Recipes so good it oughta' be a sin!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

You might be thinking I've abandoned you. I promise I haven't. But, I have been having to moderate my baking quite a bit.

A couple weeks ago I looked around and decided I had to do something to lose some weight and become more active. At 45 I had allowed my bone issues and other health issues to rule my life. Because it hurt to do things I just stopped moving. My life had become baking and eating what I baked (often completely by myself!) I'd put on far too much weight in the past 2 years or so and it was making the other problems I had much worse.

I decided that it was time to cut back on my constant eating and begin to move again. We've joined the local YMCA where I'm enjoying getting reacquainted with many muscles I'd thought I'd forgotten. I'm down over 8 pounds total (3 pounds just last week) and am finding that my back and hips aren't nearly as painful now that I'm using them more.

So, I haven't abandoned the site or my wonderful guests here, but I am having to moderate my baking so I don't tempt myself too much. :) I hope you'll understand and stick with me during the process of getting back to a more healthy weight and level of activity so I too can begin to enjoy all the delicious sweets again.

In the meantime, I'll be sharing some of the delicious things I run across or make that are a bit more "healthy" than our usual rich desserts and dishes. The first of these is a really wonderful tasting smoothie that uses strawberries, bananas, and soy milk. I really fell in love with this one and it was perfect on a very hot afternoon while awaiting an approaching monsoon thunderstorm!

This is only 150 calories per 10 ounce serving and is full of great vitamins and nutrients including 4.7 grams of protein and about 2.4 grams of fiber.

: Strawberry Banana Soy Milk Smoothie
: Delicious smoothie featuring strawberries and bananas with high protein soymilk.

  • 3 cups vanilla soymilk (Silk recommended)
  • 1 cup frozen sliced strawberries
  • 1 medium banana sliced then frozen
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup Splenda (or other no calorie sweetener)
  • 5-6 ice cubes

  1. For the banana, peel and slice into chunks then place in freezer bag and freeze 5-6 hours or overnight.
  2. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and frothy. Serve immediately.
Preparation time: 5 minute(s)
Cooking time:
Diet type: Vegetarian
Diet tags: Low calorie
Number of servings (yield): 3
Culinary tradition: USA (General)
Calories: 150
Fat: 2.5
Protein: 4.7

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Lemon and Coconut Cookies

For the past few days I've been experimenting with some recipes. The first one I tried out was for a lemon cookie topped with meringue. This wasn't my recipe but one suggested from one of those recipe sites. Honestly, I wasn't impressed. I liked the cookie itself with its big bit of lemon flavor. The meringue part left something to be desired, though. It was far too chewy and not in a good way. It just tasted strange. I decided to scrap that recipe.

My next experiment was for a little Brazilian cookie made with what we call Masa Harina de Maiz here in the Southwest. It's the corn flour used to make tortillas and all sorts of other dishes. I have to admit the cookie was interesting. Sort of like eating a really sweet cornbread in a cookie form! However, I had trouble wrapping my mind around people gobbling these up with coffee or dipping them in chocolate. So, I decided to reach out to my sister-in-law, Jan Costa who spends a lot of time with her husband and his family in Rio. Jan assures me the cookie I was attempting is delicious and she loves to get them at the farmer's markets in Rio. I still am not convinced the recipe I had was correct so I'm awaiting the real deal from her mother-in-law's cookbook! We'll revisit after I hear from the kind folks in Rio! (Olá, Cecelia! Obrigado pela ajuda!)

So, in the meantime and while awaiting the start of the Packers vs. Browns, I decided to whip up my own little recipe. I had lemon I wanted to use and also some coconut that I had let dry out thinking I might do an English tea cookie. Seeing both in the pantry I decided to combine them because nothing makes me happier than lemon AND coconut!

This turned out a great little cookie. I love the big hit of lemon flavor that is almost like a lemonade taste in the cookie. Combined with the subtle coconut flavor it is delicious! The use of pulverized coconut in place of some of the flour in this recipe also turns our a really chewy (in a good way) cookie - reminiscent of a coconut macaroon in some ways. I'm going to be hard put not to eat all of these while watching the game and waiting for Michael to get home from work!

: Lemon Coconut Cookies
: A big hit of lemon flavor with a subtle coconut flavor in a chewy cookie.

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs. lemon juice
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup dessicated and ground coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 375° and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add lemon juice, zest, and egg and beat at medium speed just until combined. Add ground coconut, flour, salt and baking powder and mix on low speed until dough comes together.
  3. Place turbinado sugar in shallow bowl. Using a 1.5 tsp. cookie scoop, scoop the dough by into balls. Roll each ball in the sugar and place on cookie sheets. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or just until edges are beginning to brown. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Makes about 3 dozen small cookies.

If you cannot find dessicated and ground coconut in your grocery store or specialty food store it is easy to make. (see note)

NOTE: Take packaged shredded coconut and allow it to dry in a bowl covered loosely with a towel for 24-48 hours (depending on the humidity in your area). Once the coconut has dried place in a blender or food processor and process until the coconut resembles a fine meal or powder.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 10 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 3 Dozen Cookies
Culinary tradition: USA (General)

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Daisy Marble Cake

What do you get when you combine a vanilla angel food cake with an orange sponge cake? Daisy Marble Cake.

This delightful cake features a wonderful vanilla angel food cake swirled with an orange sponge cake. The flavors are wonderfully delicate and the texture is very light an airy. This really brings out the best in both the angel food and sponge cake methods!

Of course, it's a bit labor intensive and I don't recommend doing this cake unless you have a decent stand mixer. Like all angel food and sponge cakes the "leavening" comes from the air beaten into the whites (or whites and yolks). This requires more than a few minutes of beating the egg white and yolks to achieve the desired result. This is not one of those cakes that are quick and easy to do if you have a hand mixer or worse, are trying to whip your eggs with a whisk!

Another caveat when working with this type of cake (or whipped egg whites in general) is making sure you don't get too physical when folding the batter. You're relying on all the air you've whipped into the eggs to make your cake light and fluffy so you don't want to "deflate" your egg whites while folding.

Angel food cakes are baked in ungreased pans so that the batter has something to cling to and doesn't collapse on itself. So, if you're new to this type of cake don't panic when your cake is "stuck" to the pan! To remove an angel food cake you'll simply take your knife and run it around the edge of the cake at a slight angle. Repeat along the center tube of the pan. Then you'll invert your cake as you normally would onto a platter or cake plate. Use your knife to gently pry loose the bottom (now top) of the cake pan (if you have one with a removable bottom). If your pan does not have a removable bottom I strongly suggest using a piece of parchment in the bottom of the tube pan!

: Daisy Marble Cake
: Vanilla Angel Food Cake swirled with Orange Sponge Cake!

  • 1 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups egg whites (about 10-11 eggs), at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. grated orange peel
  • 2 tbls. orange juice
  • 4 beaten egg yolks
  • 2 tbls. sifted cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Sift together 1 cup of flour with 1/2 cup of sugar.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment begin beating egg whites on medium speed. When white begin to become foamy add cream of tartar and salt and increase speed to high. When whites form soft peaks, begin adding 1 cup of sugar gradually until the whites form stiff peaks.
  3. Sift about 1/4 of the flour/sugar mixture over the whites and fold in carefully. Repeat with remaining flour mixture in thirds.
  4. Divide batter into two parts. (Two separate bowls aside from the mixer bowl works best unless you have more than one bowl for your stand mixer.)
  5. Clean mixer bowl and wipe dry. Return to mixer and beat 4 egg yolks, orange peel, and juice until the yolks are pale yellow and "form the ribbon" meaning they are thickened and when a small stream is dropped back into the bowl it takes a moment for it to disappear from the surface.
  6. Fold the egg yolk/orange mixture into one half of the batter along with 2 tablespoons of flour. Into the other half of the batter fold the vanilla extract.
  7. Spoon the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan alternating between the orange batter and the vanilla batter.
  8. Bake at 375° for about 35 minutes or until the cake is browned on top and done. Remove from oven and invert pan. Allow to cool before removing from pan. If desired, glaze with an orange glaze and sprinkle with shredded coconut tinted yellow.
Preparation time: 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 35 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12
Culinary tradition: USA (General)

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Free Dannon Activia Yogurt Coupon

I'll admit that a company that has my favorite "Scream Queen" from my youth promoting yogurt piques my curiosity. I'll also admit I'm not a big yogurt fan but I do use it in cooking quite a bit. Michael, on the other hand, loves yogurt and always has a number of containers in the fridge.

If you've seen the commercials you'll remember that Activia is actually a probiotic infused yogurt. What that means is that there is a live culture in the yogurt called Bifidus Regularis which helps regulate digestion. I've become a big fan of probiotics since my very major surgery a few years ago. After my surgery I began to notice a lot of digestive problems. Nothing much seemed to help until I started taking a probiotic capsule along with a fiber supplement each day. Presto! My digestive system went back to working fairly normally! So, I highly recommend probiotics and if you can get them in a delicious cold treat... so much the better!

Dannon recently decided to provide coupons for free samples of Activia French and Greek Yogurts. The coupons are good on single size yogurts up to $3. All you have to do is visit the link below (Activia's Facebook page) and "like" them. Fill out the little form and receive a coupon for a free Activia Single Serve! What could be easier and more delicious than free yogurt at the height of summer?

Visit the Activia Selects Facebook page to get your FREE coupon now!

The new Activia Selects come in a variety of flavors and textures.

French Selects:
  • Cherry
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Blackberry
  • Vanilla
  • Strawberry
  • Peach
  • Mixed Berry
  • Vanilla
  • Strawberry
  • Blueberry
  • Pomegranate Berry
Fruit on the bottom:
  • Mixed Berry
  • Strawberry

This sponsorship is brought to you by Activia Selects who we have partnered with for this promotion. FREE coupon offer good 8/3 /11 - 8/15/11, up to 1 million coupons, on any Activia Selects Single Serve, up to $3.00. One coupon per household. Offer valid in the U.S only. VOID IN LA, NJ, CA. Coupon valid until 8/15/11. Residents of LA, NJ, CA will be given a '$1 off 3 Activia Selects' coupon.

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