Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sugar-Free Sunday--Sugar-Free Sweet Potato Casserole

 I've been really working on getting my family (and myself) to eat more vegetables lately. I've been trying some new things, like oven-roasted brussels sprouts, and revamping some old favorites.

 We had baked sweet potatoes not long ago, and I got the bright idea to do a healthier version of a holiday favorite, sweet potato casserole with pecan praline topping. The regular version is loaded with sugar, from the canned sweet potatoes/yams at the start, to additional sugar added, to the sugar in the topping. In my original post of this recipe, I called it "Sweet Potatoes You Can Eat for Dessert"--it's just that sweet and gooey, and I have family members who actually do it eat it for dessert.

 Sugar-Free Sweet Potato Casserole

  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • cooking oil of your choice
  • 1/2 c Splenda, or equivalent non-sugar sweetener
  • 1/2-3/4 stick of butter
  • 1/2-1 t cinnamon
  • chopped pecans
Rub the outside of the sweet potatoes with oil, place on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 for around an hour, or until they're fork tender. Allow to cool enough to handle, and pull the skins off. You may want to slice through the ends, but the rest of the skin should just slide right off. Mash the baked sweet potatoes, and add Splenda, butter, and cinnamon. If your potatoes are cold, melt the butter--mine were still warm, so I just chunked up the butter and threw it in the bowl, and it melted as I mashed and mixed. Put into a 8x8 pan, slightly greased on the sides or sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle with slightly chopped pecans. Bake at 350 for around 20 minutes, or until the pecans are beginning to brown. 

I thought I had over cooked these, the nuts were getting very browned. Without the familiar brown sugar and butter mix, I wasn't really sure what to look for, but they tasted fine. (I actually forgot the cinnamon in these, so we just added a dash of cinnamon to our serving on our plate, then just stirred it in slightly. Still tasty).

My family decided they liked the sugar-free version better than the regular one for everyday eating. My son said it tasted like it should be eaten with the meal, and not afterwards.

I liked the healthier version in several ways. I usually use canned sweet potatoes/yams during the holidays. Because they're already cooked with a sugar syrup, although I drain it off, it can be hard to regulate the sweetness. And while I never thought that you'd hear me say it, you can have too much sugar in a recipe. It also seems to me that the last several times I've made my regular version, the sweet potatoes have been mushier, and there's definitely a higher proportion of sugary juice to potatoes in the cans--as a result, sometimes I have trouble getting the middle to set without over browning the top--I usually have to cover it with foil at some point to keep the topping from burning.

Conclusion: As long as my son and I are working on reducing sugar in our diets, I'll be making this version for our everyday meals--and when it's holiday time, although I'll probably go back to my regular version on special occasions, I'll bake my own sweet potatoes and go from there instead of using the canned.

Do you have a sugar free recipe to share? Be sure to link up with the linky tools below!

Until next time, good cooking, and good eating!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I've never been a big vegetable eater, especially the healthier ones that everyone says we need to eat a lot of, like dark leafy greens. I tend to cycle between peas, corn, and mixed vegetables, with maybe a carrot or potato thrown in every now and then to break things up a bit.  But I've been trying really hard lately to add some variety to our diet, both to be healthier, and also for the sake of our poor taste buds.

I made something absolutely, completely new for me last night that was so very quick and easy, and so surprisingly delicious (approved by the whole family) that I had to share with everyone immediately. 

Brussels sprouts. 

The last time I ate brussels sprouts was when I was a kid, and I did not like them.  Not at all.  They came out of a box and were cooked in boiling water, tasted kind of like cabbage, which I didn't like, either.

These brussels sprouts should be in a whole different category by themselves, though.

  • 1 lb fresh brussels sprouts
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • garlic powder
Heat your oven to 375-400.  Cut off the stem ends of the brussels sprouts, and remove any yellowed or discolored outer leaves.  Cut small sprouts in half lengthwise, larger ones in thirds or quarters, to make the pieces fairly uniform.  Put in a bowl, add olive oil and sprinkle liberally with Kosher salt (it's coarser and adds something to the texture) and garlic powder, and toss until well coated. Put on a baking sheet (with sides in case the oil runs) cut sides down and bake in in a hot oven for 30-45 minutes, or until the tops start to get from golden brown to the color of chocolate.  I had my oven at 400, then turned it down to about 350-375 after 25 minutes or so.  Your time will vary according to the size of the sprouts and temperature of your oven. 

Watch closely toward the end so they don't burn, but you want the yummy carmelization of the dark chocolate brown parts.

There were some loose leaves that were browned to crisp that I ate right off the baking tray as soon and they came out of the oven, along with a couple of the larger pieces.  We had dinner fairly quickly after these were done, and they were still delicious, but I have to say, next time I'll try to time these so that we're ready to eat immediately.

The whole family gave these the thumbs up, so I'll definitely be adding these to our vegetable repertoire.

What new things have you been cooking up lately?

This post is linked to:

Foodie Friday at Rattelbridge Farm
Food on Friday at Ann Kroeker
Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free

Until next time, good cooking, and good eating!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sugar-Free Sunday--Another Old Favorite, Butterscotch Yum-Yum

Sugar-Free Butterscotch Yum-Yum

I know this post is late this week--I started it on Sunday, but didn't have a chance to finish, and "Sugar-Free Wednesday" just doesn't have the same ring to it, so I'm leaving the title the same!

The recipe I want to share with ya'll today has to be one of my very favorite sugar-free desserts.  It's based on the familiar Chocolate Layered Dessert, aka Mississippi Mud Pie, aka Chocolate Yum-Yum, that we all know and love.  But for the sugar free version, I chose Butterscotch, and can I just say, it's the best Yum-Yum Layered Dessert, ever.  I made this recently right before the holidays, when my son & I were trying to "good" as much as possible, knowing that we were about to indulge in a non-stop barrage of food and especially goodies.  I brought it to the table to be served, and I have to confess, my husband (who is not a sugar-free-er), my son, and myself, finished the entire dessert.  All of it.  We just kept sitting around the table, talking and eating, and eating and talking.  It's really just that good. 


Layer 1: The first layer is a basic "press in" crust:
  • 1/4 c (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/3 c chopped nuts
  • 1 T sugar or Splenda (optional)
Toss together the flour and sugar or Splenda; cut in the butter, then add the chopped nuts. (I used walnuts because they're about half the price of pecans in the grocery store.) Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8 x 8 pan. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, or until set and just slightly brown around the edges. Set aside to cool.
Layer 2: While the crust is cooling, mix together in a medium bowl
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c sugar or Splenda
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 c whipped topping (I used sugar free)
Mix everything together until well blended. Spread on cooled crust.
Layer 3: This is where you can get creative with the flavor
  • 1 small pkg instant pudding (I used sugar free butterscotch)
  • 1 1/2 c milk
Whisk together until blended and the mixture starts to thicken. Pour over the cream cheese layer and smooth the edges.
Layer 4: Add a layer of whipped topping (again, I used the sugar-free)

Cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve. I usually cut this into squares, but I didn't let this one set up long enough, so I just sort of scooped it out onto the plate (see the top picture) then I had to eat along the edge to straighten it out. Sometimes we all have to make sacrifices for the sake our art. Cough.

If you have a sugar-free recipe, please feel free to post your link.

Until next time, good cooking, and good eating!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sugar-Free Sunday--Sugar Free, Flour Free Peanut Butter Cookies

I don't know about you, but my body has been begging me to get back on the straight-and-narrow of healthier eating.  So much so, that my son and I actually started off the new year with a fast, just to get ourselves back to a better place just a bit more quickly!

Now we're transitioning to low- or at least lower-carb eating for a while, which included drastically reducing our sugar intake.  One thing I discovered when we did this a couple of years ago, no sugar doesn't have to mean no goodies, at least not all the time, so I'm bringing back my Sugar Free Sunday feature.  I'll be highlighting some no sugar, low-sugar, and sugar-free recipes and products, as well as searching out some recipes on the internet to link to. 

For now, I want to reprise the sugar free version of my favorite Believe-it-or-Not Peanut Butter Cookies. These are not just sugar free, they're flour free, and were a big hit with everyone who tried them.

Do you have a sugar free, or reduced sugar recipe to share?  Please feel free to link up!

1. Sugar Free Hot Cocoa Mix

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This post is linked to:
Meatless Mondays at My Sweet and Savory

Until next time, good cooking, and good eating!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Quick and Easy Pull Apart Monkey Bread

Pull Apart Cinnamon Sugar Monkey Bread

I woke up this morning knowing that as of tomorrow, the whole family is back on the straight-and-narrow of healthier eating.  We have one day left of (over)-indulging in too much sugar, fat, too much anything that doesn't eat us first.  So of course we needed an ooey, gooey breakfast to set the tone for the rest of the day. 

A couple of years ago, I did a regular and sugar-free version of a personal sized (or maybe for two) cinnamon sugar pull apart bread, better known as monkey bread.  Today I wanted a full-sized version, so I looked at a couple of recipes on the internet and warped them together into this:

  • 4 tubes of refrigerated biscuit dough (these are the small, inexpensive tubes, 10 biscuits each)
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1-2 t cinnamon
  • 3/4 c butter, melted
  • brown sugar
  • pecan pieces
Mix together sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Grease or cooking spray a bundt or tube pan.  Sprinkle a few chopped pecans in the bottom of the pan (when inverted, this will be the top of the bread.  Roll each biscuit in the cinnamon sugar mixture, and place in the pan.  Every couple of rows, or layers, I sprinkled a handful of brown sugar and a few nuts, then drizzled some melted butter over it.  When I had placed all of the biscuits, I poured the remaining cinnamon sugar and then the rest of melted butter all over the top layer, then baked for about 30 minutes.  I started off with the oven around 375, but the top started to get too brown, so I reduced the oven temp to around 300-325.  Let cool for about 10 minutes, then invert onto a plate. Mine stuck in one place, but we just dug it out and stuck it on top for the picture!  This was good, but I would do one thing different next time--some of the middle biscuits were dry-ish, so next time I'll roll every biscuit in melted butter, then cinnamon sugar.  That's what I did when I made the mini monkey breads, but I was afraid on a big one that it might be too much or too soggy.  But face it--this isn't something you're going to have every day, so when you do make it--make it good!

This recipe is linked to:

Recipe Box at Bizzy Bakes
Meatless Monday at My Sweet and Savory
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace

Until next time, good cooking, and good eating!