Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cookies 'n Cream Cake

This is definitely a special occassion cake. We made it for a visit from family. It's delicious and worth every calorie!

For the cake:
2 cups sugar
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

For the filling:
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
1/8 cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
10 chocolate sandwich cookies, chopped

For the frosting:
½ cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350°. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

To make the filling, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat on low speed until all sugar is incorporated; increase speed to high and whisk until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in chopped cookie pieces with a rubber spatula.

To make the frosting, melt the butter in a medium bowl. Stir in the cocoa. Alternately add confectioners’ sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cardboard cake circle. Pipe a ring of the chocolate frosting around the outside edge of the cake. Fill the area inside the ring of frosting with a thick layer of the cookies and cream mixture. Place the second cake layer on top. Frost the sides of the cake layers with chocolate frosting. Pipe a decorative border of the chocolate frosting on top of the cake. Fill the area inside this border with a thick layer of the cookies and cream mixture. Garnish with extra chocolate sandwich cookies and whipped cream if desired.

-Adapted from Hershey’s (cake and frosting), filling adapted from Thyme for Food, and the blog, Annie's Eats

Baked Oatmeal

This is a very simple recipe that can easily be adjusted to fit your tastes. I added a teaspoon of peanut butter to my portion and it was delicious.

2 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup dried fruit (I used cranberries.)
1 tablespoon chopped nuts (I used almonds.)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
1/2 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine the milk, applesauce, butter, and egg. Add milk mixture to oat mixture; stir well. Pour oat mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

-Adapted from Cooking Light

Crumb-Topped Penne

8 ounces penne pasta
1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups soft French breadcrumbs, lightly toasted (homemade)
3 to 4 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions; drain, reserving 1/3 cup pasta water. Toss cooked pasta with reserved pasta water; cool slightly. Stir in cheese. Spoon pasta mixture into a greased oval gratin dish or other shallow small baking dish.

Combine breadcrumbs and melted butter; toss gently. Sprinkle over pasta. Broil 5 1/2" from heat 1 minute or until lightly browned. Serve hot.

--Adapted from Southern Living magazine

English Muffin Strata with Sausage and Cheese

6 English muffins, split
Cooking spray
1 lb fresh country sausage
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
2 1/2 cups milk
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of ground red pepper or Tabasco sauce
5 large eggs

Brown and crumble sausage. Drain.

Cut each muffin half into 6 wedges. Arrange half of muffin wedges in bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with sausage. Sprinkle with half of cheese. Arrange remaining muffin wedges over cheese. Top with remaining cheese.

Combine milk and the remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk until blended. Pour milk mixture over muffin mixture. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325°.

Uncover strata and bake at 325° for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Bourbon Carrots

3 cups water
1 1/2 pounds baby carrots
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon
Garnish: chopped fresh parsley

Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan; add carrots, granulated sugar, and salt. Return to a boil, and cook 5 minutes or until carrots are tender.

Melt butter and brown sugar in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in carrots, and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes or until well coated. Add bourbon, and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 more minutes. Garnish, if desired.

--Adapted from Southern Living magazine

Potato and Scallion Latkes

4 1/2 cups shredded peeled baking potato (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Combine potato and onions; squeeze moisture from potato mixture over a sieve. Combine potato mixture, flour, salt, and egg whites in a large bowl. Divide mixture into 12 equal portions, and squeeze out any remaining liquid. Discard liquid. Shape each portion into a 1/4-inch-thick patty.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 6 patties to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until golden. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 6 patties.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Salmon Skewers with Lemon-Parsley Pesto

This recipe works just as well in the oven. Place salmon skewers on a broiler pan in a 450 degree oven for 5 minutes. You also also make the pesto with dried herbs. They'll need a few minutes and a little extra lemon juice to rehydrate. When using dried, use half as much.

1/2 cup (2 ounces) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup capers, drained
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
2 1/2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil, divided
2 pounds skinless, boneless salmon fillets, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
4 cups hot cooked orzo
Parsley sprigs (optional)
Lemon wedges (optional)

Prepare grill.

Combine first 7 ingredients in a food processor. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to herb mixture; process until smooth, scraping sides. Set aside.

Thread fish evenly on each of 16 skewers. Brush fish with remaining 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Arrange skewers on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 1 minute on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from grill, and keep warm.

Combine orzo and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss well. Place 1/2 cup orzo on each of 8 plates; arrange 2 skewers on each plate. Top each serving with about 1 tablespoon herb mixture. Garnish with parsley sprigs and lemon wedges, if desired.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Roast Beef and Spicy Slaw Wraps

3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded pepper jack cheese
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
1/4 cup thinly sliced celery
3 (10-inch) flour tortillas
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli roast beef

Combine pepper jack cheese, horseradish, mayonnaise, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Combine 1 tablespoon cheese mixture, vinegar, honey, and garlic in a medium bowl. Add 1/4 teaspoon pepper, cabbage, and celery.

Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spread remaining cheese mixture evenly over tortillas. Divide beef and cabbage mixture evenly among tortillas; roll up. Cut each rolled tortilla in half crosswise.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Beef Bourguignonne with Egg Noodles

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 1/4 pounds beef stew meat
1 cup sliced carrot
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 (14-ounce) can less-sodium beef broth
6 cups halved mushrooms (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
7 cups hot cooked medium egg noodles (about 6 cups uncooked noodles)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Combine flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add beef; seal and shake to coat.

Cook half of beef mixture in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove beef from pan; cover and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining beef mixture. Remove beef from pan; cover and keep warm.

Add sliced carrot, and minced garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in red wine and broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add beef, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, mushrooms, tomato paste, chopped thyme, and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes. Uncover and cook 1 hour or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaves. Serve beef mixture over noodles; sprinkle with parsley.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Friday, March 6, 2009

Asian Beef Noodle Salad

1 (3.75-ounce) package bean threads (cellophane noodles) or ramen noodles
8 ounces sliced deli roast beef, cut lengthwise into thin strips
1 cup snow peas, trimmed and cut lengthwise into thin strips
1/2 cup julienne-cut carrot
1/2 cup low-sodium teriyaki sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
2 teaspoons chile paste with garlic
1/2 teaspoon bottled fresh ground ginger (such as Spice World)
6 cups torn spinach
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Cook noodles per package instructions.

Combine beef, snow peas, and carrot in a microwave-safe bowl. Combine the teriyaki sauce and the next 4 ingredients (teriyaki sauce through ginger), and pour over beef mixture. Microwave at high for 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Add the noodles; toss well. Serve over spinach. Sprinkle with cilantro.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Ham and Cheese Hash Browns

3 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup drained canned quartered artichoke hearts, chopped
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3 ounces smoked ham, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Combine potatoes and chicken broth in a 1-quart microwave-safe casserole. Cover with lid, and microwave at HIGH 12 minutes, stirring after 6 minutes.

Uncover dish. Stir in 1/2 cup artichoke hearts, green onions, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and ham. Sprinkle with cheese. Microwave, uncovered, at HIGH 1 minute.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sugar 'n Spice Fruit Dip

This is a great alternative to the traditional cream cheese fruit dips.

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar or honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg
1 1/3 cups vanilla low-fat yogurt

Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in small bowl. Stir in yogurt.

Serve with fresh fruit.

From Betty Crocker's Quick & Easy Cookbook

Raspberry Linzer Cookies

These were originally going to be window pane cookies until I realized that I didn't have the appropriate cookie cutters. They ultimately became jelly drop cookies.

2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
2 teaspoons powdered sugar

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, stirring well with a whisk.

Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until light and fluffy. Add egg substitute; beat until well blended. Beating at low speed, gradually add flour mixture; beat just until a soft dough forms. Divide dough into 2 equal portions, and wrap each dough portion in plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375°. Roll each dough portion into a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut with a 2-inch square cookie cutter with fluted edges to form 32 cookies. Repeat procedure with remaining dough portion. Place cookies 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Cut out centers of 32 cookies with a 1-inch square cookie cutter with fluted edges. Bake cookies at 375° for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on pans 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

Spread center of each whole cookie with about 1/2 teaspoon jam. Sprinkle cut-out cookies with powdered sugar. Place 1 cut-out cookie on top of each whole cookie.

Yields about 32 sandwich cookies.
From the Cooking Light website

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

This is a great fall or winter recipe for a weekend morning with your coffee.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling, canned pumpkin works well)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together first four dry ingredients (flour through baking soda). Mix pumpkin, oil, eggs, milk and spices together, then combine with the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add chocolate chips.

Pour into lined muffin tin. Bake for 20 minutes.

Adapted from the website, The Nest and the blog, the Savory Notebook

Chocolate Cupcakes

This is super easy, and it has a nice chocolate flavor that isn't overwhelming.

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tip with liners.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Beat eggs, milk, oil and vanilla in a separate bowl on medium speed of mixer for 2 minutes. Add in sugar and flour mixture. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).

Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. (I actually poured the batter into a batter bowl and poured the batter into the muffin tin.) Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. Makes about 30 cupcakes.

From the Hershey's Website and the blog, Annie's Eats

Molasses Spice Cookies


2 1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground 5-spice
1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1/3 c. packed dark brown sugar
1/3 c. granulated sugar, plus 1/2 c. for rolling
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup molasses

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line large baking sheet with parchment.

In medium bowl whisk flour, baking soda, spices, pepper and salt. Either by hand or with electric mixer, beat the butter with brown sugar and 1/3 c. granulated sugar at medium high speed until light and fluffy (about 3 min.) Reduce speed to medium low and add yolk and vanilla, increase speed and beat until incorporated (about 20 seconds). Reduce speed and add molasses beat until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping the bottom and sides once with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to lowest setting and add flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, scraping the bowl once. Give the dough a final stir by hand to ensure no flour pockets at bottom. (dough will be soft).

Place 1/2 c. sugar in shallow bowl for rolling. Roll a heaping Tbsp. of dough into scant ball. Drop ball in sugar and roll to coat. Set on prepared baking sheet at least 2 inches apart.

Bake about 11 min. (cookies will "crack", edges are puffy and inside of cracks look raw). Do not overbake. Cool on baking sheet ofor 5 mins. and trasfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.

Adapted from the blog, Good Things Catered and America's Test Kitchen