Hye Thyme Cafe: March 2011

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sesame Green Beans

Sesame Green Beans : Hye Thyme Cafe


There are two veggies that I have zero tolerance for when they come out of a can - string beans and carrots. Although I (almost) always prefer fresh veggies, I do eat my fair share of canned corn, peas, beets, asparagus, etc. It's funny how much I like canned asparagus and fresh asparagus, but you can barely even recognize them as the same thing. Anywho...when it comes to green beans and carrots, what I can't stand about the canned versions is that they are usually dark little blobs of mush! I like my veggies to have a little snap to them.

I think the best string beans I have EVER had were on my last trip to the Outback. Ha, just realized that sounded like I went to Australia. I meant the restaurant. They were a nice bright green and had just the right bite to them.  

Try as I may, this is the closest I can get. Chinese restaurants are usually pretty good with green beans too, but most other restaurants make them seem like something off a bad buffet line!

INGREDIENTS
Green beans
Sesame oil
Minced garlic (I use the jarred with red peppers for this)
Sesame seeds  (optional)


Plunge the beans into boiling water for about 30 seconds, then immediately into an ice bath to prevent them from cooking further.

When your other dinner items are almost ready, saute the garlic in the sesame oil, then add the beans just to heat them through.  

If you're using sesame seeds, you can either sprinkle them on at the end and toss them with the beans, or toast them when you're cooking the garlic - just keep an eye on them so they don't burn.  

Because some people don't digest seeds well, sometimes we use them, and sometimes we skip them - depends on who's home for dinner.

Blanching them, then just bringing them up to temp at the end keeps their snap while still imparting the flavor of the oil and garlic.  

EAT YOUR VEGGIES !!   ;)


Teriyaki Steak

Teriyaki Steak : Hye Thyme Cafe

Sooooooooooo good! I have used this sauce a few times in the past when grilling, but I'm terrible at grilling and just recently figured out what cut of beef I like and how to cook it so it comes out extremely tender and delicious. The trick is apparently strip steaks. I baked up a few strip steaks a couple of weeks ago that were awesome, but the next time I went to make steaks, they didn't have the strips. I can't remember what I picked up instead, but they weren't nearly as tender, so I was bummed.


INGREDIENTS :
Strip steaks
1/2 c soy sauce 
1 T light brown sugar
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T lemon juice
2 T honey
2 T olive oil
1 c beef broth


 

Trim any extra fat off the steaks, then put them in a Zip-Lock bag and give them two or three whacks on each side with a meat mallet.




Stir all of your marinade ingredients together in a small pot until the brown sugar is dissolved. Pour about 1/3 over the steaks, zip the bag shut and toss them in the fridge to marinate for a while. Just remember that when you're getting closer to dinner time, take the steaks out to let them come to room temp before cooking.



When you're ready to cook your steaks, either pat them dry or at least let them drip-dry so you don't end up steaming them. Sear them in a grill pan for 3" on each side, then finish them off in a 325 oven for 10-15".

While the steaks are in the oven, add a little Wondra or other thickener to the remaining sauce, bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently, until it reduces to a consistency you like.

To plate, slice the steaks, drizzle with some sauce, and sprinkle with some fresh snipped chives or scallion for garnish.





Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cilantro Lime Confetti Rice

Cilantro-Lime Confetti Rice : Hye Thyme Cafe

I remembered my sister having made something similar to this a few times, and since I'm still trying to finish off a bunch of cilantro, and because pineapple and teriyaki go hand in hand, I thought it would be a nice accompaniment to this Steak Teriyaki. Turned out to be a great choice!  :)


INGREDIENTS :
1.5 c rice
3 c water
4 T butter
rice wine vinegar
zest and juice from 1 lime
salt and pepper
fresh chopped cilantro
minced pineapple
1-2 scalions, sliced thin
1-2 jalapenos, fine dice
yellow, orange, and/or red bell pepper, fine dice


Bring your rice, water, and butter to a boil, stirring a few times until the water level goes just below the rice and bubbles start to form. Add a little salt and pepper, lower the heat, cover and let cook until tender.


When the rice is just about done, add a splash of rice vinegar, the lime juice, lime zest, jalapenos, pineapple, and scallions, letting them cook for a few minutes.



So you've still got a little crunch for a variety of textures, and so your cilantro doesn't wilt, stir in the remaining ingredients just before serving.   


Cilantro-Lime Confetti Rice : Hye Thyme Cafe


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Olive Oil Citrus Cake with Toasted Coconut


I know that cake mixes usually call for oil, but for some reason, when scrolling through recipes, Olive Oil Cake always gets a double-take from me. I was going to make Cilantro Chutney the other day because I noticed that we had doubled up on cilantro, but when I realized one batch was already breaking down, I switched gears and decided to try this instead. One reason was that I had already picked up a lime to use in the chutney. 

The recipe that most recently caught my attention was Dorie Greenspan's EVO and Yogurt Loaf Cake, so I decided to try that one. Her recipe called for the zest of one lime. I used lemon and lime zest and added toasted coconut. I was surprised that she only used 1/4 t of vanilla and just couldn't bring myself to do that, so I upped it to 1t.  :) 

As far as the process goes, her recipe calls for whisking the yogurt, eggs, and vanilla into the sugar/zest mixture, then whisking in the dry ingredients and folding in the oil. She also specifies that you should use the loaf pan on a lined sheet pan, but offered no explanation. I conceded to placing the loaf pan on a sheet tray, but I did not line it. I really have no idea what she meant since she didn't even say what to line it with - would that mean a silpat?? Was I supposed to know that??

Why did I explain all of that? Because that's not what I did. It wasn't an intentional decision. I just happened to have seen the recipe when I was on my laptop, so I didn't have it hooked up to a printer and scribbled some notes for myself that didn't translate in that order.

INGREDIENTS :
1 1/2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt  (hers called for a pinch)
1 c sugar
zest of 1 lime
zest of 1 lemon  (I added this)
1/2 c yogurt
3 large eggs
1 t vanilla (hers called for 1/4 t)
1/2 c EVOO

Because I've been getting a kick out of toasting things in the microwave lately [I know, I'm easily amused - what can I say?], I decided to try it with the coconut. I sprinkled some on a paper plate and set it for 2", stopping twice to stir. Worked out great, and no pan to wash.  :)

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Zest your citrus and rub it into the sugar to activate the oils in the zest and infuse the flavor into the sugar. Man, it smelled so good I wanted to ditch the cake, add some oil, and use it as a facial!!


This is where I inadvertently deviated from the original. I had written down to whisk the yogurt, eggs, and vanilla, then whisk in the dry. That didn't account for the oil, or whether I was supposed to alternate adding the sugar mixture and the flour mixture or combine them first. I whisked the oil in with the yogurt mixture, then whisked the sugar (and coconut) in with the flour, and mixed all of the dry ingredients into the wet.











According to the original, I should have whisked the yogurt mixture into the sugar, then whisked in the flour mixture, then folded in the oil. Oops!

Rather than a "generously buttered"  8.5 x 4.5 loaf pan, I opted to use PAM Baking to spray the pan. Bake at 350 for 50-55" until tester comes out clean - cake should be golden and just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool on a rack, in the pan, for 5" before inverting onto the rack to cool completely.



 








^ I sooooo wanted to curl up in that little patch of sunlight!!  Brrrrrr!
 


So what did I think? I think I actually like my Lemon-Thyme Cake better. The texture of the cake was nice, but if I make it again, I will DEFINITELY increase the citrus. It was very subtle, and I had already doubled it! I would also increase the coconut to a cup or even a little more. The one thing that bothered me was the outside of the cake. See how it's shiny like a bread crust? That shot is of the top of the cake. The bottom was like when you slice into a loaf of bread and have to really saw to get through the bottom crust. Maybe that explains the whole bake it over a lined tray thing - maybe it should have been over a silpat and that would have prevented the tough bottom. Maybe not? Maybe it was because I whisked the oil in with the yogurt mixture rather than folding it in at the end? I have no idea. I probably will try it again at some point. I'll do it in the right order and see if it makes any difference. If you get to it before me, let me know, huh?  ;)


Monday, March 28, 2011

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

I would like to thank Cathy over at The Dutch Baker's Daughter, not only for being one of the people who encouraged me to dip my toes into the Blogosphere, but also for bestowing upon me my first blogging award.
THANKS CATHY!!  :)







As conditions to accepting this award, I have been charged with the following tasks: 
  1. Thank the person who presented the award, and link to their blog in this post.
  2. Copy and paste the award image.
  3. Share seven things about yourself.
  4. Pass on the award to 15 other bloggers, and let them know that they have received the award.


Seven things about myself huh?  Hmmm, let's see ...
  1. Although I do talk a LOT about being Armenian, I am also French and Irish (Thanks Dad).
  2. I'm a "horror" freak - books, movies, etc.  Love em!!
  3. When I was a kid, people used to think I would be either an actress or an opera singer.  LOL  As it turned out, most of my work history has been as a Legal Secretary. 
  4. Some people prefer one or the other, but I like to cook and bake equally.  I'm an equal opportunity kitchen messer upper.
  5. I collect antique hair combs and goofy keychains (toys, tools, etc.).
  6. I love digging through antique shops in search of cool kitchen gadgets.
  7. If I ever win the lottery, I plan to immediately move back to Cape Cod and build a mid-sized house on the beach with a huge kitchen overlooking the ocean, and an indoor swimming pool. 

As for the bloggers I would like to share this award with, Cathy threw kind of a monkey wrench at me since we have so many blogs in common, and I have many in common with others she nominated, so in the interest of not double-dipping, I focused more on blogs I have tagged the most recipes from for future reference, in hopes that Cathy's other nominees cover the rest of our "Beeps."    :)
  1. Pam at Cave Cibum - not only for introducing me to one of my new favorite cookies and inspiring me to finally make my own String Cheese, but she's also Armenian and from the Boston area.  I think that makes us foodie twins.
  2. Robyn at The Armenian Kitchen for introducing me to Armenian recipes that never popped up in my house before.
  3. Denise at We Like to Cook for embracing my little venture in blogging here and on Facebook.  And because she also is apparently into vintage torture implements ... I mean kitchen gadgets.
  4. Adelina at My Tasty Handbook for her obvious love of lentils. 
  5. Mari at Once Upon a Plate.  I think I first came across her page when I saw her Peppermint Bark Snowflakes somewhere.  Her photos are beautiful!
  6. Megan at Delicious Dishings for keeping me up on what's going on in Boston, and for her Pretzel Rolls.  I can't wait to try those!!
  7. Cherine at Chicho's Kitchen who is Lebanese, so it is interesting for me to see so many of her recipes that are variations of what I grew up with on my Armenian side of the family.
  8. Shawnda at Confections of a Foodie Bride for making me want to kick myself for never having thought of making a Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie.  That's definitely on my "to try" list!!  And check out her about page!  She has the cutest baby chef ever!!
  9. SnoWhite at Finding Joy in My Kitchen for being the only other person I know who makes Kentucky Hot Browns.  Hey, we just had turkey tonight for dinner.  Maybe we'll make those tomorrow with the leftovers!!
  10. Joanne at Eats Well with Others, she of the mis-matched socks who would dare to make something like Homemade Ginger Pasta with Sweet Potato-Wasabi Sauce!!  Yikes!
  11. Zerrin at Give Recipe who welcomed me with open arms to the blogging community, despite our historical differences (Turkish/Armenian).  Aside from posting recipes, I also like that she posts random links and photos she thinks might interest her followers.  Much like with Cherine's Lebanese recipes, I love to see Zerrin's Turkish versions of recipes I grew up eating with an Armenian twist.
  12. Emily at A Plum By Any Other Name if for no other reason than her sense of humor - just read the titles of some of her posts.  Sounds like a fun chick from Southie.
  13. Danielle at The Growing Foodie for being so accomplished as a 20 something, working, cooking, blogging, and participating in regional and national food competitions.  Busy girl!
  14. Jenny at Jenny Mac's Lip Smack for her Jalapeno Cheese Bread, among other things. 
  15. Amanda at Amanda's Cookin' for opening my mind to things like using cantaloupe as an ingredient ... not just in fruit salads!
Thanks to all you ladies for the inspiration you provide and to Cathy for giving me a shove in the right direction.  :)


 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cheddar Crackers with a Kick

Cheddar Crackers with a Kick : Hye Thyme Cafe

I have had Cheese Straws on the brain for about two weeks now. I think it might be my subconscious telling me I'm overdue for a phone call to one of my Aunts. She l-o-v-e-s Cheese Straws! Then I happened upon a post on Richardson Planet for Cheese Its. According to that post, they got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen. How cute! Just looked at that post and they are adorable Goldfish Crackers. :)

I used the same recipe but added the black and cayenne pepper for a little kick. I also handled the dough a little differently...

INGREDIENTS :
6 oz sharp shredded cheddar
4 T butter
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c AP flour
1/8 t onion powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 t cayenne pepper

I happened to have a block of cheddar in the fridge, so I did not bother going in search of orange cheese, but if you want your crackers to be orange, knock yourself out. Also, because it was a block of cheese, I popped the grater attachment on the food processor and shredded it that way, then switched blades and added everything else. Let it run for about 2" until it all comes together and forms a ball.

More because I had something else I needed to do than because it's absolutely necessary, but I wrapped the dough a let it chill for about an hour before proceeding.




Unlike the original recipe, rather than rolling out the dough on a lightly floured surface, I did it like a pie crust - between sheets of waxed paper.  Based on a prior experience making Oyster Crackers, I also opted not to work with all of the dough at once. I split it into thirds. The directions didn't say anything about this, but in keeping with cracker tradition, I went ahead and followed the envelope rolling method where you roll out the dough, fold in all four sides envelope-style, roll it out again, and repeat. That's why I didn't do it all at once. I thought my arms would break when I made the Oyster Crackers, the dough got so stiff. Really wished I had a sheeter or pasta press that night!! This technique is to assure nice flaky layers. I had no idea if that would work with a dough that was in large part cheese, but I did it anyhow (glad about that now).


Roll it to about 1/8" thick. I was going to use a pastry cutter but changed my mind and opted to make more Ritz shaped crackers with a small fluted round cutter. Because I had rolled it out with the waxed paper, it was very easy to cut the shapes then just bend back the paper and peel them off. If it gives you a hard time, just pop it in the fridge for a minute to stiffen a bit, or use a thin spreader or spatula to release them.


Line them up on an un-greased baking sheet and prick holes in all the tops. I just stabbed them with a fork once or twice. I was actually planning to sprinkle some sea salt on the tops, but when I pulled out the new container we just picked up, I realized it was very coarse and didn't feel like pulling out the coffee grinder, but it might be a nice touch if you decide to try these.



Bake them at 350 for about 12-15" until lightly golden. Right around the 10" mark, your kitchen will start to smell really good!  :)

Cheddar Crackers with a Kick : Hye Thyme Cafe

See, look at those nice flaky layers. That's why I'm glad I did the whole envelope thing. Very crispy and just the right amount of heat. Yay! I got right around 4 dozen crackers out of this batch. We'll see how many are still in the tin come morning ...

Cheddar Crackers with a Kick : Hye Thyme Cafe


Playing with Pie - Mini Peach Pies Two Ways


I was recently given some mini tart pans, so I wanted to try them out.  Lucky for me, a package of 4 actually contained 5.  Does that count as a free give with purchase??  In thinking about what to make, I was flipping through my recipe box and came upon my Mom's recipe for Apricot Pie.  That sounded good, but when I went to the grocery store, they didn't have any apricots, so I switched gears and picked up some peaches.  Then I switched gears again and pulled out my mini pie pans rather than the tart pans for some reason.  

Since I was just playing and wasn't actually making them for a particular reason, I decided to experiment.  I baked four mini pies, two with the peaches soaked in blackberry liqueur and two with almond filling brushed on the inside of the bottom crust and ginger mixed in with the peaches.  I think when I actually make a pie on purpose, I'll stick with the almond filling, ditch the ginger, and skip the blackberry liqueur.  I liked the taste of the peaches with the ginger, but not also with the almond.  As for the blackberry, it was so subtle, it was barely noticeable.  I didn't want the pie to be soggy, so I didn't use a whole lot.  If I try that again, I'll have to cook it down to intensify or make a syrup with it.  Still, it was fun to play.  :)

In addition to experimenting with the fillings, I also experimented with the crust a bit.  Since I knew I was gong to use the almond filling, I took it one step further and ground up some toasted almonds in the crust.  Our family is split on pastry dough - some like it dry and flaky, others prefer a softer cream-cheese dough, and others like it kinda middle-of-the-road.  In attempting to hit this one on the drier/flakier end of the spectrum, I added the almonds to the dough without cutting back any on the flour.  I actually liked it, and I'm a middle-of-the-road kinda gal.  For me, just so long as it's not thick and doughy, I'm cool with it.

DOUGH :
2 c flour
3/4 c Crisco shortening
2 T butter
6 T cold water
1/4 c toasted almonds, crushed
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1 t sugar

Pulse in food processor until it comes together and forms a ball.  Wrap in plastic and chill for 30-60".

FILLING :
4 large peaches (I actually coulda used one more for these)
1/4 c sugar
1 T flour
1 T blackberry liqueur
1/2 t ground ginger  (dry, not fresh)

TOPPING :
Milk
Sanding sugar


I usually don't use flour in my pies, but I noticed that my Mom used it in her Apricot Pie, so I figured what the heck and threw in that small amount.  I can't stand fruit pies with a lot of thickener making them really gummy.  I was really thinking more about it holding the blackberry liqueur so that wouldn't screw up the crust.  

OK, so I started by peeling and cutting up my peaches.  I have read that to make them easy to peel, you can plunge them into boiling water, then an ice bath, but I've never tried that.  I have a super sharp paper thin knife that does the trick in a flash.  I sliced around the middle like an avocado and pushed the blade outward to pop it in half so I could remove the pit.  I then sliced each half into 4, turned it around and made 4 slices in the other direction.

I tossed all of the peaches in one bowl with the sugar and flour and let them macerate for a while in their own juices.  Then I split them into two bowls, adding the ginger to one and the liqueur to the other.


When your dough is ready, go ahead and roll it out between pieces of waxed paper.  Because the pie tins were so small, I didn't bother rolling out the bottom crusts.  I just flattened a piece of dough in the palm of my hand, put it in the bottom of a pie tin and used my thumb to press it up the sides.  I did, however, give all the tins a little shot of PAM Baking.  For the tops, I just pulled off a golf ball sized blob of dough, rolled it out and then transferred it over my filling using the waxed paper as a guide.


I like that you can see all the little speckles of almond in the dough.  Oh, that's another thing!  The stove was in full use when I was making my dough, so rather than waiting for a free burner, it occurred to me that we've been hearing about all kinds of things being toasted in the microwave lately.  I figured I'd give it a stab.  Worked out great!  I just poured some onto a paper plate and let em rip for 2", shaking them up about half way through.  Then I just squeezed them in my hand before adding them to the dough mixture in the food processor.

For the almond version, I just used my index finger to smear the filling around the inside of the bottom crust.  The weird thing is that I had recently finished a can of Almond Paste and picked up this can as a replacement.  It wasn't until I saw how thin it was that I noticed the label.  Hmmmm, cake and pastry filling - not "paste."  The last few times I used almond paste, it had been in the fridge and was stiff and cloudy.  I'm not sure if that's just because it was chilled or if there is a big difference between the two, so if you decide to try this, make sure you check the label.  I remember reading something about rolling out almond paste and placing that layer over a crust, so the paste must be thicker than this. 

Because they were fruit-filled pies, which tend to bubble and potentially spill over, I always bake them on top of a baking sheet.  Also, because I was making two different flavors, I wanted to make sure I knew which was which, so I just did a thumb-print edge on two and for the other two, I used the little claw thingamajig that rides along as an on-board attachment to the pastry roller I used to roll out the dough.  Cute!  I didn't even notice it the first time I used that roller.  I went to wash it and the tool popped off.  I thought I had broken it somehow.  :)


I usually brush an egg wash on the tops of my pies, but Mom's Apricot Pie called for brushing the top with milk and sprinkling with sugar, so I went that way this time.  I think I prefer the egg wash, so I'll probably stick with that in the future.  Either way, make sure you cut a few steam vents in the top.


Bake at 375 for about 45" until golden and bubbly.  See, nice flaky crust.



Here's what the bottom looks like ...


I don't know about your family, but when we were kids, we would love it when our Mom or Grandmother would make pies and use the dough scraps to roll with cinnamon and sugar and bake into a log.  With that in mind, I had some extra dough, so I spread on the almond filling and did the same.  Yummm!!


The morale of this story is ... you're a grown-up now, you pay for it yourself, so feel free to play with your food.  Get in there and experiment.  You never know what might happen.  Just have fun with it!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Steak Salad with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette


I was in the grocery store the other day and noticed that they had some really cute tiny yellow tomatoes. That stuck in my head, so I decided we should have a dinner salad one night this week. Every once in a while, we'll do a Buffalo Chicken Salad or a Chicken Caesar Salad, but having made some really great baked steaks recently, I thought a nice Steak Salad was in order. Cilantro came to mind for some reason, so I thought I would pair it with some sort of Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette. When I was living on my own in New Orleans, I was good about making my own dressing out of whatever I had on hand, but living with a crowd means everyone has their favorite, so we usually have a bazillion bottles of dressing around, and I've gotten out of the habit.

Of course when I went back to get the tomatoes, they were all gone.  Typical!  


INGREDIENTS :
Cooked steak - sliced thin
Romaine lettuce
Mixed salad greens
Red bell pepper - thin strips
English cucumber - thin rings, halved
Shredded carrot
Radishes - sliced thin, halved
Grape tomatoes - halved lengthwise
Broccoli sprouts
Almond slivers - lightly toasted in a dry pan
Chopped fresh cilantro


Toss together your salad greens and veggies in a large bowl. Don't worry about the steak, almonds, or cilantro yet. Man, I don't know what my deal is with steak! When I baked a few recently, I checked them at 30" and they were well done (but extremely tender), so this time, I pulled out a few at 20" and left the rest in the oven. They were still all well done?!?! Just so long as they're tender and tasty.

Steak Salad with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette : Hye Thyme Cafe


DRESSING :
1/4 c fresh lime juice
1/4 c white balsamic vinegar
1/2 c fresh cilantro leaves
2 t agave nectar (or honey)
1 T brown sugar
1/4 t sea salt
2 cloves garlic - smashed
1/2 - 3/4 c olive oil



Toss everything but the oil into your food processor and pulse to blend, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil through the feed tube while pulsing until it is emulsified and reaches your desired texture. I like it a little on the thin side for more of a punch from the other ingredients. Too much oil dulls that for me. The ratio of oil to vinegar is traditionally 3:1.


I would have tossed the dressing with the salad and then plated and garnished, but it was a split-decision between the vinaigrette and Bleu Cheese Dressing (ewwwwwwwww), so I plated first. Plate up some salad, then arrange the steak on top however you want. Mine was cut from two different steaks, so it doesn't look as pretty. I should have taken a pic of one of the other plates. Oh well. I thin sliced and spiral stacked the steak in the center.  I put the odd shaped extra pieces around the outside of mine, then drizzled with the vinaigrette.

Top with toasted almond slivers and fresh chopped cilantro.


Steak Salad with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette : Hye Thyme Cafe


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What Do National Nutrition Month, Yoplait Yogurt, and MyBlogSpark Have in Common?



I'm apparently late to the party.  I know, you're saying to yourself "What party?"  "Was I invited?" "What did I miss?"  What I almost missed was the fact that March is National Nutrition Month.  No worries.  There's never a bad time to start eating healthier.  Like they say, better late than never!  So just what is it that National Nutrition Month, Yoplait, and MyBlogSpark have in common?  Their desire to see us eating healthier, starting with our snacks! 

I know you've all been reading about my adventures in making homemade yogurt lately, but I get that not everyone wants to wait around all day to "incubate" their own.  Besides, even I don't want to head off to work in the morning with a half gallon of plain yogurt tucked under my arm!  A single serving of Yoplait, however, works great!  Pop one in your purse or briefcase, grab a piece of fruit and you're out the door ... don't forget your coffee! ;)

I'm always eating yogurt, mine and theirs.  I eat it for breakfast, as a snack, use it in baking, in salad dressings, in place of sour cream where I can, you name it.  Heck, I even use yogurt as a starter to make yogurt!  Here's some info Yoplait shared with me through MyBlogSpark...

Explore the many nourishing options that Yoplait has to offer - with varieties like Yoplait Light, Yoplait Original, Yoplait Fiber One, Yoplait Kids and Yoplait Delight Parfaits. Each product offers different benefits, and loads of variety, to make eating well a no-brainer. Here are five great ways to `get your snack on´ with Yoplait this March!
  1. Start spring off right with Yoplait Light´s Two Week Tune Up Plan - Replace breakfast and lunch with a cup of your favorite flavor of Yoplait Light, a whole grain and a piece of fruit and you could lose 5 pounds in two weeks. Go to Yoplait.com for full diet details.  Hey, they must have heard me.  I'm not sticking toast in my purse though! ;)
  2. Get more calcium with Yoplait Original style yogurt - Now with two times the calcium of the leading yogurt (50 percent of the Recommended Daily Value) in one convenient 6-ounce cup*, Yoplait Original style yogurt is committed to women´s health, offering a product that has even more of the calcium women need for strong, healthy bodies. Grab a free cup while supplies last during the Million Cup Giveaway on Yoplait on FacebookThat's fabulous for us ladies who don't get enough calcium in other ways.
  3. Try the newest flavor from Yoplait Fiber One - Yoplait Fiber One´s new Blueberry flavor yogurt is packed with filling fiber, calcium, vitamins A and D, real fruit and the great taste of blueberries. With only 50 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat, this deliciously creamy yogurt won´t break your calorie bank.  Only 50 calories?!?  I'm all for upping my fiber intake - just don't try and get me to take it in drink form (ewwww!).  I'll stick with the yogurt thanks!!
  4. Stress less over snack time with Yoplait Kids yogurt - With a wholesome and fun snack like Yoplait Kids yogurt in the fridge, you can feel good about what your children are eating at snack time. Yoplait Kids provides an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D, and has 25% less sugar than the leading kids´ yogurt**. With yummy flavors, and favorite friends like Dora and Lightning McQueen on the packages, Yoplait Kids is a hit with moms and children alike.  OK, so I don't have kids, but who doesn't love Dora?!?  Or the Trix Rabbit?? ;)  By the way, 25% less sugar is a pretty wide margin!
  5. End the day with a Delight Parfait from Yoplait - Even with two luscious layers providing a double shot of rich and creamy yogurt, these 100 calorie indulgences from Yoplait contain only 1.5 grams of fat per serving. Now available in two new flavors, Chocolate Éclair and Cherry Cheesecake, you can enjoy a dessert that´s 100 percent guilt-free.  The mere thought of Creme Caramel makes me a little weak in the knees.
*Leading yogurt has less than 25% Daily Value calcium per 6 oz.

**Yoplait kids has 9 grams of sugar per 3oz. the leading kids' yogurt has 13 grams of sugar per 3oz.

***Coupon offers for Yoplait yogurt are not valid in all states.


Although I eat it all the time, I never really paid any attention to the details before.  It's nice to learn a little something about what you're eating.  If you're anything like me, you have a tendency to tune out commercials when you're watching TV, but every time the Yoplait commercial comes on and you hear things like Key Lime Pie, Strawberry Cheesecake, and Cherry Pomegranate, your ears suddenly perk up.  

When I finish this post, I'm heading over to Facebook to share it with my buddies there.  If you have a Facebook page, I suggest you do the same (and "Like" Yoplait on Facebook), so you can keep up with any coupons or other promotions that pop up.  I just took a peek over there, and right now, if you sign up on their Greek page, you can enter for a chance to win a Yoplait Snack Pack and download a coupon while you're there.  The Snack Pack looks like it has maybe a thermal sack, a water bottle, a recipe book, and a container to schlep your grains with you.  OK, cereal works much better than cramming a slice of toast in my purse!  Have I mentioned that I'm a night owl?  Thus the hit and run breakfasts for me.  I don't get up any earlier than absolutely necessary!  To get there, follow this link... 





Although I was not paid to provide you with this information, and my opinions are certainly my own, by posting the information provided above, I do have an opportunity to win a deluxe prize pack provided by Yoplait through MyBlogSpark.  So wish me luck, and if you sign up on Yoplait's Greek page on Facebook, right back at ya!!


 

Cornbread with Phily Santa Fe Cooking Creme


I was asked to make Cornbread last night to go along with dinner and suddenly remembered that I had picked up a container of the new Philadelphia Santa Fe Blend Cooking Creme last week. I had been waiting for a chance to try it out and decided to incorporate it into the cornbread. For some reason, I was thinking my go-to recipe had yogurt in it, but it was really only 2T of sour cream. I knew that wasn't going to cut it, so I replaced the sour cream AND a portion of the milk called for with the cooking creme.

Because the milk and cooking creme offer different forms of moisture, I was afraid I was going to ruin the texture, but not at all! I did, however, find that the flavor was very subtle, so I do have some tweaking to do to get the right ratio. Maybe if I didn't also include the hot chili peppers it would have been more prominent, or if I didn't add a can of corn, but I think I will have to increase it next time.

Because we were also having broccoli, and there was more of the cooking creme left in the container, we tossed it with the broccoli and a little of the steaming liquid. That was awesome!!!


INGREDIENTS :
2/3 c butter, softened
1 c sugar
3 eggs
2/3 c Philadelphia Cooking Creme
   Santa Fe Blend
1 c milk
2 1/2 c flour
1 c cornmeal
4 1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 T chopped dried chilis
1 can whole kernel corn


Cream together the butter and sugar.  

Add the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated, then stir in the cooking creme.  




 
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, and salt.  







We sometimes add creamed style corn to cornbread but didn't have any in the pantry, so I grabbed a can of whole kernel corn. I drained it well and added it right in with the dry ingredients - kinda like dusting your berries with flour when making pancakes, etc. so they don't sink.


Alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the butter mixture, about 1/3 at a time of each, then stir in  your chili peppers.  






Pour into a greased 13x9 and bake at 400 for 25-30" until toothpick tests clean. If it browns quickly, just cover it with foil and continue baking to make sure the center is set.




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