Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lemon Lime Cake with Fresh Lime Whipped Cream


Don't these two citrus friends just look so good together? What a great combination. And when they are combined in something like this...


It takes it to a whole new level.  I have to tell you, there is nothing to compare to fresh whipped cream. I will admit I am a Cool Whip lover but after making my own yesterday, I don't know if I can go back. Sorry Cool Whip. I will probably still use you when I am in a hurry. Just one more shot of the pillowy clouds of heaven.


Now a shout out to fresh lemon and lime zest. Wow, what a pop of flavor you impart. And the smell is amazing. I took the leftover rinds and put them down my garbage disposal and had that citrus smell wafting through my kitchen. Just look at the little flecks of zest throughout the cake.


Anyways, here is a great recipe if you are into citrus as much as I am.

Lemon Lime Cake with Fresh Lime Whipped Cream
Recipe Source How Sweet It Is

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon lime zest
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons lemon and/or lime juice (I juiced the lemon and lime into the same bowl and got 3 tbsp)

Preheat oven to 350.
Cream butter, sugar, and eggs together until fluffy. Add vanilla and zest and combine until mixed.
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add the lemon and lime juice and thoroughly mix. Once mixed, add milk and beat until combined.
Pour into an 8×8 or 9×9 square cake pan and bake for 30-35 mins at 350. Let cool completely.
Lime Whipped Cream
1 pint cold whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoons lime zest
3 tablespoons powdered sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer, add cream, vanilla, sugar and lime zest. Best until cream stiffens, about 5-6 minutes. Frost cake and refrigerate. I used a pastry bag and tip to frost.
Friday, February 25, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie Soup (Healthy)


Please don't be turned off from that word "Healthy" in the title. I am a firm believer that something can be healthy and delicious at the same time. This is so true for this soup. This soup has warm comfort on a cold winter's day (or night) written all over it. This soup is loaded with vegetables which can be altered to whatever you might have on hand. My favorite vegetable in this soup is the mushrooms. I wouldn't suggest leaving those babies out. If you wanted to get fancy you could serve this in a bread bowl. I wish I had thought of that earlier. We paired ours with some garlic bread. This soup will fill you up but not fill you out so enjoy a big bowl without any guilt.

Chicken Pot Pie Soup
Recipe Source Gina's Skinny Taste

1/4 cup flour
2 cups water, divided
4 cups milk
1 large celery stalk, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
8 oz portabella mushrooms or white button mushrooms sliced
2 chicken bouillons
fresh ground pepper
pinch of thyme
10 oz frozen mixed veggies (peas, carrots, corn, green beans)
2 potatoes cubed very small (I don't peel mine but you could)
16 oz cooked chicken breast, diced small (I used my leftover roast chicken)
salt

Create a slurry by combining 1/2 cup of the cold water with flour in a medium bowl and whisk until well blended. Set aside.

Pour remaining water and milk into a large pot and slowly bring to a boil. Add celery, onion, mushrooms, chicken bullion, thyme, fresh pepper, frozen vegetables and return to a boil. Partially cover and simmer on low until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes. Remove lid, add potatoes and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add chicken, and slowly whisk in slurry, stirring well as you add. Cook another 2-3 minutes, until soup thickens, adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Cookie or a Brownie?


Life is full of hard decisions isn't it. Sometimes you want a warm, fresh, chocolate chip cookie and other times you want a rich, dark, chocolaty brownie. Well now you don't have to make that hard decision anymore. You can have both with this cookie recipe. This is a lot like my other cookie recipe but with a brownie stuffed inside. I know it's a little insane but oh, so good. Make these for your family, friends, co-worker's, the mail man, or anyone else who you might want to impress. These babies are BIG, which is a good thing right? Make up a batch of brownies ahead of time so you don't have to wait for them to cool. I just used leftover brownies from this recipe I made on Monday and they worked perfect. Hope you enjoy!

Brownie Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
Picky Palate

1 brownie mix or homemade brownies from my blog here
2 sticks softened butter
1 Cup granulated sugar
3/4 Cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla
3 1/2 Cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 Cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare brownie according to package directions.  Let cool completely then cut into 1 1/2 inch squares.


In a stand or electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla, continue to beat until well combined.

Place flour, salt and baking soda into a bowl; mix to combine then add slowly to wet ingredients along with the chocolate chips.

Place a large cookie scoopful of dough on top of a brownie square and another large scoop on the bottom.



Gently press and enclose brownie with dough adding pinches more dough to cover sides if needed.  Place 6 filled cookies onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake for 18-22 minutes or until edges are golden brown.  Remove and let cool for 15 minutes before removing from baking sheet.  Grab a tall glass of milk and dig in.

Makes 12-16 VERY large cookies


Oh, My! Look at that brownie!

Mexican Pulled Chicken Taco's


I happen to love the flavors of Mexican cooking. I am picky though about the way my Mexican food is prepared. This is why it is hard for me to eat at a Mexican restaurant because I don't like my food swimming in sauces or loaded with cheese. I know, call me crazy, I'm not a big fan of loads of cheese. I've got this weird gag problem when globs of it are going down my throat. Okay, enough of that. The picture above is my husbands plate, this would have been too much cheese for me. I do enjoy making Mexican dishes at home where I have control. I found this recipe over at Handle The Heat. I added the black beans for some fiber and nutrition. I just call them "Super Magic Power Beans" and my kids will eat them. I also cut down on the chili powder because I didn't want it to be too spicy for them. This recipe is simple and full of flavor. I think your family will love it.


Mexican Pulled Chicken Taco's
Adapted from Handle the Heat

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion roughly chopped
1 heaping tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. chili powder
salt and pepper
1 can black beans
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I cute mine into strips to cook faster)
1 cup salsa homemade or store bought
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 lime juiced

In a heavy pot with lid heat olive oil to medium heat and add onion, cumin, chili powder and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Cook onion, stirring regularly until it starts to soften.


Add chicken, salsa, chicken stock, and black beans. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Since my chicken was cut into strips it cooked faster, more like 10 minutes.

Remove chicken from pot and set aside. While chicken cools bring the sauce to a simmer, uncover and reduce by half.


When the chicken is cool enough, shred with two forks. Stir chicken back into sauce and reduce to low. Add lime juice. Taste and adjust for seasoning.


I made my own taco shells & chips. I took corn tortillas and sprayed them with cooking spray and sprinkled them with salt. I then draped them them over a 9x13 inch baking dish. I put this into a 450 F oven for about 10 minutes. For the chips I just cut them into fourths sprayed them and sprinkled them with salt. I cooked them right along with the shells.



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Simply Roasted Chicken


Call me crazy but I've never attempted to roast a whole chicken before. Believe me, I've been tempted when I've seen them for .99 cents a pound but for some reason it's always intimidated me. Some goes for a turkey. I am scared to death to roast a turkey. My biggest fear has been poisoning my family with salmonella, which by the way I've had and it ain't pretty. My second fear is that I will over cook the thing trying to make sure that is cooked all they way then having a dry bird that just deserves to go in the trash. After this attempt, and might I add a success, I feel much more confident in my bird cooking abilities. Yeah!!! I found a recipe in my Parents magazine for a simple roasted chicken. I liked that word simple so I took that as my base and added some spices to make it my own. Can I just tell you, this was the moistest most delicious chicken that I've had in a long time. Both my girls who aren't big fans of meat ate all of their dinner, nothing left on their plates. I served this with some mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli & cauliflower. With this master recipe under your belt, you'll have a host of healthy delicious dinners at the ready with the leftovers. If you haven't already, make roasting a whole bird party of your families recipe repertoire.

Simple Roasted Chicken
Adapted from Parents magazine

1 4 to 5 lb whole chicken
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
ground pepper

Heat oven to 400 F. Pat and dry chicken inside and out with paper towels. Remove anything that is inside the bird. Rub the olive oil over the skin of the chicken. Mix salt and thyme in a little bowl. Sprinkle all over the chicken generously. Sprinkle with the ground pepper. Place the chicken in a roasting pan (with or without rack) or another large heat-proof baking dish and put in the oven.


Let cook undisturbed for 30 minutes; check to make sure the breast isn't browning too fast; if it is, cover it loosely with foil. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes or until instant read thermometer registers 170 F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. Don't let the thermometer touch the bone or you'll get an inaccurate reading.

Let rest for 10 minutes before carving. This will allow all the cooking juices to redistribute and not come sloshing out. Makes 4 servings plus leftovers.

Guaranteed Fudge Brownies


Just so you know,  I ran 12 miles yesterday. Yes 12 miles! I felt like I earned and deserved a brownie so I made some. I also earned and deserved the ice cream cone I scarfed down before 11:00 am but that is a different story. See, this is the plus side to training for a 1/2 marathon. I can be a little more naughty when it comes to my eating routine. I don't let myself get too carried away though because the training will be over soon and I can't let bad habits creep in. In my muffin post the other day I was trying to decide between making these brownies or making the healthier alternative muffin recipe. I went with the muffins but was still dreaming about these so I just went for it with the excuse that it could be our Family Home Evening treat. I'm glad I did. They are so fudgey but not in gooey under baked way. I think the trick to these was melting the butter and sugar together on the stove top. This gives the brownie the signature shiny/crackly upper crust. You will get some serious brownie points when you make these. Just a side note: I didn't want a huge 9x13 so I just halved all the ingredients and baked it in a 8 inch baking dish. I reduced the time to about 25 minutes.

King Arthur Flour Fudge Brownies

1 cup (2 Sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups dutch process cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. espresso powder (I left this out and they were awesome)
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.

In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it's hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.

While the sugar heats a second time, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth.


Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.

Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips.

Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan.

Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving.

See that shiny top crust.

They are just begging for a glass of milk.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins (or Bread)


I was sitting (okay laying) on the couch after church today trying to decide what I wanted to make today. I knew I wanted something sweet so I was thinking either muffins or a new brownie recipe that I've been wanting to try. I went with the muffins mainly because my husband is trying to eat healthier and on a P90X routine at the moment and I didn't want to tempt him to stray too much. I might sneak those brownies in one day when he is a work. This muffin recipe is so good. I know I've said that about my other muffin recipe but two things can be SO GOOD at the same time. In fact these two muffins recipes are my absolute favorite (for now). I'm sure I'll try other ones down the road. Anyways, these are ooey gooey warm from the oven with the melting chocolate chips and warm smashed banana. I love them with a glass of milk. Like most muffin recipes, these can be frozen so a double batch is always a good idea. I always make muffins with this recipe but you could also bake them in a loaf pan if you prefer slices. Whatever your choice they are good with way.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins (or Bread)
Adapted from Wit and Whistle

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I used white wheat)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar (I only used 1/2 cup to cut down on the sugar)
1/4 cup canola oil
2 egg whites
1 cup mashed RIPE bananas (2 Large)
1/4 cup fat free milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 F. Great bottoms of 12 muffin tins or 8x4 or 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray. In medium bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In a large bowl mix sugar, oil, egg whites, banana's, milk, and vanilla until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon into muffins tin or loaf pan.

Bake loaf for about 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in comes out clean. Bake muffins for about 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool on cooling rack. I eat them warm, I think they are the best that way!


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Herb & Cheese Focaccia Bread


Once again I am carb loading on you. At least this one has some whole grains in it so naturally I slapped a healthy label on it. I am a huge fan of focaccia bread. We were at Disneyland a couple years ago and I ordered a turkey sandwich on rosemary focaccia bread. I though that sounded gourmetishly (is that a word?) good. It was is HEAVENLY. Ever since I've been a huge fan of this form of bread and Disneyland Cuisine for that matter. They have so many great food choices for the vegetarian or health conscious eater. I'm very proud of them. Anyways, I saw this recipe for focaccia bread in my trusty old Taste of Home magazine. I used the basic recipe and tweaked it to make it my own. I am superbly happy with the results and will make this a regular in our dinner rotations. I have big plans to make a turkey sandwich with the leftover's. They are just calling out for it!

Herb & Cheese Focaccia Bread
Adapted from Taste of Home

2 1/4 tsp. or one packet of active dry yeast (not quick rise)
1 cup warm water (110-115 F)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
Dash of Pepper
2 to 2 1/2 cups flour (I used half white wheat flour & half all purpose mixed)
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water for 5 minutes.
In the meantime mix salt, sugar, garlic powder, oregano, basil, parsley, and pepper in a little bowl.




After yeast is dissolved, add the olive oil, spice mixture, and 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
Knead with dough hook for about 6-8 minutes OR alternatively turn onto floured surface and knead by hand until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Shape into a 13x9 inch rectangle. Place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 F
With fingertips, make several dimples over top of dough.


Brush with oil; sprinkle with cheeses and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire rack.


Here is that Turkey Sandwich I promised you!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Very Veggie Tortellini & Kielbasa Soup


I had something totally different in mind to make for dinner tonight. I got up all excited about putting it together into the crock pot. As I was assembling the ingredients I realized I was out of two of the spices that I needed and it wasn't a grocery store day for me. Hate it when that happens. I do have a few stand by recipes that are super easy to throw together and usually always have the ingredients on hand. This soup is one of them. This is one of my creations that I've been making for a long time. It is very filling but also healthy too. I use whatever veggies I have on hand that are fresh or frozen and the soup always turns out great. This is a great way to get my kids to eat their veggies, they seem to always gobble it up. I paired this tonight with some homemade herb and cheese focaccia bread that I created and will be posting tomorrow.

Tortellini & Kielbasa Soup

1 Fully Cooked Lean Turkey Kielbasa link, sliced (I love the Jennie-O Brand)
4 (14 oz) cans Swanson chicken broth
4 large carrots peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium squash, chopped
2 cups frozen peas and carrots blend
1 package (9 oz) Buitoni Whole Wheat Cheese Tortellini or regular Cheese Tortellini
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Pour the chicken broth into a large stockpot over medium high heat. Once it comes to a boil, add the carrots. Boil carrots for about 5 minutes then add the zucchini and squash. Let simmer until the veggies are tender another 5 minutes. Add the frozen veggies, tortellini, kielbasa, and seasonings. Bring back to a simmer for about 5 minutes or so until the tortellini is cooked and puffed at the surface.

Some of the chopped veggies.
Soup simmering away.
Ellie & Emma's Plates looked like this. It's hard for them to eat soup so I just drain off the liquid for them.

Here is a sneak peak at my Focaccia Bread!
Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oatmeal Blackberry Bars


A long time ago before I had my children I worked at a real estate office. I loved my job and sometimes think back to those good old days. Not that I would change anything about my life now but it was a fun working environment and I had many friends there. There was this girl who would make these wonderful Blackberry Bars and bring them to the office to share. She did this quite often and everyone raved about them, including me. I finally had to ask her for the recipe which she was happy to share.

When a recipe calls for oatmeal and whole wheat flour it is automatically healthy, right? In my opinion those two healthy ingredients cancel out the stick and a half of butter called for in these. When I make them I always think about how these would be perfect for a quick breakfast treat or something to make for a brunch. Can I just say too how gooooood your home smells when brown sugar, butter, and oatmeal are baking away in your oven. They are great warm, right out of the oven, with a dollop (love that word) of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. You can rewarm them in the microwave too. I used blackberry jam in mine but you could change it out for any other flavor that sounds good. I've even used sugar free before and they have turned out great. So here you go for a simple yummy treat.

Oatmeal Blackberry Bars

3/4 cup butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups oats
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 (10-12 oz) jar blackberry preserves

Preheat oven to 400 F. Cream together butter and brown sugar until combined. Mix in the flour, oats, salt, and baking soda.

Tightly pat 1/2- 3/4 of the oat mixture into a greased 9x13 pan.

I had a little helper for this part

Carefully spread preserves on the top. I just dollop little spoonfuls all over the top and then gently spread them together.


Take the remainder of the oatmeal mixture and sprinkle it over the top. You can press it in gently if you desire.


Bake for 20-23 minutes until lightly browned and smelling delicious.
Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Homemade Spinach Manicotti

This is one of my favorite dinner's to make, EVER! I love this so much. It might seem like a lot of extra work to make but it really isn't too bad and definitely worth the final result.
The thing that sets this Manicotti apart from the rest is the homemade crespelles which are basically crepes. They are so easy to make and can be used in a lot of different ways from sweet to savory. I actually think making crepes in fun and it is a heck of a lot easier to fill these than those dang little manicotti shells. Check out the very end of the post for a good after dinner treat.


Light Crespelle Recipe   Ginas Skinny Recipes

1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups 1% milk (I used Fat Free)
2 large eggs whites
1 large egg
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp. salt
Cooking Spray

Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until thoroughly mixed. I kept it on for a few minutes. Heat your 6" non-stick frying pan on medium-low heat. I have a crepe pan that works perfectly for these. Lightly spray with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cup or so into the pan, slowly swirling the batter around the pan to cover evenly. Cook for about 30 seconds, flip and cook 10 seconds more. I just end up grabbing a corner with my fingers and fliping them by hand. Just be careful!!







Homemade Spinach Manicotti Gina's Skinny Recipes

16 oz part skim ricotta cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 large egg
10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/4 cup Parmesan reggiano
salt and pepper
16 crespellas
32 oz marinara sauce

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl, combine ricotta, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, egg, spinach, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

Fill each crespelle with 1/4 cup spinach filling and roll.





In a large baking dish pour a little sauce on the bottom of the dish. I had some cherry tomatoes in the fridge that I wanted to use up so I put those over the sauce. Place rolled manicotti seem side down into baking dish.




Top with more sauce and remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.


I had a few leftover Crespelle's so I made Nutella crepes for the kids. I filled them with Nutella and topped them off with whipped cream and strawberries. This makes a great quick and easy dessert for after dinner.


This recipe is linked to Prairie Story Recipe Swap Thrusday
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