Sunday, September 30, 2012

Vietnamese Noodle Salad

This recipe was super yummy, super fresh, and light...definitely will be a repeater! 
I think I can also take most of these ingredients and make spring rolls out of them. 
Thankfully, I have an asian market close by my house so I was able to pick up some of the harder to find ingredients, but hopefully they are at the regular supermarket.

The hardest thing to me about this recipe is the prep and cutting all the carrots and cucumber to edible, pretty, julienne size. I have been told by my best friends husband (whom we deem the "cutting nazi") that I don't know how to cut into matchstick pieces...I am definitely a believer that you need good (and sometimes expensive) knives. I have not gotten there yet, but when I start to set up my own kitchen you better believe that Williams Sonoma will be getting a visit from me :)

My work with "run of the mill" knives:

not too shabby :)

So, once again I got my inspiration from Bev Cooks her recipe added chicken, I just didn't have time to grill up any, so mine was the veggie version.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Almond Cupcakes Chocolate Buttercream and Brown Sugar Toasted Almonds

If it weren't for the internet I am pretty sure that I would be eating spaghetti, tacos, enchiladas, and white rice every week. Haha, total dramatization, but sometimes I don't want to even try to be creative and I go back to "cooking autopilot" mode.

I now have also expanded my baking, which used to consist of box cake/cupcake mixes and cookies were the only thing I would make from scratch. Well, no more box mixes for this lady!! And I am pretty sure I found the BEST cupcake/frosting recipe EVER.IN.LIFE. seriously I wanted to take a spoon to this frosting.....and I think I actually did :)

I got this recipe from How Sweet It Is blog I really need to start making my own recipes, but it will probably happen on a long holiday weekend...we have a couple of those coming up and I see a lot of baking in my future.

I changed only one thing from the original recipe, I did not melt the butter, I know it would have changed the texture a bit, and I wasn't ready for am used to doing all my baking with room temp butter, so I just did that.

2 large eggs
1 large egg white
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk

3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons milk, if needed

Sugared Toasted Almonds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, egg white and sugar until smooth and combine. Gradually add melted butter while whisking constantly, then add in extracts. Stir in dry ingredients until well combined, then add in milk and stir until a smooth batter forms. Using a 1/4 cup measure or ice cream scoop, fill liners 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until cupcakes are set. Let cool completely.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Gradually add in sugar and cocoa powder with the mixer on low, speeding up once combined. Add in extract and beat on medium, scraping down the sides if necessary, for 2-3 minutes. If frosting is too thick (I like mine thick), add milk 1 tablespoon at a time, beating for another minute or two to smooth it out. Repeat if necessary. If frosting isn't thick enough to be spreadable, add a few spoonfuls of powdered sugar while beating until it thickens. Frost and top with sugared almonds below.

Sugared Toasted Almonds
Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add almonds. Tossing and stirring constantly, toast for 1-2 minutes, just until almonds start to brown. Reduce heat to low and toss in sugar, stirring to coat. Stir constantly and cook for another minute, then remove and place almonds in a bowl. After a few minutes of cooling they will harden and you can break them apart and place on frosting.


Flank Steak Fajita Lettuce Wraps

I am such a creature of habit and I seriously have chicken like 5 to 6 days out of the week. I rarely eat red meat, I wouldn't even know how to buy a steak. Tri-tip, ribeye...I have no idea! 

So, when I saw this recipe I really wanted to try it.  Bev Cooks blog has been posting everything I want to eat like right now: shrimp pad thai cups, asian steak salad with bok choy, Vietnamese noodle salad with chicken (I am making this in a couple days), corn muffins with bacon and parmesan (seriously! I am trying to eat better, so I am not sure if I will make this...or I will half the recipe so if I eat all of them it won't be so bad??) 

OK, back to dinner tonight it was really good, but will require some flossing afterwards. That's one thing I hate about steaks...always getting stuck in the teeth.

Flank Steak Fajita Lettuce Wraps
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb flank steak
2 cloves garlic minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger finely minced
1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
2 carrots julienned
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 lime 
2 scallions finely sliced
Hearts of romaine
fresh cilantro for garnish

Cook the steak according to your preference, the original recipe calls for searing it in the pan, I did that this time, but next time I will probably barbecue it then slice it thinly afterwards.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet, toss in the garlic, ginger and scallion, saute for 30 seconds.  Add the red bell pepper and carrots.  Season with a pinch of salt and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, but don't let the vegetables lose their "bite".  Remove from the heat while you make the sauce.

In a small bowl combine the hoisin sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil. Squeeze in the lime and add the brown sugar to taste. Whisk to combine.

Add the steak to the vegetables and pour the sauce over everything. Toss to coat.

Serve in the romaine heart like a "boat". Garnish with any remaining lime juice, scallions and cilantro.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Balls

I'm talking peanut butter M&M's, peanut butter snickers, peanut butter twix, peanut butter and banana (my fave post workout snack), peanut butter and apples, peanut butter on a spoon...I could very easily go Dr. Seuss on y'all and say I can eat it on a train, in a plane...anywhere LOL. And it's safe to say when the peanut butter is combined with chocolate it does something magical.
When I saw this recipe on How Sweet It Is blog, I had to try it.  The recipe is actually for a donut pan, but I don't have on, so I used my cake pop technically this recipe could be called "donut holes" but I just decided to call them cake balls.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Balls

 1/2 cup oat flour
1/2  cup almond flour
2T coconut flour (I didn't have coconut flour, so I just added more oat flour)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter melted
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
2T unsweetened applesauce (I didn't have any on hand, so i just put an apple in the worked)
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
2t vanilla
1/2t salt
1t baking powder
1/8t cinnamon
1/3 cup peanut butter chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour your pan.
In a medium sized bowl mix together the oat flour, almond flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder.
In a small bowl whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and applesauce.
Whisk in melted peanut butter
Stir wet into dry until combined. Do not overstir. It will look slightly lumpy.
Stir in peanut butter chips if you are using them
With a spoon, spatula, or piping bag, transfer the batter to your pan.
Bake for 16-20 minutes.
Test with a toothpick for doneness.
Let them cool before frosting.

I left a little room at the top for my first batch and they didn't completely fill up the sphere.
So on my second batch I completely filled them to the brim and it turned out much better.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2T peanut butter

Melt the chocolate and peanut butter in a double boiler until thoroughly melted.
If using a microwave stir after every 20 seconds until melted.
Dip the donut holes and sprinkle if you desire :)


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Healthy Cheesy Stuffed Shells

 This recipe is super yummy and a little healthier than other stuffed shells recipes. It is also very adaptable to whatever you want to put inside. I don't like cottage cheese, but that is the main ingredient in the stuffing and I can't even notice it. You can also replace with ricotta and you can add italian sausage, but mine doesn't have any meat inside.

1 container of low fat cottage cheese
1 pkg of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1 cup of shredded mozzarella, divided
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
1 tsp of Italian seasoning (you can use Italian salad dressing or a mix of basil and oregano if you don't have an "Italian blend" seasoning
20 jumbo pasta shells cooked and drained
1 jar of spaghetti sauce

Heat oven to 400 degrees. 
Cook the shells according to package, but drain and rinse about 2 minutes before what the package says, they maybe a little more than "aldente" but they will continue cooking in the oven, so it's okay.
Pour about half of the spaghetti sauce into a 13x9 baking dish.
Mix cottage cheese, spinach, 1/2 cup of mozzarella, parmesan, and Italian seasoning; spoon into the shells and place the shells in the baking dish on top of the spaghetti sauce.

When all shells are filled top with the remaining spaghetti sauce and cover.
Bake 25 minutes or until heated through.
Top with remaining mozzarella and bake uncovered for a couple minutes or until cheese is melted.....yummm enjoy :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pasta With Roasted Sweet Summer Vegetables

Another blog I follow is Choosing Raw there are quite a few recipes I really want to try on there like the Banana Soft Serve and the Roasted Peach and Ginger Chia PuddingToday, I made the Pasta With Roasted Sweet Summer Vegetables and Pine NutsIt turned out amazing and the sweetness of the caramelized roasted veggies with the crunchy texture of the toasted pine nuts was great!

My basil plant :)
 toasted pine nuts, yummm
Roasted veggies
My plate, now you see why I used the original photo and not mine LOL, clearly I need to learn a thing or two about food photography!

Black Bean, Corn and Shrimp Salad Ceviche and Homemade Tortilla Chips

It's been a while since I have posted, so I will just post everything all at once. This recipe is AHHH-Mazing! I found it in All You Magazine and they just listed it as a salad, but after I tried it, it could totally be a ceviche-type appetizer served with chips! YUMMM and you can totally add or subtract anything and it will still taste fantastic.

2 ears of corn shucked
1 15oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 or 2 avocados pitted and diced
1 cup of cherry tomatoes halved
2 green onions sliced 
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. lime juice (I used a little more, just taste it first and add little by little)
3/4 lb. cooked, peeled, deveined shrimp chopped
salt and pepper to taste
 *I also thought adding cucumbers might be awesome*

Cut kernels off ears of corn into a large bowl.  Add beans avocado, tomatoes, scallions, cumin, olive oil, lime juice and shrimp and toss gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper. 

At this point, the salad is made so you can eat it however you want. I put it inside a romaine heart and ate it like a "salad boat" lol. 
You can also make your own tortilla chips, which I loved and are sooooo much more healthy for you, I didn't miss any flavor.

Homeade Tortilla Chips
Corn tortillas cut into quarters

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread tortilla wedges on an ungreased baking sheet, make sure it is just one layer, no overlapping, so you may have to do a few batches. You can do a quick spray of Pam, but you don't have to.
Bake about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Strawberry Lime Cupcakes

W.O.W. super yummy, my fave new cupcake recipe! I have realized, I am not sure how good of a cook I would be if I didn't have the internet.  Other people are so much more creative than I am...I'll just continue to copy their creativity ;) So, this recipe originated from the How Sweet It Is blog, but I found it on the Eating Bird Food blog.

I was really excited to try it out, and thought that if it was a success I would make them for my sisters baby shower...well, SUCCESS! I have also succeeded at adding yet another thing to my plate for the shower haha. Typical. 

Strawberry Lime Cupcakes
makes 12 cupcakes
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon lime zest
12 fresh strawberries
Preheat oven to 350.
Cream butter, sugar, and eggs together until fluffy. Add vanilla.
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add the milk. Once mixed, add remaining dry ingredients. Stir in lime zest.

Pour into cupcake tins and bake for 20-25 mins at 350. Let cool.
Using a sharp knife, cut a cone-shaped hole in the cupcake, leaving about an inch of cake on the bottom. Stuff the strawberry down it, and cover with remaining cake if you can. Frost!

You are probably wondering what to do with all of the centers that were cut out, I am not one to waste so it definitely went to good use!
Lime Buttercream
1 stick butter, softened
1 lb powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
lime zest for garnish
Cream butter. Add sugar 1 cup at a time. Stir in vanilla. Drizzle in lime juice, add more if needed.
Frost cupcakes and garnish with lime zest or sprinkles :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Gluten Free Brown Sugar Cookies

One blog that I follow that I have used quite a bit of her recipes is Joy the Baker that is where I adapted this recipe the only difference is that I used gluten free oat flour instead of all purpose flour. I don't think it will make too much of a difference. 

Gluten Free Brown Sugar Cookies
2 cups gluten free Oat FLour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.  Set aside.

Place butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the egg and vanilla extract, and beat on medium speed for one minute more.
Add the dry ingredients, all at once, to the butter and sugar mixture.  Beat on low speed until the dough begins to come together  and the flour disappears.  Stop the mixer and finish incorporating the ingredients with a spatula.  Once all the flour is thoroughly mixed in, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Oh my goodness, it is so tempting! People always say you shouldn't eat raw cookie dough, cake batter, or brownie batter because of the raw egg.
 But I say, if Rocky Balboa can eat raw eggs, so can I...LOL...I didn't eat alot of it :)

Place a rack in the center and upper third of the over and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Dollop tablespoons size balls of dough onto the baking sheet.  Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges.  Cool on the pan for 5 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Cookies will last, in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to 5 days. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Watermelon Granita

So, what is granita? According to wikipedia it originated in Sicily and is in the sorbet and Italian ice family.  There are so many variations and flavor combinations you could make with this simple recipe, I am excited to try more.

Especially with these triple digit summers creeping in, its always nice to have a cool, refreshing, and healthy snack!

Unfortunately, I didnt take any pictures during the process of making this, just the final product. 

Watermelon Granita
6 cups of cubed and deseeded watermelon
handful of fresh blueberries
juice of one lime
1/4 cup of sugar

Put the watermelon into a blender or food processor for about one minute until completely blended.
Pour the juice into a strainer to remove the pulp.
Put the remaining juice back into the blender or food processor and add the blueberries, lime juice, and sugar.
Pulse until all is blended. 

Pour the mixture into a container that is ok to go in the freezer. I kept mine in the freezer overnight.  I scooped it with a metal ice cream scooper which kind of gave it a snow cone consistency. But you can also just keep it in the freezer for 4 to 5 hours and it would be more like a slushee because it won't be completely frozen.