Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cook the Books- White on White Cake

Several months ago, I found a food blog that combined two of my passions, reading and cooking.  The blog is Cook the Books.  Each month one of the hosts, Rachel, Debbie or Jo chooses a novel that is entwined with food.  Those that choose to participate read the book, cook something inspired by the book and then blog about it. 


This is a heart-warming story about a group of people that come together on Monday nights for a cooking class at Lillian's restaurant. Through cooking, food and each other, these individuals find passion, hope and friendship.

The characters and story made me feel many different emotions as I was reading.  The most prevalent emotion was envy.  I know, crazy right?  Well, I would love to have an opportunity like these characters had.  A cooking class by a professional chef and restaurant owner. Wow!  I have taken one cooking class before (one night only) with my sister in law and it was such a great experience that I will remember forever.  I still make the recipes I learned from that evening. 

One of these days..........

Maybe some day I will win the lottery, quit my job and go to culinary school.  Who knows?  Big dreams....

So, my contribution to this month's Cook the Books is a White on White cake.  I loved the way the author described the cake and all of its simplicity in the story.  To tell you the truth, I had trouble with this simplicity when I was making the cake.  When I bake, I like to go "all out".  If I'm going to bake something this unhealthy then it's going to be full of vibrant flavors and ingredients.  I wanted to put lemon curd between the layers.  I wanted to add something because it was just going to be white and vanilla flavored.  Sounded pretty boring to me.  Needless to say, I restrained myself so it stayed true to the white cake with white icing as in the story.  I did add some lime extract to the icing, though. I needed some more flavor.  I know...I'm weak.  That's okay.  It turned out incredible.  and beautiful! 

The recipes come from Cake Love by Warren Brown.  The cake is a white butter cake and the icing is an Italian Meringue Buttercream.  I will be posting the recipes in a couple days.  We decided to take a last minute road trip to St. Louis this weekend so I will be adding the recipes when I get back. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Orange and Vanilla Dreamsicle Cookies

These are some of the most tasty cookies I've ever made.  They aren't healthy in any way, but I like to splurge a little sometimes.  These are definitely worth it!

Orange and Vanilla Dreamsicle Cookies
adapted from Baked Perfection

1 1/2cup all purpose flour
1 white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp orange zest
2 cups vanilla chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.

Cream butter and sugars until light and creamy.  Beat in vanilla and egg until smooth.  Gradually add flour mixture until combined.  Stir in orange zest and chips.

Drop rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.  Cool for several minutes on the cookie sheets before transferring them to cooling racks. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

16 Spice Shredded Beef Enchiladas with Zucchini and Onions

Tacos are one of my fast and easy "go to" meals.  I have always used ground beef until I recently tried cooking a beef chuck roast in the crockpot for my taco meat.  Check out the Tacos de Barbacoa recipe here.  I wanted to use the same concept but with a different spice rub.  I chose Bobby Flay's 16 Spice Rub.  I made this spice blend a while back and still had a lot left.  It was perfect for this meal.  I know 16 spices looks a little intimidating, but many of them I already had.  You could use any spice mixture that you want and still make these enchiladas.  But, I challenge you to make the 16 spice rub sometime.  It is really delicious.  It has some heat but also some warm and earthy flavors from the allspice, cinnamon and cloves.

I made this recipe up as I went along.  I don't post many of the meals that I make simply because they are usually just thrown together.  I had a good feeling about this one so I actually wrote things down as I cooked. 

My husband was skeptical when he walked in the kitchen and the enchiladas did not look like the usual covered-in-cheese-and-meat ones we have cooked for the past 15 years. These were plain on top.  I decided to bake the enchiladas without sauce on top because I knew the salsa I planned on using would make them soggy as they baked.  They were not filled with the old standard meat and cheese of the old days.  These were filled with shredded beef, onions, peppers, a little sour cream and cheese, and guess what...zucchini.  Yes, zucchini.  I've learned that zucchini can be a great filler and make a meal go a lot farther.  AND add some nutrition.  They don't have a lot of flavor so they are perfect for this. These enchiladas are stuffed full, but not with a lot of fat and bad-for-you stuff.

These enchiladas were a hit!  My husband even apologized later for judging and jumping to conclusions before he had eaten them.  WOW!  (That doesn't happen too often and it made me feel good).  He ate them for lunch the next day and said they were great reheated, too. 

The roast that you cook is enough for two meals.  I made tacos one night and these enchiladas the next night. 

Bobby Flay's 16 Spice Rub and Roast

3 tablespoons ancho chile powder (heat level: 4)
3 tablespoons pasilla chile powder (heat level:4)
3 tablespoons ground cumin
3 tablespoons ground coriander
3 tablespoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon allspice
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground fennel seed
1 teaspoon chile de arbol – can substitute cayenne (heat level:7)
3 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (heat level:8)

4 lb beef chuck roast
1 large onion, sliced
1/2 cup water or beef broth

In a small bowl stir all spices together.   Rub on all sides of the roast; rub in with your fingers. If you can, put it in the refrigerator for a while (I let it sit for about 2 hours).

Place in a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker with broth. Add sliced onions on top of the roast.  Cook, covered on low-heat setting 10-12 hours or until tender. (I cooked mine for about 8 hours and it was perfect).

1 cup chopped onions
1 cup zucchini, chopped fine
1/2 cup poblano pepper, chopped
1 jalepeno, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup lowfat sour cream
1 cup cheese, grated (cheddar or monterey jack)
12 corn tortillas
4 cups of salsa
Preheat oven to 350F.  Heat a large nonstick pan to medium high heat.  Add olive oil.  Add onions, zucchini, and peppers. Cook for about 7 minutes or until the onions start to turn translucent.  Stir in the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.  Stir in cheese and sour cream.  Set aside. 
Cover two cookie sheets with foil or spray with nonstick spray.  Lay out tortillas on the pans in a single layer.  Spray lightly with cooking spray.  Place pans in the oven and cook for about 4 minutes. 
Spray a 13x9 baking dish with nonstick spray.  Spread about 2 tbsp of zucchini mixture on one of the warm tortillas and add some of the shredded taco meat.  Roll up the tortilla and place in the pan seam side down.  Repeat with the rest of the tortillas.  Cover pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes. 
Serve the enchiladas with warm salsa on top. 

I have linked up this post to Just Something I Whipped Up at The Girl Creative.

The Girl Creative

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Oregano and Garlic Stuffed Jalapenos

These are delicious!  I could eat a whole tray of them.  I added a little spin to the ones I usually cook by including some fresh oregano and garlic. 


4 ounces low fat or nonfat cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp oregano, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
3-4 slices of turkey bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
6 jalapenos, cut in half, seeds and ribs removed


Preheat the oven to broil.  Mix the cream cheese, oregano and garlic together in a small bowl.  Stuff the peppers with the cheese mixture and top each with a piece of cut bacon.  Place peppers in a greased pan and broil until the bacon is cooked.  Serve warm.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lemon Berry Bars

I get in the mood to bake.  I have been in this mood a lot lately and this doesn't go well when I am trying to feed my family healthier.  Typically what I do is bake something, give my family one serving of the treat and send the rest to work with my husband. 

These bars were completely delicious!  The guys at my husband's work sang high praises of it, according to my husband. 

I found the recipe at  I changed up the crust some due to what I had on hand.  I needed to use up this package of cookies and thought it would be great combined with the graham cracker crumbs.  The results were scrumptious!


For the crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup Pepperidge Farms Chessman cookies, crushed
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
zest of one lemon

For the filling:

2 lg. egg yolks
1- 14 ounce can fat free sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
10 ounces fresh berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker and cookie crumbs, melted butter, sugar and lemon zest.  Stir until crumbs are moist.  Press crumbs into the prepared pan, pressing the crust mixture one inch up the side of the pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. 

Once the crust is cool, combine the egg yolks and condensed milk until well mixed.  Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest.  Stir until mixture begins to thicken slightly.  Gently fold in the berries.  Fold carefully so you don't break the berries.

Pour the lemon berry filling evenly over the crust.  Bake for 15 minutes or until set.

Cool to room temperature, then chill for at least one hour before serving.  Cut into bars and serve.  Keep bars in the refrigerator up to five days (if they last that long). 

Friday, July 16, 2010

Peanut Butter Banana "Tacos"

I saw this idea in the Clean Eating magazine I think.  This makes a perfect snack, breakfast and I even thought about putting it in my son's lunchbox.  He loved them!

I spent the past week taking care of my 4 nephews while my brother and sister-in-law went on a fabulous cruise in Mexico.  I could not wait to make these for the kids.  They were a huge hit!  (We came up with the banana taco name together.)  What makes it even better is that they are healthy. 

They are very simple to prepare and cook. 


honey or agave nectar
natural peanut butter
whole grain flour tortillas


Spread about a tablespoon of peanut butter on the tortilla and lay the banana in the center.  Drizzle a little bit of honey or agave over the banana.  Roll it up.  Spread a little softened butter (it doesn't take much) around the outside of the rolled up "taco".  Heat a large nonstick pan to medium high heat.  Place the taco(s) in the heated pan.  Cook and roll them in order to brown on all sides.  Enjoy warm or at room temperature. 

I have linked this post to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum  and Wholesome Whole Foods at Health Food LoverGo check out all the great recipes and ideas!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Tacos de Barbacoa in a Crockpot

I cook a lot of Mexican food.  I love the flavors of the chiles and spices.  I really miss having good Mexican food living in Kansas.  What the people here say is wonderful Mexican food is terrible to me.  ICK!  So, I end up making my own.  Usually I end up creating my own dishes, but I recently bought this special edition magazine that has tons of great looking recipes. 

The recipe in the book and the original version of this dish is supposed to be smoked.  I don't have a smoker so the book said that you could do it a crockpot.  I can't imagine how yummy it be if it were to be smoked in banana leaves. YUM!

In the old days, prior to my obsession with eating healthy I used to fry the corn tortillas in vegetable oil.  Talk about bad for you!  Now, I have found a more healthful way to cook the tortillas.  I lightly coat a nonstick pan with nonstick spray and throw the tortillas in (one at a time) and cook till slightly bubbled on one side.  Flip and cook for about 20 seconds longer.  They are perfect!  I can now eat a taco without grease running down my arm.  (I know- gross, right?)

This was so easy and delicious and I can't wait to make it again.   Maybe this Sunday when I have family coming over?!? 

Oh!  and the leftovers made a perfect wrap for our roadtrip to Texas. 


2 tbsp cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
2 tsp chili powder (I used ancho chile powder)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1  4 lb beef chuck roast
1/4 cup beef broth or water
corn tortillas

possible toppings: shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, salsa, quacamole, crumbled queso fresco, and/or fresh cilantro


In a small bowl stir together the vinegar, garlic, oregano, chili powder, salt, black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves to make a paste.  Spoon spice paste on all sides of the roast; rub in with your fingers.  If you can, put it in the refrigerator for a while (I let it sit for about 2 hours). 

Place in a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker with broth. Cook, covered on low-heat setting 10-12 hours or until tender.  (I cooked mine for about 8 hours and it was perfect). 

I have linked up this recipe to the following blogs:

New Friend Fridays

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hasselback Potatoes

My family loves potatoes and we could eat them with every meal.  I saw this idea here and decided that I could always use a new way to prepare and serve potatoes.  They were very good and kind of fun to make!


fresh garlic, thinly sliced
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
Italian seasoning


Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Carefully slice potatoes as seen in the photo above.  Be careful not to slice all the way through.  Slide garlic slices in between the layers of potatoes.  Drizzle olive oil over the top and sprinkle with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.  Bake for about an hour or until the potatoes are tender.  Remove from oven and top with a pat of butter and sprinkle a little more Italian seasoning on top.  Add sour cream and chives if desired. 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Broccoli with Garlic, Almonds and Asiago Cheese

This is one of my favorite side dishes and we eat it rather often.  It is super-easy, quick and rather healthy with a small amount of cheese added.  I think I got the idea years ago from Rachael Ray. 

The broccoli that I used was a great find at the local farmers market.  $1 a head!  Great prices, fresh and local!  Love it!


2 lbs of fresh or frozen broccoli cut into spears
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup asiago cheese, grated


Steam the broccoli.  Set aside.  Heat a large, nonstick pan to medium high heat and add olive oil.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the broccoli and almonds and toss all together.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and top with the cheese.  Cover with foil if needed in order to melt the cheese.  Serve.

Side Dish Showdown Blogger Event

I am also linking this post to the following:

All the Small Stuff - Tuesdays at the Table
Balancing Beauty and Bedlam - Tasty Tuesday
GirliChef - Two for Tuesdays
Foodie Friday - Designs by Gollum

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sweet Blueberry Blue Cornbread

I think this dessert looks a little patriotic with the red, white and blue.  Perfect for the 4th of July!  It turned out very yummy.  I love the texture of the blue cornmeal and the yogurt added a little twang and lots of moisture.  You need to try this recipe!  It was very different but good.

It is not too terribly sweet, so if you want it sweeter you may want to add more sugar.  Maybe this would be even better simply with a little butter on top instead of the strawberries and cream.  They were almost too sweet for the mild cornbread. 
I found the recipe on Paula Deen's website.  I changed the recipe trying to make it a little more healthful.  Here is the original recipe. 

Sweet Blueberry Blue Cornbread
adapted from Paula Deen


1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar (I used part Splenda and part sugar)
1/2 cup blue cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten (I used Eggbeaters)
1/3 cup canola oil
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup fresh or fresh frozen blueberries
1 tbsp vanilla extract
strawberries and whipped cream for garnish if desired


Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8” square baking pan with non stick baking spray and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, corn meal, baking powder and salt. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together milk, yogurt, vanilla, eggs, oil and butter. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and stir just until blended. Gently fold in blueberries.

Pour into prepared baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean. Serve warm with strawberries and whipped cream.

This post is being linked to Ultimate Recipe Swap @ Life as Mom.


New Friend Fridays