SWASHBUCKLED! (S2E7): FFK Goes Hollywood

This week, Marie and Amanda get the star treatment with the addition of Sound Engineer Jacob! While he introduces us to a higher level of technology, we introduce him to… you guessed it… Simpler Wines! Will our dinner taste better now that we have a bigger microphone? Can a beer-loving Hufflepuff truly appreciate canned wine the way that we do? And what’s all the Happy Dancing for? Be sure to watch to find out!


Ingredients Featured in This Week’s Episode:

We decided that the Pub Cheese tastes kind of like an adult handy-snack. On its own, it is kind of like cheese whiz, but is actually pretty good with honey whole wheat pretzels. Amanda decided to use it in place of ricotta cheese and replaced mozzarella cheese with Mexican cheese. The tomato sauce was more of a chili, and thus was born the southwest take on Eggplant Parmesan.

Eggplant Chili Stacks

Eggplant Chili Stacks

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderately easy
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Recipe by Amanda Hibshman, RDN

Ingredients

  • 1 Eggplant, peeled and sliced
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 cup maseca
  • 1 cup Italian Style Breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable Oil
  • 1 lb 96/4 Lean Ground Beef
  • 1/2 Package Soy Chorizo
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 15 oz Can Tomato Sauce
  • Pub Cheese
  • Mexican Cheese
  • Toppings: Guacamole and Sour Cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Peel and slice eggplant. Beat eggs in one bowl. In another, combine maseca and bread crumbs. Get vegetable oil in a large skillet and turn on medium-high. Once oil is hot, drudge each slice of eggplant in eggs, then maseca/breadcrumb mixture, and cook in hot oil until brown on each side. Remove eggplant and place on a paper towel to blot extra oil.
  2. Meanwhile, cook chili mixture by dicing up garlic. Sauté in a separate skillet with a little bit of olive oil. Once onion starts to brown, add soyrizo and ground beef and cook until brown. Add can of tomato sauce and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook and develop flavor for another 10 minutes.
  3. When ready to assemble, layer one piece of eggplant, top with about 1 tbsp pub cheese, 1-2 tbsp of the chili mixture and 1 Tbsp Mexican cheese and repeat 1-2 more times. In the episode, we ended here, but we highly recommend assembling these on a baking sheet and placing in the oven for about 10 minutes, so the cheese gets nice and melty and the whole dish warms through. Top with guacamole and sour cream. We served this on a bed of arugula.


 

 

Chocolate Cupcakes wtih Caramelized Bacon

We used THIS RECIPE for the chocolate cupcakes from AllRecipes. We adapted it slightly with cutting the sugar down to 1 cup (instead of 1 1/2). We used the cacao powder in the cupcakes and then topped it with a chocolate ganache (basically melted 1 cup chocolate chips with 2 Tbsp half and half and 2 Tbsp butter mixed in) and caramelized bacon (bacon baked in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes with brown sugar and cinnamon on top).

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
  • Print

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?

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
  • Print

  • 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.