Mar 31, 2011

Chocolate chip cookie dough Cupcakes

cookie dough cupcakes 4

Are you ready for one of the most indulgent desserts I’ve ever made?   If so, you are really lucky to have found these cupcakes.  Not only to they have a cookie dough flavored cake – they are filled with cookie dough and topped with cookie dough frosting.  And if you have the motivation – you can even top these with their own mini chocolate chip cookie.  I ran of of time for that addition – but really these didn’t need it – they are really decadent enough.  But feel free to go over the top.

cookie dough cupcakes 3

I loved how easy it was to pipe the frosting – must be the addition of flour.  It is strange to have flour in a frosting – but that and the brown sugar are what really bring out the cookie dough taste (and maybe the massive amounts of butter too – but how is really thinking about that).

cookie dough cupcakes 2

I made these for my husband to share with some clients – but not without trying one for myself.  Which is really the reason I made cupcakes so often – so I can try them before I give them away and no one will ever know.  And after I finished eating it I gave strict instructions to not bring any of these back home – they are too good not to eat and my figure cannot handle eating two of these.  Now go make these – but try to have the willpower to only eat one! ha!

cookie dough cupcakes 1


For the cupcakes:

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

For the filling:

  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp. light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

For the frosting:

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. milk
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract

For decoration:

  • Tiny chocolate chip cookies (optional)
  • Mini chocolate chips


To make the cupcakes: 

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

2. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners (24 total). 

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and brown sugar.  Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 

4. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

5. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Whisk together to blend. 

6. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl on low speed, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, mixing each addition just until incorporated.  Blend in the vanilla.  Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.

7. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners.   Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the cookie dough filling:

1. Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the flour, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla until incorporated and smooth.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the mixture has firmed up a bit, about an hour.

2. To fill the cupcakes, cut a cone-shaped portion out of the center of each cupcake.  Fill each hole with a spoonful of the chilled cookie dough mixture.

To make the frosting:

1. Beat together the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until creamy. 

2. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth.  Beat in the flour and salt.  Mix in the milk and vanilla extract until smooth and well blended.

3. Frost the filled cupcakes as desired, sprinkling with mini chocolate chips and topping with mini chocolate chip cookies for decoration, if desired.

Source: Annie’s Eats

Printer-friendly version

Mar 28, 2011

Almost no-knead bread

almost no knead bread 1

I have no idea what took me so long to make this recipe.  I remember flagging it in an old Cook’s Illustrated magazine and I’ve seen it made on countless blogs.   The name itself is so appealing – bread with almost no kneading – how can that possibly work?   Well, I assure you that it did – and it was super easy. 

The recipe calls for lager-style beer – and luckily my husband had just bought a variety of different beers and one happened to be a lager.  It worked out great for him – since he got to drink the rest of the bottle.  Typical bread recipes do not call for beer – so I’m guessing that is why this works with very little yeast and almost no kneading.  But you do have to let it sit out overnight (or at least 8 hours) – so plan ahead!

almost no knead bread 3

The bread had a really nice crisp crust and soft, doughy interior.  I can’t wait to make this one again!

almost no knead bread 2


  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces), plus additional for work surface
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (5 ounces)
  • 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. water, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. mild-flavored lager-style beer
  • 1 Tbsp. white vinegar


1. Whisk flours, yeast, and salt in large bowl.

2. Stir honey into water, then add water, beer, and vinegar to the dry ingredients.

3. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

4. Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

5. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

6. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees.

7. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make an X –shaped 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough.

8. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven.

9. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated

Printer-friendly version

Mar 27, 2011

Daring Bakers: Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

DB coffee cake 5

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

I was completely pre-occupied this month and almost forgot to make this months challenge.  Luckily, this recipe was made entirely out of staples that I always have on hand – so it was easy to whip up at the last minute.  I’ve never made a sweet yeasted dough – so I was excited to try it.  The dough itself was really smooth and easy to roll out. 

It is filled with a simple egg white meringue and topped with cinnamon, sugar, walnuts and chocolate chips. 

DB coffee cake 1

The dough then gets rolled into a wreath and allowed to rise again.

DB coffee cake 2

Once ready to bake it is topped with egg wash and slit open.

DB coffee cake 3

The finished product is golden brown and delicious.  The dough is not at all overly sweet and the walnuts add a nice crunch.   The chocolate chips make this more like a dessert than a breakfast – but I could eat this any time of the day and be completely satisfied!

Don’t forget to check out the Daring Bakers blogroll to see how everyone else's coffee cakes turned out!  YUM!

DB coffee cake 4


For the yeast coffee cake dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/8 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature

For the meringue:

  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup sugar

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

egg wash (leftover egg yolks & water)

powdered sugar or cocoa powder for dusting (optional)


Prepare the dough:

1. In the mixing bowl for a stand mixer, combine 3/4 cup of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.

2. In a small saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted.

3. With the mixer on low speed fitted with the paddle attachment, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended.  Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes.

4. Add the egg and 1/2 cup flour and beat for 2 more minutes.

5. Add the remaining 3/4 cup flour and switch to the dough hook. Knead the dough over medium speed for 5-6 minutes. 

6. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes.

Prepare your fillings:

1. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, sugar, nuts and chocolate chips, set aside.

2. In a clean mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the 1/4 cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble and bake the Coffee Cake:

1. Line a baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.

2. On a lightly floured surface or a pastry mat, roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch rectangle. Spread the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch from the edges. Sprinkle the your filling evenly over the meringue.

3. Roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal.

4. Carefully transfer the filled log to the baking sheet, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.

5. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 45 minutes.

6. Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.

7. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

8. Brush the top of the coffee cake with the egg wash.

9. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.

10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes.  Then carefully remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

11. Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder, if desired. This best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.

Source: Jamie of Life’s a Feast – The Daring Bakers March 2011 challenge

Printer-friendly version

Mar 24, 2011

Weeknight Bolognese

weeknight bolognese 1

I love a recipe that specifically calls out being easy for a weeknight.  And I love a good Bolognese sauce – and my favorite still is this summer vegetable bolognese (although its really not ‘true’ bolognese).  True Bolognese would be simmering for hours on the stove – and who really has time during the week for that.  Actually who has time on the weekend for that either? 

My favorite part of this recipe is that it calls for red wine – and when a recipe calls for red wine, it means you get to enjoy the rest of the bottle during dinner – on a weeknight too!  I hope you are convinced to try this!


  • 1 lb. ground beef (or turkey or chicken)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 cups dry red wine, divided
  • 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 3/4 lb. dried pasta
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


1. Add the beef to a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, 5-7 minutes, until the meat has started to brown and is no longer pink. 

2. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, and tomato paste and cook for 1 more minute, or until fragrant.

3. Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. 

4. Add the tomatoes, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper, stirring until combined.  Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer 10-15 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

6. As the pasta cooks, finish the sauce.  Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and remaining 1/4 cup wine.  Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. 

7. Add the sauce to the pasta, along with the Parmesan cheese, and toss well.  Serve hot and pass additional Parmesan at the table.

Source: Ina Garten, How Easy is That? as seen on Pink Parsley

Printer-friendly version

Mar 23, 2011

Crockpot brownies

crockpot brownies 1

I know what you are thinking – why in the world would you make brownies in the crockpot when you can make them in the oven much quicker?   Well, I’m not entirely sure I have a good answer other than these are an option if you are somewhere that doesn’t have an oven and you really need to make brownies.  

I’m not exactly sure why I had to try this recipe, since my oven was in fine working order, but I was really intrigued at how it would turn out.  

Actually, they were quite delicious – crunchy around the outside and gooey in the center.   They tasted best the next day with a nice 15 second warm up in the microwave. 

crockpot brownies 2


  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


1. Lightly coat a 5 quart slow cooker with cooking spray.  Line bottom with parchment paper and lightly coat with spray. 

2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

3. Place butter and bittersweet chocolate in a medium sized microwave safe bowl.  Microwave on high in 30 second increments, stirring between each, until chocolate is melted. 

4. Add sugar to the chocolate mixture and stir to combine.  Stir in eggs.  Add flour mixture, walnuts and semisweet chips, stir until just moistened.

5. Transfer to slow cooker and cook on low for 3 1/2 hours.  Uncover and cook for 30 minutes.   Remove slow cooker insert when done cooking and allow to cool in slow cooker for about 2 hours.   Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

Source: Everyday Food, March 2011

Printer-friendly version

Mar 22, 2011


pierogis 1

Pierogi are a traditional Polish dumpling – one that I grew up eating, whether store-bought or homemade.  The ones filled with sauerkraut have always been my favorite, and I felt like it was a special treat between my mother and I since we were the only ones that would eat the sauerkraut.   When I decided to tackle these – I wanted to keep them as simple as possible, I made some filled with sauerkraut, some with mashed potatoes and some with Farmer cheese.    I loved each of them – so its hard to pick a favorite – but I still think plain sauerkraut wins in my book (it’s the lonely one in the photo that was cooked without the onions).  

Although this recipe is not hard to make – it did create quite the mess in my tiny kitchen.  Somehow flour ended up everywhere – and I started running out of room to put the finished pierogi.  I really should have taken a photo of the disaster zone.   But when all was said and cleaned-up, these were worth the mess.   These are a perfect addition to your Easter menu – you can make them in advance and freeze them to serve later too.  Enjoy!



  • 3 eggs
  • 1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder


  • sauerkraut
  • mashed potatoes
  • Farmer cheese or cottage cheese
  • insert your desired filling here!


1. To make the dough: Beat together the eggs and sour cream until smooth. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder; stir into the sour cream mixture until dough comes together.

2. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until firm and smooth. Divide the dough in half, then roll out one half to 1/8 inch thickness.

3. Cut into 3 to 3.5 inch rounds using a biscuit cutter.

4. Place a tablespoonful of filling into the center of each round. Moisten the edges with water, fold over, and press together with a fork to seal. Repeat procedure with the remaining dough.

5. If freezing – place them on lightly floured parchment paper on a baking sheet and freeze for about 20 minutes or so. Then place them in a larger air-tight container or storage bags.

6. To cook pierogi (frozen or fresh): Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add perogi and cook for 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.

7. In a separate pan, melt together a tablespoon each of butter and canola oil.  [Sauté onions at this point, if using] Add boiled pierogi to pan and fry until golden brown on each side.

Source: Le Petit Pierogi

Printer-friendly version

Mar 21, 2011

Sour Cream Toffee Coffee Cake

sour cream toffee coffee cake 1

I’m not a fan of sour cream in traditional applications – such as on tacos or on baked potatoes.  But it is really useful in baked goods at keeping the dessert moist.  I had a leftover container of sour cream in my fridge – and that was the entire reason for making this recipe – since I knew I would end up just throwing it away otherwise.  And I’m so glad I found it since I haven’t had a chance to use my bundt pan in a while.

sour cream toffee coffee cake 3

I have to admit though – I made this for my husband to take with him to work – so I didn’t get to try any.   I did nicely ask that he bring me back a slice if there was any left – well, if it’s a testament to the cake or that my husband is just forgetful – I never got that slice to try.   But I can assure you that it got rave reviews – and there are over 200 5-star reviews on Food Network – so that means something too. 

The only change I made was substituting toffee for the walnuts – I thought it would go really well in a coffee cake – but you can also use walnuts or pecans. Enjoy!

sour cream toffee coffee cake 2


  • 12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

for the streusel:

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 toffee bits or 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

for the glaze:

  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. real maple syrup


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a bundt pan.

2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream.

4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

5. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

6. For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the toffee or nuts.

7. Sprinkle half the streusel in the pan. Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with remaining streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out.

8. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

9. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, then remove from pan by flipping onto a serving plate.

10.  Whisk the confectioners' sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.

Source: Ina Garten, Food Network

Printer-friendly version

Mar 16, 2011

Tortellini and Spinach Soup

spinach tortellini soup 2

I love a quick, easy, healthy meal.  Weeknights can really be rough – especially if I also workout. I’m usually starving and some nights I really do not feel like cooking.  So its great to have a really easy meal in your back pocket.  This soup uses the pre-packaged tortellini, canned diced tomatoes and fresh baby spinach.  It is soup-er simple to make and even simpler to eat!  Enjoy

spinach tortellini soup 1


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 9 oz. cheese tortellini
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach, loosely packed
  • Salt and pepper
  • grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


1. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. 

2. Add the onions to the pan and cook until they soften, about 5 minutes.  Add in the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, just until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Mix in the oregano and diced tomatoes.  Add the broth to the pot.  Bring the mixture to a boil. 

3. Add the tortellini to the pot and cook according to the package directions. 

4. One minute before the tortellini is fully cooked, stir in the spinach.  Remove from the heat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm with grated Parmesan as desired.

Source: Annie’s Eats

Printer-friendly version

Mar 15, 2011

Panko crusted Salmon

panko salmon 1

I’m always looking for new ways to make salmon – which is definitely my favorite fish to eat.   To go with the farro risotto and asparagus – I found this recipe for panko crusted salmon.  When I’m making two new recipes together on the same night – I try to make sure that one of can be left relatively unattended while I put together the other one.  Luckily, the farro risotto needed to simmer for a good 20 to 25 minutes – with just the occasionally stir.  This was the perfect time to prep the fish to be cooked.  Whenever I’m cooking fish I make sure that everything else is pretty much done cooking before I even begin to cook the fish.  It really does not take long to cook – and I’ve found that it makes a world of difference if it is cooked to just the right temperature and not overcooked at all.  Enjoy! 

farrow risotto and salmon


  • 1/3 cup panko
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley or 1 tsp. dried
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 4 tsp. Dijon mustard


1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, combine the panko, parsley, lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1 Tablespoon of olive oil.  Stir until the crumbs are evenly coated, and set aside.

3. Brush the tops of the salmon with the Dijon mustard, then season with salt and pepper.  Press the panko mixture thickly on top of each fillet. 

4. Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  Wait for the oil to be very hot, then gently add the salmon fillets and sear for 3-4 minutes, without turning.

5. Transfer the pan to the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until the salmon is almost cooked through (between 125 and 130 degrees F), and the panko has browned.  

Source: seen on Pink Parsley, originally from The Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?

Printer-friendly version

Mar 14, 2011

Farro Risotto

farrow risotto

Farro is one of the oldest grains cultivated by humans and is increasingly becoming more popular with modern cooks.  I have been seeing it popping up on food blogs as a breakfast item (which I have yet to try – but will soon!).  But it is also great for side dishes or for soups and salads.  It is an excellent fiber source as well as protein and iron.  

I served this farro risotto with some panko-crusted salmon and roasted asparagus.  It was really easy to make (definitely easier than traditional rice risotto) and had a nice nutty taste and texture.  I definitely plan on making farro again soon in some other applications!  Yum!

farrow risotto and salmon


  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped fine
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups farro
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley or 1 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice


1. Combine onion, carrot, oil and 1/4 tsp. salt in a large saucepan.  Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened – 8 to 10 minutes. 

2. Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant – about 30 seconds.

3. Stir in the farro and cook until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.

4. Stir in the broth and water and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring often, until the farro is tender about 20 to 25 minutes. 

5. Stir in the parsley and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Source: America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

Printer-friendly version

Mar 11, 2011

Sugared Walnuts

candied walnuts 2

I was so incredibly excited when Penzeys spices opened up a store in Buffalo.  A few years ago, I had gotten a gift card from a friend that lives in the mid-west, so prior to the store opening up I had ordered from their website several times.  The other great thing is that is really close to my work – so I can hop over there on my lunch break and use their awesome coupons and stock up my spice cabinet.  What this has to do with this recipe is that directly across the street is Globe market, a really great local eatery.  I sometimes also pick up a quick lunch while I’m there.  I recently ordered their simple house salad – and it was the kind of salad that kept lingering in my memory. I needed to have it again, stat!.  I looked on their site and realized how incredibly easy it was to make – mesclun mixed greens, dried apricots, crasins, chevre cheese and sugared walnuts with a balsamic vinaigrette.  I realized that the only thing I really had to make to re-create this recipe is the walnuts.  And it turns out these are really easy to make at home – so I may have a problem now I still can’t stop thinking about making this salad again because of these walnuts!  I made it even easier on myself by using a bottle of Newman’s Own balsamic vinaigrette that I already had – but you can easily make your own too.  Enjoy!  

candied walnuts 1


  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups walnut halves


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  Combine sugar and salt in a large bowl.

3. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add walnuts, and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain, and immediately toss with sugar-salt mixture and coat thoroughly.

4. Transfer walnuts to a rimmed baking sheet, and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

Source: Martha Stewart

Printer-friendly version

Mar 8, 2011

Peanut butter Banana Chocolate chip Bread

peanut butter banana bread 5

Peanut butter, bananas and chocolate – go together so perfectly.  So its no surprise that a quick bread with these is going to be delicious.  The best part of this bread is that is is a complete meal to go.  Once slice of this and you are completely satisfied.  I usually eat breakfast once I get to work in the morning – but when I made this I found myself eating it while I was driving there in my car.  I just couldn’t wait. 

peanut butter banana bread 4

This is a great bread to make in advance and bring with you on a road trip or for a breakfast snack to enjoy all week long. 

peanut butter banana bread 3


  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup plain or vanilla fat free yogurt
  • 1/3 cup creamy all-natural peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan.  Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, flaxseed meal, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together mashed bananas, yogurt, peanut butter and melted butter.  Mix in eggs and sugars and vanilla.  Blend mixture until no sugar lumps remain.

4. Pour the wet mixture into the larger bowl with the dry ingredients.  Fold together with a spatula until no more flour bits remain.  Fold in the chocolate chips. 

5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and cake for 60 to 75 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before removing from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Source: adapted from Joy the Baker

Printer-friendly version

Mar 7, 2011

Chicken lo mein

chicken lo mein 2

Chicken lo mein is one of my Chinese take-out staples.  But we really don’t order Chinese too often, so I really wanted to try to make this at home.   My grocery store only sells wide lo mein noodles – and I would have liked to find the thinner ones like in the take-our version.  But once I started eating this – the thickness of the noodle didn’t matter – it was so good.   And not to forget that it is likely much healthier than the take-out version – who knows exactly how much oil and what else they put in that!   I packed in enough veggies in this you can easily leave out the chicken and still be satisfied.  Enjoy!

chicken lo mein 1


  • 4 oz. lo mein noodles
  • 1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 medium sized chicken breast, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced or diced
  • 1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 large celery stalk, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into matchsticks
  • 2-3 white mushrooms
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup snow peas


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add lo mein noodles and cook according to package directions, drain and rinse under cold water.

2. In a small bowl, combine the oyster sauce, soy sauce, chicken broth and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

3. Heat the canola oil large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chicken and cook until done, using a slotted spoon, set aside chicken.

4. Add the vegetables and garlic and stir fry until tender-crisp. 

5. Add the sauce, noodles and return chicken to the pan. Mix everything together well and continue to cook until the vegetables are completely cooked and the sauce is evenly distributed. 

Source: Elly says Opa

Printer-friendly version

Mar 4, 2011

Pomegranate Sherbet

pom sherbet 1

When I saw this recipe featured on the Kitchn – I immediately knew I wanted to make it.  I already had all of the ingredients on hand – and honestly, plain pomegranate juice is not that exciting on its own.  I knew it was meant to be – when I realized I had 1/2 cup of heavy cream left in my fridge – exactly what is called for in this recipe.  I love love love Orange sherbet – so I am definitely a sherbet fan, but once I churned this in my machine I didn’t have the same feeling like I get when I make a traditional ice cream recipe. 

pom sherbet 3

So regretfully, I waited about two days after I churned this before I actually tried the final result.  And I’m trying to be emphatic when I say this – it is utterly amazing!  So smooth, yet tart and so refreshing.  I can’t wait to eat this on a hot summer day. The best part too is that it is very easy to make.  I’ll have to make a double batch next time – because this was gone too quick and I still have more pomegranate juice in my fridge. Smile

pom sherbet 2


  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1/2 tsp. gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


1. Put the water in a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Let it sit for a few minutes, then turn the heat on low.

2. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the gelatin dissolves.  Pour in the pomegranate juice.  Add the sugar and salt.  Stir gently until the sugar is fully dissolved.

3. Transfer the juice mixture to a bowl and refrigerate until completely chilled. Stir in the cream.

4. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to your manufactures instructions. Then put it in the freezer to firm completely.

Source: The Kitchen, who adapted from The New York Times

Printer-friendly version

Mar 3, 2011

Chicken and cheese Lasagna

lasagna 2
I haven’t made a real lasagna in a while – so I knew it was about time.  When I found this recipe – I knew it was perfect – since it was healthy and pretty easy to make.  My sister only eats turkey or chicken, so this was great recipe to try when she was visiting since it contains ground chicken.  I wanted to use whole wheat lasagna noodles – but my store didn’t carry any.  I actually did find some, but it wasn’t until after I made this – figures! 
I made this to serve with the rolls I made with my niece.  She was also watching me take the photos of this piece of lasagna – and again I turned my back and she grabbed the basil off the top and ate it!  Too funny – I said to her “you stole the basil” and she was so happy and ate it right up!  I think she’s a budding foodie in the works!
lasagna 1
  • 2 cups nonfat ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 12-15 whole wheat, no-boil lasagna noodles
  • vegetable oil spray
1. Mix together the ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella, parmesan, 1/2 cup basil, egg, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a bowl until well combined; set aside.
2. In a dutch oven or stockpot, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Add the ground chicken and cook until no longer pink, breaking up with a wooden spoon. 
4. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices and bring to a simmer.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes. 
5. Off heat, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup basil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Adjust the oven rack to middle position, and preheat to 375 degrees F.  Coat a 13 x 9 inch pan with vegetable oil spray.
7. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the sauce over the bottom of the dish.  Layer 3-4 lasagna noodles over sauce.  Spread 1/4 cup ricotta over each noodle then spread another 1 1/2 cup of sauce over the ricotta.  Repeat layering two more times.  On the final layer, top with remaining 2 cups sauce and 1 cup mozzarella cheese.  Spray a large sheet of foil with vegetable spray and cover the lasagna.
8. Bake until the sauce is bubbling, about 40 to 45 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to bake for about 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and starting to brown.   Let rest 10-15 minutes before serving.
Source: America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook
Printer-friendly version