SWASHBUCKLED! (S2E9): Ryan’s Life Hacks for Sweet Abs

What can we say, except…[You’re] Welcome! This week, we celebrate all foods Ryan Haringa, our favorite demi-god amongst men! He sings, he acts, he’s intelligent… Okay, mostly we’re just obsessed withi his perfect abs. Marie got her hands on Ryan’s meal plan, and this week she and Amanda are setting out to get a “Body by Ryan” by cooking the things he eats every day: ground turkey, spinach, bell peppers, and…Peanut M&Ms*?

*Peanut M&Ms not available at Trader Joe’s. Discover the answer to this dilemma and more, by watching now.


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Following a diet plan that called for rock solid abs meant that Amanda’s refrigerator was full of healthy ingredients. Unfortunately, it was stocked with the same items that Marie brought (thus the spite bag reference).

But with most reducing diets, when you deprive yourself and restrict calories, you usually start to crave high fat, high sugar and generally unhealthy foods…which you’ll see in action in this episode. We don’t know how Ryan does it! (must be those daily 6 MnM’s! and One Bars!

Ingredients featured in this week’s episode:

 

Couple notes about the meals we prepared:

  • The zoodles were great. When we make this again, we’ll use a leaner ground turkey. The additional fat adds a great mouthfeel and flavor, but we would use a little extra heart healthy olive oil instead.
  • When you make zoodle bowls, add the zucchini at the very end. The longer they cook, the more fluid they release and turn mushy. We suggest you add the zucchini and parmesan, then turn the burner off. Top with cheese and put in the broiler for a minimal amount of time. The zucchini will soften enough with the other hot foods in the pan and in the oven.
  • We added protein powder to our ice cream. It tasted pretty good, but didn’t last in the freezer. Not because we ate it all, but because it solidified to a point it was inedible. If you choose to do this, we suggest eating within the hour of making or enjoy as a milkshake.

zucchini noodles

Spinach, Bell Pepper & Turkey Zoodle Bake

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe by Amanda Hibshman, RDN

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Ground Turkey
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Enjoya Peppas
  • 1 Bag Spinach
  • Salt and Pepper 1/2 tsp each
  • 1 large or 2 medium zucchini
  • 1/4 cup Roasted Tomato Basil Hummus
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 Quattro formaggio cheese

Directions

  1. Over high heat add ground turkey. Add salt & pepper. Cook through. Remove and set aside. Drain turkey fat. While this is cooking, spiralize zucchini.
  2. In the same pan, add olive oil. Once hot, add in peppers and sauté for a few minutes. Once soft, add spinach and let cook for another minute. Add in hummus.
  3. At the last minute, turn off burner and stir in zucchini noodles and parmesan. Top with Quattro fromaggio cheese and place in the broiler (low) for a few minutes (watch closely).  Remove and top with parsley and serve.


6 mnm ice cream

High Protein Sundae with Exactly 6 Peanut MnMs

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe by Amanda Hibshman, RDN

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup full fat Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 2 Scoops Vanilla Protein Powder
  • 1/3 cup Chocolate Covered Peanuts
  • 6 Mnms
  • Chocolate Syrup

Directions

  1. Combine ice cream and protein powder in a blender and blend on high speed for 30 seconds. Turn on low and add chocolate covered peanuts and mnms.
  2. Transfer to individual bowls and top with chocolate syrup.


 

 

 

 

 

SWASHBUCKLED! S2E3: Sushi-Bagel-Pasta

Since Amanda and Marie are running in the Rock N Roll Marathon and Half (respectively) this weekend, we decided to go all in on the carbs and excessively long and rambling recipe titles. Watch as we try to fuse together one too many cuisines. Will we add SO MANY flavors where it finally works? You’ll have to watch to find out!

 

 


Ingredients featured in this week’s episode:

This might have been the weirdest combination of items we have made in the Fearless Flying Kitchen. But it totally works! Comfort food at its best. Risotto is normally made with a short grain rice, but our risotto is made from a short grain pasta, Orzo! Between the carby-goodness of the Orzo and the flavors of the Miso-Ginger Broth, the base  reminded us of the comfort food of our youth, “Oriental Flavored Top Ramen.”

The completed dish also reminded us of one of our favorite fresh (ie. Heat and Serve) items, Greek Style Chicken with Orzo, Spinach and Feta Cheese. However our version would be called the “Asian Style Salmon with Orzo, Mushrooms, Edamame and Goat Cheese…Oh and A Chutney Of Cucumbers and Lychee”

And speaking of that chutney, it was a great stand alone item and makes a great side dish or topping. We’ll definitely be revisiting that again.

Couple other things about this dish: smoked salmon really was wanting to be a breakfast item, and Marie brought it because it tasted so good with bagels and cream cheese. It had a distinct flavor in the risotto dish (which I want to make again but with a plain baked salmon) that mellowed out a bit once we added the goat cheese.

 

 

Miso Salmon Risotto with Cucumber Lychee Chutney

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderately easy
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Recipe by Amanda Hibshman, RDN

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Orzo
  • 2 Cups Miso Ginger Broth
  • 1 Cup Water
  •  2 Tbsp Butter, divided
  • 1/2 Shallot, minced
  • 1 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 Cup Fresh Edamame
  • 1 package Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Package Smoked Salmon
  • Cucumber-Lychee Chutney
    • 1 Cucumber, peeled and diced
    • 8 Fresh Lychee, peeled and diced, with juices
    • 1 Tbsp Red Onion, Minced
    • 1 tsp Fresh Ginger, grated
    • Zest and Juice from Half a Lime
    • 1/4 tsp Fresh Ground Sea Salt
    • 2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • Toppings: Green Onion, Everything but the Bagel Seasoning, Goat Cheese Crumbles

Directions

  1. Make Cucumber-Lychee Chutney: Combined all ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Refrigerate for a half an hour.
  2. Make Risotto: In a pot, warm up broth and water on medium-low. In another pan, over medium heat, melt 1 tbsp butter in a pan. Sautée shallot and garlic cloves for a few minutes. Add in orzo and cook for another couple minutes to brown a little. Now, you can begin to add a half a cup of warm stock/water until absorbed, then add another half cup, and continue this until all the liquid is absorbed. Make sure the heat is set to medium and you are stirring constantly.
  3. Once all the stock is gone, you can use the same pot to melt 1 more tablespoon of butter and sauté the sliced shiitake mushrooms and fresh edamame over medium-high heat. This won’t take long to cook, you just want the mushrooms to soften and the edamame to warm throughout.
  4. To assemble, place a a quarter of each in a bowl in the following order: orzo risotto, mushroom edamame mixture, smoked salmon (flaked, although see note at the bottom), cucumber-lychee chutney, and then the toppings (green onion, goat cheese and everything but the bagel seasoning).

NOTE (WHAT AMANDA WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY)- Instead of using the smoked salmon, you can bake fresh salmon. To do this, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees, place salmon on baking sheet and rub with olive oil and top with fresh sea salt and pepper. Bake for about 16-18 minutes. This will decrease the smokiness of the salmon, and would be a great flavor to add to the top of the orzo risotto. You probably wouldn’t need to add the goat cheese and bagel seasoning.

 

Copy of Every Summer Has Its Own Story

We made the Blueberry-Lavender Coffee Popsicles by combining 1 cup of Blueberry-Lavender Flavored Almond Beverage with 1 cup Cold Brew (Black) Coffee and 1-2 Tbsp Coffee Syrup (start with one Tbsp and then add a little more if you like it sweeter). This will make about 10 popsicles, with each one containing 12 calories, 3.7g carbs, 3.2g sugar,  and 11mg sodium…not too bad if you are looking for a sweet, summer treat that won’t  break the scale. I mean, it’s basically the same as breathing air…plus a little sugar…

However, these popsicles are a little on the “icy” side. Great flavor though! You can experiment with adding a couple tablespoons of half and half into the mixture, which would no longer make it vegan, but might improve the mouthfeel a tad.

SWASHBUCKLED! (S1E8): Chur-Nugz

Lot’s of ground to cover in our Season One Finale! We start out with a MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT from Trader Joe’s about our day-drinking beverage of choice, and end with a sneak peak at season two. Along the way, we spend three hours (yes, THREE HOURS!) making stoner food, setting off smoke alarms, and getting schooled on Macarons/Macaroons/Macron (oh! and put some food on hold for Heather Forte.)

Read on for the episode breakdown…


Ingredients Featured in This Week’s Episode:

 

We start with a big announcement: Our favorite Lonely Alcoholic White Girl Soda, SIMPLER WINES,  is moving on up. Coming soon to a Trader Joe’s near you is the 375 ml can of Simpler Wines for only $2.99. We are especially excited about the addition of a red blend and chardonnay.

The ingredients this week included the seasonally stocked Green Cabbage (with a reminder to stock up on your raw, seasoned corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day before they sell out!), the versatile Matcha Green Tea Powder (which is a pantry mainstay) and Sriracha Potato Chips, which were stellar on their own (#eatin’chips).

Our friend, Heather Forte (remember her from Episode Five?) always raves about the Chick-Less Nuggets that seem to always be out of stock in her local Trader Joe’s store. Not only did we make a delicious vegetarian meal out of this ingredient, we also did her a solid by putting three bags on hold at her local store.

What to do with all these ingredients?

Tacos, of course. I love Tacos, and could eat them all day and all night. The chick-less nuggets have a mandarin sauce, which I took and combined 2/3 of it with mayonnaise, honey, and adobo sauce, and turned it into a creamy sauce to top our tacos. The other 1/3 was reserved to toss the nuggets in.

Another taco topping was a corn and cabbage cole slaw, tossed with lemon zest, cilantro, honey and olive oil. This also makes a great side salad and will last a few days in the refrigerator.

I had a pot of pinto beans soaking overnight when we began the episode. Trader Joe’s doesn’t sell raw pinto beans, but they do sell raw black beans, which can be prepared this same way. If you don’t have the time to make beans from scratch, you can always use canned beans, but they really don’t compare to a delicious pot of freshly cooked beans.

To take these up a notch, we embraced our inner stoner by combining the sriracha potato chips and the cooked beans in a  blender, and then pan frying them, making Potato Chip Infused Refried Pinto Beans. The best was the addition of crunched potato chips on top. It really completed the dish.

Lastly, we used the MUY BUENO COOKBOOK Recipe for the churro dough, since I have made (and loved) recipes from here in the past. Check out her recipe for the churros we made in this episode. Instead of tossing in just cinnamon and sugar, we used 1 cup of sugar, 2 Tbsp Matcha Green Tea Powder, and 1 Tbsp ground Cinnamon.

I didn’t really execute the churros as well as I had hoped. The dough was too hard, it would have been better to use a mixer, or to follow the time guidelines put forward int he recipe. My piping bag was also clogged, so I ended up making nuggets or snakes, which didn’t have the traditional churro shape. I also admittedly am the worst at deep-frying, so my technique was way off. The idea was great in theory, but the execution just wasn’t there.

Chicken-Less 'Fish' Tacos

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe by Amanda Hibshman, RDN

Ingredients

  • Chicken-Less Nuggets tossed in 1 Tbsp Mandarin Sauce
  • 10 Corn Tortillas
  • Coleslaw:
    • Cabbage – Green
    • Cabbage – purple
    • Corn
    • Cilantro
    • 1 Lime – zest and juice
    • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
    • 1 Tbsp Honey
    • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Sauce
    • 1 Cup Mayonnaise
    • 2 Tbsp Adobo Sauce
    • 2 Tbsp Mandarin Sauce
    • 2 Tbsp Orange Juice

Directions

  1. Grill or microwave corn then remove kernels with a knife. Thinly slice cabbage, chop cilantro. Combine in a bowl with lime zest and juice, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper. Toss well and refrigerate.
  2. Cook Chicken-Less Morsels according to package directions up until mixing with sauce (choice of baking or pan frying). Set aside 1 Tbsp Mandarin sauce to toss chicken-less morsels in after it is finished cooking.
  3. Meanwhile, combine 2 tbsp of the Mandarin sauce with adobo sauce, orange juice and Mayonnaise. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Once everything is ready, heat corn tortillas on a griddle, place 5 Chicken-Less Morsels in the center, top with coleslaw and adobo-mandarin sauce.

Sriracha Potato Chip Infused Pinto Beans

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe by Amanda Hibshman, RDN

Ingredients

  • Dry pinto beans
  • water
  • salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 Garlic Cubes
  • 1 Chicken or Vegetable Boullion Cube
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • Sriracha Potato Chips
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions

  1. Soak beans in water overnight. When ready to make beans, drain water and replace with fresh, and cover with water (about 1 inch above where the beans are). Add salt, bay leaves, garlic, bouillon and diced onion. Bring to a boil and cook for at least an hour, until beans become tender. Add more water and salt as needed.
  2. Normally, I would call it a day and just enjoy my pinto beans, but to take it to he next level, add 2 cups of beans and 1 cup of sriracha potato chips to a blender. Mix on medium for about 45 seconds, until smooth.
  3. Add olive oil to a pan and heat over medium heat. Add blended pinto beans and sauté for about 2 minutes. Turn on low and cover until ready to serve. Top with crunched up potato chips.

FishTacos with Sriracha Chips Refried Beans

SWASHBUCKLED! (S1E6): O Fortuna!

This week, Marie braves the frigid Southern California winter temperatures to bring over four mystery ingredients to the Fearless Flying Kitchen.

Read on for episode breakdown.


Ingredients featured in this week’s episode:

It was a cold week in San Diego, so Marie brought over her favorite comfort food (Windmill Cookies), something tropical (Mango), something actually frozen (Swordfish Steaks) and something spicy to warm you up (Zhoug Sauce).

Let’s start with the ZHOUG SAUCE. Aside from being difficult to pronounce, it is a pretty perfect, versatile dip, that tastes like a cilantro and jalapeño pesto. It has “Yemeni Roots,” which we have concluded means it comes from YEMEN as opposed to having an ingredient that is the actual roots of the illusive yemeni plant.

We thawed our swordfish in a bowl of warm water for about 15 minutes, and then topped it with the Zhoug sauce and baked in the oven. The insert in the swordfish has a ton of cooking options (pan frying, grilling, baking, etc.). We also played with the Zhoug sauce as a veggie dip, with equal parts LOW FAT SOUR CREAM, PLAIN ICELANDIC YOGURT, and ZHOUG SAUCE. It was pretty spicy for a dip, but would be great on a pita with a meatball or falafel.

HI Mango Rice Prep

How pretty is this blend of bell peppers and mango?

Marie admittedly included the MANGO so she could learn how to cut it properly. This seems to be the one fruit and vegetable that I hear the most complaints about cutting. It is fairly easy to peel (with a knife or standard peeler), but then you have a very slippery surface that makes cutting into the awkward hard core pretty dangerous. You could also do the cut-first-peel-second method, but then it makes traditional peeling much more difficult. Some people swear by this “drinking glass” method of peeling mango. Try it and let us know how it works for you!

The flavors in the mango mix really well with the sweet bell peppers to create a tropical take on fried rice. All you need is some microwave rice, rice vinegar, and low sodium soy sauce, and you have a fun and easy weeknight side.

To finish off our meal, we experimented with some Windmill Cookie experiments. The first thought was to make a frozen yogurt. The key here is to only leave the yogurt in the freezer for 1-2 hours, just enough to begin to solidify, but not long enough to freeze completely. One thing we didn’t try (but you can!) is to put this in a popsicle mold, and freeze overnight.

Our favorite application was definitely the chia seed pudding. You could easily cut back on the amount of sugar and windmill cookies (by at least half), and it wouldn’t sacrifice flavor at all. I loved the addition of Chia Seeds for the additional nutritional boost (extra fiber, protein and Omega-3 Fatty Acids).

Windmill Cookies O Fortuna Misheard LyricsAnd lastly, this video wouldn’t be possible without the inspiration of this FABULOUSLY HILARIOUS Misheard Lyrics video for O Fortuna (from Carmina Burana). Marie and I have both performed O Fortuna with our choirs in the past, and think this video is hilarious every time we see it.

Almond Windmill Cookie Dessert Extravaganza

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe by Amanda Hibshman, RDN

Ingredients

  • 15 WINDMILL COOKIES! SALSA COOKIES! (hulk smashed)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Chia Seeds

Directions

  1. Crush mix all the windmill cookies (by hand, food processor, or blender) and combine with the rest of the ingredients in a mixer.
  2. If you are making ice cream, then put in a small container and put in the freezer for 1-2 hours.
  3. If you are making chia seed pudding, then add 1 Tbsp of chia seeds for each 1/2 cup of liquid. Stir well, cover and put in the fridge for at least 20-30 minutes so chia seeds can become gelatinous and thicken.

WindmillCookieExtravaganza

Swordfish Steaks

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: super easy
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Recipe by Amanda Hibshman, RDN

Ingredients

  • 2 Frozen Swordfish Steaks
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil per steak
  • 1-2 tsp Zhoug Sauce per Steak
  • Red Bell Peppers, diced

Directions

  1. Thaw swordfish steaks, either overnight in the refrigerator or in a bowl of warm water. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Once thawed, remove from package and place on a baking sheet.  Top steaks with 1 tsp of Olive Oil and Zhoug sauce (about 1-2 tsp per steak. If you want a subtle flavor, go for 1 tsp. If you like spice, go for 2). Rub the Olive Oil and Zhoug Sauce in a thin layer and top with chopped bell peppers.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from over. Let set for 2-5 minutes and then serve with Mango Fried Rice.

ZhougSwordfish

Mango Fried Rice

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe by Amanda Hibshman, RDN

Ingredients

  • 1 Mango, peeled and diced
  • Half Red Bell Pepper, Diced
  • Half Green Bell Pepper, Diced
  • 1/2 Red Onion, Sliced thin
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Bags Frozen Jasmine Rice, Microwaved
  • 1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 2 Limes, Juice only
  • 1/2 Cup Cilantro, Chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce (plus more to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Peel & dice mango. Dice 1/2 red onion, 1/2 red bell pepper, 1/2 green bell pepper
  2. Over medium high heat, warm Olive Oil. Once hot, add Onion and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Then add Bell Peppers and cook for another 3-5 min. Once Bell Peppers start to soften, add Mango and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat rice in microwave. Once cooked, add to pan (after you’ve added the mangos). Add in Rice Vinegar, Lime Juice, Soy Sauce, salt and pepper. Finish with Cilantro, and give it a good stir, then remove from heat and serve.

MangoFriedRice

White Chocolate, Raisin and Oat Cookies

 

White-Choc-Raisin-Oat-Cookies-MAIN

My mother-in-law’s chocolate chip cookie recipe is something held sacred among her boys.

I, however, can’t ever get them right, even when I follow her recipe down to the most minute details. And trust me, have had lengthy conversations about her exact process, and I still really can’t figure out how she makes them so perfect each time. I have decided to stop beating myself up and attribute my past failures to the loss of 4.5K in elevation. But I still try! And, I tell ya, every time I make them, I always get a lack luster “yeah… they’re…good! But they just aren’t the same…did you change something in the recipe?”

At first…no, I wouldn’t change the recipe. But then after multiple failed attempts, I started to veer off and blaze a new trail.

Side note/Fun fact: I can never stick to a recipe. I always have to add a little this or a little that to make it more *me.* This aspect of my personality drives my other half absolutely bonkers.

Lucky for me, my daughter thinks it is super fun. If it were up to her, we wouldn’t use a recipe (or logic even) for anything we make.

Baking-Kid

Bless her heart, she just loves to be in the kitchen with me.

Most days of the week, my daughter asks if I want to make cookies with her. I know that she is ultimately asking because she is Cookie Monster’s mini-me, but I like to give her the opportunity to help out as much as possible in the kitchen and pass my knowledge on to her as often as I can. It’s a good life skill to have! So we usually make a little something together a few times a week.

Today, I had a container of oat bran staring me in the face (purchased to make Honey Raisin Oat Bran Muffins) My MIL’s chocolate chip recipe calls for oats, so I figured I would start with her recipe as a base and make a few…alterations.

First thing I did was swap out the Old Fashioned variety for Oat Bran.

Now, there isn’t anything wrong with old fashioned oats, it is just a little different than oat bran. Since I am super-pregnant at the moment, I need all the protein and calories I can get, I decided to opt for the bran (and here’s why…)

First, let’s have a closer look at oats:

WholeGrainKernel_WGC_0When oats are harvested, their inedible hull is removed and you have Oat Groats. Groats are made up of three parts: the Bran, Endosperm and Germ  (Click here for more information on those layers). In a nutshell…The BRAN layer is the outside layer, rich in protein, fiber, antioxidants and B-vitamins. The ENDOSPERM is the large middle layer that is rich in starchy carbohydrates, and also contains some protein as well as small amounts of vitamins and minerals. The GERM is the innermost layer that contains lots of healthy fats and b-vitamins as well as some minerals, protein.

Old Fashioned Oats come from a processing technique that steams the oats and then rolls them flat, giving you all three parts of the groat, thus making it a whole grain. Oat Bran is not considered a whole grain, because it is just the nutty outer layer that is full of fiber and protein.

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 2.59.59 PM

Looking at the nutrients side by side, Oat Bran provides significantly more fiber and protein, and has a texture closer to flour, so it works well in baked goods. Not saying one is superior to the other, they are just different.

Getting back to these delicious cookies…

Some other swaps I made were changing half of the flour to 100% White Wheat Flour, substituting honey for part of the sugar, and adding cinnamon.

The result was surprisingly delicious, probably the best luck I have had with this recipe yet!

White Chocolate, Raisin and Oat Cookies

  • Servings: 26 Cookies
  • Difficulty: moderately easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Shortening*
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Cup Oat Bran
  • 1/2 Cup 100% White Wheat Flour
  • 3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup (approx) Raisins
  • 1/2 Cup (approx) White Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter, shortening, sugar, brown sugar and honey in a mixer on medium-high speed for a few minutes, until light and fluffy.
  2. Add egg, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix well.
  3. Add Oat Bran and Flours until combined. Add Raisins and Chocolate Chips according to taste.
  4. Space cookies at least an inch apart on cookie sheet, as they spread. Bake for 10-14 minutes (smaller cookies 10, larger cookies will need more time). With a spatula, transfer to cooling rack and enjoy!

Cookie-Perfection

 

*I really am not a huge fan of shortening, because most contain partially hydrogenated oils (trans fat) and other chemicals that don’t belong anywhere near our bodies. But I do seldom use it in some baked goods because it does create a superior texture for cookies. Trader Joe’s doesn’t have shortening (that I know of), so you can use 1 cup of butter as opposed to part butter/part shortening. OR if you have some lard on hand, try that.  I use All vegetable crisco baking sticks because they have no trans fat (the oil has been fully hydrogenated to saturated fat as opposed to partially hydrogenated to a trans fat), but they still aren’t the best option. I haven’t really found an alternative, so if you have any tips or tricks to replace shortening in cookies – leave a comment below!

Coffee Crunch Bars

Coffee Crunch Bars

The holiday season has begun, and one of my favorite things to do is get in the kitchen and bake cookies and treats. This one is my all-time-favorite. I have begun to incorporate this recipe into my life throughout the year too. Since it contains coffee, it is perfect for late night events or brunches. For instance, it has become my go-to cookie that I bake during tech week.

It also is a PERFECT cookie to serve Santa Claus on Christmas Eve to give him energy as he pulls the ultimate global-all-nighter.

Coffee Crunch Bars Ingredients

Coffee Crunch Bars

  • Servings: 32 (2 cookies per serving)
  • Difficulty: very easy
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Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Instant Coffee (regular or decaf)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Salted Butter (two sticks), softened
  • 6 oz Chocolate Chunks (or chips)
  • optional: Chopped Nuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first five ingredients (dry) in mixer and combine on low. Add vanilla and butter and mix on medium speed until crumbly. Add chocolate chunks and/or nuts and mix until just combined.

Put dough into two 11X7 glass pans (or one large jelly roll pan), and press down. Should be about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (less time if they are thinner, more time if thicker).

Remove from oven, cut into pieces and let cool before removing from pan.

Nutrition Information: – Per 2 Cookies:  130 calories, 1 g protein, 7.5 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 16 g carbohydrate, 0.5 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 80 mg sodium, 15 mg cholesterol, 9 mg caffeine

 

 

Matcha Green Tea Latte Macarons

Green-Tea-Macarons-FFK

This blog is seriously lacking in desserts, isn’t it??

That is really, honestly, and truly, not a reflection on how often I bake and eat desserts though! This last week, I made a Caramel Toffee Crunch Cheesecake (Recipe from Yammie’s Noshery, one of my favorite food blogs) and a Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake (Recipe from The Shortlist) for the San Diego Chapter of the California Dietetic Association‘s Installation Dinner. For some reason, people always find it funny that desserts like these would be served to dietitians, but believe me when I say, that we dietitians like our dessert too! Rich and delicious and decadent, just like every one else. (Probably the only difference, is these two cakes fed about 35 people…It’s all about portion sizes!!!)

Installation Dinner Desserts

Left-Right: Dark Chocolate Gnache Cake, Caramel Toffee Cheesecake and Mint Chocolate Chip Macarons

I also made my first attempt at making French Macarons. I have read a lot of scary stuff about making them: Do you age your egg whites? Use cream of tartar? Get cornstarch-less powdered sugar? Do you have to turn your mixer off and gradually add your granulated sugar?? Do they have to sit overnight??

It seemed a little ridiculous! …and super intimidating.

Until I came across a no-fuss Mint Chocolate Chip Macaron recipe, (again, from Yammie’s Noshery) that seemed easy enough for me to make. And although mine were nowhere nearly as pretty as the pictures on her blog, they tasted delicious. I tried making a few adjustments to my technique, tried swapping out extracts and food coloring to create a little variety. Then watched this amazing youtube tutorial:

I felt like after I watched that video, I could take on the world! So, if you plan on making this recipe, or even a different macaron recipe, I would start with the above video. It gives you a really good visual of what “stiff peaks” looks like, how to fold in ingredients gently, and what the final consistency should be like.

Last shout out on my macaron journey: This super helpful troubleshooting guide to making macarons. I stumbled upon this when I was trying to figure out why my egg whites wouldn’t get to the stiff peak stage, no matter how much I whipped them. The answer was that I had a little bit of egg yolk in with my whites. I was being lazy and in the end, caused way too much more work for myself.

So, going back to the method I have adopted…

Start with either grinding your almonds to make almond meal, which I really know nothing about, OR you could purchase almond meal from Trader Joe’s. This is a versatile product you can use as a gluten free breading, or cut with flour to make lighter and fluffier desserts (perfect for making cake flour out of regular flour). I use 2/3 cup almond flour, but start with probably about 1 cup, (or two heaping scoops with my 1/3 cup measuring cup) and sift it a few times to get the grainy, husk part out of my mix. Then once I am happy with the consistency, I will sift in my powdered sugar and matcha green tea powder. Just keep in mind, you really can’t over sift these ingredients when making macarons.

In the mean time, you want to have pre-heated your oven to somewhere between 280-300. If it is too high, they won’t turn out. The original recipe I followed said 280, but that seemed a little too low for my baking sheet. I have one air bake pan, that needs a higher temperature, and a regular aluminum pan, that 280 is perfect. So, moral of the story, you might need to experiment with your oven temp based on your altitude and baking sheets. If you watch the video above, she really stresses the importance of oven temperature, so listen to her (not me, I am not the expert!)

Stiff Peaks - The Fearless Flying Kitchen

Stiff Peaks Forming

Now, a lot of recipes call for aging your egg whites. If you want to, I am sure you would end up with a better product. But I really don’t have time for that, otherwise, I probably would never make macarons… So I just whip my egg whites straight out of the fridge. Make sure to not get any shell or yolk in there, or you’ll run into problems. Once the egg whites reach the “foamy” stage, you can go ahead and add your sugar. Again, I have encountered many different techniques with adding sugar (some turn off the mixer in-between adding each tablespoon and mixing a little at a time), but I choose the lazy method of just adding all my sugar at once. It works out just fine for me. Continue to mix your egg whites until you get to the stiff peaks stage. This will look a lot like the meringue you see on top of lemon pies. You know you have reached it because when you pull the mixer blade away, a peak will form, and won’t flop back over (which is what would happen if you were still in the “soft peak stage”).

Matcha Green Tea Macarons - Folding ingredients

Folding in ingredients

At this point, you want to add any additional wet ingredients, like food coloring or extracts. I added just a few drops of green food coloring, but you could add more to have a more robust color. Gently fold in these ingredients. The thing with using whipped egg whites as a leavening agent, is you can’t stir it too much, or you will let all the air get out (that you just trapped by whipping them), so less is really more with stirring and folding ingredients into egg whites. Once your additional wet ingredients are incorporated, you can fold in half of your dry ingredients and then once fully mixed, add the rest of the dry ingredients. This is another crucial step, because under-mixed macarons will crack easily, and over-mixed batter will spread out too thin. As I mentioned before, go up and watch the video (specifically, at 4:44), that will give you a great visual of what to look for. I started with undermixing my macarons, and they did have a lot of cracks and broke apart really easily.

Over Done Under Done

Examples of under-done and slightly over-done macarons

Once they are mixed, transfer to a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch-3/4 inch tip, and pipe about 1 inch circles, that are about 1/2 inch apart on the sheet. they won’t really spread like other types of cookies, but they will rise a little. Also, try to make them about the same shape and size, so they can fit together nicely. Once all piped out, hit the baking sheet (rather hard), a few times on the counter. I am told that this will help the cute little macaron feet develop, that are a signature for macarons. I feel like it is a little silly, but I do it any way. Then you just let your macarons rest for about 15-45 minutes, until they have hardened a little bit on the top. You want to be able to touch it with your finger and not have batter come off. Then just pop it in your preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, or until it easily slides off of your parchment paper, but has not started to brown. It is another step that you kind of have to be super careful about.

Chocolate Gnache

Cooled off and ready to get slapped with a big blog of gnache!

Once they are done in the oven, let them cool completely, I transfer them to a wire rack. They cool fairly quickly, so you can go ahead and start making your chocolate gnache filling…which is super easy. I was a little nervous that this wouldn’t turn out, because the chocolate was super super runny when assembling. But after it cooled back down to room temperature (or, fridge-temperature, rather), it was perfect. You just have to be a little careful with assembly, to not put too much on, and not let it spill over the sides (so, don’t squish the sandwiches together too much).

And the best part of this?? You can get all the ingredients you need to make this during your usual trip to TJ’s! No special stops for special ingredients. MAAAAYBE the food coloring, but that is really not necessary. The matcha powder is green and will give a little tint to the cookies, they just won’t be a super dark green.

So, have fun, and enjoy!!

Matcha Green Tea Macaron

Matcha Green Tea Latte Macarons

  • Servings: Approx 30
  • Difficulty: Hard
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Ingredients for Matcha Green Tea MacaronsIngredients:

  • 2/3 Cup Almond Flour (sifted)
  • 1 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar (Sifted)
  • 2 Tbsp Matcha Green Tea Latte Powder
  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 5 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Few Drops Green Food Coloring

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 290 degrees. Line your baking sheets with a silpat or parchment paper.
  2. Sift almond flour, powdered sugar and Matcha green tea powder in a bowl and set aside.
  3. In an electric mixer (with a whisk attachment if available), beat egg whites until they get nice and foamy. Add granulated sugar, one tablespoon at a time and then continue to beat until you reach the stiff peak stage.
  4. Gently fold in vanilla and green food coloring until just barely combined.
  5. Gently fold in half of the dry ingredients, then mix until fully incorporated, then add the rest of the dry ingredients and fold until completely incorporated and it reaches the “lava flow” phase (this just means that it will flow off of a spoon when you raise it up, and then once it falls back into the mixture, it retains its shape, up slowly envelopes back into the mix).
  6. Using a pastry bag with a 1/2-3/4 inch tip, pipe the mix on top your baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between cookies. Make them about 1 inch in diameter. Once all are piped out, hit the pan on the counter a few times. This helps to develop the signature feet. Then let them rest for 15-45 minutes, or until they develop a hard “shell.”
  7. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until they can easily pop off of your baking sheet and have not yet browned.
  8. Let cool completely, then fill with chocolate gnache and sandwich it up!

Chocolate Gnache Filling 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Tbsp Whipping Cream

Directions:

  1. Place Chocolate Chips, Butter and Whipping Cream in a microwave safe dish, and microwave at 50% power for ~ 1-2 minutes, or until completely melted (or if you have a double boiler, you can melt them all together over the stove).
  2. Stir until completely blended together.

Matcha Green Tea Macarons

Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom. Can I eat them? Can I eat them?

Pumpkin French Toast

PUMPKIN-french-toast

The other day, I walked into Trader Joe’s, and for the first time, I felt a little intimidated by the amount of pumpkin items on the shelves. I am a lover of all things pumpkin (well… most things pumpkin) and even I almost thought “they have gone overboard,” but something inside me just couldn’t mutter those words.

Seriously, I love fall: Halloween, Thanksgiving, shopping, crisp and cool air, apple cider, school starting and tourists leaving. The flavor of ‘pumpkin’ just really helps me feel like fall has arrived. Call it ritualistic if you will.

Pumpkin Stash

My Pumpkin Stash

I started with the Pumpkin PopTarts Organic Frosted Toasted Pasteries. They were amazing, but were admittedly an impromptu purchase that should have never ended up in my basket, and only did because I was starving. I am all about moderation, but these little guys have no place on your breakfast plate.

The next thing I purchased was the “Pumpkin Walks into a Bar” bar. I will try just about anything in that line of products because I think the title is just that clever. Fig has been my favorite, but the pumpkin was pretty delicious too. My first experience with this item was when I was coming home from Disneyland on Dapper Day, and was trying to make it back to San Diego before rush hour, so I skipped lunch and only had those bars in my car. They were so delicious, I ate two of them. The next time I had a whole one to myself (once I was properly fed), I felt it was a little too sweet for my liking. However, my 18 month old daughter LOVES these bars and goes nuts for them.

The other fancy item I tried this year was the Pumpkin Cornbread to go with my Black and White Chili. Without sounding like a broken record, I always find the cornbread at trader joe’s to be a little too sweet for my taste buds (and that is saying a lot!! I love sugar!!) and this was no exception. I was also missing out on the giant chunks of corn that come in the normal cornbread. It was delicious, but I think from here on out I would stick to the traditional cornbread mix. I DID however feel inspired to attempt to make pumpkin cornbread cupcakes with Maple Frosting out of this mix, so stay tuned for that.

Truth be told, I am a bit of a purist when it comes to my pumpkin. I much prefer just getting a can of old fashioned pumpkin puree and just adding scoopfuls to my recipes already in rotation. I purchased a can at Trader Joe’s on my last trip, anticipating I would make Taylor Switft’s Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies but ended up doing something different, but just as yummy.

pumpkin spice

If you go onto Pinterest, you’ll see close to a million recipes for Pumpkin French Toast…WELL HERE IS A MILLION AND ONE! But seriously, there is a reason why this is so popular: it is delicious. There are just some foods pumpkin just fits really well into (while there are others, like, say, Pumpkin Spice Pringles, that make me lose my lunch).

Another great part of this: my daughter loved it. But then again, I wasn’t really expecting her to NOT love it, because she is a hoover and eats everything, especially pumpkin spice things.

So, without further adieu, I present you:

Pumpkin French Toast

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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IMG_2674
Ingredients:

  • 3 Slices of Milton’s Multigrain Bread
  • 2 Tbsp Organic Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4-1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Spice
  • Butter
  • Optional: Powdered Sugar and Agave Maple Syrup

IMG_2675Directions:

  1. Beat egg, add pumpkin puree and mix well. Add milk (start with 1/4 cup and if it looks thick, add more. I always try to put in as little milk as possible with my French toast). Finally add in the pumpkin spice (or if you are out, you could just use a mix of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg and if you are trying to emulate the Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice, a pinch of clove too)
  2. GrillingHeat skillet on medium and add a pat of butter to the pan and let melt. I have tried to skip this step before,
    but the French Toast just gets stuck to the skillet, so, just do it and be liberal with the butter. You can always blot some off after.
  3. Dip bread (you can cut it in half if you like) in egg/milk mixture. Make sure each side is fully saturated.
  4. Cook French Toast a few minutes on each side until it starts to brown. Remove from skillet and top with powdered sugar and/or maple syrup.


**CUTE CULINARY ITEM ALERT**

powdered-sugar-spoonI had a little “me” time the other night, and I somehow found myself browsing the aisles of Crate and Barrel (which I could easily drop a couple thousand each time I walk in that store). I went to get a basket for my bathroom, but left with a quiche dish and the most adorable little powdered sugar spoon ever. I couldn’t pass it up, and was truly my inspiration for this post.

Acai-less Bowl with Mixed Berries, Flax, Bananas, Hemp Granola and Honey

Acai-less bowl with mixed berries, ground flax seed, bananas, hemp granola and honey.

The Acai Bowl trend has begun to die down, which means cafes and coffee shops around the country feel comfortable with putting this item on their menu. Now, I personally love me a good acai bowl. I feel like I am doing my body a favor with giving it a whopping dose of antioxidants and fiber…and dessert… all at the same time.

Only thing with preventing me from eating Acai Bowls for every meal:  Acai is an exotic fruit from South America, thus making it a little on the pricey side. Most Acai Bowls I come across are easily $6-8. Also, Trader Joes doesn’t sell frozen Acai…or any acai that I know of. Becasue I love saving money any chance I get, I figured, why not try to re-create my beloved acai bowl with ingredients I purchased from Trader Joes in my fridge?

Challenge Accepted

Image

When you deconstruct an acai bowl, you will notice that most of them follow a similar set-up:

  • Sorbet-type texture base of acai and other fruits. Because Trader Joes doesn’t carry Acai, then neither do I! I did happen to have a bag of frozen mixed berries, which would have to do.  One of the great things about Acai is that it is loaded with antioxidants, but fruits like blueberry, strawberry, raspberry and blackberry are also jam packed with antioxidants, so I didn’t feel like I was being cheated nutritionally.  I also added some Organic Low-Fat Vanilla Yogurt (because I had it on hand…and for a little extra protein) and 1% milk (because it was the only thing on hand aside from water that would work as a liquid do blend the fruit. You could use any dairy or non-dairy based beverage. I am sure coconut milk or almond milk would be delicious). I also added half of a banana to make it just a little bit more delicious (save the other half for the top, see below). Blend it all together in a super blender (Vitamix or Blendtec or Ninja-type of blender) until smooth.
  • A crunchy topping. I normally don’t purchase granola because I just don’t think it makes sense to eat as cereal. Normally, you get a half a cup for 200 calories, and who can REALLY eat just a half a cup of granola for breakfast? Not me. If I have a bowl of granola for breakfast I easily have 1.5 cups, which, with milk, coffee, and fruit, my breakfast is easily over half my days worth of calories. BUT I went against what my dietetics compass was saying and bought some delicious hemp granola, for the sake of deliciousness.  I also always have Bob’s Ground Flaxseed in my fridge (because of the fat content), which I use in my pancakes, so I threw a bit of that on top as well, which helps boost the omega 3 content and add a unique flavor.
  • Diced Fruit. Banana (the other half) diced was all I went with this time, but when I have other fruit on hand, I will add that too. In the past I have also topped with blueberries and diced strawberries…pretty much more of what is on the inside.
  • Extra garnishes that make it taste damn good. I used a hint of shredded coconut and a drizzle of honey. You could probably skip this step, but it would take this from a 9.5 to about a 7…definitely worth the extra calories.

I’m not going to tell you this was the most amazing thing I have made in my vitamix (I’ll save that for another post), but it was pretty close. It is definitely refreshing, and delicious, and cheaper than purchasing an acai bowl from the cafe across the street. Because I was able to customize this too, I am willing to bet mine had a better nutrition profile than those heavy handed versions. Granted it might not have quite “as many antioxidants” as a traditional acai bowl, but I am perfectly fine with the amount I am getting.

Acai-less Bowl with Mixed Berries, Flax, Bananas, Hemp Granola and Honey

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • Acai Less BowlHalf Bag of Frozen Berry Medley
  • 1/3 Cup Organic Vanilla Yogurt
  • 1/3 Cup Milk (or Non-Dairy Beverage of your choice)
  • Half Banana

Blend together in your super blender (Vitamix on High) until smooth, like sorbet. Spoon out into a large bowl.

  • 1/4 Cup photo 2 (8)Hemp Plus Granola
  • 1/2 Tbsp Ground Flax Seed
  • Half Banana, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 Tbsp Shredded Sweetened Coconut
  • Drizzle of Honey

Assemble remainder of ingredients on top of mixed berry puree in order listed and enjoy.