Saturday, October 25, 2008

Apple Cake

When I saw this cake on Smitten Kitchen's blog, I knew I had to try it. It looked completely fantastic, and we were planning on going to an orchard for apple picking, so the timing was perfect! This cake was dense, but at the same time incredibly moist and delicious. Perfect for fall.

I had recently baked a few things with whole wheat flour, and those recipes turned out well, so I tried to make this recipe a bit lighter than the original. All of my changes worked really well, save for the Splenda I included. I didn't notice a strange aftertaste to the cake until my mother in law mentioned it (and Michael agreed), but then it was all I could taste.

I will absolutely make this cake again and again, but will use all sugar next time. If you want to splurge a little more than I did, click on the link below for the original recipe. One note based on my experience: the original poster made this cake in a tube pan, which I didn't have. That would likely have reduced baking time for the cake that I made (using a springform pan). For presentation purposes, I liked using the springform pan; you'll just have to keep baking the cake and watch it.

Apple Cake
Source: Smitten Kitchen

6 apples (I used Fuji & Golden Delicious)
1 Tbsp cinnemon
4 Tbsp sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 cup sugar
1 cup Splenda (next time I'll stick with 2 cups sugar)
1/4 cup orange juice
2-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 "egg substitute"
1 cup walnuts (would be heavenly in this cake, but I wanted Chloe to be able to eat some, so I ommitted)

Preheat oven to 350. Peel apples and chop into chunks. Toss with cinnemon and sugar and set aside.

Stir flours, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then add eggs one at a time. Pour half of batter into pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour rest of batter and then arrange rest of apples on top.

Bake for one and a half hours, or until toothpick (or knife) comes out clean.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Not Quite Semi-Homemade

"Hey, aren't you going to take a picture of this for your food blog?"

"Well, of course, I was just getting out the camera."

"Use my plate. It'll photograph better."

I was running late last night so Michael was kind enough to make dinner for us. Two nights in a row, he's had to do this. I am very lucky to have a husband who doesn't just sit around scratching himself on nights like these when I can't get home before quarter to seven. Not only did he cook, but he also had a little ankle biter to watch.

I'm afraid I don't have any recipes or kitchen tips from the chef. But the menu consisted of chicken nuggets, green beans and Velveeta shells and cheese. A meal the whole family could enjoy!

Pumpkin Dollar Cakes

I saw this recipe in a local grocery store's monthly recipe publication and knew I had to make it asap. Most weekends I like to make a nice breakfast and this looked like a fun, easy, seasonal thing to make. Michael's not a lover of pumpkin, but I looked forward to introducing it to Chloe.

The batter came together very easily but was much thicker than your usual (runny) pancake batter. Also, the recipe calls for two tablespoons of batter per cake. I found that to be too much, so I went with closer to one.

Verdict: these are a fun fall breakfast, served with a side of scrambled eggs (with ham and cheese). I have no need to make them again, as I have over half frozen for weekday breakfasts in my freezer (bonus!). Michael ate quite a few, though he's still not won over by pumpkin. Chloe barely touched hers. That's either due to the finicky eating habits of a 17 month old, or due to the fact that these aren't overly sweet.

Oh, and lest I forget: these babies are only ONE WW point per pancake!

Pumpkin Dollar Cakes
Source: Dierbergs' Everybody Cooks, September 2008
Yield: about 40 dollar-sized pancakes

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs, slightly beaten (I used egg substitute)
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
Pancake syrup

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, salt, sugar and spice. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs and buttermilk; whisk in pumpkin and oil. Make a well in center of flour mixture. Pour in pumpkin mixture; stir until just moistened. Batter will be lumpy.

Lightly coat large nonstick skillet or griddle pan with no-stick cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Spoon two tablespoons (I used 1 to 1-1/2) batter per pancake into skillet. Cook until bubbles appear in tops and bottoms are lightly browned, about two minutes. Turn and cook until lightly browned on the other side, about one minute. Serve with pancake syrup.
TIP: Cook an entire batch of pancakes and freeze. Reheat as needed in the microwave.

Per four pancakes without syrup: 171 calories, 6g fat, 44mg cholesterol; 255mg sodium, 24g carbs, 2g fiber = 4 WW points

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Crock Pot Brown Sugar Chili

I knew I'd be baking a lot this past weekend, so for dinner on Friday, I prepared this Weight Watchers recipe, which had been listed as part of a post on the cooking board I frequent. Super easy to prepare, and pretty tasty, too. I served it with Trader Joe's cornbread (best mix around), prepared in a muffin top pan. The chili is sweeter than I am used to, but that may have to do as much with corn bread that I crumble in my bowl as the brown sugar in the recipe.

This is a crock pot recipe, but I don't see why one couldn't just put all ingredients into a dutch oven and let it simmer for 20 minutes or so, if you don't have the time for it to slow cook.

Now I just need to find a use for all the extra tomato juice I have on hand. Bloody Mary, anyone?

Crock Pot Brown Sugar Chili
Source: Weight Watchers website, via a post on
Yield: 8 servings

1 lb extra lean ground beef (I used ground turkey)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp prepared mustard
1 medium sized onion, chopped (I used frozen pre-chopped onion)
2 (14 oz) cans kidney or red beans (I used one can chili beans in mild sauce and one can red beans)
2 cups low sodium tomato juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp chili powder

My addition: frozen red, green and yellow bell peppers

Brown ground beef and onion (and peppers) in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Drain. Add all ingredients to crock pot and stir to combine. Cover. Cook on high for 2-3 hours. If possible, stir several times during cooking.

240 calories, 6g fat, 4g fiber = 4/5 WW points per serving (hits right on the line)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Berry Banana Mini Muffins

There's a lot to like about these mini muffins: they're terribly low in fat and calories (1 WW point per muffin!), they're easy to make, and if you have a little one, they're a great non-processed treat for her/him since there are no nuts involved. They also helped to make me a little less afraid of whole wheat flour, having had a disasterous experience involving it and a pumpkin loaf a few years back. While not my favorite muffin in the world (not decadent enough), I'm still going to town on a few each day. Best part is, I don't feel remotely guilty about doing so, since it's practically a health food. (Not really, but kind of. Cut me some slack.)

I got this recipe from this month's edition of Everybody Cooks, a monthly publication by a local grocery store. This publication always has a lot of good recipes. This month is no exception. This weekend alone I made two recipes from this month's pub, and there are two or three that I'd still like to make.
Berry Banana Mini Muffins
Source: Dierbergs' Everybody Cooks, September 2008
Yield: 4 dozen mini muffins

1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten (I used egg substitute)
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup freshly shredded carrot (I used pre-packaged)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup honey
1/4 vegetable oil
1 cup frozen blueberries

Lightly coat 48 mini muffin cups with no=stick cooking spray. Set aside. In medium bowl, combine flours, baking powser, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In second medium bowl, combine eggs, bananas, carrots, buttermilk, honey and oil. Make well in center of flour mixture. Pour in egg mixture; stir until just moistened. Gently stir in blueberries. Batter will be lumpy.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full. Bake in 400 degree oven until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 10 minutes. Cool muffins in pan for five minutes. Serve warm.

Per two muffins: 108 calories; 3g fat; 2g fiber; 18mg cholesterol; 126mg sodium. 2 WW points.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Buffalo Chicken Calzone

Ah blog... it's been too long. Too many weekends spent out of town and away from the kitchen. Hopefully this post is the first of many to come this month.

Some talk on the cooking board I frequent inspired me to create a buffalo chicken calzone. I had the pizza dough in the fridge, which I had planned to use to make one of my giant calzones anyway, so why not go spicy? And spicy it was. Wowza. A little too spicy for me, but if you like your wings flaming hot, you'll love this recipe.

If not, I suggest going the way of the legendary buffalo chicken dip, and to the ground chicken add up to one block of cream cheese, 1/2 cup hot sauce and 1/4 cup ranch dressing. That should temper the heat while maintaining a little kick.
Buffalo Chicken Calzone
Source: Yours Truly

1 lb ground chicken
Poultry seasoning to taste
Ground pepper to taste
3/4 block 1/3 less fat cream cheese
3/4 cup hot wing sauce (like Frank's)
Frozen onion/celery mix to taste
1 handful shredded mozzarella (or to taste)
1 handful shredded cheddar (or to taste)
1 refridgerated pizza dough
Ranch dressing for dipping

Preheat oven to 425. Put jelly roll pan or pizza stone in oven to warm. Brown chicken and frozen onions/celery. Drain fat and add poultry seasoning, ground pepper and cream cheese. Stir until cream cheese melts. Add wing sauce. Simmer until sauce is slightly reduced. Remove from heat.

On a piece of parchment paper, roll out pizza dough. Sprinkle cheese over dough, then spread slightly cooled chicken mixture over half (long ways) of the dough. Roll the dough long ways and seal the dough at the seam. Helpful hint: rather than trying to pull the dough from the parchment as you roll it, lift the parchment long ways so that the entire piece of dough rolls at once without breaking. Note that with the amount of meat in the calzone, you'll only be able to fold the dough over once and seal; you won't be able to form a pinwheel.

Cut slices on top of the dough with a knife so steam can escape. Spray lightly with olive oil, or brush dough with an egg wash. Put calzone with parchment on the hot jelly roll pan and bake for 17-20 minutes, or until brown. Once out of the oven, let calzone rest for a few minutes and slice into generous diagonal pieces. Serve with ranch for dipping.