Posts Tagged ‘walnuts’

Green Beans with Bacon-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

It’s green bean season, and we got a whole bushel from my grandparents a week or so ago. I’m sure we’re not the only ones looking to use up some great garden green beans, but other than my friend Leah, who will sit and munch them like potato chips, everyone seems to do the same thing with beans. This time, I was looking for something a little different.

I found this recipe on the Cooking Light website. Despite the bacon and sauce, it works out to only a Point for a cup, which is nice. I used center cut bacon, and substituted chopped walnut pieces for the almonds in the original recipe (David’s not a fan of almonds).

I thought it was tasty, and probably worth another try. There’s sugar in the sauce, and that made it turn out sweeter than I had imagined, probably compounded by the fact that I also substituted regular balsamic vinegar for the white balsamic that the recipe originally called for. I was in a hurry, and ended up tossing things in the skillet a bit differently than called for, and so the end product had bits of candied bacon throughout (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). I think, overall, the beans could have used more salt.

As I said, I’ll probably try this one again, following the original a bit more closely to see how things turn out.

Green Beans with Bacon-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Adapted from Cooking Light, November 1996

Ingredients

  • 2  pounds  green beans
  • 2  bacon slices
  • 1/4  cup  minced shallots
  • 3  tablespoons  coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 2  tablespoons  brown sugar
  • 1/4  cup  balsamic vinegar

Preparation

Cook green beans in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain well; set aside.

Cook bacon in a small skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet. Crumble; set aside. Add shallots to bacon fat in skillet; sauté 1 minute. Add almonds; sauté 1 minute. Remove and let cool. Add sugar and vinegar; stir until sugar dissolves. Add crumbled bacon.

Pour vinaigrette over beans, tossing gently to coat.

Lightened-Up Banana Bread

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

I love banana bread, and zucchini bread, and everything in that family, but most recipes I come across are insanely unhealthy. My grandma’s recipe for zucchini bread worked out to 15 points for a one-inch slice. Yummy, but yikes!

I tried this recipe with a healthy dose of skepticisim. I am suspicious of fat free cream cheese, for one. And I wasn’t quite sure how the baking mix would turn out in this.

It turned out great. The loaf made the house smell amazing, and I couldn’t wait for it to be finished so I could try it. It was one of those things I had to struggle to let cool before I tried it. Fortunately, it was worth the wait. The texture was light and crumbly–a little less dense than a traditional banana bread, and a little lighter in color. Otherwise though, the flavor was excellent. Next time, I think I’ll try it as muffins or mini-muffins, for a little built-in portion control. As it was, baked in the traditional loaf pan the nutritional info worked out to about 160 calories, 4 grams of fat, and less than one gram of fiber per slice, or 3 points.

Lightened-Up Banana Bread

1 cup sugar
1 (8-ounce) package fat-free cream cheese
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 medium)
2 large eggs
2 cups reduced-fat baking mix (such as Bisquick)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place sugar and cream cheese in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add banana and eggs; beat until well blended. Add the baking mix and walnuts, and stir just until moist.

Pour batter into a 9-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Tent bread with foil, and bake an additional 15 minutes.or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

Note: I think this recipe came from the Weight Watchers message boards, but I’m not 100% sure. If anyone knows the source, let me know and I’ll be sure and give credit. This would be great with chocolate chips, dried cranberries, or any of the other classic additions to banana bread.

Does anyone else have any favorite “light” baked goods recipes?

Halloween Brownie Bites

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

These tasty mini-treats are perfect for bringing along to a halloween party, especially if you’re looking for a healthy option. They’re still brownies, but they’re actually very low-fat and have a decent amount of fiber due to the added pumpkin. (Don’t worry, they don’t taste anything like pumpkin!)

I’m not always a big fan of these low-fat baking tricks, but this one worked out very well. Perhaps because I started with a good quality brownie mix (mmm…Ghirardhelli!)

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Halloween Brownie Bites
Makes 48 mini-muffin sized brownies

  • 1 standard brownie mix
  • 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
  • 2 egg whites
  • sprinkles or walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat your oven according to the package directions on your brownie mix. Lightly spray a mini-muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray, or line with mini-cupcake wrappers. Set aside.

2. Using a the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, beat together the pumpkin puree and egg whites until well combined. Add the brownie mix  and continue to beat on medium until the dry mix is fully incorporated. Important: Do not add anything else to the mix, no matter what the back of the box says. No oil. No whole eggs. No water. The batter will be very thick, but that’s okay.

3. Scoop into mini-muffin pans. I had enough batter to fill my 24-cup pan twice, and just baked two batches. If you have two mini-muffin tins, you could probably do both at the same time. If you plan to use any nuts or sprinkles, now is the time to add them. I used orange sprinkles  on one pan, and I pressed a walnut half into the top of each mini brownie in the other pan.

4. Bake according to package directions, adjusting the cook time if your package doesn’t call for mini-muffins. The mix I used wanted to be cooked for 40 minutes in a 9×13 pan, but the mini-muffins only took 20 minutes. Just keep a close eye on them. Allow to rest in the pan for 5 minutes or so, then remove to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Note: The nutritional information based on the mix that I used and the directions above is 55 calories, 1 gram of fat, and .5 grams of fiber per brownie bite.


Ravioli with Apples and Walnuts

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

This recipe caught my eye on the cover of last month’s Real Simple magazine. I’m not really prepared to admit how much I liked the rest of the magazine or what that says about my life stage (I clearly have more in common with the Real Simple crowd than the Cosmo one), but I definitely enjoyed the feature on “A Month of Easy Dinners.”

This ravioli dish was very tasty. Just a little bit out of the ordinary, but quick to throw together. An excellent weeknight dish, since I spent 20 minutes, at most, throwing it together.

Ravioli with Apples and Walnuts

  • 1 pound cheese ravioli (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 crisp apple (I used a honeycrisp), cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)

1) Cook the ravioli according to the package directions.

2) Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.

3) Add the apple, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and toss to combine. Spoon over the ravioli and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Carrot Zucchini Spice Mini-Muffins

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

There are two different kinds of healthy recipes. Ones that you eat when you’re trying to eat healthy, and some that are so tasty that you’d eat them anytime.

A good example of this is Diet Coke Chicken, which we discovered when my mom was doing Weight Watchers years ago. Even though it was a Weight Watchers recipe, and the initial draw was the zero-Points sauce for the tender chicken, the dish was so tasty that it became part of our regular rotation in no time.

These muffins are another example of this kind of recipe. They’re made with whole wheat flour, and sweetened with applesauce and honey. Very low fat, high in fiber, and super-moist. They taste like zucchini bread, but the last time I looked at the recipe for a zucchini bread (my grandmother makes an awesome one!) it called for a TON of oil as well as sugar. Like the Diet Coke chicken, I found this recipe looking for a healthy treat, but I think I’d make it anyway. They were that good. (Especially with a dab of cream cheese frosting).

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muffin

Carrot Zucchini Spice Mini-Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 large zucchini, shredded
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup applesauce (I used an all-natural, no sugar added)
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a mini muffin pan by lining each cup with mini-cupcake wrappers or spraying with non-stick spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl (or in a large stand mixer) combine all ingredients and stir well. Transfer to the prepared muffin tins, filling each  cup about 2/3 full.

3. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Makes 72 muffins. One serving is 3 muffins.

Sweet Cornbread Stuffed Pork Chops

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Ahhh…pork week.

This is our “default” pork chop recipe. It starts with brining, which if you haven’t tried, you simply have to, right away. It’s a simple process, just requires a bit of extra time, mostly, but it makes all the difference. Brining takes plain, dry pork and turns it into the most juicy, flavorful chop you’ll ever taste. Just about every kind of pork we eat gets this same brining treatment. The sweet cornbread stuffing is just a bonus. :)

stuffed pork chop

Alton Brown’s Stuffed Grilled Pork Chops
Adapted from Good Eats

nocoupons

  • 4 double thick pork loin chops
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • 2 cups cider vinegar, heated
  • 1 pound ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups cornbread, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries, halved
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1. In a plastic container put the salt, sugar, peppercorns, and mustard powder. Add the hot vinegar and swirl to dissolve. Let mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes to develop flavor. Add ice cubes and shake to melt most of the ice. Add chops and cover with brine. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

2. Remove chops from container and rinse. Cut horizontal pockets in each pork chop for stuffing. Combine rest of ingredients, and put into piping bag (or a ziploc bag with the corner cut off) that is not fitted with a tip. Pipe each chop full with cornbread mixture.

3. Grill the chops on medium high heat for 6 minutes on each side. Turn each chop 45 degrees after 3 minutes to mark.

Saturday Morning Cinnamon Rolls

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

There’s a lot of David’s favorite foods floating around this blog these days. The fajitas, the potica, the bruschetta…and now cinnamon rolls. David loves cinnamon rolls. But really, who doesn’t?

Along with potica, this was one of those things that we were waiting for more counter space. Now that we have it, I finally decided to bake some up. I borrowed this recipe from Kristen at Dine & Dish. The recipe was relatively easy to follow, and the cinnamon rolls were extremely tasty. I’m interested in trying other recipes, to see what difference they make in the final product, but overall, I was very happy with this recipe, and I probably would make it again.

Saturday Morning Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Dine & Dish

For the dough:

  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar + 1 teaspoon
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 6 cups flour half all-purpose and half bread flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup salted or unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons salt (cut down to 1 teaspoon if using salted butter)

For the filling:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. Proof yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water, with 1 teaspoon sugar added; Set aside for five minutes.
  2. Put milk, sugar, salt, and about one cup flour in a bowl of a stand mixer, and beat with the paddle attachment until well-mixed.
  3. Add eggs and yeast mixture and a couple cups of flour and beat again, until combined.
  4. Switch to the dough hook. Add the soft butter and the rest of the flour, adding the rest of flour very slowly, while the mixer is running. Continue needing with the dough hook until all flour has been incorporated and dough is firm.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured counter, and knead the ball of dough until it is smooth and satiny, adding only enough to keep if from sticking.
  6. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease all sides.
  7. Let rise in warm place until double, about an hour,covering bowl with a towel or plastic wrap.
  8. Punch down, kneading for about 30 seconds to remove bubbles; Cover and let rise again.
  9. Punch down dough again.
  10. Cut with a knife into four parts, and shape into balls; Roll each ball into a 8 X 14 inch rectangle.
  11. Spread the dough with about 3 tablespoons butter, leaving far edge unbuttered.
  12. Spread with one fourth the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  13. Roll up; roll tightly; Pinch edges; Cut into slices.
  14. Place in greased pan and let rise until double in size, 45-60 minutes.
  15. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
  16. Frost with softened cream cheese frosting.

Note: This recipe makes about 2 dozen cinnamon rolls—enough that David’s been eating them for breakfast every morning since! He’s not complaining though.

The original recipe called for all of the mixing and kneading to be done by hand. I adapted it for the Stand Mixer. I also sprinkled two of the dough quarters with chopped walnuts, for a change of pace. They were good, but David thinks “pecans would have been better,” so we’ll probably try that next time.

Banana Bread

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Everyone knows that over-ripe bananas mean banana bread. So when I found myself with an apartment full of guests and several over-ripe bananas, I decided to throw some together last weekend. And it was pretty near close to perfect, if I do say so myself. It made the whole place smell amazing!

Banana Bread
adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s “A Homemade Life”

  • 6 Tbs unsalted butter (I used salted, because that’s what we keep on hand).
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cps mashed bananas (from about 3 large ripe bananas)
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup walnut halves

1. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. Line a loaf pan (9 X 5 inches) with parchment paper

3. Now take your butter, put it in a skillet or a small pot and melt it on a relatively low heat.

4. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, the sugar, the baking soda, the salt, the ginger and the cinnamon.

5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs lightly. Add the mashed banana, the buttermilk, the cooled butter, and vanilla and stir to mix well.

6.  Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and stir gently with a rubber spatula until it’s just combined (don’t overmix). Gently stir in the walnuts. Now scrape it into the prepared loaf pan.

7. Bake it in the oven for about an hour and 15 minutes until a tester comes clean.

8. Cool the loaf in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes then let it rest on a cooling rack until completely cooled. If you can. :)

Potica

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Potica is a traditional Slovenian pastry made with flaky dough and a sweet nut filling. You might be wondering what I’m doing making Potica, which is a reasonable question.

I suppose it started with my mom, who loves the stuff. It’s not exactly easy to find in stores, so she was always estatic to find someone had brought it to work for a holiday treat or for sale at a baked goods table at some event.

Then there’s my husband. He goes crazy for Potica. Both sides of his family make it, he grew up eating it…and for about as long as I’ve been cooking with him, he’s wanted me to learn how to make it. My standard response was that we didn’t have the counterspace, and while that used to be true, it’s not any longer. So it was time to learn to make Potica.

David was happy to organize the event, by purchasing a not-so-subtle three pounds of walnuts from Costco, and inviting his mom over to teach me. So it came to be that Dave’s mom came over a couple of weeks ago, with well-used loaf pans and a couple of worn, aged recipe cards (one for the dough, one for the filling).

She maintains that the recipe is not enough–you need to be taught to make this tricky pastry, and I certainly understand her point. For one, the recipe is an old family affair that involves measurements like “enough milk” and “just enough flour.” For two, it really was tricky work, stretching the dough so super thin. (Literally, thin enough to read a newspaper through!). No rolling pin will get you to dough that thin, it’s got to be done by hand. I was very grateful to have an experienced player in the kitchen, let me tell you.

Was it worth it, in the end? I have to say yes. For one, it’s a favorite of David’s, along with my mom and my granny, three people I love very deeply. And the look on my mom’s face when she realized what I was handing her was priceless. I also enjoyed hearing how much Granny liked it. In some ways, I’m not looking forward to the work that the next batch will require, but at the same time, I’m looking forward to making a batch on my own.

Plus, since David ran out last week, I expect I’ll be seeing another not-so-subtle bag of walnuts from Costco any time now.

Potica (Walnut Pastry)
Makes 4 large rolls

For the Filling:

  • 3 sticks butter
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 to 2 cups of milk, divided
  • 2 lbs ground walnuts (I ground them using the fine plate on our Food Grinder attachment for the KitchenAid mixer).

For the Dough:

  • 12 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 sticks margarine (melted)
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, well-beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1  packet of dry active yeast, or the equivalent

1. In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add honey, sugar, and salt.

2. Beat the eggs with 1/2 cup milk and add to the nut mixture.

3. Add more milk, a little at a time, until the nut paste is smooth enough to spread. You’ll probably need about a cup of milk, but it could be more.

4. Cook for 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid the paste sticking to the bottom. Let stand for at least an hour at room temperature while preparing the potica dough.

5. To make the dough, heat margarine, sugar, and salt together in a small saucepan pan over medium-low heat.

6. Beat the 4 eggs with 1 cup of milk. Add a small amount of the margarine mixture to the beaten eggs and whisk to slowly raise the temperature of the eggs. Remove from heat and add the egg mixture to the margarine in the sauce pan. Whisk constantly to keep the eggs from curdling. Set aside, away from heat, and allow to rest until the mixture is cool to the touch.

7. Dissolve yeast  in 1/2 cup of warm water with a teaspoon of sugar. Stir into milk mixture.

8. Add 6 cups of flour to the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add the milk/yeast mixture and mix until just combined. Fit your mixer with a dough hook, and mix on high.

9. Add additional flour about a cup at a time as the dough hook begins to shape the dough. When the dough is a smooth ball, but still sticky to the touch, turn the dough out onto a counter covered with flour.

10. Knead the dough, adding flour as necessary, until smooth. Place the dough in a bowl,  cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to give the dough a chance to rise. Let rise for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.

12. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

11. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, work to roll and stretch the dough to a rectangle, about 1/16th of an inch thick. Work carefully so as not to put holes in the dough. When the dough is thin enough it will be almost translucent. Carefully spread with one quarter of the nut mixture, and carefully roll up the dough. Place on a baking sheet, covered with a towel, and allow to rise for at least 10-15 more minutes. Repeat until all four rolls have been made.

7. Place each roll on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You can put two rolls on one full size baking sheet, but be sure to leave space between them. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour, until the dough is golden brown and the filling is set. The roll will be firm to the touch when the potica is done.

8. Allow to cool completely before slicing into 1 inch thick slices to serve. Potica rolls stay fresh for about a week if wrapped well, but can be frozen as well.


Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

And we’re back to the baking!

This recipe is from Martha Stewart’s website. I’m not always a fan of Martha’s recipes, but these cookies sounded good, and I’m glad I tried them.

The texture is rich and crumbly, like a shortbread. They are not overly sweet, but have a nice flavor. I toasted the walnuts and cooled them again before mixing into the cookie dough, and there’s a lovely walnut taste throughout the each cookie. The cookies are a great little crunchy treat–a nice break from some of the sweeter, heavier treats so prevalent this time of year.

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Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, (not whipped) room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups walnut halves (1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped), 1 cup finely chopped

  1. Whisk together flour and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in sugar and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, and mix until just combined (do not overmix). Mix in toasted walnuts.
  2. Transfer dough to a work surface. Divide in half; shape each half into an 8 1/2-inch long log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log in parchment paper; freeze until firm, about 30 minutes or up to 2 weeks.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 with racks in upper and lower thirds. Unwrap 1 log, and roll in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, coating completely. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake cookies, rotating halfway through, until golden around edges, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Repeat with remaining log and remaining 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

Note: I did use a bit of egg wash to get the nuts to stick to the frozen cookie dough logs. One batch of this dough made 4 dozen cookies, easily. In my experience, you don’t always get the yield that you would expect from cookies, but these delivered. Not surprisingly, the taste reminds me of a rich cheesecake. They were especially amazing straight from the oven.