Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Highly recommend you get your hands on these ~3.31.10

I've been busy in the kitchen cooking little gems from these two publications. Cook's Country March 2010 is chock full of some amazingly delish recipes! I am hoping to make the majority of them and post about them, too! Hurry out and grab that Cook's Country, if you can! There are easily at least 10 recipes I've got on my "MAKE THIS" list! In fact, I could put together my whole Easter menu from that one issue. Fabulous!

We all know and love Ree, right? Her cookbook does not dissapoint. I received her it as a Christmas gift this past year. I have been enjoying her simple way of telling a recipe as well as the amazing photography and her gift of storytelling throughout the pages. I highly recommend you grab a copy for yourself- even though the recipes are on her site, this book is a great one to have on your shelf and on your kitchen counter!

Just this week I made the ham salad recipe from Cook's Country. Do yourself a favor if you're having ham for Easter-- save some for this recipe and add these things to your grocery list now: whole grain mustard, sweet pickle relish, mayo. All I needed was the mustard- a small jar of whole grain is all you'll need. Five ingredients total (I left out the pepper) and you're on your way to a simple, delicious lunch.
Last weekend, Miss Happy Heart and kids stopped over to play and eat! We made Ree's Pico de Gallo (I had never made this! gasp! what was I waiting for?) and Guacamole. My avocados were at perfect "guac stage" and we had ourselves a FEAST complete with diet cokes infused with lime. Perfection!

Guacamole is a simple simple treat to make. Everyone should eat avocadoes because they're good for you with heart healthy fats and that beautiful creamy green fruit. Oh Joy! I need more avocadoes in my kitchen! I've been buying them at Sam's lately at 3.98 for a bag of 5- what a steal!

Okay, so here's that ham salad recipe that won't disappoint.
You'll need some leftover ham- say about a cup and a half or so.
1/4 cup mayo
1 Tbs whole grain mustard
3 Tbs sweet pickle relish
1/2 tsp or several cranks of fresh ground pepper

1. Pulse your ham in the food processor about 10 times. Don't turn it into pate, just small shreds
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the "dressing" ingedients.
3. Add ham to mayo mixture and combine
4. Serve on whole grain bread or what we had: Club Crackers.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A sweet treat for your weekend ~ 3.19.20

This is a recipe from The New Holly Clegg Trim and Terrific cookbook. She says that it's her daughter's most requested recipe and it certainly is a sweet treat!

I love how it transforms in the oven... coming out looking like this!

Seriously, if you could smell that... you would swoon and quite possibly get a sugar high from the scent alone!

So it is obviously, very sweet, with a total of 3 cups (16 oz) of powdered sugar in the top layer! But don't be discouraged. Desserts are meant to be a bit indulgent, right? And this is a fun and quick recipe to make with simple ingredients that you probably have on hand in the fridge and pantry. And it's rather low in fat- depending on how many squares you cut your pan into- Holly says the recipe yields 48 squares. Those are rather tiny little treats, but oftentimes, it's all you need, right?

Enough rambling, here's the recipe!

Ooey Gooey Squares

1 box of yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1 Tbs water
1 pkg reduced fat cream cheese
16 oz (3 cups) powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large egg whites
1 cup chocolate chips (or try a combo- butterscotch + chocolate chip- mmm....)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare a 9x13 inch pan by spraying it with non-stick spray.
Mix together the cake mix, melted butter, egg, and water until combined. Dump into your prepared pan and pat into the bottom until evenly distributed.
Swipe out your mixing bowl and put the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, egg whites in there. Mix until smooth and creamy. Stir in most of the chocolate chips. Pour mixture on top of your first layer. Scatter remaining chocolate chips on top and pop the pan into the oven for 40-50 minutes. You'll know it's done when it's nicely browned all over and the edges pull away from the sides. Let cool. For best results, cut with a plastic knife- it's a little kitchen trick that plastic knives cut brownies and these gooey squares the best!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring in a pan ~ 3.5.10

Spring is certainly not far off when asparagus starts to show up on sale!

Pan Roasted Asparagus

1 lb of asparagus, ends trimmed
olive oil
kosher salt

Heat oil- a few turns of the pan is all you need (about 2 Tbs)- on high for a few minutes.
Add asparagus and give it a shake to coat the asparagus with the oil. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt.
Saute on high to med. high, shaking the pan frequently until the asparagus is cooked and carmelized.

Pierce an end (or pop one in your mouth) to check for tenderness. We like ours with not a lot of bite, really tender. You may like yours more crisp-tender. It's all in what you like! My kids eat this like candy!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hearty Mixed Grain Medley ~ 3.8.10

I happened upon this recipe over at Stacy J's place and thought it would be a perfect Lenten meal. I wasn't all that concerned about feeding it to the family as I didn't really care what they thought- I knew I'd love it! Am I the only one who does that?

It was simple to throw together and I've been eating it for meals, snacks and today.... breakfast! So filling and I feel like it's really good for me as it fills me up and looks amazing in a bowl. And when food looks pretty, that just makes me happier to eat it all up! Plus, there's simply no butter or oil used in it, so that has to be a check in the "better for you" column, right?

When you make this recipe, feel free to throw in things that you have... the original recipe calls for things I didn't have in my fridge/pantry that day and that's okay. When you're looking at a recipe, think about what you like about it and what sounds good. Feel free to ad-lib a little with ingredients that are similiar to the ones listed and you may find that you're making dishes "your own" a lot more. That's only really happened for me in the past couple of years. I've been getting braver with experimentation and have liked most of the results!

I did think ahead and buy pearl barley, but that was about the only thing I bought for the recipe. Everything else was a pantry staple for me!

Hearty Mixed Grain Medley
adapted from Stacy Julian's mixed grain casserole

3 medium carrots, chopped (I love carrots and will add one more next time)
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup fresh mushrooms, quartered (didn't have these this time, but will add them next time)
1 can black beans, drained + rinsed
1 can corn (or 1 cup frozen)
1 cup broth (I used chicken)
½ cup pearl barley
½ cup fresh parsley
¼ cup bulgar - (no bulgar this time)
¼ onion chopped
¼ tsp garlic salt

Combine all ingredients
Bake covered 350 degrees for 60 minutes
Stir once at 30 minutes

I added a sprinkle of Goya adobo seasoning on mine at the end, but it tastes just perfect without it, too.
You can also add a bit of cheese (cheddar would be good) on your bowl and pop it in the microwave to melt just before serving.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Good Morning Sunshine coffee cake ~ 3.2.10

This is a simple little recipe that is great to have in your "back pocket" for those times when you need to whip something up quick. It will fill the house with the warm, comforting scents of citrus and cinnamon - waking up your senses so that you exclaim, "It is a GOOD MORNING!"

I believe I saw Paula make this recipe this past summer and have been meaning to post it here for awhile. Today's fellowship day at our Scripture study afforded me the chance to bake it and take photos!

I've adapted it a bit, but the recipe credit still goes out to Ms. Paula Deen.

Good Morning Sunshine Coffee Cake

2 Tbs butter, melted, plus more for pan
1 (16.3 oz) can refrigerated biscuits (she recs Pillsury Grands flaky layers)
1/4 cup minced walnuts
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsps orange zest (I'd guess I used about half an orange's zest)

Glaze: 2 options:

1/2 cup powdered sugar + 2 oz cream cheese + 2 Tbs orange juice - whisk it up until thin enough to drizzle. Add more juice to thin, if necessary.


1/2 cup powdered sugar + 2 Tbs orange juice- whisk and add more OJ, as needed, to thin. then drizzle over warm cake.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter ( I sprayed with non-stick spray) a 9-in round cake pan.

Separate the biscuit dough and place one whole biscuit in the center of your pan. Cut the remaining biscuits in half, forming 14 half circles around the center biscuit. Brush with melted butter over the tops. It should look like this:

In a small bowl, combine the walnuts, granulated sugar, cinnamon and orange zest. Mix well and sprinkle liberally over the biscuits. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, mix up your glaze (whichever you prefer- I've made both like the simpler glaze better) and drizzle it over the warm coffee cake. Serve with fresh fruit and a cup of Joe!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Recipe Review: Cinnamon Streusel Layer Cake ~ 3.1.10

Yesterday we celebrated the 11th birthday of one sweet little niece of ours, Caterina!

Being Caterina's Godmother puts me in a wonderful predicament each and every year.... making a cake! A responsibility that I have deemed upon myself, mind you.  I have grown quite fond of cakes over the past several years and was excited that C was up to trying something a little bit different for her birthday this year.

I clipped this recipe a few months back because I do love what Ms. Byrn's does with a cake mix! Many of my favorite cake/cupcake recipes have emerged from her book Cupcakes from the Cake Mix Doctor and this one is entering the recipe box files of my "tried and true" recipes! My favorite part was the slightly crunchy streusel layer in between the creamy layer of frosting right smack dab in the middle of the cake! YUM!

Next time I'll.... add toasted chopped pecans in between the cakes. I may try our favorite buttercream frosting, too. I love a good cream cheese frosting (and this one is good), but I like it better with carrot cake.

Giving this recipe: 4 thumbs up!

See, you can make a yummy cake from a box!

Cinnamon Streusel Layer Cake

•Vegetable oil spray, for misting the pans
•3/4 cup packed dark or light brown sugar plus 3 tablespoons for the topping
•8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
•2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
•1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
•1 cup sour cream (regular or reduced-fat)
•1/3 cup vegetable oil
•1/4 cup water
•3 large eggs
•Cream Cheese Frosting (see recipe at bottom)

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist 2 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable oil spray. Using a pencil, trace the bottom of 1 of the cake pans onto 2 pieces of parchment paper. Cut out the round pieces of paper and place them in the bottom of the 2 prepared cake pans.

Place 3/4 cup of the brown sugar, the butter, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a small mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until creamy and smooth, 1 minute. Put half of the streusel mixture in each prepared cake pan. Using a rubber spatula, spread the streusel out to within 2 inches of the edge of the pans. Set the pans aside.

Place the cake mix, sour cream, oil, water and eggs in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are just incorporated, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until smooth, about 11/2 minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed. Transfer 1 cup of the batter to a smaller bowl and set aside. Divide the remaining cake batter evenly between the 2 cake pans, spreading the batter over the streusel.

Stir the remaining 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and the remaining teaspoon of cinnamon into the reserved batter until well blended and smooth, about 1 minute. Drop the cinnamon-flavored batter by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the batter in the pans and swirl it to the edge of the pan, being sure not to disturb the streusel layer. Place the pans in the oven side by side.

Bake the cake layers until the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the cake pans to wire racks and let the cake layers cool for 5 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of each cake layer and give the pans a good shake to loosen the cakes. Invert each layer onto a wire rack to cool completely, streusel side up, about 20 minutes longer. Peel off and discard the parchment paper circles.

While the cakes cool, make the Cream Cheese Frosting.

To assemble the cake, transfer 1 layer, streusel side up, to a serving platter. Spread the top with about 1 cup of the frosting. Place the second cake layer, streusel side down, on top of the first layer and frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting. Place the cake, uncovered, in the refrigerator until the frosting sets, 15 minutes, then slice and serve.

Cream Cheese Frosting
I used 1/3 less fat and it was just fine. I also tinted about a cup of the frosting and used it to pipe a message on her cake.

•8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
•4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
•3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
•2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Place the cream cheese and butter in a medium-size bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine. Add the confectioners' sugar a bit at a time, beating with the mixer on low speed until the confectioners' sugar is well incorporated, 1 minute. Add the vanilla, then increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the frosting until fluffy, 1 minute longer. Use the frosting at once.

see here and here for some past cake creations