Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Snap Your Fingers and Snap Those Peas!

I noticed a sign at the local farm stand on my way home that said
"fresh peas". Suddenly the thought of their aroma popped into my mind and I had to stop.
There they were....bright green, fresh, dew still glistening on their tender pods...I had to have them! Before I got them home, I crunched on a couple of the fat pods that contained the sweet peas that I knew I would find. They did not disappoint.

The peas went into a Cooking Light recipe that I found in the May 2009 issue. Chicken Scallopini is a quick night supper that is full of flavor. This particular dish is one that is also filled with healthy benefits! It contains those plump peas and asparagus as an accompaniment. If you can find the small new asparagus, that is the best for a dish like this. After cooking the chicken, you make a little sauce to pour over everything, so I served couscous on the side to soak up all the goodness. The one really nice thing about the way this dinner looked was that it was definitely company worthy. It prepares easily, does not use a whole kitchen's worth of pots, pans and dishes and it presents beautifully. That leaves you a lot of time to enjoy your guests. It can also be easily increased to serve a crowd. We really enjoyed this dinner and I had it on the table in about a half hour. That left plenty of time to quickly clean things up and talk a walk after dinner.

Chicken Scallopine with Sugar Snap Peas, Asparagus and Lemon Salad
3 cups julienne-cut trimmed sugar snap peas (about 1 pound)
2 cups (1-inch) sliced asparagus (about 1 pound)
6 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
3/4 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1 cup fat-free, less sodium cooking broth (I used College Inn...excellent!)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. grated lemon rind
1 1/2 Tgbsp. fresh lemon juice
6 lemon wedges

1. Steam peas and asparagus, covered, 4 minutes or until crisp tender. Rinse pea mixture with cold water; drain. Chill.
2. Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 2 breast halves to pan; saute 2 minutes in each side or until done. Repeat procedure twice with remaining chicken. Add broth and wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until reduced ti 1/2 cup (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in butter.
3. Combine remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, mint, oil, rind and juice, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle oil mixture over pea mixture; toss gently to coat. Serve pea mixture with chicken and sauce. Garnish with lemon wedges.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Blackberry-Peach Coffee Cake

Hi All! Back from vacation where we had a wonderful time with our daughter, son-in-law and our beautiful granddaughter. Since my daughter was recouping from dental surgery, I did all the cooking and baking. It was fun to try new things and make family favorites all week long.
I made this recipe for Sunday morning. We found it in the new issue of Southern Living and well, being in Georgia, peaches were a good choice. Now I have to tell you that Renee is not the baker, but she is a great cook. On Saturday, I realized that she had no flour and white sugar back-ups so I improvised and the result was excellent. The original recipe calls for this to be made in a springform pan...didn't have that either!! So it was another improv! All I can say is that we loved it and it is a definite keeper recipe that I will make again. I have included the photo from the original and I'm sure it would be just as good.

It is good to be back home!!

Peach and Blackberry Coffee Cake
adapted from Southern Living June 2009

Streusel Topping Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add granulated sugar and brown sugar, beating well. Add flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg; beat just until blended.

Cake Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cups all-purpose white flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups peeled and sliced fresh firm, ripe peaches (about 3 large peaches, 7 oz. each)
Powdered sugar
Garnishes: fresh blackberries, sliced peaches
1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Prepare Streusel Topping.
3. For Cake: Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add granulated sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
4. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9 x 12 baking pan; top with sliced peaches. Sprinkle Streusel Topping over fruit.
5. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 50- 60 minutes or until center of cake is set. (A wooden pick inserted in center will not come out clean.) Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 1/2 hours). Dust with powdered sugar. Garnish, if desired.

Note: We found that using a shiny or light-colored pan gave us the best results. If you have a dark pan, wrap the outside of the pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil to get a similar result.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Fruit Dessert

This is a true summer fruit dessert that has so many juicy flavors. The crushed amaretti cookies add a wonderful crunchy almond flavor. And the addition of the amaretto...the aroma of this in the oven is so.........so........mmmmmmm.
Making this for the family? Leave out the amaretto and use almond extract! And it is equally as good with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream!
This is another super Giada recipe.

By the way, hp on over to Cinnamon & Spice to visit her blueberry Blogger Secret Ingredient contest! http://cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.blogspot.com/2009/06/something-borrowed-something.html

I am off to Atlanta to visit my daughter and her family. Can't wait to hold my little granddaughter! I will take a few days off from blogging to enjoy their company. See you in a week!

Nectarine and Blueberry Crisp with Amaretti Cookie Topping
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentis

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup crushed amaretti cookies, coarsely crushed
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 pounds nectarines, pitted and sliced into thick wedges
8 ounces blueberries
3 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

To make the topping: Stir the flour and sugars in a medium bowl to blend. Add the cookies and almonds and mix well. Add the butter and rub in until moist clumps form.
To make the filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Stir the sugar and flour in a large bowl. Add the nectarines and blueberries, and toss to combine. Stir in the liqueur.
Spoon the fruit mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the cookie topping over. Bake until the nectarines are tender and the topping is golden and crisp, about 45 minutes. Cool at least 10 minutes. Spoon the warm crisp into bowls. Top each with a dollop of mascarpone cheese and serve.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Need a quick dessert? It doesn't get any easier than this! I found this on Group Recipes a few months ago and it is really simple to throw together at the last minute for company. The nice thing about it is that you can use any flavored coffee powder to change to your taste! I have also tried this using Carnation chocolate flavor malt powder and it is super good! If you wnat to shave a few calories, use Lite Cool Whip and sugar free instant pudding. This recipe can be put together in about 5 minutes and placed in the fridge for when you are ready to serve.

5 Minute White Chocolate Hazelnut Pie

RecipeBy pleclare

11/4c cold milk
2Tbs hazelnut flavor coffee powder
2 pkgs(4 serv size) white chocolate instant pudding
1 tub(8 oz) frozen whipped topping,thawed
1 chocolate pie crust.
In large bowl,whisk together milk and coffee powder. Add pudding mix. Beat with wire whisk for 1 min.(Mixture will be thick). Whisk in half of whipped topping.
Spread in crust. Top with remaining whipped topping. Garnish as desired. Refrigerate till ready to serve.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nutty Broccoli Bites

This is a nice little bite before dinner when you have guests. I found this on a recipe website a couple years ago and when I tried it, I knew it was a keeper. Broccoli is high in chromium. Chromium is an essential trace mineral that the body needs to metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins; it also helps control blood-sugar levels by enhancing insulin's effects at the cellular level in muscles as well as being a good source of Vitamin C. The recipe is also lower in fat and cholesterol. I always use a high quality Parmesan cheese for the excellent flavor it lends. Never skimp in that regard. To save time, I usually make this recipe in a smaller cookie sheet with sides. Then I cut it into small square bite size pieces, and serve on a glass platter. But, it is also fun for the kids to help you prepare as balls and maybe, just maybe, they will try some and voila!....you have them eating broccoli. The recipe calls for a soy sauce or teriyaki dip, but I think they stand well on their own without it. But, this lends itself to something different. And for the kids, try some spaghetti sauce as a dip. My grandkids will eat a lot of things, as long as they have something in which they can dip it! I have also fussed on occasion and put a piece of chopped red pimento on top of each square. That gives it a more professional look if that is what you are going for. Suffice it to say, this is not just good, it is good for you!
Nutty Broccoli Appetizers Ingredients
1 Tb. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves
10 ounces broccoli, frozen chopped
1 cup bread crumbs, preferably whole wheat
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. each dried oregano and basil
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2cup egg substitute (equivalent to 2 eggs)

(Optional: low-sodium soy or teriyaki sauce, for dip)
Saute onions and garlic in olive oil.
Cook broccoli according to package directions; squeeze out excess water. Cool slightly.
Combine with remaining ingredients.
Form into balls 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on non-stick pan. Spray balls with olive oil or canola spray.
Bake in preheated 400-degree oven 20-30 minutes, or until brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 24 balls. (Note: You also can spread mixture in a shallow pan, bake and cut into squares.)

Nutrition per ball: 33 calories, 1.9g fat (0.4g saturated), 1.9g protein, 2.5g carbohydrates, 0.5g fiber, 41mg sodium.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


One of my coworkers brought these in to work for a party. They were a big hit and had everyone asking for the recipe. I think kids would get a kick out of them and it might even be a fun project for them to help you make. I have posted a Cookie Dough Truffle recipe before, so this is a new twist. I think at Christmastime these would be nice with a little peppermint flavor in the mix, and drizzled with red and white.

Oreo Truffles

Makes 25-35

1 pkg. regular size Oreo cookies, crushed
1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 pkg. white almond bark
1 pkg chocolate almond bark

Using a blender or hand held mixer, mix crushed Oreos and cream cheese together.
Roll into walnut sized balls. Chill for 1 hour.
Melt approximately 3/4 pkg. of white almond bark. Stick a toothpick in an Oreo ball and dip it in the melted white almond bark. Allow to harden on wax paper. Takes about 15 minutes.
While waiting for truffles to harden, melt about 1/4 pkg. of chocolate almond bark.
When Oreo truffles are no longer sticky to the touch, decorate with drizzles of chocolate and white almond bark. (Use a sandwich bag with a tiny hole cut in one corner to drizzle the almond bark.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Do you like pesto? I have found that not all prepared pestos are equal. That is why I am always anxious for the herb garden to start producing basil plants that are worthy of many containers of pesto both to use immediately or put in the freezer for later use. If I don't have any in the freezer, my fave prepared is Buitoni pesto that is find in the refrigerator case at the grocer. This, in my opinion, is the closest to homemade. In another month, mine will look like the picture at the top!
But, other than serving pesto over pasta, what else can you do with it?

I have made bruschetta by spreading a little pesto on a toasted baguette and topping with a chopped tomato or sun dried tomato mixture and sprinkling with shredded mozzarella. Go into a 375 degree oven to melt the cheese and you have an easy and delicious appetizer.
Or how about spreading 2 Tbsp of pesto on each side of a steak (per steak) and grilling them. Pesto is also nice served on the side of a London broil. Make Pesto Coleslaw! Combine 1 cup sour cream, 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar, 1/4 cup pesto, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in large bowl. Add 1-pound package coleslaw mix; toss. This will serve 6 and pairs nicely with that steak!

Make croutons! Combine 2 tablespoons softened butter and 2 tablespoons prepared pesto in small bowl. Cut a small baguette into cubes and toss with butter and pesto mixture. Spread on a parchment lined baking sheet and toast in a 375 degree oven until toasted and crunchy. Toss in with a crunchy romaine and tomato salad. These are also nice served with a Caprese salad. Slice fresh, ripe tomatoes and line a platter alternately with the tomatoes, sliced mozzarella and basil leaves. Add a few croutons to the platter. Great summer starter! Enjoy.....

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lamb Chops for Dinner

Last night we had some wonderful lamb loin chops that I picked up at Price Chopper. I was originally going to make veal chops (which were on sale and they were out of), so I opted for these beautiful chops that were almost 2 inches thick. They were every bit as good as they looked. The whole meal was actually quite simple, but it looked elegant!
For the chops, I mashed some fresh garlic with kosher salt, added 2 Tbsp. of EVOO, a sprinkle of lemon zest and about a TBSP of chopped fresh rosemary from my herb garden. Then I slathered that all on the chops and put them in a plastic bag in the fridge for the rest of the day. They marinated a good 6 hours.

When we were ready for dinner, I put them under the broiler about 4-5 minutes per side. (I was too lazy to fire up the grill!) Perfect!

To serve with the chops, I chose orzo pasta. I put 2 Tbsp of butter in a heavy skillet and added a cup of orzo. I sauteed that until it started to get a bit golden. To this I added 14 oz. of water and 1/2 tsp of salt and brought it to a boil. I then turned down the heat and let it cook until all the water was absorbed. When the pasta was ready, I added some chopped fresh basil (again from my herb garden....did I mention that I love my herb garden?) and sprinkled in a little fresh Parmesan cheese. YUM! Added some fresh steamed broccoli on the side and we had a lovely dinner.

Since it was the weekend and I was in the cooking mode, I treated us to a fresh peach cobbler that was nice and warm when we ate it. The husband had his with Edy's Slow Churned Pecan Praline Ice Cream. It paired well since I had toasted some pecans and added them to the cobbler. None of this took a particularly long time, yet it was a dinner that was definitely company worthy. It only goes to prove that you don't have to be a slave in the kitchen to make a beautiful looking and delicious tasting meal.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Chocolate Pecan Pie

In a couple weeks we will be visiting our daughter in Atlanta. While we are there, I'll be sure to pick up some good Georgia pecans, some of which will end up in this pie. I love pecans anyway, and pecan pie is a treat once in awhile, especially at holiday time. This is a bit different in that it contains chocolate and a bit of bourbon for some kick. I think you could use bourbon extract in its place if you don't want the straight alcohol. I also used mini semi-sweet chips (you know that dark chocolate is better for you!!!) And I use a frozen pre-baked pie shell from the grocery store. I get mine right from the freezer case at Walmart and they are really good. Plus it saves time. So while this might not be a healthy recipe, it is at least a very nice dessert to serve your company or your family.
Chocolate Pecan Pie
Recipe compliments of The Neeleys (Food Network)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
3 tablespoons bourbon liquor
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1/2 cup mini milk chocolate morsels
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell
Homemade whipped cream, recipe follows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Melt butter in a small saucepan.
While butter is melting, add beaten eggs to a medium sized bowl.
Stir in brown sugar, flour, vanilla extract, corn syrup and bourbon until combined Add melted butter.
Mix in the pecans and chocolate morsels. Pour mixture into pie shell.
Place on a sheet tray and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.
When ready to serve top with a dollop of whipped cream
Homemade Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pour heavy cream into a bowl and whip with an electric mixer for a few minutes, until it becomes thick. Add confectioners' sugar to bowl and blend for about 2 minutes. Fold in vanilla extract. (Or use a little more bourbon or bourbon extract.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sun-Dried Tomato, Coriander and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

A few days ago I talked about the good qualities of olive oil. Today's recipe is a delicious dip, which can ALSO be used as a sandwich spread on a hoagie or to top a juicy grilled burger. Once you assemble your ingredients, this takes less than 15 minutes to make. This recipe utilizes olive oil, and has the healthy qualities of red peppers, cumin, coriander and jalapenos. It has the healthy olive oil but low fat cream cheese , and well, I could just eat this with a spoon! I am also excited to make this recipe this summer, because I am growing my own coriander (cilantro). The dip does have a bit of a kick to it, but I always get compliments when it is served!
Sun-Dried Tomato, Coriander, and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

2 7 oz jars roasted red peppers, drained
3 oz sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
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 1/3 fat cream cheese (Neufchatel 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 a little more olive oil 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.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cinnamon Apple Turnovers

While it is not exactly apple season, I try to find some that will still fit the crunchy texture that I love in an apple. Usually the height of our local apple season starts around the end of August, and goes through the late fall. It is at that time that we can't get enough of these red gems. Right now I am loving an apple called Gala. We get them locally in our stores and they come from Washington State. What I did find is that they are native to New Zealand! They are sweet/tart and have a nice crunch. For salads, I love the Granny Smith apple. They hold up well and pair up well tossed with greens. And during the fall, I make apple pie a lot, my favorite being Northern Spy or Pippin! Once the weather gets better and the local apple harvest starts to wane, I don't make them as much. But I love anything with apples in it. Apples provide an excellent source of potassium. Every now and then we get a taste for a good apple pastry. This recipe is done from start to finish in about 30 minutes. It is surprisingly easy and make good snacks or dessert. You don't have to slave over making a crust because this recipe calls for a shortcut! I think this is super easy and will definitely curb your craving for an apple dessert. Use your favorite apple in this. I am using Galas now and they work quite well. The other thing about this is that you can really use as many biscuits as you need! If you don't want to make 10 turnovers, make 4-5 of them and make the rest as biscuits for your dinner. Or make just a couple and put them in your toaster oven to bake. (Saves on the electricity use and doesn't heat up your kitchen in the warmer weather!

Apple Cinnamon Turnovers
1 large tart apple, peeped and chopped
1/2 cup Mott's Natural Applesauce...no sugar added
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
dash ground nutmeg
1 tube (7-1/2 ounces) Pillsbury refrigerated biscuits
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
1. In a bowl, combine the apples, applesauce, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg.
2. Separate biscuits; roll out each in a 6-in. circle.
3. Place on greased baking sheets.
4. Place a heaping tablespoonful of apple mixture in the center of each.
5. Fold in half and pinch edges to seal.
6. Brush with butter. (I actually did not use butter, but brushed the tops with a little skim
7. Combine sugar and remaining cinnamon; sprinkle over tops.
8. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
9. Serve warm.
10. Yield: 10- servings.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

BSI~Watermelon Pico De Gallo

There is a contest that uses a secret ingredient over at The Ungourmet
http://theungourmet.blogspot.com/2009/06/bsi-blogger-secret-ingredient.html and I thought it sounded interesting.It is the Blogger Secret Ingredient and Kim's choice as host is watermelon. All you have to do is pop over to see the rules and use watermelon in a recipe. MMMMMM....nice and refreshing choice! Here is my recipe for Pico de Gallo that uses watermelon. The jicama gives it a great crunch and the great contrasts of sweet and spicy flavors are a delight to the taste buds! I can use the cilantro growing on my deck and I think the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo was thinking of this when she painted this lovely picture!
Now break out the bag of Lime Doritos and scoop some of this up while sipping on, let's see...a Watermelon Margarita or a fruity sangria or a nice cold fresh white wine!

Watermelon Pico De Gallo
1 1/2 c Seedless watermelon -- cut in 1/4" dice
1/4 c Honeydew melon -- cut in 1/4 " dice
1/4 c Cantaloupe -- cut in 1/4" dice
1/2 c Jicama -- diced
1/4 c Red onion -- cut in 1/4" dice
1 Jalapeno chile pepper -- chopped
2 tb Lime juice -- fresh
1/2 c Fresh cilantro leaves -- chopped
Maple syrup -- to taste
1/2 ts Salt -- or to taste
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix lightly so as not to break up the watermelon.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ricotta Pound Cake

I saved this recipe because I love using ricotta cheese. This comes from Dolce Italiano and I can tell you it is worth making. I wanted something to serve with fresh berries and this is a WOW. The ricotta gives the cake a very nice texture and crumb. I usually use part-skim ricotta in cooking, but followed the recipe and used the whole milk. My opinion is that it needs to be the whole milk variety to hold it together. Maybe one day I will try it with the part-skim to see if it comes out the same. Try this with some fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream. YUM. I think this would also do well with a little lemon zest added in. Easy, delicious and a bit different than a standard biscuit!
Ricotta Pound Cake
1 1/2 c cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 c unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 c fresh whole-milk ricotta
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 vanilla bean
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Confectioner's sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C) and place rack in center.
Grease and flour 9-inch loaf pan.
In medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
In a separate bowl, cream together butter, ricotta, and sugar until smooth and light.
Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping sides of bowl after each addition.
Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the blunt side of a small knife, then beat them into the batter along with the vanilla extract.
On low speed, beat in dry ingredients to combine them, scrape down sides of the bowl, and beat the batter for 30 seconds on medium.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth top with a spatula.
Tap pan on counter a few times to remove air pockets.
Put cake in oven and let bake for 15 minutes, then turn 180 degrees to ensure even browning. Lower the temperature to 325°F (160°C) and let bake until cake springs back when lightly touched, the sides of the cake have pulled away from the sides of the pan, and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 25-35 minutes more.
Allow cake to cool in pan for 15 minutes, then invert it on wire rack to cool completely.
Dust with confectioner's sugar before serving.
Dolce Italiano By Gina DePalma.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Good Oils Are Good For You

Today' post is taken from the South Beach Diet website http://www.southbeachdiet.com and gives us an idea about the types of olive oil we find in the stores. Olive oil has wonderful health benefits. I thought this was interesting enough to share!

All About Olive Oil
By now you've probably heard about the cardiovascular benefits of olive oil, which scientists attribute to its monounsaturated fatty acids. "Good oils are not just neutral alternatives to unhealthy saturated and trans fats," says Dr. Arthur Agatston, leading preventive cardiologist and author of The South Beach Diet Supercharged. "They're actually good for you," he adds. However, when you go to the store to buy a bottle of olive oil, you may be bombarded with a variety of types and colors. Below is an explanation of some of the typical varieties you might find — and a reminder about which type to choose.
Olive oils do not differ in the types or amount of fats they contain — all are pressed from tree-ripened olives. The differences lie mainly in the taste, aroma, and concentration of nutrients. Here's the breakdown:

Extra-virgin olive oil. This is the oil we recommend. It comes from the first pressing of the olives, so it's the least refined and therefore has the highest level of antioxidants. It's also the highest quality and most-flavorful olive oil, with the lowest acid content.

Virgin olive oil. This comes from the second pressing of the olives and is between 1 and 3 percent acidic.

Light and extra-light olive oil. This is simply a designation used by companies to market a less-flavorful, more-acidic type of oil. The term "light" means lighter in color and fragrance, not less fat or calories. These oils are generally between 90 and 95 percent refined olive oil and 5 to 10 percent virgin olive oil. They have had their color, taste, and fragrance removed by the refining process (using a chemical, usually hexane, and steam). This process also destroys the phytochemicals and antioxidants in the oil.

"Adding good fats to your diet — like extra-virgin olive oil — is a smart move," says Dr. Agatston. Other good fats are found in canola oil, fish oil, and the healthy oils in avocados and nuts.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread.....Can you Just Smell the Aroma?

I have been away from blogging for 2 days attending to the busy-ness of life! Whew. It is nice to have the weekend appear. And weekends for me usually mean getting down to serious fun of cooking and baking. (Ahhhh.........hence the name Weekend Cook!)

So this weekend, I am making another "coffee and..." recipe. Two of our kids are home with their families for the weekend so it's a houseful and someone is always looking for a snack!

This is really good recipe for coffee. This recipe is very similar to the Chocolate Cinnamon Bread you can buy by the slice at Starbucks. And what can be better than chocolate and cinnamon? The recipe makes 2 loaves. This means you can make one for yourself and give one away, or make one for yourself and freeze the other loaf for when you need a chocolate fix (!!) or unexpected company. Serve with a steaming good cup of joe or a glass of cold milk. If you want to make this extra-chocolate-y, toss in a cup of mini-chocolate chips to the batter. And if you want to try something REALLY decadent, put a slice of this in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes and make some cinnamon butter to go on top. I have to stop now because just writing about this is making me want some, and if I don't get to work, it isn't going to get made! I wonder if this would make good French Toast? How about using some in bread pudding? Stop...stop the insanity!!!

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread
Recipe Adapted from Starbucks Coffee Company
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1¼ cups Dutch cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup buttermilk, chilled
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1½ cups unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs

¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar
½ teaspoon Dutch cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans, line with parchment paper, then lightly grease again.
2. In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, and cinnamon together. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, water, and vanilla. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar; cream together until mixture appears light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until each egg is thoroughly mixed. Alternately add some of the sifted flour mixture, and the buttermilk mixture to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and stirring just until blended.
5. Pour batter into the loaf pans, dividing the batter evenly between the 2 pans. Set aside. Topping:
6. In a small bowl, combine granulated sugar, Turbinado sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Sprinkle evenly over the batter.
7. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove pans from oven and let cool about 15 minutes.
Grabbing the top edges of the parchment paper, lift bread from loaf pans and place on wire racks to finish cooling.
Remove parchment paper and discard. Makes 2 loaves

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Great Start to a Grilled Steak Dinner

I think I could eat blue cheese on almost anything. The same goes for gorgonzola. This spread works well with either cheese. While this is not exactly a diet delight recipe, it is a great starter while you are waiting for the steaks on the grill. (I know....I am trying to clog those arteries by the bite!) But as we all know, everything in moderation..... This is so darn good though and I really love it with pears and apples the best. But it a versatile spread. In the past, I have toasted bagette slices first, spread them with some of the cheese spread and popped them back in the oven to soften the cheese and get it warm. After removing from the oven, top with chopped pears and pecans, or a sugared pecan. Open a cold, crisp bottle of Frascati or some bubbly Prosecco and you will have a lovely beginning to your fabulous dinner. And, if you have any of this leftover, use it on a burger, on a baked potato or as a spread in a veggie pita sandwich with some sprouts and cucumbers and dried cranberries or cherries.
Blue Cheese and Toasted Pecan Spread

1 pound good quality blue cheese, crumbled
4 tablespoon butter, softened
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 clove garlic
1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
Toasted baguette slices, unsalted crackers, pear or apple slices
In the bowl of a food processor, place the blue cheese, butter, cream and garlic.
Cover and process until nearly smooth.
Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl or crock; fold in the pecans, green onions, and parsley. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For easier spreading, remove mixture from the refrigerator at least an hour before serving to soften. Serve at room temperature.
Yield: about 2-1/2 cups spread

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

A few days ago I posted a coffee cake recipe that is really yummy. Here is another one that I like to make. It is also a cake that is a specialty of a B & B. This is like a big cheese Danish that you slice. I love the almond flavor in the cake. Also, this works fine with Neufchatel (1/3 less fat) cream cheese. And I do use low-fat sour cream. Try using the Polaner All-Fruit spread for this. I think it is a little better for you. Or if you choose a sugar free jam, I don't think it would make a difference to the recipe. Anywhere you can cut back, try to do it. I am going to try this using Splenda as I would like to take it to the nursing home residents for a treat. If you like cheese Danish, this is a must try.
Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
presented by Prairie Path Guest House
Coffee Cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dairy sour cream
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup sliced almonds
In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar; cut in the butter using a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Remove 1 cup crumbs for topping.
To remaining crumb mixture, add baking powder, soda, salt, sour cream, egg and almond extract; blend well.
Spread batter over bottom and 2 inches up side of greased and floured 9-inch springform pan. (Batter should be 1/4 inch thick on sides.)
In small bowl, combine cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar and egg; blend well.
Pour over batter in the pan. carefully spoon jam evenly over cheese filling.
In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of reserved flour mixture and almonds; sprinkle over top.
Bake at 350° for about 55-60 minutes or until cream cheese filling is set and crust is a deep golden brown.
Cool 15 minutes. Remove sides of pan. Serve warm or cool. Cover and refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 16 servings.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Enjoying My Herb Garden

I am watching my container herb garden from my kitchen window and it gives me such pleasure to watch them grow. A couple of days after planting, we were (cursed) blessed with abundant rainfall for 3 days. It did give my little babies a good start and when the sun came out I could see they were happy and looking very green and lush already. I like to just pinch a leaf or two and enjoy the fragrance my herbs provide. It is restful to cut a sprig of lavender and breathe in the soothing aroma in the evening before turning in for the night. I like to cut a sprig of mint to add to my iced tea enjoyment. In the June/July issue of Semi-Homemade, Sandra Lee provided a list of herbs and how important they were in Victorian times. When one would want to convey a certain message, a particular variety of plant would be sent. I really like this idea and I am going to keep this handy. What a nice hostess gift idea it is to put an herb in a pretty pot, tied with a ribbon and a note. Here is the list of herbs and meanings for you....along with some virtual Basil and Parsley from me to you. I hope you find it interesting!
BASIL......................Love, Good Wishes

BAY.........................Fame, Victory (Think Olympic wreath!)

CORIANDER..........Hidden Worth (Also known as Cilantro)


DILL..........................Lust, Good Cheer, Survival (??????)

FENNEL.................Grief, Endurance, Strength

GARLIC...................Courage, Strength, Get Well (As in wearing the bulb of garlic around your neck when you are sick?)


HONEYSUCKLE..The Bond of Love

LAVENDER...........Love, Devotion, Luck


MARJORAM..........Joy, Happiness

OREGANO.............Joy of the Mountain (Now this I have to research!)

PARSLEY...............Useful Knowledge



SAGE........................Wisdom, Great Respect, Domestic Virtue


THYME...................Emblem of Courage, Daring