baking experiments

I decided to make holiday treats for friends and family, so I started searching for recipes that would a) be interesting and different, b) meet the dietary restrictions of certain individuals.

I found the answer to part b (a treat that would be low cal, low sugar/carb, and low fat) in these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip (Macadamia) Cookies. I bought all organic ingredients, replaced the refined with raw sugar, and substituted the walnuts that the recipe calls for with macadamias. They’re a bit crisp, I suspect this is because of the low fat factor, but they are very flavorful.

My other inspiration came from Annie’s Eats. Though not low anything, these eggnog cupcakes are certainly different and full of holiday cheer (re: eggnog and rum).

The eggnog buttercream frosting was a bit too sweet for my taste, but anyone with a sweet tooth would love it. I would like to try these with a coating of powdered sugar instead, they have a very nice spongy texture with a delicate flavor that would be great as a sort of tea cake.

cooking for 1

I’ve been experimenting with food recently, mostly in an effort to find ways to spice up bland chicken meals. Tonight I tried my own take on a Mexican Chicken Salad and it was very tasty… though I completely forgot to top it off with sour cream 😦 for shame.

I’m not good at writing up recipes, since I don’t measure anything, but here’s my Mexi-Chicki salad “recipe” for one.

1 skinless, boneless chicken breast, sliced.

about 1/2 cup of black beans (seasoned).

about 2 tbsp chunky salsa.

Season the chicken with chili powder, black pepper, cumin and lime juice to taste.

Add a few pieces of sliced onions and red bell pepper.

Heat this up with some olive oil.

Make a nice bed of greens, layer on the salsa and the beans (and light sour cream. ack! I can’t believe I forgot this). Add on the chicken and voila!

I also made myself a nice little quesadilla to go along with it by melting some reduced fat, shredded Mexican cheese in a fajita tortilla.

Overall, it was quick and easy and the flavors blended well. I found that the red bell pepper added an extra something to the flavor combination. If I had some tomatoes, I would have added those as well.

the brighter side of life

I experienced taste-bud heaven on Saturday evening. Went to Smith and Wollensky with some friends. We had dinner on the “cheap”, since they were participating in the Miami Spice event.

Dinner was just amazing. I had their conch chowder, filet mignon, a side of steamed vegetables and mushrooms that we shared, and a key lime “brulee”. And a lovely glass of Acacia wine. The conch chowder was a bit of a surprise. We were all expecting something similar to a clam chowder, but it was more like a gumbo. Very tasty and spicy. The filet mignon was just… O-worthy. And the key lime brulee was creamy, calorific sin. I enjoyed every bite and didn’t give a damn about the fat content.

This happy little bread roll alone was a slice of buttery decadence in a pan…

lost in translation

I’ve always wondered what Blanc Mange tasted like (I read far too many British books, so my quest for food cited by “INSERT RANDOM BRITISH AUTHOR” is never-ending)… Well, it seems I’ve been eating it for years, as my mom makes it for my dad all the time. Except, I only knew it by its Spanish name: Natilla. And my mom doesn’t go for the molded look, she just sets it in ramekins, so I never made the connection between the images of Blanc Mange that on Google image search, and the stuff in my kitchen.

So, a while ago, I asked my mom to make me some as a birthday treat, after finding a recipe on an English Recipes blog, and she just looked at me incredulously and told me that its the same recipe she has always used (minus the lemon peel, apparently my dad doesn’t like it). Go fig. At least I can now name the stuff when a non-Spanish speaker wants to know what it is.

going green and pet peeves

Lately, there has been a push for everyone to go green. The media has really been promoting green living here in the States, and I know that to some it seems like a recent ‘trend’, but I remember growing up with all sorts of eco-themed shows urging kids to “Act Locally. Think Globally.” Captain Planet anyone? I grew up participating in all sorts of school sponsored recycling programs. I learned all about saving water and energy. Reusing products and not wasting resources. So, why does it seem that so many in my age group didn’t get the message? This was a little over ten years ago, it should have become ‘trendy’ a while ago. (Yes, the idea that this is all a trend peeves me to no end. It’s so annoying when I see girls walking around with green totes and so obviously not heeding the message that these bags promote.)

Now, why am I on a green rant? Because getting it across to the older set is proving to be a bit more difficult — at least at home. Having experienced privations in their homeland when they were children, my parents are part of “stock up and save because you might not find it tomorrow” group. They buy in bulk. Generally, it’s the sort of stuff that has a long shelf-life and comes in handy during hurricane season and/or “I refuse to do groceries” time, but sometimes its the dated kind. Like yogurt! Yes, we reach the crux of my dilemma 😡 … I just had to throw away a family-size pack of yogurt because my mom bought them and promptly forgot all about them. She’s been doing this a lot lately, buying stuff that she never eats, so that I am forced to a) eat it myself or b) trash it after it expires (usually whenever I decide to attack the fridge and clean it out). She’s getting better at not doing this, but we still have a few kinks to work out.