Friday, September 30, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

Pumpkin Spice Syrup 4

Although I hate fall clothes (give me a sundress and sandals over jeans and a sweater any day), I LOVE fall weather (especially on LSU game days) and fall food!  Soups, soups, and more soups!

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

And pumpkin!  Pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks used to be high on my list of fall favorites.  But now that I try to steer clear of artificial ingredients in my diet, sadly it doesn’t make the cut.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup 2

This recipe from Cook Like a Champion is the PERFECT solution!  I halved the spices (because I don’t care for overly-spiced things)…but you may not want to.  Your call!  Give it a try, you won’t be sorry!

Pumpkin Spice Syrup 3

Pumpkin Spice Syrup
adapted from Cook Like a Champion

makes 2 cups (or 32 tablespoons)

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons pumpkin purée

Combine water and sugar in a medium pot over medium heat. Cook until sugar has completely dissolved. Whisk in remaining ingredients. Cook for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Do not allow mixture to come to a boil. Strain syrup through cheesecloth or a FINE mesh sieve into a large glass measuring cup. Transfer to bottle of your choice and store in the refrigerator.

To make a pumpkin spice latte, simply add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of syrup to your drink…start with less – you can always add more!

Per tablespoon: 37 calories, 0 g fat, 10 g carbohydrates (10 g sugar)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Overnight Oats

Overnight oats 7

I have a few “requirements” for my everyday breakfast…it needs to have a fruit, something with fiber (from the fruit and possibly something else), fat and/or protein, and it must be filling.  And delicious (sometimes I go to bed thinking about what I get to eat in the morning!). 

It might be a smoothie (green or not…usually this is a summer, post-run breakfast).  Or oatmeal with fruit and nuts (in the winter).  And lately its been overnight oats, which aren’t all that different from muesli.  I’m more of a fruit, yogurt, and whole grain breakfast kind of girl.  I LOVE eggs…just not at breakfast.

Overnight oats 1 

In my “easy” method I just combine oats with unsweetened Greek yogurt and let them soak overnight.  In the morning I add a little milk to thin it out and the toppings, the best part!  Fruit, nuts, sometimes maple syrup or another sweetener.  Or I’ll mash a banana into the yogurt and oats the night before (which doubles as the sweetener and the fruit). 

Overnight oats 2

Sometimes I take it a step further and do a batch for the whole week.  I shred a couple of apples and then add them to the yogurt and oats to soak overnight. 

Or if I’m really fancy I use this method.  I pulse oats, nuts, shredded apple, and coconut all together in a food processor.  Sometimes I’ll do a few bananas instead of the apple.  You can keep this mixture separate from the yogurt (which I do sometimes) or go ahead and mix it with the yogurt (I typically do that and then portion it into my little class storage containers…breakfast ready for the week!). 

Overnight oats 3   Overnight oats 4 

The possibilities are endless…sometimes I do a mixture of Greek yogurt with vanilla Wallaby.  Sometimes instead of using milk to thin it out I do coconut milk.  You can vary the nuts and the fruit.  You could add cinnamon.  Or peanut butter (PB&banana is sooo good!). 

Kath has a bunch of variations (she’s the one who got me hooked).  The basic proportion for me (her’s is a little different) is 2:1…4 cups of yogurt (the entire container of Fage…the 35 oz size) and 2 cups oats.  This lasts me the whole week…6 - 7 servings.  For a single serving I’d do 2/3 cup yogurt and 1/3 cup oats.  Plus the toppings!  Don’t forget the toppings! 

Overnight oats 6

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pulled Chicken

Pulled Chicken Taco 2

I love pulled anything…falling-apart, fork-tender meat?  Pot roast?  Shredded beef?  Pulled pork?  I’m in.  100%.

But I wouldn’t eat any of that on a regular basis.  I try to limit my intake of red meat.  Once or twice a month…if that.  Chicken thighs make a good stand in here.  They stay just as moist as a pork shoulder with a lot less saturated fat.

Instead of the usual sticky-sweet bbq sauce, I wanted to do something vinegar based, similar to East Carolina barbecue.  This allows the chicken to pair well with a wide variety of condiments and toppings.  I think this would be a PERFECT game day recipe.

Adam, this recipe has your name written all over it…you can thank me later…for the Saints tickets too…you owe me big.

Pulled Chicken
inspired by this and this

1 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of visible fat
Salt and pepper

In a bowl, combine the cider vinegar, water, white wine, soy sauce, dry mustard, sweet paprika, salt, and black pepper.

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Place chicken thighs in a roasting pan or rectangular Pyrex baking dish and season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Pour the vinegar mixture over the chicken. Cover the baking dish/pan tightly with foil and place in the oven. Cook chicken for about 1 hour, then remove foil and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes longer until the chicken is fork tender.

Remove the chicken to a plate. Pour the vinegar mixture into a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Continue cooking until sauce is reduced to 1 - 1 ¼ cups, about 15 minutes. Remove the vinegar sauce from the heat.

Meanwhile, when chicken is cool enough to handle, shred using two forks. Add the pulled chicken to the vinegar sauce and toss to thoroughly coat.

Serve the pulled chicken warm as sliders (on mini buns) or as soft tacos (on corn tortillas). Serve with sliced onions, sliced jalapenos, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, shredded lettuce, slaw…the possibilities are endless!

Per 2 oz serving of chicken (w/o the bun or tortilla): 82 calories, 2.2 g fat (0.6 g saturated), 0.7 g carbohydrates, 11.4 g protein

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Three-Seed Crusted Tuna

Seed Crusted Tuna 3

You know that person whose food you can’t wait to eat?  Maybe its your mom…or your grandmother…but everything they cook is perfect in your mind.  For me that’s my Aunt Millie.  She has a way of always cooking exactly what I was hoping to eat on that day.  Since my mom passed away, she has become the cook for many our family celebrations…Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving, Father’s Day, Easter, Birthdays. 

She has a few meals that are welcome repeats (ribs, roast, gumbo).  But she also loves to try new recipes too; she’s a food magazine girl just like me. 

Uncle Wayne deserves a little credit too :)

Seed Crusted Tuna 1 (2)PB191777

Three-Seed Crusted Tuna is one of the recipes she’s shared with me over the years.  It is so easy…but looks really fancy!  All you need is really good tuna (I love when I’m the lucky recipient of some freshly caught tuna…also a benefit of being their niece…Uncle Wayne loves to fish). 

The original recipe is served with lima bean, corn, and pancetta succotash.  It’s from The Wine Lover’s Cookbook and the recommended pairing is with a chardonnay.  But usually I just cook the tuna and then do something “Asian” with it…maybe lettuce wraps?

Seed Crusted Tuna 4

Three-Seed Crusted Tuna
from The Wine Lover's Cookbook

make 6 servings

1.5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 pounds of tuna (Ahi/yellowtail), cut into 6 steaks
salt and black pepper
1.5 tablespoons sesame seeds
1.5 tablespoons poppy seeds
1.5 tablespoons mustard seeds

Using a pastry brush (or your hands) coat tuna steaks with 1 tablespoon oil on all sides.  Season with salt and pepper. 

Mix seeds together in a bowl and coat tuna evenly on top and bottom with the mixture. 

Heat remaining oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  When very hot, add tuna to the pan.  Sear for 2 to 3 minutes per side, making sure you don’t overcook it!  I prefer it very rare inside. 

Remove from heat and thinly slice (use a good knife…or it won’t slice as pretty…and will make your pictures less appealing!). 

Per 6 oz serving: 230 calories, 2 g carbohydrates, 8 g fat (1.1 g saturated), 37 g protein (exchanges: 1.5 fat, 5 protein)