Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Beer Frosting

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Beer Frosting

Cupcakes-on-tap….that’s right, beer cupcakes.

Cupcakes are not traditionally considered  “dude” food.  You know–too dainty, too pretty, too sprinkle-y.  Whatever!

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But these Whoa,  these are BEER  cupcakes.  Beer is in the cake, and more beer in the frosting.  I didn’t even pipe on the frosting in dainty swirls, I just plopped it on.  Very manly.  And what was the occasion for these cupcakes?  I’m so glad you asked.

One of my husband’s good friends at the office was leaving, and on his last day, everyone pitched in for a pot-luck luncheon.  So I made these cupcakes, and being that it was so close to St. Patrick’s Day I just had to scatter a little green sugar on the tops, and then finish off each cupcake with a  chocolate covered pretzel.    Beer and pretzels!

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The beer I used is Guinness, and I’ll admit I had a few sips before using it in the recipe.  Let me tell you, I know what my beverage of choice will be to go with these cupcakes (if there are any left over).

These cupcakes are deep, rich, and not the least bit dry.  They are not overly beer-y.  The frosting?   C’mon, beer frosting!!!?  It is divine.

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CUPCAKES ON TAP (BEER CUPCAKES)

Yield:   Makes 24

Ingredients:IMG_6801

  • 12 Tablespoons (  1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup porter or stout beer, poured and settled before you measure
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup full fat sour cream
  • 1  1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1  1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the frosting:

(Feel free to use all butter instead of a mix of butter and shortening.  You could also substitute part cream cheese for the shortening.)

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 7-8 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 tablespoons porter or stout, poured and settled before you measure
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate covered pretzels, optional

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*f.  Line 24 muffin cups with liners.

2.  In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.  Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa until smooth.  Stir in the beer and set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.

This is already looking unbelievably good.

This is already looking unbelievably good.

3.  With an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream until smooth.

Beat eggs ad butter together.

Beat eggs and sour cream together.

Add in the cooled chocolate mixture and beat until combined.

Beating in the chocolate mixture.

Beating in the chocolate mixture.

4.  Add the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt and beat on medium speed until combined.  Scrape down the bottom and side of bowl as needed.

5.  Spoon the batter into the cups, filling about 2/3rds full.

IMG_6780Bake for 15 minutes at 350* until cupcakes bounce back when lightly pressed with a finger or until a toothpick comes out clean.  My cupcakes needed 20 minutes baking time before they tested done.

These rise to about the top of the paper liners.

These rise to about the top of the paper liners.

6.  Cool in the pans for 5 minutes then remove and place on wire cooling racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting:   Using an electric mixer beat the butter and shortening on medium until combined and fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar, beer, vanilla and salt, mixing on low until incorporated, then beat on medium-high for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.

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I used a cookie dough scoop to portion out the frosting, dropping a scoop onto each cupcake.  Sprinkle with a little colored sugar if desired and top with a chocolate covered pretzel.  These cupcakes are incredibly light, with a deep, “dark” flavor; the frosting is also light and creamy.

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SOURCE:   adapted from The Butch Bakery Cookbook

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pie

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pie

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pie

I’m taking a break from bacon and eggs because the date today is 3-14, people, and you know what that means—-it’s Pi day!  A food holiday that it’s a pleasure to celebrate.  Of course, it’s not the only day that most of us make pie,  think of Thanksgiving.  But those pies tend to be the traditional classics like pumpkin, apple, pecan, etc.   I like Pi day because it gives me the chance to bake a new pie I haven’t tried yet.  What could be more fun?  The date on the calendar gives me the prefect excuse to play around and make a pie.

Oh, you are going to love this pie!

Oh, you are going to love this pie!

I mulled over the wide choice of possibilities, considering both sweet and savory options.  Sweet won out this time so here is Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pie, and believe it or not, it’s fabulous.

Never having made it before I had no point of comparison, but we loved this pie.  Basically I made a chocolate chip cookie dough, scooped it into a pie shell and baked the whole thing.  At serving time, a dollop of cream on top will take it the extra mile.  I just love the way this came out.  Are you celebrating Pi day with pie?  I’d love to know what flavors you all are making!

This is a fabulous pie!

This is a fabulous pie!

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DOUGH PIE

Yield:    serves 8

Ingredients:

I preferred using mini chocolate chips in this pie.

I preferred using mini chocolate chips in this pie.

  • 1   9-inch regular or deep-dish pie shell, unbaked.  Use your favorite recipe or a frozen pie shell.
  • 1/2  cup flour
  • 1 cup  sugar
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup butter (1-stick), melted and cooled to warm
  • 1 cup regular or quick oats ( or 1/2 cup oats and 1/2 cup chopped nuts)
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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Directions:

1.   Preheat oven to 350*F  In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and sugar.  Add the eggs and mix.

Add eggs to flour and sugar and mix well.

Add eggs to flour and sugar and mix well.

Add the butter and mix again.

2.  Fold in the oatmeal and nuts, if using, chocolate chips, and vanilla.

Fold in the oatmeal, and chocolate chips.

Fold in the oatmeal, and chocolate chips.

Pour into the pie crust.

Ready for the oven.

Ready for the oven.

3.  Bake at 350*F.  for about 30 – 35 minutes, until golden.

Smells like a chocolate chip cookie. I wonder why!

Smells like a chocolate chip cookie. I wonder why!

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Oooey, gooey, and chewy.  :D

Oooey, gooey, and chewy. 😀

SOURCE:   Carolyn’s Originals

The Ultimate Homemade Mayonnaise

Homemade Mayonnaise

Homemade Mayonnaise

Today we are making mayonnaise.  I had never tried to make my own mayo before this, but when I came across the recipe it looked so easy I just had to try it.

Mayonnaise is a condiment that I think we all take for granted.  It’s always there in the refrigerator when we need/want it.  But have you ever given any thought to what goes into mayonnaise?  It’s basically egg yolks and oil blended together to form an emulsion plus a little vinegar, salt and pepper.  Commercially prepared mayonnaise contains stabilizers and other additives to extend its shelf life, but we don’t need all those extra things.

Let’s face it mayonnaise contains a lot of fat.   My guy, Mr. D. loves mayonnaise slathered on his sandwiches.  No matter that I try to reduce the amount of fats (and calories) in the foods I prepare, he often overturns my best efforts by (over)using mayonnaise.  I’m just wondering,  is that a guy thing?  Because I know several other guys who love mayonnaise, but I don’t see that in my women friends.  Any comments along those lines?   Hmmm?

Back to the task-at-hand:  making mayonnaise.  I like the fact that I can make a small amount.  I’ve had the experience where I’ve purchased a large jar of mayonnaise and after a while, even though it’s refrigerated, it starts to have an “off ” taste, as the oils get old.  By making your own, you can make variations in flavor too, thus saving the cost of buying all those name-brand items like chipotle, smoky ranch, wasabi, or Dijon mayonnaise.  These lively flavored spreads can really change a sandwich from ho-hum, to WOW!    So let’s make our own.  It’s cost-saving, you control what’s in it, and you can have a variety of flavors in small amounts.

HOMEMADE MAYONNAISE

Yield:    Makes 3/4 cup

All it takes is canola oil, egg yolks, white vinegar, and salt and pepper.

All it takes is canola oil, egg yolks, white vinegar, and salt and pepper.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup canola oil ( or olive oil, if you prefer)
  • 1  1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper (optional)

Directions:

1.  Place a medium bowl on a non-slip surface, such as a silicone baking sheet or a damp dish towel.  In the bowl, whisk egg yolks until light and frothy.

Beat the egg yolks till light and frothy.

Beat the egg yolks till light and frothy.

Slowly drizzle in 2  1/2 teaspoons oil, continuing to whisk until yolks become paler and thicken, about 40 seconds.  If oil begins to pool rather than emulsify, stop drizzling and whisk yolks vigorously before adding any more oil.  Then add remaining oil in a slow drizzle, continuing to whisk.

Start to drizzle in the oil while beating the yolks.

Start to drizzle in the oil while beating the yolks.

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Continue beating while slowly adding the rest of the oil.

Continue beating while slowly adding the rest of the oil.

IMG_6757IMG_6758      The mixture will become quite thick.

2.  Whisk in the white vinegar and salt.   Add white pepper if desired.

Transfer mayonnaise to a clean container with screw top, or cover with plastic wrap, and keep refrigerated.

I just made about 3/4 cup mayonnaise.  It was Fun!!

I just made about 3/4 cup mayonnaise. It was Fun!!

Hint:  Try adding some Dijon mustard, about 1 – 2 teaspoons to the above recipe, and use in egg salad.  So good!!

FLAVOR VARIATIONS:

1.  HORSERADISH:  Stir in 1/4 cup drained, prepared horseradish, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.

2.  CAPER-DIJON:  Add 1/4 cup drained, chopped capers and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard.

3.  FRESH HERB:  Fold in 1  1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 2 teaspoons chopped tarragon, and 1 teaspoon chopped thyme.

4,  CHILI-LIME:  Mix in 1  1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon lime zest, and 2 teaspoons each of honey and chili sauce.

5.  BACON – CHIVE:  Combine with 3 slices finely chopped cooked bacon and 1  1/2 tablespoons chopped chives.

6.  BARBECUE-BACON:  add freshly cooked and crumbled bacon plus 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce for a unique dipping sauce.

SOURCE:   Adapted from Country Living

Spaghetti Carbonara with Asparagus

Spaghetti Carbonara with Asparagus

Spaghetti Carbonara with Asparagus

Did you ever think you would be eating bacon and eggs with spaghetti?  Carbonara means with bacon in a light egg sauce.  So today we have an entree that includes both bacon and eggs.  Paired up with spaghetti, this is a simple peasant-type meal;  add asparagus for its added nutritional value, green color of spring (you can tell I’m waiting here), and textural crunch.  What results is a dish that is so well balanced with flavor, texture and “dish appeal” that you’ll want to taste it right off this page if you could.

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You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry to make this meal, except the asparagus.  If they are available where you live, I urge you not to waste any time in getting some and making this delectable dish.  You won’t be sorry.

SPAGHETTI CARBONARA WITH ASPARAGUS

Yield:    Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

Just a few ingredients.

Just a few ingredients.

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 pound spaghetti
  • 1 bunch asparagus, , ends trimmed, and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

1.  In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and cheese.

Mixing the eggs and cheese together.

Mixing the eggs and cheese together.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente, adding the asparagus during the last 2 minutes of cooking.

2.  Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.  Add the hot pasta and asparagus to the egg mixture;  toss to coat.

3.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the bacon and cook until crisp; stir in the garlic.

Cooking up the bacon.

Cooking up the bacon.

Add the wine and cook until slightly reduced, about 1 minute.  Stir the bacon mixture into the pasta, adding enough of the reserved pasta water to moisten; season with salt and pepper.

This is delectable!

This is delectable!

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Serve with more grated cheese at the table to sprinkle on top.  A tossed green salad completes this meal.

SOURCE:   Everyday with Rachael Ray

Maple Bacon Oatmeal Muffins

Maple Bacon and Oatmeal Muffins

Maple Bacon and Oatmeal Muffins

These are the best breakfast muffins, ever.   You read that right.  These muffins are for all of you who can’t make up your mind in the morning.  These muffins are like four breakfasts rolled into one:  they are a stack of pancakes, a bowl of oatmeal, bacon and eggs or just a muffin, thank you very much.

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Just when I’m trying to avoid eating greasy things like bacon, or pancakes slathered with butter and maple syrup, here I go combining them.  No, I’m not trying to kill you, or me either, I’m just full of contradictions.  But there is meaning in my madness:  the oatmeal is in there for a purpose.  Oatmeal provides fiber, and the fiber cleanses out the greasy bad stuff.  Oh, the power of oatmeal.  It’s feeling the weight of responsibility on its shoulders.  But I know it can handle it, else I wouldn’t be using it.   Maple syrup?  It’s there to take the place of sugar.  You know, sweeten things up a little.  And living in maple syrup country as I do, I try to include it when ever possible.  Bacon?   Well what can I say about bacon that hasn’t already been said by a million  other people.  Bacon makes everything better.  That’s all there is to it.

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You must try these muffins —- and think how healthy they are for you!

MAPLE BACON OATMEAL MUFFINS

Yield:   This recipe makes about 17 -18 muffins.  It can easily be halved for a yield of about 8-9 muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/4 cups quick cooking or regular rolled oats

    A trio of great ingredients:  maple syrup, oatmeal and bacon.

    A trio of great ingredients: maple syrup, oatmeal and bacon.

  • 1 1/2 cups milk  (any kind, I used almond milk)
  • 2 cups flour (I recommend using 1/2  white whole flour and/or spelt flour for additional nutrition and fiber)
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg ( when making half a recipe, I still used 1 whole egg)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
  •  2 Tbsp. maple syrup for brushing tops

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350*F.   Line muffin tin(s) with paper liners and set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, combine milk and oats, then let it sit while you cook the bacon to allow the oats to soften.

Cooking the bacon.

Cooking the bacon.

3. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

4.  Whisk maple syrup, melted butter, and egg into the oatmeal mixture.  Lightly stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients along with the bacon.

5.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups until each is about 3/4 full.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until they are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the tops with the reserved maple syrup, using a pastry brush.

Brush the tops with maple syrup while still warm from the oven.

Brush the tops with maple syrup while still warm from the oven.

Be sure to “taste test” one while it is still warm.  😀

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SOURCE:   an adaptation of Oatmeal Muffins from Taste of Home

Huevos Rancheros Salad

Huevos Rancheros Salad

Huevos Rancheros Salad

Bacon and eggs.  These two words just seem to go together; they were meant for each other.  So this week on the blog I will be featuring bacon and eggs, separately and together.   So….let’s get crackin’.   😀

First up is this salad that is like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.  Especially welcome as we experience another Polar Vortex here in my area of the country.  BTW, has that become the new buzz word for 2014?  I seem to be hearing it a lot on weather news, so I’m just going to start dropping it into my conversations like I really know what I’m talking about.  This is what I know for sure:  Polar Vortex = COLD.   And that’s all I need to know about it.  Enough already,  go away.

Anyway, back to the salad.    A bright, sunny-side-up fried egg steals the show on this Southwestern salad topped with queso fresco (cheese), cilantro and a citrusy black bean and tomato salsa. When served, this salad is bright and attractive on the plate.  You can add some toasted tortillas to help scoop up the salsa, and the runny egg yolk.   This meal made a nice change from what we’ve been eating, and Mr. D. and I enjoyed it immensely.

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HUEVOS RANCHEROS SALAD

Yield:   Makes 6 servings  To make less, adjust amounts accordingly.

Ingredients:IMG_6647

  • 1  (15 1/2-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 large plum tomatoes seeded and chopped ( about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped ( about 1/4 cup)
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2-3 limes)
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro, plus more leaves for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, or more to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 cups mixed spring greens (about 8 ounces)
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 6 large eggs
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco (about 3 oz.)

Directions:

1.  In a medium bowl, gently stir black beans, tomatoes, onion,  olive oil, lime juice, cilantro,  hot sauce, and salt to combine to create a fresh salsa.  Set aside.  Divide greens among 6 dinner plates and set aside.

2.  With a little olive oil, lightly brush all 6 tortillas and sprinkle lightly with salt to taste.  Toast tortillas directly under broiler or over an open flame, 1 minute per side.  Cut tortillas into quarters and wrap in foil to keep warm.

Crispy tortillas stay warm wrapped in foil.

Crispy tortillas stay warm wrapped in foil.

3.  Evenly divide all but 1/2 cup of the salsa among the plated greens.  Divide remaining oil between 2 large nonstick skillets over medium-high heat.  Crack 3 eggs into each pan and reduce heat to medium.  Season eggs with salt and pepper to taste, and cook lightly splashing tops of eggs with pan oil, until whites are opaque and yolks are deep golden, about 3 minutes.  Transfer 1 egg onto each plate.  Sprinkle eggs with queso fresco and remaining salsa;  garnish with cilantro.  Serve salads immediately with reserved tortillas.

All the flavors and textures meld together to make a very pleasant meal.

All the flavors and textures meld together to make a very pleasant meal.

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SOURCE:    Cooking Light

Italian Crescent Casserole

Italian Crescent Casserole.

Italian Crescent Casserole.

By the time Friday rolls around I usually want something fast and easy for dinner, but it still must taste good and be (relatively) healthy.  Frequently it’s pizza that turns up, because I can vary the toppings so we don’t get bored with the same old same old.

Looks like a deep dish pizza.

Looks like a deep dish pizza.

Last Friday I came up with this baked dish that resembles a deep-dish pizza pie.  It uses a package of refrigerated crescent rolls for a crust and is filled with grated cheeses and a ground beef and tomato sauce mixture that tastes like pizza.  The top gets nicely browned and flaky with a sprinkling of cheese and dried basil.  It makes a 9-inch “pie” that can feed 4, but we loved it so much, just two of us ate three quarters of it.  The rest made a quick lunch the next day by rewarming in the oven on low.  This dish served with a tossed green salad is all you need for a complete and satisfying meal.

Add a salad, it's a great meal.

Add a salad, it’s a great meal.

ITALIAN CRESCENT CASSEROLE

Yield:   serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 cup garlic-tomato pasta sauce
  • 1 can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 1  1/2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil

Directions:

1.   Preheat oven to 375*F.  In a large skillet, cook ground beef till nicely browned.  Drain off fat drippings.   Add pasta sauce.  Heat oven medium heat to warm through.

2.  Separate dough into triangles.  Place in an ungreased 9-inch pie plate with narrow ends extending out over the edge of the pie plate about 3 inches.

Line a pie plate with crescent dough triangles and grate cheese.

Line a pie plate with crescent dough triangles and grate cheese.

3.  Use fingers to press dough together to form a crust.  Sprinkle  1 cup of cheese over the dough.

Put 1 cup cheese in bottom of pie dish.

Put 1 cup cheese in bottom of pie dish.

4.  Spoon meat mixture over the cheese in the pie plate.

Layer cooked beef and sauce on top of cheese.

Layer cooked beef and sauce on top of cheese.

5.  Bring tips of dough over the filling towards the center.

Bring tips of triangles up over meat filling,

Bring tips of triangles up over meat filling,

Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and the dried basil.

Sprinkle remaining cheese and basil on top of crust.

Sprinkle remaining cheese and basil on top of crust.

6.  Bake at 375*F.  for 15 – 20 minutes

When it comes out of the oven it looks like this.  YUM!

When it comes out of the oven it looks like this. YUM!

We loved this,  Can't wait to make it again,

We loved this, Can’t wait to make it again,

SOURCE:   Real Mom’s Kitchen

Asparagus with Balsamic Tomatoes

Asparagus with Balsamic Tomatoes

Asparagus with Balsamic Tomatoes

Fresh asparagus are now appearing in the produce aisles of the market, and I look forward to its reappearance each year.  This is one vegetable I really love.  When I first start cooking it again I usually just steam it briefly so it’s just crisp tender and serve it with a little butter or spritz it with lemon juice.  But after having it that way a few times I start looking for ways to dress it up and offer more variety.

So pretty when plated.

So pretty when plated.

This recipe is a new and different way that I have found to prepare it.  The asparagus is cooked briefly, and while that’s going on you make a sauce out of olive oil, garlic, grape tomatoes and balsamic vinegar.  When you serve it, sprinkle goat cheese over the top.  This makes a great side dish to go with almost any entree I can think of.  Every bite provides some crispness from the asparagus, some tartness from the balsamic tomato sauce, and then some creaminess from the goat cheese.  What a mouth sensation!!   I was so happy to see that there was some leftover, because I’m having it again tomorrow with a poached egg for my lunch.

Can you also believe that you can get so much pleasure and goodness for only 69 calories and 6.5 g carbohydrates/serving?  Yes,  my kind of dish, indeed.

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ASPARAGUS WITH BALSAMIC TOMATOES

Yield:    4 servings

Ingredients:

Just a few ingredients needed.

Just a few ingredients needed.

  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1  1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic ( 1 small clove)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
  • dash black pepper

Directions:

1.  Cook asparagus in boiling water 2 minutes or until crisp-tender.   Drain and keep warm.

2.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add tomatoes and garlic; cook 5 minutes.

Sautéing the tomatoes and garlic.

Sautéing the tomatoes and garlic.

Stir in vinegar; cook 3 minutes.  Stir in salt.

Add in balsamic vinegar and salt.

Add in balsamic vinegar and salt.

3.  Arrange asparagus on a platter; top with tomato mixture.  Sprinkle with cheese and pepper.

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SOURCE:   Cooking Light;   April, 2011

OOPS, I Goofed!

Cranberry Coconut Quick Bread

Cranberry Coconut Quick Bread

Sweet breads– those simple sweet treats that come together in just about ten minutes, are taking the place of dessert for me.  I place them in the same category as pudding, meaning that they satisfy that longing for something sweet, yet are not overly rich, and with quick breads you can use ingredients that are good for you, like whole wheat flour, and additives such as fruits and nuts.  This recipe takes  tart little cranberries to new heights by pairing them with coconut – and chocolate chips, too. (Another flavor combination I’m stuck on.)  They do a nice job of off-setting the tartness of the cranberries.

So where does the OOPS come in?  It’s coming, read on….

I love cranberries,  and I think most of us associate them with Thanksgiving, and the Christmas holidays; but cranberries are good any time of year.  The problem is that the growing season is pretty short,  so what I like to do is grab a few extra bags when they’re available and stash them in the freezer for use at a later time.   Some recipes are so routine/ordinary that I don’t want to use one of my precious bags of cranberries to make them,  so I’m quite selective about what I will use a bag for.  This recipe is definitely “bag-worthy”.    I also feel that if a recipe is “bag-worthy”, then it must certainly be “blog-worthy”, so I’m sharing it with you.

Still waiting for OOPS?  Hang in there!

One of my precious bags of cranberries went into this recipe.

One of my precious bags of cranberries went into this recipe.

There is not a whole lot of liquid in this recipe; only what is offered by the butter and 3 eggs, so the resulting batter is quite thick–a lot like cookie dough.  I needed to put it into the pan in small amounts, making sure to tap out any air pockets.  The pan was almost full.  Edit note added after baking:  The recipe does not direct you to chop the cranberries, so I used them whole, and mine were frozen.  I baked the bread for the full 70 minutes and a toothpick inserted into three places all came out clean.  When the bread was taken from the oven, it was a light golden brown with bright spots of cranberries,  looking so pretty.  Within a few minutes the center of the bread began to sink, developing that tell-tale sign of being undercooked.  I was so disappointed.  (and mad!)

Undercooked bread.   BOO_HOO!

Yup,  HERE IT IS!!    Undercooked bread. BOO_HOO!

The flavor is wonderful, (please do add the almond flavoring, its what makes this bread so good )and we really liked the parts of it that we could salvage.**   I am not giving up on this bread.  Next time I will use cranberries that are not frozen, and perhaps I’ll chop them up before adding to the batter. No, on second thought, I like the whole cranberry, so I’ll try cooking it longer.  I think they were probably the cause of the problem.   I hope my experience will not deter you from trying this bread, but instead alert you to possible problems that you could solve in advance.

CRANBERRY AND COCONUT BREAD

Yield:  1  9×5 inch loaf

Ingredients:IMG_6279

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. almond extract, optional, but good
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2  1/2 cups cranberries, (12-oz. bag)
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Lightly grease and flour a 9″ x 5 ” loaf pan.

2.  Place eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high until mixture is pale yellow, and doubles in volume, about 5-6 minutes.

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3.  Add in butter, vanilla and almond extract (if using), until incorporated; about 2 minutes.  Then using using a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon,  fold in the flour salt, and baking powder.  Do not over mix.  Next fold in the cranberries, coconut and chips.  Batter will be thick.  Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.

Thick batter.   Nice colors.

Thick batter. Nice colors.

4.  Bake for 60 – 70 minutes.   Start checking at 60 minutes.  Bread is done when cake tester or toothpick removed from the center shows only moist crumbs. ( should not be wet and doughy)

** I took all the under cooked section of the loaf, put it into a smaller loaf pan, and rebaked it.  Not quite the same with a second baking, but at least it became dry and firm, so we could eat it anyway.

The slices at each end were cooked well.

The slices at each end were sufficiently cooked that we could experience what the whole loaf should have been like.

Note to self:  If at first you don’t succeed, try gain.  I am going to get this right because it’s so worth it.

SOURCE:  Baker’s Royale

Turkey Sausage and Peppers

 Turkey Sausage with Peppers

Turkey Sausage with Peppers

I’ve had a craving the last few days for sausage and peppers in a rich tomato sauce, preferably served over pasta.  When I get an idea like this I can’t forget about it until I make it.  The problem is this is one of the those weeks when I have limited time to spend cooking up a storm in the kitchen.  Luckily I have this recipe for just such occasions.

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Italian turkey sausage takes the place of pork sausage, but still provides all the flavors I love.  The whole meal can be made in about 45 minutes, but tastes like it’s been simmering for hours.  Your family will love it! There are several national brands that make good quality italian turkey sausage, such as Shady Brook Farms,  Jennie-O and Purdue if you don’t have a good butcher nearby.  The variety of peppers I include make this a colorful dish and provide a nice taste contrast to the sausage.  Diced tomatoes with added seasonings are the basis for the sauce.  Served with a salad, this can be a stand-alone entree, or serve it over pastas if you want to round out the meal.

This entree, minus the pasta, comes in at just 388 calories, with only 21 g carbohydrates.  A real bargain if you’re looking to limit calorie intake, but still get big flavor.

TURKEY SAUSAGE AND PEPPERS

Yield:   makes 4 servings

Ingredients:IMG_6546

  • 1  1/4 pounds lean Italian turkey sausage
  • 2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 3 assorted bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 large onion, cut into wedges
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/2 tsp. dried
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, optional
  • 1  15-oz. can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • fresh basil leaves, chopped, or use dried basil to taste

Directions

1.  Preheat the broiler.  Pierce the sausages all over with a fork or sharp knife, arrange on a baking sheet and broil, turning halfway through, until golden brown, about 8 minutes.  (They will not be fully cooked.)  Transfer to a cutting board and cut each one in half, or in thirds, on the diagonal.

Sausages pre-browned under the broiler.

Sausages pre-browned under the broiler.

2.  Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the bell peppers, fennel and onion and cook, stirring, until they soften slightly, 3 minutes.  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, the garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes and fennel seeds.  Cook, stirring 1 more minute.

Peppers, onion and fennel in the pan.

Peppers, onion and fennel in the pan.

3.  Stir in 1/2 cup water, the tomatoes and basil.  Reduce the heat to medium; cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes and seasonings.

Add tomatoes and seasonings.

Uncover; add the sausages and cook through, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add an additional splash of water if the sauce gets too thick.   Top with more basil to serve.

Sausages added.

Sausages added.

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Serve over pasta for a complete entree.

Serve over pasta for a complete entree.

SOURCE:   Food Network Magazine