Monday, February 26, 2007

Toasted Almond Chocolate Chip Biscotti

Well, somehow our part of the state missed the freezing rain and sleet that had been predicted (over and over by the television forecasters, each broadcast bringing more dire warnings) and temperatures are in the low 40’s. The snow is melting and some of the sidewalk is actually dry for the first time in weeks. Spooky enjoys being outside much more now (since we all know how much cats hate having wet paws).

I attempted to take a walk to the back of our property, but the path was quite muddy and the trails going through the woods were still covered with slushy snow. I turned around, stopped for a while to watch the horses at the farm next door chase each other (they must have been happy to be outside too), and returned home to find Spooky waiting for me, sitting on top of the plastic compost bin at the end of the garden. I haven’t run the trails since last November, but he remembered that’s where he always waits for me to return.

Over the weekend I tried a new biscotti recipe.

In my post several days ago I mentioned my failed attempt at making toffee. How I burnt the toffee and, still being optimistic that it might taste okay once the chocolate was spread on it, I finished the recipe. Only to discover that no amount of chocolate and almonds could disguise that terrible burnt-sugar taste. Blech. So I kept the pan in the refrigerator for several days, not wanting to let go of the chocolate and almonds but not quite knowing what to do with the mess. So the next time I baked I placed the pan in the oven for a few minutes and, fortunately, the chocolate softened but the toffee did not. I was able to scrape the chocolate and almond mixture off, spread it on waxed paper, wrap in plastic, and then I refrigerated it. For something. I said that I’m optimistic (usually).

I was reading some blogs the other evening and found a recipe for Toasted Almond Chocolate Chip Biscotti when I experienced a light-bulb moment. Chop the chocolate and almond mixture and use it in this biscotti! So I did and it turned out great.

I made some changes to the original recipe which I found on the Farmgirl Fare blog.

To begin with, I had to reduce the butter. In 1 year and 7 ½ weeks (who’s counting?) I will have a birthday that a lot of people don’t exactly look forward to. The age where “friends” may find it amusing to throw a party and decorate with black streamers and balloons proclaiming “Over The Hill!!!”. There may even be a small icing vulture perched on the birthday cake. I

n order to keep time at bay, I’m trying really hard to eat healthy foods and exercise, and only a small amount of butter fits into this diet. I replaced most of the butter with canola oil (monosaturated fat replacing saturated—a good substitution) and replaced one egg with two egg whites. I had slightly over the amount of chocolate-and-almond mixture that the recipe called for, so I was forced to eat a little of it rather than screw up the recipe by adding too much... The resulting dough was one of the biscotti doughs that I’ve ever used. Just slightly sticky, it was very easy to form into logs.

Jack proclaimed these biscotti “wonderful” and I agree. The texture is dry but not hard or overly crumbly, it’s just sweet enough, and the almond flavor compliments the chocolate nicely without being overpowering.

Here is the recipe, straight from Farmgirl , with my changes added in blue:

This is a pleasant, all around, not particularly sweet biscotti that lasts for several days and improves with age (no, I doubt if I’ll find this out!). It also freezes well. It holds up dunking but is also yummy by itself. In my opinion, it goes well with everything from a cup of hot coffee to a cold glass of champagne. If you are craving a sweeter (or fancier) dessert, you could dip one side of each piece into melted chocolate. Or you could be dunking your biscotti in amaretto. Or you could break up a few pieces and stir them into some very nice ice cream and drizzle it with chocolate sauce or amaretto. The possibilities, really, are endless. The egg white glaze is totally optional but does give the tops of the biscotti a very nice shine.

¾ cup (2 ¼ ounces) sliced almonds, toasted at 350˚F for 8-10 minutes, then cooled

1 stick ( ½ cup/ 4 ounces) butter, softened ( 2 tablespoons butter, softened)

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 cup (8 ounces) sugar

2 large eggs ( 2 large egg whites, 1 large whole egg)

1 teaspoon real almond extract

1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

2 ½ cups (13 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoon ( ¼ ounce) baking powder (make sure it’s fresh!)

½ teaspoon ( ⅛ ounce) salt

¾ cup (5 ounces) dark chocolate chips or mini semisweet chocolate chips

1 beaten egg white for glaze, optional

1. Heat oven to 350˚F

2. Place butter, canola oil, sugar, eggs, and extracts in a bowl and beat until well-blended (I use an electric hand mixer on medium for about one minute).

3. Beat in flour, baking powder, and salt and mix just until dough forms. Stir in almonds and chocolate chips. Dough will be stiff.

4. Divide dough in half and, on a baking sheet lined with parchment or sprayed with cooking spray, pat each half into a 3” x 9” log. Brush with egg glaze, if desired.

5. Bake logs for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and just beginning to crack on the top. Reduce oven temperature to 300˚.

6. Allow logs to cool for 15 minutes or longer (30 minutes) and slice into ½” wide diagonal slices (I use a large serrated knife. I used an electric knife.)

7. Lay slices on their sides on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then flip slices and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until cookies are dry and crisp (I placed the slices, standing up, on the baking sheet and baked for 25 minutes). (Note: they will crisp up more as they cool)

Store in an airtight container for up to several days or freeze. Flavors improve with age.

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Per serving: 130 Calories (kcal); 6g Total Fat (3 saturated, 2 monosaturated, 1 polyunsaturated); (46% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 17mg Cholesterol; 80mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

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Per serving: 112 Calories (kcal); 4g Total Fat (1 saturated, 2 monosaturated, 1 polyunsaturated); (38% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 7mg Cholesterol; 62mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

Tonight I made a chicken and vegetable curry for dinner. It was quite good, although Jack wants it a little spicier next time. I thought it was just hot enough. ;)

I love Indian food, and the nearest restaurant is 45 minutes drive, so I just have to do it myself. Penzey's is a great source for the spices that I use. Their sweet curry powder rocks(although their hot curry powder is intense) and garam masala is great, too. In this recipe, I added a touch more spice and flavor with the addition of a small amount of red curry paste as well. However, the recipe is good without.

In order to reduce the fat in recipes containing coconut milk (even the "lite" coconut milk runs 4g staurated fat per 1/3 cup serving), I replace about half of the recipe amount with skim milk, then add coconut extract just before serving. About 1 teaspoon extract per cup of milk works well. I also stirred in 1 teaspoon of arrowroot mixed with 1 tablespoon water since the sauce was a little on the thin side.

* Exported from MasterCook *

South Indian Chicken and Vegetable Curry

Recipe By : Vicci
Serving Size : 6

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
2 large onion -- thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro -- loosely packed
1 large garlic clove -- minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 medium red bell pepper -- 3/4" dice
10 ounces cauliflower flowerets
20 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast -- 3/4" cubes
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon sweet curry powder
1 1/4 cups lite coconut milk -- divided
3/4 teaspoon red curry paste
1 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven until hot. Add mustard seeds and allow to sizzle for 30-45 seconds. Stir in onions and garlic, reduce heat to medium, and sitr frequently for 4 minutes. Sprinkle in garam masala and curry powder and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add small amounts of water if the mixture seems to be sticking (don't worry if the mixture becomes "clumpy").

Add chicken cubes, stirring well and coating the pieces with spices. Stir for another 5 minutes, again adding small amounts of water if the chicken and onions are sticking. In a measuring cup, mix 1/2 cup lite coconut milk with 1/2 cup water and curry paste. Add to chicken and stir, bringing up the browned bits from the bottom and incorporating them into the sauce. When the sauce begins to boil, lower heat to medium-low and cover tightly. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add remaining coconut milk and the skim milk, stir in vegetables until coated with sauce, then turn up the heat a bit to bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, simmer for 1o minutes, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is just cooked but not mushy. Add coconut extract and peas, stir in, serve.

Serve over steamed basmati rice.

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Per serving: 216 Calories (kcal); 7g Total Fat; (27% calories from fat); 26g Protein; 12g Carbohydrate; 56mg Cholesterol; 121mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

NOTES : You can use more lite coconut milk in place of the skim milk and coconut extract, but obviously the fat content will be higher

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Dinner with friends, and letting go of total control-- a bit!

After exhausting myself with entertaining during the last part of 2006 I decided that, in 2007, I would try a different route. So on Friday I had my first “test”. Friends were invited over for dinner and I actually allowed a guest to bring not one, but two, menu items. I had to swallow my need to plan menus, tweaking recipes and ingredients until I felt as though it was a perfect blend, and just allow myself to have a good time. It wasn’t a bad experience, after all!

Karla has been telling us about the wonderful baked ziti which she is almost-famous for, so this cold February evening seemed to be the perfect time to put that on the menu. She also brought a salad. I provided the appetizer, bread, and dessert. In splitting up the menu this way, I found myself being able to do preparation things that I had either hurried through at the last minute or dismissed in previous entertaining. I was able to actually spend time putting on makeup and getting dressed (I even ironed my slacks!). I washed and dried all of the dishes and everything was stored away. I placed a clean coffee filter in the pot, emptied the carafe of the morning’s coffee and rinsed it, and actually lit all of the candles. Before the guests arrived! The table was set, the flowers arranged, I was pleased.

We started with an appetizer which I have made before, Spinach-Artichoke Dip. I made a baguette the day before, sliced part of it on the diagonal and toasted the slices to dip into the spinach-artichoke-cheese mixture. Jack claims to dislike artichokes, but he loves this dip (his comment—“you can hardly taste the artichokes though all of the cheese!). Karla’s baked ziti was all she had promised. Tender pasta with a slightly garlicky, light tomato sauce and different varieties of (lowfat) cheese. Absolutely delicious. Her salad was really good as well (she said that it was her husband, Frankie’s, sister’s recipe) with a variety of “gourmet” greens, dried cranberries, mandarin orange slices, and walnuts in a raspberry vinaigrette. I made a loaf of the no-knead bread (actually I made 3 loaves earlier in the day) and it was a hit because it’s just so darn good!

And for dessert—Flourless Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Cake. This was an incredible cake. We only needed thin slices because it was very rich (but I think that I could have hidden in a closet and happily made myself ill by eating the entire cake). An intense bittersweet chocolate flavor with an undertone of cream cheese and vanilla. It made our mouths extremely happy! I garnished with a piping of Cool Whip and a squiggle which I made from melted Hershey Kisses (I ran out of bittersweet chocolate). I "marbled" the cake too much because the vanilla batter was so much thinner in texture than the chocolate, but that will be remedied next time. And, although I'm certain that it didn't help much (I refuse to put this one through MasterCook for the nutritional information!) I used neufachel cheese instead of the full-fat cream cheese.

Along with a bottle of shiraz (and a few Killian Red’s for Frankie), this meal, and the company, made for a very enjoyable evening. I made a loaf of bread for our guests to take home, and gave them half of the cake, obsequiously for their teenage daughters… And I was left with that excellent baked ziti for another meal.

Okay, the first try at allowing others to contribute was a success. My next chance may come next Saturday when we have another couple over for dinner.

Now, I realize that the No Knead Bread, which was published in the New York Times last fall,

has been written about to death. Discussed, analyzed, varietized for months. But I think that I have finally found the prefect recipe for making it and that’s what I’m sticking with. 360g Eagle Mills Ultragrain Flour blend, a rounded ¼ teaspoon of yeast, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 12 ounces less 1 tablespoon of water. Lots of wheat bran and cornmeal to prevent sticking. Bake at 435˚F for 43 minutes, or until 204˚F internal temperature. And allow 22 hours from mixing the dough to removing that heavenly bread from the oven. Easy, easy, easy and to think I have been searching for this type of bread, attempting (and failing at) various recipes for the last few years. And with that particular flour, which I buy at Sam’s Club, it contains 5g of fiber per slice with no grainy taste to detract from the light, airy, texture and almost-sourdough-like flavor which we enjoy so much.

I vote for the High Carb lifestyle!

Tonight’s dinner. I needed to make something relatively quick, but not pasta (since we have eaten pasta for the previous 2 nights), and Jack suggested Chinese. I started rice and took a quick look through the refrigerator and freezer. We don’t eat red meat, but we really enjoy Morningstar Farm’s Meal Starters Beef Strips. Most times I use them in fajitas, but tonight I saw the bag in the freezer and decided to make a stir-fry with the “beef” strips, red and green bell peppers, and onions in a tomato-soy seasoning sauce.

“Beef” Stir-Fry with Peppers and Onions

1/3 cup vegetable or chicken broth

½ cup crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 cloves garlic, crushed

½ teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon cornstarch

½ large red bell pepper, cut into 1” dice

½ large green bell pepper, cut into 1” dice

1 medium onion, cut into lengthwise into eight wedges

1 8-ounce package Morningstar Farm’s Meal Starters Beef Strips, unthawed

Mix broth through crushed red pepper in a small bowl. Blend in cornstarch. Set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in wok over medium-high heat. Add peppers and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add onions and stir fry for an additional 2 minutes. Add “beef”strips and stir for 30 seconds (they may start to stick a bit, that’s okay as long as nothing burns). Add ¼ cup water and cover. Turn heat down slightly and allow to cook for 2 minutes. Uncover and stir in seasoning sauce. Cook until thickened. Serve over rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mardi Gras dinner

The elusive recipe remains so. I looked everywhere I could think of, but my tried-and-true recipe for shrimp etoufee cannot be found. So at the last minute I switched gears and started thinking about jambalaya. I located a recipe, which I happened to have most of the ingredients for, and it turned out to be a great one. Popped an old Professor Longhair cassette in the stereo for ambience, and CL’s Peppered Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya was the perfect recipe for dinner on this Mardi Gras.

Peppered Chicken-and-Shrimp Jambalaya

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound skinned, boned chicken breasts, diced
6 ounces turkey kielbasa, halved lengthwise and sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced yellow bell pepper
1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain rice
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup water
2 (16-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chicken, kielbasa, onion, and bell peppers; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. Add rice; sauté 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add thyme, black pepper, and red pepper; sauté 1 minute. Add water, broth, and tomatoes; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes. Add shrimp and hot sauce; cover and cook 5 minutes or until shrimp are done. Remove from heat; stir in parsley.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2 cups)

CALORIES 374 (16% from fat); FAT 6.6g (sat 2g,mono 2.8g,poly 1.3g); PROTEIN 26g; CHOLESTEROL 65mg; CALCIUM 95mg; SODIUM 919mg; FIBER 3g; IRON 7.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 51.3g

Cooking Light, JANUARY 1999

The only change I made to this recipe was to omit the turkey kielbasa, and I added 4 ounces additional chicken to make up for it. I also found that it was a little too saucy for my taste, so I uncovered the pan for the last 10 minutes of cooking and it thickened nicely. Jack added extra hot sauce because he has an asbestos-coated stomach.

Today the temperatures outside were in the mid-40’s and a good deal of the snow melted. Walking across the grass is like walking on a sponge, very squishy. And muddy. Spooky went outside with me and explored, going places he hadn’t been for a few weeks. Checking out the perimeter, Jack said, as Spooky explored and sniffed everything and anything that he encountered for over an hour. Our Security Cat! Who had to have his little paws wiped clean prior to coming in the house. As did Jack and me.

Dinner this evening was a cauliflower tomato curry over rice. Very good, but I was in a hurry and forgot to write down the ingredients… I’ll try to refine the recipe and post in the future.

The next few days are looking to be busy ones, so it appears as though there will be no new or exciting recipes to report on. Except for Friday night’s dessert and maybe an appetizer. Dinner guests are bringing the remaining food-- part of my New Year's Semi-Resolution to try not to do it all myself, and to let others contribute. We'll see how long this lasts!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I “missed” celebrating Chinese New Year because, since it fell on a Sunday, nothing , not even Chinese food, would keep Jack from his highly-anticipated Sunday night pizza! So on Monday night I made an oldie-but-goodie. This recipe was adapted from a Cooking Light recipe for Orange-Ginger Chicken Lo Mein. Ten years ago it was published in the magazine and I’ve made it a few times each year ever since. It’s a great winter dish—steamy hot noodles with the fragrance of oranges and the zing of ginger and garlic. I deviated from the original recipe and use fresh-cut veggies, whatever is on hand, instead of buying a stir-fry vegetable assortment. I also increased the amount of chicken (which I rarely do, but the original recipe was very light on the chicken for a main dish) and I played with the preparation technique a little as well.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Orange Chicken Lo Mein

Servings : 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

1/4 cup low-salt chicken broth

2 tablespoons orange juice, frozen concentrate -- thawed, undiluted

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon grated ginger root

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon minced garlic -- divided

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

4 ounces whole wheat spaghetti

2 teaspoons canola oil -- divided

8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast -- cut into 1/2" strips

12 ounces vegetables -- a variety cut into similar-sized strips or pieces (bell pepper, onion,

broccoli, snow or snap peas), or for carrots, thin strips; or for bean sprouts, just rinse

1 tablespoon chopped peanuts -- unsalted

Combine chicken broth through salt in a small bowl, stir in 2 teaspoons of garlic, mix well and set aside.

Cook spaghetti as directed, omitting salt. When the pasta is just tender (usually 1 minute before the minimum cooking time listed on the package) add broccoli florets and/ or carrot. Cook for an additional 1-1/2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Spread 1 teaspoon canola oil in wok and heat over medium-high flame. Add the remaining teaspoon of garlic and allow to sizzle for about 20 seconds. Add chicken and stir fry until chicken is cooked through. Remove from wok and set aside.

Heat remaining teaspoon of oil in wok. Add vegetables (except bean sprouts, if using) and stir fry until almost tender (about 2 minutes) Add bean sprouts and stir fry for another minute. Add pasta and parboiled vegetables and mix well. Pour in orange juice mixture and mix (a pas

ta server is perfect for this) until the sauce coats the pasta and vegetables and has thickened.

Divide between plates. Sprinkle with peanuts.

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Per serving: 458 Calories (kcal); 9g Total Fat; (17% calories from fat); 38g Protein; 59g Carbohydrate; 66mg Cholesterol; 735mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 3 Grain(Starch); 4 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

All morning I was startled by the sound of huge icicles falling off the house. The ice coating is finally off the trees and shrubs, and I actually see sidewalks now, but these temperatures in the high 40’s are making tons of slush. Wet, sloppy stuff and I’m glad that I did my grocery shopping yesterday. Parking lots are going to be a mess!

For lunch today I made soup from the turkey carcass stock which I prepared on Sunday. Perfect for a cool, damp day. And I have to say, that turkey stock is the best. I made chicken stock from an Eating Well recipe last month and it was good, but this turkey stock is incredibly flavorful. And, being so, makes excellent soup. And I had 3 quarts of stock leftover to go in the freezer. Must remember to label the containers... ;)

Turkey Tortellini Soup

(about 6 servings)

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 large carrots, finely chopped

½ cup finely chopped white mushrooms

6 cups turkey stock

3 tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon ground celery seed

¾ teaspoon crumbled dried thyme

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

¾ teaspoon salt

½ cup frozen peas, thawed

½ cup frozen corn, thawed

3 cups small cheese tortellini

1 cup diced turkey meat (optional)

Sauté onion, garlic, and carrot in 1 tablespoon canola oil until softened. Add mushrooms and sauté for another minute or two. Sprinkle flour on mixture and stir for another minute. Add turkey stock slowly, stirring briskly to incorporate flour into broth. Add seasonings, stir, bring to a boil, turn heat down, simmer for 30 minutes.

Turn up heat and bring to a boil. Add tortellini, lower heat a bit, add corn and peas, and cook according to package directions until done. Stir in turkey meat and turn off heat.

Today is Mardi Gras and I am hoping to dig up a recipe for Shrimp Etoufee which I have made several times in the past 15 years or so and has never quite made it to being typed into my MasterCook program. Last I saw it, a yellowed scrap of newsprint, it was in a file box in a cupboard in the dining room. Wish me happy hunting…

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Quiet, Snowy Sunday

An odd weather day here. Fits of grey skies and heavy snow punctuated with sun and blue skies. It made for an interesting day! The first of a new series :)

A step out of the door and a click of the camera

It will be interesting to see how many doors I can step out of and take an original photo. I may have to rename this "series" later.

My cold frame, which held parsley and cilantro through the second week of January, is mounded with snow. I wonder if, when it all melts, the snow would have insulated the interior of the cold frame enough to allow me to have a few fresh herbs. Probably not.
I decided that today I would clean out my deep freeze a bit and make stock. I bought a whole turkey to roast for New Year's Day dinner. It was a great price, 49 cents a pound, so I bought a big one. A 20-pounder for Jack and me! After a couple of days we became tired of leftovers so I separated the remaining breast meat and wrapped and froze it, then did the same with the carcass and the dark meat. The carcass I defrosted today, along with the dark meat, giblets and extra gravy, and made my favorite soup stock.

Jane's Brody's Turkey Carcass Soup Stock

  • Turkey carcass from a 20-24 lb turkey that has not been picked too clean; broken into pieces
  • Any defatted pan juices or leftover gravy
  • 16 - 20 cups of water, to cover the carcass completely
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery with leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup well-washed leek, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 cup parsnip or turnip, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, if desired
  • Bouquet garni

Combine all the ingredients in a large stock pot, bring the stock to a boil and simmer it, partially covered for two to three hours. (It tastes better the longer it simmers, as long as you don't cook away the liquid.) Add more water as necessary. Allow stock to cool. May be chilled to remove additional fat. Skim the fat and strain the stock, reserving any turkey meat to use in the soup. Stock may be frozen at this time.

Since the stock pot is so large I have it on the back porch and will skim off the solidified fat tomorrow when I will make soup and freeze the extra stock.

For dinner this evening I made our usual Sunday Night Pizza. Every other week I make a batch of dough, then split it in two and freeze one piece for the following Sunday night. The other half is made into the Pizza Du Jour. Which tonight was a red sauce, the recipe I posted on February 5, reduced-fat mozzarella, sliced green and yellow bell peppers, sweet onion slices, mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese.

And for dessert, assorted Valentine's Day goodies. I just love the camouflaging ability of heavy, bulky sweaters...

Saturday, February 17, 2007

This should "catch me up" to Valentine's Day

If it’s not chocolate, why bother???

Next up on the list of Valentine’s Day treats are Chocolate-Almond-Coconut Macaroons. I’m not bothering to run the recipe through MasterCook because I really don’t want to know the fat content. Rarely do I make a conscious decision to do this, but I adore macaroons and for this one-time-a-year treat, I don’t want to know anything that may diminish my joy while eating them!

I cannot locate the original source of this recipe, although I’ve seen it in a couple of newspapers, so to whomever thought this recipe up—thank you!!! These were excellent. Moist, chewy, coconut-ey, and the almond paste added a sublime undertone of almond flavor.

I followed the recipe exactly as shown below except that I couldn’t figure out how to grate the almond paste. It was soft and didn’t perform well in either my rotary or my box grater. So I tore it into little pieces and, using my smaller food processor, blended the almond paste and egg white together until smooth, then I added the sweetened condensed milk slowly, while the machine was running, until it was all blended. Then I dumped this into a large bowl and added the rest of the ingredients through the semisweet mini-morsels. I used a 1 tablespoon size cookie scoop, which made these a high, nicely rounded cookie.

The baking time listed may be off, or maybe my oven thermometer isn’t accurate, but I baked each sheet for 7 minutes, turned the sheet 180˚, baked another 7 minutes or so until the bottom was a light brown, then removed them from the oven. After allowing the macaroons to rest on the hot baking sheet for 5 minutes, I carefully transferred them to a cooling rack.

As you can see by the photo, I didn’t sprinkle them with the sliced almonds. It was getting late and I was in a hurry to clean up the kitchen to start dinner. Next time, though, I will take that extra step. I think that the crunch of the almonds will contrast nicely with the chew of the coconut, and what’s not to like about some additional almond flavor?

Chocolate-Almond-Coconut Macaroons

1 (14 oz.) pkg. sweetened, flaked coconut

3/4 c. sweetened condensed milk

1/2 of 7 oz. pkg. almond paste, grated

2 T. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract

1/2 tsp. grated orange rind

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 c. semisweet chocolate mini morsels

1 egg white

1/2 c. semisweet chocolate morsels

1 T. shortening

1/4 c. sliced almonds

Combine coconut and sweetened condensed milk in a large bowl. Add almond paste and next 5 ingredients. Stir in mini morsels.

Beat egg white at high speed of mixer until stiff peaks form; fold into coconut mixture.

Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake at 325 for 20-21 mins. or until edges are golden and tops are lightly browned. Cool completely on baking sheets.

Melt chocolate morsels and shortening in a 1-cup glass measuring cup on HIGH 1 minute, or until melted, stirring once.

Pour melted chocolate into small bag. Snip a small hole in the corner of bag; drizzle chocolate over macaroons; sprinkle with almonds, if desired. Let stand until chocolate is firm.

Yield: 2 dozen

Next on my list was to bake brownies. Jenni had sent a wonderful-sounding recipe for Raspberry Truffle Brownies, but I was running out of steam. So I dug into the pantry and came up with a box of Ghirardelli Chocolate Syrup Brownie Mix. Long ago I realized that mixes can give me better results than making from scratch for two things, angel food cake and brownies.

Feeling a bit guilty about my extravagance with the macaroons, I decided to lighten this recipe a bit.

To the mix, I added 2 tablespoons of canola oil, 3 tablespoons of pureed pears, 2 egg whites, and ¼ cup of water. I spread ½ of that batter into a greased 8”x8” pan, spread ½ cup of raspberry preserves over and swirled it in a bit. I then mixed ½ cup of milk chocolate chips in the remaining batter and spread that evenly over the raspberry layer. I baked the brownies per the package directions.

Oh my. These were heavenly. Intensely chocolate with a bright tang of raspberry flavor—and only 4g total fat (1g saturated) per 2” square. I should have made more….

Sorry-- no photo. These were eaten (or shared) before that could happen!!!

And before I forget to mention, pureed pears.

I buy cans of pears (in juice) and, when drained and pureed until smooth, they make a wonderful substitute for half of the oil called for in baked good recipes. And sometimes I can get away with replacing up to ¾ of the oil with the puree (in muffins, particularly). Each 15 ounce can will yield 2/3 – ¾ cup of puree.

And last, cupcakes. sent me several cupcake recipes and, having bought heart-motif cupcake papers, I decided to make a half batch of chocolate buttermilk cupcakes.

These were low in fat for a cupcake, and didn’t use butter or eggs, so I decided to keep the recipe amount of canola oil. My notes follow the recipe. These were very, very good. I didn’t realize that it was possible to make a cupcake with such a good flavor and nice crumb, without using butter or eggs! I added some dark chocolate chips to the center, and “frosted” them with the chips as well. My notes follow the recipe.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes with Chocolate Glaze
makes 12

12 paper cupcake liners
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk, low-fat
plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk, low-fat
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 ounces semisweet chocolate

Cooking Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.

2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Add the sugar, buttermilk, oil and vanilla and stir to combine (do not overmix).

3. Fill each baking cup 2/3 full. Bake until a skewer inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan.

4. When the cupcakes are cool, melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Let the chocolate cool until it thickens slightly. Using a spoon, drizzle the cupcakes with the melted chocolate.

Makes 12 standard size cupcakes or 24 miniature cupcakes.

Serving Size: 1 cupcake

Nutritional Information
Number of Servings: 12

Per Serving




30 g


8 g


1 g


3 g

Saturated Fat

2 g


147 mg

I placed a heaping tablespoon of batter in each cupcake paper, then arranged 4 dark chocolate chips in the center, then divided the remaining batter on top of the chips.

After taking the cupcakes from the oven, I placed 4 dark chocolate chips on the top of each cupcake and placed the pan back in the oven for 30 seconds. After removing it from the oven, I allowed the chips to soften for another minute or so, then swirled the melted chocolate on the top of each muffin. After they cooled a bit, I sprinkled on coarse red sugar and white candy snowflakes.

The best way to enjoy this cupcake is to eat it slightly warm, so the center chips are soft (although eating the cupcakes cold are pretty good too!). I microwaved each cupcake for 8 seconds on “high” to achieve this.

Well, that was my Valentine's Day baking extravaganza.

I have to note that I was able to scrape the milk chocolate and almonds off of the burnt toffee, and it is in the refrigerator awaiting use. I’m thinking, maybe biscotti? But we have a lot of other goodies to eat in the meantime.

Hmmm, Easter baking is only about 5 weeks away!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The waistline, it's expanding!

During the past several days, I have been trying some Valentine's Day- friendly recipes. I have a horrible sweet-tooth, and I try not to have too many sweets around the house, but the weather is very cold and my kitchen is unheated, so what better way to make it warmer than to use the oven?!

First was a try at a lower-fat chocolate chip cookie. Jack had asked for these and most of the recipes I found called for an ungodly amount of butter. So I took the best of those recipes, cut the butter in half, used canola oil I(which doesn't do a lot for the total fat content, but it does cut the saturated fat numbers significantly), and added some milk. I also used my now-favorite flour. Bought at Sam's Club, it is produced by Eagle Mills and a blend of all-purpose and "ultragrain" flours. It has more fiber than all-purpose flour, though not quite as much as King Arthur's White Whole Wheat (previously, my flour of choice). The Eagle Mills flour, however, doesn't have a grainey taste and is lighter in color so it's practically indistinguishable from all-purpose.

Flour details:

Anyway, I came up with the following recipe. These chocolate-chip cookies are thin and chewy, and taste wonderful. One caveat, however, they are lowfat, so will get stale quickly. I kept them in an airtight plastic container for a day, then transferred what was left to a plastic freezer bag and stored them in the freezer.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Lower-fat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe By : Vicci

Servings : 36

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ -------------
4 tablespoons butter -- softened

1/4 cup canola oil

2/3 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons skim milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 large egg white

2 cups white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 1/4 cups semisweet cho
colate chips

Preheat oven to 375F.

With an electric mixer, beat butter, oil, and sugars until light, about 3 minutes. Beat in milk, extract, egg, and egg white. Beat for another minute. Set aside.
Sift together flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Add dry ingredients to wet, blending well. Add chips.

Place heaping tablespoons of dough on parchment-covered baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 8-1/2 minutes until set around the edges but a little soft in the middle, remove from oven, allow t
o remain on cookie sheet for another minute (no more) and carefully transfer to a cooling rack.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 125 Calories (kcal); 5g Total Fat (2g saturated); (34% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 9mg
Cholesterol; 53mg Sodium Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

Next up was my attempt at a chocolate cookie. Really, really chocolate. Intensely chocolate. I found a recipe for Chocolava cookies and, although they were already a relatively lowfat cookie, I played around with the recipe and was able to reduce the fat content even further with some additions and subtractions. The result was a dense, fudgy cookie that we couldn’t stop eating (big surprise). I rolled the dough in powdered sugar prior to baking but since Jack doesn’t like added sprinkles or sugars on his cookies, I left half of the batch plain.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Intensely Chocolate Cookies

Recipe By : Vicci

Servings: 84

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

2 2/3 cups eagle Mills All-Purpopse Unbleached Flour

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teas salt

1/4 cup butter -- softened

5 tablespoons canola oil

3 large eggs

1 large egg white

3 tablespoons skim milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Sift together the flour through salt into a large bowl. Form a "well" in the center. In a medium bowl, beat the butter and canola oil until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in the milk and vanilla. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture, mixing well with a wooden spoon. The dough will be stiff and you may want to use your hands.

Form the dough into tablespoonfuls. The dough will be sticky and you can either coat your hands with canola oil or dab with water to moisten before rolling. Roll dough-balls in powdered sugar. Place on a parchment-lined sheet. Bake for 11 to 11-1/2 minutes, until they are just set around the edges but still soft in the middle. Remove from oven, allow to rest on the cookie sheet for a minute (no longer) and transfer to a cooling rack. Do not overbake.

Makes about 84 2" cookies.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 63 Calories (kcal); 2g Total Fat; (24% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 8mg Cholesterol; 34mg Sodium Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

Okay, the chocolate chip and intensely chocolate cookies were just a prelude to the Valentine’s Day baking extravaganza which was planned. My friend Jenni and I had compiled a list of Valentine’s Day-inspired goodies to make, pared it down to 6 recipes, and divided the list between us. She was due to arrive on Monday morning and, as at Christmastime, we would bake the day away and end up with piles of wonderful treats to eat and give away. On Sunday I prepared the filling for the Raspberry Cream Cheese Braid, the Berry Marshmallows to dip in dark chocolate, chopped almonds for the toffee, and made a pot of Italian Wedding Soup and a loaf of no-knead bread for our lunch. Unfortunately, her daughter became ill the night before and she cancelled. So I ended up making a few of the recipes which we wanted to try, but on Tuesday instead.

The flop of the week was my attempt at candy. I have never really had success at candy-making and this was no exception. The recipe was deceptively easy. Boil sugar, butter, and water to 300-310˚F, add vanilla, pour in pan, sprinkle milk chocolate chips over, spread when softened, sprinkle with chopped almonds. Sounds easy! At about 270˚ the sugar mixture was bubbly and golden, but quite soon after it started to turn brown around the edges of the pot. Since it was still not near 300˚, I let it go. By the time it reached temperature, it was a dark, dark brown and smelled burnt. I knew what had happened, but I was hoping that it would still be salvageable. I continued with the recipe, allowed it to cool, and broke off a piece. Yuck! Burnt sugar with milk chocolate and almonds. And the burnt sugar aftertaste obliterated any good chocolate-and-nut taste, as well. Unfortunately, almost a week later this pan of toffee is still in the refrigerator. I can’t bring myself to throw it away! I need someone to come over, break it into pieces, and toss it into the garbage disposal. I keep thinking that I will be baking something, place the pan in the oven for a few minutes, then scrape off the chocolate and almonds and do something with them. I have no idea what. I just hate to waste!

Here's the Evil Toffee Recipe

The berry-flavored marshmallows frightened me a bit because of all of the preparation notes about how sticky it was and to coat everything with cooking spray lest the mixture adhere to the pan, knife, spatula, etc. But, in the end, they turned out quite well. They were very sticky, but I used copious amounts of powdered sugar and cooking spray to keep everything from sticking together. I’ve never made marshmallows before and these had the same taste as the ones we buy for hot chocolate and s’mores, but the raspberry flavor really made them stand out as something special.

Following is the recipe, from Eating Well. How

ever, I must admit that I haven’t dipped them in chocolate yet. I have eaten some, and used a lot in hot chocolate (heavenly!), but I’m keeping about half of the batch in the freezer for now. Jack thinks that they are too sweet and doesn’t like them, so I will have to wait and “dip” before I visit a friend or my parents or something so I can have someone to share with. Or else I will eat them all.


I am meeting my friend Meridee for the ballet this evening, so I thought that I would dip some marshmallows to give to her. I've never dipped chocolate before, so I had to set aside some "unacceptable" candies (for me to eat!) but I slowly got the hang of it. Finally, I came upon using a pair of seafood forks to do the dipping-- who would have thought? Anyway, they are soooo good. Dark chocolate shell covering creamy berry-flavored marshmallow. I couldn't resist. Now, my quandry-- do I use the marshmallows in hot chocolate or dip a few a day for me?

Eating Well's Chocolate-Covered Berry Marshmallows

The Raspberry Cream Cheese Braid, from King Arthur Flour website, was heavenly. And the
photo looks pretty great, no?! It really was easy. I used the Holiday Sweet Bread recipe from their website as the “base” dough, added the raspberry preserves and cream-cheese filling (made with neufachtel cheese), braided per the instructions, shot with a spritz of “Quick Shine”, and baked. Very impressive, a little time consuming, but definitely worth it. Unfortunately, I was planning to share this bread, and the other items I baked, but we had a big snow and ice storm and are now housebound. So we have to eat it ALL!!!

Raspberry Cream Cheese Braid

Next post, Chocolate Almond Macaroons.

Yes, we didn’t have enough to eat in the house.