Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Pomegranates are in the superfood category. They have multiple health benefits and we should all be eating them. But did you ever try to open a pomegranate? I did. It's one thing to peel and eat and it's another to try to extract juice. I've tried several different methods and IMHO it's best to just buy the juice. Yes, it's pricey. But think about all the work involved. It's worth it.

POMWonderful has something to say about it:

"POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice is the only pomegranate juice backed by $25 million in medical research. Actually, we are the only pomegranate juice backed by any medical research at all.

There has been a lot of talk lately about the role of pomegranates in promoting heart health, prostate health, and proper erectile function. But while these results are promising, keep in mind that all of the research has been done on POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice. Our juice comes from a unique pomegranate variety (the Wonderful), which is grown in a unique location (California), and which is juiced with proprietary technology (ours!). No other pomegranate juice can claim these distinctions, and no other brand has been clinically tested."

Click on the link above to find out more about POMWonderful's health benefits and to get recipes and other information. Check out the fun videos that will make you laugh. You can even vote for one.

But now, about the contest: POMWonderful is giving away 1 case of six 8 oz. bottles to one lucky winner. Here's all you have to do:

1. Write a blogpost about the contest, mentioning and linking to my blog and mentioning POMWonderful.

2. Send me a post comment stating what you would do with the case of 6 bottles of POMWonderful OR send me an original recipe using POMWonderful.

3. Visit one other blog (not mentioned on my links) and tell them about the contest and my blog, and tell me in your post comment who it was.

Winner will be the most original entry. In case of no original entries, winner will be drawn at random. Deadline for entries is Wednesday, February 4, Midnight.
And here's more good news: POMWonderful may be giving away more freebies later! Let's all get healthy in the new year. Happy blogging. Did I mention that today is my birthday?

Monday, January 26, 2009


A 15-lb. turkey for 4 people for Christmas dinner seemed like a waste. There was no way we could eat it all, and leftovers just don't seem appetizing by the third day. So immediately after dinner, I refrigerated what we would eat the next day and vacuum packed the rest for the freezer. Especially the bones. All the bones (neck, back, breast and legs were vacuum packed with meat and skin attached, in separate bags. And Sunday I took two packages out of the freezer and made this soup. The secret to using bones from a cooked turkey (or chicken) is to not boil the soup. Boiling the soup will toughen the meat. There is a ton of flavor in the bones and skin, and though you might think all the flavor is gone once you roast a turkey, it's not. This soup has to be simmered for the good part of a day, so it's actually perfect for a slow-cooker. But I opted to use my Dutch oven instead, since I can put it on a smooth cooktop surface on very low heat, keeping the soup at a simmer. This soup can feed a crowd or give you several meals. Either way, at this time of the year, with the temperatures in the teens, this is a comfort meal.

Turkey Bones Soup
Source: Judy's Kitchen
Rating: 9 out of 10
INGREDIENTS: 2 tsp. Smart Balance buttery spread
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
Bones, skin and meat from a turkey or chicken
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped carrots
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Noodles or Rice

In Dutch oven, heat the Smart Balance and add the onion. Cook over medium heat till transparent, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and stir for another 30 seconds. Add meat, skin and bones; stir for 2 minutes; add chicken broth and enough water to cover the meat. Add salt, celery, carrots, bay leaves and parsley. Cover and simmer for 5-6 hours, or till meat is very tender and falling off bones. Taste to adjust seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. Remove meat from pot, discarding bones, skin and any fat pieces. Chop or shred meat and return to pot on low heat.

In separate pot, cook noodles or rice of preference according to package directions. Spoon noodles or rice into bowls, topping with soup.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


This is my absolute favorite pizza. It's great for lunch, dinner or snacks. It may sound crazy to have broccoli and olives with raisins, but the flavors are perfect together.
White Pizza with Broccoli, Olives and Raisins
Source: Judy's Kitchen
Rating: 10 out of 10
1-1/2 - 2 cups broccoli flowerets
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried crushed basil, divided use
1/4 tsp. dried crushed oregano, divided use
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Italian 5-cheese blend
3 Tbsp. black olives, chopped
3 Tbsp. raisins, chopped
Dough for 1 12" pizza
Heat oven to 500F. In small bowl combine broccoli, olive oil, salt, pepper, 1/8 tsp. basil and 1/8 tsp. oregano; set aside. In another small bowl, combine cheeses, olives, raisins and remaining 1/8 tsp. of basil and 1/8 tsp. oregano.
Cut out a circle of parchment paper 12" in diameter. Place the paper on a pizza board and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Roll or stretch out pizza dough to fit the circle. Drop the cheese mixture over the top of the dough and spread it out with a spoon. Place broccoli on top of cheese and sprinkle with the chopped garlic.
Bake 8-12 minutes, or until edges are golden, filling is bubbly and center is cooked.
Remove pizza from oven with pizza board -- just gently pull on edge of pizza to move it onto board.
Pull out parchment paper from underneath pizza before cutting with pizza wheel.
Parchment paper may be reused several times.
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over servings, if desired.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Here's a quick, easy pizza dough crust from Robbie's Recipes that got nothing but rave reviews on the website. I started this dough at 4:30 pm and was eating pizza by 5:30 pm! How's that for fast? It's not my favorite pizza dough recipe, but for a last-minute dough, it's not bad, either. You can make it by hand or with a mixer. Since I have a 475 watt KitchenAid mixer, I opted to go modern.
Whole Wheat Thin Crust Pizza Dough
Adapted from Robbie's Recipes
Rating: 7 out of 10
INGREDIENTS: .25 oz. pkt. active dry yeast
1/4 tsp. granulated sugar (I used honey)
3/4 cup 110-degree water (It should feel comfortable on the inside of your wrist.)
1-3/4 cups white whole wheat flour (orig. recipe calls for all-purpose flour.)
1/2 tsp. salt (I used sea salt.)
1 tsp. olive oil (my addition)
toppings and sauce of your choice
Dissolve yeast and sugar (or honey) in water; allow to rest for 8 minutes.
Combine flour and salt in large bowl.
Pour yeast mixture over flour mixture and mix well with heavy spoon (or mixer or dough hook.)
Turn dough onto floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.
Working from edges to centr, press dough into 12" circle.
Place dough on lightly greased pizza pan and stretch dough to edges.
Spread sauce over crust and top with cheese and desired toppings.
Bake in 500F oven 8-12 minutes, or till edges are golden.


I'm a blog-hopper like so many others. One of the blogs I hop to weekly is Baking Bites, where I found this recipe, the brainchild of Baking Bites blogger Nicole. The concept of using streusel as an ingredient in, rather than on, a baked good is not new. But how do you bake streusel in a cookie or in a pancake? Nicole has the answer: bake the streusel by itself first. Baking the streusel solidifies it so that it can be mixed into the cookie (or pancake) batter without "losing" it.
But I do have a caveat -- think about what you would like to add to this cookie. I made the recipe as Nicole offered it, only subbing whole wheat flour and Smart Balance 50/50 butter blend in the streusel and subbing some stevia for part of the sugar in the cookie dough. The cookies tasted good, but something was missing. What was it? I conjectured on butterscotch morsels, chocolate chips, raisins, or more sugar in the streusel. I thought of adding a drizzle as you would for a coffee cake, but decided the mix-ins are an easier alternative. These options have been added to the recipe below, and I think the results will be a sweeter and more satisfying cookie. You really should try this recipe, just once. I think you'll like the crunchiness and unique texture, especially if you incorporate my changes.

Oatmeal Streusel Cookies
Adapted 1/2 Batch from
Rating: 8 out of 10
Streusel Topping:
1/4 cup Smart Balance 50/50 blend
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In medium microwaveable bowl, melt Smart Balance on high, about 45 seconds. Stir in all remaining streusel ingredients and blend with fork till mixture is like wet sand. Grab handfuls of mixture and press together into clumps. Drop gently onto baking sheet. Bake 15-18 minutes, or until firm and golden. Let streusel cool while preparing cookie dough, or store in airtight container after cooled.

Oatmeal Cookie:
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar (I used 1/4 cup sugar + 1-1/2 tsp. stevia)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups quick (not instant) oats
3/4 cup butterscotch chips, raisins or chocolate chips, or combo
3/4 cup streusel (I didn't measure - I just used all the streusel above)
Heat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in small bowl. In large bowl, by hand or using electric mixer on low speed, cream butter and sugars till smooth. (Don't overbeat, or your cookies will fall after they come out of the oven. Overbeating heats the butter. I mix all my cookies by hand to avoid the possibility of overbeating.) Add egg and beat again till it is incorpoprated. Stir in vanilla, followed by flour mixture. Stir till flour is incorporated. Stir in oats, chips (and/or raisins) and streusel. (If any streusel pieces seem to large, break them before mixing in.) Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto prepared baking sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes, until cookies are light gold around the edges. (I insert a toothpick near center of cookie -- when it returns almost clean, cookie is done.) Transfer to wire rack to cool. Yield: 20 cookies


Saturday night we had Snow Crab Legs for dinner. I love how easy they are to prepare. Just put the thawed crab legs in a pan; sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning lightly; add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan; cover completely with tinfoil and bake at 400F for about 10-15 minutes, or till everything is steaming. The crab legs are already precooked, so all you are doing is heating them up. Serve them with melted Smart Balance mixed with freshly squeezed lemon juice. We had a mixed green salad and garlic bread as accompaniments. There were two clusters of crab legs left over, so on Sunday, I made a crab pasta salad with the leftovers. This is my own recipe, and one that gets rave reviews here. You can make it with half shrimp, half crab, all shrimp or all crab.

I know people who won't even try Snow Crab Legs because they say they don't know how to open them to get the meat out. But it's really not hard. You'll need a serrated knife, nutcracker and pick. The claws are best opened with a nutcracker. But the legs are best opened with a serrated knife. Using a sawing motion, cut about midway through one leg section, but only cut the shell -- don't cut all the way through. Holding the leg with one hand on each end, bend it until the shell breaks. Slowly pull the shell off to expose the meat. Any meat that gets stuck in the shell can be removed with the pick.
The two crab clusters yielded enough crabmeat to make this salad for Guy with some left over to sprinkle on a tossed salad for me.

Seafood Pasta Salad
Source: Judy's Kitchen
Rating: 9 out of 10

1 cup medium shell pasta, uncooked
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 oz. Neufchatel cheese, softened
1/4 cup lite mayonnaise (I used Duke's Lite)
1/4 tsp. mustard
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
pinch of sea salt
dash of black pepper
1/4 cup finely grated carrots
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. fat-free half and half
1 cup seafood (any combination of crab and/or and shrimp)

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water per package directions; drain; cool slightly; toss with the EVOO; set aside to cool completely.
In medium bowl, combine cheese, mayo and mustard, mixing till well combined. Add lemon juice, salt, pepper, carrots, celery, onions, parsley and half and half and mix well. Stir in seafood and pasta. Refrigerate. Yield: 2-4 servings

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


New Bern has two fish markets, but I rarely get to either of them. Instead, I look for fresh fish at our local Harris Teeter store. Last week, while ogling all the fish, I asked when the whole flounder arrived. "Today," was the answer. Yup. That's for me. It was still whole, but Guy has a fillet knife and he wasted no time skinning and filleting the beautiful fish. We got two big fillets and two small fillets. I made the two big fillets for dinner and froze the two small ones for next week. It was a bargain for a total price of $10.59. And it was fresh. Not a bit of fishy taste at all. It was delicate and mild the way flounder should be.
Finally, something Guy and I agree on: we both like our flounder plain and simple. In warmer weather we grill it in tinfoil outside. But last week we wanted the oven on, so I preheated the oven to 400F, and placed the fish (patted dry with paper towels on a baking dish that had been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. I sprinkled it with about 1 tsp. lemon juice, then very lightly with sea salt, smoked paprika and chopped fresh parsley. A few dots of Smart Balance buttery spread (or butter) on each fillet and in the oven it went for about 20 minutes. This was so easy and so good. Nothing exotic here, but the taste was superb and we were both so happy. As long as the oven was on, I threw in some broccoli, pea pods and onions and some fingerling potatoes. Actually the fingerlings went in about 10 minutes ahead to give them enough time. They got a shot of EVOO and some salt and pepper, same as the broccoli, etc. When the broccoli, etc., came out, I gave it a dose of lemon-garlic vinaigrette. If you think of fish as a torture meal, this one would change your mind. It was a meal fit for a king.

Monday, January 19, 2009


They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Well, ripe bananas are the mother of a new banana recipe. I used a 4-1/2 star recipe from as a starting point and added bananas, butterscotch morsels, toasted walnuts and pecans, raisins, vanilla and a crumb topping. I subbed white whole wheat flour for all-purpose, took out all but 1 Tbsp. of the oil, and subbed stevia for half of the sugar.
I made half of the muffins with raisins and half with the butterscotch morsels and I really can't say which I like better, because all these flavors just blend so beautifully. But let me tell you upfront -- if you are looking for a fast, easy recipe, this is not it. There are a few steps involved and there are a lot of ingredients. The end result is worth it.
These muffins are moist, tender, flavorful, and just sweet enough. The crumb topping is crunchy and sweet and makes a nice intro to the muffin. These are high on my list, and I think they will be on yours too. There is one thing I would do differently next time, though: Instead of baking these for 14 minutes at 400F, I would heat the oven to 400F, put the muffins in, and immediately reduce the heat to 325F. They will probably take 16-20 minutes to bake, but the butterscotch morsels probably won't burn, as they did with these. Nothing got damaged, though, these are still a top-flight muffin. Another thing that would help is if you press the morsels into the tops of the muffins before sprinkling on the crumb topping. The morsels won't be quite as exposed then. So I've written those changes into the instructions below, and I encourage you to try these delicious treats soon, when you're in the baking mood and when you have some ripe bananas.
Banana-Nut-Scotchie Muffins
Adapted from
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp. quick oats
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup butterscotch morsels
MUFFIN: 1 cup quick (not instant) oats
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup toasted, chopped or broken walnuts, pecans or a combo of both
1/2 cup butterscotch morsels, OR 1/2 cup raisins or combo of both (1/4 cup of each)
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. oil
1/2 cup sugar (or 1/4 cup sugar + 1-1/2 tsp. Stevia)
1/2 tsp. molasses
1 large banana (about 1/2 cup) mashed
In large bowl, combine oats and buttermilk; set aside. If using raisins, in small microwaveable cup or bowl, heat 1/3 cup water to almost boiling; add raisins; set aside.
Prepare topping: In small microwaveable bowl, melt butter. Add remaining topping ingredients, except morsels. Stir with fork till combined; set aside.
Prepare muffins: Heat oven to 400F. Spray 11 muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray; place a few Tbsp. of water in the last remaining cup (to keep the empty cup from warping).
In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nuts. If using morsels, add them in.
Add egg, vanilla, oil, sugar, molasses and banana to the buttermilk-oatmeal mixture and mix well. Drain the raisins and add them and 2 Tbsp. raisin water. Now pour all of this over the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon or spatula just till mixed. Fill muffin cups almost full. Press the remaining 1/3 cup morsels into tops of muffins, dividing equally among the 11. Sprinkle crumb topping over morsels, pressing in slightly (use about 2 tsp./muffin). Place muffins in oven and immediately reduce heat to 325F. Bake 16-20 muffins, or till toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely. Serve warm. Yield: 11 muffins, standard size

Thursday, January 15, 2009


My plans were to cut this pork tenderloin open and stuff it with caramelized onions. But I got lazy. Instead, I made a simple but delicious vinaigrette and marinated the meat for about 7 hours. It's freezing cold and raining outside, but I didn't feel like turning the oven on. Instead, I grilled this on our gas grill along with a sweet potato for me and two baby creamer potatoes for Guy. He had a salad of lettuce, onions and olives, and I had broccoli and pea pods. Well, at least we ate the same meat and drank the same wine (Greg Norman 2006 Shiraz which was awful and we'll never buy again). I love pork tenderloin on the grill. It cooks fast (about 20-25 minutes), it's tender and juicy, and the marinade gives it such nice flavor. The leftovers are great sliced thin for a sandwich the next day. The vinaigrette can also be used as a sauce for the cooked meat, but we always opt to eat our meat plain.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette
Source: Relish Magazine
Rating: 9 out of 10
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1-1/2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1-1/2 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, grated or minced
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. lite soy sauce
1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 (1 to 1-1/2 lb.) pork tenderloin
Combine all marinade ingredients in resealable plastic bag; close bag; massage to distribute evenly. Remove some of the marinade to use as vinaigrette, if desired. Add tenderloin to bag; reseal; refrigerate for 1/2 hour or up to 24 hours.
Prepare the grill. (Temperature should be 400-425F; and it's best to turn the burner off that you'll be cooking on, allowing the other burner(s) to provide indirect heat.) Remove pork from bag; discard marinade. Grill pork 20-25 minutes, turning 2-3 times, until an instant-read thermometer registers 160F. Transfer pork to cutting board and let stand 5-10 minutes before slicing. Yield: 2 servings

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I found this recipe on the Quaker Oats website. It was their 8th Annual Grand Prize Winner, so I figured it had to be good.  I followed the recipe pretty closely -- only subbing white whole wheat flour and adding walnuts to the topping; and adding vanilla to the muffin. These muffins are amazing. Thanks to the oats, they're light; and the buttermilk, oil and honey provide moistness, tenderness and exceptional flavor. Sometimes honey can overpower other ingredients, and I was out of mild clover honey. All I had was raw mountain honey. But the finished muffin tastes wonderful -- the honey is not the predominant taste at all.  The topping is interesting -- the little cocoa balls that form when you mix the topping become crunchy nuggets of chocolate when baked; and, along with the walnuts, are your first introduction to this muffin. Then your teeth sink into the moist and delicate crumb inside and the warm, melted chocolate chips. By all means, try this recipe soon. You'll be
glad you did.

Prize Winning Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins with Chocolate Streusel
Adapted from
Rating: 10 out of 10

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup broken raw walnuts
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick oats, uncooked
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg

Heat oven to 400F. Spray 12 muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray.
For streusel, combine sugar, whole wheat flour, cocoa and melted butter in small bowl. Stir with fork till all particles are moistened. Little cocoa balls will form from part of the mixture. Stir in the walnuts; set aside.
For muffins, in large bowl, stir together all-purpose flour, oats, chocolate chips, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, honey, oil, vanilla and egg, beating till well combined. Add to dry ingredients all at once; stir with spoon or spatula just till dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix.
Fill muffin cups almost full. Sprinkle with reserved streusel, pressing it in gently. Place muffins in oven and immediately reduce heat to 325F. Bake 20-22 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to finish cooling. Serve warm. Yield: 12 standard-size muffins
Note: If you don't have buttermilk, you can substitute 2/3 cup milk blended with 2 tsp. white or cider vinegar.

Monday, January 12, 2009


This recipe, from, was rated 4 out of 5 by 25 members. One of the criticisms was not enough flavor. So I more than doubled the spice, and added some salt and raisins. I subbed whole wheat flour for all-purpose, some stevia for part of the sugar, and Smart Balance 50/50 butter blend for the butter. I had some candied sweet potatoes left from Christmas (yes, I made these Christmas week) so I subbed those for part of the pumpkin.

These muffins are moist and full of spicy pumpkin flavor. Raisins and nuts amp up the texture and add some complex flavors to this muffin. However, my addition of pumpkin seeds on the top left me cold. I've seen several recipes on the internet that used pumpkin seeds as a topping, so I thought I'd try it. But my homemade dried pumpkin seeds didn't work for me. I should have roasted them first to get rid of the chewiness. Pumpkin seeds aside, this is a great recipe, one that I would gladly make again. You can find the recipe on, where you can make the recipe any size you want by changing the # of servings in the box and clicking "calculate." Be aware, though, that calculations on this recipe are off substantially. The recipe, as written below, is supposed to yield 12 muffins, but only yielded 6 standard size and 6 minis.

Pumpkin Raisin Nut Muffins
Adapted from
Rating: 8 out of 10

1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. allspice
2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. Smart Balance 50/50 butter blend or butter
1/2 cup white sugar (I used 1/4 cup sugar + 1-1/2 tsp. stevia)
2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. buttermilk
1-1/2 tsp molasses
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned pumpkin (I used 1/2 cup fresh-roasted pumpkin + 1/4 cup leftover glazed sweet potatoes)
1/4 cup toasted broken pecans or walnuts
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

In small cup, microwave the OJ till very hot; add raisins and let steep while preparing muffin batter.

Preheat oven to 400F. Spray with non-stick cooking spray a 6-cup muffin tin and 6 cups of a mini muffin tin; set aside.

In small bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices till thoroughly mixed. In large bowl, microwave SB till almost melted. Whisk in sugar, buttermilk, molasses, egg, vanilla and pumpkin, beating till well combined and smooth. Stir in dry ingredients with spoon or spatula, just till barely combined. Do not overmix.

Drain raisins, discarding OJ; toss walnuts & raisins in 1 Tbsp. AP flour. Fold into batter lightly. Fill standard muffin cups with about 1/4 cup batter; divided remaining batter evenly among 6 mini muffin cups. If desired, top muffins with roasted pumpkin seeds or more broken nuts, untoasted of course.

Bake muffins 9 minutes at 400F; reduce heat to 325F. Bake minis for 3 more minutes, standards for 5 more minutes, or till toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs. Cool in pans about 3 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to finish cooling. Serve warm or room temperature. Yield: 6 standard, 6 mini muffins.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Every Wednesday, I look forward to reading our local newspaper's food section. Most of the time, I'm disappointed with the recipes listed. But, occasionally, I find a gem. This recipe, posted in November, originated from EatingWell magazine.

I had 1 egg white left over from something I made, and this recipe was perfect for using it-- that is, after I cut it to 1/3. (The original recipe called for 3 egg whites. ) You're going to need your kitchen scale for this one, (to weigh the chocolate and nuts) and the recipe as I've adapted it only makes 9 cookies. (I've printed the full recipe below.)

These babies rock! Thanks to the nuts, they're nicely chewy on the inside, with just enough chocolate to satisfy your chocolate craving. They're sweet, but don't hurt your teeth. I didn't have the cocoa nibs called for but I didn't miss them. It's not often you find a satisfying low-fat cookie, so this is one to put in your recipe bank.

Lava Rocks
Adapted 1/3 Batch from Eating Well Magazine
Rating: 10 out of 10

INGREDIENTS: 3/4 cup 10X (powdered) sugar
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's)
2 tsp. all-purpose flour
pinch of sea salt
1 large egg white, room temperature
1/4 tsp. vanilla paste (or pure vanilla extract)
2.3 oz. pecans, well chopped and toasted
1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, grated

Preheat oven to 325F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine sugar, cocoa, flour and salt. Beat in the egg white using low speed of electric mixer. Add vanilla and beat for 1-1/2 minutes on high, scraping sides of bowl. Fold in pecans & chocolate. Spoon dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets, about 2" apart. Bake till dry and glossy on surface, but soft at centers when pressed, 15-17 minutes. Cool cookies in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Yield: 9 cookies.

Here's the full recipe:
2-1/4 cups 10X sugar
6 Tbsp. cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. flour
Generous pinch salt
3 egg whites
3/4 tsp. vanilla paste or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
7 oz. pecans (about 2 cups)
1-1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate
4 tsp. cocoa nibs (I omitted)

Thursday, January 8, 2009


My freezer is still loaded with blueberries and raspberries and I decided to use them for this pie. Frozen berries can be runny in a pie, but my trick was to use tapioca. It's great for fruit fillings -- firming up the juice with no runs. I had leftover crumb topping and pie dough in my freezer, and I used that too.

The bland crumb topping blends perfectly with the tart sweetness of the fruits. Lemon and orange flavorings complement the berries nicely without overpowering -- in fact you'd be hard pressed to tell someone what flavors are in this pie, because what you taste are the berries. Even the cinnamon and nutmeg work behind the scenes to draw your attention to the stars: blueberries and raspberries.

Blueberry-Raspberry Crumb Pie
Source: Judy's Kitchen
Rating: 9 out of 10
2.Crumb Topping:
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. quick oats
pinch sea salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. molasses
1 Tbsp. SB 50/50 Butter Blend

Combine all ingredients in bowl of food processor; pulse till mixture is like pebbles. Refrigerate till ready to use.

3. Pie Filling:
3 cups blueberries
1 cup raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup instant tapioca
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1/4 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. frozen orange juice concentrate
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
big pinch fresh grated nutmeg
2 Tbsp. Smart Balance buttery spread

Preheat oven to 400F. In large bowl, combine fruits, sugar, tapioca and flavorings, stirring well to combine. Let sit for 15-20 minutes. Fill pie crust. Dot with Smart Balance. Cover with crumb topping. Place pie in oven and immediately reduce heat to 350F. Bake 40-45 minutes, or till pie begins to bubble and crust browns. Transfer to wire rack to cool before serving. Yield: 8 servings.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


This is an easy side dish that we love. Well, I partly love it. I don't eat raw onions, so I just eat the cucumbers from this salad. But, interestingly, the onions flavor the cucumbers when they marinate together, and that part I really like. Sometimes I add coarsely chopped green pepper and/or minced jalapeno pepper, and sometimes I add a teaspoon of honey.
This salad will taste best if you make it ahead and let it marinate a while in the vinegar dressing. There aren't many ingredients, there's no long to do list -- sometimes simple is nice.
Cucumber-Onion Salad
Source: Judy's Kitchen
Rating: 9 out of 10
1 large cucumber, peeled & sliced
1 small sweet onion, peeled, sliced and slices quartered
1/2 tsp. - 1 tsp. sea salt (to taste)
1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Optional additions: 1 tsp. honey
1 cup coarsely chopped green pepper
1 Tbsp. minced serrano or jalapeno pepper
Place all ingredients in medium bowl and toss to combine. Let sit on counter or in fridge for several hours before serving. If placing in fridge, bring to room temperature before serving.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Just take my word for it: this is my new favorite candied sweet potato recipe, and everyone who ate Christmas dinner at our house agreed. Two thumbs up -- way up -- from everyone, including me. I like the way they are cut -- you can have as little or as much as you want. If you don't want to deal with a half potato, just take a little wedge. They were super easy -- no pre-cooking of the potatoes -- you save a step and also miss having to wash a pot. This is a one-shot deal. Right up my alley. I'll be making these again and often.

Glazed Sweet Potatoes
Source: Food Network
Rating: 10 out of 10

INGREDIENTS: 4 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup brown sugar (I cut the sugar from 1/2 cup)
3 Tbsp. maple syrup (use the real stuff, please)
1 Tbsp. orange juice concentrate (my addition)
2 big pinches fresh grated nutmeg
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, halved, each half cut into 4 lengthwise wedges

Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place all ingredients in baking dish; cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes, or till yams are tender when pierced with a fork but still hold their shape. Don't overbake or you'll have mushy potatoes. Yield: 6-8 servings

Monday, January 5, 2009


It's a little late to be posting about Christmas dinner, but that's how far behind I am in my posts. There were only 4 of us this year: Guy, me, our son and a friend who recently lost his wife. So there's really no reason not to have good photos, except that, as I've explained before, photography is just not my thing. Here is my one lone photo of the stuffing, which tastes awesome, BTW. It's long been our favorite stuffing in this house. I use it for roast chicken and turkey and it also makes a great side dish anytime of the year. You can jazz it up with dried cranberries, raisins or cherries, none of which my fussy hubby will eat, so we have it plain. It's so good plain that I really don't miss any extras. I usually make it with mushrooms, but my son doesn't eat mushrooms, so we really had it plain this year, and it was still amazing. Everyone had seconds.

Our menu for Christmas dinner was roast turkey and gravy, ala Emeril; German Potato Stuffing; a new and easy recipe for candied sweet potatoes which will follow shortly; cucumber salad, recipe also to follow; homemade cranberry-apple sauce; crudites sans dip (celery, carrots, olives, radishes); and Pillsbury Crescent rolls. For dessert, we had Blueberry crumb pie, recipe to follow shortly.

I've made German Potato Stuffing from scratch many times; but in recent years I've taken a shortcut and used Peppridge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing Mix. I like the mix of white and wheat breads, and the mix is seasoned perfectly. Peppridge Farm is quality, so I don't mind subbing with their products. The job of making this stuffing gets cut in half with their stuffing mix. This is one recipe you should try, because it's super good and will get you rave reviews.

German Potato Stuffing (for a 15 lb. turkey)
Source: Judy's Kitchen
Rating: 10 out of 10
2 medium potatoes
4 Tbsp. (half stick) unsalted butter
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
optional but good: 1 cup sliced mushrooms
optional: 1/2 cup raisins, craisins or dried cherries
1-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups Peppridge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing

Peel and quarter potatoes and boil in salted water to cover till tender. Drain; mash with fork; set aside. In very large saute pan or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add celery, onion and mushrooms (if using) and cook about 5-6 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and dried fruit if using. Pour broth over veggies and stir, loosening any bits on bottom of pan. Bring to a boil; off heat; stir mashed potatoes and stuffing mix into broth mixture till combined. Remove from heat and set aside to thoroughly cool if using to stuff bird.  (Or place in buttered covered casserole dish if baking separately from bird.)

Note: You can also use leftover mashed potatoes to make this fabulous stuffing, but I prefer fresh mashed with no butter or milk added. It's nice to have little lumps of potatoes in the stuffing. And, if you use red potatoes with the skin, the bits of skin add fiber and minerals as well as texture to the stuffing.

Friday, January 2, 2009


This is my from-scratch version of my prize-winning recipe. I'm not gloating -- I still can't believe that such a non-creative recipe won anything.
I'm not a big fan of boxed mixes. Yes, they're convenient, but they also contain ingredients that I don't want to eat. Even graham crackers contain partially hydrogenated ingredients, so I try to avoid those, too. And you won't miss them in this flavorful crust.
My drizzles were a bit thick -- I was in too much of a hurry to finish -- but they tasted great.
This recipe will work in a 9x12 pan; but I used an 8x8 pan (which has been eaten) and two 4-1/2" springform pans (which were frozen).
Pumpkin Streusel Cheesecake Squares (From-Scratch Version)
Source: Judy's Kitchen
Crust: 1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 cup broken gingersnaps (I used my homemade gingersnaps.)
1 cup flour (I used King Arthur white whole wheat)
1/3 cup pecans
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter diced
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9x12 pan with parchment paper that hangs a bit over the short sides.
Place all ingredients except butter in work bowl of food processor. Pulse to combine with 2 quick pulses. Add butter and pulse in quick, short motions until butter is worked in but still visible. Reserve 1 cup of mixture for topping; press remaining on bottom of pan. Bake about 10 minutes, or till mixture is set and starting to brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Filling: 1 cup pumpkin, canned or fresh roasted (I used roasted butternut squash that I had frozen)
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 Tbsp. rum
2 (8-oz) pkgs. Neufchatel cheese
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
AdditionalTopping: Purchased or homemade caramel sauce
Purchased or homemade chocolate sauce
In small saucepan, cook pumpkin, sugar, and spice over medium heat till sputtering, stirring often. Continue to cook till excess liquids evaporate. (The entire process should only take about 5 minutes, depending on which kind of squash you use -- canned pumpkin tends to have less liquid than fresh and will not take as long.) Transfer pumpkin mixture to work bowl of food processor. Add rum and cheese and pulse till combined and smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, pulsing till combined after each. Add flour and cream and pulse just till combined. Pour mixture over crust; sprinkle with reserved topping and bake 35-40 minutes, or till center is set. Cool on wire rack completely, then refrigerate several hours or overnight. Before serving, drizzle with chocolate and caramel sauces. Yield: 24 servings