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Holy Cow...I Can Cook?

I started this food blog New Years 2010 to force myself to get in the kitchen and teach myself how to cook. Well it has been a year, and it turns out, cooking isn't so hard after all. I kept the promise I made to myself and cooked healthy yummy meals for my family all year. Once I just got in there, read the recipes, and experimented I found cooking is yet another form of artistic expression. Just like with my art, I let go of the fear of failure and found a new passion.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Turtle Cake

Inspired by the turtle candy, it is hard to believe this cake is light! At about 300 calories a slice, it is not bad. The cake is very moist, with a big chocolate flavor. The frosting is used sparingly, but a little bit goes a long way!


1 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tbsp fat-free milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sifted powdered sugar

2/3 cup fat-free caramel sauce
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Prepare cake pans: Coat the bottoms of two 8 inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Do not coat the sides. Line bottoms with wax paper (cut in 8in round circles). Coat with more cooking spray. Dust the pans with 1 tbsp flour each.
3. Combine boiling water and cocoa, stiring with a whisk. Cool completely.
4. Place granulated sugar, 6 tbsp butter and vanilla in a large bowl, beat at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time beating after each addition.
5. Combine 1 2/3 cup flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl, stir with whisk. Add flour mixture and cocoa mixture alternately to sugar mixture. Start and end with flour mixture.
6. Pour batter into prepared pans, tap pans on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake 350 for 25 to 30 min, or until toothpick check comes out clean. Cool 10 min pans on wire rack, remove from pans. Peel off wax paper and cool completely on wire rack.
7. Frosting: Melt 2 tbsp butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and 3 tbsp milk, cook 1 minute or until sugar melts. Remove from heat, let cool slightly. Combine butter mixture and 2 tsp vanilla in a large bowl. Gradually add powdered sugar, beat at medium speed until smooth. Add additional milk 1 tsp at a time if frosting seems too thick.
8. Place one cake layer on a plate, spread top with half of the frosting in a thin layer. Place caramel sauce in a small zip-lock bag. Snip a small hole in one corner of bag; drizzle half of caramel sauce over frosting. Top with the other cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top of cake (don't cover the sides). Drizzle remaining caramel dip over the top. Sprinkle with pecans.

Serves 16

Win's husband rating: 10!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Individual Yogurt Brownies

This was my early Valentine's Day treat for my husband Win. He was working from home today, so I thought I would make him something sweet and yummy! This brownie is moist on the inside and chewy on the outside. It is not exactly "healthy" but it is a skinny version of a fudge brownie.

1 cup flower
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 stick butter
7 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar for this, but regular is fine too)
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 350
2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir with a whisk.
3. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it melts, turn heat off, stir in cocoa and sugars. Once sugars are incorporated, stir in yogurt and vanilla.
4. Add flour mixture to saucepan, stir until moist.
5. Coat muffin tin with cooking spray. Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 of the way with batter. Bake at 350 for 10 min. Toothpick test if you are not sure.

*For a festive touch I cut a heart out of a piece of paper, laid it on top of each brownie. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top through a fine sieve. Carefully remove your paper cut-out and you have a sweet love token.

Shrimp in Peanut Sauce

This dish is all about the peanut sauce! I think it would be just as great with chicken or tofu.
It seems complicated, but it was super easy!

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp chili paste with garlic *I like "Lee Kum Kee Chili Garlic Paste") it comes in a jar in the Asian section of the grocery store
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

1 lb shrimp (peeled and deveined) *Trader Joes has 1lb frozen shrimp uncooked in a bag, very convenient!
1/4 tsp salt

8 oz uncooked udon noodles (you can use linguine if you can't find udon)
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin julienne strips
3/4 cup chopped cucumber (peeled and seeded)
1/4 up chopped green onions
3 tbsp chopped peanuts
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

1. Combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a whisk. Set aside
(add more water if sauce seems too should be the consistency of cream)
2. Start noodles according to package directions omitting salt and fat.
3. Coat nonstick skillet in cooking spray. Toss Shrimp with 1/4 tsp salt and Saute over medium high heat about 3 min on each side or until done. Add red bell pepper and green onions saute for another minute then remove from heat.
4. As soon as noodles are done, combine noodles, peanut sauce, shrimp mixture, and cucumber into a large bowl and toss well. Sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro.

Serves 4

Win's husband rating: 9

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Zucchini Bread with Citrus Icing

This zucchini bread was nice and moist. Yet another way for me to hide a green veggi from my son. The icing is just enough to satisfy your sweet-tooth!

2 1/3 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup shredded zucchini (make sure to finely shred)
1/2 cup low fat milk
1/4 cup grape seed oil
2 tbsp lemon zest
1 egg

1 cup powdered sugar (pour it through a fine mesh sieve or sifter to eliminate lumps)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lime juice

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl stir with a whisk. Combine zucchini, milk, oil, zest and egg in another bowl. Add zucchini mixture to dry ingredients. Stir to combine, do not over mix!
3. Coat a loaf pan with cooking spray and spoon batter in. Bake for 45 minutes. Check with toothpick... if it comes out clean it is done, if not it may need a few more minutes. Cool loaf on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely.
4. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, lemon, and lime juice. Stir with a whisk. Drizzle icing over the top of loaf.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Thai Steak Salad

This salad is full of flavor and the steak makes it hearty enough for dinner. Big Hit!

3/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup cilantro (chopped)
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp chili paste with garlic ( found in the Asian section of the super market)
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce (also in the Asian section)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1 1/2 lb) London Broil Steak or Flank Steak
1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 1/2 cups sliced red onion
6 cups mixed greens
1 cup sliced cucumber
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1. Preheat broiler, grill pan, or start outdoor grill.
2. Combine lime juice, cilantro, sugar, chili paste, fish sauce, and garlic. Stir until sugar dissolves, pour half mixture into a large zip lock bag. Reserve the other half for later. Add steak to bag and seal. Marinate in refrigerator for 10 minutes. Make sure to turn the steak over after 5 minutes. to marinate both sides. Remove steak from bag and place on grill coated in cooking spray. Grill about 6 minutes on each side and let stand a few minutes before you cut it. Slice steak thinly across the grain.
3. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Saute red onion for about 4 minutes then add tomatoes, saute another 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add salad greens, cucumber, and mint into a large salad bowl. Add onion mixture and toss. Place salad on plates. Top with slices of steak and drizzle a couple tablespoons of the reserved lime mixture over the top.

Serves 6
Win's Husband Rating: 9

Tortilla Stacks

This meal was super easy, and very light!

1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp Grape Seed oil (or regular canola oil)
2 cups cooked chicken breast (shredded)
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups of Green Chili Sauce (bottled green salsa)
9 6-inch corn tortillas
1/2 cup Queso Cotija crumbled
(Queso Cotija is a Mexican cheese, if you can't find it, you can use feta)

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add chicken then season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, stir to combine.
3. Coat an 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread a thin layer of green sauce in the dish. Arrange 3 tortillas in a row in baking dish over the layer of sauce. Top evenly with a quarter of the chicken mixture. Spoon some more sauce over the chicken, top with 3 more tortillas. Repeat layers, ending with tortillas. Spread remaining sauce over the 3 tortilla stacks. Sprinkle cheese over the top of each stack.
4. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Win's Husband Rating: 7.5

Monday, January 11, 2010

Banana Butter

Robb's Banana Butter

*This used like butter, so just a dab. If someone can make this with less sugar, or tweak this to make it more healthy please give it a go!

Makes 8 8oz glasses
10 bananas
2 tbs lemon juice
6.5 cups of sugar
1 bttle pectin
Peel and mash bananas. Add lemon juice and sugar. Bring to boil. Boil well for about a minute. Then add pectin. Stir well. Then bottle.
There are two variables: the size of the bananas and their ripeness. Sugar requirements may vary by the relative ripeness of the bananas. Best advice: experiment. By my experience this formula tends to sweetness. Maybe too sweet.
Source: Preserving the Fruits of the Earth by Schuler and Schuler

Friday, January 8, 2010

Spinach-Meat Loaf

This meat loaf was fast, easy, and yummy! The combo of ground turkey and ground beef adds flavor and cuts the calories. It is also packed with greens! I hardly noticed the spinach and I am hoping my 16 month old son doesn't either!

1 cup Matzo Meal (dry breadcrumbs)
3 garlic cloves minced
1 cup chopped onion (fine chop)
1/2 cup 1% milk
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 egg whites
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 lbs lean ground turkey
1/2 lb lean ground beef
20 oz frozen spinach (thaw, then drain in a sieve, squeeze as much of the liquid out as you can)
1/2 cup ketchup

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray, place over medium-high heat. Saute onion for about 3 minutes then add garlic, saute for about 1 minute. Then remove skillet from heat and set aside.
3. In a large bowl combine breadcrumbs, milk, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, egg whites, spinach, ground turkey and ground beef. Add onion mixture, and mix well with your hands.
4. Coat a baking sheet or broiler pan with cooking spray. Shape meat mixture into a 12in x 5in loaf on baking sheet. Spread the ketchup over the top and sides of loaf. Bake at 350 for about 45 min. Let stand a few minutes before slicing.

*8 servings (serving size 1 slice)

I served this with blanched, seasoned green beans and Mashed Cauliflower (another veggi in disguise)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Blue Cheese Dip

This dip is great with veggi sticks or even as a salad dressing. The low-fat mayo and the fat-free sour cream cut the calories in half!

1 cup low-fat mayo
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp grape seed oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
8oz fat-free sour cream
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Whisk together the first 8 ingredients. Stir in blue cheese. Refrigerate a couple hours before you serve.

I had 2 tablespoons of this dip with carrot sticks...made a great snack!

Amy's Snobby Joe's

From the cookbook "Veganomicon":

Snobby Joe's
Serves 4 to 6

I adjusted this a bit - we don't like bell pepper so that was taken out. I also added shredded carrot as a garnish. The best part is that we had lunch or dinner for a couple of days. It satisfied all of our needs for meals at work and home. Plus it just got better every day. My hubby is a PICKY eater and he loved it!

1 cup cooked lentils
4 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion, cut into small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
4-6 kaiser rolls or sesame buns, sliced in half

Pour the lentils and water into a small saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are soft. Drain and set aside.

About 10 minutes before the lentils are done, pre-heat a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion and pepper in the oil for about 7 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and saute for a minute more.

Stir in the cooked lentils, chile powder, oregano, and salt. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add the maple syrup to taste (I recommend 1-2 tablespoons) and the mustard and heat through.

Turn off the heat and let the pot sit for about 10 minutes so that the flavors can meld, or go ahead and eat immediately if you can't wait!

HUSBAND RATING: 8.5 out of 10

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Lauren's Healthy Chili Recipe

Best Chili Recipe there is...and pretty darn healthy too! :-)

Seems to be a major hit with the guys...all the ones in my family go nuts when I make it.

1 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Yellow Onion
2 to3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey or chicken
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbs chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups low-sodium fat free chicken broth
1 cup dark beer
2 tbs tomato paste
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
1 cup colored bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup kale, stemmed, and chopped/torn into bite sized pieces
1 carrot, grated
1/4 cup cashews, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1-2 tbs fresh lime juice

In a 4-6 quart saute pan heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent (apprx. 5 min) Add the turkey and cook until browned (apprx. 5-6 min) Add the oregano, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and salt, saute for 2 mins. Pour in the broth and beer. Stir in tomato paste. Add the kidney beans, black beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, kale, and carrot. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 20 mins. stirring occasionally. Add the cashews and cook (5-7 mins). Add the cilantro and lime juice.

Recipe from The Healthiest Meals On Earth by Jonny Bowden

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Parmesan Chicken

Chicken breast getting boring? Try this!

3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp Tabasco
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (fresh) grated
3/4 cup egg substitute

8 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp olive oil

Cooking spray
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup white wine
3 tbsp lemon juice

1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a dish.
2. Pound the Chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, to 1/4 inch thickness using a meat mallet, rolling pin, or the bottom of a heavy skillet. Dredge chicken in flour and dip in egg substitute mixture.
3. Heat 1 1/2 tsp oil in large non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add 4 chicken breasts, cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. (try not to mess with them too much, or the coating will come off). Remove from pan and keep warm. Wipe pan with paper towel. Add 1 1/2 tsp fresh oil and spray pan again with cooking spray. Cook remaining chicken breasts, remove from pan and keep warm.
4. Melt butter in pan; add 1/4 cup wine and 3 tbsp lemon juice. Bring to boil; cook 30 sec. Serve butter sauce over chicken.

Serves 8
*I served this chicken on top of seasoned brown rice, with simple blanched green beans on the side. This meal was a BIG hit!

Win's Husband Rating: 10 out of 10