Saturday, February 28, 2009

DARING BAKERS: Flourless Chocolate Cake with Ice Cream

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

This month’s challenge is a Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Valentino, inspired by Malaysia’s “most flamboyant food ambassador”, Chef Wan. Recipe comes from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan. And what a delicious recipe it is.

This was a very good cake. I am not new to Flourless Chocolate Cakes so I added the challenge of making chocolate plastic. It sounds weird but really all it is, is chocolate mixed with corn syrup. It becomes very pliable and maleable. It is easy to shape and not so different then playing with play dough! Lots 'o' fun. I found the recipe at Click here to see the full story.

White Chocolate Plastic

1 pound white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup light corn syrup
food coloring

Place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Place in microwave and heat for 45 seconds. Stop and stir. Microwave 30 seconds more. Stir. Do not over heat and it is essential to stop and stir periodically, otherwise it will burn and not change form. Once the chocolate is just warm enough to melt, stir until completely melted and add corn syrup. Divide inot portions for coloring. Let cool. Knead in hand and shape.

Part of the challenge was to do ice cream as well. I have made quite a few ice creams but wanted to try something without heavy cream this time. The result was pretty good but used WAY too much sugar. I will make it again but definitely bring down the sugar content quite a bit. Here's what I did.

Strawberry Frozen Custard

5 egg yolks
1/4 cup corn starch
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cups sugar (dont do this, I think I would do 1/4 of a cup)
2 cups 1% milk (you can use any percentage milk)
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup drained and mashed strawberries

In a heavy saucepan, bring milk to a boil. In a bowl place egg yolks and whisk until they are smooth. Add sugar and salt to milk. Once milk is hot add a small amount to eggs, whisk in quickly. Keep adding about a 1/2 of a cup of milk. Once the milk is incorporated to the egg , you can whisk the egg into the saucepan. Cook and stir for 6-8 minutes or until mixture thickens and coats a spoon. Gradually stir in condensed milk and vanilla; mix well. Chill for 3-4 hours. Pour into an ice cream freezer. Add the strawberries. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions.

For the cake I used bittersweet chocolate. I poured it into a nine inch spring form and used heart shaped cookie cutters to cut out my hearts.

Chocolate Valentino
Sweet Treats, by Chef Wan
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I don't know how many of you have seen the recent issue of Gourmet. In the issue they talk about the farmers working to get tomatoes out to the rest of the country in the winter. They are abused severely. I find this kind of news so enraging. Unfortunately I know that it probably goes on more than we are aware.

When I was going to school for my Master's I did a report on the grape boycott and Cesar Chavez. He was quite an amazing man who did amazing things for the migrant workers. You can read about it here. I wish we knew about all of these types of bad conditions because I would boycott whatever product came out of such an environment.

The following is a quote from Cesar Chavez. "Our opponents in the agricultural industry are very powerful and farm workers are still weak in money and influence. But we have another kind of power that comes from the justice of our cause. So long as we are willing to sacrifice for that cause, so long as we persist in non-violence and work to spread the message of our struggle, then millions of people around the world will respond from their heart, will support our efforts...and in the end we will overcome."

Very inspiring.

Pork and Plantain Empanadas

1 pound ground pork
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green with some spots plantain, chopped
2 tablespoons raisins
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup tomato sauce
10 green olives
1 red pepper roasted, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
empanada dough ( I cheated and used Goya)

Place pork in a fry pan and cook until evenly browned. Meanwhile, chop plantain into small pieces. Roast in the oven at 450F until golden. Roast red pepper on cook top. See the technique here. Combine all ingredients in a fry pan and cook with bay leaf until most of the liquid is gone. If you like a little heat add cayenne. Once it is ready, set aside to cool. Once it is cool enough to handle you can begin rolling it up in the empanada dough.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Babka's Meatloaf with Sweet and Sour Sauce

When I met my husband he told me in no uncertain terms that he hated meatloaf and he hated Mexican food. Wrong. I just knew he would change his mind. You see his Mom never made Mexican food or meatloaf so it no reflection on her. The food she made was absolutely wonderful and always full of her love. No his turnoff to foods like meatloaf an Mexican were caused by an occassional meal here and there. Just because you try food made by a Mexican and don't like it, doesnt mean you don't like Mexican food. Same goes for meatloaf as their are oodles and noodles of different ways to prepare meatloaf. If you have your own tried and true way, I urge you to try different ways once in a while to find surprisingly new flavors that you might love. Such was the case for me and meatloaf.

Not too long ago my Mom made meatloaf. I was impressed by the flavors so I asked her how she did it. That was when she told me that it was my Babka's recipe. Of course I swooned because there are not too many things that I can feel close to her about. She died when I was seven. I remember her but only vaguely. Making someone's recipe makes you feel more tied to them and closer to them if only they are in spirit.

Babka's Meatloaf

1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 finely chopped onion
1 cup bread crumbs
2 teaspoon worcestshire sauce
1 (16 oz) can or two cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoon mustard

Combine beef, crumbs, onion, egg, s and p, and 1/2 cup sauce. In another bowl combine remainder of ingredients. Pour half over meatloaf. Bake at 350F for one hour and fifteen minutes. Baste occassionally with the remainder of the sauce.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

Thanks to all of you for sharing the love in my last post. You guys rock! So much fun to meet and get to know all of you. Without the blogosphere we may have never "met". Cheers to the Black Hole.

I have to share this You Tube Video with all of you. It so cracked me up! Click here. The man speaks the truth and it is hysterical. LMAO.

This past Sunday we had this amazing salad. I know a lot of people don't like iceburg but I like it. I like all the greens really. There is something nice about the combination of blue cheese and iceburg. Maybe because iceburg isn't big on flavor and blue cheese is. So it makes a nice vehicle for the cheese. We did have the dressing on mesculn also and it was amazing.

Blue Cheese Vinaigrette on Iceburg with Pear and Toasted Walnuts

1/4 cup olive oil
2 oz blue cheese
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons Dijon
1 teaspoon thyme and basil
freshly ground black pepper to taste

lettuce, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1 large pear, sliced

Mix all but blue cheese in a bowl and whisk together. Add blue cheese, mashing big lumps with a fork. Whisk to incorporate. Pour over a bed of greens, toss with pear slices and sprinkle walnuts over top.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I go to a lot of sites, looking at food photography, pics about design, gardening, flowers... you name it. I get sucked in to the blogosphere vortex. Like a black hole pulling me inward, a giant vacuum cleaner with no end. Then I look around and say to myself, Lori, why are there piles of laundry? Why are is there dust on every known surface in my house? Ah, well, cause I have been unwittingly sucked in by the "blog black hole".

I thought about stopping my blog because I have hardly the time since I am at the gym so much. But you know, I just can't. I really enjoy my blog experience. Some day I will pick up my watercolors again and then I will bid you adieu as that was once my obsession. For now, your stuck with me.

One of my evenings in the "blog black hole", I found this recipe on Jugalbandi. One of my favorite sites, yet I dont go there as often as I would like. Beautiful photography and food. You must check it out. Anyway I made their Sundried Tomato and Cracked Pepper Bread. It is a nice hearty bread but light at the same time.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Black Bean Soup

You see Black Bean soup all over the internet lately. Or maybe I just have a heightened awareness of it because it's been on my mind. After reading so many of these recipes I still think mine packs a walloping flavor punch! The one above I watered down a little with broth to bring the calories down but go ahead and make it as written below for a thicker, richer soup. Something about the sherry makes this recipe unique.


1/4 pound bacon (I used turkey bacon)
1 cup black beans
1/3 cup sherry
2 medium onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 cups beef or chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon each marjoram, thyme and paprika
pinch of cayenne
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
s and p to taste

In a soup pot, saute bacon until crisp. Drain out most of the oil, leaving a little behind to saute the onions and carrots in. Cook the onions and carrots until soft. Add broth and spices and worcestershire sauce. Cook for about 45 minutes. Puree soup and add sherry.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Jook = Comfort

Jook or Congee is a porridge type dish made of millet or rice. You can read all about it on Wikipedia. Click here. It is an extremely variable dish. You can make it sweet or savory. I went for the sweet, hoping the kids would help me eat it. (They didn't).

The thing I like most about jook, is that it warms your very soul. On a day like today, in NY, that's a very good thing. It's very filling as well.

You can find a recipe similar to mine all over the internet. I added brown sugar and vanilla bean to make it more palatable for the kids. I really liked it.

Sweet Potato Jook

1 sweet potato, diced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup millet
6 cups water
1 vanilla bean scraped
1 cinnamon stick
1 1' piece of ginger
pinch of salt

In a large sauce pan add millet, water, cinnamon stick, vanilla pod and ginger. Cook for about 30 minutes and add sweet potato. Cook until mixture becomes thick like porridge. Add brown sugar. Remove cinnamon stick. Spoon into bowls.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Four low calorie, high flavor dressings!

I have been wanting to write this post for a long time. It seems that the question people invariably ask when they are eating tons of salad, is what low calorie dressing tastes good? Their are a few on the shelves at the supermarket that are good but are pretty expensive. If you ever noticed a lot of those bottles are 8 ounces. A cup! Three dollars for a cup! I can buy a gallon of gasoline for that! Yikes. The kind you can make at home really just beats the pants off the ones in the stores!

I have a list that I will share with you but I also saw that Martha Stewart had quite a few low calorie ones in her recent issue of Living. I made the one below from her magazine. I made this particular one because it reminded me of one my Aunt in AZ made for she and I. It was Spring and she whipped up this orange/garlic dressing and poured it over a bed of romaine. With toasted almonds on top it was absolutely delicious!

I would love to hear your favorites as well. If you would like, please share a name of a bottled one or a link to one that you make. A person can never have too many of these in their arsenal.

Citrus Vinaigrette
adapted from Martha Stewart Living, March 2009 Issue
recipe doubled

1/2 cup grapefruit juice
1/2 teaspoon grapefruit zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, unseasoned
1/4 cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and whisk together.
2 tablespoons 53 calories.
These are some of the ones I collected over the years. I unfortunately do not know their sources.

Asiago Pepper Dressing

1/3 cup low fat buttermilk
1/3 cup low fat cottage cheese or low fat sour cream
1/3 cup finely grated asiago
4 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Process all in a blender. Makes 1 cup, one serving is 1 tablespoon, 13 calories per serving.

Carrot Ginger Dressing

1/4 cup minced shallot
1/4 cup finely shredded carrot
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons mirin (can substitute sherry)
2 tablepoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons freshly garted ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Process all in a blender until smooth. Makes 3/4 cup, a serving is 1 tablespoon, 17 calories per serving.

Zesty Lemon Vinaigrette

1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon dijon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon feenel seeds, crushed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced

Process all in a blender. Makes 1 cup, open serving a tablespoon, 16 calories per serving.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Garlic Sauce

Drum roll, please. I lost five pounds this week. This is unheard of for me in the fifth week of any weight loss program. I nearly fell off the scale this morning. From the beginning, I have rid myself of 26 unwanted pounds! Woooooohoooo!

I recently changed up my routine. I am doing less machine exercise and more classes like Step Aerobics and Zumba. That probably is the reason for the bigger drop this week!

I know, a lot of people would say you are going too fast. Quite honestly, I have never lost weight fast in my life. I am not a fad dieter. I am simply willing and able to put the time in to do the work and it is paying off! I am not starving either. I eat about 1600 calories a day, give or take 100. Which actually is pretty much on target with a Weight Watchers suggestion for my weight and level of activity.

The bottom line is that everyone has to find their own way of doing things. EVERYONE has advice for weight loss. That's good, I like to hear it, but I have learned recently to trust my judgement and expertise about what I like and what my body can do.

Now on to the food. I make sweet potato fries often, I love them. When I make them, I always put oregano and garlic powder on them. There is something about the flavors together that I really like. When I decided to do sweet potato gnocchi, I had to add these other components.

Gnocchi can be a bit tricky getting the dough right but once you have that down you can whip these babies up very quickly. They are one easy pasta to make!

First start with the dough. Do not go by the recipe as much as you should be going by the feel of the dough. You want a dough that is not sticky but not hard either. You want it to be smooth, supple and tender.
Depending on how much you have, divide it into workable amounts. Squeeze it into a long tube and roll it. Cut it into small pieces, about the size of a nickel. Take a fork and run the tines of the fork over the piece of the dough in one swift swoop. You should end up with a piece that is oblong, with markings on the side and a dent in the middle. This will serve you well later when it holds the sauce for you. Yum!
Those happy little pieces of dough, get placed on a flour sheet or plate so you can transport them to the boiling water.


12 ounces sweet potato (I passed them through a ricer)
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, slightly beaten

Pass the sweet potato through a ricer or mash thoroughly. Add the salt and egg, combine. Add the flour a half of a cup at a time. Adding less towards the end. Take it out of the bowl and knead a little. Let it rest for fifteen minutes.

This recipe made about 89 gnocchi, 13.37 calories per gnocchi.

Garlic Sauce

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 teaspoon oregano
s and p to taste
12 garlic cloves, roasted
1 cup skim milk

Peel garlic and wrap in aluminum foil. Toast in oven at 425F until golden. Saute onions in butter until softened. Add flour and stir often until flour becomes toasted, turning a light brown color. Add the milk, stirring often to incorporate the milk into the flour mixture. Add oregano, s and p. Mash the roasted garlic with a little salt, into a paste. Add to the milky mixture.

210 calories for entire recipe. We divided it into four.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Squash and Chicken

One of my friends did the Flat Belly Diet. It worked well for her. The last couple of times that my friends and I were over her house, she made meals from her Flat Belly Cookbook. Both were excellent. The one she made this last time, I just had to make. Like, right away! So I made it for my folks this past Sunday. It's a nice recipe because you can make it ahead and just pop in the oven when you are getting ready for your company. Out pops an incredibly tastey dish.

I do not have the exact portions of the recipe as I just wrote down what went into it. So I kind of made it up as I went along.

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables
inspiration from Flat Belly Diet Cookbook

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin (I'm a bit heavy handed with cumin, so I put about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon oregano
s and p
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 acorn squash, peeled and chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl combine sweet potatoes, squash and potatoes. Pour olive oil over the vegetables and all the spices. Stir to combine. Lay out chicken in a large roaster pan. Sprinkle with cumin and oregano. Pour vegetables all around in the roasting pan. Place in a 375F oven for about an hour. During the last fifteen minutes sprinkle the walnuts over the mixture. Or you can toast them seperately and sprinkle on as you serve.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

KOREAN food rocks!

More about this pretty little sugary rose later...

Usually for Valentine's my husband and I stay home. Too crowded at restaurants. Plus, we just dont go gong ho about it. This year, we decided to go out. We went off the beaten path to avoid the crowds. We went to a restaurant called Young's. They have Korean food. Wonderful, yummy, Korean food. The older woman who was our waitress/server was the one of the sweetest persons. Have you ever noticed some people, when you meet them, are just sweet? Period.

My husband ordered eel. Yup, slimy, stinky, slithery eel. But that's my husband, willing to try anything at least once. I LOVE that about him. Well, our lovely server, just was so tickled that he ordered eel on Valentine's Day. She said her husband likes to eat eel, as she giggled and covered her blushing face. (I just fell in love with her, so sweet!). We gathered that eel must be an aphrodesiac. Sure enough to Koreans, it is. Read all about it here.

Did I try it? Yup, I did. In my mind I pictured the Moray Eel. If I had read the article above before going to the restaurant, I wonder if I would have tried it. It tastes like trout. It's not overly fishy but it tastes earthy/gamey, a bit like Catfish too. Which makes sense because they are both bottom feeders. With a piece of pickled ginger, it was very delicious. By itself, not my kind of fish. My husband, well, he loved it. Said he will never order anything but that from their restaurant. Loved it.

Me, I had bulgogi. I know, very conservative. Shrimp Shumai, bulgogi, kimchi, how can a girl go wrong? Then, there is my favorite of the banchan (side dishes that are served with the meal), which is kongjaban (a black bean that is sweet and nutty). It will definitely be making an appearance in my abode!

And for all of you who want to know if eel is an aphrodesiac... just what kind of blog do you think this is? (Insert a smile here.) I do not kiss and tell.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Molasses Rye Bread

We have a restaurant here locally called Bugaboo Creek. They serve this amazing bread there. Also, Outback Steakhouse has this bread as well. We do not go out to eat very much as I am a stay at home Mom. Why go out to eat when I am such a foodie and love to make things at home. Plus it is a tremendous cost savings!

Well this bread is tastey and has a sweet kind of taste to it. Don't use Blackstrap molasses for this, it's a little too strong. I divided the dough into four mini's or "torpedo" type mini's.

OUTBACK BREAD RECIPE recipe, click here

  • 3 packages dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups rye flour
  • 2-1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
Soften yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Stir in sugar. Let stand 6 minutes or till bubbly.

Meanwhile in large mixing bowl combine 1 cup warm water with molasses, salt, oil, and rye flour. Beat to smooth batter. Add yeast water mixture, stirring to combine.

Work in all-purpose flour till dough is smooth and no longer sticky, very pliable and elastic. Knead a few minutes. Let rise till doubled in greased bowl. Punch down.

Shape into 2 large round loaves placed a few inches apart on greased and cornmeal dusted cookie sheet or fill 6 mini foil loaf pans, greased and dusted in cornmeal, with the dough, dividing it evenly between these little pans.

Either way let loaves rise till doubled in warm place. Bake large loaves 375 degrees F. about 30 minutes or till crust makes hollow sound when tapped with knuckles. For tiny loaves place pans on dry ungreased cookie sheets, a few inches apart. When doubled in size, bake at 375 degrees F. for 20 minutes.

The bread freezes beautifully.

Yield: 2 large loaves or 6 mini-loaves


The muffin man came calling again to my street and not Drury Lane. So glad he did.

One of my favorite snacks in the evening is a half of an ounce of crystalized ginger and about 5 pecan halves. It's a little amount but it is big on flavor and seems to satisfy my sweet tooth without making me want more. That's a very good thing!

So I have these beautiful Bosc pears that wanted a piece of the ginger action. Yup- I made some yummy ginger pear muffins. These cute and tastey little babies are 123 calories. Another breakfast treat!


1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 oz crystalized ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup skim milk
1 egg or a 1/4 cup egg beaters
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 cups bosc pears, chopped
12 pecan halves

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ginger in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl combine chopped pears, cinnamon, lemon juice and sugar. In a 2 cup measuring cup, measure out milk, sour cream and add the egg. Pour the milk mixture into the dry mixture. Add the pear mixture and the crystalized ginger. Place a pecan halve on top of each muffin. Spoon into muffin cups, 12. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I am always getting cookbooks from the library. I am addicted. I know I am not alone when I say I read cookbooks like novels. Everytime I get a book it's like a little gift. Every once in a while I find a book from the library that says, "You must own me". Such was the case with Mark Bittman's book, How to Cook Everything and Bo Friburg's book, Pastry Chef.

Just recently I borrowed Martin Yan's book, Quick and Easy. So far I like a lot of recipes. I gave one a test run the other day. I lightened it up so that I could enjoy it in volume. He puts in flavors to slaw that I would not have thought of. The result was a resounding, yum! I think his book is worth owning.

Backyard Asian Coleslaw
Martin Yan, Quick and Easy, 2004

2/3 cup mayonnaise (I used light)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons wasabi paste (I omitted this)
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce

3 cups napa cabbage (I used red)
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
1/2 cup shredded carrot
8 ears baby corn
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 pound small, cooked, peeled shrimp
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to blend evenly. Cover and chill until serving.
In a large bowl, combine cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots, baby corn and green onions and toss to mix. Cover and chill until serving.
To serve pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat evenly. Mound the shrimp in the center and sprinkle with nuts. Serve at once.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Did you ever see people doing some major traffic violation and think, where are the cops when you need 'em? Well today this big pickup pulls out right in front of this car that was about to turn into the street that the pickup was pulling out of. He never stopped at the stop sign, just barreled through the intersection. Well the guy that he pulled out in front of was a cop, an unmarked car. The lights went on and he pulled him right over. I was so excited. Am I the only person that gets totally jazzed about due punishment?

Now, for Sunday dinner. Yesterday, I was off to find something different. Usually I go surfing and pick a handful of recipes and then kind of make my own combination. Maybe an element from here and an element from there. This week I wanted to do a lightened Shepherds Pie. I think this combination worked pretty well.

a culmination of many recipes with some ideas of my own.

2 pounds lean beef (I used 90/10)
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 Asian eggplants, chopped
1/2 pound mushrooms
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, baked
1 banana
2 tablespoons Montreal Steak Seasoning
2 tablespoons steak sauce
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups cheddar (I used 2%, I gave it a try)
2 tablespoons flour

Begin to brown the beef. While the beef is starting to cook mash the sweet potatoes and banana and salt and mix together. If you don't like the banana idea, I use it to sweeten the mashed sweet potatoes, use a 1/2 cup brown sugar instead.

When the meat is nearly all browned, add the celery, carrots, steak seasoning, steak sauce and onions. Cook until they become tender crisp. Add mushrooms, eggplant and garlic. Sprinkle flour over mixture, stir and cook for five more minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a casserole dish. Stir in cheese. Spread sweet potato mixture over top.

Cover and bake at 350F for about 45 minutes. Place a baking sheet under the casserole dish just in case it boils over.

You could also pour it into two deep dish pie pans and freeze one. Using it for a quick meal down the road.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Some flavors go together shockingly well. This combo of cauliflower and caraway is amazing. I am not a big caraway fan, but here in this soup, caraway has found it's long, lost, love, cauliflower. They are so excited to be together and I so am enjoying their tastey union. At about 45 calories per serving, how could I go wrong? By the way the taste vaguely reminds me of mashed potatoes with gravy.

Lipsmacking Goodness Original

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
5 cups cauliflower, broken up
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons ground caraway
2 cups water
4 cups turkey broth

Melt butter and saute onion in butter until transluscent. Add a tablespoon of clower and keep stirring until flour is browned a little. Add water, cauliflower, caraway and broth. Cover and simmer until cauliflower is tender. Blend with an immersion blender or a regular blender. Serve with a light sprinkling of cheddar.

Bench Notes: I used a very good turkey broth so I watered it down so the cauliflower would not be overpowered. You can substitute chicken broth for all of the liquid as well. A bottle of beer would go really well in this soup. (Or with the soup).

Friday, February 6, 2009

I Think I Found the ONE!

I belong to a group called Spark People. It's a free service. I log in, put my fitness accomplishments on there and my daily intake log. It's a great site. Lots of information, articles, fitness information and motivational words. Oh, yes, and recipes.

That is where I found this beauty. Peanut Butter Muffins, can you believe it, a rich peanutty taste for only 134 calories per muffin. Oh, muffin, where have you been all my life? I am so glad I have found you. People I think my search for the perfect muffin is over. Between this and my oatmeal muffin, I am set.

Peanut Butter Muffins
Spark People Recipe

1/2 c simply Jif peanut butter
1/2 c nonfat milk*
1/2 c pureed banana (about 1 banana)
1 c whole wheat flour
1 egg white
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/4 c brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350, spray 12 muffin tin with nonstick spray.
Mix peanut butter, banana, and sugar in large bowl. Add milk and egg white, mix. Add all dry ingredients and mix. Spoon into muffin tin and bake for 18-20 minutes til golden.

Number of Servings: 12
* I used milk instead of yogurt because the batter seemed really thick.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Today I figured I would throw some beans at you before I throw yet another muffin recipe at you. I know, I am obsessed with those little cakes, scratch that, pieces of heaven. They are a treat, but yet they scream healthy (in moderation of course). Oops, I am suppose to be talking about beans, see what I mean? I am obsessed.

The recipe for these Party Beans, has been with me a long time. For good reason. They are so good. My Aunt in Arizona and I made them together. We went wild over them. They are smokey and sweet and sour, all at the same time. They were a winner from the get go. I think the recipe originally came from Taste of Home but I have yet to find it on their site. I dunno, whoever came up with this recipe did a great job and they deserve credit. So Bravo! to whoever you are.

By the way, I always double the sauce as it goes great over rice.

1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper. chopped
1/2 cup water
2 to 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
s and p
1 bay leaf
1 can of pinto beans
1 can of black beans
1 can of black eyed peas
1 can of navy beans or Great Northern
1 bag of lime beans or edamame
8 strips turkey bacon, chopped and fried to crispy

In a crockpot combine all the ingredients except edamame. Set to low for 4 to 6 hours. You can also do them in the oven in a Dutch oven at 275F for about two hours if using canned beans, longer if using dried and soaked beans. About 30 minutes before beans are done, add the edamame.
Works out the be about 220 calories per 1/2 cup.

Bench Notes:

I use beans from the bag. I soak them overnight and add them to the crockpot, using a little extra water (about another half of a cup).

I add extra bay leaves because they really give it a lot of flavor.

You can add cilantro to this and/or parsley to kick it up a little. Also hot peppers or liquid smoke adds a boost of flavor. I loved it when I did them with chipotle.
Yup, that's a lot of beans!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Healthy, more flavorful, less calorie muffin, TAKE II

If you want to make something lighter, it's even more important to use quality ingredients. Also, using more spices really kicks up the light. For example, if you are using some cheddar in a recipe, splurge on an aged cheddar. You can use less of it without compromising the flavor. If you can't spend a ton of money, buy some simple spices that will also boost it up. Like the butternut squash soup that I made had incredible flavor. That flavor was very comforting to me. Even though it did not have a ton of carbs or fat that is usually associated with "comfort", it still delivered. Remember, by cutting back on snack foods and fast food, you can save money to buy those spices and aged cheddars, etc.

In this recipe, I used Lyle's Golden Syrup. I have some left over from this Daring Baker challenge. Lyle's, if you can find it, is not cheap. But it is so tastey! A tiny bit can really kick things up.

This muffin is like having a bowl of oatmeal but it is oh so portable!

1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup wheat bran
1 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups lowfat buttermilk
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon Lyle's Golden Syrup or honey or corn syrup
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375F. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine wet ingredients in a smaller bowl (I use my 2 cup measuring cup). Pour wet ingredients into the dry. Stir to combine. Spoon into 12 sprayed muffin cups and bake for about 20 minutes.
Calories 138 per muffin

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I just wanted to let you know how I am doing with my fitness and eating plan. I try not to let the scale rule me but of course it still does. Sometimes I think I should switch to an every other week weigh in, that way, I won't be dissapointed by the numbers.

The first week I lost seven, the next week I lost five, the third week I lost nothing (ugh! that was rough), and this week, the fourth week, I lost 3.5. I need to do inches too. I keep telling myself that no matter what plateau I hit, to be consistent and develop a new plan of attack. CONSISTENCY is my key! It is what will help me bring this goal home, once and for all.

Dorie in the movie Nemo, "just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."

Speaking of weight loss, let's talk pizza. This may come as a shock to some people but I never really liked pizza. I mean, I like it okay but I am not wild about it. I am wild over other things like hummus or ice cream or my beloved popcorn. Over the years I learned to appreciate pizza. It's the sauce that sometimes I really didn't like. Well, this is a pizza that I totally love. My friend made this type of pizza years ago and I added to it. I just love it now.

The dough is from this post.


2 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly (you will have fire breathing, dragon breath)
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1/4 cup roasted red bell peppers
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 oz. mozzarella, part skim

Roll your dough into a personal pan size pizza. Place sliced garlic all over the dough. Sprinkle on your cheese. Drizzle on the olive oil. Sprinkle on crushed red pepper and place the roasted pepper all around. Bake at 500F on lowest shelf of your oven for 10 to fifteen minutes.

Oh my, its like garlic bread on steriods. Whoa!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Dippin' Goodness

What do you get when you cross a white bean with pesto? A DARN good dip!

In the summer I make pesto with all my bushes of basil. I whirl it in the food processor with pine nuts, peccorino romano, garlic and olive oil. Sometimes I leave out the olive oil. I freeze them in baby food jars that I pack ratted away (eh hum, two years ago). They come in handy. Not just for a quick pasta dish but for soups and other things as well.

I had to have some snack food for Super Bowl Day. Sunday is our day to hang with my parents and the kids. We dont have a party or anything but I still make pizza and snack items. In an effort to make lighter food, I made this bean dip and a pizza that I will post tomorrow.


2 cups white beans cooked until tender
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons pesto
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

Boil the beans with a bay leaf until tender. Drain and whirl in the food processor with the remainder of the ingredients. If you do not have pesto then add a handful of basil, 1/4 cup peccorino romano, handful of pine nuts or walnuts, one more clove of garlic and one more tablespoon of olive oil. Process until mixture is smooth.