Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Olive oil Zucchini Cake with Lemon Glaze

Trying to come up with an easy, relatively healthy cake my daughter could make completely on her here it is:

Olive Oil Cake

  • 1.5 cups all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated (or ground) nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, finely grated

Sift together dry ingredients (except sugar). In bowl of standing mixer, or with electric beater, beat eggs for 5 mins until thick and lemon colored. Add sugar and beat an additional minute. Add olive oil and milk and beat to combine. Stir in dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Pour into a 9" loaf pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes in pan. Turn out to wired rack and spread with optional glaze if desired, let glaze adhere to cake as cake cools completely and glaze dries.

Optional Lemon Glaze
  • 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar

Mix together sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Whisk in confectioners sugar until completely smooth.

If you slice this cake into 24 slices, there are 110 calories per slice, see my daughters calculation below!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Caprese Skewers

Super easy and really pretty little appetizers - great for picnics and BBQs perfect for summer.

Caprese Skewers
  • Fresh Mozzarella balls (tiny ones called Ciliegine are best, but you can cut cubes as well)
  • Basil Leaves
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved if large

Marinade for Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil for every cup or so of cheese
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 TBS chopped oregano, fresh is great dried works too
  • salt
  • pepper

Combine all marinade ingredients and toss in cheese, gently, to coat. Let sit for at least 20 mins and up to 8 hours. I usually let the amount of cheese dictate how many cherry tomatoes to use.

Thread one ball cheese, one leaf basil folded like an S and one cherry tomato on each toothpick or cocktail skewer. Arrange on platter. Garnish with additional whole basil leaves if desired. Serve at room temperature.

NOTE: Fresh mozzarella comes in different sizes:

Ciliegine  cherry size, about 0.3 oz of cheese
Bocconcini  (bite sized) are larger about 1.5 oz per ball
Ovolini (egg sized) about 4 oz each

I love the ciliegine for this recipe, but they can be pricy and/or hard to find. You can always use any fresh mozzarella and cut it - or even use the packaged type of block mozzarella.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Baked Zucchini Chips

These delightful little crispy chips are easy and absolutely fantastic! A wonderful way to use excess zucchini, but I actually buy zucchini just to make these. They're a low calorie, very low fat delicious snack or appetizer.

Zucchini Chips
  • 2 Zucchini's sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1/2 cup milk (low fat is fine)
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 F. Lay a large baking rack over a baking sheet and spray rack with cooking spray.
Mix all coating ingredients on a large flat plate. Dip zucchini rounds in milk and then dredge in coating pressing lightly to help it adhere. Place coated rounds on baking rack, n a single layer. Spray with cooking spray (or mist with olive oil if you have one of those cool little oil misters). Bake for 30 mins, no need to flip because they are on a rack!
Remove from oven, let cool a few minutes then carefully remove and serve while still warm, although they are also good at room temperature.

You can vary the flavor of these by adding fresh or dried herbs to the breadcrumb coating. Can also use gruyere instead of the parm

Friday, April 5, 2013

Ham Salad - a wonderful way to reframe leftover ham!

Easy Ham Salad

After a holiday wherein you have served a wonderful ham, there tends to be a lot of leftover ham - ham sandwiches made with thick slices of ham are fabulous, ham noodle casserole is wonderful - ham and eggs are a treat but after awhile you really want the ham to be a little, well, different...enter this ham salad - its the easiest recipe ever - just three ingredients but it works wonders on creating a whole different way to experience ham!

Easy Ham Salad

  • 1-2 cups chopped ham (outer skin removed)
  • 1-2 Tbs sweet pickle relish
  • 1-2 Tbs mayonnaise
  • freshly ground black pepper, optional

Pulse everything together in a food processor to create a spread with the consistency of pate. Serve on toast, buns, or as a dip!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lamb Rib Chops

Pan Seared Lamb lollipop Chops

These are so amazing - so easy, so very very good and so quick! Ok, they can be expensive, particularly if you buy them already cut and frenched - but they are just so fabulous.

This year for Easter I made a ham, which was wonderful - but it just isn't Easter without lamb to me, so I turned to these adorable little lamb chops to serve as appetizers - and everybody loved them

  • 6-8 tiny frenched lamb rib chops (you can cut these yourself from a rack of lamb as long as the chine bone has been removed)
  • 6 Tbs stone ground or dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary
  • salt, pepper

Coat the meaty part of the lamb chop with mustard, smear on garlic mixed with olive oil, add salt and pepper and rosemary and press it to adhere. Let the lamb sit for an hour at room temperature. Heat a cast iron pan and add 1 tbs olive oil. Sear chops on both sides about 3 minutes per side. Move to a 400 oven for 6 mins for med. Tent with foil and let rest for 5 mins, serve.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Baked Apples with Strawberry Sauce

Baked Apples with Strawberry sauce - these are SO easy and wonderful for special dinners, like a romantic meal for two - or everyday dinners or even as healthy after school snacks.
I like to use Granny Smith apples because they hold their shape so well when cooked, but you can use any baking apple such as Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Fugi or Rome Beauty - don't use the wonderful eating apple, McIntosh (although they make great applesauce they fall apart when baked)
Baked Apples
  • 4 Granny Smith Apples
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup rasins
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or slivered almonds
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

Core apples and make a well, leaving 1/2 inch on the bottom. Peel a strip from center of apple, around its equator so the apple skin doesn't burst while cooking. Combine sugar, rasins and nuts. Pack each apple with sugar mixture filling. Top each apple with 1 tbs softened butter. Place in a pie pan and add 1/2 cup water to pan (about 1/4 inch up sides of apples) Cover dish with buttered foil (buttered side down). Bake in a 350 F oven for 30 mins to an hour, or until apples are tender but still hold their shape. Remove foil after 20 mins. and sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired. Apples can be made ahead and kept refrigerated for up to 4 days, reheat covered with foil in a 350 oven for 10 mins.

Strawberry Sauce
  • 1/4 lb strawberries, washed and stemmed
  • 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 Tbs orange juice
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice

Puree strawberries in a blender or food processor. Press mixture through a fine strainer. Discared (or eat on yogurt) solids. Stir in confectioners sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves. Whisk in juices, and cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (This sauce is also fabulous on ice cream, or with waffles or pancakes)

To serve: Spoon some sauce onto each of four dessert plates, place an apple on top. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired and garnish with fresh mint if available.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dinner with Friends

Last night we had a wonderful couple over for dinner. They are great people and I wanted to wow them with the meal, but I was stressed because my daughter had a major sports event that same day. I knew I would only have about 2 hours after getting home from the meet before company arrived, so I decided on a menu I could mostly prepare ahead. The dinner I came up with was focused on my 100 layer lasagna - the one with home made pasta. Once I decided on that, I built up the meal around it. So I made:
homemade ricotta crostini, a veggie platter with roasted red pepper dip, the lasagna, garlic bread, a simple salad and Italian cheesecake with a blueberry sauce for dessert - which I paired with high quality store bought cookies.

The cooking went like this - two days before the dinner I made the meat sauce for the lasagna, one day before I made the white sauce, the pasta and assembled the lasagna. The night before I made the cheesecake. The morning of the dinner I made the blueberry sauce, the ricotta cheese and the crostini. After my daughters meet I took the lasagna our of the fridge so it wouldn't take so long to cook and preheated the oven, I cut up veggies and used a store bought dip and made a pretty platter, plated up the crostini, spread on the cheese and drizzled with some olive oil. I preheated the oven - took a shower and got ready, set the table - popped the pasta in the oven and greeted my guests. We enjoyed drinks and appetizers and I made a simple salad. When the lasagna was done I took it out to rest a bit and popped the garlic bread in the oven. Got everything on the table, ate made coffee - enjoyed their company and then served dessert - it was awesome and very little work on the actual day of the meal!

All of the recipes mentioned are here in this blog and also on my youtube channel.

Happy Cooking - now its time to plan a kid friendly but good Valentines day meal

Thursday, January 10, 2013

White Chicken Chili

This is one easy and fast take on chicken chili - great for a quick weeknight dinner, but super good as well. You can add more heat to your liking, but this is how I make mine:

White Chicken Chili
  • 1 lb skinless boneless chicken breast
  • 6 whole peppercorns
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 cans 15.5 oz white beans (cannellini, great northern, navy etc)
  • 2-3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 2 cans chopped green chilies, or one diced jalapeno (seeds removed if you don't want it too hot)
  • salt
  • pepper

In a medium pot, cover chicken with water add peppercorns and some salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook 10-20 mins or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from water and let cool.
In a dutch oven, heat oil. Saute onion in oil until translucent. Add garlic (and jalapeno if using) and saute a minute more, sprinkle with cumin, chili powder and oregano. Add salt and pepper. Add 2 cups chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Drain and rinse beans, mash half of beans in a bowl with a potato masher or a fork. Shred chicken with your hands or two forks. Add chicken and all beans to simmering broth mixture. Add green chillies. Bring to a boil, add enough cup of broth if it looks too thick. Lower heat and cook for 10 mins. Serve with: sour cream, shredded Monteray jack, chopped black olives, corn chips or buttered flour tortillas.

Notes about the white beans - all three can be used interchangeably. Basically, Cannellini are larger, great northern a little smaller but still will hold their shape - navy are the smallest and best for dishes where the bean shape isn't so important, not for salads or ragouts, but great for stews, soups and of course baked beans.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Biscotti di Regina

Biscotti di Regina

These are for you, Mom! When I was growing up my mother always made these cookies after the Christmas goose - they use goose fat, pure white decadence - they are super easy and very rich. You can make them with butter, but its not quite the same thing. They taste incredible and pair very nicely with a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or tea.

Biscotti di Regina (Queens Biscuits)

  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 6 Tbs goose fat (the pure white part)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 1 cup sesame seeds

Combine all ingredients, except milk and sesame seeds, to make a soft and crumbly dough. Gather 1 Tbs portions of dough with hands, press together into a small log. Roll logs in milk then seeds. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake in a 350 oven for about 10 mins or until bottoms are golden. Let cool on pan about 2 mins and carefully transfer to a wire rack (cookies are fragile while warm).