For Chava: Fat-Free Pumpkin Muffins

My kiddos call these ‘Pumpkin Pasties,’ and they eat them straight from the pan. They’ll keep, theoretically, in the freezer, for months…just pop them in the microwave for 20 seconds and enjoy! You can also make this recipe in a loaf pan or Bundt pan.

1 large can pumpkin
1 c. applesauce
8 eggwhites or 4 eggs
2 c. brown sugar
3.5 c. whole wheat flour (I like King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat)
2 t. baking powder
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
2 t. ginger
1/2 t. cloves
2/3 c. orange juice (I use Rice Dream)
1 c. raisins, craisins, nuts, chocolate chips or chopped dates (the chocolate chips kind of kill the “fat-free” deal, but they’re yummy!

mix, fill (sprayed) muffin cups 2/3 full, and bake until done. 🙂

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Before and After

Subzero temperatures seem to lend themselves to leisurely Shabbos preparations. (So leisurely, in fact, that I almost forgot to make the salmon!) Luckily, this week’s recipe (from Old Bay) was super-quick and foolproof:

Zingy Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup ketchup

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons OLD BAY® Seasoning

Directions
In a small bowl, mix honey, ketchup, lemon juice and OLD BAY until well blended.

I use this on salmon and chicken with equally great results. Brush it on and bake till done.
(No, that’s not the salmon in the photo above. Those would be the chicken stew and the quinoa, respectively, which for some reason proved far more photogenic than the fish.)

After havdallah, it was time for a quick tidy-up. (Denny, if you’re reading this, will you please come install my dishwasher? My dishpan hands are waiting…) Thankfully, the littles have developed an affinity for sweeping, so with their help, things got done in twice the time no time at all.

A new undertaking

After I had my third child, I lost a tremendous amount of weight on Dr. Dean Ornish’s program–a vegetarian, very low fat regimen that was both effective and user-friendly. Three kids later, about half of the weight has crept back on, and it’s time for me to do something about it. I’ve been asked to create weekly menus and do the cooking for another couple in our community, and will be using the opportunity to get myself and my husband back on track, as well. So…I’m menu-planning properly for the first time in years, and with more of an audience than my own family, I have to consider things like presentation, and avoiding repetitive ingredients (I could happily subsist on lentils, chickpeas, and sweet potatoes…) while maintaining a balanced, low fat menu. To add to the challenge, one of our participants has diabetes, and another has IBS. I made a quick trip to the library today in search of cookbooks to sift through, and came back with a few of my old favorites, in addition to some newer titles. I also spent some time on the fat free veggie archives and am nearly done with this week’s menus. If anybody’s interested, I’ll post the finished menu plan when I’m through.

Bangarangs!

Everybody has a go-to recipe, something to make for that “I’ll-bring-dessert” occasion that pops and finds you lacking the time, energy, or inclination to experiment. When I need to look like I hang with Martha, I make meringues. If my rugrats are clamoring for ‘bangarangs,’ they get the simplest version: plain-old vanilla meringues. For a vort or a shalom zochar, expect them to be flavored with mint or raspberry and bedecked with nonpareils or melted chocolate. The beauty of the meringue is this: It’s a no-brainer. As long as you have a decent mixer, a bag of sugar, and some eggs, you’re golden. Here’s my ridiculously easy recipe for Bangarangs:

8 eggwhites
1.5 cups granulated sugar
1t. flavored extract (vanilla, mint, raspberry, orange…)
nonpariels, colored sugar, etc. to decorate

Preheat oven to 250. Your eggs should be at room temperature and your mixer bowl should be chilled when you begin. First, use the wire whip attachment at full speed to whip your eggwhites till they form soft peaks. Add the sugar VERY slowly while continuing to beat the mixture. When all of the sugar has been added, the mixture should be glossy, and hard peaks will form when you remove the beater. Don’t do that just yet, though. Add the extract and beat for a half a minute, still at full speed. Now, drop by dollops (or go all fancy like I do and make pretty swirls with a pastry bag or decorator) on a parchment lined cookie sheet. If you’re adding sprinkles or the like, do it now.Bake for 90 minutes in a 250 degree oven. Let cool in the oven, then drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired, and transfer to an airtight container or a Ziploc bag.

What’s your go-to recipe?

Festival of Lights

Chanukah…a festival of lights. And calories. All kinds of calories. We celebrate the underdog victory of the Jewish People, the miraculous cruse of oil which lasted 8 days and nights instead of the expected one. And how do we remember this wondrous event? We light candles, and we fry stuff. Fried jelly doughnuts. Fried latkes. By the time I got supper on the table Friday night, I felt as though I, too, had been fried.I will say two things about latkes. First, that they only taste really good straight out of the pan, And second, that it is nearly impossible to eat just one. (Ok, three things. I trashed my diet again. Grr.)

Enjoying the fruits of my labors…

We are well and truly snowed in. After a fortifying lunch of potato soup (recipe below), I broke out The Big Blue Suitcase of Craft, dumped it on the dining room table, and set the kids to work. We cranked up our favorite classical music, and now they’re each elbow deep in their own projects.   I’m listening to the quiet.  Someone’s using my pinking shears to cut cardstock. Somebody else is gluing a milk top to a pasta box window to a cigar box. A little further down the table is The Lone Braider. And one of my big kids is working on a perfectly stunning gift which cannot be disclosed. If I wasn’t so busy documenting the antics of my brood, I’d be working on the make-your-own puppet kits that two of them will be getting for Chanukah. Or the humbug bean bag set for Shani. Or making supper. But actually, I’m having too much fun watching them to do much of anything else right now. And I’m good with that.

Creamy Potato Soup:

5 pounds of potatoes (we like russets or Yukon Golds)
1T. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup of dry milk
pepper, salt, dried dill to taste
water to cover

Fill a large pot with water, then add your peeled potatoes and cook until tender. Meanwhile, sautee your onions in a frying pan with the olive oil. When they’re nicely browned, add them to the potatoes. Let everything simmer till you’re ready to start eating directly from the pot. Use your handy dandy immersion blender to achieve the consistency you prefer (we like ours a little chunky) and blend in the dried milk. Season and let flavors blend, if you can wait that long. Serve with crusty, fresh wholegrain bread.

The Great Cookie Debacle of ’09

I spend too much time looking at other people’s blogs.  Admiring their successes.  Imagining my own glorious interpretations of their stunning creations.  Wasting copious quantities of time, money, and self-esteem.  Yup, that’s what I did this morning…

My synagogue is having a Chanukkah party next week.  In order to raise funds for our preschool, I had the inspired idea to sell sugar cookies.   Like these. Needless to say, four hours later, we have 120 dangerously “crunchy” heinously iced hockey-pucks.  Seriously.  My hands feel like they’re going to fall off, the synagogue’s kitchen looks like we let the actual preschool do the baking, and our cookies will be sold with a warning to the denture-wearing public.  Not one of my better mornings.