Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Meal Plan

Here's my meal plan for the next 2 weeks in no particular order:
1. chicken Parmesan, salad and red roasted potatoes with fruit pizza for dessert
2. either chili hot dogs or pretzel hot dogs with mashed rutabaga and either broccoli or asparagus
3. Winter vegetable cobbler with cheddar biscuits
4. Specialty salad with grilled chicken for Dan
5. Tacos
6. pasta primavera
7. black bean and vegetable quesadillas
8. chickpea & eggplant stew over rice
9. leftovers as needed

Monday, April 5, 2010

Meyer Lemon Tart with Lemon Creme

Last week we went to our favorite whole foods (also known as Harry's, and the same whole foods that Alton Brown films Good Eats) and I saw some meyer lemons, and since I have not yet made anything with them before I picked up a few. As we were checking out Dan saw the lemon tart on the front cover of a magazine and told me that I should make one some time. Since I had not yet picked a dessert for Easter, I decided that this tart would be perfect. This is my first time making a tart as well as the first recipe from David Lebovitz, I will doing both again soon. The tart has a strong lemon flavor and is a bit tart if you only use 3/4 c of sugar. I noted to increase the sugar or you could use all Meyer lemons. Meyer lemons are less tart than traditional lemons. Top the tart with lemon creme, it provides a nice balance and reduces some of the tartness.

Lemon Tart: www.davidlebovitz.com
1 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (I used 4 Meyer lemons and 3 regular lemons)
grated zest of two lemon (one Meyer the other regular)
3/4c to 1 cup sugar (use more if you want it to be less tart)
12 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted, cut into bits
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1 baked French Tart crust (11")

Top with Lemon Creme:
1 c heavy cream
1/3 c powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon extract
a pinch of lemon zest

Directions: 1. Whip all of the ingredients together until stiff peaks form.

Preheat the oven to 350F

1. In a medium-sized non-reactive saucepan, heat the lemon juice, zest, sugar, and butter. Have a mesh strainer nearby.
2. In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and the yolks.
3. When the butter is melted, whisk some of the warm lemon mixture into the eggs, stirring constantly, to warm them. Scrape the warmed eggs back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and almost begins to bubble around the edges.
4. Pour the lemon curd though a strainer directly into the pre-baked tart shell, scraping with a rubber spatula to press it through.
5. Smooth the top of the tart and pop it in the oven for eight minutes, just to set the curd.
6. Remove from the oven and let cool before slicing and serving.

French Tart Dough

The brown butter mixture, directly from the oven.

After the flower has been stirred in, do not mix by hand.

Prick the dough several times with a fork, and bring the dough further up the pan than I did.

Notice the small hole in the baked crust in the upper left hand corner,
this is why you reserve a small piece of raw dough.

Personally I think this is the easiest crust I've ever made. Just be careful because the butter mixture will be very hot, so be sure to have a potholder nearby, and use caution when handling the dough.

French Tart Dough: www.davidlebovitz.com

8 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 ¼ tablespoon vegetable oil (I used canola)
3 T + 2 ¼ tsp water
1 + ¾ tsp sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
187.5 g all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 410º F (210º C).

1. In a medium-sized ovenproof bowl, such as a Pyrex bowl, combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt.
2. Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges.
3. When done, remove the bowl from oven (and be careful, since the bowl will be hot and the mixture might sputter a bit), dump in the flour and stir it in quickly, until it comes together and forms a ball which pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
4. Lightly butter the tart pan (bottom and sides)
5. Transfer the dough to an 11-inch tart mold with a removable bottom and spread it a bit with a spatula.
6. Once the dough is cool enough to handle, pat it into the shell with your and, and use your fingers to press it up the sides of the tart mold. Reserve a small piece of dough, about the size of a raspberry, for patching any cracks.
7. Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork, then bake the tart shell in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.
8. Remove from the oven and if there are any sizable cracks, use the bits of reserved dough to fill in and patch them.
9. Let the shell cool before filling.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter Sugar Cookies

This is the same recipe that I use for the cookies titled the best sugar cookies ever. The directions are just different because these are to be rolled. I have also included a link to a royal icing tutorial that has a ton of pictures. Yesterday I made two batches of these cookies, one for my class (I tutor a first grade student for one of my ECE classes) and the second for my family for this weekend. Be prepared to spend a few hours on these because you need to wait for the outline to dry before flooding them. And wait again before adding any details. Between the two batches yesterday I spent about 5 hours decorating. If you need to take a break from decorating cover the royal icing with a wet towel (squeeze out excess water) so that it doesn't dry out. And place the decorating bags in a glass with a small amount of water at the bottom.

Ella’s White Sugar Cookies:


1 c butter, softened

1 c powdered sugar, sifted

1 egg, beaten

1 T vanilla

2 tsp lemon extract

2 tsp + lemon zest (I use the zest of an entire lemon)

1 tsp salt

2 ½ c flour, sifted


1. Cream butter.

2. Add powdered sugar.

3. Blend in egg, vanilla, lemon extract, lemon zest, salt and flour.

4. Chill dough until firm, about an hour. (I normally make the dough the night before I need it)

5. Pre heat oven to 325degrees

6. Prepare workspace with sifted powdered sugar

7. Prepare cookie sheet, I use foil sprayed with Pam for easy clean up.

8. Roll dough to desired thickness, 1/8” to ¼”

9. Cut out desired shapes, and carefully transfer to prepared cookie sheet.

10. Bake for 10-12 minutes be careful not to brown the cookies.

11. Cool completely before decorating with royal icing.

12. Check out this great step by step royal icing tutorial: http://annies-eats.com/2009/12/04/how-to-decorate-with-royal-icing/

Royal Icing:
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. meringue powder
5 tbsp. water

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes). Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container. This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating. Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated. Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping. (Remember, if you are having any difficulty piping, it is still too thick. Add a little more liquid and try again.) Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie. Let stand so the icing will set. Make sure to keep the leftover icing covered at all times when not in use so that it does not begin to harden.

Once all the cookies have been edged, transfer some of the remaining icing to a separate air-tight container. Thin out by incorporating a small amount of water at a time, until the icing drips off the spoon easily when lifted and then smooths in with that still in the bowl. If you go too far and the icing is too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar to thicken it again. Once the icing has reached the desired consistency, transfer it to a squeeze bottle (or a plastic bag with a hole in one corner), and flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie. If it does not completely spread to the edges, use a toothpick to help it along. Allow to set.

Use the remaining thicker icing for piping decoration as desired. Gel icing color is best as it does not add a significant amount of liquid. Liquid food coloring can be used as well – add powdered sugar as needed to compensate for any thinning that occurs.
(Also from www.annies-eats.com)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy 2nd Anniversary!

I should have a lot more post by the two year mark, oh well. Better luck with the coming year. Anyways to celebrate I am hosting my very first giveaway, and depending on how this one goes there could be more to come in the future. I've been thinking for the past few weeks on what I should use for my first giveaway and finally decided upon the Wilton Ultimate Cupcake Carrier. I feel it is best to give away an item that I personally own and can vouch for the quality. It's very sturdy and is easy to clean. I had a cheap carrier in the past and was always worried about it falling apart and me dropping my cake. The Wilton caddy has a locking closure so I never have to worry about it opening while I'm carrying it. To enter into the drawing (where there will only be one winner) all you need to do is post a comment with a link to your favorite cupcake recipe. Then on Friday April 2nd a winner will be drawn and announced.

Photo from Amazon.com

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shamrock Cookies

I made these yesterday for my friend's birthday as well as Saint Patrick's Day. Since we had class today, I made enough for the entire class. They were a huge hit! Fair warning though, these are pretty time consuming to make because you pipe the batter into a clover. And since I doubled the recipe and made 70 cookies it took a long time. But I did learn something new, printer paper is oven safe. I learned this after I forgot the pattern under the parchment paper when I baked the cookies. I used a size 12 round tip for piping both the cookie and the frosting. In the future I will reduce the amount of cocoa powder because it tasted too chocolaty for green velvet. Also the cookie will leave your mouth a bit green.

Green Velvet Whoopie Pies: Source: cookies adapted from Dinner and Dessert, originally from Better Homes & Gardens, December 2008 Idea to make them shamrock shape: http://homeiswheretheholmansare.blogspot.com

For the cookies:
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tbsp. cocoa powder (although I recommend reducing o 2 T, possibly 1 T)
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/2 oz. green food coloring
For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 T vanilla extract
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.

1. I used a printed shamrock as a template under parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
4. Beat in the egg until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
5. Blend in the vanilla.
6. With the mixer on low speed, beat in about a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the buttermilk, beating each addition just until incorporated. Repeat so that all the buttermilk has been added and then mix in the final third of dry ingredients. Do not over mix.
7. Blend in the food coloring.
8. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip (size 12).
9. Pipe the batter onto the parchment paper using the shamrock print as a guide.
10. Bake 8 minutes or until the tops are set.
11. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets at least 10 minutes, until they can be easily transferred. Repeat with any remaining batter.
12. Allow cookies to cool completely before sandwiching.
To make the cream cheese frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.
Transfer the frosting to a clean pastry bag fitted with a plain, round tip. Pair the cookies up by shape and size. Pipe frosting onto the flat-sided cookie of each pair, leaving the edges clear. Sandwich the cookies together so the flat sides are facing each other and press gently to help the filling reach the edges. To store, refrigerate in an airtight container. I refrigerated an hour before serving.

Yield: 35 Sandwiches

Monday, March 15, 2010

Weekly Meal Plan March 14-20th

Sorry that this is a little late, but better late than never.

Sunday: Broccoli Mushroom Soup
Monday: leftovers
Tuesday: Taco Salad
Wednesday: Skyline Chili
Thursday: pizza (bell peppers and onion, and half with pepperoni for Dan)
Friday: butternut squash macaroni and cheese
Saturday: grilling if weather permits

Plus I need to make two batches of cupcakes this week. One needs to make 32 and the other only needs to make 12. If you have any suggestions please let me know in the comments section. Have a great week!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pasta Alla "Not-Ka"

I first started making this dish last summer. It is absolutely delicious and so easy and quick to make. The recipe comes from a show that Lifetime aired last year called "Cook Yourself Thin" which is also available as a cook book. The purpose of the show/book is to take fattening foods and make a few changes to make them healthier while still tasting good. I've made a handful of the recipes, with this one being the best and likely only one that will make it to the blog. I made a few changes as well which further reduces the amount of calories and makes it healthier by using whole grain instead of white pasta. This meal has become a go to meal for us, in fact I'm about to heat up some leftovers for dinner. Enjoy!

Pasta Alla "Not-Ka"
Source: Cook Yourself Thin
Serves 4: 8oz
Calories per serving: 371 in the original recipe
Weight Watchers 7 points per servings (based off my changes that are in bold)

1-2 teaspoons olive oil (I use extra virgin olive oil or canola oil)
3 cloves garlic (I used 1 T minced garlic)
1/2 cup chopped red onion (I use yellow or white onion)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes or whole tomatoes in juice, pureed in a food processor
Pinch red pepper flakes
8 ounces penne (I used Barilla’s whole grain)
1/4 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons evaporated nonfat milk
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I’ve also used an equal amount of Romano cheese made with goat’s milk)
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil (I didn’t measure the basil, I think I pulled about 6 leaves off of our plant)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the penne.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the 2 teaspoons oil with the garlic over low heat until the garlic begins to brown, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt, cover, and cook until the onion is softened, about 2 more minutes.
4. Add the tomato, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the red pepper flakes.
5. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat and simmer very gently 10 minutes.
6. Stir in the cream and evaporated milk and simmer 1 more minute.

7. Meanwhile, after the sauce has cooked 5 minutes, add the penne to the boiling water and cook until just shy of al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup pasta water. Add the drained penne to the saucepan and simmer until the penne is al dente, 1 to 2 minutes, adding a little of the pasta cooking water if the mixture is dry. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, along with the basil and black pepper.

8. To serve, divide pasta among 4 serving bowls. Drizzle each serving with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. (I didn’t drizzle oil over it and I mixed all of the cheese in while cooking)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Best Sugar Cookies Ever!

I've tried several different sugar cookie recipe before finally finding one that I love. The original recipe calls for almond extract but I changed it to lemon because of a potential nut allergy. I think the light lemon flavor gives it a little something special. I've tried making them using just vanilla or just lemon and both times they come out a little bland. I've made these as roll out cookies with royal icing, cream cheese icing and chocolate icing, as well as rolling the dough into balls and coating them with colorful sprinkles. A friend of mine liked these so much that she asked me to come to her house to give her a lesson on how to make them. She agreed that these are much easier to make, and is happy that she can now make sugar cookies with her grandson.

Sugar Cookies:
Source: Annie's Eats, my changes are in bold

1 c butter, softened
1 c powdered sugar, sifted
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon extract
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp salt
2 ½ c flour, sifted
1/2 cup sprinkles (optional)

1. Cream butter.
2. Add powdered sugar.
3. Blend in egg, vanilla, lemon extract, lemon zest, salt and flour.
4. Chill dough until firm, about an hour.
5. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees
6. Prepare workspace with sifted powdered sugar
7. Prepare cookie sheet, I use foil sprayed with Pam for easy clean up.
8. Roll dough to desired thickness, 1/8” to ¼”or use a portion control scoop and roll the dough into a ball.
9. Cut out desired shapes or roll the dough in the sprinkles, and carefully transfer to prepared cookie sheet.
10. Bake for 10-12 minutes be careful not to brown the cookies. (about 15 minutes for the round cookies with sprinkles.)

Yield depends on the shape of the cookie, when I made them round dipped in sprinkles it made 30 cookies.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Weekly Meal Plan March 7th - March 13th

Sunday: out to eat with the family
Monday: lentil loaf with mashed potatoes and homemade apple sauce
Tuesday: Pasta alla not ka with a salad
Wednesday: leftovers
Thursday: 15 bean chili
Friday: vegetable frittata with baked apple slices
Saturday: homemade pizza and a salad

Andes Chocolate Mint Cookies

The first time I made these was for a thank you to Dan's friend for letting us use his lake house for the weekend to celebrate my dad's birthday. Except Dan kept forgetting to bring them with him, so three days later I made another batch and added the cocoa powder, it makes a huge difference. The cookies taste so much better with the small addition. I loved these cookies so much that I have butter softening on the counter to make another batch. As I'm sure you've noticed I haven't updated the blog in a really long time, so there is actually several months between this time and the last. I highly recommend these for anyone who loves chocolate and mint. And the cute little box is from World Market.


1/4 c salted butter-softened (I used unsalted)

3/8 c dark brown sugar (I used light)

1/4 c sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 T cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

5 oz Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Chips

1 1/3 c all purpose flour, sifted


1. Cream together butter and sugars

2. Mix in egg and vanilla

3. Sift together flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder

4. Blend flour mixture into sugar mixture

5. Stir in baking chips

6. Refrigerate dough for an hour.

7. Shape dough using a cookie scoop and place onto prepared cookie sheets. (parchment paper sprayed with non-stick cooking spray)

8. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes

Yields: 21 cookies

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekly Meal Plan

I have not made a meal plan in a very long time. This needs to change because it's such a waste of time going between the pantry, freezer and refrigerator trying to figure out what sounds good for dinner. And starting in January I made this process even harder by starting weight watchers to shed a few pounds. With a meal plan in mind I can better plan how I'll "spend" my points. So here it is, this week's meal plan.

Sunday: Dan had a steak and we both had a salad (mine had diced Quorn "chicken") and we split a baked potato
Monday: Rosa beans with pumpkin, rice and grilled tofu
Tuesday: Black bean burgers with grilled asparagus
Wednesday: Tacos or Healthy Nachos made with homemade baked chips
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: Vegetarian soup TBD with Grilled Cheese
Saturday: Homemade Ravioli with a salad