Sunday, December 9, 2012

Apple and Caramel Cheesecake Trifle

This was our Thanksgiving dessert. All you need is a bunch of spoons and just dig in!

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 medium honey crisp apples, peel, cored, and diced
8 ounces caramel sauce (not syrup)
1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 cups heavy cream
8 ounces gingersnap cookies

In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the apples. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 8 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the caramel sauce, cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, 5 minutes. Scrape the apples onto a plate and refrigerate until cool.

In a bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons of water. Let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Microwave at high power for 10 seconds, just until the gelatin is melted. Transfer the gelatin mixture to a large bowl. Add the cream cheese and the remaining 1/2 cup of caramel sauce. Using an electric mixer, beat at medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.

In another bowl, whip 1 1/2 cups of the cream until firm peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture using a spatula.

Spoon one-fourth of the mousse into a medium trifle bowl. Top with one-fourth of the gingersnaps and one-fourth of the pears. Repeat the layering, ending with a layer of pears. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours.

When ready to serve, prepare the cream. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1 1/2 cups of cream until soft peaks form. Dollop the cream over the trifle and garnish with crushed gingersnaps.

Balsamic Marianted Flank Steak

I've never been the biggest fan of turkey, so this Thanksgiving rather than cooking a traditional meal, I made steak. And yes there were potatoes as well! This recipe was adapted from Food & Wine Magazine (I LOVE when I get the magazine in the mail). I marinated the steak for a full 24 hours.

2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup extra virgin oliv oil
Salt and pepper
1 3 pound flank steak
Cherry tomatoes

In a food processor, combine the garlic, rosemary, oregano, mustard, and vinegar until minced. Add the oil, salt and pepper to taste. Add to a large zip lock bag, and add the steak. Seal well and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 4 hours, up to 24 hours (I did the full 24 hours...wonderful).

Heat the grill pan over medium heat. Remove the steak and place on the grill. Add the tomatoes (I sliced them in half) and cook until hot. Cook for about 5-6 minutes on each side, or until cooked to your desired temperature. Remove from heat and place on a cutting board. Allow to rest for about 5 minutes prior to cutting. Thinly slice the meat against the grain and serve while hot.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Doughnut Muffins

I drove by a doughnut shop the other day and since haven't been restraining myself from going in and "treating" myself. Okay, being gluttonous. This is my compromise. Make these, bring them into work to share, thus limiting myself. Yes, this is self control people!

3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
1 cup milk
Cinnamon and sugar for dusting
Melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. Add the eggs, beating after each one. Alternatively add the milk and flour mixture to the egg mixture.

Fill muffin tins about three quarters full. Bake for about 20 minutes until lightly golden.

Remove the muffins from the tins onto a cooling rack. Brush with the melted butter and then sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Bread

My friend Hannah has been letting me cook and bake for her. It's actually been a pretty fantastic trade. She's an amazing healer and she's been making it so my neck and back can actually move fairly pain free. So, like a true Italian, I make payments in food. This was the most recent payment.

3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
15 ounces canned pumpkin
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, beating after each one. Add the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and powder, and cinnamon. Alternatively add the flour mixture and pumpkin to the egg mixture in batches. Add the chocolate chips.

Divide the batter in half. Add the melted chocolate to one half of the batter, folding in with a spatula.

Alternatively add some of the chocolate batter and plain batter into the pan. Using a butter knife, swirl the batter in the pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes (check consistently since oven temperatures will vary). Turn out the loaf and cool before serving.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pear and Cranberry Turnovers

Is there anyone who doesn't like phyllo dough? The flaky goodness often paired with fruity gooey, well, goodness. There's something so indulgent about it. The pears have been looking particularly good lately, so I figured that pear turnovers would be just as good as apple ones. I found a recipe on Epicurious and have modified it somewhat based on its reviews.

2 bosc pears, peeled, cored, diced
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon cinnamon
16 17 x 12-inch sheets fresh or frozen whole wheat phyllo pastry or regular phyllo pastry (thawed if frozen)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Powdered sugar for serving

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Combine pears, cranberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon peel, and cinnamon in large bowl; toss to coat.

Stack phyllo sheets on work surface. Cut the sheets in thirds, lengthwise. Take 2 sheets and place some pear mixture on phyllo strip. I did about 2 heaping tablespoons in each one. Fold 1 corner of strip over pear mixture, then fold phyllo back and forth (like a flag), enclosing filling. Brush top with butter after each fold until entire strip is folded, forming triangle.

Once all are folded, brush tops with butter. Then bake turnovers until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Transfer to plates. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Beef Brisket

Last night, I had a mini housewarming with my friends Vicki and Carmen (and Carmen's little one Camille!). We started out with Spicy Grilled Shrimp Toastadas and then followed up with beef brisket sandwiches. I'm proud to say that even 19 month old Camille liked the brisket. I think it had something to do with the chili powder; that girl can eat spice! Anyway, when I left DC, my coworkers chipped in and got me my dream...a Le Creuset Cast Iron French Oven like the one here. Sigh, so pretty (and I was able to cross something off my 30 Before 30 list!). This was my first time using it. Thank you Vic and Carmen for being my excuse to use it. I had bought some beef brisket from an organic rancher out in Tucson about a month ago and I'm not exactly sure what possessed me to do that. I have never cooked brisket before and quite frankly, never like it. I've only had one brisket that I liked and that was made by another friend, Genie to celebrate her husband's birthday. So, thank you Genie for your awesome recipe below!

3.5-4 lbs beef brisket
1 1/2 cups beef stock

Dry Rub:

2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons salt
2 garlic gloves, minced -or- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion, minced -or- 1 tablespoon online powder
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 bay leaves, crushed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl. Season the brisket on both sides with the rub. Place the brisket in a large cast iron dutch oven, or roasting pan. Bake uncovered for one hour.

Add the beef stock and enough water to yield about 1/2 - 1 inch of liquid in the roasting pan. Lower oven to 300 degrees. Cover the pan and continue to cook for about three hours (I let mine go to 3.5 hours). Trim the brisket and slice to serve. Top with juice from the pan. Serve as is or place on toasted rolls.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Grilled Potato and Goat Cheese Napoleon

Hello everyone! Sorry for my absence. The last month has been a worldwind of changes. I moved across country and changed jobs. I have moved into my new place and have gone to the grocery store numerous times over the last few days and I finally feel like I've got my necessities. Now to test out that oven to make sure it's working. Cupcakes??

4 Yukon potatoes
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 large clove garlic
2 teaspoons yellow mustard (may sub Dijon mustard)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper and sea salt
3 ounces goat cheese

In a small sauce pan, boil the potatoes until just soft, but not falling apart.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the balsamic vinegar, garlic, mustard, basil leaves, and olive oil. Process until smooth. Season with pepper and salt to taste.

When the potatoes are done, remove from water and slice about 1/4 -1/2 inch thick. Discard the rounded ends. Place on a grill pan heated over medium heat. Cook on each side until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan.

Take one slice and top with a small amount of goat cheese. Top with another slice, top that with goat cheese and another slice of potato. Repeat with all the potatoes, stacking three slices high. Drizzle with the balsamic glaze.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lemon Bars

A very good friend of mine at work had her last day a couple of weeks ago Friday. Very sad day for us. She never failed to make me laugh. Her request was something lemony. I decided to try make lemon bars. I have had issues to say the least in making lemon bars in the past. Many times they end up being soup with crust. This recipe did it! Success! Not too sweet, not too tart, not soupy!

Butter for greasing the pan
2½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup powdered sugar, plus more for garnish
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
6 large eggs
2¼ cups sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (5-6 lemons)
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest

Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch square pan.

Combine 2 cups of the flour (reserve 1/2 cup), the powdered sugar, and the salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and blend with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Press into the greased pan, pushing the dough all the way up the sides. Bake until the edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes, then remove and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 315°F.

In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until smooth. Gently stir in the lemon juice and zest. Fold in the remaining ½ cup flour until well combined. Allow to sit for several minutes to let the air bubbles to release.

Pour the egg mixture over the hot crust and bake until the curd is set, about 35 minutes. Cool thoroughly (couple of hours) before cutting into bars.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chili Spiced Buffalo Tacos

I have had a buffalo steak in my freezer for a couple of months now, not knowing really what to do with it. I haven’t cooked it before. I decided to incorporate it with a dish that I have been craving a lot lately. Tacos. The seasoning has a small amount of kick to it due to the chili powder (add more than 2 teaspoons if you like heat), but is balanced out due to the brown sugar and paprika.

2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons onion, chopped
2 lime juice, freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lb lean buffalo skirt steak, trimmed of fat, cut into strips (you may substitute other meats as well)
8 corn tortillas, warmed

In a large ziplock bag, combine all of the ingredients above, with the exception of the tortillas. Shake the bag and massage it to blend the seasonings and coat the meat. Let marinate for about an hour.

Heat a grill pan over medium heat, not too hot or else the buffalo will cook too quickly. Grill the meat, turning after a several minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and allow to sit (there’ll be lots of juices from the marinade). Place two strips into the tortilla and top with your favorite toppings. I did chopped spinach, tomato, onion, cilantro, and cheese.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Vegetable and Black Bean Tortilla Casserole

Today was definitely a Monday. Busy from the moment I woke up (after about 4 hours of sleep) until I got home. I needed some comfort food. This casserole has a little spicy kick.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 ounces mushrooms, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cup shredded cheese
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup cilantro
1 1/2 cups spinach, chopped
Corn tortillas
1/2 cup enchilada sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onions, and garlic. Add the cayenne pepper. Saute until onions are soft, lowering heat as needed to prevent browning. Add the spinach and cook for another few minutes until wilted. Remove from heat.

Place tortillas on in one layer in the baking dish. Top with black beans, tomatoes, onion mixture, cheese, and cilantro. Top with another layer of tortillas. Continue layering, ending with cheese.

Pour the enchilada sauce over the top. Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly.

Mushroom and Mascarpone Risotto

A couple of weeks ago, I visited my uncle and father. Within an hour of being there, we were swapping recipes. My family is big on food, shocking. My uncle had stacks and stacks of recipes that he had saved from magazines, cooking books, and newspapers. So of course, my father and I had to go through and make copies of all our favorites. One of which is a risotto recipe*. I like, okay love, mascarpone (desserts, savory dishes…it’s perfect in so many ways), so this a natural choice for me.

*Adopted from Cooking Light.

1 ½ cups boiling water
4 ounces mushrooms
14 ounces beef broth
1 cup uncooked Aroborio rice
¾ cup chopped onion (or shallots)
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup dry white wine
¼ cup grated parmigiano cheese
¼ cup mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

In a large bowl, combine the boiling water and mushrooms together. Let stand for about 10 minutes and then drain, reserving 1 ¼ cup of the liquid. Chop the mushrooms and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the reserved mushroom liquid and beef broth to a boil. Lower heat to bring to a simmer. Keep it warm over low heat.

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray. Add the rice, onion, and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Don’t allow to brown too much. Add the wine and cook until the liquid evaporates, only a couple of minutes.

Add 1 cup broth mixture to the rice mixture. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes until just about absorbed. Stir occasionally so the rice doesn’t stick to the pan. Add the remaining mixture in ½ cup batches. Place rice into a serving bowl. Add the mushrooms, cheeses, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir until just melted. Serve warm. Top with addition mascarpone if wanted.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Goat Cheese Muffins

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces goat cheese
2 cups skim milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons canola oil
2 eggs
1 cup green onions, chopped
4 tablespoons dried parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray two cupcake muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese and four tablespoons of the milk (reserve the rest). Stir until smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Then in another bowl, whisk the butter, oil, egg, green onion, and the rest of the milk.

Combine the flour mixture and butter mixture until just moistened.

Spoon one tablespoon into each muffin cup. Then top each one with the goat cheese filling (about 1 teaspoon of goat cheese). Top each one with some more batter. Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from the pans after about five minutes after removing from the oven.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Blackberry Clafouti

Along with strawberries, I have an overabundance of other fruit as well, in particular, blackberries. A clafouti is a common and EASY way to use up fruit. This dessert only takes about 5 minutes to prepare and can be either be eaten for breakfast or dessert. This is based off of Julia Child’s recipe, which she makes with cherries. Leave it to Julia to make something utterly delicious and super easy.

1 ¼ cup milk
2/3 cup sugar, divided
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups blackberries*

*You can substitute the blackberries for other soft fruit, such as cherries, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, or a combination of the above.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is preheating, place 1 tablespoon butter in a pie baking dish with high sides. Place the baking dish into the oven until the butter is melted. Remove from the oven and swirl the butter to cover the bottom of the pan.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the milk, 1/3 cup sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, and flour together until completely smooth.

Place the blackberries on the bottom of the baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Slowly pour the milk mixture on top of the fruit.

Bake for about 50 minutes, until it is puffed and a golden brown. The center should be set and when a toothpick is inserted into the center, it should be clean when removed.

Serve warm and refrigerate any leftovers. Reheat for about 20 seconds in the microwave before serving again.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wheat Strawberry Yogurt Bread

There are signs of summer starting to pop up all over the place. The first hit me a couple of days ago when I flew back from vacation. It was nice and cool in Idaho, even chilly. As I was waiting for the train after landing back here in DC, I felt nice and sticky. For those of you not in this area and used to less humidity, sticky is something that I have become accustomed to. That lovely feeling of just stepping out of the shower still damp, but with all your clothes on. Sticky. The other sign was all the beautiful strawberries that you can find everywhere. A friend of mine even suggested we go local strawberry picking. There's something about fresh and sweet strawberries. Nowadays you can get strawberries year around; however, they are definitely not the same as when they are in season.

1 cup non-fat plain yogurt

1/2 cup of granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup strawberries, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract together. Then in a separate bowl, combine the whole wheat and all-purpose flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In batches, add the flour mixture to the yogurt mixture. Fold in strawberries.

Bake for 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chocolate Crepe Cake with Green Tea Pastry Cream

My dad got me a cookbook called Chocolate Decadence. Yeah, he knows me perfectly! Love it! This is a creation from there.

2 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
8 large eggs
2 cups + 1 tablespoon whole milk
Grated zest of one lemon
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, browned
1 cup heavy cream
Vegetable oil for cooking

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt. Then in another large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and zest. In three batches, add the flour mixture and whisk until smooth after each addition. Add the butter, then cream. Whisk very well until there are no clumps. Refrigerate for an hour, covered.

Remove from the fridge, whisk the batter again. Heat a medium pan over medium heat. Add a small amount of oil. To make each crepe, pour 1/3 cup of batter into the pan and swirl to cover the entire bottom of pan evenly.

Cook for two minutes, flip and cook another minute. Transfer to a plate to cool. Repeat this until all crepes are made (I got 18 crepes out of it).

Meanwhile, prepare the pastry cream while the crepes are cooling.

Pastry Cream:
2 cups + 1 tablespoon whole milk
2 tablespoons powdered green tea (I ground up green tea leaves)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons cornstarch
6 large egg yolks
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream

Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in the green tea.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. Add in the egg yolks and whisk until well combined. Once the milk has boiled, add about 1/4 to the egg mixture, continuously whisking so it doesn't curdle or cook the yolks. Then add this back to the rest of the milk on the stove top.

Whisk continuously as the milk is heated to prevent lumps from forming. Bring to a boil for at least 20 seconds so the cornstarch is activated.

Remove from heat and whisk in the butter. The cream should be thickened. Pour into a clean bowl and cover. Place in the refrigerator until completely cool.

Meanwhile, in a mixer, beat the heavy cream until it holds soft peaks. Once the pastry mixture has cooled, fold in the whipped cream.

Place one crepe on a plate and spread a small amount of cream on top (about 1/8 inch thick). Top with another crepe and spread more cream on it. Repeat until all crepes are used, ending with a crepe. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving so the cake can set.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Orange Charlotte with Berries

This was the request of the CEO of my company for a meeting that's being held today. He indulges my creativity and gives me a "theme" for food to bring. One was finger foods, hence the Avocado Tartines. Another was lime, so Key Lime Cupcakes. This time was berries. Since it's May, it's the perfect time for fresh berries from the market. A Charlotte cake is a spongy cake.

2 1/4 cups cake flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar, divided (3/4 cup and 1/4 cup)
3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 tablespoons orange zest
4 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray two 8-9 inch cake pans with non-stick spray (I like to line my pans with aluminum foil and then spray. Makes clean up a snap.)

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat the butter and 3/4 cups sugar  until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla, Grand Marnier, and orange zest.

Add flour mixture and milk, alternating additions, beating well after each addition. In another medium bowl, using clean beaters, beat egg whites until foamy, about 3 minutes. With mixer running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Beat egg white mixture on high until stiff glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes.

Gently fold egg white mixture into batter in 3 additions with a spatula. Divide batter between prepared pans; smooth tops.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on a rack completely.

1 cup cream cheese, softened at room temperature

1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
2 lbs powdered sugar
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
Juice from 1/4 of a lemon, remove seeds

Cream cream cheese and butter on low until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add Grand Marnier and lemon juice until fully incorporated.

2 containers of blueberries
1 container of raspberries
1 container of strawberries
European style vanilla wafer cookies

Cut the top from all the strawberries. Slice about 6 of them thinly, reserve the rest.

Spread approx 1/2 cup frosting on bottom layer, top generously with the sliced strawberries, and add blueberries and raspberries. Top with second cake layer. Frost tops and sides of cake liberally. Be sure to fill in any gaps along the sides with frosting.

Cut the wafers in half and press into the sides of the cake. The frosting will be the "glue". Then top the cake with the rest of the berries. Refrigerate overnight if not serving immediately.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Herbed Lamb with Red Potatoes, & Yogurt and Chives

As any true person of Mediterranean decent, I love me classic flavors of rosemary, olive oil, and garlic. This dish brings those flavors together.

4 lamb chops
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Red potatoes
1/4 cup Greek style yogurt
2 tablespoons green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of salt

Marinate the lamb chops in 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, rosemary, thyme, black pepper, and sea salt for about one hour.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Cook the lamb chops for about 6 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, onions, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and pinch of salt. Top the red potatoes with the yogurt.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mexican Shredded Chicken

I am always disappointed about the options of Mexican food in the DC area. I am quite spoiled from living in the southwest for so long. So, I think I've come close to a classic shredded chicken recipe. I've used this for tacos, enchiladas, and burritos.

2 chicken breasts
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
1 large tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt to taste

In a medium sauce pan, boil the water. Add the chicken breasts, onion, and garlic. Boil for about 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken breasts and shred. Reserve one cup of the broth and dump the rest (or save broth for other dishes). In the same sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the tomato, black pepper, marjoram, and cumin. Add the reserved one cup of broth. Continue to cook for about 15 minutes. Salt to taste and serve while hot.

Coconut Cream Cake

The coconut cream cupcakes were such a big hit last week, that I decided to make a twist on the recipe. Hence, a coconut cream cake.

Follow the cupcake recipe found here. Instead of pouring into cupcake pans, use two 9-inch pans. Spray with cooking spray and fill 3/4 of the way up. Bake for about 24 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center. Once cooled, top one of the layers with the coconut cream filling. Top with the other layer. Ice the cake with cream cheese icing.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Goat Cheese & Fig Flatbread

I am a huge fan of flatbread. If all pizzas could be made using flatbread, I'd be a very happy person. This is a favorite combination...goat cheese and figs.

1 medium onion, sliced
8 dried figs, sliced
4 ounces goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet, place the flatbread. Layer the onions, goat cheese, and onions on top of the flatbread. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the cheese is hot and the flatbread is lightly golden.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

A co-worker of mine is considered to be our "guru" at the office. He knows everything about everything. For real. Anytime there's questions about anything, he's the guy to go to. As a thank you, I made him mint chocolate chip cupcakes. It's a thank you that I benefit from as well. When I looked online, I found a recipe that so many other blogs seemed to reference and copy. So, rather than experimenting, I wanted to make sure these cupcakes turned out correctly the first time, I used the same recipe.  Thank you Chasing Delicious for the great recipe!

1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp.
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temp.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 ounces milk chocolate chips (plus extra for decoration)

Preheat an oven to 350F. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper cups.

Sift together the cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated well. Add both extracts and mix in well.

Add half of the dry mixture into the egg mixture and mix until combined. Add the chopped chocolate to the other half of the dry mixture and set aside. Mix in the buttermilk and mix until combined.

Add the remaining dry mixture with the chopped chocolate into the batter and mix until just combined. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin pan. Each cup should be filled 3/4 of the way.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out just barely clean. Set on a cooling rack.

2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
Green food coloring

In an electric mixer, mix the butter, heavy cream, and extract together. Add the powdered sugar in batches. Then add the food coloring several drops at a time until you get the desired color.

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Brownie Cake with Berries

This birthday cake has a long tradition in my household. I made it first with my friend Carmen about five years ago for my birthday. I have had it every single year for my birthday since. Coincidentally, today is Carmen's birthday too! Now before I start getting happy birthday wishes, it is not my birthday, but it was one of my co-worker's birthday. Since she got to sample my birthday cake from last year, she request the same for hers.

1 package brownie mix
16 ounces sour cream
2 cups thawed cool whip topping
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups chopped fruit, berries (I used blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch round cake pan with aluminum foil and spray with non stick cooking spray.

Prepare brownie batter as directed. Stir in ½ cup sour cream. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes, cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely.

Mix remaining sour cream, cool whip, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Cut brownie horizontally in half. Stack layers on plate, filling with half the sour cream mixture and about half the fruit. Top with remaining sour cream mixture and fruit.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Three Chocolate Mousse Cake

My very dear friend, Kelly, celebrated her 40th birthday recently and unfortunately, I was not in town. However, I tried to make up for it by getting together for a dinner and of course dessert to celebrate her being born! Yay! Her only request for dessert was to make something decadent and chocolately. Love those rules. So here is a three chocolate mousse cake. The bottom layer is a coffee chocolate cake. The next is a dark chocolate mousse, followed by a milk chocolate mousse. Raspberries and champagne were such a nice compliment to the richness of the cake. This also satisfies an item on my 30 Challenging Foods before 30 list.

This recipe is adapted from Chasing Delicious. Fabulous recipes on this blog!

Coffee Chocolate Cake:

4 ounces all purpose flour
1 1/2 ounce unsweetened cocoa powder
8 ounces sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup whole milk
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup coffee, freshly brewed, cooled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking dish with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk the milk, butter, coffee, vanilla, and eggs together. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out barely clean. Do not overcook! When done, remove from the oven and after about two minutes, remove the cake from the pan and cool on a cooling rack (to prevent it from cooking further).

Milk Chocolate & Dark Chocolate Mousses:

3 cups heavy cream
6 egg yolks
4 ounces honey (I used orange blossom)
1 teaspoon vanilla
7 ounces milk chocolate
7 ounces dark chocolate

In a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Then in a mixing bowl, whip the egg yolks until they reach the ribbon stage (thicken).

Then in a small pan, bring the honey just to the boiling point and then immediately pour the hot honey into the egg mixture while whipping the egg yolks at medium speed. Make sure you are whipping them or else the egg yolks will begin to cook. After all honey is added, increase the speed to high and whip until the mixture is fluffy and completely cool, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Then split the yolk and honey mixture between two separate medium bowls.

Melt the milk chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, mixing after each one to ensure it doesn’t burn. Mix it into one of the bowls with half of the yolk mixture. Work quickly as the mixture will thicken quickly. Add half of the whipped cream mixture and fold in the cream until the mousse is even. Set the milk chocolate aside in the refrigerator

Do the same thing with the dark chocolate. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes to set before assembling.


Place the cake on a plate or cake board. Then take the dark chocolate and spread evenly over the top of the cake. Even the top off. Then spread the milk chocolate over top the dark chocolate layer. Even off the top. Then using a straight knife or icing spreader, run around the side of the cake to even them off.

Refrigerate for several hours (about 4) until set. Serve with champagne (of course) and raspberries.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


I have been tasked with making doughnuts for a work meeting. I did a test run today and am so glad that I was able to "quality control" them. ie Eat several. I found this recipe by Fabio Viviani. They were surprisingly simple to make and not as intimidating as I anticipated. These doughnuts are Italian-style, so no holes... and they're made with potatoes. I was expecting them to be heavy due to the potatoes, but they were simply fluffy.

2 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 cup plus 1/4 cup milk, warmed (I used skim milk)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup lard (I substituted unsalted butter at room temp)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
4 1/2 cup bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
Extra light olive oil for frying (I substituted vegetable oil)
Powdered sugar for dusting
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter

Boil the potatoes and cool prior to mashing.

In a standing mixer with the hook attachment, mix the milk, eggs, sugar, and yeast on low for two minutes, allowing the yeast to activate.

Add the mashed potatoes and lard. Mix for one minute, then add the flour one cup at a time. Then add the salt and mix until dough is soft.

Turn dough on a floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes. Add flour as necessary to ensure the dough is soft, but not sticky.

Using a biscuit cutter, cut out rounds and place about two inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Cover and allow to rise for about 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large sauce pan until 340 degrees (use a thermometer!). Cook dough in batches, flipping constantly to ensure even color.

Remove from oil when lightly browned and place on paper towels to dry. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Glazed Goat Cheese Gratin

Here is another recipe from the most recent Food & Wine magazine issue. This one didn't need many was incredible! This afternoon, I had two friends over and it had been a while since the three of us have gotten together. Great conversation, great friends, and great food...what more could anyone ask for! I didn't think about taking a picture until we had plowed through almost all of it. Oops.

1 lb plain goat cheese
6 tablespoons apricot preserves (I was generous here)
4-6 Peppadew peppers
1 pickled jalapeno, seeds removed
2 tablespoons cocktail onions (*see note below)
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons dry sherry

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Press the goat cheese into a small baking dish (no need to spray with non-stick spray).

Add the Peppadews, jalapeno, and onions in a food processor and mince well. Transfer to a small bowl. Add the mustard, sherry, and preserves. Combine well. Spread the mixture over the goat cheese. Bake for about five minutes. Then increase the heat to broil and cook another few minutes until bubbling. Serve while warm with baquette slices.

*I couldn't find cocktail onions so....

1 small onion, peeled, chopped in large pieces
3 tablespoons vinegar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of tumeric
Pinch of paprika

Boil just enough water to cover the onions. Cook at a rapid boil for 5 minutes. Drain off water, then over medium-high heat, add the vingar, salt, tumeric, and paprika. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain and then add to the food processor. Continue the recipe as noted above.

Smoky Popcorn

The most recent Food & Wine magazine is particularly good in my opinion. Several recipes I would actually make! There are so many times in those types of magazines that I see these great recipes, but probably wouldn't ever make them (even if they are pretty to look at). This recipe is one that I have modified slightly. The original called for seasoned fish salt things and I'm not the biggest fan of fish in my popcorn...okay, so I've never tried it, but it sounded a little too far out of my comfort zone. So, this is the Food & Wine's smoky popcorn...with modifications.

¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons popping corn
1 teaspoon smoked hot Spanish paprika
½ tablespoon sugar
2 pinches of salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and kept warm

In large saucepan, combine the oil and corn. Cover and cook over medium heat until it starts to pop. Shake pan and cook until the popping stops.

Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle with paprika, sugar, and salt. Drizzle with butter and toss. Season with salt and toss again.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake

A couple of weeks ago, it was my friend's birthday. I had mentioned an ice cream cake that I made for him and since I went on vacation, I promptly forgot about posting it. But, now that I'm back to the grind, I am remember all those little things I procrastinated with...I'm really good at procrastination I've discovered. Anyway, here's the ice cream cake!

Chocolate Cake:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a small 6 inch cake pan with non-stick cooking spray (you may use a larger cake pan for a larger cake, but double the recipe).
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. In another large bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, and egg. Add the chocolate, vanilla, and butter to the buttermilk mixture. Combine well. Then add the flour mixture. Mix well. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Cool completely and then slice in half horizontally so the cake is in two layers. Set aside.
Ice Cream:
about 2 cups mint chocolate chip ice cream, soften at room temperature for about 30 minutes
After the cake has finished baking, remove the cake from the pan and allow to cool. Line the pan with waxed paper. Scoop the ice cream into the pan and using a spatula, press the ice cream into all corners and even the top. Cover with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and freeze for at least 4 hours (overnight is ideal).
1 tub of whipped topping, softened
mini chocolate chips for decoration
Remove the ice cream from the freezer and pan. Sandwich the ice cream between the two cake layers. Using a spatula, even the sides in case some of the ice cream hangs over the edges.
Cover the entire cake with the whipped topping and decorate with the chocolate chips. Return to the freezer for another 4 hours. To cut, remove from freezer about 15-20 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Vanilla Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

My friend Brianna gave me a recipe for Nutella frosting recently. Since that time, I have been obsessing thinking about when I could make them. I went to her house last night for dinner and I pounced on the opportunity to make cupcakes with them. I did use a chocolate-hazelnut spread, as opposed to Nutella...what can I say, I'm cheap. But, it works just the same.


3 egg whites
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons vanilla (it is vanilla cupcakes after all!)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan (makes 6 cupcakes).

In a medium bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. Whisk well. Add the vanilla and butter. Add the dry ingredients. Add the milk and pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes.


1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup Nutella, or other chocolate hazelnut spread, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup of milk

In a large bowl, combing the cream cheese, Nutella, butter, and vanilla together. Add the powdered sugar and milk. Add more milk/powdered sugar to get to your desired consistency. Frost the cupcakes.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cheesecake Filled Strawberry Cupcakes

One year ago, my best friend gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl ever! Camille is such a sweetheart and to celebrate, her mom made these wonderful cupcakes. And wow, sugar rush! Camille practically inhaled them. Think she liked it! Surprisingly she actually managed to get about 95% of it in her mouth as opposed to on her. :-)


1 strawberry cake mix
2/3 cups yogurt or sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Fill prepared cupcake tins 3/4 of the way full.


8 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 ounces vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup granulated sugar

In a medium bowl, cream with cream cheese, yogurt and sugar together until smooth.

Drop a large tablespoon of the filling in the middle of each of the cupcake batter. (Do not push down.)

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the frosting


8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup strawberry preserves
1 cup powdered sugar

In a large bowl, mix with an electric mixer, the cream cheese and preserves. Add the sugar in batches and cream until smooth. Top the cooled cupcakes.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lentil Soup

I spent this evening with my good friend Kelly, and her husband and two boys. Since she is a great friend, she allowed me to take over her kitchen for dinner. I have been wanting to try out lentil soup for a while now (ever since another friend made some for lunch and totally hit the spot on a cold winter day). Even though it is about 85 degrees outside and the soup was quite hearty, it still hit the spot. Thanks Kelly! And now a commentary from the lovely Kelly herself....

Lauren tore it up in the kitchen & the soup turned out AMAZING!! The flavor of the tomatos really enhanced this soup. Thank you Lauren!!! You are welcome to cook here any time :-)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1 1/2 medium onions, chopped
4 large celery stalks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups vegetable broth
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cup lentils (I used green)
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 bay leaves

In a large sauce pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, celery, and garlic. Cook for about 10-12 minutes, until the onions and garlic start to brown.

Add the broth, tomatoes, and lentils. Combine well and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Allow to cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with the oregano, salt, pepper, and bay leaves.

Remove the bay leaves and discard. Add the soup on batches to a blender or food processor and blend well until smooth. Serve while hot.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


 This evening, I spent it at my friends' house watching The Walking Dead. I am not a fan of scary movies, shows, and whatnot, but this show has me addicted. Unfortunately, this also means that I am in for a nightmare sometime this week. Goody. But, I digress. In honor of Chris' birthday this week, I made jambalaya and a mint chocolate chip ice cream cake (post to come shortly). It completely slipped my mind to take a photo, so sorry for the lack thereof!

1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
2 chicken breasts, skinless, in 1 inch strips
2 links smoked turkey sausage, cut into 1/2 inch slices
4 tomatoes, chopped (with juice)
2 cups water
1 package jambalaya rice mix
1/2 small jalapeno (optional)

In a large crock pot, place the bell peppers and onion. Top with the chicken and turkey. Then place the tomatoes on top. Add the jalapeno if wanted. Add the water and cook on low for 5 hours. Then add the rice and mix well. Cook for another hour and serve while warm.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Egg White Salad with Avocado

I LOVE eggs. Deviled eggs, egg salad, scrambled, name it. Unfortunately, egg salad isn't exactly the best for you with all that mayo. Here's a healthy alternative that combines eggs with another food that I love...avocados. Mmmm

1/2 avocado
3 eggs, boiled
1 teaspoon mustard
pinch of salt

Scoop out the avocado flesh and chop into large pieces. Place in a small bowl. Peel the eggs and cut into large pieces as well, removing and discarding the yolk. Add the egg whites, mustard and pinch of salt to the bowl. Mix briefly and enjoy!.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pumpkin Pancakes

Last night I was craving breakfast for dinner. Unfortunately, I really really wanted pancakes, but I ran out of eggs. Right after the gym this morning, I went to the store and bought a dozen eggs to satisfy my pankcake craving from last night. I kept this pretty healthy (with the exception of the 1 tablespoon sugar...which may be substituted with honey).

3/4 cup oatmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 egg whites
1/4 cup raw pumpkin
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

In a food processor, pulse the oatmeal until it becomes more of a flour. Add to a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and combine well.

Heat a large skillet under medium heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and spoon the batter onto the pan. Once set (about 2 minutes), flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes.  Serve while warm.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Flounder Florentine

I'm attempting to eat more omega 3 food sources. Come on good cholesterol! I tested out another white fish, flounder, and thankfully, this one doesn't taste fishy!

10 almonds, sliced
1 flounder fillet
Salt and pepper
1 egg
½ teaspoon of heavy cream
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup apple juice, or white wine
½ lemon zest lemon juice and zest
1 tablespoon capers
Heat a small skillet over medium heat and toast the almonds for just a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Season the flounder with a little bit of salt and pepper. Then in a small bowl, whisk the egg and cream together.

In a medium pan over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil. Once melted, add the flounder skin side up. Cook for 3 minutes, until the skin is just starting to brown. Flip and cook further until it begins to brown. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

In the same pan, add the apple juice (or white wine) and boil for about 2 minutes until reduced. Add the lemon juice, zest, and capers. Cook for 1-2 minutes and pour over the flounder. Top with almonds.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Vegetable Enchiladas

This past weekend, I had dinner at my friends', Kelly's and Ken's, house. We made enchiladas. Oh my, so good. Combine these with great company and conversation, and it was a fantastic evening!

1 can pinto beans, rinsed and mashed
1/4 cup mushrooms, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 cup shredded cheese, divided
8 ounces enchilada sauce, divided
6 corn tortillas
Green onion, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the beans, vegetables, cilantro, cumin, 1/4 cup cheese, and 4 ounces sauce.

In a small bowl, add the remaining sauce. Dip one tortilla in the sauce, then fill with the bean mixture. Roll and place seam down in the baking dish. Do this for the remaining tortillas. Sprinkle with cheese.

Cook for 20-30 minutes until cheese is bubbling. Garnish with green onions.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Roasted Onion with Valdeon Blue Cheese and Pinenuts

The other day when my friend Jen was in town, we went to Jaleo's. It's a great Spanish tapas restaurant. We had this dish and I did my best to recreate it. It didn't take much to give me an excuse to buy Valdeon blue cheese.

1 large onion
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces Valdeon blue cheese (or any intense blue cheese)
1 tablespoon pinenuts

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cook spray to prevent the onions from sticking.

Slice the onion about an inch thick. Keep the rings all together. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for about 20 minutes until the onions are soft and just beginning to brown.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the pinenuts.

When the onions are done roasting, top with the pinenuts and blue cheese. Serve while warm.

Whey Protein Bars

I've been wanting to make my own protein bars. I have a difficult time forking over several dollars for a small protein bar at the store, only to find myself needed three to satisfy me. Plus, each one tends to have LOTS of sugar and/or fat. I wanted to find a good substitute that would give me the protein I need to build my poor destroyed muscles after the gym, while satisfying my craving for chocolate and sweets. Mmmm chocolate. Based on a recipe from a bodybuilding forum, I modified it somewhat to get the consistency I wanted. These bars come out as a cross between a brownie and cake. Moist and just enough to prevent me from scarffing down the nearest snickers bar. Oh, and a special thanks to my friend, Jen, who stayed with me last night...she supplied the bananas to make this recipe possible, along with the support that only a good friend can give when someone looks at them at 9:30 at night and says, let's bake something! :-)

3 medium sized bananas, mashed
3 egg whites
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
3 scoops chocolate whey protein
1/4 cup fat free milk
4 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon, nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a square (or round) pan and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the bananas, egg whites, oatmeal, whey, milk, and peanut butter together. Add the spices and mix well.  Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Roasted Pecans with Brown Sugar & Cayenne Pepper

A co-worker gave me this recipe. (Thank you Heather!) She accurately described it as being as addictive as cr*ck. Yes, they are that yummy. They are difficult to eat just one. Even better, they take about ten minutes to make and are super easy. They were great to munch on during the Super Bowl. Any leftovers you do have (unlikely) are easily kept in a sealed plastic container for up to a week.

1 pound pecan halves

2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil
2 tablespoons rosemary
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Roast pecans for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small pan. Add the sugar, salt, and cayenne and stir until dissolved. Add the rosemary and cook until fragrant, frequently stirring.

Once the pecans are done roasting, transfer to a medium-sized bowl and toss with the butter mixture until evenly coated.

*Feel free to add either more cayenne pepper (if you like a little more spice) or more brown sugar (if you like sweeter).

Monday, February 6, 2012

Avocado Tartines

As most of you are aware, yesterday was the Super Bowl (go Giants!). According to ABC news and the California Avocado Commission (yes, they are so delicious, they get their own commission), about 40 million pounds of avocado will be consumed. That's a lot of guac! I thought I'd try something slightly different from the traditional guacamole. (Don't get me wrong, I'm known to polish off a bowl of guac like my life depended on it.)  *Thanks Matt for taking the great picture!

1 loaf baguette, sliced about 1/2 inch thick

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 avocados, peeled and pitted
1/4 lemon, peeled and seeded
2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons green onions, chopped
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

Salt and pepper
2 tomatoes, sliced thinly
Basil leaves, rolled and chopped

Place the slices of bread on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes, until lightly toasted.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, place the avocado, lemon, Worchestershire sauce, and green onions. Pulse until creamy. Add the cream cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

Top the bread with the avocado mixture. Then place one slice of tomato on top of each one. Add a bit of basil to the top of the tomatoes.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chocolate Port Cupcakes, with Port Wine Reduction Syrup, Raspberry Creme Fraiche Filling, and Chocolate Mousse

Thursday was my oldest brother's, Vinnie, birthday. Tonight we are getting together, along with a couple of friends of ours (one of whom had a birthday last week as well). Vinnie's dessert request was cupcakes. I used this opportunity to cross off an item off my 30 Challenging Foods Before 30 list. I made these. Had to sample one. Or two. (I worked out this morning, it's like I never sampled any! Yes, logic reigns supreme here.) I'm slightly hopped up on the sugar now. Maybe I should have limited myself to just one.

Source: Food Network


1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups sugar (13 ounces)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (9 ounces)
3/4 cups cocoa powder (2 1/2 ounces)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup port wine, heated
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line cupcake tins with 24 cupcake liners.

Whisk together the buttermilk, oil, vanilla and eggs. Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt and add into the wet mixture. Whisk the batter together until almost all the lumps are gone. Add in a small amount of the port wine to help thin the batter. Once it is incorporated, slowly add in the remaining wine, whisking continuously. Scrape the bottom of the bowl and make sure that there are no lumps.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.

Port Wine Reduction Syrup:

1 3/4 cup port wine
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine the wine, sugar and salt in a sauce pan. Simmer until reduced to about 3/4 cup. Remove from heat to cool. Set aside.

Raspberry Creme Fraiche Filling:

1 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup seedless raspberry preserves

Mix the creme fraiche with the raspberry preserves to combine in a small bowl. Place into the fridge until ready to assemble.

French Chocolate Mousse:

6 ounces chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream, COLD
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler). Melt the chocolate and butter together and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Add the egg yolks to the chocolate, 1 by 1, beating with a whisk until incorporated. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat. Gradually whisk in 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Beat the heavy cream in a chilled bowl until it begins to foam and thicken up. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the vanilla. Continue to whip the cream until it holds soft peaks.

Gradually and gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Then, delicately fold in the whipped cream. Take care not over work the mousse. Refrigerate at least an hour before assembling.
Using an apple corer, remove a piece of the cupcake from the center. 
Pour with 1 teaspoon Port Wine Reduction Syrup.
Then fill the cupcake with the Raspberry Creme Fraiche Filling using a piping bag.
Using a large star tip, pipe the chilled French Chocolate Mousse onto the cupcake.

Basic White Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Last Thursday was my oldest brother's birthday. His request was a cupcake with creme cheese frosting. I chose the Chocolate Port Cupcakes for the "fancy" type, I knew that the chocolate on chocolate may be a little rich for everyone, I also made a simple white cupcake with cream cheese frosting.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a cupcake tin.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, beat the eggs, milk, vanilla, and oil. Add the flour mixture in batches. Combine until just mixed.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from tin and set aside until cooled completely.


8 ounces creme cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups confectioners sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix until well combined and top the cupcakes.