Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Shrimp Cobb Salad & a Product Review

I'm cooking once again from May's edition of Cooking Light.  This one was found in the category of "SuperFast 20 Minute Cooking".   Just between you and me, it may have taken me slightly longer than that. 

My little guy loves shrimp, and my big guy does too, as far as that goes.  So including it a salad just makes sense.  I really liked the dressing that goes along with this, but I would make a little more next time...it didn't really go very far.  

Here's the recipe for you:

  • slices center-cut bacon
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • (10-ounce) package romaine salad
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (about 2 carrots)
  • 1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
  • ripe peeled avocado, cut into 8 wedges

  • 1. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; cut in half crosswise. Wipe pan clean with paper towels. Increase heat to medium-high. Sprinkle shrimp with paprika and pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shrimp to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt; toss to coat.
  • 2. While the shrimp cooks, combine remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, juice, oil, and mustard in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add lettuce; toss to coat.
  • 3. Arrange about 1 1/2 cups lettuce mixture on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with about 6 shrimp, 1/2 cup tomatoes, 
  • 1/4 cup carrot, 1/4 cup corn, 2 avocado wedges, and 2 bacon pieces.

I also wanted to mention that I was recently given the chance to try Honest Tea's Zero Calorie Passion Fruit Green Tea.

I found this to be totally refreshing and delicious.  It's sweet without being overly sweet and a perfect mid-afternoon pick-me-up.  I love that it's got no calories and it's sweetened with stevia.  My husband and I fought over it shared it.  I will definitely be on the lookout for this in the stores. 


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pistachio-Chai Muffins

This recipe was featured in the latest issue of Cooking Light (in fact they had a whole section on muffins).  The recipe directs you to open up two bags of chai tea and dump it into your muffin batter.  I thought it sounded a little odd, but I'll try anything once.  

They turned out pretty good, not overly sweet at all.  Would be absolutely perfect with a spot 'o tea.

Here's the recipe, the only thing I did differently was add a wee bit of cinnamon. 

  • 7 9/10 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 chai blend tea bags, opened
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup shelled dry-roasted pistachios, chopped
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  • 2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut open tea bags; add tea to flour mixture, stirring well. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk, butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and egg in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
  • 3. Place 12 muffin-cup liners in muffin cups; coat liners with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle nuts evenly over batter. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack.
  • 4. Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon water, stirring until smooth.  Drizzle over muffins.  

*according to Cooking Light, these only have 192 calories and 6.2 grams of fat, if you care about such things.

On a side note, I used the Tyson Grilled & Ready Chicken Breast Strips that I received as a part of Foodbuzz's Tastemaker program.  I used them to make a quick and easy chicken fajita quesadilla for dinner last night.  

this pic came from my cell phone since I had let my other camera die

It really was easy, and I like the idea of having chicken already cooked, sliced, and ready to go.  Certainly simplifies things when you're trying to get dinner on the table in time to watch Dancing With the Stars :)  (I was particularly impressed with Romeo last night...I loved his dance with chelsie)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Black Bean Brownies

Don't be alarmed! I don't think these are especially healthful.  And they don't taste like beans.  

They are, however, fudgy, rich, and delicious!  Perhaps too fudgy?

Definitely not a finger food, unless they get really cold.  They did get the seal of approval from picky girl child.  At least they have a little extra fiber to offer. 

Found the recipe at a blog called 101 Cookbooks.  Here it is for you:

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups soft-cooked black beans, drained well   (canned is fine)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup (granulated) natural coffee substitute (or instant coffee, for gluten-sensitive)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
4 large eggs
1½ cups light agave nectar 
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 11- by 18-inch (rimmed) baking pan ( or jellyroll pan) with parchment paper and lightly oil with canola oil spray.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on high. Stir with a spoon to melt the chocolate completely. Place the beans, 1/2 cup of the walnuts, the vanilla extract, and a couple of spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Blend about 2 minutes, or until smooth. The batter should be thick and the beans smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts, remaining melted chocolate mixture, coffee substitute, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer beat the eggs until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the agave nectar and beat well. Set aside.

Add the bean/chocolate mixture to the coffee/chocolate mixture. Stir until blended well.

Add the egg mixture, reserving about 1/2 cup. Mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1/2 cup egg mixture until light and fluffy. Drizzle over the brownie batter. Use a wooden toothpick to pull the egg mixture through the batter, creating a marbled effect. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the brownies are set. Let cool in the pan completely before cutting into squares. (They will be soft until refrigerated.)

Makes 45 (2-inch) brownies.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Coconut Cake

I saw this cake a few days ago on Velva's blog, Tomatoes on the Vine, and knew I would be making it soon.  

This is a Thomas Keller recipe.  If you know who he is, I tip my hat to you.  I realize that not knowing who he is makes me some sort of culinary dim-wit.  I'm more acquainted with Chef-Boyardee, or the Jolly Green Giant.  But this Thomas guy certainly knows his cake!

There are a lot of steps to this recipe, but it's really not that complicated.  Just don't leave out the salt...sheesh!  It was still good even though I did forget. 

One of the steps involved dropping the warm cake face first onto the cooling rack...

...fortunately it stayed together!

Here's the recipe for you...make it if you get a chance.  It's delish!

One 15-ounce can coconut milk (not "lite")
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup egg whites, at room temperature (from about 6 large eggs)
2 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
Meringue (recipe below)

Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan and whisk to blend.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the milk has reduced to 1 cup.

Meanwhile prepare an ice bath in a medium bowl and set a small metal bowl on top.

Pour the coconut milk into the small bowl.  Once the milk is cool, remove from the ice bath and stir in the vanilla.

Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees F.  Butter two 9-inch round cake pans.  Line with parchment paper, butter the parchment, and coat with flour, tapping out the excess.

Sift the cake flour and baking powder together into a bowl.  Stir in the salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the whites on medium speed, until they begin to froth.  With the mixer running, slowly add 3/4 cup of the sugar, then increase the speed to medium-high and continue to whip until medium peaks form.

Remove from the mixer.  (if you have only one bowl, transfer the whites to another bowl and wash out the mixer bowl.)  Switch to the paddle attachment.

Put the butter in the mixer bowl and beat on medium-low to medium speed to soften, about 1 minute.  Scrape down sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, add the remaining 1-1/4 cups sugar, and mix on medium speed until light and creamy, stopping to scrape the sides as needed.  3-4 minutes.

From this point, it is important not to over mix the batter.  Each addition does not have to be completely incorporated before you add the next; there may be some visible streaks remaining.  Add half the dry ingredients to the butter and mix on medium-low to medium speed.  Add half of the coconut milk and mix.  Add half of the remaining dry mixture, then the remaining milk and finally the remaining dry mixture.  Remove the bowl from the mixer.  Scrape down the sides and the bottom to incorporate any ingredients that may have settled in the bottom of the bowl, and mix with the spatula so there are no longer any streaks.

Top the batter with one-third of the whites and fold in gently.  Gently fold in another third of the whites and finally the remaining whites.

Divide the batter evenly between the pans and gently smooth the tops.  Bake until a cake tester or wooden skewer comes out clean, 26 to 28 minutes.  Let the layers cool on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes, then turn out of the pans and let cool completely.  

Meanwhile, spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast lightly in the oven, 6 to 8 minutes.  Transfer to a small bowl and let cool completely.

Lay strips of parchment paper around the edges of a cake stand or serving plate to catch any excess frosting or coconut when you decorate the cake.  Position one of the cake layers in the center.  Spread a 1/3-inch-thick layer of meringue evenly over the cake layer.  Sprinkle a light layer of the coconut over the meringue.  Top with the second cake layer.  Spread the remaining meringue evenly over the sides and top of the cake.  Sprinkle the remaining coconut on the sides and the top.  Pull away and discard the pieces of parchment paper.  This cake is best served the day it is made.

Recipe for Meringue:

1-1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons plus teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine 1- 1/4 cups of the sugar and the water in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat to 220F., stirring at first to dissolve the sugar.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until they begin to look foamy, then gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar.  Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until the whites form soft peaks.

With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar syrup, pouring it down the side of the bowl to avoid the whisk.  Add the vanilla, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form and the bowl is cool.

*Just a note:  if you refrigerate this for very long, it makes the edges a bit tough.  But still yummy. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

R&B for Dinner

I was planning to fascinate you with a list of names of R&B artists I may or may not have had dinner with. But then I realized I really couldn't come up with any names other than BB King, so I went to wikipedia to jog my memory.  BB's not even on the list....so that shows what I know! I guess he's just straight up blues, not so much rhythm.  What does any of this have to do with my dinner?  Absolutely nothing!   

The r&b in question here is ribs and beans.  And this dinner made me feel anything but the blues!

The ribs are a repeat of the ones I made a little while back (with bbq sauce)....nothing easier.
The beans are based on the recipe I found at Colleen's Recipes.  Since I didn't have a pork tenderloin that her recipe calls for I added more beans with some bacon for flavoring, and served the ribs on the side.  I'm sure even BB would approve.

3 cup dry pinto beans (no need to soak)
(1) 4 ounce can of mild green chilies
3 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dry oregano
1 clove garlic minced
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1/2 pound bacon, chopped

Saute the onions & garlic in a little olive oil; add in the bacon toward the end of sauteeing.  Place in crock pot with  the dry beans, spices, & canned chilies . Add just enough water to mostly cover the beans.  Cook on low until beans are tender, 6-8 hours.  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blueberry Cornmeal Cake

I was raised to believe that you were to drink your tea sweet, but no sugar should ever come into contact with your cornbread.  I took that at face value for a long time until somewhere along the way I had a piece of somebody's cornbread that was sweetened and fell in love.  If only my mama could see what I was doing with my cornmeal now.  She'd have me locked away.

I think it's worth the risk.  

I based this on a recipe I found at Epicurious, but didn't have any lemon so had to leave that out; and chose to put the blueberries in the cake rather than on it.  I'd say this is a pretty delicious snacking cake, and I'm sure it's something I'd like to have again sometime.

Here's the recipe:

1 1/2 cups (packed) powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon Juice (or milk)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel (if you've got it)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled
1 cup of blueberries, tossed in flour to coat 

For glaze:
Combine powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in small bowl. Stir with spoon until smooth and paste-like, adding more lemon juice by 1/2 teaspoonfuls if glaze is too thick to spread. Set aside.

For cake:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides; line bottom with parchment. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl; whisk to blend. Whisk buttermilk, eggs, lemon peel, and vanilla in small bowl. Pour buttermilk mixture and melted butter into flour mixture. Using rubber spatula, gently fold liquids into flour mixture until just blended (do not stir). Then fold in blueberries.  Scrape batter into pan; spread evenly.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean and cake pulls away from sides of pan, about 30 minutes.

Immediately run knife around sides of cake. Place rack atop cake in pan. Using oven mitts, hold pan and rack firmly together and invert cake onto rack. Remove pan from cake. Place another rack on bottom of cake; invert 1 more time so that cake is top side up. Stir glaze until blended. While cake is still very hot, drop glaze by tablespoonfuls onto cake; spread to within 1/2 inch of edge (some glaze may drip down sides of cake). Cool completely


Monday, April 4, 2011

Cocoa Oatmeal Cookies

Just a yummy cookie to post up for your Monday morning enjoyment.

 Kind of an odd Monday for me.  I almost never work Mondays but today I am.  Feels so strange, and I'll miss the beginning of Dancing With the Stars.  

I'll just eat another cookie and try not to whine about it.

These were fudgey and yummy. I always enjoy the combination of chocolate and oatmeal.  I think if I made them again I would add a touch more sugar.  
Here's the recipe as found at Cheat Day Cafe:

1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 egg beaten well
1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/3 c. shortening - melted
1/3 c. butter - room temp
2 c. oatmeal 

Sift together first 5 ingredients. Combine the egg, milk and vanilla and add cooled shortening and butter. Mix thoroughly with dry ingredients. Stir in rolled oatmeal. Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment paper or sprayed cookie sheets.

Bake at 350 for 8 min.