Tuesday, May 18, 2010

S--er, Tuesday Splurge: Ginger Syrup and Candied Ginger

These go together because one is the result of the other. Unless you set out to make them both intentionally, which is even better! This 'recipe' takes a decent bit of time, but not a lot of attention. I think it's a cool use for left-over ginger, though you could also peel it, wrap it up and keep it in the freezer (thanks, Karen!)

I can't remember where I got the idea, so I apologize to whichever foodblogger put this into my head :) It's less of a recipe and more of guidelines. I'm actually not quite sure what I'm going to do with it. I may try to throw the ginger in the processor and sprinkle it over gingerbread the next time I make it. The ginger syrup has only been used in a rhubarb compote I made today. (Which I ate with plain yogurt and granola - YUMM!) I'm gonna try to make ginger ale with club soda. I think it would be good with any fruit, drink, icecream, or yogurt. I used the photo from this person because it looks a decent bit like mine. Will take a photo when I remember, but I wanted to get this up.

Candied Ginger and Ginger Syrup
Serves: Depends on what you use it for! Time: An hour or so

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water

1. Peel your ginger and then slice very thinly. This will make it take less time for the pieces to give their juice to the syrup and suck up sugar themselves.

2. Put about sugar and water into a small sauce pan with the sliced ginger. Turn on to low. Stir gently until sugar dissolves and let it simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add more sugar and water if your ginger is not covered. You will want to add more water if the bubbles while it boils look really big. That's a sign that it's a lot of sugar and will be solid when you pour it out, not syrup.

3. When you're tired of waiting for them to boil, take them out and put them on a wire rack to drain and dry.

4. After it cools for a bit, pour the syrup into a container to keep in the fridge.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I am still alive

First - FINALS ARE OVER!!!!!!!! I have officially turned in everything. I had one test. Wrote one 22 page paper. One 26 page paper. And gave a 4th semester French final and graded it. The last thing I have to do this semester is hold office hours on Monday in case anyone wants to see their grades. Why am I telling you? Because I know I've gotten woefully behind in my updates. I promise it will change. Probably tomorrow. But right now, I'm gonna tell you my favorite cereal.

Lightly Frosted Shredded Wheat. Post brand. What's the brand matter? Well, there are three ingredients: wheat, white sugar, and brown sugar. I like that. The other main brand puts in corn syrup and gelatin and some other stuff. I'd rather pass, thanks. I keep two cereals on my shelf - shredded wheat and granola. I eat them almost every morning, and always with soy milk (regular milk isn't my friend.) And a banana. Or apple. Sometimes there aren't enough hours in the day to prepare a more filling and "real" meal, but I don't want my easy food to be crap. That would be no good at all.

Ok, I do believe it's bed time :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

World's Healthiest Brownie!

Ok, I can't say for sure that they are. But they are by far the healthiest brownie I've had the pleasure to devour. Yet so moist and fudgy Let me show you a picture, to get your mouth watering.

These are another delightful product of Cara's kitchen. I made them last night and then fed bites to basically everyone who walked by. Everyone thought they were good. Many people did comment that they are not as sweet as standard brownies, and that's just fine in my book. I ruined one guy's world after telling them how wonderfully healthy they are after he had his bite. One of my friends has been experimenting with gluten-free recipes and was happy to learn that this one is, too.

In some ways, I wasn't sure if these should be considered dessert or main course. Yep, you read that right. So, why then? The main ingredient is black beans. Yep, plain ol' beans. With avocado as another key ingredient. No, I didn't lose my mind, it really is that brownie picture. And they really are good. Cara mentioned that they are better if you let them sit overnight, but I could never let them ALL sit. Actually, I was glad because I think I prefer them the first day. This way I know, though, and that is useful.

Below is the amazing recipe. I really like that it only uses one 'bowl' - the food processor (or blender.) She used egg replacer, I used real eggs. Sometime I'd like to try them with flax. She used agave nectar, I used honey. Both work, but maybe this is part of the reason I preferred them on day 1! I upped the servings to 16 (she had 12) just because I am picky and like my brownies to all be nice squares. Feel free to make 12. Or 9. Nine would be nice squares, too...

Black Bean Avocado Brownie
Servings: 16 Time: 15ish to prep, 30 to cook

1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1/2 of a ripe avocado (I measured, mine was 6 Tbs)
6 Tablespoons cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 Tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons instant espresso

- Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. Line an 8x8" pan with parchment paper.

- Combine black beans, eggs, honey and avocado in food processor. Blend for a few minutes, until completely smooth. Add remaining ingredients and continue blending until fully combined, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Batter will be thick.

- Spread into parchment-lined baking dish. Bake for 30-33 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the brownies comes out clean.

- Yay, so easy!

Nutrition info (for 1/16th of recipe): Calories - 150 Fat - 2.0g Carbs - 27.7g Protein - 7.4g

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Saturday (non) Splurge: Healthy No-bake Cheesecake

You know, I just realized after typing this all up that it's not actually a splurge at all! It's delicious. It's pretty darn healthy. You could easily replace the sugar with your favorite other sweetener if you'd like to decrease the carbs and calories (listed at the end) even further. This is just good food. Let me give you a little background on this wonderful treat. I don't like NY style cheesecake. I do like ricotta cheesecake, but it takes a lot of time. This one takes a little time, but not your effort. What effort, then? Let me tell you, friendly reader.

Blender. Or Food Processor. It does its thing over a little time. As long as you don't do it by hand (I used an immersion blender on the test batch last night - took too long) you will can do something else while your machine whirs away. "Umm, ok, what are we blading to death?" Cottage cheese! Yep, you read that right. Cottage cheese cheesecake, my dear friends, is at the heart of this delicious dish. I got the inspiration for this from Cara's Cravings. I think she's my new best friend, even if she doesn't know it.

She mentioned that she blends up cottage cheese with sugar and some kind of flavoring to make a cheesecake-flavored treat. Well, I figured, if it tastes like it, why not throw in a stabilizer and make it into one? Amazingly, I could find NO recipe for such a thing. Not that they don't exist, they might well could. They just did not appear in my search. Which meant I had a mission: to figure out how much gelatin to add to make it stay solid.

I think I more or less got it. I put in too much gelatin in the big batches (we have large bags of plain stuff here) but I corrected for it below. I made two kinds: peanut butter and chocolate. Mmmmmm. And are they that gross, heavy, fat-laden crap you get from the store? (see, i told you i don't like NY cheesecake) Not a chance! Even though my people agree that the texture is a little off (only b/c of the gelatin, one I did alone was right), the flavor is on for a no-bake. Hooray! I put mine into a pre-made graham cracker crust, because I found a box of them in the pantry, but do what you think works. The recipe *is* the size of one of those, though. If anyone tries this out in a regular dish, let me know how much or if you increased it and I will include that info as well.

The cottage cheese blends nicely to a thick, creamy consistency. It may look a little grainy in the end, you can sort of see it in the chocolate picture (on the right) but you can't feel it in your mouth and it tastes good.

No-bake Peanut Butter Cheesecake
Serves: 12 (could be 8) Time: 5 minutes of yours, 15-20 minutes total, plus 2+ hours to chill

2 cups 2% cottage cheese (one 16 oz container)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbs peanut butter
1 packet gelatin (about 2 1/2 teaspoons or 7 grams)

- Put 1/4 cup cold water in a microwave-safe bowl and sprinkle with gelatin. Let set while you continue.
- Put first four ingredients in your blender/processor. Let blend until you see no recognizable cottage cheese lumps. You will still see little grainy bits, though.
- Microwave gelatin 30-60 seconds (microwaves are so different!), until completely liquid
- Turn on blender/processor and slowly pour gelatin into it if you have an opening through which to do so. If not, add small amounts at a time and mix after each addition.
- Pour into pre-made shell, or to do crustless, just pour into 8" pie tin (or 6-8" spring form pan)
- Place in fridge, allow to chill for at least two hours or until set

Chocolate variation: Increase sugar to 1/2 cup, replace peanut butter with 1/4 cup cocoa powder

Nutrition info (1/12th of peanut butter cake, no crust): Calories - 80 Fat - 2.8g Carbs - 7.8g Protein - 6.2g

Nutrition info (1/12th of chocolate cake, no crust): Calories - 60 Fat - 1.0g Carbs - 7.9g Protein - 5.5g

Nutrition info (1/12th of store bought crust): Calories - 98 Fat - 5.0g Carbs - 20.7g Protein - 0.8g