Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

My aunt puts together a lovely Easter spread! I noshed on these pastries, melon, berries, stratas, and honeybaked ham all afternoon.
My recipe of the day wasn't exactly Easter-themed, but I felt like making mango something this morning. So I made a no-bake mango tart. As Justin said, "it's like key-lime pie, but with mango"!
Ingredients were:
-5 small almond biscotti (for crust)
-2 tbsp almond milk
-2 cups mango chunks
-5.3 oz container of mango greek yogurt
-2 tbsp lowfat cream cheese
-1 tsp honey
-1 tsp torani sugar-free vanilla syrup
First I blended the biscotti with almond milk in my food processor until it gelled together as pictured above.
Then I sprayed an 8x8" baking pan and spread the biscotti/milk mixture out to cover the bottom.
Then I blended the mango filling in the food processor (yogurt, cream cheese, mango chunks, vanilla syrup and honey).
Until it looked like so.
Then I poured it evenly into the baking pan and threw it in the freezer while I went out to celebrate Easter.
When I got home, the mango tart was frozen and ready for my taste test! I cut out squares, topped with whip cream, and dug in.
Yessss.
The rest are cut into pieces for easy storage in the freezer. I have a feeling they'll go fast.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Strawberry-banana pancakes

These were similar to the berry pancakes I made last week.
Here's what was in this batter (made 2 small stacks for me and Justin):
-Approx 3/4 cup frozen strawberries, chopped (plus extra for topping)
-1/2 cup white flour
-2 packets stevia
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/8 tsp baking soda
-1/8 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 tbsp egg white
-1 tbsp mashed banana (you could add more, I used less since Justin's not a big fan)
-1 tbsp non-fat milk
-1/3 cup water (or more depending on how thick you want your cakes)
I sprayed a pan and put some batter in there to cook over medium heat for a few minutes, until it began to bubble.
And flipped it over to get this beauty.
Then I microwaved some chopped frozen strawberries with about 1 tbsp of maple syrup for 60 seconds. And poured it on top for a sweet and satisfying breakfast.
For lunch, we got grilled veggie chicken salads at California Fresh. This place is healthy, cheap, and quick. A great go-to when the fridge is not properly stocked :)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Chocolate cake

This chocolate cake may look like a total guilty pleasure, but it's actually very guilt-free!
I keep seeing recipes for single-serving, quick-cooking chocolate cake, and I've been meaning to try it. I was especially inspired by this recipe. So I made it. These are the ingredients I used for mine:
-3 tbsp white flour
-1/4 tsp baking powder
-1 tbsp plus 2 tsp cocoa powder
-1/8 tsp salt
-1/8 tsp cinnamon
-2 tsp granulated sugar
- cocoa powder
-1 packet stevia (I decided to give stevia a chance in place of my usual splenda)
-3 tbsp milk
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-3 tsp mashed banana

First I mixed up the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Then I mixed in the wet ingredients (making sure the banana was very well mashed before I threw it in).
Then I spooned it into a large ramekin.
And put it in the microwave for 50 seconds.
It really did most of its rising in the last 15 seconds. It doubled in size.
I also added a little 'fudge' topping. I mixed 1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter, 1/8 tsp vanilla, 2 tsp non-fat milk, 1/2 tsp cocoa powder, and 1/2 tsp maple syrup. And I got this gooey-ness.
Topped the cake with the 'fudge'. And in typical Jen-fashion, I added vanilla ice cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. (I always buy Breyer's fat-free vanilla ice cream. It seriously does not taste non-fat. It's rich and delicious).
And it melted right into the warm cake.
Which I devoured rather quickly. I didn't mind the stevia at all in this. No odd aftertaste whatsoever.
I am most definitely making this again. It tasted way too good considering that it was all fat-free except for the dollop of faux-fudge (which was actually protein-packed because it was mostly a spoonful of peanut butter). You could make it entirely fat-free if you nix the fudge. And it will still taste great. Don't question it. Just do it.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mango salsa salmon

Last night I made salmon with mango salsa, lemon asparagus, and honey-lime sweet potato mash.
After going to Whole Foods paycheck and buying salmon, I was determined to cook it really well and justify the cost. I don't always spend incremental $$ to get organic, all natural food, but I do when it comes to fish. I've read enough compelling articles about issues with farm-raised salmon that I'm willing to pay more for wild atlantic salmon.
Whole paycheck sells atlantic salmon in 5 oz portions. They didn't look big enough to satisfy Jen/Justin appetites, so I asked for 3 pieces.  I coated a baking sheet with cooking spray, then added the salmon with some salt and pepper plus the juice of 1/2 a lemon. I baked it in the oven at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes, then I cranked the oven up to broil on high for 5 more minutes to finish it off. If I'm cooking salmon as opposed to eating it in sushi, I like it really well done. If you like medium-baked salmon, you may want to avoid the broiling, or broil for less than 5 minutes.
While the salmon baked, I made the topping! I cut up a mango into tiny pieces, then diced 1/4 of an orange bell pepper and 1/4 of a jalapeno to add some kick to the dish. I squeezed 1/2 a lime into the mix.
You could also sprinkle a tiny bit of cayenne pepper if you want an extra kick.
I also boiled sweet potatoes while the salmon cooked. I diced up 2 potatoes into small pieces so they'd be mashable relatively quickly. I waited approx 30 minutes before mashing.
After mashing, I added juice from the other 1/2 of my lime.
Plus about 1 tbsp honey.
And finally, I steamed asparagus. First I bent the bottom of each asparagus spear and broke them at the natural break to get the stem off. I microwaved them on high for 4 minutes (in a glass tray covered in saran wrap with some water at the bottom for steaming). I topped the spears with salt, pepper, and the other half of the lemon that I used to spritz the salmon.
When all of the pieces were done, I plated it together like so.  When Justin ate it, he said he liked it so much that he would have paid $20 for it at a restaurant. I then clarified that it was $20 salmon. And I was happy that I seemed to have gotten my money's worth out of that fish purchase.
So I celebrated with frozen yogurt from Toppings. This yogurt shop is the best.
Just look at the variety of toppings. They have everything from corn nuts, pickles and potato chips to fresh baked pie chunks, brownies, and circus animal cookies.
I got cappuccino and cheesecake yogurt with raspberries, graham cracker crumbs, sprinkles and chocolate-covered sunflower seeds.
Toppings calculates the # of combinations you can make with all their yogurt flavors and topping selections. It's a whopping 3,748,403 combinations. Quite impressive.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Basil gnocchi

I made the easiest 3-minute dinner last night. (I didn't leave out a 0; it's a 3-minute meal). I also had special guests in the kitchen!
They like food, too! But they didn't get any basil gnocchi, much to their dismay.
I always buy gnocchi when I'm at Cost Plus. It's vacuum packed so it lasts a long time in the pantry, and it's great to have on hand for quick meals. And if you look carefully at the package, you'll see that it cooks in 2-3 minutes.
Just throw it in boiling water until the gnocchi rise to the top of the water. So easy! I also cooked some protein to go with the pasta. In the pan next door, you see my chicken browning up. (Full disclosure: browning the chicken might have taken just a tad longer than 3 minutes. Cook time would have been 3 minutes flat if I'd grilled a batch of chicken breasts earlier).
Drained the gnocchi.
 
Poured gnocchi back in its waterless (but still hot) bowl and added some basil marinara sauce.
Plated with greens and heirloom balsamic. And topped gnocchi with some fresh basil (can you tell I love basil?)
In other news, I got an exciting box in the mail yesterday! A friend gifted us a membership to Harry & David's "Fruit of the Month Club". We get a box of very fresh fruit each month, and the type of fruit is always a surprise. This month was grapefruit!
It came with instructions for broiling grapefruit with brown sugar. I've always wanted to try the whole grapefruit broiling thing. This might be a good occasion to do so.
It also came with a recipe for avocado grapefruit salad, which I wouldn't make since I don't like avocado (yes, I know I'm weird). But I'm sure this salad is great if you like avocado. As for me, I enjoyed the grapefruit plain and simple for dessert. It was so juicy and surprisingly sweet as far as grapefruit goes.

And I called it a night. As did the special guests.