Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What's In These Brownies, Dude?

Yes, they are that good and no, the secret ingredient is not what you think.

It's black beans!

Oh, that is what you thought it was. Well, alright then.

You can see by the pic below, the batter starts out looking meh but hang in there, it'll look like brownie batter by the end.

But in case you're like me and this is new thing for you, this is the recipe from Meal Makeover Moms:

Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

Makes 16 Servings (I cut them into 8 larger brownies)

One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed very well
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract, optional
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or coat an 8 x 8-inch baking pan or dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

2. Place the black beans in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs, oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, peppermint extract as desired, baking powder, and salt and process until smooth. Add ¼ cup of the chips and pulse a few times until the chips are incorporated.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with a rubber spatula, and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup chocolate chips.

4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before slicing into 2-inch squares.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 120 calories, 5g fat (1.5g saturated, 0.3g omega-3), 95mg sodium)

I doubled the recipe and my food processor couldn't handle the double batch so I just pureed the beans with the eggs, transferred it to my mixer and finished the recipe that way. 

My picky 6 year old, Daughter of Fink, loved them. And she runs screaming at the mention of the word BEAN.  I used my whole family as test subjects at a get together and no one batted an eye.  What a great way to get folks to enjoy the nutritional benefits of a food not everybody is crazy about. I'm not above subterfuge when it comes to my family's health and I'm OK with it.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Jersey Girl Cafe

The Hamilton Squares at the Jersey Girl Cafe in Hamilton, NJ made the pleasure centers of mah brain light up like Christmas ornaments. Rice Krispie treats with peanut butter cups, a layer of peanut butter and smothered in chocolate. Oh mamma!

For lunch I had an excellent Brie turkey pannini with berry mayo. The berries were just the right amount of sweet and balanced perfectly with the savory turkey and creamy cheese. Bread was grilled just enough for a satisfying crunch. I hate when the bread is so hard it makes the sandwich filling squish out on the first bite. Not the case here - it was pannini nirvana.

Check out this fun and tasty spot. Unless you don't like good food, fair prices and excellent service that is. In that case - stop reading my blog!

- DK

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cooking with Kids: Pizza

My daughter loves to help me in the kitchen. Ordinarily, I'm pretty patient when teaching her new things. Like running behind her bike holding the seat for an entire summer until she was ready to two wheel it on her own. But put me in the kitchen with her and I make Gordon Ramsey look like Mother Theresa.

To encourage her interest in the kitcheny arts without sending her screaming into the therapist's office, I've starting picking projects that go together quick, are something she will eat and don't require precise measuring.

Pizza dough is sold ready to go in just about any supermarket and it's so easy, just follow the directions on the bag. I buy pizza sauce or  doctor up a jar sauce with some garlic and italian seasoning. My daughter and I take turns stretching and patting out the dough into a round pizza sized shape.

While we shape the dough on the pizza peel, the pizza stone preheats in the oven. Then we brush the crust lightly with olive oil, spread the sauce very lightly over the crust and sprinkled on a mix of part skim mozzarella, finely shredded cheddar and parmesan. A heavier brush of oil on the edges of the crust followed by a sprinkling of seasoning and parmesan ensure it will be good to the last bite.

It's so much fun pulling out the bubbling finished pizza cause we made it ourselves! Some carrot sticks and dip on the side and we have a fun weekday meal that also helps me spend some quality time with my baby girl.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

RTB: Respect The Budget!

Have you noticed how EVERYTHING in the last 2 years has skyrocketed in price? Bad enough my home finances fall victim to this inflation explosion but I'm a foodservice manager by trade. In a healthcare facility. So every time Congress starts talking about cutting medical funding, I get a headache behind my left eye.

Budgets are my life but so is delivering food people actually want to eat. It'd be easy to balance the work food budget by getting cheap food produced quickly and thrown on the plate, but who wants to eat like that?

Serving substandard food would quickly get me out of a job and I've been doing this for 12 years so I've figured out a few techniques to serve 1000 quality meals a day on a budget. Techniques that can be used at home to balance the budget there as well. We can't do a lot about mortgages, utility bills, etc. but the household food budget is infinitely adjustable.

I paid off every credit card (and keep them paid off), don't stress about money and take decent vacations because I'm able to balance my home finances based on my food budget. And if you've seen my other posts, you know I don't exactly starve. And neither does my hubby, Monsterfink, or my little miss AND extended family makes a beeline to my place on holidays 'cause they know the grub is good.

Since the smoothie jag is FINALLY out of my system, the Saturday blog posts that start with RTB will be a cost savings tip, recipe or time management technique to keep you full and financially stable. Stay tuned...


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Nut Butters

Any nut can be a butter so why do peanuts get top billing? Those little so and so's think they're so great! Well, I'm here to give some love to the underdogs.

Peanuts may have the most protein but have very little omega 3s - walnuts are the leaders of the pack with the most omega 3s of any nut. Almonds win in the monounsaturated fat category. Take that peanuts!

Contrary to the unfood industry's claim that "Fat Free" is somehow better for us, (gummie candies are billed as a fat free food in my local vending machine) fats are necessary for health. And unsaturated fats specifically have excellent health benefits.

As with anything - watch the portion size. As tasty and good for you as this recipe is, it's about 116 calories a tablespoon.

Nutrition info per tablespoon:
Total fat: 10g
Carbs: 6.2g
Protein: 3.2
Fiber: 1g

1 1/2 cups walnuts (or almonds)
Honey to taste (optional)
Kosher salt to taste (optional)
Roasted Walnut Oil (if you're a fussbudget like 
                                       me, olive oil if you're normal)

Spread the walnuts out on a baking sheet and place in oven preheated to 375. Toast until they are beige and you can smell them. Let them cool and put them in a food processor.

Turn on the processor and let it grind them up until they are very small pieces that stick together.

Then drizzle in the oil slowly with the processor running until it looks like peanut butter. Only better, cause it's walnuts instead.

Sprinkle in a little kosher salt and drizzle in a little honey and process to combine. Taste and add more salt or honey if you like and process again to combine. Keep doing this until it tastes the way you like it. Don't add a lot of seasoning at once - more can always be added but once it's in there's no going back.

Store in the fridge in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. I reuse the short round containers from the olive bar at the local supermarket. Like all natural nut butters, the oil will slowly separate in the fridge and need to be stirred back in for use.

I like homemade walnut butter paired with Crofter's Superfruit spread for a grown up nut butter and jelly sandwich. But my favorite way to eat it...

on a spoon covered in semi-sweet chips!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Smoothie Saturday: Vegan Pepperland Smoothie

So many people ask me if I'm vegetarian when they see what I eat. I'm not. I'm just a true omnivore who tries to keep it healthy which means alot of plant based foods.

The USDA replaced the Pyramid with My Plate which easily shows how much plant vs meat we should be consuming. As a dietetics professional, I thank the gods of nutrition daily that the pyramid with all of it's confusing color stripes is gone. Really, who looked at that and thought "Yeah, that's a solid straightforward explanation of what to eat to stay healthy"? My Plate is so straightforward my grade school daughter understood it immediately. Now, that's how nutrition gets done!

All of that aside, my omnivorous self came up with a vegan smoothie to have on Meatless Mondays. Even if you're not vegan, give it a try - it doesn't even need a sweetener.

1/4 cup hemp milk, original
1 rounded Tbsp brown rice protein powder
1 tsp freshly grated orange zest
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 whole red bell pepper
1/2 whole yellow bell pepper
1 whole peeled orange
4-5 ice cubes

Calories: 254
Fat: 2.5g
Carbs: 48g
Protein: 15.5g
Fiber 12.6g

Toss everything but the ice cubes in  a blender and spin until smooth. Then add the ice cubes and spin again. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Zucchini and Parm Fritters with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Made the second recipe from Chef Anne's book Cook Like A Rock Star and it was a WINNER with the family. Reason I only have one slightly blurry pic of a not quite full platter? They were eating them as fast as I could fry them! Some of my family were commenting that they don't really like zucchini but these were really good. And I'm all like "they're fried, anything fried tastes good, fry up a shoe - people will eat it". Which is true...but this recipe is good for many other reasons. The sauce has a little kick to it, the parm is parmigiano reggiano which makes everything wonderful. Check out the Crack Heard Round the World video on my previous post under Events to find out more about this king of cheese.

I will absolutely make these again for any reason. Like on days that end in Y. 

But not on Easter Sunday with a houseful of guests who arrived just as I was putting them together. The recipe isn't hard but has a fair amount of steps. And hot oil can be unforgiving. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Smoothie Saturday: Anything Goes Smoothie

Sometimes I have lots of stuff laying around with no real plan for it.

Sometimes I don't have time for a regular meal.

It's the Anything Goes Smoothie to the rescue!

Greek yogurt makes it smooth and creamy, the agave sweetens the deal and ice cubes froth it to chilly perfection. Anything else can be subbed out. Knock yourself out - use apple in place of peach or cooked carrots instead of bell pepper. Sub the brown rice protein powder out with any one you like and ditch collards in favor of kale, spinach or turnip greens. Anything goes! It's a thick and frosty treat that packs a nutritional punch. And it's vegetarian, if anyone's keeping track. Hmmm, could be vegan if cultured soy was used instead of Greek yogurt...where's my blender?

What? {blink, blink} Oh right....here's the recipe:

1/8-1/4 cup of water
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 whole small ripe peach
1/2 bell pepper
3 large collard green leaves, center vein removed
2 rounded tblsp vanilla brown rice protein powder
1 tblsp agave nectar
3-4 ice cubes

Start with 1/8 (aka 2 T aka 1 oz) water and only add more if needed to get the smoothie going. Throw everything in the blender except the ice cubes and puree till smooth. Then toss in the cubes and hit it again.

Calories: 281
Fat: 3.1 g
Carbs: 37.8 g
Protein: 30.2 g
Fiber: 6 g


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sweet n Savory Salad

Great at work for lunch - this bright mix of ingredients will give you the energy to dive back into the fray.

1/2 cup fresh, ripe mango, diced small
2 T minced onion
2 T snipped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup cooked beans (I like Anasazi but any work)
3 oz shaved 96% fat free deli ham
1/2 T lemon olive oil (I get mine here)
Fresh cracked pepper and salt to taste

Mix everything but the olive oil and seasoning together gently with a spatula. Add oil and seasoning and gently mix to incorporate flavors. Best made ahead of time so the flavors can really marry. I make mine in the morning to take for dinner when I work late.

Calories: 357
Total fat: 11g
Sat fat: 2.5g
Poly fat: .7g
Mono fat: 5.1g
Trans fat: 0g
Carbs: 43.5g
Protein: 20.6g
Fiber 8.8g

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