Saturday, October 10, 2009

Homemade Brownie Bliss

While out grocery shopping, I walked a little to slowly through the baking section, giving me the opportunity to spot some walnut brownies with cream cheese frosting. They miraculously jumped into my cart! They were just too addicting, and a few days later, I found myself craving them again. So instead of buying more, I decided to try a homemade version...and they were even better.

I combined a couple of recipes, and ended up with with a fudgy-textured brownie topped with a smooth cream cheese frosting. I prepared this for a tailgate at a friend's house, at which we enjoyed plenty of delicious food, including Broccoli Slaw. This was a unique & healthy side dish that is a wonderful alternative to the regular old potato or pasta salad. I'll definitely be making this dish around my house, and be sure to browse the rest of Erin's blog for more delicious dishes!

Cocoa Brownies
Food Network/Alton Brown

Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 16 brownies


Soft butter, for greasing the pan
Flour, for dusting the buttered pan
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar, sifted
1 cup brown sugar, sifted
8 ounces melted butter
11/4 cups cocoa, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.

In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs at medium speed until fluffy and light yellow. Add both sugars. Add remaining ingredients, and mix to combine.

Pour the batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square pan and bake for 45 minutes. Check for doneness with the tried-and-true toothpick method: a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan should come out clean. My brownies were not even close being done at this point - they needed about 55-60 minutes. When it's done, remove to a rack to cool. Resist the temptation to cut into it until it's mostly cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Cooking Light

1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, chilled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts, toasted

To prepare the frosting, beat the powdered sugar, chilled cream cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla at medium speed of a mixer just until blended (do not overbeat). Spread frosting over cupcakes, and sprinkle with toasted walnuts.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Got Pumpkin?

For many across the country...the answer could very well be "no". There is an unfortunate pumpkin shortage in some took me three stores to find some...but it was worth it! I've made more than a couple of trips to Starbucks to enjoy a pumpkin latte & pumpkin loaf - but that can get a "little" costly. So I've improvised and made an awesome pumpkin bread and bought some pumpkin creamer...not the same, but it'll do :)

This recipe is not exactly healthy, but it is one of the better pumpkin baked goods that I've made. The recipe makes two loaves, which is perfect considering the hubby and I practically devoured the first one.

Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 50 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour 5 Minutes
Servings: 24
"Spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves, this bread improves with age, so plan to make it a day ahead if possible."

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups white sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans.

2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.

3. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cottage Cheese - It's Worth Another Look

I just love making baked pasta - it takes only a little effort and the oven does all the work. I often make these types of dishes for when we have company, it makes cooking for a small crowd much easier and less stressful. Even when it's just the hubby and I, we love the ease of cooking once and eating many times.

This particular recipe was delicious, rich and cheesy. I have been reluctant to try recipes with cottage cheese until now, as it is not one of my favorite foods - but it is a healthy addition to my diet while pregnant. So I was pleasantly surprised with the flavor, texture and added creaminess (and nutrition too!). I hope to continue to broaden my horizons and try new recipes with cottage cheese - if you have a favorite, leave me a comment on any suggestions!

Baked Ziti
Seen on Annie's Eats; adapted from Cook's Illustrated March & April 2009


1 lb. whole milk or 1% cottage cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 cups),divided
Table salt
1 lb. ziti
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
20 oz. turkey Italian sausage I used ground sirloin
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
5 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves, divided
1 tsp. sugar
Ground black pepper
3/4 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
8 oz. low-moisture mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch pieces


Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in a medium bowl; set aside. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta; cook until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Drain the pasta and leave in colander.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Crumble in the turkey sausage and cook until nearly browned. Add in the onion and garlic and continue to cook until the onion is softened and the sausage is completely browned. Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup basil and the sugar, and season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and heavy cream. Transfer the mixture to the now-empty stockpot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the cottage cheese mixture, 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce and 3/4 cup mozzarella. Stir to combine. Add the pasta and toss to coat thoroughly with the sauce.

Transfer the pasta to a 9×13″ baking dish and spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the top. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil from the pan and continue to cook until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My AM Kickstart

Since becoming pregnant, I've been eating much more fruit, including dried fruit. I usually have dried cranberries on hand, as well as oranges, and I absolutely loved the flavor of the lemon accent in my Lemon-Blueberry Muffins. So after a brief search, I settled on these muffins - the cranberry & orange flavors were great together, and they were pretty light too - a lot of the sweetness comes from the cranberries - making them perfect for breakfast. I've also really limited my caffeine, so these muffins add a great burst to my mornings when coffee isn't an option :)

Cranberry- Orange Muffins


1 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temp
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for topping muffins, if desired I left this out
2 large eggs, at room temp
1/2 cup milk


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Put the cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan, bring just to a simmer over med. heat. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool and plump.

Line 12-muffin tin with paper liners or lightly brush with butter. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.

In a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or with a hand-held mixer in a large bowl, cream butter, orange zest, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Remove the bowl from the mixer.

Fold the flour in 3 parts into the butter mixture, alternating with the milk in 2 parts, until just combined. Fold in the cranberries. Do not over mix. Divide the batter evenly into the muffin tins and sprinkle the tops with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool muffins in the pan on a rack.

Is This Really Light Mexican?

It sure didn't taste light...this was a creamy & cheesy casserole that tasted sinful, but really wasn't. I find casseroles are difficult to get a great photograph of, so excuse the less than flattering picture. But it was a delicious, easy weeknight meal that also tasted great the next day.

Mexican Chicken Casserole
Adapted from Cooking Light

1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 (4.5-ounce) cans chopped green chiles, divided I omitted the chiles and used 3 jalapenos, minced and divided - I have TONS from my garden!
1 3/4 pounds skinned, boned chicken breasts
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup evaporated skim milk
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup (2 ounces) tub-style light cream cheese
1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Cooking spray
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 ounce tortilla chips, crushed (about 6 chips) I used Lime flavored tortilla chips
I rubbed a little salt, pepper, cumin & chili powder on the chicken and covered in the fridge for 20 minutes before cooking it, and added 2 cloves of smashed garlic to the cooking liquid
I added one can of drained & rinsed black beans when adding the enchilada sauce

Combine broth and 1 can of chiles in a large skillet; bring to a boil. Add chicken; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until chicken is done, turning chicken once. Remove chicken from cooking liquid, reserving cooking liquid; cool chicken. Shred meat with two forks, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 can of chiles and onion; sauté 3 minutes or until soft. Add reserved cooking liquid, milk, Monterey Jack, cream cheese, and enchilada sauce; stir well. Stir in shredded chicken; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place 4 tortillas in the bottom of a 2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Spoon 2 cups chicken mixture over tortillas. Repeat layers twice, ending with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and chips. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 cup)CALORIES 369 (28% from fat); FAT 11.4g (sat 5g,mono 3.8g,poly 1.4g); IRON 2.4mg; CHOLESTEROL 79mg; CALCIUM 360mg; CARBOHYDRATE 31.3g; SODIUM 479mg; PROTEIN 35.6g; FIBER 3g

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Homemade Home Fries

A little tired of the same old Sunday morning scrambled eggs & toast that we always seem to make, I thought home fries would be a nice change of pace. I've only ever had them at restaurants, but after coming across this recipe, they looked easy enough - and they were. There are endless possibilities that you can experiment with to jazz up the basic recipe, we'll definitely be making these for future weekend breakfasts.

Home Fries
Seen & adapted from Smitten Kitchen, Loosely adapted from Cook's Country

1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch cubes
4 tablespoons salted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
I added 1/2 large green bell pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Seasoning of your choice: I added some salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika in the last 5-8 minutes of cooking

1. Arrange potatoes in large microwave-safe bowl, top with 1 tablespoon butter, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on high until edges of potatoes begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes, shaking bowl (without removing plastic) to redistribute potatoes halfway through cooking.

2. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in large regular or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl.

3. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in now-empty skillet over medium heat. Add
potatoes and pack down with spatula. Cook, without moving, until underside of potatoes is brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn potatoes, pack down again, and continue to cook until well browned and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring potatoes every few minutes, until crusty and golden on all sides, 9 to 12 minutes.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Three Reasons For My Blogging Laziness...

....I am having triplets - 2 girls & a boy! Many of my readers already know....but I thought I'd share a couple of ultrasound pictures. I guess it's not really an excuse for being a slacker on my blog....and while my pregnancy has gone pretty well so far, my appetite has decreased (go figure!), making it more difficult to make and try new meals. I do have a few blog entries to catch up on, hopefully they'll be up in the next couple of days.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Happy 30th Birthday!!

The title of this post refers to my wonderful hubby...unfortunately I've already hit that milestone last year :(

About a month ago, we were at the Cheesecake Factory where he enjoyed a gigantic slice of Key Lime Cheesecake. So in honor of this momentous occasion, I decided to try and re-create on of his favorite desserts. Now since I didn't have any of the "professional" cheesecake, it was difficult to say if it was an accurate copycat recipe, however the birthday boy loved it. It was great (and tasted even better the next day), but I also loved the fact that I made another cheesecake that turned out pretty darned good. I may have overcooked it by a couple of minutes, only based on the top coloring, and I did have a couple of cracks in the top...but it didn't affect the flavor. I am determined to make the perfect cheesecake, I guess practice will make perfect, and I'm sure that the hubby won't mind one bit :)

Cheesecake Factory Key Lime Cheesecake
Copycat Restaurant Recipes


1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
3− 8oz. pkgs cream cheese, softened1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 5 limes) If using key limes or juice,use half as much.3 eggs
whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350*.

Combine crumbs, butter and 1 Tbsp. sugar in a bowl.Stir well to to coat all crumbs.
Keep it crumbly.

Press the crumbs onto the bottom and half way up the sides of an 8" springform pan.
Bake crust for 5 minutes and set aside.

In large bowl combine cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla. Mix with electric mixer till smooth.

Add the lime juice and eggs andcontinue to beat till smooth and creamy.

Pour filling into crust.

Bake for 60 to 70 mins. If top is turning light brown it's done. Remove from oven and allow to cool till room temperature. Put into fridge.

When chilled, remove the pan sides and cut.

Serve with whipped cream.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Deliciously Decadent Dessert

I made blondies and used white chocolate for the first time a few months ago, and loved the flavors together, so I was excited to try this recipe. These blondies include the addition of macadamia nuts - which I love & remind me of my honeymoon to Hawaii, where many sweet and savory dishes include this type of nut. These are so decadent and delicious at any time of the day, I couldn't help but sneak one (or two) for breakfast...they also taste great heated a little topped with vanilla ice cream.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Blondies
Seen on Erin's Food Files; Originally from Emeril Legasse

1/2 pound, plus 1 teaspoon butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup macadamia nuts, toasted and rough chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place 1/2 pound of the butter and the brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until a smooth batter is formed. While the machine is running, add the eggs and vanilla extract, until incorporated into the batter.

Sift together 3 cups flour and baking powder. Slowly add the flour mixture to the batter and mix on low speed until a dough is formed. Very gently, by turning the mixer on and then off, fold the chips and nuts into the dough.

Once the dough is all blended, grease a 9 x 9-inch baking pan ("I used a 9x13 pan, and still felt they were sufficiently thick" - I used Erin's suggestion since I realized I didn't have a 9 x 9 pan!) with the remaining butter and dust with the 1tablespoon of flour. Pour the batter into the pan and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until set yet still moist.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Garden Fresh Salsa

I've made homemade salsa a few times - I pretty much use the same basic ingredients - tomatoes, garlic, onion, jalapeno & cilantro. It's always turned out great, but for some reason, I always end up buying salsa anyways (even though most of it sucks!)

Now that I have tomatoes, cilantro & jalapenos (as well as WAY too many other varieties of hot peppers) in my garden, I figured there wasn't a better time to make homemade & homegrown salsa. I found this recipe and knew it would be great - although it uses the same ingredients that I always use myself, it roasts everything. I LOVE roasted veggies - it just makes any veggie taste better. This recipe was so easy, and the veggies roast itself, so it doesn't require any additional hands-on time than a regular salsa would. I only made one change, and I can't get enough of this stuff - I've made two batches in the past week!

Roasted Tomato Salsa

1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 large white onion
4-6 cloves roasted garlic
2-3 large jalapenos, deseeded & deveined, cut in half lengthwise
freshly ground black pepper & kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 – 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

drizzle of lime juice, maybe juice of half a lime

Heat oven to 400°F . Gently toss the tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalapenos with the olive oil in a large bowl. Alternatively, use spray oil to gently coat the veggies (You just don’t want it to burn). Season with a little freshly ground black pepper. After they are nicely coated arrange in a single layer, tomatoes cut-side facing up, across a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet, roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes, (depending upon the size of your tomatoes). You’ll know they’re ready to come out when they start to get a nice color and the tomatoes start to collapse. Remove from the oven and cool.

Puree cooled tomatoes, onion, garlic, and jalapenos. Alternatively, puree half of the veggies and hand chop the remainder and combine. Season with salt, lime juice and stir in the cilantro. Refrigerate.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Meatless Mexican

I was in the mood for Mexican...but not really feeling like meat - so something featuring black beans seemed very appetizing. I came across this recipe for enchiladas - I've never made them meatless before, but I was kind of surprised how satisfying they were, so we didn't miss the meat at all. As with most enchilada recipes, it makes a lot of food, so I prepared the filling and made half one night, and reserved the rest for another night's dinner. The black bean filling would also be great on top of nachos or as a dip. Also...all of my enchilada recipe pictures seem to look the same, but they are all different, yet very good!

Black Bean Enchiladas
Found on Annie's Eats; Originally from Two Novice Chefs, One Tiny Kitchen


For the bean filling:
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp. oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup corn kernels
1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
1 cup salsa
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
¼ cup fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. lime juice

For the enchiladas:

3 cups black bean filling (above)
8-10 medium flour tortillas
shredded Mexican cheese (about 2 cups)
1 can enchilada sauce


To make the black bean filling, place the black beans in a medium sized mixing bowl. Partially mash the beans. In a medium sized skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic and sauté for 4 minutes. Mix beans, corn, tomato, salsa, cumin, and chili powder into the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove the pan from the heat, mix in cheese, cilantro and lime juice. Stir until cheese is melted.

Grease a 9×13” baking dish. Preheat oven to 350°. To make the enchiladas, spoon some of the black bean mixture down the center of a tortilla. Top with some cheese, fold sides over the filling and roll up. Place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Pour sauce over the tops of the enchiladas. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese and bake 2-3 minutes more or until cheese is melted.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Why Choose Between A Cheesecake Or Brownie...

....when you can have both! I've made cheesecake brownies before, and I've never been disappointed. You have the best of both worlds - chocolate goodness combines with a fruity/creamy cheesecake layer - yum! This recipe was rich and delicious, and you can change it up by using different chocolate for the brownie mixture, or different fruit preserves for the cheesecake layer.

Strawberry Cheesecake Swirl Brownies
Beantown Baker

makes 25 brownies

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2-oz dark chocolate, chopped I used 4- oz dark chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup raspberry preserves/jam I used strawberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.

In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir with a fork until very smooth. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Whisking steadily, pour chocolate mixture into sugar mixture. Stir until smooth. Sift flour, cocoa powder and salt into the bowl and stir until just combined.

Pour into prepared pan and prepare cheesecake mixture.

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Drop in dollops onto prepared brownie batter. Drop dollops of raspberry preserves into the cheesecake batter. Gently swirl batters with a butter knife, giving the brownies a swirly look.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges will be lightly browned.

Cool in the pan completely before slicing and serving, either at room temperature or chilled.

Brownies can be refrigerated, covered, for several days.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Oatmeal Cookies - With A Twist

After receiving the July edition of Cooking Light, I quickly spotted a must-try cookie recipe. Anything with banana and chocolate is right up my alley, plus I liked the healthy addition of oats and the small amount of butter used. The hubby and I loved these - not only were they an easy snack, but they were a great quick breakfast with a cold glass of milk, or a delicious dessert broken into pieces on top of vanilla ice cream. My only mistake was not doubling up the recipe!

Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cooking Light

2 dozen (serving size: 1 cookie)


1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium) I used 2 bananas
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
5.6 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray


1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add egg; beat well.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture to banana mixture in bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

4. Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 18 minutes or until golden. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 115
Fat: 3.6g (sat 2g,mono 1.1g,poly 0.3g)
Protein: 2g
Carbohydrate: 19.1g
Fiber: 1.2g
Cholesterol: 14mg
Iron: 0.9mg
Sodium: 121mg
Calcium: 10mg

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fresh & Fruity

There are so many delicious ice cream recipes that I am dying to try with my new ice cream maker....but I decided to go the healthier route this time. This recipe for Mango Sorbet seemed like a perfect and light refresher for these 90 degree days. The result was a beautiful orange frozen treat that was full of sweetness and flavor; and it is a great alternative to more decadent frozen desserts. So go ahead, and sneak in that extra serving :)

Fresh Mango Sorbet
Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Recipe Booklet

Preparation: 10-15 minutes, 25-30 minutes chilling time, optional 2 hours to ripen in freezer
Makes about ten 1/2 cup servings

4 ripe but firm mangoes, peeled, pitted and cubed
2-3 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
6 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice I used half of each

Combine the mango cubes, sugar, corn syrup and lemon juice in a blender or food processor that has been fitted with the metal blade. Pulse to chop, then process until thick and smooth, scraping jar or work bowl as necessary with a spatula.

The mango puree may be made up to one day ahead; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Turn the machine on, pour mango puree into freezer bowl through ingredients spout and mix until thickened, about 25-30 minutes.

Nutritional Info per serving:

Calories 190 (2% from fat)
Carbs 49 g
Protein 1 g
Fat .0 g
Sodium 27 mg
Sat.fat & cholesterol 0 g

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

You Won't Have A Beef With This Burger!

I've had my eye on this recipe for a while now - it combines two of my favorite things - Italian food & burgers. It was my first time using ground chicken to make the burgers. I think it would also be great using a grilled/baked chicken breast, but then I guess it wouldn't be as "burger-like". It was a great dinner that is a quicker alternative to the standard chicken parm, and I served this with a spinach salad, instead of pasta. Roasted potato wedges & green beans would also be great sides to go with this dish.

Chicken Parmesan Burgers
Elly Says Opa

Serves 4


1 lb. ground chicken (I used breast meat)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley I used fresh basil
1 clove garlic, finely minced or pressed
1 shallot, finely diced
salt and pepper

1/2 cup pasta sauce
4 slices mozzarella or provolone (or 1/2 cup shredded) I used a small and handful of shredded mozzarella and a slice of provolone on each
sautéed mushrooms (optional) I used Baby Bella mushrooms
4 buns (brushed with a little garlic butter, they are even better)

Lightly mix together all the ingredients for the burgers. Form into 4 patties. I like to make
them about 30-40 minutes ahead of time, to let the flavors meld a little bit.

Preheat & spray the broiler with a little oil (or use the grill, or a pan). Broil the burgers for
about 4 minutes on the first side, then flip and broil for 3 minutes.

Top each chicken burger with 2 Tbsp. pasta sauce and a slice (or about 2T) of cheese. Place
back under the broiler for 30-60 seconds, until cheese in melted and burger is cooked
through. Top with mushrooms, if desired.

Place the buns in the broiler for about 10 seconds, just until toasted.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Blueberry Mornings

I love muffins...the wonderful, decadent kind that you get from a coffee shop is one of my favorite ways to start the mornings. honestly can't indulge I love finding muffin recipes that are a little more healthy, but don't sacrifice any flavor.

Blueberries are the perfect ingredient for muffins right now - they're in season, healthy and add a great burst of flavor to get you going for the day. The lemon zest and juice in this recipe adds even more zing to your taste buds. The original recipe included a glaze on top of the muffins...however I left that out to make them a little healthier and to freeze better.

Lemon-Blueberry Muffins
Cooking Light

1 dozen (serving size: 1 muffin)


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 cup blueberries
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 400°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (flour through nutmeg) in a medium bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Combine buttermilk, egg, and rind; stir well with a whisk. Add to flour mixture; stir just until moist. Gently fold in blueberries.

Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until the muffins spring back when lightly touched. Remove muffins from pans immediately, and place on a wire rack to cool.

* I omitted the following step, but I added 1 tsp of lemon juice into the batter when adding the rind and other ingredients.

Combine lemon juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Drizzle glaze evenly over cooled muffins.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 187 (23% from fat)
Fat: 4.8g (sat 2.7g,mono 1.4g,poly 0.3g)
Protein: 3.7g
Fiber: 1g
Cholesterol: 30mg
Iron: 1.1mg
Sodium: 264mg
Calcium: 59mg

Friday, June 26, 2009

Restaurant-Quality Soup - At Home

This is another one of my catch-up posts...I made this a couple of weeks ago when it was not so hot outside, you know in the low 80's! LOL But it was too great not to share...only a few years ago, I would have never thought I could make mushroom soup that tastes like it comes from a great restaurant (and not from a can), but I did, and so can you with this easy to follow recipe.

This soup was flavorful, not too thick or too thin, just perfect. I didn't read the whole recipe through before beginning the cooking, so it took a little longer than I anticipated...but it was worth the wait.

Wild Cream of Mushroom Soup
Good Things Catered


6 Tbsp butter
1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
3 shallots, finely diced
3 small garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. button mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 lb. wild mushrooms of choice, cleaned, stems removed and sliced 1/8 inch thick
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
3 cups boiling water
1 fresh sage leaf
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dry vermouth (I used chicken broth)
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp cold water
salt and pepper to taste


-In 5 qt Dutch oven (or heavy stock pot), over medium heat, melt butter.
-When butter is melted and edges start to foam, add onion and shallots.
-Stir well and let cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
-Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
-Add sliced mushrooms to pan and stir to coat well in mixture.
-Stirring occasionally, cook down until beginning to release juices, about 8-10 minutes.
-Cover pot and reduce heat to medium low.
-Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are softened.
-Take lid off pan and add chicken stock, boiling water, and sage leaf.
-Turn heat down to simmer, stir to combine well and when soup comes back up to a boil, vent lid (covering most of soup - letting a small amount of steam escape) and let simmer for 30 minutes.
-Remove sage leaf and discard.
-With immersion blender, blend soup mixture in pulses to completely chop up mushrooms (this will also thicken the soup). (note - if you are using regular blender instead be EXTRA careful! Only add a couple of cups of soup mixture to blender at a time because the high heat of the mixture will form steam and make the blender "explode" with hot soup)
-Once blended well, with small pieces of mushrooms still visible, add heavy cream and vermouth to pan.
-Stir to combine well and bring back up to temperature, slowly.
-Meanwhile, combine cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl and stir to make a slurry.
-Add to soup and stir to combine completely.
-Once soup is up to temperature, salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Peanut Butter &...Turkey???

This is actually my second time making this recipe - I'm not sure where my original picture disappeared I just had to make it again. Believe me - it was no hardship, this is one of our favorite turkey burger recipes. Using turkey instead of beef can sometimes make the burger more dry, but with the addition of an unusual ingredient for a burger - peanut butter - there's no chance of that! The burger itself is full of healthy ingredients, and with the addition of roasted veggies as the side, it's a great meal you can feel great about.

Thai Peanut Turkey Burgers

Found on Cara's Cravings; originally from A Good Appetite

8oz ground turkey
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 large scallion, minced
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp chili garlic sauce
2 tbsp natural peanut butter
freshly ground salt & pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp light mayonnaise
handful of cilantro, finely minced
1-2 tsp chili garlic sauce
hamburger buns of your choice
mixed greens

Combine burger ingredients a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.

Form the turkey mixture into two patties. Cook for about 7-10 minutes per side, until cooked through.

Serve on buns with cilantro-chili mayo and greens.

Nutritional Info, Burgers Only (does not include hamburger bun or cilantro-chili mayo)Servings Per Recipe: 2
Amount Per Serving Calories: 276.1
Total Fat: 16.7 g
Cholesterol: 80.0 mg
Sodium: 212.1 mg
Total Carbs: 7.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.1 g
Protein: 26.1 g

Sesame Roasted Vegetables

cauliflower, broccoli & carrots, washed and stems trimmed (I had one of those small fresh bags of ready to eat veggies)
1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp ground ginger
sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and a non-stick spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together oils, salt, pepper and ginger. In a large bowl, combine vegetables and oil mixture, and spread out on baking sheet, and roast for 10 minutes. Turn vegetables over, and roast for about another 10 minutes or until desired. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Marvelous Mayo-less Pasta Salad

Summer is in full swing's been about a week and a half in the 90's. Although I love grilling to get out of the kitchen, sometimes hot food just doesn't sound very appetizing. I've heard great things about this recipe, and I love Mexican/Southwest flavors, so I just had to try it. I'm sorry I waited so long - it's awesome! It would be perfect for any occasion, but would be great at picnics, etc, since there's no mayo or meat (although I did add some grilled chicken for the hubby)

This salad is light, healthy and full of color....although you will notice mine has an unusual I appologize - I had some University of Michigan shaped/colored pasta on hand, so I used that, not really thinking of the weird color it would add. This is a must try for your summer menu!

University of Michigan aka Wagon Wheel Taco Pasta Salad
Cara's Cravings

*I cut the recipe in half
*I added one grilled and sliced chicken breast, recipe below

1 lb wagon wheel pasta
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 10oz package frozen corn
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
8oz shredded Mexican-blend cheese
1 1/2 cups salsa
1/2 cup olive oil
3-4 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp cumin
1-2 tsp chili powder2 garlic cloves, minced
freshly ground salt & pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 avocado, diced

Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a large bowl, combine the black beans, corn, tomatoes, salsa, and cheese. Add the cooled pasta and mix well.

In another bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin and chili powder. Pour over the pasta salad, add the cilantro, and mix well. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Just before serving, stir in the diced avocado.

Southwest Grilled Chicken Breast

1 chicken breast, pounded thin to about 1/2 inch thickness
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp lime juice
1 1/2 tsp Mrs Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning

In a bowl, whisk all ingredients, minus the chicken. Add marinade and chicken to a ziploc bag or covered container, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Remove from marinade, grill on medium-high heat for 7 minutes per side, or till cooked through. Remove from grill, slice and place on top of pasta salad.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What's Better Than A Reese's Peanut Butter Cup?? ice cream version of it!! As soon as I came across this recipe while deciding on my next creation to concoct with my new ice cream maker, I knew that my search was over. This recipe is heaven in a bowl - rich, decadent & creamy double chocolate goodness with ribbons of peanut butter swirled throughout. Wow.

** I have submitted this entry to the Ice Cream Maker Tasty Tools Event. Check for this, other events and recipes out at Joelen's Culinary Adventures!

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Joy The Baker

2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup smooth salted peanut butter ( I like the all natural peanut butter)

In a sauce pan over medium heat, stir together 2 cups whole milk, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Heat until the milk start to steam, but before it starts to boil.

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup of whole milk and the cornstarch. Stir until no lumps remain.

Add the cornstarch mixture to the heated milk and chocolate mixture and bring to a low boil. Boil until thickened. The mixture will look the consistency of chocolate pudding. Remove from flame.

In a small sauce pan, heat 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Once boiling, remove from heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Let sit for 1 minute, then stir the cream and chocolate mixture until incorporated.

Stir the cream and chocolate mixture into the cooling chocolate ice cream base. Place in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap or a lid, and put in the fridge until cool.

Once cool, follow the manufacturers instructions on the ice cream maker to churn ice cream. Once the mixture has chilled and thickened in the ice cream maker, slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup of peanut butter. Don’t over mix. You want a nice ribbon of peanut butter running through the ice cream.

Transfer the ice cream into a freezer safe container and fold in the remaining 1/4 cup of peanut butter. Cover and freeze until solid.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Another Great Use For Yogurt

I had some bananas in the pantry that I sort of forgot about, and were too ripe to eat - but are just perfect for banana bread. Even though I seem to enjoy every banana bread/muffin recipe I try, I rarely make the same one twice. It was my first time using yogurt in baking, and I thought it added great texture and flavor - I look forward to trying more recipes using this cheap, healthy ingedient.

Classic Banana Bread
adapted from Cooking Light

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt I used low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
I added 3/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Place sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Spoon batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Yield: 1 loaf, 14 servings (serving size: 1 slice)CALORIES 187 (21% from fat); FAT 4.3g (sat 2.4g,mono 1.2g,poly 0.3g); IRON 1mg; CHOLESTEROL 40mg; CALCIUM 20mg; CARBOHYDRATE 34.4g; SODIUM 198mg; PROTEIN 3.3g; FIBER 1.1g

It's Going To Be A Delicious Summer

I love ice cream - it's the perfect warm weather treat. When I was young, you had to go to ice cream stores to find unique flavors, but now, they conveniently available in the grocery stores. I've seen so many great recipes for creative ice cream flavors that I was dying to try, but I didn't have an ice cream maker - until now.

Kohl's was running a great sale this past weekend - so I happily picked up one ($24 off the original price!) I decided to go pretty basic with the first recipe, vanilla ice cream, but I added a little twist - Reese's Peanut Butter chips. The ice cream turned out wonderful, and since you are only using 4 ingredients, it tastes fresh and natural as well.

Stay tuned for more chilly & delicious summer treats!

Peanut Butter Chip Vanilla Ice Cream
Cuisinart recipe booklet for ice cream maker

Prep: 5 minutes, plus 25-30 minutes chilling time, 2 hours to ripen - please follow your ice cream maker's instructions, some may be different
Makes: 10 1/2 cup servings

1 cup whole milk, well chilled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, to taste
I added 8-10 oz Reese's Peanut Butter Baking Chips in the last 5 minutes of mixing

In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer or a whisk to combine the milk and sugar until sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes on low speed. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla to taste. Turn machine on, pour mixture into freezer bowl through ingredient spout and let mix until thickened, about 25-30 minutes.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Light, Healthy & Delicious

When I received the latest issue of Cooking Light, one recipe caught my eye - I just love chicken, fresh herbs and goat cheese together. Instead of a starch, I decided to make it a little healthier and lighter by just serving a veggie side dish - asparagus.

I love asparagus...but the hubby doesn't. So, I am constantly trying to cook it differently, hoping he'll finally like it - and success! This is actually one of my favorite ways to cook it too; so even if you're not an asparagus fan already, this recipe may turn you into one!

Garlicky Pan Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Zest

handful of asparagus spears, washed, dried and ends trimmed (about 1/2 lb/bunch)
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed
kosher salt and pepper to taste
lemon zest to taste

Preheat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and add in garlic cloves. When oil is heated, add asparagus and turn occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, and roast till cooked through, softened and slightly limp, but still still tender crisp, about 8-10 minutes. Tasting is the only way for me to get it exactly perfect. If garlic starts to get too brown, remove - you don't want burnt garlic flavor on your asparagus!
Sprinkle with lemon zest, remove from heat and serve.

Chicken Stuffed With Goat Cheese, Caramelized Spring Onions & Thyme

Cooking Light

*I cut the recipe in half

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/3 cups thinly sliced spring onions (about 1 pound) I used Vidalia onions
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon fat-free milk
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
6 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Cooking spray
1/2 cup dry white wine I used College Inn's White Wine & Herb Culinary Broth
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

*I flattened the chicken, placed sprinkled the chicken with salt and pepper, placed the filling on the chicken, and rolled it up, using toothpicks to hold into place, instead of creating pockets (I'm not so good at that)

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to pan; cook 12 minutes, stirring frequently. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook 5 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly. Combine onion mixture, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cheese, parsley, milk, and thyme in a small bowl, stirring with a fork.

2. Cut a horizontal slit through thickest portion of each chicken breast half to form a pocket; stuff 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese mixture into each pocket. Sprinkle chicken evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

3. Return pan to medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; sauté 5 minutes; turn chicken over. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 10 minutes or until chicken is done.
*I cooked the chicken for about 20 minutes, turning to cook all sides. Then I removed the chicken, placed in a covered baking dish in a preheated oven with a little chicken broth, and baked for about 10-15 minutes till cooked through. I removed from oven, cooled slightly, removed toothpicks and served with sauce.

Remove chicken from pan; let stand 10 minutes. Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until reduced by half (about 2 minutes). Add broth, and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 9 minutes). Serve with chicken.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Perfect Summertime Food - Made Indoors

One of my favorite summer foods is corn on the cob. I usually grill it, Southwest Chipotle and Lime Grilled Corn, and change up the seasonings that I put into the butter to compliment whatever dish I am making. But on the other hand, no matter how warm the weather gets, I love roasting vegetables. I have roasted corn before, and it was wonderful - but that was during my pre-blog days. It was too delicious not to share, and it is a healthier way to eat your corn. The roasting brings the corn so much flavor and moisture, you don't need to slather the corn with butter....but I couldn't help adding just a little bit :)

Oven Roasted Corn

2 ears of corn
1 tbsp room temperature butter
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Remove the silk, from the corn, but leave the husks on. Tie ends of husks together with a piece of husk or kitchen string. Add corn on oven rack and roast for about 35 minutes, turning occasionally.

Remove from oven, cool slightly and remove husks. Mix salt, pepper and butter together, and spread over hot corn.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Smokin' Chili & Cornbread

I pretty much always gave some chili in the freezer, so when I was thinking of taking some out for dinner. Much to my surprise, there wasn't any, so I decided to whip up another creation. I love spicy chili, but I wanted something a little different from my norm. This smoky chili is the perfect alternative for those who don't like it spicy.

It looks like a long ingredient list, but it's very simple, and once everything is in the pot, the stove does all the work for you. I served this with corn muffins, and it was also great on top of baked potatoes.

Smoky Lime Turkey Chili

1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1.3 lb ground turkey
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 cup of red bell pepper, chopped
1 bottle of Corona
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1 15 oz can stewed Mexican tomatoes, coarsely diced
28 ox can crushed tomatoes
8 oz tomato sauce
1/2 tsp each of freshly ground pepper and salt
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 chipotle chile peppers with a little of adobo sauce, seeded and finely chopped
1.5 tbsp lime juice
1.5 tbsp Mexican chili powder
1.5 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro

Heat oil in a large pot. Add turkey, break up, and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the nest 4 ingredients and saute until meat is browned and veggies are softened. Drain if necessary.

Return mixture to pot, add beer, liquid smoke and chipotle peppers, stir. Add all tomatoes and seasonings, stir to combine. Once bubbly, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer.

I let my chili simmer on low for about 3 hours. I added the beans with about 1.5 hours left of cooking time. If cooking for less time, just add them when you add the seasonings.

I served my chili with crushed tortilla chips (Tostitos Hint of Lime), fat free sour cream, 2% shredded mexican cheese and more freshly chopped cilantro.

Cheesy Jalapeno Lime Corn Muffins

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Ready In: 30 Minutes
Servings: 12


1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup milk
I added 1 cup finely shredded 2% Mexican cheese, juice from 1/4 lime, 1 tbsp lime zest and 1 finely chopped jalapeno pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin pan or line with paper muffin liners.

2. In a large bowl, mix together corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add egg, oil and milk; stir gently to combine. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

3. Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Great Food, Great Hockey

It's halfway through the month of May, the weather is warm, flowers are blooming, and the Detroit Red Wings are deep in their quest for another Stanley Cup. During home games at the Joe in Detroit, it is a common sight to see an octopus being thrown onto the ice. The tradition of the octopus dates way back into the 1950's, and the eight legs of the octopus were representative of the eight games it took to win the Stanley Cup. Times have changed, a mascot Al now hangs from the roof of the Joe (see picture below), and it takes 16 wins to win the cup, but octopus continue to find their way onto the ice.

So....onto the food. It's a tradition in Mrs Sac's Purple Kitchen to make delicious appetizers to enjoy while watching the hockey games. I created this eight-layered Mexican dip to enjoy while watching the last two games (which they won!). It makes a lot, but would be great for any gathering and keeps well for letovers if covered in the fridge for a couple of days.

And I couldn't help myself...I had to include this adorable picture of Socks and Thumper with the Al's.

Al's Eight-Layered Mexican Dip

1 can fat freerefried beans
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 avocados, mashed
2 green onions, sliced
1 1/4 cup tomatoes, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed
8 oz softened fat free cream cheese
8 oz fat free sour cream
1 small can black olives, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups finely shredded 2% Mexican cheese
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of half a lime
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tbsp Mexican chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste

In a small saucepan, heat beans, remove and pule in a food processor or mash with fork till desired consistency. Put back in saucepan and add the refried beans and heat on low for a couple of minutes. (This will make it easier to spread)

Meanwhile mix sour cream, oregano, cayenne, chili powder and cumin, set aside.

In another bowl, mash the avocado and add salt, pepper, lime juice, and cilantro, set aside.

In a glass dish, spread the beans. On top, layer the cream cheese, avocado, sour cream mixture, cheese, tomatoes, olives and onions.

Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours and enjoy with tortilla chips! I like Tostitos Scoops or Hint of Lime chips.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A 30 Minute Plus 8 Hour Meal

I had a busy day ahead of me, some veggies to use up and a craving for pasta. So I decided to let the slow cooker to do most of the work for me, and after only about 30 minutes of prep work, my sauce was simmering away in the crock pot. I just love how the crock pot infused the whole house with the delicious aromas of tomatoes and herbs - what a nice welcome home! It makes a larger batch, so there will be plenty of goodness for leftovers or freezer meals. Enjoy with a crisp green salad, plenty of Parmesan cheese and a nice glass of Merlot.

All Day Tomato Sauce & Meatballs

Meatballs: (Makes about 16-18 small-medium meatballs, next time I would use 1.5 lbs ground beef for more meatballs)

1 lb ground beef
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients except for the last two to a large bowl, combine and form into meatballs. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet and add the smashed garlic clove to infuse the oil. Add meatballs turning frequently to brown all sides, but not cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from skillet and add to sauce in the crock pot.

2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, grated
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1.5 cups Baby Bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
28 oz crushed tomatoes
28 oz tomato puree
about 1/2 cup water (I swished it around in the tomato puree can)
14.5 oz diced tomatoes with juices
1.5 tsp kosher salt or to taste
1 tsp freshly ground pepper or to taste
2 tsp dried parsley
1 bay leaf
1.5 tsp dried oregano
splash of red wine
1 tbsp EVOO (more if necessary)
1-3 cup fresh basil, torn, plus more for garnish
Parmesan cheese

Add all the tomatoes and water to the crock pot and set on high, cover.

In the same skillet as the meatballs were in, over medium heat add in a little more EVOO if necessary and add the celery, carrot and onions. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes. De glaze the pan with a splash of wine and continue to cook veggies till softened.

Remove, add to crock pot, and add all remaining herbs and seasonings. Turn down to low, and cook for 7-8 hours, tasting a couple of times and adjusting seasonings if necessary and stir on basil with about 20 minutes left. Garnish with more fresh basil before serving.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Feliz Cinco De Mayo!

I love Mexican food - it's fun, indulgent and delicious. So when Cinco De Mayo rolled around, it was just another excuse to enjoy some great food and of course a cerveza or two :) I had my eye on this chicken enchilada recipe from Tyler Florence, and since the hubby had a friend over, I knew there wouldn't be too much leftovers. (and there wasn't) This dish, along with the guacamole & salsa dips definitely hit the spot...Ole!

Chicken Enchiladas
Food Network/Tyler Florence

Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 15 min
Level: Intermediate
Serves: 16 enchiladas, 8 servings


3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon Mexican Spice Blend I used 1/2 tbsp Mexican-chili powder, 1/4 tsp oregano, 1/8 tsp cayenne
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
5 canned whole green chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped I used 1 jalepeno, seeded and minced
4 canned chipotle chiles, seeded and minced
1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
16 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce, canned
1 cup shredded Cheddar and Jack cheeses
Garnish: chopped cilantro leaves, chopped scallions, sour cream, chopped tomatoes


Coat large saute pan with oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken over medium heat, allow 7 minutes each side or until no longer pink. Sprinkle chicken with cumin, garlic powder and Mexican spices before turning. Remove chicken to a platter, allow to cool.

Saute onion and garlic in chicken drippings until tender. Add corn and chiles. Stir well to combine. Add canned tomatoes, saute 1 minute.
Pull chicken breasts apart by hand into shredded strips. Add shredded chicken to saute pan, combine with vegetables. Dust the mixture with flour to help set.

Microwave tortillas on high for 30 seconds. This softens them and makes them more pliable. Coat the bottom of 2 (13 by 9-inch) pans with a ladle of enchilada sauce. Using a large shallow bowl, dip each tortilla in enchilada sauce to lightly coat. Spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture in each tortilla. Fold over filling, place 8 enchiladas in each pan with seam side down. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven until cheese melts. Garnish with cilantro, scallion, sour cream and chopped tomatoes before serving. Serve with Spanish rice and beans.

Holy Guacamole

2 avocados, pitted and mashed
3 tbsp red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
small handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
juice of a half of a small lime
1/4 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Mix all ingredients, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Fresh and Easy Salsa

4 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
3 tsp lime juice
salt to taste (about 1/4-1/2) tsp
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 jalepeno, seeded and diced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 small can diced green chilies, drained

Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse till desired . Add salsa to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cream Sauce - Minus The Guilt

I love Trader Joe's - I used to live right by one in Michigan, and went there pretty often. One did open in Nashville a few months ago, which I finally made it to...although due to some silly laws in the state...they don't sell my wine tower staple Two-Buck Chuck :( For those of you who don't know, it's actually a pretty decent wine that you can buy by the case.

But there other great things that I like at TJ's - one of them being the chicken sausages. So I picked up some Sundried Tomato & Basil sausages for the first time - we loved them - they are full of flavor and grill up quickly since they are fully cooked. They tasted great in the pasta, and I also used them in calzones (which will be blogged soon!) I love cream sauces, but don't make it often...but this one isn't too heavy since it uses half and half cream, and blending the tomato mixture creates a thicker consistency.

Sun Dried Tomato Cream Pasta with Sausage and Spinach

1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp EVOO
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
pinch of sugar
2 (or more) grilled sausages, sliced I used Trader Joe's Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Sausages
28 oz can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped with juice
3 tbsp softened sun dried tomatoes, julienned
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp of half and half cream
2.5 cups baby spinach
1/2 box pasta (I used penne rigate)
handful of freshly chopped parsley and basil

Heat EVOO is a pot over medium heat. Add onions, saute for a couple of minutes, add garlic, and saute for another 3 minutes or so till softened. Add tomatoes, kosher salt and pepper, sun dried tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, grill or pan fry sausages till done. Slice and set aside.

Prepare pasta according, removing from heat a couple of minutes before being done, it will finish cooking in the sauce. Drain, reserve some cooking liquid and set aside.

Remove sauce from heat and puree in a food processor or blender till desired. Return sauce to pot, add sausages and spinach and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add in cream and stir till blended and thickened. Add in pasta, parsley, basil and a little of the pasta cooking water, simmer on low for a couple of minutes. Serve with parmesean cheese and additional fresh herbs.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Recipe Revisit - Chicken Gyros & Tzatziki

I have revisited one of my favorite meals many times since my original post My Big But Not-Fat Greek Dinner. The first time around, I made it with a kebab recipe that I sort of turned into a gyro; this time it was more authentic since I used an actual chicken gyros recipe, which had only chicken, tzatziki, sliced tomatoes, onions and crumbled feta.

I thought about re-doing the entire post, since I made it this time with homemade whole wheat pitas, and my first picture...well...sucked. Even though this picture finally does this meal justice, I left the original post since I think it shows the advancement of my photo taking abilities, and just how far I've come since starting the blog. Opa!

Chicken Gyros
Elly Says Opa

1.25 lbs. chicken pieces AI used breast meat
4 cloves garlic, smashed
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping Tbsp. plain yogurt I used Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp. dried oregano I used fresh Greek oregano
salt and pepper
1/2 batch of tzatziki
sliced tomatoes
sliced onions
4 (pocketless) pitas

Whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, yogurt, and oregano in a bowl. Add the chicken and rub the marinade in. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
Preheat the broiler (or grill, or pan on the stove). Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides, and then broil until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side, depending what size/type chicken you are using. Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before slicing into strips.

Meanwhile, heat your pitas. I have a gas stove, so I just spray them with a little bit of oil and stick them right on the burner for a few seconds per side. Top the pita with the chicken, tzatziki, tomatoes, onions. Roll up and eat!

What a P-I-T-A

Now that I finally have some success in baking and working with yeast, I thought "Why not try making bread?" After putting it off for a while now (chickening out) I decided to make pita bread to go with one of my favorite dinners - chicken gyros.

Well.....due to my sub par baking and planning skills, and ability to work with flour and cornmeal without turning the kitchen into a disaster zone....making and cleaning up after the pitas were a pain-in the you-know-what.

It wasn't the was me. I learned 2 lessons - read the entire recipe carefully before beginning, and leave some extra time before when you need them for the meal. But overall, the end result was wonderful - although they weren't perfectly round or completely flat, they were fresh, soft & tasty. I definitely noticed a difference than store bought pitas, and I would make a double batch of these again to freeze.

Whole Wheat Pita Bread
Found on Confections of a Foodie Bride; Originally from Gourmet

1 package active dry yeast
1 Tbsp honey
1 1/4 cups warm water (105–115°F)
1 1/2 cups bread flour or high-gluten flour, plus additional for kneading
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
Cornmeal for sprinkling baking sheets

Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

While yeast mixture stands, stir together flours in another bowl. Whisk 1/2 cup flour mixture into yeast mixture until smooth, then cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Stir in oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water, and remaining 2 1/2cups flour mixture until a dough forms.

Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead, working in just enough additional flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and put in an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Set oven rack in middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 500°F.

Punch down dough and cut into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Flatten 1 ball, then roll out into a 6 1/2- to 7-inch round on floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Transfer round a baking sheet lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Make 7 more rounds in same manner, arranging them on baking sheets. Loosely cover pitas with a clean kitchen towel and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Transfer 4 pitas, 1 at a time, directly onto oven rack. Bake until just puffed and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over with tongs and bake 1 minute more. Cool pitas on a cooling rack 2 minutes, then stack and wrap loosely in a kitchen towel to keep pitas warm. Bake remaining pitas in same manner. Serve warm.

Friday, April 24, 2009

PB & J - Not Just For Sandwiches!

Peanut butter & jelly - one of my favorite sandwiches and flavor combinations. When I saw this recipe for peanut butter and jelly shortbread wedges, I knew I just had to try it. I've never made shortbread it came out a little darker on the edges than I would have liked, I should have taken it out of the oven a few minutes sooner. But overall, it tasted wonderful - and it would be a crime to serve this without a big glass of milk.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread Wedges
Seen on Cooking This And That; originally adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody
Makes 8 wedges (or more)

nonstick baking spray
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
large pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup jelly (any flavor you want) I used grape jelly, but I look forward to making this again with a different flavor

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat bottom of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with nonstick spray.

Beat butter and peanut butter in large bowl until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and salt and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Add flour; beat on low speed just until blended.

Reserve 1/3 cup dough. Press remaining dough evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Spread jam over dough in pan, leaving 1/3-inch plain border. Crumble reserved dough over the jam layer.

Bake shortbread until dough edge is deep golden and dough on top looks dry and baked through, about 40-50 minutes. (I baked mine for about 46 edges got a little dark, I should have taken it out at about the 43 minute mark)

Cool shortbread completely in pan. Release pan sides. Cut shortbread into wedges and store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Beans, Beans, Beans

I'm so glad that I finally got around to making this black bean soup - it's been on my to-make-list for a while now. If you love black beans, Mexican flavors and eating something that you can feel good about - don't hesitate to make this dish! Even without meat, it is hearty due to the blending and doesn't have any butter or cream. (Bikini season is just around the corner...)

Black Bean Soup
Elly Says Opa

1 lb. dried black beans (or 3 cans prepared beans, drained and rinsed)
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 large onion, diced
2 poblano peppers, diced
1 jalapeno (seeds/ribs removed or not, according to your choosing), minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
7 cups vegetable broth
2 tsp. cumin
1.5 tsp. chili powder I used 1 tsp Mexican chili powder, 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 bay leaf
1 cup corn I omitted
1 lime, juiced
toppings of your choice - I used sliced green onions, fat free sour cream and 2% Mexican shredded cheese.
I added 2 tbsp of freshly chopped cilantro after pureeing

If you’re using dried beans, pick over and rinse the beans, tossing anything that doesn’t look great. Use the overnight soak or quick soaking method for your beans (directions on the bag), and drain the beans when done soaking. Then, place the beans in a stockpot and cover with cold water (to a couple inches above the beans) and simmer for about 2 hours OR place the beans and water in your crockpot and cook on low for about 8 hours. The beans should be tender to the bite. Drain the beans.

In a large stockpot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic, cooking until tender. Stir in the tomato sauce, broth, cumin, chili powder, oregano, bay leaf, and beans. Season to taste with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the bay leaf and puree about 1/3 of the soup mixture. You can either put a few cups of the soup in a food processor or you can do what I did and spoon some of the mixture into a large bowl, and then use an immersion blender for what remains in the stockpot. Add everything back into the stockpot, stir in corn, and lime and heat through. Season to taste if necessary.

Nutritional Information Per Serving: Calories: 193 /Fat: 3.6g / Saturated Fat: 0.3g / Carbs: 32.7 / Fiber: 9.4g / Protein: 10.1g

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fake Out Take Out - Egg Rolls

After enjoying the Kung Pao Chicken, I found myself still in an Asian food kind of mood. When the hubby suggested egg rolls - I was definitely game - I had great success with Chicken Potstickers. I'll admit - there are a lot of ingredients and it is a long process - but it is easy and worth it - I doubt I will ever buy frozen egg rolls again. The egg rolls were amazingly full of freshness and flavor, I could have devoured the whole batch myself. (Sorry Jamie!) But restraint took over and we enjoyed a big bowl of steamed veggies to go with the egg rolls.

Serve egg rolls with plum, duck, teriyaki or whatever sauce you enjoy.

Cilantro-Lime Chicken Egg Rolls

2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cooked (diced or shredded) chicken breast
1 tsp fresh ginger, shredded
1/2 cup carrot, shredded
1 cup yellow pepper, diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup mushrooms, diced
1.5 cups bean sprouts
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1.5 tsp lime zest
squeeze of lime juice
3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
3 tbsp fat free chicken broth
dash of salt and pepper
egg roll wrappers
vegetable oil
plum or duck sauce

Heat 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil in large skillet on med-high heat.

In a small bowl, whisk together chicken broth, lime zest, lime juice, sesame oil, hoisin, soy sauce and a dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.

Add garlic and ginger, stir for a few seconds. Add peppers, mushrooms, carrots and sprouts. Cook for 3 minutes. Add in onions and cabbage and continue to cook for 2 more minutes. Add in soy mixture and stir till combined. Cook just until cabbage is wilted and veggies are softened. Stir in cilantro.

Remove from heat and let cool. Once filling has cooled, fill the egg rolls with approximately 2 tbsp of filling, or adjust accordingly. I filled the egg rolls with the wrappers diagonally - put the filling in the center, roll the bottom tightly over the filling, fold in the sides, slightly moisten the top of the wrapper and fold down and over, pressing to make sure all edges are sealed.

If making ahead of time, place a dampened paper towel over egg rolls to prevent them from drying out. I got 12 egg rolls from this batch of filling.

To cook: Heat a large skillet with two tbsp of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Place egg rolls in skillet and fry on each side for about 4 minutes, until browned and crispy. Remove and place on a paper towel lined plate. Enjoy!

To freeze: Place egg rolls in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Once slightly frozen, remove and place in freezer bag. Thaw before using, and then cook as above.