and green bean casserole, herb bread vegetarian stuffing, and pumpkin pie.  It was hard work, but the day went flawlessly and everyone really enjoyed the meal.  Here’s to many more years of good food and good times with family!  Scott and James – We missed you this year.  Hopefully you’ll be chipping in and enjoying the dinner with us again soon!

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Herbs Without A Yard

20 Jan

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A few months ago we planted fresh thyme, rosemary, mint, parsley, oregano, and dill in two big pots on our patio.  We also have a basil plant.  The basil is now slowly dying, but the potted herbs are flourishing.  We’ve battled mildew with milk baths and aphids with a soap-based spray.  It was touch and go for a bit there, but each week there are fewer holes in the mint and less white film on the rosemary.  The parsley is growing so much that we may have to get a third pot soon!

 

Turkey Meatloaf with Walnuts and Sage

10 Dec

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Hands down the best turkey meatloaf I have ever made. The walnut adds a nutty salty/sweet flavor that goes oh so well with the turkey and sage. I paired it with a Bok Choy and Garlic Skillet (also a FBD recipe).

Thanksgiving Bread Take Two: Pumpkin & Rosemary Soft Rolls

10 Dec

As I mentioned in Thanksgiving Bread Take 1, I was on a mission to make some delicious bread for a Thanksgiving dinner with friends.  Given the big bet I was making on savory muffins, I thought I might try something a little more traditional.  Since I used squash in the first one, I wanted to use pumpkin in this one.  A little more searching on Food52 and I found this recipe.

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I had to make the dough the night before put it in the fridge overnight.  Unfortunately, my yeast was rather old.  I mixed the yeast with some warm water and sugar to test it, but alas there was no froth.  It was too late to run to the store, so we skipped the refrigerator step and grabbed the yeast in the morning.

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I unfortunately missed taking pictures of the dough-making process.  This involved making and herb butter with fresh dill from our patio garden, mixing it with rosemary, parsley, pumpkin purée, egg, sugar, salt, and yogurt.  Egad!  When mixing these ingredients I accidentally added an extra egg.  I ended up doubling the recipe to fix it and only later realizing that I made 40 rolls!!!  Well in went double the yeast, and then double the flour.  Mixing in the flour took forever.  I did this by hand, kneading the dough for what seemed like forever.  My arms felt like they were going to fall off.  Chris came to the rescue and helped me roll the dough into 40 small balls.  We set them on the counter to rise for 2 hours and relaxed on the couch while we waited.

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The last step involved brushing the rolls with egg and then covering them in coarse sea salt.  They baked in the oven for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.  They smelled delicious as they baked.

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Sure enough, these rolls turned out light, fluffy, salty, and herby.  Pure deliciousness.  The pumpkin added a nice color to the rolls, but the herb flavor came through more than anything.  I ate mine with some delicious butter someone brought for the cornbread.  I’d highly recommend these rolls if you want to bring something unique to a potluck dinner and you’re up for some serious kneading.

Thanksgiving Bread Take One: Butternut Squash Muffins

10 Dec

Every year, Chris and his friends get together in early November to share a Thanksgiving dinner together.  We all bring a dish, drink, chat, and enjoy the food.  Chris always brings the sweet potatoes (and they turn out great), but I like to make a dish myself as well.This year most of the traditional dishes were already taken, so I decided to bring the bread.  I looked through Food52.com and found a recipe for a savory muffin.  When I started to make the muffin, Chris exclaimed, “spinach in a muffin, weird.”  I too thought it was a bit strange, but then again maybe it would be amazing.

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I cut the squash into cubes, tossed it in EVOO, and baked it until golden brown.


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In the meantime, I chopped the spinach, tossed it with parmesan and feta cheese, and beat together milk, eggs, and mustard.  Yea I know, this list of ingredients had me worried as well.  Sometimes you have to bet big to win big, or so I hoped.  I then added the roasted squash cubes to the spinach and poured the egg mixture into one big bowl.

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Finally I slowly added the dry ingredients, mixing until barely incorporated.  First the flour, then the baking soda, then the salt, and the wait WHAT…nutmeg…at this point I had to reassure myself that they’d be amazing.

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I evenly distributed the dough into cupcake pans.  This part was a bit tricky since the dough was rather sticky.  I also sprinkled the tops with fresh ground pepper and pressed the remaining into the tops of the tops of the muffins.  Now here is where I royally messed up.  I forgot to also press in the remaining feta cheese on the tops of the muffins.  

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They baked for about 20 minutes at 450.  The product in the end was absolutely beautiful.  The orange of the squash and green of the spinach were vibrant and unexpected on the backdrop of a muffin.

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If only they tasted as good as they looked!  They unfortunately turned out a rather dense and difficult to eat.  I think a bunch of melted feta cheese on top would have definitely helped.  Ah well, my big bet didn’t pay off, but it might be worth another go.  I’ll just need to tweak the recipe to make the muffins more fluffy (and I know I can make darn good fluffy muffins) and stick a post it note to the oven reminding me to add the feta cheese to the top!

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