Sunday, January 31, 2010

Orange Yogurt Cake

Sometimes I run into a recipe that I really want to make pronto. This struck my attention. And it was worth it! Yum! Notice the piece cut off before the picture - It smelled so good baking! This is a delicious, moist, refreshing cake. Do try it!

Orange Yogurt Cake
Source: Baked Perfection Blog

For the cake:

1 cup fat free Greek yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
Zest of 3 oranges
1 tsp real vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
½ cup melted butter
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ cups all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together the baking powder and flour. In a seperate large bowl, beat together the granulated sugar, eggs, orange zest, vanilla extract, salt, and butter. Stir in the yogurt until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined, being careful not to over mix.

Pour the cake batter into the loaf pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Wait for 10 minutes and carefully remove to a cooling rack.

For soaking warm cake:

1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

While the cake is cooking, add the orange juice and granulated sugar to a small sauce pan. Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is melted and the liquid is mainly clear. About 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Place the cooling rack on top of a piece of wax paper. Spoon the mixture over the cake. Allow the cake to finish cooling.

For glazing cooled cake:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons Orange Zest

Mix together powdered sugar and orange juice. Spoon glaze over the top and garnish with orange zest; let the cake set up overnight before serving.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Almond Chicken Salad

Simple chicken salad is something I really enjoy. We had bought some chicken breasts recently that we had in the fridge. We didn't use them right away and I got nervous of freezing them now. So I roasted them with salt & pepper. I shredded them and placed the meat in a freezer bag. A late work night ~ I remembered the chicken & whipped this together. A great dinner & leftovers for lunch!

Almond Chicken Salad
Source: Paula Deen Food Network

2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups diced chicken
1 cup finely diced celery
1/3 cup slivered almonds
(I added craisins!)

Combine lemon juice, mayonnaise, and salt and blend well. Toss with chicken, celery and almonds. Serve on bread or crisp lettuce.

Classic Italian Lasagna

Ben has been traveling alot. I asked him what home cooked meal he'd like.... without hesitation Lasagna. We haven't found our go to recipe yet so Giada's looked good to try. Not sure it's our go to but it was good nonetheless. I made some modifications.

Classic Italian Lasagna
Source: Giada De Laurentiis Foodnetwork

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons for the lasagna
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk at room temperature
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce, recipe follows
Salt and white pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground chuck beef
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds ricotta cheese
3 large eggs
1 pound lasagna sheets, cooked al dente (I used whole grain noodles -I have tried to switch to these exclusively)
2 packs (10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 cups shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Bechamel sauce:
In a 2-quart pot, melt 5 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. When butter has completely melted, add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent any lumps from forming. Continue to simmer and whisk over medium heat until the sauce is thick, smooth and creamy, about 10 minutes. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of wooden spoon. Remove from heat and add the nutmeg and tomato sauce. Stir until well combined and check for seasoning. Set aside and allow to cool completely.

In a saute pan, heat extra-virgin olive oil. When almost smoking, add the ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Brown meat, breaking any large lumps, until it is no longer pink. Remove from heat and drain any excess fat. Set aside and allow to cool completely.

In a medium sized bowl, thoroughly mix the ricotta and eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Into the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch baking dish, spread 1/3 of the bechamel sauce. Arrange the pasta sheets side by side, covering the bottom of the baking dish. Evenly spread a layer of all the ricotta mixture and then a layer of all the spinach. Arrange another layer of pasta sheets and spread all the ground beef on top. Sprinkle 1/2 the mozzarella cheese on top of the beef. Spread another 1/3 of the bechamel sauce. Arrange the final layer of pasta sheets and top with remaining bechamel, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into 1/4-inch cubes and top lasagna.

Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place lasagna dish on top, cover and put on the middle rack of the oven and bake until top is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Remove cover and continue to bake for about 15 minutes.

My Notes & Alterations:
~I used whole grain lasagna noodles. They worked out great!
~Only used one box of spinach. Ben may've not eaten it if it had too much more!
~I mixed the spinach into the ricotta/egg mixture.
~ The big alternation I made was not using all of the Bechamel sauce. I made WAY too much! Next time I would cut that recipe in half. I was worried about using it all through out. I used the bechamel/simple sauce mixture on the bottom layer & then on top of the first layer of noodles. For the remaining sauce I just used the simple sauce. It turned out like classic lasagna this way. I don't know if I would have trusted it with all the bechamel.

Simple Tomato Sauce
Source: Giada De Laurentiis

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped (I used 2)
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 (32 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
4-6 basil leaves
2 dried bay leaves
4 TBSPS unsalted butter, optional

~ In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
~ Add tomatoes, basil and bay leaves and simmer covered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still tastes acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 TBSP at a time to round out the flavors.
~ Add 1/2 the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.
~ If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1 to 2 cup portions into freezer plastic bags. This will freeze up to 6 months.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Peanut Butter Noodles

Thai/Asian food at home. Trying to get some more of these types thing in my recipe box. I found this recipe from All Recipes.Com. Made a couple alterations to make it more of a meal.

Peanut Noodles

1/2 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root (I had jarred ginger)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons hot chile paste (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces Udon noodles (can substitute spaghetti)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped peanuts

I added a red pepper & 1 lb. chicken breast

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until tender according to package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, combine chicken broth, ginger, soy sauce, peanut butter, honey, chili paste, and garlic in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until peanut butter melts and is heated through. Add noodles, and toss to coat. Garnish with green onions and peanuts.

I cut 1 lb. chicken breast in bite size pieces & a red pepper. I sauteed them in peanut oil. Adding them to the sauce/noodles.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chicken Parm.

This is a good recipe - Thanks to my dear friend Dr. Suz. One afternoon in her kitchen in Boston we cooked up chicken & eggplant parm. As she off the top of her head worked - I wrote it down! This can be used for Chicken Parm, Eggplant Parm or even Chicken Piccata with a little alteration. Chicken Parm is Ben's favorite. With his first week on the road for awhile, a favorite dinner was in order. Oh & it's easy too!

Chicken/Eggplant Parmesan

1 lb. boneless chicken breasts or 1 eggplant (eggplant needs prepped with salt - let sit - wipe off salt)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 TBSP water
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4. tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
(for Chicken Piccata 2 TBSP lemon juice ~ for parm - fresh mozzarella, sauce, basil)

Pound chicken breasts about 1/4 inch then. Cut into pieces. I cut 3 breasts into 6 pieces

Mix egg & water in a shallow plate or bowl.

Mix bread crumbs, salt, pepper & garlic powder in a separate shallow plate of bowl.

Heat oil & butter in a skillet.

Coat chicken in flour, Dip into egg mixture, coat with bread crumb mixture.
Place in the skillet. Cook for 8 - 10 minutes. Turning half way through cooking.

For Parm. ~ Cover a baking dish with sauce. Lay the chicken in the sauce. Cover with sauce & then top with cheese. Bake at 350 until the cheese is melted. Garnish with fresh basil.

For Piccata ~ Pour lemon juice over chicken in skillet. Serve.

Oatmeal Chocolate Cookies

A cookie recipe that requires no more than a bowl and a mixing spoon to prepare?! What could be easier? And the use of oatmeal and whole wheat flour make this one of my go-to cookie recipes.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cream by hand:
2 very soft sticks of butter (I used I Can't Believe It's Not Butter baking)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup sugar

Add 2 eggs and blend.

Add 2 1/2 cups quick oats

Then add:
2 cups flour (I used whole wheat flour - I like the King Arthur brand)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups chocolate chips

Bake 350 for about 10 minutes.
Do not over bake.
Cool on a cooking rack.

Mock Chocolate Eclair

From the recipe box of my mom. This dessert has become a favorite of mine to make for a group or if I am charged with taking a dessert somewhere. It's light, easy to make & delicious. Why don't you give it a try.

Mock Chocolate Eclair

2 wrapped packages of graham crackers
2 packages vanilla instant pudding & pie filling
3 cups skim milk
1/2 8 oz. container of fat-free whipped topping

Layer the bottom of a 13X9X2 inch dish with 1/3 of the graham crackers

In a mixing bowl, beat pudding with milk until thick, let stand. Fold in whipped topping.

Spread 1/2 of pudding on cracker layer.

Add another layer of cracker. Follow with the remainder of the pudding mixture. Top with the remaining crackers

Spread with chocolate icing or a chocolate topping.

Refrigerate. Can do overnight.

We usually make this chocolate topping...
Chocolate Topping

1/4 cup cocoa
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 TBSP vanilla extract
1 TBSP margarine

Combine cocoa, sugar and milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.
Remove from heat and add vanilla and margarine.
Let cool slightly and poor over top of the graham crackers.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Garlic Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes

Extremely cold... single digit January day.... Indulgent mashed potatoes. AHH - does that sound good or what?! I definetly wouldn't use this as my regular mashed potatoes but for special occaisions or extra comfort... why not.

Garlic Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes


2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, washed and quartered
4 cloves garlic
Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, warm
1 stick cold butter, cut into 9 pats

Place the potatoes and garlic in a large sauce pan. Cover with 1 to 2 inches cold water and season generously with salt. The water should taste like the sea. TASTE IT! If the water is under seasoned at this point it will be hard to have a well seasoned end product. Bring the pot of water to a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes and garlic well and pass through a food-mill or ricer. (I just used a hand potato masher and it worked great). DO NOT use a food processor or blender. It will result in a very sticky and rubbery end product.

While passing the potatoes, bring the heavy cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Once the cream has come to a boil remove from the heat.

While the potatoes are still hot add 1/3 of the cream and butter and stir vigorously into the potatoes. Repeat this process 2 more times until all of the cream and butter has incorporated. Taste the potatoes for seasoning and add salt, if needed. Serve immediately or cover with foil and keep warm in an oven on low heat.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Blue Ribbon Chili

We usually make a pretty complicated, many ingredient chili recipe. A cold, cold winter day called for chili but not the one with too many ingredients. We found this recipe on All Recipes.Com. we'd definetly use it again for a quick go to chili. It was good & extremely easy & quick to make.

Blue Ribbon Chili

2 pounds ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 (8 ounce) jar salsa
4 tablespoons chili seasoning mix
1 (15 ounce) can light red kidney beans
1 (15 ounce) can dark red kidney beans
(the only thing we added was about 1/2 lb. of hot italian sausage to kick it up a bit)

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the ground beef and the onion and saute for 10 minutes, or until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain grease, if desired.

Add the ground black pepper, garlic salt, tomato sauce, salsa, chili seasoning mix and kidney beans. Mix well, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least an hour.

Served with fritos, cheddar cheese & sour cream.