Monday, February 27, 2012

Weekend Cooking: Healthy Desserts

I started WeightWatchers again last week. As in, I'm going to the meetings and everything. It feels good to have some control over the food I eat. We'll see how it goes, but I'm feeling positive.

My downfall on the weight loss journey is snacking in the evening. I hate the thought of my dinner being the last thing I have, I feel cheated unless I get to have a little something in front of the tv afterwards. WeightWatchers allows me such flexibility - I can save some points for the evening if I want to.

So aside from the regular snacks - popcorn, a piece of chocolate, fruit - I've taken an interest in healthy desserts. I'm sure there must be loads of ideas out there and I'm trying to find the ones that would work for me. Because swirling some fruit into greek yogurt really doesn't do it for me, even for breakfast.

What's your favorite healthy dessert?

This weekend, I tried this recipe for a chocolate pear crisp. Except that I made it with apples and rhubarb so I guess it should be called something else.

The original pear recipe is by Mary Cadogan and comes from BBC Good Food Magazine. You can see it online here.

I forgot to take a photo before we ate them, so I've used the one from BBC Good Food Online.

Apple and rhubarb crisp
Serves 4
5 ww points per portion

3 apples, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
Rhubarb from a jar (optional, I only added it because I didn't think there was enough apple)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tbsp light muscovado sugar

For the topping:
50g icing sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
25g ground almonds
1 egg white

Heat oven to 160C.

Put the apples in a pan with the lemon juice and the sugar. Add a bit of water so that the mixture doesn't stick to the pan when heated. Bring to the boil, then cover and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover, then cook for 8-10 minutes more until the juices thicken up. Spoon into 4 ramekins. Add a couple of tablespoons of rhubarb into each ramekin, if using.

For the topping, sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl, then stir in the almonds. Whisk the egg white until stiff, then fold in the dry ingredients. Spoon over the pears and shake the ramekins so the mixture evens out.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the topping is firm to the touch. Serve warm or cold.

This post is my entry into Weekend Cooking,  a weekly event hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mini-Reviews - Again!

It seems that I do more mini-reviews than any other kind these days. But I've fallen so far behind now that this is all I can do.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
Ummm... At what point did it stop being about Rose being able to taste the cook's feelings in the food she ate? At what point did it start being about the brother? And what was going on with him anyway? I don't get it! I mean I get what's up with him but I don't believe in it, I don't believe in the way the family handles him and his being different and I don't believe in this story. The brother plot line takes up a huge part of the book and isn't even mentioned in the publicity blurb. So strange. Basically, I was expecting something similar to Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel or Chocolat by Joanne Harris. Very disappointing.

Crossed by Ally Condie
I rarely like sequels more than the original books, but in this case I liked Crossed much more than Matched. In Matched, I found the constant back-and-forth between Kai and Xander annoying. Here, this is more or less resolved and we can move on. I seem to be in the minority in liking this book, mostly because nothing really happens. That's true, but I didn't need that much to happen. I was fascinated by the world Condie built, the way undesirables were dealt with, the faked elements of the conflict with the Outer Regions, the rebellion, the farmers on the outskirts, not really belonging anywhere. Aspects of daily life were so interesting - the pills, the career choices, family obligations, etc. I also loved the importance attached to culture, to art and to writing. So many were willing to die to protect the world's cultural heritage. I can't wait to see where the next book takes us!

Murder Runs in the Family by Anne George
A mystery series set in Alabama. I like it because the main characters and amateur detectives are two sisters in their sixties. I rarely read books with characters like these and I enjoy their outlook. Of course, I doubt they are very typical people, but still. In this book, the third one of the series, the sisters witness what looks like a suicide but is most decidedly a murder. It involves some local geneologists, a local judge and other assorted figures. A good story and colorful characters, you can't really go wrong.

Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
Another great series, this time young adult. Four childhood friends brave the world, all the while keeping in touch through letters, phone calls and of course the traveling pants, a pair of jeans that makes each of them look amazing. The pants are magic. In this third book in the series, the girls experience their last summer before college and it includes new jobs, new loves, new baby siblings and finding the strength to find and stay in tune with one's own true self, despite family and societal pressure. I listed to this on audio and really enjoyed the narration by Angela Goethals.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Here I am!

Yes, I am still here, I really am.

I had to take an unwanted and unplanned break, I have had very little time to blog since the beginning of the year.

I had pneumonia. My husband had a slipped disc. I work full-time at a stressful press job with tight deadlines. I have a two-year-old. And I was preparing a show in which I played the leading role. Spare time was a thing of the past.

But I'm back. I have a few days off now. My husband has had back surgery and will hopefully get better now. I miss the community feeling of our blogging world and I want to, need to, make time for it.

I'm not quite ready to start reviewing books yet, though I have been reading.

But I wanted to post something and say hi.

I've missed you!