Saturday, February 27, 2010

Carrot Cake Pancakes

1 1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. chopped walnuts, toasted
2 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. ground nutmeg
Dash of ground cloves
Dash of ground ginger
1/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. low-fat buttermilk
1 T. canola oil
1 1/2 t. vanilla
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 c. finely grated carrots (about 3/4 pound)

Mix the first eight ingredients (through ginger), stirring with a whisk. Combine brown sugar and next four ingredients (through eggs); add wet mix to dry mix, stirring until just moist. Fold in carrots. Cook like regular pancakes, except you might want to spread the batter on the skillet with a spatula and make sure to grease the pan. YUM!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Easy Pizza Sauce

(We found that store-bought pizza sauce is quite expensive. However, if we use one of the big cans of generic spaghetti sauce and add spices...YUM!)

26 ounces of spaghetti sauce
3 packets red pepper flakes
2 t. onion powder
2 t. sugar
4 t. garlic
4 t. basil

Mix all together. This makes enough for four pizzas, so we put them in freezer bag, and freeze until we need them. Also, it's a little spicy, but we like it that way. Feel free to cut back on the red pepper flakes.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Soft Tacos with Paprika Sour Cream

1 medium onion
1 1/2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound ground chicken (may substitute ground pork or turkey)
1/2 cup water
8 6-inch soft corn tortillas

Sour cream:
1/4 c. lime juice (the juice of 2 to 3 limes)
1 cup low-fat sour cream (or fat-free)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or not smoked)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

For the smoked paprika sour cream: Squeeze enough juice from the limes into a medium bowl to yield 1/4 cup. Add the sour cream, paprika and salt, stirring to combine.

For the tacos: Cut the onion into small dice (about 1 cup total). Cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters, as desired.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned; then add the chili powder, oregano, cumin and garlic powder, mixing to coat the onion evenly.

Add the ground chicken, using your fingers to break it up into small pieces as it falls into the skillet. Stir to combine, then add the water and half of the tomatoes, breaking up the chicken further with a wooden spoon.

Reduce the heat to medium; cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Use the spoon to break up any large clumps that might remain. Add the rest of the tomatoes, stirring to combine; taste and season with salt as needed. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Serve meat on tortillas with sour cream. We added cheese because we're crazy like that.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Chocolate Thumb-print Cookies

recipe taken from the back of Hershey's HUGS Kisses
1/2 c. butter or margarine, softened
2/3 c. sugar
1 egg, separated
2 T. milk
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 t. salt
1 c. chopped nuts
26 Hershey's HUGS or KISSES

1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 T. softened butter or margarine
2 t. milk
1/4 t. vanilla extract

1. Beat butter, sugar, egg yolk, milk and vanilla in medium bowl until fluffy. Stir together flour, cocoa, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm enough to handle.
2. Heat oven to 350. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Shape dough until 1-inch balls. With fork, beat egg slightly. Dip each ball into egg white; roll in nuts. Place on sheet. Press thumb gently in center of each cookie.
3. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until set. Meanwhile prepare the FILLING by beating all ingredients together until smooth. Remove wrappers from chocolate pieces. Remove cookies from cookie sheet to wire rack; cool 5 min. Spoon about 1/4 t. filling into each thumb-print. Gently press chocolate pieces in center of each cookie. Cool completely. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

My butter is salted and so I probably added less than 1/2 of what the recipe called for. I also used 1/2 the nuts b/c I only dipped 1/2 of the cookies since I know my kids aren't the biggest fans of nuts. The thumb-prints I made did not stay in the cookies while they baked. When I got them out, I had to re-do them - but that worked just fine. It was just a little hot making the prints then, but not a big deal. Also, for a valentiney-look I made my FILLING pink. I also used a baby spoon to scoop up the filling and just guessed on the 1/4 t. amount. Good stuff. My kids love me b/c I made these this morning.

Peppermint Buttercream Frosting

8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup finely crushed peppermint candy
3 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp milk
1-2 Tbsp peppermint schnapps or 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract

Place butter in mixing bowl and blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy. Add peppermint candy, powdered sugar, 2 Tbsp milk, and schnapps or extract. Blend until the sugar is well incorporated. Beat until fluffy and add more milk if frosting seems too stiff.

Chocolate Ganache

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I don't chop mine if it is in 1 oz. squares)
1 Tbsp. liqueur such as Grand Marnier, framboise, or peppermint schnapps (optional) OR 1/2 tsp. extract such as orange, peppermint, etc.

Place cream in small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring. Place chopped chocolate in large mixing bowl. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted. Stir in liqueur, if desired.

To use as a glaze, let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before spooning over a cooled cake. To use as a frosting or filling, let stand at room temperature for 4 hours, or chill until it thickens and is spreadable.

Lethal Peppermint Chocolate Cake

Okay, so I don't know if this is "lethal" in flavor, but it is a nice hint of mint that makes this cake yummy.

This one comes from one of my all time favorite books, The Cake Doctor. It is a great book for taking cake mixes and making them just a little bit better.

1 package plain devils food cake mix (not a mix with pudding in it)
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 recipe Peppermint Buttercream frosting
Chocolate Ganache

Prepare ganache, adding peppermint schnapps(or extract) after the chocolate has melted. Let ganache cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 9-inch round cake pans. Place cake mix, cocoa powder, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend, scraping sides until thick and combined. Divide batter between pans and bake until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger and start to pull away from the sides of the pan, 28-30 minutes. Cool for ten minutes and then invert onto wire rack and cool completely.

Spread one layer with Peppermint Buttercream frosting, and place second layer on top of the first layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with Chocolate Ganache that has cooled until it is spreadable. Chill the cake until ready to serve.

I personally like to keep the cake at room temperature. For some reason the cake seems to dry out in the fridge.

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

Okay, so this one comes right off of the Reese's Peanut butter chip bag, but we LOVE this recipe. Only thing: DO NOT dump everything in the mixer and expect a good cookie. Follow this recipe--cookies just aren't the same if you don't separate the dry and wet ingredients like you are told :)And be sure not to overbake them. Over cooked cocoa is never a good thing!

2 cups flour
3/4 cup Cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Stir above ingredients in a bowl until well combined.

In mixer:
1 1/4 (2 1/2 sticks) butter, softened/room temperature(not melted)
2 cups sugar
mix until fluffy.

2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Beat well. Gradually add flour mixture until well combined. Stir in 10 oz. bag of peanut butter chips.

Oven 350 degrees. Drop rounded teaspoons (I use a small ice cream scoop) onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-9 minutes (or until tops begin to crack). Do not overbake! Cool slightly, then remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely and store in the freezer so you don't eat the entire batch in one sitting.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Turkey and Pasta with Peanut Sauce

6 ounces dried fettuccine or linguine
2 c. fresh pea pods, tips trimmed
1 c. cooked turkey or chicken strips
1 c. coarsely chopped fresh pineapple or one 8-ounce can pineapple chunks, drained
1/4 c. chicken broth
2 T. creamy peanut butter (although I think chunky would be fine too)
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. lime or lemon juice
1/4 t. crushed red pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Cook pasta according to package direction. Meanwhile, halve the fresh pea pods, diagonally. Place pea pods and turkey in a large colander. Pour hot cooking liquid from pasta over pea pods and turkey in colander; drain well. Return the pasta, pea pods, and turkey to the hot pan. Add the pineapple.

Meanwhile, for sauce, in a small saucepan stir chicken broth into peanut butter. Heat and stir with a whisk until peanut butter melts. Stir in soy sauce, lime juice, red pepper, and garlic; heat through.

Add sauce to the pasta mixture. Gently stir to coat pasta with sauce.

(From the Better Homes and Gardens 75th Anniversary Cookbook)

Warm Banana Sundaes

1 cup (4 ounces) coarsely chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 teaspoons olive oil
4 bananas, peeled and cut crosswise in half, then each half cut in half lengthwise to produce 16 quarters
frozen nonfat vanilla yogurt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger, butter and salt in a medium bowl. Use your fingers (or a pastry cutter) to work the butter into the mixture until thoroughly incorporated. Then add the nuts. Spread out the mixture on the prepared pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes to form the pecan crisp (don't let it get dark), then let cool. Once cool, break it up like you'd do a toffee.

When done, it should look like this:

Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add as many of the banana quarters, cut sides down, as will fit in a single layer. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the bananas soften and start to brown. Use a spatula to carefully turn over the banana pieces and cook for 1 minute.

Transfer the bananas to individual dessert plates, arranging 2 quarters for each portion.

Use paper towels to wipe out the skillet; return to medium-high heat and add the remaining teaspoon or two of oil. Add the remaining banana pieces to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium; repeat the cooking process. Arrange the banana quarters on the remaining dessert plates.

Place a scoop of frozen yogurt on top of the banana quarters on each plate. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons of the pecan crisp. Serve immediately.

Notes: in order to get the crumb topping to work for me, I have to do it in many steps because otherwise the butter gets too soft. So I'll cut in the butter for a minute, then put everything into the fridge for another 15 minutes. Cut again, chill again. I do this until the crumbly texture I want is achieved.

Also, we like this with more than half a banana, so we gave ourselves each a full banana. The topping is really delicious and is even tempting on its own.

(From The Washington Post)