Saturday, July 31, 2010

FRUIT PIZZA

This past Thursday was one of our very valued employees last day working for our granite company before moving out of state for her husband's schooling, so I wanted to make a treat to take into the office for her. I was pressed for time and I thought I'd make fruit pizza the easy way by purchasing pre-made sugar cookie dough from the grocery store to bake up as the crust. After running other errands, I hauled my 3 kids to the grocery store get some dough. I left without it. On purpose. I just couldn't bring myself to purchase dough with all kinds of added preservatives and artificial stuff when I had all I needed at home to make the crust myself. I guess I like to make life more stressful than it has to be sometimes! By all means, if you want to use store bought dough, go for it!

Fruit Pizza is nothing new to most people, but there are a lot of variations you can make with it, such as this glaze I put on it. I typically don't use a glaze, but this was a nice addition.

I labeled this as "easy" because if you do use the store bought cookie dough it is very simple. For the traditional fruit pizza like I made, just use your favorite sugar cookie dough recipe or this one:

ALTON BROWN'S SUGAR COOKIES:


3 C. all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 C. unsalted butter, softened
1 C. sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. milk


Sift dry ingredients together. Set aside.  Place butter and sugar in large bowl and beat with electric mixer until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees


Spray rimless baking sheet or pizza pan with cooking spray. Grab a few handfuls of dough and mound in center of baking sheet. Flatten with palms of hands into a round, flat shape, adding more dough as necessary to make desired size and approx. 1/4" - 1/2" thick. (You will have dough left over).


Bake until fairly firm to the touch, approx. 15-17 minutes.


Once the crust has cooled completely, spread with the following:


SWEETENED CREAM CHEESE SPREAD:


1 8 oz. package softened cream cheese ( I use reduced fat)
1 C. Powdered Sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Mix together with hand mixer until smooth and creamy


Top with whatever fruit you have on hand. It's nice to do fresh fruit if possible, but you can also add in some canned stuff like I did above. I used canned mandarin oranges, canned pineapple, fresh peaches, and fresh strawberries.


GLAZE:
5 tsp. cornstarch
1 1/4 C. unsweetened pineapple juice
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/8 C. peach or apricot jam (optional)
Place all ingredients in small saucepan, stir until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes until thickened. Cool slightly and pour over fruit pizza.


Here are a few twists you could put on this classic dessert:


Cookie Base:
Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip
Cream Cheese Spread mix-ins:
Peanut Butter, Mashed Strawberries, Various extracts: mint, orange, almond
Toppings:
Various fruit, Crushed Oreos or other cookie, Nuts
Drizzle:
White chocolate, Chocolate, Caramel, Melted jam, Glaze

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

WATERMELON & FETA SALAD


I am now a lover of watermelon on salad! What a refreshing addition it was! I've seen recipes like this in the past, but haven't been to enticed by them for some reason. Wow, have I been missing out! This is such a simple salad, yet very satisfying and filling.


WATERMELON & FETA SALAD
(recipe from Woman's Day magazine, July 2010)   serves 4

Dressing:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar (I mixed white cooking wine with white vinegar)
1 Tbsp. lime juice (I used fresh)
1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
Salad:
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 lb. seedless watermelon, cut into small chunks
1/2 seedless cucumber, cut in half horizontally, then sliced
3 C. baby arugala (I just used the Boston lettuce from my garden, as I am not a fan of arugala)
3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (fat free tastes fine to me)

1. In a bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Add onion and let sit 10 minutes.
2. Add watermelon, cucumber and lettuce to bowl. Gently toss to combine.
3. T op salad with crumbled feta and serve.

Friday, July 23, 2010

FRUITY SPINACH SMOOTHIE

Smoothies have become a frequent breakfast around our house for the past year or so. We have tried all kinds of combinations, but just recently tried adding spinach and other greens. My kids even know that spinach is in it most of the time, but they can't detect it so they love it! This combination of fruits was especially good; almost like soft ice cream! I know the color isn't the most appetizing, but one sip and you won't care what color it is! I tend to not measure anything when I throw a smoothie together, so I'll give approximates, then you can adjust according to your preference for taste, texture and thickness. I usually add some yogurt, but didn't in this one and it was plenty creamy because of the banana and protein powder. If you omit one or both of those ingredients, you'll probably wan to add some vanilla or plain yogurt.

FRUITY SPINACH SMOOTHIE
(makes approx. 5 cups)

3 wedges (triangles) of seedless watermelon, cubed
1 medium banana
2-3 handfulls frozen strawberries
2-3 handfulls frozen mango
2 scoops vanilla protein powder (optional)
1 C. (or more depending on consistency) skim milk and/or water (I used a combo of water and milk)
Large handful baby spinach

Blend in blender until smooth, adding more liquid as necessary.
In my opinion, this doesn't need any added sweetener, but if you like, you can add some sugar or honey.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

WACKY CAKE ("RHINOING" B-DAY CAKE)



My baby boy turned 2 yesterday and he loves going for Rhino rides in the mountains, so I did the best I could with the idea.  I'm posting this not because it's overly attractive by any means, but because the chocolate cake I used is AWESOME! It's a recipe I got from my mother in law a while back, and she got it from some American Heart Association publication. It's very similar to your typical Texas sheet cake, only it doesn't have any eggs in it, thus reducing the cholesterol. It is SOOO moist, rich and chocolately! It it always a hit and is great for parties because it's made in a sheet pan so it serves a crowd.


WACKY CAKE
(American Heart Assoc.)

Preheat oven to 350

3 C. all-purpose flour
6 Tbsp. cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
2 C. sugar (I even reduced this to a little more than 1 3/4 C. and it was still plenty sweet)
1 tsp. salt

Mix above ingredients on low until well combined.

Add:
2 C. cold water
3/4 C. canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. vinegar

Beat together for about a minute. Pour into a greased rimmed sheet pan (cookie sheet) and bake for 20-25 minutes. (Mine was ready closer to the 20 min. mark) Cool completely and frost if desired.

Frosting:
1 lb. powdered sugar
3-4 Tbsp. cocoa
1/3 - 1/2 C. softened, trans fat free margarine (I use Smart Balance)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
milk for desired consistency

Combine all ingredients and whip until smooth.
 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

CABBAGE ROLLS

My friend, Angie came over last night as I was making these for dinner and begged me to put the recipe on my blog quick cause she was curious to try them herself. I haven't made these in years and had forgotten about them, but I had some cabbage and ground turkey that needed to be used up and this recipe popped into my head. This is a healthy meal and a little different from the norm for most people around here, I'm sure. They really are better than they sound or look, so if this is something you think  you'd never like, just try them, I think you'll be surprised!

CABBAGE ROLLS
(makes 12 ; 4 servings of 3 each)
(Recipe from Betty Crocker's New Cookbook, 1996)

12 cabbage leaves (Cabbage leaves will separate easily if you first remove core from head of cabbage and let cabbage stand in cold water for 10 minutes.)
1 lb. lean ground turkey or beef
1/2 C. uncooked instant rice (I used partially cooked long-cooking rice)
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 C.)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 can (4 oz.) mushroom stems and pieces, undrained (I didn't add these)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. water

1. Cover cabbage leaves with boiling water. Cover and let stand about 10 minutes or until leaves are limp. Remove leaves; drain.
2. Heat oven to 350
3. Mix ground meat, rice, 1/2 C. of the tomato sauce, salt, pepper, onion, garlic and mushrooms.
4. Place about 1/3 C. of ground meat mixture at stem end of each leaf. Roll leaf around meat mixture, tucking in sides. Place cabbage rolls, seam sides down, in ungreased casserole dish.
5. Mix remaining tomato sauce, the sugar and lemon juice; pour over cabbage rolls.
6. Cover and bake 45 minutes or until meat is no longer pink and juice is clear.
7. Remove cabbage rolls to platter. Pour liquid from baking dish into 1-quart saucepan. Mix cornstarch and water; stir until dissolved, then add to tomato sauce mixture. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute. Pour sauce over cabbage rolls and serve.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Banana Apple PB Oatmeal

Oatmeal is such a fun blank canvas to play with. You can make all kinds of concoctions without much of a recipe at all; just use your imagination! Since my kids LOVE peanut butter, I like to find different ways to use it for breakfast. Today I thought about what we like to dip in peanut butter. Apples & Bananas! And the natural choice for a sweetener; honey! I promise mine wasn't swimming in honey as it appears in the picture! The oatmeal was still pretty warm when I added the honey, so it melted and pooled up around the rim. It may not look too good for a picture, but it sure tastes good!

BANANA APPLE PB OATMEAL
(makes 4 servings)

1.  Cook up 1 C. of dry oat according to the package directions
2.  Add 1 large handful of dried apples at the same time you dump the oats in the water (I like to use the ones from the LDS church cannery) or you can chop up fresh apples into small chunks.
3.  Dice 1 banana and add most of it to the oatmeal once it's off the heat. Save some banana to garnish.
4.  Dish up oatmeal into 4 serving bowls
5.  Top each bowl of oatmeal with 1 Tbsp. of peanut butter or almond butter (do this while oatmeal is still warm so that it will melt and stir in easily).
6.  Drizzle each with honey to sweeten to desired taste.
 

Friday, July 16, 2010

FETA STUFFED BURGER W/ PESTO MAYO

I haven't made a good old beef burger for a long time because I usually make turkey burgers. Either way, these burgers were pretty good! The feta was a nice change from regular cheddar or jack that I would usually melt on top.  I stuffed a few with feta and a few with provolone, then topped with a roasted red pepper, butter lettuce and a pesto mayo spread I got from Paula Deen's show. The picture probably would have looked better had I used a nice thick traditional bun, but we like these Earth Grains thin buns, to save on carbs and calories. Toasted up on the grill they hold up pretty well to the juice and sauce from the burger.

FETA STUFFED BURGER
(makes 4 (1/4 lb.) burgers)

1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey (Since patties are so thin, you want enough fat in it so patties don't fall apart)
salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, etc.

A trick I learned from watching The Food Network, is to season your meat throughout like you would when making a meatloaf, then form into patties.  

1.  Crumble ground meat into medium size bowl, then sprinkle with desired amount of above seasonings. Mix gently and don't overwork the meat.
2.  Form into 8 very thin patties
3.  In the center of 4 patties, place a few tablespoons of Feta Cheese (I used crumbled, but block would be fine too.) Then top with remaining patties. Seal edges by pressing down edges, to encase cheese, then round out any jagged edges.
4.  Grill on medium-high until cooked to your liking (approx. 5-6 minutes per side, depending on final thickness).

Another tip is to NOT press down on the burgers, this just makes all the juices escape the burger and dries it out.

Serve on toasted buns with desired toppings such as:
Roasted Red Pepper
Butter Lettuce
Pesto Mayo (recipe follows)

PESTO MAYO

1/3 C. mayo (I used one made with olive oil)
3-4 Tbsp. prepared basil pesto
salt, to taste

Sunday, July 11, 2010

CHOCOLATE PRUNE BUNDT CAKE

Don't let the name of this cake scare you; it's not just for those with "issues". The (undetectable) prune puree replaces some of the fat (oil or butter) in this cake, but also makes it incredibly moist and fudge-like. I served it with a dollop of whipped topping, and my kids were begging for a second, then third helping.  I had to stop them at two because who needs a third helping of dessert (other than mom and dad sneaking it when kids are in bed)? Not to mention the "side effects" they likely would be dealing with tomorrow! The modifications I made to this Eating Well recipe was slightly reducing the total sugar, using milk chocolate chips vs. semi-sweet, and used a full cup of prune puree by accident, but think it was a good thing! I didn't add any nuts this time for the sake of my youngest, but bet they would be yummy in there.

CHOCOLATE PRUNE BUNDT CAKE
(16 servings)

1/2 C. chopped hazelnuts or walnuts
1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1 C. sugar (I used slightly less)
3/4 C. cocoa powder
1/3 C. ground flax seeds
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 C. buttermilk
1 C. packed light brown sugar (I didn't pack it)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 C. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C. hot water
1/2 C. prune puree (see notes) (I used 1 C.)
1/2 C. semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
Confectioners sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray bundt pan well with cooking spray or grease and flour it
2. Spread nuts on small baking sheet and toast in oven for 5-7 minutes. Transfer to plate to cool.
3. Whisk ingredients from flour down to salt in large mixing bowl. Add buttermilk down to vanilla; beat with electric mixer until smooth. Mix hot water and prune puree, then add to batter mixture and still until well mixed. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts with rubber spatula. Scrape batter into prepared bundt pan, spreading evenly.
4. Bake the cake until top springs back when touched lightly and when toothpick comes out clean, 45-55 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert cake onto serving platter or wire rack and dust with confectioners sugar. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

Notes:
To make prune puree: Place 1 Cup of pitted prunes along with 6 Tbsp. hot water into food processor and process until smooth.

Nutritional Information: 1 serving - 266 calories, 10 g fat, 44 g. carb, 5 g. protein, 2 g. fiber

Thursday, July 8, 2010

EGGLESS MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP ICE CREAM SANDWICH

I was set on making ice cream sandwiches this afternoon.(It's a kick I've been on lately.) I went to my fridge and discovered I was completely out of eggs! What? I always have eggs! So, I googled eggless chocolate cookies and found this recipe to try with some eggless homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream. I've had a Cuisinart ice cream maker for the past few years that I use probably once every few weeks, and of all those times, I've made something other than vanilla maybe twice! I was pretty pleased with the turnout of these sandwiches other than the bottoms got a tiny bit soggy, but I think that's because the ice cream was at the soft serve stage when I put them together. Next time, I'm going to try freezing the ice cream more solid first, then making the sandwiches. By the way, if you LOVE cookie dough like I do and usually eat dough even when it has eggs in it because the deliciousness is worth the risk of food-poisoning ; ), then this dough will give you all the pleasure without the risk!


EGGLESS CHOCOLATE COOKIE
(adapted from Recipezaar) makes approx. 12-14  medium size cookies

1/4 C. trans-fat free margarine, such as Smart Balance
2 Tbsp. Canola or Vegetable oil
3/4 C. sugar
3-4 Tbsp. milk or water
1/4 tsp. salt (scant)
1/2 tsp. baking soda (scant)
1 C. All-purpose flour
1/3 C. cocoa

Preheat oven to 400
1. Cream margarine, oil, sugar & 1 Tbsp. milk until light and fluffy.
2. Add remaining milk and  beat well.
3. Mix dry ingredients
4. Add dry ingredients to margarine mixture
5. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes
6. Roll into balls and place on greased baking sheet
7. Bake @ 400 for approx. 9-10 minutes (they will look puffy)
8. Cool for 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely

EGGLESS MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP ICE CREAM
(adapted from Allrecipes)

1 C. 1% milk
1 C. half & half
1/2 C. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
3 drops green food coloring, optional
1/2 C. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. In a large bowl, combine milk, half & half, sugar, salt, vanilla & peppermint extract. Stir until sugar is dissolved. 
2. Add food coloring and stir until evenly colored.
3. Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to instructions. 
4. After 10 minutes of freezing, add the mini chocolate chips. 
5. Continue to freeze in ice cream maker until thick, approx. 30 minutes.
6. Remove ice cream from maker and place in freezable container.
7. Freeze for 2 hours or until firm.

Assembly of Ice cream Sandwiches:

Place a heaping mound of ice cream on top of the bottom side of one of the chocolate cookies. Place another chocolate cookie bottom side down, on top of the ice cream. Gently press the two cookies together; trying to get ice cream to squeeze out to edges of cookie. Once assembled, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze 30 minutes or until ready to eat. 

 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

NON-ALCOHOLIC WATERMELON MARGARITAS

I very rarely make a specialty drink, but after trying this one I'm hooked! I modified the recipe from the latest issue of The Food Network magazine. Unfortunately I didn't measure out anything other than the watermelon, so I hope I can approximate good enough to make it turn out the same using these measurements. I had to go to two different stores to find the Pop Rocks candy to rim the glasses, but it was worth it; it added a fun and tasty touch for the fourth of July festivities!

NON-ALCOHOLIC WATERMELON MARGARITA
(Serves approx. 4 )
 
Fill blender with cubed watermelon that has been seeded (approx. 5 cups)
Add: 
3/4 C. orange juice
2-3 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1/4 - 1/2 C. lime juice (depending on tartness you desire)
1/2 - 3/4 tsp. salt
3-5 hand fulls of ice (more if you want it thicker)

Puree and pour into cups and serve immediately. 
Optional garnish: Rim each cup with Pop Rocks candy by crushing candy while still in unopened bag. Dump into shallow dish. Rub a tiny bit on honey on rim of each glass, then dip rim into the Pop Rocks.