Flan Casero (Homemade Flan)

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Flan is one of my all-time favorite desserts.  I first learned to make flan when visiting my daughter who was studying in Argentina.  The original recipe calls for whole milk but I have made it successfully and deliciously with low fat milk.  Either way, you’ll get 1/2 cup of milk in each serving!

It’s easier than you’d think to make this dessert.  And it serves 8… so have a dinner party or save the extras in the fridge just for you!

Flan Casero (Homemade Flan) serves 8

Caramel:

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

Set out 8 ramekins. In a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, mix sugar and water, stir only to combine. Cover and cook for 8 minutes, until the caramel is amber in color. Remove from heat. Work quickly to pour about 1 tablespoon into each ramekin.

Custard:

4 cups whole milk

3/4 cup sugar

4 eggs plus 2 yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat milk with the sugar over medium heat until mixture starts to steam and bubble around the edges and sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes (do not let it boil).

Using a whisk, beat the eggs and yolks. Add the vanilla. Slowly ladle milk into the eggs, whisking to combine (this is ‘tempering’ the eggs). Add another 2 ladles to eggs and whisk. Slowly pour remaining milk into eggs while whisking to combine. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Divide strained custard evenly among ramekins. Set ramekins in a baking dish and add enough boiling water to cover halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until custard is just set, about 45 minutes.

Remove ramekins from the water and cool on a baking rack. Place in refrigerator to chill (about 6 hours or up to 3 days). To serve, use a paring knife to cut around the outside of the ramekin and then invert the mold over each serving plate. Enjoy!

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Overnight Oatmeal with Apples and Maple Syrup

Overnight Oats

A hot breakfast is a welcome start to any day this winter in Chicago!  This recipe is a breeze since it cooks overnight and is ready as soon as you are in the morning.  Simply prep the ingredients in the slow cooker at night and set on low for 7-10 hours.  You’ll be happy to have this hot breakfast waiting for you the next morning!  And any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated for breakfast or snack time throughout the week.

Overnight Oatmeal with Apples and Maple Syrup (serves 6)

2 apples, sliced and cut into ½ pieces

1-½ cups low fat milkOvernight oats 3

2 cups water

1 cup uncooked steel-oats

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons of maple syrup

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground flax seed

Optional toppings: Chopped nuts, maple syrup, additional milk

If needed, coat inside of slow cooker with cooking spray. Add all ingredients (except toppings) to slow cooker. Stir, cover and cook on low for 7-10 hours

Serve oatmeal into bowls. Add optional toppings. Enjoy!

Sweet Orange Chia Seed Pudding

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Chia seeds are a new ingredient in my kitchen.  What first intrigued me was their unique  nutritional profile.  Just 2 tablespoons provide 5 grams of fiber and 4500 mg of alpha-linoileic acid (omega 3’s) along with protein, calcium, vitamins and other minerals.  When these seeds are hydrated in liquid, they form a gel and suspend in that liquid.  They add texture to smoothies and are the gelling agent in this pudding recipe.  If you are a veteran user of chia seeds, please share your favorite way to use them.  If you are new to them, this recipe is a great place to start!

Sweet Orange Chia Seed Pudding (serves 4)

1 cup of low fat milk

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Zest of 1/2 orange

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 cup non fat plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup Chia seeds

Toppings: orange sections and shredded coconut

In a small bowl, mix together milk and maple syrup. Add Chia seeds and mix well. Let sit for 5 minutes and stir again. Refrigerate for 2 hours (or overnight), stirring again after first hour. When ready to serve, stir in orange juice, zest and yogurt, and thoroughly combine.

Pour into individual serving bowls and top with orange sections and shredded coconut. Enjoy!

‘Anytime’ Mini Stratas

Mini Stratas

Stratas seem like they’re reserved just for special occasions.  Made from bread and eggs, this dish typically takes some planning including an overnight in the fridge before cooking. That explains the annual strata recipe I make for our family’s Christmas brunch.  But, to my great surprise, I found a brilliant new way to enjoy strata.  Make them MINI.  Thanks to the Power Up Muffins in the 2015 ‘The Dairy Good Cookbook:  Everyday Comfort Food from America’s Dairy Farm Families’, I am sharing my newest favorite strata recipe and calling it ‘Anytime Mini Strata’.  In fact, I just made these after church for my family this weekend.  Not only did everyone enjoy them, they were simple to assemble, sit to soak for only 10 minutes and bake in just 20 minutes. Here it is!

Anytime Mini Strata (makes 1 dozen)Anytime Mini Stratas

6 large eggs

1 cup plan non-fat Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon each:  onion powder, garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup packed spinach, chopped

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

1 cup cubed whole grain bread

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.  Using a whisk, beat eggs in medium bowl with yogurt.  Add up to a tablespoon of water if mixture to thick to blend.  Whisk in onion and garlic powders, salt and pepper.  With a spoon, mix in cheese, bread, spinach and mushrooms.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Stir once again and evenly distribute amongst the 12 muffin cups.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until they are golden brown.  Allow a few minutes to cool before serving. Run a small knife around each to help pop them out of the muffin cups.  Enjoy!

Baked Apple French Toast

Baked Apple French Toast

Here in the Midwest, our fall season is quickly approaching.  And with that, cooler mornings are upon us!  What a perfect time to introduce this easy, yummy breakfast.  It is made the night before and stored in the fridge.  Just bake it for an hour the next morning.  You’ll be filling your kitchen with a wonderful aroma and serving a  nutritionally balanced breakfast to your family!  Let’s welcome Fall together!

Baked Apple French Toast (serves 12)

3 cups nonfat milk

10 large eggs, slightly beaten

1/4 cup honey

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pound sliced whole grain oatmeal bread

2 large apples, chopped (2 cups)

1/2 cup golden raisins

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1-1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Maple syrup (as desired)

Whisk milk, egg, honey, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Trim crusts from 8 slices of bread. Reserve ‘crustless’ slices. Cut crusts and remaining bread into 1-inch pieces. Toss with apples, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg. Coat a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Transfer bread mixture into pan. Lay the reserved ‘crustless’ bread on top (trim to fit, if needed). Whisk the milk mixture and pour over the bread, to get evenly moist. Cover with parchment and then foil and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (up to 24 hours).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until puffed, set and slightly browned (about 20 minutes more). Let stand out of oven for 10 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with maple syrup. ENJOY!

Recipe adapted from www.eatingwell.com

My 10 Reasons to Love Dairy!

June_Dairy_Month_LogoJune is Dairy Month. What makes 2015 so special is the 100th year celebration of the National Dairy Council. It isn’t a surprise that we use a dairy term every time we want others to smile… “CHEESE!”. Today, I want to make you smile as I share my 10 reasons to love dairy.

Love dairy for its taste:

1.  Dairy is a great ‘grab and go’ food. Simply grab a cheese stick, a glass of milk or a container of your favorite yogurt. In our busy lives, this makes getting the nutrition we need super easy!

2.  Creamy yogurt is in my diet daily.  I enjoy pairing it with fruit or granola, or enjoy it plain. Everyday!

3.  Milk is yummy in my morning coffee or oatmeal and I use it to dip my graham crackers when I snack.

4.  Cheese adds a perfect addition to any sandwich, salad, pasta, taco and egg dish.

5.  Dairy is a key ingredient in many of my favorite recipes including Roasted Asparagus with Yogurt Ranch DressingCheddar Chicken and Potato PacketsCreamy Avocado Soup, and Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Love dairy for its source:

6.  It takes less than 48 hours for fresh milk to get from the farm to the grocer’s dairy case…now that’s farm to table!

7.  Milk is produced by farmers who care about their animals and their land.  I have had the unique privilege to meet many dairy farmers in the Midwest and I am awed by their commitment to produce safe, wholesome milk.

Love dairy for its nutrition:

8.  Dairy has a unique nutritional profile with 9 essential nutrients including calcium, potassium and vitamin D.

9.  Delicious chocolate milk has just the right balance of carbohydrates and proteins for muscle recovery and makes a fantastic post work-out drink.

10.  Smoothies made with milk or yogurt are a perfect snack or light meal for my active kids. Some of our favorites are: Chocolate Monkey, Strawberrylicious, and Dreamsicle smoothies.

Celebrate milk because it is one of a kind: it is often imitated but it’s hard to duplicate with its taste, source, and nutritional profile.  The reasons to love dairy don’t end here. Check out more from Midwest Dairy Council and SMILE!

Roasted Asparagus with Creamy Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Roasted Asparagus with Creamy Yogurt Ranch

Springtime means asparagus is in season.  My family always enjoys roasted asparagus for a quick side dish.  We eat it right from the oven or drizzled with balsamic glaze.  And now, thanks to Midwest Dairy, we are also enjoying our roasted asparagus topped with delicious Chive Yogurt Ranch Dressing.   This dressing is very versatile.  Just last night, we enjoyed it in a cucumber and tomato salad (Combine 1 peeled and sliced cucumber with 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes in a medium bowl.  Top with desired amount of dressing.)

Back to asparagus…here is the recipe!

Roasted Asparagus with Creamy Yogurt Ranch Dressing (serves 4-6)

Dressing:

3/4 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt

1 cup low-fat buttermilk

1/4 teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder, ground pepper

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup fresh chives, finely chopped

Combine yogurt with garlic and onion powder, ground pepper, and salt in a medium bowl.  With a whisk, slowly blend in buttermilk.  Mix in chives.  Chill or use immediately.

Asparagus:

1-1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed and cleaned

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Toss asparagus spears with olive oil and place on baking sheet.  Grind salt and pepper over the spears and roast for 5-7 minutes until the spears are bright green and tender crisp.  Remove immediately from oven and allow to cool.

When asparagus has cooled to warm or room temperature, serve the asparagus on a platter topped with the desired amount of dressing.  Enjoy!

Light Lime Cheesecake Squares

Key Lime Cheesecake Squares

Happy Friday!! I have a dessert recipe for you!!!!  It was inspired by one from Clean Eating magazine. This recipe boasts big flavor, creamy texture, and lower calories than a typical cheesecake dessert. Because it makes a large 9×13 pan, it can be enjoyed by a crowd…. just in time for the party and cookout season.  You’ll make everyone happy!

Light Lime Cheesecake Squares (15 to 20 servings)

11 rectangular sheets graham crackers

5 tablespoons Earth Balance (or butter), melted

12 ounces non-fat cream cheese

1-1/2 cups 2% fat Greek yogurt

3/4 cups sugar

1-1/2 tablespoons lime zest (about 4 limes)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons lime juice

2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray. In a food processor, process graham crackers into crumbs. Pour melted Earth Balance through feed tube and process until just combined. Transfer mixture to baking dish. Press into bottom to form an even layer. Bake until edges are very light brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer pan to a baking rack to cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. In clean food processor bowl, add cream cheese and yogurt. Process until smooth. Add sugar, lime juice and zest. Pulse to combine, scraping sides of bowl, as needed. Add egg and pulse until just combined. Pour mixture to evenly cover graham cracker crust. Bake until edges are slightly brown and center is set, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a baking rack to cool.

When cool, squares can be cut and served. Or, to enjoy the next day, cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Submarinos!

Submarino

Thank you to my friend Sandy for my new mug!

A submarino is hot chocolate made the Argentine way.  My oldest daughter taught us how to make these…simple and fun!

I have more recipes from Argentina that I’ll share in an upcoming class at Marcel’s on February 24th, 6:30-8p.  At Dinner in Buenos Aires, I’m making Empanadas, Carbonada (a yummy beef stew), and Homemade Flan.  These are the dishes I learned to make during my trip to Buenos Aires this past November. Click HERE for more information and to register.  I hope you can join me!!

But today, let’s celebrate President’s Day with delicious hot chocolate!

Submarinos (makes 2 servings)

16 ounces milk

1 ounce dark chocolate, split

2 teaspoons sugar (optional)

Heat milk in a small saucepan or microwave to warm.  Divide among two mugs.  Melt 1/2 ounce chocolate bar in each.  Stir in 1 teaspoon sugar, if desired.  Enjoy!

Milk Truth

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Have you been confused lately about the facts and the health benefits of milk? You are not alone. Science has been misconstrued by the media and special interest groups.  As a result, many people are confused and may be turning away from one of the most nutrient-rich, affordable and available sources of high-quality protein and 8 other nutrients, many of which are lacking in American diets.

‘Milk Truth’ means using the support of science to uncover the facts.  The information below is from an information campaign to share the truth about milk.  It is science-based and links are provided for all the references.  I welcome questions and comments on this topic.  Please share!

Milk Truth:

MILK IS A NUTRIENT POWERHOUSE.

Milk isn’t just for kids – although it’s especially important for growing kids who need the nourishment that milk provides. Milk is an affordable, convenient and easily accessible source of essential nutrients for all family members. Milk is America’s top food source of calcium, vitamin D and potassium – three nutrients that are most often lacking in our diet. Milk is also a good source of high-quality protein (casein and whey). Each 8-ounce glass of milk contains 8 grams of protein – compared to a large egg, which has 6 grams of protein.

MILK PROVIDES VALUABLE NUTRIENTS WITHOUT EXCESS FAT OR CALORIES.

No matter what you choose – fat free, low fat, organic – dairy milk provides 9 essential nutrients. Fat-free milk contains just 80 calories per cup, and all the nutrients are still intact. Rest assured, the milk is not diluted. If you prefer whole, full-fat milk, it’s actually 3.25% milkfat by weight – which is not as much as many people think. Since milk is highly regulated, you can feel good about its safety. Every batch is carefully tested for antibiotics, and any milk testing positive for antibiotics is discarded before it reaches the dairy case. So you can feel confident your milk is safe and wholesome.

MILK OFFERS A RANGE OF HEALTH BENEFITS, BACKED BY
DECADES OF RESEARCH.

Skeptics may claim that milk isn’t necessary, but a large body of scientific research suggests otherwise. Studies repeatedly show the benefits of drinking two to three glasses of milk a day. Milk helps build and maintain bone strength, and has been found to boost muscle growth and support healthy weight. An extensive body of research suggests far-reaching health benefits of milk – ranging from “reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and with lower blood pressure in adults,” according to ChooseMyPlate.gov. Milk and milk products are valuable foods that nourish people around the world and play a valuable role in global public health.

MILK IS NOT EASILY REPLACED

It’s hard to get nutrients you need without milk in your diet. Studies with adults and kids have shown just how tough that is, and how missing those nutrients can have a negative health impact. The truth is, not all non-dairy milks have the same nutrients as real milk, so it’s important to know what you are getting in each glass. For instance, dairy milk has 8 times the protein of almond and rice milks – which contain a long list of ingredients, including added sugar, syrups, salt, thickeners and stabilizers. Real milk’s ingredient list is short and simple, with only ingredients you know.

MILK IS REAL, WHOLESOME AND LOCAL

Milk is one of the original local, farm-to-table foods. It’s a product from farm families that care about their cows. In fact, 97% of dairy farms are still family-owned and operated – passed down from generation to generation. Little handling is done from farm to fridge – primarily just pasteurization, a simple heat-treated process that ensures the milk you buy at the store is safe to drink, but does not reduce the nutrients inside. Milk is a whole, naturally nutrient-rich food.