Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On a pumpkin kick...

OK, so it's officially Fall now, right? Right. Ignore the humidity and ignore the fact that I shouldn't have worn those knee-high boots today because it was too. damn. hot.

I WANT PUMPKIN. In everything. In my muffins, in my oatmeal, in my chili, in my beer, and in my smoothie. Yes, that's right - in my smoothie. So here's a little recipe I've tried that is just like drinking a pumpkin pie. No joke! It's like sipping a big glass of autumn. (ooops, be careful - you spilled some autumn on your shirt!)

You should have one tomorrow... no, really - you won't regret it!

Pumpkin Smoothie (serves 1)
8 oz. unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, or unsweetened coconut milk (you can also use dairy milk - nonfat or lowfat)
2 scoops vanilla protein powder (I use Trader Joe's vanilla whey powder, ~140 cals. per serving)
1/3 - 1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1 t. ground cinnamon
Optional: 1 T. pure maple syrup
Handful of Ice

Put all ingredients except the maple syrup into the blender and let 'er rip... the key is to let it blend long enough to ensure a smooth texture. Have a quick taste and see if you will need that maple syrup. If it tastes too "pumpkin-y" then add more cinnamon, or add the maple syrup... or just suck it up, it's good for you!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

PS I love you

The change in season - from summer to fall - is a good reason to make a change in your day-to-day routine, to try something new and different. Rather than risk an adventurous haircut that may not work or get that tattoo you've always wanted but will no doubt regret the moment all the ink is on you, why not just try a new recipe or ingredient?

I have mentioned Penzeys Spices before as a source of great quality spices, but the thing I like most about them is the spice mixes they have. I've mentioned the Chili 3000 and Chili 9000 blends. Recently I got a free bottle of Northwoods Seasoning - a blend of coarse flake salt, paprika, black pepper, thyme, rosemary, garlic, and chipotle. This new seasoning came in handy when I wanted to make barbecue sauce but didn't feel like taking the time my go-to recipe requires. Here's the Quick BBQ Sauce recipe I came up with:

1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. bourbon
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 15 oz. can of organic tomato sauce
1 T. Penzeys Spices Northwoods Seasoning (or more to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer and cook, covered with the lid slightly ajar, for about 20-30 minutes, or until the sauce reduces slightly.

My favorite use for the BBQ sauce is on grilled pork or grilled chicken:
  • Marinade a pork tenderloin or chicken breasts in 1/4 c. soy sauce and 1 t. Northwoods Seasoning for at least one hour, as long as overnight.
  • Place the meat over indirect heat on a hot grill and baste top. Turn the meat over, and baste on the other side after you turn it. Turn it one more time onto the side with the BBQ sauce.
  • Grill until cooked through, then let the meat rest. Enjoy!
  • Pairs well with a mashed or roasted sweet potato and green beans.

What are some of your "mix-it-up" recipes and spices?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins with Apple Butter

Well, hello there! Fancy meeting you here... it's been a while, hasn't it? Last we saw each other, we were ready to welcome the summer. And look, already we're welcoming fall. To celebrate the great things about fall I thought a pumpkin muffin might be nice...not to mention an idea for what to do with all those apples you brought home from your apple picking trip!

These muffins are gorgeous, and only pack 169 calories a piece! The recipe follows "clean eating" principles (more on that in another post) so they're really good for you.

So, without further ado, I give you:

Pumpkin Muffins
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup spelt flour (use ww pastry flour if you can't get this)
1 T. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 cup raw turbinado sugar or sucanat
1/2 t. salt
1 T. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup fat free buttermilk (lowfat is fine too...try to use a brand that doesn't have any additives like carageenan, etc.)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (none of that Mrs. Butterworth crap!)
2 eggs
1 T. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray or add muffin liners (and spray those too).

In a large mixing bowl, whisk all of the dry ingredients together. Combine the wet ingredients in a large liquid measuring cup or a medium mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir only to combine. If you over-stir then the muffins won't rise.

Using an ice cream scoop (or a large spoon), fill each of the muffin cups with batter. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean. Serve with some apple butter (recipe below)

Per muffin: 169 calories, 33g carbs, 1g fat, 5g protein, 4g fiber

Slow Cooker Apple Butter
4 pounds of apples (macintosh, cortland, or any other apple) - quartered (coring and peeling optional)
3/4 cup apple cider (no sugar added)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 T. cinnamon
2 T. pure maple syrup

Put the apples into the slow cooker and add the apple cider and cinnamon. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours.

Place a food mill over a large bowl; working in batches, process the apples through the food mill. Put the apple mixture - which will be a little watery - back into the slow cooker. Add the maple syrup, stir to combine, and cook on low for 8 more hours, until it's reduced. IT WILL LOOK VERY BROWN, not unlike baby poop. But it will be delicious!

If you don't have a food mill, then I suggest coring and peeling the apples, otherwise it will be a complete chore to deal with the seeds and skins. I haven't yet figured out the "serving size" and nutritionals, but it's probably about at most 20 calories per tablespoon.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hey, what happened?

OK, people... don't panic. I know, I know... I haven't published a post since the end of MAY. Three months without a post. You must have thought I'd fallen off the face of the Earth. No? Barely noticed? Hm, that's odd.

So I took the summer off - big whoop. It gave me time to work on some grilling and cocktail recipes, from which you'll benefit...big time.

In fact, this weekend, I created three recipes that I'll be sharing with you soon: healthier chocolate chip cookies; "quickie" barbecue sauce; and crockpot apple butter. I'll publish these recipes soon, but just wanted to send a note to let you know "I'm baaa-aaack!" Watch this space for these recipes, and more, as we all "fall" back into our post-summer routines.