Monday, April 30, 2007

Trying to 'melt' away the pounds
--Tangy Tuna Melts

Tangy Tuna Melts
The Good Carb Cookbook Copyright 2001

12-ounce can water-packed chunk light or albacore tuna, drained
½ cup finely chopped celery
½ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons nonfat or light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon dried fines herbes or thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 whole-wheat or oat bran English muffins, split and toasted I used multi-grain lite
4 ounces thinly sliced reduced-fat Swiss cheese; or 1 cup shredded

1. Combine the drained tuna, celery, onion, mayonnaise, mustard, fines herbes or thyme, and black pepper in a medium-sized bowl, and stir to mix well. Set aside.
2. Arrange the English muffins on a baking sheet, split side up. Spread about ¼ cup of the tuna mixture over each piece and place under a preheated broiler for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture is hot. Top each muffin half with some of the cheese and broil for another minute or two or until the cheese is melted. Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 329 cal, 33g carbs, 35mg chol, 6g fat, 5g fiber, 35g pro, 870mg sodium, 253mg calcium

It's spring and before you know it, bathing suit weather will be here. So instead of spending my weekend cooking, I spent it trying not to think about food.

The lite multi-grain muffins I used for these tuna melts have 8 grams of fiber each, and only 100 calories. They're great for most weight loss plans. I'm not a fan of nonfat or even reduced-fat mayo but I find if you add something tangy, like the mustard used in this recipe, it's edible. This wasn't the best tuna salad I've ever had but for a healthy version, it was pretty good. I think I would have preferred dill instead of thyme.

I spent a small fortune on food last week, between my regular trip to the grocery store and a trip to Costco. But, I'm set for over a month with meat and fish right now. The last time I went to Costco was 6 weeks ago and I don't expect to go for another 5-6 weeks, so looking at it that way, I didn't spend a ridiculous amount.

Blast From The Past: Hamburger Special from June 2006. I bought the cookbook that recipe was from, at the community yard sale last year. This year they're having it this upcoming weekend and I've decided to put some stuff out to sell, even though I'd much rather go to the yard sale as a customer. I may have to take a short blogging break since I don't have much time to pull everyting together. I swore I was never going to have another yard sale but since the customers will already be in the neighborhood, I might as well. I don't expect to make much but I'd like to get rid of some stuff without having to haul it away myself.

Question of the Day: Have you ever had a yard sale? Was it worth it?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Flavorful but borderline dry
--Honey Citrus Chops

Honey Citrus Chops
The Taste of Home Cookbook Copyright 2006

2/3 cup lemon-lime soda
½ cup soy sauce I used low-sodium
¼ cup honey
6 boneless pork loin chops (3/4 inch thick and 6 ounces each)

1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the soda, soy sauce and honey; add the pork. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally.
2. Coat grill rack with nonstick coating spray before starting the grill. Drain and discard marinade. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until juices run clear, turning several times. I broiled them - it was threatening rain outside.

Yield: 6 servings Per serving: 62 calories, 1 g fat,
10 mg chol, 621 mg sodium, 7 g carbs, 5 g protein


I'm finding pork to be the easiest meat to work with these days. That's a good thing since pork loin is lean and can always be had for $1.99 or less per pound. Pork tenderloin is much more expensive but I grab it up when I find a good deal.

This marinade was very flavorful however, due to the high sugar content, you do have to be careful not to burn them. Also, the oil-free marinade combined with the very lean chops can make for some dry chops if you're not careful. I think this marinade would actually be better on thin, bone-in chops.

I spent a small fortune in the grocery store last night. I don't understand it - it doesn't seem like I'm buying a lot of 'extras'. They did suck me in with a few good sales last night so I'm stocked up on several items that I really didn't need to buy for next week, but that I will need. The last 2 or 3 weeks, my bill has been quite low and hopefully next week it will be back to a more reasonable but last night's total stung. And to top it off, my Costco run is tomorrow.

Blast From The Past: Honeyed Pork Chops from October 2005. This was the only time I bought bone-in chops in recent years. I love them, but they're fattier and when I see them on sale, I usually have a freezer full of pork loin and pass them up.

Question of the Day: Are you tempted by great sales in the grocery store?

A good way to get your veggies
--Traditional Meat-and-Macaroni Casserole

Traditional Meat-and-Macaroni Casserole
The New Holly Clegg Trim and Terrific Cookbook Copyright 2002, 2006

1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 pound ground sirloin
1 cup shell macaroni I used Dreamfield macaroni and approx. twice as much
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (15 ¼ ounce) can corn, drained
1 tablespoon chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large nonstick pot, sauté the onion, green pepper, mushrooms, and meat until the vegetables are tender and the meat is done. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions, omitting any oil and salt. Drain; add to the meat mixture. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, corn and chili powder. Season with the salt and pepper. Transfer to a 2-quart casserole, and top with the shredded cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until well heated. Serve.

Makes 8 servings. Per serving: 227 calories, 20 g pro, 26 g carbs, 6 g fat, 3 g fiber, 38 mg chol, 527 mg sodium


This turned out even better than I thought it would be. It was a sort of chili-mac, with a good amount of vegetables snuck in there. I stretched it out by adding more pasta and it was still rather saucy. It made quite a bit - I probably didn't need the extra macaroni.You could throw just about anything you want, vegetable-wise, into this. This came together really fast because I cooked the pasta the night before (I'll do whatever I can not to be overwhelmed after work).

I really struggled planning next week's recipes last night but this morning, I took a minute to work at it and BOOM! it was done. A good night's sleep does wonders.

I'm making a Costco run this weekend. I could probably stretch it out one more week as far as meat goes but I need coffee. Now that they have the 10-pound bags of chicken breasts, I don't need to make a Costco run as often, which it makes it even more exciting LOL.

Blast From The Past: Sausage and Mushroom Pasta from February 2006 - one of my son's favorites. Smoked sausage is on sale this week so maybe I'll be making that recipe again soon. I've made it a few times.

Question of the Day: Do you always try to do as much prep work and cooking as you can ahead of time?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lemon chicken, take 3
--Baked Lemon Chicken

Baked Lemon Chicken
Betty Crocker Best Chicken Cookbook Copyright 1999

4 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 egg white
1 teaspoon water
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cayenne pepper (1/2 tsp if you like spicier)
Chinese Lemon Sauce
cooking spray
1/2 lemon, cut into thin slices
1 green onion, chopped

Chinese Lemon Sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons cold water

Cut each chicken breast half lengthwise. I forgot to cut it. Mix egg white and water in a medium glass or plastic bowl. Add chicken; turn to coat both sides and let stand 10 minutes.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Spray nonstick cookie sheet with cooking spray. Remove chicken from egg mixture; discard egg mixture. Mix flour, baking soda and red pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Add 1 chicken piece at a time. Seal bag; shake to coat chicken. Place chicken on cookie sheet; spray with cooking spray about 5 seconds or until surface of chicken appears moist.

Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes or until juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut. While chicken is baking, prepare Chinese Lemon Sauce. Let chicken stand 5 minutes;slice each piece into 5 slices. Pour sacue over chicken. Garnish with lemon slices and green onion. Lemons are too expensive to use as garnish.

Chinese Lemon Sauce: Heat all ingredients except cornstarch and cold water to boiling in 1-quart suacepan, stirring occasionally. Mix cornstarch and cold water; stir into sauce. Cook and stir about 30 seconds or until thickened. Serve warm, or cover and refrigerate up to 2 weeks. I made it the night before and refrigerated it until I needed it. It was a bit thin for my taste so I added a tiny bit more cornstarch and cold water when I reheated it.


This is my third attempt at a lemon chicken recipe. The first was good, but a bit too tangy and it lacked a sauce. The second recipe, from Katie Couric, was a disaster - way too much sauce and not a good sauce either. Someone commented that they saw her make that recipe on television and she made it differently. I sure hope so - she claims to serve it at dinner parties and I don't think the version I ate was suitable for dinner parties.

Well they say the third time's the charm and in this case they're right. This was the result I was after. I loved the sauce - the garlic in the sweet sauce was really intriguing. For the first time in my life, I could almost understand the appeal of garlic ice cream (something offered at some garlic festivals that I've seen on television but dismissed as completely wacky).

The chicken had a really nice, crispy golden coating. I gave it a generous coat of spray canola oil but it was still much less oil than if I had pan-fried or deep-fried the chicken. Even my husband commented that this was 'good chicken'.

This was quick to prepare too. I made the rice and the lemon sauce the night before and then I mixed up the flour mixture in the morning. After work, I just had to egg and flour the chicken, spray it and bake it and heat up the sauce and rice.

Blast From The Past: Crunchy Baked Chicken from April 2006 - another instance of 'oven frying' leading to miraculous results.

Question of the Day: Do you like Chinese food? What do you usually order?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Satisfying a craving
--Creamy Italian Dressing

Creamy Italian Dressing
Pillsbury Complete Cook Book Copyright 2000, 2006

1/2 cup olive oil I used canola oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise leave this out if you don't want a creamy dressing
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar I used rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped pimiento, drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, halved
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves or Italian seasoniong
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

1. In jar with tight-fitting lid, combine all ingredients; shake well. Refrigerate at least 2 hours to blend flavors.
2. Before serving, remove garlic; shake well. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

I had a hankering for a creamy Italian dressing. I worked for a catering place in high school that served creamy Italian dressing almost every party. This recipe produced a much thinner dressing than the one we used to serve, which is nice. With a thinner dressing, you don't end up using as much.

This is the only recipe I made last night. I free-styled some turkey meatballs and simmered them in jarred (yes, jarred) sauce. I couldn't get Alessio's so I used another somewhat local company, DelGrosso's Tomato and Basil sauce, and it was delicious. Along with some garlic bread made from homemade Italian Bread that I had in the freezer, it was a very nice dinner, with plenty leftover which I divided up into future lunches.

Expect things to get very simplistic around here. It's my goal to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible right now. I may change my mind tomorrow but right now, there's just too much else to do.

Blast From The Past: Light Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs from last month. That recipe for spaghetti and turkey meatballs was very good but I think the fast version I made last night was just as good, maybe even better, probably because I made meatballs the night before and they simmered in the sauce longer than the America's Test Kitchen recipe.

Question of the Day: Do you buy jarred pasta sauce? What brand?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Cupcakes and gorgeous weather
--Yellow Butter Cupcakes

Yellow Butter Cupcakes
Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook Copyright 2005

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitter with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined after each addition.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cups so that each is about two-thirds full. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until cupcakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool. Invert cupcakes onto rack; reinvert and let cool completely, top sides up.

Makes 2 dozen.

I know, this picture is not very useful to anyone wondering what these cupcakes were really like. I made these for my dad's birthday but I did bring a couple of them home and I could have taken an interior shot of these. However, I know myself well enough to know that if I did that I would have eaten another cupcake and I'm really trying to behave so you'll just have to settle for this exterior shot of these cupcakes covered in chocolate frosting and sprinkles.

This wasn't the last yellow cake recipe I'll ever attempt but it was perfectly fine. I actually chose it because it was really easy to halve the recipe, which I did since I didn't need two dozen cupcakes. I liked that this cake wasn't too sweet and it complimented the frosting and sprinkles nicely.

Besides opening this cookbook to make these cupcakes, I didn't crack a cookbook this entire weekend. Spring has arrived in a big way. It was too just darn nice outside and there were too many other things to do. Luckily, I had already worked up this week's menu or I'd be scrambling right now.

Blast From the Past: Grilled Cuban Sandwiches from June 2006. I need more quick and easy recipes like that right now. I really don't want to be in the kitchen when it's so nice out.

Question of the Day: Were you blessed with a gorgeous weekend too?

Friday, April 20, 2007

You must know her name by now
--Grilled Pork Tenderloin Oriental

Grilled Pork Tenderloin Oriental
The New Holly Clegg Trim & Terrific Cookbook Copyright 2002,2006

¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon onion powder
2 (1-pound) pork tenderloins, trimmed of fat

In a shallow dish, combine the orange juice, soy sauce, honey, garlic, bay leaf, pepper, mustard, ginger, and onion powder. Add the pork tenderloins. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 4 hours (time permitting) or overnight. I marinated it while I was at work, around 10 hours.

Grill the pork over medium-hot coals for 20 to 25 minutes, or bake at 350 degrees F (I baked it), basting with marinade mixture, for 50 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees F. Discard the used marinade. Serve. I boiled the marinade before basting and drizzled it over the meat at the end.

Serves 6 to 8. Per serving: 144 calories, 24 g protein, 1 g carbs, 4 g fat, 0 mg chol, 243 mg sodium

Darn if that Holly Clegg hasn't done it again. This pork was great. I knew it would be when I mixed up the marinade. It smelled so good. Orange and pork really go well together (as I learned with Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Mojo Sauce).

I got to use my new garlic press too. I finally bought a good one, which was only under $8 so I have no idea why I waited so long. Probably because I once picked up a plastic one on clearance at the grocery store and it didn't work very well. I had begun to really hate chopping garlic. I don't know why, I just really hated it. I LOVE my new garlic press. Sometimes it's the little things that make me happy.

The only bad thing about this recipe is that I think I ruined my roasting pan. It's nonstick and usually cleans up easily so I didn't think to put foil under the pork (I had it on a rack) but the glaze that dripped down burned to a crisp and I'm not sure the pan is going to live. It wasn't an expensive one but it was in great condition before this recipe.

Blast From The Past: Orange-Honey Glazed Carrots from January 2007. I made these to serve with this pork recipe and my husband didn't leave me any leftovers. That says quite a bit - sometimes he leaves me all of the vegetables.

Question of the Day: Do you have any tips on how I can get that roasting pan clean?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Unsophisticated yet delicious
--Beef Tamale Skillet Meal

Beef Tamale Skillet Meal
The Busy Mom’s Make It Quick Cookbook Copyright 2004

1 lb. extra-lean ground beef
2 cups chunky-style salsa
1 11-oz. can Mexicorn, drained
6 white corn tortillas, cut into ½-inch strips I used 8 tortillas
2 tbsp. water I added a bit more water
1 ½ cups nonfat shredded cheddar cheese I used Cabot's 50% Light Sharp Cheddar

Spray large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and cook, stirring frequently, until beef is browned and crumbled. Add salsa, Mexicorn, tortilla strips, and water; toss to mix. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle cheese over top, cover, and cook on medium-low heat until cheese is melted.

Serves 4. Per serving: 396 calories, 6.7g fat, 42g carbs, 39g protein, 61mg cholesterol, 5g fiber, 1377 mg sodium

Here's another great recipe from Jyl Steinback, the 'Healthiest Mom in America'. This recipe is a bit high in sodium, which is an eye opener because none of the ingredients really jump out at you as a sodium threat and there's no added salt. Only the salsa, corn and cheese are really contributing to the sodium. You can cut back by using frozen corn (or sodium-free canned corn) and/or some sort of canned tomatoes instead of salsa (you might have to beef up the flavor with more spices) if you really need to watch your sodium.

This is the third recipe I've tried from this cookbook - Beef and Potato Tex-Mex Hash and Spanish Rice with Ground Beef were the other two. They're all similar, all very good and all very fast and easy to prepare. These recipes are great alternatives if you're one to resort to packaged skillet meals such as Hamburger Helper.

I wasn't sure what to serve with this. It's really a complete meal but I knew this alone wouldn't satisfy my husband. I also knew that without serving anything else, I had no chance of any leftovers for lunch the next day. I ended up making rice. At first another starch seemed ridiculous but if I had made a pan of enchiladas with these similar ingredients, I wouldn't have thought twice about making rice, my stand-by side for Mexican-type recipes. The rice was very good with this. However, my plan didn't really work since all my husband left behind was some of the rice and only the smallest amount of the Beef Tamale Skillet Meal (jusy the stuff that stuck to the sides of the pan). It's very rare that he doesn't leave something behind as a courtesy so that's a good indication of how much he liked this.

Blast From The Past: Tex-Mex Cavatappi from February 2006 - another quick and delicious recipe using salsa as the magic ingredient.

Question of the Day: Do you prefer mild, medium or hot salsa? Or no salsa at all for you?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Another beef sandwich
--French Dip

French Dip
Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook Copyright 2000

3-lb rump roast
½ cup soy sauce I used low-sodium
1 beef bouillon cube
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. dried thyme
3-4 peppercorns
1 tsp. garlic powder

1. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Add water to almost cover meat.
2. Cover. Cook on low 10-12 hours. I cooked it on high for a few hours.

I set a record with this recipe. The cookbook had only been in my possession for less than an hour when I made this recipe. I wanted to make beef sandwiches with a roast I had but I realized the recipe that I picked out was one that I had already made (Marinated Beef Sandwiches) so I needed another one right away. Lo and behold, this book had been waiting for me on my doorstep when I got home from work and I knew it would have what I was looking for in it.

I should have let this cook overnight instead of just cooking it between work and bedtime (we ate it the next evening). The meat was tender but not falling apart tender. It was good but I'm still searching for that ultimate slow-cooked sliced beef sandwich.

I made the mistake of making the rolls this weekend, wrapping them up tightly and leaving them on the counter. They were getting stale. I forget how quickly homemade bread turns stale since I usually use it or freeze it right away.

I've been trying to use up stuff this week. This recipe didn't require buying anything extra. I had a roast in the freezer ($2.99/lb for a 'natural' roast!) and the rest of the ingredients were from the pantry. The rolls were made from scratch too. So my cupboards are getting bare, which feels strangely good. I love seeing my cupboards full too but when they start to get empty, I know I'm going to get to fill them up again soon. I have at least one more week until I make a Costco run.

This book is one of those that has several variations of the same recipe, which is actually kind of nice if you're not quite sure what you can substitute or leave out of a recipe. You're bound to find the exact variation that you need in this cookbook. Many of the recipes are a bit heavy and/or recipes that I've made before but I picked this up because I'm really looking for ways to save time and effort getting dinner on the table after work.

Blast From The Past: Slow-Cooker Pot Roast with Caramelized Onion Gravy from March 2006. I debated making that recipe again with this roast.

Question of the Day: How much time do you spend getting dinner on the table during the week?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

One major problem, a few minor ones
--Hawaiian Ham Kabobs

Hawaiian Ham Kabobs
501 Delicious Diabetic Recipes Copyright 2000

1 ( 15 ¼-ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice, undrained
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon granulated brown sugar substitute I used regular light brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 pound reduce-fat, low-salt cooked ham, cut into 1-inch cubes I used turkey ham
1 medium-size green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium-size sweet red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
Vegetable cooking spray
3 cups cooked long-grain rice (cooked without salt or fat)

1. Drain pineapple chunks, reserving juice. Set pineapple aside.
2. Combine juice, soy sauce, and next 6 ingredients in a shallow dish; stir well. Add ham and pineapple; stir lightly to coat. Cover and marinate in refrigerator at least 15 minutes; stirring occasionally.
3. Remove ham and pineapple from marinade, reserving marinade. Place marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; remove from heat, and set aside. I boiled it until thickened.
4. Thread ham, pineapple and peppers alternately on 12 (10-inch) skewers. Coat grill rack with cooking spray; place grill over medium-hot coals (350 degrees to 400 degrees). Place kabobs on rack, and grill, uncovered, 8 to 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated, turning and basting often with marinade. I used the George Foreman grill. Serve kabobs over rice.

Yield: 6 servings Per serving: 269 cal, 40.5g carbs, 16.1g pro, 4. g fat, 37mg chol, 1.1g fiber, 874mg sodium

These kabobs missed the mark for one reason - too much ginger. And, once again, I 'knew' this yet I ignored my instincts and put the full amount in. I had other troubles when I made these too. First of all, I had a stabbing headache all day long that day. I was not in the mood for a fiddly recipe but I had no other options. The weather wasn't cooperating so outdoor grilling was out (and hence the large metal skewers I planned to use were out too). Then I discovered that I was out of wooden skewers so I had to use popsicle sticks. Skewering peppers and small chunks of pineapple with rounded popsicle sticks is not fun. If I didn't start out with a headache, I would have had one when I was finished.

In the end, the excess ginger (I should have just substituted some jarred grated ginger) was the only thing that affected the final product. It didn't ruin them but it definitely kept these from being as good as they could have been.

Peppers, pineapple - this is my contribution to Sweetnick's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesdays. Kabobs are a great way to add veggies to a meal.

I received some weird hits, resulting from queries on common e-mail extensions, hitting the cookbook giveaway posts - coming from Google Nigeria! I added a note to the latest giveaway post suggesting that you modify your address so it can't be easily picked up by spammers trolling for e-mail addresses. I don't use those addresses for anything except contacting the winner so if you start getting spammed - it wasn't me! Lord, I hate spammers.

Blast From The Past: Ham Steak With Spicy Mustard Sauce from January 2006. That recipe would have been a lot faster and easier to prepare than these kabobs.

Question of the Day: Would you like to see all the spammers in the world lined up and pushed off of a tall cliff?

Monday, April 16, 2007

From the most popular cookbook in the blogosphere
--Classic Banana Bundt Cake

Classic Banana Bundt Cake
Baking From My Home To Yours Copyright 2006

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
About 4 very ripe bananas, mashed (should have 1 ½ to 1 ¾ cups)
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt I used sour cream

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9- to 10-inch (12-cup) Bundt pan. Don’t place the pan on a baking sheet – you want the oven’s heat to circulate through the Bundt’s inner tube.

Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each egg goes in. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the bananas. Finally, mix in half the dry ingredients (don’t be disturbed when the batter curdles), all the sour cream and then the rest of the flour mixture. Scrape the batter into the pan rap the pan on the counter to de-bubble the batter and smooth the top.

Bake for 65 to 75 minutes , or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean (mine was done in about 55 minutes). Check the cake after about 30 minutes – if it is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the cake to a rack to cool for 10 minutes before unmolding onto the rack to cool to room temperature.

Makes 14 servings.

Oops! I uploaded the wrong picture. There's nothing wrong with your eyes - that picture is sort of faded. I wish this were a better picture but this is a case where the greatness of a recipe doesn't translate to a photograph.

I finally got myself a copy of this book, after just about every other food blogger in the land. It definitely has star quality as far as cookbooks go. I was attracted to almost every recipe. This one attracted me by it's sheer simplicity. It's definitely a very good banana cake recipe although I will probably still go to my stand-by banana cake recipe when I want a cream cheese frosting since I think this recipe is too heavy for a frosting like that. This is more of a banana pound cake. It's very dense and moist with crispy edges. There was a suggestion of a glaze for this cake but I think it's just perfect on it's own.

On Thursday evening I bought a bunch of 'clearance' bananas for about 25 cents, specifically for this recipe. I didn't use them until Sunday and when I peeled them, the bananas were still in perfect eating condition, despite the black skins. Bizarre.

We never got hit by the big nor'easter this weekend. Just rain Sunday - Saturday was actually quite nice. Once again, the weather people got it wrong. I know everyone wasn't so lucky.

Blast From The Past: Crumb-Coated Dijon Chicken from September 2006. This is what we're having tonight. I can't wait.

Question of the Day: Do you like pound cakes plain or glazed (or maybe not at all)?

Friday, April 13, 2007

April 2007 Cookbook Giveway

The month is slipping away fast so I had to scramble to find a cookbook to giveway. I knew it had to be a cookbook that I already owned a copy of since I didn't want to offer anything that wasn't tried-and-true so I started going through my Recipes, listed by cookbook link and as soon as I got to this one, I knew this was a book that many of you would enjoy.

This book is loaded, LOADED, with healthy recipes. There are approximately 500 of them. There are appetizers, kid's favorites, breads, desserts, main courses, sides - basically, recipes in almost every category you can think of. There are pictures of every recipe (and nutritional information) and it's spiral bound. You can see a samples of the layout here, here and here. (I think the copy I ordered to give away has a plastic binding so don't get too excited.)

These are some of the recipes from this cookbook that I've tried so far:
Banana Waffles
Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chicken Fingers
Garlic-Mustard Green Beans
Memphis-Style Pork Chops
Multigrain and Cherry Muffins
Orzo-Broccoli Pilaf
Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
Zesty Swiss Steak

This is how it works - just leave a comment on this post. I just need an e-mail address (if your profile links to an e-mail, you don't need to type it out, I'll find it). Entry is open until the last day of the month. First chance I get after that, I'll draw the winner. Then I'll contact the winner for a mailing address and then I mail the book! I'll pay the shipping, of course. I'll open this to everyone - in or out of the U.S.

I've received some some weird hits, resulting from queries on common e-mail extensions, hitting the cookbook giveaway posts. Probably someone trolling for e-mail addresses so feel free to modify your e-mail address when you leave it, using 'at' instead of@ and 'dot com' instead of '.com'.

They lucky winner will get a nice new copy of this book, while I have to deal with sticky pages since I spilled something on my copy some time ago.

Good Luck!

****************The winner is kacee52!************

Not the ideal use but still very good
--Huli-Huli Glaze

Huli-Huli Glaze
The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking & Entertaining Copyright 2006

¾ cup soy sauce, regular or low-sodium
¼ cup ketchup
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
3 tablespoons dry sherry
2 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 to 3 plump garlic cloves, peeled

Puree the glaze ingredients in a blended, then pour into a bowl.
I left the long drawn-out directions on how to use this glaze out since I was feeling lazy. I used this on chicken breasts. This would have been much better on chicken pieces but I didn't have that kind of time and this was lighter and still very flavorful. It has a nice Asian flavor too it.
Basically, you want to cook your chicken, whatever part of the chicken or whatever cooking method you use (due to bad weather, I had to use the broiler), until the chicken is nearly done and then start basting it with the sauce. You don't want to wait too long to start basting or you won't as much flavor into the chicken but if you start too early, you'll end up with burnt chicken, due to the sugars in the glaze.
I can't wait to try this on chicken pieces on the grill, when I have more time and the weather is nicer. They're calling for snow (SNOW!) this weekend so I have no idea when that will be. At least this cool and damp weekend will be a good time for me to do some baking.
Blast From The Past: Sherried Shrimp from January 2006, another recipe that used sherry. These shrimp were great but we're holding off on shellfish around here, until my son is a bit older.

Question of the Day: Are you having normal or wacky weather where you live?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

My favorite brussels sprouts recipe EVER
--Shredded Brussels Sprouts

Shredded Brussels Sprouts
The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook Copyright 2006

2 pounds brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ small red onion, cut into slivers (1/2 cup)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons light brown sugar

Rinse brussels sprouts; remove discolored leaves. Cut off stem ends, and thinly slice brussels sprouts. (They should look shredded.) Heat butter and oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add shredded brussels sprouts, garlic and onion. Sauté 8 to 10 minutes or until brussels sprouts are tender and onion is slightly cararmelized. Season with salt and pepper; transfer to a serving bowl. Add vinegar and brown sugar to skillet. Since I quartered the recipe, I left the sprouts in the pan since the small amount of vinegar would have evaporated almost immediately in an empty pan. Simmer over medium heat 30 seconds; pour over brussels sprouts and toss gently.

Yield: 8 servings

I love brussels sprouts but I have a complaint about most recipes that I've tried. The flavor doesn't often reach all the way into the core of the sprouts, and if it does, the outer leaves are usually soggy and overcooked. With this recipe, the brussels sprouts get a little bit crispy, the onions caramelize and the sweet-and-sour flavor gets dispersed throughout the dish evenly. It was heavenly. My only complaint with this recipe is that I only had a 10 ounce package of brussels sprouts (I quartered the rest of the recipe) and I didn't want to share.

Of course, you have to sacrifice aesthetics when you make this recipe. Brussels sprouts are so damn cute, aren't they? I did feel a little bad shredding up the tiny cabbages for this recipe but I forgave myself after I tasted it.

If you really wanted to guild the lily, you could add some bacon or pancetta to this - and/or raisins. Raisins! That just popped into my head. Is that a crazy idea? A quick Google search tells me that no, that isn't crazy. Brussels sprouts and raisins do mix. I can't wait to try that.

Blast From The Past: Brussels Sprouts With Pancetta from January 2006 - a good brussels sprouts recipe but not as good as today's recipe.

Question of the Day: What's your favorite vegetable?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Not from a box
--Spanish Noodles ‘n’ Ground Beef

Spanish Noodles ‘n’ Ground Beef
The Taste of Home Cookbook Copyright 2006

1 pound ground beef
1 small green pepper, chopped
1/3 cup chopped onion
3 ¼ cups uncooked medium egg noodles I used whole wheat and added extra noodles
1 can (14 ½ ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup water I added more water since I added extra noodles
¼ cup chili sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

1) In a large skillet, cook the beef, green pepper and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the noodles, tomatoes, water, chili sauce, salt and pepper.
2) Cover and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes or until the noodles are tender, stirring frequently. Top with bacon. I mixed the bacon in.

Makes 5 servings.

This is another one of those Hamburger Helper style recipes. It was just as easy to make (especially if you have a handy mini-chopper) and you can control what you put in there. This wasn't earth-shattering but it was enjoyable enough for a quick weeknight meal. I'm always a little bit hesitant to cook pasta right in with everything else but the texture of the pasta in this recipe was fine - not the same as pasta boiled separately, but perfectly fine.

I used organic tomatoes in this because I happen to think organic canned tomatoes taste better. That may not be true, but that's my perception. I have to say, the 'organic' thing is really getting out of hand. A year or two ago, I started buying some organic products and only one store carried much of anything in that category. Now you see organic everywhere you turn. That would be a great thing if you could trust that label.

Seeing the major food companies try to take advantage of the term organic to increase sales bothers me. The other day I saw organic Oreos. Well, Oreos 'made with organic flours'. I didn't stop to read the package but I'm sure those Oreos only had a small amount of organic ingredients in them. I also saw organic salad dressings, pickles, Rice Krispies, and other organic products from companies that have sold non-organic products for years.

What's nice about the 'true' organic farmers and companies is that they're really committed to organic food. These other companies are just trying to increase sales by jumping on another band wagon (after low and non-fat, low-carb, and the whole-grain thing that is still going strong). What bothers me is that eventually these tactics are exposed and the term organic will have a negative connotation. People will read a few articles about these pseudo-organic foods and assume that all organic products are a rip-off.

Blast From The Past: Cheeseburger Macaroni from January 2006, another recipe in this style.

Question of the Day: Have you jumped on the organic bandwagon?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A very cute appetizer
--Cheese-Stuffed Jalapeños

Cheese-Stuffed Jalapeños
Taste of Home Celebrations Cookbook Copyright 2005

25 medium fresh jalapeño peppers
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
3 cups (12 ounces) finely shredded cheddar cheese I used Cabot 50% Light Sharp Cheddar
1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

Cut jalapeños in half lengthwise; remove seeds and membranes. In a large saucepan, boil peppers in water for 5-10 minutes (the longer you boil the peppers, the milder they become.) Drain and rinse in cold water; set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, cheddar cheese and Worcestershire sauce. Spoon 2 teaspoonfuls in to each jalapeño half; sprinkle with bacon. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve warm.

Yield: about 4 dozen

I couldn't resist a package of jalapeños for 14 cents, from the reduced produce section. There were over a dozen peppers in there, but I quartered this recipe and only used 7 of the peppers, for a small appetizer for just me and my husband. I froze the rest for future recipes.

I've made 'snake bites' before where I cleaned out jalapeños, stuffed them with straight cream cheese, wrapped them with bacon and grilled them. They were awesome but they were messy (bacon grease dripping into the grill, causing flare-ups ) and took time and watching to cook on the grill. This recipe was so much easier and neater. There's no getting around the hard part - cleaning out the seeds and membranes but after that this recipe was quite easy to finish off. Of course, I may not have felt that way if I had made all 25 peppers!

This is my contribution to Sweetnick's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesdays. Jalapeños are a good source of antioxidants and they're very healthy. Cream cheese, cheddar cheese and bacon sure do make healthy foods taste good.

It's the 10th and I still don't have a cookbook to giveaway this month. Hopefully this weekend I'll get my hands on one. The problem is that I can't shop for a giveaway cookbook without buying a few for myself.

Blast From The Past: Sweet Jalapeño Mustard Turkey Thighs from May 2006. I've made these a couple of times and I'll make them a few more. I'm not sure why I liked this recipe so much - it comes out quite ugly - but I do.

Question of the Day: What kind of cookbooks are you interested in?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Leftover Easter ham?
--Ham-and-Cheese Rye Muffins

Ham-and-Cheese Rye Muffins
King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Copyright 2006

2 cups (7 ½ ounces) whole rye (pumpernickel) flour
¾ cup (3 1/8 ounces) unbleached bread flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 ½ cups (6 ounces) grated Swiss cheese
1 large egg
1 ½ cups (12 ounces) buttermilk
½ cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
4 ounces diced ham or ½ pound bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled I used ham

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a muffin tin or line with papers and coat the papers well with nonstick spray; the cheese tends to make them stick a bit.

Whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and onion powder in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 ¼ cups of the Swiss cheese, tossing it in the flour mixture to coat it.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk and melted butter. Add, all at once, to the flour mixture, and stir until evenly moistened. Stir in the ham (or bacon).

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of cheese over the tops. Bake the muffins until the cheese on top is toasted golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 27 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a rack to finish cooling, or serve warm.

Makes 1 dozen. Per muffin: 21g whole grains, 254 cal, 14 g fat, 11 g protein, 23 g complex carbs, 5 g fiber, 59 mg chol, 448 mg sodium, 278 mg potassium, 122RE vit A, 2 mg iron, 260 mg calcium, 385 mg phosphorus

I needed something savory and portable for breakfast. I've been taking a side trip through McDonald's drive-thru in the morning way too often lately. I did hesitate when I saw how much butter and fat these muffins contained but I figured they were probably no worse than what I had been eating from McDonald's.

These did taste like a ham and cheese on rye sandwich. A little bit of caraway in there might have been nice too. One muffin was very satisfying for breakfast but I wish these were a bit lower in fat and calories.

I'm just getting acquainted with this cookbook. The bread recipes are generally too large for my bread machine so I'll either have to make them by hand or buy a bigger bread machine (who knows maybe I'll get lucky at a yard sale this summer). As you can see, whole grain doesn't necessarily mean healthy, although I suppose it is healthier to use whole grain flours instead of white flour in a high-fat recipe.

My dishwasher is still dead. I can't bring myself to start shopping for a new one nor can I bring myself to sink more money into this one. I do need to buy some rubber gloves since I have dishpan hands after only a few days of washing dishes.

The good news is that we're having Easter leftovers for dinner tonight, courtesy of my husband's grandmother. It will be nice to have a weeknight off from cooking.

Blast From The Past: Ham and Egg Enchiladas from October 2005, another good use for leftover Easter ham. I've made that recipe several times.

Question of the Day: Do you cook with whole grains?

Friday, April 06, 2007

What a night
--Family-Style Turkey Loaf

Family-Style Turkey Loaf
The Everything Gluten-Free Cookbook Copyright 2006

1 pound mixed ground turkey
1 cup ground popcorn or gluten-free cornbread crumbs I used regular cornbread crumbs
2/3 cup milk
¼ cup chili sauce
3 eggs I used 2 extra large eggs
1 teaspoon thyme
½ cup chopped onion
salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 strips bacon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Put all but the bacon into your food processor and whirl until well-blended. I just blended it all by hand.
3. Pout into a 9”x5” bread pan and put that pan into a much larger one (such as an 11”x 13” pan). Place in the oven and add boiling water to the larger pan. Cut the bacon into halves and arrange across the top of the loaf. Bake for 1 hour. Mine took much longer.

Serves 4 to 6.

This meatloaf was very soupy before I baked it - I never thought I would be able to slice it. I left it in the pan overnight and then sliced it and reheated it the next day. The slices were very tender after they were reheated but they held together (I had to be very careful with them.)

I usually like a topping on my meatloaf (tomato sauce, ketchup and brown sugar, etc), but I thought this was very flavorful with just the bacon. You could definitely taste the thyme and I used crumbs from the Sour Cream Corn Cake that I had leftover in the freezer. That corn bread was flavored with some rosemary.

So I would have really enjoyed this but my son was having some redness around his mouth which always sets me on edge and made me lose my appetite. He has a cold and I think they played outside yesterday and we were having unseasonably cold weather so that was probably all it was (redness from his dripping nose). Food allergies make you paranoid though, and all three of us have been suffering from colds and congestion so he sounded a little wheezy too, making me even more paranoid. He was acting absolutely fine and he turned out fine but my stomach was in knots for a few hours.

Then to top it all off, my dishwasher died again. Same problem I paid almost $100 to fix just a few months ago. It's just not worth it to put any more money into that piece of garbage. The old dishwasher was 20 years old and still working (something busted underneath and I thought it would be a good time to replace the dishwasher). The new one lasted less than 3 years??? Appliance manufacturers should be ashamed of themselves.

I bought this cookbook with the intention of doing a gluten-free experiment at some point in the future. I'm not sure when I'll get around to that. I'll need more than just this one cookbook. It's a decent cookbook but I'm guessing that there are better gluten-free cookbooks out there.

Blast From The Past: Brown Sugar Meat Loaf from October 2005. That's a good meat loaf recipe too but I think that ground turkey makes a much more tender meat loaf than ground beef.

Question of the Day: What are your plans for Easter?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

This recipe's a keeper
--Tangy Pork Chops

Tangy Pork Chops
The Carbohydrate Addict’s Cookbook Copyright 2000

¼ cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons prepared mustard I used a mild Dijon
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
4 boneless center-cut rib chops, 1 inch thick I used loin chops

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except pork, blending well. Place pork in plastic bag and add contents of the bowl. Turning to coat the meat well. Close bag securely and marinate in refrigerator 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Turn occasionally to assure uniform marinating.

Preheat the broiler. Remove chops from plastic bag and discard marinade. Place pork chops on aluminum foil-covered baking sheet approximately 3 to 5 inches from heat. Broil chops 8 to 10 minutes per side. Serve warm.

This was a simple recipe that I'll probably make again many times. While I wouldn't say that the finished product was tangy, these chops were very tender and flavorful. Even my husband, the self-alleged pork hater, commented that these were very good (hours after he had eaten them). I loved the way the onions crisped up under the broiler. Yum! I can't wait for lunch (leftovers!)

This is a rather plain and unexciting cookbook but after this success, I'm anxious to try other recipes from it. Some low-carb cookbooks are loaded with fat but this one isn't too bad, although many of the recipes do use high-fat products. There are enough that don't to make this book worth my while. They don't give nutritional information and I think strict low-carbers would probably balk at some of their recipes but since I picked it up off a discount rack, I can't complain too much.

Blast From The Past: Easy Spicy Apple Sauce Muffins from April 2006.

Question of the Day: How many different types of mustard do you have on hand right now?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Not exotic, but delicious
--Greek-Seasoned Chicken with Orzo

Greek-Seasoned Chicken with Orzo
501 Delicious Diabetic Recipes For You And Your Family Copyright 2000

¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon Greek-style seasoning
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 (6-ounce) skinned chicken breast halves
1 cup orzo, uncooked I made more
¼ cup sliced ripe olives
1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh chives I used some dried
1 tablespoon reduced-calorie margarine, melted
¾ teaspoon Greek-style seasoning Oops! I forgot to add this to the orzo
vegetable cooking spray
fresh oregano sprigs (optional)

1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a large heavy-duty, zip-top plastic bag; add chicken. Seal bag, and shake until chicken is well-coated. Marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes, turning bag occasionally.
2. Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Combine orzo, olives, and next 3 ingredients, tossing gently. Set aside, and keep warm.
3. Remove chicken from marinade, reserving marinade. Bring marinade to a boil in a small saucepan; reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes.
4. Coat grill rack with cooking spray; place on grill over medium-hot coals (350 – 400 degrees). Place chicken on rack; grill, covered, 10 minutes on each side or until chicken is done, basting occasionally with marinade. I cooked this on the GF grill. Serve over orzo mixture. Garnish with oregano sprigs, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings Per serving: 364 cal, 38.6 g carbs, 33.4 g pro, 7.8 g fat, 74 mg chol, 1.6 g fiber, 451 mg sodium

This was one of those simple yet satisfying recipes. I think it would have been even better if I had fired up the grill outside but it's just easier to use the GF grill when you have other things going on in the kitchen. My husband was impressed with the orzo. I explained to him that it's just pasta but he seemed to think it was something exotic.

This is a pictureless cookbook but I can forgive that when over 500 recipes are packed into a cookbook. I think I'll be using this cookbook quite often. The recipes aren't unusual yet they're not all the same everyday recipes you see over and over.

Last night I was trying to plan recipes using 'unused' cookbooks again but not many of my cookbooks fall into that category. I'm proud to say that I have tried recipes from most of them. The majority of the unused books are baking books and there just isn't that much room in our diet for sweets and pastries.

Blast From The Past: Mini Cocoa Swirl Cheesecakes from October 2006. I have to make another batch of these - I really liked them.

Question of the Day: Have you ever made orzo?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Just your basic stir-fry
-- Spicy Beef & Broccoli Stir-Fry

Spicy Beef & Broccoli Stir-Fry
The Pampered Chef Main Dishes, Recipes At The Heart of Every Meal Copyright 2000

¼ cup light soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 boneless beef top sirloin steak ( 1 ¼ pounds), trimmed
3 cups broccoli flowerets
1 medium onion
1 medium red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 teaspoon peeled fresh ginger root, finely chopped I used jarred
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup beef broth I used low-sodium

1. In Classic Batter Bowl, whisk together soy sauce, cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of the oil with Stainless Steel Whisk. Cut steak lengthwise in half and then crosswise into ¼-inch-thick strips with Chef’s Knife. Add beef to soy sauce mixture; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 15 minutes to marinate.
2. Meanwhile, cut broccoli into flowerets and onion into thin wedges. Cut bell pepper into thin strips, 2 inches long. Set vegetables aside. Press garlic with Garlic Press. Finely chop ginger root with Food Chopper.
3. Heat 1 teaspoon of the remaining oil in Stir-Fry Skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add half each of beef, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes to skillet. Using Bamboo Spoon, stir-fry 1-2 minutes or until outside surface of beef is no longer pink. (Do not overcook.) Remove from skillet; keep warm. Repeat with 1 teaspoon of the remaining oil and remaining beef, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Remove from skillet.
4. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in same skillet until hot. Add broccoli, onion and bell pepper; stri-fry 3-4 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Return beef to skillet; add broth. Bring to a boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring gently, until sauce is slightly thickened.

Yield: 4 servings

This is actually a real Pampered Chef cookbook - not one of the seasonal pamphlet-style ones. It's a well-constructed cookbook with a spiral binding and color photographs on every page. I don't think I would pay what they ask for their cookbooks but I'm cheap. The recipes all look very good. They helpfully bold all of the Pampered Chef products you should be using when making their recipes. In the above recipe, I did use the bamboo spoon. Wait, no, I used a bamboo spatula.

This was a standard stir-fry. I tend to love the meat in a stir-fry while just tolerating the vegetables. The vegetable portion usually tastes a lot better when I eat the leftovers, but straight out of the pan, they're usually a little bit bland since they're cooked so quickly, they don't absorb a lot of flavor.

I just realized that it's Tuesday and this recipe is perfect for Sweetnick's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday.

In other news, the winner of the March Cookbook giveaway is .................... Mommy Prof! I don't have a cookbook lined up for April yet. Maybe this weekend I'll come up with one. I can't believe we're three days into April already.

Blast From The Past: Spicy Orange Beef from July 2006. I love this stir-fry because it's just about all meat.

Question of the Day: Do you own any Pampered Chef products?

Monday, April 02, 2007

A recipe from Patti LaBelle
-- Blueberry Cake

Blueberry Cake
Patti LaBelle’s Lite Cuisine Copyright 2003

2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups fresh blueberries
4 tablespoons margarine, softened I used butter
1 ¼ cups sugar substitute such as DiabetiSweet or Splenda
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon butter-flavor extract
I used 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract instead of the lemon and butter-flavor
1 cup 1 percent low-fat buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-cup or 10-cup nonstick tube pan with fat-free cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Transfer ½ cup of the flour mixture to another medium bowl. Add the blueberries and toss to coat with flour mixture. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the margarine until light, about 1 minute. Beat in the sugar substitute and sugar until fluffy, 1 minute. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Beat in the lemon extract and butter-flavor extract. Beat in the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, beating for 30 seconds after each addition.

In a clean medium bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted, about 5 minutes. Fold into the batter. Fold in the blueberries. Scrape into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto a rack and cool completely.

Option: In a medium bowl, melt 1 ½ tablespoons reduced-calorie margarine in the microwave oven, about 30 seconds on medium. Whisk in 1 ½ tablespoons fat-free half-and-half and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Then whisk in ¾ cup sugar substitute such as DiabetiSweet or Splenda, and 1/3 cup powdered sugar. Drizzle evenly over the cooled cake. (I used butter, superSkim and vanilla)

Makes 14 servings. Per serving: 120 calories, 3 g pro, 18 g carbs, 4.5 g fat, 35 mg chol, less than 1 g fiber, 150 mg sodium

There's no method to my madness. Whenever it's time to plan recipes, I just start pulling out cookbooks. It helps if I have something to focus on, such as a particular list of meats or ingredients that I already I have on hand. Last week, when it was time to select this week's recipes, I decided to focus on cookbooks that I haven't cooked from yet.

I've owned this cookbook for about a year. I'm not sure why I'm just now getting around to trying one of it's recipes. The recipes are pretty standard, but lightened up. Have you seen Patti LaBelle lately? She looks great. She must be doing something right.

The texture of this cake was excellent and the taste wasn't bad either but there's no gettting around the Splenda aftertaste. I wasn't in the mood for lemon so I left it out but that might have helped cut some of the aftertaste. It's something I'm getting used to but I only make something with Splenda every once and a while, so I don't think I'll ever get totally used to it.

Blast From The Past: Lemon-Blueberry Bundt Cake from July 2006. That's a another very good cake with the same flavors (and a larger cake - today's cake was quite small.)

Question of the Day: Do you have many cookbooks that you have never cooked from?