Monthly Archives

March 2012


Greek Yogurt Raisin Pie and Chobani Giveaway

March 29, 2012

When Joe and I first got married, Joe’s mom, Lisa, gifted me with a recipe book filled with her grandmother’s recipes. This binder, filled with scans of recipes both handwritten and clipped from various sources, is called ‘Grandma Jacobs Recipe Book’, and boy is it a gem. Although I don’t think I’ll be making many of the entrees or ‘salads’ out of this book, the desserts immediately won me over. As someone who develops recipes for a living, I was intrigued by the different methods and ingredients used to make many commonplace treats, like cookies and pies.

As I browsed through the dessert section of this book, one recipe stuck in my mind: Sour Cream Raisin Pie. Growing up in a Dutch community in Iowa, sour cream raisin pie isn’t anything unusual; in fact, it’s a recipe that many people I know hold near and dear to their hearts. Personally, I had always thought it sounded like a strange concept. A pie developed around sour cream and raisins?

I made the original Grandma Jacobs recipe a couple weeks ago and was shocked and how quickly Joe ate the entire pie in a matter of days. I’ll be sharing the recipe with you later this week, for those of you who want the real deal. But when Chobani (Thank you, Lindsay! Your bosses should know how good you are at your job.) sent me more Greek yogurt than I know what to do with (a very good problem to have, indeed), I decided to whip up a healthier version of the pie.
Plain Greek yogurt and sour cream are nearly identical substitutes in cooking and baking, so I couldn’t imagine a more natural way to incorporate the yogurt into a healthier dessert. While the calories aren’t all that dramatically different between the two versions, this Greek yogurt version has twice the protein of the original, half the sugar, much less fat and just as much flavor.

Since I despise sour cream and love Greek yogurt (figure that one out), I enjoyed this version, complete with chopped pecan crust, much more than the sour cream original. That being said, the similarities between the two pies is astounding. And while sour cream raisin pie purists say you can serve this pie room temperature, I highly recommend serving it as chilled as possible. Somthing about the custard-like consistency just seems to call for being eaten cold.

Now let’s get to the goodies and giveaway! I was excited when Chobani offered to send me some of their new flavors to try. The case they sent contained Apple Cinnamon, Passion Fruit and Blood Orange. Joe and I were both really eager to try the flavors. Here’s what we thought.

1. Apple Cinnamon: I loved it and Joe liked it, which is probably due to the fact that I’m obsessed with cinnamon and usually add it to my plain Greek yogurt.
2. Passion Fruit: I had heard mixed reviews about the passion fruit flavor, especially the fact that it contains seeds, which some people said they don’t like. Personally, I didn’t mind the seeds and thought the flavor was pleasant. Joe, on the other hand, LOVED this flavor. He said it comes in second to his all-time favorite, black cherry.
3. Blood Orange: This was my favorite of the bunch. The tart, bright citrus flavor was spot-on and made for a perfect snack on its own.

Chobani wants to spread the Greek yogurt love to more than just me; they want to send some yogurt your way, too. They have generously offered to give away a case of their new flavors (Apple Cinnamon, Passion Fruit and Blood Orange) to one lucky reader. And that’s not all. A second reader will win 3 (32-ounce) containers of yogurt (0% plain, 2% plain and 0% vanilla). 

To enter, leave a comment below telling me what your favorite flavor of Greek yogurt is between now and Sunday, April 1st at 10 p.m.

Greek Yogurt Raisin Pie

*2 cups chopped pecans
*2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
*1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
*1 tablespoon granulated sugar
*1 cup Chobani 0% Plain Greek Yogurt (or other 0% plain Greek yogurt)
*1 cup raisins
*1/2 cup granulated sugar
*1/2 cup Egg Beaters liquid egg replacement (or 2 large eggs)
*1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
*Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
*In a small bowl, combine the pecans, butter, graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Stir until well combined. Press mixture into the prepared pie pan and up the sides of the pan. Mixture will be crumbly and just barely hold together. Set aside.
*Next, prepare the filling. In another bowl, combine the Chobani, raisins, sugar, Egg Beaters, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir until well combined and smooth. Pour mixture into the prepared pecan crust.
*Transfer unbaked pie to the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling of the pie is set around the edges and jiggles just slightly in the center. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours. Makes 8 servings 
Nutrition Facts per serving: 359 cal., 23 g fat (2.8 g sat. fat), 4 mg chol., 43 g sodium, 36 g carbohydrate, 4 g dietary fiber, 8 g protein   Other notable nutrients: 330 mg potassium 

A Food Editor’s Take on How to Write a Recipe

March 28, 2012

Developing recipes, formulating story concepts and writing about food accounts for a large chunk of my day-to-day at work. That’s not to say the less glamorous aspects don’t exist. Budgets, schedules and scouring recipes for errors and misplaced commas also take up a good chunk of my day. But let’s not focus on that right now.

The point is, I’ve become very familiar with recipe structure and formatting over the past four years, since the beginning days when I was an intern at Better Homes and Gardens. Before starting at the magazine, I actually had very little knowledge about what made up a complete, well-formatted recipe. And while there are many different ways to style and structure your recipe (it really depends on the magazine or company you work for), I thought it might be helpful to do a little post on recipe-writing 101. Whether you’re a blogger who posts recipes or someone who enters recipes into cooking and recipe competitions, writing a recipe that is well-formatted can go a long way.

Let’s break down a recipe, shall we?

 I realize this is a little hard to read in it’s current form. If you click on the image, you can enlarge the photo to see the comments in closer detail. A few other things to note:
-This is just one way to write a recipe and by no means an exhaustive list of the do’s and don’ts of recipe-writing. If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you!
 -Although I aim to write my recipes this way, I don’t always include all the information above. It’s something I’m working on doing a better job of in the future.
-I don’t include nutritional information on most of my recipes, unless it’s a recipe that is created specifically for health purposes (low calorie, high protein, etc.). If you’re looking to calculate nutrition information Spark Recipes has a great tool online that I use frequently.
-Prep times can vary greatly. It really just depends on the cook and how quickly they move in the kitchen. Most of the time, I find it takes me longer than the suggested prep time listed in a magazine. 
Happy Cooking!

No Fat Talk Tuesday: Iradis’s Story

March 27, 2012

Today’s No Fat Talk Tuesday post comes to us from Iradis. She wrote her No Fat Talk story and sent it my way over a month ago, and I’ve been excited to post it ever since. A frequent commenter on Espresso and Cream, I feel as if I know Iradis personally. Her story about learning how to love and appreciate her body is something I think we can all relate to. -Madison

Honestly, it has taken me a long time to find the right words to tell my story. Everyone has a story and my struggle with weight and health is no more important than your story. Today, my hope is that for anyone else struggling with their self esteem, know that you are already beautiful! To borrow a phrase from one of my favorite songs by Jonny Diaz, ”You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do, so there could never be a more beautiful you”

Nine years ago, I thought I was healthy. Anyone from the outside looking in would see that I ate three solid meals a day and did plenty of exercise. You know the old phrase “gaining the Freshman 15”? Well, that applied to me but in the reverse. In fact, if anything, I lost weight between high school and my college years, and not in a healthy way.

Let’s back up a bit to my early years in high school, when I probably weighed around 130 pounds. I stayed busy and fit by running every day, playing competitive softball and being a ballerina. Even with all the physical activity, I somehow came to the conclusion that I was ‘fat’ and needed to be thinner like other ballerinas.

Fast forward to college. Instead of buying junk food, I religiously bought Slim Fast, smoothies, a few veggies to grill and chicken and fish. One more important fact: I never ate anything sweet. Ever. Not even fresh fruit! After months, I no longer felt fat and all my hard work seemed to be paying off. What I didn’t realize what just how unhealthy I had become. My diet was not balanced (Slim Fast every day for breakfast?!) and pretty soon, it became evident that I couldn’t keep eating this way long term.

After four years of eating this way, my body and mind decided it had enough. After I moved back home to finish college, I learned how to eat the right way. Thank God for my parents, who showed me with love that it was okay to eat occasional sweets and fruit(!) and truly eat healthy.

Even though in the past few years I’ve slowly put on 10-15 pounds, I know I’m healthier than ever. Don’t get me wrong, it’s easy to feel discouraged and let those negative ‘fat’ thoughts creep in. The most important thing is to know that now I’m healthier. With confidence I can say I’ve grown to love my body and accept that numbers on a scale aren’t as important as being healthy in mind, body and soul.

Thank you, Iradis, for sharing your story! If you’re interested in being a guest poster on No Fat Talk Tuesday, e-mail me ( for more information!

Garlic Feta Burgers

March 26, 2012
Hey, everyone! How was your weekend? We had a wonderful weekend over here. My mom arrived on Friday night and stayed until Sunday after church. And she brought Nutmeg with her, too! I can’t tell you how good it feels to be reunited with our little fur baby after two weeks without her. 
The weather in Iowa was absolutely unreal this weekend, too, so we made the most out of it by spending a lot of time outside. Tennis was played, more than one long walk was taken and we grilled out, too! Since we don’t have a deck or much outdoor space in our apartment, Joe and I are stuck grilling on our little baby grill (pictured below), which I realize is incredibly lame. But I’m shocked at how well it works. I think it will have to do until we have a larger place to store a grill. 
I made these Garlic Feta Burgers for my mom and Joe on Saturday night and served myself a veggie burger. And we paired it with a fresh salad and steamed green beans. If the calendar didn’t say it was March, I could swear that summer is already here. 
Back to the burgers…
Out of the pound of ground beef that I had on hand, I made three burgers. I seasoned the meat with Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper, then formed it into six small patties. For the filling, I combined chopped garlic, feta cheese and oregano for a little Mediterranean flair. Then the filling was placed in the center of three of the patties and topped with the remaining patties for a salty, juicy filling. Just be sure to seal the edges of the patties completely in order to be sure the cheese doesn’t come in contact with the grill.
The burgers were a huge hit with my mom and Joe, and I enjoyed my veggie burger, too. 😉 Now let’s bring on summer!
Garlic Feta Burgers
*1 lb. ground beef
*1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
*2 ounces crumbled feta cheese 
*1 clove garlic, minced 
*1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
*3 hamburger buns
*In a bowl, combine the beef, Worcestershire sauce, salt and ground black pepper. Stir until well combined. Form the meat mixture into six thin patties, about 4- to 5-inches in diameter.
*In a small bowl, combine the feta, garlic and oregano. Place some of the feta mixture into the center of three of the patties. Top each of the feta-topped patties with the remaining patties. Seal the edges tightly with your fingertips to completely cover the cheese. Form the patties into well-formed circles.
*Preheat grill to medium high heat. Grill the burgers for eight to ten minutes, flipping once halfway through cooking. 
*Transfer cooked burgers to buns. Serve immediately.
Happy Cooking!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches

March 23, 2012

You know me. I’m all about simple weeknight meals. In fact, I think everyone I talk to is looking for more easy meals that don’t require a bunch of ingredients or a lot of time. This is especially true when it comes to meat. Being a vegetarian, most of my meals are quick to prepare. Roasted veggies, sauteed tofu, loaded up salads – they’re all quick and easy. So it’s probably no surprise that I have less patience when cooking meat for the hubs on weeknights.

Before we got married, I had never cooked with a slow cooker. After seven months of being married, I’m not sure I could give mine up. Singe Joe is happy to eat meals that are much heartier than my preferred fare, the slow cooker is my savior. It cooks meat to absolute tenderness and does everything for me while I am away at work.

This ‘pulled pork’ (I’m using the term loosely for the barbecue purists out there) was a big hit tonight. Yes, it uses bottled barbecue sauce, ketchup and a tenderized pork loin. But it’s also practically ready to eat the minute you walk in the door. All you have to do is mix together the ingredients for the sauce and shred the pork. It’s really that easy.

And what did I have for dinner you might ask? Greek yogurt, Kashi Go Lean Crunch cereal, peanut butter and mixed berries, of course. 🙂

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches
*1 Hormel Always Tender Pork Loin (27 ounces)
*1 cup beef broth
*3 cups water
*Salt and black pepper
*1 cup bottled barbecue sauce
*1/2 cup ketchup
*1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
*1 tablespoon brown sugar
*Hamburger buns or kaiser rolls

*In a 6- to 8-quart slow cooker, combine the pork loin, broth and water. Set the slow cooker on low. Cover and cook for 8 to 10 hours, until the loin shreds easily when pierced easily with a fork.
*Remove the loin from the slow cooker. Discard the liquid. Place the loin in a large bowl and shred with two forks. Add in the barbecue sauce, ketchup, white wine vinegar and brown sugar and stir into the meat until evenly combined. Transfer shredded pork to buns and serve immediately. Store unused pork in an airtight container in the fridge. Makes 4 to 6 servings

Happy Cooking!