Saturday, January 31, 2009

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

Who doesn't love peanut butter? I know there might be someone out there who doesn't but pb never gets old to me.
These muffins are like a pb&j sandwich for breakfast, except better.
I had to make some muffins for a morning get-together and these muffins just looked tasty over at myrecipes. I double a batch and they were ready in a jiffy (ha- I didn't even realize that was kinda a pun because of Jif) My kids loved them and I did too.
I used Marionberry Jam because that is what we had hanging out in the fridge. I am sure almost any flavor of jelly or jam would go great with these.
Perfect for breakfast or a snack.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffin from Cooking Light
Don't use a natural-style peanut butter in this recipe; it won't have enough sugar or fat to help the muffins rise.
1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (about 3 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup egg substitute
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray
1/4 cup strawberry jam (I used marionberry)

Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, sugars, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (through vanilla); add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Fill each cup half full with batter. Spoon 1 teaspoon jam into each cup. Spoon remaining batter on top to cover jam. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Let cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool on a wire rack.

Up Next- Gingerbread Waffles with Lemon Whipped Cream and Lemon Syrup

Friday, January 30, 2009

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars and Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

We were having dinner guests and I wanted to make an impressive dessert in half the time. I chose cheesecake bars but couldn't decide which flavor would please everyone, so I made both! When in doubt, make more, right?
I thought that the lemon blueberry would give a nice, light, fruity option and the chocolate-pumpkin would satisfy the chocolate-craving dessert eaters.
As it always does, the vote was split. Half of us liked the lemon better- half liked the chocolate better.
I liked the chocolate-pumpkin version better because it tasted less like cheesecake and more like something very pumpkiny. Isn't that a great description? Anyway, just laugh at me- it is fine.
What is your favorite flavor of cheesecake?

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars from Martha Stewart
Prep: 25 minutes Total: 5 hours
To create swirls, drag the blade of a paring knife through the chocolate and pumpkin mixtures several times to make a marbled pattern.
Makes 16.
20 chocolate wafer cookies, (half a 9-ounce package) (I used 1/2 pkg of oreos with some of the creme filling removed)
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 packages bar cream cheese, (8 ounces each)
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.
In a food processor, blend cookies with sugar until finely ground (you should have about 1 cup crumbs); add butter, and pulse until moistened.
Transfer crumb mixture to prepared pan, and press gently into bottom. Bake until fragrant and slightly firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Place cream cheese in food processor; blend until smooth. Add sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs, flour, pumpkin-pie spice, and salt; process until combined. Set aside.
Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each, until melted. Add 1 cup pumpkin mixture; stir to combine. Set aside.
Pour remaining pumpkin mixture into prepared pan. Drop dollops of chocolate mixture onto pumpkin mixture; swirl. Bake until cheesecake is set but jiggles slightly when gently shaken, 40 to 50 minutes.
Cool in pan. Cover; chill until firm, at least 2 hours (and up to 2 days). Using overhang, transfer cake to work surface. With a knife dipped in water, cut into 16 squares.
Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars from Tyler Florence via the Food Network
Prep Time: 25 min Inactive Prep Time: 3 hr 0 min Cook Time: 35 min Level: Easy
Serves: 10 bars
For the base: Butter, for greasing
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
9 graham crackers
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
For the filling: 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs
2 lemons, zested and juiced
About 1/2 cup sugar, eyeball it
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
For the base:
Grease the bottom of a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with butter. Then place parchment paper over the top, pressing down at the corners. In a food processor, process the sugar, cinnamon and graham crackers until you have the texture of bread crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate. Pour into the lined baking pan and gently pat down with the base of a glass. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until golden. When done set aside to cool.
For the filling:
Add cream cheese, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar to the food processor and mix until well combined. It should have a smooth consistency. Pour onto the cooled base and then cover with blueberries. They will sink slightly but should still be half exposed -- as the cake bakes they will sink a little more and break down.
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the center only slightly jiggles. Remove from the oven and cool completely before refrigerating for at least 3 hours. Once set, remove from pan using the parchment lining and slice into 10 rectangular bars. Dust with powdered sugar

Coming Tomorrow- PB&J Muffins

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Walnut-Crusted Tilapia and Barley Pilaf

My family loves fish, especially tilapia. I saw this healthy recipe in Family Circle magazine and wanted to try it. I love recipes where the fish is coated in nuts and this one topped it off by adding one of my favorite foods-dark greens. The recipe called for Swiss Chard, but it was too expensive, so I substituted Kale. Funny side note- My hubby guessed what greens we were having! I couldn't believe that he correctly identified kale!
This fish was amazing. I was surprise at how much flavor the quick brushing of dijon mustard/fat-free mayo gave this fish, along with the dried basil and walnuts. It was really delicious. We used Tilapia loin filets from Costco, which are thicker then the typical fish filet. I think that added to the tastiness of the fish. I am so glad my kids love fish.
The barley pilaf is a recipe I remember my mom making when I was growing up. I reduced the amount of butter and it brought back some fun memories of being a kid. You can also add cooked chicken to the barley pilaf and turn it into a main dish.
You have got to try this fish- it was really, really good!

Walnut-Crusted Tilapia adapted from Family Circle Magazine
4 servings
Prep: 15 minutes Bake: 15 minutes Cook: 11 minutes
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon fat-free mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tilapia filets (about 6 ounces each) (I used Tilapia Loin, from Costco)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 bunches kale, stems removed and leaves cut into 1-inch pieces
1. Heat oven to 425°F. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Stir together mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon of the mustard. Finely chop walnuts. Brush tilapia with mustard mixture, then sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon basil and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Press 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts onto one side of each fillet.
3. Place tilapia, walnut-side up, on baking sheet; bake at 425°F for 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily.
4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook 4 minutes. Stir kale and season with salt and pepper. Saute for a few minutes and then cover and cook, until tender, about 6-8 minutes.

Barley Pilaf
1 1/3 cup regular barley
1 cup shredded carrot
4 oz. sliced mushroom
1 onion, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
2 Tbls unsalted butter

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. Add onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add barley, mushrooms, and shredded carrots, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and Cover. Cook for 45 minutes or until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

Coming Tomorrow- Cheesecake Bars, 2 ways

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Artichoke Heart and Spinach Gratin

One of my favorite cookbooks is The Vegetable Dishes I can't Live Without by Mollie Katzen. I love vegetables, but sometimes need inspiration on delicious, new ways to serve them. This cookbook is chock full of inventive, delicious ways to serve up all sorts of veggies.
This particular dish reminds me of Spinach-Artichoke Dip, because of its ingredients, but is is fresher tasting and much healthier. The spinach is wilted with onions and garlic and then the artichokes are stirred in. Top it off with bread crumbs and some fresh Parmesan and you have a great main or side dish. Plus, I love how rustic it looked, served in a cast-iron skillet.
It was easy to prepare and very delicious. If you love vegetables or need some new ways to fix them, I recommend checking out this cookbook.

Artichoke Heart & Spinach Gratin adapted from The Vegetables Dishes I can't Live Without by Mollie Katzen
12 oz. artichoke hearts, canned, bottled or frozen (I used bottled)
1 pd. fresh baby spinach leaves
1 Tbls olive oil
1 cup finely minced onion
2 tsps minced garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup coarse bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. If using frozen artichokes, run under tap water to defrost. If using canned or bottled, drain on a paper towel.
3. Rinse spinach and shake off most of the water.
4. Place a large, deep skillet with an ovenproof handle over medium heat. Heat oil and add onion. Saute for 5 minutes.
5. Increase the heat to med-high, add the spinach and cover. Cook, tossing occasionally, for 3-4 minutes, or until wilted. Remove cover and continue to cook for about 10 minutes or until the liquid released by the spinach mostly evaporates.
6. Turn the heat back to medium and add the garlic. Saute until garlic is fragrant. Stir in salt, pepper and artichoke hearts. Remove from the heat.
7. Smooth the top surface with the back of a spoon and sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the top, followed by an even layer of cheese.
8. Bake, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes, or until the Parmesan is golden and the bread crumbs have turned golden and crispy. Serve hot or warm.

Coming Tomorrow- Walnut-Crusted Tilapia with Kale and Barley Pilaf

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday's with Dorie- Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread

This week's Tuesday's with Dorie recipe, Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread, was chosen by Heather of Sherry Trifle. You can find the recipe on her blog.
I thought it was sort of funny that she chose this recipe, because it was in the running for my choice when I started my list of things I might choose when my turn came. The picture in the book looks gingery and delicious.
Dorie says to make this in a 9x9-inch pan, but I wanted smaller servings, so I went with my 2 mini-bundt pans and I also had enough batter to fill a mini-muffin pan.
I added frozen cranberries to half of my batter and left out the stem ginger in syrup.
I took these to a party where there was a chocolate fountain, so I figured that people could give them a nice showering of chocolate on top, if they wanted to.
Overall, the results were split. Some people loved these- especially with the cranberries. Others thought they were too chocolaty. I actually didn't get to try anything but a crumb, but they all disappeared, so I guess there were enough people who liked them, right? Check out what everyone else thought by checking out the Tuesday's with Dorie blogroll!

Coming Tomorrow- Spinach and Artichoke Heart Gratin

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cooking Light Night- Chinese New Year- Stir Fried Shrimp, Stir-Fried Bok Choy, Chinese Dumplings, Long Life Noodles, and Double Mango Pudding

Happy Chinese New Year!

When I got the January 2009 issue of Cooking Light, the Chinese New Year menu caught my eye. It looked like the perfect menu to serve up at a party. I have never celebrated Chinese New Year, but thought that this menu was a good excuse to invite people over and have a party. We actually celebrated the Monday before since everyone was out of school and a few people were off of work. We had 12 adults and 5 kids that ate with us and the amount of food was perfect. This menu appealed to me because we love to eat stir fry and potstickers are also a family favorite. Also, all of these dishes came together really fast, so we didn't have to spend all day in the kitchen. I made the Mango pudding the night before and got the potsticker filling ready early in the day.
Overall, we loved this menu. The stir fries were delicious and the sauces were flavorful. We topped the pudding with whipped cream when we served it and it was a big hit.
I asked my husband if he liked these potsticker more than the ones that I make very frequently (Check them out HERE) and he wasn't sure because these ones were really good. If you need something quick to celebrate Chinese New Year tonight, try one of these- any or all of them are real crowd pleasers!

Just click on these links for the recipes:
Long Life Noodles
Stir-Fried Shrimp with Garlic and Chile Sauce

Double Mango Pudding from Cooking Light January 2009
Orange mangoes symbolize gold and riches. Prepare and chill pudding the night before. Whip the cream just before serving, and allow guests to dollop some on their own desserts.
3 mangoes, peeled and divided
2 1/4 cups water, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup whipping cream
1. Coarsely chop 2 mangoes. Dice the remaining mango.
2. Combine coarsely chopped mangoes and 1/4 cup water in a blender; process until smooth. Press puree through a fine sieve over a bowl; discard solids.
3. Bring 3/4 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add sugar to pan, stirring until dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in the remaining 1 1/4 cups water. Sprinkle unflavored gelatin over water in the saucepan; let stand 1 minute. Add the mango puree, stirring with a whisk. Pour the mixture evenly into each of 8 (6-ounce) ramekins or custard cups. Cover and chill overnight or until set. Top evenly with diced mango.
4. Place cream in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Serve with pudding.

Up Next- Tuesday's with Dorie- Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gonzo Garbanzos

I have seen roasted garbanzo beans popping up all over the place in the blogging world. I thought this particular recipe looked really good with the combination of spices and pistachios. And it was.
Does anyone else think it is funny how some cans/brands of garbanzo beans contain really small beans and other cans/brands of them contain huge beans? I think it is a little wierd, but obviously you can see that these were on the smaller side. They also get smaller as they are roasting.
I reduced the amount of olive oil that the chickpeas were tossed with, just because I think you can often reduce the fat content in recipes and still get a great result.
This is a healthy snack, that is really great to grab a handful of as you are busy doing whatever throughout your day. I am going to make this again!
Gonzo Garbanzos Nick Mautone From Every Day with Rachael RayDecember-January 2007
Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 35 min
Two 15.5-ounce cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans)--drained, rinsed and patted dry
1/4 cup olive oil ( I only used 1-2 Tbls)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 cup shelled pistachios (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the chickpeas in a medium bowl and discard any loose skins. Toss with the olive oil, salt, black pepper, cumin and cayenne until evenly coated. Spread the chickpeas on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and quickly stir in the thyme and pistachios, if using. Bake until crunchy, about 10 minutes more. Let cool and serve at room temperature.
Coming Tomorrow- Cooking Light Night- Chinese New Year!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Not Just-For-Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread Cake

I stocked up on cranberries when they were cheap at the grocery store and wanted to give this cake a try. I am always curious about the recipes in Dorie's Baking book that don't have pictures and it makes me want to try them. I happened to have an extra egg yolk hanging out in the fridge, so I mixed up the filling and the dough and let them sit in the fridge overnight. Very easy dough to put together.
I baked this cake the next day and instead of using plain old sugar on top- I used some of my red and white decorating sugar.
It was really good. Tart and shortbread- A great combination.

Not-Just-For-Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread Cake (Adapted from Baking From My Home To Yours)
For the filling:
1 large navel orange
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 to 1 cup granulated sugar
For the cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoons salt
13 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
To make the filling:
Grate the entire zest from the orange and remove the white pith left behind with a sharp knife. Slice between the membranes of the orange to remove the segments. Cut each segment into 1/4" pieces and place them, along with the zest, in a medium saucepan. Squeeze any of the juice left in the membranes of the orange into a measuring cup - you need about 1/4 cup total juice, if you don't get that much just add extra orange juice (or water if need be) to reach that amount.
Stir the cranberries and 3/4 cup granulated sugar into the pan.
Place over medium heat and bring to a boil - cook, stirring constantly, until the cranberries pop and the mixture thickens enough that your spoon will leave a track when you move it through. This should take around 5 minutes once it comes to the boil.
Scoop the jam into the bowl and let it cool slightly - if it is still too tart, add enough of the remaining 1/4 cup sugar to even out the flavor.
Allow to cool to room temperature then cover and refrigerate it until needed.
To make the cake:
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until creamy - about 1 minute. Add 1 cup granulated sugar and mix until completely combined. Add the egg and yolk - beat the mixture until combined.
Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir by hand just until the flour has been absorbed. Divide the mixture in half and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap.
Flatten each portion into a disk and cover with another piece of plastic wrap - place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350
Working with one portion of the dough at a time, roll one piece out between two pieces of plastic wrap until it is large enough to cover the bottom of a 9" springform pan coated with nonstick spray. Carefully lift up the dough and lightly press it around to fit it into the pan. Scoop the cranberry filling on top of the dough and use an off-set spatula to spread it to an even layer. Remove the second piece of dough from the refrigerator and roll it out again to the same size as the first. Carefully flip the dough on top of the filling and use your fingers to lightly even it out so the dough completely covers the filling. Lightly brush the top of the dough with water and sprinkle the remaining 2 teaspoons granulated sugar on top. Bake until the top of the cake is a light golden and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out mostly clean - about 35 to 45 minutes.
Remove and place the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes - gently run a thin knife around the edge to loosen the cake, then remove the sides of the pan and let cool completely
Coming Tomorrow- Gonzo Garbanzos

Friday, January 23, 2009

Prudy's Corn and Black Bean Salad with Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette and Prudy's Fresh Corn Tamales

Don't you wish you had this snowy backdrop? Maybe you do and maybe you love it. I mostly wish it would melt away, although it is pretty sometimes. Enough about the cold weather and on to some delicious food.
When I saw that Prudy made homemade tamales a couple of weeks ago, I immediately printed out the recipe and wrote her tamales into the menu. I have been wanting to make tamales from scratch, but was too scared for some reason. I haven't eaten them very often, if ever, but it sounded like an adventure-so, I went for it.
Thankfully Prudy included step by step photos of the entire process, so I was able to make sure I was proceeding correctly.
My son loved these! That is saying something. He is usually one of the pickiest eaters at the table. They were worth the effort.
I made 2 fillings- cooked chicken with green chiles and taco-flavored shredded chicken. Both were delicious. I am eager to try these again and play around with the fillings.
I also served Prudy's Black Bean Salad on the side, but opted for more beans and bell peppers and less corn, since the tamales had lots of corn in them. What a fancy Fiesta!

For the Fresh Corn Tamales go to Prudy's post- HERE
Corn and Black Bean Salad with Cumin Lime Vinaigrette adapted from Prudence Pennywise
2 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed well
1/2 cup corn kernels, (frozen and thawed, or canned, or cut off the cob)
1 plum tomato, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
juice and zest of one lime
1 each, orange and yellow bell pepper, chopped
garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
Combine beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and jalapeno in a medium bowl. Sprinkle cumin and salt and pepper over the top. Drizzle with oil, lime juice and zest; taste for salt and pepper and adjust seasonings if necessary. Toss and serve.
Prudy's suggestion for turning this into a main dish:Add 2 cups each cooked brown rice and fully cooked meat, adding extra cumin, lime, and olive oil if necessary. I used leftover grilled chicken slices.
Up next- Not-Just-For- Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread Cake

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers-Easy Sticky Buns and Craving Ellie- Chicken Cacciatore

This week's Barefoot Bloggers recipe, Easy Sticky Buns, was chosen by Melissa over at Made by Melissa and taken from The Barefoot Contessa's latest cookbook, Back to Basics. Since easy is in the name of the recipe- you expect it to be just that, easy. And it was. I made a couple of changes. I didn't want to buy puff pastry and I had a pkg of Pillsbury refrigerated pizza dough in the fridge, so I made the swap. I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out, but I decided to go for it. I am glad I did too. It worked just fine. I just rolled out the dough and reduce the amount of butter by half and made it work. They tasted just great. Probably a little less sweet, but we saved some calories and still had a tasty breakfast sweet. Go see what the rest of the BBloggers thought by checking out the Blogroll.

This week's Craving Ellie recipe, Chicken Cacciatore, was chosen by Peggy over at Pantry Revisited. You can go to her blog to get the recipe. This is a simple, hearty dish that I threw together on a Saturday afternoon. It was good, nothing wowed me, but we enjoyed it. Chicken and veggies, with yummy seasonings and a little sauce is always good. Go check out the Craving Ellie site to see what everyone else thought about this dish!

Easy Sticky Buns adapted from the Barefoot Contessa
6 Tbls unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/3 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces
1 package refrigerated pizza dough (such as Pillsbury)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (I used a fork), combine the 6 tablespoons butter and half of the brown sugar. Place 1 rounded teaspoon of the mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.
Melt the remaining butter/brown sugar mixture and brush it over the pizza dough. Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar over the dough and the cinnamon.
Starting with the end nearest you, roll the dough up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down.
Slice the roll in 12 equal pieces, each about 1 inch wide. Place each piece, spiral side up, in the muffin cups.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 5 minutes only and then turn them out onto a piece of parchment.

Come back tomorrow for Prudy's Fresh Corn Tamales and Black Bean Salad

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Garlicky Red Lentil Dal and Homemade Whole Wheat Garlic Pita Chips

This is hands down, the best dip I have ever tasted, made, inhaled, smelled, looked at, dreamed about or seen. It is unbelievable. I wasn't expecting anything spectacular when I made this. I had just about a cup of red lentils left in the pantry and I had done soups, wraps, and burgers, so I just searched red lentils at and found this recipe. It sounded interesting and I had the lentils ready to go, so I mixed it up.
Amazing! The spices, the flavor, the texture- I know that I rave about a lot of things but this was delicious and I wasn't the only one who thought so. Even the very picky kids that turn their noses up at everything I make when they come over to play with my kids, gobbled it down. oh and the pita chips too.
Do what you have to. Find red lentils. Make this dip.
I would've like to spread this on some flatbread and make a wrap, but you guessed it- There wasn't any left. I am making this again soon. I just have to make a trip to a Health Food Store and stock up on my yummy lentils.

Garlicky Red Lentil Dal adapted from Cooking Light
This dip tastes best at room temperature.
1 cup dried small red lentils
2 1/2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, divided (I added 1 heaping tsp of ground cumin to the other spices)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika (I used normal paprika)
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped seeded tomato (I used plain, diced tomatoes from a can)
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint ( I omitted this garnish on top)
Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until tender. Drain; discard bay leaf. Place lentils in a small bowl.
Combine 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, salt, turmeric, paprika, and red pepper in a spice or coffee grinder; process until finely ground.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes or until tender. Stir in spice mixture, tomato, and garlic; cook 2 minutes or until slightly thick. Remove pan from heat; stir in lentils, lemon juice, and black pepper. Place lentil mixture in a food processor; process until smooth.
Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat, and add 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds. Sauté seeds for 15 seconds, and drizzle over dal. Sprinkle with fresh mint.

Whole Wheat Garlic Pita Chips by Mary Ann
2 whole wheat pitas, divided in half- make two sides by opening the pocket
cooking spray
garlic sea salt grinder
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut or tear your pitas into triangles or pieces. Arrange them on a baking sheet. Coat pita pieces with cooking spray and season with garlic sea salt grinder. Toast in oven for 7-10 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy.

Coming Tomorrow- Barefoot Bloggers- Easy Sticky Buns and Craving Ellie- Chicken Caccitore

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesday's with Dorie- Berry Surprise Cake- My Pick!

This week's Tuesday's with Dorie selection was brought to you by ME! That's right, it was my turn to choose and what a difficult task. When I joined TWD last March, I really never thought I would see the day that I would be able to choose the recipe, because there were so many members ahead of me.
Well, the day came! I was trying to decide if I should choose something decadent that I have never attempted before, like Chocolate Souffle or Pots de Creme or if I should go with a fabulous looking tart. I wanted to try one of the Bread Puddings, the Raspberry Blanc-Manger, or the most interesting looking dessert in the book in my opinion, Coconut-Roasted Pinapple Dacquoise.
But the one recipe that I kept coming back to was the Berry Surprise Cake. There wasn't a picture, which is a little bit interesting. Besides, I enjoy baking cake the most and this particular cake sounded light and airy, with a fabulous contrast coming from the berries, kind of like berries and cream.
My apologies about the berries- I know they are out of season and super expensive right now, but I figured this was my one chance to command about 400 other bakers and so, I chose the Berry Surprise Cake on pages 273-275 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking: from my home to yours. (If you still do not own this book, get a copy of it!)

I made a full recipe in my 8-inch springform pan and was careful to follow Dories instructions. She gives great instructions, with very accurate times. I let my egg/sugar mixture get just warm, beat it into beautiful, pale fluff, folded everything very gently and put my batter in the oven. It was beautiful and when I checked through the window, it had great height. When I checked a few minutes later, it had fallen a little bit. It wasn't horrible, but I wanted the cake to be perfect-so I whipped up another half batch and made it in my new 4-inch mini springform pans. Same thing. except this time I watched. I sat by the oven and saw the beautiful height and then saw them fall. Yikes! I actually asked Dorie about it and she was kind enough to respond to me in an email. She said, "Genoise cakes can sometimes sink a bit in the center - not attractive,but not really a problem with this cake, since you'll be hollowing it out and covering the top. Usually, the culprit with this cake is the folding, but it sounds as though you were gentle with the ingredients. It could be that your eggs were too hot, but I doubt that, too. The cake always rises high in the oven early on in its bake and then sinks some as it continues to bake and, as I said, it can sometimes form a dip in the center." Hey, if it isn't a problem with Dorie, it isn't a problem with me.

I was relieved to find out a little sinkage was perfectly normal and decided since I had a large 8-inch and 2 small 4-inch cakes, that I would cut 2 4-inch rounds out of the large cake and use them to cover my small cakes. I sliced the 8-inch cake in half and then cut out some cute little tops. Cheating? maybe, but it worked!

My hollowed out mini cake, which was soaked in the yummy syrup
Thin layer of filling
A few raspberries
Covered with filling
Topped with my cut-out round from the larger cake and Ta-da! no one will ever know, except you all, because I told you. I thought the finished cake was delicious. I let it sit in the fridge overnight and the flavors were really great the next day. This would be the perfect cake to serve at party. Yum- great pick, if I do say so myself! I hope everyone else liked it- To see if they did, go check out the TWD Blogroll!

Berry Surprise Cake from Baking: from my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan
Makes 8 servings
Serving: Cut the cake at the table using a serrated knife. It can be served just as it is or you can drizzle a little Raspberry Coulis (page 467) over each slice.
Storing: While you can bake the cake up to 1 day ahead and keep it wrapped at room temperature (a day-old cake is a bit easier to cut than a fresh cake), or freeze it well wrapped for up to 2 months, once the cake is assembled, it is best to serve it the same day.
Playing Around: The filling is so good you might want to use it without the cake. If so, add sugar to it, or not, and splash the fruit with a little liqueur (eaux-de-vie, liqueurs such as Chambord or brandies like kirsch are freally good with soft fruits) if you'd like. Spoon the fruit into pretty bowls or glasses-everything looks good in champagne flutes- and top with the cream filling.
"One of the great pleasures of my New York City childhood was clutching a handful of coins, walking to the luncheonette about ten blocks from home and buying a charlotte russe. Charlotte russe, a sweet rarely seen these days, and certainly not at corner luncheonettes, was originally made of ladyfingers and custard, whipped cream, and perhaps some fruit. The charlotte russe of my youth was a mixture of sponge cake, fruit or jam, and gobs of whipped cream, topped by an unnaturally red cherry. But its real appeal was its packaging-the dessert came in a cardboard cylinder with a pointy rick-rack border. First you ate the swirls of whipped cream that extended at least a mile above the cardboard rim, then-and this was the best part-you pushed the round of cardboard on the bottom, and, in a feat of brilliant engineering, the cake rose up so you could eat every last bit of it. You could even lick the base, as I did, and so did everyone else I knew.
This cake doesn't have any moving parts, but the fact that it's made by hollowing out a place in the center of the baked cake for some cream and berries is reminiscent of the spirit of charlotte russe.
The container for this surprise is a sturdy genoise, a whole-egg sponge cake that will hold up when you cut out its center and excavate a cozy nest for the filling. The filling, a mixture of cream cheese and heavy cream, is very simple to make, but because of the tang of the cream cheese, it tastes complex and is awfully good with red berries. Most of the time I use raspberries as the surprise, but strawberries or a combination of berries is also fine. Naturally the cake is finished with whipped cream."
For the cake:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
4 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbls unsalted butter, melted and cooled
For the syrup:
1/3 cup water
3 Tbls sugar
1 Tbls kirsch, Chambord, framboise, or raspberry syrup (I used 2 tsp. raspberry extract)
For the filling:
6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup + 2/3 cup heavy cream
1 Tbls sugar (I added an extra Tbls)
1 1/2 tsps pure vanilla extract (I added an extra 1/2 tsp)
For the topping:
1 cup cold heavy cream
3 Tbls confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 pints fresh raspberries, for filling and topping
Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 3-inch-high 8-inch springform pan, dust the inside with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottom with parchment paper. Put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
To make the cake: Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a mixer of another large heatproof bowl and whisk to blend. Put the bowl in a skillet with an inch or two of simmering water and continue to whisk until the sugar dissolves completely and the mixture is just warm to the touch, about 3 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the vanilla.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until the mixture almost triples in volume and forms a ribbon that holds it shape for about 10 seconds when the beater is lifted.
Switch to a large rubber spatula, sift over half the dry ingredients and fold them in gently- don't overmix, you'll have another chance to gather up any recalcitrant ingredients. Fold in the cooled, melted butter, then sift over the remaining dry ingredients and very gingerly fold them in. The beautifully beaten eggs are fragile and must be treated like the divas they are. Check that you don't have a puddle of melted butter at the bottom of the bowl-a frequent hazard- then scrape the batter into the pan and jiggle the pan gently to even it.
Bake the cake for 30-33 minutes, or until the top is springy to the touch and the sides are starting to pull away from the pan. (A thin knife inserted into the center would come out clean, but it would also deflate the still-fragile cake a little.)
Transfer the cake to a rack and let it sit for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife between the cake and the pan and remove the sides of the pan. Invert the cake and remove the base of the pan and peel off the paper, then invert again and cool to room temperature right side up. ( When cool, the cake can be wrapped and kept at room temperature overnight- it will cut a little more easily if it rests- or wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months)
To make the syrup: Stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Pour the syrup into a heatproof bowl. Stir in the liqueur and let the syrup come to room temperature.
To make the filling: Working with a stand mixer, preferably fit with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until soft, smooth and fluffy. While beating, gradually add 1/2 cup of the cream, the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until the cream is absorbed and the cheese is smooth. Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl. Pour the remaining 2/3 cup cream into the bowl you beat the cream cheese in (there's no need to wash it) and, using the whisk attachment or the hand mixer, whip the cream until it holds firm peaks. Stir about one quarter of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture, then fold in the rest. There's no need to wash the bowl-you'll be using it for the topping.
To make the topping: Just before you are ready to assemble the cake, whip the cream until it holds medium peaks. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until the cream holds firm peaks. Cover the cream and refrigerate.
To assemble the cake: Using a serrated knife, slice off the top 1/2 inch of the cake and set this layer aside. If it crumbles- that can happen to the best of us- just save the pieces. With the knife, sketch a circle on top of the cake that is 1/2 inch in from the edges of the cake. Cut down through the outline, stopping between 1/4 and 1/2 inch from the bottom. Using the knife and your fingers, carefully pull out the cake within this circle, leaving a little nest that will house your surprise. Transfer the cake nest to a platter or a cardboard round.
Brush the inside of the cake with some of the syrup, discarding what remains, and spoon a thin layer of the filling over the bottom. Toss in 1/2 pint of the berries-more if you'd like- and cover with the remaining filling. Lift the reserved top layer onto the cake and press it down gently to form the cake. If all you have are scraps, fret not; just arrange them over the top of the cake and press them gently to reconstruct a layer.
Using a long metal icing spatula, frost the top and sides of the cake with the topping. Finish with some raspberries, placing berries carefully around the top of the cake, or piling them up in the center. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour (or for up to 6 hours) before serving.