Thursday, May 31, 2007

Foodie Blog Roll

Well, I'm an official foodie! lol ;) Here's the URL for the Foodie Blog Roll if you are interested in joining. There are TONS of blogs on there so I will be stopping by often to pick up some new ideas - always on the lookout for those. Enjoy!

To-Die-For Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are simply amazing... they never last long when I make them! I got the recipe from the book "Cookies Unlimited" by Nick Malgieri (he is the god of cookies!) I like to mix up the chips, using half and half milk chocolate and semisweet chocolate. If you like, you could do half butterscotch and half semisweet or half white choc and half semisweet. Whatever you like :)
You can also halve the weight of the chips and only put 1 cup/1/2 a bag in... but where's the fun in that?! :)

Here's the recipe; it will make about 35 cookies.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon (not in the original recipe so if you're not a fan, you can totally leave it out. I will add cinnamon to everything! Just adds a little extra to the cookies).
8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (throw it in the microwave for about 25-30 seconds to soften it)

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups (one 12-ounce bag) semisweet chocolate chips
**You can also add 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans if you would like. I have never tried this, but I do like nuts and chocolate together in cookies. This particular cookie is just so good without them - I figure why fix what's not broken?!**

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2-3 cookie sheets with parchment, foil, or a silicone baking mat (I'm a tree hugger so I save paper and use the baking mats!)

2. In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, cinnamon (optional), and baking soda; stir well to mix.

3. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until combined, then beat in the egg and vanilla, beating until smooth. Do not overmix.

4. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use to large rubber spatula to stir in the flour mixture. Stir in the chips and optional nuts.

5. Drop teaspoonfuls of the dough 2-3 inches apart on the prepared pans. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes (that is according to the recipe - mine only ever need 10 minutes. I'd recommend you check them after 10!), or until they are deep gold and firm.

6. Slide the papers or foil or baking mats off the pans onto racks. After the cookies have cooled, detach them from the pa
per/foil/mats and store them between sheets of parchment or wax paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting cover.

Malgieri, Nick (2000). Cookies Unlimited. HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.: New York, NY.

Hard-Boiled Eggs

So many people ask for a recipe, or more like method, for hard-boiled eggs. Here is how I make them.

Eggs (as many as you need, figure 1 per person)
A pinch of cream of tartar (only necessary if you have Teflon-coated pans - it prevents discoloration)
A little sprinkle of vinegar (regular old white vinegar works; you don't need anything fancy!)

Fill a saucepan 2/3 full of cold water. If you are using Teflon pans, now is the time to add that pinch of cream of tartar. Add as many eggs as you are cooking (they should not be crowded in the pan). Add 1 tsp. of salt and a little vinegar (the vinegar works to stop any cracks in the eggs - it seals them up). Bring the water to a rolling boil. Cover the pan, remove from the heat, and let the eggs sit in the hot water for about 15 minutes.

Drain off the hot water and immediately run the eggs under cold water. Peel at once. You can make these ahead - peel them immediately after cooking then store them in a covered glass or plastic container in the fridge for up to 4 days. They cannot be frozen.


It is so hard to beat a good, homemade cheesecake! This one is definitely a winner in our house; however, due to the massive fat content I don't make it very often... good in small doses :) This is just for a plain cheesecake. Feel free to dress it up with whatever you like. Some suggestions - fresh raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, chocolate shavings, sliced banana, or chopped nuts. I also like to make this special 4th of July cake - basic cheesecake base baked in a rectangle pan. Top it with whipped cream then use sliced strawberries and blueberries to create a replica of the US flag. It turns out so cute and always gets rave reviews. My parents make it but they use the fruit to make a replica of the Union Jack... lol ;) They are so bad!
This will make 12-16 servings.

1 3/4 cups crushed graham crackers
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (since they are going in the crust, I highly recommend using a food processor or coffee grinder to chop them!) These are optional so if you have an allergy or don't like nuts, leave them out
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened (you can use low- or non-fat to make this a little better for you)
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel (totally optional, I always like to throw it in)
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup milk

*Preheat oven to 375 degrees*

1. For crust, combine crushed graham crackers, walnuts, and cinnamon. Stir in melted butter. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of an 8- or 9-inch springform pan (springforms are your friend! They make it so easy to remove the cooked cake). Set pan aside.

2. For filling, in a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, vanilla, and if desired, lemon peel with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer (use paddle attachment) until combined. Add eggs and egg yolk all at once, beating on low speed just until combined. Stir in milk.

3. Pour filling into crust-lined pan. Place on a shallow baking pan in oven. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45-50 minutes for the 8-inch pan or 35-40 for the 9-inch pan, or until center appears nearly set when shaken.

4. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Loosen the crust from sides of pan and cool 30 minutes more. Remove the sides of the pan; cool cheesecake completely. Cover and chill at least 4 hours before serving.

Original recipe came from:
Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen (1996). Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. Meredith Publishing Group: Des Moines, IA.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Red Potatoes Singin' the Blues

Wow, had this a second time (ie: leftovers from last night) - it gets better with age!! Just be sure to wrap it up well. I would suggest not putting cheese on until the last minute so it doesn't go all weird.. Yum!!!
This is a slightly modified version of Bobby Flay's Grilled Red Potato Salad with Bacon-Blue Cheese Vinaigrette (I got the original recipe from Ashleighl on the Nest - thanks!! :) ) You can make this in advance - just don't add the parsley and cheese until the last minute. I served it with barbecued chicken but it would go well with sandwiches or anything off the grill.
***Breaking News Update!*** (lol, couldn't resist!)
Served these again for our dad's day BBQ... everyone LOVED them! My dad and father-in-law both have to watch their cholesterol intake so they had this salad sans cheese and said it was delicious! So, if you're not a blue cheese fan (or you're vegan), feel free to leave it out. You could even try this with a feta cheese... Needless to say, there were no leftovers the second time I made this!

This is probably enough to feed 4-6 people (depends on how much each person eats! There were only 2 of us and there are lots of leftovers! Yum!)

Blue Cheese Potato Salad
2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed
1/8 cup + 1/8 cup (separated) olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 red onion, chopped finely
1/8 cup plus 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar (does not need to be separated)
1/2 tbsp. sugar
1/8 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley (the flat-leaf stuff)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

1. Boil the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes until they are almost tender. Cut them in half.

2. Heat grill. Toss potatoes in 1/8 cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the potatoes cut-side down for about 3 minutes (I put them on the lower grill level - the grill marks looked great!). Turn them over and grill for another 2-3 minutes. Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl and let them cool off.

3. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a skillet. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add 1/8 cup olive oil, vinegar, and sugar. Cook until sugar is dissolved. Pour the onion mixture over the potatoes, add the parsley and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the potato salad onto plates and sprinkle with blue cheese.

Original recipe from

Happy Memorial Day!

**Ignore the holes! lol - those were my "testing it was done" holes.**

Just some photos of the red velvet cake I made over the holiday weekend for a BBQ. It was my first attempt at a red velvet - not a west coast kind of dessert! - and it came out wonderfully. Unfortunately, my attempt at cream cheese frosting was not so wonderful (maybe since I was trying to be "good" and used low fat..?) so hubby had to make an emergency Vons run on Sunday morning so I wouldn't be late to church (not that it would have mattered, I got to church and there was paramedic/fire truck drama and a baptism so it started late anyway)! lol, we ended up just throwing some Pillsbury tub frosting on it but it was still yummy. I'll try the cream cheese frosting again some other time. Recipe coming soon!

**The finished product - the red and blue things are sprinkles and star-shaped sprinkles (so cute!)**

Friday, May 25, 2007

Breakfast Smoothie

This makes a nice alternative to a bowl of cereal!

3 oz. plain yogurt (about 1/3 cup)
1 banana cut into chunks
3/4 cup strawberries or raspberries
1/16 cup milk
1/2 tsp. honey
1/4 cup ice

Really easy - just throw it all in the blender and mix until it's well-blended. Enjoy :)

Chocolate Martini

Are these not the most wonderful thing?! This will make one cocktail.

2 fluid ounces chocolate liqueur (like Godiva)
1 1/2 fluid ounces vodka (never tried it, but I wonder what they would be like with vanilla vodka?)

Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker, strain into a chilled glass.



Yummy! These are excellent with the Mahi-Mahi with Mojito Marinade.
Makes one drink - you will want to double, triple, quadruple, etc this recipe!

A few mint leaves
3/4 ounce lime juice
2 tsp. sugar syrup or simple syrup
1 1/2 ounces light rum
Soda water for topping up
Garnish with a sprig of mint - you can also rim the glass with sugar (dip rim in lime juice then in sugar).

Put the mint leaves in the glass and crush them (a wooden spoon works well for this). Add the lime juice and sugar syrup and stir. Add plenty of crushed ice and the rum; stir again. Top up with soda water.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Double-Chocolate Banana Bread

A little twist on the original banana bread idea. This will make one regular-sized loaf or about 16 slices. Great with a cup of coffee.

1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or applesauce)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 cups mashed bananas
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the bottom of an 8-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.

2. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, eggs, and oil (or applesauce) at medium speed until mixed (use an electric mixer or stand mixer). Beat in vanilla. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, and baking soda; beat into sugar mixture at low speed just until combined. Stir in bananas and chocolate chips.

3. Spoon batter into loaf pan. Bake 60-70 minutes. Cool 10 minutes then remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

The original recipe came from a copy of Cooking Pleasures Magazine which is published by the Cooking Club of America.

Banana Bread

To get the best banana flavour, always use the ripest ones you can find - they should be starting to turn dark. The nuts are optional but I always make it with nuts (unless, of course, someone who will be eating it has an allergy!)
Good news! So I just read in Self Magazine that walnuts act as a fat blocker (these quick breads are really fatty!)... all those Omega-3s in the nuts reverse the saturated fats (I never knew that.. thought they were just antioxidants). Yippee!!! So, if you're not allergic, the nuts are not optional!! lol

This makes one full-sized loaf/about 16 slices


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 egg

1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium-sized ones)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cooking oil (you can substitute 1/4 cup applesauce to make it a little lower fat)
1 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sid
es of an 8x4x2-inch loaf pan; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp. salt. Make a well in the center of dry mixture; set aside.

2. In another bowl, combine the egg, bananas, sugar, and cooking oil (or applesauce). Add egg mixture all at once to dry mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in nuts.

3. Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan; cool on rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing.

Original recipe was found in the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book.
Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen (1996). Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. Meredith Publishing Group: Des Moines, IA.

Red Wine Marinara Sauce for Pasta

This makes a wonderful meatless spaghetti sauce as well as a sauce for Chicken Parmesan, lasagna, and baked ziti. If you have family members (like my husband) who don't care for the carrots and celery, you can leave them out. The sauce is *almost* as good without them. :) I like to double the recipe and freeze the extra.

Makes 4 side-dish servings.

1 cup chopped onion (1 large onion)
1/2 cup chopped green sweet pepper
1/4 cup coarsely chopped carrot
1/4 cup sliced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups chopped, peeled tomatoes or one 14 1/2-ounce can of tomatoes
1/2 of a 6-ounce can tomato paste
2 tsp. snipped fresh basil or 3/4 tsp. dried basil, crushed
2 tsp. snipped fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1 tsp. snipped fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
1 tsp. snipped fresh marjoram or 1/4 tsp. dried marjoram, crushed
2 tsp. snipped fresh parsley or 3/4 tsp. dried parsley, crushed
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. sugar

1/4 cup dry red wine
Hot spaghetti or other pasta

1. In a large skillet cook onion, sweet pepper, carrot, celery, and garlic in hot oil until tender. Stir in fresh or undrained canned tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, parsley, the bay leaf, wine, sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. If necessary, uncover and simmer 10-15 minutes more or to desired consistency; stir occasionally.

2. Remove bay leaf and, if you're anything like me, add a little more wine and stir well.

This recipe is based on one found in the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book.
Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen (1996). Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. Meredith Publishing Group: Des Moines, IA.


I decided today (July 17) it has just been too long since I've made brownies! I had all the stuff I needed in the house so I decided to go for it. I actually found a bunch of new brownie recipes I want to try - amaretto brownies (I'd be making those now if I had almond paste!), mint brownies, some kind of raspberry and chocolate brownies... yum! I also need to try making some blondies very soon. Can't believe I've never done those.
Trying a little twist on my old stand-by recipe from below by adding in some chocolate chips (semi-sweet). I have a recipe which you can add walnuts to (1 cup) but hubby is not a huge nut fan so I'm just going to add 1 cup of chocolate chips to my recipe. Hopefully it will work the way I plan! :)

See below for an optional fudge glaze!

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour the bottom only of an 8- or 9-inch square pan.

2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

3. Blend in sugar and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in salt, baking powder, and flour. Pour mix into the prepared baking pan.

4. Bake 20-25 minutes until set in center (do not overbake). Allow it to cool on a wire rack. Spread with optional fudge glaze (see below), cut into squares, enjoy!

Fudge Glaze
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
3 tbsp. butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-3 tbsp. warm milk

Melt butter and chocolate in a small saucepan. Blend in sugar and vanilla with a wire whisk. Add enough milk to make a smooth, spreadable glaze.

Glazed Cranberry-Orange Mini Loaves

I have a 4-slot mini loaf pan from The Pampered Chef, which is where I found this recipe. These are great for brunches. Each slot on the mini-loaf pan holds about 1 1/2 cups... I'll have to play around with this recipe so it will work with a regular sized loaf pan.

Ingredients (makes four mini loaves)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. aluminium-free baking powder
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
1 orange
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp. milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray the bottom of the mini loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Chop pecans; add to batter bowl. Mix well and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, microwave butter on HIGH for 45-60 seconds until just melted. Zest orange to measure 1 tbsp zest. Juice orange to measure 1/4 cup juice. Add zest, juice, eggs, and milk to butter; whisk until combined. Add butter mixture to dry ingredients; mix just until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix. Gently stir cranberries into the batter.

3. Fill each well of the loaf pan with about 1 cup batter. Top batter with additional pecan halves if desired. Bake 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaves comes out clean and tops of loaves are golden brown. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves from pan; remove to cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

4. For glaze, mix powdered sugar and milk until smooth; drizzle evenly over cooled loaves.

Emergency Substitutions

These are from the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book - I use these all the time! Hope they are helpful to other people. These are just the most common ones, I'll keep adding to it.

*Baking powder, 1 tsp. - you can use 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar plus 1/4 tsp. baking soda.

*Bread crumbs (fine, dry), 1/4 cup - use 3/4 cup soft bread crumbs; 1/4 cup cracker crumbs; or 1/4 cup cornflake crumbs.

*Chocolate, semisweet, 1 ounce - use 3 tbsp. semisweet chocolate chips/pieces; or 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate plus 1 tbsp. granulated sugar.

*Chocolate, sweet, baking, 4 ounces - use 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 3 tbsp. vegetable shortening.

*Chocolate, unsweetened, 1 ounce - use 3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1 tbsp. cooking oil or melted vegetable shortening.

*Cornstarch, 1 tbsp. (for thickening) - use 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour.

*Corn syrup, 1 cup - use 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1/4 cup water.

*Egg, 1 whole - use 2 egg whites; 2 egg yolks; or 1/4 cup frozen egg product, thawed.

*Flour, cake, 1 cup - use 1 cup minus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour.

*Garlic, 1 clove - use 1/2 tsp. bottled minced garlic; or 1/8 tsp. garlic powder.

*Herb, snipped fresh, 1 tbsp. - use 1/2 to 1 tsp. dried herb, crushed.

*Honey, 1 cup - use 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar plus 1/4 cup water.

*Lemon juice, 1 tsp. - use 1/2 tsp. vinegar.

*Onion, chopped, 1 small (1/3 cup) - use 1 tsp. onion powder; or 1 tbsp. dried minced onion.

*Sour cream, dairy, 1 cup - use 1 cup plain yogurt.

*Sugar, granulated, 1 cup - 1 cup packed brown sugar; or 2 cups sifted powdered sugar.

*Tomato sauce, 2 cups - use 3/4 cup tomato paste plus 1 cup water.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Five Cup Salad

This is great for brunch or a BBQ dessert. It reminds me of the ambrosia salad we used to serve at the retirement home I worked at in high school! Really yummy...

1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 cup mandarin oranges
1 cup drained pineapple chunks
1 cup coconut
1 cup vanilla yogurt (you can substitute 1 cup sour cream for a not-so-sweet taste)

Gently mix all ingredients together. Serve cold.

Easy Birthday Cupcakes

Cupcakes are so versatile! Use these to celebrate any occasion - birthdays, showers, holidays, or just because it's Wednesday! :) These are as easy as the boxed mixes, but taste far better.

The recipe makes 24 cupcakes.

3 cups cake flour (you can substitute 3 cups minus 6 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour)
1 tsp. aluminium-free baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (you can substitute 1 1/4 tbsp. lemon juice or white vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 1/4 cups total - let stand 5 minutes before using; or sub 1 1/4 cups plain yogurt)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees

2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl until combined.

3. Whisk eggs and vanilla in a large bowl until well-blended. In a steady stream, pour sugar into eggs, whisking constantly.

4. Gradually whisk in melted butter, then add buttermilk.

5. Add 1/3 dry ingredients. Gently combine. Repeat twice with remaining dry ingredients. Stir until most lumps are gone but do not overmix!

6. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 with mix. Bake 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool about 1 hour before frosting.

**There are a couple simple frosting options available on this blog.**

Reduced-Fat Chocolate Frosting

This will make 2 cups. Feel free to double/half it as necessary.

4 tbsp. unsalted butter (cut into 4 pieces)
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. instant coffee crystals
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup skim milk

1. Melt butter and chocolate together until smooth. Stir in salt and coffee crystals until dissolved. Transfer to medium bowl and cool 10 minutes.

2. Whisk cocoa and sugar in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, gradually add cocoa mixture to melted chocolate mixture (use low speed). Gradually add milk, beating until milk is completely incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and creamy, about 1 minute.

Quick Vanilla Frosting

This recipe will make 4 cups - it can be halved or quartered to make the desired amount.

3 sticks unsalted butter (bring to room temperature)
3 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tbsp. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt

1. Using an electric mixer, beat butter in a large bowl until fluffy, about 30 seconds.

2. With mixer on low speed, add sugar 1 cup at a time, and mix to combine. Increase speed to high and beat until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute.

3. Reduce speed to medium-low and add milk, vanilla, and salt. Increase speed to high and beat until fluffy, 30 more seconds.

Vegan Frosting - chocolate and white

No cute pictures on this one, sorry! ;)

Here are some icing options for those "chocolate" cupcakes.

*White vegan icing
1/4 cup margarine
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp. soy milk
1 tsp extract (vanilla, lemon, mint, almond...)

In a food processor, blender, or medium bowl, mix margarine and 1 cup sugar. Add remaining sugar alternatively with milk, mixing until smooth. Stir in extract until light and spreadable.

*Chocolate vegan icing
1 cup cold water
5 tbsp. flour
1 cup powdered sugar or other dry sweetener
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 tbsp. margarine (make sure it is animal-free; no eggs or dairy - Earth Balance or Smart Balance are two widely-available brands)
3 tbsp. cocoa powder

1. In a small saucepan, whisk together the water and flour constantly over medium heat until thick.

2. Remove from heat and cool completely by setting the pot in a slightly larger pan of cold water.

3. In a medium bowl, mix sweetener/sugar, vanilla, margarine, and cocoa powder until well mixed. Add cooled flour mixture and stir together until there are no lumps. Let cool for 30-60 minutes before using.

This recipe came from one of two books (sorry, I do not own the books so I'm not sure which one I copied them from). Here are the references for both:
Barnard, Tanya and Kramer, Sarah (2003). The Garden of Vegan: How It All Vegan Again! Arsenal Pulp Press: Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
Barnard, Tanya and Kramer, Sarah (2001). How It All Vegan!: Irresistible Recipes for an Animal-Free Diet. Arsenal Pulp Press: Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

Vegan Charming Chocolate Cupcakes

lol that's my nephew. :) His mom (my sister) is vegan and I got this recipe from one of her books.

This recipe makes about 15-18 cupcakes (the original recipe said it made 6 - um, I got way more batter than that! The batter is really tasty, though! lol!)
These cupcakes really are tasty! I made them for my sister and brother-in-law as a surprise Christmas treat. They are very light and fluffy and taste a lot like a chocolate gingerbread (all the molasses!)

1 cup molasses
1 cup soy milk or other non-dairy milk
2 cups carob chips
6 tbsp. cooking oil (you can substitute 6 tbsp. applesauce for the oil - less fat)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Whisk molasses, chips, and 1/2 cup soy milk in a small saucepan. Cook on medium heat until chips have melted, stirring constantly.

3. Add oil, vanilla, and cornstarch and stir until well mixed. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. In a medium bowl, sift flower and baking soda together. Add remaining milk and "chocolate" mixture and stir.

5. Spoon into cupcake liners and bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

This recipe came from one of two books (sorry, I do not own the books so I'm not sure which one I copied them from). Here are the references for both:
Barnard, Tanya and Kramer, Sarah (2003). The Garden of Vegan: How It All Vegan Again! Arsenal Pulp Press: Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
Barnard, Tanya and Kramer, Sarah (2001). How It All Vegan!: Irresistible Recipes for an Animal-Free Diet. Arsenal Pulp Press: Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

So much better-tasting than the packaged stuff (and probably quite a bit better for you!)

This will make 1 oz. worth of seasoning.

3 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Just brown your meat then add this to the skillet. Cook about 5 minutes longer until meat is fully cooked through. Serve in warm tortillas with any toppings you desire. I like guacamole (see the recipe in this blog for homemade!), salsa, sour cream, Monterey-Jack cheese, and lettuce.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Raspberry Dessert Sauce

Just in time for Memorial Day Barbecues! This is wonderful drizzled over angel food cake, ice cream or sorbet, fresh cut fruit or berries, or chocolate cake.
This sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

This recipe will make 1 cup of sauce.

2 cups fresh raspberries (two half-pints) or 1 12-oz package of frozen raspberries, thawed (see thawing instructions below)
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Place ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Place a fine textured sieve over a bowl and pour in a little of the puree. Using a rubber spatula, push the sauce through the sieve to remove the seeds. Repeat with remaining puree.
Taste sauce (my favorite part!) and add a little more confectioners' sugar if desired.

Thawing instructions:
Thaw frozen raspberries (leave them in the package) in a large bowl of hot tap water for 10-15 minutes before pureeing. You can also thaw them overnight in the refrigerator.

Peach Cobbler

Great summer classic. Enjoy with vanilla ice-cream or thick whipped cream (the real stuff, not Cool Whip!)
My parents have a huge garden (and green thumbs, which apparently are not genetic! lol) so I was able to get a ton of great organic peaches (they have grown all their stuff organically for as long as I can remember). They have a large crop this year and have been begging me to take some! Since I just made homemade vanilla ice cream last week, I decided to make a cobbler (nice and easy!) which we can have for dessert with that great ice cream... yum!

3 cups sliced fresh peaches
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

1 egg, beaten
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Place peaches on bottom of a 10"x6"x2" baking pan; sprinkle with lemon juice.

3. Sift together the dry ingredients into a medium bowl; add egg. Toss until crumbly then sprinkle over peaches. Drizzle with m
elted butter.

4. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly and browned. Serve warm.

Chocolate-Kahlua Souffles

Looking for a rich, decadent chocolate dessert? This one is sure to be a winner! Definitely worth trying - even if the souffles sink, they still taste really good! :)

This recipe makes 2 souffles.


4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp. Kahlua liqueur
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp. sugar, divided
3 egg whites
Powdered sugar to decorate

1. Grease 2 (10 oz.) ramekins with butter; sprinkle with sugar. Wipe top 1/4 inch of ramekins to provide surface for souffles to cling to.

2. Place 13x9-inch baking pan half-filled with water on bottom oven rack. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

3. Place chocolate and Kahlua in heat-proof medium bowl. Bring 1 inch water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Place bowl with chocolate and Kahlua mix over water (bowl should not touch water). Let stand until melted, stirring occasionally.

4. In med. bowl, whisk egg yolks and 1 tbsp. sugar until mix thickens and turns light yellow. In large bowl, beat egg whites and remaining sugar at medium-high speed until stiff, but not dry, peaks form.

5. Slowly stir chocolate mix into egg yolk mixture. Stir in 1/3 of the egg white mixture. Gently fold in remaining egg white mixture. Spoon mixture into ramekins; place on baking sheet.

6. Bake 13-16 minutes or until souffles have risen and sides feel slightly firm. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with fresh berries (strawberries/raspberries).

This recipe was found in the following book:
Kirsch, Abigail and Greenberg, Susan M. (1996). The Bride and Groom's First Cookbook. Broadway Books: New York, NY.

Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots

These sweet little carrots are excellent with the Grilled Chicken with Honey and Rosemary recipe.

This is enough for 4 servings.

1 small bag of peeled baby carrots (I usually just grab as many as I think would be enough for the amount of people I'm feeding! You may not need a whole bag).
1 tbsp. margarine or butter
1 tbsp. brown sugar

1. In a medium saucepan cook carrots, covered, in a small amount of boiling water 8-10 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and remove from pan.

2. In the same saucepan combine margarine or butter and brown sugar. Stir over medium heat until combined. Add carrots. Cook, uncovered, about 2 minutes or until glazed, stirring frequently.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

These are some of my favorite cookies! They taste very similar to one of those chewy granola bars which only pass for "healthy" because they have granola in the name...! There are so many combinations of goodies that you can use for this recipe - be sure to check out the modifications section at the bottom. The first recipe is for my favorite way to make them - Oatmeal, chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and walnuts.

This will make about 60 cookies (I usually half the recipe. However; they can be frozen so feel free to make them all!)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 cups rolled oats (regular oatmeal)
1 tsp. cinnamon
16 tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (you can use light brown sugar if necessary)
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
4 ounces (about 1 cup) coarsely chopped walnut pieces
1 cup (1 6-oz bag) semisweet chocolate chips

3 or 4 cookie sheets or jelly roll pans covered with parchment paper or foil (or one of those silicone baking mats - not sure how I lived without mine!)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, oatmeal, and cinnamon. Stir to mix well.

3. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until well mixed, about a minute. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition, then beat in the vanilla.

4. Lower the mixer speed and beat in the flour and oatmeal mixture, then add the raisins, nuts, and chips. I also like to give it a final mix by hand.

5. Drop teaspoons of the batter about 3-4 inches apart (they really don't spread much) on the prepared pans. Flatten the mounds with the back of a fork.

6. Bake the cookies for 12-13 minutes (the original recipe says 15-20; I only give mine 12-13... be sure to check on them!) or until they spread and color evenly and become firm.

7. Slide the papers off the pans onto racks.

8. After the cookies have cooled, detach them from the paper and store them between sheets of parchment or wax paper in a plastic container with a tight-fitting cover. If you'd like to freeze them, just place them in freezer-safe zipper bags, remove the air, and seal tightly.

*My husband does not really care for dried fruit or nuts in cookies so I just make oatmeal-chocolate chip for him. If you want to make 60 of these cookies, just make sure you add a total of 3 1/2 cups of chocolate chips. The rest of the above ingredients remain the same. For 30 cookies (I usually make 30 of his and 30 of the above recipe), you will need 1 3/4 cups of the chips. Half the rest of the above ingredients. You can also use these to make a plain oatmeal-raisin cookie.

*Try substituting pecans for the walnuts. I've also thought about trying almonds in these.

*Instead of the dried cranberries, you can use dark raisins or golden raisins. The fruit is really a preference thing. I think the cranberries add a nice tang which balances well with all the sweet flavors. You could even mix 1/2 cranberries and 1/2 raisins.

*Really, you can use any combination of raisins/cranberries, chocolate chips, and nuts. If you are making 60 cookies, just be sure to add in 3 1/2 cups total of the chips/fruits/nuts. For 30 cookies, use 1 3/4 cups (I like to use 1/2 cup nuts, 1/2 cup cranberries/raisins, and 5/8 cup chocolate chips - that's 1/2 + 1/8 cup for those of you who don't like math!)

*Be creative and try your own combinations! :)

Another great one from Nick Malgieri!
Malgieri, Nick (2000). Cookies Unlimited. HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.: New York, NY.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Homemade Guacamole

Pico de gallo (basically this recipe minus the avocado - makes a great, mild substitute for salsa)

With Memorial Day and Independence Day just around the corner, I am trying to post as many summer recipes as I can think of! I live for BBQ season!
Here's my own guacamole recipe. Quick and easy to make and much tastier than the store-bought variety (probably a lot cheaper, too!) If you leave out the avocadoes, this recipe also makes pico de gallo which is a tasty (mild) salsa alternative. Great on salads, tacos, as a dip for tortilla chips, etc.

This will make 8 servings (just enough for a fam
ily BBQ or picnic).

2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped (to seed tomatoes, try cutting them in half then squeezing each half over the disposal unit until the seeds pop out).
1 onion, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
3 tbsp. lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
2 avocadoes, chopped

Mix all ingredients up to salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour. After the hour has passed, gently stir in the avocadoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
You can make this as spicy as you like by adding some chopped and seeded jalapeno.

!Muy Delicioso! ;)

Jack Daniel's BBQ Sauce

I'm not a fan of J.D. at all so when we were given a big bottle of it, I had to go in search of some use for it! I found this online and just tweaked it a bit to my liking. It's an easy-to-make sauce and it's extremely tasty - do not be scared away by the long ingredient list!

If you'd like to make this recipe vegetarian or vegan, please substitute soy sauce (the lower sodium stuff is great!) or vegetarian Worcestershire (I like The Wizard's brand) for the Worcestershire sauce (Worcestershire has anchovies in it...) Other than that I'm *pretty sure* this recipe is ok for vegans. Please feel free to comment if I'm wrong!

This recipe makes 4 cups (read, a lot!) However, this sauce does freeze quite well. I make a big batch (usually half this recipe) and then divide it up into 2-person portions in freezer baggies. Just pull it out and re-heat when needed.

1/2 large onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup Jack Daniel's whiskey
2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce (Wizard brand is vegetarian)
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup molasses
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/3 tsp. Tabasco Sauce

1. Combine onion, garlic, and Jack Daniel's in a saucepan. Saute until onion and garlic are translucent (about 10 minutes).

2. Add all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a medium simmer. Simmer 20 minutes, stirring constantly. Run sauce through a fine strainer to remove the garlic and onion bits.

This sauce is excellent on chicken and salmon. I don't eat red meat, but I am sure it would be a great topping for a steak or burger. For the salmon, I like to let my salmon pieces sit in a little Jack Daniel's for about 10 minutes (refrigerated). Any longer and the fish starts to break apart! Top with the BBQ sauce and grill it as you would normally grill a piece of salmon (med. heat - gas - about 8-10 mins, turning once).
For chicken, I just brush the chicken with the sauce on both sides and grill as usual.
Probably good on steak, too, but I don't eat red meat so I can't really talk about that! I am planning on making this with a steak for the hubby soon, I'll let you know what he thinks!
Shrimp? Maybe! If you try it on shrimp, comment on how you like it :)