Sunday, March 29, 2009

Purrrfect Pancakes

Matt is not a pancake fan, and yet it is a breakfast staple of mine. Growing up, Sunday mornings were my favorite because Mom made either homemade pancakes or waffles, sometimes served with homemade raspberry or strawberry jam (there's only a few left now in the freezer). Sometimes she'd even surprise us with bacon or sausage as a side, and as always, orange juice to drink (they didn't have organic juice in those days). It's one of my favorite memories and many emotions are tied to them, happy ones of course. The house was always so warm and snuggly on those mornings, and Mom, Dad and I (and Katie too when she finally arrived) would talk about the week that we had and the week that was coming up.

But I digress...

In search of more breakfast recipes, I came across one for Lemon Ricotta Cheese pancakes. What really got me excited was that this was not a standard pancake recipe. Sure, it involves buttermilk, but the flavors are totally different and the buttermilk adds a nice tartness that balances out the lemon. The ricotta adds depth and texture. I reccomend serving these on warm plates with strawberry or raspberry jam and a side of bacon never hurts!

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
from Sunset Magazine

Notes: This is our adaptation of Crest Cafe's (San Diego, California) lemon-ricotta pancakes, which are served with fresh strawberries and bananas. Top the bananas with a sprinkling of grated lemon peel and offer warm maple syrup to drizzle over the fruit and cakes.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
Salad oil (I used Canola oil which worked just fine)

1. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk buttermilk, egg yolks, and lemon peel to blend. Stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture just until evenly moistened. Gently stir in ricotta cheese.

2. In a bowl, with a mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. With a flexible spatula, gently fold the whites into the batter just until they are incorporated.

3. Place a nonstick griddle or a 12-inch nonstick frying pan over medium heat (350°); when hot, coat lightly with oil and adjust heat to maintain temperature. Drop batter in 1/2-cup portions onto the griddle and cook until pancakes are browned on the bottom and edges begin to look dry, about 2 minutes; turn cakes with a wide spatula and brown other sides, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes longer. Coat pan with more oil as necessary to cook remaining pancakes.

4. Serve pancakes as cooked, or keep warm in a single layer on baking sheets in a 200° oven for up to 15 minutes.

Yield: Makes about 8 pancakes; 4 servings

CALORIES 318 (21% from fat); FAT 7.6g (sat 2.6g); CHOLESTEROL 116mg; CARBOHYDRATE 48g; SODIUM 759mg; PROTEIN 13g; FIBER 1.4g

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Slow Cooked Goodness

There are no words to describe how much I love this recipe. The warm flavors of the sauce and the absolute tenderness of the pork, combined with sour cream, warm corn tortillas, and fresh cilantro (from the farmer's market) made for a perfect dinner last night. Add a lager beer, and voila! Dinner was a definite success and you can bet that I'll be making this recipe again. Perfect for large groups, this is a slow-cooker recipe - aka throw it in and forget about it for 7-8 hours. Now that's my style of cooking! :)

from Real Simple

2 cups store-bought salsa, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
kosher salt
1 2 1/2 pound boneless pork butt or shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
18 corn tortillas
1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 lime, cut into wedges

1. In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the salsa, chili powder, oregano, cocoa, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the pork and turn to coat.
2. Cook, covered, until the meat is tender and pulls apart easily, on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.
3. Twenty minutes before serving, heat oven to 350° F.
4. Stack the tortillas, wrap them in foil, and bake until warm, about 15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, using 2 forks, shred the pork and stir into the cooking liquid. Serve with the tortillas, cilantro, sour cream, lime, and extra salsa.

Tip: When using a slow cooker, resist the urge to lift the lid until the dish has cooked the minimum amount of time specified in the recipe. Each peek allows heat to escape and can increase cooking time by as much as a half hour.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fabulous Crepes

Since I want to run a B&B someday, I've now made it part of my meal plan to have a nice breakfast on Sunday mornings. I need to branch out from egg mcmuffins and cheesy toast. So, with that in mind, this Sunday I'm making Lemon Ricotta Pancakes (recipe to be posted next week). Last week, I made these fabulous crepes using seasonal strawberries from the local farmer's market. They were so good, and I loved making something sweet and healthy at the same time.

These recipes are from Master Cook, and unfortunately I don't have pictures. I guess I'll just have to make them again (darn) and take pictures next time!

Low Fat Honey Crepes

2 cups nonfat milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 egg whites
1 egg
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor; blend until smooth. Rub 8-inch nonstick skillet with oiled paper towel or spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Spoon 3 to 4 tablespoons crêpe batter into skillet, tilting and rotating skillet to cover evenly with batter. Cook until edges begin to brown. Turn crêpe over and cook until lightly browned. Remove crêpe to plate to cool. Repeat process with remaining batter. Crêpes may be refrigerated 3 days or frozen up to 1 month in airtight container.

Strawberry Brunch Crepes with Honey Suzette Sauce

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
Low-Fat Honey Crêpes, see recipe
2 cups low-fat lemon yogurt
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

To prepare sauce, whisk together honey, orange juice, lemon juice orange peel, lemon peel and cornstarch in small saucepan until well blended and cornstarch is dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally; cook until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter. Cool to room temperature or refrigerate until ready to use. To assemble, press 1 crêpe into each of 6 ramekins or bowls to form a cup. Fill each with 1/3 cup yogurt. Top each with 1/4 cup sliced strawberries and 2 to 3 tablespoons sauce.

CKS Note: I would recommend not using so much yogurt. You could leave it out entirely, but it does give the filling a little more substance.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Breakfast for Dinner

My sister's good friend Roxy came to visit and I was concerned that since she's young and energetic, she'd want to go out and eat and fancy/hip restaurants. This was certainly not in our budget! Luckily she was fine with whatever we wanted to cook at home, so I came up with a few tasty dishes that all of us were pleased with.
Last night it was hot, and Roxy and I had spent the afternoon walking around in the sun in Downtown L.A., perusing Little Tokyo and Olvera Street. I wanted to make something simple that involved minimal prepration but didn't mean ordering in.

I had bought some lovely fresh dill at the Glendale Farmers Market a few weeks ago and needed to use it up before it went bad. So I went to My Recipes and typed in "fresh dill". I saw a recipe for Smoked-Salmon, Goat-Cheese, and Fresh-Dill Fritatta. Just reading the recipe made my mouth water! It was as delicious as it sounds and I can't wait to make it again. This was also part of my research in breakfast recipes, and it was a huge hit.

Serving Suggestion - pair this with fresh fruit, such as strawberries or grapes, and a light white wine, such as the Dry Gewurztraminer from Claiborne and Churchill.

Smoked-Salmon, Goat-Cheese, and Fresh-Dill Frittata

Cooking spray
2 1/2 cups shredded peeled baking potato or refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 large egg whites
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
3 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add potato; sauté 5 minutes or until golden brown, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Combine the egg whites, eggs, goat cheese, and smoked salmon in a medium bowl, and stir well with a whisk. Spread the egg mixture evenly over the potato in skillet, and cook 2 minutes or until edges are set and bottom is lightly browned. Sprinkle the top with dill.

Bake at 350° for 5 minutes. Broil 3 minutes or until center is set. Carefully loosen frittata from skillet with a spatula; gently slide frittata onto a platter. Cut into 4 wedges.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 wedge)CALORIES 202 (30% from fat); FAT 6.8g (sat 3.2g,mono 2.1g,poly 0.7g); IRON 1.5mg; CHOLESTEROL 128mg; CALCIUM 100mg; CARBOHYDRATE 18.5g; SODIUM 589mg; PROTEIN 16.2g; FIBER 1.6g

Cooking Light, MAY 1998

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Red meat, PLEASE!!

I have been craving red meat these last few weeks, and not just a burger. STEAK. Just steak. Steak with just a bit of salt and pepper. Nothing too complicated. But I don't want to go out and pay for one at a fancy restaurant and yet I'm not good at cooking them either. What to do?

Enter Real Simple and their fabulously easy dishes.

I subscribe to the above magazine, mostly for theri AHA! articles and easy recipes. One recipe that I set aside was the one I'm listing now -- Seared Skirt Steak with Mushroom Salad. I was a bit nervous about preparing this dish as 1) Hubby doesn't like raw mushrooms and 2) Again, I'm not very good at cooking steak. However, this dish seemed easy enough and with the addition of Betty Crocker's scallped potatoes, this meal was a HIT. Huge HIT. Hubby's favorite part was the salad, oddly enough! I loved the simplicity of the steak, and the dressing on the salad was so flavorful. I felt really good about preparing a cost-efffective and delicious meal for the two of us. Too bad there weren't any leftovers.

CKS note: Trader Joe's didn't carry skirt steak so I used tri-tip instead and broiled it for about 9 minutes on each side. Just as delicious and at a cheaper cost!

from Real Simple


3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and pepper
2 8-ounce packages sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup shredded Jarlsberg or Swiss cheese
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1 1/4 pounds skirt steak


In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of the oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the mushrooms, cheese, and parsley and toss to combine.
Cut the steak into pieces as necessary to fit in a large skillet. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the steak to the desired doneness, 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare.

Slice the steak and serve with the mushroom salad.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Last Saturday night, Matt and I went to a Saint Patty's day party. The hosts asked us to bring a dessert and I was more than happy to oblige! I knew that one of the guests was pregnant and wouldn't eat anything with chocolate, so that was my biggest challenge. Finding a dessert that was light, easy, and didn't have chocolate. After much Internet research, I found something that pleased the crowd. I used apricot jam, but I think it would taste really good with raspberry or strawberry preserves as well!

CKS Note: I used quick-cooking steel oats and my bars looked nothing like the picture, but they still tasted very good!

1 c. all-purpose flour
2-1/2 c. uncooked quick oats
1 c. packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 c. butter, softened
1-1/2 c. fruit preserves or jam, any flavor
3/4 tsp. almond extract

Preheat oven to 375F. Beat butter in a large bowl until smooth. Add the first 6 ingredients and beat until well blended and crumbly. Reserve 1/3 of the mixture for topping. Press remaining 2/3 crumb mixture onto bottom of un-greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Bake 15 minutes; let cool on wire rack for 5 minutes.

Combine preserves and almond extract; spread over crust; sprinkle evenly with reserved crumb mixture. Return to oven; bake 20 to 25 minutes or until topping is golden and filling is slightly bubbly. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Yield: 2-1/2 dozen bars

Note: If using raspberry or blackberry preserves, buy the seedless variety for a smoother filling.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pink Ladies, and I'm not talking about Grease

Don said I nearly stumped him at the grocery store this weekend. We decided to divide and conquor. Since they are in the same shopping center, Don took the list for our local produce mart (Farm Boy) while I hit up the Trader Joes. We had just had a lovely afternoon in the park with the dogs and we wanted to get the shopping done quickly since Cordy and Seumas were waiting for us in the car. Anyway, on my list were Pink Lady Apples which Don had never heard of before and I don't blame him. It's not an apple that gets center stage a lot of times. In fact the only time I can ever recall using pink ladies before is in my cranberry apple sauce recipe that calls for a variety of apples for depth of flavor. Pink Ladies are a sweet variety and especially tasty when eaten sliced raw and chilled. They go well in fruit salads and, in this case, performed fantastically in my new delicous Apple Slaw recipe below, courtesy of Cooking Light. If you dn't have dried cherries on hand, this would also go really well with dried cranberries.

Apple Slaw

The sweet-spicy Pink Lady apples complement the tartness of the cherries and the vinaigrette in this slaw, which is a natural companion for pork chops or ham. Cameo, Fuji, or Gala apples will also work well.

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 1/2 cups chopped Pink Lady or other sweet apple
1 (12-ounce) package broccoli slaw
1 (3-ounce) package dried tart cherries
2 tablespoons unsalted sunflower seed kernels

To prepare vinaigrette, combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

To prepare slaw, combine apple, broccoli slaw, and dried cherries. Drizzle with vinaigrette; toss well to combine. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds; chill for up to 3 hours.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

CALORIES 125 (29% from fat); FAT 4g (sat 0.5g,mono 2.1g,poly 1.1g); IRON 0.9mg; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 33mg; CARBOHYDRATE 24.9g; SODIUM 91mg; PROTEIN 2.1g; FIBER 2.7g

Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2002

Some Like it Tart

You know how it goes when it comes down to the decision of what to make for dinner. There is the easy option, quick and uninspiring leftovers, take out, or PB& J, or their is the longer drawn out version, the meal you actually planned out for the week, which involves prep time, physical labor, and no immediate gratification. The latter is always the more rewarding route as it usually tastes better, fresher, leaves you feeling more healthy and satisfied, and responsibly uses up your ingredients before they go bad. But it does require an investment of time up front. Tonight we decided to choose the latter, and we were no less than glad we did. Not only did we have an awesome time making it, but it was delicious and now I have two new recipes to add to my repertoire. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Scallops with Chipotle Orange Sauce, served up with a side of Vegetable-Goat Cheese Tart.

Cooks Notes - for the Scallops we just used a bag of the Frozen Scallops from Trader Joes defrosted under cold running water. The sauce is excellent and this recipe could be further improved by serving over a bed of rice, or with a side of bread to add a little texture and further soak up the juices. We added extra chipotle chilies since we like ours spicy. Additionally, the Vegetable Goat Cheese Tart is a substantial meal in and of itself and could easily serve as a vegetarian friendly main dish.

Scallops with Chipotle-Orange Sauce

Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapeños that are often canned in sauce; use more or less than we call for here, depending on your tolerance for heat. A preheated pan is essential for good browning, so heat your pan while you prep the ingredients.

2 tablespoons butter, divided
Cooking spray
1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1/4 cup chopped green onions

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Sprinkle scallops with paprika and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Add scallops to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove from pan, and keep warm.

Add orange juice and chile to the pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 1 minute). Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1/8 teaspoon salt, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Serve the sauce with scallops, and garnish with the onions.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 4 1/2 ounces scallops, about 1 tablespoon sauce, and 1 tablespoon onions)

CALORIES 218 (29% from fat); FAT 7.1g (sat 3.7g,mono 1.7g,poly 0.7g); IRON 0.6mg; CHOLESTEROL 72mg; CALCIUM 47mg; CARBOHYDRATE 8.1g; SODIUM 488mg; PROTEIN 28.9g; FIBER 0.4g

Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2003

Vegetable Goat-Cheese Tart

Preparation Time: 40 minutes minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes minutes

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 small bay leaf
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into thin slices
1 red bell pepper, cut into slivers
4 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces soft goat cheese
9-inch ready-to-use piecrust, partially baked (follow label directions)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon olive oil

Over medium-low heat, add the oil to a large skillet with the onion, garlic, and bay leaf, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until the eggplant has softened. Stir in the zucchini, red bell pepper, tomatoes, and salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the basil and a few grinds of pepper to taste.

Spread goat cheese piecrust. Top with the vegetables, sprinkle Parmesan, and drizzle olive oil. Bake in a 350º F preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the Parmesan is golden and the tart is heated through.

Yield: 4 servings

CALORIES 524 (1% from fat); FAT 38g (sat 13g); CHOLESTEROL 32mg; CALCIUM 200mg; CARBOHYDRATE 31g; SODIUM 1100mg; PROTEIN 17mg; FIBER 6g; IRON 3mg

Real Simple, FEBRUARY 2003