Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lime-Raspberry Bread

I have some limes and raspberries in the fridge waiting to be used up so today I am making this light and delicious bread. It is a fairly cool, windy day today and a good day to bake. I know that the husband won't be complaining! This is good with a cup of tea or coffee or is a nice breakfast or brunch addition. I got this recipe off of Baking Bites blog and I love it! to this is using fresh limes. It makes a big difference in the flavor. The photo is off her blog.
And it is so moist and rich. MMMM....I can already smell this baking.
Hope you all had a good Sunday!

Lime and Raspberry Bread
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 6 large limes)
1 tbsp lime zest
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 large egg, well beaten
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
2-3 tsp coarse sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Combine lime juice, lime zest, melted butter and egg in small mixing bowl and whisk vigorously to combine.
Pour into flour mixture and stir until just blended and no streaks of flour remain.
Gently stir in raspberries, then scrape batter into prepared pan.
Sprinkle with 2-3 tsp coarse sugar, if desired.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
Makes 1 loaf.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Raspberry-White Chocolate Coffee Cake

When having overnight guests, it is always a little more special to offer a pretty and tasty coffee cake in the morning. This particular recipe comes from Gracehill, which is a B & B found in the Smoky Mountains. I don't know what it is about B & Bs but they most always have such lovely offerings for breakfast. The last one I stayed in was in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The hosts were welcoming, the home beautiful and comfortable and the food.....OMG. If you are going there and want a really nice experience to go along with your stay in beautiful Niagara wine country (as well as home to the Shaw festival), this is it. The Duncan-Quinn House is just a lovely experience. They served warm fresh tea breads made with fresh berries, had an abundance of fresh fruits and fruit salads and the best French Toast I have ever had. We stayed for 2 nights and it was so relaxing. Ah, but again I digress....savoring a wonderful memory.

This coffee cake is not just a pretty face. It is really, really good. I used fresh raspberries and served it while it was still warm. I used the glaze, but sparingly so that I could maintain the integrity of the flavor of the berries. It actually goes together quickly. And you can prepare part of it the night before. Mix your dry ingredients and place in a sealed container. Add the wet ingredients the next morning and into the oven in goes. By the time your guests awake, your home will smell wonderful and this lovely cake will await! Brew some good coffee and dig in!
Raspberry (or blueberry) White Choc Coffee Cake presented by Gracehill - A Bed & Breakfast in the Heart of the Smoky Mountains
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
2 t baking powder
¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup half and half (may sub milk)
1 egg
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (a little tarter) or blueberries
½ cup white chocolate baking chips
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
¼ cup butter
Powder Sugar with enough milk to liquefy.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8 ½ inch spring form pan. Make streusel by combining three ingredients in a food processor until crumbly. Set aside. Beat flour, sugar, baking powder, butter, half and half, and egg until moistened, then one minute on medium speed. Spread half of batter in the bottom of the spring form pan. Then sprinkle on half of streusel and ¼ cup of white chocolate baking chips and raspberry or blueberries. Then layer on rest of batter and on top rest of streusel and white chocolate. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pan. Drizzle on some powder sugar glaze.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lettuce Have Lunch Sometime!

Bibb lettuce makes wonderful little cups for appetizers. This recipe actually is for appetizers. Bibb is crunchy and light and has a kind of elegance when you serve it filled with something wonderful.
But this recipe can also be used as a luncheon dish. Rather than spooning the mixture into 12 individual leaves, place 1 or 2 larger leaves on a luncheon plate. Place a scoop of the chicken mixture in the center of the plate and garnish with chopped pistachios and a sprig of fresh mint. It makes a very healthy and light lunch. It's great for a light summer meal! I am growing all my own fresh herbs this summer so I can't wait to make this with my own home grown herbs and locally grown produce.

Greek Lettuce Cups
Stir together 1/2 cup finely chopped cooked chicken breast, 1 tablespoon finely shredded carrots, 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

Gently mix in 2 tablespoons low-fat or reduced-fat plain yogurt and 2 teaspoons snipped fresh mint or basil.

Spoon the chicken mixture evenly onto 12 small Bibb lettuce leaves that you've torn from the inside of the lettuce head.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Shake It Up, Baby!

Every now and then the husband has a craving for a milkshake. If we have ice cream in the house, it is usually some sort of frozen yogurt or Edy's Slow Churned which is lower in fat content, and I whip up a shake in the blender with skim milk. Yeah...I know...not the same as a REAL milkshake. Once in a while he splurges to get a shake from McDonald's. They have that great thickness, but in my opinion....not much apologies to McDonald's. So when I received my latest issue of Food Network Magazine, Bobbie Flay's Double Chocolate Marshmallow Milkshake caught my eye. HOLY YUM! (I learned this on another blog and I love it!) Maybe I will whip one of these up for Father's Day as a treat for him....and maybe me too! The recipe makes 4 servings, but I don't know what that means in terms of size. All I know is that this sounds like chocolate heaven in a glass!

Double Chocolate Marshmallow Milkshake

Whisk 1/2 cup heavy cream (ideally extra cold), 1/4 cup marshmallow fluff and 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract until soft peaks form; set aside.

Combine 1 cup cold whole milk and 1/4 cup chocolate sauce in a blender.

Add 3 cups chocolate ice cream; blend until smooth.

Fill 4 glasses one-quarter of the way with the shake; add some marshmallow cream, then more milkshake, then cream, then milkshake.

Finish with a dollop of marshmallow cream and garnish with grated bittersweet chocolate.

I might add in a little chocolate malt powder in with the shake to give it an even different flavor. I am also thinking that this might be kind of fun for a group by making these in smaller glasses and serving them as a fun summer dessert.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rich Ricotta Cake

My mother-in-law, who resides in a nursing facility near us, turned 85 over the weekend. We brought her to our house and had a little party for her. Several relatives and her children were in attendance so that made it a bit more special, as some of them had traveled to see her. Seeing as it was going to be a beautiful day, we grilled basic foods...burgers, sausage, hot dogs. I made potato salad, romaine salad and baked beans. And we had a bunch of different olives, tomatoes, cheeses, roasted red peppers and caramelized Vidalia onions to add to the burgers. Sometimes simple is best! And there also had to be a birthday cake. I opted to make one and used a recipe that I have had for years and resurrect from time to time. It is easy and refreshing. The neat thing about this cake is that it turns itself upside down in the pan when you bake it. When you start, the cake mix is on the bottom. When you cut into the cake, the cheese part is on the bottom! After the cake cools, put it in the fridge to get it cold. I have served this a couple different ways. For Sunday, I frosted with Lite Cool Whip flavored with sugar-free instant vanilla pudding and decorated the top with sliced fresh strawberries. I have also just dusted the cooled cake with confectioners' sugar and the spooned some warm fruit over the top. What works well is to take a can of sliced peaches in their own juice and add some golden raisins. Warm through in a small saucepan and scoop over individual servings. Top with a little fresh whipped cream and sprinkle with a few toasted sliced almonds. And I have decorated the top for patriotic holidays by frosting with Cool Whip and making an American flag using blueberries and strawberries on top. You can also add a bit of food coloring to the cheese before baking and it will make a pretty presentation when you cut into it.

Serves 12-16

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1 box Yellow Cake Mix (follow directions on box)
2 lbs. part skim ricotta cheese
4 eggs
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla or almond extract

Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Spray bottom of a 9 x 13-inch cake pan and pour prepared cake batter into pan.

Beat eggs just until blended. Add powdered sugar, ricotta and flavoring. Beat until blended. (Don't overbeat or ricotta will get too thin.)

Spoon ricotta mixture over unbaked cake batter. Make sure it is spread evenly.

Bake 55-60 minutes at 350 degrees. Dust powdered sugar over the top after cake has cooled. Delicious served with warm fruit and syrup. Or, serve cold with whipped cream topping.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

More Musings on Vidalias

While on the subject of Vidalia onions, here is another great addition to a meal or to use as an appetizer.

We have all heard of or have eaten those Bloomin' Onions which are a favorite appetizer for many at Outback Steakhouse. But the fat that comes along with them...yowza! So here is a recipe that makes those lovely onions a little healthier. The sweetness of the onion shines through which is what you really want to taste. And if you really need a dipping sauce, use some low fat or fat free Ranch dressing.

Baked Vidalia Onions
4 large Vidalia onions
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Peel onions, leaving root ends intact. Cut each onion into eighths, cutting to, but not through, root ends.
Place each onion on a lightly greased 12-inch square of aluminum foil. Press butter evenly into the onions; sprinkle witih salt, pepper and cheese. Wrap onions in foil and arrange in a 13 x 9-inch pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour.
You can also make these the night before and pop them in the fridge for the next day.

Happy Memorial Day Everyone.....This weekend I am remembering my friend, Michael Mayne, who was killed in Iraq in February and also remembered on Nancy Grace's show Thursday evening.
Thanks, Mike, for your sacrifice to your country.

We have a boatload of company for the weekend so see you after the holiday!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Vidalia Onions

It used to be that the Vidalia onion could only be found in the south. I can remember several years ago a local service organization would have a fund raiser and sell bags of Vidalias that you had to pre-order. And they were never found in the stores. But as the world became acquainted with eating more "exotic" foods, "va-dale'ya" onions started to appear as a regular staple. Vidalias come from Georgia and are so juicy and sweet. And about now are at their peak. Our daughter lives in Georgia and I am so jealous that she has access to the freshest of these gems.
Did you know that in order to be called a vidalia onion it has to be grown in one of 20 counties in southeast Georgia? And they get their sweet flavor due to the low amounts of sulfur in the sandy soil in which they are grown.

I was pleased to find a nice recipe for a Vidalia Onion Tart in the May issue of Southern Living. And this is another recipe on your table in half an hour. This is YUM! It is nice for a lunch or a side.

The vidalias melt in your mouth and the crust is a nice compliment. It does not have to be perfect; it should look a bit rustic and free form.

Rustic Vidalia Onion Tart
2 Tbsp butter
4 medium size Vidalia onions, thinly sliced (about 6-1/2 cups)
1 -1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary or fresh thyme
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 pkg (15-oz) refrigerated piecrusts
Parchment paper
1 egg white, lightly beaten
3/4 cup (3 oz) shredded Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add onion and next 3 ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes or until tender.

Unroll piecrust onto a lightly floured surface. Pat or roll into a 12-inch circle. Place piecrust on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush with egg white. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese in center of crust. Spoon onion mixture over cheese, leaving a 2-1/2 inch border. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese over onion. Fold pie crust border up and over onion, pleating as you go and leaving a 4-inch wide opening in the center. Brush crust with egg white.

Bake at 425 degrees on bottom oven rack 17-19 minutes or until crust is golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Healthy, Delicious Sauces

Sofrito is very flavorful and a good compliment to mild tasting tilapia. You can also use sofrito as a dip for tortilla chips. Don't bother with the sofrito that comes in a jar. Nothing can compare to the freshness of making your own. And it is easy and inexpensive to make. You can have this dinner on the table within a half hour, served with a spinach salad drizzled with vinaigrette. We first tasted sofrito when we went on vacation to Puerto Rico. It is just one of the many lovely additions to their meals that make them tasty or spicy. So now that you bought that big bunch of cilantro and don't know what to do with it...make Mojito Sauce. This is a nice sauce that is delicious drizzled over grilled chicken and served with rice to soak up all the flavor of the sauce. It is also another sauce we tried in Puerto Rico. When we found how easy it was to prepare these sauces we were so surprised. They certainly will make it appear as if you worked for hours to create some gourmet meals!

Grilled Tilapia with Sofrito
1 medium sweet onion, peeled and quartered
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 8 pieces
1 medium tomato, quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 cup tightly packed cilantro leaves
4 8-oz. tilapia fillets
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 avocado, peeled and sliced

Prepare grill to medium-high. While grill heats, prepare sofrito. Put onion, bell pepper, tomato and garlic in bowl of food processor or blender, pulse until diced. Add olive oil, and pulse for 5 to 10 seconds, until ingredients become a chunky puree. Add salt and cilantro and pulse until blended. Transfer sofrito to a medium serving bowl and set aside.

Prepare tilapia. Brush fillets with olive oil and grill for 3 minutes in each side over direct heat, or until slightly charred and just opaque in the center. Place fillets on serving platter and sprinkle with black pepper. Top with 3 Tbsp. sofrito and serve immediately, with avocado on the side if desired.


Mojito Sauce
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small sweet onion, chopped (a Vidalia works best)
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/3 cup tightly packed cilantro leaves
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until softened slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes. In food processor or blender, pulse cilantro with vinegar and lemon, lime and orange juices until leaves are coarsely chopped. Add onion mixture, salt, sugar and pepper and pulse until smooth. Pour sauce into a small serving bowl or gravy boat. May be served slightly warm or at room temperature. Especially good over grilled chicken.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Chicken Flautas

We are still getting some cooler weather, but it is almost time to get the plants in the ground and watch them grow. It is also time for getting outside and walking more or getting in a bike ride. I have said it before, keeping summer meals simple and enjoying the good weather is most important to me because I work a full time job. My free time is precious so I want some of it to be fun time! Now with this recipe you have 2 options for the chicken breast. You need 2 cups of shredded cooked chicken breast. I prefer to boil some chicken breasts the night before and once they have cooled down, shred them. Or, if I am feeling particularly lazy, I pick up the roasted chicken from the grocery store and shred it right before I make these! My general feeling is that by making them myself, I can cut down on the fat content. Another great thing is that you can pop 4 of these right into your toaster oven so you don't heat up your whole kitchen! You can also make these up the night before, wrap them individually and refrigerate for the next day's dinner. Serve these with a colorful fruit salad. Mix up whatever fruit you like and add a couple teaspoons of frozen limeade concentrate. Keeps the fruit pretty and cold! Garnish with a couple mint leaves. Now you are ready to sit on the deck with a glass or two of fruity sangria and enjoy the outdoors.

Chicken Flautas
1 cup shredded cooked chicken breast
1 cup shredded low-fat Jack cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
4 7" soft flour tortillas
1/2 cup pico de gallo (You can purchase this in the grocery store pre-made)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat baking sheet with PAM. Place a fourth of the chicken, cheese and onion in each tortilla. Wrap as you would a burrito, tucking the ends inside as you wrap and placing them so the edge of the tortilla is face-down on the baking sheet. Bake until tortilla browns (about 10 minutes). Place flautas in plate and top with pico de gallo.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Easy Potato Pancakes with Apples

Do you love potato pancakes but hate the thought of grating potatoes? Once in a while I like to make this as a quick meal. But I have found a really nice work around on that messy grating. At Walmart, I found in the dairy case, packaged grated potatoes. Being a skeptic, I wasn't sure what they would be like, but they were surprisingly good and so easy to use. No messy grating! We like our potato pancakes with applesauce and sour cream. If I feel really ambitious, I make homemade applesauce, but usually resort to the good old Mott's Naturally Sweetened Applesauce. I found a really neat recipe that is a take on all of this and gave it a try. OH YUM! The recipes call for the apples to be cut into matchstick size, and you use this in place of applesauce. The flavor is phenomenal. When I served this, I dolloped a little low-fat cottage cheese on top and sprinkled with cinnamon. I made a couple of omelet sized pancakes. These were awesome!

Apple and Potato Hash Browns
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
1/2 cup thickly sliced sweet onion
1 pkg. fresh grated has brown potatoes
1 tsp cinnamon
In large skillet, heat 1 tsp oil over medium-high heat.
Add apple and onion and cook until soft (about 4 minutes). For this step, I made sure the onions were pretty thin and I stated cooking them first so they started to caramelize a bit.
Remove and set aside in a covered bowl and keep warm.
Add 1 Tbsp oil to skillet.
Spread potatoes in pan in an even layer and press them down lightly with a spatula.
Cook until golden brown on the bottom (about 5 minutes).
Drizzle with remaining oil and flip potatoes. Cook for about 5 more minutes.
Top potatoes with warm apple-onion mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Different Twist to Fusilli

I am back to talking about growing fresh herbs again! I found a recipe in La Cucina Italiana for Fusilli with Ricotta and Celery. The husband is a celery lover, and I have made a dish his grandmother used to make using boiled potatoes, celery and cannalini beans. It is a dish reminiscent of simpler times and was inexpensive to make. I also chop some celery into our salads because it gives extra flavor and crunch...and it is good for your bones! But I digress...back to the herbs. This particular recipe calls for fresh marjoram. It is not an often used herb, but I am going to grow some this year for something different. I can always dry it at the end of the growing season. I am going to try this over the weekend to see what it is like because it sounds like a lovely fresh recipe. I am also interested by the intermixing of the textures...the pasta, the creaminess of the ricotta and the crunchy celery. I think the husband will like this, so I will let you know next week if it is thumbs up or thumbs down! I think it will be a winner though! Mangia!

Fusillio Lunghi con Ricotta e Sedano (Long fusilli with ricotta and celery)
Coarse sea salt
12 oz. fresh ricotta cheese
1/4 cup whole milk
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
7 pale inner (white) celery stalks, leaves removed and reserved
3 Tbsp. fresh marjoram leaves plus more for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente.
Meanwhile, stir together ricotta, milk and oil in a large serving bowl.
Julienne or very thinly slice celery stalks and add to bowl. Add marjoram and celery leaves. When pasta is ready, drain and immediately add to serving bowl.
Toss ingredients together and season with salt and pepper.
Garnish with marjoram leaves, drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.
La Cucina Italiana, June 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pasta With Summer Herbs

Since I live in the Northeast, I am unable to grow my own herbs outside all year long. But once we are past the last frost, I pack a lot of herbs in pots on my deck where I can easily get to them. For our entire growing season, I try to plan meals or sides that can take full advantage of my herb garden. In the seasons other than summer, I have to purchase my fresh herbs, but there is nothing like having your own right outside your door. Now that we are getting to our growing season, I am ready to plant and anxious to harvest! Plus, I love looking at all those pots filled with fragrant plants. Here is a nice quick meatless meal that will serve 4 or even make a good side. It is low in fat and filled with freshness. It will use some of those herbs that I love so much and get us out the door to enjoy the good weather!
Pasta with Summer Herbs
1 lb. corkscrew pasta....if you like color, use the tri-color pasta
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 tsp. freshly grated lemon peel
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
Heat large covered saucepot of salted water to boiling on high. Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in bowl, combine ricotta, feta, lemon peel, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper. Reserve 1/3 cup pasta cooking water. Drain pasta and return to saucepot. Stir reserved cooking water into the ricotta mixture; toss with pasta to coat. Stir in herbs and chopped tomatoes.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bunches of Fun With Bananas of the first fruits that babies try. I have vivid pictures in my mind of each of my grandchildren eating bananas....squishing them in their little hands...having to hold the whole banana, peel and all to eat it....smushed all over their cute little faces. But bananas are sweet and kids love 'em. Then we learn to love them in banana bread

banana splits, blended in a smoothie or warmed in Bananas Foster. This is such a versatile fruit and they provide so many good vitamins, especially potassium. So what else can you do with these golden gems?

~Put a slice of banana in your s'mores
~Spread some peanut butter or vanilla frozen yogurt on a chocolate chip cookie, layer it with some banana slices and sandwich it with another cookie. Freeze it till firm.
~Make a mini parfait in a pretty glass by layering vanilla pudding, crushed vanilla wafers and sliced bananas. Top with a dollop of Cool Whip and drizzle with chocolate syrup
~Lightly toast a slice of pound cake in the toaster oven. Remove and top with bananas. Drizzle with honey and toasted sliced almonds.

All of these make good after school snacks that are healthy and delicious. And if you are feeling really ambitious, how about a really yummy banana cake? Looking for something to take to a pot luck or to work? This is it.

Banana Snack Cake with Brown-Butter Frosting
1-1/2 cups mashed fully ripe bananas (about 4 medium)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
6 Tbsp. butter (no substitutions)
3 cups confectioners' sugar
5 Tbsp. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour 13" x 9" metal baking pan.
In small bowl, mix bananas, lemon juice and vanilla.
On waxed paper, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat butter with sugars until light and creamy, scraping bowl often with rubber spatula.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
At low speed, alternately add flour mixture and banana mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat until just smooth.
Spoon batter into pan and spread evenly.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on wire rack.

Prepare Frosting: In 1-quart saucepan, heat butter on medium 6-8 minutes or until melted and dark nutty-brown in color bur not burned, stirring occasionally.
Immediately transfer butter to pie plate; refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm.
In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat butter, sugar, milk and vanilla until creamy and smooth.
Spread frosting evenly over cooled cake.
Good Housekeeping

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all of you out in blog land and especially to my own mom who taught me a few things about cooking and baking!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Glorious Carrots

So what is everyone doing for Mother's Day? My parents are coming for dinner and my brother and his wife are coming to town to help in the celebration. I am making my Pork Wellington Recipe. It is such a pretty presentation and I want to make the day special. On the side I am serving mashed carrots with Gorgonzola. This is a to die for side dish. We have friends whose son used to own a very lovely restaurant in Ithaca, NY. A bunch of us went there for dinner and he did a chef's tasting for us. This was one of the sides and I have made it ever since. It is so easy!

Gorgonzola Carrots
Cook the carrots until soft. Put them in the food processor along with some crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, unsalted butter, salt and white pepper. Process them and serve. All of this is done to taste. They are very rich, but soooo delicious. And what a fabulous way to get that beta carotene! Not exactly a diet dish!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

...and in the Tunnel of Love, he exclaimed, "Berry Me"!

I found this in Taste of Home. Nowhere does it call for low fat ingredients so I tried it, and that is how my recipe is posted. Yum! This will be a great summer dessert to serve for company. I think it would be good with any type of berry, but the strawberries were beautiful. And since there are many of us out there who are watching our calories, we don't want to feel cheated. I can assure you that you will be able to have some of this and not feel guilty.

Strawberry Tunnel Cake
1 pkg. angel food cake (or prepackaged cake from the grocer. You can find these sugar free)
1 8-oz pkg. Neufchatel cream cheese (1/3 fat cream cheese)
1 can (14 oz) non-fat sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice (use fresh lemon)
1/4 tsp. almond extract 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1 carton (12 oz) Lite Cool Whip (divided)
Prepare, bake and cool cake according to package directions.
Slice the top fourth off the cake and set aside.
To make tunnel, use a sharp knife to carefully hollow out bottom of cake, leaving a 1/2-inch shell. Tear removed cake into 1-inch cubes.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy.
Beat in milk and lemon juice until smooth.
Stir in extract. Stir in cake cubes and strawberries.
Fold in 1 cup Cool Whip.
Spoon into tunnel; replace cake top.
Spread remaining Cool Whip over top and sides of cake.
Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Yield: 12-16 servings

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Salad and Pretzels

I would like to tell you how much I love the Snyder's Buffalo Wing flavored pretzel pieces. Once I start eating them, I keep going back for a few more. Rather than eating the whole bag myself, I thought about how I could use these differently. I decided to use them as croutons for a Buffalo Chicken salad and they gave a fantastic flavor and crunch to the dish. Snyder's website describes these as "Generous chunks of our Sourdough Hard Pretzels bursting with intense flavor combinations... like the spicy flavor of hot sauce seasoned with cayenne peppers and paprika. Because if you like the red-hot taste of real, five-alarm buffalo wings, you'll love our bite-size Hot Buffalo Wing Pieces!" So, rather than spicing the chicken, I used the pretzels for the Buffalo Wing flavor. This was a huge hit and very tasty! And when you don't want the mess of chicken wings, but still want the flavor, this has some healthiness attached to it along with the flavor.
Buffalo Chicken Salad
1 head iceberg lettuce
1 cup mixed spring greens
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 tomato, seeded and diced
4 boneless chicken breast halves
Panko bread crumbs
1 egg, whisked
2 Tbsp milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Canola oil
Creamy blue cheese dressing
Snyder's Buffalo Chicken Wing flavored pretzels

Dredge chicken in flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper, then milk, then egg and then breadcrumbs. Place chicken in a saute pan that has been coated with canola oil. Saute chicken until done and remove from pan to a plate. Slice each breast horizontally into one-inch pieces. Wash and spin dry chopped iceberg lettuce and spring greens. Place in a bowl and add onion, celery and tomato. Toss together and plate onto individual serving plates. Top with pretzel pieces and 1-1/2 Tbsp creamy blue cheese dressing.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo and we are celebrating the day at work with a food day. In keeping with the Mexican theme, I am bringing Chicken Fajita Dip. This is great for a crowd as it makes a big dish. I love the lime flavored nacho chips with this recipe. But the Scoops work well too. I have a cute sombrero and I line the brim with plastic wrap and pile the chips in there. I also like to boil my chicken on the bone because it is tastier and then give it a quick saute in olive oil for extra flavor, before I chop it up. In a hurry? Buy a roasted chicken from the grocer and shred it up in this. Works just as well. I also scoop the seeds out of the tomatoes so they aren't so watery. ( Hint: Use a serrated grapefruit spoon to make this task easier.) And I add all the suggested toppings. To make this a friendly dish for the "non-spicy" lovers, put the jalapenos on only half of the dish. That way, everyone gets to enjoy this. Happy Cinco de Mayo!!!!
Chicken Fajita Dip Ingredients
16 oz cream cheese
3 oz taco seasoning
12 oz chicken breast
16 oz taco sauce
2 cups cheddar cheese
1 cup lettuce

1 cup tomatoDirections
1. Blend taco seasoning and cream cheese. Spread in 9 x 13 baking dish.
2. Chop chicken. Top cream cheese mixture with chicken and cover all with taco sauce.
3. Bake at 350 deg. for approx 20 minutes.
4. Top with cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato.
5. (May also add black olives, bell pepper, jalapenos, to toppings)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I Can't Have These Cookies in My House!

Today was a nice day to get things done around the house. While catching up on some of my blog reading, I came across The Sunday Baker's post for Chocolate Malt Cookies. Having made the chocolate malt cheesecake last week, I still have some malt powder. Having all the other ingredients, I decided to give these a try. OMG....these are dangerous. They are light and melt in your mouth. This is a definite winner in our house as the husband really liked them. Caution...not fat or sugar free. Just plain old gooey and good. Tanya hit a winner with this one. I hope you hop on over to see her and get this recipe because you will love these little gems. And mine came out looking just like hers in this picture!

Feta Tuna Pockets...Not Your Everyday Tuna Sandwich

Continuing on the Middle Eastern theme, here is another nice idea for a great lunch or light summer supper. These sandwiches are made with pita bread. Pita is lower in sugar, yet satisfies those carb cravings. To make your pocket sandwich even healthier, look for whole wheat types which will add extra flavor.
Feta Tuna Pockets
1 6 oz can tuna, drained
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped onions
2 Tbsp reduced fat feta cheese
2 oz. light salad dressing (such as Miracle Whip Light....I prefer the Hellman's Canola Mayonnaise)
3 Tbsp hummus
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 squeeze lemon (use the rest in a tall cold glass of iced tea)
6 6-in perforated pita pockets

In a large bowl, mix tuna, celery, onion, feta, salad dressing or mayo, hummus, basil and lemon. Lightly coat one side of each pita with olive oil or cooling spray (PAM)...try the Olive Oil PAM! Place pitas oil side down on a griddle or pan over medium heat for 30 seconds to a minute. Remove warm pitas from pan and split in half along perforation. Open pitas at tear and fill each half with the tuna salad.
Women's Health. April 2009

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mediterranean Hummus Wrap

A couple days ago I spoke about sundried tomato hummus. Another tasty one is Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. Now you can make this or buy it. But it is so easy, that I make my own. Or if you aren't a fan of chick peas (garbanzos), you can leave them out all together and make a Roasted Red Pepper Dip. My friend at work gave me a couple pages out of the April 2009 issue of Women's Health and it fell right in line with my posts. What we have is a wrap that is going to be loaded with color and flavor. This is called Mediterranean Hummus Wrap. This sandwich puts three servings of veggies and, if you use a whole wheat pita, 6 grams of fiber in your daily diet. YOWZA! Take this baby to work and you will have your friends begging you to make these beauties for them! The recipe calls for red pepper hummus, so I am posting a recipe for that...or buy some from the grocery. I am also posting a Sundried Tomato, Coriander and Roasted Red Pepper Dip which would work equally as well. Use the leftover dip with pita bread or veggie dippers. Plus, these make great, healthy warm weather suppers when you don't want to be spending your time in the kitchen. This flatbread wrap will be the best thing since sliced bread!! Groan.......
Mediterranean Hummus Wrap
1 9-inch round spinach pita wrap
1/4 cup roasted red pepper hummus
1/2 cup zucchini strips, sliced lengthwise
1 Tbsp sliced, pitted Kalamata black or green olives
1/4 cup shredded carrots
4 thin tomato slices
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat mild cheddar
1/2 cup shredded lettuce
How to Wrap This!
Spread hummus on the lower third of the wrap Layer zucchini, olives, carrot, tomato, cheese and lettuce in the center of the wrap. Roll the wrap from the bottom toward the center. Fold the sides in, then roll the entire sandwich into a neat pocket Cut wrap in half on an angle.


Sun-Dried Tomato, Coriander, and Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Ingredients :
2 7 oz jars roasted red peppers, drained
3 oz sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil, about 30), soaked in hot water for 5 minutes and drained well, reserving 3 TBSP of the soaking liquid
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1-2 bottled pickled jalapeno chilies, seeded and minced (use gloves)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
1/4 cup chopped scallion
4 oz cream cheese, cut into bits and softened tortilla chips as an accompaniment

In a food processor puree the red peppers, the tomatoes, the garlic, the cumin, the jalapenos, the lemon juice, the coriander, and the scallion until the mixture is smooth, add the cream cheese and salt to taste, and puree the mixture, adding enough of the reserved tomato-soaking liquid to thin the dip to the desired consistency and scraping down the side of the bowl occasionally, until it is smooth. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl and serve it with the tortilla chips. Yield: about 2-1/3 cups.

Easy Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
Directions: In an electric food processor, combine garlic, garbanzo beans, tahini, and lemon juice. Process until the mixture is smooth. Add roasted peppers and basil; process until the peppers are finely chopped. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer hummus to small bowl, cover and chill until you are ready to serve.