January 14, 2013

Homemade Thin Mints


Drumroll please.... Do I have your attention!? I introduce you to my latest vice, because holy crap - not only are these easy, but they are SO good! Mike's face lit up like Christmas morning when he bit into one of these! (Again, he's always shocked when I put something good on the table - what is that anyway!?)


I have a pretty intense love of thin mints that I blame completely on my mother. I grew up with a box of these almost always in the freezer. We would sneak one or two when we got off the bus after school. The stash was re-filled every March when the cute little girl scouts showed up on the doorstep. I will now forever have these in my fridge.


Ingredients:
20 ritz crackers
1 and 1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Melt the chocolate chips together with the peppermint extract. If you decide to microwave the chocolate, make sure you don't burn it. Heat for about 10 seconds at a time - it's a pain and I have no patience. But, it's the only way to prevent it from burning. Stir together until smooth.
  3. Using the back of a spoon spread the chocolate on top of each ritz cracker. Place on the parchment paper.
  4. When all the crackers are covered in chocolate, place in the fridge to cool for about 45 minutes until the chocolate is set - it should no longer look wet.
  5. Peel them off the parchment paper, and place in a plastic bag or air tight container. Store in the fridge, because they are best cold.

January 11, 2013

Lemon Shrimp Scampi


Alright, back on the healthy train.

My husband loves shrimp, he's that guy who stands in front of the shrimp cocktail at parties and consumes 3/4 of the shrimp that is laid out so nicely on ice. The person who comes by and refills said shrimp is quickly his best friend. It's equivalent to my obsession with cheese plates or chips and salsa. BTW - why is it that something healthy (ie. salsa or shrimp) is quickly paired with something unhealthy (cocktail sauce = ketchup and horseradish or tortilla chips)!? Yes, these are the random thoughts that pop into my head... I digress...


I pulled this dish together because pasta is my vice and it's not always the greatest for you - it's usually smothered in cheese (which is of course my favorite way to eat it). So, I used Dreamfield's because it's low carb and added shrimp because it's low calorie. Ta-Da! Healthy pasta dish!


Ingredients:
Yield: serves 2-4
1/2 pound of dreamfields pasta
1/2 pound of shrimp
1 lemon, zested
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Parsley, to taste, chopped
6 ounces plain greek yogurt
1/3 cup of starchy pasta water
Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add in your pasta and cook per the directions.
  2. Zest your lemon, mince your parsley, mince your garlic and stir your greek until it's smooth
  3. In a saucepan, heat about 2 teaspoons of olive oil and fry your shrimp until fully cooked - about 3 minutes a side on medium  heat. Set aside.
  4. Save 1/4 cup of the starchy pasta water and set aside. Drain your pasta and while it's still hot pour all of the ingredients into a large bowl and toss together. The starchy pasta water should be added a little at a time, the point of it is to thin out the greek yogurt. You don't want the pasta to be sticky!
  5. Serve and enjoy!

January 9, 2013

Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies



My apologies for this sweet recipe in the middle of resolution get down to business time, but I had a craving, tried to ignore it and lost the battle - mostly because I found these...


I'm a sucker for anything chocolate and peanut butter.

I get e-mails from you guys every so often and the two most frequent questions I get are "Why didn't ______ turn out for me?" and "How do you eat all those sweets and still stay thin?".  First of all - it's hard for me to ever tell  you what went wrong with a recipe you tried to make if I wasn't there in your kitchen cooking with you. However, I do have a few tips for you on how to make really awesome cookies that turn out every time. Second of all - just because a recipe makes 5 dozen cookies, doesn't mean that I bake all 5 dozen and leave them out on my counter for a week. That would be a diet disaster.

Tips for the perfect cookie:
  • Pull out all of your ingredients at least an hour ahead of time. I have noticed more and more that thing turn out better when they are room temperature to start (yes, even the eggs)
  • Never mix the baking powder and baking soda with the dry ingredients. Yes I know they are dry ingredients, but they should be mixed with the wet ingredients so they have time to activate and are thoroughly mixed into the dough
  • Mix your chocolate chips into the batter before you mix your flour mixture in
  • Let your cookie sheet cool down before you line it with more cookies and bake them
  • Preheat your oven last, which will force you to let your cookie dough chill in the fridge for a few minutes before scooping and baking
Ingredients:
Makes about five dozen cookies
1¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1⅔ cups bread flour
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons salt (I used Kosher)
2½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1¼ cups packed dark brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ bags of your favorite chocolate chips, mint chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, etc.
  1. Measure your cake flour, bread flour and salt and pour into a mixing bowl together. Run a fork or a whisk through it to make sure it's well combine.
  2. In your mixer, beat together your butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Then add your eggs, vanilla, baking soda and baking powder. Mix together until well combine.
  3. Next you should add in your chocolate baking chips - whatever kind you choose - and using your paddle attachment mix together for about a minute.
  4. At this point I take the mixer out of the equation - Using a spatula, mix the flour mixture into the wet mixture - do this a little bit at a time. Make sure to get the flour all the way to the bottom . Once combine cover and put in the fridge.
  5. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
  6. When the oven is preheated, use a melon baller and scoop out 1 inch cookies. Line your baking sheet with a dozen cookies and bake for about 10-15 minutes. Mine were done in about 12 minutes.
Below: After I bake about a dozen cookies, I turn the oven off, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and scoop out the remainder of the dough. I line the cookie sheet pretty tightly. Then I cover with saran wrap and place the sheet in the freezer. Freeze for about two hours or until firm. Take them out and place the balls of dough in a labeled ziplock bag - I usually write the type of cookie, baking temp and baking time. This way, next week after my husband and I have eaten all of the cookies on the counter I can pull out two and bake just enough to satisfy my craving and move on. Bonus: You have company that decides to come over last minute, you have fresh baked cookies on the table and you look like a pro!


 

January 7, 2013

Fresh Ricotta Cheese


Hello dear readers! I'm back! Have you missed me? I have missed all of you! I have been like deathly ill and let me just tell you that when I'm sick my husband gets bossy. He tells what I can and cannot do and what I can and cannot eat. It sound sweet and for the most part it totally is because he's taking such good care of me. But, there was a moment or two where I wanted to punch him. Kidding honey... well, sort of :)

Alright, my latest obsession is fresh ricotta cheese. I can't seem to get enough! I had NO idea it was so easy to make or I would have never bought it from the grocery store! Below is the recipe for my favorite way to serve it.

Ingredients:
Yield - 2 cups
2 quarts whole milk
1 cup of heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 baguette, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon honey,
1 tablespoon white truffle oil
Fresh cracked pepper
  1. First thing you need to do is put whatever strainer you have down in your sink and line it with cheese cloth. If you don't have cheese cloth you can use a coffee filter or really thin tea towel.
  2. Next you need to juice your lemon - odds are you only need one medium lemon to get all the juice you need for this recipe.
  3. In the largest saucepan you have pour in your milk, heavy cream and your salt. Bring the mixture to a roaring boil, stirring occasionally with a heat proof spatula to make sure that it doesn't scald.
  4. When you've reached a boil, turn off the heat. Add the lemon juice and the mixture will instantly curdle. Stir to combine.
  5. Immediately after stirring together, pour the mixture through the cheese cloth.
  6. The next decision is up to you - you can let it drain for anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours - it all depends on how wet or dry you want the curd to be. The idea of dry cheese of any kind doesn't appeal to me, so combine that with my lack of patients and you get a drain time of 45 minutes.
  7. While the cheese is draining, slice your baguette into 1/2 inch slices. Brush with olive oil in each side and fry in a pan until golden brown on both sides.
  8. Serve 1 cup of ricotta cheese, cover in the honey and truffle oil and top with fresh cracked pepper.


Other ways to use it: lasagna, stir into hot pasta and cover with your favorite red sauce, spread on a toasted baguette and cover with prosciutto. Whichever way you go, you can't miss.
 
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