Saturday, April 17, 2010

spring treats!

These have got to be the perfect "quick spring treat"! They are so light and fluffy and have only 4 ingredients!!!

Egg whites are pretty amazing... Who knew you could use a hand mixer and turn them into creamy, gooey, wonderfulness? My first exposure to making egg-white cookies was in a food science lab in college. We were studying eggs and our teacher had us make cookies out of the left-over egg whites. HELLO! I did not know that you could make cookies out of egg whites, much less cookies that are this tasty. I've been thinking about them ever since and finally decided to look them up in my Better Homes and Gardens cook book, and sure enough, there was a recipe.  I added coconut for the extra "spring" touch and they turned out wonderfully! And the great thing is, you don't have to feel toooo guilty because they really aren't as fattening as most other cookies, I promise! :)

Coconut Meringues
Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book

2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup coconut flakes

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl beat egg whites and vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Fold coconut flakes into the beaten egg white mixture.

Drop mixture by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes or until edges are light brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

double whammy!

Today was pretty much the perfect spring day ever. We started the morning planting our tomatoes, bell peppers, herbs, another rose bush, and a couple of other misc. plants. Then I came in to attempt a recipe I've been holding on to now for a while. Lucky for me the Espresso Cheesecake Brownie turned out wonderfully [see, just the name excites you doesn't it? ;)] and surprised both me and hubby.

We spent the afternoon at the river [sun bathing mostly, it's still a little too chilly to toob], then I made a surprise dinner for hubby, one of his faves- Shrimp Scampi. I figured since my dessert turned out well earlier that day, I must be on a roll. Guess so because it was de-lec-ta-ble! I give credit to the wonderful creators of these recipes and both are popular chefs.

Let's start with the scampi since you (typically) eat dessert last...

[Hello beautiful dish that is now in my recipe binder forever]

I found this recipe at an adorable blog called Vintage Victuals where I will have to venture back to for another recipe or two. Or ten. The original recipe is by Tyler Florence, who is like, the king of flavor so you know it's good. [The blogger adapted the recipe to her preference and I followed her version, but it's almost identical to Tyler's.]

Oh, and if you are reading the recipe and wondering what the heck a Shallot is, don't worry, I did too [I'm not awesome YET] Just google it. It's a type of onion, that's all. :)

Shrimp Scampi
adapted from Tyler Florence

1 pound linguini
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, sliced
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and de-veined, but leave the tail on
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine (a nice sauvignon blanc works quite well)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves 

For the pasta, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. When it has come to the boil, add a couple of tablespoons of salt and the linguini. Stir to make sure the pasta separates; cover. When the water returns to a boil, cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the pasta is not quite done. Drain the pasta reserving 1 cup of water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes (if using) until the shallots are translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; add them to the pan and cook until they have turned pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan; set aside and keep warm. Add wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil. When the butter has melted, return the shrimp to the pan along with the parsley and cooked pasta and reserved pasta water. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over a bit more olive oil and serve immediately.

Now on to another beauty you will love me forever for: 

This has a pretty rich flavor and might make you say, "OMG". Just saying. It's almost like you taste it in layers. First you get a hint of the espresso flavor, then the cream cheese, then the chocolate. I don't know, it's just more than I expected flavor-wise. But then again, here I am building it up and when you make it you might wonder what all the fuss is about. That's okay, because hubby and I enjoyed it. :) In fact, he told me he was so full from supper that he would wait to get his slice. So he took a "sample" bite of mine and ended up eating the whole thing. That's what I like to see :)

Here is the recipe from Life In a Peanut Shell's website. She got the recipe from [another awesome cook] Dorie Greenspan's book, "Baking: From My Home To Yours".

The blogger put extras on her topping, like chocolate chunks and chocolate covered espresso beans, but since we were to anxious to try the finished product I didn't add them. Next time, I'm definitely adding the chocolate coffee beans to the top and maybe some chocolate chunks. :D 

[Here's what it looks like before the topping, just for reference]

Espresso Cheesecake Brownies
From Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours

For the brownies:
1/2 cup ap flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 F, with a rack in the center. Butter a 9" square baking pan placed on a baking sheet and set aside.

To make the brownies:

Whisk together the first three ingredients. Put the butter and chocolate over a double boiler with water simmering. Stir until the ingredients melt, but don't overheat so that the butter separates. Remove the top of the double boiler and set aside.

Stir the sugar into the chocolate mixture with a whisk, then add the eggs one at a time. Beat well after each egg, then beat in the vanilla. Next, gently stir in the dry ingredients until they disappear. Set aside.

For the cheesecake:

1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon ap flour

Allow the espresso to cool to tepid. With a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the cream cheese on medium until it's completely smooth. Add the sugar and continue to beat for 3 minutes more. Beat in the vanilla and espresso before adding the eggs one at a time. Beat for 1 minute after each egg, then reduce the speed to low and add the sour cream, then the flour. The batter should be smooth.

Pour about 3/4 of the brownie mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth it out, then pour the cheesecake layer over the top, taking care to make it even. Place spoonfuls of the rest of the brownie batter on top, and use a knife to swirl the dark and light batters together. Be careful, however, not to plunge the knife into the base brownie layer. Swirl only as much as necessary.

Bake for around 30 minutes. The brownies should come away from the sides of the pan. The cheesecake will puff and turn lightly browned around the edges. Transfer the pan to a wrack to cool. Once it reaches room temperature, refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until well chilled.

For the topping:

1 1/4 cups sour cream
1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Warm the sour cream and sugar in a small saucepan over very low heat. You need to stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Pour over the chilled brownies, then return them to the refrigerator and chill for at least another hour. Cut the brownies into squares and serve.
[I used a round pan because I didn't have a square, and it turned out just fine]

Friday, April 2, 2010

yummy jambalaya!

Before I was married, I used to go to over my good friend Rosel's house on Tuesday nights to hang out and to learn how to cook some of her dishes! This has proven to be one of my absolute all time favorites and I cook it often. It's delicious, easy, low cal, and healthy- woohoo! Thanks Rosel & Mike! :)

Rosel Cloud

Chicken broth
Rice [I use brown]
Turkey sausage link
Red bell pepper, cut into small pieces
Celery, sliced
Onion and/or green onion, diced
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
Basil leaves
Chicken [optional]

Heat olive oil in a medium size pan between med/med-high heat. Saute' sausage and season well with paprika. Pour in about a cup of rice and saute with sausage. Add onions, celery, red pepper [all veggies] sauteing for about a minute and then add the broth [or water] barely covering food. Add paprika as necessary. Leave lid half open and simmer until most liquid has been absorbed. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


A couple of friends have mentioned they've tried to leave comments on my blog but weren't able to because they don't have an account with blogger or google... Well, I changed it so that everyone (account or not) can comment if they'd like, and here's how:

-Scroll to the bottom of selected post, click on "COMMENTS"

-Type your comment in provided box

-Select "Name/URL" from drop down menu

-Type your name [you may leave URL blank], press continue

-Select "Post Comment" and it will give you the option to edit your comment and ask you to type a word verification. Do this and again select "Post Comment" and it should appear!

It's not as difficult as it may seem... do it once and it'll be a breeze the next time. Thank you all so much for your support, it means so much! More posts coming soon! :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

chicken tortilla casserole - day 5!

I had to use this dish as the last of the 5 posts because it's one of my know I can't go a whole five days without my [wannabe] Mexican food! This dish is so tasty, without all the extra calories. In fact, when you see it come out of the oven, it's hard to believe it's only 203 calories per serving!

Of course, I found this recipe on one of my favorite sites: Spark Recipes. I followed the recipe exactly, but when I make it again, I am going to use more spices and flavors like onions and garlic! 

Well, I hope you've enjoyed my 5 days of healthy dinners! I'm open to suggestions for another themed blog roll! And don't forget to leave comments or I won't know that I have followers. Your comments keep me encouraged and posting! :) 

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

1 can cream of chicken soup [98% fat free]
1 can diced green chilies [4.5 oz]
4 oz sour cream, fat free
1/2 cup fat free milk
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed or shredded COOKED
6 cor tortillas, medium [approx 6" dia], torn into bite size pieces
1/2 diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced tomatoes, no salt added
6 oz reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese [use a little more for extra flavor, being mindful of addtl. calories!]

Heat oven to 350F. Spray glass baking dish with cooking spray. In large bowl, mix soup, chilies, sour cream and milk until blended. Stir in chicken, tortilla pieces and bell pepper. Stir in tomato and 1 cup cheese. Spoon and spread mixture in baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bake uncovered for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and mixture is bubbly. Let stand for 5 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

beef goulash soup - day 4!

Well, it's not exactly 'boeuf bourguignon', but I'm no Julia Child! :) It sure is tasty, however, and rolls in at a whopping 188 calories per serving

This Better Homes and Gardens recipe is published on and has a unique ingredient that contributes to it's hearty flavor - cocoa powder. [Weird, I know, but trust me on this one...] For 188 calories, you can have two or three bowls! 

TIP: If you are a fan of game, use venison instead of top sirloin. It's quite lean and when soaked in milk and tenderizer turns out to be an excellent substitute! 

Beef Goulash Soup

6 ounces boneless beef top sirloin steak
1 t. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion [one medium]
2 cups water
1 14-oz can beef broth
1 14 1/2 ounce can low-sodium tomatoes, undrained and cut up
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrot
1 t. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup thinly sliced cabbage
1 oz. dried wide noodles [about 1/2 cup]
2 t. paprika
1/4 cup light dairy sour cream
snipped fresh parsley [optional]
additional paprika [optional]

Trim fat from steak. Cut steak into 1/2-inch cubes. In large saucepan cook and stir steak cubes in hot oil over medium-high heat about 6 minutes or until beef is brown. Add onion; cook and stir about 3 minutes more or until tender.

Stir in the water, broth, undrained tomatoes, carrot, cocoa powder, and garlic. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 15 minutes or until beef is tender.

Stir in the cabbage, uncooked noodles, and the 2 teaspoons of paprika. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 to 7 minutes more or until noodles are tender but still firm. Remove from heat. Top each serving with some of the sour cream. If desired, sprinkle with parsley and additional paprika.

Friday, March 26, 2010

pulled chicken sandwiches - day 3

These are just perfect for a Friday night meal! Forget going out to eat tonight, whip this dish up and save yourself  $$ and calories all while pleasing the hubby and kids. They won't even know it's low-cal! That's my little secret anyway...

I found this recipe at  The calorie content is 284 calories/serving! Unbelievable.

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

1/4 cup finely chopped onion
8 oz. can can tomato sauce
2 T. tomato paste
1 T. Dijon-style mustard
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. honey 
I T. olive oil
2 cups shredded chicken
6 whole wheat hamburger buns, split
red onion slices
dill pickle spears

Prepare barbecue sauce: In medium saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion, cook 3 to 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and honey. Bring to a boil, reducing heat. Simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes or until desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Combine barbecue sauce mixture with shredded chicken and distribute on hamburger buns. Top with red onion slices [optional] and garnish with dill pickle spears. I added a side of pinto beans for more fiber and fill!