Saturday, January 22, 2011

Orange Cranberry Muffins

I've been MIA again recently; I've been extremely busy at work. And since work is... ah, kind of where I usually write my blog posts... that is the main reason. Of course I could have written them at home, like a normal person, but the last thing I wanted to do after spending 9 hours glued to a computer screen is come home and sit in front of a computer screen.

Also, we haven't had anything too exciting in the past week. It mostly consisted of turkey leftovers from a Thanksgiving-themed dinner party we had with a few friends last weekend. But enough excuses. Let's get cooking.

I didn't forget about my healthy eating goals for this year, and this recipe follows along that line. I've had a bag of cranberries in my freezer for a while now, and I've been dying to use them up. I found this recipe, and if definitely adhered to my newly healthy standards. They were really good, I loved that tart bite of cranberry contrasted well to the sweetness of the muffin. If you're not a fan of tart, I bet the dried sweetened cranberries be delicious as well!

Orange Cranberry Muffins

2 cups of whole wheat flour
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce
1 cup of orange juice
1 Tablespoon of honey
1 Tablespoon of canola oil
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 cup of fresh cranberries
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts

Crumb topping:
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup of brown sugar
3 Tablespoons of cold butter, diced

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Place 18 liners in a standard cupcake pan (not a jumbo muffin tin).

Mix all the dry ingredients (flour, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder) in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix all of the wet ingredients (applesauce, orange juice, honey, oil, and vanilla).

Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and pour the wet ingredients in. Pour in the cranberries and chopped nuts, and mix until just moistened. Place about 2 Tablespoons of batter in each tin.

For the crumb topping, put the butter, brown sugar, and flour in the base of a food processor and pulse a few times, until the mixture resembles course sand. Sprinkle on top of the muffins. Bake for about 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Adapted from Post Punk Kitchen, original recipe here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cranberry Leek Quinoa

I recently bought a big bag of quinoa on a whim. It's a fairly new ingredient to me, so I am constantly looking for interesting ways to use it. I am quickly falling in love though, quinoa is so healthy, delicious, and versatile!

With the chicken stock, sage, and cranberries, this recipe kind of has the flavors of stuffing, which I LOVE! This would be great with chicken breast mixed in, as the original recipe directs, or as a side for a chicken main course.

Cranberry Leek Quinoa

Serves 4

1 1/2 cups of chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed and uncooked
1/3 cup of dried cranberries

1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 leek, sliced
1 teaspoon of dried sage
1/4 cup of dry white wine

Directions: Heat chicken stock to a simmer in large saucepan. Add quinoa, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 minutes. When quinoa is done, remove from pan into a large bowl, and mix in dried cranberries.

Pour the olive oil in the saucepan, and add the leek and sage. Cook until the leek is wilted, about 5-8 minutes. Pour in the white wine, and allow to burn for about 30 seconds. Add the quinoa/cranberries back in, and allow to cook uncovered for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Adapted (loosely) from Cooking Light, original recipe here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pesto Fish Kabobs

Welcome to my first attempt at healthier eating this new year! Cooking Light is one of my favorite sources for lighter recipes, and that is where I came across this recipe. It was easy as can be and delicious as well. It doesn't get any better than that, as far as I'm concerned!

Pesto Fish Kabobs

Makes 6 skewers (3 servings)

1lb. of firm white fish, such as halibut (I used cod, because halibut was way too expensive)
2 Tablespoons of basil pesto
1 large red bell pepper

Preheat oven to 450. Cut fish into 1" chunks. Pour pesto on top of it, and mix to coat fish. Place in refrigerator for about 15 minutes, to let flavors soak in.

Meanwhile, cut pepper into about 1" chunks as well. Alternate pepper and fish on skewers, and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Cook in preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until fish is cooked through. Enjoy!

Adapted from Cooking Light, original recipe here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year! (and Chocolate Raspberry-Filled Cupcakes)

Happy new year, everyone! I hope you all had an enjoyable New Years Eve, and that your 2011 is full of health, wealth, and happiness.

For New Years Eve, H and I, and two of our friends, had dinner at the Smith in NYC, which I would definitely recommend if you're ever in the area! Our friend chose the spot mainly because it wasn't crazy expensive, included a three-course meal, and a table that was ours for the night (funny how things have changed since the days when an open-bar and great DJ so we could dance the night away were top priorities). We were expecting the food to be decent, but it totally blew our expectations out of the water! The food was really, really, good. It was traditional American with a slight modern spin. We were very impressed! And the champagne sangria was delicious :)

The only downfall of the night was that there was no official countdown and the big ball wasn't on a TV there. This led to about 10 different drunken, randomly started countdowns between 11:58 and 12:02. Oh well! But on to the new year...

I'm not too big on resolutions, since I can never keep them, yet I still try. My goal for this year is for healthy eating and exercising to be more of a lifestyle for me, and less of a quick fix. I need to learn some darn moderation! I have the will-power to to diet and lose weight when I force myself to, but I'm too strict with myself, which causes me to burn out. And then I stop exercising completely and don't watch what I eat at all. And that bingeing is exactly what's happened in the past couple months. It's really not pretty when your loose, flowy tops are starting to become too snug. Yikes!

So I'm going to try to steer towards a bit more healthier recipes in the coming months- I'm excited to eat a bit cleaner, greener, and healthier. But I just have to sneak this cupcake recipe in first! It is the last of the recipes I made for the soup kitchen dinner last month, so it doesn't count, right??

Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream

for the cupcakes:

9 Tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1/4 teaspoon of baking powder

8 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup strong coffee (or water)

1/2 cup of low-fat milk

for the filling:

1 cup of seedless raspberry jam

for the frosting:
16 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 cups of powdered sugar

1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

Pink icing color

Preheat the oven to 350 and line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a small bowl whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in the eggs one at a time.

In a measuring cup, combine the coffee and milk. Add half of the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl and mix on low speed until just combine. Stir in the coffee-milk mixture. Add in the remaining dry ingredients, again mixing until just combined. 

Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling the cups about 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, use a small spoon or knife in the top of the cupcake to create a small hole in the center for the filling. Spoon in about 2 teaspoons of raspberry jam in each cupcake. (It may help to heat it up a very tiny bit to make it easier to work with. Be careful not to heat it to the point of being liquid, as it will just absorb into the cupcake.)

Finally, for the frosting, place the butter and jam in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream on medium-high speed until well combined, for about 2 minutes. Sift in the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Tint with the pink icing color as desired. Ice cupcakes, top with chocolate jimmies, and enjoy!

Adapted from Annie's Eats, original recipe here.