Friday, March 25, 2011

Nutty about Friday

So I’m a wee bit bummed today...scratch that, make it really bummed. I stayed up late last night, watching college basketball, hoping that my team – the University of Wisconsin - would make it into the Elite Eight. Alas, it was not meant to be - my boys were foiled again, this time courtesy of a little team called Butler. No more Big Dance for the beloved Badgers. Sigh. Sad face.

Anyway, I drowned my sorrows, so to speak, with a low-calorie waffle topped with pecans this morning. Why? Because it’s International Waffle Day, as well as National Pecan Day. Woo hoo! Nothing like combining two of my favorite things.

By the way, for those of you who feel nuts are too fatty, research published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that pecans rank highest among all nuts and are among the top category of foods to contain the highest antioxidant capacity, meaning pecans may decrease the risk of cancer, coronary heart disease and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s. In other findings, a review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that nuts like pecans may aid in weight loss and maintenance.

And here are some fun facts for you, courtesy of the National Pecan Shellers Association:
* There are over 1,000 varieties of pecans. Many are named for Native American Indian tribes, including Cheyenne, Mohawk, Sioux, Choctaw and Shawnee.
* Some of the larger pecan shellers process 150,000 pounds of pecans each day. That’s enough to make 300,000 pecan pies!
* The U.S. produces about 80 percent of the world’s pecan crop.
* Pecans could improve your love life? If the body does not get enough zinc, it may have difficulty producing testosterone – a key hormone in initiating sexual desire in both men and women. Pecans provide nearly 10 percent of the recommended daily value for zinc. So, pass on the oysters and reach for a handful of pecans!

And, of course, I'm including a few sugar-free recipes, courtesy of Splenda.com.

Pumpkin Waffles
Banana Pecan Waffles with Rum Raisin Syrup
Cinnamon-Pecan Monkey Bread
Sweet Potato Bisque with Apple-Bacon Chutney and Spicy Texas Pecans

Finally, since today is Friday and I'm feeling a bit wicked, here is the new song - titled "Friday" - that everyone is buzzing about. Thank you Rebecca Black, buwahaha!



Ack. Now here is a REAL song to help rinse that terrible song out of your eardrums.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Oatmeal and Guinness? Yes please...



Y’all, I had the best mini-dessert last night. Seriously. We were sitting in the neighborhood Irish pub, enjoying a pint of beer and watching college basketball (U-rah-rah, Wisconsin!!), when a friend of a friend stopped by with a plate of oatmeal butterscotch cookies. But these weren’t just your typical oatmeal cookies. They were whoopie pies with a creamy sweet filling apparently made with vanilla and Guinness, among other ingredients. Crikeys, they were delicious! Imagine the old-school Little Debbie oatmeal sandwich cookie, but ten times better.

Anyway, I’m hoping to get the recipe (so I can share it with everyone), but until then, enjoy National Oatmeal Cookie Day today with these wonderful sucralose-sweetened recipes.

P.S. Hope you all had a wonderful – and safe – St. Patrick’s Day!

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
Crispy Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Friday, March 11, 2011

In Google We Trust

It was bound to happen eventually, seeing as how recipes are a popular search on Google. Now, the search engine giant is attempting to make it easier to find recipes via the 'net while racking up the ad dollars. Say hello to a new Google Recipe Search. Looking for specific recipes or a great app to provide at your next party? Go to the section, type in your search term and Google will list recipes for you to peruse. A menu on the left side of the screen lets users filter recipes by ingredient, cooking time and calories.

On the downside, recipes are sorted by popularity, not quality - which means you might have to dig around for awhile to find a really good one. But I like what I'm seeing so far. For example, put "sucralose" into the search bar and you'll find results ranging from a sweet pickle relish and custard to raspberry parfait, chocolate chip cookies and a low-carb banana loaf. So if you're a frequent visitor to this blog and the Splenda.com recipe section, consider checking out Google Recipe Search for some additional sugar-free recipe options. Hooray!

P.S. This is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week, so here are some delicious, sucralose-sweetened recipes to appease your sweet tooth without the guilt.

Chocolate Chip Cookie

So-Good Chocolate Chip Softies

Sugar-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Friday, March 04, 2011

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Are any of you headed to New Orleans this weekend for Mardi Gras-related mayhem? If so, I’m jealous! Although I’ll be there in two months for Jazz Fest, I didn’t have the finances or vacation time to make it to the Big Easy for the Carnival celebrations this year. And with the bulk of my extended family hailing from Louisiana - New Orleans and Lake Charles to be precise - I've always been a sucker for a good Mardi Gras party. Still, I plan to celebrate in style by treating a few friends this weekend to a "King Cake" and some seasonal cocktails. Hand grenade anyone?

Yup, I have sugar-free recipes for a few Carnival-related treats including King Cake," a braided coffee cake decorated in purple, green and gold sugar. Each one contains a hidden plastic baby - with custom dictating that whoever finds the toy must buy the next cake or throw the next party. Hundreds upon hundreds of "King Cake" parties are thrown every year.

So for any of you hosting Fat Tuesday parties and the like in upcoming days, these recipes are for you. You can thank me later!

MARDI GRAS KING CAKE
Cake Ingredients:
2 (8 oz.) pkg. Fat Free Cream Cheese
2/3 cup granular Splenda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 cup no sugar added apple pie filling
2 pkg. Crescent Rolls
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine cream cheese, 2/3 cup Splenda, egg yolk and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
3. Unroll crescent rolls and place on cookie sheet with points towards the center, overlapping as needed. Try to make a circle.
4. Spread cream cheese mixture over the dough leaving 1/2-inch from edges.
5. Mix the apple filling with 1 tsp. of Splenda and mash until slightly lumpy. Spread the filling on top of the cream cheese and then fold the outside edges over the filling to prevent leaking.
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Cool and glaze.
Glaze Ingredients:
1 cup granular Splenda
1 to 2 tsp. fat-free milk
Food coloring
Directions:
1. Mix Splenda with milk.
2. When desired thickness, add food coloring to create three different toppings.
3. Spread with ease and let sit for a few minutes.

HURRICANE
Ingredients:
2 oz light rum
2 oz dark rum
* 2 oz passion fruit juice
1 oz orange juice
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
* 1 tbsp simple syrup
1 tbsp grenadine
* For a healthier recipe, use some V8 Splash Guava Passion and make sugar-free simple syrup combining 1 cup of sucralose with 1 cup of boiling water. Once it has cooled, strain the sucralose and water through a coffee filter.
Directions:
Shake all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, pour into a hurricane glass and garnish with an orange slice and cherry.

BEIGNETS
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons granulated Splenda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1 cup water
1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vegetable oil for frying
Powdered sugar
Directions:
1. In a saucepan, combine Splenda, salt, butter, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil.
2. Add flour and cook over medium heat, beating with spoon until dough forms a ball and leaves side of pan. Remove from heat.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating with electric mixer at medium speed after each addition. Continue beating until the mixture is smooth.
4. Mix in vanilla.
5. Roll dough on a floured surface and cut into 2-inch squares.
6. In skillet, heat 1 to 2-inches of oil. Then fry dough (three or four pieces at a time) until puffy and golden brown on both sides.
8. Remove beignets and drain on paper towels. While hot, sprinkle generously with powdered sugar.

Finally, here is some great NOLA music bound to put a smile on your face. Enjoy! Or should I say - let the good times roll, chere!