Slice of Cranberry Heaven

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Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Monday, November 24, 2008

Well James Brown said it best... I Feel Good. Really, really, really good. Well, I don't want to get into any type of bragging mode or anything, but I have a bunch of reasons.
  • I don't have to go to school ever, ever again
  • The Jets are 8-3 and probably one of the best teams in the AFC
  • My workouts are going really well
  • I have a month of relaxing ahead of me
  • The holidays are coming, and thankfully, I don't get stressed out by them
  • Oh, I'm a doctor
So, that's my new life in a nutshell. Yes, I've been away from blogging more than I'd like, but I had a couple of loose ends to tie up. Sure, I still have traveling and a few interviews to do still, but at least there's no more homework... ever. If you can't imagine how awesome this is, just think of the second best feeling in your life :) Thanks to everyone wishing me well, I really appreciate it, and if you need any health doctor-y advice, I'm here for ya best I can.

So onto the baking. Earlier this week was my mother's birthday. Now, she's not one to fuss about birthdays and always gives me the "don't get me anything" line. I'm sure you've recieved the same thing before sometime. The celebration person in question looks you in the eye, and with sincerity that could fool a lie detector machine and win an Oscar, tells you not to do anything special for them.

Ladies, and especially gentlemen... this is a trap. Come on, you have to do something. Seriously. I mean it's your mom... she was there to hang your demented stick looking dog picture on the fridge when you were 4. Do something.

The problem I had was that this year, her birthday is really wicked close to Thanksgiving. I didn't want to send the house into dessert overload prematurely, so I needed something light, festive, and fall. I scratched my head, and thought for a bit.

Don't think chocolate... we are not a chocolate household. It's tough right? It's like golfing without clubs... so without further adieu... I give you...

Cranberry Orange Angel Food Cake. Just what the doctor ordered (or made). Light, simple, easy to throw together, and uniquely awesome. Plus there's like no fat. This is a bodybuilders post workout dream of fluffy cloud tart goodness.

Cranberry Orange Angel Food Cake
Recipe by Adam

-1 cup cake flour

-1 1/2 cups of sugar

-12 egg whites

-1 tsp cream of tartar

-1/4 tsp salt -1 tsp vanilla
-1 tbsp Grand Marnier

-2 tsp orange zest

-6 oz fresh cranberries

Super easy recipe. Preheat your oven to 350*. Set your rack to the bottom if you are using an angel food cake pan, or middle if you are using something else.


In a large, metal or glass bowl (make sure it's clean, no grease or grime), whip the egg whites with an electric mixer. Don't use your arms... they will probably fall off. Whip the whites on medium speed for a bit, and mix in the cream of tartar and salt. Take the speed up a notch, and as it comes together, add a little of the sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time. Keep adding sugar as the whites increase in volume, and all of the sugar has been used. You want some soft to semi firm peaks forming.


Fold in the flour, gently, and return to beating the mixture so it's well incorporated. Once the flour is in, add the vanilla, orange zest, and Grand Mariner. Fold in the cranberries last, and make sure everything is well blended.

Pour the batter into the angel food pan, making sure it's very clean of grease and dirt, and smooth over evenly. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown, and dry to the touch.
Immediately take the pan out of the oven and flip it over, so the dome cylinder thing in the pan is supporting the pan and cake. Let it cool like this until it's cool. Run a knife around the edge, and take it carefully out. Serve it up.

This cake was a nice Fall festive change of pace for the impending (but in a good way) Thanksgiving countdown. I think the fall flavors mixed well nicely, and the tartness of the cranberries work well with a cake that is pretty much all sugar. Insulin can definitely be a delicious thing :) Did the cranberries sink to the bottom? Yup. Did I try to coat them with four? Yup. But there's a couple of things I learned this week...

4 dogs in your house is too many... people are picky about their Thanksgiving traditions and changing up their favorite foods... and cranberries don't like to be coated in flour :)

So to all my good blogging buddies, give this cake a try when you want something that's not heavy and rich. You'll be impressed, just like I'm impressed at all the awesome food creations out there recently. Keep it real, and I'll be back this week :)
Angel

Gotta Have My Oats

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Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I've been in a cookie mood all week. It's been an empty pit inside me, like a void that only a certain chewy, buttery goodness could fill. So what do you do when your stomach and soul has this kind of weird kind of 'help me, dude' feeling?

You fill it.

The king of all cookies in Adam's world are oatmeal cookies, and then closely followed by sugar. Yup, it's a pretty much a two horse race, with the winner having better chance if I haven't seen them in awhile. Or, in this case, when fellow bloggers make something that reminds me of my childhood. Ever find it funny how you can't shake some of your childhood habits no matter how much you try? There's nail biting, pouting with stomping feet, temper tantrums... and of course childhood foods.

I'm not talking about mashed peas in your hair... but oatmeal cookies.

If you haven't already (and I bet you have), check out Maria's blog over at Two Peas and Their Pod. She has a fantastic site that focuses on healthy, spontaneous recipes, and she knows no boundaries in the culinary world. From desserts to soups, she rocks it. That's all you need to know :) So when I stumbled on her Iced Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies, I heard a voice call me. Because it wasn't a telemarketer or school loans calling, I answered :) While I absolutely love her base recipe, I of course just added a couple of things, because... well... that's what I feeling. You can view her original here.

Iced Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies
Recipe from Maria
-4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
-1 cup packed brown sugar
-1 egg
-1/2 cup applesauce (
homemade in my case)
-1 tsp vanilla

-1 1/2 cups oatmeal

-1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

-1/2 tsp baking soda

-1/4 tsp baking powder

-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp ginger
-Zest of one orange

-Dash of salt
-1 cup raisins


Preheat your oven to 350*, and set your oven's middle rack up.
In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter together until well combined, and then add the egg, applesauce, and vanilla. Mix well until evenly incorporated, brown and smooth, about two minutes. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, zest, and salt, and mix and fold until it comes together into an oaty, great smelling dough. Fold in the cup of raisins gently.

On an ungreased cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, scoop out the dough by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the sheets, leaving spaces for cookie growth. I made about 2 dozen cookies. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until they spring back to the touch, and let cool on in pans of a minute. Then cool completely on wire racks.


Whoa, Adam... you forgot the Iced part of the cookies? Well... yes... yes I did. I just don't think they need them. The cookies are super soft, and the flavor is wicked strong already. So I like them the way they are. So I'm sorry to offend any frosting-heads, but I'm walking away from it. You can go for it if you want, but I'm going down the icing-less road. And what a delicious road it is.

Now because it's been a week since I posted last, I thought I would share a little more info with you cool cats today. Susan at Yum Ninja tagged me... so I need to share 7 more facts about myself. I'm lucky I'm very, very, interesting. Here's some randomness...
  • I'm a quick learner, but sometimes try to start things before I should
  • I'd rather sit shotgun than drive most days
  • I enjoy going to the mall and people watching
  • I get excited when lobsters go on sale
  • I still watch the Thanksgiving parade... still
  • A good song on the radio can completely flip my mood
  • When I go out to eat, I have to get something I would never make at home
Well that's it. I have to get going on my last week of my internship, and as of Monday... I'm d-u-n done, baby. Have an awesome week :)

Secret Agent Muffins

52

Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It blows my mind how different yeast breads and their friends can be. They all have yeast, flour, salt, a little milk or fat, and yet we have all sorts of different types. Rolls, braids, loafs... and of course, the kind that really doesn't make any sense... English muffins.

Muffins of any other kind are those hearty, breakfast, cupcake type things... but English Muffins are a whole different beast altogether. It's like part biscuit, part hand-held type bread. It's like the Gameboy of baked yeast breads... and just about everybody loves them. I just never knew until this week, just how awesome they are... homemade style. Sound crazy? Well, I am back home now, and they always say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree :) That's a compliment Mom... pretty much :)

So, we made English Muffins from scratch... yup, just like good old Mr. Thomas probably did... many, many moons ago. And if I may make a recommendation (like I guess I always do, especially on Fridays), give these a shot. They taste SO much better than their store evil twins... but you knew that already. Oh, and thanks Mom for helping working on my yeast fear. Hopefully we can take care of a few more things in the next month :)

And before I get started, these directions are a little long, so I'll paraphrase and try to keep it concise... I'm not a bread baker, but I'll try.


English Muffins
Recipe Unknown

Dry/Yeast Mixture:
- 2 cups flour
- 2 Tbsp sugar
-2 tsp salt
-1 pkg dry yeast


Liquid Mixture:

- 1 3/4 cups milk

- 1/4 cup water

- 1 Tbsp butter, unsalted

-1-2 cups additional flour

-1 egg

-cornmeal for dusting


In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast... set this aside.
In a small sauce pan, heat the milk, water, and butter until very warm (about 120*-130*F).

Add this gradually to the dry mixture and beat on medium speed in a stand up mixer for 2-3 minutes. Add one egg and another 1 cup of flour, and beat on high for 2 minutes. Continue to add small amounts of flour so that a soft dough forms. Remove this dough from the bowl, and knead until it is smooth and elastic. If the dough is too sticky, add small amounts of flour. Place back in the bowl, cover, and let rise until it doubles... about one hour.

After it's doubled, punch it down like it called your spouse fat, cover, and let it rise back again... about 45 minutes. Punch it down again like it didn't learn it's lesson :) On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until 1/2" thickness. With a 3/4" round cutter, cut out the muffins.

Sprinkle a cookie sheet with cornmeal, and place the muffins about 1" apart from each other. Sprinkle the tops with more cornmeal. Cover and let rise again for another 45 minutes... I know but they need it.


Over low heat, lightly grease a griddle or a heavy skillet. Once the surface is hot, place the muffins with a metal spatula - be careful not to damage or deflate them - on the griddle. They will expand both up and outwards as they cook on each side. Flip over each muffin as they brown, but don't let them burn... they will get too crunchy. This takes about 5 minutes a side. Make sure each side is evenly brown, and cool them on wire racks.
This recipe makes anywhere from 20-24 muffins, depending on how thick they are.

I found a newfound love for English Muffins with this recipe. There is no oven usage, and they are a perfect vehicle for any type of spread or topping. The yeast flavor is simply delicious, and they have a much chewier texture. I had to have this with fresh cranberry sauce. Other great things about this recipe are the variations you can do. Wanna go for whole wheat, honey oatmeal, onion, cheddar, sweet potato, maple, apple nut... then go for it. I think any type of bread you've ever seen or heard about would work wonders. I just went for plain old fashioned, because I had to make sure the recipe worked first.

Live once to live... live twice to live awesome.

Well, that's it for this kid. In case you haven't noticed, a bit busy with all the family/school/job search type things, but I"m still digging all the blogs and recipes. Everything looks great, so keep up the good work, good buddies :)

Fitness Fun Fridays #17

35

Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Friday, November 07, 2008

Did I say Happy November already? Well, Happy November. It's getting cold, and winter is starting to roll on in. I've seen cars with snow on them already... crazy right?

So now that the candy overload is over, we're going to focus on something that is really, really simple... but yet many people just don't get a good grasp on it. Now I'm not talking about physics, or calculus, or Paula Abdul dance routines... I'm talking about water.

We (as a people), just don't get enough water. It's on supermarket shelves, the movie theaters, the fountains at the gym, but how much do you really get in a day? I remember years ago they said to get about 8 glasses... which equates to about 64 oz in American terms (sorry Europe kids). Now I'm going to tell you something that might make you scratch your head and laugh...

That's no where near enough. Not at all.

Water is 60% of your bodyweight, and fluctuates more than your heart rate when you see football captain Joe Cool at the school dance.

If you don't believe me... ask the scale in your bathroom. You lost 3 pounds this morning from last night? Or you gained 2 after eating a slice of chocolate cake? Well, while hard work/guilty pleasure may have played a role... there's no way your made that much of an impact in one day. Remember there's 3500 calories to a pound. So wait a minute... what gives?

Water gives. Your body gains and flushes it out at a constantly regulated rate, depending on the situation. You need it for nutritent transportation, chemical reactions, body tissue structure and as a lubricant. Your blood is made up of water... think about it :)

I was recently thinking about doing a water post because after eating candy or salty foods many people feel bloated. Sodium tends to hold onto water, and gives you the appearance of being much heavier than you are. All you have to do is "debloat" and you'll feel and look much better. While there's many ways to do this, I like to keep it to only two simple steps:
  • Drink more water
  • Avoid sodium, and artificial ingredients, including sweetners, because they hold on to water molecules
Now, this may sound surprising, but drinking more water will actually make you look thinner. To make this less confusing, I like to give this analogy:

Let's say you have one dollar to your name. One lonely dollar... and I want to take it from you :) Now, the odds of you giving it to me are very, very low, because hey, it's your last dollar ever. Now let's say you get a steady hourly paycheck, and you have constant money coming on in. Can I have a buck? Please? Awesome, thanks :)

Your body works the same way with water. If it knows that water is going to be coming eventually, it's more willing to part with the stored water you already have. But if it's in a constant state of dehydration (no matter how mild) it's going to hold on to it like a life depends on it... because it does :)
Here are some clinical signs of dehydration:
  1. Headaches and fatigue
  2. Decreased appetite (usually not a problem for us)
  3. Light headedness, dry mouth
  4. Increased heartrate, and small volumes of concentrated urine
As far as weight control goes... drinking water is your friend. The ability to reconize hunger vs. thirst is very difficult, if not impossible to distingush from each other... so when you feel hungry 30 minutes after you just ate... there's a chance you might be thirsty. Drink a glass and see if the feeling goes away. You might suprise yourself :)

On a personal note, I used to get killer headaches during my workouts. Funny thing was, when I started drinking more good old water, it all went away. Pretty cool, huh?

So now you might be wondering, well how much? Recent reserach says about 35 ml per kg of bodyweight. This averages out to like 2 - 2.5 liters per person. I would say that this is an absolutle minimum. I like to get about a gallon, or 3.75 liters per day, with probably most of it centered around my time at the gym. Do I pee alot? Yeah probably, but it's not too bad. I just trt make sure I'm not stuck in an elevator or a bubble :)

Annnnd I'm done. Remember, water... it does a body good. Have a fantastic weekend, and for all of my Facebook friends who wished me congrats and good luck with my soon to be graduation, thank you so very, very, much. You are all awesome... and it feels amazing knowing that everyone is really rooting for me :) Thanks.

Kickin' at the Cobbler Stones

33

Posted by Adam | Posted in , , | Posted on Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ok, Halloween was awesome. My very good childhood friend threw a party, and we had cops, nurses, lumberjacks, ninjas, ladybugs, all sorts of cool characters. Everyone got along with each other, and there was just good vibes all around. Ever go somewhere and the energy is just so positive you feel it? That's how it was. Well, maybe a giant bonfire gave off some energy too :)

So anyways, it's back to the baking. With the holiday now being done, there are sad looking pumpkins everywhere. Houses are packing up their orange and black colors, and now pumpkins are being smashed, Billy Corgan style.

This is a special announcement. If you have any spare, unsheathed pumpkins around... do not smash them... EAT THEM :)

So that's how today's recipe got started. I sliced up, peeled, and boiled an entire pumpkin. As the house was littered with pumpkin guts and seeds, I noticed two things...
  1. Cutting up pumpkin is hard work and requires Napoleon Dynamite type knife skills
  2. Canned pumpkin is not actually pumpkin, but butternut squash... how crazy is that?
So I boiled and mashed an entire Jack O' Lantern, and ended up with like a huge pot of yellow puree mush. What to do? I do love pumpkin pie (my favorite Thanksgiving pie next to Apple) but I'm not feeling it. I thumbed through Dorie's book for inspiration, and came up with... Pumpkin Spice Apple Figtastic Cobbler. Nope, I'm not a mad scientist on Halloween or any other day, I'm just a little crazy off pumpkin fumes...
Step One - Filling
Pumpkin Spice Apple Fig Cobbler
Recipe by Adam
For the Filling:

-2 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (canned or fresh... if you want actual pumpkin)
-2 Apples, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces

-3/4 cup packed brown sugar

-1/2 cup dried chopped figs
-1/2 cup raisins

-1 tsp cinnamon

-1/2 tsp nutmeg
-1/4 tsp cloves

-Zest of one lemon

Cobbler Topping:

-1 1/2 cups AP flour (or 3/4 + 3/4 whole wheat and AP)

-1 tablespoon baking powder

-3 tablespoons packed, brown sugar
-1/2 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp allspice (or cinnamon)

-4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cold as ice, and cut into pieces

-1/2 cup milk (nonfat or whatever you have)


Preheat your oven to 375*, and position a center rack in the oven. You can preheat it now, or in between the filling and cobbler making process.


To make the filling: In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, and all the other ingredients together, folding and especially making sure the sugar and spices are evenly distributed. Feel free to taste it, and make spice and sweet adjustments as necessary.

Pour the filling into a buttered 8x8 pan, and smooth over the top with a spatula.
Meanwhile, make the cobbler topping. In another bowl, measure out and add the flour(s), salt, spice, and baking powder. Mix evenly, and add the ice cold butter. I use my hands, and mix the butter and flour together until they form a disorganized mess of coarse sand and butter pieces. Add the milk, and mix with a spoon/spatula until the dough comes together and is kind of soft and sticky. Knead for a bit to make sure it's all together.

Tear off pieces of dough and roll into small balls with your hands, about the size of the golf ball. Place on the pumpkin mixture in the pan, you should end up with like 16-20 pieces of dough on the pan.
Bake for about 35-45 minutes, or until the cobbler is bubbling, and the dough is golden brown. Take out, let cool for a bit, and serve it up baby.
Step Two... Cobble and Bake
Step 3... Slice and Scoop
And that about says it all...

Was this better than pumpkin pie? Umm... it's a different kind of good. My pumpkin pie doesn't have apples or raisins, so this was a nice, delicious change of pace. I think it tastes like Fall, and without all the twigs and leaves in your mouth. I've eaten leaves before (party related) and this is nothing like that :)

So that's it for today. If you're American, get out there and vote! I know it's the lesser of two evils... like it is every year... but at least we live in a country where we can voice our opinion. That's something to never take for granted, and I always think back to what our forefathers had to sacrifice some 200+ years ago. Stand up and be counted, good buddies :)
Cobbler