Saturday, January 31, 2015

Lightened Up Japanese Coconut Custard Buns

You'll have to forgive the blurry, yellow pictures.  Bad lighting + camera phone = less than stellar photos. But they were super stellar rolls!
So ever since we went to the Oriental Mart down the road to pick up sushi grade salmon for DH's surf and turf rolls, I've been craving the amazing custard buns they have.  Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure they're like a million calories each.  And there don't appear to be any lighter recipes for them online.  At least that I can find, and I like to consider myself a master of Google-Fu. So I made it my mission to create a lighter version of the delicious sweet rolls.  I resisted the urge to buy a pack of the Oriental Mart buns to do a side-by-side comparison because then I would have had two whole batches of them in my apartment.  And I would have eaten them.  All. And enjoyed it immensely. ;-)
When looking for a good recipe on Pinterest (where else?!), I kept getting kicked back to this page on Christine's Recipes.  It seemed like a very popular and delicious-looking recipe, so I used it for guidance when trying to come up with my own lighter version. I was able to reduce the calories from about 450 each to 190 (According to the My Fitness Pal app calculations), and from 17 g of fat to less than 3 g.  I was pretty excited about that.  Granted, the biggest drop in calories is because I cut the size in half, but they were still a pretty decent size even at half volume, and super tasty, if I do say so myself.
I made the tangzhong as indicated in Christine's Bacon and Cheese Bread recipe. This is how mine came out.  Looking back at Christine's pics, I probably should have cooked it a little longer... oh well.  It worked and they turned out deliciously, so I'm calling it a win!

 After making the tangzhong, I started in on the filling.  This is where I tried to cut the most calories/fat out of the recipe.  Instead of butter and egg yolks, I used fat free pudding and fat free evaporated milk. Next time, I think I would use instant pudding instead, but the instant packet I grabbed this time was banana cream, not vanilla.  Oops! I think I'll also buzz the coconut in the mini chopper to get it in a slightly finer grind.


 Like I said before, the biggest cut in calories was when I cut the rolls in half to make twelve instead of six.  They still came out about fist sized, which makes a great light breakfast, in my opinion.  I think full size would have been a bit much for me anyway.


 I did find that I had some difficulty with doing the filling the way that Christine did in her recipe (the filling kept squirting out of the ends when I tried to roll it the second time), so I experimented a bit and found that the way that worked best for me was to roll the dough out in a six inch or so disc and spread the filling on it as in the picture below, then fold the sides up over the filling and roll it in my hands to smooth the top and sides out and get all the seams on the bottom.


 Going into the oven after the second rise!  You can see one of the ones where I followed the recipe instructions for rolling them in the left pan.  the right pan are all rolled as described above.  The pan of water underneath had boiling water in it when they were rising.

 The rolls below baked about 12 minutes, which is less than I was expecting.  I love how shiny they are! (This is after topping with syrup, which helps the shine.)


And in this pic, you can see the fluffy slightly sweet bread and veins of coconut filling, which was distributed throughout the entire thing, so you didn't get big sections with no filling. yay!


Anywho... like I said at the top of this post, I didn't do a side-by-side comparison with the real thing, so I was just basing it on the memory of the one time I got these rolls months ago, but I was very happy with the results! Hope you are too!

"Lightened Up" Japanese Custard Buns
Based on Christine's Japanese Style Coconut Custard Buns

1/3 c flour
1 c water

Combine flour and water in small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat with stirring (occasional at first, constantly once it starts to thicken) until mixture thickens and holds lines with stirring.  Remove from heat and cool before using.

3/4 c shredded coconut (I used sweetened because that's all our Walmart had, but I think it would be good with unsweetened as well, and cut a few more calories/sugar. Optional- pulse in food processor to get a finer grind)
1 pkg (0.8 oz) cook and serve sugar-free fat-free vanilla pudding
1/2 c fat free evaporated milk
1/4 c fat free dry milk

Combine all ingredients in small saucepan.  Cook over low/medium heat until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and cool before using.  (Note: You could probably do this with instant pudding and skip the cooking altogether, but I only had cook and serve...)

2 1/2 c flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1 Tbsp fat free dry milk
1/2 c skim milk
1/2 recipe tangzhong (above)
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 Tbsp reduced fat margarine

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine all wet ingredients and whisk until smooth.  Add yeast and let sit five minutes. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the wet mixture, and mix until combined.  Knead until smooth.  Add butter and continue to knead until you can stretch a piece of the dough into a thin "window" without ripping (See here for a complete explanation of this test). Cover the dough and let rise in a warm area for about 40 minutes, until doubled in size.

After the dough has risen, turn it out onto the counter.  I put flour down, but it wasn't really necessary.  Use your judgment here. Cut the dough into twelve even pieces and roll into balls. Let rest 15 minutes.

Roll each ball out into a six inch (-ish) circle.  Spread filling over the dough, leaving about an inch clear around the edge (see image above). Fold the dough over the filling and roll between your hands to make a smooth-topped ball.  Place seam-side down in a greased pan, with space for rising (dough will about double in size). Let rise another 40-60 minutes until doubled in size.

Brush with egg wash.  Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes, until browned. Brush tops with syrup (below) and cool on a wire rack.  Enjoy!

1 tsp sugar
2 tsp warm water

Makes 12 rolls.

Calories: 190
Fat: 2.9 g
Carbs: 34.2 g (Sugar 8.3 g)
Protein: 5.8 g

Friday, July 4, 2014

Cheese, Glorious Cheese!

What better way to celebrate our return from the blogosphere void than with a sandwich so stupid delicious it makes your face melt? 

Yeah... We've been playing a lot of Battleblock Theater and I've been reading a lot of Hyperbole and a Half, so I'm feeling more than usually cheeky...

But anyway, on with our tale! After playing more levels of Battleblock than a "grown up" should probably admit to, DH and I were a mite peckish (killing your friends is hard work, you know!) so we headed out to the kitchen for grilled cheese, which may be the best battle food ever. But despite it being the Fourth of July, we steered away from the oh-so-American Kraft slices and towards sheer awesomeness. Basically, I pulled out all of our culinary odds and ends and bits of stuff and challenged DH to "construct his sandwich!" He chose Garden Vegetable cream cheese, Dubliner, and mozzarella (a cheese combo we discovered last night that makes bloody brilliant grilled cheese), Dijon mustard, smoked paprika, smoked ham, on 35 calorie whole grain bread (have to watch our girlish figures, dontcha know). I chose the same cheese blend with Dijon and capers, with a little extra caper brine sprinkled on for zip. 

The results of our efforts were so delicious that they defied photography... Mostly because they were nearly completely devoured before I realized we hadn't snapped a photo. So our slightly sad photo is what was left of my sandwich by the time I remembered! 

Stupid Delicious Grilled Cheese

2 slices bread (we used low cal whole grain, but I bet English muffin bread would be even more amazing)
Garden Vegetable cream cheese
Dubliner cheese
Shredded mozzarella
Dijon mustard
Smoked paprika
Sliced Smoked ham

1. Apply thin layer of butter to one side of bread. Start pan warming up over medium heat.
2. On the unbuttered side of one piece of bread, apply a generous layer of GV cream cheese.
3. Thinly slice Dubliner and add a layer on top of the cream cheese. 
4. Sprinkle a thin layer of mozzarella on top of Dubliner. 
5. On the other slice of bread (unbuttered side) spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard. 
6. Add meat, capers or other ingredients to taste. 
7. Put bread together butter side out and carefully drop into hot pan. When golden brown on one side (or dark brown almost black if you're DH), flip. Cook to golden brown, cut in half (grilled cheese should always be cut in half...everyone knows that!), and enjoy!!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Best Tuna Melt EVER!

Best Tuna Melt EVER.  And delicious homemade tomato soup.
Yup.  Had to start that one right off with a picture so you all could get to drooling.  By the by, this awesome pic is courtesy of Dante.  Mine were all blurry... :-(

So yeah, we're kind of on a greens kick lately.  Dante's been making up lots of greens.  He uses a mix of collard greens, turnip greens, kale, and rainbow chard and cooks them down with some sauteed onions, garlic, bacon (if we have it), and other spices and they're AMAZING.  Very tasty.  The only other collard greens I'd had before he cooked these were from a can and were basically just salt.  lots of salt. 

As a result of all the greens-cooking going on, we have leftover greens in the fridge quite often, and have been playing with different things to do with them.  This is probably the biggest success yet.  After we made some DELICIOUS greens/cheddar/bacon/cheese sauce potato skins for brunch, Dante suggested that it could be good to make a tuna melt with greens in it.  I definitely agreed.  We both thought it could use something to dress it up a bit, so after watching a couple hours of The Chew (we have been recording it on the DVR and are currently playing catch-up), were inspired and decided on caramelized onions with balsamic vinegar.  That was a good choice........ a very good choice. I was afraid they might overpower the other flavors of the sandwich, but no such problem.  They were flavorful but not overly potent.  We made the sandwiches on wheat bread and I put provolone cheese on mine.  Dante put Smoked Cheddar on his, and we cooked em up on the electric griddle.  They were FAN-TAS-TIC!  For reals, if you're looking for a good sandwich, this is definitely the way to go. 

To go with our awesome sandwiches, we made Clinton's Creamy Tomato Soup from the Chew. We did use red onion in place of the white, and fat free half and half in place of the heavy cream.  It turned out super fresh and tasty, and I'm not even usually a tomato soup fan!  I like to dip my grilled cheese in it, but I rarely eat more than a couple spoonfuls of Campbell's plain (seriously, I'll put mine in an espresso cup when we have sandwiches because that's enough to dip, but I don't have to feel wasteful when I don't want to eat it).  This, I cleaned my bowl.  My big, real people sized bowl.

So next cool day, or just if you're feeling like some pure awesomeness for dinner, I highly recommend you try both of these.

Tuna Melt with Mixed Greens

Cooked Mixed Greens (recipe will be in next post)
Tuna Salad, seasoned to taste (I used miracle whip, garlic, onion, thyme, salt, pepper, and italian seasoning)
1 Red Onion
1 T Olive Oil
2 T Balsamic Vinegar
Provolone or Smoked Cheddar Cheese
Wheat Bread
Butter or Margarine

Caramelized Onions:
1. Slice red onion into thin half-moons.
2. Sautee onion in a medium pan with olive oil until onions soften and start to brown. 
3. Once onions start to brown, add Balsamic vinegar and stir. 
4. Cook another 2 minutes, stirring often. 

Sandwiches: (Note: all quantities are approximate.  I didn't measure.  Just eyeball it and adjust based on your tastes!  After all, it's your sandwich...)
1. For each sandwich, butter two slices of bread.  Tip: Put the two pieces of bread butter sides together and put your sandwich fillings on top, then when you're ready to cook them, lift the top piece of bread (with fillings) onto the griddle, butter side down, and top with the remaining piece of bread (butter side up).  This keeps you from somehow getting butter all over the kitchen during the sandwich prep.  I learned this from my mom, who's a genius. :-D
2. Drain/press as much liquid from the greens as possible.  Put 1/4-1/2 cup greens on one slice of bread, on the non-buttered side.
3. Add 1/2 c tuna salad on top of the greens and spread to cover evenly.
4. Add 2-4 T caramelized onions on top of the tuna and again, spread to cover evenly.
5. Top with cheese and transfer to hot griddle (I had ours at 350 and it worked beautifully).  Add second slice of bread, butter side up.
6. Cook until golden brown and delicious.  Flip and repeat.
7. Cut in half and serve with Clinton's Creamy Tomato Soup.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The SUPER-Spread!

Yeah, so Superbowl was over a month ago... your point?

That's just how awesome the food was.  We just woke up from the food coma today.  for reals.

.......... or we've just been SUPER busy.  Either way, hakuna matata.  BLOG POST TIME! YAY!

Clockwise from the red bowl with the handles we have tortilla chips and sloppy joe dip, buffalo chicken bites with blue cheese dressing, pepperoni and hawaiian deep dish chicago-style pizza, chicken quesadillas, (center) potato chips and Helluva Good Dip: Buffalo Chicken, and surf and turf bites.  Yeah.  We're that awesome.  Guess how many people were at this party.  Did you guess? 

....... Four. 

We were all very full. and very happy. :-D  See?

And to stick with the  "useful" theme of this blog, I'm gonna tell you how to make one of these delicious treats! YAY!
Sloppy Joe Dip

1 lb hamburger, browned and drained (reserve 1/4 cup of drippings)
1/4 c catsup
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c vinegar
2 T lemon juice
2 t soy sauce
1/2 c pineapple juice
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 T cornstarch
2 T cold water

Let burger cool and pulse in food processor for finer texture. Set aside.

Combine all remaining ingredients except cornstarch and water in a medium saucepan.  Heat (with stirring) until sugar is dissolved.  Mix cornstarch and water into a slurry and slowly add to hot sauce while whisking to avoid lumps.  Continue stirring and heating while sauce thickens.  Combine with hamburger in a small crockpot and set on low until ready to serve.

And that's it!  Sorry I don't have any process shots of this one.  As you might be able to guess, the kitchen was a wee bit busy that day!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A pizza so good I don't need brownies...

And that's saying something.

Seriously, the plan has been, for the past 3 days, pizza and brownies.  Brownies and pizza.  Two kinds of awesome.  But it turns out, the pizza was so awesome, I don't even need the brownies.

And this is why.


We have a tradition of picking up cookbooks as souvenirs when we travel.  They're great, useful, and specific to the place we're visiting!  They're kinda the perfect souvenir.  Anyway, I digress.  We picked up the Great Chicago-Style Pizza Cookbook by Pasquale Bruno, Jr when we visited.. you guessed it... Chicago!  And it's been sitting on our shelf for almost 3 years and we've NEVER USED IT!  This is a crime of the worst sort, because this pizza.... amazing.  And to think, we could have been eating it for the last three years if we'd only known....

This recipe is (I assume, though it's carefully not stated outright in the book) that this pizza is based on the recipe used at Giordano's Restaurant and Pizzeria. It's a spinach stuffed deep dish pizza.  If you'd asked me yesterday, I'd have said there's no way to replicate that much awesome at home.  I would have been wrong.

Stuffed Spinach Deliciousness

What makes this even better is that it's SUPER EASY to make! (Without posting the actual recipe here...) Basically, take a standard pizza crust recipe and make a double batch (or enough for two pizzas).  Roll slightly more than half the dough out so that it's about 3 inches larger than the base of a springform pan.  Put the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Fill with a mix of about equal parts chopped spinach and shredded mozzarella cheese. 

Mmmm.  Look at all that cheesy green goodness.

Put the second crust on top of the filling, roll the edges down to seal it, and cut a hole in the middle of the crust to vent steam.  Cover in drained crushed canned tomatoes seasoned with Italian Seasoning and shredded parmesan cheese. 

Ready to go in the oven.

Put in a 475 oven for 7-8 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven, then move up two positions for an additional 10 minutes.  Remove, cut, and ENJOY! Seriously.  Enjoy a lot!

Happy Baking!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fishy Business 2: Salmon and Rice Burritos

Fish tacos. 

... don't sound very good.  But everyone says they are.  Something to try?  I think so!  Cept we had leftover rice from last night's Thai Chili Glazed Salmon and Spanish Rice Pilaf, so we changed it up a bit and made burritos instead. And served em up street food style in our little blue baskets!

Also, in case you hadn't noticed, I'm trying to make this a somewhat more useful blog, by trying to post more recipes and less "Hey look at pictures of the awesome food we make and be jealous" sort of posts... So if you have any requests for recipes or suggestions for how to improve the blog or recipes, let me know!

Salmon and Rice Burritos

1 Salmon fillet
2 oz (1/4 cup) Lime Juice
6 oz (3/4 cup) Water
Cilantro (to taste)
1 t Kosher Salt
Grapeseed Oil
Salt and Pepper
Fresh pico de gallo (recipe below)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese (we used reduced fat)
Hot sauce (optional)
Cut salmon fillet into two pieces.  Combine lime juice, water, cilantro, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Pour over raw fish and put in refrigerator to marinate for about half an hour. (The fish will start to whiten on the outside, but shouldn't "cook" completely with the acid.)
Just before you pull the fish out of the marinade is a good time to steam tortillas if you're going to do that. (We did, and trust me, it's easy and AWESOME.) To do this, dampen (don't soak!) a clean tea towel.  Stack tortillas in the center of the towel and roll up GENTLY.  Put the towel bundle into the basket of a standard vegetable steamer and set to steam for 10 minutes.
After half an hour, remove fish from marinade, blot off excess marinade with clean paper towel, coat lightly with grapeseed oil, rub on salt and pepper to taste (I used a "medium" amount of each), and sear 30 seconds on each side.  Transfer to a 400 degree oven for 5-6 minutes until done. Remove from heat.
Remove tortillas from the steamer and unroll (if you're prepping one at a time, take out one tortilla and gently roll the others back up in the towel to keep them warm).  To each tortilla, add rice, fish, pico, cheddar, and hot sauce. To roll up burrito style (not like in the picture...), fold in the two "short" ends first, then fold the two long sides over the filling and close.
Fresh Pico de Gallo
3 roma tomatoes
1/2 red pepper
1 small shallot
2 green onions
2-3 cloves garlic
Cilantro, Salt, and Pepper to taste
1 jalapeno (optional)
Dice/Mince all ingredients and combine.  Let sit in refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.
Happy Cooking!

Fishy Business 1: Thai Glazed Salmon

Yeah... original title, huh?  oh well.  It made me smile.

So this weekend's ingredient of choice was Salmon fillet. Dante has been wanting to try making a Thai Chili Glazed Salmon like the one he gets at Harvey's, so we picked up a couple fillets Friday (after waiting in line FOR-E-VER.  Stupid Labor day lines...)

Friday's dinner was Dante's Thai Chili Glazed Salmon.  Which he says tastes a lot like Harvey's, so... WIN!

Dante's Thai Glazed Salmon
Salmon Fillet
Thai Chili Glaze (we used Thai Kitchen brand)
Sea Salt
Grapeseed Oil
Jalapenos and Green onions for garnish

Coat the salmon lightly with grapeseed oil (or other high smoke point oil).  Rub on salt and pepper to taste, then drop into preheated cast iron pan (on high heat).  Sear without moving for 30 seconds on each side, then move to a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and turn the oven up to broil.  Brush on Thai chili glaze and put pan under the broiler for approximately two minutes.  Remove from heat, top with jalapenos and green onions, and serve with Spanish Rice Pilaf.

Spanish Rice Pilaf

(Modification of Alton Brown's Rice Pilaf)

1 T Olive or Grapeseed Oil
1/2 Red Onion, diced
3 Cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Red Pepper, diced
2 cups Long Grain White Rice
2 1/2 cups Chicken Broth
1/2 t Cilantro (or to taste)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Roma tomato, diced
2 Green Onions, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350.  Put oil in bottom of large pot/saucier (use an oven safe pot/pan with a lid).  Add onions and start to sautee.  When onions begin to soften, add garlic and red pepper.  Continue to sautee another 2-3 minutes.  Add the (dry) rice and stir, cooking for 3-5 minutes (it should just start to smell "nutty", per Alton).  Add chicken broth and seasoning and stir.  Do NOT add tomatoes or green onion.  Completely moisten a clean tea towel and drape over the top of the pot.  Put the lid on over the towel and wrap the corners of the towel up over the lid.  (The towel helps reduce condensation on the lid of the pan and moistening it first helps prevent it- the towel- from burning!)  Bake 15 minutes at 350.  Remove from oven and let sit WITHOUT REMOVING LID for an additional 15 minutes.  Uncover and gently stir in tomatoes and onions.

 Well, hopefully that all makes sense, feel free to comment or email me with any questions!  I definitely recommend you try both of these recipes!

Happy Cooking!