Sunday, January 15, 2017

Healthy 2017 Week 2: Writing It Down

I am working hard to get those sit ups into my daily routine.  This one is a great habit to get into and
it just takes a few moments.  I hit the mark 6 times this week.

This week the healthy habit is writing down what I eat.  This has always worked for me when I am successful.  I am hit or miss about it though.  So I commit to getting it written down.  Also, I commit to getting it down as soon as I eat it.  If I am eating it, I am writing it!

There are quite a few apps out there that you can use to journal your intake and ones you can use on a computer if you need to.  I use My Fitness Pal.  I used to use Sparkpeople.  I am not sure why I stopped because it was really good.  Had a lot of articles that were very informative and inspirational. Most of these programs you can log your exercise too. But now I have already added some of my recipes to Myfitnesspal that I can't leave.  It knows me and I know it. Yah know what I mean?

I am writing a list of the few I know.  If you know more out there, by all means leave it in the comment section and I will add it to the list.

My Fitness Pal
My Calorie Counter
Lose It
My Plate (Livestrong)
Supertracker (this one is from the USDA)
Every Day Health

Friday, January 13, 2017

Coconut Cake with Coconut Frosting

My daughters birthday just passed and this is the cake she wanted.  I don't think she ever had it before.  But she loves coconut.  So this is what she picked.  We all love coconut!

It is amazing how time flies.  I can't believe how fast she is growing up.  I know to say these words is a cliche.  You hear it over and over again.  You don't realize when you are younger what these words mean.  Its only when it is your life to you fully comprehend.  Like all things.  One usually has to go through something to fully understand it. All its nuances.  Like, the passage time I see in her, I don't necessarily want to see this time passage in myself.  Like it or not, though, this is the way it is.

Coconut Cake

5 large eggs, separated
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2-1/4 cups cake flour or regular flour minus 2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flaked coconut, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 325F.  Line 2 9 inch rounds with parchment and grease with butter or cooking spray.

Cream together butter, oil and sugar for five minutes.  Add in yolks, one at a time.  Add vanilla extract and coconut extract.

In another bowl combine flour and baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Mix in dry ingredients to the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Fold in coconut.

In a separate bowl beat egg whites with cream of tartar and a pinch of salt until soft peaks form.  Fold into the batter.

Spoon into prepared pans.  Bake for

Coconut Frosting

1 cup butter
4 cups (give or take) confectioners sugar
Coconut Cream*

Cream butter and coconut cream together with confectioners sugar.  Beat until smooth.

*I skimmed the top of the can of coconut milk as I did not have cream of coconut.  If you have it you could replace one of the butters or just use 1/3 cup and do what I did.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake

This time of year poses picture challenges. Not enough natural light to catch all these things before they are eaten up. I have made so many things that I wanted to share on the blog but can't. Lately, even when it is daylight, its totally grey.

I have been listening to books on tape in my car lately and while I am quilting. The one I am listening to in the car is, What I Know For Sure, by Oprah Winfrey.  It's so good.  So good in fact that I am going to own a copy after I return this one to the library. I find it very inspirational.  I feel like I would get something new out of it each time I listened to it or read it.

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake

2 cups finely ground graham crackers
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 3/4 cups sugar
6 ounces raspberries (about 1 1/2 cups)
32 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap exterior of a 9-inch springform pan (including base) in a double layer of foil; set aside.

Stir together cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium bowl. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom of pan. Bake until set, about 10 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Process raspberries in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pass puree through a fine sieve into a small bowl; discard solids. Whisk in 2 tablespoons sugar, and set aside.

Beat cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar in a slow, steady stream. Add salt and vanilla; mix until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing each until just combined. Pour cream cheese filling over crust.

Drop raspberry sauce by the teaspoon on top. With a wooden skewer or toothpick, swirl sauce into filling.

Set cake pan inside a large, shallow roasting pan. Transfer to oven. Carefully ladle boiling water into roasting pan to reach halfway up sides of cake pan. Bake until cake is set but still slightly wobbly in center, 60 to 65 minutes.

Transfer cake pan to rack; let cake cool completely. Refrigerate, uncovered, 6 hours or overnight. Before unmolding, run a knife around edge of cake.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Banana Bread

I make banana bread without nuts here at my house because my kids don't like the nuts in their dessert.  This time, I decided to add the nuts into each individual loaf, leaving a few without nuts. Wow, the taste is so much better with the nuts.  I forgot how much I missed that.

Day 3 of my Healthy 2017 and I am doing sit ups.  Did 25!  Yeah, go me!  I also did a cardio workout on You Tube from Pop Sugar.

This recipe is from Epicurious and seriously the most banana per flour ratio I have ever seen.  I like that because if I am making banana bread it is because I have quite a few bananas to use up. But I will be honest here, I put in a few more ounces then they did.  I probably hit 16 ounces, possibly more.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
4 medium very ripe bananas (about 13 ounces), peeled and mashed
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cream the butter with the sugar for a few minutes.  Add in vanilla.  Add eggs one at a time. Add sour cream and bananas.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet.  Fold in walnuts at the end.  Or place them in the little loafs or muffin tins, whatever you like.

Pour into sprayed tins or a loaf pan.  Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 45 to 60 minutes depending on what you are baking in.  If you are using a loaf pan it will be all of an hour before it is done, especially if you add more banana.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Healthy 2017 Making New Habits

I have proclaimed this year 2017 as the "Year of Getting Healthy".  No resolutions here because resolutions don't work for me.  I am going to be making some new habits for myself.  Every two weeks I will add a new healthy habit.  At the end of 2017 I am looking for a healthier, stronger and leaner me.

The key here is to add them as a regular part of life.  But some of these things are a periodic thing.  If you want to follow along and do this, try it for at least two weeks.  Of course, you don't have to do anything, right?  But I would love to have people walking the road with me.
The first healthy habit I am going to start is at least 20 sit ups every day.  I will keep adding when I feel I am ready.  We'll see what I get up to at the end of the year.

Won't you join me?  Join in doing the same ones or offer your own idea for a healthy habit in the comment section.  Would love to hear your ideas.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Sweet Potato Cake

One of the greatest joys of the Christmas season is giving gifts, isn't that what everyone says.  Its true. I was thinking back over the last few months and the challenges we have faced as a family. Challenges I never thought would be realities.  But then do we ever 'expect' these kinds of things? Some days its like moving through mud.  Taking one moment at a time because a day seems overwhelming. Temporarily denying things because it hurts too much to think about. Laughing with friends to dull the pain.  Keeping busy and distracted by the season.

The real exciting thing for me this Christmas was being able to give my children moments of simple joy, opening presents.  So simple. So needed. It wasn't like in years past.  What was different this year?  The feeling was so very  focused for me on that exact moment when I could see the smile, the joy, the excitement crossing their faces. Maybe it was just the sharp contrast of the deep sadness I have been feeling with the moments of elation.  It was magical.

Sweet Potato Cake
In my next venture with this cake, because there will seriously be a next time, I will use 4 egg whites, 1 cup sugar, a pinch more cream of tartar and a whole teaspoon of vanilla.  Why? I could not stop stealing a bit here and there of the frosting, the kids couldnt stop.  There just needs to be more of it! Hubba, hubba, hubba!

1 1/2 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (1 stick or 115 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (190 grams) packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

3 large egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (will help stabilize egg whites, don’t worry if you don’t have it)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of an 8- to 9-inch square pan with parchment paper, then butter the paper and sides of the pan. Or you could use nonstick spray.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add vanilla and eggs, and beat until just combined. Mix in sweet potato puree, then stir in dry ingredients just until they disappear.

Spread batter in prepared pan, and bake cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let cake rest in pan for 5 minutes on a cooling rack, then invert onto cooling rack, and let cool completely.

Make frosting:
Place egg whites, granulated sugar, a pinch of salt and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Whisk mixture for 3 minutes, until whites are warmed. Remove bowl from top of saucepan, then, with an electric mixer, beat egg white mixture on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 4 to 7 minutes longer. Add vanilla and mix until combined.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Breakfast Pizza

I liked mine sprinkled with Frank's Red Hot Sauce.
This was a Sunday morning breakfast that really should have been a Sunday brunch.  Packed with protein and deliciousness, it also packs a bacon fat punch.  But hey, I had to give it a try. It was a treat.

My daughter had her friend J over.  Love giving her treats because she is such a full of gratitude kind of girl.  I love that about her.  Everyone loves seeing gratitude in people don't they?  Entitlement is such a turn off.  At least for me.  Seeing J enjoy a meal and smiling about it gives me such joy.  Isn't that what being a cook is all about.  At least for me, when I make a meal for someone and they really enjoy it, it makes me feel good.  I accomplished something.
If your bacon and dough is already made then this pizza is a snap.  I will write it as if you don't. Pizza dough recipe underneath.  It is a make ahead pizza dough but if you want to make it the same day then you could use this recipe instead.

6-8 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
dash of Tabasco (optional)
1 pound bacon
1 pound mozzarella

Preheat your oven to 450F.  Make sure there is a rack on the bottom of the oven.

While the oven is heating, roll out your dough.  Either put cornmeal on your pan or nonstick cooking spray.

Top with mozzarella.

In a bowl, combine eggs with milk and beat with a fork or whisk.  Warm frying pan and put a little butter or oil in it, coating the bottom.  Pour eggs in.  Keep pulling the cooked egg on bottom to the top.  Don't over cook them, undercook!  The eggs will continue baking in the oven when they are on the pizza.  Season eggs with salt and pepper.  Even better with a dash of Tabasco.

Break up eggs into small pieces, scatter all over pizza.

Top with bacon all around.

Bake on bottom shelf of oven.


Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

4 1/2 cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour
1 3/4 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup (2 ounces/60g) olive oil
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 tablespoon sugar
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

On the second day:
8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

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