Monday, January 30, 2012

One Bowl Whole Wheat Bran Muffins

I realize bran muffins are not exciting. 

But I have a husband who's in his fifties, and quite frankly, I'm not getting any younger either.  So I'm thinking about stuff now.  Stuff to do with how are bodies are running.  How our hearts are pumping.  Health-related stuff.  And I'm trying to incorporate more nutritious foods into our diet so we can be around longer.

I used to make these muffins all the time when we were first married, then I stopped.  I don't know why.  I guess it was bran muffin burnout.  But now I'm trying to bring back some healthy snacks here and there, and I remembered the other day how much we loved them.  So I made a batch.  And they are still as good as they always were.  Not pan-of-brownies good, but good in their own special, guilt-free way.

Here are my notes:

-This recipe makes a really big batch.  I get at least 30 regular size muffins out of it.

-I love it because there is no white flour in them at all.  I use 100% whole wheat flour.

-I prefer using walnuts because I think they're a little healthier than pecans, but I was out of them this time.

-I use Kellogg's All-Bran Cereal.

-I often freeze these after I bake them, then pop them in the microwave to heat them up for a quick snack.

-I use a small ice cream scoop to fill the muffin cups.

One Bowl Whole Wheat Bran Muffins

(Adapted from Cooking with Love and Butter  by Mary C. Crowley)

3 cups All-Bran Cereal
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans

Place cereal in a large mixing bowl and pour boiling water over it.  Stir to moisten, then let sit for about five minutes.  Add remaining ingredients except for nuts and stir just until mixed.  Stir in nuts. 

Line a muffin tin with paper muffin liners and fill about 2/3 full with batter.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until done.  About 30 muffins.  

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cake Mix Cookie Dough Truffles

In an effort to make raw cookie dough easily accessible to the entire universe, and also to procrastinate on my never ending list of really important stuff that I need to get done like yesterday, and because I had a box of cake mix staring at me every time I opened my cabinet door, and because I was craving something really sweet that was cookie dough, I offer this to you today.

Yes, cookie dough truffles have been done before but mine are a little different because the recipe calls for an entire cake mix, which makes the whole process a little easier.  Or maybe just in theory.  I'm not really sure about this because regular cookie dough truffles are not hard to begin with.  But I think utilizing a cake mix has a psychological effect on the brain that says "you will have that dough whipped up in no time, monkey."

These made my family so happy.  I had some really uplifting moments during my consumption, too.

Here are my notes:

-These are super sweet, probably due to the cake mix, brown sugar, and sweetened condensed milk, which is not a problem for me, but may be a problem for you.

-I like mini chips.  Gosh they are fun.

-Yes, you will have some sweetened condensed milk left over and that will bother some people.  I stuck mine if the fridge, but I am contemplating making another batch.  That would use it up.  But I don't know.  These are really a temptation to me.  We'll see.

Cake Mix Cookie Dough Truffles

1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 (18.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Butter Golden)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Chocolate bark for dipping

Beat together the butter, cake mix, sweetened condensed milk, and light brown sugar until smooth.  Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.  Roll into 1 inch balls and place on a wax paper lined baking sheet.  Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Melt chocolate bark and stir until smooth.  Dip cookie dough balls in chocolate, letting excess drip off, and place on baking sheet.  Refrigerate just until chocolate hardens

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mexi-Texi Bistec Pedazos On Roasted Corn and Garlic Chipotle-Cilantro Mashers

This recipe is super special to me because it landed me a spot as a finalist in the 2006 Southern Living Cook-Off.  And I have to give credit to my bilingual hubby for helping me come up with the title.  When I was writing the recipe, I was brainstorming about what to call this dish.  Beef tips just didn't seem creative enough, so I asked my husband to give me a Spanish word that meant "pieces or chunks."  He shot out a few of them, but when he mentioned "pedazos", it had a nice ring to it, so I put it all together in one twelve word title, called it a day, and sent it in.  A couple of months later I got the call that I would be competing in Charleston, South Carolina for $100,000.  No, I didn't win (click here for the yummy recipe that won that year) but as always, I met wonderful people and had the time of my life.  (One of the people I competed with is now a blogger too.  Here is her delicious category winning recipe, FYI.)

So this meal is comfort food with a little bit of Southwestern spice.  The mashed potatoes, if I do say so myself, are to die for.  They are jazzed up with roasted corn and garlic, a little chipotle and lots of cilantro.  The tender chunks of beef are swimming in a gravy flavored with chili powder, cumin, Mexican oregano, and chipotle.  This is really a soul-warming winter meal. 

Here are my notes:

-If you can't find Mexican oregano, regular oregano will work just fine.

 -The chipotle seasoning, as all the seasoning, can be adjusted to your liking.  I don't like things too spicy, so this amount is good for me.  Just stir all the seasonings together in the flour, add water, and whisk until smooth.  This mixture is poured into the beef broth with the meat and it will thicken to a rich sauce/gravy as it cooks. 

-This is important--you will need to stir the meat every 15-20 minutes or it will stick.  I promise that it will.

-If you have a hard time finding fresh corn, you can use frozen.  I did.

-I HATE peeling potatoes.  And I love the texture of the skins in mashed potatoes, so I leave them unpeeled.  I used golden skin potatoes this time, but I have used red skin in the past.

-I would really love to try this with venison.  In fact, if I can find another venison ham in my freezer (hubby hasn't killed one this year yet to restock our freezer and I am almost out of last year's supply), I will try this soon.

-Roasting garlic is a cinch, so if you've never done it, try it.  The flavor it gives mashed potatoes is unbelievable.

Mexi-Texi Bistec Pedazos on Roasted Corn and Garlic Chipotle-Cilantro Mashers

3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
3 pounds boneless top sirloin roast, cut into about 2 to 2 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper for seasoning meat

3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Mexican style chili powder
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper  
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup warm water
2 cups beef broth

1 head of garlic
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided
3 medium ears corn, shucked and washed

2 pounds red skinned potatoes, scrubbed, peelings left on, and cut into roughly 1 1/2 to 2-inch cubes
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter
1 finely chopped chipotle pepper plus one teaspoon adobo sauce (from a 7-ounce can)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Sour cream
Chopped Cilantro

Sliced Avocado for garnish, if desired

In a Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat.  Season the beef with salt and pepper and brown in hot oil. Meanwhile, stir together 3/4 cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, the chili powder, the Mexican oregano, 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper, and the cumin.  Stir in 1 cup warm water until smooth.  Add 2 cups beef broth and the flour-spice mixture to the beef in the Dutch oven when beef is browned.  Stir and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to low, place a tight fitting lid on the pot, and simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until meat is tender, stirring occasionally.
While beef is cooking, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the top off of the head of garlic and place on a piece of foil.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and fold foil to seal.  Place in oven for 1 hour.  Meanwhile, place corn on cookie sheet and brush with remaining 1 tablespoon oil.  Place in oven while garlic is roasting for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until corn is golden brown.  Remove corn from oven and set aside to cool.  When garlic is done, remove from oven and cool.  Discard the outermost layer of papery skin from garlic.  Squeeze out the soft garlic pulp and set aside. Cut corn from cob and set aside.

When meat is almost done, cook potatoes in boiling water in a large saucepan until fork tender, about 15-20 minutes.  While potatoes are boiling, heat the milk, sour cream, butter, the finely chopped chipotle pepper and adobo sauce, the reserved roasted garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the black pepper in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking until butter is melted and everything is hot and combined.  Turn off heat.  When potatoes are done, drain well and return to pan.  Mash slightly, then pour in milk mixture and continue mashing until mixed, but not completely smooth.  Stir in reserved corn and 1/2 cup chopped cilantro.

To serve, divide mashed potatoes onto each plate.  Spoon beef and gravy on top of potatoes.  Top with a spoonful of sour cream and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.  Garnish with avocado slices if desired. 

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Honeyed Peanut Butter Pie with Roasted Bananas and Milk Chocolate Ganache

I had high hopes of starting the new year off with a healthy recipe, but I'm just not good at healthy.  I am what I am.  And since I've been wanting to blog this pie for a while, I think I'll take the opportunity today, which totally makes sense since I'm on a diet and am self-forbidden to eat fun stuff like this.  Blogging might just satisfy that part of me that is crying out for sugar and carbs.  I doubt it, but still.

This is a pretty classic peanut butter cream pie, but with the addition of a little honey for sweetness and flavor.  When my sister and I were little girls, we would not touch jelly or jam because those items were gross, icky, and BLECKY.  But honey?  We loved our little honey bear.  So my mom would mix peanut butter and honey together and spread it on our Wonder bread.

Gosh, I haven't seen Wonder bread in years.  Do they still make it?  And what about Count Chocula and Franken Berry cereals?  Where are they now? *remembering the seventies*

And what's peanut butter without a little chocolate?  Chocolate in the form of an Oreo crust and milk chocolate ganache.  And since I wanted to make this pie a little more unique, I roasted some bananas and stirred those in too.

And you know what I love best about this pie?  It's so fluffy, I could die.

I really don't have any notes.  It's a pretty straight forward recipe.

Honeyed Peanut Butter Pie with Roasted Bananas and Milk Chocolate Ganache

24 chocolate sandwich cookies, very finely crushed or ground in a food processor
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3 medium bananas, sliced
2 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 cup chilled heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/4 cups peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped, salted peanuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the Oreo crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl and stir with a fork until crumbs are just moistened.  Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch deep dish pie plate.  Place crust on baking sheet, then bake for 10 minutes.  Transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.

Place bananas in medium baking dish. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons brown sugar.  Bake at 350 degrees, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.  Let cool completely.

Whip heavy cream on high speed until it has stiff peaks. 

Beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is smooth. Beat in the peanut butter and honey.  Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in the whipped cream.  Fold in cooled roasted bananas just until evenly combined.  Spread filling into pie shell.

Melt the milk chocolate chips and 3 tablespoons heavy cream in the microwave for 90 seconds, stopping to stir every 30 seconds, until mixture is melted and smooth.  Spread over top of pie and sprinkle with the peanuts.  Let chill for 4-6 hours in fridge or until firm.

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