Monday, December 31, 2007

Looks just like the picture!!!

I was so darn proud of myself! I needed to make dessert for my Christmas gathering at my parents house. I saw the pretty peppermint ice cream cake in Cooking Light and thought I would give it a whirl. Now it looks scary & it kind of was. I started making it on Saturday for my Sunday dessert.

I baked the cakes & did the ice cream part Saturday morning. On Sunday morning, I put it all together and let it sit in the deep freeze for about 2 hours. I didn't get any "inside of the cake" pictures but I had to take pictures before we left our house in case anything happened to the cake in transit. I wanted proof!

Peppermint Ice Cream Cake
Cooking Light
Cooking spray
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
3/4 cup boiling water
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup egg substitute
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups low-fat peppermint ice cream (such as Edy's/Dreyer's Slow-Churned Light), softened ** I couldn't find this so I got white chocolate chip mint ice cream & added some red food coloring drops **
3 cups frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed ** I used low fat, not fat free
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
8 peppermint candies, crushed

Preheat oven to 350°.
Coat 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray. Line bottom of each pan with wax paper.

Combine cocoa, water, and butter, stirring with a whisk until blended. Cool.

Combine sugars in a large bowl, stirring well until blended. Add egg substitute; beat 2 minutes or until light and creamy. Add cocoa mixture, and beat for 1 minute.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to bowl; beat for 1 minute or until blended. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 28 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pans. Wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze for 2 hours or until slightly frozen.

Spread ice cream in an 8-inch round cake pan lined with plastic wrap. Cover and freeze 4 hours or until firm.

To assemble cake, place one cake layer, bottom side up, on a cake pedestal. Remove ice cream layer from freezer; remove plastic wrap. Place ice cream layer, bottom side up, on top of cake layer. Top with remaining cake layer.

Combine whipped topping and peppermint extract, and stir until blended. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with crushed peppermints. Freeze until ready to serve. Let cake stand at room temperature 10 minutes before slicing.

And again, CL doesn't disappoint! Not only looked good but tasted good too!

Another Breakfast Bake

I am refusing to go to the grocery store until we start our diet, so that being said, I have enough for lunches & dinners, but breakfast, well that is tricky. I found some ham & swiss cheese and I had bread and some eggs.
Strata it is! Its the same recipe as here but instead of sausage & cheddar cheese, I used ham & swiss cheese.

And now we have breakfast for the week!

Cleaning Out The Fridge

In preparation for the "new years resolution" diet, I need to use up the food items in my house that we can not eat. I absolutely hate throwing away food. Something about my mom telling me kids in Africa are dying of hunger. Anyway, #1 on the list of things you can no longer eat, heavy cream. :( My friends would tell you that I am the only person they know who cooks with heavy cream. I don't do it often but there are times its called for. Like in Vodka Sauce. I don't know that I would ever make this with milk or half and half.
This recipe is from Williams-Sonoma. I added the shrimp at the last minute since it was already pre-cooked.

Penne Alla Vokda Sauce
5 large tomatoes ** I didn't have any fresh tomatoes, so I used a 14.5 oz can and drained it well
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1/4 cup vodka
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 lb. penne
1/2 cup heavy cream
Leaves from 3 or 4 large fresh flat-leaf parsley
sprigs, coarsely chopped

Peel and seed the tomatoes, then cut them into small dice. If the tomatoes are very juicy, drain them for about 10 minutes in a colander. Set aside.

In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until just starting to turn golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the stovetop and add the vodka. Return the pan to medium heat and cook until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Generously salt the boiling water, add the pasta and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well and add the pasta to the fry pan.

Add the cream and cook, stirring, over medium heat until the pasta is well coated with the sauce, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Pour into a warmed large, shallow bowl. Add the parsley and toss briefly. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Happy Retirement!

My Hubs boss is retiring in a few days. Don't we all wish we could trade places with him?? He has been asking me to make some cheeseballs & crackers since I brought some snacks in a few weeks ago. With the holiday parties/Christmas/shopping, I hadn't had time. He so kindly reminded me on Monday, he only has 6 days left of work. (I needed to get to mixin!)

I snagged this recipe from & realized the ingredients are easily switchable.

Standard Cheeseballs
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened 1 pkg.
(8 oz.) KRAFT Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 tsp. garlic powder
Dash ground red pepper (cayenne)
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1-2/3 cups PLANTERS Chopped Pecans

BEAT cream cheese, shredded cheese, garlic powder and ground red pepper until well blended. Divide in half. Add roasted red peppers to one half and green onions to the other half; mix each half until well blended. Cover.
SHAPE into a large ball. Roll in pecans. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Since I wanted to make two different kinds of cheeseballs I only used 1 8oz package cream cheese, 4 oz of cheddar cheese & pinches of the seasonings. I omitted the roasted red pepper b/c I didn't have the time or patience to roast a pepper & in this particular cheeseball, I omitted the onions.
For my second cheeseball I made it with 8 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, about 4 oz Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, a little milk, (like 1 tsp) & the green onions.
I served them with Ritz crackers. Had I known how simple they were, I would have made these ages ago! I am sure they will be making some party appearances soon.

Now, I did receive a "photo-tent" for Christmas
I haven't gotten my external light source set up so I haven't had a chance to use it yet. When I do, I am sure I will be beaming!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tres Leche Cake (Three Milk)

We tasted this amazing cake for the first time in Maui earlier this year. The hubs asked the caterer what this delicious cake was & even asked her for the recipe so we, or I should say I, could make it at home. Its been on the "must make" list for awhile, but I just hadn't made the time. So I asked the hubs "Chocolate Molten Cake or Tres Leche?" Winner: Tres Leche.

I will say I was worried about making this. When the food network difficulty rating is "Expert" I start to worry. I will say, I would never had made this without my Kitchen Aid. I don't think I could have stood still long enough to beat the eggs to their nice peaks.

6 large eggs, separated
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream topping:
1 14-ounce can evaporated milk
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and set aside. (I used a smaller rectangle pan & a muffin tin, b/c I wanted individual cakes for presentation)
In the bowl of a mixer, beat the egg whites on low speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually with the mixer running and peak to stiff peaks. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after the addition of each.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and add to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk. (Do this quickly so the batter does not lose volume.) Add the vanilla. Bake until golden, 25 minutes.

To make the cream topping: In a blender, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream and blend on high speed.

Remove the cake from the oven and while still warm, pour the cream mixture over it. Let sit and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Now some recipes have you use a light frosting for the top. In Maui, we had whipped cream. I hadn't ever made my own whip cream, but with the leftover heavy cream I had, I thought, why not? I looked for a Giada recipe, knowing I had seen her on TV last Wednesday making her own whipped cream & saying how easy it was. And she was right, it was easy and delicious!

Homemade Whipped Cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 teaspoons confectioners' sugar

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks. Add the vanilla extract and confectioners' sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks.

*I"ll definitely be using this recipe for future desserts.

I put the whipped cream into a zip-loc bag, cut off a small piece of the corner & topped the Tres Leche cake.

Our First Married Christmas

This was the hubs & my first Christmas as a married couple. Yes, we have lived together for 2 previous Christmases, but this one was different. Last year, we were skimpy on the presents since we were getting married 4 months later, plus we spent most of the time driving from North KC to West Topeka to South KC. I had worried that with Christmas falling on a weekday, we would be super stressed out, but it turned out great. We started our own Christmas tradition of Christmas Eve together. (take note family, this is going to be our Christmas from here on out)
In the tradition of Christmas dinners, I decided to go with a nice lamb chop. Its amazing, but Sam's Club has the best selection of meats/poultry/seafood. We picked up some lamb loin chops for our dinner. I marinated them in a little olive oil, S&P and rosemary.
In the meantime, we opened stockings & snacked on Italian Cheese Fondue. I thought this would go well with the bottle of Port Santa left the hubs. However, something about that smelly Gruyere cheese turned us off to it. The pancetta was great and the fontina, but the gruyere made the cheese just have a funk to it.

Next up was the main meal. I had researched a lot about lamb chops & how to sear/grill/cook them. We transported our rosemary bush into the house before the first freeze, so I have fresh rosemary and the combo sounded wonderful. This was so easy! As I mentioned above, I marinated them for about 2 hours. In a heavy cast iron skillet, heat 2 Tbs butter until bubbly. Place lamb chops in the pan, pour the marinade into the pan. Sear each side 3-5 minutes.

With this, I made some garlic roasted red potatoes. Another delicious side, but not time consuming at all. We received some garlic olive oil from our fave winery, Viansa, so I just cut up a few red potatoes, tossed them with the olive oil & spread them out, single layer, on a cookie sheet. Placed in a 425F, preheated oven & roasted for about 30 minutes.

I also made Tres Leche Cake, but will post that separately. I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Turtle Cheesecake

I needed to make some desserts for my husband's family Christmas. I still have 1 1/2 bags of pecans in my pantry & cream cheese was on sale at the grocery store. Oh I also still have about 2 lbs of caramels in my pantry. So, turtle cheesecake it is!
Now I have attempted to make my own cheesecake crust in the past. I usually end up frustrated, but it tastes good. However, with the minimal time I had, and three desserts to cook, I nixed making my own crust and went with the pre-made kind.

So the original recipe is from Kraft. I'll put my notes at the bottom.

Ultimate Turtle Cheesecake is not cooperating with me, so I will post the recipe later.

*When using premade crusts, this will make enough for almost 2 cheesecakes. I did end up adding one more 8 oz bar of cream cheese, 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla so my second cheesecake would fill up. And in case of "spillage" I cook the cheesecakes on a baking sheet.

Ragin Cajun Jambalaya!

This is such a simple, yet delicious meal. I made it last year sometime & just kept forgetting about it. I like my jambalaya with shrimp and smoked sausage, but you can do chicken and sausage, like the recipe calls for. I will say, ro-tel is hot when not mixed with Velevetta. Yowser! The original recipe is from Ro-Tel, but I have changed it a bit so I'll just say, its mine.

Rajin' Cajun Jambalaya
1 pkg smoked sausage, cut into slices
approximately 2 cups shrimp cooked, with no tails
1 medium onion chopped
1 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans of Ro-Tel original
1 14 oz can tomato sauce
13-14 oz of chicken broth
4 servings of prepare minute rice

In a large saucepan, drizzle with olive oil and saute the onions & garlic. Add the sausage, ro-tel, tomato sauce & chicken broth; bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer, add prepared rice. Let simmer for about 20 minutes. Add shrimp about 5 minutes before you are ready to serve, otherwise it will come out chewy.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Oh the holidays..

One would think that it being the holidays, we bakers/cookers would be in heaven. Lots of parties/events to cook & bake for and all. Well, not so much for me. I have been crazy busy & haven't had time to do a lot of cooking and, most of all baking. The parties I have attended, I have made apps, mostly things I have made before, so no need to blog about them. I have blogged about some of my baking. I went on a cooking frenzy and had so many leftovers, I wasn't allowed to cook anymore. And then came this week.
The Hubs and I didn't have much going on this week. A few nights of baking & cooking seemed to be in order. Until Monday afternoon, when some super flu bug hit us. Not only the hubs & I, but close to 10 other people at a party we attended on Saturday night. YUCK! Thankfully, we have recovered, but last night was the first night we were actually going to attempt a real meal. As in, not Sprite & saltine crackers or ramen soup. I had all the fixens' for jambalya, but I didn't think that was a good idea. Comfort food sounded best. So meatloaf, mashed potatoes with brown gravy & corn it was.

Now I don't think meatloaf takes a pretty picture. I mean, how could it, its ground beef & some form of tomato sauce/paste/ketchup. For example:
My picture:

FoodNetworks Picture:

Courtsey of Paula Deen

Now whose looks more appetizing? I am going to be bias and say mine.

Here is the recipe, we received it from our local wine shop in their monthly newsletter. It is said to be their highest rated & most requested recipe ever sent out. (Cellar & Loft)
Brown Sugar Meatloaf
1/2cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 cup finely crushed saltine crackers

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 10" loaf pan. Press the brown sugar to the bottom of the pan. (You can use more here if you need to cover the pan) Spread ketchup over the sugar.
In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients thoroughly. Shape into a loaf and place in pan. Bake for about an hour or until juices run clear.

*I added a little Worcester sauce as well, and my meat didn't really make a firm loaf so I just put it in the pan. I also cooked until the meat thermometer read 165.
Very different taste for meatloaf. It had nice crispy bottom from the brown sugar but was also very sweet and made the perfect "recovery" meal for the hubs & I.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What Happens when you don't have to cook dinner?

Well I don't know what to do with myself! Normally, we get home from work, change into comfy clothes, I start on dinner, the hubs starts on whatever "project" he has for the night. Well, since I have been cooking dinner since Friday, we have quite a few leftovers which meant, I wasn't allowed to cook dinner.
What to do, What to do...
Ah-ha! I had some buttermilk in the fridge that was going to spoil, I knew I bought it for a reason and that reason was, Ginger Spice Cake with Warmed Cranberry Sauce. I saw this in my Tyler Florence "Real Kitchen" cookbook. I think b/c it had molasses in it I thought I should make. Since the bourbon pecan tart called for 2 Tbsp and the hubs bought a giant jar, well, I need to use it in something!

Ginger Spice Cake with Warmed Cranberry Sauce
Tyler Florence "Real Kitchen"

Ginger Spice Cake
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup sugar
1/2 unsalted butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a 9" round pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cut a circle of parchment to fit the bottom of the pan and place it inside, spray again. Set aside.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs, molasses, sugar & butter until thick. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Beat for one minute after each addition to incorporate ingredients & strengthen the cakes structure. Mix until smooth

Pour the batter into the prepared pan & smooth down the top. Bake for about 35-40minutes or until wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before removing from pan.

Warm Cranberries
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup dried cranberries
2 cups water
2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg

While the cake is baking, combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Top cake slice with cranberry sauce & sprinkle with powdered sugar.
And we had a luncheon at work so I brought this along with my spinach & artichoke dip.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Risotto Follow Up

Thank you for all the tips on making risotto. The next time I am going to add another cup or two of broth & have it cook a bit longer. I'll keep you posted!!

Mexican Mondays

As I am sure many of you fellow cooks find, you have a 5 page document with "must try" recipes. I felt a little overwhelmed but I really wanted to try all these items. So to keep me in order, I determined Monday to be a mexican inspired dish, Friday to be fake out take out and then I can fill in the rest of the days. However, the last time I did mexican monday, well, it didn't turn out so well. I attempted empanadas and well, it didn't work out for me. (see post "a few failed attempts") Last night I was determined to get back on the Mexican Monday wagon. Since I still had chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, I wanted to use those.
I am came across this recipe on Cooking Light, of course. I made some changes & boy am I glad I did. I think it would have been pretty bland had I not. My changes are in green and probably made it not "light" anymore.

Chili & Cheddar Bow Tie Casserole
Cooking Light
1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced Canadian bacon (about 2 ounces) ** I didn't have any so I used real bacon**
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk ** I only used 1 cup**
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
8 cups hot cooked farfalle (bow tie pasta) or other short pasta
Cooking spray
** 1 can diced tomatoes**

Preheat oven to 400°.
Remove 1 teaspoon adobo sauce and 1 chile from canned chiles; mince the chile. Place remaining sauce and chiles in a zip-top plastic bag; freeze for another use.

**Here I cut the bacon into bite-sized pieces & cooked in a skillet. I drained the fat & placed the bacon on a paper towel to blot out extra grease**

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper ; sauté 4 minutes. Add onions; sauté 1 minute. Stir in the adobo sauce, minced chile, flour, chili powder, salt, and cumin; cook 1 minute. Gradually add milk; cook until thick and bubbly (about 4 minutes), stirring constantly with a whisk.
** Here I added the can of tomatoes to the milk mixture. I think it gave it much more flavor**
Remove from heat. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups cheese and cilantro, stirring until cheese melts. Add pasta to pan; toss well.

Spoon the pasta mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over pasta mixture. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until browned.

** I just guessed on the spices, I wasn't sure how hot the adobe sauce would make it so I would add the spices, then taste, then add more spices. Also I think you could use different kinds of cheese, like monterey jack would be good in this. You could make this into a vegetarian dish by omitting the bacon as well. **

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunday Dinner

I like to make something on Sunday that takes a bit of TLC. Its nice to cook & relax on a Sunday night. The Hubs was wrapping presents so I had some time to myself in the kitchen. I had a recipe for porcini mushroom risotto & bone-in pork chops were on sale at the store, nice 1 1/4" thick ones. So we had Parmesan pork chops & mushroom risotto. Well the risotto recipe I got from Williams-Sonoma I didn't totally read, really I just read the ingredients, then as I was cooking was like, huh? pressure cooker?? So I pulled out the risotto recipe I made awhile back & used its directions.

Porcini Mushroom Risotto

2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
4 1/2 cups chicken stock, plus more as needed
1 cup water
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups Carnaroli rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus
more for serving
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the mushrooms, 1 cup of the stock and the water. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Let soak for 30 minutes to soften. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid and discarding any sediment that falls to the bottom of the pan. Chop the mushrooms and set aside.

**This is where I started to use the Giada Risotto recipe, but I used some of the mushroom stock & chicken broth. HOWEVER, what am I doing wrong?? My risotto rice is always hard-not a nice soft rice, but crunchy. Really pissed me off since I spent $8 on 10 oz of porcini mushrooms!**

Parmesan Pork Chops

2 large eggs
1 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
4 (1/2 to 3/4-inch thick) center-cut pork loin chops (each about 10 to 12 ounces)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil
Lemon wedges, for serving

Whisk the eggs in a pie plate to blend. Place the bread crumbs in another pie plate. Place the cheese in a third pie plate. Sprinkle the pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Coat the chops completely with the cheese, patting to adhere. Dip the chops into the eggs, then coat completely with the bread crumbs, patting to adhere.
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add pork chops, in batches if necessary, and cook until golden brown and the center reaches 150 degrees, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to plates and serve with lemon wedges

** I marinated the pork chops in a lemon & buttermilk sauce for about an hour to keep them from drying out. After pan frying the chops, I placed them in the over at 350 until my thermometer read 160. They were still pink, so I hope we don't get tapeworm. **

Icey Weather

So a nice ice storm came over the Mid-West this weekend. I knew it was coming but the news always makes it out to be worse than it will be "ICE STORM 2007!" Puh-lease, its just some ice & snow. But, alas, they were somewhat right.
I spent Friday night making some baked goodies for our annual girls Christmas Exchange. I didn't believe those silly meteorologists. So I made cream cheese brownies & peanut butter chocolate bars.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Southern Living
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups vanilla wafers, crushed (about 45 cookies)
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup whipping cream

Beat butter and peanut butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add powdered sugar and vanilla wafer crumbs; beat until blended. Press mixture evenly into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking pan lined with wax paper.
Stir together chocolate morsels and whipping cream in a medium saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Spread evenly on top of peanut butter mixture. Chill 1 hour or until firm.

Remove from refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature 10 minutes or until slightly softened. Cut into 48 bars.

**These were great b/c they are no bake!! I put them in the wrong size dish so they were really thick, but still soooo good**

Cream Cheese Brownies
Cooking Light, December 2007
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces)
2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
2 large eggs
Cooking spray
1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1 large egg white

Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 1 3/4 cups sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Place butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH for 45 seconds or until melted, stirring once. Combine milk, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and eggs, stirring well with a whisk. Add chocolate mixture and milk mixture to flour mixture; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended. Spoon batter evenly into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray.

Place remaining 1/4 cup sugar, remaining 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, cheese, and egg white in a medium bowl; beat at medium speed until well blended using clean, dry beaters. Drizzle cheese mixture evenly over chocolate mixture; swirl batters together using the tip of a knife. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until batter begins to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.

**For a little twist on this, & to make it a bit more holiday-ish, I used 1/2 tsp vanilla & 1/4 tsp of peppermint extract. **

So those forecasters were right & the party was rescheduled, but I had these delicious goodies!! (Thank god I didn't make the snickerdoodles & macadamia nut cookies too) So my husband & my lucky co-workers got some holiday snacks!!

3 Cheese Frittata

This came from the Martha Stewart Blog and I think its been floating around the blog-o-sphere for a few days. I try my best to make a big breakfast on Sundays so the hubs & I have breakfast for the week. I am a HUGE fan of eggs, I would make them every morning if I could. That was the only upside to doing P90X earlier this year, eggs galore for breakfast!!!

Serves 8 – 10
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. small potatoes
4 small red onions thinly sliced
2 medium leeks washed and thinly sliced **We don't like leeks, so I used shallots**
1/4 tsp. paprika, salt and freshly ground pepper
2 slices white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
1 C. parsley, chopped
7 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 C. gouda, shredded ** Didn't have any gouda so I used extra sharp cheddar**
1/2 C. swiss, shredded
1/2 C. blue cheese, crumbled
In a large non-stick skillet with an ovenproof handle, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the potato slices and lightly brown on one side, about 3 minutes, then toss and lightly brown the other side. Add the onion to the skillet, toss with the potatoes, and sauté for a few more minutes until the onions are soft and translucent. Next, add the leeks and continue to sauté for about 5 minutes more.

Season with the paprika, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, then transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Return the skillet over medium heat and add 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the bread cubes and the garlic and toss until the bread is lightly browned and crispy on all sides. Add the bread, parsley, and eggs to the sautéed vegetables. Meanwhile, heat 2 more tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet and when nice and hot, pour this egg mixture into the pan. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top and cook over medium heat for about 5 to 6 minutes until a thin crust forms on the bottom and sides.

Place the skillet in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Check the consistency and continue baking until the eggs are just set. Invert the omelet onto a large cutting board and slice into wedges to serve.
I think my next frittata I will omit the bread & add more cheese. The bread made it taste like a strata & I really wanted more of a baked omelet feel.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bourbon Pecan Tart

I swear Cooking Light is the best thing ever!! Why would you make a full fat dessert when you have an even more delicious one with a Cooking Light recipe?? the hubs boss was selling pecans for some fundraiser, so we picked up 2 bags & I wanted to make a pie or something. I had never made pecan pie so this was going to be an experiment.

Bourbon Pecan Tart with Chocolate Drizzle
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
2/3 cup pecan halves
1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pilsbury)
Cooking spray
1/2 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine first 10 ingredients, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in pecans. Roll dough into a 13-inch circle; fit into a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan coated with cooking spray. Trim excess crust using a sharp knife. Spoon sugar mixture into prepared crust. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Drizzle chocolate over tart.

12 servings (serving size: 1 wedge)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 277(32% from fat); FAT 10g (sat 2.7g,mono 3g,poly 1.5g); PROTEIN 2.4g; CHOLESTEROL 39mg; CALCIUM 32mg; SODIUM 156mg; FIBER 0.7g; IRON 0.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 45.2g

My husband was so excited to try this that I didn't even get a chance to drizzle the chocolate over the top. It was so good and I no longer fear the pecan pie!