Sunday, November 25, 2012

Low-fat Cranberry Oat Muffins

These muffins use lowfat buttermilk, whole wheat flour, and minimal oil and were wonderfully moist and light.  The original recipe is from cooking light and was adapted by the blog The Sweets Life.  Here I used fresh cranberries, which are plentiful this time of year and cheap, but frozen would work just as well.  According to the website, these guys have only 200 calories!   Which means you can eat more than one, right?

(makes 16 regular muffins or 12 regular and 12 small)

-1 2/3 cups old-fashioned oats
-2/3 cup (3 oz.) all-purpose flour
-1/2 cup (2.33 oz.) whole wheat flour
-3/4 cup brown sugar
-2 tsp ground cinnamon
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp baking soda
-3/4 tsp salt
-1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
-1/4 cup canola oil
-2 tsp grated lemon rind
-2 large eggs
-2 cups frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
-cooking spray

optional: granulated sugar for topping 

1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Coat muffin tins with cooking spray. 

2.  In medium bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Whisk to combine.

3.  In a small bowl, combine lemon rind, oil, buttermilk and eggs

4.  Add liquid mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine

5.  Coarsely chop fresh (or frozen) cranberries and add to the batter.  Gently fold cranberries into batter.

6.  Spoon batter into muffin tins.  

7.  Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes for regular muffins (12-15 minutes for small muffins) until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center.  Sprinkle with sugar if using.

8.  Remove from tins and cool on racks.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Best Ever Spaghetti and Meatballs

Yes, I said it. Best ever.  I have made spaghetti and meatballs many many times but this time it just was better.  The sauce was perfect and the meatballs were tender and heavenly.  I adapted it from a recipe on the food network.


1 lb spaghetti

1 lb ground lean beef
1 1/2 to 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (or romano)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper


2 T or so olive oil
1/2 tsp or more red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 small onion, finely diced
1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes (preferably Muir's Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes. yum.)
1 T. tomato paste
1 T. brown sugar
1 T fresh lemon juice
handful chopped fresh parsley
10 leaves fresh basil, torn into pieces

grated fresh Parmesan cheese for service
crusty bread (or garlic bread) for passing at the table


Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Place large pot of water on to boil for spaghetti. 

While oven preheats, mix all ingredients for the meatballs.  It is easiest to mix with your hands.  Just dive in there!

Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on nonstick cookie sheet greased with extra-virgin olive oil. 

Bake 10-12 minutes, until no longer pink inside.

Start the sauce.  Heat 2 T olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Saute 5 to 7 minutes, until onion is soft. 

Add the crushed tomatoes, the tomato paste, and a tablespoon of brown sugar.

Let it simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook the pasta until it is al dente.  

Squeeze in some fresh lemon.

Then add the fresh herbs.  Cook another 2-3 minutes.

Pour sauce over spaghetti.

Toss well.

How delicious does THAT look?!

Serve with fresh Parmesan cheese.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Flourless Chocolate Cake

This is a nice easy cake. Rich.  Like a really good brownie says my husband :) I am actually not a huge chocolate fan -- I like it in things and occasionally crave a piece of chocolate but chocolate desserts often are too rich for me and just not as good as something else.  But most people love chocolate and it is such an quick recipe and a crowd pleaser.  Good for guests.  Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.


8 oz good bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus additional for dusting


1. Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter pan, line bottom with a round of parchment paper or wax paper, and butter paper.

2. Chop up chocolate. Mmmmm chocolate.

3.  Slice up butter. (health health health!)

4.  Melt chocolate with butter in a medium metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth.

5.  Remove bowl from heat and whisk in sugar, then add eggs one at time, whisking well after each addition.

6.  Sift cocoa powder over chocolate and whisk until just combined.

7.  Pour batter into pan.

8.  Bake until top has formed a thin crust and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out with moist crumbs adhering, 35 to 40 minutes.  Cool cake in pan on rack for 10 minutes, then remove side of pan.  Invert cake onto a plate and reinvert onto rack to cool completely.  Dust cake with cocoa powder before serving.


-- Anya

Delicious Braided Challah Bread Recipe

OMG!  I don't know what to say.  I have always loved Challah but I have never made it before and never had it straight out of the oven.  This was as good as Challah from a Jewish bakery in Brooklyn and I didn't have to leave Voorheesville!  Amazing.  I got it from the smitten kitchen blog which I just love.  She is great.  The only thing I botched a little was the braiding part... but it didn't matter.  I will perfect it next time.  Let's make it!

Time: about 1 hour, plus 2 1/2 hours’ rising
Yield: 2 loaves (I halved the recipe to make one loaf)


1 1/2 packages active dry yeast (1 1/2 tablespoons or 3/8 ounces or 11 grams)
1 tablespoon (13 grams) plus 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1/2 cup (118 ml) olive or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon (14 grams) table salt
8 to 8 1/2 cups (1000 to 1063 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup raisins (about 70 grams) per challah, if using, plumped in hot water and drained
Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling.

NOTE: The recipe above is for 2 loaves.  I made one and the pictures below just show one loaf.  Next time I will probably make two... if I can find people to eat it! 

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon (13 grams) sugar in 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water.

 2. Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. (You can also use a mixer with a dough hook for both mixing and kneading, but be careful if using a standard size KitchenAid–it’s a bit much for it, though it can be done.)

3. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, or knead in kitchen aid mixer, like I did. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off.

It will look like this:

4.  Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.

After second rise:

5.  (At this point, you can knead the raisins into the challah, if you’re using them, before forming the loaves.) To make a 6-braid challah, either straight or circular, take half the dough and form it into 6 balls.

6.  With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together.

7.  Here are the instructions for braiding it... As I said, I couldn't really follow it but it turned out OK... I would have liked it prettier and will try again next time! 

Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. For a circular loaf, twist into a circle, pinching ends together. Make a second loaf the same way. Place braided loaves on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between.

8. Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves. Either freeze breads or let rise another hour.  SAVE EGG WASH if you are baking immediately -- you will paint it again before it goes in the oven!

After rising another hour:

9. If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again.  Sprinkle bread with seeds, if using. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking.

10. Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. (If you have an instant read thermometer, you can take it out when it hits an internal temperature of 190 degrees.) Cool loaves on a rack.


-- Anya