Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Funfetti Cake Dip

Dessert dips are dangerous. If they aren’t proportioned, I end up hanging out by the dip and eating it during the whole party while somehow convincing myself that I didn’t really eat anything. I figure, if I only eat one tiny bite at a time and I don’t use a plate, the calories don’t count. That’s true, right?

Well, with this dip, you don’t have to feel guilty! It’s low in fat and calories and I swear you would never know. And for all you cake batter lovers, this tastes like the real deal. But it won’t give you salmonella so it’s even better! It is super sweet so all the kids at my party loved it but it was too much for some of the older women (my grandmother found it disgusting). By the way, when does that happen? What’s the magic age when things start becoming “too sweet”? It’d be nice for my waistline but I’m definitely dreading that day.

I served it with mini graham crackers and animal crackers. Nilla wafers would be good too! It reminded me of eating Dunkaroos when I was in elementary school. I used to eat all of the kangaroo shaped crackers plain. Then I would save the circular ones and use all of the frosting to make a couple GIANT cookie-frosting sandwiches. The good ole days!

Oh, and it has sprinkles. Rainbow sprinkles never fail to make my day better. How can you not be happy when eating something so bright and cheerful? Try frowning and eating sprinkles. I bet it’s impossible.

Funfetti Cake Dip (24 ¼ cup servings – 105 cals) from Eat Yourself Skinny!
·         1 (18.9 oz) box Funfetti cake mix
·         2 cups fat-free vanilla yogurt
·         1 cup lite Cool Whip
·         Fat-free animal crackers

1.       In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, plain yogurt and Cool Whip until completely combined and you see no more lumps.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to chill for about 4 hours. 
Garnish with additional sprinkles if desired and serve with animal crackers, graham crackers, and/or Nilla wafers! 

Why do sprinkles make everything better?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Edamame Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese and Honey Dressing

Pasta salads are one of my favorite summer foods. For me, pasta is a comfort food but, when the weather is hot, I don’t always want to eat a heavy and hot meal so I turn to pasta salads. My “go to” pasta salad is mayo based with celery, egg, peas, and tuna. My mom and grandmother both always have a big bowl of it in the refrigerator throughout the summer. It keeps well, everyone in my family loves it, and it goes perfectly with grilled meats and vegetables. However, you know I like to switch things up. I’m also very finicky when it comes to mayo. Sometimes, especially when it’s hot out, it makes my stomach feel a little weird. So I generally try to stick with more oil-based pasta salads when I’m experimenting.

This recipe uses lemon juice, olive oil, and honey. I think the flavor combination is absolutely wonderful. The lemon keeps it light, the olive oil keeps it from being dry, and the honey makes it just a little bit sweet. The goat cheese tones down the sweetness of the honey and the tartness of the lemon and it all comes together perfectly. When you let the pasta salad sit for a couple hours, the liquids cause the goat cheese to break down a little bit, which creates a creamy sauce that coats everything. For vegetables I used edamame and cucumber for some crunch and tomato for some color. I think next time I would substitute the tomato for a red bell pepper because it would hold up better. But you can use any veggies that you like!

This can also be eaten cold as a pasta salad or slightly warmed. If you stick it in the microwave for about 30 seconds, the pasta will get a little warm and the goat cheese will melt but the vegetables will still stay crisp! 

Edamame Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumber, and Honey Dressing adapted from Sugarcrafter
  • 8 ounces pasta (I used penne)
  • 6 ounces frozen edamame, shelled and thawed
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese
For the dressing:
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice
1.       Cook the pasta according to package directions. Let cool completely.
2.       Dice the cucumber and onion, and halve the tomatoes.
3.       In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients.
4.       In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, honey, and lemon juice. Toss with the salad. Can be served chilled or slightly warm. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Frittata Frame

This recipe is for the basic structure of a frittata. I made my first frittata a couple months ago and fell in love with it. It’s a great option for a big breakfast, a healthy lunch, or a light dinner with a side salad. I like to make them when I know I’m going to be really busy because the leftovers keep for about a week and are easy to pop in the microwave or can be eaten cold!

The possibilities for frittatas are absolutely endless! You could use whatever types of cheese, meats, and vegetables you are craving, have on hand, or are on sale at the grocery store. They can be as simple as one cheese and one vegetable or you could load it up with a ton of ingredients for a larger and more filling frittata. I like to make frittatas when I need to clean out my refrigerator. I basically just dump whatever I have into frying pan, warm it up a little, transfer it to an 8x8 baking dish, 10 in pie plate, or 9x13 baking dish, pour the egg mixture on top and bake it for about 30-40 minutes.

Here are three creations that I took some pictures of. I’ve made other but, because I’m usually making them when I’m really busy and I use random leftovers, I didn’t photograph them. The first one is a simple asparagus and American cheese frittata. The second one is a spinach, mushroom, and ricotta frittata. And the last one is a Mexican frittata that contains red peppers, corn, canned chiles, onions, and Mexican blend cheese.

What egg casserole creations can you come up with?

Basic Frittata Frame
  • 6 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
Add: ¾ cup shredded cheese of your choice. It could be Swiss, cheddar, Parmesan, Asiago, pepper jack.
Add: 1 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs, like parsley, rosemary, basil, thyme or 1 tsp dried herbs, like parsley, rosemary, or an Italian mix. Choose one or mix a few together.
Add: 1 cup cooked meat, diced. This is a great way to use up leftovers, such as diced ham, chicken, or sausage. If you don’t have any meat on hand or don’t want to include meat, you can replace this amount with additional vegetables.
Add: 1 to 1 1/2 cups of fresh vegetables, diced. Sweet peppers, asparagus, squash, tomatoes, green onions, peas, shredded zucchini, eggplant, and broccoli are a few examples. Choose one or mix a few together.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Coat a 10 inch pie pan with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Whisk together the eggs, milk, flour, salt, pepper until smooth. Stir in the cheese, herbs, meat, and the vegetables until combined.
4. Pour the egg mixture into the pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the eggs are set in the middle or golden on top. Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

asparagus and cheese

spinach, mushroom and ricotta


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Strawberry-Filled Cupcakes with Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

Here is the final piece of the Mexican-themed meal! I’m obviously obsessed with dessert so I couldn’t have a meal without it. I debated trying to make some sort of traditional Mexican dessert but decided against it in favor of some cupcakes in hopes that my family would be more likely to eat them quickly!

I decided on these strawberry-filled cupcakes with lime cream cheese frosting to go with the strawberry margaritas.  Feel free to compliment me on how well-planned and clever that was J

For the cupcakes, I just used my standard boxed cake mix with a can of diet soda. I know there are probably a bunch of people who haven’t warmed up to that idea yet. I generally only use it for cupcakes that are filled with something. I figure, if I’m going to be scooping out half of the cupcake anyway, there’s really no point in making something so labor intensive.

The frosting is the real focus here. The combination of cream cheese and lime reminded me of key lime pie. It was creamy and rich with a little bit of a tart bite. The only thing that I might try to do differently is play with the amount of sugar to change the consistency.  It was slightly runny, like almost somewhere between a buttercream and a glaze, so it had to be spread onto the cupcakes rather than piped. This was fine for these cupcakes because a little goes a long way but I’d be interested to see what a thicker frosting would taste like.

Make these, drink the matching margaritas, and be merry!

Strawberry-Filled Cupcakes with Lime Cream Cheese Frosting (16 cupcakes)
·         1 box yellow cake mix
·         1 can diet lemon-lime soda
·         1 pint fresh strawberries
·         1 Tbsp sugar
For the frosting
·         4 oz cream cheese
·         2 ½ Tbsp butter
·         2 ¼ cups powdered sugar
·         1 tsp vanilla
·         1 Tbsp lime juice
·         Zest of one lime
1.       Preheat the oven to the temperature indicated on the cake box. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
2.       For the filling: Finely chop the pint of strawberries. Place in a bowl and mix with the sugar.
3.       For the frosting:  In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, lime juice, and lime zest. Add in the sugar ½ cup at a time and mix until smooth.
4.       Mix the cake mix and the can of soda together until the batter is smooth. Fill cupcake liners ¾ full. Bake as directed.
5.       Allow the cupcakes to cool completely. Cut out the center of the cupcakes and reserve the middles in a separate bowl.
6.       Fill the cupcakes with the diced strawberries. Cover with a small amount of the reserved cupcake.
7.       Frost the cupcakes.
8.       Chill until ready to serve.

it's like a margarita... in a cupcake!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Shrimp Fajitas

Here’s the main dish from my Mexican fiesta dinner! 

Fajitas are great because you can make them however you want! They are perfect for a crowd so that people can pick and choose their toppings and how much they feel like eating. If you don’t like anything, just leave it off! Don’t feel like using a tortilla? Put the toppings over some lettuce for a taco salad or make it into a rice bowl. I like this recipe because it’s light and it uses shrimp, which is a little more interesting than the typical steak or chicken.

Personally, I load mine up with a ton of everything… especially the optional condiments. Salsa, guac, sour cream (I’ve actually made the switch over to Greek yogurt and am LOVING it), cheese, jalapenos, and hot sauce… of course. I can’t get enough! It usually ends up being a total embarrassing mess because I try to pick it up and eat it and everything goes spilling out the back and the juices are running down my arms.  Attractive, right? Note to self: Do not order fajitas until after at least 5 dates. After that, I figure the guy has probably already realized that he’s not exactly getting a prim and proper lady so I might as well enjoy my grub.

Grab some tortillas, pull out all the Mexican condiments in your fridge, and build yourself a delicious fajita!

Shrimp Fajitas (2 servings – 330 cals) from Skinnytaste
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt + fresh pepper
 For the Shrimp
  • 3/4 lb shrimp, cleaned and deveined (weigh them after you peel them)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • salt + fresh pepper
  • pinch of chipotle chile powder
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 4 tortillas
1.       In frying pan combine onions, peppers, 2 teaspoons oil, salt and pepper. Toss well to coat. Cook on the stovetop tossing occasionally until onions are caramelized, about 20 minutes.
2.       Season shrimp with chipotle chile powder, salt and pepper. While the onions are cooking, heat a large frying pan on high heat. Add oil. When the oil is hot add the shrimp and cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side until cooked through. Remove from heat. Add juice from the lime and cilantro. Toss well. Combine with the cooked onions and peppers and serve with tortillas.

the veggies

ready to be stuffed in a tortilla and smothered with condiments :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fiesta Lime Rice

I’m not a huge fan of just plain rice. It bores me. So when I was looking for a side dish to go with my Mexican-themed meal, I knew I wanted to have something a little more exciting than plain white or brown rice.  I found this recipe that I absolutely love. You can use less rice because the recipe is bulked up with corn and beans, so it cuts the carbs. And the boredom. As indicated in my blog name, I tend to be bored and hungry so I try to cook things that fix that :)

I don’t have a ton to say about this recipe but you should give it a try as a slightly different and more colorful, tasty, and nutritious alternative to plain rice. You won’t be disappointed!

Fiesta Lime Rice (4 1 cup servings – 153 cals) from Skinnytaste
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked long grain rice
  • 3/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and heated
  • 3/4 cup cooked corn, heated
  • 1 large scallion, diced fine
  • 2-4 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • salt to taste
1.       In a large bowl, combine hot rice, heated corn, heated beans, scallion, cilantro, lime juice and salt if needed. Toss and serve.

jazzed up fiesta lime rice!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Go To" Guacamole

I absolutely love avocados. It’s a combination of the taste and texture… it’s just perfect. I put them on sandwiches with meat and/or eggs. I mash them up or chunk them for use in tuna, taco, and egg salad. I like to fill the space where the pit is with things like the previously mentioned salads, cottage cheese, or other veggies.

So, naturally, I love guacamole. I eat it in tacos and burritos, on nachos, and with chips. Or just a spoon. I also am a firm believer that guac is a great dip that doubles as a wonderful condiment for slathering on sandwiches instead of mayo or eating with grilled chicken, steak, or fish.

After a lot of experimenting, I have found that this is my “go-to” guacamole recipe. I definitely love putting crazy spins on it by mixing in different ingredients on occasion, like corn, peppers, raspberries, mango, pineapple, etc. But this is the base that I use for the majority of my creations. The same rule applies as with my pico de gallo. I generally double the jalapeno and cilantro if I’m making it for myself.

So make this guacamole and feel free to add your own crazy creations!

Guacamole  from How Sweet It Is
·         4 ripe avocados
·         1/2 red onion, chopped
·         1 jalapeno, chopped
·         1 small tomato, chopped
·         1/4 cup chopped cilantro
·         1 lime, juice
1.       Scoop out avocado meat and mash it. Add chopped vegetables to the mix. Squeeze in fresh lime juice. Serve with… anything. 

maybe a green bowl wasn't the best photo choice but it's still delicious!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pico de Gallo

I love making my own salsas and dips because I can make them to fit my tastes perfectly. For example, with any type of salsa, I generally like more heat and cilantro than most people. I literally cannot get enough of those two flavors. So when I make this pico de gallo for only myself I usually double or triple the amount of jalapenos and cilantro. If I’m making it for a dinner party, I’ll make it as directed and then leave some extra jalapenos and cilantro in a small bowl that I can add to my plate to satisfy my taste buds. It’s perfect!

Pico de gallo is really easy to make. It tastes way better than the stuff you can buy in the grocery store, especially when tomatoes are in season. I also think it tastes better on the second and third days because the garlic, cilantro, jalapenos, and onions meld together and the tomatoes soak up the flavor.

This should definitely be a staple in any Mexican dinner.

Pico de Gallo (4 servings)
  • 4 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 2 chile peppers, mild or hot, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves (no stems)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1.  In a bowl combine all ingredients. Let it marinate in the refrigerator at least an hour (I think overnight is best) for best results.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fresh Strawberry Margaritas

Toward the beginning of the summer, I made a big Mexican-themed meal and realized that I never blogged about it! So the next couple blog posts are going to be dedicated to that dinner.

Let’s start with the most important aspect – the drinks. For a Mexican-themed meal, I knew I wanted to drink a margarita but wanted to spruce it up a bit. Strawberries were on sale at the grocery store so I decided to do a strawberry variation.

God, these were good. Maybe too good, since my friend and I finished off two whole pitchers. They are so tasty that I think I forgot that they were alcoholic until it was too late. Wayyyyy too late.

There are so many excuses to make these. To celebrate Mexican holidays. To beat the heat of summer. To use up extra strawberries. To cure a bad day. To celebrate something awesome. Or just because margaritas are delicious.

Fresh Strawberry Margaritas (1 margarita) from How Sweet It Is
  • 2 ounces triple sec
  • 1 1/2 ounces Tequila (I was definitely heavy handed on the tequila…)
  • 2 ounces lime juice
  • 2 1/2 ounces strawberry simple syrup [recipe below]
  • lime + fresh strawberries for garnish
  • sugar for the rim
  1. Rim the ridge of your glass with a lime wedge and dip in a mix of margarita salt + sugar [I used about 3 tablespoons salt to 2 teaspoons sugar]. Fill the glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, grand marnier, simple syrup and lime juice with ice, and shake for about 30 seconds. Pour over ice and squeeze in lime slices and add a few strawberries.
  2. For strawberry simple syrup: combine equal parts sugar and water, bring to a boil and let sugar dissolve, then turn off heat and let cool completely. Combine 1 cup simply syrup + 1 1/2 cups slices strawberries in a blender and blend until combined. I don’t mind strawberry seeds, but if you’d like you can strain the mixture over a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds.

so pretty and delicious!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Raspberry Tiramisu

I have lots of deal-makers and breakers. That goes for T.V. shows, clothing, men, and food. Let me share some with you.

T.V. deal-makers: total trash, anything food related, lots of drama, Christopher Meloni
T.V. deal-breakers: anything requiring higher-order thinking skills, cartoons, shows about people whose lives make me jealous

Clothing deal-makers: things that give the illusion of curves to my lack of body shape, bright colors, black, things that go can go from work appropriate to night out with a simple twist like popping a button or removing a tank-top
Clothing deal-breakers: dry clean only, things that need to be ironed, rompers (I HATE THEM)

Man deal-makers: considerate to me and others, fun-loving (because I can be a little neurotic…), eats all types of food, common interests.
Man deal-breakers: Please contact me for my current list of horrific ex-boyfriends and atrocious dating experiences. There’s a lot.

Food deal-makers: interesting flavor combinations, anything sweet, anything covered in peanut butter, pretty much anything edible. I’m not picky, obviously.
Food deal-breakers: okra, clams/mussels/oysters, anything bland.

So, this recipe probably looks familiar, right? It looks a lot like the one that I made for my grandmother’s birthday. But there are a couple differences that could be deal-makers or breakers for certain people.

If you love raspberries, especially fresh ones, the second recipe is probably for you. If you’re not a huge raspberry fan, you would probably prefer the first one I posted because it gives you the option of only adding a little bit of raspberry sauce or none at all. I also prefer my ladyfingers to be soaked in something. In the first recipe, the ladyfingers would have been a little too dry for me if I didn’t drown them in the raspberry sauce before digging in. In this recipe, the ladyfingers are brushed with a mixture of raspberry jam and orange juice, which makes them flavorful and moist. I love the very subtle orange flavor the orange juice in the jam mixture and the orange zest in the filling gives this dessert.

Basically if you’re not a huge fan of raspberry, which my mother and sister are not, the first recipe would be a better fit for you. I, on the other hand, would consider raspberries to be one of my favorite fruits so I prefer this recipe.

Try both and let me know what you think!

Raspberry Tiramisu
  • ·         1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • ·         zest and Juice of 1 orange
  • ·         1 cup ricotta cheese, at room temperature
  • ·         2 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ·         1 cup whipping cream
  • ·         1/4 cup sugar
  • ·         1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ·         2 packages of lady fingers
  • ·         about 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • ·         Confectioners' sugar, for serving

1.  Reserve 1 tablespoons of orange juice. Stir the jam and remaining orange juice in a small bowl to blend.
2.  Combine the ricotta, cream cheese, and remaining 1 tablespoon of orange juice in a large bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream, sugar, and vanilla in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Fold orange zest into whipped cream.
3.  Using a large rubber spatula, stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture to lighten. Fold the remaining whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture.
4.  Line the bottom and sides (the long way) of a 8x8 glass baking dish or other decorative serving dish with ladyfingers. Spread half of the jam mixture over the ladyfingers. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the jam mixture, then cover with half of the fresh raspberries. Repeat layering with the remaining ladyfingers, jam mixture, mascarpone mixture and raspberries.
5.  Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours overnight (which is what I did) to let the flavors blend.
6.  Dust with the confectioners' sugar and serve.

whipped cream
layer of ladyfingers
jam and orange juice mixture
filling in the tiramisu
middle layer of raspberries!
ready to be served!
individual slices :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Southwestern BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad

I made this for our second coworker dinner. I saw it on one of my favorite blogs a couple weeks ago and have not been able to stop thinking about it. I had some leftover chicken that I needed to use, ears of corn are only $0.25 each, and I found a bottle of spicy BBQ on the sale shelf at Safeway. That couldn’t be a coincidence. The universe was practically begging me to make this.

I marinated the leftover chicken in BBQ sauce overnight so that the flavor would really soak in. For the corn, I decided to grill it in my grill pan. It came out slightly charred but still a little raw. It was so fresh and flavorful. I also made the quinoa in the microwave, which was a first for me. I was a little nervous because it smelled like popcorn when it was cooking and after the 8 minutes of cooking, it didn’t look done at all. But if you follow the directions that I listed in the recipe, everything should turn out perfectly! It’s not any easier than cooking it on the stovetop but, due to my recent move, I have only one gigantic pasta pot right now so stovetop wasn’t a practical option.

To assemble the salad, I started everyone’s plate with a bed of lettuce. The original recipe didn’t call for this but I absolutely love the way quinoa tastes with lettuce. It’s such an interesting texture and it looks really gorgeous. So then I topped the lettuce with quinoa, black beans, corn, BBQ chicken, shredded cheddar, BBQ Greek yogurt dressing, jalapenos, and cilantro – in that order.

I loved everything about this salad. It reminded me of a taco salad with an American summer barbeque season twist. The chicken and black beans made it filling. The spicy BBQ sauce counteracted the sweet grilled corn. The quinoa gives it great texture and adds nutrition. Cheese is tastes good with everything so that was a no-brainer (Though I accidently bought imitation cheddar because I was shopping the sales. I was too scared to look at what it was really made of but it was low in calories and tasted fine so I suppose that’s fine…). The BBQ Greek yogurt dressing is great because it’s a protein-packed, low-fat substitute for dressing! I could have eaten the whole contain of “dressing” for the same caloric intake as 2 tablespoons of a typical creamy dressing. Definitely don’t leave out the cilantro! Sometimes, I’m totally guilty of leaving out certain fresh herbs because I’m too lazy to look for them or cheap to pay for them. Especially if I think the dish has enough flavor going on with the extra additions. Don’t do it! The cilantro takes this dish to a whole other level and brings it all together. Unless you’re one of those people who hates cilantro, then I guess you can skip it. Boo.

Please go make this immediately before summer corn goes out of season!

Southwestern BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad (4 servings) from Iowa Girl Eats
  • ·         6 cups lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • ·         1 cup quinoa, rinsed very well
  • ·         2 cups water
  • ·         2 chicken breasts, shredded and marinated in BBQ sauce
  • ·         2 ears corn, shucked (or 1 cup corn kernels)
  • ·         1/2 cup black beans, drained & rinsed
  • ·         1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ·         1/2 cup pickles jalapenos
  • ·         1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ·         1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ·         1/4 cup BBQ sauce

1. Shred two cooked breasts of chicken and marinate in BBQ sauce overnight.
2. Rinse quinoa very well in a fine mesh sieve under cold running water. Combine with the water in a microwave safe bowl. Cover the bowl with a microwave safe top or plate and microwave for 8 minutes. Stir and let stand for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, recover, and microwave on high for 2 minutes more. Let stand for 1 minute before serving.
3. Meanwhile, preheat a grill pan on medium high. Add corn to the grill pan at the same time that you put the quinoa in the microwave. Rotate every couple of minutes to evenly char on all sides. Remove the corn to a plate and let cool slightly. Slice kernels off the cob.
4. Mix together Greek yogurt and BBQ sauce in a bowl. Evenly divide the lettuce, cooked quinoa, black beans, corn, shredded BBQ chicken, and shredded cheese between four plates. Drizzle with yogurt and BBQ sauce mixture, then garnish with jalapenos and chopped cilantro.

why yes, I'm still obsessed with having plates and a table. 
all the goodies :)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Mousse

I made this for dessert for our first girls’ night dinner. As you probably know by now, chocolate and peanut butter is my favorite flavor combination. Don’t get me wrong, I love it all. But when in doubt, I always go for some sort of peanut butter chocolate concoction and am never disappointed. And in a pinch – ya know, those times where you absolutely need dessert to cure whatever troubles you have but haven’t gone food shopping in weeks and can’t imagine moving more than the ten steps from your couch to your kitchen - a spoonful of peanut butter with a couple chocolate chips saves the day.
This dessert is a little more labor intensive than dipping a spoon in peanut butter and shoving it in your mouth but not by much. And it’s totally worth it. I whipped this up right before dinner so it would be nice and chilled by the time we were ready.

The mousse was a little hard to make because my apartment was SO HOT. I don’t think that the whipped cream got as light as it would have in an air conditioned venue. But I’m trying to conserve money and it’s more important for me to have cable so that I can watch TLC all night than it is for me to be cool.  Priorities, people.

For a mousse, this dessert is very rich and dense due to the cream cheese (again, also probably due to the sweltering heat of my kitchen suffocating the whipped cream). It tasted like a softer no-bake version of chocolate cheesecake. Minus all of the time and effort! If you wanted a lighter dessert, it would probably be delicious if you completely cut out the cream cheese and cut the sugar in half. You would obviously lose the cheesecake taste but it would be lighter… if that’s what you like.  I generally like my desserts so rich and sweet that a normal human being could only take one bite, while my sweet tooth and I can finish off a gigantic plate and look around for seconds.

I obviously chose to top the mousse with chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Because… well, why not jump at the chance to pack a little extra peanut butter and sugar in there? And the crust is totally optional. I tend to like a little graham cracker for the texture and because it looks pretty at the bottom of individual portions. But feel free to leave it out if you’re not feelin’ it.

So give this rich and creamy mousse a try for yet another twist on the classic chocolate peanut butter combo! 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Mousse (4 servings) from Saving Room For Dessert
  • ·         4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ·         1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • ·         dash of salt
  • ·         1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • ·         1/4 cup milk chocolate chips, melted
  • ·         1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ·         1/2 cup whipping cream
  • ·         4 Reese’s cups, chopped
  • ·         1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped and sweetened with 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
Graham Cracker Crust
·         2 tablespoons butter, melted
·         3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  1. 1.      Mix together butter and graham cracker crumbs. Push to the bottom of parfait dishes, mason jars, wine glasses, etc.
  2. 2.      In a medium mixing bowl beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, salt and vanilla together until smooth. Melt the chocolate chips and stir into the cream cheese-peanut butter mixture. Sift in the confectioners' sugar and blend well.  In a separate bowl beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form.  With a rubber spatula, gently fold half the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture.  Then blend in the remaining whipped cream taking care not to over mix or beat the mixture.  
  3. 3.      Spoon the mousse into 4 serving bowls and refrigerate for about an hour.  Top with additional sweetened whipped cream and chopped Reese’s if desired.  Serve and enjoy!

loving my mason jars :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Corn Cakes with Tomato Avocado Relish

The girls I work with and I have decided to have a weekly dinner night! I could not be more excited! It means I get to cook, be social, and have a chance to relax during the week. It's absolutely perfect. The wine doesn't hurt either :)

the table setting. aren't my NEW plates on my NEW table super cute and classy?!?!

I hosted prepared the first dinner. Since it's just the girls, I figured I would make a light and girly recipe. Ya know, the ones that if you cooked them for your dad or boyfriend (not that I have that issue, thank God) they would be like... "uuhhh so... that was an okay appetizer but where's my meat and potatoes?".

I chose these corn cakes because corn is on super sale right now and it's ridiculously sweet and delicious. I think these were perfect for a dinner salad because they were hearty enough to fill you up without weighing you down. We used the relish and a sriracha as dressing. I loved how the sweet corn and the creamy avocado contrasted with the bite of the red onion and spicy sriracha.

The original recipe called for frying them in oil. I'm not huge on frying things, especially if I can figure out how to bake the item or cook it in a healthier way. But I tried to fry them and it just didn't work well. My stove is a little lopsided and heats unevenly. I ended up burning the first batch, melting my spatula, and smoking up my apartment. Plus, Arizona is just too darn hot to be frying things in your house. So I quickly washed out my frying pan, sprayed it with cooking spray, and "fried" the rest of the cakes that way. They came out much better and healthier! I love when mistakes work out for the better :) Unlike my chocolate pie from yesterday's post...

Also, the patties freeze well so cook up a bunch and toss them in the freezer. Then you can just pull them out, reheat them, and toss them over some spinach for a quick and tasty salad!

Corn Cakes with Avocado and Tomato Relish (12 cakes)
For the corn cakes:
  • 3 large ears of corn, shucked
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • ¼ cup red onion, finely diced
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp. half and half (I used fat free)
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • cooking spray, for frying
For the relish:
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • ¼ cup of red onion
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1½ tsp. olive oil
  • 1½ tsp. white wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and diced

  • Sriracha, for serving (optional)
  •  Spinach, for serving

1.  Cut the corn kernels off of the cobs and place in a large bowl.  Place 2 cups of the corn kernels in the food processor and pulse several times, until the corn is slightly pureed but still chunky.  Scrape the mixture into the bowl with the remaining corn kernels.  Add the flour, cornmeal, onion, basil, baking powder, and baking soda to the bowl.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir to mix well.  Add the eggs, half and half, and butter, and stir just to combine.
2.  To make the salsa, combine all of the ingredients except the avocado in a medium bowl and mix well to combine.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 2 days.  Just before serving, mix in the avocado.
3.  Place a large skillet over medium heat.  Spray the pan with cooking spray. Scoop the batter into the skillet a heaping tablespoon at a time, cooking the cakes in batches of 4 or 5 so that they are not touching.  Cook 1-2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer the cooked cakes to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter.
4.  Serve immediately topped with the relish and drizzled with sriracha, if desired.

the relish


sizzling corn cakes
corn cake salad :)