Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Cupcakes are one of my absolute favorite things. When my husband and I first started dating, he took me to Sprinkles for their Christmas cupcakes. While we were still living in Dallas, he'd often surprise me with Sprinkles cupcakes. I think I like baking cupcakes almost as much as I like eating them. I've made some rich and sinful green tea cupcakes before, but I've never tried Thai ice tea cupcakes. I was inspired when I saw Thai ice tea cupcakes on Chockylit's blog. (I really wish she'd reopen it! I was so sad when she closed the blog.) I looked at both of her recipes for her cupcakes, and adapted them. The frosting I took straight from her blog with no adaptations.
(Slight tangent: If you have a chance to browse Chockylit's recipes, I really recommend you do so! Chockylit is my cupcake inspiration! She has some creative recipes, and is always available to email back and forth about cupcake ideas. She once helped me in my search for the perfect fondant to fill Cadbury cream egg inspired cupcakes.)
Thai ice tea cupcakes
1 stick butter, to room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 packets instant thai ice tea with creamer and sugar in the mix
1 large egg, beaten
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
Step 1: Beat butter with a mixer on high speed.
Step 2: Add sugar and thai ice tea mix. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 3: Add egg, and mix for another minute.
Step 4: Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
Step 5: In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and vanilla.
Step 6: Slowly add flour mixture and milk mixture to the mixing bowl with the butter and sugar. Alternate between adding the flour mix and the milk mix.
Step 7: In a clean bowl, beat egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold egg whites into the cake batter, until incorporated.
Step 8: Scoop batter into cupcake pans.
Step 9: Bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool. Then ice with sweetened condensed milk frosting.
Sweetened Condensed Milk Buttercream Frosting
recipe by chockylit
1 stick butter
7 oz sweetened condensed milk
1-1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
Step 1: soften butter in the mixer on high speed
Step 2: sift confectioner’s sugar
Step 3: add sweetened condensed milk and about a half of the sugar to the butter and beat until combined
Step 4: add remaining confectioner’s sugar in stages until desired consistency is achieved
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Back in high school home economics class, I was partnered with Jess, Betsy, Marie, Nancy, and Jennifer. During the cooking portion of one of the classes, we decided to make chicken quesadillas. Somehow, Jess and Bets talked the rest of us into putting mango on the quesadillas. I was skeptical, but blown away when I tried them. The tangy, sweet mango really complemented the sharp and salty cheese and chicken. And I now marinade the chicken first in an acidic marinade that matches the acidity of the mango. I loved the combination of chicken and mangos, and still continue to use it. And not just in quesadillas!
Dinner for Monday 9/21
Chicken and mango quesadillas (inspired by Jess and Bets many, many years ago) this makes 4 servings
2 TBSP olive oil
1 ½ TBSP lime juice
¼ tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 TBSP white vinegar
2 TBSP chopped dried onion
¼ tsp oregano
½ tsp pepper
¼ TBSP paprika
1/4 cup water
1 chicken breast, in bite sized pieces
Half of a mango
1/2 cup shredded or grated reduced fat sharp cheddar
Oil for the pan
Step 1: Mix first twelve ingredients. Whisk to combine.
Step 2: Add chicken. Marinate for 30 minutes.
Step 3: Remove chicken from marinade and cook in lightly oiled sauté pan until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from pan and let rest.
Step 7: Top with a second tortilla. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until cheese melts and bottom tortilla becomes crispy. Flip the quesadilla over to crisp the other tortilla.
Step 8: Remove quesadilla from pan. Cut into wedges and serve with salsa (homemade is preferable, but we used Newman's Own)
Curried chicken salad wraps: For this dinner, I used some of the tortillas I made Monday and also the other 1/2 of the mango. This makes 4 servings
1 cup water
1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast halves, no more than 3/4-inch thick
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces romaine lettuce (about 5 cups lightly packed))
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
recipe adapted from Elie Krieger
Monday, September 21, 2009
This week’s meals:
Monday: Chicken and mango quesadillas
Tuesday: Curried chicken salad wraps
Wednesday: Broccoli chowder
Thursday: Baked falafel sandwiches
Friday: Homemade pizza – toppings to be decided
Saturday: Lentil tacos (frozen leftovers from four weeks ago)
I love tortillas. Tortillas are very flexible—they can be used in many different ways. But the yummy store bought tortillas have more saturated fat than I like since they are made with lard. Even the healthier wheat tortillas contain hard to pronounce unnatural ingredients. Therefore, I like to make my own tortillas. One of my mother’s patients gave me her recipe for tortillas, and I tweaked it to reduce the fat content and add whole wheat flour. They are tasty and healthy. I can make a large batch, and they last for at least a week.
So, today I made a bunch of tortillas. I used several in tonight’s dinner: chicken and mango quesadillas. I put the rest in a large freezer bag—they will be used throughout the week. In fact, they will be part of dinner on Tuesday and Saturday. And if I don’t have time to make pitas, they will be used in Thursday’s dinner as well. Any tortillas that are left over at the end off the week will be cut into wedges and baked as tortilla chips.
Healthier Tortillas – makes about 18 to 20 tortillas
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup milk
¼ cup water
Step 1: Mix dry ingredients.
Step 2: In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients.
Step 3: Gradually add wet ingredients to dry ingredients while stirring.
Step 4: Knead dough and work until smooth.
Step 5: Using a cookie scoop, form dough into balls. Let dough balls rest, covered for 5 minutes. (I like to mix the ingredients in a lidded bowl—it makes keeping the dough covered very easy.)
Step 6: Flatten with a tortilla press or roll out each dough ball with rolling pin to desired round shape.
Step 6a: Although not the most environmentally friendly way to roll out tortillas, using two sheets of plastic wrap helps a lot. Place one sheet of plastic wrap on your work surface, and sprinkle it with flour.
Step 6b: Place a ball of dough in the center of the plastic wrap. Sprinkle top of the dough with flour.
Step 6c: Place second sheet of plastic wrap on top of dough.
Step 6d: Keeping dough sandwiched between the plastic wrap, roll dough out with rolling pin.
Step 6e: Once the tortilla is the desired shape, carefully remove the plastic wrap and use the same plastic wrap sheets for the next tortilla.
Step 7: Cook on hot griddle or hot skillet. Cook for approximately 2 mintues (until lightly brown), flipping tortilla every 20 seconds. (If you cook the tortilla with out frequently flipping, the tortilla gets hard and dries out.)
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Today, autumn announced its arrival with a chilly, soggy morning. It was one of those mornings where you stay in bed, huddled under the toasty blankets. (In retrospect, I should have made hot tea or cocoa today.) These cold fall days bring out my lazy side since I don’t enjoy going outside in colder weather. So, in lieu of shopping for the groceries for the week, I stayed inside the warm house and vegetated. Sometimes you need a day to relax and take it easy. And that’s part of the reason for our dinner tonight. I decided to make a very easy dinner of salmon patties and spaghetti squash with herbs.
Salmon patties are new to me. My husband used to eat them when he was growing up, and he and his ex used to make them often for dinner. When I was growing up, we ate salmon with soy sauce or teriyaki sauce, but never in patties. So this is a new-to-me recipe that my husband gave to me. I admit that I’ve tweaked the recipe a little by adding fresh minced garlic and doubling the dill. I think both flavors complement the rich flavor of salmon. And after tasting the cooked patties, I was very glad for the garlic addition. I have to admit that, although I liked these enough to cook them again, salmon patties are not my favorite. I definitely prefer salmon marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil. But these were nice and savory.
1 can (6 or 7 oz) salmon
1 cup soft bread crumbs
3 TBSP finely minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 TBSP milk
½ tsp dried parsley
¼ tsp dried dill
½ TBSP lemon juice
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
Step 1: Drain salmon.
Step 2: Combine all ingredients.
Step 3: Shape into 4 patties that are approximately 1 inch thick
Step 4: Heat a lightly oiled pan over medium heat. Place patties in pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Serve warm.
Spaghetti squash with herbs: I love the sweet and nutty flavor of spaghetti squash. And I really don’t have a set recipe for spaghetti squash. I kind of throw in whatever spices I feel like. But I will try my best to explain how I make it.
1 spaghetti squash
Canola oil—for lightly oiling pan
Olive oil, to taste
Garlic, to taste
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Any other desired spices, to taste
Step 1: Thoroughly wash and then halve squash. Carefully scrape out seeds (I going to try saving and drying the seeds to plant next year).
Step 2: Place squash halves, with the cut side facing down, onto a lightly oiled pan. Using a knife or fork, pierce the skin of the squash in several places.
Step 3: Bake squash in 350 degree oven for one hour. Remove and let squash cool until it can easily be handled.
Step 4: Using a kitchen fork, gently scrape around the edge of the spaghetti squash to shred the pulp into strands.
Step 5: Scoop spaghetti squash strands into a lidded bowl. Add olive oil, herbs, and spices.
Step 6: Place lid on bowl, and shake bowl to mix contents. Once it is mixed, it is ready to serve.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Whole-wheat pizza dough
1 packet of active, quick rise yeast
1 TBSP sugar
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
2 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
2 ¼ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp salt
2 ½ TBSP olive oil
Step 1: Combine water, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl. Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it starts to foam.
Step 2: In food processor, mix flours, salt, and olive oil until combined.
Step 3: While processor is on, stream in the yeast mixture.
Step 4: Process until the dough forms a ball on the blade and pulls away from the wall of the bowl.
Step 5: Remove dough to large oiled bowl and cover. Let it rise in a warm area for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the dough has doubled.
Step 6: Punch down dough. Place dough on a floured surface and knead dough. Divide dough into equal pieces and roll into balls.
Step 7a: Cover any dough that is going to be used the same day that the dough is mixed. Place in the refrigerator for one to two hours.
Step 7b: Individually wrap with plastic wrap dough that is not going to be used soon. Place wrapped dough into a freezer bag and freeze until ready to use.
Step 8: Bring the dough to room temperature.
Step 9: On a floured surface, roll or stretch dough into about a 10 inch circle.
Step 10: Use dough with your favorite pizza recipe.
I've used this dough recipe for a long time, and I'm honestly not sure where I got it from. But I noticed that Jessica at Johnstone's Vin Blanc has a similar recipe.
White bean, basil, and sun-dried tomato pizza
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 (15 oz) can great northern or navy beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp dried oregano
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 ball of pizza dough
¾ cup shredded fresh basil leaves
½ cup shredded, reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
Step 1: Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Step 2: Place sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl or measuring cup and pour enough boiling water over them to cover. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain well, and chop into thin strips.
Step 3: Place beans, garlic, and oregano in food processor.
Step 4: Process until smooth.
Step 5: Roll out pizza dough. Place rolled out dough onto ungreased cookie sheet sprinkled with corn meal, or onto a pizza pan.
Step 6: Spread bean paste over surface of pizza crust.
Step 7: Sprinkle with sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and cheese.
Step 8: Bake in oven for 10 to 13 minutes, or until cheese is thoroughly melted.
Friday, September 18, 2009
¾ lbs lean ground turkey
½ cup chopped onions
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
½ cup frozen peas
½ cup diced potatoes
¼ tsp of cinnamon (I omit this since I’m allergic)
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp ginger
½ TBSP curry powder
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Step 1: Brown ground turkey in a pan with the onions.
Step 2: Add the tomatoes, peas, potatoes, and spices (including salt and pepper).
Step 3: Bring to simmer and cook for 25 minutes. Add water if it becomes too thick—it should have the consistency of chili.
Step 4: Serve over brown rice or whole wheat couscous.
Recipe courtesy of Sparkpeople.com and submitted by QuiltBugJ
It's not the most beautiful meal, but it's very hearty and delicious!
Project 1: New-to-me sewing machine
Last weekend, I met a very sweet couple outside in line at Cotton Babies. (They were having a large sale on reusable fabric diaper covers, bumGenius diapers, and people were practically camped out in line for these diapers! It was crazy!) Anyway, long story short, I quickly came to adore this couple. And when I mentioned that I like to sew, but no longer have a working sewing machine, the husband offered me his grandmother's old dressmaker machine. She rarely used it. And after she died, it accumulated dust in him mother's garage. They tried to sell it at a garage sale, but no one bought it. And so he offered it to me...for FREE! How awesome is that?! I admit, it's very dirty and needs to be oiled, but it works. I only see one minor repair need, and I can work around it for the time being. Today, I'm scrubbing the case and trying to remove all of the dust and dirt from the machine itself. It will be quite a task. Here's a before pic of the side. All that dark stuff is dust and dirt! Ew!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Spiced Chickpea "Nuts"
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed
1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
Step 1: Position oven rack in upper third of oven. Preheat oven to 450 degree.
Step 2: Blot chickpeas dry.
Step 3: Toss chickpeas in a bowl with oil, cumin, marjoram, allspice, and salt.
Step 4: Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake, stirring once or twice, until browned and crunchy (approximately 25 to 30 minutes).
Step 5: Let cool on baking sheet for 15 minutes.
Sounds so easy! And it sounds like a recipe that S will love!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
It took me a while to decide what/who to go as for Halloween, but I've now decided. I'm going as Karai, leader of the Foot Clan. I found the above picture of her at Freaky Gaming. I think the base of the costume should be easy: black leggings, black long sleeve shirt, and hood. I'll sew the hood myself, as soon as I get a new (to me), working sewing machine. The body armor, on the other hand, may be a bit tricky. I don't know what to use to make it. Cardboard and tape? Paper mache? I'll have to think about this...
As for S.'s costume: it's a secret. I'll post pics of it after I'm done with it!
Monday, September 14, 2009
Parmesan Crusted Tilapia -- Serves 2
2 tilapia fillets
2 TBSP breadcrumbs (preferably whole wheat)
2 TBSP grated parmesan cheese
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried parsley
½ tsp dried oregano
½ TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP skim milk
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Step 1: Defrost tilapia. Rinse fillets, then pat dry with paper towels or a clean dish towel.
Step 2: In a shallow dish, mix breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, basil, parsley, and oregano.
Step 3: In another shallow dish, quickly mix milk and lemon juice.
Step 4: Working quickly, so milk doesn’t separate, place fillets in the dish with the liquids. Be sure to get both sides coated in the liquid mixture. Season the fillets with salt and pepper as desired.
Step 5: Dredge the fillets in the breadcrumb/parmesan mixture. Coat well.
Step 6: Heat a small amount of extra virgin olive oil in a sauté pan. Add fillets and cook on both sides until they flake easily with a fork. Remove from heat and let rest a few minutes before serving. Serve warm.
Zucchini ribbon pasta – since I’m serving this as a side dish, I quartered the original recipe:
¼ pound fettuccini (see recipe below)
1 medium zucchini (I’m using a yellow squash)
2 tsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 TBSP parmesan cheese, plus ½ TBSP
1 TBSP finely minced parsley leaves (unfortunately, I have to use dried here)
¼ cup thinly sliced basil leaves
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp black pepper
Salt, to taste
Step 1: In a large pasta pot, cook pasta "al dente", 1 or 2 minutes less than the package instructions call for. Drain.
Step 2: Slice off ends of zucchini and discard. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a mandoline, or carefully with a sharp knife, slice zucchini into very thin (about 1/8-inch) slices, trying to keep some skin on each piece for color. Stack slices and cut in half lengthwise. Reserve zucchini ribbons in a large bowl.
Step 3: In the pasta pot, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat. Add garlic and cook until soft and translucent but not browned, about 1 minute.
Step 4: Add zucchini ribbons and 1 TBSP chicken broth, raise heat to medium-high and cook until zucchini is still somewhat firm but just cooked, about 3 minutes.
Step 5: Return pasta to pot and add remaining chicken stock; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until liquid has mostly absorbed into the pasta.
Step 6: Add 1 TBSP of the Parmesan, parsley, basil, red pepper flakes, black pepper and toss to combine. Season with salt, to taste.
Step 7: Serve garnished with basil and the remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese
Recipe adapted from Ellie Krieger
¾ cups whole-wheat flour
¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
A pinch of salt
2 TBSP water
1 TBSP olive oil
1 large egg
Step 1: Combine flours and salt in food processor. Pulse a few times to mix.
Step 2: In a separate bowl, whisk together water, oil, and egg.
Step 3: With food processor on, pour the liquids into the dry ingredients in a slow and steady stream.
Step 4: Stop processing when dough starts to pull away from the sides of the food processor.
Step 5: Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap, and let rest in refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.
Step 6: Roll out dough according to pasta roller’s directions.
**Note: This makes quite a bit of pasta, so I usually roll out the extra and let it dry, or roll it out, cook it, and freeze it for soups or casseroles.
Monday: Parmesan crusted tilapia and zucchini pasta
Tuesday: Keema with ground turkey
Wednesday: Honey mustard roasted chicken and veggies
Thursday: White bean, basil, and sun-dried tomato pizza
Friday: Salmon patties and baked potatoes
I wrapped the crockpot in two big, warm towels last night at about 9:30 p.m.
And when I woke up this morning, I had a big pot full of yogurt waiting for me! It firmed up quite nicely. I have to admit I was surprised that it worked so well. I even had some for breakfast with a little bit of homemade caramel sauce. Yum!
The rest, I put into an old yogurt container. My husband and I bought a lot of frozen strawberries in bulk for cheap, so he will be having strawberry and honey yogurt in his lunches!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
4 cups of milk (I used skim)
1/4 cup store-bought natural, live/active culture plain yogurt to use as a starter for your first batch (Dannon is a good brand)
frozen/fresh fruit or chocolate chips for flavoring
thick bath towel
This is an easy, but lengthy process. Be sure to set aside enough time to keep an eye on the yogurt.
Step 1: Plug in your crockpot, and turn to low. Add the milk. Cover and cook on low for 2-1/2 hours. Unplug your crockpot. Leave the cover on, and let it sit for 3 hours.
Step 2: When 3 hours have passed, scoop out 1 cups of the warmish milk and put it in a bowl. Whisk in 1/4 cup of store-bought live/active culture yogurt. Then dump the bowl contents back into the crockpot. Stir to combine.
Step 3: Put the lid back on your crockpot. Keep it unplugged, and wrap a heavy bath towel all the way around the crock for insulation. Let it sit for 8 hours.
Step 4: After 8 hours, it will have thickened, but will be runnier than store-bought yogurt. You can add powdered milk to thicken it a bit. Set aside 1/4 cup of plain yogurt as a starter for your next batch.
Step 5: Mix yogurt with honey and chocolate chips or fruit. Pack into containers and refrigerate for up to a week.
Tomorrow, I’ll update this with photos and give my review of the recipe and process.