Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Best Beef Stew

-3 slices of light center-cut bacon, finely chopped (I used Smithfield)
-1 1/2 lbs bottom round beef, cut into 1'' cubes (don't use pre-cut stew meat: the pieces are usually uneven)
-3 T all-purpose flour
-1/2 t kosher salt
-1/4 t fresh ground black pepper
-Cooking spray
-2 small sweet onions, diced
-1/2 lb baby carrots, halved or quartered if they're big
-1/2 head of garlic, pressed (~1 T)
-1 1/2 T tomato paste
-1 T hot Hungarian paprika
-3 anchovies packed in olive oil, minced
-3 sprigs fresh oregano
-3 sprigs fresh thyme
-1 can diced fire-roasted unsalted tomatoes, not drained (I used Muir Glen)
-1 1/4 cups Merlot or another dry red wine (do NOT use cooking wine. use a wine that you would drink.)
-2 cups unsalted beef stock (I used Medford Farms)

1) Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) Put the cubed beef in a large resealable plastic bag along with the flour, kosher salt, and pepper. Shake it around and make sure the beef is evenly coated.

3) Put the chopped bacon in a dutch oven, or another large oven-safe pot with a lid. Turn the heat to medium. Stir it around occasionally, and cook until it crisps. Remove it with a slotted spoon.

4) Brown the cubed beef in 3 batches; make sure you don't crowd the beef, otherwise it won't brown properly. If it sticks to the bottom of the pot, that means it's not ready to be turned over. Tongs come in handy when flipping. Use cooking spray as necessary. Remove the beef from the pot.

5) Turn the heat to medium low, saute the onions until they soften, and then add the carrots to the pot. Saute and stir occasionally until the vegetables are slightly browned, ~15 minutes total.

6) Add the garlic, tomato paste, and paprika and stir it around until the paprika is fragrant, ~1 minute.

7) Add the broth, wine, tomatoes, anchovies, oregano, thyme, and bacon, and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits. Bring stew to a boil. Turn off the heat. Add the beef and its juices.

8) Cover the pot, but leave a little crack for steam to escape, and put it in the oven. Stir the stew every half hour. The beef should be fork-tender in about 2 hours.

9) Remove the herbs, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 6-8 (nutritional information for 8 provided in parentheses)
1 1/3 cup (1 cup):
275 calories (206.25)
6.67g fat (5g)
15.67g carbohydrates (11.75g)
1.33g fiber (1g)
28.17g protein (21.13g)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lemon Balm Yogurt Unfrosted Cupcakes

I have been cooking up a storm the last couple of days since my boyfriend and I returned from visiting his relatives and a friend in the Boston area. I've made Cincinnati turkey chili (with cocoa powder!), roasted cauliflower and broccoli with a lemon caper sauce, chicken with a mushroom cream sauce, roasted carrots, bison steak with caramelized shallots and red wine, and grilled sirloin. I missed baking and having a go-to, low-calorie baked good when I'm craving something sweet.

I seem to be addicted to Fage 2% Greek yogurt lately. I used to eat it regularly last year, switched to 0% for fewer calories, and found it too tangy and unpleasant to be eaten alone. Now I've rediscovered the smooth creaminess of 2%, and I will never go back.

I have been looking for a good cake recipe in which I could use yogurt. I stopped at the Morningside Organic Farmer's Market this morning with Kristov to pick up a little pumpkin to roast, spaghetti squash, and pole beans, and smelled some sweet lemon balm. I instantly thought of baking with it. I found Ina Garten's Lemon Yogurt Cake recipe after I came home, lightened and simplified it a bit, and added 2 T of finely minced lemon balm.

(Click on the images for larger views.)

So here it is. Dense, sweet, super moist, spongy, and lemony. Try it topped with whipped cream and fresh blueberries!

-1.5 cups white whole wheat flour
-2 t baking powder
-1/2 t kosher salt
-1 cup Greek yogurt (2% fat)
-1 cup Splenda granular
-4 servings egg substitute
-2 t lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
-juice of 1 lemon
-1 t lemon extract
-1/2 t vanilla extract
-2 T finely minced lemon balm
-1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) Combine the flour, baking powder, and kosher salt. Set aside.

3) Combine the yogurt, Splenda, egg substitute, zest, juice, extracts, and herbs.

4) Add the flour mixture to the yogurt mixture, whisk gently until combined, and fold in the applsauce.

5) Divide the mixture between a 12-cup muffin pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray or has paper cups. Bake for 30 minutes.

Each cupcake has

91 calories
0.6g fat
14g net carbs
2g fiber
5g protein

Friday, August 28, 2009

Crustless Lemony Goat Cheesecakes

Click on the images for larger views.

I got the idea of making a goat cheesecake after spotting it on the menu at Abattoir on Wednesday. I didn't order it, for I thought I could make my own lower-carb and higher-protein version. It has double the calories of my usual fat free cheesecakes; I wasn't able to find any reduced fat fresh goat cheeses. I used some fat free cream cheese, but not enough to cover up the slight tang and the sweetness of goat cheese. If the calorie count is too high for you, use smaller ramekins and reduce baking time, use fat free sour cream, and/or use a reduced fat goat cheese.

Ideas for toppings: reduced balsamic vinegar, fresh blueberries and blackberries, lemon curd, fresh whipped cream

Tips when making this:
-Be careful when placing and removing the roasting pan from the oven. It is pretty heavy, and you don't want to splash water in the cheesecakes. You could line the ramekins with tinfoil, but I was too lazy to do this.

-Be careful when removing the ramekins from the roasting dish. I accidentally dropped one because my hands are too small to hold one at a time, and I dipped the thumb of my oven mitt into the cheesecake :(.

-Food processor
-Plastic spatula
-Food scale
-1/4 t measurement
-4 4-6 oz ramekins
-Cooking spray
-1 large roasting pan

-6 oz fresh goat cheese
-4 oz fat free cream cheese
-1 serving egg substitute
-1/2 cup Splenda granular
-1/2 cup light sour cream
-zest of 1/2 lemon
-juice of 1/2 lemon
-3/4 t vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
-Pinch of kosher salt

1) Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) Place cheeses in a food processor. Pulse until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides as necessary.

3) Add egg substitute and Splenda to food processor. Pulse until combined. Scrape down the sides as necessary.

4) Add the light sour cream, zest, juice, vanilla, and salt. Pulse until combined. Scrape down the sides as necessary.

5) Coat each ramekin with cooking spray and then fill each with equal amounts of cheesecake batter. Arrange them in the roasting pan so that they don't touch, and then fill the pan with hot water halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

6) Place roasting pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the ramekins from the roasting pan, and let them rest for 30 minutes at room-temperature. Cover with saran wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Each cheesecake has
190 calories
10g fat
8.75g carbs
16.5g protein

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Crustless Orange Rum Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Shavings

(Click on the images for larger views.)

Craving a cheesecake, but bored of the pumpkin variety, I opted for something fruity this time. This is the first time I've made a cheesecake on my own sans recipe, but I think it turned out pretty good. Some changes I'd make: 1) skip the marmalade and make a real orange syrup 2) use real rum when cooking the glaze, because for some reason the imitation rum extract was strong at first, but the flavor cooked away as the glaze thickened 3) put the cake ingredients in the food processor before pouring it in the pan, because the cheesecake was a little grainy.

Here's what I did to make this cake. Feel free to tweak it since I have some qualms about it. Out of a 4-person vote, 3 (including me) thought the cheesecake was pretty tasty. My dad thought the marmalade was bitter.

Sorry for the bad pictures; the lighting at my parents' house is not great.

Servings: 8
Cake ingredients:
-2.5 packages of softened fat free cream cheese (8 oz each)
-1 cup Splenda granular
-2.5 servings egg substitute
-1 cup light sour cream
-zest from 1 orange
-1 t vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract or 1/2 t vanilla powder
-1 t imitation rum extract
-1 t orange flavor

Glaze ingredients:
-juice from 1 orange
-3 T sugar-free orange marmalade
-1 T Splenda granular
-1 t rum extract
-pinch of kosher salt

-dark chocolate (70% cocoa)

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) Cream the cream cheese and Splenda on medium until smooth.

3) Add the egg substitute and beat until smooth.

4) Add the remaining cake ingredients and beat until combined.

5) Bake for 60-70 minutes, until the cake jiggles a little in the middle. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes.

6) Heat the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir occasionally. Cook until the glaze can coat the back of a spoon but can still be smeared gently over the cake.

7) Smear over the cake, and let it cool to room temperature.

8) Wrap with tinfoil and let chill in the refrigerator. Before serving, add some chocolate shavings.

Each slice has
130 calories
2.5g fat
10.6g carbs
13.7g protein

Friday, August 7, 2009

High Protein Crustless Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

(Click on the images for larger views.)

I found a healthy pumpkin cheesecake recipe and made it last week. It was too cheesy, and not pumpkin-y nor flavorful enough. I've tweaked it a bit, and here's my version.

It has no fat, very few carbs, and lots of protein for a dessert! Plus, it's delicious!

Servings: 8
-2 1/2 packages of fat free cream cheese (8 oz. each)
-1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
-4 egg whites
-1 cup Splenda granular
-1 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
-1/2 t cinnamon
-1/2 t allspice
-1/2 t vanilla powder or 1 t vanilla extract
-1/2 t nutmeg
-dash of ground ginger
-dash of ground cloves

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, Splenda, and vanilla from low to high until smooth, about 1 minute.

3) Add pumpkin, egg whites, and spices. Beat from low to high for another minute.

4) Spray a 9'' cake pan with cooking spray. Pour in the batter, pick up the pan, and tap on the counter to release air bubbles and smooth the top.

5) Optional: using a toothpick, make a decorative swirl from the center of the cake to the edge.

6) Bake for 60-70 minutes, until the top of the cake browns a bit. I baked for 65 minutes.

7) Let the cake cool to room temperature, and then cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

8) Serve with fat free whipped cream!

Each slice has
103 calories
0g fat
6g net carbs
1.5g fiber
and 14g protein

Heavenly Chocolate Rum Cupcakes

(Click on the images for larger views.)

I haven't had rum cake since I was 9 years old and visiting New Orleans. I found a low fat chocolate rum cake recipe at this vegetarian site, but I tweaked it a bit. I try to avoid soy products, so I replaced the tofu for fat free ricotta cheese. Calabro brand fat free ricotta is the best I've tried so far; it is available at Whole Foods. I lowered the sugar by using sugar-free maple syrup and rum extract instead of rum. I increased the amount of protein by substituting 2 T of whole wheat pastry flour for chocolate casein.

I ordered vanilla powder and chocolate extract recently from Fante's. These were used in my cupcakes, but you may use vanilla extract instead and forgo the chocolate extract. I've found that vanilla extract is sometimes bitter, so I decided to buy vanilla powder. Real vanilla beans are quite expensive :p. The bottle of chocolate extract smells heavenly; I've read that it enhances the flavor of chocolate-y goods.

I opted for rum extract since it's a "free" food, and rum isn't available at Whole Foods, or any grocery store, where I went last night for whole wheat pastry flour. Georgia is very particular about alcohol: no alcohol sales on Sundays, except in restaurants, and beer isn't allowed to be "on sale" at liquor stores.

The inside is very moist and cake-y. They are a heavenly treat, and for only 46 calories to boot!

Servings: 12
Dry ingredients:
-1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
-1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-1/2 scoop (15g) of chocolate micellar casein
-2 T Splenda granular
-1/2 t baking powder
-1/4 t baking soda
-1/8 t cinnamon

Wet ingredients:
-1/2 cup fat free ricotta cheese
-1/2 cup sugar-free maple syrup
-6 T espresso
-2 T water
-1 t rum extract or 2 T rum
-1/2 t chocolate extract (optional)
-1/4 t vanilla powder or 1/2 t vanilla extract

Rum glaze ingredients:
-2 T sugar-free maple syrup
-2 T espresso
-1/2 and 1/4 t rum extract or 1 1/2 T rum

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) Put the wet ingredients in a food processor, and process until smooth.

3) Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium-size mixing bowl.

4) Whisk the wet and dry ingredients together until smooth.

5) Divide mixture among a 12-cup muffin pan sprayed with cooking spray.

6) Bake for 30-35 minutes; a toothpick will not come out totally clean.

7) Let the cupcakes cool for 10 minutes.

8) Meanwhile, combine the rum glaze ingredients. Microwave for 10 seconds, and then brush onto the cupcakes. Apply 2 coats.

Each cupcake has
46 calories
1g fat
5g net carbs
1g fiber
and 3g protein

Thursday, August 6, 2009

So Good Spicy Fried Chicken and Tomato Salad

(Click on the images for larger views.)

We southerners sure love our fried chicken. This is a healthy, low calorie, somewhat low carb, and high protein comfort meal you can make in 20 minutes.

I found this hot sauce and low fat sour cream at Whole Foods. The sauce is spicy and tangy, with flavors of vinegar, carrots, sweet potato, cilantro, garlic, and onion. This is my favorite brand of low fat sour cream; it is really rich, and it is a great substitute for creme fraiche on the cherry tomatoes. I combined the hot sauce and sour cream to make a tasty dipping sauce for the fried chicken.

-1/2 boneless, skinless chicken breast, fat trimmed and pounded to 1/4-1/2'' thick
-2 T panko bread crumbs
-Egg Beaters for dipping
-pinches of your favorite spices, such as sea salt, pepper, and paprika
-3 T low fat sour cream
-1 1/2 T hot sauce
-handful of cherry tomatoes
-balsamic vinegar to taste
-sea salt and pepper to taste

1) Heat a medium-sized skillet to medium-high heat.

2) Mix the Egg Beaters, pinches of spices, and 1/2 T of hot sauce in a small bowl. Spread out the panko on a plate or on wax paper. Put these near the stove.

3) Dip both sides of the chicken in the Egg Beaters mixture, shake the excess off, and then cover with panko. Spray the skillet with butter-flavored cooking spray, and add the chicken. Cook for ~4 minutes per side.

4) Meanwhile, wash the cherry tomatoes, halve them, and sprinkle on sea salt and pepper. Drizzle some balsamic vinegar, and then drop 1 T of sour cream on the tomatoes.

5) Spray the chicken with cooking spray and flip over.

6) Mix the remaining 2 T of sour cream with the remaining 1 T of hot sauce. This will be the dipping sauce for the fried chicken.

7) Remove the chicken from the pan when the panko is golden and crispy.

8) Plate everything, and savor it!

Depending on the size of your chicken breast, your meal will have roughly
200 calories
3g fat
12g net carbs
and 30-35g protein