Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"the greatest and easiest" chocolate cake

I love Trader Joes.  I just had to get that out of the way.
My friend Janet was testing out a chocolate cake recipe for an upcoming event so let my family sample some chocolate cupcakes.  The recipe came from the backside of a can of Trader Joe's cocoa powder.  A lot of times that's one of the best place to find a great recipe.  My kids said this cupcake was way better than your average cupcake.

"the greatest and easiest" chocolate cake (Trader Joe's cocoa powder)
3 1/3 cups flour
1 1/3 cups cocoa powder
3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
12 ounces butter
3 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or you can use 2 round 8-inch pans that are 4 inches deep.
Place all ingredients in electric mixing bowl and beat on high for 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl once during mixing.  Pour into prepared pans.  Bake cakes for about 55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

What I saw online- one gal used this recipe and was able to make a really thick chocolate cake (two 4-inch layers).  Janet was able to make one 8-inch cake for an ice cream cake base and 22 cupcakes.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

zucchini bread

This bread got rave reviews from my family and from two friends (tasters) which means one thing- this recipe is a keeper.  This bread got 5 stars at allrecipes from over 4,000 people so it's safe to assume you can make this bread knowing it will turn out a-okay. Warning:  this bread disappears within seconds.

zucchini bread (
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini

Grease and flour two 8x4-inch loaf pans.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Combine flour, salt, baking powder, soda and cinnamon together in a bowl.
Beat eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar together in a large bowl.  Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat well.  Stir in zucchini until well combined.  Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 40 to 60 minutes or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes.  Remove bread from the pan and cool completely.

Monday, March 11, 2013

creamy fish with parmesan and chives

This fish was super enjoyable.  I loved the flavors and it was incredibly healthy...but didn't taste healthy at all which is a good thing when I want a hearty meal.

creamy fish with parmesan and chives (pass the peas, please)
1 pound tilapia loins (from Costco)
8 tablespoons thick nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chives (I used freeze dried)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 375.  Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.  Spread over fishPlace in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until done.

cheese stuffed italian meatloaf

This is by far the best meatloaf I've ever had.  I learned this recipe at a meats class during my first year of college.  You have to know that as a kid I hated meatloaf but my parents made me eat it.  I saw with a glass of milk trying to choke down every last bite.  Why oh why didn't my mother know about this recipe?  As a result, I learned to cook.  Whenever my mom said meatloaf was for dinner I did the cooking.  She said we were having meatloaf quite often.

cheese stuffed italian meatloaf (adapted from my meats class at Ricks College)
1 pound extra lean ground beef
1 pound ground chicken
1 egg
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
8 ounces tomato sauce, divided
1 teaspoon oregano, divided
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, combine ground beef, ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1/2 teaspoon oregano.  Make sure the ingredients are mixed well.  Take a rectangular piece of wax paper and place it on the counter.  Dump the meat out of the bowl and onto the wax paper.  Spread the meat onto the wax paper and pat and shape into a rectangle- 8x15.  Spread mozzarella cheese on top of meat.  Starting at one end, roll the meatball into a loaf.  Place into a greased loaf pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.  Ten minutes before it's done pour the rest of the tomato sauce over the meatloaf and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Continue baking for 10 minutes more.

Friday, March 8, 2013

toffee bit cookies

I get nervous when I bake cookies because they often don't look like the photo that enticed me into making them in the first place.  Not so with this recipe.  This recipe turned out fantastic and they taste how they look.  I couldn't name them "Heath" toffee bit cookies because I had leftover homemade English Butter Toffee which I used for the inside of the cookie but I also had some Heath bits in the cupboard so I used those to roll them in before baking.  I let my 3-year old sample both kinds of toffee bits and he said the homemade bits were the best.  That's my boy!  Either way you can't go wrong.  Just make them and eat them up (and share a few).  Cookies always taste better when you share them.  At least that's what I tell my kids.

toffee bit cookies (Bakerella)
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/3 cup (8 ounce) bag toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix flour, soda and salt using a wire whisk and set aside.
In another bowl, cream butter, dark brown sugar and peanut butter until light and fluffy.
Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
Add flour mixture to creamed mixture and mix until combined.
Stir in toffee bits, reserving some to dip tops of cookies.
Roll cookie dough into 1-1/4 inch balls.  Dip tops of cookies in bits and place on parchment paper covered baking sheet.  Bake about 10 minutes.  Made 40 cookies.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

best ever sausage and tortellini soup

This was a favorite for me.  Flavorful and creamy yet I didn't feel too guilty because I used light pork sausage and fat free evaporated milk.  I thought the herbs were perfect.  I actually made two pots of this soup; one with tortellini and one with whole wheat egg noodles which is what I enjoyed.  You'll want to make two pots of this stuff.

best ever sausage and tortellini soup (adapted from Party In My Kitchen)
1 pound Jimmy Dean light sausage
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1 cup tortellini or whole wheat egg noodles
4 cups water
1 can fat free evaporated milk
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon parsley (I used freeze dried)
1 tablespoon chives (I used freeze dried)
pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, optional

In a stock pot, brown sausage until half cooked.  Add onion, pepper and carrots and cook until sausage is fully cooked.  Add water, evaporated milk, bouillon, herbs, pepper and pasta.  Cook until pasta is tender.  Serve with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

protein oatmeal pancakes

I couldn't not try these pancakes.  They're packed with good stuff!  I even pulled out my Vita-Mix and ground the oatmeal to make these pancakes (and sort of felt like the Little Red Hen; this was my first time grounding anything).  These pancakes are hearty and delicious and we all ate them in different ways.  My husband poured on homemade blackberry syrup (not so healthy), some of my kids spread homemade strawberry jam on top, some put jam on top then topped them with bananas.  I poured a little no sugar added maple syrup on mine and then I made a few pancakes with blueberries which I thought ended up being the best!  This is my new go-to pancake recipe.  See you later, Krusteaz!

protein oatmeal pancakes (Yummy Mummy Kitchen)
makes about 6 (4-inch) pancakes
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (I doubled the recipe and used 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon stevia powder (or sweetener of choice)
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
2 large egg whites (I used Egg Beaters)
2/3 cup fat free milk (actually I ended up using less, I prefer a sturdy pancake to a floppy one)

Place oats, flour, salt, baking powder and stevia in the bowl of a food processor or blender.  Process until oats are finely ground.  Transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in yogurt, egg whites and milk  Add more milk if the mixture is too thick.
Heat a skillet coated with cooking spray (okay, I'll admit I used butter) over medium high heat.  Pour about 1/3 cup of the batter into the pan and cook until bubbles start to pop on the surface of the pancake.  Flip and continue to cook until golden brown on the other side and cooked through.  Continue

Heat a skillet coated with cooking spray over medium high heat. Pour about 1/3 cup of batter into the pan and cook until bubbles start to pop on the surface of the pancake. Flip and continue to cook until golden brown on the other side and cooked through. Continue until all the batter is used up. Serve with syrup, honey, agave syrup, yogurt, and/or berries.

grilled barbecued drumsticks

My daughter and her friend were excited all week long to make dinner last night.  They made grilled barbecued drumsticks, spicy baked potato wedges, corn and cookies.  It was a feast and everything was delicious.  They were mighty proud of these drumsticks and they had every right.  The homemade barbecue sauce was sassy and good.  Many fingers were licked at the kitchen table!

grilled barbecued drumsticks (cookbook:  Cooking Fun by Rae Grant)
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon-style  mustard (you can use spicy brown in a pinch)
1 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 large chicken drumsticks

(The original recipe told us to bake the drumsticks but we ignored that and prepared our grill instead of our oven.  If you want to bake your drumsticks, preheat to 375 with the rack in the middle of the oven and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.)
Combine the ketchup, molasses, sugar, mustard, vinegar, and salt in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Turn heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.
Put the drumsticks on the grill then use a pastry brush to spread the sauce evenly over the drumsticks.  Every 10 to 15 minutes, flip the drumsticks and brush with more sauce.  Grill for up to 55 minutes.  Serve hot.

cookies in a jiffy

Who couldn't use a speedy cookie recipe that tastes fantastic?!  My daughter and her friend made dinner last night- grilled barbeque chicken, potato wedges, corn and these cookies that they made using Jiffy baking mix.  The recipe called for chocolate chips but they used what they found in the cupboard- M&M's and the rest of a bag of chocolate chips, numbering about 10 or 12.  They are buttery and have just-the-right amount of chewiness.  I have a feeling these will become a regular at our house.

cookies in a jiffy (recipe from Betty Crocker)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups Jiffy Baking Mix (original recipe calls for Bisquick Heart Smart mix)
1 cup add-ins like chocolate chips or M&M's or both!

Heat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Beat in vanilla and egg.  Add Jiffy mix; beat on low speed until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Onto ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set on edges and golden brown.  Cool on cookie sheets 2 minutes.  Remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.

store bought favorite: madras curry

I am a huge curry fan but I also need speedy meal plans and curry recipes often take a lot of time so when I saw this jar of Madras Curry I picked it up with my fingers crossed.  I was pleased; this curry is delicious!  Since it comes in a jar I may as well say what I mean- it is exceptional.  I found it at Market of Choice, our "nicer" grocery store in town and I highly recommend it!

Maya Kaimal Madras Curry Indian Simmer Sauce
It's so easy!  Cut up 1 1/2 pounds of chicken breasts and brown in a skillet.  Add simmer sauce and simmer for 30 minutes.  Serve over jasmine rice, basmati rice or with naan bread.

Friday, March 1, 2013

creamy chicken with rice soup

Sometimes I make the mistake of overlooking a recipe because the ingredients are too simple...but simple is good!  This soup may not have exotic flavors but it was creamy and delicious.  I used brown jasmine rice instead of your basic white rice and that simple exchange made the soup even better than it would've been.

creamy chicken with rice soup (Taste of Home)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) chicken broth
1/3 cup brown jasmine rice
3/4 teaspoon dried basil (I used freeze dried)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 can (5 ounces) fat-free evaporated milk
1/2 rotiseree chicken, diced

In a large saucepan, saute the onion, carrot, celery in oil until tender.  Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.  Stir in the broth, rice, basil and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is tender (mine took 40 minutes).
In a small bowl, combine flour and milk until smooth; stir into soup.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Stir in chicken; heat through.  Yield: 5 servings

    brunch stuffed peppers

    I kept seeing recipes for brunch stuffed peppers but never the exact way I would want to eat them so I made my own recipe.  I loved them!  My husband and I split three of them and we probably could've eaten more.  They were moist and tasty.  I enjoyed how the sweetness of the pepper complimented the savory insides.  The next time we have breakfast for dinner we're having these!

    brunch stuffed peppers (pass the peas, please)
    3 yellow bell peppers
    1/2 pound black forest ham or breakfast ham, diced
    3/4 cup Egg Beaters
    1/4 cup reduced fat feta cheese
    1/4 cup Jiffy baking mix (Bisquick would work)
    1/4 cup light sour cream
    2 tablespoons chopped green onion
    1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    1 1/2 slices pepper jack cheese

    Preheat oven to 350.
    Remove the tops of each bell pepper.  Place them in an 8x8-inch baking dish.
    In a large bowl, combine Egg Beaters, feta, baking mix, sour cream, green onion, spinach and black pepper.  Evenly distribute the egg mixture into each bell pepper.  Place 1/2 of a slice of pepper jack cheese over the top of the stuffed pepper.  Bake about 45-50 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and serve.