Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gluten Free Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream


I wasn't sure these would turn out. My husband did declare them "very good" though!

It was the most unusual cake batter. It was runny one moment, as I prepared the cupcake pans, and then suddenly the flour was absorbed by the liquid and it was scoop-able.

The coconut flour was so fragrant! I could sniff it all day! I've never made anything with coconut or almond flour. This was a good experience for me.

I needed to experiment with this recipe before I make them for a wedding shower this weekend. The bride-to-be is gluten free. I read a bit about gluten free baking and I think I was very careful with NOT cross-contaminating my ingredients and bakeware.

So how did they taste? VERY MOIST. I think the coconut really came through too, which wasn't mentioned in the recipe. They were also pretty sweet, so it was amazing that there is no sugar in this recipe, but honey. A natural sweetener, I suppose!

So I do think these will work out for the shower. I'm hoping to make some candied lemon peels for a garnish and pipe the buttercream prettily. I just slathered the frosting tonight due to a long work day.




Click here for the stolen recipe for Gluten Free Lemon Cupcakes.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ginger Beer Lemonade

I didn't plan on making this but I noticed a few cans of ginger beer in the fridge (leftover from my husband's cocktails) and I remembered seeing this recipe in my blog reader a few days ago. Why not?

We found the drink to be very tart and more on the lemon side, but the ginger beer was a nice subtle flavor. We still much prefer the ginger tea lemonade that we cook up for guests, but this was far less work!

We made a double batch. I didn't believe that the recipe made 4 servings as it was. The above picture is after I took a half glass and Jim helped himself to a full glass.

Click here for the stolen recipe for Ginger Beer Lemonade.


Chocolate Angel Food Cake

I used to make a chocolate angel food cake, way back before I really knew how to cook or bake. (Yes, those were the days! Anything over a few ingredients seemed intimidating back then!)

I haven't made an angel food cake for a long, long time. I remembered it was a Cooking Light recipe and thought it might fit in okay with my diet.

Yay, it does!

This cake was light and fluffy, and just chocolate-y enough to satisfy my little one. He ate his "plain" and very, very quickly!

The recipe made enough for this bundt pan (a springform one, which I was grateful for because it didn't stick much) and it also made four mini bundts. Those will be perfect for freezing and taking out for James' treats.

In case you wondered, each piece (approximately 12 total) is 120 calories. Pretty good for cake!

Click here for the stolen recipe for Chocolate Angel Food Cake.


Monday, May 21, 2012

French Dijon Roasted Chicken

Roasted chickens are my new favorite dinner. Very easy, but they do take over an hour to roast. I'm sure I won't want to heat up the house in the summer, but maybe we can convert these to the rotisserie on the grill outside!

These flavors are amazing. I've been impressed with the other flavorings (Tex Mex & Soy Ginger Oil) suggested by my book- The Kitchen Counter Cooking School.

I slathered the chicken with this mixture: 3 T olive oil, 1 T red wine vinegar, 3 T Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon red chili flakes, and 1 teaspoon dried thyme. This chicken was happy. Happy with the mixture under its skin, slathered on top, and then as the juices ran off I basted the chicken every half an hour with the drippings. I stuffed some garlic cloves and lemon wedges in there for the heck of it.

Easy! I mentioned to my husband that everyone should roast chickens because they are so easy. He said that most households probably don't have red wine vinegar, Dijon, and thyme in their cabinets. He's right. But you could buy those items and be set for many, many chickens!

Tex Mex flavoring: 3 T vegetable oil or butter, 1/4 cup lime juice, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, pinch of cayenne pepper.

Soy Ginger oil flavoring: 2 T vegetable or peanut oil, 1 T sesame oil, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 T rice wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger.

See my other post about roasting chickens.


Angie's Famous Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream

Who is Angie?! I know, but this recipe has been passed around from blogger to blogger from someone who originally knew Angie. Angie must have created this recipe. We thank Angie! It's a moist, fruity sweet cupcake with the most delicious creamy whipped frosting. The frosting even has strawberry puree/chunks, which was simmered with a tiny bit of Cointreau (I didn't buy the strawberry liqueur, others declared it unnecessary).

I was home with my sick son so I didn't notice that I didn't have many mini cupcake liners to choose from in my cabinet. I made do with the creepy spiders! These mini cupcakes are for Bosses Day at my school. My boss is NOT creepy!

I made mini cupcakes because there will be a spread of food for the Bosses. Minis are easy to grab, for a quick taste. I'm expecting my work friends to provide an assortment of bars, cookies, dips, and other goodies for our Bosses.

My diet can't handle the madness!

Click here for the stolen recipe for Angie's Famous Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream.


Buffalo Turkey Burgers with Blue Cheese Broccoli Slaw

These were great! I was hoping the Buffalo flavor would appeal to my husband. It did. The burgers were actually quite spicy but in a good way. Carrots are grated and added to the burger mix, which would be good if you were trying to sneak veggies into your family's diet!

I did find reduced fat cheddar slices and whole wheat buns to make this a bit better for my diet. Diet, diet, diet. Yeah, I guess I should start calling it something else since this is just the way it should be.


Diet or not, my husband liked it! He said it's the best diet he's been on :)

Click here for the stolen recipe for Buffalo Turkey Burgers with Blue Cheese Broccoli Slaw.


Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad

I didn't plan on making this. I had some spare breasts (ha!) in the refrigerator and most/all of the ingredients for this recipe that I had bookmarked on Pinterest. I'm not a pecan fan so I was okay with substituting sliced almonds in this recipe.

I did wish I had some romaine lettuce or even some spinach leaves to bulk up the sandwich but we hardly missed it. This chicken salad was pretty tangy due to the Greek yogurt (healthy replacement for mayo) but there was also sweetness due to the diced apple and craisins. Yum.

Sandwich thins = 100 calories. I hardly miss regular bread!



Click here for the stolen recipe for Cranberry (Pecan) Almond Chicken Salad.


Lemon Chicken Stir Fry

Just because I am dieting doesn't mean I can't try new and good foods!

I found this recipe on a (dieting) food blog and it was delicious! It was very lemony and fresh. Is that a good description? I don't think I've ever described something as fresh. Well, it fits.

We also loved the mushrooms in this. Big chunks of stir fried mushrooms in sauce... Mmmmmm.

That's a margarita you see by my plate. Not too diet friendly but needed :)

I served this over rice vermecelli.

Click here for the stolen recipe for Lemon Chicken Stir Fry.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Citrus Margarita Spritzer

Happy Cinco de Mayo! My wonderful husband went out and bought tequila and cointreau so I could try these "skinny" margaritas for MY day.

They were delicious! I don't even miss the calorie-heavy margarita mix. I squeezed oranges for juice, but cheated with bottled lime juice. Target didn't have any limes today (darn their produce area- I hate it!) Just a little club soda made it sparkly :)



Click here for the stolen recipe for Citrus Margarita Spritzer.



Thursday, May 3, 2012

Roasted Chicken

I read a great book.  Everyone should read it!  A professional cook takes a handful of women under her wing and shows them how to cook.  They also learn basics that I wish I knew too!  Knife techniques.  Butchering.  Wait, I don't think those are basics.  But they would be great skills to have.

The book is called The Kitchen Counter Cooking School.

One of the first scenes in the book is the chef at the grocery store.  She sees a woman with a grocery basket FULL of CRAP.  Okay, I'm going to sound snobby.  But crap as in processed food.  Like frozen pizzas, jarred alfredo sauce, canned soups, Hamburger Helper, etc.  She took the woman aside and asked her WHY.  Convenience, of course.  And not knowing any better!  The chef explained how easy it would be to recreate the same meals, for cheaper and not as much time as you would think.  It would be enlightening to anyone!  I've seen a lot of the same kind of grocery carts at the store too...

[Crap as in all of the same foods that we offer at our school food shelf.  I cringe thinking that these are the foods we are giving to our kids but they are shelf stable and easy for kids to make themselves.  I wish there were a better solution.]

One of the things that I was reminded of was how easy it is to roast a chicken.  The book also goes into great detail of how much more economical it is to cook a chicken this way and use the shredded meat or pieces for meals throughout the week.  Roasted chicken takes a bit longer than my usual weekday 30 minute or less meals, so I've found that roasting a chicken ahead of time (on Sundays or Tuesdays when Jim is at pool) is the best thing for me.  I've been freezing cooked shredded chicken for later use, in 2 cup portions if we don't immediately eat the pieces of chicken.

This book is great because it gives you TEN ways to flavor roast chicken.  I've tried two so far- Soy Ginger Oil & Tex-Mex.  I have to say that these are VERY flavorful and the chicken comes out so VERY MOIST!  The flavor combinations are rubbed under and over the skin.

Soy Ginger Oil-

Tex Mex-

Whole chickens really are so much cheaper.  Even cheaper than buying a precooked rotisserie chicken.  Duh.

I can't wait to try the others.
Lemon-Herb Butter
Italian Herb Oil
French Dijon
Goat Cheese with Proscuitto and Herbs
Thai-Style (this one uses coconut oil, something I don't have right now, otherwise I'd be all over it!)
China Spice

This book also talks about the beauty of omelettes (something else I've been dabbling in), soups, and making your own bread.  I have the book she mentions but I never dug into it.  Mental note:  bake bread.  Experiment.  I've wanted to recreate the Cheesecake Factory's brown bread.  OMG YUM.

I'm also looking up local classes to find where I can learn these knife skills!

Crispy Parmesan Asparagus Sticks

Yum!  Asparagus!  You gotta love Sam's Club because of their cheap, huge bundles of asparagus.  I've been quick-steaming (cheating) asparagus in the microwave for omelettes too, so the asparagus does NOT get wasted around here.

Anyway, these were great.  Slightly crispy.  I think maybe if I sprayed them with cooking spray too they'd be even more crispy.  Also, I think the crumb mixture could have used a bit of salt or some other spice.  But the idea is good!

We served these with the BBQ spareribs.

Click here for the stolen recipe for Crispy Parmesan Asparagus Sticks.

Slow Smoked Spareribs with Sweet-and-Sour BBQ Sauce

My husband is loving his grill.  I am loving that he is liking to help with dinners!

He followed a recipe in his Weber's Way to Grill book but he used a different technique than slow smoking.  He followed the directions for "stacking" the ribs, which took about 2 hours less time.

Lots going on with these ribs.  There was a dry rub.  There was a "mop" (like a baste?)   There was a BBQ sauce.  Good work, Jimmy!

We found this recipe in one of our grilling cookbooks but the recipe is online too-

Southwestern Pizza

I didn't make the crust.  I could have.  I just didn't.  I was at Trader Joe's and having heard about their pizza crusts I decided to buy a few.  This one is the Garlic Herb crust.  Supposed to be low fat.  I guess it is, but it's still more calories/fat than I would eat for one meal.  I am dieting in case you don't know!

I had an itch to try something completely new.  Southwestern Pizza stuck out in my mind.  I found a recipe that looked easy enough and I had most of the ingredients already.

Jim said it was good!  And that we should make it again.  I added some shredded chicken for protein.

The funny looking green stuff is avocado cream.  Mmmmmmm.

So this pizza has... smashed black beans, tomatoes, red onions, chicken, corn, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, Mexican blend cheese, and spices.

I'm glad the avocado cream was there.  Without a traditional tomato sauce it would have been pretty dry otherwise!

Click here for the stolen recipe for Southwestern Pizza.

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

I have joined my husband in his love of GINGER.  This soup also has a lot of the flavors that I like- soy sauce, lime, hot sauce, cilantro and ginger (I added extra).  Mmmmmmmmmmm.

It was a pretty good soup.  I think I would make it again without the noodles though.  The flavors were great but I can do without the carbs/calories of the noodles.  I'd much rather eat a healthier carb!  

Look at my pretty Dragon bowl from Japan!  (Thanks Kiki!)

I was cooking for one (Jim was out of town) so I portioned the rest of it out for future meals.  I froze them in Ziploc bags.

Note:  I couldn't really find "Chinese noodles" so I used rice vermicelli noodles from the Asian area of my grocery store.

Click here for the stolen recipe for Asian Chicken Noodle Soup.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake Cake

I made this cake for Easter. I've had this recipe bookmarked for a long, long time and I finally decided to try it.

There's a lot of frosting on this cake. Cream cheese frosting. Very sweet! I think this was okay because the cake wasn't overly sweet. It was almost pound cake-like.

Here's James' sighting of the CAKE. I missed the moment that he stuck his finger in the frosting and declared it "GOOD!"

The cake was made in a very deep cake pan. I couldn't find one locally so I used my springform (cheesecake) pan and it worked well. The batter was pretty thick so I crossed my fingers that it wouldn't leak through the bottom. To my great relief it was fine :) The cake was then sliced in half lengthwise for these layers.
A traditional strawberry/sugar mixture also was layered into this beauty.

And lots of frosting!


Good stuff! It was a heavier dessert than I had hoped for but delicious! I guess if I wanted lighter I should have gone with an angel food cake. Oh, that reminds me of the chocolate angel food cake I used to make. I need to find that recipe!



Click here for the stolen recipe for Strawberry Shortcake Cake.


Pumpkin Oatmeal


This is just a different version from the other crockpot steel cut oatmeal that I've been making. I think the only difference is that I used less apples, added two cups of canned pumpkin, and upped the amount of cinnamon. Delicious. I always top my bowl of oatmeal with 2 T of sliced almonds and 2 T of craisins.

Double recipe of this:

Click here for the stolen recipe for Overnight, Crockpot Steel Cut Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal.


Salted Mexican Chocolate Chile Caramels

Cinco de Mayo is coming up! I saw this recipe posted on one of my favorite blogs and decided to try it (immediately). Jim is out of town, I haven't baked/created for a while, and I needed a little chocolate something- all good reasons to try something new!

The recipe made way more than these- I took a picture about a third of the way in to wrapping these babies.

Mexican chocolate is a good memory. The sight of an Ibarra chocolate box reminds me of my Grandma Loreto.

The chile in these caramels is very, very subtle. I know it's there but you can't taste it much. I think next time I would throw in an extra chile for a kick!

Mmmmmmm Look at that salt. Salty and sweet. I'm quite certain that's my favorite kind of dessert now.

The caramels were quite soft. I'm glad. The other caramels I've made were quite firm and and after a few days they were too firm. I think these will stay melt-in-your-mouth soft for the month or so the recipe claims.

The real reason I made these? To test my willpower. I've only eaten one. I figured out the calories for the recipe, divided by 64 portions and figured out they are about 72 calories. One every other day is enough for me :)

Click here for the stolen recipe for Salted Mexican Chocolate Chile Caramels.