Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Always wanting to try new healthy muffin recipes, I decided to make pumpkin muffins for the fall season. I searched online for some recipes and modified this one slightly to yield tasty, healthy muffins. Accordingly to the online nutrition facts calculator that I discovered each muffin has 180 calories, 5 g fat and 2 g fiber. Not bad for breakfast! And the best part is that they also taste delicious!

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Muffins
1 C sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 C whole wheat flour
2/3 C white flour
1/4 C oil
1/4 fat free vanilla yogurt
1/2 C cold water
1 C canned pumpkin

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Combine all dry ingredients.
3. Add wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
4. Line muffin tins with muffin cups or simply grease.
5. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full and then bake for 40 minutes.
6. Cool and remove from muffin tins, makes 12 muffins.

Difficulty: Easy
Debbie's Rating: 10

Monday, November 8, 2010

Caramel Pecan Ice Cream

When I got my Kitchen Aid ice cream maker attachment, I noticed that the instruction booklet had a recipe for carmel pecan ice cream. Unlike the other ice cream recipes in the booklet which were made with heavy cream, eggs and half and half (and often had well over 20 g fat per serving) this recipe was made with whole milk and only had 3.5 g fat per serving. I figured that the creaminess and thickening came from the jello pudding mix rather than the cream. Since it seemed like a perfect fall flavor, I decided to make it for dessert when our friends Kim and Tom came over. The texture was a little different than traditional ice cream, but the flavor was great (especially since it was "low" fat!) and I would definitely make it again.

Caramel Pecan Ice Cream
3 1/2 C whole milk
1 can sweetened and condensed milk
1 C warmed caramel butterscotch topping
1 packet instant vanilla pudding
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans

1. Combine all ingredients except the pecans and whisk until pudding mix is dissolved.
2. Refrigerate at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
3. Pour into ice cream maker and churn for 20-25 minutes.
4. Add chopped pecans in last minute of churning.
5. Freeze overnight to complete hardening process.
6. Enjoy!

Difficulty: Medium
Debbie's Rating: 9

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spinach and Ricotta Quiche

Quiche is a fun "fancy" dish that is actually pretty easy to make. It's also great to make for company because there is no last minute prep, so you can entertain your guests until it is ready to come out of the oven! I got this recipe for spinach and ricotta quiche from my mom, and made it for our friends Kim and Tom when they came over for dinner.

Spinach and Ricotta Quiche

1 box chopped spinach
1 egg
1 medium onion, chopped & sautéed
2 tbsp butter
1 9-inch frozen pie crust
15 oz. ricotta (I used part skim)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Thaw pie shell for 15 minutes.
3. Pierce bottom and sides of pie shell with a fork.
4. Bake pie shell in oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes until slightly brown.
5. In the meantime, saute onion in 2 tbsp butter.
6. Add onion to thawed, drained spinach, egg, and ricotta and season with salt and pepper and mix to combine.
7. Place filling in pie shell and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Make sure to cover the edge of the crust with foil so it does not burn.

Difficulty: Easy
Debbie's Rating: 9

Monday, November 1, 2010

Guest Post: Hot Pepper Butter

On my flight from Minnesota to Portland for the Controlled Release Society conference in July, I sat next to a guy named Robert. Robert was very friendly and talkative, so we passed the time on the flight chatting about science, photography and cooking. He thought it was cool that I had a cooking blog, so he sent me this guest post recipe for Pepper Butter. Him and his wife grow hot peppers, so they make this and jar it. Thanks Robert, for the great guest post!

Hot Pepper Butter
36 to 50 chile peppers (or more, depending on size and desired heat)
1 quart prepared yellow mustard
1 quart cider vinegar
5 cups sugar or Splenda (we made one batch of each and couldn't really tell the difference)
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch or two of garlic
8-10 pint-sized canning jars

Chop/blend peppers in food processor or blender (a blender makes finer chunks). We use a lot of peppers as you can see in the photos, though we didn't use all of the habaneros or Caribbean red hots (the orange and orange-red peppers to the left) as they are extremely hot. You can leave the seeds in or remove them; we decided to remove them along with the central "placenta," which contains the capsaicin glands and is the hottest part of the pepper.

Add peppers and remaining ingredients into large saucepan and stir thoroughly. Slowly bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes. STIR CONSTANTLY as the thickness of the sauce will cause it to burn very easily. Have prepared canning jars ready. The mixture should be canned immediately to ensure a good seal. Makes approximately 8 pints.

The peppers as shown are the following varieties, clockwise from upper right:
Cayenne (hot)
Chile red or Thai (very hot)
Garden Salsa (mild to medium heat)
Caribben red hot or Scotch bonnet (like a habanero, only hotter!)
Italian salsa (mild/medium heat)
A couple of jalapenos for good measure

This particular mix made for a fairly spicy mustard, but not overwhelming. Cooking the mixture reduces the heat somewhat.