Monday, June 29, 2009

Layered Ice Cream Cake

Remember our guest Amy? Amy of the Mediterranean Layered Dip? This is another recipe that came to us through her. She made it for us last summer on vacation, and we think about it constantly, because as you know, we think about ice cream constantly. This year, I made it for Noah's birthday party, and true to form, it was a hit! It looks like it would be very involved, but it isn't! It goes together in a snap. Everyone will be very impressed, I promise.

So fun! So refreshing! So fat-free! Okay, we lied on that last caught us. But it's worth it (boy, is it ever!), so go ahead and tell yourself that it's good for you. We won't ruin your little fantasy!

Layered Ice Cream Cake

15 Oreos
1 tbsp. milk
8-9 ice cream sandwiches
1 pint mint chocolate chip ice cream
1 pint strawberry ice cream or frozen yogurt
1 pint vanilla frozen yogurt
8 oz. whipped cream

Start by coating the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the sides with waxed paper, using the spray to help adhere it to the pan. Trim the waxed paper to height of pan.

Finely crush 12 of the cookies in a food processor. Add milk, and pulse just until the mixture holds together. Set aside. Unwrap 4 ice cream sandwiches. Working quickly, cut each into quarters by cutting first lengthwise, and then across the width. Stack the strips of sandwiches on end, packing them snugly together, around the perimeter of the wax paper lined pan. (See above picture for a visual!) Repeat with remaining sandwiches to form a stand-up edge. Now, spoon the cookie crumbs into the center of the pan and press them firmly into the bottom to form a crust. Freeze for one hour.

Time to add the ice cream!! Now, it should be noted that although the recipe here calls for 3 specific flavors of ice cream, you should feel free to wing know how we feel about that! For instance, I am not a fan of mint chocolate chip, so I might substitute chocolate. Do whatever tickles your fancy! Now take the three wonderful flavors you've chosen from the freezer and let them soften for 15 minutes at room temperature.

Transfer each flavor of ice cream to it's own small bowl and stir until it reaches a good, but firm stirring consistency. Remove the pan from the freezer, and spread your choice of ice cream on the bottom, followed by the next two flavors, spreading each layer level. Top with whipped cream, swirling decoratively. Crush the remaining three Oreos and sprinkle them over the cake. Return it to the freezer, and freeze overnight.

To serve, remove the sides of the springform pan, pulling off the waxed paper as you do so. Cut into wedges and enjoy this wonderfully refreshing treat!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Peanut Butter Balls

Since we got peanut butter on the brain after the Tasting Party, we thought this was the perfect time to talk about peanut butter balls. They are quick and easy and kids love them! Of course, as with most things in the kitchen, you can play around and get creative with the basic recipe and do whatever you want.

In the balls pictured up above, we used the Earth Balance Peanut Butter that was recently honored at the Peanut Butter Tasting Party along with Agave, one of our new best friends. Also, instead of using an entire cup of powdered milk, we used half milk and half protein powder just to add a little something in the way of extra protein and nutrients. Cascadian Farm Organic Purely O's was our choice of
cereal today, because it contains no sugar and still tastes great - a winning combination in our book!

As far as how much cereal to use, I swear it depends on the day, the hour, and the minute you make them. I don't know, maybe the weather or the moon cycle or planet alignment has something to do with it, but from day to day, I never know how much cereal I'm going to need. It all comes down to the peanut butter and honey/agave and how well the cereal incorporates itself within that "dough". As you slowly pour the cereal into the mixing bowl, just keep an eye on how well the peanut butter grabs it and pulls it in. You don't want a bunch of O's flying around the bowl unable to stick to the dough. Remember, you have to be able to form little balls with this stuff, so start with 1-1/2 cups, keep your eye on the prize and make a judgement call when it comes to quantity.

Deep, deep, deep in my heart, I believe there's a connection between whether you choose agave or honey and how much cereal you will use. The half cup honey will give you more sticking power, so you will probably use more cereal and the mere three tablespoons of agave is probably going to stick less, so less cereal would be used. It's just a theory, but I'm sticking with it.....

Peanut Butter Balls

1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
2 Tablespoons Butter
3 Tablespoons Agave OR 1/2 Cup Honey
One Cup Powdered Milk
1-1/2 Cups Purely O's/Oatios/Cherrios
One Teaspoon Vanilla

Heat butter and honey or agave in pan until warm and thinned. Remove from heat. Drop your powdered milk, peanut butter, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and mix well. Add the warmed butter honey/agave to the mix and beat until it forms a sort of dough. Add cereal until well coated. Form into small balls, or BIG balls - whichever you want!

Eat immediately!

Or later!

Or both!

Just Have Fun!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Nutty Butter Tasting!

"So what are you up to this weekend?"

It's a common question exchanged between friends on any given Wednesday or Thursday. It's summer, so a typical response might be "yardwork, family parties, neighborhood cookouts, festivals, kid's baseball games", etc. But it's not everyday you get to tell someone you're going to a Peanut Butter Tasting Party. Just two weeks ago, that's exactly what I did.

Sadly, Jen could not attend this Tasting party because it turned out to be the one day that worked best to see her father, because he would be unavailable on Father's Day. And since family always comes first, she had to forgo the Peanut Butter Tasting....sad for us.....


Carrie was our fabulous host this month and that crazy girl bought enough Peanut Butter and Chocolate to make a whole school full of children happy! I believe Carrie said that once she walked down the aisle of Whole Foods and started grabbing jars off the shelves, she just couldn't stop herself. And THEN she noticed you could churn your own fresh peanut butter, so of course, she reasoned that we must try them all!

So we did! We tried....

Crazy Richard's 100% Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
Joseph's Sugar Free Crunchy Valencia Peanut Butter
Earth Balance Natural Peanut Butter with Flaxseed-Creamy
365 Organic-Unsweetened Crunchy Soynut Butter (peanut free)
Fresh Ground: Honey Roasted Peanut Butter
Fresh Ground: Organic Dry Roasted Peanut Butter
Fresh Ground: Unsalted Cashew Butter
Fresh Ground: Dry Roasted Almond Butter
Fresh Ground: Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

Patty contributed to the party by bringing one of her favorites....

We tested these peanut butters on spoons, crackers, celery, apples, and of course chocolate. The opinions varied greatly from one peanut butter to another in regards to which tasted better on what. Some liked one better with the cracker, while others thought it tasted best with the apple. As shocking as it may sound, from one butter to the next, everyone seemed to agree that they all tasted great with chocolate.

Which peanut butter was the winner, you ask?

Well, that honor belongs to the Freshly Ground Honey Roasted Peanut Butter, ground so fabulously by Carrie herself. It was the unanimous favorite - hands down. The sweet taste of honey paired with the roasted toasted nuts made for an irresistible combination that tasted great with everything from the spoon to the celery, and of course, the chocolate.

Second place went to Earth Balance Natural Peanut Butter with Flaxseed. Everybody agreed that this was simply a smooth, great tasting peanut butter. The fact that it had the awesome nutritional benefits of the Flaxseed Oil and the fabulous natural sweetener Agave in it were two big bonuses to the already great peanut butter flavor. This is the perfect everyday butter to buy for you and your family. Most likely, you can find this in the health food section of your local grocery store.

Crazy Richards 100% Natural Peanut Butter (pictured at the tippy top) that contained peanuts and NOTHING else was our third favorite. Because there was no sweetener added, all you tasted was pure peanuts - nothing else. There was something refreshing about that.

Shelly, a newbie to the Food Tasting Parties, who had only eaten Jif up until this day, found that not only did she really like the three peanut butters honored above, but she really took a liking to the the Almond Butter as well. She liked it so much she tried to smuggle it home in her purse. KIDDING! Carrie did send it home with her as a sort of parting gift though. In fact, we all got to take one of our favorites home.

That is except for the Fresh Ground Chocolate Hazelnut Butter. Guess who got to keep that one? Yep - Carrie, the hostess! Actually, as much as we all loved that one and decided it was in a league of it's own and more like a dessert-type delicacy, we thought it only fair that our wonderful host get to pig out on that one. But let me tell you, that Chocolate Hazelnut was truly divine!

Only one Peanut Butter got the literal two thumbs down, twisted face reaction, and quick as lightening rejection. That would be the Soynut Butter. Talk about Yuk! Blaaah! Not even the chocolate could save that one and trust me, we tried. Chocolate is a powerful and wonderful thing that God from up above, has given us to keep us content until it's time to meet him again in heaven, but even something that powerful could not save the Soynut Butter from it's awful flavor.

The Cashew and Almond Butter are common substitutes for peanut butter for health reasons and even though we appreciated the flavor, it did not taste like peanut butter. However, the cashew and almond butter, and even the Sunbutter Patty brought - made from Sunflower Seeds - can be interchanged with peanut butter if you start when your kids are young. The Sunbutter is good for anyone needing to avoid all tree nuts. If your children are used to the distinct peanut butter flavor, they might pick up on the difference, but many children like it just the same. Sometimes, it's nice to shake things up a bit!

Enough about Peanut Butter!

Next Party.....TOMATOES!!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Quinoa Pancakes with Apples

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and they're talking about something they've done or some place they've been and you think to yourself, "My gosh, I haven't done that or been there for so long?..." And when the conversation ends and you go your separate ways, you're left thinking about it and trying to remember why it's been so long that you've done that thing or gone to that place - you liked it so much - what happened?

Well, I myself was conversing the other week with a friend about food and making good choices and she started gushing about Quinoa and how much she loved it. Of course, she respectfully uses the correct pronunciation, Keen Wa while I insist in my head that it's Qui No A. I know she is right and I am wrong, but my pronunciation feels right. Anyway.....the reason she was gushing over this grain is because it's high in protein, gluten-free, and high in fiber. It's got it all, including a mild nutty flavor. This is definitely one of those superstar grains to incorporate into your healthy diet.

Shortly after our inspired conversation, I made a bee-line for the store and bought myself some of this great grain. When I got home I had to decide what to do with it. Pancakes were the first thing I thought of, so I started mixing things together that I thought might work to create a healthy, but tasty cake. Since Quinoa has a distinct nutty flavor, I reasoned that nuts go fabulously with apples and what goes better with apples than cinnamon - nothing! I added Flaxmeal because it is super healthy for you and a little nutty as well. Long story somewhat shorter, I dumped all of this together and made a perfectly, palatable pancake - "Toot Toot"! - me tooting my own horn.

Tooting your own horn when you've discovered a new fabulous recipe or created one of your own is a great way to keep the creative energy alive in the kitchen. You could pat yourself on the back for a job well done, but a playful "Toot Toot" with the arm motion is so much more fun!

ou have two options here that I can see. One: Do as the recipe says and add the sugar to the pancakes, BUT skip the maple syrup once they're stacked pile high on your plate or Two: Skip the sugar in the batter and save the sugar for the syrup. Of course, my vision for these apple cakes is the sugar in the batter and eating the pancakes plain, because their flavor is so wonderful. You could be a superhero and skip the sugar altogether! Go ahead - I challenge you - but I couldn't do it and I'm okay with that.

This recipe makes about eight good-sized pancakes that are nice and filling. If you're making this for the family, doubling it would be a must. OR, you could double it and place the remaining batter in the fridge and use it over the next couple days. That's what I do! With a single recipe I make one or two pancakes as part of my breakfast, so this batter can last for a few days. It's a great reason to wake up in the morning!

Quinoa Pancakes with Apples

3/4 Cup Oat Flour ( or regular flour)
1/4 Cup Quinoa Flour
2 Tablespoons Sugar
One Tablespoon Flax Meal
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/8 - 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil or Melted Butter
3/4 Cup Milk
One Egg
One Apple Finely Chopped
One Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Dash of Cinnamon

Mix all the dry ingredients together and then add all the wet ones - Simple. Stir until incorporated.

Cook 'em up!

Eat 'em up!


Happy Father's Day

to all the loved Dads out there, especially OUR dads, Tom and Larry!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Red Pepper Roast

There is NOTHING better than driving into your garage, stepping out of the car, and having the sweet aroma of the dinner you prepared hours ago envelope all your senses. When it's been a long day and you open the door to the wonderful smell of a meal already prepared, a little wave of joy passes right through you because you know that you are one vegetable and one grain away from sitting down and chowing down! That's joy!

If you make the sauce the night before, the next morning all you have to do is sear the steak and drop it in the crockpot. Go work or go play, and then come home to a delicious and savory roast.

This recipe was originally designed for the grill - which we love - but instead of standing over a grill for 4 hours, we opted for the unattended crockpot version and we were not disappointed! If you're interested in the grilling idea, check out Weber's Big Book of Grilling. Everything in it is Gold Medal stuff.

Red Pepper Roast

For the Rub:
One Tablespoon Paprika
One Tablespoon Sugar
2 Teaspoons Crushed Garlic
2 Teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
One Teaspoon Chili Powder

For the Sauce:
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
One Cup Finely Diced Red Onion
One Cup Finely Diced Red Pepper
2 Teaspoons Minced Garlic
One Tablespoon Flour
One Tablespoon Chili Powder
One Can (14-1/2 ounces) Beef Broth
One Can (14-1/2 ounces) Diced Tomatoes with juice
1/2 Cup Barbecue Sauce

One Chuck Roast - about 3 pounds

To Make the Rub:
In a small bowl combine the rub ingredients. Press the rub into the roast and let sit for at least 20-30 minutes or overnight in the fridge. Sear each side of the roast for a few minutes on the grill or in a heated skillet.

To Make the Sauce:
In a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle in the flour and chili powder and stir to distribute evenly. Add the beef broth and bring to a boil over high heat, whisking occasionally. Add the tomatoes and barbecue sauce. Stir to combine. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is the consistency of gravy, about 30 minutes.

You can make this sauce a day or two ahead of time if you want. Whenever you decide to cook this, sear your roast. Then place a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of a crockpot. Lie the roast on top. Pour the rest of the sauce over the roast, covering it the best you can. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or 6-9 hours on low until the meat falls apart easily.

If the sauce doesn't thicken up to your liking, mix a heaping tablespoon of cornstarch with a 1/4 cup of lukewarm water until dissolved. Pour into sauce and whisk until integrated.

Serve plain, over rice, with potatoes, with some spaghetti squash (from a previous post), or on a bun. Whatever makes you happy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Impossible Pie

I don't where to begin with this fabulous deelish dish.

Do you like coconut?

Doesn't matter. You'll like this.

You don't normally eat pie for breakfast?

Doesn't matter. You will now.


My mother made this for us when we were kids, only she never served it as a dessert, but rather as a custard for breakfast. My mom was a firm believer in eating a hearty breakfast - the kind that included oatmeal, brown rice, yogurt, eggs, whole grain toast, AND Impossible Pie.

In my mom's eye, this was a custard with eggs, milk, butter, and coconut - which totally fits the bill for breakfast. I should add that she always cut the sugar to at least half and having this "pie" for breakfast was considered special - not an everyday affair.

Why is it called Impossible Pie? Our family has always reasoned that it's because it's impossible to mess up. We have made it with every type of flour - brown rice, oat, wheat, etc. We have made it with every sort of milk - soy, rice, kefir, etc. No matter how creative we get, it still bakes up in the oven looking beautiful and tasting pretty.

But through the magic of the internet and the wealth of information that swirls within it, I have learned that an Impossible Pie - of any flavor - is given that name when the baked dish conveniently bakes its own crust. It's a like a little miracle in the oven - all the ingredients intertwining perfectly to create a crust on the bottom, while special ingredients float to the top. Super easy and super tasty - just the way we like it!

Now, as for the coconut itself, I have never made this for a NON-coconut lover that did not like it. I am not a big fan of the coconut myself, but I do love this dish. If you can convince the anti-coconut eater in your life - and we all have one of those in our life, don't we - to try it, they will be pleasantly surprised. And of course, the very best coconut to use is the dessicated (dried) variety, that is unsweetened. Many NON-coconut lovers prefer the dessicated kind over the drippy, sticky, sugar-laden coconut.

This is the perfect breakfast for those out-of-town guests that spend the night. The heavenly aroma it releases while baking will awaken even the sleepiest of sleepers from their slumber.

IF you loooove coconut and think a true dessert pie with the coconut sounds wonderful, just follow the recipe below, but double the sugar. You'll have yourself one tasty coconut custard pie.

Impossible Pie

One Cup Milk
4 Tablespoons Melted Butter
2 Eggs well beaten
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Flour ( I use Oat)
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
One Cup Shredded Coconut

Mix all ingredients together until combined. Pour into pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Spaghetti Squash

I think I've said it before, but it bears repeating...we LOVE pasta! However, sometimes pasta feels a little too heavy in the summer months, don't you think? And moreover, wouldn't it be great if pasta had more health benefits? Like maybe if it were a vegetable???

Well, if you've ever found yourself thinking that, then we're glad you stopped by today! If you've never tried spaghetti squash (also known as calabash squash or vegetable spaghetti), you're in for a real treat. It's easy to prepare and is low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Niacin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium and Manganese, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber and Vitamin C. Not only that, there's an added bonus: your kids will eat it!!

We've experimented with a few different recipes, and we can honestly say that we've loved them all, but for us, simplicity is key. We like the very basic flavor of the squash, enhanced with just a few simple ingredients, so here we'll feature three very simple ways to make this easy and healthy dish!

Start by picking out the perfect sized spaghetti squash. Don't know what it looks like? Check out this link for a photo....

Spaghetti Squash #1

Slice it in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash on a baking sheet, skin down. Take 2 oz. of unsalted butter and cut it into 1 oz. pats, putting one pat on each half of the squash. Sprinkle with 2 oz. brown sugar, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool slightly. Now for the fun part! Take a fork and rake it along the length of the squash. Look how the squash turns into noodles! The kids LOVE this part! Then take some fresh basil and finely chop it before sprinkling it over the top. Delicious!

Spaghetti Squash #2

Do everything the same as above, but when you're finished scooping out the squash "noodles", top with your favorite spaghetti sauce and Parmesan cheese. So yummy, fun, and the kids might even find this to be sneaky! It just might be your new way to make spaghetti!

Spaghetti Squash #3

1 spaghetti squash
4 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp salt/pepper mix

Split the squash lengthwise. Season each half with all of the ingredients listed above. Roast skin-side down for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender, but not mushy. Remove it from the oven, and use your fork to rake out the squash. Now, get the following ingredients ready!

3/4 c. squash
2 tbsp. butter
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/4 tsp. salt & pepper mix
1/2 tsp. parsley

Saute the squash in the garlic and butter, being careful to use low heat so the garlic won't brown and turn bitter. Now, season it with parsley, salt, and pepper and serve! DELICIOUS!!

Now run, don't walk! Get to the grocery and find yourself a beautiful spaghetti squash for dinner tonight!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Upside-down Berry Cornmeal Cake

Oh yes, you read that says cornmeal cake. We know it sounds weird, but as we've all been shown at one time or another, it's usually the things that sound weird that taste the best! Do you think that's because the flavors are unexpected? We sure do. We first tried this recipe last summer, when we were spending one of many Sunday nights cooking out and looking for something different to try. I had seen in it BHG and thought it had possibilities...and when I showed it to Sheri, she raised an eyebrow at me and said, "Really...cornmeal in a cake? Hmmmm." Always up for trying something new, we dove right in. And we were not disappointed. Not in the least!

Trust us, folks...this is something worth trying. It's simple, yet elegant enough to serve to guests or take to a cookout. Everyone will be asking for the recipe, and you will be the star of the show!

Upside-down Berry Cornmeal Cake

2 - 2 1/2 c. fresh blueberries, raspberries, and/or blackberries
1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. cornmeal
1 Tbsp finely snipped fresh basil
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. sugar
2/3 c. milk
1/3 c. canola oil
fresh basil and/or mint (opt)

Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease 8" round cake pan, line bottom with parchment paper, grease. Arrange with 1-1/2 c. mixed berries in bottom of the pan; set aside. In bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, basil, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, milk, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir until combined; pour over berries. Spread evenly. Bake 40-45 minutes or until pick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in cake pan 5 minutes. Run knife around edge of pan to loosen sides. Invert. Remove parchment paper. Top with remaining berries, basil and mint.

*For extra sweetness, whisk together 1/3 c. powdered sugar, 2 tsp milk, and 1 tsp lemon juice. Lightly brush on warm cake.

We did that last step, and it does not add a whole lot of sweetness, which is good. This cake is quite light and doesn't need it. Hope you all enjoy it...we certainly did!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pesto Lasagna

Any Pesto lovers out there?


Fresh basil, delicate pine nuts, rich Parmesan Cheese, and smooth olive oil. What's not to like? This is one of those recipes that I stumbled across and said to myself, "Why didn't I think of that?"

Pesto + Lasagna = Delicious!

Just think, if you were having people over for dinner, you could prepare this a day or two before. When it came time to grill up some steaks, fish, or chicken - whatever is on the menu - your pasta is all ready to go. You've got to love that.

Pesto Lasagna

Tomato Sauce
4 Garlic Cloves, Minced
2 Onions, Chopped
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
28 Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
Salt to taste

One Cup Fresh Basil
1/2 Cup Pine Nuts
1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan
1/3 Cup Olive Oil

Bechamel Sauce
3 Tablespoons Butter
1/4 Cup Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Cups Milk

8-10 Lasagna Noodles
3 Cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

To Make Tomato Sauce:
Saute garlic and onion in oil until softened. Add tomatoes and salt. Cook until thickened. Set aside.

To Make Pesto Sauce:
Puree all the ingredients in food processor. Set aside.

To Make Bechamel Sauce:
Melt butter, add flour and seasonings and stir for a few minutes. Add milk, stirring constantly. Cook slowly until thickened.

To Make Lasagna:
Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain, plunge into cold water and set aside. Ladle 1/3 of bechamel sauce into bottom of a 9x13" pan. Then layer pasta, tomato sauce, cheese and pesto. Repeat layers and finish with grated Parmesan. Sprinkle dried basil on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

This lasagna tastes great the next day too. And the next day. And the next day........

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Veggies with a Touch of Orzo

Jen and I love pasta, but it's probably not something we should live on. Even though in a perfect world, Alfredo would be a life sustaining food. I think most of us know that a healthy meal usually involves a good protein with lots of vegetables. Only sometimes, depending on the protein - say a fish - the meal can feel a little too light, so I find myself rationalizing that carbs are energy and we can ALL use a little more energy, so sprinkling a bit of carbs into the mix will give the whole world more energy! When I lie to myself like this, I find myself reaching for the orzo, because in my make-believe world IT IS rice.

When I first dreamt up this dish, I envisioned it as a vegetable recipe, but I convinced myself that if a few little orzos were peaking out between the veggies, that wouldn't be such a bad thing. Psychologically, I would feel proud of myself for eating all the vegetables and emotionally, I would feel soothed by the tiny specks of pasta I had not been denied. And so I call this recipe, Veggies with a Touch of Orzo.

This dish can be created in the short time it takes to cook orzo, because by the time the veggers have been lightly sauted and you've added the few remaining ingredients, the orzo is cooked and ready to be mixed with the vegetables. It's quick, it's easy, it's colorful, and it tastes deeee-lightful.

Veggies with a Touch of Orzo

One Medium Zucchini
One Yellow Pepper
One Large Tomato
1/4 - 1/2 Cup Minced Red Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/8 Teaspoon Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon of Dried Basil
3/4 Cup to One Cup Orzo Pasta
One Tablespoon of Salted Butter
2-3 Tablespoons of Light Cream
1/3 Cup of Asiago or Parmesan or Gouda or.......Cheese

Bring a pan of water to a boil. Pour orzo in the water and cook until al dente. Drain.

Heat olive oil in a wok or saute pan over medium heat. Cut zucchini and yellow pepper into pieces and add to the oil. Cover, but stir occasionally for a couple minutes. Add the garlic and onion and continue to cook until lightly softened. Keeping it covered will help keep the moisture in the pan and produce the necessary juices to make a simple, but savory sauce.

Meanwhile, cut the tomato and remove any pulp. Cut into pieces. Set aside.

When the vegetables have softened but are still firm, add the salt, pepper, and basil. Then add the tablespoon of butter and cream to create a light sauce. Remove from heat.

Add the drained orzo to the pan and mix together. Toss in the tomato. ( I choose to add the tomato after the cooking process because I think it makes it more refreshing and light compared to a cooked down tomato). Finely grate whatever cheese you've chosen and fold into the mix. Add a touch more cream and a dash of salt if necessary to create a smooth and tasty sauce - but don't go crazy! We just want enough to wet the ingredients, we don't want anything swimming or taking a bath in the sauce.

Serve with grated cheese on top because everybody loves cheese!

This dish tastes great when served immediately. It's fresh and flavorful and alive. Of course, as it sits and cools, it's still totally edible. Totally!


I labeled this under "Winging It" because I really don't use a recipe for this. You could change up the vegetables, but using a moisture-rich vegetable like zucchini and onion helps create juice for your sauce, so less cream is needed. I add salt, pepper, and cheese as I taste necessary, to get a light but mild flavored dish. So, play around with the vegetables, spices, and cheese and create for yourself a new and exciting dish every time!

Just Have Fun Winging It!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rhubarb & Strawberry Crumble

What we have here folks is a perfect summer dessert! On Memorial Day weekend, we were looking for something scrumptious, but quick and easy to go along with our fabulous barbecued chicken and this fit the bill. Pulled from our favorite cookbook, Best of Bridge, it sounded like there was no way we would be disappointed, and we weren't! I mean, really...who can resist rhubarb, much less mixed with strawberries AND topped with homemade vanilla ice cream??? NOT US!! That much we know for sure!

Rhubarb & Strawberry Crumble


3/4 cup pecans halves, toasted
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, softened


4 cups rhubarb, cut into 1" pieces
2 cups sliced strawberries
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup sugar

Let's make the topping first, shall we? Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and place them in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Remove and let cool. Coarsely chop the nuts and set them aside. Stir together the flour, brown sugar, orange zest and nutmeg. Add the flour mixture to the softened butter and mix with a fork to form a crumbly mixture; add pecans and stir into mixture until evenly distributed.

Now, it's time for the filling! Place the cut fruit in an 8"x11" casserole or shallow baking dish, add flour and sugar and toss until well mixed. Sprinkle with topping and bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until top is golden. Cool for 10 minutes and serve with vanilla ice cream, of course!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chocolate Ganache Tart with Lemon

Is there someone in your life that you love?

Not just someone you love, but someone you Loooooove. You know, the ooey, gooey, dopey kind of love? The kind Jen has with Barry and the kind I plan to have someday with my own version of Prince Charming. I ask, because this isn't a dessert you would make for just anybody that you love- it's gotta be dopey love.

I say this because although it's not a difficult recipe, the process has several steps - steps that you take and then you wait. Take another step, then wait. Another step, wait again.

And since waiting is not something I do well, I found myself muttering the words, "This better be worth it" somewhere around step number three.

I love oil paintings! I don't do oil paintings because it involves painting a little and waiting alot. Painting a little, waiting alot. I like to paint with acrylics because I can work and work and work and finish in the same day. Of course acrylic is no match for oil when it comes to breathtaking art, but I can't make myself endure the process, so I only paint mediocre acrylics.

This dessert is my oil painting. It was easy to make and it did not take as much time as I complain about, but I myself, would most likely reserve this chocolate delicacy for a man I felt the dopey kind of love for.

Wouldn't it be ironic if my prince didn't like chocolate? It's possible I would never make this recipe again. Actually, that's not possible because my version of Prince Charming loves chocolate almost as much as I do. Actually, he's probably in a little chocolatier shop in Italy right now, buying chocolate for me, only he doesn't know it's for me....yet!


Not long ago, on a beautiful spring day I was perusing a cookbook that was all about lemons - because I AM a lemon junkie - and I discovered about 20 new desserts that I would have to try before I died and they all starred the almighty lemon. But this particular recipe was special, because it intertwined lemon with my other great love - chocolate!

This little tart, it turns out, is well worth the time and patience required to create it. It's flavor is simply exquisite and I hope to make it again real soon....if you know what I mean.

Chocolate Ganache Tart with Lemon

3 Large Egg Yolks
1/2 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Confectioners' Sugar
2 Tablespoons Whole Unblanched Almonds
3/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
Pinch of Salt
5 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
One Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Tablespoons Finely Grated lemon Zest
8 Ounces Semisweet Chocolate, chopped
2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice

Stir together one egg yolk and the vanilla in a small bowl. Process the sugar and almonds in a food processor until the almonds are finely ground. Add the flour and salt and process just until blended. Add the butter and pulse just until the mixture begins to come together when a small bit is pressed between your fingers. Do not overprocess; the mixture should not form a ball. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 2 days.


Butter the bottom and side of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to an 11-inch circle. Transfer to the prepared pan and press in the dough with your fingertips to evenly line the side and bottom of the pan. Trim the edge. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Refrigerate for at least one hour.


At least 25 minutes before baking, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the pastry shell for15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.


Bring the cream and the zest to a boil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand, covered, for ten minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat.

Whisk the remaining 2 egg yolks in a medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the cream mixture to the yolks, whisking constantly until combined well. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens and leaves a path on the back of a wooden spoon when a finger is drawn across it; do not allow the mixture to boil.

Whisk the cream mixture and the lemon juice into the chocolate. Pour the mixture through a strainer into a 4-cup glass measure and whisk until completely smooth. Cool the chocolate mixture to room temperature.


Pour the chocolate mixture into the pastry shell and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight, until set and thoroughly chilled.


Let the tart stand at room temperature for 30 minutes - WAITING AGAIN! - before cutting into thin wedges and serving. Sift a light layer of cocoa powder on top if desired.

After serving this delicious tart to your dopey love, prepare yourself to receive a big ol' sloppy kiss, because that AND MORE is sure to be in your very near future!