Wednesday, December 30, 2009

CEiMB: No-Cook Lemon Bars

Thanks to Amy from Playing House for choosing Ellie Krieger's No-Cook Lemon Bars for this week's Craving Ellie in My Belly recipe.  Ellie lightens up this dessert by using reduced-fat cream cheese, fat-free sweetened condensed milk, Egg Beaters, and whole-grain graham crackers.  Adding the gelatin allows the bar to set.  If you have never used unsweetened gelatin, it's super easy.  All you have to do is mix the gelatin powder with boiling water.  Once it cools for a couple of minutes you simply add it to the cream cheese batter.

I would recommend this recipe if you enjoy cream cheese as a base in your desserts.  For being a "lighter" version I couldn't really taste the difference. 

I've included the recipe below, but here are some tips that may be useful when you are making this:
  • Buy at least 4 lemons -- I only bought 3 and I barely managed to squeeze out 1/2 cup
  • After you chill the bars for 8 hours, throw the whole dish in the freezer for an hour or so -- this will make the bars easier to cut / hold their shape
  • Save some extra lemon zest for the top -- Ellie doesn't recommend this, but I think these bars would be even better dusted with a little powdered sugar and lemon zest on top

No-Cook Lemon Bars
So Easy, Ellie Krieger
(serves 16)

If you love cheesecake and you love lemon, you will double-love these delicious bars.  They have a velvety, cream cheese filling with just the right citrus kick and that crave-able classic graham cracker crust.  All that and you don't even need an oven to make them.

14 whole-grain graham cracker squares (7 full sheets)
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray

1 - 8oz. package Neufchatel cheese (reduced-fat cream cheese), softened at room temperature
1 - 14oz. can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup pasteurized egg product (such as Egg Beaters)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
3 tablespoons boiling water

Place the graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until crumbs are formed.  Add the butter, brown sugar, and salt, and pulse until crumbs resemble wet sand.  Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray and pack the crumbs firmly into the bottom of it.  Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, condensed milk, and pasteurized egg product and beat on high with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.  Add the lemon juice and zest and beat until fully incorporated, another 30 seconds.  In a small bowl, combine the gelatin and boiling water and whisk until the gelatin is entirely dissolved; let cool for 2 to 3 minutes.  Using a spoon, stir the gelatin into the cream cheese mixture until incorporated.  Pour the filling over the crust.  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.  Slice into 2-inch squares using a chilled knife coated with cooking spray.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

CEiMB [Rewind]: Maple Mustard Chicken Thighs

A few weeks ago, Tessa from Handle the Heat, chose Ellie Krieger's Maple Mustard Chicken Thighs recipe for Craving Ellie in My Belly.  Unfortunately I've all but dropped off the planet from food blogging -- what's with me?! I'm sure a lot of people get tied up with the holidays, tons of gatherings, and the extremely small window of light available during the weekend (if you work full time). 

Lucky for me I have off all this week! Just ask my husband, I have been cooking / baking up a storm the last couple of days.  I really wanted to do a CEiMB recipe because I haven't done one in FOREVER.  I decided to go with the Maple Mustard Chicken Thighs recipe for my rewind because I had everything but the chicken on hand.  I looked at the recipe and it was simple too - bonus.  I did make one minor change.  I substituted chicken drumsticks for chicken thighs.  I think next time I make this recipe I might even just opt for chicken tenders.  I always have those around and they are somewhat better for you since it's all white meat.

So, I ended up making these yesterday for Kyle's Guys Night and they were a hit!  I think I made the sauce a little too wet by not measuring the maple syrup.  I thought it was around 3 tablespoons, but with the way I guess on things it was probably a 1/4 cup.  Next time I plan to add a little less maple syrup or more mustard that way the sauce actually stays on top of my chicken and doesn't run off.  Now that I think of it, it probably ran off because I used drumsticks and not thighs (which are more flat).. hmm.. oh well!! They were still tasty and I definitely plan on making these again.  Thanks Tessa!

Maple Mustard Chicken Thighs
The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life
Ellie Krieger

The grainy mustard and maple syrup form a delectable tangy-sweet crust on these juicy chicken thighs.  This recipe may have a small ingredient list, but it has really big flavor!

8 bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 lbs.), skin removed
1/3 cup grainy French mustard
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
3/4 teaspoon dired marjoram
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the mustard, garlic, marjoram, and maple syrup in a small bowl.  Spread about 1 tablespoon of the mustard mixture evenly on top of each chicken thigh, being careful to cover as much of the surface as possible to form a "crust".  Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a large baking dish.  Bake until mustard mixture has formed a crust and is slightly hardened, and the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced in the center, 45 to 50 minutes.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mari's Clam Lovers Chowder

I love clam chowder.  Whenever I eat clam chowder at Pike Place Chowder or at Anthony's I always add a ton of crackers and fresh cracked pepper.  Ahh.. perfection.  I'm not a thick chowder lover.  I would rather have a rich and creamy chowder with a thinner broth.  I find it funny how much I enjoy clam chowder, yet I have never attempted to make it myself?! Craziness.  Then I tried it.  The most wonderful clam chowder recipe I've tasted in awhile.   It was rich, creamy, thin, and full of clams.  My friend found the recipe on  It's Mari's Clam Lovers Chowder recipe.

Click here to view the site with a link to her recipe.  The recipe is also included below after a couple of photos.  Enjoy!

Mari's Clam Lovers Chowder

8 (6.5 oz.) cans minced clams, drained with juice reserved
4 oz. bacon, chopped
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups diced carrots
2 qts. water
2 cups chopped celery
2 tbsp. minced parsley (I substituted dried parsley because that's what I had on hand)
5 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
1 1/2 cups butter (Paula Deen would be proud!)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 qts. heavy cream (don't ask, just do it-- it tastes fantastic)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. white sugar
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1. In a large stockpot, saute bacon until almost crisp.  Drain fat.  Add clam juice, onion, carrots, water, celery, and parsley.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer 20 minutes.
2. Add potatoes and simmer 20 minutes more.  At the time you add potatoes start the cream sauce.
3. In a Dutch oven (I used a medium sauce pan) melt butter and add flour; blend until smooth.  Slowly pour in cream, stirring constantly.  Do not boil! When smooth, transfer to the stockpot.
4. Stir in clams, salt, pepper, sugar, and red wine vinegar.  Simmer, never let boil, until smooth and slightly thickened, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Double Chocolate Mint Chip Ice Cream

Guess what I got for Christmas from my lovely In-Laws.....the Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Mixer Attachment!  This attachment is so cool.  You pop the bowl in your freezer for 15 hours, make your ice cream mixture and let chill completely, then pour your chilled mixture into the mixer and let it do its thing for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, spoon the very soft ice cream into a container and let it "ripen" in the freezer for at least an hour. 

So simple and delicious.  I love the fact that I know exactly what went into the ice cream - no fillers or junk. 

I took this Double Chocolate Ice Cream recipe off of Cooking Light and made a few changes.

Double Chocolate Mint Chip Ice Cream
Adapted from Cooking Light

1 1/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 1/2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk,divided (I substituted with 1% milk and it still tasted great)
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I substituted with 2 1/2 oz. of Hershey's Dark Chocolate & Mint chips)

Combine sugar and cocoa in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in 1/2 cup milk and egg yolks. Stir in remaining 2 cups milk. Cook 12 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160°, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Place half-and-half in a microwave-safe dish; microwave at high 1 1/2 minutes or until half-and-half boils. Add chocolate to half-and-half; stir until smooth. Add half-and-half mixture to pan; stir until smooth. Place pan in an ice-filled bowl. Cool completely, stirring occasionally.

Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Spoon ice cream into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze 1 hour or until firm.

Nutritional Information*

*May change somewhat since I substituted 1% milk

Calories:255 (30% from fat)
Fat:8.4g (sat 4.3g,mono 1.4g,poly 0.3g)

Look at all that calcium! You need to give this recipe a try! Oh, and if you don't have one.. buy the Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker attachment -- it rocks! (No ice or salt needed).


Chocolate-Hazlenut Meringues

I surprisingly made a lot of recipes this year from the Holiday Issue of Cooking Light magazine.  I made their Cooking Light Dinner Rolls, Chili-Spiced Almonds, Frisee Salad with Maple-Bacon Vinaigrette, and Chocolate-Hazelnut Meringues (substitued with pecans because that's what I had on hand).

My husband bought me a Sil Pat from Williams and Sonoma for Christmas this year so I had to use it on something.  I decided to venture out and make meringues.  When I previously looked through my Holiday Issue of Cooking Light, I saw a recipe for Chocolate-Hazlenut Merginues.  I had everything except the hazlenuts so I decided to substitute pecans.  They are so good! Without the chocolate and pecans they taste like the top of a perfectly browned marshmallow. 

I think these will become another gift to give away next year during Christmas.  Enjoy!

Chocolate-Hazlenut Meringues
Cooking Light

5 large egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 oz. semisweet chocolate
1/3 cup blanched whole hazlenuts, toasted and finely chopped (I used pecans)

1. Preheat oven to 250F.
2. Place egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy.  Add cream of tartar and salt, beating until soft peaks form.  Gradually add sugars, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.  Add vanilla; beat 1 minute.
3. Cover two baking sheetswith parchment paper (I used my Sil Pat).  Spoon 24 (2-inch-rounds) mounds (I piped rosettes) onto prepared baking sheets.  Place in oven; bake at 250F for 1 hour or until dry to touch, rotating pans halfway through cooking. (Meringues are done when surface is dry and meringues can be removed from paper without sticking to fingers.)  Turn oven off.  Cool meringues in oven 1 hour.  Remove from oven; carefully remove meringues from paper.
4. Place chocolate in a medium glass bowl.  Microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring until smooth.  Dip side of meringue in melted chocolate and chopped hazlenuts.  Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 2 meringues).

Nutritional Info:

Calories 135
Fat 4.3 g (sat 1.4g, mono 1.7g, poly 0.3g)
Protein 2.6g
Carb 22.7g
Fiber 0.4mg
Chol 0mg
Iron 0.6mg
Sodium 51mg
Calc 13mg

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

MSC: Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cookie Cutouts

Kayte from Grandma's Kitchen Table chose this month's Martha Stewart's Cupcakes Club recipe, Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cookie Cutouts.  I was really excited to make these, but unfortunately by the time I got around to making these I had already baked over 100 gingerbread cookies and 5 gingerbread house kits (for a gingerbread house making party I had last Friday).  I almost considered skipping this month, but didn't want to get axed from the club so I made a half batch.  The normal batch yields 22 standard cupcakes, but half a batch definitely does not yield 11 cupcakes.  I spread the batter into 11 lined cupcakes and they only baked about halfway up the liner - so lame! Next time I'm going to fill them 3/4 full even if that means I only get 5 or 6 in a half batch.

I used a Royal Icing for the top -- it was way too runny.  It was the same recipe I used to frost the gingerbread house and cookies.  I've decided that I'm a big fan of fluffy tall frosting piped on top of my cupcakes so next time I would probably make something different.

I don't know if I would make the cupcakes again, but I will definitely continue to make the gingerbread cookies and gingerbread house.  I've never made a gingerbread house from scratch, but I loved doing it and I hope to make it a yearly tradition.

Thanks Kayte for such a great seasonal pick!