Thursday, June 16, 2011

Caramel Apple Cookie Bars

Caramel Apple Cookie Bars

Start with pre-made sugar cookie dough.
You can roll it into a circle, or press it into a pan.
I cut the dough into pieces, placed it in the pan, then smoothed everything out with waxed paper.
Bake the cookie dough until it's lightly golden brown and firm to the touch.
How long is that? Hmm.. I don't know. I forgot to set my timer.
About 17 minutes? I have no idea.
Allow the cookie to cool completely.
Combine cream cheese, brown sugar, peanut butter and vanilla until smooth & fluffy.
Spread it evenly over the cooled cookie crust.
Core & Slice the apples.
Slice the apples about 1/4 inch thin.
Use whatever method you choose to keep them from browning.
Lemon Juice, Lemon-Lime Soda, Ascorbic Acid..
I used Lemon-Lime Soda. I soaked them for a few minutes then patted dry.
Arrange the apples over the cream cheese/pb layer.
Make it beautiful. More beautiful than mine.
Don't disappoint me.
Drizzle caramel over the apples.
Voila!

Ingredients:
  • Sugar Cookie Dough (16.5 oz package)
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Peanut Butter, smooth
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Granny Smith Apples
  • 1/4 cup Caramel Sauce

Tip: I used caramel ice-cream topping, but over time it spread instead of holding it's shape. Next time, I'm going to melt down caramels with just a little bit of milk, then drizzle it over the apples.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Skinny Chicken Tikka Masala

I love Indian food. I discovered my deep love for Indian food when I went on that year-long vegetarian stint, you know- the one that ended when I got drunk at Mardi Gras '08 and ate a hot dog? Oops.

Whenever I go out for Indian food, the server asks me on a scale of 1-10 how spicy I want my dish, I always choose an 8 or a 9. I always regret when I choose a 9, but I seriously lack self-control when it comes to spicy foods.

So, I found a 'skinny' recipe that uses ingredients I have on hand  uses ingredients I purchased from World Market so I have them on hand now! Specifically, garam masala- I didn't have that on hand, so I picked it up from World Market when I was picking up curtains the other day. My curtains, coincidentally, are also from India. I know, I'm so worldly.
That's right. I painted my dining room that absurd color of green.
And I don't regret it!

I'm really excited about this 'lightened up' version of Chicken Tikka Masala! I really want to learn how to cook more ethnic dishes, and this was my first attempt at Indian. It took a little tweaking- the original recipe was a little acidic, so I added agave nectar to counteract the bite (plain sugar would work just fine, too). Also, the original recipe was really mild- I added cayenne and red pepper flakes to spice it up. This adapted recipe is spicy. If you're not an 8 or 9'er, I'd recommend decreasing the cayenne and red pepper flakes, or omitting them completely (if you're a wimp). 


Start by cutting 2-3 chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.
Season with salt & pepper then saute for 4-5 minutes over medium-high heat.
While the chicken is cooking, prep the onions, ginger and garlic.
Set the chicken aside.
Add some more oil to the pan, and throw in the onions.
Once the onions are golden, throw in the ginger.
Once the ginger is fragrant, add the garlic.
Then throw in all your spices!
Tumeric, Garam Masala, Cumin, Cayenne, Chili Powder & Red Pepper Flakes!
At this point I started wondering "did I do something wrong..?"
No, it just looks a little hideous, but the end result will be delicious!
Add crushed tomatoes. 
If you weren't using a nonstick pan, the tomatoes will deglaze the bottom of the pan. 
Easy clean-up is in your future.
Stir in the yogurt, milk, and agave nectar.
Simmer for 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly.
Stir in the chicken, and simmer for an additonal 15 minutes over low heat.
I served mine with naan. It was delicious. 
It basically blew my mind that I'm officially capable of making Indian food.

'Skinny' Chicken Tikka Masala
Adapted from SkinnyTaste
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 12-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek, 2%)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp tumeric
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp agave nectar (or plain sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste (approx 1/2 tsp worked for me)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • salt & pepper
  1. Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add the chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes (does not need to be cooked through). Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.
  2. Add an addition tablespoon of oil to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions- saute until the onions are golden. Add the grated ginger and saute for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add the garlic, stir occasionally for one minute. 
  3. Add the cayenne, red pepper flakes, cumin, garam masala, tumeric, and chili. Sautee for 2-3 minutes, adding the last tablespoon of oil, if needed.
  4. Reduce the heat to low before adding the crushed tomatoes (or it will spit and bubble all over you.. trust me, I know.. ugh). Stir in the yogurt, milk, and agave. Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes, until it thickens slightly. Taste the sauce- add salt and adjust spices to taste.
  5. Add the chicken to the pan, and simmer for 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
  6. Top with a generous amount of fresh cilantro. Serve with rice (preferably basmati) or naan.
Serves 4
Calories / Serving: 200 or 230 (depending on whether you use 2 or 3 tablespoons of oil)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Honey-Nut Granola

I love the bulk section of Sprout's. I love getting a little bag of dark-chocolate covered pretzels to eat in the car on my drive home from the store, or only 2 tablespoons of yellow cornmeal (for Fish Po'Boys), or only 4 cinnamon bears to stave off a craving. I always look at all the lentils and types of rice- I don't know what I'd make with them, but I look at them anyway. I desperately want to buy everything from the bulk section.
Homemade Granola is the perfect reason to shop in the bulk section- you can buy exactly how much you need, no more, no less.
This granola tastes like Honey Bunches of Oats. I like granola with fruit & yogurt- but this is really good as cereal, too. It'll make your house smell like a cereal factory- and that's not a bad thing!

Start by combining the oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, coconut, cinnamon & salt.
Use a big bowl. Like, huge.
Mix everything up to evenly distribute the ingredients.
God forbid only one section of the granola be salty or cinnamon-y.
Throw butter, oil, honey & brown sugar into a saucepan.
Once the butter melts, whisk to combine.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn off the heat.
Stir in the vanilla.
Pour the warm mixture over the oats/nuts.
Use a wooden spoon to throughly mix everything together.
Spread the granola out on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
I used aluminum foil lightly sprayed with nonstick spray.
I hate running out of parchment paper.
Bake the granola at 275 degrees for 30-40 minutes.
Stir the granola every 10 minutes for even browning.

This granola doesn't stick together, it's more piece-y. In order to make it stick together, I flattened out the granola with spatula while it was still warm right out of the oven. Just a personal preference.

Honey-Almond Granola
  • 4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup raw slivered almonds
  • 1 cup raw whole almonds (or whole cashews, or pecans, or whatev!)
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut*
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (1/2 tsp if the nuts you purchased are salted)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Place the oven racks into the middle and upper third of your oven and preheat to 275 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together oats, slivered almonds, cashews, coconut, cinnamon and salt.
  3. In a saucepan, melt together the butter, oil, honey and brown sugar until the sugar begins to dissolve, and the mixture begins to boil. Carefully whisk together to make sure everything is well incorporated. Add the vanilla mixture.
  4. Pour the warm mixture over the oats/nuts mixture. Gently stir everything with a wooden spoon, making sure everything is well-coated.
  5. Spread mixture evenly over the baking sheets. Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring the pans every 10 minutes to promote even browning and prevent burning. It's done whenever the granola is lightly browned.
  6. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
*If you like sweeter granola, you can use sweetened coconut.
Makes 8 cups of granola.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fish Po'Boys

As you know, I joined Weight Watchers about 3 months ago. If you didn't know, yeah- I'm trying to reduce the size of my thighs. It happens. So Weight Watchers.. brace yourself, this is not a Weight Watchers endorsement. I GAINED SIX POUNDS ON WEIGHT WATCHERS!!!! What the heck! I counted my points, I made WW-friendly recipes, and then I watched my weight climb up the scales. Jennifer Hudson, you did me wrong.
I've been back to calorie-counting for the past week, and instant success- I've already lost three pounds. Wha-BAM! Best part of counting calories? It's free. Thank you, Loseit.com's iPhone app!

So last night I made Fish Po'Boys. They were quick, delicious, and a healthier version of the deep-fried restaurant versions. It was easy to halve this recipe for two, which is important for our little family.

Start by making a spicy tartar sauce. Totally easy. 
Reduced fat mayo, fresh parsley, gherkins (or relish), grainy mustard, and chili sauce.
Mis everything together- then add tabasco to taste. I added a lot.
Don't be afraid to over-use the hot sauce, it won't overwhelm the other ingredients.
Pat dry fish fillets, then cut them into 1 1/2 inch strips.
I used mahi mahi because I buy it in bulk from Costco.
Flounder might be more appropriate because the fillets will be thinner.
Toss the fish in yellow cornmeal, seasoned with salt & pepper.
Heat oil in a non-stick pan.
Add the coated fish.
Turn the fish to brown each side.
It'll take 7-10 minutes to cook the fish through.
While the fish is browning, prep the other ingredients.
Split & slightly hollow out a baguette.
The two of us used half a baguette.
Spread each half with the spicy tartar sauce.
Top each half with a lettuce leaf, sliced tomato, and the fish.
I served them with a salad, and it was a totally satisfying meal.
Fish Po'Boys
  • 1 pound skinless flounder filets (I used mahi mahi because I had it on hand)
  • 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
  • coarse salt & pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable/canola oil
  • 8-ounce baguette, split and hollowed out slightly
  • spicy tartar sauce
  • lettuce & sliced tomato
  1. Cut the flounder fillets into 1 1/2-inch strips; pat dry. Place in a  medium bowl. Add the cornmeal, season with salt & pepper. Toss to coat.
  2. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the fish on both sides, 7-10 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.
  3. Spread both halves of the baguette with the tartar sauce, layer the lettuce, tomato and fish. Cut into 4 portions.
Spicy Tartar Sauce
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat mayo
  • 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chili sauce (it's next to the ketchup in the condiment aisle)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped gherkin pickles (I used relish)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • hot sauce (Tabasco)
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Season with as much or as little hot sauce as you want.
  2. You can make this 2-3 days in advance.
Serves 4.
480 calories per serving.