Monday, September 29, 2014

Healthier Peanut Butter Fudge


I always wanted a healthier version of the Peanut Butter Fudge I posted in this blog, Joe's Microwaved Peanut Butter Fudge.  The Healthy Peanut Butter Fudge made of peanut butter and bananas in Chocolate Covered Katie's blog is to die for and really looks like any peanut butter fudge.  However it needs refrigeration.  Katie inspired me to find one which has a good shelf life when she asked commentators to find a modification to meet this challenge. 

I found this Vegan and Flourless Peanut Butter Fudge recipe in The Sweet Tooth Life which incidentally has beautiful pictures of the finished product unlike the "rustic one" I have.  However, I decided to skip the chocolate in the fudge so I can eat this at night.  Chocolates tend to keep me awake.  I also did not use the chocolate topping which has coconut oil which will entail refrigeration of the finish product just like Katie's recipe.  I tried to marry the two recipes by adding bananas to the one in The Sweet Tooth Life but I prefer to stick to its original recipe without it. (Update:  I just posted the version with bananas in this blog as requested by my friend Melanie.  The are called Banana Peanut Butter Fudge). 

This is very delicious and will satisfy anybody's sweet tooth.  For me who is a diabetic following Dr. Fuhrman's G-BOMBS diet, this is a gift of a recipe since it fulfills two of the components, beans and seeds or nuts.

Healthier Peanut Butter Fudge


(Adapted from The Sweet Tooth Life)

Ingredients:


  • 1/2 cup canned Northern White Beans (or other type of beans)
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp each baking powder, baking soda and salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Rinse and drain the beans.
  3. Use a good blender or food processor to mash the beans till smooth. 
  4. Add the honey and blend again,
  5. Add the peanut butter and just pulse to blend.
  6. Remove the blade and add the baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  7. Transfer to a greased loaf pan or better yet a small pan with lower edges.
  8. Bake at 350 for 15  minutes or till the toothpick comes out clean. 
  9. Cool in the refrigerator first before cutting.  Note it is still fragile so it is preferrable that you store them in plastic containers instead of baggies when storing or during transport.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Low Fat Yogurt Almond Flavored Panna Cotta


When we eat out  I always ask for Panna Cotta at the end of the meal but I usually do not get my wish.  I was so happy that Olive Garden was serving it last Sunday when my husband and I ate there.  They are including this in their dessert line-up for a limited time.

Panna Cotta is traditionally made with heavy cream but I wanted a low fat version. I surfed the internet and found several  websites which use low fat yogurt.  One combined it with buttermilk while another with low fat evaporated milk.   I love the flavor of Dannon Light and Fit Vanilla Yogurt so I used that instead of the Greek yogurt suggested in one of the internet recipes.  I also just used 2 % milk instead of buttermilk or low fat evaporated milk suggested in the recipes I found. 

I did have problems making the Panna Cotta gel or solidify using the first internet source I followed.  Luckily I found David Lebovitz website's recipe for the Perfect Panna Cotta based on Judy Witts' cookbook.  I followed the procedure found in this recipe and I successfully made Panna Cotta that solidify for easy unmolding to a dish. I made it substituting 2 % milk for the cream for one batch while I used used low fat yogurt and 2 % milk for another batch. The recipe for the latter is in this post.  I also added almond extract aside from vanilla for added flavor.

This recipe has a wonderful refreshing tangy taste that goes very well with fruit toppings.  I just used frozen fresh strawberries which I macerated in a little Splenda or sugar.

Low Fat Yogurt Almond Flavored Panna Cotta

(Adapted from the food.com internet website and David Lebovitz' website )

Ingredients:


  • 1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin
  • 3 tbsp cold water
  • 1 cup 2 % milk
  • 1/2 cup Splenda or sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup low fat yogurt (plain or vanilla flavored or your preferred flavor)

Instructions:


  1. Sprinkle the gelatin over cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Stir the milk and sugar in a glass container with a spout if possible and microwave for 1 - 2 minutes depending on the wattage of your microwave oven.  It should be very warm not boiling.  When the mixture has warmed, add the vanilla and almond extracts.
  3. Gradually add the very warm milk mixture to the gelatin with constant stirring with a whisk until all the ingredients are well blended. 
  4. Add the yogurt to the milk and gelatin mixture.
  5. Divide the Panna Cotta equally to lightly greased cups (or ramekins or wine or parfait glasses).  I used Pam spray but removed any excess with a paper towel.
  6. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  If you are in a hurry you can chill the Panna Cotta first in the freezer for 20 minutes then transfer to the refrigerator for the rest of the chilling period.
  7. Transfer to a plate and garnish with fruit or honey or syrup.  If using a wine or parfait glasses you can leave the Panna Cotta in these containers and garnish with fruit or any other topping.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Afritada

 

Chicken Afritada is one of the most popular chicken dishes among the Filipinos next to Chicken Adobo. When one of my daughter's friends was trying to prove to us that he was part Filipino, he convinced me when he said that his mom cooked Chicken Afritada for him.  Chicken Afritada is not as popular internationally as Chicken Adobo and there is no way he would have known about it had he not grown up in a Filipino household.  Once you taste this dish you will be hooked and it will be your second best Filipino chicken dish.  (Update:  Read Adora's Box discussion on Filipino cuisine and its popularity compared to other Asian ones and try her excellent version for Chicken Afritada). 

Here is a crockpot version of the dish.  Instead of cooking the potatoes with the rest of the ingredients which you could also do, I decided to roast them first in the oven.  My family loves the potatoes cooked this way and I even serve it sometimes as a side dish instead of mixing it with the rest of the Afritada. 

I eat this dish with rice and with additional fish sauce on a little saucer to dip the chicken in.  Filipinos prefer to leave to each person to decide how salty they want most of their dishes to be and they provide fish sauce and other condiments on the table as well as those little saucers per person.  However, if serving Afritada at a party I might add the salt or fish sauce to this dish at the end of cooking till the desired saltiness is reached since it is more convenient to do so.  


Slow Cooker Chicken Afritada


Ingredients


  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tomatoes chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 carrots, cut into 2 inch bias pieces
  • 2 green bell pepper, sliced in 1 inch squares
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced or roasted bell pepper from a jar 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp peppercorn
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (and more for dipping during the meal if desired)
  • 6 - 8 pieces chicken thighs (skin removed if you prefer)
  • 4 potatoes cut into 1 inch cubes
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic powder (if roasting)
  • olive oil (if roasting the potatoes)
You can saute the onion, garlic, tomato and tomato paste in a little olive oil in your slow cooker or just add them to the slow cooker bowl without sauteing. 

Add the carrots, peppers and fish sauce.   Add the bay leaves and peppercorn (these two can be placed in a tea infuser for easy removal). 

Potatoes can be added to the mixture or roasted separately then added later on (see instructions below).

Rub the chicken pieces with salt and pepper then add to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients. 

Cook on low for 8 hours or at high for four hours.  In the Aroma rice cooker/slow cooker I cooked it for two hours at slow cooker setting.

Serve over rice.

Roasted Potatoes


Add salt, pepper and garlic powder to the potatoes and then drizzle with olive oil.  Toss to mix the seasonings with the potatoes.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Mix the roasted potatoes with the cooked afritada before serving or as a side dish.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Three Little Words to Say When You Have Self-doubts


A friend of mine kept on nominating me to be a member of the Board of Directors in an organization we belong to.  I have failed to make it twice already in the past but she kept on believing in me and sending in my name during election time.  I felt like turning it down the third time she did but then I saw the following quotes in Glamour Magazine that I happened to borrow from my daughter's stash of reading materials.  The first quote on the page from the magazine shown below helped me overcome any self-doubts I had.  I accepted the nomination and to my surprize and delight I was elected.






I reproduced the quote below in the form of a poster.  It contains the three little and yet empowering words that made me say yes.   Just as I was writing this post, I got an email informing me that I am being nominated for something I did not feel I was worthy of but I overcame my fear with these three little words.  Somehow saying them dispelled any lack of confidence on my part.  I do not feel cocky though.  I just feel grateful to God and accept whatever gifts He had given me. 





Saturday, September 20, 2014

Peanut Butter Protein Power Bars


This recipe was inspired by two sources:  the Yummy Banana Oat Bar found in Dr. Fuhrman's Website and the Chocolate Chip Banana Love Bars found in the Chocolate Covered Katie blog.   I have been attending several classes at Webb's Fitness Club in Penn Hills and all of them are at a time wherein it is too soon to eat lunch or dinner before they are held so I have been eating store bought granola bars before I start the classes.  These bars have healthy ingredients but they also are filled with additives I can live without.

I needed a healthy bar recipe that is similar to the Yummy Banana Oat Bar but uses Rice Krispies instead of oats.  I seemed to be allergic to oats since they sometimes start the gout in my middle right finger (or so I think). 

The recipe of the Chocolate Chip Banana Love Bars inspired me to try to tweak the banana oat bar using Rice Krispies and adding whey protein.  I decided to add the cranberries and nuts since they are part of the G-BOMBS diet postulated by Dr Fuhrman for diabetics and for preventing cancer and other diseases.

The bars can be eaten raw as Katie suggested with hers but I decided to bake it so they will be easier to carry in my handbag in case I am traveling straight from work to the fitness club.  The result is a little bit less sweet than the raw version but one can add the optional chocolate chips to take care of this.

Peanut Butter Protein Power Bars

(Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie and Dr. Fuhrman's Website)

Ingredients:


  • 1 ripe banana, mashed (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter 
  • 1/3 cup whey protein powder (chocolate flavored or any other flavor)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 cups Rice Krispies
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup cranberries
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsps mini chocolate chips (optional)

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.  Pour into a 9 x 9 baking pan and bake for 15 minutes in a 350 oven.

Cool and cut into bars.





Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cabbage Slaw to Freeze

Primanti's beef hamburger sandwich.  Their #2 best seller topped only by the #1, Iron City Beer.
I got this coleslaw recipe from my friend Sr. Ladonna of Cedar Rapids, Iowa who recently visited me three weeks ago.  We have known each other during our graduate school days at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. 

Since she had visited me in the nineties and seen most of the sights in Pittsburgh, she preferred to see places in Indiana County where I taught at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  Other highlights of her trip here were sighseeing tours at Niagara Falls, New York and Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob in Pennsylvania. 

Oak Grove at IUP.
Niagara Falls, NY.

At the background is the famous Fallingwater residence designed by the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright for the Kaufmann's, owner of Kaufmann's Department Store. 
Kentuck Knob, another residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, this time for the Hagans, owner of Hagan Ice Cream.


As far as culinary highlights were concerned, I took her to the iconic Pittsburgh Primanti Restaurant.  The last time I had out of towners three years ago, the Parayos, I asked Rudy what his best eats was in Pittsburgh and he chose without hesitation Primanti's hamburger.  So I decided Sr. Ladonna had got to try it.  It is not only a treat but an experience figuring how to bite into the homongous sandwich. 

Primanti's hamburger features coleslaw and fries on top of hamburger beef on an Italian bread.  According to anecdotal accounts, it was invented so truck drivers, stopping by at Primanti's during its early days, could conveniently eat all the features of a hamburger meal - beef patty, bread, coleslaw and fries in one sandwich while they were driving. 

Sr. Ladonna, who is a registered dietician and excellent cook and quilter, loved having the coleslaw on the sandwich.  She mentioned while eating the gigantic sandwich that she had a recipe for cabbage slaw that can be frozen in case one has to make it ahead for a big crowd.  She generously provided the recipe below. 

Cabbage Slaw to Freeze


Cabbage Mixture:

  • 1 head shredded cabbage
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
Mix together and let stand one hour.  Drain.

Dressing:

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 2 cups sugar
Cook together and boil for 1 minute.  Cool.  Pour over cabbage.  Freeze.











Thursday, September 11, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki




It is back to school again and most of us need easy recipes during this busy time of the year.  This is a very easy and delicious dish to prepare.  I served it with a simple side of noodles doused with sesame oil and topped with microwaved green beans and baby corn from a can.

Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki
(Adapted from Best Recipe Box.com)

Ingredients:


  • 2 pounds boneless chicken breast or chicken thighs
  • 1- 8oz. can crushed pineapple with its natural juice (or 1/3 of 20 oz can crushed pineapple in juice)
  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 3 large cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1" knob of fresh Ginger, peeled and finely minced (about 1 heaping tbsp)
  • 1 dried chili pepper crumbled (optional)
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp water

Directions:


  1. In a slow cooker bowl, combine crushed pineapple with its juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger and cornstarch slurry. Stir well to make sure all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
  2. Add chicken. Cook until chicken is tender (High - 4-5 hours : Low - 6-8 hours).  (I cooked it for 2 hours using the slow cook setting in my Aroma rice cooker/slow cooker).
  3. Serve over rice or pasta.   ( I served it over cooked Chinese noodles doused with 2 tbsp of sesame oil and mixed in steamed green beans and canned baby corn.  You can also use cooked spaghetti).