Monthly Archives: August 2012

Strawberry-Mango Smoothie

I had dinner with a friend last night and as I was driving home, under an almost-blue moon (which is tonight, by the way), with the windows down and the sunroof open, I felt a change in the air.  It was the change that comes in the summer when evenings get slightly cooler and temperatures dip into the 60s for the first time.  And even though it’s supposed to get a little warmer here for the weekend than it’s been the last couple of beautiful days, I’m eagerly waiting for those nights when I can turn off the air conditioning and sleep with the windows open.  Which should be any day now.  I hope.  As I wait, I’ll just savor these remaining warm summer days and keep sipping on something cold and refreshing like this Strawberry-Mango Smoothie.

Fresh strawberries, frozen mangoes, yogurt and mango nectar are blended until creamy, smooth, sweet and tangy.  I prefer to use frozen fruit in my smoothies as opposed to ice because I like the texture of the frozen fruit but obviously you can use fresh fruit and ice instead.  Also, if you can’t find mango nectar (which I find in the international foods section of my grocery store), simply substitute orange juice or apple juice.  Really, just throw in whatever you want.  Smoothies are a sweet ending or a good accompaniment to a weekend brunch, as a way to get a couple servings of fruit in you, or just to cool off on a hot day.  Whatever your day brings you, I hope you have fun today or tonight and do something you wouldn’t normally do, something off the cuff and unexpected.  That way when you tell your kids/friends your story, you can officially say, “I did it once in a blue moon.”

Have a great weekend everyone!

Strawberry-Mango Smoothies (makes 2 smoothies)

  • 1 cup strawberries, quartered
  • 1 cup frozen mangoes
  • 1/2 cup mango nectar or fruit juice
  • 1 6-ounce carton fat-free strawberry yogurt

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for one minute until smooth.  Garnish with fresh strawberries or mango slices.

The ingredients:

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for one minute until smooth.

Garnish with fresh strawberries or mangoes.

Lemon and Chive Potatoes

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big potato eater but if I’m making brunch, it only seems natural to have some kind of potato on the side.  I admit I’m a big fan of a certain hashbrown from a certain golden arched restaurant chain but I just don’t allow myself to eat those buttery, greasy, delicious patties.  And since I don’t have the first clue as to how to make said hashbrowns or love potatoes enough to really make attempt to make them, I’m settling for simple cubed, fresh potatoes – Lemon and Chive Potatoes.

Quartered potatoes are tossed with olive oil and roasted in the oven until perfectly browned before being tossed with fresh lemon zest and chopped chives.  So simple.  These potatoes don’t feel heavy and are a cinch to make.  If you look at the recipe for these potatoes, you’ll see that I didn’t omit an ingredient but an entire process.  I didn’t feel like spending a lot of time on potatoes (sorry, spuds, but you’re just not my favorite vegetable) so instead of grilling them, I roasted them in the oven.  If you don’t want to spend a lot of time over the grill or the stove, waiting for the potatoes to get brown and crisp, toss them in the oven instead and take a seat.  Enjoy your coffee because you can.

The ingredients:

Toss potatoes with 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil in a medium bowl.

Layer them in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 450°F oven for 40-45 minutes, turning once halfway through.

Return potatoes to same bowl and sprinkle with lemon zest, chives, salt, and remaining 1 1/2 tbsp. oil, then toss to coat evenly.

Overall Rating:  Like It

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Source:  Adapted from Sunset Magazine

Fluffy Florentine Frittata

It’s hard to believe that this coming weekend is Labor Day already.  My how time is flying.  While it’s sad to say an unofficial goodbye to summer, I’m sure you are like me and welcome a 3-day weekend (if you get one, that is).  Long weekends always put me in the mood for brunch so I got started a little early and I’m bringing you some brunch foods to get you ready for the weekend.  Eggs, potatoes, fruit and a creamy smoothie are just what I have a mind.  Up first, Fluffy Florentine Frittata.

Egg whites are beat until fluffy and doubled in size before being folded into a mixture of yolks, spinach, and ricotta cheese.  The end result is a light, fresh frittata that is both filling and healthy.  A pinch of nutmeg brings out the flavor of the spinach and a topping of parmesan cheese adds a lovely salty bite.  I have to admit, I don’t often make any of Rachael Ray’s recipes and after making this recipe, I’m really not sure why.  This was one of the best frittatas I’ve ever had and it was so easy to make.  Beating the egg whites is the key to keeping this frittata light.  Frittatas have intimidated me before but no more.  I will use this recipe every time with all different kinds of veggies.

The ingredients:

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic.  Cook until softened.

In a bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

In another largers bowl, beat the egg yolks and stir in the spinach and ricotta cheese; season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Fold in the egg whites.

Pour the mixture into the hot skillet and cook over medium heat until just set around the edges, about 2 minutes.

Transfer the frittata to a 400°F preheated oven and bake until golden and fluffy, about 15 minutes.

Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top and bake for 2 minutes.  Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Part-skim ricotta cheese

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  EveryDay by Rachael Ray

Monkey Bread

One morning last week, I was on the train enduring my daily commute into the city for my job and like usual I was listening to my favorite morning radio show, The Preston & Steve Show. On that particular day, they started talking about Cinnabon’s ooey, gooey, buttery cinnamon buns which morphed into a conversation about yummy, sweet, sticky Monkey Bread. By the time I got off the train and walked the six blocks to work, my mouth was watering and my stomach was growling. Thankfully, there wasn’t a Cinnabon nearby (at least if there is, I don’t want to know about it!) but the seed had already been planted and the damage had already been done – at any given moment after that, my brain would automatically turn to cinnamon buns, brown sugar and cinnamon, or anything cinnamony with a cool, drippy icing. It was all I could think about. I hope that explains why I made this Monkey Bread.

Balls of freshly made dough are rolled in a sugar-brown sugar-cinnamon mixture and baked until gooey and dripping in sweetness. As if that isn’t enough, a warmed cream cheese icing drizzle is spooned over the warm bread. It really doesn’t get more decadent or sinful than this. Since it contains yeast, this does take time to make as you let the dough rise but you can find faster recipes using store-bought dough online but they tend to be higher in calories. This recipe I made cuts the calories (not that you can tell) which is important because it’s hard to stop eating this.

Thanks, Preston & Steve. I may have to call the Love You, Hate You line to tell you how much I both love and hate you for putting this idea in my head!

The ingredients:

Combine flours, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attached; mix until combined.

With mixer on, slowly add 1 cup milk, juice, honey, and 2 tablespoons butter; mix dough at medium speed 7 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)

Punch dough down; divide into 8 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll into an 8-inch rope. Cut each dough rope into 8 equal pieces, shaping each piece into a 1-inch ball.

Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a shallow dish. Combine 3 tablespoons milk and 2 tablespoons butter in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Dip each ball in milk mixture, turning to coat, and roll in sugar mixture. Layer balls in a 12-cup Bundt pan coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining 7 dough ropes. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until almost doubled in size.

Bake in a 350°F oven for 25 minutes or until golden. Cool 5 minutes on a wire rack. Place a plate upside down on top of bread; invert onto plate.

Combine powdered sugar, remaining milk, and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Microwave at HIGH 20 seconds or until warm. Drizzle over bread.

Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light Magazine

Spicy Apple-Glazed Meatballs

I met up with some friends on Monday night to watch a preseason NFL game and I couldn’t help but get a warm and fuzzy feeling from the entire evening.  Friends sporting their team apparel, the sound of the whistle blowing after each play, the sound of helmets banging against each other, the fact that both our favorite MLB and NFL teams were playing at the same time on TVs next to each other – All of these things get me right in the mood for football season, fall, and tailgating.  Not to mention that only a day before I had made these Spicy Apple-Glazed Meatballs which I immediately concluded would be perfect for game day.

Ground meat is mixed with garlic, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper before being rolled into balls and cooked in a thin layer of oil.  Once browned, the meatballs are tossed in a glaze of apple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ground ginger and cayenne pepper.  Torn pieces of bread soaked in a combination of milk and egg are incorporated with the meat mixture which keep the meatballs from being dry.  The meatballs themselves are moist and garlicky while the sauce is sweet, salty and very spicy.  The addition of the chopped scallions adds a light onion bite which tops off these appetizers nicely.  I used ground chicken because I had it on hand so I made sure to cook the meatballs thoroughly before removing them from the heat.  Next time I make these, I think I’ll use ground turkey (the chicken was sticky and hard to shape into balls) and bake them in the oven to keep them nice and round.  While these meatballs make a great appetizer or snack for a game-day get-together or a tailgate, they would also be good as a meal tossed with a little pasta or rice.

Ah, fall and football – how I can’t wait for you.

The ingredients:

To make the meatballs, whisk together egg and milk in a large bowl.  Add bread pieces.  Let stand 10 minutes, just until bread is softened.

Add ground meat, garlic, black pepper, salt, and cayenne pepper.  Mix thoroughly with hands or wooden spoon.  Shape meat mixture into meatballs.

Heat oil in skillet heat oil over medium heat.  Cook meatballs, half at a time, turning occasionally until brown and crusty on outside and no longer pink inside (for ground chicken or turkey, the internal temperature should be at least 165 degrees F).  Transfer meatballs to a dish and cover with a lid or foil to keep warm.

To make the glaze, combine apple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch, ginger, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.

In same skillet as meatballs were cooked, cook and stir juice mixture until thickened and bubbly (at full boil).  Cook and stir 2 minutes more.

Return meatballs to skillet to heat through and coat with sauce.

Transfer glazed meatballs to a serving dish.  Top with green onions.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Ground chicken

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Better Homes and Gardens Magazine

 

Chicken Fried Rice

I’ve mentioned before certain foods that I would want to have if I was stuck on a deserted island:  s’mores and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are just a few.  Yes, you know I have a sweet tooth.  I could probably add deviled eggs to that list too.  But another food that I never tire of and could eat every single day is fried rice.  And I mean every. single. day.  I normally eat vegetable fried rice (a habit going back to my vegetarian days) but as much as I love it, I don’t ever try to make it at home.  After all, the Chinese food restaurant is right around the corner and can have my fried rice ready for me in 15 minutes, right?  Well, the problem we all know is that fried rice isn’t exactly healthy and shouldn’t be eaten often, if ever.  But I can’t give it up so why not give in and try to make it, when I can control the oil and the ingredients myself?  This recipe for Chicken Fried Rice seems like a good place to start.

Chicken, scrambled egg, peas, and rice are combined with a mixture of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice wine vinegar and lime juice.  Fresh garlic and grated ginger provide additional layers of flavor to this rich dish.  The lime juice really provides an additional unexpected freshness and the chili sauce gives it a slight kick, which I love.  I used precooked chicken strips since I had them on hand but thin-cut chicken would work well here too since it cooks quickly.  Since I try to eat brown rice as much as possible, I also used ready-made whole grain brown rice in place of the boil-in-bag rice but any kind of rice will work here.  While this isn’t restaurant-style fried rice, this was a tasty and satisfying fried rice dish that isn’t as oily and doesn’t leave you feeling guilty after eating it.  What’s also great about this is you can add adapt it to your own taste by adding other vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, baby corn, grean beans or bean sprouts.  I’ll definitely make this again, maybe even leaving out the chicken, to satisfy that vegetable fried rice craving I get oh-so often.

The ingredients:

Combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce, cornstarch, and chicken in a bowl; toss well.  Combine remaining 4 teaspoons soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice wine vinegar, lime juice and chili paste in a small bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken mixture and stir-fry 4 minutes or until lightly browned. (If using pre-cooked chicken like I did, stir-fry just until heated through.)

Push chicken to one side of skillet and add eggs to open side of pan.  Cook 45 seconds, stirring constantly.  Stir eggs and chicken mixture together.

Remove chicken mixture from pan and keep warm.  Return pan to medium-high heat.  Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan.  Add onion, ginger, and garlic and cook 2 minutes or until fragrant.  Add rice and cook 1 minute.

Add peas and cook 1 minute.

Add chicken mixture and soy sauce mixture.  Cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Stir in green onions.

Additions:  None

Omissions:   None

Substitutions

  • Pre-cooked chicken strips
  • Ready-made brown rice

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Fresh Cherry Galette

After being in Connecticut two weekends ago, I was happy as a clam to wake up in my own bed this past Saturday morning with nothing to wake me up but my own internal clock.  I made coffee and spent some serious time cooking, cleaning and organizing my place.  After sitting down and getting sucked into movies like Singles and 28 Days, I found myself realizing at 6pm that I hadn’t stepped one foot outside.  I got myself together and went to Target, which made me aware of two startling things:

  1. It was nice enough to drive with the windows down for once
  2. I sometimes walk around this world as if my head was not attached to my body

For example, I went to Target with no other reason than to look at food processors.  I left Target with a cast-iron skillet, white pepper, 100% pure maple syrup, and soy sauce.  Really?  I didn’t even remember to look at the food processors.  This is what happens to me when I have nothing to do.  I lose my mind.  Shaking my head at my absentmindedness, I proceeded to have a glass of wine with a piece of this Fresh Cherry Galette for dinner.  This is what my Saturdays have come do.  Shopping for kitchen products and eating dessert for dinner.  My how times have changed.

Fresh cherries are tossed with sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest, folded into a pie crust and baked until golden brown.  The cherries become soft and sweet, but not too sweet making this a lovely, light summertime dessert, or meal, whatever.  I ended up spending my evening watching sci-fi movies in the dark and decided sometimes you just need a day with nowhere to be, no obligations, to do whatever you want.  I love days like that.

The ingredients:

To pit the cherries, use a sturdy straw or the end of a chopstick to poke into the top of the cherry.  Twist and push gently until the seed pops out the bottom of the cherry.  Use gloves to prevent staining your fingers or use a storage bag which will work double duty to catch the seeds.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.  Unroll pie dough.  Combine 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, stirring with a whisk.  Sprinkle cornstarch mixture over dough, leaving a 2-inch border.

Combine the cherries, remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, rind, and juice; toss well to coat.

Arrange cherry mixture over dough, leaving a 2-inch border.

Fold dough border over cherries, pressing gently to seal (dough will only partially cover cherries).

Brush edges of dough with milk.  Sprinkle sugar over cherries and edges of dough.

Bake in a 400°F oven for 25 minutes or until dough is browned and juices are bubbly.  Remove from oven; cool on pan at least 20 minutes before serving.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Granulated sugar for turbinado sugar
  • Bing cherries

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

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