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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chicken Piccata

I've made chicken piccata before, but that recipe didn't call for capers (blasphemy!) and no longer fits in my clean eating lifestyle. I was very excited to see a new version in the Sept/Oct issue of Clean Eating Magazine - capers included!

This recipe turned out to be fantastic. I had some leftover artichoke hearts so I threw them in - what a great addition that turned out to be! Surprisingly, and thankfully, I didn't miss the butter in the sauce at all!

Chicken Piccata
Slightly Adapted from Clean Eating Magazine, Sept/Oct 2009, page 49

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, divided
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4, 4-oz boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsps capers or olives, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped (I omitted)
  • 1/2 cup artichoke hearts, chopped (I added)

1. Reserve 1 tbsp flour for later use. In a shallow dish, combine remaining flour with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

2. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken to pan and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Remove chicken from pan and transfer to plate.

3. Using the same pan over medium high heat, add remaining 2 tsp oil, garlic, and reserved 1 tbsp flour. Heat mixture, stirring constantly for about 1 minute, scraping up any brown bits from pan. Add stock, lemon juice, artichokes and capers. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium high and simmer for about 3 minutes, until sauce thickens. Add chicken back to pan and continue to simmer for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Monday, September 28, 2009

BB: Birthday Sheet Cake

This month, we had two cake recipes for Barefoot Bloggers. I was happy to make Beatty's Chocolate cake and share it with friends, but I didn't have an occasion for the other recipe, Birthday Sheet cake. I decided to take the recipe and try to make a clean version. It was quite a challenge, as I had to switch out butter, flour, eggs, and sugar - all the things that make cake great! Armed with knowledge I've picked up from reading Clean Eating Magazine, I set out to twist this recipe and make some clean cupcakes. (I should note that I have no idea if cornstarch is clean or not, but I kept that ingredient in the recipe).

In my first attempt, I used whole wheat pastry flour to replace the white flour, and sucanat to replace the sugar. The results were delicious, but nowhere near a white cake. The sucanat is closed to brown sugar than white, so it imparted a nice molasses flavor to the cake. I think my baking soda was a little old, causing a failure to rise properly. I blended some cream cheese, agave nectar, and lemon zest together for an impromptu frosting and it was fantastic! The recipe ended up being a start to a great carrot or apple spice cake - so I can't wait to experiment further!

For my second attempt, I set out to try and correct the recipe by switching to spelt flour and agave nectar for a lighter flavor. I got a little confusing in the grocery store, since it was my first time buying spelt flour. I got what was labeled as spelt flour, and probably should have gotten white spelt flour. The regular spelt flour looks a lot like the whole wheat pastry flour, but I was trying to go for something lighter than that. Maybe next time I'll get the white spelt flour and see how the cupcakes turn out then! Using agave nectar has it's own complications, since it's a liquid about the consistency of thin honey. To compensate, I needed to increase the amount of dry ingredients by I'm-not-sure-how-much. Luckily, my first attempt at making cupcakes with agave nectar turned out great! Armed with new baking soda, my cupcakes had gorgeous high domes. I tried a few different levels of batter in the muffin tin, and ultimately preferred the ones that were 2/3 full. Like others that made the original recipe, these are very dense cupcakes.

I wasn't sure what kind of frosting to make for these. My original vision was to use a chocolate cream cheese frosting that I'd seen in Clean Eating Magazine, but in tasting the cupcakes, that just didn't seem right. Then I tried a peanut butter cream cheese, but that wasn't right either. I ended up using the same simple frosting I'd made for the first batch of cupcakes, and it was a perfect, light complement to the dense cake.

If you aren't as crazy as I am, and want a normal sheet cake, see the recipe here, and see how the other Barefoot Bloggers fared with the recipe, here. Otherwise....

Makes 12 cupcakes
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 2 ounces greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup spelt flour
  • 1 3/4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1. Add oil, agave nectar, egg white, flaxseed, yogurt, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Stir to combine.
2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, salt and baking soda. Whisk to combine.
3. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, combine thoroughly.
4. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners. Fill liners 2/3 full with cupcake batter. Bake at 350 for 18-24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool a few minutes in the pan, then remove and cool on a wire rack before frosting.

Simple Cream Cheese Icing
  • 8 ounces low fat cream cheese, softened
  • 8 teaspoons agave nectar
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat until smooth. Spread on cooled cupcakes.

Nutritional Information:
(Per cupcake, assumes 1 batch of frosting spread equally between 12 cupcakes)
Calories: 220
Fat: 7.1 g
Sat Fat: 3.1 g
Cholesterol: 13.6 mg
Sodium: 183 mg
Potassium: 83 mg
Carbohydrate: 34.4 g
Fiber: 3.3 g
Sugar: 20 g
Protein: 4.8 g

Thursday, September 24, 2009

BB: Beatty's Chocolate Cake

This week for Barefoot Bloggers we had the second of two cakes. I made this earlier in the month for a party to honor a friend who is getting married. Since she loves chocolate and this cake was on my To Do list for the month, I thought it would be a great fit for this special occasion.

As I started making the cake, I was pleased to see it was one of the easy recipes... combine dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in the other, them mix together. To me, nothing is worse than having to add each ingredient one at a time to a whirring stand mixer. I love easy. At the end, as I added the coffee, I realize that this was quite similar to my favorite chocolate cake recipe, Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake (which I used here for S'mores Cupcakes). A quick look at the two recipes shows that they are nearly identical! Slight variations in baking soda, baking powder, vanilla extract and the use of hot coffee or hot water are all that separate these two recipes.

I made 1.5 times the original recipe because I have 9 inch cake pans and hate having flat cakes. I divided the batter between those two pans, but it proved to be too much batter as the cake rise quite a bit. Mine collapsed a little in the center, so I should have reserved some of that batter for cupcakes.

Ultimately, I loved the lift that these cakes had, but love the ease of using regular milk and water in the Hershey's recipe. I'll probably tweak the two recipes together the next time I need chocolate cake. Both recipes make truly fantastic, moist, rich, chocolatey cake. The frosting was very easy to work with, spread smoothly (even with my poor decorating skills) and was a good amount of chocolate and sweet.

I topped the cake with lazy chocolate covered strawberries and white chocolate shavings. Everyone loved it!

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake
Source: Barefoot Contessa at Home on pages 165-166
Chosen by Mary of Passionate Perseverance

  • Butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting:

  • 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cilantro Ginger Tilapia

Tilapia is one of the few fish we agree on in this house. Since we eat so much chicken, (and now even more so with our love for chicken at breakfast!) I'm trying to make more of an effort to choose fish at least once on the weekends. I had already decided on making quinoa with an avocado dressing, so I did some searching for flavors I wanted to use and found this recipe from Martha Stewart.

The sauce is fantastic, and not at all spicy... it complements the delicate fish well. I loved how easy it was to prepare - blend, baste, and grill!

Cilantro Ginger Tilapia
Slightly Adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeds and white pith removed
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (1 inch), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (2 limes)
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tilapia fillets (4-6 ounces each)


  1. Combine garlic, jalapeno pepper, ginger, lime juice, and cilantro in the jar of a blender. Cover blender, and remove the stopper. Turn on blender, and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Process until mixture is bright green and smooth. Season cilantro sauce to taste with salt and black pepper.
  2. Season both sides of fillets with salt and black pepper. Brush the top of each fillet with 1 tablespoon cilantro sauce.
  3. Heat a skillet or grill pan over medium-low heat. Spray with olive oil and allow oil to heat up. Place tilapia in pan, grill until fish has just cooked through but is still moist, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove fish from pan, drizzle with additional cilantro sauce, and serve.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Quinoa with Zucchini and Avocado Dressing

This is another great way to prepare quinoa. I decided to use it as a side dish with some tilapia, so I made a few modifications to the recipe. This went very well with the fish, and the avocado dressing is delicious!

Quinoa with Zucchini and Avocado Dressing

Adapted from Branny Boils Over
  • 1/3 cup quinoa, prewashed or rinsed very well
  • 2/3 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch thick half moons
  • 1/2 medium yellow squash, sliced into 1/4 inch thick half moons
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup mexican cheese (queso) (omit the cheese or choose low fat for a cleaner side dish)
  • 1/3 cup avocado dressing (recipe follows)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Combine quinoa and chicken broth in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 10-15 minutes, until quinoa is translucent. Meanwhile, spray zucchini and squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill 5 minutes on each side, until tender.

Combine cooked quinoa and squashes, nuts, cheese, cilantro, and 1/3 cup avocado dressing in a large bowl. Toss to combine, then serve.

Avocado Dressing
Makes about 1.5 cups

1 large avocado, ripe
1 T lemon or lime juice
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup greek yogurt
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Puree all ingredients together.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Herbed Balsamic Chicken

With a few more desperate attempts at using our great grilling weather before the cold sets in, I pulled this recipe from the depths of my Google Reader. It sounded fabulous... balsamic vinegar and Herbs de Provence? What's not to love?

This was very easy to throw together, but I didn't have high expectations because I seem to have trouble getting marinades to really stick to the meat and stay on for the grilling process. Needless to say, it's disappointing to feel like you are leaving all the good flavor behind in the bowl. When my husband pulled these off the grill I was ecstatic to see how great they looked! Definitely no loss of flavor here. This recipe really delivers - one bite and I was pouring over my menu to figure out when I could make it again. We loved it! I paired this chicken with simple grilled eggplant for a great dinner.

Herbed Balsamic Chicken
Source: Adapted from Bon Apétit, June 2009, seen on Cook Like a Champion
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
-Place chicken in a resealable bag and pour marinade on top. Refrigerate for at least two hours, turning the bag occasionally.
-Preheat a grill pan to medium-high heat and add chicken.
-Sprinkle with herbes de Provence, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
-Grill until chicken is cooked through, about 6 minutes per side.

Simple Grilled Eggplant

1 medium eggplant
kosher salt
olive oil
garlic powder

Slice the top and bottom off of eggplant. Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place a layer of paper towels down on counter or cutting board. Lay eggplant slices on paper towel, generously salt both sides of eggplant. Cover with more papertowels, then another cutting board or cookie sheet. Place something heavy (book, etc) on top of the stack to weight it down. Let sit for 30 minutes, then rinse eggplant slices.

Spray both sides with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Lay slices on heated grill for about 10 minutes per side.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Southwestern Chicken Pizza with Tomatillo Salsa

With my new whole wheat pizza dough in hand, I was off to make some fabulous homemade pizza. I'd been (patiently) waiting to make this recipe from Domestic Pursuits, and it was totally worth making... much sooner than I did. This pizza was fantastic. The tomatillo sauce totally stole the show - it's great! I added some black beans because I needed to use them up, and I think they were a great addition.

Southwestern Chicken Pizza with Tomatillo Salsa
Source: Adapted slightly from Domestic Pursuits

  • Pizza dough
  • Corn meal
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup tomatillo salsa (recipe below)
  • 1 grilled seasoned chicken breast, chopped
  • 1/3 cup canned black beans, rinsed well
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
  • 2-4 tbsp chopped, fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven (as high as it will go) or grill with pizza stone.
2. In a saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions for 7-10 minutes or until soft and translucent.
3. Meanwhile, stretch dough by hand or roll it out on a lightly floured surface.
4. When pizza stone and oven are ready, remove stove from oven, or open up grill. Sprinkle pizza stone liberally with cornmeal. Place stretched dough on top of cornmeal-covered stone.
5. Spread tomatillo salsa over the dough, then distribute chopped chicken and sauteed onions evenly over the salsa. Top with shredded cheese.
6. Grill or bake for 8-10 minutes (for thin crust) until crust is golden and slightly crispy. Thicker crusts will require more time. Remove pizza from stone and allow stone to cool on the grill or in oven. Sprinkle chopped cilantro onto finished pizza, slice, and serve.

Tomatillo Salsa
Source: Domestic Pursuits

  • 1 pound tomatillos, husk and stem removed
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp lime juice (juice of 1/2 lime)

1. Place husked, washed tomatillos in a saucepan. Fill the pan with enough water to cover the tomatillos and bring to a boil over high heat.
2. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until tomatillos are soft.
3. Transfer tomatillos to the work bowl of a food processor. Reserve cooking water in case additional water is needed to thin the salsa.
4. Add remaining ingredients onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, oregano, cumin and salt) and process until smooth. If salsa is too thick, add small amounts of cooking water until desired consistency is reached.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads has a whole wheat pizza dough that I couldn't wait to try. We love having pizza at home, mostly so we can make any weird topping concoctions that we want. I'd already found a great white dough and deep dish dough recipe, but with my new attitude towards clean eating, whole wheat dough was next on my list. If the pizza dough came out half as good as the bagels, hearth bread, and burger buns, it would still be amazing.

The dough follows a very similar 2 day pre-dough process. On day one, the biga and soaker are mixed. On day 2, those come together with the remaining dough ingredients to make the final dough. The dough rests for an hour (while you pre-heat your oven and pizza stone) and is then ready to bake! The book calls for making 5 pizzas from the recipe (at 6.25 ounces each), but I decided I wanted them slightly bigger and made 3 10-ounce pizzas. After dividing and shaping, I left one out, as directed, to rise. The other two were wrapped well in plastic wrap and stored in the freezer in a freezer safe ziploc bag. I will report back and let you know how the frozen ones turn out!

The thing I loved most about this dough was how easy it is to work with. It is so soft and stretched out perfectly and effortlessly when I was shaping the pizza. No tug of war with a dough that bounces back! No tearing! It's fabulous.

The dough retains its softness while baking, and while I probably could have baked mine a tad longer to get a crisper skin on the crust, it was very soft and wonderful inside.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
Source: Rewritten from Whole Grain Breads, Peter Reinhart

Day 1: Make the soaker and biga
1 3/4 cups (227 grams) whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon (4 grams) salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (198 grams) water

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl for about one minute, until all of the flour is hydrated and the ingredients form a ball of dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temp for 12 to 24 hours. (If you need more time, place in refrigerator for up to 3 days, but leave at room temp 2 hours before continuing with bread).

1 3/4 cups (227 grams) whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) instant yeast
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (198 grams) filtered or spring water, at room temperature (about 70 degrees F)

Mix all the biga ingredients together in a bowl to form a ball of dough. With wet hands, knead dough in the bowl for 2 minutes to be sure all ingredients are evenly distributed and the flour is fully hydrated. The dough should feel very tacky. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then knead again with wet hands for one minute. The dough will be smoother but still tacky. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. Remove from the fridge two hours before making the dough.

Day 2: Make the final dough, and bake

Final Dough:
All of the Soaker
All of the biga
5/8 teaspoon (5 grams) salt
1 1/2 teaspoons (5 grams) instant yeast
7 tablespoons (56.5 grams) whole wheat flour
2 1/4 teaspoons (14 grams) honey or agave nectar
2 tablespoons (28.5 grams) olive oil

1. Chop the soaker and biga into 12 smaller pieces (sprinkle flour over pieces to prevent sticking).

2. By hand: Add the biga, soaker, salt, yeast, flour, honey, and olive oil to a bowl. Stir vigorously with a mixing spoon or knead with wet hands for about 2 minutes, until all ingredients are evenly integrated. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky. Add more flour or water as needed.

By stand mixer: Add the biga, soaker, salt, yeast, flour, honey, and olive oil to a the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed for one minute with the paddle attatchment. Switch to dough hook and mix on medium-low speed for 2 minutes until dough becomes cohesive and assimilated into each other. Add more flour or water as needed until the dough is soft and slightly sticky.

3. Dust a work surface with flour, the roll the dough in flour to coat. Knead by hand for 3 to 4 minutes, incorporating only as much flour as needed until the dough is soft and very tacky, almost stickly. Form the dough into a ball and let it rest on the work surface for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with parchement paper or a silicone mat, then oil with 1 tablespoon of oil.

4. Resume kneading for 1 minute to strengthen the gluten and make any final water/flour adjustments. Dough should have the strength to pass the windowpane test, yet feel soft, supple and very tacky, verging on sticky. Divide the dough into five equal pieces, each weighing about 6.25 ounces. Form dough into tight balls and place on prepared pan, rolling to coat with oil, then cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap.

5. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with a pizza stone for one hour, then dust the stone with cornmeal.  When oven is ready, shape dough on a lightly floured work surface.  If desired, add toppings, then slide topped pizza onto pizza stone with a peel.  Otherwise, remove hot stone from oven, place dough on top of stone, add toppings and then return to the oven. (If you do not have a baking stone, use the underside of a sheet pan, or simply place the shaped dough on a sheet pan, add the toppings, and slide the sheet pan in the oven.)

6. Once pizza is in the oven, close the door. Wait two minutes, then take a peek. If it needs to be rotated for even baking, do so. The pizza should take 5-8 minutes to bake.

7. Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait 3-5 minutes before slicing to let the cheese set slightly.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bagel Sandwiches

A trip to Europe this past spring landed us in Dublin:

There was much to love about this city, but I will shamelessly admit that every morning we looked forward to stopping at this hole-in-the-wall bagel shop for bagel sandwiches. We ate them everyday and planned our activities so that we wouldn't have to leave the hotel in the morning until they were open, since the shop was very close to the hotel.

Now, with my ever adored homemade whole wheat bagels, I decided to bring this Dublin tradition of ours to this side of the pond. Though I can't remember the exact combinations we had in Dublin, I perused the fridge and found a few leftover items that would work great together. The possibilities are really endless here, and I hope to be inspired with other flavors in the future!

Bagel Sandwiches

Serves: 2

  • 2 whole wheat bagels
  • 1 chicken breast, seasoned, grilled, and chopped (I used Mural of Flavor seasoning from Penzey's)
  • 1.5 ounces sliced Fontina cheese
  • 4 Kalamata olives, pit removed and sliced
  • 1 artichoke heart, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons sun dried tomato spread (recipe follows)

Slice bagels in half. Layer the bottom half with chicken, olives, artichoke heart, then cheese. Toast both halves until cheese is melted. Top other half of bagel with 2 tablespoons of sun dried tomato spread. Place both halves together and enjoy!

Sun dried tomato spread
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
Add sun dried tomatoes to a small bowl, cover with hot water and let steep for 5 minutes. Drain and roughly chop. Combine all ingredients in a food process on pulse until spread is cohesive but bits of sun dried tomatoes remain.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sandwich Bread turned Burger Buns

I scoured my rental copy of Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads for a recipe for burger buns. There were none to be found. I decided a decent substitute would be either the sandwich bread, shaped into rolls, or the pita bread recipe. I polled my husband and he voted sandwich bread, so off I went!

By now I am getting very familiar with this 2 day pre-dough process. The sandwich bread, in contrast to the bagel and hearth bread, has a lot more moisture to the dough (which I'm sure my stand mixer is thanking me for). But other than that, the process is pretty much the same, and goes quite easily for me. Since I can't, for the life of me, make pie dough or scones, I have to be good at something, right?

The rolls are slightly sweet (I go by weight measure and sometimes wonder if weight and measure don't really add up for the agave nectar), and soft and spongy. I'm pretty sure they took the artichoke turkey burger to the next level - we couldn't get enough!

Sandwich Bread / Burger Buns
Source: Rewritten Whole Wheat Sandwich bread from Whole Grain Breads, Peter Reinhart
Yield: 11 rolls (3 oz each)

Day 1:

1 3/4 cups (227 grams) whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon (4 grams) salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (198 grams) milk, buttermilk, yogurt, soy milk, or rice milk

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl for about one minute, until all of the flour is hydrated and the ingredients form a ball of dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temp for 12 to 24 hours. (If you need more time, place in refrigerator for up to 3 days, but leave at room temp 2 hours before continuing with bread).

1 3/4 cups (227 grams) whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) instant yeast
3/4 cup (170 grams) filtered or spring water, at room temperature (about 70 degrees F)

Mix all the biga ingredients together in a bowl to form a ball of dough. With wet hands, knead dough in the bowl for 2 minutes to be sure all ingredients are evenly distributed and the flour is fully hydrated. The dough should be tacky. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then knead again with wet hands for one minute. The dough will be smoother but still tacky. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.

Day 2:
Remove the biga from the fridge two hours before making the dough.

Final Dough:
All of the Soaker
All of the biga
7 tablespoons (56.5 grams) whole wheat flour
5/8 teaspoon (5 grams) salt
2 1/4 teaspoons (7 grams) instant yeast
2 1/4 tablespoons (42.5 grams) honey or agave nectar (optional)
1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter, melted, or vegetable oil

1. Chop the soaker and biga into 12 smaller pieces (sprinkle flour over pieces to prevent sticking).

2. By hand: combine biga and soaker into a large bowl with all the remaining ingredients and stir vigorously with a mixing spoon or knead with wet hands for about 2 minutes, until all ingredients are evenly integrated. Dough should be soft and slightly sticky, if not, add more flour or water as needed.

By stand mixer: combine biga and soaker with all the remaining ingredients into mixer bowl and mix on low speed for one minute with paddle (preferred) or hook. Switch to hook and mix on medium-low speed for 2-3 minutes until dough becomes cohesive and assimilated into each other. Add more flour or water as needed until the dough is soft and slightly sticky.

3. Dust a work surface with flour, the roll the dough in flour to coat. Knead by hand for 3 to 4 minutes, incorporating only as much flour as needed, until the dough feels soft and tacky, but not sticky. Form the dough into a ball and let it rest on the work surface for 5 minutes while you prepare a clean, lightly oiled bowl.

4. Resume kneading for 1 minutes to strengthen the gluten and make any final water/flour adjustments. Dough should have the strength to pass the windowpane test, but still be soft, supple, and very tacky. Form dough into a ball and place in prepared bowl, rolling to coat with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for approximately 45 to 60 minutes, until it is about 1.5 times its original size.

5. Transfer to lightly floured work surface. Form into either a loaf pan or into 3 ounce rounds for burger buns. For loaf pan bread, place dough in a greased 4 by 8.5 inch bread pan. For buns, place on sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Mist the top with pan spray (optional) and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a cloth towel. Let rise at room temperature for approximately 45 minutes, until it is about 1.5 times its original size.

6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. When the dough is ready to bake, place it in the oven and turn down the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the bread and continue baking 20 to 30 minutes more, until bread is a rich brown. or until a thermometer inserted registers at least 195 degrees F. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for at least one hour before serving.

Nutritional Information
Per serving (3 ounce buns)

Calories: 174
Total Fat: 2 g
Sat Fat: 0.8 g
Carb: 35 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sugar: 1.2 g
Protein: 6.8 g
Sodium: 344 mg
Cholesterol: 3 mg

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Artichoke Stuffed Turkey Burgers

We love artichokes. We love cheese. We love turkey burgers. This dish was a natural fit for us! I made this recipe ages ago, and for reasons unclear to me now, I did not include it in my blog. We completely fell in love with this burger all over again when I made it over the weekend - it would be a shame to leave it out a second time!

I served the burgers on homemade whole wheat burger buns, and WOW. The combination was fantastic! We hadn't even finished our meal and we were fighting over who would get the leftover burger the next day.

Katie calls for 2 pounds of ground turkey, but I find I can get by just as well with one. You can skip the cheese or choose a lower fat cheese, such as feta, to make this dish clean.

Artichoke Stuffed Turkey Burgers
Slightly adapted from Good Things Catered
Serves: 4

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 medium sweet onion, diced finely
  • 1 large pinch of garlic salt
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 4 oz. aged fontina cheese, sliced into 4- 1 oz. squares (choose lower fat like feta, or omit to make it clean)
  • 4 whole wheat burger buns

-In large bowl, add ground turkey, balsamic vinegar, onion, garlic salt and pepper.
-Work lightly with hands until well blended.
-Heat grill on medium heat. In case your cheese starts to ooze out, a good preventative measure would be to line the grill with some non stick foil, poked with holes for drainage.
-Divide meat into four portions.
-Remove 2/3 of each portion and flatten into 4-5 inch patties.
-Place 1 slice of fontina and two artichoke heart quarters in middle of each patty.
-Lightly flatten remaining 1/3 of each portion into 3-4 inch patties and place on top.
-Work lightly to flatten and seal all edges of patties.
-Cook over medium to medium-low heat *without moving* burger until bottom side is browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes.
-Turn burgers over and continue to cook until bottom side is browned and the burger is cooked through but not dried out about 8-10 more minutes.
-Remove from heat, place on bun and serve immediately.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Wow, this was fabulous! I had a huge sack of potatoes from the sweet potato gnocchi, and this seemed like a good way to use them up. It was somewhat labor intensive and takes about 2 hours to make, but it was definitely worth it! The instructions call for two layers of potato/eggplant, but I only had enough eggplant to make one layer, and the picture in the magazine one looked like it had one. Also, I don't have a 12x9 casserole dish, so I used two smaller corningware dishes and it worked out fine. Naturally, the second slice came out perfect, while the first slice that I got out to photograph looked like crap. Oh well!

Source: Clean Eating Magazine, May/June 2009
Serves: 8

2 lbs white potatoes, peeled, left whole
12 oz extra lean ground beef (I used 1 pound ground turkey)
1/2 onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 cups tomato puree
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 t oregano
1 bay leaf
olive oil cooking spray
1 large eggplant (about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/3 inch slices.
1 cup low fat sour cream (or greek yogurt)
1/4 c evaporated skim milk
1 egg
2 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425. Fill a large pot halfway with water, cover and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Add potatoes, lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 to 18 minutes, until firm but not fully cooked. Strain and set potatoes aside to cool.

2. While potatoes are cooking, brown meat with onion and garlic in a 2-qt pot over medium heat, breaking up meat into little pieces for about 4-5 minutes, until vegetables are tender and meat is no longer pink. Pour in tomato puree and 1 C water. Mix in cinnamon, pepper, oregano and bay leaf. Lower heat to simmer and cook, covered, 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cover 2 cookie sheets with aluminum foil and mist with cooking spray. Lay eggplant slices on sheet and lightly mist again with cooking spray. Bake in oven about 8 minutes. While eggplant cooks, slice potatoes into 1/4-inch slices. Remove eggplant, transfer to plate, raise oven temperature to 475, re-spray foil and lay potato slices on cookie sheets. Lightly mist potatoes with cooking spray and bake in oven for 8 minutes. Remove. Lower oven temp to 350.

4. Make bechamel sauce: In a separate bowl, mix sour cream, milk and egg until blended; mixture should be thick.

5. Spray a 12x9-inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Arrange 1 layer of potatoes in dish, top with layer of eggplant, then pour all of turkey mixture over top. Top again with layer of potatoes and then eggplant. Finish with bechamel. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake in oven for 45 minutes, until set and lightly brown. If not brown, raise temp to 400 and bake for another 5-10 minutes.

Number of Servings: 8

Friday, September 4, 2009

Quinoa with Black Beans and Cilantro

With my new found interest in clean eating, I'm discovering a plethora of new grains. First was (whole wheat) couscous, and now, quinoa! A friend has been bringing a quinoa dish to all our gatherings for quite some time now, and I finally asked her about it. Apparently quinoa needs to be washed, very well before cooking or it will give a bitter taste, so my friend highly recommended getting the prewashed variety. One quick trip to Whole Foods later, and I had myself some quinoa.

I was planning on some fish tacos, and thought this would be a good time to experiment, since quinoa itself is pretty plain and can be flavored a number of ways. Cilantro sounded like a good way to go. Then, Bon Appetit (thanks to Google) inspired the addition of black beans. Which ::sigh:: had to be replaced with red kidney beans when I realize we were out of black beans (OUT of black beans?? How does that happen?), and the white onion replaced with red (no idea what was running through my head whilst food shopping this week!). I switched out the water for some low sodium chicken stock, to add flavor. This quick side dish came out great and my husband, who has been very understanding of my culinary escapades, loved it as much as I did.

Quinoa with Black Beans and Cilantro
Source: Bon Appetit
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chopped white onions (or red)
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper (or not)
  • 1 cup quinoa,* rinsed, drained
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (or coriander)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained (or red kidney)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • Crumbled Cotija cheese or feta cheese (optional)


Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and red pepper; sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in next 4 ingredients. Add water; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until quinoa is almost tender, about 14 minutes. Add beans and 1/4 cup cilantro; cook uncovered until heated through and liquid is fully absorbed, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl; sprinkle with 1/4 cup cilantro and cheese, if desired.

*A grain with a delicate flavor and a texture similar to that of couscous; available at natural foods stores.

Nutritional Information
One serving contains the following:
Analysis is based on using 1 ounce crumbled Cotija cheese per serving.
Calories (kcal) 391.35
% Calories from Fat 30.3
Fat (g) 13.16
Saturated Fat (g) 5.07
Cholesterol (mg) 25.23
Carbohydrates (g) 53.04
Dietary Fiber (g) 10.24
Total Sugars (g) 5.56
Net Carbs (g) 42.79
Protein (g) 16.20

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fish Tacos with Avocado Cream

I've had numerous attemps thus far to make tasty fish tacos. Nothing seems to come out right. The addition of avocado cream made this recipe quite appealing, so I figured I'd give fish tacos one more try before giving up.

I am so glad I did! The spice of the Emeril's seasoning was soothed by the delicious avocado cream. A definite keeper for us!

Fish Tacos with Avocado Cream

Source: SweetTea in Texas

For the tacos:

2 tilapia fillets
taco seasoning (we used Emeril's Essence)
tortillas (use whole wheat tortillas to make this meal clean!)

For the avocado creme:
1 small ripe avocado
1/4 C fat free sour cream (or greek yogurt)

In a Ziploc bag, combine the juice of 1 lime with about a Tbps of taco seasoning. Shake the bag, to mix and then add in the tilapia fillets. Marinate this for about 10 minutes (while you heat your grill).

Before your turn on your grill, place a sheet of foil on the grill grates and spray with a non stick spray. This is just an easier way to cook this fish. Turn grill heat to low & cook fish for about 10 minutes, turning once, until fish is white & flakey.

While the fish is cooking, scoop out the flesh of a small ripe avocado and combine with the sour cream. Set this aside.

Wrap tortillas in foil and place in the grill, on the top section to heat through.

To serve, spread warm tortillas with avocado creme. Top with flaked tilapia, and a sprinkling of cilantro.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Take on Clean Eating

By now you have seen me mentioning my new favorite magazine, Clean Eating, adding a Clean Eating tag, and just randomly throwing out bits of information here and there. I figured it was time to expand on that and discuss what clean eating (CE) means to me!

Spiced Cilantro Shrimp

What is Clean Eating?
Clean eating is a basic set of principles to live by. It goes beyond just telling you which foods to eat. I have compiled an idea of what CE means to me, just by browsing the internet and reading up on it. I have yet to read The Eat Clean Diet, by Tosca Reno, but that might be a good place to start if you are interested. The basic principle involves eating a wide variety of whole, unrefined and unprocessed foods in a form that’s as close as possible to how the foods appear in nature.

What to eat(just some examples):
  • Complex carbohydrates: whole wheat flour/pasta/couscous, brown rice, quinoa, oats, sweet potatoes, etc. (For a great pasta, I recommend Barilla Plus - extra protein, omega-3s and fiber in a great tasting pasta!)
  • Lean protein: poultry, seafood, egg whites
  • Beans: black, red kidney, garbanzo, cannelini, navy, etc
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Natural sugar sources: honey, agave nectar
  • Nuts
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Low fat cheese/ cottage cheese
  • Low fat (Greek) yogurt
What not to eat:
  • Processed foods
  • White flour
  • Processed sugar (white, brown, etc)
  • Foods high in saturated/trans fats
  • Sugary drinks (fruit juice, soda/pop, etc)
  • Artificial sweeteners
How to eat it:
  • 5 to 6 small meals a day
  • Eat every 2 to 3 hours
  • Combine complex carb and lean protein at every meal
What to drink:
Lots of water! I aim for 2 liters per day
Alcohol only sparingly

PLANNING AHEAD is key! It's so easy to fall off the wagon during a hectic week if you don't take the time on Sunday to get everything ready for the week ahead.

Whole Wheat Bagels

Why I'm choosing to eat clean.
For me, CE is becoming a way of life. It's a lifestyle change and not a diet, per se, though my initial motivation was weight loss. I've tried counting calories but that gets tedious and tiring. Since I do a lot of cooking and baking on my own, I have to figure all the calories and portions myself - I can't just turn the bag over and read them! I think my interest in cooking has made this an easy choice and an even easier lifestyle transition. I want to make my own bread! I already bake cupcakes and cookies, I want to make them better for me! Many aspects of our lifestyle already fit the mold: we don't eat beef or pork, so lean protein sources are already our staples; we already opt for smaller meals throughout the day rather than 3 large meals; we pack our own lunches and bring them to work; we rarely eat out at restaurants - maybe 4 or 5 times a year. I also happened to be blessed with a husband who is open to my experimenting with new ingredients. Oddly enough - even his coworkers were jealous of the quinoa dish I made!

Oatmeal Banana Pancakes

The benefits of CE.
I made my commitment to CE about 4 weeks ago, and I couldn't be happier about my decision. Of course, I am ecstatic that I have lost 10 pounds and over 3 inches off my waist - all without counting a single calorie. But to me, the greater gift is how I feel. My general disposition is happier than I've been in quite some time. My body just feels... different. It is so much more satisfying to be hungry and eat a wholesome, complex carb and protein filled snack. I feel full, satisfied and energized. It's a fabulous feeling.

This doesn't mean I've sworn off those items I'm supposed to avoid. Avoid does not mean eliminate! I am slowly learning, however, that the return on those treats may not always be worth the joy of eating them. Those amazing s'mores cupcakes I made? I definitely had a stomach ache after indulging. And that wasn't a fabulous feeling.

There are people out there who will say, hey - everything is fine in moderation, no need to go to this extreme. My commitment to eating clean is my way of moderating. I can still enjoy fancy desserts or other taboo items, but this commitment to feeling great and nourishing my body has, for the last four weeks, kept that urge to indulge in check.

Check out my Clean Eating tag for recipes that fit this lifestyle... there will be plenty more to come!

Stuffed Zucchini

A few CE resources:
The Eat Clean Diet, by Tosca Reno
Eat Clean Diet
Clean Eating Magazine
Clean Eating Answers
Clean Eating Online

Evelyn's (and mine) Favorite Pasta