Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's a Food Blogga Give-Away for Chocolate Creme Tim Tams!

They're here! That's right. Tim Tams, Australia's #1 cookie, are available at Target through March.

tim tams sleeve

If you've had a Tim Tam, then you can just skip this review, print out your $1 off coupon, and head to Target. (Don't forget to get some cold milk while you're there.) If you haven't had a Tim Tam, then read on.

What is a Tim Tam? It's two chocolate malted biscuits that are held together by a fluffy chocolate cream filling and coated in a thin layer of smooth chocolate. The Aussies can't get enough of them. In fact according to Arnott's, the maker of Tim Tams, Aussies eat over 400 million Tim Tams per year, or nearly two boxes per person!

tim tams biscuits

The Tim Tams here in The States are from Pepperidge Farm. I have sampled both chocolate creme and caramel and prefer the chocolate. I found the caramel too saccharine; though when I crushed them on some vanilla bean ice cream and tossed in some salted peanuts, I liked them much better. The chocolate Tim Tams are delicious. The contrasting textures of crisp malted biscuits, soft cream filling, and silky chocolate are oh-so-satisfying. They have just the right amount of sweetness and are exceptionally good when paired with a tall glass of cold milk or a hot mug of coffee.

Now for the best part: One lucky Food Blogga winner will receive a free package of chocolate creme Tim Tams! Here's what you have to do to win:

Just tell me what you like about Tim Tams, or why you'd like to try them for the first time. Please respond by the end of the day, Saturday, February 28, 2009. That's it.

With the help of, 1 winner will be randomly selected and announced in a future post, so please check back. Since I'll be mailing the cookies, this give-away is open to all Food Blogga readers wherever you live. The winner will need to provide her or his real name and mailing address. Don't have a blog? Just leave an active email address where you can be reached. Good luck, everybody!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How to Use Up Ripe Bananas? Make Banana, Coconut, and Date Bread.

I wasn't gonna do it. I swear.

ban coconut bread loaf

I was determined to get through all four posts of how to use up ripe bananas without making a banana bread. Because, really, does the world need one more banana bread recipe? After eating this banana, coconut, and Medjool date bread, I can say with certainty, Yes, it does.

ripe bananas

Each bite of this satisfying banana bread is chock full of creamy banana, toasted coconut, crunchy walnuts, and sticky, sweet Medjool dates. Enjoy it plain or toasted with a dab of butter. Or, if you really feel like splurging, top it with a thick layer of peanut butter, because everything's better with peanut butter.

ban coconut bread stacked

Dear Readers,

Please note that on March 1, 2009, I made a correction to the recipe below and have updated the recipe page. It should have 1 cup of low-fat buttermilk, not two. My apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused. Thanks, Bev!


Must-Make Banana, Coconut, and Medjool Date Bread
Made with fragrant toasted coconut, succulent Medjool dates, and crunchy walnuts, this is one unforgettably moist, delicious banana bread.

Print recipe only here.

1 cup lightly toasted shredded sweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs plus 4 egg whites
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 small very ripe bananas (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup pitted, coarsely chopped Medjool dates
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Coat 1 (8 1/2 X 4 1/2 -inch) loaf pan with cooking spray.

To toast the coconut, place in a dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium size bowl, whisk the flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

In a large bowl, beat brown sugar and eggs. Add buttermilk, oil, and vanilla; beat until batter is smooth. Lower the speed; add the bananas and beat briefly (it's ok if the batter has a few lumps).

Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until just incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the dates, walnuts, and toasted coconut. The batter will be thick. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 60-75 minutes, or until the top is a deep golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Check the bread about halfway through. If you feel like the top is getting too brown, then tent the pan with a piece of aluminum foil and continue baking. You can also place the pan on two stacked baking sheets in the center of the oven to prevent the bottom of the bread from getting too browned.

Transfer the bread to a rack; let cool for 10 minutes, then unmold and place on a rack to cool to room temperature.

If you missed the previous three posts on how to use up ripe bananas, then you can check them out here:

Mini Banana Bundt Cakes with Sticky Maple Syrup Glaze

Comforting Banana, Oatmeal, and Raisin Cookies

Low-Fat Banana, Cranberry, and Honey Mini Muffins

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Fight February with Blood Oranges

blood orange half

It's February, and the weather is pretty miserable. There are cold fronts, snow storms, dense fog, and freezing rain blanketing various parts of the country.

Fortunately, I've got just the pick-me-up for you: blood oranges. From their blushed rind to their scarlet flesh to their tangy flavor, blood oranges are among the most dazzling of citrus fruits. Since their season runs from December to April, they're also at their peak right now.

So grab your scarves, rain boats, and winter coats, and get to the market today to purchase some blood oranges. Though there are three types sold in the U.S. -- moro, tarocco, and sanguinello -- you'll likely find moros in your supermarket since they're the most common blood oranges sold here.

Moros have a bright orange rind with a rose blush and deep crimson flesh. When you pierce into the flesh, you will see instantly why they're called blood, or sanguine, oranges. Anthocyanin, the same chemical that makes blueberries blue, gives the flesh their characteristic bloody color, which can range from pale scarlet to deep magenta, depending on the variety and stage of maturation. They're also packed with health-promoting antioxidants, vitamin C, fiber, and potassium, so they may even help ward off a February cold.

If you've never had a blood orange, then expect to be wowed. Like their appearance, their flavor is singular: the initial bite tastes like a subtly sweet orange infused with tangy red grapefruit; then slowly and deliciously, you experience, hints of sparkling cherries and sweet-tart raspberries.

Though blood oranges are grown in Mediterranean climates such as Italy, Spain, and California, you can savor them no matter where you live. With their rising popularity over the past several years, they are being sold in most U.S. organic markets and general supermarkets and can even be ordered online.

So treat yourself this February to some fresh blood oranges. Who knows, you may just forget all about those 5 inches of snow that need to be shoveled off of the driveway.

tilapia blood orange salsa orange mat

Tilapia with Zesty Blood Orange and Mango Salsa

Seafood and citrus wed beautifully. This vibrant and tangy blood orange and mango salsa brings out the best in pan-seared tilapia or any of several types of seafood, including halibut, cod, or shrimp.

Makes 4 servings
Print recipe only here.
2 blood oranges
1 small mango, peeled and diced
2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
the zest of 1 blood orange
1/2 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
the juice of 1/2 lime (about 2 teaspoons)
1 red or green
jalapeño, finely chopped (the more the seeds, the hotter the flavor)
2 teaspoons each fresh finely chopped cilantro and mint

salt, to taste

2 teaspoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 (4-6 oz) pieces of tilapia or other white fish such as halibut or cod

Using a sharp knife, peel the blood oranges, removing all bitter white pith. Working over a small bowl, cut between membranes to release sections. Add mango, green onions, orange zest, ginger, lime juice, jalapeño, herbs, and salt. I suggest adding the diced avocado just prior to serving the salsa to prevent it from being stained red by the blood oranges.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season both sides of fish with salt and pepper. Add fish to the pan; sauté until lightly browned and crisp on the outside and opaque on the inside, about 4-5 minutes per side. Place fish on a plate and top with a spoonful of salsa. Garnish with additional fresh herbs, if desired, and serve immediately.
Serving suggestion: Serve tilapia over a bed of whole wheat couscous with a side of steamed snow peas dressed with lemon juice and a splash of soy sauce.

Want to learn more about the history of blood oranges and how to cook with them? Then check out my latest NPR Kitchen Window article, "Blood Oranges: Change You Can Believe In." There you will find the following four recipes: Blood Orange and Mango Breakfast Parfaits, Wild Arugula, Blood Orange, and Prosciutto Salad, Mahi-Mahi with Blood Orange and Avocado Salsa, and Blood Orange Compote.

Also if you're looking for more healthy recipes, then check out GoHealthyGoFit, a great web site devoted to healthy living. Andrew, who runs the site, recently asked me to contribute a couple of healthy recipes, which you can check out here.

You might also like these winter citrus dishes:

Wild Arugula and Blood Orange Salad with Prosciutto

Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Kumquats

Coconut Lemonquat Tea Cake

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mini Muffins Are Huge.

ban cran mini muffins

Americans love all things mini. There are Mini Coopers, mini burgers, mini skirts, mini appliances, mini fragrances, and with the dismal economy, even mini-vacations (which is a euphemism for staying home and renting movies).

Next time you're at the supermarket, take note of how many mini items are available: There are mini water bottles, mini yogurts, mini candy bars, mini buns, and the list goes on. Good luck escaping the ubiquitous mini "100 calorie" snack packs.

So what makes mini so big? My theory is the cuteness factor. I mean, come on, can you get much cuter than a Mini Cooper? And no one would deny that a mini tartlette is cuter than a large one. And think about the first time you saw a mini lipstick tube. You probably said, "Oh, it's so cute!"

(Photo courtesy of autopictures on Flickr creative commons)

There's also a common belief that mini foods are better for you. With portion control built it, most people feel like they're consuming fewer calories and being healthier. Of course, as marketers and most of us already know, that doesn't always work so well.

The reality for many of us is that mini sized foods often translates to: Great! Now I can eat more of them! There was even a study published in The Journal of Consumer Research that showed people tend to consume more food that is packaged in mini sizes since they view it as diet food, and consume less food in traditional large packages because they're concerned about overeating.

ripe bananas 2

So today I've got some Low-Fat Banana, Cranberry, and Honey Mini Muffins, which really are cute and healthy (provided you don't eat six of them in one sitting).

This is also the third recipe in my series on how to use up ripe bananas. Check out the first and second recipes too: Mini Banana Bundt Cakes with Sticky Maple Syrup Glaze and Banana, Oatmeal, and Raisin Cookies. Plus I'll have a final banana recipe next week.

Here's to thinking big by going mini.

ban cran mini muffins pink

Low Fat Banana, Cranberry, and Honey Mini Muffins

Makes 36 mini muffins or 12 regular size muffins
Print recipe only here.

By using half whole wheat flour and mostly egg whites, the fat and cholesterol in these muffins is reduced, while the fiber is increased. Plus antioxidant-rich cranberries and high potassium bananas make these muffins subtly sweet and tangy.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons Smart Balance butter substitute, melted
1 large egg and 4 egg whites
2 small very ripe bananas (about 1 cup)
the zest of one large orange (about 1-2 teaspoons)
1/3 cup (or up to 1/2 cup if you really like cranberry flavor) fresh or frozen, unthawed cranberries
1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped

Place rack in center of oven, and preheat to 375 degrees F. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.

Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl and stir well.

In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, honey, vanilla, Smart Balance, and eggs; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the bananas and orange zest and lightly beat until blended (it's okay if it's a little bumpy from the bananas). Add to the flour mixture, mixing on medium-low speed until just combined. Avoid over mixing the batter as it will become heavy. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cranberries and pecans.

Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups. If using a mini muffin pan, then bake 13-15 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. If using a regular size muffin tin, then bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 5 minutes before removing each muffin and placing on a wire rack to cool. (Note: Mini muffin tins come in different sizes; if you have any empty muffin cups once you have poured all of the batter, then just fill them half-way with some water.)

You might also like:

Low-Fat Lemony Medjool Date and Pomegranate Scones

Ginger-y Cranberry Walnut Scones (Heart Healthy & Low Fat!)

Healthy Muffins

OK, these aren't low-fat, but they're worth the splurge:

Michelle's Banana and Nutella Cake
Peter's Banana Muffins with Greek Yogurt Topping and Toasted Coconut
Snooky Doodle's Banana Bread Cupcakes
My Crunchy Peanut Butter, Banana, and Chocolate Chunk Muffins

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Oh, My Darlings, You Won Some Clementines! (And a Recipe for Clementine Upside-Down Cake.)

clementines peeled

With the help of, here are the five lucky winners who will each receive a 5 pound box of clementines:
  1. Kate Dixon
  2. Carolyn G.
  3. Suzan
  4. Maryann
  5. Chris L.
Congratulations, everybody! I'll be contacting you for your names and addresses so you can receive your clementines.

clementine cake whole

Thanks to Elizabeth and Clementines from Spain, who hosted the give-away, I had a lot of clementines. So after enjoying them on their own, in salads, on yogurt, and in smoothies, I decided to make a cake. This isn't just any clementine cake though; it's a variation on Nan's Best Ever Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

The natural sweetness of clementines permeates every bite of this delightfully light, moist cake. Enjoy it unadorned, or top it with a dollop of freshly whipped cream or creme fraiche.

clementine cake slice

Clementine Upside Down Cake
The natural sweetness of clementines permeates every bite of this delightfully light, moist cake.

Makes 8 servings
Print recipe only here.

1/2 cup butter (8 tablespoons)
1 cup brown sugar
7-8 clementines, peeled, with white stringy pith removed, and sliced crosswise
1 cup flour, sifted*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons fresh clementine or orange juice
2 teaspoons clementine or orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Place butter in a 9-inch-round baking pan, and place inside of a warm oven until melted, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the butter. Add the clementine slices, fitting them close together.

In a medium bowl, combine sifted flour, baking powder and salt, and stir.

Using a hand mixer, in a metal or glass bowl, beat egg whites at high speed until fluffy. Set aside.

In a separate bowl beat egg yolks with sugar at medium speed until creamy. Add juice, zest, and vanilla extract, and beat well. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, and beat until well combined. Fold in the egg whites with a rubber spatula. Pour cake mixture evenly over the fruit, and smooth with the spatula.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert carefully onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Note: Sifting the flour creates a lighter cake.

You might also like these fruity desserts:

Mini Banana Bundt Cakes with Sticky Maple Syrup Glaze

Pear and Cardamom Cake

Tuscan Torte di Mele (Apple Cake)

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