Friday, August 28, 2009

Please Sir, May I have S'More?

Labor Day is around the corner and the kids are going back to school (although in some areas they have already started). Here in the Northeast, as summer, or what we had of it, gears down, families are taking their last camping trips. We used to do a lot of camping and there was nothing like sitting around the roaring campfire, relaxing, and making S'mores. I had my first S'more as a Girl Scout...way too many years ago to count! I am amazed how the popularity of this wonderfully warm, melt-y, chocolate-y, gooey treat has managed to stick around and become even more popular. There are specially sized graham crackers now, grocery stores have whole displays packed with graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate bars that act as the siren of sweetness.... drawing us in to buy some....make some....go ahead take a bite....mmmm...melted chocolate dripping down your arm...gooey marshmallows sticking to your lips. There is even S'mores cereal for those who are so inclined to like this sort of thing! Well, my camping days are over, and I don't buy the sugary cereals. But I found an interesting recipe in the Sept 25, 2009 issue of All You, that will satisfy those, including myself, who still love S'mores, want to make them at home, but really don't want to go through the trouble of melting marshmallows over a gas jet on the stove ( extinguisher handy?). This can be a great weeknight dessert or a special after-school treat. And, this particular recipe has you making your own chocolate pudding and adding graham crackers and marshmallows. Well, what can be better? But in the interest of time, grab the box of My-T-Fine or Jello-O cooked pudding mix and, yes, make your own!!!. Plus you can shave a ton of calories out of this by using sugar free pudding mix, 2 % milk and low-fat graham crackers. I am posting the original recipe, but I plan on using the shortcuts and the healthier version. I know my family, especially the grandkids will love this!

S'Mores Pudding
3/4 cup sugar
6 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 cups whole milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 whole graham crackers, broken into small pieces
30 miniature marshmallows
In a medium bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt. Whisk in 1/2 cup milk and egg yolks until blended and smooth.

Pour remaining milk into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Whisking vigorously and constantly, pour about 2 cups hot milk into sugar mixture until blended. Pour mixture back into saucepan with remaining milk, whisking well.
Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and thickened about 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and 1/2 chocolate. Stir until chocolate has melted.
Divide pudding among 1-cup ramekins or custard cups.
Place remaining chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for about 30 seconds, stirring every 10 seconds, until melted.
Place graham crackers in a ziplock bag; seal bag. Use a rolling pin to break up the graham crackers into small pieces.
Sprinkle top of each pudding with graham crackers and 5 miniature marshmallows. Drizzle with melted chocolate and serve warm.
This serves 6, so if you want to have the same amount, only using the boxed cooked pudding, use 2 boxes.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Easy Roasted Red Pepper-Feta Dip with Garlic "Chips"

We love to big and small ways. Some parties beg for exquisite dishes from drinks and hors d'oeurves right on down to dessert. Most of the time, however, it is a family get together or just friends hanging out for an evening or before going out to dinner. For those times, we want it super easy.
Here is a very easy and tasty dipping chip. When you buy a package of pitas, you can make sandwiches OR some of these for snacking or entertaining.
2 pita breads
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1. Heat oven to 350ยบ F.

2. Using a small knife or kitchen scissors, cut along circumference of each pita bread to remove folded edge.
3. Combine oil and garlic in a bowl.
4. Brush each pita round with the oil and garlic mixture.
5. Stack the rounds and then cut into 8 wedges.
6. Arrange wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until chips are golden brown.Makes 32 chips, 8 chips per serving.

Need something to serve with this?
1 12-oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and coarsely chopped
1 clove of garlic
1/8 cup olive oil
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Puree 1st 4 ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover and chill 2 hours...serve!

Now sit back and enjoy your company!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Trail Mix Muffins and Homemade Trail Mix

This recipe came in my Cooking Pleasures magazine (Aug/Sept issue) and I thought these would be a good treat for after school. When I made them, I knew for sure that it was a winner. Going camping? Take these along for snacking after a hike or make them with trail mix that doesn't include chocolate (add additional trail mix) and bring them along. My next test is to make these without the butter and substitute low fat Greek yogurt. I always like to try the original recipe first before I start to make changes to see where I can adjust. But I loved the crunch in the moist muffin and that little bit of chocolate was a nice treat. I would say that you could also substitute carob chips. These have serious possibilities to make healthier and even gluten free.
Banana Trail Mix Muffins
1 -3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar 2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 large)
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 -1/2 cups trail mix

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Line 14 muffin cups with paper liners.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in large bowl.
Combine bananas, butter and eggs in medium bowl.
Beat into dry ingredients at medium speed until combined.
Stir in trail mix until well blended. Spoon into muffin cups.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

Homemade Trail Mix
Tasty Trail Mix Filling and sweet -- try this good-for-you treat!

Pick one ingredient from each list.

DRIED FRUIT (1 cup chopped)
Dried pineapple
Dried apple rings
Pitted prunes
Dried peaches
Dried apricots
Mixed dried fruit
Dried banana chips

CEREAL (1 cup)

Wheat Chex
Rice Chex
Corn Chex
Shredded wheat
KixNUTS & SEEDS (1/2 cup)
Sunflower seeds
Mixed nuts
Sunflower seeds

OPTIONALS (1/2 cup)
Toasted soybeans
Chocolate Chips
M & M candies
Peanut Butter chips
Butterscotch chips


Mix well and store in an airtight container. Serving size: 1/4 cup

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It's back to school time and that also means back to the regular schedule of lunches and snacks for the kids. Having grandchildren, I try to get them to try different things. The 2-year old LOVES everything. The 6-year old, and I know I have told you this before, is in love with bread and butter. SO how can you get the proper nutrition into a day for kids that need the energy to stay alert in class? Our daughter is very good about providing healthy snacks and making lunches that the kids will eat. But mac and cheese is not always on the school menu and you certainly can't send it with the kids! So whenever I see something unique, I try to share it with her so she can try it out. She is creative in her own right, but sometimes things get boring so we need to kick it up. I recently saw a few ideas in a magazine that used Mission Flour Tortillas. Besides the usual burritos, enchiladas and deli turkey and lettuce roll ups that you can make with these, I felt they had some neat ideas to pass along. Plus I have included a few of my own. I think this is a good product and I use it often in place of bread. They have fewer calories and they are easy to handle.
One recipe is for a TRAIL MIX TACO. You spread the flour tortilla with 2 Tbsp peanut butter and 1 teaspoon of honey. Sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon each of granola and raisins. Put some sliced apples and bananas on top and fold over. These are packed with good stuff!

How about a PB & J BURRITO? Spread a flour tortilla with peanut butter and your favorite jelly or jam. Place a banana in the center and roll it up like a burrito. Cut it in half and it looks so cool! Or use Marshmallow Fluff instead of PB & J. Gosh remember those marshmallow fluff sandwiches with sliced bananas on Wonder white?

Our grandkids all love QUESAILLAS. The boys are purists. I take one flour tortilla and put it in a saute pan that has been sprayed with PAM. Put some cheese on top of that and cover with another tortilla. When cheese is melting, flip the quesadilla to brown the other side, remove from the pan, into triangles and serve. Our 18 month old granddaughter likes hers with some spinach leaves in with the cheese....she is more upscale!! LOL

  • Another idea is to spread some cream cheese or peanut butter on the flour tortilla and place some celery sticks on top. Roll up and you have a nice crunchy snack. This also works well with apple slices and peanut butter.

  • I like Muenster cheese and thinly sliced cucumbers with a little dilled mayo rolled up in a flour tortilla. I have also used some sprouts in this before, but with the bad rap about sprouts these days, I have cut back my usage of these. But if you have your own home grown sprouts and you know they are safe, they add a nice crunch and zing to this.

  • Go Italian! Spread some pizza sauce on the flour tortilla and add some thinly sliced pepperoni and shredded mozzarella. Roll up like a burrito and microwave for a few seconds just to warm and melt the cheese. You can also make this quesadilla style. And for fewer calories without sacrificing flavor, use turkey pepperoni and park skim mozzarella.

  • Make a tuna salad burrito. Place a nice dark green leaf of lettuce on the flour tortilla and spread with tuna salad...roll up and eat!

  • Once in awhile we also like filling a flour tortilla with scrambled eggs and salsa for an eye-opener in the morning. You can also add a sausage link to the center and rollup burrito style. These are especially nice on a buffet or if you have to feed a crowd.

So my "Mission" here is finished. I hope you will try some of these out on your kids and yourself and enjoy a break from the usual sandwich routine.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Who can resist thick, creamy, decadent cheesecake? This is a low-fat version in the single serving size. Oh yeah...that's what I'm talking about...treating yourself without lots of guilt! And you can change this up a bit if you want. Add a teaspoon of cocoa for some chocolate cheesecakes! The recipe calls for cherry filling on top. I'm not a fan of that as for the sweetness which seems excessive to me. But put a couple of fresh blueberries or raspberries on top of each one! Or drizzle some low fat caramel sauce on top of each one and sprinkle with a few toffee chips! Whatever your pleasure these are a little bite of heaven!
Mini Cheesecakes

12 low-fat vanilla wafers
3 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
12 oz. fat-free cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
cherry pie filling
DIRECTIONS1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
Line muffin tins with 12 foil cupcake papers.
1. Place a vanilla wafer in the bottom of each cupcake paper.
2. In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and fat-free cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla and mix well. Add eggs and beat until smooth.
3. Pour cheesecake mixture into muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until centers are almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
4. Decorate cheesecake tops with cherry pie filling.
Makes 12 cheesecakes/servings.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cool Summer Desserts

Summer has finally arrived in Central NY. We are sweltering here...not that I should be complaining after all the rain we've had! But when it is like this, it's hard to get in the mood to cook. So I look to those trusty fast and easy recipes that I have posted for a dinner choice and that leaves me also thinking about dessert. The husband has a sweet tooth so there usually has to be SOMETHING. Since we have beautiful sweet peaches in the house, tonight it is caramel peach parfait. To make it special, I am serving these in long stemmed red wine goblet style wine glasses.
First chop up some juicy peaches and mix in a little ground cinnamon. Now start layering in the glass:Chopped peaches, vanilla ice cream a little caramel topping, peaches, ice cream, a little caramel topping and then sprinkle with chopped walnuts. I love the Slow Churned ice cream to keep the calories down and I am using the Low Fat caramel topping. Bring on the spoons! Here are some more "cool" dessert ideas:
Mix equal parts softened cream cheese with marshmallow fluff. Add some vanilla extract, mix until smooth and use it as a dip for cherries, strawberries....whatever! (Kids LOVE this!)

Mix some Cool Whip into ready-to-eat chocolate pudding or instant pudding you have prepared. Toast (in the toaster oven so you don't heat the whole kitchen!) or grill some Sara Lee poundcake slices. Spoon the pudding mixture over the poundcake, top with fresh raspberries and dust with a little confectioner's sugar.

Before you start preparing your dinner, mix chunks of seedless watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew with some chopped crystallized ginger, sugar and lime juice. If you have it, toss in some chopped fresh mint. Place in the fridge to keep cold. When supper is over and you are ready for dessert, spoon the mix into some pretty dessert glasses. Pipe a rosette of whipped cream on top and garnish with a sprig of mint.

I hope you are having glorious weather wherever you are and remember that even in the summer, dessert can still be on the menu and it doesn't have to come in a box. It can still be healthy and homemade.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I am always on the lookout for healthy and fast lunches. When I saw this, I thought it would be great for those on the run and as a bonus it is filled with all things good. Lately I have been seeing more and more about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. In our home we eat a lot of legumes, veggies, fish and olive oil. This type if diet is not a new thing for us and we are not fast food eaters. But, as much as I like salads, well, the same salad gets boring after awhile, so I like to try new combinations. The same goes for a sandwich. I am a big fan of wraps, and this recipe caught my eye. I plan on making this for lunch this week for the husband and myself. MMMM....I can't wait. I might even try it with the hot red pepper hummus too.

Hummus Wraps

1 Bestlife Flatout Bread Multi-Grain W/ Flax
1/4 cup Athenos Reduced Fat Feta Cheese w Basil/Tomato
1/4 cup onions, raw, sliced
1/4 cup red peppers, raw, sliced
1/4 cup diced cucumber
2 leaves of romaine lettuce
4 T Atheno's Roasted Garlic Hummus
Makes 1 Greek hummus wrap
Spread 4 T of hummus on the bread.
Sprinkle a 1/4 cup of feta on top of the hummus.
Add all of the veggies. Roll the bread in a burrito style and enjoy!

How much easier can that get? Chop your veggies the night before and put into some zip loc bags or small containers so when you go to make these your prep work has all been done!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Peanut Butter and Butterscotch Cookies and a Movie

First let me start off by saying that my girlfriend's husband and mine went to a stag party last night so she and I trotted ourselves over to the movie theatre to see Julie & Julia. It was a fun movie!!! Meryl Streep was excellent as Julia and Julie, played by Amy Adams had many a meltdown in trying to accomplish what all of us home cooks try to achieve...perfection! Very entertaining...hope you get a chance to get out and see it. The down side is that you want to go home and create something fabulous. My friend and I however, went to the coffee shop and had pastries and coffee!! All that food.....

Anyway, the husband likes peanut butter and he likes butterscotch. So when I saw this recipe in the August, 2009 issue of ALL YOU magazine, I knew I had to try it out on him. All you do is make your traditional peanut butter cookies, but add butterscotch morsels to the batter. They are really good. I liked the "bite" of the crunchy peanut butter and morsels together. These are a great bake sale item (unless you have a peanut free area) or a really good after school snack with a tall glass of cold milk. And if you have kids who love to help you bake, let them do the criss-cross pattern with the fork! These are really easy and if you need to bring something to a get together in a hurry, mix up a batch of these!

Peanut Butter Cookies with Butterscotch Bits
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups chucky peanut butter (not all natural)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 11-oz. pkg. butterscotch morsels
In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt.
Beat butter and peanut butter until smooth. Gradually add sugar, beating to blend.
Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture and butterscotch morsels.
Form into a large disk and wrap in plastic. Chill 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
Use hands to form dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place balls about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Using a fork, press balls flat, the press again to form a crisscross pattern. Bake cookies until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
Cool on sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. Makes about 2 dozen.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Snickers Cheesecake

My daughter is crazy for Snickers Bars. But if you are going to tumble, tumble BIG! Mix those Snickers into a cheesecake! This is a very different cheesecake and it will serve several because it is so rich. I really like making my own cheesecakes because to buy a plain one costs so much. This way, I can experiment and try different versions and the cost is insignificant as to what you would pay at a bakery. The Snickers cheesecake is an especially nice way to dispose of Snickers bars after Halloween! It makes a cool company dessert when you drizzle your dessert plates with chocolate syrup or caramel sauce before serving.
Snickers Cheesecake
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon white sugar
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
3 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 (2.16 ounce) Snickers candy bars, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs and 1 tablespoon sugar. Press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
In a large bowl, cream the 3/4 cup of sugar and cream cheese together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Stir in chopped candy bar, and pour into baked crust.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Let cool and carefully remove the springform pans side. Makes 1 - 9 inch springform pan.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Great finds!

Happy Sunday fellow bloggers! My BIL and SIL have been visiting from Savannah since Wednesday and it has been a whirlwind. I cooked and baked...we went out for dinner one evening...and last night it was a dinner dance. The husband and his brother played in a golf tourney so my SIL and I were left to do things that women

So this is not a food post today but one where I tell you about my amazing finds at the Salvation Army store. I was walking around looking at all of the odds and ends and knick knacks and toys.

What is that thing sitting in the back of the shelf? Are my eyes deceiving? It was a PERFECT piece of Portmeirion! It is a beautiful heart shaped dish from the Botanic Garden collection with a Dog Rose (or Rosa Cantina) pattern. And I scratches, no chips, not dirty. It was $2.99. Yep....that's right. I scooped it up and into the cart I carefully deposited this treasure. Price on the internet? $50.00...YA-HOO!

My next find was a full case of very old Matchbox cars. I am going to research those and see what the value the very least, my grandsons will love them. But I paid $3.00 for the whole case.
My SIL found a GORGEOUS dress from White House/Black Market. There it was...on the rack at the Salvation Army...her perfect condition...Price...$7.00. Regular retail? $168.00 Wow! We were so lucky that day! It feels good to get a bargain these never know what you are going to find! And after that hard day of shopping we came home and celebrated with pomegranate martinis! WHAT A GREAT DAY!! (Oh...and the guys came in second in the tourney! LOL)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Chocolate and Cherries....I AM IN HEAVEN!

Have you ever had this chocolate cobbler at the Crackerbarrel Restaurant? about decadent! If you love chocolate and cherries together (think Black Forest Cake), this is awesome and so much easier than making a cake! It is rich and chocolate-y so my suggestion is to not serve this with an overly rich and heavy meal! This is also a twist on the usual cobblers like peach or apple. I like making this around Valentine's Day for my honey who loves both of these ingredients. And me, I love chocolate!! I think this is as close to the dessert at Crackerbarrel and you can enjoy it right it your own home.
Cherry Chocolate Cobbler
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cups butter
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1/4 cups milk
1 egg
1 21-oz. can cherry pie filling
1/2 cup nuts, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter; cut with pastry blender until crumbs are the size of large peas.
Melt chocolate morsels over hot, not boiling water. Remove from heat and cool slightly at room temperature about 5 minutes.
Add milk and egg to melted chocolate and mix well. (It helps to temper first.)
Blend chocolate into flour mixture.
Spread cherry pie filling in bottom of 2-quart casserole. Drop chocolate batter randomly over cherries. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Serve warm with fresh whipped cream.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Blueberry Banana Bread

I don't really remember where I found this other than it says Adapted from Joy of Cooking. I had some bananas that were on the way out and didn't want to throw them out. Plus there are scads of blueberries in my fridge. So I pulled this out and tried it. What I liked was that it was a lighter, less dense bread and bursting with fruit. It rose beautifully and the crumb topping is a nice addition. I brought some in for my baking buddy at work and she gave it a High 5. She makes a very good zucchini blueberry bread and proclaimed this as better. WOW! I have had her bread and it is super good too! With the height of berry picking going on in upstate NY now, this is a great recipe to use for a breakfast or snacking bread.
Blueberry Banana Bread
1 cup white flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
5 1/3 Tbsp butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 mashed very ripe bananas (2 if they are big)
1 pint washed blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan.
If you want to make the crumbly topping, mix together approximately 1/4 cup oats, 1/4 cup brown sugar and enough butter to make it stick together.
Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
In a separate large bowl, beat butter and sugar together for 2-3 minutes. Beat in the flour mixture into the butter-sugar mixture until blended. Gradually beat in the eggs, then fold in the bananas and blueberries. Pour into a loaf pan.
Top with crumbly topping if you want. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let pan cool in a rack for about 10 minutes before taking bread out of the pan. (I left mine for about 20 minutes because it seemed very fragile. Cooling it longer before taking it out of the pan seemed to work better.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mini Spicy Cheese Muffins

The next time I make chili, I am going to try a batch of these muffins because they sound so good. It has a some of the ingredients that I love to use these days...buttermilk, corn meal... and jalapenos! These tiny muffins are just the right size to pop into your mouth with some chili. They would also be nice served alongside a bean and corn salad or even a green salad. The jalapeno will give these just the right amount of heat and surprise your taste buds....a fiesta in your mouth! Having a Mexican theme party? Serve these right along with the guacamole and nachos as an appetizer! I think they sound fun!
Mini-Spicy Cheese Muffins
ALL YOU, Aug 2009
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese 2 jalapeno chilis, seeded and chopped (about 1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mist 2 mini-muffin tins with cooking spray.
In a bowl, combine first 6 ingredients.
In a separate bowl, beat eggs with buttermilk and oil.
Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and stir to form a thick batter. Fold in cheese and chilis. Spoon enough batter to half-fill 24 cups in mini- muffin tins.
Bake until toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, about 15 minutes.
Cool in pans on wire racks for 5 minutes, then turn muffins out into racks to cool further.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Chicken and Vegetable Summer Rolls

It's hot, you've had a busy day and you really don't want to cook. And, you REALLY feel guilty about slapping some sandwiches on the table for supper. You want easy and this recipe is certainly that. You can make these ahead and put in the fridge for later. These also make great appetizers or present well for a nice summer luncheon when you cut them in half and place on a platter. Place them on some curly kale and your presentation will pop. So really, all you have to know is how to boil water! I find that these are a great make-ahead meal as you can pull them out and cut them in half and serve. If you feel you need more, stop at the local Chinese restaurant and pick up some wonton or egg drop soup. But alone, these have everything in them that you need...a little meal in a rice paper wrap. For the dipping sauce, I suggest that if you like a little more spice, add some crushed red pepper to taste for a bit of a zing!

Chicken and Vegetable Summer Rolls
Makes 5 servings

Dipping Sauce: ½ cup vegetable broth (I like the College Inn broth)
1 tsp minced onion
½ tsp minced garlic
½ tsp minced ginger
1 tsp lime juice
2 Tbsp smooth peanut butter (Natural style will work)
Wraps: 3 oz fine brown rice noodles
1 cup cooked chicken breast, shredded ( I use a roaster from the grocer...pick it up the night before and shred it, pop in the fridge and ready for the next day)
1 cup carrot, peeled and washed
1 cup celery, washed
1 ½ cups iceberg lettuce, thinly shaved
15 mint leaves
10 sprigs cilantro
5 rice paper wrappers (found in grocery produce section)
1. Pour 8oz boiling water over the rice noodles and allow to soak for 10 minutes. Shock in cold water, drain and refrigerate.
2. In a small saucepan, bring the vegetable broth to a simmer with the onion, garlic and ginger. Simmer for 2 minutes and remove from heat. Whisk in the lime juice and peanut butter, allow to cool, then refrigerate.
3. Sliver the carrot and celery into long, thin strips.
4. Arrange a large bowl of hot water and each of your ingredients in front of you on your work surface.
5. Dip one wrapper into the hot water for about 20 seconds until soft. Remove the wrapper and shake off the excess water. Place on a damp towel.
6. Place 1/5 of the noodles, chicken, carrot, celery and lettuce on the edge closest to you. Add 3 mint leaves and 2 sprigs of cilantro.

7. Fold the edges of the wrapper in to enclose the ends of the filling and then roll tightly to completely encase the filling. Repeat with the remaining rolls and ingredients until all 5 rolls have been assembled. Refrigerate until time to serve.
8. For serving, slice each summer roll in half and plate with approximately 1 tablespoon of the dipping sauce.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Orange Buttermilk Cake with Summer Fruit

Here is another wonderful dessert that uses the juicy stone fruits of summer and the fresh citrus flavor. This is definitely a "company" dessert as guests will be impressed. The macerated fruit is so delicious over this cake, which is something you will like if you are a fan of lemon poppy muffins or bread. Use your prettiest bundt pan for the cake. When you remove and cake has cooled, dust with some powdered sugar before cutting. Now for the fruit.........this is also a nice topping for brunchtime waffles. Set out with fresh whipped cream that is flavored with orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau. And to make it family and kid friendly, just use some orange extract in the fruit and cake. Either way, this is a lovely and delicious way to enjoy the fruits of summer. The fruit mixture can also enliven store-bought angel food cake. Serve this to your guests with a cordial of cold Ice Wine....excellent!

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

Cake: 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.
Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice cake and about 1/4 cup fruit mixture)