Saturday, December 31, 2005

It’s Raining! But There’s a Fire in the Fireplace and Dinner in the Crockpot

I awoke this morning to the heater running - it was pretty cold outside (38˚), so my DH turned on the heat. It felt soooo good to get out of bed for once. Over coffee I suggested a coffee cake - and decided to try a recipe that sounded interesting. I’ve been having a craving for Sara Lee’s Pecan Coffee Cake - but realize now that I should NEVER have that again! I can eat half of one at one time! When I made this, I changed the ingredients a little - it originally called for 2/3 cup of honey, but I changed it to 1/3 cup honey and 1/3 cup Splenda. I was a little leery of the amount of spices called for, but it still came out great. My problem now is portion control. That “one serving” thing always gets me. Dr. J says whole grains still have carbs, and I also know there are carbs in the honey, so I really have to stick to one serving. It made 8 squares - I ate 1, DH ate two, and then I froze the rest for another time. I have one square I can pull out and zap for a quick breakfast, and then 4 squares that DH and I can have for another breakfast.

Kenny called from Korea right after 7 am to tell us Happy New Year - it was just after midnight there where he was (Kunsan).

Whole Wheat Pecan Coffee Cake

2 c whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
2 T milk powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t ginger
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t allspice
2 eggs, beaten
1 c buttermilk or plain yogurt
1/3 c honey
1/3 c Splenda granular
3 T melted butter or oil

2/3 c chopped toasted pecans
1 T butter
2 T honey

Preheat oven to 350˚. Stir all the dry ingredients together using only one-half of all the spices. Set aside the remaining 1/4 teaspoons of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and 1/8 teaspoons of cloves and allspice for the topping. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, buttermilk, honey, Splenda, and melted butter. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry with as few strokes as possible, then turn the mixture into an oiled 7x11" baking pan. Prepare the topping as follows: melt the butter in a small frying pan; add the chopped pecans and heat until they are toasty brown and fragrant with butter. Remove from heat; stir in the honey and remaining spices. Spread the topping carefully over the batter in the baking pan. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the cake tests done.

GREAT FIND: Sugar-Free Caramel Syrup. I’m a Starbuck’s snob. While DH enjoys any coffee, usually Folger’s, I really enjoy the bold flavors of Starbuck’s. For a long time I got a caramel macchiato - until I realized how many calories and carbs it had (Grande = 566 calories, 36 carbs, 42 grams of fat (WOW!). I discovered DaVinci sugar-free caramel syrup at Clark’s Nutrition Center in Loma Linda. Now I order a coffee, add Splenda and the syrup, plus half and half, and I end up with 39 calories, 1 carb, and 5 grams of fat. Much better, yes? And the flavor is still fantastic.

There’s one problem with having a small breakfast–you’re really hungry later in the day. This is when the “small meals” concept is useful. Some ideas for those mini-meals include yogurt with granola, toasted pecans, and dried blueberries (use the Dannon Carb Control yogurt–it’s only 3 carbs!), an apple or orange, a couple melba toasts spread with a cheese spread, a whole wheat tortilla spread with a little peanut butter, a handful of mixed nuts, beef jerkey, applesauce…the list goes on and on.

I cooked dinner in the crockpot today- Ground Beef and Lentils, from Fix It and Forget It. We smelled it all day; especially the molasses and cloves. The recipe says to top this with sour cream or salsa. Molasses? Cloves? Salsa? Since when do those go together?

Beef and Lentils

1 med. onion
3 whole cloves
5 c water
1 lb. lentils
1 t salt
1 bay leaf
1 lb. (or less) ground beef, browned and drained
1/2 c ketchup
1/4 c molasses
2 T brown sugar
1 t dry mustard
1/4 t Worcestershire sauce
1 onion, finely chopped

Stick the cloves into the whole, peeled onion. In a large saucepan, combine water, lentils, salt, bay leaf, and whole onion with cloves. Simmer 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine all remaining ingredients in crockpot. Stir in simmered ingredients from saucepan. Add additional water if mixture seems dry.
Cover. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Add water as necessary to keep from drying.
Serve topped with salsa and/or sour cream.

You know, I really didn’t care too much for this. DH did. He ate two large bowls full, topped with Chachie’s salsa. He said it was too bad I didn’t like it, but he did, and is looking forward to eating the leftovers tomorrow. To each his own.

CYNDI’S TIPS: You know how you get those little puddles of clear liquid in your sour cream or yogurt after you’ve used some of it? Here’s how to prevent them: Just before you put it away, take a spoon and press the remaining sour cream or yogurt all down so the top is flat - no holes or dents. The liquid won’t form!


Kalyn Denny said...

Hi Cyndi,
Thanks for visiting my blog. Guess what - I was a full time local president of my teacher's union for four years, and then on the NEA Board of Directors for years after that. Now I am back in the classroom. Love to have you join for WHB sometime.

Cyndi said...

Count on it!

cookiecrumb said...

OK, you two. I was just going to suggest you get acquainted (after Cyndi dropped by my blog, and I read in her profile about the teachers' union). When I got here, Cyndi, I was stunned to see you're low-carbing, as is Kalyn. Well, looks like you've already met! No thanks to me... :)

Cyndi said...

Maybe we'll meet one day in person. We go to different NEA regional conferences, though. In February ours is in Hawaii! (A bit better than my first one, which was Anchorage - in February!).