Friday, May 27, 2011

Refreshing Smoothie

There is nothing more refreshing than a freshly made fruit smoothie. Some people add yogurt or milk to their smoothies, I keep mine as 100% fruit. I don't even add any ice, I use frozen fruit to keep it cold. (I usually make smoothies in large batches and save some in the fridge. Adding ice just makes it way too watery for my taste.)

This smoothie has guava pulp, mango, strawberries, blueberries, orange juice, pineapple juice, and carrots. (Yes, that's right. I add veggies to my smoothies.) YUM!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cranberry Muffins

Last fall, I received some cranberries with my organic vegetable delivery. I didn't know what I wanted to make, so I placed them in the freezer until I had an idea.

I decided that I wanted to try to make muffins with items that I had in my fridge. I searched for recipes, and then ended up taking components from each to combine them into the recipe that I'm sharing with you today. The recipe makes ~20 medium sized muffins.

I'd never seen the inside of a fresh cranberry before. Wow they are sour! And I double checked, cranberry seeds are edible, and there are no pits in them, either!

  • 1/4 cup butter (salted)
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup Splenda Sugar Blend for Baking
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup non-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries (8 oz bag) ~2 cups whole. some finely chopped, others just cut in half

  • Cream butter, sugar, and apple sauce, eggs and vanilla. Stir in yogurt
  • Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices and slowly stir into the wet mixture.
  • Stir in cranberries
  • grease muffin pan and pour batter in until the cups are half full.
  • Bake at 350 degrees C for 20-25 min until muffins are done.

These muffins are SUPER moist, but this shouldn't be a surprise because of all of the wet ingredients that went into them (I think I should have left out the OJ). Maybe next time I should add some more flour... I will be back to tweak this recipe some more in the future.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cookie Press Shapes

Earlier today I shared with you my first experience with a cookie press. In this post, I am going to share the shapes of the disks from the Crate and Barrel Cookie Press. Other cookie presses contain similar shapes, so this could be a handy reference for other presses.

Some of my friends thought these looked like trilobites.

This is the one shape I cannot really figure out. The shape is too small to make a nice shape, the tiny stars are cute, but too much dough comes out in one click to make them.

Christmas Tree Cookie Press Shape

This shape would look really cool decorated with frosting.

When baked, my friends think that turned to the side, the pumpkin shape could also resemble Santa.

I didn't expect this shape to create a heart, but I love what came out of it!

Is this supposed to be a 4 leaf clover?

I'm not a huge fan of the candy cane shape, I think that too much dough comes out in a click to create a good shape. I would just roll candy canes by hand.

The best shape for filling with jam.

This flower shape is super pretty. If you added a face it could look like a lion

I love this shape, although the size of it does seem to vary a bit each time. I need more practice before I get a good consistent shape.

Another flower shape

I don't know what this shape is supposed to portray, but the design is super cool

Another flower shape. In baking it will fuse together.

First Use of the Cookie Press

I have wanted a cookie press for years so I could create interesting cookie shapes. I used the vanilla spritz cookie recipe that came with the press from Crate and Barrel. I'm going to have to go to Crate and Barrel and leave a 5 star review review. I'm not sure why people are complaining about this gun, but they must not let their dough be soft enough. I let the butter soften until it's SUPER soft before I used it, and had no issues. The only time the top popped off was when I forgot to screw it in properly!

Since this batch created so many cookies, I wanted to try some different decorating techniques. Dipping the cookies in sprinkles didn't work very well, but they are cute when dipped in powdered sugar after removal from the oven.

I then decided to make some jam filled cookies. I made a piping bag out of a zip lock sandwich bag, and added strawberry jam to the center of flower shaped cookies. If I've learned anything, I can add a little more Jam to the center of each cookie, they all came off of the cookie sheet easily.

Closeup view of piping jam into the center of the cookies.

Jam filled spritz cookies are ready to go into the oven

I had read somewhere that when you dip these freshly baked jam filled cookies in powdered sugar, that the sugar would melt into the Jam. As you can see from the picture below, this did not seem to be the case. However they look, these cookies were small, delightful little treats.

The biggest issue I had over the cookie press was not knowing what shape disk lead to what shape of cookie. Stay tuned for a post where I will share all of the shapes from my cookie press (later today).

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Easy Lasagna

At our New Years trip, I was exhausted so I decided to prepare simple, fast and easy lasagna for our friends (there were 20 of us staying in a cabin.) Normally I would make the sauce myself, add some other veggies to the layers, but this time I used just cheese, store bought tomato sauce, no cook noodles... and it came out AMAZING! This is now such a fast and easy dish to create that Lasagna is no longer a big ordeal.

Plus, making a lasagna for two people means that you have plenty of leftovers!

Ingredients for Simple, Easy Lasagna (amounts will vary depending on your pan size. Unfortunately I did not keep track of the volumes that I used...)
  • no cook noodles (one box)
  • whole milk ricotta cheese
  • part skim mozzarella
  • 1 standard sized jar of tomato sauce
Creating the Layers (in a 9x13 pan)
  • sauce
  • noodles
  • ricotta+mozzsarella
  • sauce
  • (repeat noodles through sauce until top layer) noodles - sauce - mozzarella.

I cooked the lasagna at 350 degrees F until the sauce was bubbling around the edges (30-50 minutes depending on your pan size.)

This lasagna was so delicious. I cannot wait to make it again!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Beer Shelf

We will be moving across the country soon. It turns out that the box from a case of beer is the perfect size to hold books. But we had all of this beer... where were we to put it? Our solution: the beer shelf. That's right, we traded book space for beer space.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Boiled Corn Beef

I love a good boiled dinner. When I make corned beef, I usually do not add veggies to the pot, I focus just on the meat. There are two reasons why I don't make corned beef more often: 1) it is expensive, and 2) it isn't that good for you.

We got a great deal on Corned Beef at Costco - $14 for 4 pounds! This was a deal that I just couldn't pass up.

The instructions that came with the cut of meat.

I'm cooking it in a very simple way, boiling. Since it supposedly takes 1 hour per pound of meat, I had to wait until I had an afternoon at home to cook it. I added the included spices to the pot (boy did it smell good.) After 2h and 45 min, the fork came out easy, so I decided it was done. I kept the pot covered until Keith came home for dinner.

I'm glad that I did not cook the corned beef for 4 hours like the package indicated, we would have had a very soft dinner, indeed!

As much fat as there is in the pot, the beef stock that remained after we removed the corned beef smelled amazing. I would have saved it if we had more space in our freezer...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

French French Toast

"Accounts differ as to the origins of the Luftwaffle. It is agreed that it began as a fulling and nutritious breakfast served by the brothers of Zeta Psi at MIT. The staple of the Luftwaffle is a Belgium waffle with a German flag stuck in its center. It has also been known to include French toast, German sausage, and an English muffin." -Keith

For Keith's birthday he requested his favorite breakfast (French toast) but with a special request. He wanted me to place a french flag ON the toast. I was more than happy to deliver! I suppose that this is a variation of a Luftwaffle, but I'm instead calling it French French toast.

For the French toast, I made a loaf of homemade challah. I skipped the braiding and egg wash since I would be soaking them in eggs the next morning! The egg mixture for this breakfast had 4 eggs, some milk, vanilla, cinnamon, a dash of allspice, a tiny amount of nutmeg and some brown sugar.

The only critique I got from Keith is that next time I should slice the bread thinner.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fried Onion Baked Chicken

I'm not great at baking meats, but it is something that I want to put more effort into. I'm just not good at planning out the timing of it all.

I wrapped two sweet potatoes in foil and stuck them in the oven, too. I figured it was worth a shot to see if the timing works out well. I'll cut to the end and say that the timing did not work well, and that we ate the potato the next day.

  • half container of onion pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 2 chicken breasts

  • Beat the egg (one medium sized egg)
  • Don't bother crushing onions
  • dip chicken breast into eggs then roll in onion pieces (put remaining on in baking pan.) place ocvered breasts on pre-sprayed pan
  • preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • start timer at 30 min!!! 30-45 min (or until cooked)

The onion pieces didn't stick to the chicken super well, so I sprinkled some on top before I placed the chicken in the oven.

This chicken was so moist and had a nice crunchy crust. Too bad the fried onion pieces aren't very healthy, otherwise I'd start making this all the time! I hope you enjoy the French Onion Baked Chicken as much as Keith and I did.


I served the chicken with some salad dressed with sugar free Balsamic dressing. It's a bit sweet for my taste, but I love the fact that it is low calorie!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Egg Breakfast Sandwich

I pride myself with cooking delicious breakfast sandwiches. Part of my secret is that I use brown sugar sausage, but in the sandwich I'm going to show you today I stuck to the basic egg and cheese on a bagel.

For the bagel I like to choose either an everything bagel or a honey wheat variety. I think a bit of sweet and salty is what makes a bagel sandwich scrumptious.

Before cooking the eggs, I toast the bagel. If I'm feeling like making the sandwich less healthy, I will butter the bagel. This is a step that I frequently skip.

I cook the eggs over easy, I like bursting the yolk when I cut into the sandwich. When the eggs are cooking I season them with salt and pepper (if I'm using butter on the bagel, I usually then skip the salt.) I like to use cheddar cheese or a mexican cheese blend.

I place the bagel on a foil covered tray and then toast it until the cheese has melted. (Tip: placing some cheese between the two eggs will help keep them from slipping.)

Cut the bagel in half and enjoy!