Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Low Fat Oatmeal Banana Bread

Low fat. Banana bread. Two things I like. Two things that don’t usually go together. Until today, that is. Today’s recipe takes classic banana bread and lightens it up a bit. There is, however, nothing light about the taste or texture.

This is banana bread you can feel good about. Unlike its more fattening peers, this bread doesn’t have any butter in it. Surprisingly, that doesn’t seem to matter. The bread is moist and rich tasting with a strong, but not overpowering, banana flavor.

It’s also more heart-healthy than your typical banana bread because it is chock full of oats. Being something of a banana bread purist, I wasn’t sure how I’d like oats in my bread. Much to my surprise, they added a really nice texture and chewiness. The oats also helped keep me full a lot longer than my usual banana bread, making it a great breakfast option. I will definitely be making this banana bread again – especially as we head into summer and bathing suit season!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pasta with Artichokes, Sundried Tomatoes, and Spinach

Today I have a confession to make. My name is Katie, and I am a pasta addict. A true, crave-it-all-the-time, pasta fanatic. Any shape, any size, I’m all about it. I’m not really sure where my deep love of all things pasta comes from. Sure, we ate spaghetti and lasagna growing up, but it did not make up the bulk of our meals. I’m also not remotely Italian (though I sometimes wish I was), so that’s not it either. Whatever the reason, pasta has its hooks in me but good.

You would think that this blog would be filled with countless pasta recipes. A quick look through the archive shows that this is hardly the case. Upon reflection, I think this is because I tend to throw together pasta dishes in an impromptu or hurried fashion. I often coble together whatever I have lying around that looks good. Sometimes the results are less than stellar, but often, the final product is so delicious I kick myself for not writing down exact ingredient amounts or taking pictures along the way.

Today’s recipe started out as one of those impromptu meals I threw together one night when I needed dinner on the table in a hurry. The first version was pretty awesome, so I wrote down what I did, and decided to try it again in the future with pictures and detailed directions. I also tweaked the recipe a bit to amp up the flavor. What you see here is the result.

Al dente pasta is tossed together with a healthy, colorful mix of marinated artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, bright green spinach. Salty feta cheese and fresh green onions add a final burst of flavor. The recipe is super quick and super easy – perfect for weeknight dinners or anytime you need a meal in a hurry. Even better, this pasta is fabulous served warm, but it is also good at room temperature or even cold out of the fridge. (Good to know for those of us who get late night munchies!)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry muffins are, to me, a quintessential breakfast food. I started making blueberry muffins at a pretty young age. At the time I used Bisquick, which I must admit, I used for many of my baking endeavors. (Honestly, it wasn’t until I got much older that I discovered waffles I liked better than those made with Bisquick. And if I’m being really honest, I still love Bisquick pancakes, even if I almost never eat them.)

As I’ve gotten older and into more complicated baking, I’ve experimented with many different recipes for blueberry muffins. Some used butter, other used vegetable oil. Some used fresh blueberries, others frozen. Pretty much all of them were tasty, but I’ve never quite found “the one” – at least not with regards to a blueberry muffin recipe.

This morning, in honor of a friend who is visiting from out of town, I tried another recipe for blueberry muffins. This recipe called for a little butter and a lot of sour cream. I’m of the opinion that sour cream makes just about anything taste better – especially baked goods – so I was intrigued from the get-go. I also liked that you could use either fresh or frozen berries for these muffins. I always have frozen blueberries on hand, so I was good to go.

These muffins had a few more steps than many of the recipes I’ve tried in the past, but they were all very simple. The batter came together quickly and easily. And while I’ve never been tempted to try raw muffin batter before, I was today. Deeeelicous. Seriously, if you’re not afraid of a little raw egg, lick the bowl or spatula when you’re done. I won’t tell. The batter was a good indication of how the muffins themselves would taste – light and fluffy in texture with a rich flavor from the sour cream. Chock full of blueberries, these muffins are a good contender to be “the one”.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

After These Messages... We'll Be Right Back!

Does anyone else remember that jingle from Saturday morning cartoons?  Somehow I still remember it after all these years.  When I was trying to figure out what to title this post, that little ditty popped in my head.  Pretty appropriate, given the circumstances. 

And what are the circumstances that have resulted in me seemingly abandoning you and my little piece of the blogosphere?  Technical difficulties - of the broken charger leads to dead laptop variety.  This post comes to you via one of the computers at my local public library.  All of my planned posts and pictures for the past week are stuck inside my very dead computer.  This will teach me not to back things up.  So while I have learned my lesson, I'm still stuck computer-less for the next few days until the new charger I ordered arrives in the mail. 

Be patient with me, and I promise it'll be worth it.  I'm cooking up all kinds of delicious things over here.  It's amazing how much more time I seem to have without the ever distracting lure of the internet at my fingertips.  I'm using the time wisely, and I'll be posting all kinds of recipes - hopefully starting later this week.  If you have any suggestions for things you'd like to see up here in the coming weeks, leave a comment on this post or leave me a message on Facebook.  I'm always looking for new ideas.  Plus, I've got time to spare... at least until my beloved laptop returns to life!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cashew Chicken

Awhile back I told you about Stan’s and my weird and unexplainable aversion to chicken. And although it hasn’t completely gone away, I’m happy to report that we are easing back into the poultry arena without much complaint. We’ve switched up where we buy our chicken, and that seems to be making a difference. Don’t know why exactly, but considering that chicken is an inexpensive, quick, and easy protein option for weeknight dinners, I’m willing to roll with it.

After thoroughly enjoying the sweet, salty, spicy, and savory flavors of the caramelized black pepper chicken I made a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been on the lookout for other simple, yet complexly flavored chicken dishes. When I came across this recipe for cashew chicken, it seemed to fit the bill. The fact that I already had most of the ingredients on hand made it a done deal. I’m also a big fan of any recipe that lets me use my wok – its large size means I end up with less food spatter to scrape off my stovetop.

While this may not be the most authentic cashew chicken, it is easy to prepare, quick-cooking, and very flavorful. Chunks of chicken breasts or thighs are stir-fried with garlic and green onions. Rice wine vinegar and Hoisin sauce add additional flavor and coat the chicken in a delicious sauce. Cashews give the dish the requisite crunch. I must admit that I used cashew pieces instead of the whole cashews originally called for in the recipe. They weren’t quite as pretty, but they cost half as much. If I was entertaining I might do things differently, but for a weeknight dinner at home with Stan, cashew pieces work just fine!

Monday, May 3, 2010

S'mores Cookies

If you ever were a Scout (and yes, I was Girl Scout), went to overnight camp, attended a bonfire, went camping, etc. as a child, then you probably know all about s’mores. In the off chance that you don’t, imagine gooey marshmallows roasted over an open fire (preferably on a stick you found yourself in the woods), sandwiched between squares of graham crackers with a piece of chocolate thrown in for good measure. Whether or not you let your marshmallow catch on fire before removing it from its skewer is of course a matter of preference, though I personally find that to be a crucial step in achieving the perfect marshmallow.

S’mores get their name from the fact that they are so good you always want “s’more”. The only bad thing about them is that you need a fire to make them. Or so I thought until I came across today’s recipe for oven baked s’mores, which, in my humble opinion, is pretty much pure genius. Using your broiler instead of a campfire, you can get toasty marshmallows perfect for sandwiching with chocolate and graham crackers. Even better, you can keep the ingredients for these s’mores in your pantry, so you can have s’more any time you want – and you don’t even have to find a stick!


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