Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

DSC00179Amy tested a new recipe tonight (making mini loaves for our church members). Not sure of the original source, but will link to it if I can find it.
Just in time for Thanksgiving….

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup nonfat greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree, from the can
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, divided

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.
  • Whisk greek yogurt, pumpkin, eggs, and peanut butter in a large bowl until no lumps remain.
  • Stir in sugars, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda. Stir in flour.
  • Stir about 3/4 cup chocolate chips into batter.
  • Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips over the top.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean at the edge of the bread.
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Forget The Recipes!

I heard a famous chef recently say, “Forget the recipes! Nobody can learn hundreds of recipes. Learn a few techniques and master them; that is what makes a great chef.” With that in mind, I wanted to share a grilling technique. Tonight I made Buffalo Chicken Legs, but the recipe is not important, the technique is for Bone-In Chicken. Learn that and you can make Buffalo, BBQ, or any other kind of bone-in chicken your heart desires.

The Technique:

IMG_5210Nothing is worse than floppy skin on chicken. So, I use direct high heat to sear the chicken on all sides, about 90 seconds per side.

IMG_5211After the chicken is seared on all sides, I move it to the indirect side of the grill (no charcoal directly under the meat) and let it cook for 25-30 minutes with the lid on (LEAVE THE LID ON). If you’re lookin’ you’re not cookin’!

IMG_5212After 25-30 minutes over indirect heat, you end up with this. You can sauce at this point or just serve it as is.

I will, from time to time share other techniques that I have picked up along the way. But for now, chicken is cheap, go try this one out and tell me how it works out for you. Can’t wait to see your work!

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Brisket!

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I have long been told that you cannot really claim the title “Pit-Master” until you have mastered the beef brisket. Well, I think I finally have. I bought a Large Big Green Egg about three months ago, and everything I have cooked on it has turned out beautifully! The brisket was no exception. I didn’t come up with the method. I found it online and had lots of help from a friend, but now that I know what to do, I think I may experiment some in the future…

These are the basic Steps that I followed:

Setup Egg for indirect. I like to use a rectangular drip pan ($3 at Food Lion) and put foil out to keep direct heat off of the egg.

1)  Rub – Used Dizzy Pig Cow Lick this time. Sprayed with some canola oil to keep from falling off. I let it set in the fridge overnight.

2)  Cook to 165-175F at 230F with 2 medium sized cherry wood chunks.

3)  Double wrap in foil and add 2oz beef stock.

3)  Cook to 195F.

4)  Wrap in towels and put in cooler.

5)  Leave for at least one hour.

6)  Savor your effort.

7)  Slice against the grain!

8)  Enjoy…

I hope you will try the brisket, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Until next time,

JS – PitMaster

Amy’s Peach Cobbler

IMG_4315My wife, Amy makes the best Peach Cobbler. Saturday, I finally found her the perfect vessel to bake it in. It is a 100-year-old Griswold “Chicken Frier”. So now, her cobbler looks as cool and rustic as it tastes. She made it last night for a church function and once again brought home an empty pan. It is easy and cheap to make. Whether or not you have any vintage cast iron, try it and it will instantly be a family favorite.

Ingredients
4 cups peeled, sliced peaches
2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups milk
Ground cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the peaches, 1 cup sugar, and water in a saucepan and mix. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Put the butter in a 3-quart baking dish and place in oven to melt.
Mix remaining 1 cup sugar, flour, and milk slowly to prevent clumping. Pour mixture over melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup. Sprinkle top with ground cinnamon, if using. Batter will rise to top during baking. Bake for 45 minutes.

Chocolate Cream Pie

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My wife made the most amazing pie this weekend and I wanted to share it with you. This pie costs almost nothing to make. In fact, I’d be surprised if you don’t already have all the ingredients on hand. It is a winner and it is as easy as, well, pie… Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked

3 egg yolks, beaten

1 1/2 cups white sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups milk

1 tablespoon butter

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed

 

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together egg yolks and sugar. Mix in cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt. Add milk and stir gently.
  2. Pour mixture into a large saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until boiling. Remove from heat. Stir in butter or margarine and vanilla extract. Cool slightly, then pour mixture into pastry shell. Chill before serving. Garnish with whipped topping.

Art’s Vegetable Cheese Soup

IMG_8001My friend, Art, made this soup for my family while my wife was recovering from surgery. I have made many cheese soups in my life, but never one I liked as much as this one. I hope you enjoy it as well!

You Need:

1 cup each chopped celery and onion

1 qt chicken broth

Simmer 20 min

Then add:

2-3 cubed potatoes

1 lg pkg frozen California blend

Simmer till vegetables are tender

Then add:

1 lb cubed velveeta

2 can cream of chicken soup

Art’s Italian Vegetable Soup

img_4266-copy1My friend, Art had my family over for soup a couple weeks ago. I enjoyed it so much that I begged for the recipe to share here on my blog. I think you will enjoy it as much as I did.

You Need

1 lb ground beef                                                          2 c water

1 cup diced onion                                                       5 tsp of chicken bouillon granules

1 cup diced celery                                                        1 T. dried parsley

1 cup sliced carrots                                                     1 tsp salt

2 cloves garlic, minced                                              ½ tsp oregano

16 oz tomato juice                                                       ½ tsp basil

15 oz tomato sauce                                                      ¼ tsp pepper

15 oz can red kidney beans, drained                      ½ cup elbow macaroni

Directions

Brown beef in heavy kettle and drain well. Add all ingredients except macaroni. Bring to boil; simmer 20 min covered. Add macaroni. Bring to a boil and simmer until veg are tender. To make a thinner soup you can add up to 4 cups of broth.

To My Wife (on the day of her retirement)

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her… Proverbs 31:11a

Us Vacation Va Beach - Version 2Amy,

Today is the day. Today is the day we finally get what we have wanted for four years. You get to go home!

When I met you all those years ago, I got to know you as a well-educated, able, devoted teacher. It was something that I was proud of and bragged about often. I still think you are a wonderful teacher! I think that being a wonderful teacher again is part of your future. But, today we close that chapter of your life to open a new one.

The teaching chapter had its shares of joy and tears. I am proud of you for the earner you have been while our family needed you to be. I won’t ever forget the two-income days and all the sacrifices you made to keep our little brood afloat. I won’t forget all the things that others never saw – the early mornings as you patiently dressed a tired, crying one-year-old or the little faces waving “goodbye” and blowing kisses every morning from behind a stranger’s window. I won’t forget the tears, mine and yours, shed as we drove away from the houses of all the babysitter’s that have helped us so greatly through these years. I won’t forget the long days at work and the short evenings at home – spending only a couple of hours with our most prized possessions until it was time for baths and “Alton” and bed.

IMG_0064Those days end today! I am confident that you will face this new chapter with all the expertise I have seen in previous chapters of your life. No more lesson plans. No more teacher meetings. No more parent drama. No more! From now, on, your attention can turn to skinned knees and hurt feelings. A clean house and dinner are your major projects for the day. Today, we close the chapter on “Mrs. Sabbage” and open a new one called simply, “Mom.”

Tomorrow, we will shed tears once again as we welcome Asher into our family. We have been blessed with a beautiful brood. If Asher is our last child, I am grateful that God answered our prayers all those years ago. I couldn’t have imagined back then how great our life would be!

Perhaps, what makes me happiest of all, is that for the first time, you are just going to be my wife, and friend and helper instead of my co-worker – part of the “Savage Package.” You are going to be a great stay-at-home mom. I have said that for years, but tomorrow is your first day in your new, awesome job. Congratulations! You’ve earned it!

Happy Retirement!

Lovingly your husband,

P.S. What’s for supper???

The Martin Manifesto (30 day challenge)

The following is a post from a friend of mine that saw unreal success last year. We both did weight watchers, but our results couldn’t be more different. I ate whatever I wanted as long as I stayed within my daily/weekly points. She made a few additions that I believe made a real difference for her. I want to try her methods for thirty days and see how I do. If it gets easier after the thirty days, as many say it does, maybe I can go longer. In addition to what is listed below, I am giving up refined sugar. That is what my thirty day challenge was supposed to be in the first place, but after talking to her, I wanted to do what she did. I know that corn and potatoes process as sugars in our body, but I am not getting crazy. Basically, if there is sugar (or corn syrup) added to something, I am not eating it. If I can choose whole wheat bread, pasta, or rice over their white cousins, I will. Want to try this with me? Make your pledge in the comments below! I started today. Ready, set, GO!!

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photoI lost 101 pounds in 2012 via Weight Watchers.  I started January 1, 2012.  Several friends have joined me since then, but I was determined I would do this thing, even if I had to do it completely alone.

God has been so good to let me live following breast cancer five years ago (a year involving surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, the big three).  One thing that happened during that year was a big weight gain, due primarily to the steroids I took during chemotherapy.  I felt that, after surviving three years and regaining my strength, I needed to join the fight against excess weight.  After all, my health is one thing I can actively protect, though not, of course, with perfect knowledge.

I have been gathering my practical tips for weight loss, at the urging of friends.  Here are the ones I have so far.

As we say, YMMV (your mileage may vary).  Weight Watchers emphasizes that all of us who seek weight loss find our own way to do it, within their scientific rules that have been developed over about 50 years of research.

They like to ask, when someone hits a milestone at Weight Watchers, “What works for you?”  Here are a few things that work for me:

1) I don’t drink any calories.  Water and black coffee only.  Well, a skinny latte once a week, because rules are made to be broken, within reason.  I assume that I will never have a Coke again.  I used to drink a bottled Coke a day, sometimes two of them.  I can live without them.  It is a reasonable trade-off to me.

Lately the news has been abuzz with the newest research on high fructose corn syrup, a very cheap and very convenient sweetener that is in many store-bought sweets and even in commercial products like ketchup and salad dressing.  It seems that high fructose corn syrup may be addictive and may actually leave people feeling hungrier after partaking of it than they were before they ate!  High fructose corn syrup is about the principal ingredient in Coke, which would go a long way toward explaining why I could never stop after just one Coke . . .

2) I substitute olive oil for butter wherever possible.  Even in baked goods sometimes.  I just experiment to see whether it works.  Extra virgin olive oil (when uncooked) seems to be turning out to be a wonder substance for breast cancer survivors.  I use lots and lots of extra virgin olive oil uncooked and lots and lots of lower grade, cheaper olive oil for cooking.

3) Lots of herbs and spices flavor my foods.  Especially after chemotherapy for breast cancer five years ago, I love hot and spicy things.  I believe the chemo killed a few of my tastebuds!  Herbs and spices can do away with the need for added salt, and for much of the need for sugar in recipes.  I recently found heaven on earth when I rolled a ripe pear in cinnamon.  The best dessert God ever made!!!

4) I believe Weight Watchers when they make all fruit and most veggies zero points, and I live accordingly.  I eat them like they are going out of style.  And I continue to drop weight, even after doing things like eating a two-pound fresh fruit tray at work one morning.  I truly believe there is a huge difference between the natural sugars in fruit and processed sugar, which I try to minimize in my diet.  Except in cases like people with diabetes, most of us seem to do pretty well with lots and lots of fruit (and veggies).

5) No drivethroughs for me.  Only for my son, every once in a while.  If I get caught inside a fast food place with a group of people, I will have a salad or apple slices or a bottle of water.  The food is not worth the points I will have to spend to have it.  If I want a burger, I will save up points and get one at Red Robin or Five Guys.  Before Weight Watchers, I used to buy a McDonald’s Big Breakfast once or twice a week in the drivethrough before work, so you can see the difference that would have made in my weekly points/calories back then.

Fast food restaurants are America’s biggest source of processed foods.  Processing itself is not optimal (fresh foods are much better for us) and processing usually involves the introduction of lots of salt and processed sugar, as both of those are cheaper than the herbs and spices that can truly make our food an interesting and healthy experience!

Even most of America’s restaurant chains have moved to cooking their food in one central place and trucking it all over the U.S.  Very few chains use fresh ingredients for their food.  Even the salads are prepackaged elsewhere.  And the longer food is in transit to get to us, the more it has to be filled with preservatives before the trip.  Not to mention most fruits and vegetables never ripen naturally that way.

The restaurants that source local ingredients are usually not chains and therefore tend to be expensive.  We tend to eat out less than before, but to go to these restaurants where the food is locally sourced when we do.

I cook more at home nowadays, usually from scratch.  We hardly ever buy processed foods to make at home, although for years we would throw something like that in once or twice a week (we were big on Stouffer’s prepackaged lasagnes and other pastas, but have since found that they are packed full of salt for flavoring).

6) I choose to eat dessert once a month.  When I do, it is the biggest piece of mile high cheesecake that Virginia Beach has ever imported from the Carnegie Hall cheesecake place in New York City.  Go big or stay home!  This is just how I roll, and it is a constant source of joking/amusement at my Weight Watchers group.  Most others will adapt regular desserts into slimmer recipes, but I choose to only have one big, calorie-laden dessert a month.  This goes hand-in-hand with my desire to minimize my exposure to processed sugar.

Additionally, I do not use sugar substitutes.  I believe research has shown that we will eat more of products containing them because they don’t register in the brain the same way as sugar does.  Also, they are implicated in causing seizures in people who are seizure-prone (specifically, Aspartame has been suggested as related to seizures).  Our family has some interesting neurology and I don’t wish to use sugar substitutes in an experimental way on our brains!!!

This list is a work in progress.  I keep thinking of new things to add to it, or rather, of more helpful ways to summarize the experience I have had this past year.  After all, I have only been a lifetime Weight Watchers member for two weeks so far . . .

I want to emphasize that though I love lists, this list is only meant to reflect what has been helpful to me.  The minute I try to turn it into a rulebook for weight loss, it will trip someone up, probably me <smile>!!!

In fact, I totally agree with Weight Watchers when they never put a food off-limits to anyone.  They merely tell us to count the points and to make the necessary tradeoffs to have it.  The minute we say that we will never again have a cookie or a hamburger or an order of onion rings, we put ourselves in a very tenuous situation from which we can barely do anything but fail.

I have had about five hamburgers this year, one order of French fries and no onion rings as of yet <grin>.

I merely underline that there are some things that we know, via research, are not as helpful to us as other things are.  These unhelpful things are processed sugar, most of all high fructose corn syrup, and processed foods containing lots of salt for flavoring.  I don’t avoid these things altogether, but I do try to minimize exposure.  Conversely, I eat fresh fruits and veggies like they are going out of style.

And that is a weight control program I can do for the rest of my life!!!

 

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

IMG_0489With three littles (and one on the way) running around, my wife is always trying to find recipes that are fast but also wholesome. This is definitely one we love. This is a recipe we make often in the winter. It is great way to warm up on a cold night. It is very easy and inexpensive. We have also used leftover turkey and it is just as good. Hope you enjoy.

 

You need:

32 oz chicken stock
2 cans of rotel, undrained
A whole rotisserie chicken, shredded  (left over chicken or cooked chicken or even turkey works)
1 garlic clove (or 1/2t minced garlic)
1/4 t ground cummin
1/4 t chili powder

Mix all that together and bring to a simmer in a heavy pot.

Garnishes served with each bowl:

Lime wedge to be squeezed into soup
Shredded cheese
Tortilla chips
Fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste