Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Add more whole wheat

I love getting a surprise in the mail at work, especially if it involves food.

Last week, I got a package wrapped in a fabric flour bag and filled with recipe cards and a coupon for a bag of Gold Medal white whole wheat flour.

The recipes were tempting and included cookies, breads, desserts and even biscuits.

I knew right away that I would be trying this flour. I keep whole wheat flour in my refrigerator and work it into recipes often, but it’s not white. I was curious about white whole wheat flour — its taste and its nutritional value.

According to the press release that came with my recipes, Gold Medal’s white whole wheat flour is made with hard white spring wheat rather than hard red wheat that goes into many whole wheat flours, and it has the same amount of fiber and protein.

Because the flour is white, it’s a safe bet that your family won’t notice if you add the white whole wheat flour to your pancakes or muffins.

Gold Medal experts recommend starting out slow if you’re adapting recipes and at first substitute white whole wheat flour for 25 to 50 percent of the recipe’s flour content.

The recipes they developed and sent to food writers use white whole wheat flour only.

I decided to make pumpkin bars topped with a smooth cream cheese frosting. With fall upon us, I’ve been eager to make some of my family’s fall-weather favorites. For me, recipes made with pumpkin are a special treat.

It didn’t take long to mix up this recipe, but I did have to wait two hours for the bars to cool before frosting them, so keep that in mind if you make them.

The only change I made to this recipe was using light or Neufchatel cream cheese.

I had a piece of the dessert as soon as I frosted it and loved it. I was pleasantly surprised when I had a refrigerated slice the next day. I loved the dessert cold, too!

My husband also loved this recipe and certainly never complained about the flour I had used. We did discuss that I had used white whole wheat flour and agreed that we really couldn’t tell a difference in the pumpkin bars and other similar recipes using plain flour.

If you need to take a sweet dish somewhere this fall, this is a good one. Gold Medal recommends cutting it into 49 pieces (seven rows by seven rows.)

I confess, our slices were much larger than that!

But even so, you can have a good number of servings regardless.

Pumpkin Bars
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 package (3 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease bottom and sides of 15x10x1-inch pan with shortening. (I sprayed with baking spray.)

In large bowl, beat eggs, granulated sugar, oil and pumpkin with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger and cloves. Spread in pan.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack, about 2 hours.

In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla with electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until smooth and spreadable. Frost bars. Cut into 7 rows by 7 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

Gold Medal/ Betty Crocker Kitchens

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Make it easy

I certainly enjoy using ready-made food products to give my meal-planning a boost, especially on weeknights.

For instance, I make an easy chicken parmesan dish with frozen chicken patties and our favorite canned spaghetti sauce topped with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. And I always use frozen pie crust when I make chicken pot pie.

Sandra Lee has made a fortune with her “semi-homemade” dishes which she demonstrates on Food Network.

I love seeing the meals she comes up with using convenience products. There’s nothing wrong with shortcuts when it comes to getting a meal on the table.

One of my favorite shortcut products is turkey meatballs. I’ve used both the frozen and fresh variety and love them both.

I have a wonderful from-scratch turkey meatball recipe I use in a soup, but for today’s meatballs in tomato sauce recipe, I rely on someone else to make them and I make the sauce from scratch.

This pasta sauce has a lot of tomatoes, and when I pour it over spaghetti, I go light on the sauce and heavy on the meatballs!

The sauce is very simple to make and only requires some sauteing, can-opening and waiting while the sauce simmers.

I add my meatballs about 10 to 15 minutes into the simmer time so their flavor can blend with the sauce.

When I make this recipe, I make a big batch, as reflected in the recipe.

We usually eat our first meal as spaghetti and meatballs and freeze the leftovers in small batches for meatball sandwiches.

I put maybe five or six meatballs on the bread (depending on the size of the roll) and top them with a little sauce.

Then, add a few slices of mozzarella cheese and put the sandwich in a hot stove or toaster oven to let the cheese melt.

I love this sandwich, which I eat with a fork!

Meatballs and Tomato Sauce
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Oil oil for sautéing
  • 4 28 oz. cans petite diced tomatoes
  • 12 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves or 1 teaspoon dry
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 14-oz. bags turkey meatballs (I use Armor)
In a large pot, cook onion in a small amount of olive oil until translucent. Towards the end of cooking time, add garlic.

To the pot, add tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, bay leaves, sugar onion and garlic. Stir until mixed. Bring to a boil and let simmer for one hour. Add meatballs about 15 minutes into the cooking time.

Serve over hot spaghetti or on a hoagie roll, topped with mozzarella cheese and warmed so the cheese melts.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Yum! Bananas and peanut butter

I hope it’s been long enough since my last muffin recipe to share another one because this one is so good!

About a year ago, I folded back a magazine to reveal a peanut butter and banana muffin recipe that I intended to try. When going through magazines over the past year, I’d see that folded back page but pass it by.

In recent months, I’ve become very attached to peanut butter and banana sandwiches, usually made on crunchy whole grain toast made from one of my favorite La Brea breads. I get a craving for them often.

When I ran across that recipe again a few weeks ago, that craving kicked in, so I moved the magazine to the kitchen where I’d see it and bought some bananas. Once they were ripe enough for baking, I finally tried the muffins (with a few changes.)

The recipe in Healthy Cooking magazine was for mini muffins topped with a mixture of brown sugar, peanuts and chocolate chips. I decided right away to use my regular muffin pan and to forego the topping, which would only add fat and calories to the muffin.

I made a few more changes with the flours and used brown sugar instead of granulated.

When I took my muffins out of the oven, I was disappointed. They were not the lovely golden brown that I usually look for in a muffin; they were more pale. I’ve found that muffins that don’t have oils don’t brown like those that contain butter or oil. Maybe the original recipe had a topping to dress it up.

As it turns out, the color of the muffin had absolutely no bearing on its taste. These muffins were delicious and only got better the next day and the next as I enjoyed them for a morning snack. One morning I put a muffin in the toaster oven for a few minutes to warm, which made the chocolate chips gooey and even more delicious.

The taste of these muffins reminded me of Gift of the Magi Bread, which made me think I could add some of those other ingredients sometime — including mandarin oranges, almonds and maraschino cherries.

If you’d like a crunch to these muffins, use chunky peanut butter. For a more intense peanut butter flavor, you could also use peanut butter chips or a mix of chocolate and peanut butter chips.

I wanted to make these muffins again this week but decided to wait a week. I really, really like these muffins and don’t want to get tired of them too soon.

But before the week is over, I’m going to get some bananas and let them start ripening!

Peanut Butter and Banana-Lover Muffins
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup fat-free milk
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups or line with cupcake holders.

Mash the bananas in a large bowl. Mix in brown sugar, egg, milk, peanut butter, applesauce and vanilla. Stir in oats, flours and chocolate chips and mix until just moistened.

Fill 12 muffin cups about three-fourths full.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Cool slightly before removing from pan.