Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cheesy Zucchini Quinoa

Cheesy Zucchini Quinoa

As I've expressed in the past, I am in love with quinoa. Many people think it's a grain but surprisingly it is a seed! It has a great nutty flavor and a cous cous like texture. I'm always looking for new ways to incorporate it into my diet. This was a super simple recipe that reminded me a lot of risotto. So, if you like risotto you should definitely give this a try!

Cheesy Zucchini Quinoa

1 cup quinoa
1 3/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1 medium zucchini, grated
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

In a saucepan, bring quinoa and broth to a boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in zucchini and cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lemon Cake with Coconut Meringue Frosting

Lemon Cake with Coconut Meringue Frosting

I'm sure you were all waiting eagerly for the recipe of Rachell's cake after getting a sneak preview of it in my last post! I partially wanted to make this cake because it reminded me of a time last year when Rachell and I tried to make a lemon meringue pie together without a hand mixer. In short, it was a failure. But we sure did get a workout whipping those egg-whites by hand! I thought this cake would be a fun spin on the traditional lemon meringue pie. It turned out great and looked very happy!

Lemon Cake with Coconut Meringue Frosting

1 box lemon cake mix
1 3 oz box lemon jell-o powder
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs

1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp water

3/4 cup granulate white sugar
3 large egg whites
2 Tbsp cold water
1 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Heat oven to 350 F. Prepare three 8 inch round cake pans with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, beat mix, jell-o powder, water, oil and eggs until smooth. Divide evenly among pans. Bake 24-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

While cake is baking mix together lemon juice, powdered sugar and water. Add more water if necessary to make a pourable consistency. After cakes have cooled for at least 30 minutes. Pour the mixture evenly over each cake. Wait another hour, or until completely cool before frosting.

It is best to make this frosting in a metal bowl from a kitchen mixer. But if you don't have one you can make it in a double boiler, using a hand mixer.
Place all ingredients in the mixer bowl and whisk until well combined. Fill a saucepan with water about (2-3 cups). The saucepan should be large enough for the mixer bowl to “rest in it” but without touching the bottom of the saucepan.
When the water is shimmering place the bowl in the sauce pan and whisk the mixture. The mixture must not boil. Whisk until all the sugar is dissovled or you will end up with a grainy looking frosting. Check to see if it has reached a temperature of 160-170 F (70-75 C) Remove from the saucepan.
Place the bowl in the kitchen mixer with the whisk attachment on. Whisk the meringue frosting until stiff peaks forms and has a glossy look. This can take up to 12 -15 minutes or more.
When the white meringue frosting is ready, you can use it as it is or color it with food gel colors. This frosting will crust over time but the center of the frosting swirl will still be thick and fluffy.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Raspberry Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

Raspberry Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

Last weekend I had a surprise party for my two best friends, Rachell and Letitia. What better way to celebrate birthdays than with cake! Even though they were sharing their birthday party, I decided they would at least need their own cakes. For Letitia I decided to make this raspberry chocolate cake. Partially also because that is one of my favorite combinations. Yeah, chocolate will and should go with everything, but I think its soul mate is raspberry. Everyone loved this moist, pink cake and I think you will too!

Raspberry Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache
Recipe from Bird on a Cake

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 oz raspberry jell-o powder
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup raspberry puree

Raspberry Buttercream:
1 cup butter, softened
6 Cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup raspberry puree

Dark Chocolate Ganache
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottoms of three 8 inch round cake pans with wax paper, and spray the sides with cooking oil.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and Jell-O powder. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Blend in vanilla and strawberry puree. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on a rack.

In large mixing bowl, mix butter and sugar on low speed until light and fluffy. Blend in raspberry puree and vanilla. If not desired consistency, add milk one tablespoon at a time. Keep covered.

Place the chocolate chips in a metal bowl. Heat cream over medium heat. Watch it closely and immediately remove from heat when it starts to boil. Pour over chocolate chips. Let sit for 1 or 2 minutes. Then slowly stir the mixture. Continue to stir until all the chips have completely melted. Stir in the vanilla.

Allow the ganache to cool and thicken before you use it. Let it sit at room temperature for an hour, or put in the refrigerator if you want to speed things up. Start pouring the ganache over the center of your frosted cake, slowly moving outward in circles. Smooth the top of the cake with an offset spatula.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Black Rice Mango Salad

Black Rice Mango Salad

Ever since hearing about black rice, I knew I had to try it. I was so intrigued by its color and the wealth of antioxidants and other nutrients it contained. And it was so good! It still has the same nutty quality that brown rice has, but was much more moist than the brown rice I've had in the past. This salad is a perfect way to try black rice and to appreciate the last of summer's fruit. 

Black Rice Mango Salad
Recipe adapted from Bonappetit

1 orange, chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup pre-cooked black rice
1 ripe mango, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup purple onion, chopped
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
2 scallions, sliced
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced

Mix everything together in a bowl and season lightly with salt and more lime juice if desired.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sopapilla Cheesecake

Sopapilla Cheesecake

Just a little warning, this recipe does not coincide with the healthy mission of my blog…but hey, sometimes it's healthy to splurge every once-in-a-while. I made this for our first Hook 'em Arts meeting last Monday night and got rave reviews! This dessert is so easy i don't know that I feel right in calling it home-made. It is probably one of the best things I have ever eaten. The inside is super gooey when warm, contrasted by the perfectly crisp, sugar shell. Not only does it taste amazing, but it makes your house smell wonderful too!

Sopapilla Cheesecake
Recipe from All Recipes

2 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 (8 oz) cans refrigerated crescent rolls
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 F and prepare a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Beat cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar and vanilla in a bowl until smooth. Unroll cans of crescent dough, and using a rolling pin, shape each piece into 9 by 13 rectangles. Press one rectangle into the bottom of the baking dish and evenly spread cream cheese mixture over the top of it. Cover with the remaining piece of crescent dough. Stir together 3/4 cup sugar, cinnamon and butter. Sprinkle the mixture over the cheesecake. Bake about 30 minutes, or until puffy and golden brown. Upon removing, drizzle with honey. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

7 Layer Taco Dip

7 Layer Taco Dip

Looking for a fiesta for your mouth? Look no further! I must say this is probably one of my favorites. I still remember the first time I ate this dip…which is kinda weird.  I guess my passion for food started at a young age. But it is the perfect transition from taco to dip, and is so soooo good. This dip is great for a big, hungry crowd, and will definitely satisfy. It's perfect for all that tail-gating going on nowadays…

7 Layer Taco Dip

1 (1 oz) package taco seasoning mix
2 (16 oz) cans of refried beans
1 package cream cheese, softened
1 (16 oz) container sour cream
1 (16 oz) jar of salsa
1 large tomato, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 bunch chopped green onions
1 small head of iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 (6 oz) can of sliced black olives
1 (6 oz) can of sliced jalapeños
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

In a bowl, blend taco seasoning and beans. Spread mixture onto a large serving platter or 9 by 13 pan. Mix sour cream and cream cheese. Spread over the top of the beans. Top the layers with salsa. Place tomato, bell pepper, onions, and lettuce over salsa. Top with cheese, olives, jalapeños.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Molasses Cranberry Granola

Molasses Cranberry Granola

Cereal is literally one of the best foods ever created. Not only does it quench your thirst and satisfy your hunger, but it's pretty much good to eat any time of day (but especially as a midnight snack). Now I don't really allow myself to buy cereal any more cause I will literally go through a whole box in one day. So, instead I usually just eat oatmeal. I was trying out different kinds of oats to see which ones I liked best and wound up with a whole tub of rolled oats. And what better use for rolled oats than granola! This was my first attempt at granola-making, but I must say it turned out mighty well and I am excited to make variations on it in the future!

Molasses Cranberry Granola
Recipe adapted from Nourish Network

1/2 cup honey
3 Tbsp maple syrup
6 Tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil
4 cups rolled oats
2 cups slivered almonds
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 300 F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine first 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir until thoroughly mixed, add oats, tossing to combine. Divide oats between the two baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, then add almonds and toss granola. Return to the oven and bake for another 30 minutes, tossing every 15. Let cool on baking sheets before transferring to an airtight container. Keeps for several weeks.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sweet Potato Rosemary Bread

Sweet Potato Rosemary Bread

I was so intrigued by the title of this bread that I had to make it. However, some things, though they might have an awesome name, don't turn out quite as awesome as you'd think. I think this bread was just a little confused. It couldn't decide whether it wanted to be sweet or salty. So, depending on what you want to use it for, I'd suggest adding a little more salt or some sugar. It sure did look pretty though! Not only was I intrigued by the name, but also by the fact that it was vegan! I've never really made any vegan baked goods before so this was quite an experiment. I must say, I do prefer baked goods with a lil' fat and eggs in them though…

Sweet Potato Rosemary Bread
Recipe from The Baking Duet

1 lb sweet potato, cubed
A bundle of rosemary (about 1/2 oz)
2/3 cup mashed ripe bananas (mix in 1/4 tsp baking soda)
1/2 cup applesauce
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
1-2 cups of "trail mix" (walnuts, pecans, almonds, dried fruit etc)
1/4 cup grated carrots

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium pot, bring 1/2 cup water (or a little more than enough to cover the bottom of the pot) to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, then add in the rosemary, leaving out a sprig for garnish. Let it “steep” for about 5 minutes. Add the sweet potato, cover the pot, and allow it to steam until the potatoes are soft. In the meantime, blend together in a large bowl the mashed bananas, applesauce, baking soda, and salt. Once the sweet potatoes are done cooking, rinse off the rosemary, then mash them until creamy (it’s okay if they’re a little chunky). Blend the mashed sweet potatoes into the batter, then add in the flour. Mix in the carrots and as much of the “trail mix” as you want—the chunkier, the better. Pour the batter into a greased 9x5” loaf pan and lay a sprig of rosemary on top. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, or until fully cooked.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bharta (Indian-style Eggplant)

Bharta (Indian-style Eggplant) 

My neighbor Nona should be a famous chef. She makes to most wonderful Indian food I have ever tasted. And since she is so darn sweet she agreed to give me a cooking lesson! We made chana (chickpeas), dal (lentil), chicken curry, and Indian-spiced rice, but my favorite was probably bharta. It was probably also the simplest dish we made! 

If you love eggplant, or even if you don't you should try this dish. It will blow your mind. I was tempted to eat the whole batch of it but I figured that might disturb some people, so I just ate all the leftovers instead!

The dish we made used a little different methods than the one listed below. Nona doesn't ever use recipes, so I just tried to find something close to what we did. Feel free to play around with the different ingredients. You may also want to try broiling the eggplant on low for a while so the outer skin gets blackened. This adds a lot of good flavor!

Bharta (Indian-style Eggplant) 


1 large eggplant
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, thinly diced
1 tomato, diced
1 jalapeño chile pepper, finely chopped
Salt and red pepper flakes to taste

Preheat oven to 450 F. Place eggplant on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove eggplant from oven and pierce skin with a fork (the skin should look tight at this point). Return to the oven and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat, cool, peel, and chop. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and stir until onion is very tender. Mix in tomato, eggplant, and jalapeño pepper. Cover and cook 10 minutes over high heat. Remove cover, reduce heat to low, and continue cooking about 5 minutes. Add salt and red pepper to taste.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Blackberry Crisp

Blackberry Crisp

Cobbler? Crisp? Pie? So many yummy choices came to mind while my lovely friend and neighbor, Devika and I were blackberry picking. We decided that a cobbler wouldn't let the berries shine as much as they should, and the pie was too labor intensive for the amount of time we had. So we settled on making a crisp! If you have never made a crisp before, it is literally one of the easiest and tastiest desserts to make. Plus you can basically use the same recipe over and over again and just substitute out different fillings! For example, my mom made a strawberry-rhubarb crisp last night and boy was it delicious. Just make sure you've got some vanilla ice-cream to pair with it and you'll be good to go!

Blackberry Crisp

4 cups of blackberries
1/2 cup of sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature

Mix blackberries, 1/2 cup of sugar and cinnamon together in a 9 by 9 pan. Place flour, sugar and butter in a bowl. Blend until crumbly, cover top of blackberries with mixture. Bake at 375 F for 25-30 minutes.