Thursday, May 31, 2007

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Rice Krispies

so my 2 favorite treats are chocolate and rice krispies. so why not combine them? i went to some At Home America party (think Pampered Chef, but home decorating) last nite and we were all asked to bring something with chocolate. so ben and i made this up and really, really, really love them. YUM. i'm trying not to eat them all so ben can have some more when he comes home. . . so far i'm doing good. :)

anyways, the recipe (mainly so i don't forget it!):

7 cups Rice Krispies (i found out walmart's generic brand does work - yea!)
16 oz. bag of marshmellows
2 T. butter
6 T. cocoa powder
4 T. sugar
1/2 c. PB

Melt the butter and marshmellows in a large pot. When just about all melted, but with some lumps still there, add the cocoa, sugar, and PB. Melt all the way until smooth. Dump in the Rice Krispies and stir. Then eat from the bowl. Or if you are obligated to take it somewhere, spray a 9x13 with Pam and then dump it out - spray Pam on hands to spread evenly around.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Orzo Salad

4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
2 cups shredded chicken
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups red and yellow teardrop tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 3/4 cup Red Wine Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Pour the broth into a heavy large saucepan. Cover the pan and bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Stir in the orzo. Cover partially and cook until the orzo is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes. Drain the orzo through a strainer. Transfer the orzo to a large wide bowl and toss until the orzo cools slightly. Set aside to cool completely.

Toss the orzo with the shredded chicken, beans, tomatoes, onion, basil, mint, and enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper, and serve at room temperature. Toss the salad with the Vinaigrette just before serving. If you do it too far ahead the Vinaigrette soaks into the pasta.

Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Mix the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running, gradually blend in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with more salt and pepper, if desired.
Yield: 1 3/4 cups

Note: I have substituted the garbanzo beans for black or cannelli beans. You can get creative and mix and match just about anything. Try artichoke hearts, mozzarella or feta cheese, corn, cucumber or broccoli as just a few suggestions. Really the sky is the limit. This is a great BBQ side salad.

Serves : 6 - Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis, Food Network

Homemade Hamburger Buns

3 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour, plus more as necessary
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast, such as rapid-rise or bread machine yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 1/3 cups room-temperature water
1 teaspoon mild honey, such as clover
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup toasted mixed seeds, such as cracked flax, sesame, poppy, sunflower and pumpkin, or 1 tablespoon sesame seeds for the topping (optional)
Milk or water, for brushing the tops of the buns (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, whole-wheat flour and yeast, then the salt. Add the water, honey and oil. Using a mixer with a dough hook on medium speed, or by hand, knead the dough for 7 minutes (10 minutes by hand) until smooth and springy. The dough should be soft and just sticky enough to cling slightly to your fingers. If it is still very sticky, knead in a little flour. (I had to add TONS of extra flour. Not sure if that's due to the extreme humidity in the DC area or not, but just fyi.) If it is too stiff, spray it with a little water and knead it. Allow the dough to rest, covered, for 20 minutes and then knead in the seeds, if desired.

Set the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and lightly spray or oil the top of the dough. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot. Allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour or until it has doubled. (The indentation from a finger stuck into the center of the dough should remain.)

If you plan to bake the hamburger buns the next day, press down the dough and place it in a large, oiled resealable plastic food storage bag, leaving a tiny bit unzipped for the forming gas to escape, and refrigerate it. Take it out of the refrigerator about 1 hour before shaping.

When ready to shape the dough, set it on a very lightly floured work surface and form it into a log. With a sharp knife, divide it into 8 equal pieces. (I think you could actually get 10 buns. As written, the 8 buns are really large.) Shape each piece into a ball by cupping your hand over the dough and rotating it. It works best if you use only as much flour as you need to keep the dough from sticking. A little resistance helps to form a round ball. Keep the balls of dough covered with damp paper towels to prevent drying; allow them to rest for 5 minutes.

Transfer the dough balls to a parchment-lined baking sheet or inverted sheet pan, leaving enough space between them to allow for a 4-inch bun. Flatten the balls to a height of about 1 inch. (If the dough is very elastic, you can flatten them again after 15 minutes of rising.) If using the sesame seeds, brush the dough lightly with milk or water and sprinkle with the seeds. Cover the balls with a large inverted plastic box or with plastic wrap lightly coated with baking spray, and allow them to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until almost doubled; when the dough is pressed gently with a finger, the depression should very slowly fill in.

While the dough is rising, set the oven rack toward the bottom of the oven and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it. Set a cast-iron skillet or heavy baking pan (I used a regular jelly roll pan) on the floor of the oven or on the lowest shelf. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees for 45 minutes or longer.

Mist the dough with water, quickly but gently set the baking sheet (the one with the buns) on the hot stone or hot baking sheet, and toss 1/2 cup of ice cubes into the pan beneath (the jelly roll pan). Immediately shut the door and bake 15 minutes. Rotate the pan front to back and bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until the buns are golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. (An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will read 200 to 210 degrees.) Transfer the buns to wire racks until they are completely cool or barely warm.

Per bun: 293 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 47 grams of carbohydrates.

Chuck and I thought these turned out great. Certainly a lot more work than just buying them at Giant, but also a lot more fun.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Molten Lava Cakes

6 (1-ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate
2 (1-ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 large eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Grease 6 (6-ounce) Ramekins or custard cups.

Melt the chocolates and butter in the microwave, or in a double boiler. Add the flour and sugar to chocolate mixture. Stir in the eggs and yolks until smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Divide the batter evenly among the custard cups. Place in the oven and bake for 14 minutes. The edges should be firm but the center will be runny. Run a knife around the edges to loosen and invert onto dessert plates. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Add a mint leaf for garnish if desired.
Note: Instead of Chocolate Squares I use 60% Chocolate Chips and it works out absolutely perfect.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dixie's Blueberry Trifle

1 frozen prepared pound cake (16 oz.)
2 lemons
1 1/2 c. milk
1 container sour cream (8 oz.)
1 container frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided
2 packages (3.4 oz.) lemon instant pudding and pie filling
1 pint blueberries
1 square (1 oz.) baking white chocolate

1. Cut the pound cake into 1-inch cubes; place in large colander bowl. Zest one lemon, set aside. Juice same lemon. Sprinkle lemon juice over pound cake cubes, toss gently.

2. Combine milk, sour cream, half of the whipped topping and reserved lemon zest; whisk until smooth. Add pudding mix; whisk until mixture begins to thicken.

3. Set aside 10 blueberries for garnish. To assemble the trifle, place 1/3 of the cake cubes into the bottom of a 10-cup serving bowl. Top with 1/3 of the blueberries. Grate 1/4 of the white chocolate over blueberries. Top with 1/3 of the pudding mixture, spreading evenly. Repeat layers two more times. Reserve remaining chocolate for garnish.

4. Fill remaining whipped topping in an icing decorator. Pipe 10 rosettas around edge of serving bowl. Score remaining lemon lengthwise; slice lemon into slices. Cut each slice in half and place between rosettas. Place one reserved blueberry on each rosetta. Grate remaining chocolate in center. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.

Notes for emily: I love this well - as well as my parents, Ben, and my kids. YUM. My mother made it up for us for Mothers' Day. How nice.

Here are some notes from Dixie: "I added more milk to thin the pudding, it was too stiff. Ialso cheated as I had only 1 lemon pudding, so I used 1 lemon and one white chocolate with some lemon juice drops!" It was still delicious.

Of course my mom didn't do the rosettas, I assumed she just spread the whipped topping and then "decorated" it with the lemons, blueberries, and white chocolate.

Cornmeal Cherry Cookies

1 c. flour
1/2 c. cornmeal (if don’t have, just use flour)
1/2 t. baking powder
1/8 t. salt
6 T. butter at room temperature
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 t. freshly grated orange zest
1/4 c. dried cherries or cranberries, finely chopped

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla, egg, and orange zest. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat until just combined. Stir in fruit.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface; pat into a log, 8 inches long and 2 inches wide. Wrap dough in parchment; form it into a rectangle by flattening the top and sides with your hands. Twist ends of parchment to seal. Refrigerate until firm, at least one hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350º. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Slice dough 1/4-inch thick, rotating log one quarter turn after each slice. Place 1/2 inch apart on baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until cookies are firm to the touch 10-14 minutes. Cool cookies on a wire rack. Store in airtight containers at room temperature up to 1 week.

Note: I really like these because you can make the dough and then just refrigerate until you are ready to bake. I once had company coming and made these in advance and left them in the fridge until we wanted cookies. But then I didn't have to be away from my guests for a long period of time as they cookies were just ready to be sliced and baked. Plus, they're good!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Couscous with Dried Currants and Almonds

1/2 cup almond slivers
2 T. olive oil
2 T. onion, white finely diced
2 T. celery, ribbed and finely diced
2 T. red bell pepper, finely diced
1 1/4 c. liquid: water or low sodium chicken/vegetable stock
1/2 c. dried currants (any dried fruit will work)
1 c. couscous, plain
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

  1. Toast the almond slivers by placing them on a parchment lined baking sheet in the oven (325). When you begin to smell the aroma of nuts, they should be ready.
  2. To make the couscous, sweat the onions, celery and bell pepper in the oil until soft.
  3. Add the liquid and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the couscous, currants and almonds to the boiling liquid.
  5. Mix well, Cover and remove from the heat for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Fluff the couscous with a fork and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
This is delicious with roasted chicken! But sometimes I'll eat it by itself.

Broccoli, Mushroom, and Cheese Breakfast Strata

So this is Yum, Yum - but a bit time consuming. It's a nice substitute for the more fatty and high calorie breakfast casseroles.

4 teaspoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups (8 ounces) sliced mushrooms

Cooking spray

1 whole wheat baguette, crusts removed, cubed (about 5 cups) - I get a wheat french bread baguette and don't remove the crusts - works fine.

8 eggs and 8 egg whites

2 cups lowfat milk

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

10 ounces broccoli, steamed, cooled and chopped (or frozen, thawed) - I use the frozen

1-ounce (1/3 cup) grated Parmesan

4-ounce (1 cup) part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup thinly sliced sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
Add the onions and saute until translucent and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 1 minute. Transfer the onion mixture to a medium bowl and allow to cool.
Heat remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in the skillet and saute the mushrooms until they release all of their water, about 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Spray an oval baking dish (or 9x13) with cooking spray. Arrange the bread cubes in the dish.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, egg whites, milk and mustard until incorporated. Add mushrooms, onion-garlic mixture, broccoli, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, thyme, and salt and pepper and stir to incorporate. Pour mixture over bread, making sure liquid saturates bread. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the plastic wrap from strata and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until top forms a light brown crust.

Nutrition Information
Calories 250
Carbohydrates 17g
Total Fat 12g
Saturated Fat 3.5g
Protein 21g
Fiber 4g
Sodium 600mg
(Taken from Ellie Krieger on the Foodnetwork)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Summer Penne Salad

1 lb. Mozarella cheese, cut into small cubes

1 large red pepper, roasted or 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced. (I've always just used the pepper, and it's yummy)

1 medium red onion, finely dice

1 1/2 T. white balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 T olive oil

1 sprig fresh basil leaves (10-15 leaves), chiffonade

1 pkg penne pasta

kosher salt, pepper, pinch of sugar

Dice the onion and add to a bowl with the vinegar. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente, probably 9-11 minuts. Drain the pasta and then add the oil and mix to coat.
Seed the tomatoes, or roast the pepper (I use a fork and the gas flame on my stove. Char the skin until it's black. Rinse in cool water to remove the skin.)
Add the pasta, any excess oil, the basil and mozarella to the onions.
Add salt and pepper to taste. This salad will be served cold so you will need extra salt to bring out the flavor.
Cover and chill 1 hour to serve. Check flavor again, add salt, pepper and sugar as needed.

To Chiffonade, stack the basil leaves into a pile. Roll the pile tightly into a "cigarette". Slice the cigarette thinly. When the leaves unroll they will be in long strips - Voila! Chiffonade.

I have this salad repeatedly during the summer - it's a huge summer staple for me. Light, but delicious!

Low-fat Granola

4 1/2 c. old-fashioned oatmeal, uncooked
1/3 c. sliced almonds
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt (optional--I generally use)
1/4 c. maple syrup (use lite because that's what we have)
1/4 c. apple juice
1 T. vegetable oil
1/2 c. raisins (or dried cranberries)

Preheat oven to 350º.

Stir together oatmeal, almonds, cinnamon, and salt (if desired), in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk maple syrup, apple juice, and vegetable oil; pour over oatmeal mixture and stir to coat thoroughly.

Spread mixture in an even layer onto a 15x12-inch baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring twice during baking time.

Cool mixture in the pan before adding raisins. Store granola in an airtight container.

Notes: I really like this. It's the perfect after-work snack. And you'd be surprised how crunchy it can get without all the fat.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Cornbread Taco Pizza

1 pkg Corn Muffin Mix
1/2 lb ground beef
Taco Seasoning (I used 1/2 a bag)
Cheddar Cheese, grated

Brown ground beef and drain. Add taco season according to instructions. Mix corn muffin mix and pour into pizza pan, or into a circle on a baking sheet. (Spray sheet with Pam if muffin mix instructions indicate to do so). Bake according to instructions. When just done, not yet brown, remove from oven and cover with taco meat and grated cheese. Replace in oven until cheese is melted. Remove and serve with taco toppings of choice: lettuce, sour cream, tomatoes etc.

I topped with Pico de Gallo:

1 chopped tomato
1 chopped white onion
1 chopped jalepeno
juice of one lime
chopped cilantro to taste
kosher salt


Monday, May 7, 2007


So of course there are tons of options for making panini sandwiches, but I thought I'd share what we did to help get the juices flowing (haha, so funny i know).

Ciabatta bread (we bought ours at Walmart - it was a "whole grain" variety and was soooo good; it had seasame seeds, etc.)

Olive oil/balsamic vinegar mixture

Provolone cheese

Fresh Basil

Fresh Tomatoes

Sliced turkey

Pam cooking spray

Slice the ciabatta bread lengthwise. Drizzle the oil/vinegar mixture on both sides of the bread (or if you are lucky enough you can spread it on with one of those cooking brushes). Top with turkey, cheese, basil, and tomatoes. Spray the outside of each slice of the bread with Pam (or you could butter it). Place on a pre-heated George Foreman Grill and grill for about 3-6 minutes, until grilled to desired "grill-ness." YUM.

I've also read you could make panini by grilling them on a pan and placing another pan on top. I've never done it that way, but I'm sure it would work. But the Foreman works perfectly and we love it!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Crock Pot Chicken Burritos

2-4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 chopped onion
1 can sliced olives
1 can green chilies
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. Tapioca

Place chicken in crock pot. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over top. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Remove chicken and shred with fork. Return to crock pot and combine. Spoon cooked mixture into tortillas and serve with sour cream, lettuce, and tomatoes.

Friday, May 4, 2007

White Chocolate-Apricot Muffins

"Combining the chopped chocolate with the dry ingredients disperses it evenly and creates chocolate pockets throughout the muffins. These are also good without the crystallized ginger, if you'd rather omit it."

1 3/4 c. flour

1/2 c. sugar

1 T. minced crystallized giner

1 1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

2 oz. premuim white baking chocolate, finely chopped

3/4 c. low-fat milk

3 T. butter or stick margarine, melted

1 egg. lightly beaten

cooking spray

1/2 c. apricot preserves

1 T. sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 5 ingredients (flour thru chocolate) in a medium bowl, stir well with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk, butter and egg; stir well with a whisk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

3. Spoon about 1 T. batter into each of 12 muffins cups coated with cooking spray. Spoon 2 t. preserves into center of each muffin cup (do not spread over batter); top with remaining batter (about 1 T. or a little more). Sprinkle evenly with 1 T. sugar.

4. Bake at 400 for 22 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Makes one dozen.

Notes: I made this originally about 3 1/2 years ago and then again tonite. Love them. Ben calls them "divine" and ate 3 during dinner tonite. Miles doesn't like apricot and so didn't eat his, but I would think you could almost try any "preserves" (raspberry is something I would like to try). We can't really tell if we taste the white chocolate - maybe I chopped them too finely??? Ben thought just whole chocolate chips would be a better choice. I think I would either do that or none at all - I can't justify the fat grams if I can't taste them. But chocolate chips would probably be really, really good.

Cafe Rio dishes

For anyone who has visited Cafe Rio in Utah, and had their pork burritos, pork salad (with house dressing), or lime-rice...enjoy!

Café Rio Pork
6 lbs. pork
1 16-oz bottle of salsa
1 can Coke
2 cups brown sugar

Place pork in crock pot and fill it ½ way up the pork with water. Cook on High for 5 hours. Drain off water. Cut pork in thirds. Mix together sauce ingredients and put on top of pork. Cook an additional 3 hours on High. Shred pork with forks. Leave it on Low until ready to serve. Serves 12 (serve in large flour tortilla combined with rice and black beans)

Lime-cilantro Rice
1 lb. long-grain rice (2 ¼ cups)
1 bunch of cilantro
Juice of 2 limes
4 cloves of garlic

Chop garlic and cilantro. Heat 2 Tbs. of oil in a skillet. Add rice and all chopped ingredients. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Put 4 cups of water and lime juice in a rice cooker. Add rice mixture to the rice cooker and cook according to the cooker’s directions. If you don’t have a cooker, combine rice, water and lime juice in a 3-quart pot and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed by the rice.

Creamy Tomatilla Salad Dressing
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk Dressing
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tomatillas (look like green tomatoes—a must!)
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup fresh cilantro
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
Blend all ingredients in the blender. Refrigerate.

Quick and Easy Sweet Tortillas

When I just need a light snack after dinner, these always satisfy!

Take one tortilla, spray it with Pam, and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Cut into 1/8th. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Let cool before eating.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Garlic Chicken Stir Fry with Quinoa, Peppers and Basil

1 cup Quinoa
2 cups Chicken Broth (or water if desired)
1 ½ pounds Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast Tenders
4 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 small Onion, thinly sliced
1 Red Bell Pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
5 Cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
20 leaves Fresh Sweet Basil, julienne
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups chicken broth (or water) in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook until all water is absorbed (10-15 min). When done, the grain appears soft and translucent, and the germ ring will be visible along the outside edge of the grain.

2. Cut chicken into one-inch pieces. Heat large skillet over high heat and add the oil. Add chicken and sauté for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Add onions, bell peppers; sauté for one or two more minutes; add garlic and sauté until peppers become slightly limp, but still bright, about one to two minutes; season with salt and pepper. Removed the pan from heat; add basil and quinoa. Toss until basil wilts; garnish with Parmesan Cheese.

Note: I have also used dry basil instead of fresh. It seems to work really well. You can also use water unstead of chicken broth.

Serves Four

(erin took the picture, and she apologizes that it's not great. You can click on it to see it enlarged. But she wanted to show you what the quinoa looks like. Also, the little things that look like bananas? That's the chicken. Again, this is really really good!)

Crock Pot Apricot Chicken

Chicken Pieces, bone-in or boneless skinless (desired amount)
½ bottle of BBQ Sauce
¼ cup Soy Sauce
1 cup Apricot Preserves
Rice (desired amount)

Mix the BBQ sauce, soy sauce, and apricot preserves in the crock pot. Add the chicken and coat it well. Cook on low for 4 hours or until done. If using bone-in chicken remove the skin and bones from the chicken. Shred the meat with two forks, one in each hand. Return the chicken to the crock pot and heat it through. Serve over rice.

Note: The ingredients look strange but give it a chance. You won't be diappointed.