Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Grilled Vegetable Lasagna

I made a lasagna recipe from Cooking Light for dinner tonight. It sounded a little bit different from the basic lasagna, so that is what appealed to me. I grilled the vegetables (on my grill pan) and assembled the lasagna this morning before work; then I popped it into the refrigerator. When I got home I put it in the oven and then we ate it. I bet it would freeze nicely, too.

My changes: I halved the recipe, used a combination of zucchini and yellow squash instead of just zucchini, skipped the bell peppers, and used dried herbs instead of fresh.

I liked it a lot. I thought it was a nice change from the usual lasagna, and I enjoyed the vegetables. I liked how it all came together, and I liked not having to assemble it in the evening.

Grilled Vegetable Lasagna
Grilling the vegetables deepens their flavors, which makes for a delicious vegetarian entrée. To speed preparation, use no-boil lasagna noodles; the baking time remains the same.

3 eggplants, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices (about 3 pounds)
3 zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch slices (about 1 1/4 pounds)
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 red bell peppers, quartered and seeded
1 (15-ounce) container fat-free ricotta cheese
1 large egg
3/4 cup grated Asiago cheese, divided
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
9 lasagna noodles, divided
1 (26-ounce) jar tomato-basil spaghetti sauce (such as Muir Glen), divided
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 cup commercial pesto (such as Alessi)

Preheat grill.

Coat eggplants and zucchini with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Grill eggplant and zucchini 1 1/2 minutes on each side or just until tender. Cool; combine in a large bowl.

Place bell peppers on grill, skin-side down; grill 3 minutes or until tender. Cut into (1-inch-wide) strips. Add bell peppers to eggplant mixture.

Combine ricotta cheese, egg, 1/2 cup Asiago cheese, basil, parsley, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions, omitting the salt and the fat.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Spread 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over tomato sauce. Top with half of eggplant mixture. Spread half of ricotta cheese mixture over eggplant mixture; sprinkle with 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese.

Arrange 3 noodles and 1 cup of spaghetti sauce over cheese; cover with the remaining eggplant mixture. Top with remaining ricotta mixture. Spread pesto over ricotta; sprinkle with 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Cover with remaining 3 noodles.

Spoon 1 cup spaghetti sauce over noodles. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Asiago cheese and remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 375° for 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Yield: 10 servings

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Southwest Pinto Bean Burgers

Tonight we had some Southwest Pinto Bean Burgers. Man, these are just so good.

I pureed the rest of the chipotle peppers and put them into the freezer in an ice cube tray. We'll see how well that works.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Ganache-Topped Chocolate Raspberry Sheet Cake

At work, we have a monthly birthday lunch with cake and stuff. They always chip in to buy a crappy cake from Safeway; one of those super-processed bakery cakes that has frosting made of pure lard. I am not a fan of those cakes, and everyone can benefit from eating healthier, so I offered to make the cake this month.

The cake I chose to make was the Ganache-Topped Chocolate Raspberry Sheet Cake from the May 2005 issue of Cooking Light. It was a lot of fun to make. It was not particularly pretty, but it was very yummy. I was very proud of myself. However! For some reason it was not well-received by the people in my office. They were kind of like, "Ew it's low-fat? I don't want to eat that." Or "ew I guess I'll shovel it down but I won't enjoy it." That's too bad because it was a good cake, and I am super-picky about cakes. I probably won't make it again but I would recommend it to others!

Ganache-Topped Chocolate-Raspberry Sheet Cake
The raspberry and dark chocolate flavors give this cake a stylish flair, making it suitable for special occasions. We made it a sheet cake, but you can bake the batter in two eight-inch cake pans for a more sophisticated look; reduce the baking time to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cooking spray
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/3 cups sugar
10 tablespoon butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) carton egg substitute
2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) carton fat-free sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup evaporated fat-free milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
Fresh raspberries (optional)
Fresh mint leaves (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare cake, coat a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray; line bottom of pan with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray; set aside.

Pour boiling water over 1/2 cup cocoa in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve cocoa; cool mixture.

Place 1 1/3 cups sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 5 minutes or until well blended. Add cocoa mixture and egg substitute, beating well.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture and sour cream alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sharply tap pan once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Carefully peel off wax paper; cool completely on wire rack. Spread jam over top of cake.

To prepare ganache, combine 1/2 cup sugar, milk, and 1/4 cup cocoa in a medium saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Spread ganache evenly over top of cake, allowing ganache to run down the sides. Let cake stand for 20 minutes or until set. Garnish with raspberries and mint leaves, if desired.

Yield: 16 servings

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

Wow! A Rachael Ray recipe that isn't disappointing! I am shocked.

We decided to have some pancakes, and these sounded appetizing. I suck at making pancakes in a pan - I need a griddle! - but these still turned out pretty good. They were very yummy. Simple to make, and they did taste like an oatmeal cookie. Awesome. I would make these again.

Oh, my changes! Reduced the butter to 1 Tbsp, used nonstick cooking spray on the pan instead of more butter, used reduced-fat sour cream and used 1% milk.

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes
From 30 Minute Meals

1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 ounces, 1/4 cup, chopped walnuts
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 really ripe bananas, mashed up
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 stick butter, 1/4 cup, melted, plus additional for buttering skillet
Maple syrup or honey, for drizzling

Here’s a great tip: if you cannot find really ripe bananas, just nuke them in the microwave for about 15 seconds and they will become super soft for mashing.

Mix dry ingredients, the first 7, in a bowl. In a another bowl, mix the wet ingredients, the next 4. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined, then fold in the mashed up bananas and the raisins. Stir in the melted butter.

Heat a griddle over medium heat and brush with additional melted butter. Cook pancakes, each about 1/3 cup, until bubbles form on the top, then turn. Cakes will cook in about 2 minutes on each side. Keep pancakes tented with foil as they come off the griddle to keep them hot. Serve with drizzled honey or maple syrup over the top.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sunrise Sandwiches

I've had this recipe from a Pillsbury ad for awhile, so I decided to try it.

I used reduced-fat biscuits and reduced the amount of butter. I omitted the onion (due to laziness) and the bacon (because the store was out of veggie bacon). If I made it again, I would make sure to use the bacon. It was good. I don't know if I will make it again, because I want to try other variations, but it was good. We had it with frozen hashbrowns, yum yum.

Sunrise Sandwiches
1 can (16.3-oz) Pillsbury® Grands!® refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
8 slices bacon, cut in half
1 tablespoon margarine
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
8 eggs, beaten
8 slices American Cheese

1. Prepare biscuits and bacon as directed on packages.

2. Melt margarine in medium skillet. Add bell pepper and onion; cook and stir until tender.

3. Pour eggs into skillet; cook until set, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Split biscuits; fill each with egg, cheese and bacon.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Shrimp Po'Boys

I am a big fan of shrimp po'boys. I think fried shrimp is delicious, sammiches are delicious, remoulade sauce is delicious, and all of them combined into one delicious meal is even better.

I used a recipe from Cooking Light that I modified a bit. For example, instead of making my own oven-fried shrimp, I bought some frozen popcorn shrimp from Trader Joe's. I added some horseradish to the sauce because it needed more kick to it. And I toasted the sub rolls with a little butter before adding the fillings. It was very yummy, and very easy. I will definitely make it again.

Shrimp Po'boy with Spicy Ketchup
A New Orleans specialty, this sandwich is often made with deep-fried shrimp. Oven-frying the shrimp, which is coated in garlicky breadcrumbs, delivers big flavor without the fat.

3 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup ketchup
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
2 (10-inch) submarine rolls, split
2 cups torn curly leaf lettuce
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

Prepare broiler.

Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Combine breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and garlic in a medium bowl, stirring with a fork. Combine oil and shrimp; toss well. Place half of the shrimp in the breadcrumb mixture; toss well to coat. Place breaded shrimp in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Repeat procedure with remaining shrimp and breadcrumb mixture. Broil 4 minutes or until shrimp are done.

Combine ketchup, juice, Worcestershire, chili powder, and hot sauce in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Spread 2 tablespoons ketchup mixture over cut sides of each roll half. Place 1 cup lettuce over bottom half of each roll; top with 1/4 cup onion. Arrange 1 cup shrimp on each roll half; top with remaining roll half. Cut sandwiches in half.

Yield: 4 servings


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Strawberry Sorbet

I bought some strawberries last weekend to make some ice cream. I was originally going to make this Buttermilk Sorbet with Strawberries, but the buttermilk expired before I could make it. :( So then I came across this recipe and made it instead. It was very, very simple. It's more of a sorbet, since it doesn't have any milk. It's pretty much just frozen strawberry puree mixed with simple syrup.

We LOVED it! Thank goodness, I was getting tired of being disappointed by my ice creams. It is very, very good. I didn't use all the high-quality crap the recipe tells you to use, though my strawberries and sugar were organic. Oh, and I didn't add the egg, but it was still a good texture. I will definitely make this again. I will also probably try the variation listed below (Strawberry Passion Fruit sorbet)

Simply Strawberry Sorbet
From Epicurious
Editor's note: This recipe is adapted from Gabrielle Carbone, coproprietor of The Bent Spoon ice cream parlor in Princeton, New Jersey.

3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons water, preferably spring water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 pints (about 1 1/2 pounds or 6 cups) fresh-picked strawberries, preferably organic, rinsed, patted dry, and hulled
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large egg white, preferably farm-fresh (optional)

Make the simple syrup: In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, water, and salt. Cook, stirring, until the sugar and salt have dissolved, about 3 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.

In a blender, purée the strawberries with the syrup and lemon juice until very smooth (you may need to divide this into several batches if your blender is not extra-large). If desired, strain through a fine-mesh sieve for a smoother texture. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. Add the egg white, if using, during the last 2 to 3 minutes of churning. If making the ice cream cake, immediately pack into the pan. Or store, tightly covered, in the freezer.

Variation: Strawberry-passion fruit sorbet:
Cut 7 passion fruits in half and scoop the pulp and seeds into a blender. Blend for 20 seconds, then pass through a fine-mesh strainer into a small bowl, pushing on the solids with back of a wooden spoon. Measure out 6 tablespoons of this purée and combine with the strawberries, syrup, and lemon juice in a blender as directed above.

Yield: 1 quart

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Foccaccia

He recently discovered he loves Greek food, so I am making a lot of stuff with feta and oregano and delicious things like that. Tonight's meal was really easy and really simple. I omitted the raisins because he is not a fan of mixing fruit and savory. And I tripled the amount of pine nuts because I really love love love pine nuts. We liked this dish a lot. It was very simple and tasty. I will make this again.

Spinach and Feta-Stuffed Focaccia
From Cooking Light, August 2004

This easy dish wraps refrigerated pizza crust dough around a savory filling and then baked to a golden brown. The filling is similar to that of the Greek classic spanakopita.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 (6-ounce) packages baby spinach
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
2/3 cup golden raisins
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (13.8-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust dough
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon 2% reduced-fat milk
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450°.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add half of spinach; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts. Add remaining spinach; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until spinach wilts. Remove from heat; stir in feta and next 6 ingredients (through pepper).

Place dough on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; pat dough into a 15 x 12-inch rectangle. Spread spinach mixture lengthwise over half of dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Fold other half of dough over filling; press edges together with a fork. Cut 5 (1-inch) diagonal slits in top of dough.

Combine milk and water; brush evenly over dough. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes or until golden.

Yield: 6 servings

Photo Added 5/27/11:

Monday, July 10, 2006

Black Beans in Bell Peppers

If you are thinking about becoming a vegetarian, the easiest way to do it is to make lots of Mexican food. Mexican vegetarian food is always a hit in our house. It is very easy and very healthy - lots of beans and stuff.

We've been looking for a good stuffed pepper recipe, and this one seemed to fit well. And since it's a Mexican dish, that seemed to indicate that we would like it a lot.

My changes: I added some sliced green onion to the filling. I used a Mexican blend of cheeses from Trader Joe's (cheddar, queso blanco, jack, something else), I threw in a bit of cayenne pepper, and I didn't roast the peppers before filling them.

We liked this very much. It was easy to make, although semi-time consuming. I wouldn't make it on a week night, unless I made the filling ahead of time. I bet they would freeze nicely though, to make at a later time. I will definitely make this again.

Black Beans in Bell Peppers
from The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook by Diana Shaw, pg 368

Do ahead: You can make the filling up to 3 days in advance. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2 tsp canola or vegetable oil
1 large white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper or Anaheim chili, cored, seeded, and minced
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp crumbled dried oregano
2 tsp red white vinegar
2 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large firm red bell pepper, roasted and peeled
1 large firm yellow bell pepper, roasted and peeled

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Squirt a shallow baking dish with nonstick spray or lightly grease with unsalted butter.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, swirling the pan to coat the bottom. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeno or Anaheim, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, and oregano, and saute, stirring often, until the onion softens, about 8 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and beans. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the skillet, and cook, stirring often, until the beans are very tender, about 20 minutes. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash the beans.

Transfer to a mixing bowl, and stir in the cheddar and Parmesan cheese. Fill each pepper half with an equal amount of the bean mixture and place in the prepared baking dish. Cover loosely with foil and bake until set, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and return the peppers to the oven to brwon the tops, about 5 minutes more. Serve with salsa.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Mozzarella-Stuffed Grilled Portobellos

I bought some fresh mozzarella last week for a recipe I never actually made, so I needed a recipe to use it up this week. This recipe from the current issue of Bon Appetit sounded great and got excellent reviews, so I decided to make it.

I did try to lighten the recipe a bit, because oh my goodness. A quarter cup of olive oil? An entire stick of butter? Really, is that necessary? So I reduced the oil to just a few tablespoons and the butter by about half. I also slightly reduced the amount of cheese used. But don't worry, even with all these changes there was still about half a cup of the filling left over. I also used my grill pan instead of a grill (obviously, since we do not own a grill). I grilled them for about two minutes and then put them on a pan under the broiler until the cheese melted (about 4 minutes).

I thought this meal was very, very tasty. Next time I will leave out the thyme. I really don't like the flavor of thyme but I keep adding it to things anyway. But the filling in general was delicious.

Mozzarella-Stuffed Grilled Portobellos with Balsamic Marinade
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced, divided
6 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed
1 1/2 cups panko
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (about 5
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

Whisk oil, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and 1 garlic clove in small bowl for marinade. Using spoon, scrape out gills from mushrooms and place mushrooms on rimmed baking sheet. Brush marinade over both sides of mushrooms, arrange hollow side up, and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Mix panko, next 5 ingredients and remaining 2 garlic cloves in medium bowl. Drizzle butter and remaining teaspoon vinegar over pank mixture and toss. Divide panko mixture among mushrooms, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges and paking down slightly. Place mushrooms on grill, stuffing side up; cover grill and cook until cheese melts and juices bubble at edges of mushrooms, rearranging mushrooms occasionally for even cooking (do not turn over), about 6 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Tonight for dinner we had Rice and Bean Burritos again. We sure do love these burritos.

We also went to an Asian market today, where I got some Pocari Sweat and Shrimp Chips. What a happy day. :) They also had muscat candy but I decided to get that next time we go instead. Awesome. :)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Baba Gha-Hummus

I like baba ghanoush, and I like hummus. This recipe from Cooking Light from 2002 combines both of them, so it sounded good.

I thought it was kind of bland. I kind of wish I'd just made some hummus, without bothering with eggplant. Or maybe just eaten some leftovers from yesterday. I will not make this again. Also, when I was stirring up the tahini, it sloshed and I got sesame oil all over me and that kind of sucked.

Baba Gha-Hummus
1 large eggplant
3 tablespoons tahini (sesame-seed paste)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

Preheat oven to 375°.

Pierce eggplant with a fork. Place eggplant on a jelly roll pan. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until tender. Cool and peel; discard skin.

Combine eggplant, tahini, and remaining ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth.

Yield: 2 cups

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Sort of a Hero Sandwich

I've had this recipe from Martha Stewart for a long time, and I've adapted it several times - always for picnics - but I have never made the sandwich exactly as written. And today was no different! I deviated quite a bit, forgoing almost all of the suggested fillings and instead putting in the components of this Greek salad. It was good! :) I made enough of the salad to keep for lunches. Perfect.

Someday I am going to get around to making this recipe in its original form. Seriously.

Sort of a Hero Sandwich
To transport this sandwich, place it on a round board or flat plate, and wrap tightly in plastic. Unwrap and slice just before serving.

1 large round loaf bread
6 large portobello mushrooms, stems trimmed to 1/2 inch
Olive oil, for brushing
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
7 medium tomatoes, cored and sliced
1 small red onion(4 ounces), peeled, thinly sliced, and rings separated
2 large yellow peppers, roasted, peeled, and cut lengthwise into thick slices
6 cups fresh basil leaves, washed
Creamy Tomato Dressing (recipe follows)

1. Cut bread in half horizontally. Using a short serrated knife, carve out insides of bread, in whole pieces if possible. Using a long serrated knife, thinly slice inside pieces. Cover; set aside. Pull out any remaining bread from crusts, leaving 1/4-inch bread border. Cover crusts; set aside.

2. Thinly slice mushrooms. Heat a grill to medium hot, or place a grill pan over high heat. Brush mushrooms with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until tender, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

3. Brush fennel with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until tender, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

4. Arrange filling in bottom of bread: First, cover with half the tomatoes, then half the onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; drizzle with 3 tablespoons dressing. Cover with 1 cup basil, and top with a layer of sliced bread. The second layer is made up of half the mushrooms, then salt and pepper, dressing, basil, and bread. The third layer is peppers, salt and pepper, dressing, basil, and bread. The fourth layer is the remaining mushrooms, salt and pepper, dressing, basil, and bread. The fifth layer is fennel, salt and pepper, dressing, basil, and bread. The last layer is the remaining tomatoes, onions, salt and pepper, dressing, and basil.

5. Place top of bread on bottom half, enclosing vegetables. Wrap with plastic; weight with heavy books. Let stand 45 minutes.

6. Unwrap sandwich. Using a large serrated knife, cut into eight wedges.

Creamy Tomato Dressing
Makes about 1 cup

3 ripe tomatoes(12 ounces), cored
1/4 cup low fat (1 percent) cottage cheese
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Cut tomatoes into quarters; puree in a food processor. Pass through a strainer into a bowl; discard seeds and skin.

2. Using a rubber spatula, press cottage cheese through a strainer into tomatoes. Add remaining ingredients; whisk to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Roasted Potato Salad with Mustard Dressing

To go along with our 4th of July picnic, I knew I had to make some potato salad. I wanted something a little more flavorful than a generic German potato salad (with vinegar and dill). So I decided to try this recipe from the July issue of Cooking Light. I did not make any changes to the recipe other than omitting the bacon.

It was very, very good. We both really liked it, especially with the Dijon mustard. It definitely is best chilled or just below room temperature, so if you make it try not to keep it outside too long. I will definitely make this again, especially for picnic-y type occasions.

Roasted Potato Salad with Mustard Dressing
This tangy side dish with sweet onions and honey pairs beautifully with burgers or steak. This salad is best chilled but can stay at room temperature for up to two hours. You can also use sweet-hot mustard in place of the Dijon and honey for a zesty flavor.

3 pounds small red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 bacon slices (uncooked), chopped
2 cups diced Vidalia or other sweet onion (about 2 medium)
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; toss to coat. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 400° for 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring once. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan; set bacon aside. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 15 minutes or until golden brown and caramelized, stirring frequently. Add garlic to pan; cook 30 seconds. Add onion mixture and bacon to potatoes; toss gently. Let stand 15 minutes.

Combine mustard, mayonnaise, honey, and vinegar in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Add mustard mixture and parsley to potato mixture; toss gently.

Yield: 8 servings

KFC Coleslaw

I love the coleslaw at KFC. So when I found this copycat recipe on the CL Bulletin Boards (swquilts), I decided I must make it for the 4th of July. Plus I got to use my new food processor to shred the cabbage.

I followed the recipe as written, except I added a tablespoon or two of horseradish. The coleslaw at KFC has this distinctly spicy under-flavor, and nothing in the original recipe would have caused that. So I added horseradish and it was exactly perfect.

I think that this would have been perfect if I had doubled the amount of sauce. Maybe I used too much cabbage? I don't know. But there just didn't seem to be enough liquid to cover the cabbage. So when I ate it, it just tasted like cabbage. I'll probably keep this recipe around to try again, but I will double the liquid next time. And still add the horseradish. :)

KFC Copycat Coleslaw
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/2 cup lowfat mayonnaise
1/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
8 cups cabbage -- finely chopped
1/4 cup grated carrots

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, salt, pepper, milk, mayonnaise, buttermilk, vinegar and lemon juice until smooth. Add cabbage and carrots and mix until blended with the dressing. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Yield: 8 servings

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Blueberry Pie

Yesterday, we went blueberry picking at Butler's Orchard, about a mile from our apartment. We got a whole big bucket full of them. I froze some, and then I used the rest to make pies this afternoon. I made two blueberry pies, with my standard blueberry recipe. It's from The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, and I love it. This time, however, I decided to skip the double-crust and do a latticework top. And then I had some extra dough so I added little embellishments with cookie cutters.

Blueberry Pie
Fresh berries surely make a difference in fruit pies, but you can be successful with frozen fruit, too. You can substitute 2 (14 oz) packages frozen blueberries, thawed and drained. Just increase the flour to 1/2 cup.

5 cups fresh blueberries
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Pastry for doublecrust 9 inch pie (Note: I used Pillsbury pre-made pie dough)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp sugar

Sprinkle berries with lemon juice; set aside.

Roll half of pastry to 1/8-inch thickness on a floured surface. Place in a 9 inch pie plate.

Combine 1 cup sugar and next 3 ingredients; add to berries, stirring well. Pour into pastry shell, and dot with butter.

Roll remaining pastry to 1/8-inch thickness. Place over filling; seal and crimp edges. Cut slits in top of crust to allow steam to escape. Brush top of pastry with beaten egg, and sprinkle with 1 tsp sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes or until golden. Cover edges with aluminum foil to prevent overbrowning, if necessary. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Yield: 1 pie

Here is a picture of my beautiful creation:

Orange "Beef" Stirfry

For my birthday, I got a wok. I decided on vegetarianifying a recipe for Orange Beef. I substituted some broccoli for the snow peas, and some Morningstar Farms Steak Strips for the flank steak.

It was a lot of fun to use my wok. :) However, dinner was a little less than exceptional. It was alright to eat, but it wasn't great. This probably is due to using the fake meat, so it is probably pretty good with some actual steak.

Orange Beef Stirfry
from Cooking Light

1 (1-pound) lean flank steak
1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges in light syrup, undrained
1/2 cup low-sugar orange marmalade
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
Vegetable cooking spray
2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
2 (6-ounce) packages frozen snow peas
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups cooked long-grain rice (cooked without salt or fat)
Dried crushed red pepper (optional)

Trim fat from steak. Slice steak diagonally across grain into thin strips; set aside.

Drain oranges, reserving 2 tablespoons juice. Set oranges aside. Discard remaining juice. Combine reserved 2 tablespoons juice, marmalade, and hoisin sauce in a small bowl; set aside.

Coat a wok or large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; drizzle 1 teaspoon oil around top of wok, coating sides. Heat at medium-high (375°) until hot. Add steak strips, and stir-fry 6 minutes. Remove steak strips from wok; drain and pat dry with paper towels.

Drizzle remaining 1 teaspoon oil around top of wok, coating sides. Add snow peas; stir-fry 4 minutes. Add steak strips and salt.

Stir in marmalade mixture and oranges. Bring to a boil, and stir-fry 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Serve over rice. Sprinkle with red pepper, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

This ice cream recipe was in the current issue of Cooking Light (what a surprise, right?). I desperately wanted to make it so I bought the ingredients the day after reading the article. I just got around to making it today.

It was disappointing :( It looks awesome, it sounds awesome, but it wasn't- to us at least. It got such good reviews by other people on the CL bulletin boards. I was sad. I think it's the fact that the ice cream is custard-based and uses eggs. That's supposed to make it creamier, to keep it from getting icy in the freezer (I guess). But we were highly sensitive to the eggy taste. Actually, maybe it was because I used real eggs instead of the egg substitute. *shrug* I won't try this particular recipe again, but I do have a different recipe for the same thing that doesn't use eggs. I will probably try that because I am enjoying making ice creams.

If you do decide to try this recipe, make it with the eggbeaters and tell me if it turns out nicely.

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup (6 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
4 large egg yolks
3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1 cup half-and-half
3 cups fresh blueberries, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup water

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until smooth. Combine milk and half-and-half in a medium, heavy saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Gradually add half of hot milk mixture to cheese mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan. Cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160°, stirring constantly. Place pan in an ice-filled bowl. Cool completely, stirring occasionally.

Combine blueberries, powdered sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and cool completely.

Stir blueberry mixture into milk mixture. Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Spoon ice cream into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze for 1 hour or until firm.

Yield: 2 quarts

My Birthday Cake

Even though my birthday was on Wednesday, I neglected to make a birthday cake for myself until today. I sifted through tons of my cake recipes and found one that looked simple and tasty enough: a Yellow Sheet Cake with Chocolate Frosting from Cooking Light. My only changed to it is that I left out the cocoa powder in the frosting, solely because I discovered too late that I was out of it. But it worked nicely as a vanilla frosting, regardless.

I LOVE this cake. It is sooooo good. It's got a different texture, kind of springy rather than crumbly. It would be very easy to convert it to be a chocolate cake or a strawberry cake or any other kind of cake. This will definitely be my standard sheetcake recipe from now on. I liked it a lot. :)

Yellow Sheet Cake with Chocolate Frosting
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) carton fat-free sour cream
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup egg substitute
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk

1/2 cup (4 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 to 2 tablespoons evaporated fat-free milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups powdered sugar, divided

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare cake, coat bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray (do not coat sides of pan); line bottom of pan with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray; dust with 1 tablespoon flour. Set aside.

Combine 1/2 cup butter and sour cream in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat with a mixer at medium speed 3 minutes or until well blended. Add egg substitute; beat 2 minutes or until well blended.

Lightly spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 cups flour, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sharply tap pan once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Carefully peel off wax paper; cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare frosting, place the cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add cocoa, milk, and 1/8 teaspoon salt; beat at low speed until well blended. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar; beat at low speed until creamy. Gradually add remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Place cake on a serving platter. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Store cake loosely covered in the refrigerator.

Yield: 18 servings