Oatmeal- Cocoa Cookies

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Don’t get me wrong, I love butter but I decided to sub out for sunflower seed oil for a change. Rich in antioxidant, vitamin E, it’s sure to be on your feel-good list! This dairy-free cookie is a great to start your day with a jolt of cocoa and a bit ‘o oats!

Can I add something? Happy Registered Dietitian Day!!!

Yields: 12 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sunflower seed oil
  • 1/3 cup (50 g) organic sugar
  • 1/2 T vanilla extract
  • 1 T soy milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup + 1 T (150 g) AP flour
  • 2 T cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) rolled oats
  • 1 t baking soda

How to: 

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet with spray oil.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk oil and sugar together.
  3. Add vanilla, egg, salt and soy milk. Whisk till combine.
  4. Add dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and oats. Stir.
  5. Using hands, roll out 12 little balls and place on greased cookie sheet
  6. Bake in oven for 7-11 minutes.
  7. Enjoy with a cup of tea and a good book!

Reminder/Refresher:

T = tablespoon & t = teaspoon

Bacon & Plum Stuffed Pork Loin


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This make-ahead dish is great for holidays and/or entertaining because it has that A+ presentation. I’m not a huge pork fan, but this one really hits the spot with hints of ginger and orange liquor. The optional mustard sauce just takes it to a whole new level!  It has several steps, but once you are done with making the stuffing part and sear the lil guy, you cover with aluminum foil and then pop him in the oven that evening or even the next day. A note on the pork cut: Tell your butcher that you will be stuffing the loin. I find that it’s easier to not use twine and be tying knots, so I opt for the pocket cut. Since my butcher has longer knives than I do (and a tad bit more precision), I just ask him to do it for me. So the game plan is: make stuffing, stuff, sear, then cook! Who doesn’t love a little bacon?

Ingredients for loin:

  • 4-4.5 lb pork loin, with pocket cut in order to stuff
  • 2 thick slices of bacon or equivalent of 4 ounces, chopped
  • Cointreau liquor, 25 ml
  • ½ white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 15 dried plums, quartered
  • 3 T non-flavored breadcrumbs
  • ½ t. ground ginger
  • Abundant sea salt
  • Olive oil, as needed

Ingredients for mustard sauce:

  • 3 T mustard (any kind you like: Dijon, French’s, Plochman’s)
  • 3 T heavy cream or creme fraîche
  • 1 T melted butter
  • 3-4 T milk

How-to:

  1. Start by chopping all the goods for the stuffing. Have everything mise en place
  2. In a large skillet, with medium-high heat place a dab of olive oil and the bacon. Wait till browned, scoop from pan, reserve
  3. Quickly, pour Cointreau in pan and scrape bits so they release from the pan
  4. Add onion, green onion, garlic, stir and cook for about 3-4 minutes
  5. Reduce heat slightly, add plums, breadcrumbs, ginger, and a pinch of salt.
  6. Chop bacon strips into cubes and add back into mix; cook for another 2-3 minutes
  7. Cut off heat and remove from eye. Let cool for 15-20 minutes
  8. After cooled, with one hand, maintain the loin upright and with the other hand, begin stuffing the loin using small handfuls
  9. Lay loin straight and salt both sides
  10. Heat up same large skillet on high heat that was used for stuffing; add a bit more olive oil. Sear loin on both sides
  11. Place in oven safe dish and cover with aluminum foil
  12. Refrigerate immediately OR cook in oven with aluminum foil covering for 35-45 minutes on 300 degrees F, then crank up the heat to 400 F, remove the foil, and cook for an additional 10 minutes
  13. Meanwhile, add all sauce ingredients into a heat-proof glass measuring cup, heat 20 seconds in microwave and whisk; adjust as necessary
  14. When done cooking, let rest 10-15 minutes before cutting with a sharp carving knife
  15. Arrange on wooden cutting board with mustard sauce and serving spoon. Serve with rustic potatoes. Enjoy!

Picture step-by-step:

Cook up that bacon

Cook up that bacon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When its browned, take it out

When its browned, take it out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deglaze pan

Deglaze pan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deglaze pan

Scrape pan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add onion, green onions, garlic

Add onion, green onions, garlic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add plums and bacon back in

Add plums, etc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuffed loin

Stuffed loin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooked loin

Cooked loin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sliced and ready

Sliced and ready with Mustard Sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bacon & Plum Stuffed Pork Loin

Bacon & Plum Stuffed Pork Loin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Served!

 

Tricolor Tart

Nutrient-packed and delicious, this combination really makes my taste buds wake up!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets of pie crust (any that you like)
  • 2 packs of frozen spinach
  • 1 pack of light ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups butternut squash puree
  • lemon wedges

How to:

  1. Begin by placing dough on dish
  2. Strain spinach to get all liquid out and spread evenly on bottom of the dough-lined dish and press
  3. Spread ricotta cheese over the spinach
  4. Spread butternut squash puree over ricotta
  5. Cover with pie crust
  6. Seal and pinch sides together; pinch top of tart with fork to allow air to escape
  7. Cook in oven about 350 for 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown
  8. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
  9. Serve with lemon wedges and a side salad of choice

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Pumpkin pie smoothie

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The pumpkin pie enthusiasm has begun. I consider it safe to begin posting about pumpkin after Starbucks releases its pumpkin spice latte! And it seems to come earlier each year. This year there was Halloween candy in the grocery isle even before Labor Day was here.

Here is a pumpkin idea that won’t break the calorie bank and deliciously good for you.

The original recipe is by Michele-Foley on fitsugar.com.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2-3/4 cup pumpkin, (either canned or fresh) frozen
  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

(Note, usually the night before I throw a peeled banana and the pumpkin in separate plastic bags and freeze it)

How to:

  1. Throw pumpkin, banana and remaining ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth
  2. Add a fun straw and drink up!

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Moose Poop

This is a no-bake treat, truely a great dessert if you are pressed for time and want a good presentation. I dotted the serving tray with Ferrero-Rocher bonbons to give a beautiful contrast. The combination of Nutella and peanut butter make for a decadent treat. The only tricky part is to let them get cold enough in the fridge before breaking into them!

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Yields: 6-8 balls

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Nutella
  • 2-3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups oreo crumbs

How-to:

  1. Pour oreo crumbs into a shallow dish. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, place Nutella, peanut butter and powdered sugar, whisk with a fork until combined.
  3. Using hands, make round ball shape.
  4. Roll ball into oreo crumbs until well coated.
  5. Place on a wax paper lined tray and refrigerate for at least 1.5 hours.

 

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Watermelon Basil Water

A hot summer day calls for something refreshing, like spa water. You can really customize it anyway you want, adding more or less of each ingredient.  To get best infused flavor, let sit overnight or at least for 4 hours.
photoIngredients:

  • 1 gallon of filtered water
  • 3 cups of cubed watermelon
  • 8-10 basil leaves

How to:

Start by cutting watermelon into cubes. Then pull basil leaves off stems.  Then, fill up any glass jar with filtered water. Add watermelon and basil to pitcher and let soak for 4 hours. Serve!

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German Chocolate Cake

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This is the Original Baker’s Chocolate brand German Chocolate cake recipe. It has been prepared in our family for years. My Granny Smith made it for my Dad’s birthday when he was growing up. And for every birthday since they were married, my mom has made it for him. This cake speaks to chocolate-lovers, coconut-lovers and frosting-lovers! There is so much to love about this cake, but what I love the most is carrying on the long time family tradition. It’s also great for Father’s Day!

(For more information on Baker’s chocolate or other Kraft recipes, visit http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/original-bakers-germans-sweet-chocolate-cake-51120.aspx)

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Ingredients: 
For the cake:
1 pkg.  (4 oz.) Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate
1/2 cup water
eggs, separated
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
For the icing:
egg yolks
1 can  (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
1pkg.  (7 oz.) Angel Flake Coconut
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans
How to:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease the bottoms of 3 (9-inch) round pans with butter or shortening. Microwave chocolate and water in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 to 2 min. or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 min. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.
  3. Beat egg whites in small bowl with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form; set aside. Mix flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition.
  4. Gently fold in egg whites until well blended. Pour into prepared pans.
  5. Bake 30 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Immediately run small spatula around cakes in pans. Cool cakes in pans for 15 min. Then, remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Then frost!

While the cake is in the over, prepare the coconut-pecan icing.

  1. Beat egg yolks, milk and vanilla in large saucepan with whisk until well blended. Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat 12 min. or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  2. Add coconut and nuts; mix well. Cool to desired spreading consistency.
  3. Ice in between the layers and on the top only!

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Edamame & Cashew Burgers

I never knew about this kind of a veggie burger until I was visiting Johnson & Wales University. A nutrition lab made mini edamame & cashew burgers on buns with slaw. They were delicious. I never did get the recipe, so I recreated it at home. It makes a great lunchbox especially for Spring! It’s even fun for little ones because of the color. You could  do this for St.Patricks day. Or on a Shrek movie night. You can convince the kids that these green burgers are “Shrek” burgers! You know they’ll go for it. It’s simple, check it out, this is all you are going to need:

All your ingredient san pepper

All your ingredient sans pepper

Gourmet lunchbox

Gourmet lunchbox

Yields: 4 burgers

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag (10oz) shelled edamame, defrosted
  • 1/3 c  roasted cashews
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2 gloves of garlic
  • 3-4 T light soy sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c panko crumbs
  • dash of pepper or siracha
  • salt, if desired
  • 1-2 T olive oil

How to:

1. Place cashews in the bowl of the food processor. Process for about 30 seconds, until tiny in size, but not powdery.

2. Next, place defrosted, room temperature edamame in food processor. Also add, green onion, garlic, soy sauce and pepper. Pulse until blended to a paste-like consistency.

3. Add egg to processor. Process for a little longer, until smooth and uniform.

4. Scrape contents from the food processor into a large mixing bowl. Add panko crumbs. Mix well with hands and form 4 burger patties. (Optional: you can coat the burgers with additional panko crumbs, if you would like a crust on your burger)

5. In an cast iron skillet, place 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil, and get it very hot. Make sure its a large enough pan so you can comfortably turn over the burgers. Place burgers in hot skillet, cook for about 3 minutes on each side.

Hot skillet! Two left in the pool.

Hot skillet! Two left in the pool

Storing for later!

Storing for later!

Shrimp Stock

Welcome to the world of underground cooking. The behind-the-scenes and sometimes overlooked practices of the kitchen greatly contribute to the flavor of a dish. My favorite flavor-infusor : stock. No, not financial stock, the stock that is also sometimes referred to as broth. Stock is a great way to bump up the flavor profile of a dish and squeeze in a little extra nutrients.

Great ideas for using shrimp stock:

  • Paella
  • Shrimp Étouffée
  • Tom Kha Gai Soup, using shrimp and shrimp broth instead of chicken and chicken broth
  • Shrimp Pad Thai
  • Pad Thai sauce
  • Hot and Sour Soup
  • Quinoa, use shrimp stock instead of water
  • Volcano rice & shrimp (soon will be posted!)

How do I make shrimp stock? Keep reading…..

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Ingredients:

  • Peels and heads of 3 lbs of shrimp
  • Water, about 2 quarts or more (depends on size of shrimp)
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery, chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • handful of parsley
  • 3 basil leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a couple peppercorns
  • Salt to taste, if desired

How to:

  1. Boil shrimp in a large pot until pink and firm. Using a slotted spoon, take them out of the boiling water. Save boiled shrimp water. It will be used for the stock.
  2. To the boiled shrimp water add carrot, celery onion, garlic, basil, bay leaf and peppercorns.
  3. Peel shrimp saving heads and peels. Add peels and heads to boiled shrimp water. Save shrimp.
  4. Boil on low, covered, for about 45 minutes.
  5. Turn off heat, let sit for 15 minutes
  6. Using a fine strainer lined with a cheesecloth, strain stock into a large measuring cup. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes so the fine pieces that remain, sink to the bottom.
  7. Pour stock into desired amounts in desired containers to freeze. Or use immediately.

Some bonuses of making your own stock:

  • Better taste
  • Gear it toward your likes/dislikes
  • Potentially more nutrients
  • No preservatives
  • Lower in sodium
  • Cheaper
  • Can use up veggies that you otherwise would have discarded in preparation, like leafy parts of the celery or the ends of carrots
The beginnings…..

The beginnings…..

Halfway….

Halfway….

Cooling…..

Cooling…..

Frozen and ready to use!

Frozen and ready to use!

Black Bean Brownies

My brother is coming into town from California and I wanted to make something special to satisfy his sweet-tooth. He loves having a treat every once in a while, but he also likes having a healthy lifestyle, like I do. These brownies will definitely fuel his next 10-mile run, they are packed with protein! Should I tell him the brownies have beans in them? Or will he freak out?

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Original recipe developed by Meal Makeover Moms for the Bean Institute, published in Food & Nutrition Magazine September 20014 issue, adapted by Meaghan Mikulas

Yields: 16- 2 inch squares

Ingredients:

  • 1 15-oz. can of low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 3/4 sugar
  • 1/2 unsweetened cocoa powder ( I used Special Dark b/c bitter is a preferred taste of mine)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 T mini white chocolate chips

Special equipment: a food processor with a sharp blade

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray down an 8×8 or 7×11 baking pan with nonstick spray.

2. Place black beans in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Scrape sides down with a spatula if necessary. Stream in oil with processor on. Then, add eggs, sugar, cocoa, vanilla extract, baking powder and salt. Process all until smooth.

3. Add 1/4 of semi-sweet chocolate chips into the food processor and pulse a couple times, until incorporated but still chunky.

4. Carefully remove blade from food processor and pour batter into pan, using spatula. Smooth top so its relatively even and sprinkle the remaining semi-sweet and white chocolate chips on top.

5. Bake for 30 minutes on middle rack. Cool the pan completely before slicing into squares.

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