Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tasty Turkey Muffins


My body needs a break -- a break from chocolate-covered almonds, pecan pie and brussels sprouts with bacon. I have finally rid my kitchen of all of the wonderfully tasting, butt fattening foods that quietly intruded one week ago.

In its place, we've been eating slow cooker chicken caesar sandwiches (a recipe I have been testing for my daughter's 2nd birthday party in a few weeks), salads, sautéed garlicky broccoli, and roasted potatoes -- oh and these delicious turkey muffins. When I was trying on a low carb diet a year ago, I came across the recipe for these muffins in a forum and since have tweaked it so it fits our lifestyle and taste buds.

We know that ground turkey has less fat than its ground beef counterpart, but we also know with that comes dry and sometimes sandpaper tasting foods. These muffins use dark meat ground turkey and are infused with flavor from carrots, onions and eggs. The original recipe calls for heavy cream and cheese, both of which I have substituted with light coconut milk (adds absolutely no coconut flavor and instead just a touch of richness) and Daiya shredded cheddar cheese for a dairy-free dinner.

These little guys are delicious right out of the muffins cups or poured out into a bowl and enjoyed with a fork.


They can be made in muffins tins, but they need to be greased and cleanup is really a pain in the rear. I specifically bought some silicone muffins cups for this recipe so I didn't have to add any additional fat and so I didn't have to use a whole box of steel wool pads to clean the muffin pan. It worked perfectly. They slid right out of the silicone cups and required minimal cleaning. These are wonderful served with a crisp green salad dressed with salt and canola oil.

Turkey Muffins






Makes 10 Turkey Muffins

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb ground turkey, dark meat
2 carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 eggs
1/4 cup light coconut milk or heavy cream
1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup (divided) shredded cheddar Daiya cheese or regular shredded cheddar cheese
Salt, to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin with oil or line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and line up 10 silicone muffin cups.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and season with salt. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until softened.




Add the ground turkey and cook until no longer pink. 


Meanwhile, in a glass measuring cup, mix together the eggs and coconut milk. Season with salt.


Place the ground turkey mixture in a bowl and add the egg mixture and the 1/4 cup shredded cheese to it. Mix well.


Divide equally among 10 muffin cups (pouring some of the excess liquid over each muffin nf necessary) and top with remaining 1/8 cup cheese.


Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until egg is set and cheese is melted. Eat straight from the muffin cup with a fork or empty into a bowl.


I am about ready to break in my new Garmin watch for the third time (if the fog around here lifts) and I am also getting ready to kiss my dried, cracked and bleeding dish washing hands goodbye because there's a brand new dishwasher getting installed today!

In midst of our New Year's celebrating (which probably includes my husband and I watching the Toy Story 3 dvd I picked up at the library yesterday and my husband waking me up at midnight to tell me it's a new year) I cannot forget to soak my black-eyed peas for our good luck New Year's lunch tomorrow!

See ya in 2012,






Nutrition Information Per 2 Muffins: Calories 146; Total Fat 8g; Total Carb 10g; Fiber 2g; 
Sugars 4g; Protein 8g
*Nutrition information has been calculated using an online recipe calculator tool.
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holiday Cards and A Very Merry Christmas


I'm not sure about you, but my family really created a complete and total mess celebrating what turned out to be a very merry Christmas this year. It all started with the holiday cards. I was up late a few nights creating these guys because everything came to head all at once it seemed -- preschool nativity game, christmas truffles and Christmas Eve prep.

The night before Christmas Eve, I finished getting the house cleaned and the table set.


We finally put up window cling nativity scene we received as a gift from preschool.


The house was all set. The next day, complete and total destruction began with two simple books and a pink car.



It continued through the night.





And of course, began again in the wee hours of Christmas morning.




After the destruction was complete, I was finally able to break in both of the best gifts I got this Christmas. First with my new Garmin (this thing is SO cool). And it was a pretty awesome run on Christmas morning I might add.


And then with my brand-new Hello Kitty toaster.



As I mentioned in a Facebook status update, it looked like Al's Toy Barn blew up inside our house on Monday. It was not a pretty sight. But my husband and I banded together, purging the old to make way for the new.

I was just so happy I was able to finish our holiday greeting cards through it all!

Sugar and Spice Holiday Cards


The first thing I did was get our holiday Christmas pictures taken and had a bunch of wallet-sized pictures printed. The next thing I did was scavenge through my envelope bin to see if I had a surplus of any envelopes I could use for this project. And I did. I had more than enough red #10 envelopes (it's a total time and wallet saver to pick up envelopes in the masses when clearanced or on sale). 

I went to Hobby Lobby during a 50% off scrapbook paper sale and picked out some colors that I thought would look nice. And since practically all of the scrapbook merchandise was on sale, I bought anything that I though was cute that might work later -- ribbon, gingerbread men, buttons. I return whatever I don't use or keep it if I got an exceptionally good price.

Supplies:

Brown textured card stock
Patterned holiday paper
Green textured card stock
Picture
Red heart buttons
Brown floss
Needle
White card stock
Printer
Foam gingerbread men
Red envelopes

I ended up reusing patterned paper I used about 5 years ago for our Christmas cards -- I had just the perfect amount left -- and some green textured card stock I used on that same Christmas card. I also picked some red buttons from Hobby Lobby and gingerbread foam sticky men I got on sale at Michaels.

I started by cutting the base to my card in brown. Since my envelope was 9 1/4" x 4 1/4" I cut the base of the card at 9" x 4". I proceeded to cut my second layer (patterned paper) at 8 1/2" x 3 1/2" and adhere it to the base using double-sided tape.


I cut the base for my picture on green textured card stock at 4 x 3" and attached the two together using double-sided tape.


I could have very easily attached the buttons to each corner using glue, but I thought the button holes would have looked kind of lonely with no thread in them. So I took on the time-consuming task of sewing two buttons to each picture. I started by holding the button over the area where I wanted it to lay. I poked the needle through each hole to create pre-existing holes.


I cut two strands (of six strands each) of brown floss about 3 to 4" in length. Then I threaded the needle with one set of six strands.


Coming up from the bottom, I pulled the needle through the first hole.


I looped the needle over the top of the button and pulled it down through the second hole.


I flipped over the card and tied a knot on the back.


I sewed the buttons on an a bit of an angle.



Then, using double-sided tape, I adhered the picture to the base of the card.



Next, I created a message in Microsoft Word and printed it out on white smooth card stock and cut it 4" x 3".


I taped it on the bottom and added a little gingerbread man in the bottom corner to keep the sugar and spice theme going.


The card was finished!



The hardest (or most time-consuming part) of this particular project was sewing on the buttons. I did them all on a Sunday night while watching the finale to Next Iron Chef. My fingers were pretty sore the next day (I really could have used a thimble), but the result was so worth it!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Truffle Pops


Truffle pops broke my resolve. But I do believe they have the power to break even the toughest of resolve.

I had been counting calories, trying to really zap these ten pounds that have been plaguing me and my closet for the last year. Even with running 10 miles a week (which I know is nothing to seasoned runners, but I am slowly increasing 1 mile a week), I still have not lost one pound. I just eat too much. It's that simple. So, I decided to start tracking my calories by writing everything down in a dreaded food journal. And guess what? I was feeling fantastic. I didn't feel sluggish or tired. I felt great and actually a little lighter and then exit stage left: The truffle pop.


I decided to make truffles as my "treat of the season" a few weeks back, wanting to make both a dairy and non-dairy version and yesterday, I finally made them. Fast forward to this morning: I finished the truffle mixture straight out of the bowl with the spoon.

I guess the silver lining is yes, they are that good.

But the heavy, downpour of rain is that my calorie counting is washed right down the drain. I keep telling myself it's simply unrealistic to count calories in the days leading up to Christmas. Yes, it's clearly an excuse, but I sticking by it.

Both versions (dairy and non-dairy) are gluten-free, loaded with sugar and absolutely delicious. They make super cute hostess gifts, teacher gifts and sweet treat gifts. They take a little time to put together, but the outcome is totally worth it.

NOTE: The dairy truffles are firm enough to store in the refrigerator, but the dairy-free truffles tend to soften up quite a bit in the refrigerator and lose their shape, so I suggest storing them in the freezer. Another option might be to increase the amount of chips to 4 cups, but keep the creamer at 1 cup and then perhaps they will become more solid in the refrigerator. I haven't tested this, but it's just an option! Happy Holidays!

Truffle Pops






Ingredients (Non-Dairy Version):

3 cups Enjoy Life Mega Chocolate Chunks
1 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Place the chips in a bowl. Scald the creamer over low heat. Pour the hot cream over the chips.


Stir to melt. Add vanilla and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the freezer until solid.

Ingredients (Dairy Version):

3 cups of semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Place the chips and milk in a double boiler (or a bowl set over a pot of boiling water) and stir to melt.


Remove from top of pot and add vanilla. Stir well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to cool.

To assemble the truffles (both versions):

Supplies

Styrofoam
Bowls
Tissue paper
Lollipop sticks
Sprinkles, chopped nuts, etc.
Ribbon

Place all of your sprinkles into little bowls for rolling.


Using a melon baller (or something similar), scrape out about 1 1/2 tablespoons worth of chocolate and roll it in your hands to create a ball.


Roll them in the sprinkles to cover completely.


Stick lollipop into center of the truffle.

Place tissue paper in the bowl and put a piece of styrofoam over the tissue.


Stick the lollipops into the styrofoam. To create different heights, using different sized lollipop sticks and toothpicks. Roll in different colored sprinkles and sugars and arrange in styrofoam. I placed bows I made from ribbon to fill in some spots and placed a larger bow on a tall lollipop stick in the center.


They turned out so cute. I ended up wrapping them in clear wrap and tying them with some curling ribbon.


I typeset the recipe, printed it out and placed it in the card. Hopefully, I'll have some time tomorrow to knock a few more out! If anything, these will make a cute addition to your holiday sweet table.

NOTE: The dairy truffles are firm enough to store in the refrigerator, but the dairy-free truffles tend to soften up quite a bit in the refrigerator and lose their shape, so I suggest storing them in the freezer. Another option might be to increase the amount of chips to 4 cups and then perhaps they will become more solid in the refrigerator. I haven't tested this, but it's just an option! Happy Holidays!





Non-Dairy Nutrition Information Per 1 Truffle: Calories 77; Total Fat 5g; Total Carb 10g; Fiber 1g; 
Sugars 9g; Protein 1g

Nutrition Information Per 1 Truffle: Calories 97; Total Fat 5g; Total Carb 14g; Fiber 1g; 
Sugars 14g; Protein 2g
*Nutrition information has been calculated using an online recipe calculator tool.
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