Monday, March 28, 2011

bittersweet hot fudge sauce

Saturday night we had some good friends over for dinner.  After a delicious meal of homemade gnocchi and kickin' pasta sauce, the boys headed to the living room to play video games and us girls stayed in the kitchen.  You know me...when I get in the kitchen, I can't help but experiment!  This weekend's experiment...bittersweet hot fudge sauce.

My friend and I both wanted a hot fudge sauce that was super-chocolatey, not too sweet, and incredibly thick.  We raided the cabinets and came up with this version.  It's incredibly easy to make and gets that nice chewy texture after it's been sitting on ice cream for a while.  I literally can't get enough.

The best part, though, is the hidden ingredient.  We used Creme de Cassis (or currant, in English), but you could use cherry cordial, Port, Madeira, or even coffee!  Lace it with whatever flavor you will be sure to please.

Bittersweet Hot Fudge Sauce
1/4 cup butter
4 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened baking chocolate
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 t. vanilla
1/4 cup currant, cordial, Port, Madeira, coffee, etc....your choice!

Place the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan and melt over medium-low heat.  Add sugar and water, stirring until sugar has dissolved.  Bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add last two ingredients, stirring well to mix.  Serve hot.  Makes 8 servings.

Hidden Ingredient!

Do any of your recipes have a surprising or hidden ingredient?  This is the place to link them up!  And don't forget to look at last week's craving on chocolate - we had 175 link-ups!!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

this weekend

 This weekend, I made this...

...and this...

...and this.

In the process, I also made this...

...and this...

...and this...

...and this.

The end.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

french toasted sandwiches

Note:  I've joined the world of Twitter!  You can click the button to the right to follow me (I think).  I'm still learning how it all works, so feel free to offer your help and advice!

These are just too cool!

They aren't exactly French toast...and they aren't exactly toasted sandwiches.  They're a bit of both (and mighty delicious, if I do say so myself)!

The inspiration for these came when I got the opportunity to review Nature's Pride's new bread - Hearty Wheat with Flax.  My husband takes sandwiches to work everyday, so I like to provide him with good bread.  I want stuff packed with whole grains, fiber, and natural ingredients.  He prefers store-bought bread for his sandwiches (as much as I've tried to convert him), so I'm always on the quest for a good product.

I think we've found a winner!  Nature's Pride Hearty Wheat with Flax is a 100% whole wheat bread made with pure olive oil.  It's got 22 grams of whole grains, and each slice contains 3 grams of fiber and only 100 calories.  Because of the flax seed it's also a good source of Omega 3's...something we especially need since we don't eat a lot of seafood.

Oh...I almost forgot...this bread tasted great!  Now...onto the recipe...

Because this is a lunch sandwich and not a "stuffed French toast" concoction, we're going to add some deli flavors to the outside of the bread.  The line-up?  Egg substitute, Dijon mustard, and Miracle Whip (or, if you prefer, regular mayo).  Combine 1/4 cup of the egg substitute with a tablespoon each of the mustard and Miracle Whip.

Go ahead and make your sandwiches.  We chose cheddar, turkey, bacon, and hot honey mustard...yum!

Spread your eggy mixture onto the outside of both sides of the sandwich.  Place in a preheated, greased nonstick skillet and cook until lightly browned on both sides.

Voila!  Delicious sandwich, great bread, fabulous new toasting method...delightful!

French Toasted Sandwiches
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. Miracle Whip or mayo

Combine the ingredients and spread on both sides of sandwiches.  Place sandwiches on a greased and preheated nonstick skillet.  Cook over medium heat, turning once, until sandwich has browned on both sides.  Makes 2 sandwiches.

Disclaimer: Nature's Pride sent me a loaf of their bread; however, the sandwich recipe and review of the bread are my own.  The recipe will work with any bread, by the way!  

P.S. I think my husband's a hottie. :-)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

apple chicken quesadillas

I've always loved a good quesadilla...and this is a good quesadilla.  There's something about the combination of apples, chicken, and corn that is so delightfully different and refreshing!  Dipped in a bit of sour cream and salsa, these things really make a fun meal. 

These are also incredibly easy to make.  You mix all of the filler ingredients in a large bowl.  Sometimes I do this in advance and just refrigerate it.

When you are ready to make your quesadillas, simply fill up the inside of a tortilla with 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the filling.

Fold the tortilla in half, secure it with a toothpick, and then place on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake these at 400 degrees for about 8-10 minutes (until lightly browned) and then flip and bake for another 5-8 minutes.

These are best eaten fresh, so only make as many quesadillas as you plan on eating at that particular meal.  Any leftover filling can be refrigerated and used again later.  Even with the apples, it keeps quite well!

Apple Chicken Quesadillas
adapted from Taste of Home's Light and Tasty 2004
2 medium tart apples, sliced and cut into pieces
1 cup diced cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1 fresh tomato, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 t. salt
8 8-inch flour tortillas

Combine all ingredients except tortillas in a large bowl.  For each quesadilla, place approximately 3/4 cup of the filling inside a tortilla; fold in half and secure with a toothpick.  Place on a greased baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.  Turn over and bake 5-8 minutes longer.  Makes 8.

Nutrition:  288 calories, 11g fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 24mg cholesterol, 398mg sodium, 36g carbs, 2g fiber, 7g sugars, 12g protein, 7% vit. A, 11% vit. C, 19% calcium, 7% iron.

Monday, March 21, 2011

nutella mug cake

This Week's Craving is chocolate, chocolate chocolate!  I decided that I wanted to showcase an easy chocolate recipe - fast to whip up, fast to down.  I also wanted absolutely no leftovers!  I'm trying to get swimsuit ready, and a load of chocolate cookies isn't going to help me get there.

To the rescue...The Family Kitchen!  This beautiful blog has a post on Nutella mug cake (you really should check it out - her picture is SO much better than mine).  I love mug cakes - you know, the kind you mix right in your coffee mug and then microwave to perfection?  They don't require a lot of effort and leave me perfectly satisfied.

My husband declared this mug cake the best he's ever had.

A few thoughts on this recipe:
  • The recipe calls for self-rising flour.  If you don't have that in your cabinet (and I didn't), use all-purpose flour with a little baking powder mixed in.  By "a little," I mean 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon.  
  • Use the largest mug you've got.  I used one of my larger mugs, and as you can tell from my picture, it still overflowed a bit.  
  • Mix your batter really, really, really well.  Otherwise, you might have bits of scrambled egg or clumps of flour mixed into your lovely cake.
Nutella Mug Cake
from The Family Kitchen
4 T. self-rising flour
4 T. sugar
1 egg
3 T. cocoa powder
3 T. Nutella
3 T. milk
3 T. olive or vegetable oil.

Combine all ingredients in a large coffee mug (I suggest spraying the mug with cooking spray first).  Whisk well with a fork until smooth.  Microwave on high for 1 1/2 to 3 minutes, or until done.

Toppings: You could top with whipped cream, but I generally prefer whipping up a thin chocolate glaze.  I mix a teaspoon of cocoa with one tablespoon of powdered sugar, and then I add milk until it's just the right consistency.  You want it a bit thin so that it will seep through the cake...yum!

This post was linked up with Gooseberry Patch's Recipe Round-up as well as...


Friday, March 18, 2011

pizza lasagna

If you love pizza and you love lasagna, then you'll really love combining the two. :)

This is an easy and fun dish to of all, it's totally customizable.  Slap your favorite pizza toppings in between lasagna noodles, and you are good to go!  Here's how we did it...

Brown some ground turkey with chopped up green pepper and onion.

Whip up this snazzy's a cross between pizza sauce and "lasagna" sauce, and it uses pre-made tomato soup!  Mixing this together takes only a snap.

Spread a bit of the sauce on the bottom of a baking dish, just to get it lightly covered.

Place cooked lasagna noodles on top of the sauce...

Top with 1/3 of the remaining sauce, 1/3 of the ground turkey mixture, and another favorite topping...we used olives!

Top all of that with some freshly shredded mozzarella.

For the next layer, lay down your coked lasagna noodles, 1/3 of the sauce, 1/3 of the ground meat mixture, and some more favorite toppings.  I layered on some mushrooms and pepperoni.

You continue layering until you've got all three layers.  I love putting different types of toppings in between each layer.  This lasagna is loaded!

Cover it with foil and bake it for 30-40 minutes, or until the inside is heated through and bubbling.  Take the foil off and bake it for additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is all melted.

This dish easily serves 12 and is really fun to make and experiment with.  Hope you love it!

Pizza Lasagna
1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) diced tomatoes, drained
1 can (15 oz) tomato soup
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 t. each oregano and garlic powder
1/2 t. salt
9 lasagna noodles, cooked al dente according to package directions
2 cups shredded mozzarella
4 oz. sliced mushrooms
6 green onions, chopped
1 can (2 1/4 oz.) sliced olives, drained

Brown turkey, onion, and green pepper in a skillet until meat is cooked through.   For sauce, combine diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato soup, and seasonings.

Spread 1/2 cup sauce on the bottom of a greased baking dish.  Layer 3 lasagna noodles over the sauce.  Spread 1/3 of meat mixture and 1/3 of remaining sauce over the lasagna noodles.  Sprinkle olives over the top, and then cover with 1/3 of the cheese.  Repeat layer with 3 lasagna noodles, 1/3 of meat mixture, 1/3 of the sauce, mushrooms, and cheese.  Repeat layer one last time with remaining lasagna noodles, remaining meat mixture, remaining sauce, green onions, and cheese.

Cover and bake 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until heated through.  Uncover and bake 10 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Gluten-free variation: Use gluten-free lasagna great!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

every little bit helps

Like many of you, I have been watching the headlines for a week now and praying for Japan.  The devastation is unbelievable...sometimes it's hard to know how to respond, especially when we are so far away.  I'm so grateful to organizations like the Red Cross that help people like me to make a difference by combining my meager donation with others across the globe. 

My donation didn't just come from me, though.  In fact, it came from you.  I earn a small amount of money for each hit my site gets.  I've only had ads for a short time now, so I've only made $220...but this morning I put all of that money toward the Red Cross efforts in Japan. 

I want to thank all of my readers for helping me help might not be much, but every little bit helps.

P.S. The Red Cross has no idea who I am and is only one of several excellent humanitarian and relief organizations out there.  I chose them because they are already on the ground in Japan through their Japanese branches, and I believe that they have the power and resources to really put my donation to good use.  I encourage you to donate to whatever organization you believe will best meet the needs of the people in Japan.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

spinach lentil stew

Last week, I discovered lentils. :-)

I can't believe I've never had these before!  They are delicious, and this soup is the perfect (and easy) way to eat them.  It was so easy that there was no point in taking step-by-step photos.  I'm looking forward to more rainy days so that I can have this again!

Spinach Lentil Stew
from Taste of Home's Light and Tasty 2004
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. canola oil
5 cups water
1 cup lentils, rinsed
4 t. vegetable or chicken bullion granules
3 t. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. thyme
1/4 t. pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup chopped carrots
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 T. red wine vinegar or cider vinegar

In a large saucepan, saute onion and garlic in oil until tender.  Add the water, lentils, bouillon, Worcestershire sauce, salt, thyme, pepper, and bay leaf; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add carrots, tomatoes, and spinach; return to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15-20 minutes longer or until lentils are tender.  Stir in vinegar.  Discard bay leaf before serving.  Serves 6

Nutrition: 168 calories, 3g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g cholesterol, 1123mg sodium, 27g carbs, 10g fiber, 10g protein.
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