Friday, December 21, 2012

Penne with Vodka Sauce


Today's yummy dish is penne with vodka sauce. You might be thinking this is fairly ordinary fare, especially since I typically keep things kicked up a notch or two. But I chose the dish because I had the ingredients on hand from the lobster bisque I made the other day. This is what I made with the leftovers.

It really is an easy dish to make.  I went first to Allrecipes to find a recipe and found one here. It took only about 10-15 minutes to make, start to finish.

PENNE WITH VODKA SAUCE:



INGREDIENTS:

1 16OZ box of penne pasta
2 TBSP butter
1/3C vodka
1/2C heavy whipping cream
1 small can tomato paste
1/2C grated parmesan cheese
Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

Meanwhile, melt butter or margarine in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Add vodka and stir until it is reduced by half, about 4 to 5 minutes. Simmer uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes. Stir every few minutes. 

Stir in pasta, and heat through. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

PERSONAL NOTES:

I made some changes to the original recipe (which called for pancetta and tomato sauce instead of tomato paste). In addition, I used half and half instead of heavy whipping cream. I felt the tomato paste contributed to the thickness of the sauce. The salt was important though; I guess if you use pancetta it would be a little saltier, but I found I needed to add more than I would usually into the dish. But it was yummy - I will be making this again!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lobster bisque


Well here's another winner to add to the recipe arsenal. Lobster bisque.

For Christmas my mother, who works at QVC, sent to me and my husband a box of lobster tails and filet mignon. While I don't eat meat, I DO eat fish. And boy, do I love lobster! So I decided to make a nice soup using the lobster.

I found the original recipe here from Allrecipes.com and I have to say it was easy; most definitely a keeper.

LOBSTER BISQUE:


INGREDIENTS:
1 cup chicken broth
2 medium slices onion
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound cooked and cubed lobster meat
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper


DIRECTIONS:

In a small frying pan place 1/4 cup chicken broth and the onion. Cook over a low heat for 5 to 7 minutes.
In a medium size pot over medium heat melt the butter. Slowly whisk in flour. Whisk until a creamy mixture is created.Gradually pour in broth, whisking constantly. Whisk in milk, salt, onion, lobster meat, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper. Heat until soup is almost boiling. Do not boil the soup as the milk will curdle when boiled.

PERSONAL NOTES:
Mostly I followed the recipe as written. A few changes I made included: using 1C half and half and 1C fat free half and half instead of using regular milk.  I also added garlic when cooking the onions (which I actually used shallots) and 2TBSP tomato paste - to give the soup a pinkish color. It was really yummy!!!




Oh - and I also added 3 small new potatoes. I left on the skin and chopped them into small cubes.  I baked them in the oven for about 15 minutes to soften them up for a little while. Then when adding the flour to the frying pan, I made sure the potatoes were in there first, then I added an additional TBSP flour to bring it up to 3 TBSP total.

I let it simmer for about another 20 minutes before eating.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cinnamon Swirl Blondies

So even though we're deep in the throes of the holiday season, I decided not to go the way I did last year baking RIDICULOUS amounts of cookies, etc. But that doesn't mean I'm not baking at all. I'm simply being more selective about my choices.

That said, I've been going through my Pinterest boards and came upon this one that I wanted to try out. It looked yummy and the recipe seemed easy enough. The outcome: It was and yes.

CINNAMON SWIRL BLONDIES


INGREDIENTS:

FOR THE BLONDIES:
2/3 cup unsalted butter (although if you prefer your blondies a little salty, use salted butter)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

FOR THE CINNAMON SWIRL:
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8x8" baking pan. In a small saucepan, melt the 2/3 cup butter, and let it cook until it is golden brown. Set aside to cool slightly. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar, and stir until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice and mix well. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. In the same saucepan you used to melt the butter for the blondie batter, melt the 1/4 cup butter for the cinnamon swirl. Add the sugar and cinnamon and stir to combine. Drizzle the cinnamon sauce over the blondie batter and use a butter knife to swirl it in. Don't bother trying to do a fancy pattern; it just all melts together! Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs on it. Cool completely before serving. 

PERSONAL NOTES:

I followed this recipe to the letter. It was easy to put together and it came out GREAT. These are really very much like brownies only with vanilla and gooey cinnamon swirls throughout. SO GOOD. I will definitely make these again (and probably bring up to the in-laws for Christmas :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Chocolate Pumpkin Cakes with Cream Cheese (Oreo) Frosting

My goodness, where has the summer gone??? Tomorrow is Labor Day, the unofficial end of the summer season. Boo! I'm sad. It's been a good few months.

My kitchen was completely overhauled. That took almost 2 months (my husband and I did it all ourselves - LOTS of work!). Then a few weeks ago my pc died. Just like that, in a flash. There goes all the pictures I was accumulating for new posts I was hoping to add to the blog. Eventually, when my husband fixes/rebuilds the pc I'll get those pics back. In the meantime, I've been building up a new library of photos for all the delectable dishes I made.

Yum.

That said, next up is a combination of recipes. 

Pumpkin Muffins.  Recipe can be found here.

Cream Cheese Icing. Recipe can be found here.

 
 
The good news is, this is really easy to make! Since the cake part itself is only 2 ingredients, you can't possibly mess it up. Seriously.  The originaly recipe calls for yellow cake mix with the canned pumpkin but what I did was use devil's food cake. You pretty much can't taste the pumpkin. So what are you left with? A yummy chocolate cake that is much lower in calories/fat than the regular boxed recipe. You're using no eggs, no oil. Pumpkin. It's healthier! Yay! 




If the frosting is cream cheese frosting, why does mine look like chocolate frosting? There's a very simple answer to that: I added a couple of Oreo cookies when mixing the icing. Sweet!


Oh, and what's that in the middle of the cupcake? That's right - it's a whole Oreo cookie. YUM!

So I supposed the "healthy" version of the cake didn't end up so completely healthy. Not with the added bonuses - but they are really yummy! I promise!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Avocado, Corn & Tomato Salad

What a yummy summer winner! I came across this recipe here and decided to give it a shot.

As it turns out, my kitchen is STILL under renovation (since, hell-o, MEMORIAL DAY weekend!!!). So cooking/baking anything is pretty tough.  Hence, I've been on a mission for two things. One: NO MORE TAKE-OUT. I swear, I've gained at least 6 pounds in the last 6 weeks.  And two: finding and making recipes that don't require any cooking.

This is how I turned to this current recipe.  And it is delicious! It only takes about 15 minutes to make (that includes the cooking time for the corn). I prepared everything else while the corn was cooking.  Then I soaked the corn in cold water for about 2 minutes before slicing it off.

Here it is...

AVOCADO, CORN & TOMATO SALAD




INGREDIENTS:

6 ears corn
3 large fresh tomatoes
1/2 large onion or about 1 cup chopped ( I used a sweet onion)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
two to three sprigs fresh oregano (optional)
2 tablespoons white vinegar ( I used white balsamic)
1/4 cup olive oil
coarse sea salt
fresh ground pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Boil corn in large pot of water for about 7 minutes. Drain and plunge corn into cool water. Cut corn off cob and set aside to cool completely.
Chunk tomatoes and onion. Coarsely chop basil and strip the oregano off stems. Place cooled corn, chopped vegetable and herbs into large bowl. Toss with vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste. Serve chilled or room temperature

Tips:
-The recipe called for white vinegar, but I love white balsamic (sweeter) vinegar. Apple cider vinegar would also work. I don't recommend regular balsamic vinegar. The dark red color will discolor the onion and corn and the overall look of the salad will change.
 















PERSONAL NOTES:

The original recipe calls for white balsamic vinegar.  That would certainly work.  I used a cabernet vinegar. So it was red, but as you can tell by my pictures it didn't turn the salad completely red.

It's so refreshing and simple to make!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Double Decker Oreo Fudge

Yes, I've been experimenting with fudge. Once I found out how ridiculously easy it was to make I've been putzing around with different ideas.  This one isn't exactly mine (original recipe can be found here) but I played around with it to bring you the following...

DOUBLE DECKER OREO FUDGE




INGREDIENTS:


  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, portioned in half
  • 10 Oreos, chopped
  • 1 cup white chocolate
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate

  • DIRECTIONS:


    1. Split sweetened condensed milk in half and set aside. Chop Oreos and set aside
    2. Place white chocolate, one ½ of sweetened condensed milk, 2 tablespoon of butter in a heat proof bowl over simmering water. Stir and mix until melted and combined. Fold in Oreos and stir to combine. Pour mixture into pan.
    3. Place semi-sweet chocolate and remaining half sweetened condensed milk in a heat proof bowl over simmering water. Stir and mix until melted and combined. Pour mixture on top of Oreo layer and refrigerate for 1 an hour to set.
    4. Remove from refrigerator and peel away foil once set. For ease of cutting make sure to clean knife between cuts to prevent sticking.

    PERSONAL NOTES:

    As I've mentioned, these are ridiculously easy to make. That's actually a liability as I've eaten far too much of this lately. I really need to slow it down on the sugar!  Bad, bad... but oh so good...

    Friday, June 15, 2012

    Chocolate Caramel Macchiato Pie

    This is serious guys.  Chocolate. Caramel macchiato. Pie.  All rolled into one bit of fabulousness.

    Tomorrow is the Roaring 20's Lawn Party on Governor's Island.  This will be the first time attending.  For the last 5 years or so I was either working or in a yoga teacher training program.  This year I was determined to BE THERE.

    That said, my sister-in-law informed me of a pie contest at the event and encouraged me to register.  So I did.  Then the big question of which pie would I make arose.  I tried experimenting with a few different options, but I'm pretty sure this chocolate caramel macchiato pie is the one I'm going with.  It's YUMMY.  And...it's pretty much all my own creation.  Well - at least the combination of layers involved.  The recipes are all from different places - none I can truthfully say are all mine.

    I started with a sugar cookie layer, then espresso chocolate chip, then caramel, topped off with Oreo cookie truffle.

    Here it is...

    CHOCOLATE CARAMEL MACCHIATO PIE



    INGREDIENTS:

    For the sugar cookie layer:

    1 1/4 C flour
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/2 C plus 2 TBLS margarine (I use butter sometimes)
    1 C granulated sugar
    1 Egg
    1 tsp vanilla extract

    For the espresso chocolate chip layer:

    1/2  stick butter, softened
    1/2 cup light brown sugar
    1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
    1/2 of a large egg
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 tsn instant espresso coffee powder
    3/4 C semisweet chocolate chips

    For the caramel layer:

    25 caramel candies
    2 Tbls heavy cream

    For the Oreo cookie layer:

    1 package Oreo cookies
    1 8oz. package cream cheese, softened

    DIRECTIONS:

    For the sugar cookie mix:

    Combine flour, baking powder and salt then set aside.  Using a mixer, cream together margarine and 2 C sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla. Slowly beat in dry mixture.

    For the espresso chocolate chip mix:

    Cream the butter with the sugars using an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 30 seconds. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract for another 30 seconds.

    In a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture at low speed for about 15 seconds. Stir in the espresso coffee powder and chocolate chips.

    For the caramel layer:

    Place the caramel candies in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the heavy cream and stir until completely melted. Pour hot caramel mixture over shortbread crust and spread into an even layer. Refrigerate until set, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

    For the Oreo cookie truffle layer:

    Using a blender or hand held mixer, mix Oreos and cream cheese together. 
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Place a layer of sugar cookie mix on bottom of 8x8 pan (or just use a pie pan).  Chill at least 30 minutes (or an hour) then layer on the espresso chocolate chip mix.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes (or until edges turn brown) and allow to cool for about 20 minutes. 

    Drizzle on the caramel and chill for about an hour.

    Top off pie with the Oreo cookie truffle mix and chill again for about an hour.  Serve and enjoy!

    PERSONAL NOTES:


    Oh my, are these just yummy!  Since I pretty much put all of these layers together myself I already included any important notes.  If you let the pie sit out for a few minutes before eating it will be a little softer.  Either way it is DELICIOUS! Plus, my husband gave it 2 thumbs up so it passed the test :)

    Keeping my fingers crossed it wins tomorrow!!!

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012

    Cake Batter Fudge

    I'm learing it takes quite a bit of time when you undertake an entire kitchen renovation on your own.  And that's where a great deal of my time is spent, energy is focused.  However, I have made efforts to do some baking while waiting for everything to be hooked up, put back, finished/re-finished, etc...

    As it turns out, my husband and I headed to NJ to see his brother (and family).  Not only do I not go anywhere empty handed, but if at all possible I bake something from scratch. That said, I made a batch of cake batter fudge. It was simple and didn't require dirtying up too many dishes. As a matter of fact, I used one bowl to mix the ingredients and a tray to spread out the fudge.  Easy peasy, lemon squeazy.

    The original recipe can be found here, but I was inspired by the fun coloring/display as posted here by another blogger.  The first recipe is easy and fast, but I liked the idea of dropping in blue swirl to liven up the dessert.  YUM!

    CAKE BATTER FUDGE




    INGREDIENTS:

    1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
    3.5 cups white chocolate chips
    3 tsp Vanilla Extract
    1/2 tsp Almond Extract
    Rainbow Sprinkles


    DIRECTIONS:

    Pour milk and white chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 2-3 minutes, or until white chocolate is almost completely melted. DO NOT OVERHEAT. Stir until completely blended, melted, and smooth.

    Immediately add vanilla and almond and combine thoroughly. Add a handful or so of rainbow sprinkles and fold in quickly, because they will melt (and if they are stirred for too long they’ll turn the fudge an ugly muddy color).

    Transfer to an aluminum-foil lined 8×8 inch baking pan for very thick fudge, or a 11X7 pan (recommended). Let set at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

    Once set, cut into cubes (and peel off the foil!). Store leftovers in an airtight container in a cool place.


    PERSONAL NOTES:

    This was ridiculously easy to make.  I think the whole thing took 10 minutes, tops.  Of course, that doesn't include the setting time, but if you're looking for something fast to make (and you don't need it immediately), this is your dish. 

    The only downside to this recipe is that I don't find it tastes a whole lot like cake batter. It's good - don't get me wrong (maybe even too good - I almost can't stop eating it once I start), but it tastes more like white chocolate fudge than anything else.

    Monday, May 21, 2012

    Cookies N'Cream Scones

    Where have I been for the last month??? Why haven't I posted?

    Well... for starters there were family issues that had to be handled, then I was traveling a bit to be with the family.  Then somehow my schedule just got a bit out of control, though I'm not sure how it happened.  As a yoga teacher, I'm used to a certain amount of changes - even last minute ones - but for some reason it was much more challenging these past few weeks.

    I decided to get back on the posting bandwagon as soon as possible because pretty soon my kitchen will be out of commission.  That's right, my hubby and I are renovating the kitchen.  It's overdue and thus the time has come.  Hopefully I won't have too much a gap between posts like this last month.  I'm hoping it's just a week or so... fingers crossed.

    Anyhow, as I was experimenting with scone recipes recently I decided to give this latest one a whirl: adding Oreos.  OMG.  What results!  They came out GREAT!

    Check them out...

    COOKIES N' CREAM SCONES



    INGREDIENTS:

    Original scone recipe can be found here on a previous post.



  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 egg

  • DIRECTIONS:

    1. In a small bowl, blend the sour cream and baking soda, and set aside.
    2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
    3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt. Cut in the butter. Stir the sour cream mixture and egg into the flour mixture until just moistened. Mix in crumbled Oreos. Add about as much as you want. I used about 1 cup.
    4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead briefly. Roll or pat dough into a 3/4 inch thick round. Cut into 12 wedges, and place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
    5. Bake 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown on the bottom.
    PERSONAL NOTES:
     I chose to add sugar glaze icing to top it off, although it doesn't need it.  If you like sweeter scones, go for the icing.  Otherwise you can leave it off.
    I used 1 cup confectioner's sugar, 1 tsp milk, 1/2 tsp vanilla (or you can use any variation thereof as you like it).  Then I took Oreo crumbles and sprinkled them on top. 

    SO GOOD!!!

    Thursday, April 26, 2012

    Banana Cream Cheese Breakfast Cakes

    Oh look, another muffin recipe. Ha!  Sorry, they're just about my favorite things on this earth.  Thus, I go out in search of new muffin recipes all the time.  As a matter of fact, I should probably think about branching out to include cranberries or other kinds of fruit in my muffins.  Incidentally, that's what brought me to this next recipe. 

    Banana breads and banana-things aren't always my favorite - although I love eating bananas by themselves.  However, when I saw this recipe I thought it would be fun.  Plus, I'm actually combining two different recipes to bring this to you. 

    The recipe for cream cheese filling can be found here.  The banana muffin part is a recipe I found in the latest Food Network Magazine (May 2012 issue), compliments to Gary Danko.

    BANANA CREAM CHEESE BREAKFAST MUFFINS



    INGREDIENTS:

    1 1/2 cups plus 3 tblsp cake flour
    1 1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp kosher salt
    1 stick plus 2 tblsp unsalted butter, room temperature
    1 cup plus 6 tblsp sugar
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    3 large eggs, room temperature
    3 very ripe bananas, mashed



    DIRECTIONS:

    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

    2.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt into a bowl.

    3. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla with the paddle attachments on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Beat in the mashed bananas until combined.  Add half of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until almost combined, then add the remaining flour mixture and beat until just combined (do not overmix).

    4. Drop a small scoop of batter for each muffin.  Drop in about 1 tsp of the cream cheese mixture for each muffin then scoop on the remaining batter over the cream cheese mixture (cups should be about 3/4 full).

    5. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake (not the filling) comes out clean, 20-35 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool about 15 minutes, then remove the cakes to the rack to cool completely.



    PERSONAL NOTES:

    The directions for the cream cheese mixture in the magazine seemed so involved, I went back to the cream cheese filling I used for other muffins.  It was a good decision, I like the way they came out.  I love biting into muffins or cupcakes only to find a surprise in the middle.  Yum!

    Oh, and I didn't bake the muffins all that long... probably only 20 minutes - max.  If I baked them for 35 they would have burned.  So my recommendation is to check them at 20 minutes and see if they need more time or not.



    Wednesday, April 25, 2012

    Avocado & Crab Salad

    What a treat it was to stumble upon this recipe for avocado and crab salad.  Two of my favorite things; especially in the warm weather.  One thing I love about this dish is that it's actually healthy for you!  I know I speak for lots of people when I say that avocado is VERY good for you.  It's packed with the Omega-3's we need so much and don't often get.  To top it off, it's made with crab.  MMmmmm... crab...

    The recipe is adapted from this one. Thank you skinnytaste.com!

    AVOCADO & CRAB SALAD



    INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium Hass avocado
  • 4 oz lump crab meat
  • 2 tbsp chopped red onion
  • 2 tblsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper


  • DIRECTIONS:

    In a medium bowl, combine onion, lime juice, olive oil, cilantro salt and pepper. Add crab meat and toss well.
    Cut avocado open, remove pit and spoon out avocado. Cut into large chunks and add to crab. Mix carefully, not to mash the avocado. Spoon back into avocado shells and enjoy!



    PERSONAL NOTES:

    What an easy little meal to make! I had it done in about 10 minutes, if that.  The original recipe called for the juice of one lime and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, but as always I chose to go in a different direction with the red wine vinegar.  Cabernet vinegar is a particular favorite of mine...

    Tuesday, April 24, 2012

    Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins

    Yet another experiment with muffins.  I chose this recipe because I'm looking to get rid of a box of Quaker Oats that I've had hanging around.  I only use that stuff to bake with - I prefer to eat steel cut oats (they're SO good!).  Thus when I saw this recipe, I hopped on the opportunity to use more Quaker oats.

    This recipe is adapted from this one found on Allrecipes.

    OATMEAL CINNAMON MUFFINS



    INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda


  • DIRECTIONS:

    In a large bowl, combine oats and buttermilk; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in eggs.

    Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and baking soda; stir into oatmeal mixture just until moistened.

    Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 400 degrees F for 18-20 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.



    PERSONAL NOTES:

    To be perfectly honest, I'm not a huge fan of these. They're good when they're right out of the oven, otherwise they get super chewy real fast.  So make these if you're planning to eat/serve them all quick.

    In terms of the recipe itself, I almost never keep buttermilk on hand.  So this is where I make use of the seemingly unending supply of fat free Greek yogurt.  By the way, not all Greek yogurt is created equal.  My two favorite brands are Fage and Chobani. 

    If you like chewy, rustic flavored and textured muffins, then give this one a whirl. 

    Monday, April 23, 2012

    Cinnamon & Sugar Muffins

    I really like cinnamon.  Looking back at some of my older posts, many of them are cinnamon something-or-others.  Of all the cinnamon baked goodies I've made, I can't say there's been a bad one in there.  Kinda like pumpkin, cinnamon anything is just a wonderful thing.

    Enter these new muffins into the picture: Cinnamon & Sugar Muffins.  Of course I had to give them a go.  The verdict: they're really good!  Definitely a keeper recipe.  One important thing about these muffins that make them a particular favorite is that they're low in calories.  Each muffin is approximately 155 calories.  Not only that, they're DELICIOUS.  And as with muffins or scones in general, these are convenient to take with you and have on the go.  As a yoga teacher, I'm always on the go.  Thus, these guys work great for me.

    I adapted the recipe from this one found on Simpledailyrecipes.

    CINNAMON & SUGAR MUFFINS



    INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk (soy, almond, coconut, etc.)

  • 1/2 cup applesauce

  • 1 tablespoon distilled vinegar

  • 2 cups flour

  • 2/3 cups sugar

  • 3 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • For the topping
    • 1/2 cup melted butter in one bowl
    • 1/2 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon in another bowl


    DIRECTIONS:

    Heat oven to 400ยบF. Grease bottoms of 12-muffin cup pan.

    Beat milk, applesauce and vinegar in a medium bowl. Add in flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt all at once. Stir just until flour is moistened. Batter will be lumpy; do not over stir.

    Use a large cookie dough scooper to fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake until golden brown, 16 to 20 minutes. Immediately remove from pan and carefully roll hot muffin tops in melted butter, then in cinnamon-sugar mixture.

    Store cooled muffins in a container with a loose fitting lid and enjoy them later on in your day.



    PERSONAL NOTES:

    These would be wonderful vegan muffins had I followed the directions as stated.  But you know me, I have to go switching things up.  In place of the non-dairy milk (for which I usually use coconut milk), I used fat free Greek yogurt.  Let's just say that's my all-time favorite go-to ingredient.  It's just so versatile.

    Sunday, April 22, 2012

    Beautiful British Scones!

    So scones are my latest endeavour in baking.  I'm experimenting with a few different types.  I've previously made the Cinnamon Streusel Scones and last week made Black Treacle Scones.  Yesterday I tried out this wonderful recipe for what I consider typical English scones.  SO good!  I adapted the recipe from this one found on Allrecipes.

    This latest recipe worked out great.  Although, I have to say that if the Black Treacle Scones had raisins in them, I'd probably like them better.  (Plus, the Black Treacle Scones were only about 90 calories the way I made them!).

    BEAUTIFUL BRITISH SCONES



    INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup sour cream


  • 1 teaspoon baking soda


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour


  • 1 cup white sugar


  • 2 teaspoons baking powder


  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar


  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • 1 cup butter


  • 1 egg


  • 1 cup raisins (optional)




  • DIRECTIONS:
    1. In a small bowl, blend the sour cream and baking soda, and set aside.
    2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
    3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt. Cut in the butter. Stir the sour cream mixture and egg into the flour mixture until just moistened. Mix in the raisins.
    4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead briefly. Roll or pat dough into a 3/4 inch thick round. Cut into 12 wedges, and place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
    5. Bake 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown on the bottom.

    Yields 12 scones.

    PERSONAL NOTES:


    I must have made these guys much smaller than the recipe stated.  The original recipe yields 12 scones and I halved it (after all, it really is just me and my hubby chowing down on them. We don't need 12 large scones!).  Even after cutting it in half, I still came out with 10 scones.  I used a glass to cut out round scones.  I suppose I could have made them thicker, but I just didn't.  Frankly, I really like them as they came out. The way I made them each scone is approximately 220 calories.

    In place of the sour cream I used fat free Greek yogurt.  My favorite go-to ingredient when recipes call for sour cream or even buttermilk.  It's a fantastic substitute.  You would never tell the difference in flavor. 

    In place of butter I used Olivio so there's no cholesterol.  And for the egg I used Egg Beaters - another  go-to for eggs used in dishes.  Because believe me, when it comes to eating eggs, I'm going to make the real thing!

    Friday, April 20, 2012

    Zucchini Cakes

    I teach yoga four nights a week.  That means I either have to eat something before I go or wait till I come back home.  If I wait till I come home I'm tired and don't want to spend too much time cooking. This is where this next recipe comes into the picture.  I found this recipe the other day on Pinterest and thought it sounded good.  My favorite part about this dish (aside from the fact that it's really tasty) is that it took less than 30 minutes to make it from start to finish.

    You can find the original recipe here

    In the fall and winter I made lots of dishes with winter squash.  Now that spring is officially here with summer fast approaching, I'm looking to try out a whole slew of new dishes with summer squash.  I love squash.  It's yummy.  And here's another bonus: it's really good for you too. See what the folks over at Livestrong have to say about it.

    ZUCCHINI CAKES



    INGREDIENTS:

    1 large zucchini, grated
    1 large egg
    1 cup panko bread crumbs
    Salt/pepper to taste
    1 tbsp Adobo spices
    1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated


    DIRECTIONS:

    1. Remove excess liquid from freshly grated zucchini by placing them between paper towels and squeezing.
    2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
    3. Heat a large pan on medium, and spray with Pam. Shape spoonfuls of the zucchini batter into 2-inch (diameter) patties, and drop onto the sizzling pan. Cook each side for about a minute and a half, or until the outside is golden brown.
    4. Finish the cakes off in the oven — stick them on a baking pan and broil them for 1-2 minutes.
    5. Serve hot, alone or with ranch dressing.

    PERSONAL NOTES:

    As I mentioned above, this was an easy and quick dish to put together.  I will DEFINITELY make these again.

    The directions state to remove excess water from the zucchini but I didn't see a need for that.  There just didn't seem to be any excess water. 

    Instead of using Adobo spices I just used an all-purpose season salt. It worked fine. 

    Overall this was tasty as-is.  When I make it next time I'll add 2x the amount of zucchini and cut back on the breadcrumbs by at least 1/3 cup.  I think it needs more zucchini in it, less bread.

    Wednesday, April 18, 2012

    Black Treacle Scones

    I wanted to be productive during my midday break.  Being productive can amount to a great many things. Today as usual, that meant trying out a new recipe.  And I didn't go through the vast list (or cookbooks) to find this.  No, I went trolling online for something new.  I don't know why I keep looking for new things when there are already so many dishes I want to try out.

    Anyhow, I wanted something new and of course something easy.  Enter Black Treacle Scones into the picture.  Original recipe is courtesy of allrecipes and can be found here

    The last time I made scones I made Cinnamon Streusel Scones.  While they tasted fine and cinnamon-y, the consistency just wasn't what I was expecting.  I'm used to traditional scones like the kinds you'd have with an English tea service.  Served with jam and clotted cream.  You know which scones I'm talking about.  When I saw the recipe for Black Treacle Scones I thought they screamed British!

    And here they are...

    BLACK TREACLE SCONES



    INGREDIENTS:


  • 3 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 4 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 2 tablespoons molasses

  • 1 cup milk





  • DIRECTIONS:

    - Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet. 

    - In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cream of tarter, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. Cut in butter with a fork or pastry blender. Combine milk and molasses in a small bowl; stir into flour mixture until moistened. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Roll dough out into a 1/2 inch thick round. Cut out circles with a medium biscuit cutter and place pieces on prepared baking sheet so that they are barely touching.

    - Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Move to a wire rack to cool slightly before serving. For soft scones, cover with a dry cloth for 10 minutes. For crisp scones, do not cover.



    PERSONAL NOTES:

    I really don't have too much to add to this.  I kept pretty close to the original recipe.  For milk I used skim (as always). 

    Oh wait, what am I saying?  When mixing the wet ingredients with the flour mixture it was super dry.  Like, maybe I didn't need so much flour.  In a pinch I used a small bit of fat free Greek yogurt to add moisture.  That worked - and they came out great!

    These will be amazing with jam and clotted cream or even with just butter.

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

    Banana Oat Muffins

    What do you do when you have a few very-ripe bananas that are on the verge of becoming compost?  You find recipes to make that use these bananas.  Banana bread came to mind but I've been trying to move away from so much bread lately.  Thus, I found the recipe I made the other day (Layered Chocolate Banana Pudding Pie) and this one here for the banana oat muffins.

     It was the perfect thing to make on a weekend morning when I didn't have too much time to bake.  They're yummy and moist.  I would definitely make these again!

    BANANA OAT MUFFINS



    INGREDIENTS:




  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour 

  • 1 cup rolled oats 

  • 1/2 cup sugar 

  • 2 tsp baking powder 

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp salt 

  • 1 egg 

  • 3/4 cup milk 

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

  • 1 cup mashed bananas


  • DIRECTIONS:


    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the flours, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the egg. Add the milk, oil and vanilla to the egg and stir everything together. Add mashed banana to the wet mixture and combine. Slowly add the dry flour mixture to the banana mixture. Stir until just combined. Divide the batter into 12 lined muffin cups. Bake muffins for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.*

    *Please see personal notes below about baking temp & time

    PERSONAL NOTES:

    *I reduced the baking heat to 375 and baked for about 15-17 minutes.  Even then, I discovered that the muffins were cooked a little bit more than I would have liked.  In the future, I'll reduce the heat further to 350 and check at 15 minutes to see how it's faring.  Baking for 18-20 minutes at 400 degrees is just too much.

    Overall, this was an easy recipe to follow.  It's actually one of the reasons I like making muffins.  They're quick and simple. 

    Substitutions:  I used applesauce for the oil, Egg Beaters for the egg and skim milk for the milk.  Let me tell you, I always give fresh muffins to my husband and he loves them; he never knows that I make the subsititutions.  I think it's funny.  But really, I think it's a smart way to lighten the recipe and still be able to enjoy a yummy treat.

    Monday, April 16, 2012

    Layered Chocolate Banana Pudding Cake

    Thank you Weight Watchers for putting together some yummy desserts that I can enjoy and not be all like, "Whah, I'm swearing off chocolate until I drop 5 pounds." Thank you, thank you, thank you! So this is a dish like that - eating something that tastes more sinful than it actually is.  Well, to tell you the truth I fattened it up a little bit by using some Oreos, but that was a total mistake on my part because I didn't have enough of the other cookies (graham crackers) that were preferred.  Oh well. 

    I decided to make this dessert today for two reasons.  One: I took a two-hour Ashtanga Yoga class this morning so I worked hard enough to earn this and Two: I had a couple of bananas that were on the verge of not making it and I wanted to use them before having to toss them.  I really don't like wasting food.  It's well... it's a waste! And the other thing is I wanted to try something that required no baking.  I know that's typically a summertime thing, but I felt like doing it now.  Besides, it's getting warm out here...

    Before I get into the recipe details, I just want to let you know that this dessert comes from the new (or new-ish, I don't know) special recipe edition of Weight Watchers magazine.  It's Weight Watchers Five Ingredient 15 Minute Recipes.

    LAYERED CHOCOLATE BANANA PUDDING CAKE



    INGREDIENTS:

    2 cups 1% low-fat milk

    1 (1.4 oz) package sugar-free chocolate instant pudding mix

    2 cups frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed and divided

    11 chocolate graham cracker sheets, divided

    3 ripe bananas, sliced

    DIRECTIONS:
    1. Combine milk and pudding mix in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk 2 minutes or until thick.  Let stand 5 minutes. Fold in 1 cup whipped topping.

    2. Place 5 graham cracker sheets in the bottom of an 11x7-inch glass or ceramix baking dish.  Spoon one-third of pudding mixture evenly over graham crackers; top with half of bananas.  Spoon another third of pudding mixture over bananas; top with 5 graham cracker sheets.  Spoon remaining third of pudding mixture over graham crackers; top with remaining banana slices.  Spread 1 cup whipped topping over bananas. Crumble remaining graham cracker sheet; sprinkle over whipped topping.  Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

    Yield: 10 servings (serving size: 1/10 of pudding).



    PERSONAL NOTES:

    Wow, where can I begin?  This is an easy recipe to follow, let's just start there.  I had it made in about 10-15 minutes.  Seriously. So the special magazine/book where the recipe comes from is telling the trute.  It really is a 15 minute dish.

    Then I started deviating a little bit (of course).  When I was at the store the other day looking to buy the graham crackers for the recipe I stopped short when I saw that the box cost almost $5!  That's a little crazy, especially since my husband and I don't normally eat graham crackers.  Although when I mentioned this to him he said I could've made the recipe again.  Sigh.

    So in lieu of the graham crackers I purchased a small box of Lorna Doone butter cookies (which I know, it's not chocolate, but I figured they would taste just fine - really).  That was all fine and good except as I was putting the dessert together I quickly realized I wasn't going to have enough cookies for a second layer.  What was I to do on short notice?  Well as it happened, I had a small box of Oreo cookies because I was going to make a different dessert on another day.  So I decided to toss the Oreos in for the second cookie layer.  I know it's not what Weight Watchers had in mind (for the Lorna Doones and the Oreos), but whatever.  So it's not exactly low fat, it's kinda low fat.

    As the book states, each serving is only 116 calories! Obviously, the way I made it will have a higher calorie content.  I'm OK with that.

    Thursday, April 12, 2012

    Tofu Lasagna with Caramelized Calabaza

    Leave it to me to get a little bored with the same-old, same-old recipes to start creating my own concoctions. 

    That's right, I combined a couple of recipes for this one.  Frankly, it's about time.  And lucky for me it turned out GREAT!  I used the recipe for the caramelized calabaza (winter squash) from here and fused it with an old recipe for tofu-stuffed shells (the recipe for which I cannot find.  Boo).  So I improvised and figured out what went into the tofu mixture.  It originally came from an old tofu recipes book I had. Well, actually I still have the book I just can't seem to locate it. 

    The combination of flavors and textures makes the work that goes into making this totally worth it.  Of course, if you really wanted, you could skip the whole tofu filling part and just use regular ricotta cheese as you would in a traditional lasagna.  But, I think the tofu adds a nice (different) dimension to it.

    TOFU LASAGNA



    INGREDIENTS:

    For the caramelized squash topping:

  • 9 Tbs. unsalted butter 

  • 1 kabocha, calabaza, butternut squash or any winter squash, 2 1/2 to 3 lb., peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes 

  • 2 Tbs. sugar 

  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth 

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 

  • 3 Tbs. finely diced shallots 

  • 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg 

  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh sage 

  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice 

  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley 

  • 1 lb. fresh pasta sheets, cooked per boxed instructions

  • 1 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

    For the tofu filling:

  • 1 16oz block extra firm tofu, drained

  • Oregano, parsely, basil to taste

  • salt to taste

  • fresh chopped spinach (optional)

  • 1 tsp lemon juice


  • DIRECTIONS:

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

    Follow the directions for the squash mixture here from my previous post.

    In a food processor, mix together the tofu mixture until smooth.  Cook pasta sheets as per the directions on the box.  Butter a 9x13 baking pan so it's well greased.  Cover the bottom with pasta and fill with the tofu mixture.  Continue layering until the mixture is finished.  It's important to top the lasagna with the tofu mixture - otherwise the top pasta layer will get too crunchy as it bakes.

    Bake for about 20 minutes (you may want to keep it in a little longer - but start checking it at 20 minutes.  It's probably done.) and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

    Top with the caramelized squash mixture, sprinkle with parmesan cheese to taste and serve.  Enjoy!

    PERSONAL NOTES:

    This is a fun dish to serve and to eat (I can't lie, it's really tasty). But I also have to come clean - it's work.  It takes a while to get everything together.  It probably took me over an hour to complete the whole thing.  You can probably make the squash mixture while the lasagna is in the oven.  That would help cut down on time.  So while I really like this meal and the combination of flavors and textures, I just won't be making it a lot.  I like easier dishes to make.  However, I do end up with leftovers and therefore meals for the following day or so are covered.

    By the way, this dish can also be made as tofu stuffed shells with the same caramelized squash on top.  That would be tasty too!

    Sunday, April 8, 2012

    Coffee-Coffee Cake Muffins.

    That's right.  That would be coffee-flavored coffee cake muffins.  Oh and by the way; Happy Easter to everyone!

    This morning my husband asked for french toast for his breakfast.  Since I pretty much only make it once a year, I decided that today would be that day.  Although, I didn't have the proper bread for the french toast.  Real french toast should only be made with Challah bread.  Anyhow, I digress.

    This being Easter I thought it would be nice to come up with a new muffin recipe.  Well, maybe not new as it was thought of by someone else who put it in a book.  But I saw the muffin recipe and thought it would be nice to try a new variation of a muffin I've made several different ways.

    COFFEE-COFFEE CAKE MUFFINS


    This recipe comes to me courtesy of Muffins: Over 200 Recipes and Variations to Accompany Any Meal by Francesca DiPaolo

    INGREDIENTS:

    Muffins:
    1 cup butter
    4 large eggs
    1 cup sour cream or milk
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 cup sugar
    2 tablespoons baking powder

    Filling/Topping:
    1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons cinnamon
    1 teaspoon nutmeg
    2 tablespoons butter, melted


    DIRECTIONS:

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a muffin pan (either lining with paper liners or using Pam to spray).

    In a medium bowl, blend the eggs, sour cream (or milk), vanilla and instant coffee powder. 

    In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and baking powder.

    Cut in the softened butter.

    Blend all until mixture resembles coarse meal.

    Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan.  Top with 1 tablespoon reserved brown sugar mixture and then with the remaining batter.

    In a small bowl, mix the filling ingredients.  Sprinkle the tops generously.

    Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove the muffins from the pan, and cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm.


    PERSONAL NOTES:


    Let's see...what did I do differently this time?

    No sour cream, I used fat free Greek yogurt.  Absolutely no difference in texture or taste.  So good.

    And instead of using 1 cup of butter, I used 1/2 cup butter and then 1/2 cup of applesauce to lighten it up a little bit.

    Finally, I didn't have pecans or walnuts (although I'm sure either would have tasted wonderful) so I used raw hazlenuts instead.  I have to say, they really added a nice chewiness to the texture.  So good.

    These are a keeper - yummy and easy to make. 

    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

    Sour Cream Coffee Cake Muffins

    Yes, I've said before I'd be moving away from the simple carbs.  And yes, here I am again baking those evil sweets.  It's official; I can't let go of these things.  I'll just have to learn with having these in moderation.  Life without baked goods is not a life worth living.  Much.  Besides, I really enjoy making these things.  It's too much fun waiting to see how they all come out and imagining what the muffins will taste like. 

    So I decided to go for these sour cream coffee cake muffins.  The original recipe can be found here

    SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE MUFFINS


    INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cup sour cream

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • TOPPING:

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

  • DIRECTIONS:

    In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla; mix well. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture and beat until combined. Pour half the batter into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Combine topping ingredients; sprinkle half of topping over batter. Add remaining batter and topping. Bake at 325 degrees F for 40 minutes or until done.

    PERSONAL NOTES:


    For starters, I omitted the pecans and used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.  I always believed Greek yogurt would be a sufficient substitute and I was right.  It worked great!

    Next, as you can see by the photos, I made muffins instead of a full sized coffee cake.  I like making muffins because you can freeze the uneaten portions and have them when you want :)