During December 2011, I experienced 3 gallbladder attacks within a week and a half. Although I don't think my diet was THAT bad before this happened, I decided after the third one to drastically alter my eating habits. So, for at least the next couple of months (until my baby comes), my goal is to seek out and share low-fat, high fiber, and low-sugar recipes. I figured as long as I was figuring things out for myself and my family, I may as well share what's working!

May 31, 2010

Rosemary Focaccia

A few months ago, I made a batter-style focaccia that I found food-blog-hopping...and I can't find the blog anymore!  It was very fast, very easy, and very tasty--and I've been looking for something similar ever since.  Friday night, I had promised my husband that I would make some italian bread to go along with our spaghetti dinner.  Well, as you would expect, I forgot about this promise until about 4:30.  After searching foodgawker for a minute or two, I found this Rosemary Focaccia recipe.  (Which was minus the rosemary for us, since I didn't have any.  I have since remedied the situation.)  It was quick and fantastic!

Rosemary Focaccia
Yeild: 1 9-in. round loaf

1 pkg. active dry yeast, (2 1/4 Tbls.)
1 tsp. sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup warm water, plus more for loosening dough
1/2 tsp. salt
Kosher salt
1 tsp. dried rosemary
2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for greasing

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water.  Let stand till foamy, 5-10 min.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In large bowl, mix flour and salt.  Add yeast mixture; stir to combine.  Gradually add water, one Tablespoon at a time, until dough is moistened enough to form a ball.  Knead dough in bowl until smooth.  Remove dough and oil bowl; replace dough and cover with a moist cloth.  Let rise until doubled, about 30 min.

Drizzle 1-2 Tbls. olive oil into 9-in. glass pie pan.  Very lightly press dough into dish.  Let rise until dough reaches edges of pie pan.  Using your fingers or the handle of a wooden spoon, poke indentations evenly over the surface of the dough.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary and Kosher salt.  Bake for 10-15 min. or until top crust begins to brown.

NOTES: You know the part where it tells you to add water one Tbls. at a time?  Well, I added too much.  So, I had to toss in a bit of flour to balance it out.  Still turned out great!  (Whew.)

Prior to kneading the dough the first time, I coated my hands with olive oil.  It kept them from sticking before the dough was holding together just right.  And, instead of coating the bowl with flour, I just coated the dough ball.

If you are in the Seattle area, I *HIGHLY* (is there enough emphasis on that word?) recommend heading to Pike Place Market and picking up some garlic-infused olive oil from Sotto Voce, (they're on the triangle block across from the main market).  I have been using their oil for several years now and just can't get enough.  I've even brought Ryan on board the Sotto Voce train--and when we start getting low, he reminds me that we need to make a trip to PPM.  This oil is fabulous on EVERYTHING, but especially delicious on bread and pizza.  That's what I used to coat my dough, oil my pan, and drizzle on top of the focaccia.  It totally transforms the taste.  If you're starting to get jealous because you don't live in Seattle, you'll just have to come visit.  Or check out the Sotto Voce website and order a bottle (or 2 or 3).  Our favorite is Olio Santo, but we also like Olio Pomodoro and Olio Basilico and I like Olio al Funghi.

I didn't punch my dough down before I put it in the pie pan.  I just plopped it in and spread it out a little--I didn't have time to wait for it to rise again.  And, I'm not sure how long I did let it rise once I put it in the pan.  But, it was what I felt was the perfect thickness when all was said and done.  If you have time to wait for another 30 min. rise, by all means, punch it down, knead it a bit (to develop the gluten strands), and then let it rise again before baking.

Finally, if you don't have rosemary...or if you don't like rosemary, you can use any herb combo you happen to appreciate.  I didn't use any herbs--just the Kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper.  If you are using dried rosemary, pour it into your hand and crush the leaves before sprinkling them on the dough.  It will give you a slightly stronger rosemary flavor.

Most importantly--ENJOY this bread!  It's much easier than my long-winded explanation would make it seem. And let me know what you think when you try it!

May 30, 2010

Carb Loading: Summertime Spaghetti Sauce

My husband, Ryan, will run his fourth marathon in about 4 weeks.  In addition to these races, he has run a few 5k's, half-marathons, and a triathlon.  His long training runs happen Saturday mornings--thus from now until the marathon, every Friday is dedicated to carb-loading.  Instead of doing the standard spaghetti sauce over noodles, I've been finding new and interesting ways to present the needed carbs.  Last Friday, Taste of Home (June/July 2009) provided me with the recipe for Summertime Spaghetti Sauce.

It was definitely different than the spaghetti standard and we both enjoyed it.  Ryan commented a few times that it was good, but tasted different than he expected.  That's probably because he didn't see the recipe and expected it to taste like normal, boring red sauce.  He also said that it's probably something he would request again.  That's always a good sign.

Summertime Spaghetti Sauce
5 cups of sauce

3 Italian sausage links (4 oz. each)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
3 cups chopped, seeded, peeled tomatoes (about 8 medium)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Remove casings from sausage; cut into 1-in. pieces.  In large skillet, brown sausage over medium heat.  Drain and set aside.  Heat oil in same skillet; add onions and green pepper.  Cook and stir until tender.

Add tomatoes, jalapeno, brown sugar, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.  Return sausage to the pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 12-15 min. or until meat is no longer pink and sauce is thickened.

Serve over spaghetti with parmesan cheese.

NOTES: I used 5 Italian sausages.  Mine came in a pack of 5 and I no other use for the extra 2--so I added them.  Also, after I removed the casings, the sausages had nothing to help them keep their shape.  I still cut them into chunks and added them to the pan.  I carefully sauteed them and didn't break them up.  They ended up looking like little meatballs. 

After cooking the sausage, there wasn't a ton of grease.  There was just enough to give a sheen to the bottom of the pan.  So, instead of cooking the veggies in oil, I just added them to the pan.  Their small amount of liquid helped loosen the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  YUM!

I used a yellow bell pepper, (it's what I had), and only 2 onions.  I also used Roma tomatoes, and since they're more firm than other varieties, I didn't seed or peel my tomatoes.  (Really, I just didn't see that instruction.  But, honestly, who has time for that?)  The sauce was probably meant to be a little thicker, but it still tasted fantastic.  If you choose not to seed your tomatoes and want thicker sauce, just plan for it to simmer for an hour or two so it can cook down a bit.

One more thing: Remember when handling the jalapeno that it is spicy.  Don't rub your eyes, touch your face, etc. immediately after cutting it.  I used a strawberry huller to scrape out the seeds from mine and then washed my hands.  There was definitely a slight burning before I washed them!

May 27, 2010

BYU Mint Brownies

A few years ago,my BYU Alumni newsletter announced that the recipe for the famous BYU Mint Brownies was available.  I quickly bookmarked the link so that when I was no longer anywhere near campus, (let alone across the street from the Creamery where I could BUY these wonders), I would still be able to indulge.  Sometime within the past few months, as I was wandering through the baking aisle, I saw peppermint extract and put some in my cart...just in case.  Just in case what?  I don't know.

Yesterday morning, while looking over the recipe I had planned to make for that evening's potluck dinner, (Tex-Mex sheetcake), I realized it called for sweetened condensed milk.  I didn't have sweetened condensed milk--and my day was too busy to go out and get a can--so on to Plan B.  Which, it turned out, was actually Plan BYU.  Apparently, the peppermint extract went into my cart just in case my Plan A dessert fell through and I wanted to try making BYU Mint Brownies.  And try them I did.

Due to our crazy day, we arrived about 25 min. late for the dinner.  Ryan put the brownies on the table and by the time he got his dinner and sat down, 1/4 of the brownies were already gone.  By the time I made it up to the table to grab some, they were half-gone.  And when Ryan went back a minute later to grab a drink, the pan was empty.  Brings back memories of BYU's Women's Conference, doesn't it?

Thank goodness I have the recipe and can make them anytime I want!  Here it is for you--straight from BYU's Alumni website...

BYU Mint Brownies
Makes 9x13 pan (You decide how many servings...)

1 c. margarine
1/2 c. cocoa
2 Tbsp. honey
4 eggs
2 c. sugar
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. chopped walnuts

5 Tbsp. margarine
dash of salt
3 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
2 1/3 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. mint extract
1-2 drops green food coloring

12 oz. chocolate icing (recipe follows)

Melt margarine and mix in cocoa. Allow to cool. Add honey, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add nuts. Pour batter into a greased 9-by-13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool.

Prepare mint icing: Soften margarine. Add salt, corn syrup, and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Add mint extract and food coloring. Mix. Add milk gradually until the consistency is a little thinner than cake frosting.

Spread mint icing over cooled brownies. Place brownies in the freezer for a short time to stiffen the icing. Remove from the freezer and carefully add a layer of chocolate icing.

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Frosting
(From the back of the Hershey's Cocoa container)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

NOTES: I didn't happen to have walnuts, so I added 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips instead.  Nothing wrong with a little more decadence, right?  Also, it says to bake them for 25 min.  Which is exactly what I did.  They came out PRETTY gooey.  I'm not talking prefect-brownie-gooey--I'm talking about "not-quite-cooked-in-the-middle" gooey.  I thought they might firm up a little.  They didn't.  Check them at 25 min., but be careful not to overbake. I didn't mind the gooey-ness, though.  It was like mint brownie batter ice cream, but warm.  YUM!

I didn't add any salt to the mint mixture.  I was using salted butter and figured that included the dash already.

Finally, instead of the milk called for in the frosting recipe, I added chocolate milk.  Again, nothing wrong with a little more decadence.  And, I did need to add more to make it spreadable.

May 26, 2010

Sticky Chicky

Last week, it seemed that I was reaching the end of each day and wondering what to make for dinner.  It wasn't that I didn't have ideas.  I got busy doing something else, (or something came up), and suddenly, Ryan was coming home in 45 min.  And, most of my dinner ideas needed about an hour.  (You know, 30 min., plus time to feed the baby, break up arguments, wipe off the table from lunch, rotate a load of laundry, etc.)  So, I grabbed my Taste of Home magazines and started scanning the index page.  When I got to the May/June 2009 issue, I found a quick and yummy recipe that I actually had all most of the ingredients for.  (And, yes, the picture is one of the worst so far--there is only so much sunlight we get here in WA!)

Sticky Chicky
8 servings

16 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 3 lbs.)
1/2 cup BBQ sauce (use your favorite kind)
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1 Tbl. chili powder
1 Tbl. Dijon mustard
1 Tbl. grated gingerroot
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbl. cornstarch

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray 9x13 in. baking pan with cooking spray.  Arrange chicken thighs in pan in single layer.

In medium bowl, whisk together remaning ingredients except cornstarch.  Pour evenly over chicken.  Turn pieces to coat both sides  Bake, uncovered, for about 40 min. or until chicken is no longer pink in the center.

Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.  Carefully pour sauce into small saucepan.  Bring to boil over med-high heat.  Combine cornstarch with 1 Tbl. water; mix until smooth.  Add to sauce.  Cook until sauce is thickened, about 1 min.  Serve hot chicken with sauce on top.

NOTES:  When I grabbed my Dijon mustard from the fridge, the bottle was pretty much empty.  So, I swapped it for some ground mustard.  And, Ryan is NOT a fan of ginger--so I used a small amount of powdered ginger instead.  Also, I used a mixture of thighs and breasts--and the thighs were much better.  Then again, thighs are my favorte part of the chicken, so I'm probably biased on that one.

May 24, 2010

Hummin' for Hummus: UPDATED!

When I was pregnant with C, one of my frequent craves was hummus with those multi-grain chips from Costco.  A couple of months ago, I started feeling the crave sneaking back in and this time, I decided to make it myself. 

The first batch was, well, alright.  I think the store-bought stuff I had during my pregnancy was much better.  At this point, I decided that experimenting with different flavors might be fun, so I tried sweet potato hummus, black bean hummus, and roasted garlic and rosemary hummus.  While it was also jsut alright, the sweet potato flavor didn't do much for me.  The black bean hummus simply tasted like a creamy bean dip.  And, the roasted garlic and rosemary was good--but certainly not to-die-for.  However, experimenting with these flavors firmed up my position as a hummus purist.  I am a fan of plain jane, garbanzo bean hummus.

So, I searched for a recipe better than the first batch.  I found one on allrecipes that was really quite good.  And then, while gawking at foodgawker a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a recipe for "The Best Hummus You Will Ever Eat" (that's really the title of the recipe) at Edible Moments.  I thought, "Sure. Why not?" and filed it into my internet favorites. 

Well, today, it came out of the "Try It Out" folder...and will head straight into the "Favorite Foods" folder.  This hummus really is the BEST I've ever tasted!  So much tastier than previous recipes and SO much better than purchased hummus.  If you've never tried hummus and even if you have, you need to give this recipe a try!  It will make you hum for hummus.

The Best Hummus You Will Ever Eat
(Adapted from Edible Moments)

3 Tbls cup tahini (sesame paste)
3 Tbls fresh lemon juice
3 Tbls olive oil
2 or 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp hot sauce
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree. Place in bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with paprika.  Serve with multigrain chips, corn chips, pita wedges, and/or chopped veggies.  (Or really, serve with anything you want.  It's GOOD stuff!)

NOTES: I am a fan of garlic, so I tend to add the max amount.  I used 3 LARGE cloves of garlic.  I also added in some extra olive oil (maybe 1/2 Tbls.) and extra lemon juice (maybe 1/2 tsp.) to loosen up the texture a little.  Also, I didn't measure the hot sauce, just splashed some in.

Extras Notes: (July 6, 2010) After playing with this recipe a few times, I updated the amounts of ingredients to reflect the changes I make when I make this hummus.  (I make it a few times a week now...)  That's the beauty of recipes--a few tweaks make them more personal.

May 23, 2010

Peanutty Candy Bars

I have a confession to make.  I love food magazines.  First of all, I love getting fun mail--you know, the things that aren't bills or personalized ads.  And, I love reading magazines.  Magazines have short enough articles that I can usually read them before being interrupted by one of the three littles.  After several years of receiving "Simple and Delicious," some of the recipes started to look the same.  So, I let my subscription end.  I thought I wouldn't miss it.  Turns out that I did.  So, I decided to try "Taste of Home" instead.  While I've really enjoyed receiving the magazine regularly, I haven't used as many of the recipes as I would have liked.  (Chalk up one more reason for this blog.)  So, I've pulled out my back issues and have been trying a little here and a little there.

Thursday afternoon was rainy and dreary.  I needed something fun to do with my girls, so I decided to give this recipe a try.  I figured all the oats had to make it ever so slightly healthy.  We LOVED it--and if you like chocolate and peanut butter, you'll love it too! 

Peanutty Candy Bars
Yeild: 2 Doz.

4 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup plus 2/3 cup peanut butter, divided
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pkg. (11 oz.) butterscotch chips
1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup salted chopped peanuts

In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, butter, 1/2 cup peanut butter, corn syrup, and vanilla.  Press into a greased 9x13 in. pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 12-14 min. or until mixture is bubbly around the edges. 
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt butterscotch and chocolate chips; stir until smooth.  Stir in peanuts and remaining peanut butter; spread over the oat mixture.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before cutting.

NOTES: The note in the magazine says that low-fat or generic brands of peanut butter don't work in this recipe.  I used Adam's Peanut Butter, which is the kind that doesn't have sugar and has to be refrigerated after opening--and, as you can see, mine turned out fine.  Also, I had to make a few substitutions--white sugar for the brown sugar (forgot I didn't have the brown) and peanut butter chips for the butterscotch chips (because that's what I had in my freezer).  I made a 1/2 recipe and put it in an 8x8 pan, which worked just great.

May 19, 2010

Hamburger Supper

Years ago, I received a gift subscription to "Quick Cooking" magazine.  I was newly married and definitely excited to cook for my husband every day!  These days, the shine has worn off a bit, but I kept a few years' worth of Quick Cooking, (which was later changed to Simple and Delicious).  And, I'm glad I did.  Hamburger Supper has become a favorite at our house.  It's one of the few recipes that I have made repeatedly.  It's incredibly easy and very tasty.  Give it a try!

Hamburger Supper
Serves 4

1 lb. ground beef
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 envelope brown gravy mix
1 medium onion, sliced and separated into rings
1 medium carrot, sliced
2 medium potatoes, sliced
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

In large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.  Stir in water, poultry seasoning, and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in gravy mix.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Arrange onion, carrot, and potatoes over beef.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10-15 min., or until vegetables are tender.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Cover and cook 3-5 min. longer or until cheese is melted.

NOTES: It seems I'm always adjusting recipes to deal with something at the last minute.  This recipe is no exception.  I stopped purchasing the individual packets of brown gravy mix a while ago.  Instead, I bought a Costco sized container of it.  (It's great to have on hand.)  I use 3 Tablespoons of mix in this recipe.  Also, if I don't have an onion on hand, I use about 1/3 cup of dehydrated onions and add them with a little extra water when the water is added to the beef.  I was out of onions this time around, so that's why you don't see beautiful rings of onion in the picture.

May 16, 2010

Back in Business

We have successfully made it through our move!  The kitchen has been reassembled and I'm excited to really get cooking again.  I did have a chance to try a few new things, but just didn't take pics.  At this point, I will apologize beforehand for the lack of beautiful pictures.  Sure, there will be pictures--they just may not be amazing.  Watch for recipes to appear this week!