Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Mousse Cake

Tara also sent me this one. We made it last year for Ernie's birthday (I think that's when we made it, anyway) and it's really good.

1 1/4 cups chocolate cookie crumbs*
1/4 cup finely chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
3 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup whipping cream

1/3 cup whipping cream
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp instant espresso coffee powder (I used instant coffee powder)
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used chocolate chips)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. In medium bowl, stir together cookie crumbs, peanuts, 3 tbsp. sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter; stir until evenly moistened. Press evenly into bottom and 1 inch up sides of 9-inch springform pan. Bake 10 minutes or until crust is firm. Cool.
2. In large bowl, beat peanut butter and cream cheese at low speed until blended. Add powdered sugar and 1 tbsp. vanilla; beat until smooth.
3. In another large bowl, beat 1 1/3 cups cream at medium-high to high speed until soft peaks form. Fold into peanut butter mixture in three parts; pour into crust. Place in refrigerator while preparing topping.
4. Place 1/3 cup cream, 3 tbsp. sugar and espresso coffee powder in small saucepan; heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves, tiny bubbles appear around edge of saucepan and mixture reaches about 160 degrees F, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; add chocolate. Let stand 1 minute; stir until smooth. If necessary, return
saucepan to low heat just until chocolate is completely melted, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in 1/2 tsp. vanilla.
Cool 5 minutes. Spread topping evenly over mousse filling. Cover and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least 4 hours. Store in refrigerator.
TIP *Look for 100% chocolate cookies crumbs, such as the Oreo brand, which are located in the supermarket baking section near graham cracker crumbs or in the ice cream topping section. Do not use Oreo Crunchies, which are broken Oreo cookies that also contain creme filling. If you can't find chocolate cookies in crumb form, purchase chocolate wafer cookies (such as the Famous brand) and crush them into fine crumbs.

Crockpot oatmeal

My friend Tara sent me this recipe a long time ago. I'm finally going to try it this weekend.

2 C milk
1/4 C brown sugar
1 T butter, melted
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 C old-fashioned oats
1 C chopped apple
1/2 C raisins or dates
1/2 C chopped walnuts or sliced almonds

Makes 4 cups (6-8 servings)

Grease the inside of crockpot. Put ingredients inside crockpot and mix well, cover and turn on low heat. Cook overnight or 8-9 hours.
This keeps well in the fridge in a tupperware, and can be reheated again. Just add milk if it starts to thicken too much.
I have changed the ingredients up as well, to coincide with what I happen to have on hand.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Baked Ziti

1 lb dry ziti pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 lb ground beef
2 (26 oz) jars of tomato sauce
6 oz sliced provolone cheese
6 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp grated parmesan
1 1/2 cup sour cream

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain.

In a large skillet, brown the onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add sauce and simmer 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13 baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, provolone cheese, sour cream, 1/2 of the sauce mixture, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese, remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheeses are melted.

** I used reduced fat sour cream, which was fine. I also added a layer of fresh spinach leaves on top of the sour cream. And, I think it would be fine to eliminate the ground beef if you don't eat meat, and maybe add some more veggies instead.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Carrot Soup with Honey and Nutmeg

From Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook

I made a lot of modifications to this recipe, which I will list at the bottom.

Serves 8. Use large crockpot.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 pounds carrots (about 15 medium sized), scrubbed, tops cut off, chopped
1 or 2 small cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp each dried thyme and marjoram, or 1 tsp Spike natural salt-free seasoning
4 to 6 cups water or chicken broth, as needed
2 heaping tablespoons honey
1/2 to 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
sea salt and freshly group black pepper, to taste
chopped cilantro and plain yogurt to garnish (Optional)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, 6-8 minutes, stirring often to cook evenly. Put the potatoes, carrots, garlic and herbs in the slow cooker. Add the onions and oil, scraping them out of the pan. Add enough water or chicken broth to cover everything. Cover and cook on High for 1 hour. Turn the cooker to Low and cook until vegetables are soft, 5-7 hours. Puree in batches in a food processor, or right in the crockpot with an immersion blender. The soup will be thick. Stir in the honey and grate the nutmeg right over the crock. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm on Low without letting it boil until you serve it.

*The book recommends buying carrots with the tops still on, because they will be sweeter. I used 2 bags of peeled baby carrots because that's what I had in the fridge.

Also, I halved the recipe because the recipe as written requires a large crockpot, and I did not think the whole recipe would fit in mine.

I thought the recipe as written was a little bland, so I added to it as I went along. I added some garlic powder at the end, as well as a little more honey, and some cinnamon. I also stirred in some milk, because I like my carrot soup creamier. I tried adding a bit of yogurt to one of my servings, and I liked the creamier texture, but I wasn't sure I liked the flavor of the yogurt.

Next time, I think I will eliminate the thyme and marjoram and try adding fresh ginger instead. I think you could experiment with a lot of different flavors with this basic recipe.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Wild Mushroom Risotto (crockpot)

from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker

1/4 c. dried porcini mushrooms
1 c. boiling water
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 shallots, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/4 c. arborio rice
2 c. chopped cremini mushrooms
2 1/2 c. vegetable stock
1/4 c. white wine
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. freshley grated Parmesean cheese
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley
black pepper

Soak the dried porcini in the boiling water for 30 min. Drain, reserving 3/4 c. of the soaking liquid. Chop the mushrooms.
In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Transfer the shallots and garlic to a slow cooker. Add the rice, stirring to coat. Stir in mushrooms, soaking liquid, stock, wine, thyme and salt; cover and cook on High for about 2 hours, until all the liquid is absorbed.
About 5 minutes before the risotto is finished, stir in the cheese and parsley and season with pepper.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

chicken and artichoke casserole (crockpot)

Haven't tried this yet, but I'm planning to this weekend...

1 to 1 1/2 lbs chicken tenders (about 8 to 10)
1 bag (8 ounces) frozen artichoke hearts or canned artichokes, drained
1 cup converted rice
1 can (10 3/4 oz) Cream of Chicken Dijon Soup (not sure what that is... I'm going to use some other kind of creamy soup...)
1 cup chicken broth or bouillon
lemon pepper or black pepper
1 cup shredded cheese

Layer rice, chicken and artichokes in the crockpot. Cover with soup & broth, then sprinkle with lemon pepper. Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours. Top with shredded cheese 30 minutes before serving.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Whole-Grain Blackberry Spice Muffins

The first new recipe I'll be trying this week. I'll be making these tomorrow morning, and taking some to my grandmother's house and freezing the rest. I like anything that can be frozen well, because then I don't chance it going bad before I can eat it all. Looks like another one that'll be good for breakfast on the go.

from Cooking Light, January 2006
Coarsely chop frozen blackberries, and place them back in the freezer until ready to stir into the batter. To freeze muffins, let cool completely, and place in zip-top plastic bags. Reheat in microwave 20 seconds.
2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon apple-pie spice (I'm going to use cinnamon and maybe some ginger instead)
1 cup fat-free milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups frozen blackberries, coarsely chopped
Cooking spray
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 400°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through apple-pie spice) in a large bowl. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk, butter, vanilla, and egg in a small bowl; add to flour mixture, stirring until just moist. Gently stir in blackberries.
Spoon 1/4 cup batter into each of 17 paper-lined muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 16 minutes. Sprinkle muffins evenly with granulated sugar; bake 3 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Cool in pans 10 minutes on wire racks.
Yield: 17 muffins (serving size: 1 muffin)

NUTRITION PER SERVING: CALORIES 177(15% from fat); FAT 3g (sat 1.2g,mono 1.1g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 3.5g; CHOLESTEROL 18mg; CALCIUM 68mg; SODIUM 181mg; FIBER 1.8g; IRON 1.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 34.3g

Citrus-Glazed Chicken Thighs

One of the new recipes for this week. I think instead of broiling the chicken, I'm going to cook them on my new Foreman Grill. And we may or may not eat the sauce over rice, because Gaby and Ernie usually just like soy sauce on their rice.

from Cooking Light, January 2006
Besides being juicy, chicken thighs cook quickly and come with built-in portion control: Two two-ounce chicken thighs are the appropriate serving of meat. The sweet-tangy sauce is easy to make and drizzles nicely over rice or couscous.
1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
2 teaspoons bottled ground fresh ginger (such as Spice World)
1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
12 (2-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place first 7 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken; seal bag, and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally. Remove chicken, reserving marinade.
Preheat broiler. Place chicken on a foil-lined jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray; broil 8 minutes on each side or until done. While chicken cooks, place reserved marinade, flour, and salt in a small saucepan, stirring with a whisk until blended. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and cook for 1 minute or until thickened. Serve sauce with chicken.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2 thighs and 2 1/2 tablespoons sauce)

NUTRITION PER SERVING: CALORIES 189(23% from fat); FAT 4.7g (sat 1.2g,mono 1.4g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 23g; CHOLESTEROL 94mg; CALCIUM 18mg; SODIUM 470mg; FIBER 0.2g; IRON 1.5mg; CARBOHYDRATE 12.1g

Mocha-Almond Latte Freeze

One of the three new recipes I'll be trying this week. I've been looking for a frozen coffee drink for a while so I don't have to visit the evil coffee empire that sucks all your money. Now that I can make tasty scones and a frozen coffee drink, hopefully I can save some money.
In the edition where this recipe is, they talked about how coffee is actually good for you -- caffeine can help improve memory, can increase alertness and improve performance, may lower type 2 diabetes, and has good antioxidants.

from Cooking Light, January 2006
Any coffee will work for this beverage, but a darker French roast coffee has a rich, strong flavor that pairs nicely with chocolate. The recipe makes more double-strength coffee than you need; freeze leftover coffee in ice cube trays for iced coffee drinks. Once frozen, coffee cubes can be stored in zip-top plastic bags for up to three months.
3 cups water
1 cup freshly ground French roast coffee
1/4 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup ice cubes
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup vanilla low-fat frozen yogurt
1/2 teaspoon grated semisweet chocolate
1 tablespoon canned refrigerated light whipped cream (such as Reddi-wip)
1/2 teaspoon chocolate syrup
1 teaspoon sliced almonds, toasted
Brew water and coffee in a coffee maker according to manufacturer's directions. Cover and chill. Reserve 1/4 cup chilled coffee (reserve remaining coffee for another use).Place 1/4 cup chilled coffee, milk, ice cubes, and cocoa in a blender; process until smooth. Add yogurt and grated chocolate; process until smooth. Pour mixture into a tall glass; top with whipped cream. Drizzle with chocolate syrup, and sprinkle with almonds. Serve immediately.

Yield: 1 serving (serving size: about 1 1/4 cups)

CALORIES 168(23% from fat); FAT 4.2g (sat 2g,mono 1.6g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 7.6g; CHOLESTEROL 9mg; CALCIUM 222mg; SODIUM 94mg; FIBER 1g; IRON 0.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 26.8g

Berry Whole Wheat White Chocolate Drop Scones

I never have time for breakfast at home in the mornings, and these are a great thing to grab and eat on my way to work. The chocolate is nice in them, but I also think substituting nuts in the chocolate's place will be good, and I plan to try that the next time.
Watch them closely while they're baking, though. I burned the first batch.

from Grazing by Julie Van Rosendaal
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. butter
1 c. milk
1 egg
1 c. fresh or frozen raspberries, blackberries or blueberries (I used blueberries this time)
1/2 c. white chocolate (I used chips)

Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until well blended and crumbly. In a small bowl, stir together milk and egg; add to flour mixture. Stir until almost blended, then add berries and chocolate and stir gently until combined.
Drop large spoonfuls of dough onto a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Sprinkle tops with a little sugar if you want.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Scalloped tomatoes

These are really good. We had them on New Years Day with all the other food, because they were light and seem very "Southern." Very easy to make.

from Saveur, April 2001
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 small minced yellow onion and 1/4 c. fresh parsley and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, lightly butter a baking dish. Drain one 28-oz. can whole peeled plum tomatoes. Squeeze tomatoes gently to release some of the liquid, then arrange in prepared dish and sprinkle with 1 tsp. sugar.
Scatter onions and parsley over tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Toss 1 c. bread crumbs with 3 Tbsp. melted butter in a small bowl and sprinkle over tomatoes. Bake until browned and bubbling, about 20 minutes.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Basic Beef Stew with Carrots and Mushrooms

This is on the stove right now, in my new Le Creuset pot. And man, does my house smell good. I'm not usually good at things that involve gravy, which is basically what stew is. But I think that cold, rainy days are perfect days for a big bowl of stew and a hunk of bread, so I figured I'd give this one a whirl.
Know what I love about stew? You can basically put in it whatever you like. I don't have any mushrooms today, so I substituted fresh green beans (which will go in with the carrots and potatoes, instead of at the beginning), of which I have an abundance. And I had baby white potatoes, so I used those instead of regular potatoes, and left the skin on.

from Cooking Light, January 2006

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 pound small cremini mushrooms
Cooking spray
2 cups chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 ounces)
2 pounds lean beef stew meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 (14-ounce) cans less-sodium beef broth
1 bay leaf
2 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled white potato (about 1 pound)
1 1/2 cups (1-inch) slices carrot (about 12 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, and sauté for 5 minutes or until mushrooms begin to brown. Spoon mushrooms into a large bowl. Lightly coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion; sauté 10 minutes or until tender and golden brown. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add onion mixture to mushroom mixture.
Place flour in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Dredge beef in flour, shaking off excess. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add half of beef mixture; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Add browned beef to mushroom mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining beef mixture and 1/8 teaspoon salt.
Add 1 cup wine to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add thyme, broth, and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Stir in beef mixture. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 1 hour or until beef is just tender.
Stir in potato and carrot. Simmer, uncovered, 1 hour and 15 minutes or until beef and vegetables are very tender and sauce is thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Discard bay leaf. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.
CALORIES 303(29% from fat); FAT 9.8g (sat 3.2g,mono 4.7g,poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 26.4g; CHOLESTEROL 71mg; CALCIUM 54mg; SODIUM 494mg; FIBER 2.3g; IRON 3.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 26.8g

**Also, a note. My friend Stephanie is joining the blog. Welcome, Stephanie. Hopefully she'll have lots of good recipes to share. :)

Spiced Apple, Cranberry, and Pecan Salad

* from Williams Sonoma Holiday Favorites

We made this for our big Christmas dinner and it was really tasty. Much more flavor than a traditional Waldorf salad, and even the picky eaters liked it, which surprised me given the spices in this recipe.

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar
5 large sweet apples such as Gala, Golden Delicious or Fuji
3 large celery stalks, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
8-10 red-leaf lettuce leaves

In a bowl, combine 3/4 tsp cumin and 1/8 tsp cayenne. In a small saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pecans and stir until the nuts are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the sugar and cook, stirring constantly until the sugar melts and begins to brown, about 3 minutes longer. Add the hot nut mixture to the bowl containing the spices and stir to coat. Let cool completely. Chop the nuts coarsely. Set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, mayonnaise, honey and vinegar. Add the remaining 3/4 tsp cumin and 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper.

Quarter each apple through the stem end and cut away the core. Cut each quarter in half crosswise, then slice. In a large bowl, combine the apples, celery, and dried cranberries. Add the yogurt dressing and toss to coat.

Line individual plates with lettuce leaves. Mount an equal amount of the salad in the center of each plate. Prinkle with the nuts and serve.

Serves 8-10.

** We just mixed the nuts in with the rest of the ingredients at the end and served the whole thing out of a big bowl instead of dividing it up. Also, we just chopped the apples into small pieces instead of slices.