Friday, February 25, 2011

A Clementine-Date Birthday Cake for my Mom!

 TGIF!!!
  The week is over and it's Friday! This is a very special day because it's my mom's birthday! We live in different states so I'm sad that I'm not where she lives to help celebrate her special day. In her honor, tonight I decided to bake her a birthday cake. She grew up in the central valley of California where they grow beautiful citrus groves, dates, pomegranates, persimmons, and avocados. All of those are some of my favorite things! So I thought I would use some of the California grown specialties and bake this cake I saw recently in Cooking Light magazine. The recipe is interesting because you use unpeeled clementines. However, you just throw them in the food processor at let it do the work. It's so simple! the use of toasted walnut oil is unique and the glaze has the just the right amount of sweetness. This would be great as a dessert for a dinner party and would taste amazingly with coffee for brunch. Or, it could serve as birthday cake for a wonderful mother! Happy Birthday Mom!!


Tips:
 For a cake topping, I dipped 1 clementine in melted white chocolate to then put as a garnish on the cake. I used an actual tangerine and squeezed the whole thing to get the 5 tablespoons of juice. We served our slices with a dollop of whip cream because my mom loves whipped cream!





Clementine-Date Cake

*from Cooking Light magazine

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 2  teaspoons  all-purpose flour
  • 1/2  cup  walnut halves, divided
  • 6  pitted dates
  • 2  unpeeled clementines, quartered
  • 1/2  cup  packed brown sugar
  • 3  tablespoons  unsalted butter, softened
  • 2  tablespoons  toasted walnut oil
  • 3/4  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1  large egg
  • 9  ounces  all-purpose flour (2 cups)
  • 3/4  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 3/8  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  cup  fat-free buttermilk
  • 1/3  cup  chopped pitted dates
  • 1  cup  powdered sugar
  • 5  teaspoons  fresh tangerine juice

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; coat with cooking spray. Dust with 2 teaspoons flour.
3. Reserve 5 walnuts. Place remaining walnuts, 6 dates, and clementines in food processor; process until ground.
4. Combine brown sugar, butter, and oil in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Beat in vanilla and egg.
5. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition. Add nut mixture and chopped dates; beat at medium speed 3 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan.
6. Combine powdered sugar and juice, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Drizzle glaze over warm cake; spread to coat top. Top with reserved 5 walnut halves. Cool cake on a wire rack 30 minutes.






I tried to get a picture before it was all gone! 


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Meatless Monday: Easy Enchiladas



It's not Monday....it's Thursday but some things have been going on that have prevented me from getting this post on the blog. First, we found out that we had mice in our pantry!!! Therefore, we spent this week cleaning it out and throwing away any chewed through bags. Not a fun thing for a foodie! Then I got a new camera for Valentine's Day! However, when I went to go upload the photos and post recipes, we found out the USB cord doesn't work with my computer. So I'm using the old camera until the replacement cord arrives in the mail. This is real life and those things happen. Look forward to more posts because they are coming! Also, thank goodness it's already Thursday. I have next week off so hopefully there will be lots of cooking going on!





You might wonder why I don't have a lot of recipes on here that include meat. Well, that's because we really don't eat that much meat at my house. My husband has not been eating meat at all for almost a year and I try to only eat meat if I know it's high quality and comes from sustainable practices. On that note, I don't think there is anything wrong with eating meat but I do think our country would benefit from reducing the amount of meat that we consume. There is a great campaign that has started called Meatless Mondays. It helps stress the fact that going meatless once a week could reduce your risk of developing cancer, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Plus, we can help our planet by reducing our carbon foot print, use less water, and lessen our dependency on fossil fuels. There are so many great recipes you can make that are tasty and meat free. There are quite a few meat substitute products on the market and some are better than others. The ones I put on my blog are the ones I think are the tastiest and most likely not to scare the non-adventurous eaters out there. Give some of them a try to see what you might like. Although, you can always just leave substitutes out and fill dishes with flavorful vegetables, grains, and legumes!


Two products I like to use

   For these easy enchiladas I picked up I package of Frontera's Red Chile Enchilada Sauce and Gardein's frozen Chick'n Scallopini. I bought both at Whole Foods but you could use any red enchilada sauce for these. I carry these products on hand and then I can easily make these for a quick dinner. Other goodies you could add: Black beans, green chilies, avocado, sauteed onions, and jalapenos.



EASY MEATLESS ENCHILADAS


INGREDIENTS:

6 corn tortillas
2 Gardein Chick'n Scallopini, frozen
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 package Frontera Red Enchilada Sauce
2 green onions, chopped
sour cream
cilantro


Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook Gardein chick'n according to directions on package. Set aside to cool. Then chop in to bite size pieces or shred. Wrap corn tortillas in plastic wrap and heat in microwave for 30 seconds. Place corn tortillas on surface to prepare. Into each tortilla add 1/4 cup cheese and 1 tablespoon chick'n. Roll and then place seam side down in baking dish. Pour enchilada sauce all over tortillas. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake until the enchiladas are hot, about 15 minutes. Garnish with onions, cilantro, and sour cream.



Saturday, February 19, 2011

New Orleans: Travel Journal #1

  The Ririe Woodbury Dance Company traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana in November to perform as part of the Alwin Nikolais Cenntenial. We were presented by the New Orleans Ballet Association and were treated wonderfully by our presenters. We stayed at the Sheraton New Orleans right on Canal St.

This was my first time to New Orleans and it's definitely an interesting city. The first night we arrived there was a huge Anthropologist convention going on at our hotel and the lobby was just filled to the brim with people. When we headed out to dinner we were greeted by a marching band parade down the street! Great music and free entertainment! 





The view from the room at the Sheraton









Our first night we at dinner at the Red Fish Grill on Bourbon St. It was pretty good southern food even if we had to wait over an hour for a table. Since we were in New Orleans I had to order something authentic. I decided on the Herbsaint Flamed Catfish. It was served with sauteed spinach, yellow split peas, and tobacco onion rings.  I'm sure there are better seafood restaurants in the city but for something that is authentic, reasonably priced and close to the hotels near Bourbon St. this is a great option when visiting.




Inside the bar at Red Fish Grill. I love Fleur de Lys's and they are everywhere in NOLA!






The best food we encountered was at Satsuma Cafe !!!  
If you go to this city you must stop at this lovely cafe and coffee shop. 
We went here both days when we had breaks before our performances!


Random people playing instruments down the street
This restaurant/cafe was found by one of our dancer's boyfriends who came with us on tour. While we were in the theatre rehearsing, he came upon this great little cafe in the Bywater district. The Satsuma Cafe definitely felt like a place only NoLa foodie locals would know about. It had a friendly, chill atmosphere and very reasonable prices. Menu items included fresh squeezed juices, espresso, amazing salads, sandwiches, and breakfast items, all using local ingredients and whole foods. We went back multiple times because it was so close to our theatre and so good! The hot chai tea was yummy and their specials menu always sounded mouth-watering. The first day I had a special sandwich, pear and brie grilled cheese.



The second trip back I felt like breakfast so I had their egg sandwich with avocado and
arugula on hearty wheat bread. They have a lot of vegan baked goods that are very tasty as well.
Inside the Satsuma Cafe

The egg sandwich and chai tea
Satsuma cafe has great signs
Outside on Satsuma's patio



  Whenever I travel, like most foodies I end up coming back with food related souvenirs. Since we didn't have too much shopping time I was just able to pick up some chicory coffee from the famous Cafe Du Monde. I just bought mine at the airport with leftover per diem! This coffee is great made with a french press or as cafe au lait. I  just saw the other day that you can buy this at World Market stores!


  So if you are headed to NOLA anytime soon definitely check out these two restaurants, pick up some chicory coffee, and catch a dance performance presented by New Orleans Ballet Association!






Alwin Nikolais Centennial 

Celebrating 100 years of Nikolais (1910-2010)

Performed by Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company
November 19, 8 p.m.
November 20, 2 p.m.
November 20, 8 p.m.
Freda Lupin Memorial Hall, NOCCA 

Co-presented with The NOCCA Institute

Before Moses Pendleton and MOMIX, there was the creative genius Alwin Nikolais! Celebrated as the father of multimedia theater, Nikolais was a trailblazing choreographer, composer, costume, set and lighting designer who created stunning works of grand illusion. In partnership with The Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company is now the home for the Nikolais repertoire that spans over sixty years. In honor of the Alwin Nikolais Centennial, the company performs a program of legendary masterworks, including Crucible(1985), Tensile Involvement (1955) and the premiere of the restored mixed-media spectacle Temple (1974).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Healthy Cupcakes! What?!






Anyone who knows me knows that I love cupcakes! I love the fact that you get a small portion of cake with my favorite part, the frosting! I was lucky enough to be in NYC on tour last summer for my birthday and my co-workers surprised me with some of my favorite cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery. I wanted to make some festive and somewhat healthy Valentine's Day sweets so I got out this recipe from a saved Health magazine from this summer. These cupcakes are made with a little butter, a few eggs and low-fat buttermilk. The frosting is cream cheese based and has no butter. It's not my favorite frosting but since my favorite is the fattening butter cream, this makes a tasty healthy alternative! Bake up these cupcakes for a sweet treat that is healthier than the traditional cupcake and hopefully they will bring a smile to your face like they did for me!


A Few Tips:
I have been interested lately in learning about Wilton's baking supplies and techniques. I picked up one of their heart candy molds and candy melts at a crafts store. They are so easy and fun to make! All you do is put the candy in a pastry bag, melt in the microwave, pour into the mold, and let sit for about 15min. in the fridge! They look great on cupcakes and cakes. 


I used silicone baking cups for the cupcakes. These are easy to use and clean. Plus, they are very green! No waste is a good thing. I got mine at Sur La Table and I love that they are red. You can get them almost anywhere baking supplies are sold. They come in mini to jumbo sizes. 


Frosting your cupcakes should be fun! Just get some pastry bags and make sure you have a large star tip and a small round tip. Use the star tip for the top frosting and the round tip to fill the cupcakes. When putting the frosting in the bag, place the pastry bag in a wide glass so you have a good sturdy base as you spoon the frosting in. It will be a lot less messy too! Be creative with your decorating but remember: It doesn't really matter what they look like, as long as they taste good!






Raspberry Cream Cupcakes
*adapted from Health Magazine

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 3 drops red food coloring
  • 2 batches Lemon-Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry jam
  • 12 fresh raspberries, for garnish

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place 12 muffin cup liners in muffin tin.
2. Place flours in a medium bowl. Sift sugar, baking soda, and salt into bowl.
3. Whisk butter and oil. Add buttermilk and next 3 ingredients (through vanilla), whisking until well-combined. Add dry ingredients to wet.
4. Divide batter evenly among liners, and bake in middle of oven about 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool.
5. Mix food coloring into frosting. Transfer half to a separate bowl, and mix with raspberry jam. Pipe about 1 tablespoon of jam frosting into tops of cupcakes with a round-tipped pastry bag.
6. Pipe remaining frosting onto cakes with a star-tipped pastry bag. Garnish with a raspberry.
Skinny it up! Frosting (just make half!) but no filling makes these about 100 calories and 4g fat lighter.



 Lemon-Cream Cheese Frosting


Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest

Preparation:

Combine ingredients. Beat with a mixer until smooth. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Soup and Sorbet on a Saturday

 After being on tour in Roosevelt, Utah for a week, it was nice to have a very lazy Saturday. I basically ran to the bank, the grocery store, and to Great Harvest Bread Company. I decided to make some roasted garlic soup since my husband was still sick. I would have maybe made some bread if I had had more energy but Great Harvest does the trick when you want delicious bread to complement your meals. Plus, going in to their stores are fun because you are always offered a free slice of bread!

 For dessert, a Riesling Sorbet with Blackberries (or any fresh berries you want).  When we were given a bottle of Riesling as a gift recently, I remembered that I had this recipe and was excited to be able to finally try it out. The fresh lime juice helps to offset the sweetness of the Riesling. If you don't have an ice cream maker yet I would suggest Cuisinarts Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream, and Sorbet Maker. I bought mine for my ice cream loving husband as a gift almost  six years ago. It's easy and fast to use and is a breeze to clean up. If you get it at Sur La Table you can pick out one for about $49.95. Plus they come in four fun colors like Cuisinarts immersion blenders. Paired with Orange-Pecan Cookies this light and fresh dessert makes you feel like you are in wine country!









Roasted Garlic Soup 
with Potatoes and Fennel
*from the Healthy Heart Cookbook



Ingredients:

1 fennel bulb
1/2 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
10 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth, or more as needed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1.2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Trim the ends and any brown spots off the fennel bulb. Chop a handful of the feathery tops and set aside for garnish. Discard the rest. Cut the fennel bulb through the core into 1/2 inch slices. Combine the fennel, potatoes, and garlic in shallow roasting pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat. Roast for 10 minutes. Stir the vegetables and continue roasting until lightly golden and nearly tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 10 minutes longer.

In a large saucepan, combine the broth and thyme and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and add the roasted vegetable. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Using an immersion blender process until smooth. Additional broth can be added if the soup is too thick. Ladle into bowls, garnish with the chopped fennel tops, and serve.



Great Harvest Bread



Late-Harvest Riesling Sorbet with Berries


*from Cooking Light Magazine

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 2/3 cup sorbet and about 1/3 cup berries)

Ingredients

  • Sorbet:
  • 1 2/3  cups  late-harvest Riesling
  • 1/2  cup  water
  • 1/2  cup  sugar
  • 1/4  cup  fresh lime juice
  • Berries:
  • 1  cup  blackberries
  • 1  cup  blueberries
  • 1/2  cup  raspberries
  • 2  tablespoons  sugar
  • 3  tablespoons  late-harvest Riesling
  • 1/2  teaspoon  grated lime rind

Preparation

To prepare sorbet, combine first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook 3 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Increase heat to medium-high; bring to a boil. Cook 30 seconds. Pour mixture into a bowl; cool. Cover and chill 1 hour.
Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Spoon sorbet into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze 2 hours or until firm.
To prepare berries, combine blackberries and remaining ingredients; toss gently. Cover and chill. Serve sorbet topped with berries.






Orange-Pecan Cookies


*from Self Magazine


Makes 16 cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • Canola-oil cooking spray
  • Powdered sugar (optional)





PREPARATION

  1. Pulse pecans and sugar in a food processor into a sand like texture. Transfer to a bowl and stir in zest and extract. Slowly stir in egg white until a thin dough forms. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. Heat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Measure 16 heaping teaspoonfuls of dough and roll each into a ball. Place balls on sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before removing from pan. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Happy Belated World Nutella Day!!!

 


The actual World Nutella Day was on February 5, 2011 but we were performing that night and in the theatre all day. With one day off on Sunday I decided to come up with a Nutella recipe to honor the day. Nutella is huge in Europe and has continued to gain popularity in the USA especially since you can get it in most grocery stores. Now, I just wish you could get creme de marron (chestnut creme) in the stores here as well! I'll talk about that more in another post! Nutella is a delicious hazelnut chocolate spread that is great on wheat toast, swirled into oatmeal and ice cream, and as I found out today, heavenly in cookies!! World Nutella Day was started and is hosted by two wonderful bloggers from, Ms. Adventures in Italy  and Bleeding Espresso.  For this cookie recipe I decided to combine two of my favorite sweet things: Nutella and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups! Reese's recently introduced their Reese's Minis which are dime sized cups that come already unwrapped. I must give you a warning about these cookies. They are very addicting so bake some, eat one or two, and then share the rest!

The new Reese's minis. Save your gold Nutella seals and check out http://www.nutellausa.com/boutique.htm



Nutella and Peanut Butter Cup Cookies



INGREDIENTS:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter (1stick)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup Nutella
1/2 cup Reese's Minis chopped in halves

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Next, cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar in an electric mixer. Add the eggs, vanilla, and almond until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture until combined. Remove from mixer and add in Nutella and Reese's Minis. It doesn't have to be fully mixed in because it will give the cookies a beautiful Nutella swirl! Drop by tablespoons on prepared baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes. The longer they are in the crispier they will be. Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks. Mangia bene!




The final peanut butter, chocolate hazelnut cookie! Yum!


Sunday, February 6, 2011

More from the Moosewood Cookbook!

 I've been really impressed with all of the recipes I've attempted lately in The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. I love reading the recipes that are handwritten with fun illustrations on the pages. It makes me feel like I am making a recipe that was given to me by  a good friend or relative. Recently, my mom told me that she works with a woman who knows Mollie Katzen very well! I thought that was so cool because when you're a foodie, people like Mollie are celebrities in my book! Anyways, here are two recipes I hope you enjoy. The first is for a Gingered Carrot Soup that is easy to make and perfect for week day lunches. The soup is even easier to make if you have an immersion blender. If you don't have one in your kitchen you need one!! It makes assembling soups so easy. You don't have to worry about transferring your soup in batches to your blender and then back in your pot, etc. I would recommend getting a Cuisinart one for $29.95 from Sur La Table. They are available in fun colors  which helps make cooking even more fun!


The second recipe is for the best banana bread I have had in a long time! I've struggled making banana bread before by having it come out either too gooey in the middle or too dried out. This recipe worked perfectly! It uses a special ingredient that is something I love: coffee!! It might sound weird but you actually soak your pureed bananas in 1 cup of strong black coffee!  It's so good you should stop reading this now and go make it!




Gingered Carrot  Soup
Serves 6-8 
*from The New Moosewood Cookbook





2 1bs. carrots
4 cups water
1 Tbs. butter or oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. fresh grated ginger
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. each: cumin, ground fennel, cinnamon, allspice, dried mint

3-4 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 cup lightly tasted cashews
optional: buttermilk, to drizzle on top


1) Peel and trim carrots, and cut them into 1-inch chunks. Place in a medium-large saucepan with the water, cover, and bring to a  boil. Lower the heat, and simmer until very tender (about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the carrot pieces).

2) Meanwhile heat the butter or oil in a small skillet. Add onions, and saute over medium heat for about five minutes. Add garlic, ginger, salt, and spices. Turn heat to low, and continue to saute for another 8-10 minutes, or until everything is well mingled and the onions are very soft. Stir in the lemon juice.

3)Use and immersion blender to puree everything (including toasted cashews). If desired, drizzle buttermilk on individual servings.





Banana Bread
*adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook



1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 3/4 cups (packed) brown sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. grated orange rind
4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups pureed ripe banana soaked in 1 cup strong black coffee (can be decaf)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease 2 standard-sized loaf pans or 1 oblong pan (9x13 or 10x14). Sprinkle with sesame seeds; tilt and shake the pans to distribute the seeds.

2) Beat together butter or margarine and sugar in large bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. When the mixture is is fluffy, stir in the vanilla and almond extract, and orange rind.

3) Sift together the dry ingredients. Add this to the butter mixture alternately with the bananas, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Mix just enough after each addition to combine-don't over mix.

4) Spread the batter evenly in the pans and bake 40-50 minutes (loaf pans) or 35 minutes (oblong pan) or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. For loaf pans: cool 10 minutes in the pan, remove and place on wire rack. Let cool at least one hour before slicing.

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