Wednesday, March 30, 2011

100% Whole-Wheat Banana Bread

100% Whole-Wheat Banana Bread

I'm not sure why...but I prefer my banana bread without nuts. I love to just savor the fresh banana flavor all on its own without the nuts. I don't mind having nuts in my muffins, but I just like my banana bread plain. To make this banana bread healthier, I replace all-purpose flour with WHITE whole wheat flour. The banana bread is still quite moist and delicious with the replacement of the whole wheat flour. Instead of butter, I use EXTRA LIGHT olive oil. I'm replacing the saturated fat from the butter with a healthier fat from the olive oil. Lastly, I replace the sour cream with reduced-fat (or low fat) Greek yogurt which will be a healthier alternative. The results is a moist banana bread with the a rich banana flavor. My friends cannot believe they are eating 100% whole wheat banana bread. The banana bread tends to be more flavorful and more moist with age. This recipe makes two loaves. When the banana bread is completely cooled, I like to wrap each loaf in plastic wrap. and leave one out to eat. The second loaf is double-wrapped in heavy duty aluminum foil and placed in the freezer until l I'm ready to eat it. This banana bread freezes well.

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain reduced-fat (or low fat) Greek-style yogurt (5 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups WHITE whole wheat flour (1:2.4 pounds)
4 teaspoons baking powder (0.6 ounce)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup EXTRA LIGHT olive oil or expeller-pressed canola oil (7 ounces)
2 cups granulated sugar (13.6 ounces)
4 large eggs
2 cups fork-mashed very ripe bananas, about 3-1/2 bananas (1:0.8 to 1:1.7 pounds)
2 cups chopped toasted walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position oven rack to the center of the oven.

Spray two 9- by 5-inch loaf pans with nonstick baking spray and line the bottom of each loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Combine the yogurt and baking soda in a small bowl. Set aside.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer with the wire whisk attachment, beat together the oil and sugar for 5 minutes on medium speed, scraping down sides once or twice. Beat in eggs, one at a time, on slow speed, scraping down sides of bowl and beating well after each addition. Add the bananas and yogurt mixture and mixing just until well combined. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions on slow speed, about 7 seconds per addition, scraping downsides of bowl before each addition. Flour mixture will not be completely incorporated, but that's okay. After the last addition of the flour and mixing on slow speed for 7 seconds, increase speed to medium for about 5 seconds; increase speed to medium-high for about 6 seconds; reduce speed back to medium for about 3 seconds. Remove from mixer and gently fold in nuts by hand, if using.

Divide batter into the prepared pans. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean and loaves are golden brown, about 60 minutes. Let loaves cool for about 5 minutes and then remove loaves from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour. Wrap in plastic wrap.

Yields 2 loaves

Monday, March 28, 2011

Grapefruit, Lime and Ginger Juice

Grapefruit, Lime and Ginger Juice
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

It's sweet, it's tart and it's gingery and I love it. It's definitely thirst quenching!. This is my second time to make this, although I did double the amount of sugar and water to the recipe the second time I made this (alreaady adjusted in the recipe below). I'm thinking that some fresh mint leaves would be good too!

2 cups cold water (16 ounces)
2 tablespoons finely grated ginger (1.2 ounces)
6 tablespoons evaporated cane juice (1.8 ounces)
About 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice (3.2 to 3.6 ounces from 2-3 limes)
About 1-1/3 cups fresh ruby-red grapefruit juice (11 to 13 ounces from 2 grapefruits)

In a small pot, combine the water, ginger and sugar. Cook over medium heat until it just starts to come to a boil. Lower heat to simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Combine the grapefruit juice and lime juice in a small glass pitcher. Strain the ginger-sugar-water, pressing on the ginger to extract as much liquid from the ginger. Add the ginger-sugar-water to the juices and stir until combine.

Yields about 1 quart

Monday, March 21, 2011

Baked Farro Risotto

Baked Farro Risotto

Farro is an ancient wheat grain which looks similar to spelt and wheat berries, but the grains are not the same. When cooked, it looks similar to cooked barley with a slight chewiness to the bite. I love the texture of farro. Farro is rich in protein and high in fiber. I first tried farro in an Italian restaurant and it was love at first bite. I normally can find farro at specialty shops and high-end supermarkets, but I was surprised and glad to find it at Costco. I'm not sure how long Costco will carry farro, but I'm thinking of getting another package the next time I'm at Costco. Farro is a versatile grain. You can use farro in soups and salads, or you can use cooked farro in a rice or pasta dish. This recipe I'm posting is delicious. I served this as a side dish, but I enjoyed this dish so much, I can eat it all on its own. To make this dish vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth.

Baked Farro Risotto
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 medium onion, finely chopped (9.6 ounces)
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced (0.4 ounce)
2 cups packed spinach leaves (3 ounces)
1-1/2 cups farro, washed and drained (9.7 ounces)
1-1/4 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup hand-crushed canned whole tomatoes (8 ounces)
One 14.5-ounce can Swanson brand 33% less sodium chicken broth and add enough water to measure 2-1/2 cups
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (3 ounces)
1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (1 to 2 ounces)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Position oven rack to the center of
the oven.

Spray a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. (I used a CorningWare French White 2-1/2-quart round baking dish with a glass lid.)

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot, but not smoking. Add about 2 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet and then add the onions. Let onions cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and let cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach. Cook until spinach wilts down, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Add the farro, Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Cook for a few seconds, until the Herbes de Provence begins to fragrant. Add the tomatoes and broth/water. When mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Stir in 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Cover with lid or aluminum foil paper. Bake for 45 minutes.

Uncover and sprinkle with 1/4 to 1/2 cup (to your preference) of Parmesan cheese. Adjust oven to broil. Broil until Parmesan cheese melts and is lightly browned, about 1 to 2 minutes.

This dish can be made the night before and reheats nicely in
the microwave.

Yields 4 to 6 servings

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Roasted Green Beans

Photo of Roasted Green Beans - Version 2

Roasted Green Beans - Version 1

1 pound green beans, ends removed and trimmed, cut into 4-inch to 6-inch length pieces
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Position oven rack to the center of the oven.

Place green beans in a shallow rimmed baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and ground black pepper using your hands. Spread the green beans out in an even layer. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a serving dish,

Yields 2 to 4 servings

Roasted Green Beans - Version 2

1 pound green beans, ends removed and trimmed, cut into 4-inch to 6-inch pieces
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Position oven rack to the center of the oven.

Place green beans in a shallow rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combined the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix until emulsified using a fork or a tiny whisk. Toss the olive oil mixture with the green beans using your hands until evenly coated. Spread the green beans out in an even layer.

Roast in the oven for 8 minutes. Give a quick toss and roast for another 7 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish.

Yields 2 to 4 servings

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Baked Ravioli

Baked Ravioli
Adapted from Everyday Foods

 Baked Ravioli
Baked Tortellini

This recipe is a keeper! I made this recipe using whole wheat ravioli and reduced fat shredded Mozzarella to make this recipe healthier. I added agave nectar to give the sauce a good balance of sweetness. Herbes de Provence is a blend of dried herbs (thyme, savory, basil, fennel, lavender) commonly used in southern France. Herbes de Provence can be purchased in your local supermarket.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-size onion, finely chopped (13.0 ounces)
3 large cloves garlic, finely minced (0.6 to 0.7 ounce)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons dried Herbes de Provence
One 28-ounce can no-salt, peeled whole plum tomatoes, UNdrained and hand-crushed
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2-1/2 tablespoons agave nectar or brown rice syrup (1.2 ounces) or to taste
Three 9-ounce packages store-bought fresh whole-wheat ravioli or whole-wheat tortellini
1-1/2 cups shredded 2% milk reduced fat mozzarella cheese
(6 ounces)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)

Heat a large pot over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. Add the olive oil, onions and garlic to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper and Herbes de Provence during the last minute of cooking. Add both cans of tomatoes (hand-crushed and crushed). Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Add the agave nectar and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Position oven rack to the center of the oven. Spray a 9-inch by 13-inch size baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the ravioli and continue to cook just until ravioli are floating in the water, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and immediately drain ravioli to a colander. Add the hot ravioli to the pot with the tomato sauce and gently toss to coat the ravioli. It may seem to be a lot of sauce for now, but the ravioli will absorbed most of the sauce after the ravioli are baked. Transfer ravioli to prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the top with mozzarella cheese and then Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, until golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

Yields 4 to 6 servings