Summer Berry Tarts

Summer berry tarts by Oh Joy! they look so delicious and light!

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Kale Brownies

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When I heard kale was in our CSA last week, I wasn’t sure what to think. It has a less than appetizing flavor raw and an odd texture when cooked. I had tried kale chips before, which are super tasty, but not ideal when making a bunch of kale at once (they are easy to burn and need to be eaten fresh out of the oven). Last year I pinned a recipe for kale brownies, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to try this recipe. The original recipe was a little heavier (and more unhealthy) than I wanted to make. I search around some more and noticed that really all people seemed to do was add blended/pureed kale to their standard brownie recipes.

I’ve posted before about a delicious No Pudge Brownie recipe that is fat-free and relatively low-sugar. These brownies are great, and not just as a “healthy” brownie recipe. When I worked at the hospital, we made these for a local rural county fair a few years ago. We walked around and asked people if they wanted to try one. We didn’t say we were dietitians or that the brownies were healthy – we just asked if they wanted to try a brownie. They were a hit! People were shocked to find out they were actually quite healthy.

Fast forward to the kale – I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to try kale brownies. The result was actually pretty good. I could smell the kale, which wasn’t really that great, but they seemed to taste good! I noticed that when they sat at room temperature the smell of kale was extra strong. The solution? Freeze them. This solved the problem completely and made for a super tasty cold treat. Next time I make them I am going to cut them up into bite-size pieces and freeze them as “Brownie Bites.”

Kale Brownies

Ingredients

  • image (2)3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour (half white, half whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup non-fat plain yogurt (no added sugar or artificial sweetener)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large bunch of kale

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Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8×8 pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Wash kale and remove woody stems. Tear or chop up the kale and place in a food processor. Pulse kale into small pieces. Puree kale.
  3. Add plain yogurt to the kale mixture and push kale down so none of the kale is stuck on the sides. Puree until smooth.
  4. image (4)Add egg whites and vanilla. Puree until smooth.
  5. image (5)Mix all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Be sure to mix so all ingredients are evenly distributed.  Add dry mixture to food processor and pulse until evenly distributed.
  6. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  7. Remove and let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and finish cooling on a drying rack.

Best Oatmeal Cookies Around

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I posted about these cookies back in 2009. They are hands-down, the best cookies I have ever eaten. What’s even better? They are hands-down the easiest cookies I have ever made. Healthy +  Delicious + Simple – what more could you ask for??

I have an unhealthy love for dried fruit and nuts, so we don’t tend to keep them around the house. Because of that, I have started to make these cookies without the add-ins and they are just as tasty. I also thought the original recipe was a little too sweet, so I modified the sugar a bit….well, half, so not just a bit. Don’t worry, they are still very sweet (even without the add-ins)!

Delicious and Nutritious Oatmeal Cookies
Ingredients:
– 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
– 1/3 cup all purpose flour
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/2 cup butter, softened
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 1 egg
– 1 1/2 cups oats

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350F.
  2. Mix flours, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add vanilla and eggs; mix well.
  4. Slowly add the dry mixture to the butter mixture, beating on low. Beat until well mixed (and then place the beaters on high to get the rest off).
  5. Add oats and mix well with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
  6. Drop dough onto a cookie sheet; leave about 2″ apart.
  7. Bake 8-10 minutes, until edges are golden.

Homemade Girl Scout Samoas

These are not healthy. At all. But this recipe is one of those things that when you see it you can’t NOT do something about it.  The recipe is by Just a Taste, which I found on pinterest. Oh, how I love pinterest – I am pretty sure I’d be a much better med student if it didn’t exist…but my belly, husband, and blog would not be nearly as happy. Save this for a rainy day and enjoy in moderation.

Homemade Samoas Girl Scout Cookies

Nutella Fudge

I made this with my friends Megan and Steph last December and it was amazing! Very rich and easy to make. The sea salt adds a special something, so be sure not to leave it out! I first found this at Two Peas and Their Pod, but it directs you to Tasty Kitchen for the recipe.

Nutella Fudge
Recipe from Tasty Kitchen

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (we used Mexican vanilla extract and I highly recommend it)
  • 8 oz high-quality bittersweet (60%) chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Nutella at room temp.
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Sea salt

Directions

  1. Spray an 8′ x 8″ baking pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving overlap on each side.
  2. Set-up a double boiler*. Keep the water just simmering.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and stir until almost melted. Stir continuously to prevent burning.
  4. Add the milk, vanilla, nutella, and butter, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and spread smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle with sea salt and refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours).
  6. Once the fudge is firm, try to lift out the parchment paper and fudge. STOP if you notice and resistance – run a knife under hot water and then run it along the edges of the pan to loosen the fudge. Once it is lifted out, peel off the parchment paper and cut the fudge into 3/4: squares. Store in the refrigerator.

*To make a double boiler, take a large pan and fill the bottom with a few inches of water. Bring to a simmer. Place a glass or ceramic bowl on top – it should be slightly bigger than the pan so it won’t fall in, but not too big that it could roll off. This allows you to melt chocolate or heat milk without it burning – you should never melt chocolate directly in a pan. The water in the pan should NEVER touch the bottom of the bowl – if it does you either used too much water or too small of a pan.

Larabars

Homemade Larabars – Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookie Dough! via http://pinterest.com/pin/119275090103150322/

Much cheaper than buying them at the store for almost $2 each! I first fell in love with larabars back in 2010 (read more here), thanks to a suggestion from my food from Sarah. I have been making them at home ever since, but after a quick search of my blog I just realized I have never posted my recipe! The link provided above and here will take you to Oh She Glows’ version. I usually don’t add salt or vanilla and follow a different pattern for mixing the ingredients, but it all turns out the same in the end. Here is the general ingredient structure I follow.

  • 1.5 cups of nuts (any mixture – I usually buy raw or roasted, unsalted nuts whenever possible)
  • 1 cup of pitted dates or combination of dates and other dried fruit (not chopped, but the big ones that don’t have a pit)
  • 0.5 cup of add-in chocolate chips, coconut, or more dried fruit

You can mix and match nuts, seeds, fruit, and ingredients as you like.  As you see here I have 1.5 cups nuts and 1.5 cups fruit and other. Play with the consistency to see how you like yours. You can make a bigger batch by keeping the proprotion of nuts:fruit and add-ins about the same.

Here are the steps I take to make the bars:

  • Place the nuts in a food processor and pulse them so they are very small pieces (some will be chopped while others will be a powder) and set this aside. Add the dates and let the food processor (no need to clean it out) and turn it on. It will need to process for a while. First the dates (or 1 cup combination of fruit) will roll up into a big ball. Then it will start to smooth out. Stop the food processor once the dates have smoothed out. Add the nuts to the mixture and pulse until everything is combined (maybe 10 pulses).
  • Line a square 8″ x 8″ baking pan with wax or parchment paper. Remove the mixture from the food processor and place in the pain. Pat the mixture down firmly and spread with your hands to cover the entire pain. Continue to pat the mixture together until the mixture seems to be pressed down as far as it can go. Set in the refrigerator for an hour. Cut the bars and wrap in cling wrap. You can keep them at room temperature, in the refrigerator, or in the freezer.

Nutella Fudge

I made this with my friends Megan and Steph last December and it was amazing! Very rich and easy to make. The sea salt adds a special something, so be sure not to leave it out! I first found this at Two Peas and Their Pod, but it directs you to Tasty Kitchen for the recipe.

Nutella Fudge
Recipe from Tasty Kitchen

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (we used Mexican vanilla extract and I highly recommend it)
  • 8 oz high-quality bittersweet (60%) chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Nutella at room temp.
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Sea salt

Directions

  1. Spray an 8′ x 8″ baking pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving overlap on each side.
  2. Set-up a double boiler*. Keep the water just simmering.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and stir until almost melted. Stir continuously to prevent burning.
  4. Add the milk, vanilla, nutella, and butter, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and spread smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle with sea salt and refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours).
  6. Once the fudge is firm, try to lift out the parchment paper and fudge. STOP if you notice and resistance – run a knife under hot water and then run it along the edges of the pan to loosen the fudge. Once it is lifted out, peel off the parchment paper and cut the fudge into 3/4: squares. Store in the refrigerator.

*To make a double boiler, take a large pan and fill the bottom with a few inches of water. Bring to a simmer. Place a glass or ceramic bowl on top – it should be slightly bigger than the pan so it won’t fall in, but not too big that it could roll off. This allows you to melt chocolate or heat milk without it burning – you should never melt chocolate directly in a pan. The water in the pan should NEVER touch the bottom of the bowl – if it does you either used too much water or too small of a pan.

Thanksgiving

I am so excited right now – I don’t know if it is from the mug of coffee I just finished or because I have found so many amazing recipes for Thanksgiving that I just can’t wait to share! Every year my parents host Thanksgiving. About 8 years ago I asked if I could help cook. This was around the same time I became very interested in nutrition, so my ulterior motive was to turn our traditional WI thanksgiving into a more wholesome, healthful, and nutritious meal.  Thankfully that first successful year has turned into tradition of homemade pies, fresh vegetables, and made-from-scratch cranberry sauce.

Each year I search for new recipes to try. In the last few weeks I have found dozens of fall dishes that I can’t wait to try (but will likely have to with this thing called medical school in my way). Here are some of the favorites I have found so far:

Brunch

Sides

Dessert

Breads

Leftovers

Banana Walnut Almond Ice Cream

The day after I posted about purchasing an ice cream maker I spent a few hours in the kitchen trying to come up with the perfect recipe. I had read that using low-fat options, like skim milk, made the ice cream more ice than cream. I had read of some success people had with 2% milk and half-and-half, so I I thought I would start there. Instead of 2% milk I wanted to try Vanilla Almond Milk – the fat content is about the same, but the calories in almond milk are almost 1/2 AND the almond milk already had the vanilla flavoring and sugar, saving even more. The half-and-half was just because it is hard for me to purchase real cream (that will have to change).

So I began my simple recipe of 2 ingredients. I removed the bowl from the freezer and put the lid on to star the machine. The directions said it should be running when you add ingredients to prevent sticking. I added about 1 1/2 cups of almond milk and 1/2 cup of cream to my running ice cream maker.

As you can see from the picture the “ice cream” was more like ice milk. It had vanilla flavor but was not creamy. I was disappointed, but not defeated. We had tried banana ice cream in the food processor a few weeks ago and I remembered how thick and creamy the banana dessert was. We had a few ripe bananas on the counter, so I grabbed two, mashed them up and added them to the mix. I let it run for another 20 minutes. The mixture was creamier but also runnier since the bananas hadn’t been frozen.

I remembered another trick I had read on a blog somewhere – freeze the mixture in ice cube trays for later. I grabbed an extra ice cube tray and filled it up the mixture. The next day J and I decided to give it a try. We popped out 8 ice cubs of banana-vanilla-almond ice cream and put them in the food processor. I then addded about 1/4 cup of walnuts. I pulsed the mixture until it looked like a crumbled mess. Then I turned it on and let it go. The mixture will eventually turn into a ball and then smooth out. The final result (after about 2 minutes of running) was this:

Pretty nice, huh? The texture and taste were just like ice cream but not as sweet, so we both felt satisfied after our serving. I was quite pleased for my first attempt. The walnut pieces were still pretty big, so if I did this again I would first blend the walnuts into a walnut butter and then add the cream mixture. You could also use peanut butter instead. I will cotninue to experiment and be back with more recipes (possibly some that include real cream).

Homemade Frozen Desserts (WITH an ice cream machine)

At first glance, the title might appear to be a duplicate post from last month. Note the subtle difference… “WITH.” That is right, we got an ice cream machine. After a quick search on Craigslist I found a new, still in the box, 1.25 quart ice cream machine for only $20. A simple request of $15 for the machine if the seller could meet  that day resulted in us driving away with our own ice cream machine just a few short hours later.

We decided to get this ice cream machine for two reasons (besides the great price). First, the non-machine methods are time consuming and aren’t quite the same as the real thing. Second, the “real thing” is just too sweet for me. Don’t get me wrong, sweet is delicious, but that is just the problem. Something that sweet is just too hard to say, “no” to when it stares me in the face. I want something that is subtlety sweet and just as delicious, so that when I finish my bowl I am satisfied…not feeling like a drug addict who just needs one more. By making our own ice cream I am determined to come up with the recipe that is just that.

The non-dietitians reading this might think that this sounds crazy, but there is a method to my madness, I promise. Your taste buds change every 3-4 weeks. This is why if you give up a food for a month the next time you eat the food, it just doesn’t taste like you remember. All of our taste buds are programmed to like sweet, salty, and savory (fat), because those are the things that ensured survival back in the days of hunters and gatherers. Unfortunately, our society now has more sugar, salt, and fat at our disposal, and food companies monopolize on the idea. Most things we eat have more of these ingredients than they really need to taste good. These ingredients are cheap, so it is to the manufacturers benefits to use more than needed. Why? First, they will ensure that everyone’s taste buds are digging the food. Second, they will work to change our taste buds to like more sugar, salt, and fat, leaving us more addicted (we are fatter, they are richer).  I could go on and on, but I think you get the point 😉

I am so excited to try it out and have complied a few recipes to test. Here are just a few. If you have a favorite, please share! Once I perfect my own recipe I will take pictures and post.

Once I find the perfect recipe, I will need to make some ice cream sandwiches. August 2nd is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day, so I better get to work! Here is a list of ice cream sandwiches to try. I plan to first perfect a healthy vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt and then scoop in between two of my favorite cookies.