Thursday, February 26, 2009

Back to the grind.....

Hi everyone! Did you think I was going to talk about pepper mills? Wrong!!

I am back from a week in sunny Florida and it was wonderful, warm and relaxing. The husband and I visited some friends who live in a lovely community near Jupiter. We walked, rode bikes, took a yoga class, ate healthy meals, drank wine and in general enjoyed life. We climbed the Jupiter lighthouse which has some great history attached to it and did a little shopping. It was much needed and now we feel invigorated. Too bad we had to come back to Central New York where snow is still on the ground. But spring is not too far away.

I have some nice new recipes to try and then post. I can't wait to try them out. There are some yummy appetizers and a couple of crock-pot recipes that sound so good that I will be trying them out shortly so that I can share them with you.

It is good to be back and I hope to "visit" you all soon!

Monday, February 16, 2009

I found this on RecipeZaar and it is really good. I mixed the tortellini with the sauce and threaded on picks. I put one tortellini with an olive or a grape tomato or a square of smoked mozzarella on picks and arranged on a platter. These are really good, especially if you like garlic.

Since we grow our own garlic, we usually have a good supply once it comes in. I like to find recipes that make good use of our fragrant crop and this is a good one. Just make sure everyone who is at your party likes garlic as well!!

I haven't tried it yet, but I think if you add a little mayo to this, it would make a nice pasta salad by adding some sundried tomatoes, olives and marinated artichokes.

I may not be around for a few days
as we are going to Florida to visit friends. Nice warm weather...can't wait!
Tortellini With Roasted Garlic Sauce
1½ hours 10 min prep SERVES 12
1 large bulb of garlic
1 (9 ounce) package fresh tortellini
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup nonfat sour cream (I used light, rather than nonfat)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Frank's red hot sauce
Preheat oven to 350°F Cut 1/2-inch off top of garlic and remove papery outer skin, leaving cloves intact. Wrap garlic in foil and bake 1 hour, or until tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Cook tortellini according to package directions (do NOT overcook, best to undercook a bit). Rinse under cold water, drain well on paper towels. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat(medium-high worked better for me). Add tortellini in batches to oil, cook and stir 3-5 minutes or until lightly golden. Add more oil if necessary. Drain on paper towels. Separate cooled garlic into cloves; pinch each clove so roasted flesh comes out and place in blender or food processor. Add mayonnaise, sour cream, Parmesan cheese and hot sauce. Cover and process until pureed and very smooth. Spoon into small saucepan; cook and stir over low heat until hot and bubbly. Transfer to small serving bowl. To serve, arrange tortellini on serving platter. Dip into Roasted Garlic Sauce.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chocolate Surprise Cake

I had to make a cake today to bring to a friend who has just lost a relative. I went to the pantry to see what I had and came up with a few items that fit the recipe for Chocolate Surprise Cake.
This is a nice easy cake that requires very little time. When you are pressed for time, it is always good to have a few standby recipes like this. It also makes a nice dessert for company.

And you can't go wrong with chocolate.

12-oz cream cheese-softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pkg. chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips (I used regular chocolate chips)
Confectioners' sugar
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan. In a small mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla. Beat until blended and set aside. Prepare the cake as label directs. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Evenly cover with the cream cheese mixture. Bake until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45-55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 25 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely. Dust with confectioner's sugar.

This is very nice served with whipped cream and raspberries.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Stop in to see Jen for her cute giveaway!!

Manly Steaks and Steak Sauce!

It's a rare man who can pass up a good steak! We try to not each much red meat, but every now and then the husband wishes for steak. As for me, once in awhile at a function I get to have a filet mignon. And THAT, my friends, is what my steak of choice would be. OK, so I'm not a cheap date!! But the times I eat that during the year can be counted on one hand.

Several months ago I saw on the Food Network show, Down Home with the Neelys, a nice recipe for Grilled New York Stip Steak with Beer and Molasses Steak Sauce. While the steak sauce makes a lot, it keeps well for a couple of weeks in the fridge. Slather it on some ribs or add it to a pot roast in the slow cooker. However you use it, though, will make your taste buds happy. This is positively the best steak sauce I have ever made. So when that guy starts asking for a steak, whip up a batch of this and watch him smile!
Grilled New York Strip Steak with Beer and Molasses Steak Sauce
For sauce:
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup lager-style beer
1 Tbsp yellow mustard
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp paprika
3 1 lb. each and 1/2-in. thick prime aged New York Strip Steaks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
For the sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes, until softened. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, then simmer until sauce is reduced to 2 cups, about 30 minutes.
Preheat grill pan or grill. Season steak with salt and pepper and rub with oil. Grill steak about 3 minutes per side for medium rare. Let rest 10 minutes and serve with sauce on the side.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blue Cheese Grape "Truffles"

My family loves blue cheese. One of our favorite recipes is homemade "hats" (wonderful doughy pasta from a Pasta Shop in our city) with broccoli, garlic and olive oil and some blue cheese added in to the hot pasta. It takes on a wonderful creamy texture. Another popular way to have blue cheese here is to have it crumbled on your salad with Italian dressing over it.
When I found this recipe in a magazine several years ago, it intrigued me and I knew I had to try it. I have also seen this in Tyler Florence's cookbook. These make nice little bites for your cocktail hour. Grapes were on sale this week for 99 cents a pound and very sweet. The sweetness is a nice contrast to the duskiness of the blue cheese and the pistachios add a nice crunchy outer coating. We are having our friends over for cocktails this Saturday before we go out for our Valentine's Day dinner. I am going to make some of these to start off the evening. It will be just enough!

Pistachio-Crusted Blue Cheese Grape "Truffles"
By Bill Brodsky, executive chef, Twenty-Eight Atlantic at the Wequassett Inn, Cape Cod
Makes one dozen truffles
2 Tablespoons Great Hill Blue Cheese (or other quality blue)
3 Tablespoons water
2 oz heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup pistachios, finely chopped
12 red seedless grapes, washed and dried
1. Using a processor with a sharp blade, pulse the pistachios until they are finely chopped. (Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl after every pulse or the pistachios will be turned into paste). They can be chopped by hand if a processor is not available.
2. Once chopped, transfer the pistachios to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and dry in a 200-degree oven for one to one and a half hours. Stir the pistachios every ten minutes. If your oven has convection, turning the fan on high will speed up the drying process. When the pistachios are dry, remove them from the oven and let them cool to room temperature before transferring into a shallow bowl or pie pan.
3. Purée the blue cheese with the water in a blender till smooth. Add the cream and purée approximately five to ten seconds till the mixture starts to slightly thicken. (If the mixture from the blender gets too thick, remove it and add a little more water to thin it down.)
4. Place the mixture from the blender into a bowl and add the salt and pepper. Reserve the mixture in a refrigerator for ten minutes prior to use.
5. To assemble: Dip a grape into the blue cheese mixture and shake off an excess cheese. Roll the blue cheese coated grape in the chopped pistachios and place on a plate. You can use a fork to facilitate the dipping and rolling of the grapes. When all the grapes are crusted with the pistachios, chill the entire plate for at least ten minutes or until needed. Serve.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Remember Ovaltine???

I remember as a little girl, my favorite drink was milk with Ovaltine. To this day I still love anything malted...especially in the summer...with ice cream. Oh, I almost lost myself in thought there for a moment. One of the husband's favorites is malted milk balls. So when I saw this recipe, I had to give it a whirl. They are so good and fun. The kids love them because they have candy on top. And for the moms out there who need to bring cupcakes to school, I think these would be a good choice. Or they might be fun for a bake sale and a little different than the usual chocolate chip cookies or brownies. So pour yourself a glass of milk and break out the Ovaltine, but have it the grown-up way... in a cupcake!!
Chocolate Malt Cupcakes
1- 2/3 cups flour
2/3 cup malted milk powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted, cooled
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup malted milk powder
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melt, cool
12 chocolate covered malted milk balls (garnish.)
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Lightly butter 12 muffin cups.

To prepare cupcakes: In a large bowl, stir together flour, malted milk powder, sugars, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, stir together milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla until blended.
Make a well in center of flour mixture; add milk mixture and stir just to combine.
Stir in chips.
Spoon batter into muffin cups; bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cake tester inserted into center of one cupcake comes out clean.
Remove muffin tin to wire rack to cool.
Cool for 5 minutes before removing cupcakes from cups; finish cooling on rack.

To prepare topping:
In chilled bowl and with chilled beaters, beat cream and malted milk powder until stiff peaks form.
Beat in melted chocolate.
Chill until firm enough to spread. Divide topping among cupcakes and spread to coat tops evenly. Garnish each with a malted milk ball if desired.
Makes 12.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Thinking Pink for Valentine's Day

After eating all of the Christmas treats, we have been trying to be better at staying away from so many sweets. Now all of you our there know how hard that is when you drool over blog after blog of luscious looking desserts and run out to buy ingredients to whip up a batch of those cookies or brownies. C'mon you know you do it! I've been guilty of that myself!

But here is a nice little treat that won't cost many calories and look cute for your Valentine sweetie. I plan to make these for my office on Friday to give them a healthier treat. I may even keep a few at home for my sweet husband! Happy Baking!

1 box Betty Crocker white cake mix
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup water
3 egg whites
1-1/2 cups fat free strawberry yogurt
3/4 cup Lite Cool Whip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake tins with paper wrappers. Remove Cool Whip from freezer to let it thaw.

Mix together the cake mix, 3/4 cup of the yogurt, the applesauce, the water and the egg whites. Beat on medium speed until smooth.

Pour into 24 prepared cupcake tins lined with papper wrappers. Each tin should be about 3/4 full.

Bake for 20-26 minutes ir until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and let cool.

Mix together the Cool Whip and the remaining 3/4 cup of strawberry yogurt. Spread on the cooled cupcakes.

Serve with sliced strawberries on top if desired.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pizza Twists!

I saw on Shelby's The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch blog, that she made Buffalo Chicken Pizza last night. Gone are the days when pizza was just tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese with maybe some pepperoni or sausage on top. Now we see all kinds of toppings and pizzas are like a whole meal on a bread round! All you have to have is some imagination!

This week I was lucky enough to find all kinds of fruit on sale and Shelby's pizza post made me think that I should take some of it and make one of my favorites...fruit pizza! This is a dessert pizza that everyone seems to like and it will make a nice after dinner sweet for the husband.

This week I found blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and kiwis on sale. So along with some bananas, that is what will top the fruit pizza. So here we go...


1/2 package of refrigerated sugar cookie dough
8 oz. of whipped light cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. water
1/4 cup apricot preserves
Fruit of your choice: sliced bananas, sliced strawberries, sliced kiwi, seedless grapes cut in half, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, melon balls cut in half, etc.

CRUST: Spread the 1/2 pkg. of sugar cookie dough over a 14-in round pizza pan. If you want to make a large pizza, spread the entire dough over a rectangle pan and double the amount of the cream cheese and other ingredients. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 12 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool in the pan.

TOPPING: Blend the cream cheese with the sugar and vanilla until completely mixed. Spread in a thin layer over the cooled crust.

FRUIT LAYER: Creatively arrange the fruit in circles while slightly overlapping the slices around the crust.

GLAZE: Bring the water and preserves to a boil, stirring constantly. Lightly brush this glaze in top of the fruit to preserve the color. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

The round pan will make about 10 servings.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Graham Crackers and Milk

This is always a treat for our grandsons and a favorite nighttime snack for the husband. But these put a twist on just a plain old graham cracker. Not only that, I tried it with low fat ingredients and it came out great! So pour yourself a nice tall, cold glass of milk and sit down with a couple of these. YUM-YUM!
Graham Cracker Brownies
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 small can sweetened condensed milk
6 oz. chocolate chips
(Double ingredients for a 13x9 Pan)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a 9x9-in. baking pan
In large bowl, combine all three ingredients. Stir well. Mixture will be quite thick so a wooden spoon works best for blending.
Use a strong rubber spatula (spoonula works well) to pour mixture into prepared pan. Spray the bottom of a spatula with PAM and use it to flatten the mixture evenly in the pan.
Bake for 25 minutes. Allow brownies to cool completely before cutting into squares.

Note: If you have no graham cracker crumbs, or cannot find them in the store, here is something you can easily do. Put one package of regular graham crackers (not the cinnamon variety) into a sturdy zippered plastic bag. Press the air out of the bag and seal it tightly. Crush the crackers with a rolling pin. Voila! You now have graham cracker crumbs.

Free Candy!!!

Gotta love candy at
Enter now!!!!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Getting your Vitamin C!

Well so far, I have escaped the wicked colds everyone has had lately. We eat lots of oranges in the winter. But there are more fun ways to get that "C" fix! Serve it up in a cake! It is wicked cold here and there is nothing better than thinking of warm summer days, biting into a nice succulent peach or popping some fresh cherries. And luckily for me, a local grocer has fresh strawberries for $1.97 a quart! WOW!
I came across a cake I made last year from Cooking Light (June 2008). While it calls for "summer fruit", you can use frozen fruit in this and it is equally delicious. Rather than serving it chilled, I added a bit of water to the frozen fruit and the rest of the ingredients and warmed it to serve over the cake with fresh whipped cream. Luscious! This cake serves 16 so it is nice for a crowd.
Orange-Buttermilk Cake with Summer Fruit
1 1/2 cups cherries, pitted and halved
1 cup sliced peaches
1 cup sliced nectarines
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
Cooking spray
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided (about 13 1/2 ounces)
4 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 cup fat-free buttermilk
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. To prepare fruit, combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl; toss gently. Cover and chill.
3. To prepare cake, coat a 12-cup tube pan with cooking spray, and dust with 2 tablespoons flour.
4. Lightly spoon remaining 3 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, poppy seeds, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Place 1 3/4 cups sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine buttermilk and 1/4 cup juice. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 43 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Serve with fruit mixture.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Don't Be Blue...Berry Cake!

I had the good fortune of finding blueberries on sale this week at our local Price Chopper. They were buy 1 get 2 free! How could I pass that up? So now I have 6 packages. Well, some will go on cereal, but the rest is going into a cake. I found this recipe last year on and it is a tasty cake and a nice take-a-long to a party where you have been elected to bring the dessert!

Server with some nice whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on the side. And if you have the blues? Well, they will be gone for sure, once you taste this cake!

1 20-oz can crushed pineapple
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 lb. butter

Dump pineapple into ungreased cake pan. Dump blueberries on top. Dump dry cake mix on top and spread evenly. Sprinkle pecans over top and pour melted butter over all. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Serve warm or cold.

See????Blue...being down in the dumps???? There has to be a message here somewhere.....

Monday, February 2, 2009

Orange Cake

Does anyone remember the 7-Up cakes of the 50s? They were very popular and I even have seen recipes using other soda flavors. This cake recipe is something I saw on the message board at Curves a couple of years ago.
With citrus very popular in the winter, this cake that will make you think of the sunny south! And it is pretty healthy!

My mom -in-law is in a skilled nursing facility. She attends a day program and many of the residents are diabetic. When her birthday comes around, I make this cake to take in so she can have a little birthday party with her friends and some of the staff. It is not just easy to put together, but it satisfies some of the dietary restrictions many of the people have.

And, it is so good that it makes a nice dessert for any occasion. I like this in the summer too as it is nice and cool for dessert on the deck!
1 box orange cake mix - use sugar free if desired
1 10-oz. Diet 7-Up
2 pkgs. sugar free orange jello
1 box sugar free instant vanilla pudding
1 16-oz container of Lite Cool Whip, thawed
1 small can mandarin oranges

Preheat the oven to whatever the box calls for. Spray 9 x 13-in cake pan with PAM. Mix the cake mix, Diet 7-Up, 1 package orange jello, and instant pudding together. Spread in baking dish. Bake according to cake box directions. When cake is done, cool in pan on wire rack. While cake is cooling, mix 1 pkg. orange jello with Cool Whip. When cake has cooled completely, frost with orange Cool Whip and decorate with mandarin oranges. Strawberries look nice on this as well. Chill before serving.

Want to try some other cake flavor variations? Let your imagination run! Here are some suggestions:
~Chocolate cake mix and Diet Coke or diet Cherry Coke~
~Vanilla cake mix and diet orange~
~Spice cake and diet root beer~
~Vanilla cake mix and diet root beer~
~Pineapple cake and diet 7 Up ~