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Two Peas and Their Pod: September 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Plum Coffee Cake Muffins

A co-worker gave me a bag of plums, fresh from the tree! They are so juicy and sweet. I used some of them to make Plum Coffee Cake Muffins. The muffins look plain, but when you take a bite there is a sweet surprise inside! The plums are hiding in the center of the muffin. You put half of the batter in the muffin cups, add the plums, and then the rest of the batter. Sprinkle the muffins with cinnamon and sugar and you are good to go! These are a real breakfast or anytime treat.

Plum Coffee Cake Muffins

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

3/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup milk ( I used skim)
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
3-5 ripe plums, depending on their size, pitted and cut into small chunks.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Spray or line 10 muffin cups. Put water in the remaining two cups.

In a large bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla, milk, and melted butter. (Make sure the melted butter is cool before you add it.)

Fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula. Divide the batter evenly.

Divide one half of the batter evenly among the 10 lined muffin cups.

Add a layer of plum pieces to each.

Divide the remaining half of the batter over the layer of plums.

Combine the remaining 2 tbsp sugar and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the muffins.

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean. Leave to cool in the muffin tin for 5 to 10 minutes before removing from tin and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Eggplant Parmesan, Lightened Up!

We had an abundance of eggplants to use so I decided to try Eggplant Parmesan. I love it, but not all the calories and fat that come with it. So I played around and tried to make a tasty, lighter version.

First of all, I made my own bread crumbs. I went to the store but they were all pricey and contained hydrogenated oils! I couldn't find a brand without them. Sad! So I just busted out my food processor and made whole wheat bread crumbs from stale bread we had. They turned out great.

I also used egg whites to dip the eggplants in to save on calories and cholesterol. I used less cheese and broiled the veggies too. My homemade sauce is pretty healthy so I just made a small batch and smothered the eggplant in that. The outcome was delicious and nutritious!

Eggplant Parmesan


2 eggplants (about 2 pounds total)
3 egg whites
3 tablespoons water
1 cup fine dry breadcrumbs ( I used homemade whole wheat crumbs)
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 ½ cups marinara sauce ( I used my homemade sauce)
¾ cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese

EatingWell's Eggplant Parmesan


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat two baking sheets and an 8-by-11 1/2-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Cut eggplants crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Whisk egg whites and water in a shallow dish until frothy. Combine breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, salt and pepper in another shallow dish. Dip the eggplant slices into the egg-white mixture, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. (Discard any leftover breadcrumbs and egg white.) Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, turn the eggplant slices over, and bake until crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.
3. Make a homemade sauce or use store bought. For my sauce, I sauted onion, garlic, red pepper, fennel seeds in olive oil. I then added 2 cans of diced tomatoes and a tablespoon of tomato paste. Next, I added in fresh basil and Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Let simmer for a bit. Pour some a little of the sauce into the baking dish. Arrange half of the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping slightly. Spoon 1 cup of the remaining sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with half of the mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of the parmesan. Add a layer of the remaining eggplant slices and top with the remaining sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

We went hiking this weekend and saw a moose! He was stopped in the middle of the trail and he was not moving. We waited for awhile, but he was being stubborn so we had to find another path out. It was a beautiful day to be out and about!

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Healthy Sweet Potato Fries

I never knew I liked sweet potatoes until a couple of years ago. I never had them growing up. Well, I take that back...the only kind I ever knew of were the ones with marshmallows at Thanksgiving time and those do not appeal to me at all! Yuck! But now, they are a staple! I love them when they are cooked right:)

Roasted sweet potatoes are my favorite. They are so flavorful! They taste like candy, but better for you! Sweet potatoes are loaded with Vitamin A, C, maganese, a great source of fiber, potassium, and iron! Plus, they are a fun bright orange color!

If you haven't tried sweet potatoes, try these "fries." They are good and good for you!
Feel free to spice them up however you like. I like them with salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary! YUM!!

Sweet Potato Fries

1 large sweet potato
Olive Oil cooking spray


Fresh Rosemary

1. Peel the sweet potato and cut it into look like fries! Try to make them all the same size so they cook evenly.

2. Spray a baking sheet and put the potato fries on the sheet, spaced out.

3. Spray the fries lightly with the cooking spray.
4. Sprinkle with seasonings...salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary. Or use whatever spices you like.
5. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Make sure you turn the fries every ten minutes or so.
6. Let them cool briefly and dig in!

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Grilled Vegetable Paninis

Making paninis is one of our favorite "Go To" dinners. They are fast, easy, and long as you watch your topping choices:) We use whole wheat ciabatta bread and stuff them full of grilled vegetables. Josh usually throws on a few slices of turkey and some cheese, but I just like plain veggies. I do slather on some balsamic vinegar and sometimes pesto.

This time we used grilled purple and white eggplant. Have you had a white eggplant? They are fabulous! Kalyn, of
Kalyn's Kitchen, gave us some fresh produce from her amazing garden and white eggplants were in the bag of goodies. I recommend you try them. They are delicious. Thanks Kalyn!

Sorry, I got side tracked, we also used gril
led zucchini, yellow squash, onions, roasted orange peppers, artichokes, tomatoes, and fresh basil. I think I got my 5 a Day and then some:)

The sandwiches start out HUGE, but thanks to our Krupps Panini maker they are soon smashed down to a compact sandwich with loads of flavor!

I also made a big batch of chunky vegetable pasta sauce to put in our freezer! This will come in handy when we are craving good veggies this winter!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Honey Cinnamon Granola

We love granola! It is great for breakfast, a healthy snack, or even sprinkled on yogurt for a sweet dessert. The only problem is a lot of the granolas out there have nuts. I personally adore nuts, but Josh is deathly allergic so I have to limit what I make with nuts.

I have been toying with a few recipes lately and finally came up with a keeper. I really just made this up on a whim. Obviously, there are no nuts and I kept out butter/oil to keep the granola healthy. My addition of honey and brown sugar helped hold everything together. I added in cinnamon and vanilla for extra flavor and of course craisins at the end to add color!

I really like this recipe and will use it again. But any suggestions? Do any of you have a favorite nut free granola recipe that is still healthy? Let me know.

Honey Cinnamon Granola

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups whole oats (not quick cooking kind)
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sal
Handful of Craisins

1. In a small pot, combine honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Heat over medium until sugar and honey are combined and smooth. Make sure to stir it a couple of times.
2. In a bowl, combine oats, wheat germ, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well.
3. Pour honey mixture over the oat mixture and stir well.
4. Pour granola onto a sheet pan that has been sprayed or has a silpat.
5. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-2
5 minutes. Make sure you stir the granola often. Maybe every 5 minutes or so.
6. Let cool on sheet pan. Stir in Craisins and enjoy.
7. Store in tight container.

Also, we received a couple of awards and we need to say THANK YOU! First of all, thanks to Cathy from Tortefeasor. She gave us the Excellent Blog Award.

And Thanks to Rosie from Rosie Bakes A Peace of Cake. She gave us the Beautiful Site Award.

Thanks for thinking of Two Peas and Their Pod!! We are honored!
We would like to pass these awards on...the Excellent Award to Liz of Liz's Cooking Blog and the Beautiful Site Award to Cate of Fresh From Cate's Kitchen. We enjoy reading your blogs! Keep up the good work in the kitchen!

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Chicken and Vegetable Fajitas and Apple Streusel Coffee Cake

We recently celebrated my sister's birthday!! Her family came over to our house for a special dinner. She wouldn't tell me what she wanted to eat so we came up with the menu on our own. Luckily, she was happy with the outcome!

We made chicken and vegetable fajitas, cilantro lime rice, black beans, and an apple streusel cake for dessert. Everything turned out great!

Cooking up our veggies!

Chicken for the meat lovers in the group!

Cilantro Lime Rice to go on the side!

Our spread of toppings!

My veggie fajitas! So colorful and delicious!

Josh's chicken fajitas! He knows how to fill a plate:)

Aubrey enjoying her dinner!

Connor and Aubrey
did a good job singing for mommy!

Time for Dessert! Cake al a mode!

We really had a fun night with the Fail Family. Crissy, thanks for letting us celebrate with you. We hope you had the best birthday ever!

Here are the recipes for the cilantro lime rice and the apple streusel cake. Both are fabulous!
The cake is actually healthy too! It is low fat but not lacking in flavor at all. The apples are crisp and the topping adds a nice sweet crunch. This is a great fall dessert!

Cilantro Lime Rice

1 c. uncooked rice (long-grain, white rice) 1 tsp. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 can (15 oz) vegetable broth (you can use chicken)
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp. sugar
3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

In a a saucepan combine rice, butter, garlic, 2 teaspoons of lime juice, broth and water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat. In a small bowl combine lime juice, sugar and cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice and mix in as you fluff the rice.

We did this in our new rice cooker and it was super easy! Just add all the first ingredients to the rice cooker and press start. When done, add the rest of the ingredients and fluff!

Apple Streusel Coffee Cake

Coffee Cake:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
2 cups thinly sliced, unpeeled apples


¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray an 8- or 9- inch round spring-form or 8-inch square pan with non-stick spray.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, mix well. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, blend well. Alternately add flour mixture and yogurt to margarine, beat well after each addition. Spread batter in pan and arrange apple slices over batter.

In a small bowl, combine all topping ingredients except butter. With pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over apples.

Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. If desired, remove from pan. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream!

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Buttermilk Peach Pancakes

Utah has the best peaches and they are ripe and ready right now! There is nothing like biting into a soft, fuzzy, juicy peach!! We enjoy eating them plain, but I was in the mood for a breakfast treat so I made Buttermilk Peach Pancakes.

They were out of this world!! I think the best pancakes I have had in a good long time, maybe ever! The pancakes were light and fluffy and the peaches added some super sweetness! The hint of almond extract was divine with the peaches. We topped them off with strawberries, powdered sugar, and some real maple syrup. That is what I call breakfast!

Buttermilk Peach Pancakes

1 cup flour (I use half whole wheat)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, plus 2 Tablespoons
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 egg
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
2 peaches, peeled and diced
Optional toppings-strawberries, peaches, powdered sugar, syrup, etc.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, powder, soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, egg, vanilla, and almond extracts. Pour into flour mixture and stir lightly until just combined. The batter will be lumpy and that is OK! Gently stir in peaches. Grease a non-stick skillet and cook pancakes on medium heat, until the edges bubble. Flip and cook other side. Serve with strawberries, more peaches, powdered sugar, and syrup! Really any toppings you want!

I think Josh liked them:)

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Soft Pretzels and Oreo Truffles

On Saturday Doug, Angie, Noah, and Leah came over to watch the University of Utah football game. They won, Go Utes!! We had a great time visiting, cheering, playing with the kiddies, and of course snacking!

Josh wanted to make homemade pretzels again, but this time we used Bobby Flay's recipe. They are similar to the last ones we made, but these have brown sugar and a little more butter. We really like both recipes, but Josh thinks this one is a tad better. He also perfected his cheese sauce! So make sure to try this recipe. It is really good!!

We also made Oreo Truffles for a sweet treat! They were easy to make and great bite size treats!

Soft Pretzels

Adapted from Bobby Flay

Queso Poblano Sauce:
½ Tablespoon unsalted butter
½ Tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
8 ounces Pepper Jack cheese, grated
1 poblano chiles, roasted, seeded and chopped
Salt and freshly ground black p
3 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves

Soft Pretzels:
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil

3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda
1 whole egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
Coarse sea salt

For the Queso Poblano Sauce:

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cook until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the Pepper Jack cheese, poblano chiles, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

For the Pretzels: Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.

Oil a bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Bring the water to a boil in a small roasting pan over high heat and add the baking soda.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 22 inches and shape: take the right side and cross over to the left. Cross right to left again and flip up. Boil the pretzels in the water solution, 2 at a time for 30 seconds, splashing the tops with the warmed water using a spoon. Remove with a large flat slotted spatula or a spider. Place 4 pretzels on each baking sheet, brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt. Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.

Remove to a baking rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating. Dip into desired sauces.

Oreo Truffles
Adapted from Kraft Food and Family and Bakerella

1 package oreo cookies, 16 ounces (divided… use cookie including the cream center)
1 8oz. package cream cheese (softened)

White chocolate-the kind made for dipping! Either bark or the discs.

1. Crush cookies in a food processor and stir in softened cream cheese. Use the back of a large spoon to help mash the two together.

2. Roll the mixture into 1" balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet.

3. Melt chocolate as directed on the package and then dip balls into chocolate, tap off extra and set aside on wax paper covered cookie sheet to dry. I melted dark chocolate and drizzled it on the white!

4. Once dry, refrigerate and enjoy!

Makes about 36 truffles.

FYI: It helps to freeze the uncoated balls for a few minutes to keep the mixture from starting to fall apart in the melted chocolate. If this becomes a problem, dip them in the chocolate, let dry and then dip again. They are also good dipped in regular milk or dark chocolate. Try different types of Oreos for fun, such as mint, peanut butter, holiday, etc.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Roasted Red and Yellow Pepper Soup

Last Saturday we found peppers at the market for a quarter, that is only 25 cents people! They had red, yellow, green, purple, and orange! All for a bargain! We loaded up a bag and went on our merry way.

So what did we make with these glorious peppers? Prudy, of Prudence Pennywise, recently posted a Roasted Pepper soup that looked delicious! We knew we had to try it.

First, we roasted the peppers. We are loving our new gas stove. I just hope the fire department doesn't have to visit us! Josh is pretty dangerous when it comes to fire...but he loves it so I just back up and try not to watch:)

He had all the peppers going on at once.
Some were roasting on another burner.

We let the peppers "sweat" in a paper bag and then we peeled them.What a great trick. It makes life so much easier.

Letting the veggies get tender!

After adding in the liquid, it was time to pulverize. We got to use a new kitchen gadget we got for our wedding...our magic wand!

Stirring in the cream/skim milk. I tried to keep this one healthy:)

A little fresh basil on top and time to eat!

The soup was fantastic! The roasted pepper flavor was amazing, we used red and yellow. We pureed it, but left a few minor chunks, and topped it with fresh basil. This soup is a new favorite. It was easy and so flavorful! I know we will be eating this all winter...we froze the extra roasted peppers so we are all ready to go! Thanks Prudy!

Roasted Red and Yellow Pepper Soup
Adapted from Prudence Pennywise

3-4 whole bell peppers-we used red and yellow
1 T of olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian style diced tomatoes, undrained
1 teaspoon honey
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half-we used half cream and half skim milk
Fresh basil-we stirred some in and put some on top

Roast bell peppers until blackened in most places. (We did them over a gas flame, but you can also do it in the oven at 450 degrees.) Place peppers in a paper bag for ten minutes. Remove from bag, remove stem and seeds and peel peppers, scraping with a knife. Chop coarsely.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add peppers, onion, garlic, and carrot. Saute until vegetables are softened, about five minutes. Add tomatoes with juices, honey and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all vegetables are softened.

Blend soup in blender, food processor, or with immersion blender, until not almost smooth, but with some chunky texture. Add cream/milk and heat until just below a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with fresh basil, sour cream and croutons if desired.

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