Archive for August, 2012

Baking is a science, they say.  My response is, you haven’t stepped foot in our kitchen.  I’ll stop short of refering to our baking as fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants baking but that’s not far from the truth on many days, particularly when my son stands beside me.  Rice Kernel is known to crack extra eggs and dust in additional flour to cake and bread recipes – because he wants to.  Today, the cookie was his next victim/experiment.  More cake-like with crisp edges (i.e. healthier with 75% less butter than a traditional pudding cookie recipe) there is little banana flavor in these cookies, but the fruit and pudding mix combine to create a soft interior.  They melt in your mouth they are so soft.  I would have poured in extra chocolate chips, but Rice Kernel spied my Dad’s favorite little chocolate treat – chocolate-coated sunflower seeds – and decided they added a festive punch.  As you can see, he went to town decorating the little cakey gems.

Vanilla Pudding Banana Cake Cookies with Chocolate Sunflower Seeds

1/4 cup unsalted butter or Earth Balance, at room temperature (increase to 1/2 cup for more of a “cookie” texture)
1 ripe banana (medium-sized)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3.4 oz. package vanilla instant pudding mix
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups white whole wheat or all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate sunflower seeds, semi-sweet chocolate chips,etc.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or baking mat and set aside.
  3. Using a mixer, beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Add in banana and combine until all large chunks are broken up.  Stir in pudding mix, eggs, and vanilla extract. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until slight golden and set. Remove cookies from oven and let cool on baking sheet for two minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

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FHE used to love Hot Pockets from the freezer section (Lean Pockets is what we actually bought).  Simple and savory, I remember years of storing the tiny packages in our freezer for a last-minute bite in the morning and a post-soccer game snack at 11 p.m.  It has been years since we’ve purchased them, mostly because they aren’t the most wholesome food choice.  (FHE’s words, not mine.)  But that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy them.  With fresh pizza dough aplenty at the grocery store, homemade versions can come together quickly.  This is also a project perfect for little fingers.  For my mostly-vegetarian son, this means a little cheese and lots of broccoli.  He’s recently (finally) discovered a love of pepperoni so that was on our menu as well today.

Making a hot pocket or a calzone is similar to making a pizza.  Some tips, though: 

  1. Poke small holes in the top of your calzone so steam can escape and you don’t develop too many air pockets inside.
  2. Be sure to seal the edges really well, otherwise you will have a big mess.
  3. Brush the top of the calzone with olive oil or eggwash before you put it in the oven for a golden finish.
    Basic recipe here.

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I’m not the biggest Paula Deen fan, but I have nothing against her or her cooking.  I’ve seen her shows numerous times and I’ve gotten to “know” her sons.  So when her younger son, Bobby, got his own show about lightened versions of his Mom’s favorites, I was curious.  Unfortunately I’ve never seen the show, but I have come across his recipes online.  In search of a light dessert for my mother-in-law’s birthday, I settled on this one.  Rice Kernel is an acid fanatic – lemon and lime, that is.  And I’m hardpressed to resist a traditional lemon bar.  (My mother-in-law and Dad aren’t much for sweets, so I knew there would be leftovers.  Leftovers that would end up in my tummy.  So I best choose a dessert I want to eat!)  These are lightened with eggwhites and significantly less butter. I’ve added a layer of creamy (fat-free), sweetened cream cheese, but you could easily omit it.

Bobby’s recipe here.

To add a cheesecake layer, mix 8 oz of 1/3-reduced fat or fat-free cream cheese, 1 egg, and 1/3 cup sugar.  Pour the cheesecake layer on the crust and top with lemon layer. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the center is set and does not giggle.


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The classic flavors of Chicken Cordon Bleu—ham, Swiss cheese and thyme—inspired this easy chicken burger.  Since I used lean ground chicken breast, I added a small grated zucchini, small grated carrot, and 1/4 grated onion to add moisture (and color).  You could also fold in some chopped, defrosted spinach if you prefer to skip the box grater work.  It’s deliciously satisfying and as light as burgers come.

Inspired by recipe here from Eating Well.

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These are not-to-sweet muffins that are delicious with coffee in the morning or for an afternoon snack.  Rice Kernel decided our recipe needed an egg (And so he dumped one in), but it works without the egg just fine.

Vegan Zucchini Banana Muffins

1 cup grated zucchini
2 medium over-ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 9″ bread pan or 6-muffin pan.
  2. Stir zucchini, bananas, oil, sugar, and vanilla together. Mix with hands if necessary to break up banana chunks.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
  4. Pour batter into prepared bread pan or muffin tin and bake 50-60 minutes for bread, 30 minutes for muffins.

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It’s that time of year – plenty of zucchini in our garden.  Here, we’ve grated zucchini into lean bison meat, which add so much moisture and flavor with minimal extra calories.  You can stir them into marinara and serve over pasta for a traditional meal, or prepare them ahead of time as an appetizer.

Zucchini Meatballs, adapted from Livewell 360


20 oz package of ground bison (or beef or turkey breast)
2 medium zucchini, grated
1/4 onion, grated
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. If you have a cooling rack, spray it with cooking oil and place it on top of a half sheet pan. If you don’t have a cooling rack, spray the top of the sheet pan with cooking oil.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the grated zucchini, grated onion, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano, pepper and turkey. Mix well.
  4. Scoop small palm-size portions, shape them into balls, and place them on the cooling rack in rows. Continue until all of the mixture has been used.
  5. You should have about 3 dozen meatballs.
  6. Cook in oven for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through.

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Because plain zucchini bread can always be jazzed up, a little grated green apple adds some tart sweetness here.  You could easily substitute another type of apple.

Apple Zucchini Bread, adapted from Aaron McCargo


Nonstick spray
1 cup finely grated zucchini (about 1 zucchini)
1 cup grated green apple, peeled and cored (about 1 apple)
3/4 – 1 cups packed light brown sugar (depending how sweet you like it)
3/4 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups plus 1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour (or half white whole wheat)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat 2 (4 1/2 by 8 1/2-inch) loaf pans with nonstick spray. Line the pans with parchment paper and spray the paper.
  2. Combine the zucchini, apple, brown sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla extract in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add 3 cups flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg to the bowl and mix well. Toss the nuts with the remaining1/2 teaspoon flour to coat and prevent them from sinking. Gently stir in the nuts and the extract.
  3. Divide the batter between the 2 loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the middle of each loaf comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the bread from the pans and cool on a wire rack.

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