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Crepes with Homemade Caramel and Chocolate Sauce

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I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day!  Graham and I have a tradition of cooking for each other on Valentines.  It started when Graham invited me over to his house shortly after we started dating and made a stir-fry for me for Valentine’s Day dinner.  Suffice it to say I was impressed enough by his efforts (and cooking) to continue dating him and make him a Valentine’s dinner the next year.  We have continued switching off every year since then, and while Graham usually sticks to his tried and true stir-fry, I use it as an excuse to get creative and try something new.

This year it was my turn to cook, and for a variety of reasons I couldn’t make dinner happen on the actual night.  However, I did make a big spread for the following night, which included crepes drizzled with homemade caramel and chocolate sauces.  If you are looking for a sweet treat for your sweetheart, give this recipe a try…!

Later I’ll share with you the main course that I cooked, which was a huge effort that had me worried a little, but in end it turned out pretty well.  Stay tuned…

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Crepes with Homemade Caramel and Chocolate Sauce

I’ve had mixed luck making caramel sauce in the past, so I decided to use a different recipe this time that is made in the microwave instead of on the stove top.  I was a little scared of burning the caramel in the microwave, so I may not have cooked it for as long as the recipe calls for, but it came out tasting pretty delicious.  For the chocolate sauce, I cut this recipe in half.

  • Caramel sauce
  • Chocolate sauce
  • Crepes (see recipe below)
  • Berries
  • Vanilla ice cream

Drizzle a tablespoon or so of caramel sauce and chocolate sauce into the center of a warm crepe.  Fold in half and then in half again.  Drizzle more caramel and chocolate sauce over the folded crepe and top with a scope of vanilla ice cream and garnish with berries.

Crepes

Adapted from Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets

I first made these crepes for a savory dish, and they worked so well that I decided to experiment and use them for these sweet crepes.  I did not add any sugar to the crepe mix because I knew I would be adding lots of sweet sauce.  You could probably add a teaspoon or two of sugar to the batter for sweet crepes, but I don’t think it needs it. 

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of water
  • ¾ cup of milk (I used almond milk)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

In a blender on high speed, combine the eggs, oil, water, milk, and salt (I put the ingredients into a bowl used an immersion blender).  Add about half of the flour and blend briefly and then add the rest of the flour and blend until just combined.  Set the batter aside for a few minutes to rest (I put mine in the fridge for 20-30 minutes). 

Heat a non-stick skillet (about 7.5 inches at the base) and spread a little vegetable oil in the bottom of the pan.  When the oil is hot add about 1/3 cup of batter to the pan and swirl it so that it covers the bottom of the pan.  Cook about 1 minute or until golden on the bottom and then carefully flip the crepe with a spatula.  Cook for another minute or so on the other side.   Repeat until all of the batter is gone.  Crepes can be kept warm in the oven or refrigerated and reheated later.

Tasty Easy Healthy Green Recipe Ratings:

Recipe Report Card Notes About Recipe Ratings

Tasty Rating

Chefs--4.1

Four Chefs (Delicious!)

This rich and decadent dessert was perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Easy Rating

easy--3

Three Easy Chairs (Average Difficulty)

Crepes are a lot easier to make than I imagined.  The key to these crepes is making them in a truly non-stick pan.

Healthy Rating

healthy--1.1

One Apples (This Might Take A Year Off Your Life)

The crepes are not too bad, but the sauces pack a fatty and sugary punch.

Green Rating

green--3

Three Leaves (Average Environmental Friendliness)

Some organic ingredients and the eggs were local and free range.  I failed on the berries though—I saw North Carolina on them, so I thought they were local, but as it turns out they were grown in Chile and only distributed in North Carolina.  I should have known that there aren’t any berries being grown around here in February. :)
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Tofu Lettuce Wraps

January seems to have gotten away from me!  I guess time flies when you are having fun…studying! :)  Unfortunately, it seems as though this semester is not going to be any easier than last semester, but I’ve made it through one semester, so I’m pretty sure I can do it again!

Nothing helps fuel me for my studies better than a tasty treat like these lettuce wraps.   The combination of crisp cool lettuce and soft warm tofu make for a delicious appetizer or entrée (that is, if you eat enough of them).  I’ve got a midterm coming up, so I think I might head to the kitchen to make some more!  Enjoy!

Tofu Lettuce Wraps

To make this dish, I used a recipe from Vegetarian Times.  However, instead of using plain tofu for the recipe, I used baked tofu.  For the baked tofu, I followed this recipe and used some store-bought teriyaki sauce as the marinade.  I also left out lemon grass and some of the garnishes, because I didn’t have them on hand—I’m sure the recipe would be delicious with them though. 

Tasty Easy Healthy Green Recipe Ratings:

Recipe Report Card Notes About Recipe Ratings

Tasty Rating

Chefs--4.1

Four Chefs (Delicious!)

Who needs takeout when you can make your own yummy lettuce wraps at home?

Easy Rating

easy--4

Four Easy Chairs (“ABC, Easy as 123…”!)

If you buy baked tofu, this dish can be really quick.

Healthy Rating

healthy--4

Four Apples (Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise)

The marinade and sauces probably add a fair amount of sodium to this dish, but it has lots of protein and veggies.

Green Rating

green--3

Three Leaves (Average Environmental Friendliness)

Some organic ingredients, but most were not.
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Forbidden Rice Salad

Following up on last week’s post, today’s salad is also one that was introduced to me by one of my classmates (nutrition folks really like good food!).   Although the ingredients in this salad are very simple, the resulting salad is more than just the sum of its parts.  Beyond the flavor, I like to think that the appeal of this salad also has something to do with its name—the fact that it includes “forbidden” makes it all the more alluring.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Forbidden Rice Salad

Adapted from Whole Foods

  • 1½  cups forbidden rice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil (not toasted sesame oil)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 bunch green onions (about 3 or 4), thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper

Cook the rice according to the directions on the package (I made mine in a rice cooker).  In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce and sesame oil.  Set aside.

Spread the diced sweet potato in to a single layer on a baking pan.  Drizzle with a little olive oil or sesame oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast the potatoes at 425° for 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and turn golden brown in places.  Set aside and allow potatoes to cool.

When the rice is done cooking and is still warm, stir in the soy sauce and sesame oil mixture.  Let the rice cool, and then stir in the roasted sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and green onions.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Tasty Easy Healthy Green Recipe Ratings:

Recipe Report Card Notes About Recipe Ratings

Tasty Rating

Chefs--4.1

Four Chefs (Delicious!)

Nutty rice, crisp bell peppers and the sweetness of the potatoes make for a great flavor and texture combination.

Easy Rating

easy--4

Four Easy Chairs (“ABC, Easy as 123…”)

There are a few steps involved with making this salad, but overall it is pretty simple.

Healthy Rating

healthy--5

Five Apples (My Body is My Temple!)

The forbidden rice is a whole grain and the salad is full of veggies.

Green Rating

green--4

Four Leaves (Mother Earth Approved)

Mostly all organic ingredients.
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Kale and Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

Happy New Year!  We hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and are getting into the swing of things in the New Year.  Graham and I enjoyed spending lots of time with friends and family and eating way too much good food over the last few weeks.  We are now trying to get back to our normal (and healthier) eating and exercise habits, as I’m sure many of you are too.

To help facilitate healthy eating in the New Year, I offer you a kale and Brussels sprout salad.  I know it may sound like something that is way too much like rabbit food to cross your lips, but believe me it is delicious and was a big hit with guests at two parties where it was served.

The recipe for the salad comes from one of my classmates—one of the big benefits of being in a nutrition PhD program is that many of my classmates are excellent cooks!  Suffice to say, we have some pretty amazing potlucks.  This salad really stood out at one of our recent parties, and I so I tried making it myself for a dinner party we hosted recently.  It was a success, and I urge you to give it a shot.

Kale and Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

Adapted from one of my classmates

  • 1 small bunch kale
  • 1 8 oz bag of Brussels sprouts
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and diced*
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, champagne vinegar, or lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped (almonds or walnuts would work too)
  • 1/2 cup shredded pecorino or parmesan cheese, optional

Remove the tough stems from the kale leaves and cut into small pieces.  Put kale into a large bowl and sprinkle with a little bit of salt and olive oil.  Use your hands to massage the kale and break down the fiber in the leaves (see this site for more info on massaging kale leaves).

Wash and dry Brussels sprouts. Cut off any tough stems, and using a food processor with a shredder blade, shave brussel sprouts into thin slices (you can also thinly slice the Brussels sprouts with a mandoline or a knife).   Add the Brussels sprouts to the kale. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper until emulsified.  The salad can be dressed several hours before serving, but stir in the nuts and cheese shortly before serving. 

*Squeeze lemon juice on the diced apple to prevent from browning.

Tasty Easy Healthy Green Recipe Ratings:

Recipe Report Card Notes About Recipe Ratings

Tasty Rating

Chefs--4.1

Four Chefs (Delicious!)

I think I could eat this salad at every meal for several days straight.

Easy Rating

easy--4

Four Easy Chairs (“ABC, Easy as 123…”)

With a little chopping and some assembly this salad comes together pretty quickly.

Healthy Rating

healthy--5

Five Apples (My Body is My Temple!)

Leave out the cheese and you’ve got yourself one healthy and delicious dish.

Green Rating

green--4

Four Leaves (Mother Earth Approved)

Many organic and some local ingredients in this salad, but unfortunately not all.
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Chocolate Pecan Pie

Perhaps I should have titled this post, “Chocolate Pecan Pie with a Twist,” because with vodka in the crust and Kahlua in the filling, this pie sounds more like a cocktail than a dessert.  While it may sound like a tasty mixed-drink, let me assure you that you cannot taste the vodka in the ever so flakey pie crust, and there is just a hint of delicious Kahlua flavor in the filling.  However, both of these ingredients serve an important purpose in the pie—the Kahlua (a coffee liqueur) adds a little kick to the filling and enhances the flavor of the chocolate (coffee is often added to chocolate desserts to enhance the flavor), and according to Cook’s Illustrated, the vodka keeps gluten from forming in the pie dough, making for a more tender and flakey crust.  If you are looking for a pie recipe to fill out your holiday table, give this one a try!  Or at the very least, you should use this crust recipe for your next pie.

Happy Holidays from Tasty Easy Healthy Green!  We’ll be back soon with some healthier recipes to kick off the New Year…!

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Adapted from Bon Appétit, December 1996

For the pie crust I used this recipe (http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/12852/Christopher-Kimballs-Favorite-Test-Kitchen-Discovery-Foolproof-Pie-Dough.html).  The recipe yields two 9 inch pie crusts, so I froze one of the crusts to use later.  To melt the chocolate chips, you can use a double boiler on the stove, but melting chocolate in the microwave is much quicker and easier.  Make sure to keep a close eye on the chocolate when melting in the microwave, because it can burn quickly.  I microwaved it in 30-second intervals, mixing the chocolate between each interval.  It only took a few intervals before the chocolate was fully melted.

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup Kahlua or coffee liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 9-inch pie crust

Preheat the oven to 375°. In the bowl of a stand mixer (you can also use a hand mixer), cream together the sugar and the butter.  While the butter and sugar combine, melt the chocolate in the microwave (see above).  Once the chocolate has cooled a little, add it to the butter and sugar mixture.  Then stir in the flour, corn syrup, Kahlua, and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until well mixed.  Stir the beaten eggs into the pie filling.  Finally, fold in the chopped pecans.

Pour the filling into a prepared pie crust and bake the pie until it is puffy and just set in the middle, about 45 minutes.  Allow the pie to cool before slicing and serving.

Tasty Easy Healthy Green Recipe Ratings:

Recipe Report Card Notes About Recipe Ratings

Tasty Rating

Chefs--4.1

Four Chefs (Delicious!)

This is not your traditional pecan pie, but I think we both like this version much more than the standard.

Easy Rating

easy--2

Two Easy Chairs (A Long March…)

Making your own crust from scratch adds to the difficulty of this recipe, but it is well worth it.

Healthy Rating

healthy--1.1

One Apple (This Might Take A Year Off Your Life!)

This pie is very rich, so small slices are probably best.

Green Rating

green--4

Four Leaves (Mother Earth Approved)

Lots of organic ingredients, but not all.
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