The Top Ten Ways to Be a Food Consultant/Recipe Developer and Still Stay Trim and Fit

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Being a Food consultant and Recipe Developer is my profession (thank goodness), but there is no end in sight to shopping in the grocery store, being in the kitchen, tasting everything and being constantly surrounded by food, desserts and more food. Food clients react strange at first when they meet me, and most of my friends don’t really think I actually eat anything I cook. Honestly, I do try everything no matter how good or bad (and most things more than once). I have to since this is my job. My friend and running partner, Jennifer always asks me, “How is it that you can be around food all the time and still remain thin”, so I thought I’d offer up my top 10 ways (that seem to work for me) since holiday season is upon us.


The Top 10 Ways to Stay Trim and Fit:

1. Work out at least 45 minutes of cardio a day and for me, 6 times a week. (I know this is a stretch for some, but you’re not in the kitchen like I am.)

2. Try a hot yoga class-you’ll sweat it out!

3. Try wheatgrass-awesome detox

4. Eat often, but eat small meals

5. Indulge in almond butter instead of dessert

6. Work out with weights

7. When you’re cooking many different things, eat small bites…just try everything and don’t deprive yourself

8. Don’t own a scale

9. Eat Fage Greek strained yogurt for breakfast and/or a snack. It’s high in protein, low carb and fills you up. (I stir in fresh fruit, honey and cereal in mine.) 

10. If you cook enough and all the time like I do, you just won’t be that hungry anymore.

Homemade Christmas Gifts-White Chocolate, Pistachio and Cherry Bark

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Everyone loves white chocolate bark during the holidays, but this version has a twist with pistachios and dried cherries which gives it a sweet and salty taste with a crunch. This recipe is so easy and takes no time at all. Be sure to purchase already shelled pistachio nuts in the nut section of your local grocery store. You may also substitute sliced almonds for the pistachios and dried cranberries for the cherries (sometimes dried cherries are hard to find). If you give these as gifts, make sure you put a note on the gift tag to keep the bark refrigerated until ready to enjoy, but up to one month for best flavor.


Dried Cherry and Pistachio Bark

Feel free to double or triple this recipe.

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 1 minute

Yield: 11/2 pound

Ingredients

1 (12-ounce) package white chocolate morsels or any white chocolate

1 cup pistachio nuts, shells removed and toasted

1 cup dried cherries or cranberries

Preparation

1. Place white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, covered with wax paper on HIGH 1 to 2 minutes or until melted, stirring once. Add pistachios and cherries, stirring well. Spread on large baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

2. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Break bark into pieces. Store in a tightly sealed container in refrigerator up to 1 month. Pack in decorative boxes or tins lined with wax tissue paper or colored cellophane for gift giving.

Easiest Christmas Cookies Ever-Gingerbread Cookies

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These are the easiest gingerbread cookies ever. My daugther, Leigh, and son, Zachary made these all on their own. We used the Pillsbury slice and bake gingerbread cookie dough (found in your refrigerator section of your local grocery store), and everyone thought they were made from scratch. Purchase colored sprinkles, icing or decorator crystals for your kids to decorate, and they will have a blast.

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Thanksgiving Appetizer-Brie with Cranberries and Walnuts

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With only hours left until Thanksgiving, I know everyone is busy trying to complete last minute tasks. To start Thanksgiving off right, I thought I would present one of the easiest appetizers that my family loves. The combination of caramel, walnuts, cranberries and golden raisins adds the perfect sweet, crunch and warm taste of fall. You can prepare this right before the guests arrive as it just takes minutes to prepare with absolutely no mess or cleanup. This appetizer is also a great idea for Christmas, New Years or anytime you entertain. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Autumn Brie

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 7 minutes

Yield: 10 servings

Ingredients

1 (1/2 pound) Brie wedge

1/4 cup caramel Dip (I used T. Marzetti Caramel Dip)

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

3 tablespoons dried cranberries

2 tablespoons golden raisins

Gingersnaps or crackers

Preparation

1. Cut off top part of Brie; spread with caramel dip. Sprinkle walnuts, cranberries and raisins over top. 

2. Bake at 300F for 6 to 10 minutes or until Brie is just slightly warmed and starting to melt. Serve with gingersnaps or crackers.

Southern Thanksgiving Dessert-Pralines and Praline Bundt Cake

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I was working in New Orleans last week, and one of my closest food friends took me into a fabulous classic New Orleans candy shop where they were making Pralines, Fudge and other homemade confections. It’s “Southern Candy Makers“, and next time you head to New Orleans, put this stop on the top of your list. It inspired me to try a new recipe with pralines for Thanksgiving. It’s really simple to prepare and my kids loved it for breakfast, a snack, dessert and especially for Thanksgiving.

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Praline Bundt Cake

Prep: 25 minutes

Cook: 1 hour

Cool: 1 hour

Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients

1  cup  chopped pecans

1  cup  butter, softened

1  (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened

1  (16-oz.) package dark brown sugar

4  large eggs

2 1/2  cups  all-purpose flour

1  teaspoon  baking powder

1/2  teaspoon  baking soda

1/4  teaspoon  salt

1  (8-oz.) container sour cream

2  teaspoons  vanilla extract

Praline Icing

Preparation

1. Arrange 1 cup pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 5 to 7 minutes or until toasted. Cool on a wire rack 15 minutes or until completely cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

2. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add brown sugar, beating until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

3. Sift together 2 1/2 cups flour and next 3 ingredients. Add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat batter at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in toasted pecans and vanilla. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 12-cup Bundt pan.

4. Bake at 325° for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and let cool 30 minutes or until completely cool.

5. Prepare Praline Icing, and spoon immediately over cake. Sprinkle top of cake with Sugared Pecans.

Praline Icing

Ingredients

1  cup  firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2  cup  butter

1/4  cup  milk

1  cup  powdered sugar, sifted

1  teaspoon  vanilla extract

Preparation

1. Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat; whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir gently 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thickens slightly. Use immediately.

Southern Candy Makers has two locations on Decatur Street. See http://southerncandymakers.com

Recipe adapted from Southern Living Magazine see http://southernliving.com

Easy Chocolate Lava Cakes for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years

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I have always wanted to learn how to make Chocolate Lava (molten) Cakes, as it is one of my favorite desserts. I have been searching for a way to prepare these without a lot of effort, and I finally hit the jackpot with this recipe. These are simple to prepare, and you can even make the chocolate mixture at least 12 hours ahead of time. Pour the mixture into ramekins, cover and refrigerate. Be sure to bring to room temperature 30 minutes before baking. I also had a couple of baked and prepared ones left over, and I left them in the ramekins and reheated them in the microwave for 15 seconds, and they worked great! Try them on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years or just for a weeknight or weekend surprise. Serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or just with confectioners sugar.

 

Easy Chocolate Lava Cakes

Dark chocolate may be substituted for semisweet in this recipe.

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

4 ounces semisweet baking chocolate (I used Ghirardelli)

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners sugar

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly grease 4 (8-ounce) ramekins (custard cups or souffle dishes). Place on a baking sheet.

2. MIcrowave chocolate and butter in a large microwaveable bowl on High 30 seconds or until butter is melted. Whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Whisk in vanilla and confectioners sugar until well blended. Whisk in eggs and yolk. Stir in flour and pour batter evenly into prepared custard cups.

2. Bake 13 minutes or until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand 1 minute. Carefully loosen edges with a knife. Invert cakes onto serving plates and sift powdered sugar over the top. Serve immediately.

Appetizers-Hummus for Thanksgiving

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My family prepares an array of appetizers for Thanksgiving, but one that’s not very traditional, yet stays on our menu is this Hummus Dip Recipe. It’s so delicious with fresh vegetables, toasted pita or pita chips, and it gives us a light note to start off the Thanksgiving meal. What I really like about serving this type of appetizer is that my kids love it and eat it, and I feel like they are getting something truly healthy. Enjoy it anytime of the year, but why not start now.

 

Hummus Dip

Prep: 10 minutes

Yield: about 3 cups

Ingredients

4 garlic cloves

2 cups canned chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

2 tablespoons water or liquid from the chickpeas

4 dashes hot sauce

Cayenne pepper, paprika and olive oil (optional)

Directions

1. Turn on the food processor fitted with the steel blade and drop the garlic down the feed tube; process until it’s minced. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and process until the hummus is coarsely pureed. Taste, for seasoning, and serve chilled or at room temperature topped with cayenne, paprika and olive oil, if desired.

Pecan Pie-Traditional Thanksgiving Dessert with a Twist

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Pecan pie is the quintessential Thanksgiving dessert, and I thought I would feature two of my favorite tried and true recipes. The first is laced with the incredible combination of bourbon and semisweet chocolate. How can you go wrong? The second is a White Chocolate Pecan Pie recipe that I developed for a holiday menu for Oxmoor House books a few years ago. This is for those of you, like my husband, who are white chocolate lovers. Just remember, be sure to save room for dessert.

 

Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 1 hour

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie or 8 servings

Ingredients

1/2  (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts

1 1/2  cups  chopped pecans

1  cup  (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels

1  cup  dark corn syrup

1/2  cup  granulated sugar

1/2  cup  firmly packed brown sugar

1/4  cup  bourbon or water

4  large eggs

1/4  cup  butter or margarine, melted

2  teaspoons  cornmeal

2  teaspoons  vanilla extract

1/2  teaspoon  salt

Preparation

1. Fit piecrust into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate according to package directions; fold edges under, and crimp.

2. Sprinkle pecans and chocolate evenly onto bottom of piecrust; set aside.

3. Combine corn syrup and next 3 ingredients in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

4. Whisk together eggs and next 4 ingredients. Gradually whisk about one-fourth hot mixture into egg mixture; add to remaining hot mixture, whisking constantly. Pour filling into prepared piecrust.

5. Bake at 325° for 55 minutes or until set; cool on wire rack.

 

White Chocolate Pecan Pie

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 1 hour

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie or 8 servings

Ingredients

1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts

1/4  cup  butter or margarine, melted

1/2  cup  sugar

1/2  cup  light corn syrup

3/4  cup  chopped pecans, toasted

1  teaspoon  vanilla extract

1/4  teaspoon  salt

2  large eggs, lightly beaten

6  (1-ounce) premium white chocolate baking squares, chopped (I used “Bakers”)

1  cup  pecan halves

Preparation

1. Unfold piecrust, and press out fold lines; sprinkle with flour, spreading over surface. Place crust, floured side down, in a 9″ pieplate; fold edges under, and flute. Bake at 450° for 5 minutes.

2. Combine butter, sugar, and corn syrup; cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Let cool slightly. Add chopped pecans and next 3 ingredients; stir well. Pour filling into prebaked piecrust; sprinkle with two-thirds of chopped white chocolate. Top with pecan halves.

3. Bake at 325° for 50 to 55 minutes or until set. Cover with aluminum foil during last 10 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning. Let cool on a wire rack.

4. Place remaining chopped white chocolate in a small heavy-duty, zip-top plastic bag; seal bag. Submerge bag in hot water until chocolate melts. Remove bag from water. Snip a tiny hole in one corner of bag, using scissors; drizzle chocolate over pie.

Fajitas and Guacamole: Say No More

I thought I would start off the week with some options if you would like to cook easy Mexican dishes. Some of my friends eat Mexican every Sunday night, and I have others that have a standard Thursday which is “Mexican night” at their house. With all of the recipes I have to develop and test, I don’t really have the flexibility for a specific night of the week to be the same on a weekly basis. However, my kids love fajitas and guacamole, and they always look forward to “Mexican night” at our house. Feel free to substitute or add chicken, shrimp or more vegetables for the Fajitas below.

 

Grilled Steak Fajitas

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

1 pound Ribeye Steak (May substitute strip, sirloin or shell)

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 green bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

1 medium-hot Poblano pepper (dark green and triangular)

1 medium yellow onion

8 fat-free flour tortillas

tomatoes, optional

Preparation

1. At least two hours before dinner, dust a 1-pound ribeye steak with freshly ground black pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Let sit in refrigerator so spice flavors can penetrate the meat.

2. Cut the peppers into large segments, discarding the ribs and seeds. Next, cut onion into thick slices, making sure not to pull onion rings apart.

3. Prepare grill and adjust heat accordingly.

4. Place peppers and onion slices on grill and cover. Roast peppers by turning frequently until they are covered with dark spots, but not burnt. Cook onion slices until brown, being sure not to char. 

5. Remove peppers and onion slices from grill. After allowing the peppers to cool 3-4 minutes, pull off the waxy-papery skins. Slice the peppers crosswise into strips. Next, take the onion slices and break into rings. Mix the peppers and onions in a serving bowl.

6. Place ribeye on grill, turning frequently. 

7. Warm eight fat-free tortillas on the edge of the grill, keeping them away from direct heat, so they warm and soften but don’t dry out or turn crisp.

8. After cooking, remove steak from grill and cut diagonally into thin slices. Roll several slices of steak and a share of the peppers and onions into tortillas and serve.

Cooking Tip: It is important to let the dry rub of spices penetrate the meat. It not only tenderizes the meat, but also adds extra flavor. For a short cut, peppers don’t have to be peeled.

Cooking Tip: To help keep the meat moist when grilling, use the cover on your grill during part or all of the cook time to help lock in flavorful juices. If your grill doesn’t have a cover, improvise by putting a large, disposable foil roasting pan over the food.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Laura’s Lean Beef http://laurasleanbeef.com

Best Guacamole Ever

This is one of my favorite guacamole recipes.

Prep: 15 minutes

Yield: about 3 cups

Ingredients

4 ripe avocados

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion 

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 medium tomato, seeded, and small-diced

Preparation

1. Cut the avocados in 1/2, remove the pits, and scoop the flesh out of their shells into a large bowl. (I use my hands.) Immediately add the lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and toss well. Using a sharp knife, slice through the avocados in the bowl until they are finely diced. Add the tomatoes. Mix well and taste for salt and pepper.

 http://foodtv.com

Molten Lava Cookies

You will love these cookies for the holidays or anytime of the year. These cookies were inspired by my love for molten cakes, but they are very simple to prepare and come out fabulous!

This recipe can be found on www.allrecipes.com and http://wisdairy.com

Molten Lava Cookies

“These pillowy-soft, brownie-like cookies are made possible with real butter and a chocolate lava center made with semisweet and dark chocolate melted with vanilla.”

RECIPE RATING:

The reviewer gave this recipe 1 stars. This recipe average a 5 star rating.

 


  
PREP TIME  30 Min
COOK TIME  11 Min
READY IN  41 Min

SERVINGS: 24

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped dark or semisweet chocolate (at least 60% cocoa)
  • Powdered sugar for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add cocoa powder, eggs and vanilla; mix until combined.
  2. Combine flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Gradually add to butter mixture.
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Using your thumb, press a thumbprint into the center; fill with a piece of chocolate and fold dough over to cover chocolate.
  4. Place balls 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until edges are firm and tops are soft. Remove cookies to a cooling rack; dust with powdered sugar, if desired. Serve warm, if possible. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
  5. To reheat cookies, place cookie on microwave-safe plate and microwave on high for 5 seconds, or until cookie is slightly warm

 

 

Nutritional Information
Molten Lava Cookies

Servings Per Recipe: 24

Amount Per Serving

Calories: 205

  • Total Fat: 9.3g
  • Cholesterol: 38mg
  • Sodium: 105mg
  • Total Carbs: 30.1g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.3g