Monday, January 30, 2012

Mini German Pancakes

I am always looking for new creative ways to do breakfast. I absolutely love breakfast, and especially when I get to make breakfast. I saw these at a friend's Christmas party a while ago and thought it was such a fun idea. We have had them a couple of times now and I love it. I love them because I can have one or all twelve (maybe not quite all twelve but pretty close). They had them there for everyone to snack on at the Christmas party and it was great. You can fill the little cups with syrup, jam, or sprinkle them with powdered sugar and a little bit of lemon juice. I also love it because they are hand held. There is something fun about thinks that you can eat without utensils (maybe that is my inner child coming out). In my family we always called German pancakes dutch babies. I lovingly like to call these bad boys dutchies or little dutchies :).

Mini German Pancakes
Prep Time: 10 min
Bake Time: 15 Min
Makes 12-18 Mini German Pancakes

3 eggs beaten
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
4 tbs melted butter

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare regular sized muffin tins by placing approximately 1 tsp of butter in each tin. Once the oven is preheated place the muffin tins in the oven and let the butter melt. Watch it pretty closely because you don't want your butter to burn. While the butter is melting  combine all the remaining ingredients in a blender and blend for 2 minutes. Pour a small amount into each prepared muffin tin. The smaller amount you put in each tin the more individual mini German pancakes you will get. If you want them fairly thick then fill each tin 2/3 the way full. If you want them thinner only fill the tins 1/4-1/2 the way full. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Garnish with melted butter and powdered sugar or really whatever you heart so desires.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Whole Wheat Biscuits

Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens! I decided to make whole wheat scones/biscuits. With the several batches I made I realized that moisture is a good thing. This dough is very sticky and I used a good amount of flour to assist in the kneading process, but the biscuits were moist and tender (just how I like them)!

Basic Scones (a.k.a. Basic Biscuits)
Servings: about eight 2-inch (5 cm) scones or five 3-inch (7½ cm) scones
Recipe can be doubled

1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons fresh baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons frozen grated butter (or a combination of lard and butter)
approximately ½ cup cold milk
2 tablespoons honey
optional 1 tablespoon milk, for glazing the tops of the scones

1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
2. Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If your room temperature is very hot refrigerate the sifted ingredients until cold.)
3. Rub the frozen grated butter (or combination of fats) into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones.
4. Combine the milk and the honey. Whisk to combine. Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits) will be!
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve an even homogeneous crumb to your scones knead very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) the dough until it is smooth. To achieve a layered effect in your scones knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until the dough has formed a smooth texture. (Use a floured plastic scraper to help you knead and/or fold and turn the dough if you wish.)
6. Pat or roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about ¾ inch thick (15¼ cm by 10 cm by 2 cm thick). Using a well-floured 2-inch (5 cm) scone cutter (biscuit cutter), stamp out without twisting six 2-inch (5 cm) rounds, gently reform the scraps into another ¾ inch (2 cm) layer and cut two more scones (these two scones will not raise as well as the others since the extra handling will slightly toughen the dough). Or use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges as you desire.
7. Place the rounds just touching on a baking dish if you wish to have soft-sided scones or place the rounds spaced widely apart on the baking dish if you wish to have crisp-sided scones. Glaze the tops with milk if you want a golden color on your scones or lightly flour if you want a more traditional look to your scones.
8. Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes (check at 8 minutes since home ovens at these high temperatures are very unreliable) until the scones are well risen and are lightly colored on the tops. The scones are ready when the sides are set.
9. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Honey Caramel Sauce

I can't believe I have almost completed my month with no sugar! It hasn't been nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be (probably because I have been making recipes like this to satisfy my sweets need). It really has been great. I think I feel healthier than I did. It is also nice to have an excuse to not needlessly eat all sorts of junk food (although sometimes I really want to).

This caramel sauce was a great find! I was making the dessert for a friend get together and made everything using absolutely no cane sugar. I made my new favorite ice cream - agave sweetened chocolate ice cream, brownies (I'm still working on perfecting this one), and this caramel sauce.

Honey Caramel Sauce 
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1-1/2 cups honey
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Combine honey and cream in a heavy saucepan.  Cook stirring constantly over medium-high heat until it reaches 238°.   Take off the heat, stir in butter, vanilla and salt.   Cool slightly and serve warm, or refrigerate.  Microwave briefly to warm for serving. 

Recipe Source: Simply Cooking

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks

This is another great post courtesy of Pinterest. I saw this a while ago and have had it in the back of my mind. Today I finally decided to make it and guess what...It's fantastic! I mean really how can you go wrong with garlic butter, two cheeses, and bread? These are all some of my favorite things! To be honest I used to have a slight problem with marinara sauce. I have almost completely gotten over my problem, but as a kid I didn't even like pizza. I mean what kid doesn't like pizza? Well I have never claimed to be a normal eater, but surprisingly my tastes have expanded to include pizza. I actually really enjoy pizza now, but if the option is there I will still usually get one with a white sauce or something kinda different. Regardless of my current pizza likings, this garlic cheese bread is a perfect companion for any pizza, or really any meal. We kinda ate it as our entire meal (again, I'm not claiming that my eating habits are normal). 

You can make this with your favorite pizza dough, but just in case you don't have a favorite pizza dough recipe I have put one on here as well.

Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks
yield: 1- 12 inch pie

1/2 recipe Fail-Proof Pizza Dough (recipe below)
2 tablespoons softened salted butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese {use the real stuff!}
1/4 pound grated mozzarella cheese
{salt & pepper, if desired}

Preheat oven to 500 degrees with pizza stone inside. {If you don’t have a pizza stone, use an upside down cookie sheet}

Mix butter and garlic in a small bowl and set aside.

Spread pizza dough out into a 12-inch circle on parchment paper. {This makes it easier to transfer to the pizza stone.}

Spread the butter and garlic mixture over dough and top with parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Top with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper, if desired.

Bake 9-10 minutes or until bubbly and golden. Remove from oven and cool 1-2 minutes before cutting. Serve hot, with marinara {if desired}. 

Basic Pizza Dough
yield: 2-12 inch pizzas, approximately 1 lb. of dough

1 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey {or sugar}
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
3 cups bread flour {give or take 1/2 cup…depending on the heat & humidity}

In a large mixing bowl, preferably that of a stand mixer, stir yeast and honey into warm water. Sit for 5-10 minutes or until bubbles form and mixture starts to foam. This tells you that the yeast is alive and kicking. Pour in salt, oil and half the flour and mix.

Once that flour is incorporated, start adding flour in bit by bit until you get the pizza dough to the consistency you want: slightly tacky, but when you touch it it doesn’t stick to your hands.

Once you reach this stage, turn the mixer on high to knead for 6 minutes. Turn a timer on and walk away! Resist the temptation to stop earlier than 6 minutes! That seems to be the magical number. It should look something like this when it’s done! The dough should be smooth and easy to work with. And the bowl should be clean!

Lightly grease the bowl & the dough so it doesn’t dry out, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise 1-2 hours. That’s it!

Recipe Source: Lauren's Latest

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Agave Sweetened Chocolate Ice Cream

For not eating sugar this month I think I am doing quite well at finding yummy dessert recipes! This one really has made my month! I think this might possibly be my new favorite ice cream! This ice cream is creamy and smooth and oh so chocolatey! You never would believe that there isn't any sugar in it! I don't care if I am eating sugar or not. This is not just an ice cream I am going to eat while I'm not eating sugar. This ice cream is going to be a regular in my ice cream making schedule (yes I do believe that ice cream should be made on a regular schedule).

Agave-Sweetened Chocolate Ice Cream
About 1 quart (1 liter)

Since the custard is made without sugar, keep an eye on things as it will cook rather quickly. You can use a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, to avoid overcooking if you’ve never made a custard before. And because I don’t like washing dishes, I use the same saucepan for cooking the custard that I used for dissolving and blooming the cocoa powder, I simply scrape it as clean as possible and use it again for making the custard.

If you’re concerned about the quantity of agave nectar here, you can reduce the amount to ½ cup (120 ml) if you wish, although it’s texture and taste is exactly right for me. I have also tried it with honey and it works just perfectly!

10 tablespoons (155 ml) agave nectar (also works great with honey)
2 ounces (55 g) unsweetened chocolate, very finely chopped
1/3 cup (35 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups (750 ml) half-and-half, divided
5 large egg yolks*
pinch of salt

1. In a small saucepan, warm the agave syrup with the unsweetened chocolate over the lowest heat possible, stirring constantly, until the chocolate is melted. I have also done this step in the microwave and it worked great. Remove from heat and transfer mixtures to a large bowl. Set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, add 1½ cups (375 ml) of the half-and-half and whisk in the cocoa powder. Cook over moderate heat until the mixture begins to bubble, then simmer for 30 seconds, whisking frequently, making sure to break up any clumps of cocoa powder.

3. Remove from heat and scrape the mixture into the bowl with the chocolate-agave mixture. Stir them together, then set a mesh strainer over the top.

4. Add the remaining half-and-half to the saucepan with a pinch of salt, turn on the heat, and when warm, slowly pour the warm half-and-half into the yolks whisking constantly, then pour the warmed yolks back into the saucepan.

5. Cook, stirring constantly over moderate heat, until the mixture becomes steamy and thickens. If using an instant-read thermometer, it should read about 170F degrees. (76C).

6. Pour the mixture through the strainer into the chocolate mixture.

7. Stir, then let cool a few minutes until tepid. Once it’s not super hot, whiz the mixture in a blender for ten seconds until it’s smooth and velvety. (Never blend very hot liquids in a blender, since it creates a hot vortex and can cause the liquid to blast out of the top.)

8. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

*To save on eggs I have also tried this with using 3 whole eggs instead of 5 egg yolks. I felt like the taste wasn't too different and I didn't have left over egg whites.

Recipe Source: David Lebovitz

Monday, January 16, 2012

Old Fashioned Rice Pudding

This is a very traditional rice pudding recipe. I love just a plain rice pudding. I don't even want cinnamon in mine. Just give me a warm bowl (yes I like mine warm) of rice pudding and I'm in heaven!

Old Fashioned Rice Pudding
Prep Time: 5 Min
Cook Time: 30 Min
Servings: 4

2 2/3 cups whole milk
1/3 cup long grain white rice
2 tbs butter
dash of salt
1/3-1/2 cup sugar (can also use honey, xylitol, or agave)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine whole milk, rice, butter, and salt in a heavy duty medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling turn down to medium heat. Stirring frequently cook for 20-30 minutes. Keep an eye on it or else the bottom will burn. You will notice that the rice is absorbing the moisture from the milk. The rice will get larger, and the milk will appear more concentrated. It is done when the rice is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid. While the rice is cooking combine the sugar, egg and vanilla in a small separate bowl. Whisk to combine well. When rice is done pour the egg mixture into the hot rice mixture. Whisk well to incorporate. Cook for another 2 minutes stirring constantly. Pour into serving dish. Serve warm. If you prefer it chilled pour into a dish and cover with plastic wrap. Place the plastic wrap directly onto the surface of pudding and chill in fridge for 1-2 hours.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Orange Julius

I have been making this drink for years. I don't exactly remember when I started making them, but I have always loved them. These aren't for the milk orange lover. This drink is tangy and has a very strong orange flavor. Now of course if you wanted less flavor you could always use more milk or ice, but I like it just the way it is!

Orange Julius
Prep Time: 5 min
Servings: 4

1 - 12 oz can frozen orange juice concentrate
2 cups milk
1/2 cup ice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 orange peeled and in segments *

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.  Serve immediately.

*Note: I threw in the orange just to add a little extra real fruit flavor/vitamins, and just to feel like its a little healthier. The orange does add a slight pulpiness to it. If you are against pulp then just leave out the orange.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Deliciousness Salad

I love salads that combine fruit and vegetables! I love the sweet taste combined with a good vinaigrette dressing. I have my favorite strawberry salad already posted on this blog (which is to die for) but really has a lot of sugar. This salad is a delicious combination of a traditional salad with a slight hint of sweetness obtained from the fruit.  The first time we had this salad my husband was the instigator on getting the recipe. He loved it! I have been making this salad ever since.
Deliciousness Salad

1 head romaine lettuce
1 bag spinach
10 sliced up strawberries
2 cans mandarin oranges
Sunflower seeds
Shredded cheddar cheese
Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing
  - any vinaigrette would work. That's just the one we really like.

Cut or tear romaine lettuce into desired size. Rinse both your romaine lettuce and spinach. Combine romaine lettuce and spinach in a large salad bowl. Top with sliced strawberries, mandarin oranges, croutons, sunflower seeds, and shredded cheese. Right before serving add dressing and toss to combine.

Thanks Sarah for the great Recipe!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Orange Pull-A-Parts

I think I am getting used to this no sugar thing. It actually has been a fun challenge. It has given me opportunities to try recipes I probably wouldn't try normally. I have also had to be more creative in what I use to sweeten things. Luckily we have a lot of honey around our house! It has also been a very eye opening experience. I realize that I do eat a lot of sugar. I have known this, but I am even more aware of the amount sugar that is in everything. Sugar just isn't in desserts. It really is found in almost everything! For this reason it has become even more worthwhile for me to make all of my own food from scratch. This way I know exactly what is in everything (because I put it there).

Well these pull-a-parts are not only delicious but have no sugar in them! They are sweetened with honey. We ate them for breakfast today and enjoyed every bite. They are full of orange yumminess, and the way they are cut makes them look so pretty!

Orange Pull-A-Parts
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20-25 minutes
Servings: 6

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup butter chilled
1 cup milk minus 1 tbs

4 tbs butter softened
4 tbs honey
1-2 tbs fresh grated orange peel

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a cookie sheet with tin foil.

In a small bowl combine 4 tbs softened butter, 4 tbs honey, and 1-2 tbs fresh grated orange peel (depending on how orangey you want it). Mix with a whisk or fork until well combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. I did this by putting the dry ingredients into my food processor and pulsing a few times to combine. I then cut the butter into smaller sections and added them to my food processor and pulsed until it is well combined. Pour flour/butter mixture into a separate bowl.

In a 1 cup glass measuring cup or bowl pour 1 tbs honey. Combine 1 tbs of honey with 1 tbs of milk and mix until combined. Gradually add the rest of the milk to make 1 cup total liquid. Gradually stir in milk into dough until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead 15 to 20 times. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thick square. Spread a thin layer of orange honey butter mixture onto dough. If you put too much it will just ooze out as you roll it up. Roll dough up the same way you would cinnamon rolls. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Cut into 12 slices to within 1/8 in. of bottom, being careful not to cut all the say through. Fold down alternating slices from left to right to form a loaf. 

Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Brush the remaining orange honey butter over the loaf. Serve warm.

Recipe Source: A combination of these two recipes.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Honey Sweetened Hot Chocolate

This week has been a week of adjustment for me. A week (well we are at 5 days now) of no sugar has been rough. Ok in all honesty it hasn't been that bad. When I am at home it is easy to make my own thing, but at work is when it gets hard. My food options are slightly limited at work. I either have to bring my own food, or eat all sorts of unhealthiness. I try as much as possible to bring my own food, but sometimes I just don't feel up to it. Since I stopped eating sugar I seem to notice all the sugar around me. The thing that I have notice the most is all the chocolate that is left over from Christmas. So what does a girl do when she needs some chocolate but not eating sugar? She makes this hot chocolate that is what she does!
Classic Hot Cocoa
Definitely sweeten to taste. We’ve done as low as two tablespoons of honey, but some might find even the 1/4 cup not sweet enough. You can also use stevia.
    3 cup of whole milk
    1/4 cup of cocoa powder
    1/4 cup of maple syrup or honey
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a small bowl or cup stir the cocoa powder with about 1/4 cup of the milk until smooth with no lumps. Combine in a small or medium pot with the rest of the milk and sweetener, whisk to combine. Heat to desired serving temperature and add vanilla. Serve, as desired, with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Recipe Source: The Nourishing Gourmet

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mama Mondola's Chicken Soup

I hope all of you had a fabulous Christmas and New Years! As one of my new years goals I have decided to eat less sugar. For me this means that for the month of January I have decided to cut out all cane sugar from my diet. In case you haven't noticed my dessert section is my largest section on this blog. That is because I LOVE desserts. I would say almost all of them contain cane sugar. This is going to be a fun challenge for me. I'm not saying I won't post desserts. I will just have to be more creative in using honey, agave, and xylitol.

Well to start off this no sugar month I decided to post this delicious soup. One of my husband's and my favorite restaurants is Carrabbas. My husband always gets this soup. It is hearty and full of flavor. He decided a while back that he wanted to make it. We have made it a few times since then and absolutely love it. This is a big recipe so be prepared. We honestly didn't have a pot big enough to hold the whole soup so we used less (a lot less) water. The flavor is still amazing it is just slightly more like a stew than a soup.

From Carrabba's
Makes 1 1/2 Gallons

5 celery ribs
4 medium carrots, peeled
1 large yellow onion
2 medium potatoes, peeled
1 large green bell pepper
1(14-ounce) can imported Italian plum tomatoes
1(5-pound) hen, washed and cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6 quarts water (for soup) or 6-8 cups water for stew
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Dice celery, carrots, onion, potatoes and bell pepper into 1/4-inch pieces. Chop tomatoes; reserve all juice.

Place vegetables, tomatoes with their juice, chicken pieces, parsley and garlic in a 10-quart stockpot. Add water. Season with salt and pepper. This can also be done in a crock pot (my personal preference)

Slowly bring soup to a boil over low heat. Skim off foam that rises to the surface; may have to skim 2 or 3 times. Partially cover pot and simmer 2 hours.

When soup is finished, remove chicken pieces with a slotted spoon. Let cool.

Meanwhile, mash vegetables in the bottom of the pot with the back side of a large cooking spoon or a potato masher.

When chicken has cooled enough to handle, remove skin and bones and return meat to soup.

Notes: Soup is best served the day after it is made. Refrigerate and remove fat that solidifies on the surface of the soup. Serve soup with rice or small, stubby pasta such as pastina, tubetti or small elbow macaroni. For better flavor, cook the rice or pasta in the soup when reheating. Add freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, if desired.