Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Yankees are on and I needed a no fuss dinner.

Sooo I was dying for sushi tonight. However, being $ conscious and lazy, I didn't order any. I have been watching the Yankee game and didn't want to go far so I set a few things up and all of a sudden I had a tasty dish in front of me :)

This isn't so much a recipe but more of a idea of things you can throw together. If you are sans (without) a rice will have to use your imagination! I steamed some brown rice but did it in my yummy organic low sodium chicken broth with a splash of hot sauce. On the top of the cooker, I used my veggie steamer basket and threw in a few loose things I had in the fridge. I find that carrots don't steam as well in there when cooking brown rice because it does not take as long as white rice.
Anyways...I had a package of some chicken sausage that are by Al Fresco. Now chicken sausage is not the BEST thing to eat but it is by far better then regular sausage and this brand has some delicious flavors. Of course, any kind with cheese will have more fat content and calories. Tonight I used buffalo flavored and they have the great taste without a tremendous amount of heat. I sliced 1 link up and heated it up via the microwave. Tossed it in a bowl with some fresh salsa, veggies, and rice. It was like using a crock pot. I set the rice cooker and about 15-20 minutes later I was eating a tasty slightly spicy meal :) I real point of this is that creativity sometimes creates great meals. If you build you cabinets fridge and freezer up with ingredients and get over some laziness, then a meal can be made easily without spending the money on take-out!

On a side note about them chicken sausage. I learned my lesson in label reading which I am usually obsessed with doing because of Gordon. However, a few weeks ago while at the food store, I was browsing the chicken sausage display and found a yummy flavor that I hadn't tried (don't remember what it was). However, it was also a brand I had never tried. I just assumed that they were all comparable in nutrition info. I was wrong. Three times the fat, double the calories, and more sodium then I wanted to take in. Oh and btw, I realized this AFTER I ate it. Uggg. Oh well, you live and learn!

Next week, I will be trying two new crock pot recipes in my new Designer Crock Pot! One is a Moroccan Short Ribs with tons of unique flavors over toasted Israeli couscous and the other is a Thai Peanut Chicken dish over "noodles".....Stay Tuned!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies: I've died and gone to heaven!

Nothing says fall like my obsession with pumpkin. I never go the season without trying as many pumpkin recipes as possible. This weekend while at my parents for our weekly dinner together, we made a batch of delicious pumpkin whoopie pies for dessert with plenty of leftovers for the week!
These treats can be made mini as well by just decreasing the size of the cake and decreasing the cooking time. And of couse, any treat made without milk products is worth a try to be able to watch Gordon enjoy them along with us!

 Ingredients for the Cake:
  • 1/2 cup soft butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups (one 15-ounce can) pumpkin
  • 2 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease two baking sheets or line with parchment paper or a silpat. Beat together the butter, oil, sugar, molasses, cake enhancer, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, then beat in the eggs one at a time, until fluffy. Stir in pumpkin. Add the flour in two additions, mixing well after each addition. Use a muffin scoop to deposit the thick batter onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2" around each mound. Bake until the cookies feel firm; a slight indentation will remain when you gently press them in the middle, about 16 to 18 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then move to a rack to cool completely.
Leave room for cakes to settle and bake!

Ingredients for filling:

  • 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature (tofutti brand for non-dairy)

  • 4 tablespoons soft butter (soy butter for non-dairy)

  • 2 cups glazing sugar or confectioners' sugar, sifted

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • To make the filling: Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the sugar in two additions. Add the vanilla. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until very fluffy.

    To assemble: Sandwich two cookies around 2 tablespoons of filling. For best storage, wrap each pie in plastic wrap.
    Fall Heaven on a pretty plate!
    Notes on this dish: You can use regular cream cheese in butter if you don't have dairy concerns. You can also opt for vanilla frosting instead as your filling. You can use white wheat flour as well. King Arthur has a great all-purpose white wheat flour. There are also some other ingredients such as crystalized ginger that you can fold into the filling or rolling the edges in nuts or brown sugar, but we kept it simple and I would not change a thing!! I have also made a red velvet version of these around christmas time and they were a hit at a holiday party. I will post the recipe when the seasons change and christmas baking begins :)

    Tasty and Quick Fish Dish: Semi Homemade like I'm Sandra Lee

    I bought some fish and was being very indecisive about how I wanted to cook it, season it, etc.

    I threw it under the broiler with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Now what? I didn't feel like rice because the fish would be done quick and I skimped on how much produce I purchased this week at the grocery store so I resorted to my cabinet and found some couscous and black olives. And the rest is in the recipe.....


    white fish of any kind and any amount
    sliced black olives
    fresh salsa (homeemade or store bought)
    lemon juice
    olive juice
    salt/pepper to taste

    Set your oven broiler to low. Prepare fish by coating lightly with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Cook until top starts to slightly brown about 12-15 minutes. Make couscous according to package. Drain olives and mix with fresh salsa and cumin. Once couscous is cooked, fluff with fork. Top with fish and salsa mixture.
    Light and healthy!
    Notes on this dish: I used roasted garlic and olive oil couscous, but any flavor will do. You can do without the cumin flavor if you would like. I buy the plastic container of fresh salsa in the produce section of the grocery store which is great over any fish or chicken dish besides being a tasty chip topper! If you are without fresh salsa but have tomatoes to dice up you can whip up some fresh salsa with some cumin, cilantro, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and lime juice if you would like. I chose to use haddock but this dish would be great with tilapia, cod, sea bass, or any thicker white flaky fish.

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Chocolate Hazelnut Flourless Cake

    Rich Chocolate Bliss with a slight crunch and sweetened freshly whipped cream to top it off. What could be better? This is a must try! I guarantee that you will not discard the recipe anytime soon!


  • 12 ounces 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate, chopped

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks

  • 6 large eggs

  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (pure is best)

  • 1 cup finely ground hazelnuts (ground in processor; about 5 ounces)

  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

  • 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

  • Chopped toasted hazelnuts

  • Seeds from 1 vanilla bean

  • parchment or wax paper

  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper round, (wax paper will do the job as well!). Wrap outside of pan tightly with 3 layers of heavy-duty foil. Combine chocolate and butter in medium metal bowl; set bowl over saucepan of simmering water. Whisk until mixture is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Whisk eggs, golden brown sugar, and 2 T vanilla extract in large bowl to blend. Add chocolate mixture slowly to avoid cooking eggs (this is called tempering) and whisk until smooth. Stir in ground hazelnuts and 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Place springform pan in large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of springform pan. Place in oven and tent springform pan loosely with foil. Bake until cake is set in center and top is dry to touch, about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours (top of cake will remain shiny). Remove cake from roasting pan; remove foil from top and outside of pan. Cool cake in pan on rack. Chill cake until cold, about 3 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.
    Using electric mixer, beat whipping cream, remaining vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake. Release pan sides. Cut cake into wedges. Transfer to plates. Top with whipped cream; sprinkle with chopped toasted hazelnuts.
    Ain't never had a cake like this!

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Its crock pot season.....

    I <3 my crock pot. I just purchased a new one yesterday. But what better way to come home on a cold fall day then to a pot of already cooked warm food? You can put virtually anything in there and it is cooked to perfection and stays warm until you are ready to eat it!

    Today I made beef tips and onion over egg noodles. Here's how easy it was.....


    Beef chunks (any cut you want but I usually buy whatever is looking good in the stew meat section)
    1 medium onion, cut into chunks
    1 package Lipton Beefy Onion soup
    Beef Broth
    No Yolks egg noodles (extra wide)

    Put the first 4 ingredients in the pot. You want just enough broth to cover beef and onion. Stir and cook for 8-10 hours on low. Boil egg noodles and serve in a bowl with beef over the top.

    Optional: If you like a thicker sauce, you can remove the beef and onions from the crockpot and pour juice/sauce into a pan. Whisk in some corn starch or flour to pan. Let thicken for about 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly, on medium heat. Return beef and onion to sauce and serve over noodles!

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    Tasty Twist to Foccacia

    My mother and I spent the entire day last week cooking for a family dinner. From appetizers to dessert, it was an absolute success. Instead of making brushetta with my foccacia as I normally do, I decided to top the bread before baking and it presented a whole new perspective on a basic flatbread!

    Follow the foccacia recipe that I posted back on Aug 19th. Let it do its rising and then follow the recipe below.


    Foccacia, prepared through rising
    1-2 cups fontina cheese, shredded
    2 Bosc Pears, ripe but firm
    2 Shallots, chopped finely
    1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
    1 cup gorgonzola or blue cheese
    2 cups arugula, rinsed and dried
    1 tablespoon + an additional 2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons butter (I used soy butter)
    1/2 fresh squeezed lemon

    Prepare foccacia recipe. While rising, slice pears thinly. In a saute pan, heat olive oil and butter. Add shallots and cook until transparent but NOT brown (this is called "sweating" and is referred to when cooking onions and other vegetables). Add pears and cook until pears are just starting to soften. DO NOT overcook or they will get mushy. In a separate pan, toast walnuts lightly. Again, do not overcook or they will turn bitter.
    Once dough has risen twice, remove from oven and cover evenly with fontina cheese. Distribute pears evenly over cheese. I did this in a lined pattern, but you can choose to be chaotic while spreading them. Make sure shallots get evenly spread as well. Add walnuts next, followed by gorgonzola. You can use as much or as little of this cheese and can also use regular blue cheese if you prefer. Place bread back in oven and bake according to foccacia recipe, about 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until top is golden brown. While baking, blend the juice from 1/2 a lemon, olive oil and salt/pepper in a medium bowl. Add arugula to bowl and toss gently.
    Remove bread from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes on a cooling rack. Top with arugula and use a pizza cutter to slice into squares. Enjoy!
    Pear Gorgonzola and Walnut Foccacia