Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Pasta Salad

Or, what happens when you clean out the refrigerator.

That's a handful of whole-wheat penne, half a cucumber, some broccoli that was just before getting wimpy and having to be tossed, and a few grape tomatoes from the garden. I sliced the garden-fresh squash and cooked it on the grill pan and tossed the whole thing with some red pepper Italian dressing and some Parmesan.

That was a fast and tasty side for a Saturday lunch of turkey sandwiches. It's about too hot to cook much else.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Watermelon Blueberry Popsicles

Puree 3 cups of chopped seeded watermelon (from a two-pound watermelon). Add a bit of powdered sugar, if you like, and a couple of tablespoons of fresh lime juice, which I left out because I didn't have any limes.

Pop a few blueberries into the popsicle molds before filling with the watermelon mixture. That's it!

I made a version based on Ellie Krieger's recipe in So Easy cookbook, a book I like. Just a little bit. :-)

Fresh Blueberry Muffins

Crumb Topping:

1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, cubed

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line with muffin cups with liners.

Crumb Topping: Mix 1/4 cup sugar, 1/8 cup flour, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons of butter with a fork in a small bowl. Set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the vegetable oil, egg, and milk. Fold in the blueberries. Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full.

Sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

Any leftovers freeze beautifully. I made another batch because we had good fresh blueberries on hand that I didn't want to go to waste.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Star Spangled Cookies

Aren't these fun? Easy, too!

Sugar Cookies:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar*
1 egg
2 3/4 cups sifted flour
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
dash salt

* After I scraped the seeds from a vanilla bean for the Watermelon Sweet Tea Granita, I put the vanilla bean in a jar with sugar. It smells so good - sweet and vanilla-y! I used the vanilla sugar for these cookies.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add the egg and beat until fluffy.

Add vanilla, sifted flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate. (Dough can be refrigerated for several days.)

When ready to bake cookies, preheat oven to 350°.

Roll dough to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out shapes with cookie cutter. I used a 2 1/2-inch star cookie cutter.

Bake cookies for 9 to 11 minutes, or until cookies are just beginning to brown on the edges.

Cool on pan for a minute or two, then remove to wire racks to finish cooling.

This recipe yielded something like 30 cookies.

I love this part...the cookie glaze:

2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
scant 1/4 teaspoon butter flavoring (or you can use more vanilla, or a 1/2 teaspoon of almond or lemon extract if you prefer)
red and blue food coloring

Before you start, place a couple of wire racks on top of baking sheets. It will make cleanup easier later; any drips and dribbles from the cookies lands on the baking sheets and not on your counters. (Some concentrated food pastes can stain!)

Put the water in a small bowl and gradually add the confectioners' sugar. Stir until smooth. Beat in the corn syrup and vanilla until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.

Divide the glaze among three shallow dishes. Pie plates work great.

Tint one container of cookie glaze red, one blue, and leave the last one white.

Dip the cookies in the glaze and shake gently to remove the excess. Place the cookie on a wire rack to harden, which takes several hours.

This amount of cookie glaze covered all the cookies I made just right - I didn't run out and didn't have tons of left over. Just the right amount!

If you make these, I'd love to see your pictures!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Blueberry-Almond French Toast Bake

That was our Father's Day breakfast.

The recipe is from Ellie Krieger's cookbook, So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week.

Cooking spray
1 whole-wheat baguette (about 18 inches long, 8 ounces), cut into 1-inch cubes
8 large eggs
8 large egg whites
2 cups 1 percent lowfat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/3 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Arrange the bread in a single layer in the baking pan. Whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and maple syrup. Pour the egg mixture over the bread in the pan, spreading it around so the liquid saturates the bread. Scatter the blueberries evenly on top and sprinkle with the almonds and brown sugar. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover the baking pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.

It was good although I'd A) macerate the berries in a bit of sugar first and B) Add some butter in there somewhere. It needed just a touch.

Per Serving:

Calories 270; Total Fat 8 g; (Sat Fat 2.5 g, Mono Fat 2 g, Poly Fat 0.75 g) ; Protein 16 g; Carb 35 g; Fiber 3 g; Cholesterol 220 mg; Sodium 280 mg

Monday, June 13, 2011

Shrimp-Artichoke Salad

I made this for book club and it was a hit. It's an old garden club, bridge club staple that I haven't made in years. I'd forgotten how good it is.

2 (6-ounce) jars marinated artichoke hearts
1 (6.9-ounce) box chicken-flavored rice
1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 pound boiled, peeled shrimp
3 green onions, chopped
4 celery stalks, diced (optional - I leave it out as I don't care for celery)

Prepare the rice according to package drections, omitting the butter. Let cool.

Drain the artichoke hearts, reserving half the liquid from one jar.

Combine the reserved artichoke liquid, mayonnaise, and curry powder in a medium bowl, stirring well.

Add the cooked shrimp, green onions, cooled rice, and artichoke hearts, stirring to coat. Cover and refrigerate or serve immediately, although the salad tends to get better after a few hours' chill in the refrigerator.

Serves 6 to 8.

Recipe from Absolutely A La Carte.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Frozen Peanut Butter Pie

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
2/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup milk
8-9 ounces Cool Whip
Chocolate-cookie pie crust
Reese’s peanut butter cups
Chocolate frosting or syrup

Cream together cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, and peanut butter. Add milk and fold in Cool Whip.

Pour into the pie crust. Garnish with peanuts, peanut butter cups, and chocolate frosting or syrup. Cover and freeze for at least one hour. Keep frozen.
Very sweet and very rich!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Bread

I love the cookbook (and web site) Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

The Roasted Red Pepper Fougasse is my favorite recipe from it so far.

Preheat the oven to 450F for at least 20 to 30 minutes, with a baking stone and a broiler tray in place to catch water for steam later.

Roast a red pepper or do what I did and open a jar of them.

Roll out one pound of any dough you like, to 1/8-inch (I used the Olive Oil Dough from the book). I’d generally use a non-enriched dough here (no eggs or fat in the dough mix). Try to form an oval or rectangle. Assemble right on a liberally flour-dusted pizza peel or on parchment paper for an easier slide into the oven.

Slit one side and lay out the peppers on the other side (with their outer, peeled surface facing up).

Sprinkle with thyme and coarse salt to taste. The salt is crucial to bring out the flavor of the roasted peppers. Use a pastry brush to paint a little water around the edges to help make a good seal.

Fold the slitted half over the peppers and crimp it to the dampened side. If the edges don’t meet nicely, just trim off the extra with kitchen shears.

Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with more thyme.

If you’re not using parchment paper, make sure that the fougasse is moving well on the pizza peel; if not, nudge some additional flour underneath using a spatula.

Slide the fougasse onto the hot stone. Quickly add 1 cup of hot water to the broiler tray and close the oven door. Bake at 450 F for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. If you rolled the dough thicker than 1/8-inch, it will need more baking to develop nice color and prevent an over-moist interior crumb next to the peppers.

Makes a beautiful appetizer!

Olive Oil Dough

Olive Oil Dough
From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Makes 4-1lb loaves.

2-3/4 cups lukewarm water
1-1/2 tablespoon granulated yeast
1-1/2 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Mix the yeast, salt, sugar, and olive oil with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

Mix in the flour without kneading. I used my stand mixer with dough hook, but you can use a spoon.

Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and colapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 12 days.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Watermelon & Sweet Tea Granita

I bought the copy of Fine Cooking magazine for its cover: a gorgeous photo of strawberry shortcake that was so luscious I could all but smell the strawberries. The recipe for the watermelon granita was lagniappe.

I made it for my book club last week and it was delicious.

1/4 vanilla bean
1 Tbs. good-quality loose black tea, such as English Breakfast (I used a Lipton tea bag)
2/3 cup boiling water
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
3 cups puréed watermelon (from about 4 cups diced, seeded watermelon)
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt
Sweetened whipped cream (optional)

I didn't detect much tea flavor in the finished product. I bet you could use lemonade or other fruit juice in place of the tea, if you don't happen to have any tea on hand.

Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Put the vanilla seeds and tea in a small bowl (save the pod for another use). Add the boiling water and steep for 10 minutes. Add the sugar and stir gently to dissolve.

Or just add a bit of vanilla extract to 2/3 cup strong sweet tea.

In a large bowl, combine the watermelon purée, lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Strain the tea mixture into the watermelon mixture and stir to combine. Pour into a 9x9-inch metal baking pan, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze. After 1 hour, stir and scrape the mixture with a fork, repeating every 30 to 40 minutes, until the mixture has an icy shard-like consistency, about 3-1/2 hours total.

To serve, scrape the granita into chilled bowls, and top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream (if using).

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 35; Fat (g): 0; Fat Calories (kcal): 0; Saturated Fat (g): 0; Protein (g): 0; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 0; Carbohydrates (g): 9; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0; Sodium (mg): 35; Cholesterol (mg): 0; Fiber (g): 0;

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I really get nothing in compensation for going on and on about how often I refer to Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. Pretty much everything I've ever cooked from it has turned out wonderfully.

I like, too, the fact the cookbook has recipes for things like popcorn. It's not hard to do but I never can remember how much oil and is it 1/2 cup popcorn kernels? That book has the answer.

This shortbread is simple to make, can be made ahead, and has limitless variations. Shortbread can be dunked in coffee or dipped in semisweet chocolate. It's hard to go wrong with shortbread.

2 sticks unsalted butter; softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 and 1/2 cups flour
scant 1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp kosher salt

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cornstarch and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until combined
Add the egg yolk and vanilla, scraping sides of bowl if neccessary, and beat until combined.

Stir in the flour mixture, a little at a time, until combined. The dough will be sticky.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

The dough can be rolled out to 1/4-inch thickness and cut out with cookie cutters, like sugar cookies. Or you can use a knife to cut dough into strips (like ladyfingers) or triangles. At this point, I like to slide the cookies in the refrigerator to chill for a bit longer. It helps the cookies hold their shape while baking.

Bake until the cookies are just firm, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely on wire rack.

Shortbread keeps well at room temperature. A batch makes a great gift!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Homemade Pizza

I love pizza. Sometimes I forget how easy it is to make it at home.

This recipe is from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, one of my favorite go-to cookbooks.

Pizza Dough

Makes: Enough for 1 large or 2 or more small pies

Time: 1 hour or more

You won’t believe how simple it is to make pizza dough at home. And because the dough freezes very well (at least for a couple of weeks), it’s even practical to whip up a batch for one or two people and tuck the rest away for another day.

To make pizza dough by hand or with a standing mixer, follow the directions, but use a bowl and a heavy wooden spoon or the mixer’s bowl and the paddle attachment instead of the food processor. When the dough becomes too heavy to stir, use your hands or exchange the mixer’s paddle for the dough hook and proceed with the recipe.

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed

2 teaspoons instant yeast

2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a food processor. Turn the machine on and add 1 cup water and the oil through the feed tube.

2. Process for about 30 seconds, adding more water, a little at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. If it is still dry, add another tablespoon or two of water and process for another 10 seconds. (In the unlikely event that the mixture is too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time.)

3. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for a few seconds to form a smooth, round dough ball. Put the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let rise until the dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours. (You can cut this rising time short if you’re in a hurry, or you can let the dough rise more slowly, in the refrigerator, for up to 6 or 8 hours.) Proceed to Step 4 or wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap or a zipper bag and freeze for up to a month. (Defrost in the bag or a covered bowl in the refrigerator or at room temperature; bring to room temperature before shaping.)

4. When the dough is ready, form it into a ball and divide it into 2 or more pieces if you like; roll each piece into a round ball. Put each ball on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle with flour, and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rest until they puff slightly, about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Saturday Night Dinner

Our tradition is that on Friday nights, if we're home, we cook boudin on the grill. That's what we have for dinner: sliced, grilled boudin, squares of sharp Cheddar sprinkled with our creole seasoning, and saltine crackers. It's good eating!

Saturday nights Jeffrey cooks on the grill again but this time it's more of an actual meal. This past weekend, he grilled chicken breasts in a sun-dried tomato pesto marinade, new potatoes, and fresh green beans.

I chopped up the leftover chicken and added it, along with a handful of home-grown romaine, to my favorite Greek pasta salad.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

More springtime cookies

It's not hard to beat a good sugar cookie, especially when it's frosted, decorated, and packaged for fun.

I made my favorite sugar cookies (recipe below) and frosted them using the all new icing glaze I came across. Love that icing. Best thing since sliced bread.

Classic Sugar Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
2 3/4 cups sifted flour
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
dash salt

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until fluffy.

Add vanilla, sifted flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate. (Dough can be refrigerated for several days.)

When ready to bake cookies, preheat oven to 350°.

Roll small pieces of dough into balls and place them on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake cookies for 9 to 11 minutes, or until cookies are just beginning to brown on the edges.

Cool on pan for a minute or two, then remove to wire rack to finish cooling.

Now comes the fun part: decorating them with the magical cookie glaze.

Icing Glaze for Cookies

I love to bake rolled cookies. I love decorating them, too.

But I don't really enjoy making royal icing. It's a high maintenance ordeal: one batch to outline and do detail work, another batch to fill the cookies. It seems like a fair amount of trouble.

Plus royal icing doesn't taste good. It doesn't taste bad, exactly, but it's not good, either. It's kind of like fondant in that way: pretty to look at, not so much to eat.

This icing recipe is it. Easy, I mean, super easy. The icing dries hard enough so that cookies can be packaged in cellophane bags or stacked. The color stays true after the cookies dry, too.

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons milk or water (I used water. I'm always leering of leaving anything that has dairy product out at room temperature for any amount of time.)
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
assorted food coloring

Put the water or milk in a small bowl and gradually add the confectioners' sugar. Stir until smooth. (I had to add another teaspoon or two of water.) Beat in the corn syrup and vanilla until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.

Divide the icing into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity.

Place wire cooking racks over paper towels. Dip cookies into the icing and place the cookies on the wire racks. Any excess icing will drip onto the paper towel.

While the icing is still wet, you can embellish them with sanding sugars and sprinkles. You can spoon a bit of other colors onto the cookie and use a toothpick to swirl the colors around. It makes a marbelized-tie-dyed effect.

The cookies need to dry several hours before they will be hard enough to package or stack.

But you can eat them right away.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Queso Chicken, Black Beans, & Rice

I think everyone was skeptical about this dish but it was really tasty. We should have known: Rotel tomatoes and Velveeta? Winner winner chicken dinner.

Queso Chicken Black Bean and Rice Casserole

2 garlic cloves, minced
1Tbsp. olive oil
medium onion, diced
1.5tsp cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 14oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 10oz can Ro-Tel (diced tomatoes and chiles)
8oz Velveeta 2%, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 cups cooked brown rice
2-2.5 cups chopped grilled chicken
4 handfuls of multigrain tortilla chips, crushed

If not using leftover grilled chicken and rice, start by grilling your chicken (about 2 chicken breast halves) and cooking your rice according to package directions (make enough for approximately 6 servings).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the diced onion and cook one to two minutes more to soften. Add cumin and chili powder and mix together.

Add the black beans, combine to distribute seasoning. Next, add Ro-Tel and cook for 2-3 minutes to reduce some of the liquid. Reduce heat to medium-low.

Add the Velveeta and grilled chicken to the pan, stirring occasionally to let the cheese melt.

Grab about four handfuls of chips, place them in a plastic bag and let your kid smash them for a couple of seconds.

In a 9x13" pan, pour the rice and spread on the bottom of the pan, evenly distributing.

Pour the black bean, chicken, queso mixture on top of the rice. Sprinkle the tortilla chips on top of that.

Bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes.

Serves 8

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Easter Egg Sugar Cookies

Perfect for filling Easter baskets!

Start with your favorite sugar cookie recipe.

The one I use:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 to 3 cups sifted flour (2 1/2 to start, because the dough will pick up flour during rolling)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
dash salt

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until fluffy.

Add vanilla, sifted flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.
Cover and refrigerate. (Dough can be refrigerated for several days.)

When ready to bake cookies, preheat oven to 350°.

Roll out cookies and put them on baking sheets. I like to put cut-out cookies in the fridge to chill for a bit so they’ll hold their shape while baking. I slide them in the fridge and then turn on the oven to preheat. By the time the oven is ready, the cookies are chilled just about the right amount of time.

The copper cookie cutters come from Kitchen Collectables. Their web site has step-by-step lessons, recipes, and lots of fun baking supplies.

Bake cookies for 9 to 11 minutes, or until cookies are just beginning to brown on the edges.

Cool on the pan for a minute or two, then remove to wire rack to finish cooling.

Start with a batch of royal icing to outline the cookies. It can also be used for detail work, such as polka dots, stripes, writing a monogram or name on a cookie.

1 pound confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons meringue powder*
4-6 tablespoons warm water
2 teaspoons flavoring (such as vanilla, lemon, butter, or almond)

*Meringue powder is available at cake decorating supply shops as well as many craft stores and large discount stores.

Sift powdered sugar into large mixing bowl. Add meringue powder and combine. With mixer running on medium, add about 3 tablespoons warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Add desired flavorings and additional water as needed.

To outline cookies and pipe details, icing should be fairly stiff. After outlining and piping, simply return any unused icing to the bowl, mix, and add more water until icing is thin enough to spread or pour easily.

Tip: Royal icing is like glue. When it dries, it’s like really, really hard glue. In fact, royal icing is the “mortar” that’s used to build gingerbread houses. So when you’re not working with an icing that’s in a pastry bag, store it upright in a drinking glass, into which you’ve first put a dampened paper towel in the bottom. Rest the tip on that and it won’t dry out.

Next make a batch of royal icing that is "flow consistency." To make flow consistency, add water a tablespoon at a time, until the icing falls from a spoon about the same way cake batter does. It needs to be good and thin.

Divide the icing into bowls and use food coloring to tint each bowl the colors of your dreams. Spoon a bit of icing in the center of each cookie and use an offset spatula to get it even.

To quickly fill in large portions of cookies that have been outlined, fill a squeeze bottle (like ketchup and mustard come in at hamburger joints) with icing and use it to fill in the areas. This is a quick method, great especially if you are making a large quantity of cookies. Be careful not to overfill the cookie, causing the icing to run over the “dam” created when you outlined the cookies.

Now we can get creative. While the icing is still wet dust some with colored sugar or sprinkles. Add small dabs of icing to the base color and use a toothpick to swirl the colors around - it will produce a marbelized look.

Use the outline consistency icing to layer on stripes or polka dots.

Allow cookies to dry completely, several hours. After they are dry, cookies can be stacked or wrapped in cellophane bags.

Place a bit of Easter basket grass in the bottom of a cellophane bag and top with the cookie. Tie with ribbon. I love this part.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Amanda and Keith introduced Jeffrey and I, so when we hosted a wedding shower for them I wanted it to be special. Amanda's favorite dessert is chocolate chip cookies. I went about constructing a cupcake:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes. It's chocolate chip cookie dough stuffed in a cupcake, topped with a chocolate chip cookie. Genuis!

I didn't invent the idea. I looked online and merged several different recipes and variations to come up with it. First bake cupcakes. I used a box of yellow cake mix. Because I'm fancy that way.

While they're cooling, mix up the chocolate chip cookie dough filling, which has no egg.

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tbsp. light brown sugar, packed
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

To make the cookie dough filling, combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the flour, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla until incorporated and smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the mixture has firmed up a bit, about an hour.

To fill the cupcakes, cut a cone-shaped portion out of the center of each cupcake. Fill each hole with a chunk of the chilled cookie dough mixture.

Next bake the garnishes - cute little miniature chocolate chip cookies.

Miniature Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Adjust oven racks to upper and lower-middle positions. Preheat oven 325°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside. With electric mixer, or by hand, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat at low-speed just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Roll bits of dough to make tiny cookies.

Bake, reversing position of cookie of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Possibly try one. Or two. Just for quality control.

Top with frosting: Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Icing.

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon honey

Melt butter and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, brown sugar, vanilla and almond extract. Beat with an electric mixer. When mixture starts to stiffen, stop mixer and add honey.

Continue to beat until light and fluffy.

Spread immediately and store cake in refrigerator.

Use a piping bag to swirl on the frosting. Or slather it on with an offset spatula.

Top with a miniature chocolate chip cookie and sprinkle with miniature chocolate chips.

The cupcakes were a hit. There were none left over and I have orders to make more soon.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Grilled Zucchini Rolls with Herbs and Cheese

3 zucchini (about 1/2 pound each), sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 ounces reduced-fat soft goat's cheese
1 tablespoon freshly minced parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup basil leaves

Discard the outermost slices of zucchini and brush the rest of the slices with the oil on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Place on a preheated grill or grill pan for about 4 minutes on each side, or until tender.

In a small bowl combine the goat cheese, parsley leaves and lemon juice, mashing with a fork.

Put 1/2 teaspoon of the cheese mixture about 1/2-inch from the end of a zucchini slice. Top with a few spinach leaves and 1 small, or half of a large basil leaf. Roll up and place seam side down on a platter. Repeat with the rest of the zucchini slices.

From The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life by Ellie Krieger

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lunch Out

Far from fancy.

Turkey, cheddar, and spinach on sourdough with Lay's chips and a cold can of Diet Coke.

Salad with roasted red peppers, goat cheese, and toasted pine nuts.

Yet it was extraordinary: sitting outside for lunch, enjoying the spring weather, the blue skies, the Bradford pear in bloom. Incredible.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spaghetti Sauce over Spaghetti Squash

Every couple of weeks we have spaghetti, what The Child calls "Jeffrey 'sghetti." It's usually a mixture of ground turkey and ground beef, sauteed, fat drained off, and tossed with a jar of some kind of marinara-florentine sauce.

Ever since we discovered spaghetti squash, we've taken to serving the sauce over the cooked squash. I don't know that we've ever told The Child he was eating a vegetable (in addition to the spinach in the sauce) rathe than pasta. He hasn't seemed to notice the difference.

Roasting spaghetti squash and shredding it with a fork is little trouble. Eating the squash in place of pasta is an easy way to get in more vegetables.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Salmon with Sweet & Spicy Rub

Another recipe from Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for Healthy Living. We enjoyed it and Garlic-Roasted Cauliflower and steamed green beans tossed with a bit of salt and butter.

1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar. I like the bolder flavor.)
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
dash teaspoon salt
dash teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skin and any pin bones removed
1 tablespoon olive oil

Coat your grill or a grill pan with cooking spray and preheat over medium heat.
While the grill is heating, combine the brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Brush each salmon fillet with half of the olive oil, then rub each fillet with about half of the spice mixture.

Grill the salmon, flesh side down, until charred, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the salmon and cook another 5 to 6 minutes for medium doneness. For well done fish, cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to a platter and serve immediately.

Garlic-Roasted Cauliflower

I believe this is this is the first cauliflower I've had that wasn't raw and on a platter with Ranch dip, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes. It made for a nice change of pace for a side dish.

1 head of cauliflower
2 cloves of garlic
olive oil
Parmesan cheese
fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice the garlic cloves into quarters and put them in a medium mixing bowl. Add olive oil.

Manhandle the head of cauliflower so that you break it into bits, then cut them into smaller pieces. Add the cauliflower to the garlic and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and add more olive oil, enough to coat.

Spread onto a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes or until tender.

Squeeze a bit, just a bit, of fresh lemon juice onto the cauliflower and top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ellie Krieger's Oven-Fried Chicken with Roasted Broccoli and Macaroni & Cheese

Another hit from the cookbook, The Foods You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life.

(I halved the recipe so it would serve four.)

about 10 sleeve whole-grain salted crackers, pulsed in a food processor until fine (about 1/2 cup)
1 1/4 cups corn cereal flakes, pulsed in a food processor to fine crumbs (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg white
1/2 cup lowfat, plain yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
Olive oil cooking spray
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray a baking sheet with olive oil.

Combine the crackers and corn cereal crumbs, sesame seeds, cayenne, and garlic powder in a shallow bowl. Reserve.

In a large bowl, combine egg whites, yogurt, Dijon mustard, and salt. Add the chicken pieces and coat thoroughly with the yogurt mixture.

One at a time, dip the chicken pieces in the cracker mixture, packing crumbs onto chicken. Arrange the chicken on a baking sheet and spray lightly with olive oil cooking spray.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a knife.

This was really tasty but the next time I make it, well, I'm going to drizzle each piece of chicken with just a little bit of melted butter. It won't take much but it will make a big difference.

The pasta was Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese. The broccoli was the beloved Parmesan Roasted Broccoli with Pine Nuts from Ina Garten. LOVE.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ellie Krieger's Energy Bars

From The Foods You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life

1 cups oats
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup raw whole almonds
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup powdered dry milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour

1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Greese a 9×9 baking dish.

Place all of the ingredients except for the syrup and eggs in a food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped. Add the syrup and both eggs and continue to pulse until they are mixed in. Transfer the mixture into your baking dish and bake for 15 minutes.

Let cool for about 20 minutes.

I sliced these up, wrapped them in twos, and put them in the freezer. I'm thinking an energy bar with some Greek yogurt would make a great mid-morning snack.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Again with the creamy roasted red pepper pasta

A day after that I heated up the pasta and stirred in some romaine.

I made a panini with semolina bread, sharp cheddar, and honey roasted turkey. It was right tasty. And it used up all the leftover pasta.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Redux

There's nothing I love more than taking leftovers and making something good from them: frugal and tasty!

I warmed up leftover Fettucinne with Creamy Roasted Red Pepper-Feta Sauce, added some grilled asparagus and part of a grilled chicken breast leftover from the weekend and had a scrumptious lunch.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ginger and Sesame Dressing

The Thai-Asian salad dressing of my dreams!

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons honey or brown sugar
2 tablespoons peeled and minced ginger
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Add 2 tablespoons of water. Process until smooth.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Peppercorn Pork with Wine Sauce

Another Ellie Krieger recipe from her cookbook, The Food You Crave.

One 1¼ pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of all visible fat and silverskin
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely ground or crushed
2 teaspoon olive oil
½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
½ cup dry red or dry white wine
salt to taste

Slice the tenderloin open lengthwise, being careful not to cut through to the other side. You want to split the meat into one large, flat piece. Spread the mustard over both sides of the meat and rub in the pepper, pressing gently so it adheres well. Cut the meat accross into 4 even portions.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Put the tenderloin in the hot pan and cook, turning once, until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 150 degrees Fahrenheit, about 15 minutes total. Transfer the meat to a plate and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Add the broth and wine to the pan and cook over medium heat, scraping up any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom. Continue to cook until the sauce has reduced to about ½ cup, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour the sauce over the meat, season with salt, and serve.

Fettuccine with Creamy Roasted Red Pepper-Feta Sauce

Ellie Krieger is my new hero. I love this dish. It was easy and creamy and good. Not like healthy-good but truly, really, "Oh,-wow-this-is-good," good.

•2 tablespoons olive oil
•1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
•2 to 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
•1 (16-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
•1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
•1 cup crumbled feta cheese or a 6-ounce block
•1 pound whole-wheat fettuccine
•Freshly ground black pepper
•2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic until soft, about 10 minutes. Add roasted peppers and saute until heated through. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Place mixture in the bowl of a food processor with stock and all but 2 tablespoons of the feta. Process until combined and smooth, about 30 seconds.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Toss pasta with sauce, adding pasta water by the tablespoon, if needed. Sauce should cling nicely to pasta. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Divide among pasta bowls. Sprinkle with parsley and remaining feta cheese.

Serves six.

Recipe by Ellie Krieger, from her wonderful cookbook, The Food You Crave.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chocolate Brownies with Dried Cherries and Pecans

A day or so before baking, soak 3/4 cup dried Bing cherries, roughly chopped, in 1/3 cup coffee liqueur, such as Khalua

6 (1-ounce) squares of semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/3 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place the chocolate squares and the butter in large microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add sugar; mix well. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, pecans, and cherries until well blended.

Spread into greased 8- or 9-inch square baking pan. Or into a dozen or miniature heart-shaped pans.

Bake 22 to 25 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool in pan on wire rack.

You can melt a handful of candy disks in a zip-top bag in the microwave, snip off one corner with a pair of scissors, and drizzle over the brownies.

These make neat teachers' gifts: put a brownie heart, drizzled or no, in a clear plastic bag, tie with ribbon, and attach a little card. This won't happen at our house until sometime Sunday, otherwise I'd post a picture.