Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chinese Baked Buns

Jo and I have been so busy this year we really haven't had enough time to hold our annual Chinese New Year Dinner. (See HERE for last year's photos/recipes) We have been so busy getting ready for Valentine's Day and making healthy recipes for the month of January.
Anyway, I wanted to post at least one Chinese New Year inspired recipe.
I made Chinese steamed buns but instead of steaming them I decided to bake them. I know, I know, it completely changes the texture...but they still turned out really tasty!
They do take a bit of time to make - they have to rise for 3 hours and then rest for an hour - but they are quite easy otherwise.

Chinese Baked Buns

1 Tbsp sugar
1 pkg yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1/3 cup very warm water
3 cups flour
1 Tbsp oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
2/3 cup milk, room temp

1 lb ground pork
1/2 bag coleslaw (about 2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
salt & pepper

Egg Wash
1 egg
3 Tbsp water

Dough - In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar and yeast in the very warm water. Mix gently and let it sit 10 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, add flour to oil, beaten egg, and milk. Stir in yeast mixture to form a rough dough. Knead until smooth.
Place in a bowl greased with a bit of oil. Cover and place in a warm spot to rise for 3 hours.
While dough is rising, make filling.
Filling - In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook and stir ground pork until it is no longer pink. Add in the coleslaw, garlic, oyster/hoisin/sweet chili sauce, and salt & pepper. Cook until cabbage is softened, about 5 - 8 minutes. Let cool to room temp.

After 3 hours, place dough onto a floured work surface.
Roll into a long log, about an inch thick, and cut into 16 segments.
Work with 1 segment at a time - keeping the other dough covered with a tea towel so it doesn't dry out.
Flatten piece of dough to a 3 - 4 inch circle. 
Place a spoonful of the pork filling into the middle of the circle.

Pinch edges of dough closed around the filling, rolling slightly in your hand to form a ball after the edges are pinched closed. Place upside down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Repeat with all the dough segments until you have 16 buns.
Cover buns with a tea towel and let rest for an hour.
After an hour, preheat oven to 350. 
Egg wash - In a small bowl, whisk together egg and water. Using a basting or pastry brush, brush the egg wash over each bun. 
Bake the buns at 350 until tops are golden brown, about 20 - 25 minutes.

Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

Chinese buns can also be steamed as a method of cooking. We haven't given that method a try yet but it would be interesting to see how the texture changes. 

My family really enjoyed these. Even the hubby, which surprised me as he is not a pork lover, found these pretty addicting. They reheat quite nicely in the microwave the next day too. 
Gong Hey Fat Choy!

Be sure to stop by Easy Life and Horrific Knits and The Mandatory Mooch for some great links to more recipes and crafts!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Banana Bread French Toast With Cranberry Compote

I came up with this recipe when I was trying to develop a Valentine's Day breakfast that was romantic, easy, delicious, and healthy.
I am a french toast addict so, of course, french toast was the first thing to come to mind. 
I changed things up a bit by using a healthy, low cal, low fat, banana bread as my base and then topping it with a tart (but not too tart) cranberry compote. 
According to Myfitnesspal, per serving is (recipe makes 8 servings)
197 calories, 39 carbs, 3 fat, and 7 protein. 
That's 2 slices of french toast and 1 Tbsp of cranberry compote. If you want to add some Maple syrup and a spritz of whipping cream the calories only go up to 275 calories.

You decide which way you want to go! Either way this is a delicious breakfast or brunch. 
You can make this even easier on Valentine's Day morning by making and freezing the banana loaf several days/weeks in advance. Just place it in an airtight plastic bag (or container) and you are good to go. 

Banana Bread French Toast With Cranberry Compote

Banana Loaf
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup Sugar Twin Brown Sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 ripe bananas
1 egg
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 tsp coconut oil, melted

French Toast
3 egg whites
1 egg
5 Tbsp 1% milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cranberry Compote
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup Sugar Twin Brown Sugar
1/4 cup water

LOAF - Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9 X 5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper and then spray lightly with cooking spray. 
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together whole wheat flour, flour, Sugar Twin, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.
In a large mixing bowl, mash the 4 ripe bananas until smooth. Whisk in egg, apple sauce, and coconut oil. 
Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just mixed. 
Scrape batter evenly into prepared pan.

Bake at 350 for approximately 40 - 50 minutes, until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. (If you find the top is getting too dark but the middle is not cooked, carefully tent tinfoil over the top of the loaf and continue cooking until toothpick comes out clean.) 
Remove from oven and let sit on wire rack for 10 minutes. 

Run a butter knife around the edge of the pan and then use the parchment paper "handles" to lift the loaf out of the pan. Let cool completely before trying to slice.

Now... you can simply slice the cooled loaf into 16 slices and eat it as is...

Or, you can continue on with making the banana bread french toast. (You know you want to!)
CRANBERRY COMPOTE - In a small saucepan, place the cranberries, Sugar Twin, and water. 

Bring to a boil. Turn down heat to simmer and simmer until berries pop and mixture thickens (between 10 - 12 minutes). Stir often. Remove from heat and keep warm. (You can also make this up in advance and keep refrigerated until ready to use. Simply reheat in the microwave.) 

FRENCH TOAST - In a shallow container, whisk together egg whites, egg, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. 
Place slices of banana bread into the egg mixture and let them soak about 30 seconds. Gently flip the slices over and let sit another 30 seconds. 

Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Place the egg soaked banana bread slices in the pan.

Cook about 1 - 2 minutes on each side - until nicely browned.
Place 2 slices on serving plate and top with 1 generous Tbsp of the cranberry compote.

That. Right there. So much deliciousness for only 200 calories. 
Mind blown.
Maybe you want a little bit more sweetness though? Throw on some maple syrup and whipped cream...

Holy heck. 
Things just got serious. 
Pretty sure that the whole fam-damily would love this for a Valentine's day treat. The kids might not be huge fans of the compote but you could skip that for them. The hubby/wifey will definitely think you are amazing. 
Okay, make that even more amazing than they already think you are!

For even more fantastic links to crafts and recipes, head over to - Adorned From Above, Dizzy Busy & Hungry, and My Turn (for us) and Anyonita Nibbles

Monday, January 27, 2014

Spicy Valentine Cauliflower Hearts

Valentine's Day is of course that means all the chocolate and caramel and ridiculously delicious treats will be coming too. 
Jo and I thought we would share a healthy Valentine's Day treat that both the kids and adults will love. 
It's a bit of a twist on our Cauliflower Crust Pizza and Cauliflower Pizza Bites
We spiced things up a bit this time with a little hot sauce and jalapeno. 
Of course, not everyone likes too much spice so it is easy to adjust this recipe to your own preference!
These are so easy to make - they only take about half an hour from start to finish - and they are uber healthy.
According to Myfitnesspal, 1 heart (1/6th of recipe) is:
96 calories, 7 carbs, 4 fat, and 8 protein.

Spicy Valentine Cauliflower Hearts

1 small head of cauliflower
1 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, partly skim, shredded
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
salt & pepper
1/2 jalapeno pepper, very finely diced
sprinkle of hot sauce
1 egg
~1/3 cup pizza sauce

Preheat oven to 425. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
Using a food processor grating blade, grate the cauliflower so it looks like rice. This can also be done using a cheese grater. Place in a large mixing bowl. 

Mix in the cheese, egg, spices, jalapeno, and hot sauce.

Stir until very well combined.
Using a 4 inch, heart shaped cookie cutter that is 3/4 of an inch thick, press the cauliflower mixture into the cookie cutter. (Now, I have specified this size cookie cutter strictly for the nutritional info. You get 6 hearts this size out of the recipe. You can, of course, use any size you like - just remember to keep them about 3/4 of an inch thick.)

Be sure to pat down the mixture fairly firmly in the cookie cutter before removing it to make another.
When all hearts are made, bake at 425 for approximately 15 minutes - until heart has firmed up and top is lightly browned (bottom should be lightly browned too). 
Remove from oven and carefully spoon some of the pizza sauce onto each heart. Use the back of the spoon to spread the pizza sauce to the edges of the heart.
Return to oven for another 5 - 8 minutes, until pizza sauce is heated through. 

Serve with extra pizza sauce for dipping.
FYI - you can also make these by using a cookie scoop if you don't want to use a shaped cookie cutter:
Simply scoop them onto the cookie sheet... 

Bake for about 15 minutes at 425, until tops are browned.

You can serve them as is....or brush the top with pizza sauce and place back in oven. 
I made these for my daughter, Kenzie, to bring to an appetizer party she was invited to. She brought them like this with pizza sauce to dip them in.
I really liked the thickness in the cookie cutter. It was almost like eating a hashbrown patty as far as texture goes.

These are super easy, super cute, super healthy, and you can make them as spicy as you like. 
I bought some hot sauce on our trip to Knott's Berry Farm last year and *WOW* was it hot. I literally dipped a toothpick in it and used that amount and I just about died. 
In case you want to fry your taste is called "Dave's Gourmet Ghost Pepper Naga Jolokia Hot Sauce". I'm just going to call it Melt Your Face Off Hot Sauce. 

Be sure to check out these great blogs for tons more links - Memories By The MileHun... What's For Dinner?, and Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons and Carole's Chatter.  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

"So Many Vegetables" Soup With Sausages

I had a lot of veggies in the fridge that were on the verge of going bad. I'm terrible for that! I always over estimate how many veggies I'm going to eat during the week. 
Anyway, I decided to make the best of the situation and make a tasty, incredibly healthy soup. 
I have specified the measurements for the sake of the nutritional counts but feel free to add a little more of this or a little less of that as per your preference. (Just remember that it will change the nutritional count.)
I used Myfitnesspal to figure out the nutritional count:
208 calories, 27 carbs, 5 fat, and 15 protein. 
That is per serving. Serving size it 1/5th of the recipe OR approx 1 1/2 cups of soup, 1 sausage, and 1 Tbsp mozza. 
Trust me...that is a very generous amount. It is so nutrient dense that it is very filling. 

"So Many Vegetables" Soup With Sausages

3 cups broccoli (1 medium head)
2 cups zucchini (1 large)
2 cups squash (Delicata or acorn or similar)
1 large onion
2 cups carrot (2 large)
1 portobello mushroom cap
2 cups beets
4 cloves garlic
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
2 stalks celery
2 tsp sesame oil
2 cups beef broth, low sodium
4 cups chicken broth, low sodium
2 bay leaves
salt & pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder

5 turkey breakfast sausages
1/2 cup partly skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Prep all your veggies by coarsely chopping them (broccoli through celery). (The carrots and beets you should dice smaller than the others so they cook faster.)
In a large saucepan over medium heat, drizzle the sesame oil. Place all of the veggies into the pan. 

Cook and stir for about 10 minutes, until veggies start to soften. 
Add in the broth, bay leaves, and spices. 

Bring to a boil. Turn down heat, cover, and let simmer until veggies are tender, about 15 - 20 minutes. 
When cooked, remove from heat and let cool until no longer steaming.
Remove bay leaves. Place warm soup into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. 
Pour pureed soup back into the large saucepan and place back over medium heat. Cook and stir until hot again - about 5 - 10 minutes. 
While soup is reheating, cook the breakfast sausage links. Cut the 5 sausages into small, bite sized pieces.
Serve soup - Scoop about 1 1/2 cups of soup into a serving bowl.

Take a second to admire how amazing it looks and how fantastic it smells.

Okay. Now top with a Tbsp of Mozza.

And finish it off with one of the diced sausages.

**A couple of notes**
-- I used beef and chicken broth but if you want to make it vegan then use veggie broth.
-- I had to cook my squash in the microwave for 10 minutes to be able to scoop out the guts into the soup. Keep that in mind - depending on what kind of squash you use, you may have to precook it to cut/scoop it.
-- I used turkey breakfast sausages to cut down the calories but you can certainly use any type of sausage you like or skip it altogether. 
-- Add more cayenne and/or a dash of hot sauce if you like it spicy. I'm not a fan of too much spice so I just gave it a good sprinkle of cayenne.
Need something that is filling and full of SOOOO much healthy good stuff that your insides will thank you?
This is the soup for you. 

Be sure to stop by Carole's Chatter and Hun... What's For Dinner? for tons of great links! 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Fish Tacos (with homemade pico de gallo and spicy dill sauce)

Our nephew, Jordan was the one who got me interested in making fish tacos. 
He and a friend took a road trip through the States and he continues to rave about how amazing the fish tacos were. We tried them at a couple of restaurants locally but they just were not quite right. 
I set out to make a fish taco that Jord would be proud of.
I think the winner of the evening was the pico de gallo with the dill sauce a close second. 
You can use any type of fish that you like - we went with a pollock fillet. 
We used corn tortillas as that is what is classically used - of course Sue doesn't like corn tortillas. If you are like Sue then feel free to use a flour tortilla - just be aware that it does change the taste and texture of the overall taco. 

Fish Tacos
(with homemade pico de gallo and spicy dill sauce)

Pico De Gallo
1/2 a large tomato, finely diced
2 Tbsp red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 green onion, diced
1/2 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp lime juice
salt & pepper
pinch cumin

Spicy Dill Sauce
2 Tbsp light mayo
2 Tbsp 0 fat Greek yogurt
2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp dried dill 
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
sprinkle of garlic powder
sprinkle of salt & pepper
sprinkle of cumin

5 corn tortillas (6 inch)
1 - 2 cups coleslaw (or shredded cabbage)
5 - 100 oz fish fillets

Optional Garnish
lime wedges

Pico De Gallo - In a small mixing bowl, mix together tomato, red onion, cilantro, green onion, garlic, lime juice, salt & pepper, and cumin. 

Let sit AT LEAST 30 minutes for flavors to mingle. 
You can cover and place in fridge and let sit for several hours.
Dill Sauce - In a small mixing bowl, mix together mayo, yogurt, lime juice, dill, and seasonings. 

Let sit AT LEAST 30 minutes for flavors to mingle. 
You can cover and place in fridge and let sit for several hours.
Cook fish - Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
Break fish fillets into medium sized chunks and place on prepared cookie sheet.

Cook at 350 until fish is done - between 10 - 20 minutes.
Heat the tortillas - wet several paper towels. Layer the tortillas on a plate with the paper towel between them. Microwave for several seconds (between 20 - 40 seconds) to warm the tortillas.
Assemble taco - Place corn tortillas on a plate. Place several chunks of fish down the middle of the tortilla. 
Top with about 1/4 cup of the coleslaw (or shredded cabbage).
Then layer on 1 - 2 Tbsp of the dill sauce.
Then layer on 1 - 2 Tbsp of the pico de gallo.

If desired, top with more chopped, fresh cilantro and squeeze of lime. (You can serve with lime wedges)

Fold up sides of tortilla as you pick it up to form a taco.
This recipe makes 5 tacos. You can easily double the recipe to make more!
Using Myfitnesspal the nutritional count per taco is: 
178 calories, 14 carbs, 8 fat, and 41 protein. 
(This is an estimate so please don't take it as gospel!)
I loved these. Jordan said he also really liked them as well. He added a ton more cilantro and lime juice to his as he is a cilantro fiend. 

Be sure to check out these great blogs for more links to fabulous crafts & recipes! - The Mandatory MoochCarole's Chatter.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Small Batch Zucchini "Apple" Crisp (2 servings)

Sue and I shared a recipe for a large What-Do-You-Mean-It's-Not-Apple-Apple-Crisp a little while ago that was soooooo tasty. One of those recipes that you have to make because it's just so cool. 
I's zucchini BUT it tastes like apples. 
For realz.
Anyway, I decided to make a small serving version just for me for dessert.
Now you can make a teeny one or a big one for the whole family. 
Either way - you won't believe it's NOT APPLES. 
I left the zucchini skins on just so you could see that it really is zucchini. When you make it I recommend peeling the zucchini - that way it is even more appley. 
Oh, yes, and this single version is even pretty healthy! (Vegan, gluten free, dairy free)

Small Batch Zucchini "Apple" Crisp (2 servings)

2 cups finely diced, seeded zucchini (peeled is better)
juice of 1 lemon (~1/4 cup)
1 Tbsp Stevia
1 tsp cinnamon
sprinkle of ginger & nutmeg

1 Tbsp coconut flour
1/4 cup quinoa flakes
1 Tbsp Stevia
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
2 Tbsp coconut oil

Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 375. Spray 2 - ramekins or 1 - 3X6 oven safe dish with cooking spray, set aside.
In a medium sized saucepan, bring zucchini and lemon juice to a boil. reduce heat and simmer 8 minutes. Stir in the Stevia and spices and cover and simmer 5 more minutes. 
While zucchini is simmering, in a small bowl, crumble together the coconut flour, quinoa flakes, Stevia, cinnamon, salt, and coconut oil. 
Sprinkle 1/3 of the crumbs into the prepared ramekins (or single dish). Press down firmly. Bake in the 375 oven for 5 minutes.

Remove the crust from the oven.
Spread the cooked zucchini on top.

Sprinkle the remaining crumbs on top.

Cook at 375 until topping is nicely browned - about 20 - 30 minutes.

Serve hot. (Be careful! It is extremely hot when it comes out of the oven - let it cool for at least 5 minutes before eating!)
I like to put a spoonful of ice cream or whipping cream on top!

According to Myfitnesspal for each serving (recipe makes 2):
263 calories, 21 carbs, 15 fat, and 4 protein.
Of course you can make this with apples and do it the way everyone else does it....but why not try something a little different? Seriously. Try it. When it is peeled you can't tell the filling isn't apples. 
Check out our larger version HERE. That version isn't as healthified as this one. It has a more "normal" topping (read: flour, oats, brown sugar, butter). 

Be sure to visit Horrific Knits for some tasty & crafty links!