Summer Pasta

Oh summer!! Apparently Summer in Nebraska starts in March now. I call Bulls***. I don’t live here because it’s warm, I live here because there are seasons. COLD and HOT. It snowed a grand total of twice this year. Whatever. I guess if it’s going to be warm I may as well make the best of it.

Excited Confessions! We moved from the city out into the country when I was seven. You know what’s real tough on dirt and white rock? Rollerblading. So, at the ripe age of 26 I’m regaining lost normal childhood memories (and because running more than 5 miles has become detrimental to my body apparently) so why not get some great outdoor exercise this way?!!

Before lacing up the ol’ inlines for the first time in this beautiful 80 degree weather, I needed a quick bite to eat before heading out…but not too much. I have plans with friends to grill some Margherita Pizzas later! Not wanting to take the time to prepare a protein in anticipation of hitting the trails ASAP… I dove into one of my absolute favorite and most simple recipes.

I call it Summer Pasta, light and fresh! Nothing less!

Here it is! Why is this such a great go-to? It takes 15 minutes to make, it’s simple, and everything is interchangeable. You can mix and match absolutely whatever you need according to what’s in your fridge.
Here’s this particular days recipe- but I’m including a list of some great additions if you have them as well at home: Almonds, Parmesan,   spinach, kale, peas, sprouts…anything else you have laying around!!

Summer Light Pasta

1 cup Farfalle Pasta

1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

Crushed Red Pepper

Mushrooms

Cheese (your call, I used Goat Cheese, and a sprinkle of swiss)

Green Onion

Olive Oil

Garlic

1. Boil your water and cook your pasta

2. While pasta is cooking, in a saute pan add, a splash of oil, diced mushrooms, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes.

3. Cook pasta a little underdone, strain but leave about 3 tbsp of pasta water. Add pasta and water to the saute pan along with the lemon juice and cook for 1-2 minutes.

4. Toss with your cheese and green onions! Voila! All done!! 

No Butter almost no Flour Cookies, What?!

In attempt to trim down the ‘growing giant’ also know as ‘booty’ this recipe came about. Apparently the ol’ metabolism must be slowing down, or maybe I’ve just been sneaking a few too many snackies!

Whatever the cause, I’m using this as an excuse to try new and oddball recipes. Not butters, no fats, no flour, GF (gluten-free), ect ect. I have several friends that are GF and also one that is on a strict calorie counting diet for six months. Being aware of different necessary lifestyles only makes me more knowledgeable and versatile…so how can I say no?!

Friday was our St. Patty’s food day at work. Looking for something simple, a sweet, and contents as healthy as possible.  Eghhh, sounds like a nearly impossible task! BUT WAIT-  A Spoonful of Sugar to the rescue! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw there was no butter and only 2 tbsp of flour for a batch of 3 dozen. (no cookies without butter or oil?! What? Is this a mistake?! Are they gross?!)

My original goal was to find a chewy cookie to make whoopie pies with green frosting to keep in the green theme. I’ve tried this a few times before to no avail of finding a cookie recipe soft enough- until today!

On first glance, these cookies look crispy and crunchy. Don’t let them fool you! They are incredibly soft and have great flavor. The binding agent here seems to be just the cocoa powder, which uses a lot..but cranks out a ton of cookies. 

Mixed Reviews:  I got several different opinions when handing these out. For the most part, the majority of people thought they were really good…just a little different.  Others said it seemed like it was missing a lot of body (to which of course I had to toss in a smartbutt retort with…”ya….butter or flour…” ha) but I think if you’re attempting to be fat-free and/or gluten-free with a sweet tooth, this is a great guilt-free recipe you have to try. If you have a need for chocolate and for

something different to switch it up…these are a great quick fix, AND really good for 3-4 days opposed to 1-2 days. When you use butter in baking, whatever you’re doing always tastes best when eaten the day of. The really roll down hill quick.

TIPS! : You really need to play around with these until you can tell what time your oven will take to bake them all the way thru. DON’T touch them until completely cooled or you will lose half the cookie.

-Most often with cookies you can remove them after a few minutes and move on, BUT, I found out with these b/c of the lack of ingredients, you really need to let
-Don’t Spray the parchment paper if they try to stickthem completely cool all the way and let the ingredients settle and come together all the way before removing them or you will lose the bottom middle of the cookie onto the parchment paper.

INGREDIENTS

4 egg whites

2 1/2 cups of sugar

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
Feel free to add up to one cup of your favorite nuts or dried fruit. The original recipe also called for 1 cup of chocolate chips, but again I wanted to cut out some of the fat. (and I didn’t have any…)
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until barely frothy. B

I played around with the baking time and I found that about 9 minutes worked good.eat in the sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, and flour until the mixture thickens.

Drop a heaping teaspoon of batter onto the parchment paper for each cookie.

FOR THE FROSTING IF YOU DESIRE!

1 cup confectioners sugar

3 tbsp of milk
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
food coloring of your desire!

Muffins: Cream Cheese Pumpkin Delight

When making any kind of bread anything, my ultimate goal is bold flavor and moisture. As you know as of recent I’ve been trying to cut out as much fat out of my recipes as possible… while sneaking in as much in via small quantities as possible. (oxymoron?) Speaking of cutting fat, another great site to follow if you haven’t run across it yet,  skinnytaste.com She’s fantastic, and I really love that she includes all the nutritional value for almost everything she posts about.

So I’ve been eyeing this recipe for several months and have just never set aside the time to make it. It’s not they’re so much difficult as they are time-consuming. You need to be organized, and plan ahead several hours if you know you’re going to be wanting to throw these down. Totally worth it though, they’re incredibly delicious, and definitely a crowd pleaser…and really not as bad for you as they appear! (bonus!)

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins. Supposedly these were a knockoff of an item Starbucks used to do (according to Annie’s Eats) which is fine with me, because their coffee blows, least they can do is make up for it in tasty treats.

Confession Time: I know cream cheese (cc) is bad for you, but why are all the bad things…so good. If you could more actively invest in (cc) in the stock market, I’d buy out those stocks so fast. At least I can say I’ve graduated to eating the batter with (cc) in it, no longer just taking small chunks out of the box and eating it directly. Wait…is that progress? Oh well, who’s keeping score here.

Definitely several notes on this recipe: so make sure if you decide to make them you give yourself plenty of time, and really read the directions several times thru.

1. First things first is when you make the cream cheese mixture and put it in the freezer, the original instructions said at least 2 hours…I left it in for 3-4 and it still hadn’t hardened into a log yet. I would just do this step the night before so you aren’t watching the clock.

2. I used about half of what was called for in (cc), maybe a smidgen more. So if you’re watching your calorie/fat count, I would use 4-5 oz instead of the whole 8oz originally called for.

3.  I cut the amount of oil…by a lot. The canned pumpkin provides plenty of moisture and always allows for way less butter or oil (whatever is called for) So when I noted the original recipe, the full amount required was definitely not necessary and mine turned out great.

4. I used about 3/4 tsp of (cc) block per muffin and they turned out just fine–I didn’t want the (cc) to overpower the muffin…and wanted to cut some fat.

5. This makes a ton of muffins…yield was 24…but I’m pretty sure I got close to 30.

6. Measure out with a tablespoon or whichever tool you wish when scooping the pumpkin into muffin liners. You really want to make sure you get an even amount. I failed to do these with the first half and the (cc) was towards the top instead of the middle. They were both delicious…if you just prefer to have the (cc) in the middle make sure you measure….if you don’t care…do it whichever way you please you wild animals.

7. Go do these!! They were so good, they flew off my desk when I brought them to work. Even those who weren’t super sold on pumpkin really enjoyed these.

My adaption of Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins: Yield 26-30

For the filling:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
3/4 cup vegetable oil

For the topping:
½ cup sugar
6 tbsp. flour
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

  • Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix on medium-low-speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.
  • To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender (I prefer to use my hands). Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons). Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 26-30 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells. The batter is thick so spread it instead of overfilling, or shake/jiggle the muffin pan.
  • Bake for 21 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving. If you’re serving these the next day, I would put the in the microwave for 10 second. Heats everything up perfectly: just warms the muffin, and makes the (cc) ooze, but not drip.