Even if you’re watching your waistline, you can enjoy dessert; you just have to remember to keep it in moderation. When that craving for a little something sweet hits, make it easier to limit yourself by only making enough for one or two servings. This is something I came up with one night after browsing dessert recipes online. This cake is free of eggs and dairy and is ready in less than fifteen minutes.

1 large (16-oz) microwave-safe ceramic ramekin or or 2 regular (6-oz) microwave-safe coffee cups (I have tried this in a sturdy microwave-safe plastic bowl, but I found that I achieve better results with ceramic/glass.)

2 tsp butter-flavoured Crisco to grease the ramekin(s) (You could also use dairy-free butter, if you prefer.)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, unsifted

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon, optional

3 Tblsp milk (I use vanilla-flavoured flax milk. If you use plain/unflavoured milk, add 1/4 tsp vanilla extract – or whichever flavouring you prefer – to the batter when you pour in the milk.)

1 Tblsp vegetable oil

Cinnamon sugar, maple syrup, or sliced/diced fresh fruit for garnish (optional)

Place the Crisco or butter in the mug(s) and microwave for 15 seconds, just enough to soften it. Tilt the mug(s) so the Crisco spreads partway up the sides. Sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar on the bottom of each mug, if desired. If making an “upside down” cake, you could pour a teaspoon of maple syrup or arrange some fruit, such as diced apples or crushed pineapple, in the bottom of the mug.

In a small bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon. Add the milk and oil and stir just until the ingredients are combined. Pour this somewhat thick batter into the buttered mug(s). (If making two cakes, make sure the batter is evenly divided between the two mugs.)

Microwave on medium-high (75%) power for 3 minutes. Remove from microwave oven and test for doneness with a toothpick. If it’s not cooked through, continue heating in 30 second bursts. When it’s done, some crumbs may still adhere to the toothpick when you test it.

Let cool for a few minutes before inverting the cake onto a small plate. You can then garnish your cake(s) with a light dusting of powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar, if desired.

Alternatively, you could simply serve the cake in the mug. If you do this, you might prefer to place the fruit on top of the batter instead of the bottom of the mug.

You could also make this a chocolate cake by adding a tablespoon of cocoa powder to the flour. For variation, you could substitute ginger or pumpkin pie spice mix for the cinnamon. I’ve even used Chinese Five Spice blend on occasion. Or, if you prefer, you could omit the spice and use orange extract, or any flavouring you like, in lieu of the vanilla.

Reference:
1. 10+ Desserts You Can Make in a Microwave | gluten free and vegan
2. 5-Minute Wacky Vegan Microwave Chocolate Cake For One Recipe …

I think the only reason I make these muffins is for the topping!

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted

Topping

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.

In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.

Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Source:

  1. Banana Muffins II Recipe – Allrecipes.com
  2. Banana-Cinnamon Muffins recipe from Betty Crocker

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Many recipes use either just the yolk or the white of an egg. Accomplished cooks may find that they can easily separate an egg by cracking the shell and keeping the white in one half and the yolk in the other half. Amateur cooks may prefer to look for the easiest way to separate an egg and this probably will involve using an egg separator.

An egg separator is an incredibly useful kitchen gadget. An egg separator is easy to use and it parts the yolks from the whites with ease. There are various types of egg separators but among one of the easiest to use looks a little like a tea-strainer.

The egg separator is placed on top of a small bowl. The egg is cracked and then poured into the straining tool. The egg yolk is caught in the top of the egg separator and the white pours through the strainer into the bowl below. The task is so simple that this has to be the easiest way to separate an egg.

If separating an egg is a complete puzzle then it may help to watch a short video that can be found on You Tube. The short video runs through the process step by step. Granted the cook separates the white from the yolk without the use of an egg separator but the short video offers clear and concise instructions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPEUf4Wugyk

The easiest way to separate an egg is the way that one is comfortable with. Many cooks like to cup a spotlessly clean hand, break the egg into the cupped hand and let the white run through their fingers into a bowl that waits below. This is not a difficult method, if anything it is easy once well practised.

Another one of the easiest ways to separate an egg is to cup the yolk with an egg cup and pour the white into a bowl. Just break the egg onto a saucer, place the egg cup over the yolk and then pour the white into a clean bowl.

If the recipe demands egg whites that are pure and not tainted with yolk then one needs to use a fool-proof method. For example tainted egg whites are no use at all for making meringues. If this is the case then try using a proper egg separating tool. A range of egg separating tools are available on the Amazon website and they are inexpensive little gadgets.

Reference:
1. Separating eggs
2. Very cool way to separate egg yolk – YouTube

The White Lady has got to be the cocktail that you simply must dress up for. As a child I remember watching my mother’s friends arriving in their pillbox hats and lace gloves, it seemed all very ‘sophisticated darling’. If you’re having a party then why not make it an occasion and dress the part?

I have come across various different recipes and they are all pretty much the same. However what I have realised, is that the difference comes with the preparation of the drink. What follows is a scaled down version which I do and to be totally honest it does not in my opinion have any adverse effects to the end product.
I make it this way all the time and it works for me.

Serves 4

Ingredients

100 ml Plymouth gin(you can use any other i just prefer the taste to this one.)
100 ml Cointreau
50ml Lemon Juice
50 ml Lime Juice
4 tablespoons caster sugar
Crushed ice cubes

Equipment

Cocktail Shaker
Small jug
mixer
4 Chilled glasses

Method

Juice the lemons and limes and then pour into the jug through a sieve (by doing this you will not have any pieces of the fruit in your drink). Add the caster sugar and stir until it has dissolved.

Measure your Gin and put it into the shaker along with the citrus juice and sugar mix.
Add the ice cubes.

Shake over ice and then pour into your chilled glasses.
If you want to garnish your cocktail then lightly beat an egg white in a dish and dip the glasses rim down into it, next dip the rim into some sugar.(It goes with out saying that you should do this before you pour the cocktail into the glass.)

Variations

Once you have caught the bug, cocktail making is addictive. If you like the White Lady and lets be honest it’s hard not to, it is extremely refreshing. The citrus contrasts wonderfully with the warmness of the gin and unlike a lot of other cocktails the White Lady is not sickly sweet.
So Why not try making the Pink Lady. The key ingredients are very similar to the White Lady, so you can be sure that you will like it. However the Grenadine Syrup adds a slight tint to the liquid and a rather interesting taste.

Ingredients

100 ml Gin
4 Tablespoons Caster Sugar
100 ml Lemon or Lime Juice
A splash of Grenadine Syrup
4 Maraschino Cherries

Equipment

Cocktail Shaker
Small jug
4 Chilled glasses

Method

Juice your lemons or limes however do not combine the two as with the Whit Lady as the citrus flavours will be too over powering. Pour into the jug through a sieve. Add the caster sugar and stir until it has dissolved.

Measure your Gin and put it into the shaker along with the citrus juice and sugar mix, Grenadine Syrup and ice cubes.

Shake over ice and then pour into your chilled glasses and drop a Maraschino cherry into the glass as a garnish.

Reference:
1. White Lady – Wikipedia
2. Delilah Cocktail or White Lady Cocktail Gin Recipe – Cocktails

Let’s face it, the work week is exhausting. I am among the lucky few who are able to work only part-time, so I’m home with my children after school. However, those few precious hours between the time I retrieve the children from school and my husband coming home from work are spent doing laundry, managing the family finances, doing housework, attending to correspondence needs, walking the dog, going to the gym, running errands – in other words, working. I think it’s true that, no matter what your marital, family, or employment situation, a need exists for quick, easy, and healthful dinner recipes.

But, there’s one priority I cannot overlook, and that is taste. I don’t see any point in taking the time and going to the trouble to make something if it isn’t going to taste fantastic. The following recipe meets all of my requirements for a great weeknight meal.

Chicken with Cream Sauce

Chicken:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 tbsp. low fat sour cream
12 low-sodium Ritz crackers
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3 tbsp. olive oil

Sauce:
1 c. chicken broth
1 container chive and onion flavored cream cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towel. Cover chicken with thin layer of sour cream. Crush crackers, and mix on paper plate with Parmesan cheese and garlic powder. Coat chicken with cracker mixture. In large skillet, heat oil on medium-high heat, and add coated chicken. Brown on both sides.

Remove chicken from skillet and transfer to oven-safe pan and place in the oven for 25 minutes.

Using chicken broth, de-glaze pan. Add the flavored cream cheese, and melt. Mix well using a whisk and bring mixture to a boil.

Check chicken to ensure that it is thoroughly cooked. Serve sauce over chicken, and complete the meal with steamed rice and steamed asparagus.

Bon appetit!

Source:

  1. 30 Minute Meals Recipes – Quick and Easy Dinners – Country Living
  2. 20 Fast Dinner Ideas | Real Simple

Image Credit

I do love a home made fish croquette but as I am continually trying to cut down on fat in mine and my family’s diet I try to stay away from all deep fried dishes.

Consequently I am continually coming up with low fat ideas for making the dishes that are traditionally high in fat more suitable for a healthy, low fat diet.

These fish croquettes fit the bill well – they are oven baked and use healthy canned salmon which is full of omega 3; an added bonus to these nutritional facts is that these croquettes are really delicious and easy to make.

You can use either red or pink salmon, the red is more expensive but I think that it is worth the extra price.

HEALTHY SALMON FISH CROQUETTES

Makes 8 good sized croquettes

1 x 213g can red or pink salmon
500g potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed 
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped 
1 medium egg, beaten 
1 dessertspoon natural yogurt
2 spring onions(scallions), finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon chopped capers (optional)

25g plain flour
Golden or fresh breadcrumbs

Low fat spray

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C / 425°F / Gas Mark 7

2. Drain the salmon well and remove all skin and bones

3. Mix together the salmon, potato, parsley, seasoning, onion and chopped capers if used. 4. For the best results chill mixture for 20 minutes. 
5. Shape into eight croquette shapes (or more if you prefer smaller croquettes) 
6. Dip each croquet first in the flour, then in the beaten egg and then in the breadcrumbs. 
7. Spray a baking tray with low fat spray and arrange croquettes on this.

8. Bake in the hot oven for about 20 minutes, turning once until golden brown and crispy.

There you have a quick, easy, inexpensive and healthy recipe for a tasty meal idea for the family.

Lovely served with a salad and some tartar sauce.

Reference:
1. Tuna Croquette Recipe : Alton Brown : Food Network
2. Mum's You-Can't-Eat-Just-One Fish Croquettes | Aurias Malaysian …

Visit Louisiana in America’s Deep South, and you’re sure to come across gumbos and jambalayas of all descriptions. Cuisine in the area has both Creole and Cajun influences, and you’ll find versions of both dishes in both cuisines.

Generally speaking, Creole cooking is based on French cooking with Spanish, Italian, German, African and West Indian influences. Cajun cooking is peasant style cooking developed by early residents of the Louisiana swamps. Cajun food tends to consist of one pot meals, put together for taste rather than appearance, and often highly spiced. Creole food is more polished and subtly flavoured.

Gumbo is similar to a soup. It’s based on a roux of flour and oil. Depending on whether you eat it on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast, In New Orleans or Lafayette, it will be thin, medium or thick, the consistency being determined by the use of a light, medium or dark roux. Okra tends to be a common ingredient in most gumbos, which also contain a combination of various seafoods or chicken and sausage. 

Gumbo is very much an improvised dish, and what goes into it depends on what is available to the cook at the time. There’s no hard and fast rules regarding quantities – Creole and Cajun cuisines are art rather than science. Gumbo is always served on a bed of rice.

Jambalaya is a rice dish to which other foods are added, similar to a Spanish paella without the saffron. Creole jambalaya tends to be tomato based, which is understandable when you realise that most Creoles are descended from French, Spanish and Portuguese ancestors. Mediterranean cookery has always relied heavily on tomatoes, and the Creole version is known as red jambalaya. 

Cajun jambalaya is more country style, and usually misses out the tomatoes, though some Cajun cooks may use tomato paste as a thickening and flavouring agent. The Cajuns brown the meat to give a smoky flavour to the dish, which is known as brown jambalaya.

Jambalaya is similar to gumbo in that there are no hard and fast rules for ingredient quantities and seasonings. Anything can  – and often does – find its way into jambalaya. However, as this is a rice dish which depends on most of the liquid being absorbed, you should use two cups of stock or water to each cup of rice. Chicken and/ or seafood are the most common additions to jambalaya, along with a variety of vegetables.

Jambalaya and gumbo are two hearty, flavourful and inexpensive meals, which can easily be adapted to feed large numbers. Don’t think about the differences – just eat!

Reference:
1. Jambalaya
2. What's the Difference Between Gumbo, Jambalaya, and Etouffee …

Sweet Lemon Bread – With less than half the fat of the original recipe.

This is a great recipe for lemon bread. It has a cake like texture with yummy sugary topping. The amount of sugar in the lemon sauce can be adjusted to taste. I always make two loaves at a time as this is a family favorite.

3 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 egg whites
1 1/4 cup skim milk
3/4 cup salad oil
3 teaspoons lemon juice

Lemon Sauce

10 tablespoons lemon juice
2/3 cup of sugar

Make lemon sauce when bread is almost finished baking. In a small saucepan, combine lemon juice and sugar. Place over low heat and cook, stirring until sugar dissolves.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, lightly beat eggs then beat in milk, oil, and lemon juice. Add liquid mixture to flour mixture and stir just until blended. Pour equal amounts of batter into two greased and flour dusted 9 by 5 inch loaf pans.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven (325 for glass pans). Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until bread begins to pull away from sides of pan. (or knife inserted in centre comes out clean).

While still hot poke loaves with a skewer until they are full of holes, then drizzle with the sweet lemon sauce, thoroughly covering lemon bread. Let cool. Makes 2 loaves.

Source:

  1. Low-Fat Recipes – Allrecipes.com
  2. Low-fat recipes – Mayo Clinic

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While in a grocery store, we have no problem distinguishing between fruits and vegetables. Fruits are any sweet tasting plant products usually with one or more seeds (however, some are seedless). Vegetables are any savory or less sweet plant products. These are the common culinary definitions of fruit and vegetables. It can be confusing when someone starts to argue that a tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable. To determine the difference let’s look at them from the scientific point of view.

Scientifically, a fruit is a seed-bearing part of a plant, a ripened ovary. It cannot form without pollination of a flower. Pollination happens when pollen, containing sperm, lands on the stigma of the flower. The sperm is then transferred through the tube of the stigma into the ovary where it joins the egg and forms a zygote. As the developing seeds mature, the ovary begins to grow and ripen. The ovary wall, may become fleshy, or form a hard shell (nuts are also fruits). Fruit development continues until the seeds mature.

Plants develop fruit to help them spreading the seeds to preserve and multiply the species. The fruit either falls from the plant onto the ground or is eaten by an animal or a human and spread in the leavings. So, the seeds are what makes a fruit – a fruit.

When we speak of fruits in culinary terms, we think of apples, peaches, watermelons, or mangoes. Their main characteristic that makes them similar, but at the same time distinguishes them from vegetables, is high sugar content. Fruits are sweet because they contain plenty of fructose, which vegetables usually lack.

There are also culinary fruits that are not true fruits. For example, rhubarb is often referred to as a fruit because it is used to make sweet desserts. However, only the stalks of the rhubarb plant are edible. Juniper berries are also considered fruits, but they are really female seed cones produced by various species of junipers.

A vegetable is not a botanical, but rather a culinary term. It refers to all of the parts of herbaceous plants that are eaten by humans as food. Therefore, vegetables include leaves (spinach, cabbage), stems (asparagus, kohlrabi), flower (broccoli, cauliflower), fruit (tomato, cucumber), seeds (peas, beans), root (carrot, turnip), or bulbs (garlic, onion). Even mushrooms are considered vegetables, although they are fungi not herbaceous plants. In this case, not all vegetables are fruits, but many botanical fruits are vegetables. They are: tomato, cucumber, pepper, pumpkin, squash, zucchini, eggplant, avocado, pea pods, and many more.

The debate on what is a fruit and what is a vegetable has been going on and even made its way into the United States Supreme Court. In 1893 the Court had to solve the Nix v. Hedden case in which the Nix family, tomato importers, insisted that tomatoes were fruits, while Edward Hedden, a tax collector from New York, claimed that they were vegetables. The issue was that the Nixes imported tomatoes as fruits and, based on the 1883 Tariff Act, fruits were exempted from tax, while vegetables were not. The Supreme Court unanimously decided that that the Tariff Act used the ordinary meaning of the words “fruit” and “vegetable,” not the botanical meaning and, based on that, a tomato was classified as a vegetable.

That makes the answer simple: scientifically a tomato is a fruit, while legally it is a vegetable.

Reference:
1. What's the Difference Between Fruits and Vegetables? | Fruit vs …
2. The Time Is Ripe To Explain The Difference Between Fruits And …

This is a family favorite in my home. It couldn’t be any easier. I start by buying a pork loin roast from the butcher at our local super-market. I usually have him or her leave the bone in. This adds some flavor.

I keep this simple and use a crock pot. Start by adding less than 1/4 cup of water into the pot. Season the roast with salt and pepper, all sides. Place the roast into the pot fat side down. Add 1 clove of fresh crushed garlic. Spread this over the top of the roast. Cover and let cook on low for about 6 hours.

When roast can pull apart with fork, turn roast over. A layer of fat will be on the roast. This easily scrapes off with a fork. Remove fat from crock pot. Remove the bone from pot. Continue to tear apart the roast with a fork. Two forks pulling away from each other works best. Once pulled apart, add 1 small bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce. I always use “Sweet Baby Rays Original”. Poor the entire bottle over pork and mix into meat with fork.

Re-cover and continue to cook for about one hour on low, or warm if your crock pot has a warm setting.

Use a fresh grinder roll or a piece of sourdough baguette. Place a slice of Provolone cheese on bread and then pile on the pork.

Enjoy!

*1 defrosted pork loin roast – bone in or out
*1/4 C. water
*1 clove fresh crushed garlic
*salt and pepper
*1 small bottle of favorite BBQ sauce
*Any type sandwich roll
*Sliced Provolone, or favorite, cheese

Source:

  1. Pulled Pork Barbecue Recipe : Tyler Florence : Food Network
  2. BBQ Pork Sandwich Recipe : Paula Deen : Food Network

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