January 27, 2012

Browned Butter M&M and Pecan Cookies with Grey Sea Salt

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These cookies are so darn good that you can eat about 6 of them before you even say the name of them! :o)

Saturday morning I decided to play around a little and experiment with some Splenda baking.  I also wanted to try making browned butter cookies because I am addicted to the taste/smell of brown butter.  Several other bloggers have already gone this route so its not a new concept by any means - but I did use Splenda Brown Sugar for Baking in the recipe and I must say I am impressed with how well they turned out.  My only complaint is that the day after they get crunchy and aren't soft anymore - fortunately this recipe didn't make too many cookies - so its a great cookie to make if you intend to eat them all in one day.  ;o) (for the record, we didn't eat them all in one day which is how I know they are hard on the 2nd day!)
These were so easy and quick to throw together.  The toughest part would be to make sure your butter doesn't burn while browning it.  They scoop out so easy and don't take long to bake.  A yummy treat to have around for once and a while!
Browned Butter Mini M&M and Pecan Cookies with Grey Sea Salt

Printable Recipe

1 stick unsalted butter, browned and cooled slightly
1/4 cup brown sugar splenda
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1//2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
grey sea salts - a generous pinch - crumbled
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup mini M&M's

Mix browned butter with sugars until combined.  Add egg and vanilla and mix well.  Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and grey sea salts.  Stir into butter/egg mixture.  Stir in m&m's and chopped pecans.  Scoop with small cookie scoop and flatten some after  placing cookie on baking sheet.  Sprinkle with more grey sea salt if desired.  Bake 7-8 minutes or until cookie is set.  

January 25, 2012

Beef & Broccoli with Black Bean Mushroom Sauce

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This is the result of an evening where dinner plans were supposed to be one thing that turned into something else because of the lack of an ingredient.  I originally was going to make beef stroganoff.  I had a couple of small steaks in the fridge that I had to cook and we were originally going to grill them!  So, these steaks went from 1 recipe to another, then yet to another recipe.  What I ended up with was a quick, easy, yummy meal full of flavor!  It got a big old seal of approval from Grumpy!


I am submitting this post to Presto Pasta Nights being hosted this week by Emma of Souperior.  There is still time to submit for this week so if you made a yummy pasta meal this that you want to share   you can do so!  The guidelines as well as the future hosts and link to the round ups can be found on the Presto Pasta Night's web page run by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast.  If your interested in hosting, you can find Ruth's contact information on the web page also!  Hope to see you there!

Beef & Broccoli with Black Bean Mushroom Sauce

printable recipe

8 oz thin sliced steak pieces
4 oz sliced baby portobello mushrooms
1 broccoli crown, flowerts only
Olive oil
1 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon Lee Kum Kee Mushroom flavored soy sauce (you can use a dark soy sauce instead if you can't find or don't have the Mushroom flavored soy)
1 heaping teaspoon Kum Kee Lee Black Bean Chili Sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch
8 oz dried linguini, cooked according to package directions (we use Dreamfield and love it!)

Slice steak into thin slices.  Prep mushrooms and broccoli and set aside.  Prep sauce by adding beef broth, soy sauce, black bean chili sauce, and sugar.  Stir well and set aside.  Start cooking pasta according to package directions.

Heat skillet on high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon olive oil.  When oil is hot, add steak slices and stir-fry about 4 minutes, until meat just loses its pink color.  Don't cook much longer or the meat will become tough.  Remove steak from skillet and cover to keep warm.  Add a little more oil to pan if needed and then add mushroom.  Turn heat down to medium and stir-fry mushrooms until browned.  Place mushrooms in same bowl as beef and cover to keep warm.  Add broccoli to hot skillet along with 1-2 tablespoons of water.  Cover and steam until tender - about 3 minutes, remove lid and let water evaporate.  Place broccoli in a separate bowl and cover.

At this time the pasta should be about ready to come off the stove (mine takes 9 minutes to cook).  Drain pasta and set aside.

Pour sauce mixture into hot skillet that you cooked all the other ingredients in.  Bring to a boil then add water mixed with cornstarch to sauce, stirring constantly.  Once sauce starts to thicken turn off heat and add steak/mushroom mixture and coat with sauce.  Next add broccoli, then pasta, tossing to coat well with sauce.  This makes a good amount of sauce!  Serve & enjoy!

January 22, 2012

Quick & Easy Bacon Cayenne Cinnamon Buns with Maple Glaze

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yeah, I kind went overboard on the sugar here.....
Ok, don't have a heart attack....I did not make these for Grumpy although I do believe he ate one of them.  These will give you a sugar high.  Seriously.  Everyone once and a while I want quick, bread-y, sweet/heat and cinnamon-y somethin' somethin'.  A lot of times when I want something like that I grab a can of Pillsbury Orange Sweet Rolls and just kill the craving.  Yesterday morning I didn't have that can and I, like a bad girl, did not go to the gym that morning so I didn't have opportunity to go to the store next to the gym afterward.  The weather deterred me - so don't judge me for skipping out of exercising yesterday - or all week for that matter.  The weather has stunk this last week.  I promise, tomorrow I'll be right back there.  We are supposed to warm right up to 45 by tomorrow and getting out in rain is a little easier than getting out in ice and snow.  Anywho.....

I was craving sweet heat and salt and I had just come across this recipe on Pinterest for Quick and Easy Cinnamon Buns.  BTW, Have you joined my at Pinterest yet?  If you haven't please do so I can follow you too!

I knew as soon as I saw it I would try it because guess what they have in them? Ricotta cheese!  That was different and her rolls looked so good I couldn't resist.  You have those moments too...I know you do!  Anyway, I went ahead and made them.  They were better than canned rolls but I have to admit, they were not better than a good old yeasty cinnamon roll.  If I had a choice, I would choose a yeast roll over a quick one - but hey, these were still good and they hit the spot.  I shared with my sweet neighbor Jill and her family so they wouldn't hang around my house all morning tempting me.  Now that I've had my  naughty treat for the week I promise to be good for a while.  I've found a  breakfast cookie recipe on Peanut Butter and Julie's site that I intend to try out this week - its a definite healthy cookie and hopefully it will counteract kill my bread-y sweet/heat desire that I caved into.  I do like to think I'm cheating by eating cookies for breakfast but being sneaky about it because they are healthy!
just look at all that maple frosting yumminess and brown sugar goodness!
Quick & Easy Bacon Cinnamon Buns with Maple Glaze
adapted from Don't Forget Delicious - Fastest Cinnamon Rolls

Printable Recipe

3/4 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1 tsp lemon juice with enough Almond milk added to make 1/3 of liquid
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups white whole wheat flour, lightly spooned into measuring cup and then leveled off
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar  (I would actually use 1/2 cup instead of 2/3- it seemed like way too much after it was baked)
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
couple dashes of cayenne pepper
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (I use the pre-cooked bacon for this, microwave it for 30 seconds and its ready to use!)

Maple Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup- more if needed to make frosting of spreading consistancy (of you can use extract for flavor and milk to loosen the frosting up)


Heat the oven to 400°F. Spray the sides and bottom of a 8 or 9″ baking pan with cooking spray.

Combine the ricotta cheese, almond milk mixture, splenda, melted butter, and vanilla in food processor and process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and pulse in short bursts just until the dough clumps together.  The dough may look like biscuit crumbles, that's ok it will come right together when kneaded.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it with floured hands 4 or 5 times until smooth. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12 x 15" rectangle.

Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving a 1/2' border unbuttered around the edges. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon and cayenne. Sprinkle the mixture over the buttered area of the dough and press gently into the surface.  Sprinkle with cooked bacon pieces.

Starting at a long edge, roll up the dough jelly-roll style. Pinch the seam to seal, and leave the ends open.
With a sharp knife, cut the roll into equal pieces - I was able to get 9 rolls. Set the pieces, cut side up, in the prepared pan, touching slightly.

Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, 20 to 28 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.

To make the glaze:
In a small bowl mix the melted, powdered sugar, and maple syrup to make a smooth glaze. Add more syrup as needed to achieve desired consistency. Spread onto warm rolls.  These, like the canned biscuits are best served warm and eaten the same morning they are made.  I had a couple left over at the end of the day and it reminded me a lot of the canned rolls that just dry out and aren't as good as they are when freshly baked.  You could probably microwave a few seconds (like 15) and warm it up some and it would be fine.

January 21, 2012

Almond Date Muffins

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I have had the desire to bake more lately - not exactly sure why that is, but now that I want to bake, I have in the forefront of my mind that I have to make it as healthy as possible for Grumpy's sake.  Its not fair to have treats around the house that he can't have too.  The one thing I know is carbs have to be controlled for him and when he eats carbs, they should be the better for you ones!  I've switched to white whole wheat flour and just bought some whole wheat pastry flour thanks to the praise of it by my friend Katrina.  Now I'm going to want to experiment with that!  ha!  I have been cutting sugar by using half Splenda in place and in some instances, all Splenda.

I read that dates were a good food for diabetics to eat so decided to make these muffins, substitute some almond meal for flour, used brown sugar Splenda and added dates.  I also made these low fat by not using a lot of butter and going with egg whites instead of a whole egg.  These muffins were such a success that Grumpy "hoarded" them so he would have them for lunches throughout the week!

Almond Date Muffins
Makes 1 dozen muffins

Printable Recipe

1-1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups Almond milk with 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup Splenda brown sugar
2 tablespoons stick margarine or butter, melted
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup chopped dates

Preheat oven to 375°.

Lightly spoon flour and almond meal into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour mixture and the next 3 ingredients (flours through salt) in a medium bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Combine Almond milk (soured with the lemon juice), sugar, melted margarine, almond extract, and egg whites; stir well with a whisk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.  Fold in date pieces.

Scoop the batter into 12 paper lined muffin cups using an ice cream scoop (this give the perfect portion for these muffins); Bake at 375° for 17-20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire rack.

January 19, 2012

Vegan Chipotle Chili with Cilantro Rice

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Monday I had the day off.  Grumpy went to work as normal and I got busy first thing and cleared out the spare room. Iit sure made me feel a whole lot better - and it was all done before 11 AM!  That gave me the rest of the morning to run to the store for a couple of items and figure out what to feed my Aunt Ann and her friend Ron for lunch.  When I started lunch I came across a bag of Morningstar Crumbles I had in the freezer and I thought about Chili for dinner.  I decided to use the crumbles and pray that Grumpy wouldn't notice that it wasn't real meat.  I cooked up some brown rice (jasmine) and stirred in a little butter and cilantro when it was done.  Served the chili on top of the rice and it was delish!  The only comment Grumpy made was "is this flavored rice?"  I said "yup" and left it at that.  He never knew....and last evening?  He ate the remaining leftovers without a single comment - which in this house is a good thing.  If Grumpy's making a comment it usually is because he's not sure he likes something and he certainly wouldn't eat it two nights in a row if he didn't like it!  My chili passed the test!  I'm so happy and I will definitely be using the Morningstar Crumbles again!

Vegan Chipotle Chili with Cilantro Brown Rice
Printable Recipe

1/2 large onion, diced
1 medium yellow pepper, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 bag frozen meatless burger crumbles (MorningStar Farms)
1 - 32 oz jar spaghetti sauce
1-8 oz can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 cup brown basmati rice
2 cups water
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon earth balance margarine

Saute the onion and pepper in 1 tablespoon olive oil until tender.  Add the frozen burger crumbles and cook 3-4 more minutes until crumbles are thawed.  Stir in chili, cumin, and chipotle chili powder.  Add 1 jar spaghetti sauce and 1 can tomato sauce.  Place in crockpot on low temp for 2-3 hours, then turn to warm until ready to eat.

Bring 2 cups of water and salt to a boil and stir in rice.  Simmer until rice is tender, about 20 minutes.  Once rice is cooked stir in cilantro and margarine.  Serve chili over rice and top with more cilantro if desired.

January 16, 2012

Cherry Coconut Banana Pecan Bread

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Lazy weekends sometimes tend to inspire me. We definitely had a lazy weekend this last weekend. It was cold outside and who wants to go out in that? So, since I had a 3 day weekend and Grumpy was going to only be home with me 2 of those days, I decided to be that 4 letter word....that isn't so dirty after all.  L-A-Z-Y. Grumpy was too....if not more so than me!

In between the TV and computer I would go into the kitchen.  I went out for a bowl of Heart to Heart Cereal and an orange, then later a rice pudding cup (yes, store bought). Later in the day Grumpy got up and went out to make himself a hot beef sandwich with the leftover roast and gravy. I followed him out there and took notice of the two bananas that were too ripe to eat as is. I started thinking about bread and coconut and maraschino cherries and pecans. I made my bread and agonized over the next hour while it baked and the aroma filled the house. I agonized for yet another half hour after I took it out and set it to cool on the counter. I was just dying to cut into that bread.  Finally, after about 30 minutes I decided I could take it no longer.  I sliced off two slices, put a little smart balance butter on top and headed back to my room where I continued to watch my sci-fi movie and got all cozy under covers and savored every bite of that bread.

Cherry Coconut Banana Pecan Bread
Printable Recipe

2 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup Splenda
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups King Arthur While White Wheat Flour
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, chopped

Mix together flour, coconut, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chopped pecans.
In a large mixing bowl, mash bananas well.  Add eggs, one at a time, and whisk until mixed well. Add sugar and extract. Beat well.  Stir in cherries.

Add flour mixture, and stir just to combine. Spoon into greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes, and remove from pan. Cool.

16 servings
Per Serving:
Calories;  165
Carbohydrate: 29
Protein: 3
Fat: 5
Fiber: 2
Sugars: 17

January 14, 2012

Chicken with Broccoli and Noodle Stir-Fry

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Presto Pasta Nights started back up last week, but I wasn't feeling well enough to really post anything on my blog.  I would get home from work and not even want to turn my computer on.  I had this made before the deadline but I just didn't have it in me to post.  So, this gets to be this weeks PPN submission :o)

I don't really know what's up with me, most likely allergies, but it affected my voice, a cough (non-stop it seems) and felt congested in my chest.  Nothing makes me feel better than something good and hot - heat wise and spice wise - when I have that feeling in my throat.

I needed something quick, easy, hot and (for me) spicy.  I had some chicken tenders and fresh broccoli in the fridge.  Since we both love Asian flavored pasta dishes, I decided to go with a recipe and I had seen on  Food Network and adapt it to our liking.  One thing about heat factor is it can be adjusted per person!  It wasn't hard with this dish - I just took my portion of chicken/sauce and separated it from Grumpy's and added more heat.


This week's Presto Pasta Nights  will be hosted Alisha of Cook. Craft. Enjoy. Make sure to visit her blog next on Friday, January 20th for the round up.  If your interested in participating you can send your submissions to her by Thursday, January 19th.  Check out the PPN website for the guidelines for submission.

Chicken, Broccoli, and Noodle Stir-fry
adapted from Food Network


1 lb chicken tenders, cut into bite sized pieces
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced and divided
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated and divided
1 tablespoon maggi sauce (or soy sauce)
1 tablespoon Splenda Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon Mirin
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cups broccoli flowerets
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 cups pasta, cooked according to package directions (I used lower carb pasta)

Mix 1/2 of the garlic and ginger with the Maggi sauce, Splenda Brown Sugar, Mirin, Sesame Oil, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch.  Place chicken pieces in sauce and toss to coat.  Marinate for at least 15 minutes.  Mix remaining cornstarch with 1/3 cup of water and set aside.

Heat large, non-stick skillet over high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat oil, add broccoli and stir fry 1-2 minutes.  Add remaining ginger and garlic and chili flakes and two tablespoons of water; stir-fry another 30 seconds or so.  Transfer broccoli mixture to a plate and set aside.

Re-heat skillet and add another tablespoon of olive oil.  When oil is hot, add chicken mixture and stir fry until chicken is no longer pink.  Add hoisin sauce and broccoli, toss to coat.  Add remaining cornstarch mixture and stir until sauce thickens.  Add hot noodles and toss to coat.  Serve hot, sprinkle with more hot pepper flakes if desired.

January 08, 2012

Blog Anniversary Gift Card winner

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No food today - just a post to announce the winner of my 4 year blogging anniversary giveaway. The winner was Peggy. Peggy is another blogger who writes the blog Peggy's Pantry. Thanks for entering Peggy and please get in touch with me about which gift you would like!

January 04, 2012

Banana Cake with Browned Butter Maple Frosting

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I had bananas that were getting over ripe.  If I had a dime for how many times I said that before stating "so I started to think about what I could do with them", I could probably be a rich girl.  :o)
So, for the big news of the Grumpy home for the new year?  Grumpy is being "forced" to change his eating lifestyle.  Yes.  I said forced, and not necessarily by me and not because of a new year's resolution.  Just three days before we went on our cruise we found out that Grumpy is a diabetic.  He has type 2 diabetes.   He's actually doing quite well making healthier choices for the most part.  This means I have a lot to learn when it comes to food and nutrients and what a diabetic should eat to maintain the optimal blood sugar levels.  After all, I want my Grumpy to not only live but be healthy!  

While I have baked with Splenda before, I tend to not want to because I never really have had a lot of luck with my baked goods turning out good.  So, when I realized that "I had bananas that were getting over ripe", I decided that I would experiment just a little.  From what I have read carbohydrates are what really count when you are watching your blood sugar.  Sugar = carbs, as well as flour and potatoes - sorry Grumpy.  I'm in the process of turning my kitchen into a healthier kitchen ingredient wise and switching to whole grains are in the works.  This way, the carbs Grumpy does intake will be "healthy" carbs.    I have read that beans are good for diabetics so I've been thinking of ways to incorporate more into our diet.  I love them but Grumpy?   Not so much.  He totally surprised me recently by asking me to make my bean soup recipe so I will be doing that for him this week.  Hmm, I wonder if he's been reading unbeknownst to me?  ;o) 

While cake isn't something he can eat a lot of on a daily basis a little bit once and a while doesn't hurt as long as we are keeping everything in moderation and basically eating healthy.  Being in the learning stages, he is checking his blood sugar at different times of the day so we can get an idea of how he's doing.  Along with monitoring his levels, we are hoping that diet and exercise change will make things much better for both of us in the long run.  

This recipe actually turned out so good.  So good that I won't be so afraid to work with sugar substitutes a little more.  I was a bit nervous to go with all Splenda, so I went with half Splenda and half Sugar.  That is my beginning.  The browned butter frosting is to die for!  I roasted some pecan halves in the oven and decorated the top of the cake with them after it was frosted.  The cake had a great banana flavor along with a moist, tender texture.  Absolutely perfect.  :o)

Banana Cake with Browned Butter Maple Frosting

Printable Recipe

2 eggs, room temperature
2-1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup splenda
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted

Browned Butter Maple Frosting

2 - 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons butter, browned
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
2-1/2 - 3 tablespoons half and half

In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, Splenda, baking powder, baking soda and salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In a separate bowl mash bananas, add melted butter, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk.  Pour liquid over flour mixture and mix with hand mixer until well blended.  Pour in a 9x13 glass baking dish and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool.

To make frosting, brown butter in heavy saucepan.  Over medium high heat, melt butter.  Watch butter carefully and let it bubble.  It will begin to show brown bits in the bottom of the pan.  You will start to smell the aroma of the nutty buttery goodness.  Once it has browned, immediately remove from heat.  Pour butter over 2 cups of confectioner's sugar.  Add maple syrup and the lesser amount of half and half.  Adjust with remaining sugar and half and half as needed to make frosting of a spreadable consistency.  Frost cooled cake.  Garnish with toasted whole pecans.  Makes 20 servings.

January 02, 2012

Vegetarian Sausage, Egg & Cheese Sandwich - Deconstructed

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My first post of the year and it involves eggs?  lol  Can you believe it?  If your a regular reader here you know that eggs are not a huge part of my meal experience.....unless its baked in a cake, casserole, etc - where I can't literally "see" the egg.  I can eat eggs, but not very often and it always has to be cooked thoroughly (no slime and no runny yolk) or it just turns my tummy.  Hence, I can't handle making my own Caesar salad dressing and Carbonara is very hard for me too.
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