SamCyn’s Juicing Adventure

07/22/2011 3 comments

I can’t believe I’m posting about this…basically, because it’s personal…I’m going to be sharing my thoughts and feelings as it relates to my eating habits, weight and health.

Here goes nothing

Well ladies and gentlemen, the time has come for Sam and I to make a change in our lifestyle as it relates to our health, eating habits and weight.  Because I’m pretty much an all or nothing type of person, I’m forced to make a drastic move and start what I’ll refer to as SamCyn’s Juicing Adventure.

So for now, the posts will not be so much about this cheddar cheese french toast…

this dark chocolate cake with strawberry cream cheese filling…

this rosemary-lemon garlic pork tenderloin…

or these vanilla almond cupcakes.

Instead, I’ll be journaling our (mostly mine) journey on this adventure.  Lucky for me, my darling husband (God bless him) has agreed to join me (not at the same exact level, but very close) in reversing a minimum of 75% of our alcohol, bread, caffeine, dairy, fat, meat and sugar consumption and replacing it with fruits, legumes, nuts, vegetables and whole grains.  It’s not that we don’t already eat healthy foods.  It’s just that the percentage has decreased, resulting in our waistline’s exponential growth.  Besides being unsightly, this puts us at a high risk for heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, etc. and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that this is NOT GOOD!

The other night we watched the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead by Joe Cross.  It’s about the journey of two men that were overweight, lived on medications due to health conditions and were just unhappy.  They juiced for 60 days and changed not only their own lives, but the lives of others.  It’s a very inspirational film, that’s worth watching and will get you thinking about your health.

My plan is to juice and only eat fruit and vegetables for the next 5-10 days (I’m praying to last that long) so that I can detox my system.  For someone (like me) that lives to eat, this is going to be difficult and a challenge.  I’m serious, I love all kinds of foods and desserts.  I love to read about it, cook it, bake it and most of all eat it.  I mean, just the thought of giving up my morning cup of coffee, makes me want to cry.  However, I know that it’s for the best and the benefits will far outweigh the “process” we’ll endure while we make these changes.  Needless to say, we’re both pretty excited and  looking forward to being on the “other side”.  I for one can’t wait to fit into my clothes again and have more energy.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back to share some more real soon 😉

p.s.  I am not going to stop sharing great dishes and desserts.  The only difference is they will be healthier.

Without health life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffering – an image of death.  Buddha

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Categories: Healthy

Chocolate Malt Frosted Cupcakes

06/24/2011 4 comments

Last night as we were preparing dinner, the conversation went a little something like this…

Hmm, I’m in the mood  to bake something, but I don’t know what.

Yeah babe…But something simple.

How about, vanilla cupcakes with a chocolate frosting? Wait no…How about I make the frosting with chocolate malt powder?

YEAH…that sounds good!

So at close to 9:00pm Sam and I were in the kitchen washing dishes, listening to some tunes, exchanging a few kisses and preparing/anticipating the Chocolate Malt Frosted Cupcakes.

Because it was kinda late and I was wanting to be done quickly, I just popped open a box of white cake mix (I keep them in stock for quickies), into which I added two teaspoons of vanilla extract.  The chocolate malt frosting was tweaked from a recipe for a milk chocolate cookie malt cream filling that I had saved from the Food and Wine website to make sometime in the near future.

By the time all was said and done, it was about 10:40ish pm and past our bedtime (we’re early birds).  So, being the classy individuals that we are, we devoured one cupcake each over the sink and prepped for bed.

They were pretty yummy and worth the wait.  The frosting had that lovely chocolate malt shake taste that I remember having as a kid.  However, we would have liked the flavor to have been a bit more prominent, so next time I think I’ll add more chocolate malt powder and a little less sugar.

Chocolate Malt Frosted Cupcakes

(Yielded 12 cupcakes and one 6×2 cake)

Frosting inspired by Mathew Rice

Ingredients 

  • Box of white or yellow cake mix 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (for cake)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup chocolate malt powder, such as Ovaltine
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (my addition)
  • About 1 teaspoon cocoa powder to dust on frosted cupcakes (my addition)

To Prepare

Preheat oven to 350° and line cupcake pan with buttered and floured baking cups, also butter and flour cake pan. Prepare cake mix according to instructions, be sure to add the vanilla extract to the mix.

For frosting: In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the chocolate malt powder at medium speed until light, about 3 minutes. Scrape sides as needed and add the vanilla and confectioners’ sugar and beat at low speed just until combined, gradually add whipping cream and increase to med-high speed for about 1 minute.

Decorate your cupcakes/cake (once cooled) as your heart desires, dust with cocoa powder and enjoy :-).

“All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!”  ~ Charles Schulz

Cherry Chocolate Love Cake

06/20/2011 7 comments

This weekend Sam and I celebrated our two-year Wedding Anniversary 🙂

As I look back to that magical night we met (at a party, which I almost did not attend), up until now, I can’t help but smile (from ear to ear) and thank God for answering my prayers and blessing me with such a devoted, loving, hard-working husband, friend and lover.  The past couple of years have been filled with lots of love, laughter and joy.  We have our good days and sometimes not so good days, but all in all, we love each other very much and as each day goes by, we keep learning and growing as a couple and appreciating one another more and more.

So on this special occasion, I was inspired to make what I’d like to refer to as, the Cherry Chocolate Love Cake…reason being, despite the obvious cherries on top, cherry filling and dark chocolate…

It was made out of love, for the love of my life and his love of cherries.

Now that cherries are in season and considered the new antioxidant “super fruit”, I have the opportunity to make all kinds of goodies for my husband, like pies, cakes, smoothies, ice-cream, etc.

I tried my hand at decorating this cake with swiss meringue buttercream (a first for me) and further practice my decorating skills.

I think I did okay for a newbie…don’t you think?

Well, at least my husband was impressed, which automatically makes it a success in my book.

This cake is dense (without being heavy) with a delightfully, rich chocolate taste, that matches perfectly with the fresh cherry filling and silky, smooth buttercream. 

Needless to say, we both thoroughly enjoyed the “love” cake and look forward to sharing it with family and friends.

Here’s to love, joy, patience, kindness, health, happiness and many, many more anniversaries.

You can find the recipe for the dark chocolate cake and swiss meringue buttercream from Rosie at Sweetapolita.  I just happened to stumble across her site one day and really like the beautiful pictures she posts of not only her confections, but of her family too.

As for the cherry filling, I roasted about a cup (next time I’ll use two cups) of pitted and chopped cherries mixed with a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of melted butter in the oven set at 400° for about 10 minutes.  Allowed the cherries to cool, strained out most of the juice (there was a bit too much liquid) and then added (by mistake) a capful of orange extract, in lieu of vanilla extract.  Luckily orange and chocolate goes well together ;-).

“Life is just a bowl of cherries, don’t take it serious, its mysterious. Life is just a bowl of cherries, so live and laugh and laugh at love, love a laugh, laugh and love”.  – Bob Fosse

SamCyn’s Blueberry-Coriander Muffin Experiment…

05/12/2011 2 comments

When using blueberries in lieu of pumpkin to make muffins from the delicious Honey Walnut Pumpkin muffin recipe I made a while back, I was not sure which spice to use in place of the pumpkin spice.

I know I could have used cinnamon, but I wanted something different.  So, I asked my buddy Google to tell me “what spices work with blueberries“.  I got the idea to use coriander from this site and decided to go into unchartered territory and experiment.

I had purchased ground coriander to use for an Indian recipe (that I never got around to making), so it’s not a spice I’m very familiar with. 

After some research, I learned that the use of coriander is native to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions and has been known in Asian countries for thousands of years.  It was used as a spice in both Greek and Roman cultures, the latter using it to preserve meats and flavor breads. 

The coriander seeds have a fragrant flavor that is reminiscent of both citrus peel and sage.  The early physicians, including Hippocrates, used coriander for its medicinal properties, including as an aromatic stimulant.  Coriander leaves (cilantro) (which I love) are featured in the culinary traditions of Latin American, Indian and Chinese cuisine.

Duh! I’m sure I’ve had this in sooo many dishes and didn’t even know it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I just made a new friend…the experiment was a winner! My husband, sister and mother all agreed they were really moist and DA-LISH. 

The coriander offered a nice, mellow citrusy note (smelled really good too!) that paired really well with the blueberries and caramelized walnuts.  And the best part is, because they are low-fat (no butter or oil), you can freely smother them with butter (like I did), take a bite and go to tastebud heaven.

One of these hot, buttered muffins with a good cup of coffee (or tea) makes for a good breakfast or afternoon snack :-).

“And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” Exodus 16:31

Blueberry-Coriander Muffin

(yields about 12 muffins)

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup oat bran
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup light vanilla soymilk
  • 6 oz. package of fresh blueberries (mashed)
  • 1 medium ripe banana (mashed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1/3 cup dark agave nectar

To Prepare 

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 12-muffin pan (or muffin cups) with cooking spray and set aside.

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Toast walnuts in saucepan on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, then add 1/3 cup of agave nectar.  When mixture starts to bubble, stir to prevent burning, cook for about another 1-2 minutes.  Spread covered walnuts onto the waxed paper, allow to cool and break up clusters.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oat bran, coriander, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In a second large bowl, combine sugar, applesauce, honey, soy milk, mashed blueberries and banana, egg and vanilla.

Add this mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in walnuts.

Pour batter into prepared muffin pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes or when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack then remove from pan and set aside to let cool completely.  Or you can pop one out of the pan, slather on the butter and enjoy!

Burnt Caramel & Apple Walnut Gelato

05/03/2011 5 comments

 

This past weekend was all about “saving” the foods that would soon expire if I continued to use them as props in my fridge and counter.

Part of the inventory of edibles were some leftover Fuji apples from last week’s delicious Waldorf Salad.  Whereas I could have cooked the apples to accompany the dynamic rosemary-garlic pork tenderloin I made (I’ll have to share this one at a later date).  

Instead…I followed my heart’s true desire and made gelato. 

But first, let me ask you…

Do you like caramel?

I do!

Do you like apples cooked in cinnamon and sugar?

Yes!

What about caramelized toasted walnuts?

That’s a double yes! 

Well then ladies and gentlemen…..

You will L-O-V-E this!!!

Although I had never caramelized anything in my life…I let myself loose and the results were just divine!

The inspiration came from this recipe, and in typical SamCyn fashion, I changed things up a bit and ended up with a Burnt Caramel & Apple Walnut Gelato.

Sam and I were immediately seduced by the creamy, subtly sweet, nutty, smokey flavors of this gelato.  We both agreed, this was a sophisticated flavored gelato…Definitely not one for the “kiddies”. 

HAH!

I gave some to my six-year old niece to try and she loved it. 

Which proves one of two things:

1. My niece has got sophisticated taste buds.

or

2. We just don’t know what we’re talking about :-).

Life is uncertain.  Eat dessert first. ~Ernestine Ulmer

Burnt Caramel & Apple Walnut Gelato

Serves 1 1/2 pints

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 medium-sized apples, peeled and diced 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 capful of dark rum (optional, makes the gelato easier to scoop right out of the freezer).

To prepare:

  1. Heat ¼ cup of sugar in a deep pot over medium heat until it begins to melt and turn golden. Add apples, walnuts and cinnamon and saute until well coated and caramelized. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Heat the remaining sugar in the same pot over medium heat until it melts and turns dark brown, about 2 to 4 minutes (do not stir sugar during this process, except to evenly melt the sugar).  Slowly whisk in cream until well combined. Whisk in milk, add vanilla bean and salt; cook until very hot, about 2 more minutes.
  3. Beat eggs yolks in a medium, heat-proof bowl. Slowly whisk ½ cup of cream mixture into the yolks. While constantly whisking, slowly pour egg-cream mixture back into pot with milk-cream mixture. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. 
  4. Transfer to a container, stir in the rum (if using) and cool completely in the refrigerator or by using an ice bath. Using a sharp paring knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean pod into the gelato mixture and discard pod. Churn according to the directions on your ice cream maker, during the last five minutes or so of churning, stir in the caramelized apples and walnuts. then store in a tightly sealed container and freeze until firm. 

Enjoy!

Toad in the Hole – GCC: Menu 31

05/02/2011 1 comment

 

I completely broke the recipe and suggested sides “rules” for this week’s Gutsy Cooks Club choice, Toad in the Hole.

Toad in the hole is a traditional English dish consisting of sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter, usually served with vegetables and onion gravy.  The origin of the name “Toad-in-the-Hole” is often disputed. Many suggestions are that the dish’s resemblance to a toad sticking its head out of a hole provides the dish with its somewhat unusual name.

Personally, I don’t get it…but hey, maybe I’m just not that “brilliant”.

Now, nothing against the English and their food, but I decided to take this dish out of England and put it in Italy.

Why, do you ask?

A) Because I had some ingredients that needed to be used.

B) My husband is Italian and I can never have enough Italian ;-).

And finally…

C) Because I can.

First up was making the batter, which included flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour), salt, milk and eggs…sound boring to you? it sure did for me, so I added the following:

  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp each of fresh rosemary and parsley
  • 1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano

Secondly, place sausages in an oiled baking dish and bake for about 5 -10 minutes at 425°. 

I elected to add some garlic, onion and green pepper to bake along with the sausages (I used hot chicken sausages).

Lastly, reduce the oven temp to 400° and pour batter around the sausages and continue baking for approximately 30 minutes, or until batter is golden and crisp.  This is to be served hot. 

I served up the “toads” with some homemade baby portobello mushroom sauce and parmigiano.

What was the end result you ask?

Well, let’s just say Sam and I agreed “Italianizing” (is that even a word??) this dish was a good idea.  Otherwise, it would have been way too bland. 

Who knows, maybe if I had stuck to the recipe and served it with an onion gravy or mustard sauce (some of the suggestions) it would have been really good. 

However, to be honest with you, with all the recipes on my “to do” list, I doubt we’ll ever find out.

Ladies and Gentlemen…this concludes this week’s Edible Adventure.

“If God had intended us to follow recipes, He wouldn’t have given us grandmothers”. ~Linda Henley

SamCyn’s Return to Dessert: Chocolate Orange Curd Bundt

04/25/2011 2 comments

As many of you may already know, when I posted about the Lemon-Berry Corn Muffins I baked.  Sam and I made a committment during Lent, not to indulge in cake (amongst other types of dessert).

It was a difficult and challenging journey, especially when we baked cakes, cookies, etc. for family and friends.  Nonetheless, God gave us the strength to refrain from our temptation, as we patiently (felt like an eternity) counted the days to Easter.

Though I had no clue what the first dessert would be, I did know it would involve my beloved chocolate.  Therefore, I got a little creative and baked a Chocolate Orange Curd Bundt cake for Easter Sunday dinner at my In-laws.

Similar to the Waldorf Salad, this was really easy because I was lazy  it is a semi-home made dessert.

Dare I say, the chocolate cake is from a box. H-O-W-E-V-E-R, I did make the Orange Curd from scratch with lots of love :-).

All I can say is, it was TOTALLY worth the wait.  The citrusy, buttery flavor of the orange curd soaked into the chocolate cake was truly divine!  My darling husband ate two pieces and asked that we bring home a piece.  

Everyone else really enjoyed it as well, which means my contributions to Easter dinner were a success.  For me (and Sam) that’s what it’s all about…making and sharing good food with the ones you love.

 “If not for chocolate, there would be no need for control top pantyhose.  An entire garment industry would be devastated”.  ~Author Unknown

Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake

  • Follow box instructions for cake

Orange Curd Recipe Adapted by Flo Braker

Ingredients

  1. 3 large eggs
  2. 2 large egg yolks
  3. 1/2 cup sugar  (I used agave nectar)
  4. 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  5. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  6. 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  7. 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  8. 1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

Directions

  1. In a small heavy saucepan, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks. Whisk in the sugar, then whisk in the citrus juices and zests. Add the butter and whisk constantly over moderately low heat until the mixture thickens, about 8 minutes; do not let it boil. Immediately strain the curd into a bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd and cut 6 small steam vents in the plastic. Refrigerate the curd overnight; it can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Once completely cooled, I cut out a “ditch” in the circumference of the cake and filled it with the orange curd.  Because my curd didn’t turn out too thick (maybe because I used agave nectar??) I crumbled up the cake pieces that were cut out and spread them over the curd for absorption. 

Lastly, I sifted some confectioner’s sugar and orange metallic dust over the cake. 

Because of the curd, this cake should be stored in the refrigerator.