Archive for June, 2009

Completely Random Icebox Dessert

I always have a sweet tooth after a meal…no matter how full I am. So after lunch, I was rummagging around the kitchen for something, anything that I could eat for dessert.

I saw half a package of reduced fat graham crackers, boxes of pudding mixes, and lots of random little things in the freezer. So what did I make? You guessed it. Another icebox dessert.

I made the sugar-free, fat-free chocolate pudding according to the directions, with two cups of skim milk and a dash of instant coffee. I didn’t lighten this one with whipped topping, mainly because mine was frozen and I didn’t feel like waiting for it to defrost in the fridge.

I placed some graham crackers in the bottom of a dish. I skipped the step of dunking these in milk, but you can definitely do that if you need then to soften quicker.

Graham crackers make awesome fodder for icebox desserts…especially if you make the Boston Cream Pie dessert for a crowd in a large dish!

Spread 1/3 of the pudding on the graham crackers.

Does this look familiar?

Last time I made the Butterscotch Bark, after all of it was devoured, the platter had about 1 cup of the topping that did not stick to the graham crackers. I put it in a ziplock baggie and put it in the freezer thinking that it would make a killer topping for some vanilla ice cream…but then it found its way into my icebox dessert.

Sprinkle some of that onto the pudding.

Repeat this 2 more times, for a total of 3 layers.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. If you dipped the graham crackers in milk, it’ll be softened and ready to eat in less than 2 hours, but if you did not soak the crackers, you can leave it in the fridge all day and eat it for dessert after dinner!



I am sooo behind on my posts! Sorry guys! Time to play catch-up!

I saw this frozen yogurt shop not too far from my place and thought I’d give it a try. Since I had brought along a hungry cohort, I figure we’d tackle this thing.

Sweetened shaved ice, topped with fresh strawberries, kiwi, granola, and a swirl of raspberry-pomegranate frozen yogurt.


A Weeknight Indian Dinner

I had a hankering for Indian food for a weeknight dinner, so I headed to the pantry to see what I could find.

I had to keep this one “semi-homemade”, but I wanted to be healthy too. Here’s my take on a super-duper simple chicken dish…think, Chicken Masala Light…

Saute one chopped onion until soft & translucent.

Add two chopped tomatoes and saute some more.

Add three tablespoons of garam masala, which is  a spice mix containing bay leaf, coriander, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili, and more…You can definitely find it on the aisles of regular grocery stores these days. Saute for another 5 minutes or so…this “frying” of the spices really draws out the flavors.

Add 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces. Saute until meat is opaque.

Add 2 cups of water.

Simmer uncovered until the sauce thickens.

Serve over rice.

The rice I used was a “Spiced Jeera Rice mix”, which was basmati rice seasoned with cumin, bay leaves, black pepper, and cinnamon. Plain basmati rice would have worked well here, or even just jasmine rice.

Another dish that I am enamored with is palak paneer. Paneer is basically chunks of cottage cheese, but it does not taste like cottage cheese at all. It is cooked in a spiced spinach gravy, flavored with coriander, garlic, ginger, green chili, cumin, coriander leaves, cumin, turmeric, red chili, Fenugreek leaves, pepper, and other spices.

It looks like baby food, but is completely delicious. This pre-packaged, ready-to-eat version is more pureed than I like it, but if you ever get the chance to eat this at an Indian restaurant, please do! Spoon it on the basmati rice. Yummm.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

I was excitedly flipping through my new July issue of Martha Stewart Living when I came across a section for bean salads.

(I would have just linked to it, but they still have the June issue online!)

I’ve been trying to eat healthy these days and I know that I don’t get enough protein or fiber…and I had an abundance of veggies in the fridge that I needed to use.

This salad was really easy to throw together! It was also a great way to work on my knife skills because there was a LOT of chopping involved!

Note: chickpeas = garbanzo beans

I used canned chickpeas instead of boiling my own…so drain 2 cans of garbanzo beans and leave them in the sieve/colander to drain.

While those are draining, make the dressing.

Place the garlic (I used the pre-minced, jarred stuff) and salt on the cutting board and flatten the mixture with a knife. (Don’t mind the green flecks. That’s some parsley that I chopped on the same board)

Run it back and forth like you are smearing it on your cutting board. It will make a paste like this.

Place this in a plastic storage container (big enough for dressing + chickpeas) with the vinegar (I used white wine vinegar instead of sherry vinegar), olive oil, oregano, & pepper (I used freshly ground pepper instead of crushed peppercorns. I don’t enjoy crunching into a spicy little peppercorn!). Shake vigorously until well-combined.

Throw the chickpeas into the plastic food storage container with the dressing and let them marinate while you are chopping all the other veggies. Give it a shake every few minutes to make sure everything is coated.

Chop the cucumber. Even though it was an English cucumber, which has thinner skin and less watery seed pulp, I scooped out the center so that my salad wouldn’t get watery later.

I chopped 1 whole bell pepper because I like it, but the recipe calls for half.

Carrots roughly the same size.

I also added a bit of red onion because I like it.

The whole pint of tomatoes (I used grape, but the recipe calls for cherry). I only cut about half of the tomatoes in half and left the rest whole…which would also help to keep the salad from getting watery.

Roughly chop the parsley.

Slice the green onions on a diagonal.

Chiffenade the basil…doesn’t have to be too thin.

Throw it all in a big bowl, add the chickpeas & dressing. Toss until well-combined.

It makes a lot, so it would be great for a get-together.

Isn’t this a gorgeous salad?! Super fresh, healthy, crunchy and delicious! Enjoy!

Salad Bowl

I thought it would also be fun to post about kitchen stuff that I’ve bought or added to my wishlist.

The first item up is this AWESOME acrylic salad bowl with matching servers from Crate & Barrel. The servers hang on the side of the bowl.

At only $14.95, it is a steal! I love acrylic because it looks like glass, but is sturdy, light, and dishwaher-safe!

I made my Asian Coleslaw in this and it was perfect!

Diaper Cake, Peonies!

It’s June and you know what that means! It’s peony season!

They are my absolute favorite flower and the sole reason why I must have a June wedding! 🙂

While I’m waiting for Prince Charming to sweep me off my feet, here is a diaper cake adorned with my fave blooms.

Mississippi Mud Pie

My sister had a batch of brownies in her freezer and she thought up the idea of making a brownie-bottom Mississippi Mud Pie.

I married that idea with the pudding mixture from my notorious icebox desserts, and here’s what I came up with!

Crumble up about half of the brownies and lightly press onto the bottom of a 9X13 pan.

Make the lightened pudding mixture, but this time, mix in 1 heaping tablespoon of instant coffee granules into the milk (more or less depending on your love of coffee).

Use the entire tub of whipped topping, not just half.

Spread half of this mixture on top of the brownies.

Repeat the brownie and pudding layer.

Top with a generous drizzle of chocolate syrup or ganache. I used Hersheys Special Dark Chocolate syrup. .. and I had a few brownie crumbs left in the baggie, so I threw those on top too.

Cover and freeze for at least 3 hours.

Remove from freezer and cut into squares with a knife. Don’t worry, it won’t freeze hard.

Perfect dessert for warm weather!! Enjoy!

Zucchini Cakes

Yet another Pioneer Woman blog find. I needed a second side dish for the Memorial Day grilling Fest and these Zucchini Cakes looked too yummy to pass up!

I doubled the recipe and made much smaller, silver-dollar-pancake-sized ones fit for a party!

Get two big zucchinis and shred them on a box grater. Are those two humongous zucchinis? Or is that a tiny box grater? Both! I don’t own a box grater, so I borrowed my sister’s. Apparently she shops at a kitchen store for ants because that thing was itty-bitty.

Here’s a tip. Only trim off the rounded end and shred starting at that end. Once you get to the other end, you’ll have a handle to hold onto!

Now you’ve got a sopping wet mess of shredded zucchini. I worked in two batches, placing the shredded zucchini in a kitchen towel and squeezed the heck out of it.

Throw that in a bowl with the garlic, 1-1/4 cup of breadcrumbs, 1 cup of cheese, 4 eggs (I used Egg Beaters), salt and pepper.

Get out a big skillet and heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in it. I know the recipe calls for shallow-frying, but I was trying to be healthy AND I hate dealing with all the oil splattering everywhere.

Scoop the zucchini batter into the skillet, whatever size you want, but mine were about 1/8 cup each. Fry on medium-low on each side until golden. Keeping frying in batches until all batter is used, adding more oil as needed.

Serve with ranch dressing or maybe even marinara sauce. Enjoy!

The end result was a little too egg-y. This was probably because the Egg Beaters carton told me that 1 egg = 1/4 cup, which looked more like an extra large egg. Most recipes are referring to just large eggs by default, so I’d cut back on the egg if I were you.

If you’re in the market for a different zucchini-related appetizer, here’s one from Betty Crocker that I LOVE!! It’s basically like a crustless quiche. It is even simpler to make than the zucchini cakes.

Zucchini Appetizer
From Betty Crocker

3 cups thinly sliced unpeeled zucchini (4 small)
1 cup Original Bisquick® mix (I like the Heart Healthy kind)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt (Lawry’s)
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano leaves
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, slightly beaten (or 1 cup of Egg Beaters)

1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease bottom and sides of rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches.

2. Stir together all ingredients. Spread in pan.

3. Bake about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into 2-inch squares; cut squares diagonally in half into triangles.

I’ll probably make this recipe soon, so I’ll have a tutorial with pictures coming up!

Roasted Ricotta Roma Tomatoes

That’s a lot of alliteration! I was browsing through my blogs on Google Reader and came across this recipe on Pioneer Woman.

Memorial day was coming up and it seemed like an awesome side dish to accompany all the grilled foods.

Start with 7-9 Roma tomatoes, depending on the size. Seven if they’re on the big side, eight or nine if they’re on the small side. Scoop out their innards with a spoon and discard (unless you can find a use for it. I couldn’t.)

Sprinkle each one with a bit of sea salt or Kosher salt. This will serve two purposes. It’ll season the tomato and it will purge out the excess water, which will make a BIG difference when you’re roasting. Turn them cut side down on paper towels or a kitchen towel.

While the tomatoes are purging, make the ricotta mixture. Stir together the ricotta (16 oz container), garlic (I used pre-chopped), parsley, basil (I used dried), salt & pepper.

Place about 15 Ritz crackers in a Ziplock baggie and roll over it with a rolling pin until you’ve got crumbs. You can also just use breadcrumbs (homemade or store bought). I like the crackers because they’re nice and buttery.

Fill each tomato half with the ricotta mixture. You can level it off or mound it on, depending on how your tomato-to-ricotta ratio turned out. Smush each filled tomato into the crumbs.

Line them all up on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.

If you didn’t purge your tomatoes, they’d be swimming in tomato juices right now!

But you did purge them and they’re golden, creamy, and delicious!

Homemade Pizza

I usually follow the rules when cooking and baking.

Pizza-purists everywhere will cringe if they see this post. My hunger got the best of me and I committed several pizza crimes. The end result was delicious nonetheless!

[Pizza crime #1] This is just semi-homemade pizza. I copped out and used a pizza dough mix. Yes, I know…but I was in a hurry (translate: hungry) and I didn’t have time to wait for the dough to rise and all that jazz.

First, move the rack in your oven to the lowest level and then crank the temperature as high as it will go. For me, that’s 500 degress.

I blended the dough mix with hot water and let it sit for a few minutes. While the dough was resting, I floured the counter and got my rolling pin. I rolled out the dough to 1/4″ thick, folded it in quarters and unfolded it out onto my baking sheet, which was lined with my Silpat.

[Pizza crime #2] I know I’m supposed to use a pizza stone, but mine broke in an unfortunate accident involving me placing it on the stove and proceeding to turn on the wrong burner sending pizza stone shards flying everywhere. There was also an incident where I baked a pizza on an unfloured, un-cornmealed baking sheet and the pizza cemented itself on there. Sad day…I didn’t want a repeat…

Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle on some Italian seasoning. Par-bake the dough for about 7 minutes, until it gets a little firm and a little bit of color to it.

[Pizza crime #3] I used a canned pizza sauce. Not even a gourmet one…just a $0.99 can of pizza sauce. It did the job. Obviously if you’ve got marinara sauce or the homemade stuff, go for it…pesto, alfredo sauce, or even a bechamel sauce would be great too.

Then 1-1/2 cups of cheese. I used a 4-cheese Italian blend.

[Pizza crime #4] I always put on wayyy too many toppings. What can I say? I love it all. I can’t pick just a few! Just a few pointers for you topping lovers out there…

1. Slice everything thinly. You’ll be able to spread out the flavors, without adding too much weight.

2. After you slice, place the ingredients on a kitchen towel or paper towels to drain out the excess liquid. This is especially for ingredients like bell peppers, tomatoes, olives, etc.

3. Don’t even think about using a pizza peel to transfer your pie into the oven. If you’ve loaded it with toppings, there is no way that baby is gonna slide off. Even with a few deft flicks of the wrist, that pie will remain firmly seated as the toppings come flying off. You’re better off making the pizza right on the baking sheet.

So anyway, this pizza has: 1/2 lb turkey Italian sauage, a handful of turkey pepperoni slices…

1/2 a thinly sliced bell pepper, 6 thinly sliced mushrooms, 10 thinly sliced jalapeno-stuffed olives…

…& 9 paper thin slices of beefsteak tomato.

I would have also added onion, but that would have been too much! 😛

Top off with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and maybe a few shakes of Italian seasoning…and yes, maybe a light drizzling of olive oil.

Bake until everything is nicely browned, about 20 minutes.

Transfer it onto a wooden cutting board (to keep it from getting soggy) and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Cut into squares and ENJOY!!!

Oh and mix these ingredients for an amazing dipping accompaniment!..I know…you’re thinking I already have enough flavors going on already…


June 2009