Sunday, October 31, 2010

Butternut Squash and Vanilla Risotto

Boil 4 cups vegetable broth and add cubed butternut squash and 1 whole split vanilla bean scraped. Cook until tender (about 5 minutes) remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Leave broth and vanilla bean in pot and lower heat to low or simmer to keep warm.

In a large saute pan melt butter and add rice to coat in butter. Add wine and simmer until almost completely evaporated. Then add 1/2 cup simmering broth to rice and stir until almost completely absorbed. Continue cooking the rice adding 1/2 cup of broth at a time, allowing each addition to almost cook off before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to bite. (about 20 minutes) turn off heat. Gently stir in butternut squash and grate fresh parmesan cheese, add remaining butter and salt.
Transfer to a bowl and serve immedietly.

This is the most amazing and aromatic risotto I've ever had. Risotto is a long cooking process of arborio rice that you must stand over the stove while this cooks, but it makes the most creamy delicious dinner or side dish ever. I omitted the onion this recipe originally called for and the chives to finish off the dish. I really like the vanilla aroma and I think the onion would cover it up. Recipe from from Giada at Home.

4 cups vegetable broth
1 large vanilla bean
3 cups peeled cubed butternut squash
2 Tbsp butter, plus 1 Tbsp butter reserved
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt

Flourless Torte with Ganache Icing

Had such a fun time making this cake with my cousin. This is the most amazing cake with a rich and fudgy ganache icing. Well worth the time it takes to make this cake. Got this recipe from my "Williams-Sonoma Desserts" cookbook

Mix together 1/4 cup of the sugar, egg yolks, rum, vanilla and salt. Beat until pale yellow, thick and well incorporated.
Use a double boiler and combine chocolate and butter. Melt and whisk until well blended. Set aside to cool slightly.
Pour the slightly cooled chocolate mixture into the egg yolk and rum mixture and beat until blended
In a separate bowl beat egg whites until foamy, add 2 Tbsp sugar and continue beating until medium-firm peaks
Gently fold in egg whites into choclate mixture until well incorporated DO NOT OVERMIX

Pour into a prepared greased and cocoa powder dusted pan, bake on 300 degrees for 30 minutes
DO NOT OVERCOOK (Should be very moist but not liquid)
Cool completely before icing
Over a double boiler melt chocolate, buttter and corn syrup until melted.
Gently pour over cake. Chill before serving.
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
10 oz of bittersweet or dark chocolate
3/4 cup (6 oz) unsalted butter cut into pieces; plus extra for greasing
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp dark rum or brewed espresso
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3 large egg whites at room temperature
Chocolate Glaze:
1/2 cup unsalted butter cut up
8 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate
2 Tbsp light corn syrup

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sweet Fried Plantains

Ripen plantains about a week before cooking. Slice into 1/2 inch slices.

Fill pot 1 inch deep with oil (canola or vegetable) Heat on medium heat.

Fry until golden brown on each side cook until soft all the way through.

In a small or medium brown bag, fill with one cup of sugar, 1 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp of allspice. Shake to mix.

After you remove plantains from oil drain on a pile of paper towels and sprinkle with a little bit of salt.

Then drop the warm plantains into paper bag and shake to cover in sugar mixture. Serve immediately.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Yummy Yummy Flan

Mix evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, cream cheese, eggs, and vanilla in a blender. (forgot to take a picture of the custard)
Melt sugar in a non-stick pan once it starts to melt and caramelize pour into your pan(s) of choice. Move the pan around to get caramel up the sides a bit.
Place pan with caramel into a hot water bath. Then pour custard mixture from the blender into pan. Bake on 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes

Invert allow to cool about 10 minutes or chill before serving.

1 cup sugar
6 large eggs
1 (14 ounce) can condensed milk
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ounce cream cheese

1.Preheat oven to 350°F.
2.Select 2 oven safe containers, one that can easily fit inside the other.
3.The large one will be used for a water bath and the smaller one will actually house the flan.
4.Fill the larger container a little less than half way with water and place in the cold
oven to heat up while you prepare the caramel and the custard.
5.In a large pan, using a wooden spoon caramelize the sugar until it turns a light golden
6.While still hot, transfer the melted sugar to the smaller container, swirling it around until the entire bottom is covered then set aside.
7.In a blender add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
8.Open up the oven where you have placed the water bath and then place the small pan with the caramel inside the large water bath pan.
9.Pour the custard into the pan being careful not to splash it.
10.Bake for 30- 45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the center passes a toothpick test.
11Remove from oven and allow to cool on rack.
12You may invert this onto a large serving dish with lip or just server out of container you cooked it in.

Tamale Pie

I'm all for complicated recipes but after looking through many tamale recipes, I decided I wasn't ready for it yet. So I used a recipe I found on for a tamale pie. I really hope it tastes as good as all the reviews said it did, cause it's for a friend.

First chop one large yellow onion, one bell pepper (whatever color you like) and add olive oil to a skillet, add chopped pepper, onion and one pound ground turkey, saute until turkey is no longer pink. Add garlic cook one more minute. Drain off any excess fat.

Sprinkle the meat and veggie mixture with cumin, then add pinto beans (drained), diced tomatoes, and 2 chipotle in adobo chopped plus adobo sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce heat til thickened. Add cheese and cilantro. (I forgot this step so I topped the corn bread with it)

Use an 8 oz package of corn muffin mix ( I used self rising corn meal so it wouldn't be so sweet) Add egg and milk. I decided to tweak the recipe a little and added a small chipotle in adobo, and a small scoop of rotel. Mix thoroughly. (You may have to add more milk)

Put meat mixture into a casserole dish press down firmly, put corn bread on top of meat mixture and spread until it's covered.

I topped mine with the cheese cause I forgot to put it in with the tamale mix. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature (for greasing pan)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound, lean ground turkey
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, any color, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (I like the brine they're in so I didn't rinse mine)
1 (8-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 chipotle chiles, plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce, from can chipotle in adobo
1 cup grated Cheddar
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 (8.5-ounce) package cornbread mix or 8 ounces self rising corn meal (if you don't want a sweet corn bread topping)
1 egg
1/3 cup milk

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake

For the base: grease bottom of a 9x9 pan with butter. Line with parchment paper. In a food processor, combine sugar, cinnamon, and graham crackers (short bread or Oreo cookies) until you have the texture of bread crumbs. Then add melted butter until fully incorporated. Pour into lined pan and pat down gently with the bottom of a glass. Bake 10-12 minutes on 325 degrees until lightly browned. Let cool.

For the filling: Add cream cheese, egg, lemon juice, lemon zest, and sugar in the food processor and process to a smooth consistency.

Pour into cooled base...
Cover with blueberries. Bake in 325 degree oven about 35 minutes or until center only slightly jiggles.
Remove from oven and cool completely then refrigerate for 3 hours before cutting.
  • For the base:
  • Butter for greasing
  • 9-12 graham crackers (shortbread or Oreo cookies)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 stick of butter melted
  • For the filling:
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • Powdered sugar (optional) for dusting

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Blueberry, Coconut, Macadamia Nut Muffins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray or use liners. Combine coconut, 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour, 2 Tbsp brown sugar and 2 Tbsp macadamia nuts in a small bowl. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp oil; stir to combine. Set aside
Whisk the remaining 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In another bowl combine remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, remaining 1 Tbsp oil, egg, egg white, buttermilk, butter and coconut extract (vanilla can be used also) stir well. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients; stir until just combined.

Add blueberries and remaining 3 Tbsp nuts; fold gently. Divide batter into muffin cups. Sprinkle with the reserved coconut topping and press gently into batter.

Bake muffins until golden brown and wooden skewer comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack at least 5 minutes more before serving.
*Note: if you don't have buttermilk just combine 1 tsp lemon juice with regular milk and let stand for 5-10 minutes before using
1/4 cup coconut (sweet or unsweet)
2 Tbsp plus 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
2 Tbsp plus 1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
5 Tbsp chopped macadamia nuts, divided
2 Tbsp canola oil, divided
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 ts salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 large egg
1 large egg white
*3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp coconut or vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (can use frozen but do not thaw before using)
Nutrition info: Per muffin
202 calories; 9g fat; 23 mg cholesterol; 28g carbs; 4g protein; 2g Fiber; 122 mg sodium; 55mg potassium

Heavenly Strawberry Muffins

Cream butter and sugar, then add egg and mix well.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl then add flour mixture and milk alternately to the butter mixture. Add vanilla.

Chop strawberries and gently fold into batter.Spoon into muffin pan, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Then bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes

Ingredients: Yields 12 muffins
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar (Using the full amount results are more like a cupcake, I reduce to 1/2 cup)
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup strawberries
3 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Found this recipe online a few hours before I had company come in for breakfast, wasn't even sure if they would come out, after baking them I have to say these are one of my favorite muffins EVER! This is the 3rd time I've made this recipe in the last 2 weeks, and this time the kids helped make them. Hope you enjoy making and eating these as much as we did.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Simply Spectacular Glazed Strawberry Pie

Form dough into a ball, on a lightly floured surface slightly flatten dough. Roll dough into a 12-inch circle, ease pastry into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 450 degrees. Cool on a wire rack.
Place one cup of strawberries and one cup of water in a food processor, cover and process until smooth. Transfer to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil; then simmer for 2 minutes.
In a medium sauce pan combine sugar and corstarch; stir in berry mixture. Cook and str over medium heat until bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat add red food coloring if desired (omitting the food coloring will give you the results in the picture below, more pinkish then red). Before transfering to cool in a bowl, I put the mixture through a small sieve to remove seeds and clumps of cornstarch. Cool to room temperature.
Fold remaining 5 cups of sliced strawberries into cooled berry mixture; spoon into pastry shell. Cover; chill for 3 to 4 hours. If desired serve with whipped topping.

Oil Pastry Recipe:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour ( I used organic whole grain pastry flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fat free milk
3 tblespoons cooking oil

Combine flour and salt, then add milk and oil. Stir lightly with a fork. Form into a ball. Roll out on a lightly floured surface.

Pie Recipe
6 cups strawberries sliced
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
*Optional red food coloring
*Optional whipped topping thawed

Nutrition facts per serving: 1 slice (pie makes 8 slices)
Calories: 179
Fat: 6g (1 saturated fat)
Sodium: 73mg
Carbs: 30g
Fiber: 3g
Protein: 3g

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Potato Leek Soup

Back in 2005, my husband Brad and I took a trip to Seattle for his brother's wedding. They took us down to Pike's Place Market and we went into the this little olive oil store and tasted tons of different kinds. That got old quick so the owner brought out little cups of potato leek soup to try the olive oil with, and it was so delicious, so now almost 5 years later I decided to try and find a recipe close to the one I tried. I found a very simple one on the Williams-Sonoma website, and it turned out better then I expected. Next time I will try and find another way to puree it, the blender didn't puree it well enough.

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat melt butter until it start to foam, then add leeks and saute 3 to 4 minutes until softened.
Add potatoes and carrots and then cover with water or vegetable broth, increase heat and bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until vegetables are soft.

Use a food mill with a medium disk (I use a blender) and puree soup in batches. Finish with 1/4 cup of cream, top with sliced chives and a lemon.

1 lb. leeks (about 3 medium)
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 lb. baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream if serving hot or 1/2 cup
cream if serving cold
4 thin lemon slices
Fresh chives for garnish
Trim the leeks, leaving about 1 inch of the tender green portions, then rinse them. Cut crosswise into slices 1/2 inch thick.

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. When foaming, add the leeks and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they have wilted a little, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the potatoes and carrots, then add water just to cover the vegetables. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 30 minutes.

Fit a food mill with the medium disk and set the mill over a large bowl. Using a ladle or a large spoon and working in batches, transfer the cooked vegetables and their liquid to the food mill and turn the handle to puree.

If serving the soup hot, return the pureed vegetables to the saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Set the saucepan over medium-low heat, stir in the 1/4 cup cream and heat to just under a boil. Add a little water if the puree is too thick. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Ladle into warmed bowls and float a lemon slice on top of each serving. Using scissors, cut the chives into pieces 1/4 inch long and sprinkle the chives on the lemon slices. Serve immediately.

If serving the soup cold, do not return the puree to the saucepan. Instead, cover the bowl and refrigerate the puree until well chilled. When ready to serve, season with salt and pepper and stir in the 1/2 cup cream, mixing well. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Ladle into chilled bowls. Float a lemon slice on top of each serving and garnish with the chives as directed above.
Serves 4.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Kids, Sugars, Colors and Preservatives...

As most of my friends and family know, I'm a little neurotic (or maybe a lot) about not giving my kids artificial colors, flavors, sugars, and preservatives. It amazes me how much chemically synthetic things they put into foods these days. I try to cook and eat as healthy as possible and most of the time that means cooking from scratch. These articles only inspire me more to stay away from prepackaged foods. Here's a few from TIME magazine and CBS News I found interesting about the effects these additives are having on kids:,8599,1659835,00.html,28804,1824402_1824398,00.html

Here is a list of names all the dyes, flavors and preservatives go by:

Artificial food dyes: may be listed as “food coloring”, “coloring”, “red dye #40”,
“Yellow #5”, etc.
Artificial flavors: may be listed as “flavoring”, “artificial flavoring”, “or butter
flavoring”. “Vanillin” (sometimes listed as “vanilla flavoring”) is very common artificial
flavoring that causes problems for many people. Look for real “vanilla” instead.
Artificial preservatives: Most common behavior culprits are BHT, BHA, and TBHQ.
These are in many foods and do not have to be listed on the packaging (i.e. if they are
used as pan sprays, etc). When they are, they are commonly listed like “BHT added for
freshness”. Common places to find (and avoid) these are: cereal/cracker/bread
packaging, pepperoni, commercial frying oils (this means restaurant and fast food
chicken nuggets and French fries!), etc.

Yes I know this sounds really time consuming to read the labels, but it's a goal well worth it. I also put together a list of our favorite foods that have little or artificial flavors, colors, sugars or preservatives.

Bread: Nature's Own and Nature's Pride (most but not all of these breads are free from everything artificial, but always check the label) Sister Schubert Frozen rolls
Yogurt: Danimals
Snacks: Natural Applesauce, Hormel natural choice lunch meats, simply fruit jelly and natural peanut butter sandwiches, Motts fruit snacks, Stretch Island Fruit Co. products, Snyder's Pretzels, any Annie's products
Juice: V8 Fusion, Adam & Eve Fruitables, Juicy Juice
Soda Alternative: Soda Water mixed with 100% fruit juice or fruit concentrate
Cheese: Stick with block cheese... shredded cheese is full of preservatives (though for convenience purposes sometimes we're forced to use it)
Cereal: Envirokids cereals, Cheerios, Cascadian Farms Fruitful O's, Annie's cereals
Electrolyte Alternative: Smart Water (works like gatorade or pedialyte when you're dehydrated but without the sugar and dyes)

Here's another article from Arvada Peds in Colorado with diet changes for kids with hyperactivity or ADHD they also list great alternatives to food you may feed your kids now

If you have time go to and watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution... it's amazing to see what kids in school are being fed. There should be a petition link on his video page as well to help bring healthier foods into schools.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Sugar Cookies

1. Combine butter and shortening in mixing bowl and beat on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Slowly add sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt until combined. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Beat in as much flour as you can, then stir in remaining flour.
2. Shape dough into 1-inch balls (I use an ice-cream scoop with a trigger handle) Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in 300 degree oven for 15 minutes or until the edges set.

Cool on cookie sheet one minute then transfer to wire rack and let cool.

I LOVE this recipe! Even though is made with shortening, I really like to make sugar cookies and not wait for them to chill before I make them. These really do melt in your mouth.
Recipe is from the Limited Edition Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book.
1/2 cup butter softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour