Thursday, July 31, 2008

BB Bonus-Coeur a la Creme with Strawberry-Orange Sauce

Here we are with the Barefoot Bloggers Bonus recipe. It was a reward to whoever was able to get the most traffic to the BB blog, by mentioning it on their blog. Becke who runs Columbus Foodie was the winner, ahd she chose this delicious delight. I went back and forth as to whether I was going to make this one. The main reason being I have made so many sweet this week, that I didn't know if we could handle anymore (I swear, we have been eating really healthy dinners which I will post soon). I ordered a large heart mold and two tiny ones (see below), and decided that I would make half of the recipe. It made a ton! It filled the two small heart molds and then I put the rest in a sieve. I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese and I didn't have enough whipping cream, only a cup, so I used half and half, for the rest. I didn't buy a vanilla bean, just added a little extra vanilla extract. Also, raspberries were outrageous, so I subbed strawberries, but still used raspberry jam. I omitted the Grand Marnier and used some fresh orange juice and a little orange zest. It worked perfectly and the flavors were wonderful! This is one tasty dessert!
Coeur a la Creme with Strawberry-Orange Sauce
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup +1/8 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup cold heavy cream
1/4 cup half and half
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
fresh strawberries
Place the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the beater and bowl with a rubber spatula and change the beater for the whisk attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the heavy cream, half and half, vanilla, lemon zest, and beat on high speed until the mixture is very thick, like whipped cream.
Line a 7-inch sieve with cheesecloth or paper towels so the ends drape over the sides and suspend it over a bowl, making sure that there is space between the bottom of the sieve and the bottom of the bowl for the liquid to drain. Pour the cream mixture into the cheesecloth, fold the ends over the top, and refrigerate overnight.
To serve, discard the liquid, unmold the cream onto a plate, and drizzle Strawberry-Orange Sauce over top and add fresh strawberries.
Strawberry Orange sauce by Mary Ann
1/2 cup chopped strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
2 Tbls fresh orange juice
orange zest
Place strawberries, sugar, jam, orange juice,and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour this mixture into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until smooth. Transfer to another container and add orange zest. Stir and chill until ready to use.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

CH-Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes with Fresh Strawberry Filling, White Chocolate Buttercream and Candy Coated Chocolate Covered Sunflower Seeds

It the end of the month, so that means time for Cupcake Hero! Nikki and CB are co-hosting this month and they chose as the theme- Red, White, and Blue. There are so many possibilities of ways to do this, but I decided to keep it simple. So, I went with a basic vanilla buttermilk cupcake, made a yummy, but not too sweet fresh strawberry filling, frosted it with white chocolate buttercream and added a blueberry on top. That wasn't enough though, so I surrounded that lone blueberry with my seriously, fun favorite decorating item......
These little guys are fun and they add great color, but the best part is, they give an extra little crunch in there and add some unexpected flavor. I don't know if it will be enough to pull offf a CH win, but these are some seriously tasty cupcakes!

Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes- makes 12 cupcakes
6 Tbls unsalted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup + 1/8 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Fresh Strawberry Filling*
White Chocolate Buttercream**
Blueberries and candy coated chocolate covered sunflower seeds, for garnish

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Melt butter in microwave. Pour into a large bowl and when cool add buttermilk, egg, and vanilla extract. Whisk until blended (The mixture may clump, but it doesn't matter, it will work) In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together and add to buttermilk mixture. Whisk until smooth. Fill muffin cups about 1/2 full and bake for 15-18 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on rack. Remove from rack and let cool completely.

When completely cool, fill cupcakes with fresh strawberry filling*. Use a cupcake filling tip for best results. Pipe or frost with white chocolate buttercream**. Garnish with a blueberry or two and candy coated chocolate covered sunflower seeds. Eat immediately or refrigerate for later.

*Fresh Strawberry Filling by Mary Ann

8-10 fresh strawberries

1 Tbls sugar

Chop strawberries coarsely and then transfer to a blender. Add sugar and puree until almost smooth. Set aside until ready to use.

**White Chocolate Buttercream by Mary Ann
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
2 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 Tbls whole milk

In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Beat in the melted white chocolate. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat at low speed, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add milk and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Refrigerate for a few minutes to thicken for piping.

DB-Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

I love baking cake, so when I saw this months Daring Bakers challenge, I was very happy and excited! This months challenge was chosen by Chris over at Mele Cotte. After reading through the recipe I realized it was going to be very similar to the Opera Cake we made in May, in that it had a genoise base, that is brushed with a simple syrup, then layers of buttercream and whipped cream, a glaze and the ganache. No fear here. I waited until yesterday to make it and it came together quickly. I was able to work on it uninterrupted (almost) for a few hours and had it ready in a jiffy. I have made swiss buttercream before, so I knew what to expect there. One taster just was cleaning the bowl from the buttercream and mixed it with a little leftover ganache and asked if they could have this for their next birthday cake-even without trying the cake! My favorite part was making the praline paste. It was so fun to watch the sugar and nuts transform to the brittle. I was amazed as I watched the brittle turn into paste. Very interesting! I halved everything except the ganache and made it in a 6-inch round. I omitted all the liqueur, except for rum flavoring in the sugar syrup. Luckily, we had just made apricot jam, so I was able to use some that was very fresh. It was beautiful and delicious! This was a great challenge. Make sure to check out the DB blogroll to see everyone else's beautiful cakes!

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

From Great Cakes by Carol Walter
1 Filbert Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Filbert Genoise
Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.
1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan. Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds. Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture. You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process. Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside.

Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another ½ minute. Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.
Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.* Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.
With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon. **If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter! It will impede the cake rising while baking. Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.
*If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

Sugar Syrup
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers
1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur (I added 1/2 tsp rum flavoring)

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake.
*Can be made in advance.
Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ - 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)( I omitted this)
Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine. Blend in rum.

Swiss Buttercream
4 lg. egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice (I omitted this)
1 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a elevtric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows. Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside. Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become toooooo soft.*On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute. Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy. Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.Wait! My buttercream won’t come together! Reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together. Wait! My buttercream is too soft! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn’t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl– making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

Praline Paste
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup Sugar

Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter. Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble.
**Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Apricot Glaze
Good for one 10-inch cake
2/3 cup thick apricot preserves
1 Tbsp. water

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.
Ganache Glaze
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake **Ganache can take on many forms. While warm – great fudge sauce. While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.

6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional) (I omitted this)
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ - 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside. Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside. Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ - 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!

Assembling Cake
Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake. Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake. Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream. Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes. Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-ich blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely. Chill while you prepare the ganache.Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings. Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center. Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance. The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream. Stating ½ inch from the outer edge of the cake, position the pastry tube at a 90 degree angle with the top almost touching the top of the cake. Apply pressure to the pastry bag, moving it slightly toward the center of the cake. As the buttercream flows on the cake, reverse the movement backward toward the edge of the cake and finish by pulling the bag again to the center. Stop applying pressure and press the bag downward, then quickly pull the tip up to break the flow of frosting. Repeat, making 12 leaves evenly spaced around the surface of the cake. Make a second row of leaves on the top of the first row, moving the pastry bag about ¾ inch closer to the center. The leaves should overlap. Make a 3rd row, moving closer and closer to the center. Add a 4th row if you have the room. But, leave a 2-inch space in the center for a chopped filbert garnish. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

TWD-Summer Fruit Galette

First of all, I am so excited because the oven is fixed! I only had to go without it, for 5 days and now it is in working order. Yippie! This week's recipe comes to us from Michelle who runs the appropriately named blog, Michelle in Colorado Springs. This was a great recipe for this time of year in my hemisphere, because there were apricots all over the kitchen from the tree in the backyard. No joke. They were everywhere, so logically I went with apricots. There was also a huge amount of apricot jam that had been freshly made, so that went on the crust. I accidentally forgot the breadcrumbs, but it didn't seem to affect the end result, which was delicious! I thought for a moment about not doing the custard, but decided when I saw that there would be enough room between the fruit, to go ahead and throw it on there. I am glad I did. I really think the custard made this galette special. It reminded me of some of the pastries I enjoyed in Eastern Europe. It got a little brown on top, but that is because I wasn't sure if the custard was cooked all the way, so I let it go a couple more minutes just to make sure. Now, go on over the TWD blogroll and check out all the other great fruit combinations that everyone came up with!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Blueberry and Blackberry Galette with Cornmeal Crust

This caught my eye in a recent issue of Cooking Light and then I found out we were doing a Galette for TWD at the end of this month, so I decided a taste test was in order. This recipe came together quickly. The pastry was very simple to throw together. I added lemon zest to the berry filling because I think citrus zest gives great flavor to any dessert. This was so delicious! I let it stand for more than 30 minutes, so we could enjoy it with dinner and served it with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Yummy!

Blueberry and Blackberry Galette with Cornmeal Crust adapted from Cooking Light
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 7 3/4 ounces)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
4 cups blueberries
2 cups blackberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
1 large egg white
1 1/2 tablespoons decorating sugar

1. To prepare pastry, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through salt) in a food processor; pulse two times. Add butter to flour mixture; pulse 4 to 5 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. With processor on, slowly add buttermilk through food chute; process just until dough forms a ball. Gently press dough into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap; cover. Chill 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350°.
3. Unwrap and place dough on a sheet of parchment paper. Roll dough into a 15-inch circle. Place dough and parchment on a baking sheet.
4. To prepare filling, combine berries and next 3 ingredients (through juice) in a medium bowl; add zest and toss gently to coat. Arrange berry mixture in center of dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold edges of dough toward center, pressing gently to seal (dough will only partially cover berry mixture).
5. Combine fat-free milk and egg white in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Brush dough with milk mixture; sprinkle decorating sugar evenly over dough. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until pastry is golden brown. Let stand 30 minutes; cut into wedges.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Zucchini Eggplant Lasagna

We have been eating a ton of eggplant and zucchini this week, but it has been delicious! This lasagna is very flavorful and since I had just a tad of ricotta and a tad of cottage cheese, I combined them together and they worked really well. We had some garlic bread on the side and had a great meal!
Zucchini Eggplant Lasagna adapted from Cooking Light
1 large eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 Tbls olive oil
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tsp dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese
Cooking spray
1 (8-ounce) package precooked lasagna noodles
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer on several layers of paper towels. Sprinkle evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt; let stand 15 minutes.
3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, oregano, red pepper, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Combine basil, ricotta, cottage cheese, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl. Spread 1/2 cup tomato mixture into the bottom of a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 4 noodles over tomato mixture; top with half of eggplant and half of zucchini. Spread ricotta mixture over vegetables; cover with 4 noodles. Spread 1 cup tomato mixture over noodles; layer with remaining eggplant and zucchini slices. Arrange remaining 4 noodles over vegetables, and spread remaining tomato mixture over noodles. Top evenly with mozzarella. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 25 minutes or until browned. Cool for 5 minutes.

Baba Gha-Hummus

I know this is a really bad picture, but I was in a hurry. The eggplant looked so good this week at the grocery store that I bought three. I have been wanting to try this dip for quite a while and I am so glad I have outgrown my dislike for eggplant that I harbored as a kid. It was delicious with pita chips, celery and carrots!

Baba Gha-Hummus adapted from Cooking Light
1 large eggplant
3 tablespoons tahini (sesame-seed paste)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

juice of 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 375°.
Pierce eggplant with a fork. Place eggplant on a jelly roll pan. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until tender. Cool and peel; discard skin.
Combine eggplant, tahini, and remaining ingredients in a food processor; process until

Friday, July 25, 2008

Low-Fat Chocolate Zucchini Cake

No, my oven is not fixed yet, but at the end of last week ,we needed to mark the ending of our Alphabet Days and what better way than with cake? This cake is more like a muffin or quick bread, but it is tasty and it is nice to have a break from all the calories. It was super easy to throw together and very moist.

Low-Fat Chocolate Zucchini Cake adapted Best Bites in Boston, this recipe from April Perry
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups shredded zucchini
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
4 Tbls cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Cream together first 3 ingredients. Then add remaining ingredients and mix well.
Pour batter into a greased 9 by 13-inch pan and sprinkle with- 3/4 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, and 3/4 cup chocolate chips (I used minis). Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes. Cool for a few minutes, then dig in!

Shitake Mushroom, Red Pepper and Chicken Quesadillas

Originally this recipe called for the filling to be wrapped in phyllo (fillo) and I have made it that way before and it was well liked, but I ran out of time, so I decided to turn it into a quesadilla. I left out the ginger that was called for and added more red pepper. It turned out to be very tasty.

Shitake Mushroom, Red Pepper and Chicken Quesadillas, filling adapted from Athens Brand Fillo Recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup onions, minced
1 1/2 cups shiitake mushrooms, chopped with stems removed
2 cups smoked or roasted chicken meat, minced
1 cup red bell peppers, minced
1 1/4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup cut fresh chives, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

In a pan, heat oil and sauté onions until translucent. Add mushrooms and sauté until soft. Cool completely. Mix with remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Place filling in a tortilla, fold in half and cook in a George Foreman Grill until cheese is melted. Serve with sauce of your choice.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Kiwi Smartini

Okay, when I saw this in the latest issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine, I thought, that looks really yummy and is actually a little strange. It was oh so good! Seriously, everyone loved it and it was a really fun way to start out our meal. The funniest part was seeing a sippy cup whose top was completely blocked because of all the seeds! Try this, you won't be sorry!
Kiwi Smartini from Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine
8 kiwis, coarsely chopped, plus 1 for garnish slices
1 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about 6-7 lemons
2 cups ice cubes
1 cup sugar
2 cups water

Place all ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth. Pour into glasses and garnish with kiwi slice.

Ratatouille with Tofu

I have been wanting to make this recipe ever since I saw it in Cooking Light. I love tofu and ratatouille and so I thought the combination of the two, would be excellent. I was sooo right! This was absolutely delicious- one of the best dinners we have had in a while. I didn't use reduced fat tofu because I had some in the fridge that was not reduced fat, but it still was light. I served it over rice noodles as suggested and it was a hit. And it is all taken care of on the stovetop, as the oven is not fixed yet. I will definitely be making this again!
Ratatouille with Tofu from Cooking Light

Cooking spray
1 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
2 cups finely chopped reduced-fat firm tofu, drained (about 11 ounces)
2 cups diced eggplant
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup chopped plum tomato
4 teaspoons Pesto Coulis*
2 (14-ounce) cans no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add carrot to pan; sauté 6 minutes. Add onion, basil, thyme, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes. Add tofu, eggplant, and zucchini; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add chopped tomato, Pesto Coulis, and tomato sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in cumin, salt, and pepper

*Pesto Coulis
1 cup parsley leaves (about 1 bunch)
1 cup basil leaves (about 1 bunch)
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup extravirgin olive oil

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until smooth.

Reduced Milk with Cardamom and Mango

I can't even begin to describe how delicious this was! It completely hit the spot as a great dessert after the tofu. We ate it warm and it was sooo good! A couple of people sprinkled cinnamon on top, but I stuck with the cardamom. You have got to try this- seriously it is amazingly delicious! Take it from someone who is not a fan of rice pudding!
Reduced Milk with Cardamom and Mango from Cooking Light
6 cups whole milk

1/3 cup uncooked basmati rice
1/2 cup nonfat sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped peeled mango (about 2 large)

1. Combine whole milk and basmati rice in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium, and gently boil 40 minutes or until mixture thickens. (Mixture will be a chowderlike consistency.) Stir in sweetened condensed milk, cardamom, and salt; cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Spoon 1/2 cup rice mixture into each of 8 dessert bowls. Top each serving with 1/4 cup chopped mango.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters (with raisins too)

It was requested that I make a couple of treats and I didn't have very much time, just a few hours. I mixed up this cookie dough, let it sit in the fridge for a little bit, and then, the oven died. I ended up having to borrow someone else's oven, because these cookies had to be baked! They were great-the perfect mix of pb, oats, chocolate, and raisins, they have it all!
Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters adapted from
Baking by Dorie Greenspan
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup peanut butter, chunky or smooth (not natural)
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 cup raisins

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together the oats, flour, baking soda, spices and salt. With a mixer, beat the butter, peanut butter and 2 sugars on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for at least 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, beating only until blended. Mix in the chips and raisins. Cover and chill the dough for 2 hours (or overnight)

When ready to bake, scoop the dough into rounded tablespoons, roll into balls, and put on cookie sheet. Press the balls gently with the heel of your hand until they are about 1/2 inch thick.

Bake for 13-15 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 7 minutes. The cookies should be golden and just firm around the edges. Put on a cooling rack with a wide metal spatula and they will firm as they cool. Repeat with remaining cookie dough.

Brownie Buttons

I needed a quick treat and these were quick! I accidentally read the recipe wrong and added 1/3 cup flour and they still turned out. The perfect bite size treat. The lemon zest added a nice little something extra.
Brownie Buttons from Baking by Dorie Greenspan
Grated Zest of 1/2 Orange (or lemon)

1 teaspoon Sugar
1/4 Cup + 2 Tbls Flour
Pinch of Salt
1/2 Stick (4 Tablespoons) Unsalted Butter, Cut into 4 Pieces
2 1/2 Ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, Coarsely Chopped
1/3 Cup (Packed) Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Large Egg
For the optional Glaze:2 Ounces White Chocolate, Finely Chopped

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter two miniature muffin pans, each with a dozen cups, and place them on a baking sheet. If you're using the orange zest, combine the zest and sugar in a small bowl, rubbing them between your fingertips to blend: set aside. Whisk together the flour and salt. Melt the butter, chocolate, and brown sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over very low heat, stirring frequently with a heatproof spatula and keeping an eye on the pan so that nothing overheats or burns. When the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat and cool for a minute or two.Stir the vanilla, egg and the zest into the chocolate mixture. When the mixture is well blended, add the flour and stir only until it is incorporated. You should have a smooth, glossy batter.Spoon the batter into 16 of the muffin cups, using about a teaspoon of batter to fill each cup 3/4 full. Put 1 teaspoon of water in each empty cup.Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until the tops of the buttons spring back when touched. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 3 minutes before carefully releasing the buttons. Cool to room temperature on the racks.

To make the glaze: Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Stir constantly and don't leave the chocolate for even one minute- white chocolate scorches easily. As soon as the chocolate is smooth, remove from the heat.One by one, dip the tops of the buttons into the chocolate, twirling the buttons so that you get a little swirl at the center of each one and the excess chocolate drips back into the bowl. Refrigerate the buttons for 15 minutes to set the glaze.

Storing: Covered, these will keep at room temperature overnight. If you wrap them air tight, you can freeze them for up to 2 months.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

TWD- Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler with Mango-Banana Frozen Yogurt

This week's pick was chosen by Amanda of Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake. Check her blog for the recipe. I like rhubarb and have eaten it since I was little, so I had no problem there. Cherries, well I like them too. Cobbler isn't my favorite dessert, but I was willing to give it a try. We have rhubarb growing in the garden and tons of frozen Bing cherries from my grandpas cherry trees, so I was ready to go. Then the oven died. It has been throwing fits alot lately, not wanting to light the pilot light, and usually I can fix it, by timing it just right and lightly a long match, sticking it under the bottom of the oven and somehow lighting it. But, this time, it wouldn't work. I was making cookies at the time, and we had to take the oven apart. To make a long story short, we didn't fix it. I waited until the last minute on this one and then, I happened to open the latest issue of Everyday with Rachel Ray (I knew all those magazine subscriptions would pay off someday) and saw a feature on how to make cobbler on the grill. SO-problem solved. I got out a cast iron skillet, followed the recipe to a tee, and then tried to get the gazillion year old grill hot enough to bake something. I covered that thing with foil and, after 1 1/2 hours, ta-da! It worked! There was a bit of a smoky grill flavor, so I will have to try this again, when the oven is fixed, but at least I know it is possible. I also threw together some great Frozen Yogurt (check it out below). Go check out everyone else's take on this cobbler by checking out the TWD blogroll.

Mango-Banana Frozen Yogurt

After making that delicious blueberry ice cream on the 4th of July, I realized how easy it is to do at home and how delicious. So, I made this wonderful frozen yogurt. The flavors were wonderful and the texture was amazing! I think I am going to have to do this every week!
Mango-Banana Frozen Yogurt from Cooking Light

1 cup sliced ripe banana
3/4 cup chopped peeled mango
1/3 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 cups 2% low-fat milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 (16-ounce) carton vanilla low-fat yogurt

Combine first 4 ingredients in a blender; process until smooth. Combine banana mixture and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk.
Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Spoon into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze (ripen) at least 1 hour.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Roast Chicken Chimichangas

I have made these many times. They are so easy and so good, that it is impossible not to make them again and again. If you have any leftover cooked chicken, just shred it and mix these up. I have made it with shredded cheese when I couldn't find queso fresco or taco sauce instead of salsa verde. The kids gobbled them down (so did my hubby-that is always a good sign)!

Roast Chicken Chimichangas from Cooking Light
2 1/2 cups shredded roasted chicken

1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled queso fresco cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
1 (16-ounce) can fat-free refried beans
6 (8-inch) flour tortillas
Cooking spray
1/2 cup bottled green salsa

Preheat oven to 500°.
Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl; toss well.
Spread 1/4 cup beans down center of each tortilla. Top each tortilla with 2/3 cup chicken mixture; roll up. Place rolls, seam sides down, on a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Coat tops of chimichangas with cooking spray. Bake at 500° for 7 minutes. Serve with salsa.


These are kind of like edible playdough. You can mess around with it, roll it and then pop it in your mouth. The kids loved it and I thought it was pretty tasty as well.

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup + 2 Tbls dry powdered milk
1/2 cup + 2 Tbls powdered sugar

Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix with a spoon, spatula or hands until all ingredients are mixed in and combined.
Make shapes or balls. Eat!

Creamy Hummus Dip

This is a creamier version of hummus than I have had before. It is not as thick as I am used to, due to a little more liquid but it is still just as tasty. A great snack and it would also be a great spread for a wrap or sandwich.
Creamy Hummus Dip
2 cloves garlic
1 can garbanzo beans, with a little liquid drained off , but not all
1/2 cup + 3 Tbls greek style plain yogurt
1/3 cup tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
dash of pepper

Place garlic in food processor and pulse until minced. Add beans, yogurt and tahini, and puree until smooth, scraping down sides if necessary. Add lemon juice and spices. Puree until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Spoon into a bowl and serve with pita chips and/or veggies.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bill's Big Carrot Cake Shines Again

I was going to wait a couple of days to post the next few cakes that I made yesterday and today, but I am so excited about them, that I couldn't wait. It is really kinda funny how it happened. Me and my two friends, who happen to be sisters, went to the drive in movie. In the movie, there was a cake. I can't remember who said it, but somehow it came up that I could make a cake like that. My friend said, can you make one for my mom's birthday? I said sure, when is it? She said, in 6 days.

So, that is how this cake was born. I made Bill's Big Carrot Cake in 2 8 by 8-inch cake pans and frosted the middle heavily with the cream cheese frosting and then did a thin layer before I did the fondant. I am happy with the results. I had a little cake leftover so I decided to do a cake for my brother who loooovveesss carrot cake.