Monday, March 28, 2011

Great Guest Foodie and how I suck at blogging.

I readily admit that my blogging efforts have been an epic fail of late. epic failThe only excuse I can offer is that this term in school has been particularly composition heavy and when writing for school not much else gets written. I have struggled to write as much as a post it note recently!this may kill me It does not help that, for a variety of reasons, I have felt kind of down in the dumps lately. You would think that cooking would make that all better but ironically the opposite happens. I do not cook when I am blue. Perhaps it is the utter lack of inspiration?

As my ten week term in school draws to a close I can see the light at the end of this term’s tunnel! I am taking next term off to (finally) take the vacation my father got for me on my nnth  (I am actually 29, forever!) birthday. So a much needed adventure is coming my way and I will be blogging about it as I go.europeantravel A month or so of touring Europe (mostly Italy, I think) with my best friend Amanda (yes we are both Amanda’s), hopefully a visit or two with some really great friends of mine, culinary explorations abound, and I should be feeling all kinds of perky when I return to the US of A. Words do not even express my excitement when I think of the potential here! I have only been to the United Kingdom in the past and I love, love, loved it! London has to be one of my favorite cities on earth! I cannot wait to see more of the continent and share it with all of you! There is the small matter of surviving without my precious Griffin, but as they say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Right?

So because of my serious lack of cooking lately I have been collecting recipes from friends and I literally have a file folder bursting at the seams of blogging ideas! sad kittyThe first “guest recipe” comes from my beautiful and great friend J~ and involves one of my favorite (easy) foods to impress with. Scallops! They are rich and buttery and should never, ever be rubbery! Go fresh with scallops avoid the bag of frozen scallops at the local Sam’s Club. Make sure that you rinse them and remove their “necks” (the little piece that makes them uneven circles, it comes off really easily) and always, ALWAYS pat them dry with paper towels before cooking.

The secret to a great seared scallop is to leave them alone! Do not whatsoever touch them until it is time to flip over the You will know their level of doneness by looking at the side of the scallop, when it is half way opaque then you may flip them. The bottom of the scallop when you flip it over should be this beautiful caramelized crust! It takes about two minutes on each size, but that is dependent on the size of your scallop! Watch them, but as I said avoid the urge to peek the searing process takes time. Also it is very important to make sure your pan is HOT. When I say hot I do not mean you pat your scallops dry and turn on the burner. No! Turn on the burner as you are rinsing the scallops and allow the oil to heat a bit, not smoking, but close. It is the heat that gives you the lovely sear. J~’s recipe is beautiful and would be lovely to really impress or just when you want something different than the usual mid-week ho hum chicken or tuna mac. Everyone does that, don’t feel ashamed. Without further ado J~’s recipe in her own words!

Saucy Seared Scallops:scallop


For the Tomato-Butter-Leek Sauce:

2 Tablespoons dry white wine

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons minced shallots (my grocery store was out so I used sweet onions)

1 bay leaf

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 leeks, white part only, sliced

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 

4 small tomatoes, diced

I also added some salt, to taste, but the recipe did not call for it.

For the scallops:

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound sea scallopsScallops Raw

Seasoned bread crumbs

1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest (J~ skipped this, but you could use a splash of lemon juice if you do not feel comfortable with the zester)


1. In a small saucepan, combine the wine, vinegar, shallots, bay leaf and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, or until reduced by half.

2. Add the cream and leeks and cook for 3-5 minutes more, or until the leeks are nearly tender.

3. Whisk in the butter, one piece at a time, and stir until smooth. Add the tomato and cook for one minute. Reduce heat to low to keep sauce warm.

4. Preheat the broiler. 

5. In a large ovenproof skillet, melt 2 Tablespoons butter over medium heat (stove top). Add the scallops and cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until opaque.

6. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and lemon zest and place under broiler, 4 inches from the heat source for 2-3 minutes, or until the crumbs are lightly browned.

7. Serve scallops with sauce.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Birthday/Valentine’s! Have some Brownies!

This post is dedicated to my friends Bree and Andrew who just happen to share a birthday and on a special day, no less!Happy Birthday

It is Valentine’s Day… Not my favorite “holiday” though I am assured by all the “marrieds” in my life that this will change when I finally find that special someone to buy me great things on this day. Just kidding, seriously I am constantly told that my opinion will change when I am no longer a “single” and have someone to share the special meaning of the day with. Until then I am perfectly content to loathe it.valentine'sday (Not my friend’s birthdays but Valentine’s Day in general.) For me this day is rife with the constant covert but yet somehow in your face competitiveness between women… Who gets the prettiest flowers, or who received the most romantic gesture from their partner? To me, romantic gestures, sweet words, or beautiful flowers would mean more on any other day of the year not just the day that is dictated by tradition and a successful marketing campaign developed by Hallmark. pink flowersI have never been a fan of the sympathetic looks or remarks when people ask what my “Valentine” is doing for me… I have only twice had a boyfriend on this day, once in High School and once three years ago. Both ironically enough turned out to be less than amazing at relationships or Valentines.

Though I am a HUGE fan of birthdays! It is like having your own personal holiday. No matter where you are or what you are doing it is your day, permanently. No one can take your birthday from you, just like they cannot take your name. There are few things in life that cannot be taken from us and I think more and more we should celebrate those things.

So as requested by Bree I “cooked” her up something special, and as a special nod to the holiday it is CHOCOLATY! chocolateI am not the biggest fan of chocolate myself; I really have to be in the mood for it. (I know I should hand in my girl card now…) The few recipes I have involving chocolate are amazing though! The one you will find below I did not actually prepare today as it is NOT diet food, and I have spent most of the day finishing a paper for my Composition class. However I assure you it is delicious and has been a big fudgy hit in my household many times. Serve it warm with a big scoop of Vanilla ice cream and maybe some whipped cream and I guarantee people will melt!

Simple Ooey Gooey Fudgy Browniesbrownies


· 1 cup butter (2 sticks)

· 6 squares of unsweetened chocolate

· 4 eggs

· 2 cups sugar

· 1 tablespoon Vanilla extract

· ½ cup All Purpose Flour

· 1 cup semisweet morsels

How To:take a bite

1. Pre heat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit

2. Melt butter and unsweetened chocolate together in a sauce pan

3. In large bowl beat eggs

4. Blend in sugar and add chocolate/butter mix

5. Stir in Flour and Chocolate chips

6. Pour in greased 8 inch pan

7. Bake 45-55 minutes

8. Allow to cool (at least a bit, because they are like molten lava when they come out!) ShabbyBlogsTruffles

Easiest brownies in the world! Enjoy! Be creative! I think you could even melt the chocolate chips with the butter and unsweetened chocolate for an even fudgier brownie! Play with it! And take some pictures so I can see how they turned out! Let me know how your Valentines or birthdays were! Lots of love and warm wishes to all my readers! Happy Valentine’s Day!

bee mine

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Spring is coming and bringing Lemon Ricotta Cake!

What is likely the last snow of the season here in Charlotte fell overnight last night. Merely a dusting here in my area, but enough to make it soft and pretty for a small time until the sun chased it all away. The promise of spring is starting to pop up everywhere. My neighborhood has a flock of Canadian geese that spend spring and fall with us geeses They roost and raise their chicks every year. It is fascinating to watch them return every year and bear witness to their cycle of life. A few years ago a gosling was born missing one of his little webbed feet; he had the leg just no foot. I was saddened because I knew this was likely one that wouldn’t make it and probably would not be chosen as a mate if he did. The next spring he returned with a mate and for several years now has returned and helps raise a whole new brood of goslings.goslings It really is heartwarming! Without that missing little foot, I may never have given a second thought to the fact that it is the same flock of geese each year. Life really is a miraculous succession of events if you look for it.

The recipe I am giving you this week is decidedly NOT a diet food. I give this as a sort of peace offering begging your pardons for being busy with my school work and not getting enough blog posts out! This recipe could easily be converted to a diet recipe and I will tell you at the end how and how many points that would make it. I make no apologies for using real butter and sugar now and then; we have gone over that in the past. Real ingredients cannot hurt you when you eat them now and then! This recipe also gives you the opportunity to use your spring form pan or your Bundt cake pan, which I always find fun!

Lemon Ricotta CakeLemon Ricotta Cake-1


· ¾ cup softened butter

· ¾ cup sugar

· Lemon zest (How much you want depends on how lemony you really want this! I use about a tablespoon worth of lemon zest.)

· Juice from one Lemon

· 3 Large or extra-large eggs, separate the yolks from the whites

· 1 cup Ricotta Cheese

· ½ cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

· 2 teaspoons baking powder

· Dash of salt

How to Make:

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray your spring form or Bundt cake pan, would also work with a regular cake pan, with some Pam type spray. Wipe out any excess; you just want a light coating.

2. Beat together the butter and sugar until you have a light and fluffy looking mix.Creamed butter and sugar

3. Add your lemon zest, lemon juice, yolks, and the ricotta cheese; beat until smooth.Add Ricotta, and Egg Yolks

4. Add in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat until just mixed. Be careful not to over mix.

5. Wash the beaters really well or use different beaters and beat the egg whites until stiff, like making a meringue. Very gently (GENTLY) fold the egg whites into the batter using a spatula.Adding Egg Whites

6. Pour the batter into your cake pan of choice.

7. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the edges are just browned and a fork or cake tester stuck into the center comes out clean.

8. Allow to cool before serving.

I served with this cake topped with a mix of blueberries, a couple packets of Splenda, and about a tablespoon of Fat Free half and half mixed together. Though any fruit would be an excellent topping! Or just plain! This cake is elegant and remarkably simple. This time of year Florida strawberries are in season, the first big mark of the coming season in my humble opinion, and would go great on top of this cake! Makes about eight servings depending on how you cut your slices.Blueberry Topping

To lower the fat content in this cake you could use Fat Free or Reduced Fat Ricotta, replace the butter for a butter substitute, and Splenda instead of sugar. Cut into eight servings it makes it a 7 point dessert on the Weight Watchers Points Plus plan. (A bit heavy points wise, but well worth the indulgence.)detail of lemon ricotta cake

Please enjoy! Play with the recipe and let me know what you do with it! I love feedback!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Just an Update because I miss Y’all!

I have come to the determination that preparing diet food is not really my forte. Though I am trying, I scour my lovely new it isn't working... I love my kitchen too muchcookbooks from Weight Watchers and Hungry Girl. I find I have no real natural talent for interpreting my recipes into healthier versions. Practice makes perfect however and I am certainly doing a lot of practicing.

The other day I decided I would make us this recipe I had for “Red Velvet Cupcakes” straight out of one of these “diet cookbooks”. I was highly skeptical of diet cupcakes but went ahead and tried it. The red part of any red velvet cake/cupcake is usually made up of a lot of red food coloring. In this recipe it was done with pureed beets.beet Let it be known I love a good pickled beet now and then. However, I had never dealt directly with plain canned beets before. Please allow me to just say I am very glad I am not Russian and borsht is not part of my menu. I found these canned beets to be smelly and unappetizing. I kept on with the recipe thinking that surely the cocoa powder and all the other ingredients would cover the beet smell. Let me just say as most of the country was covered in Snowpocalypse 2011… I was left with these beet atrocities. What came out of the oven looked like a cupcake, but was no cupcake… more a frosted beet muffin.Chocolate Beet Cupcake They even tasted of beet, chocolate and beet isn’t the greatest combination. It truly was one of the nastiest things I have ever made. EVER. That includes the “pickle sauce” I made in the fourth grade; which was this green, dill scented uh… sauce and I can assure you was perfectly disgusting. Pickles

I can report that I managed to make it through my second term with a 4.0, even the dreaded, evil, math class. The new term has started and I am taking my first junior level class. So far I am a bit overwhelmed (especially with my desire to write this blog and actually keep up with it). I have joined the gym and I am working out more; I started going everyday but the ugly ballet injury I had as a young girl has complicated this. So I am going to start going every other day until I get that knee used to the when you search angry pictures of Mel Gibson pop up... hmmm....idea of working out regularly. Quitting smoking is still an ongoing project. Though I can say I have not had any at all today and I do not currently have a pack so… Sadly I am not a pleasant person to be around. I am told this will pass.

Currently I am working on getting settled into my classes and Itextbooks have an ongoing project of getting a post out on the care and keeping of Cast Iron pans. Many people do not realize the importance of treating them correctly. Please bear with me and I promise I will get it out to you! I love all of you! The support I have received has been awesome! Please keep an eye out for all my new advertisers! Williams Sonoma! I have hit the big time, just kidding but they are my happy place and now I get to feature them on my page!

Do any of you have favorite “diet type recipes”? Please feel free to share! As always keep cooking and keep being creative!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chicken with Blueberry Sauce?

Being a foodie queen you would think I would be totally open to all foods. I have to admit that I have a few things I refuse to eat. Most of these foods I have at least tried but some I cannot get beyond the mere appearance of the food. For example, raw oysters look like snot to me and I cannot bring myself to try it; despite all the encouragement in the world from friends and family. As the wonderfully precocious and adorable child I was growing up I was a pretty finicky eater.Recently Updated I had rules about my foods. The first was that anything red in color must be hot and therefore not something I wanted to eat. (This included tomatoes and strawberries.) Anyone who attempted to tell me otherwise was immediately written off as completely moronic in my mind. Until I reached kindergarten I had no idea that cookies were anything other than Saltines. (Somehow my mother maintains to this day that this was a good thing she did for me… I blame her for my sweet tooth.) The second rule I established very early was that if my father said something was not hot (spice wise) you by no means are to believe him. JalapeƱos are not pickles and you should never take a “pickle” from any of the pepper bellies in my family. Just saying.Not Pickles Eventually I tried red foods, and realized I was just being silly. Mentally I apologized to all the morons. I still have a list of things I cannot eat. Mushrooms… I think it is a texture thing for me; I dislike rubber. I do not like sweet potatoes… ever. There is no reason in my mind to eat raisins which I inherited from my mother who called them “flies” as she was growing up. Until a couple years ago I had never tried blueberries. I can think of no reason for this except they looked odd to me. There was no pre-existing rule stating I could not eat blue foods. (Blue is my favorite color)
Blueberries are fascinating little bundles of health. They are one of the few fruits native to the Americas and have been used for thousands of years by Native Americans for everything from food to dyes to medicines.blueberries The Calyx of the berry, the little burst open portions at the bottom of the berry forms a perfect five pointed star. The American Indians called them star berries; and told stories that the Great Spirit sent them to feed the children in times of famine. Blueberries play a fascinating role in the Native American’s lives and were often central to their diets. When the colonists came they too were taught the virtues of the berries by the Indians that helped them. To this day America is the top blueberry producer in the world. Blueberries are available year round due to crops grown in the Southern Hemisphere; however they are freshest and best during our summer months.
Just one cup of blueberries contains 80 calories and is a great source of dietary fiber. These little wonders contain about 25 percent of your daily dose of Vitamin C in one serving! They are simply chock full of antioxidants which as you may know fight free radicals in your body. Those free radicals cause all kinds of issues not to mention early signs of aging. Interestingly enough blueberries are one of the few naturally blue fruits in the world. blueberries on the bush
I love blueberries now! They are just amazing. I put them on everything and eat them raw like Skittles. When I came across this recipe though, I was concerned… Heated blueberry sauce? The idea made me think of that horrible glop you find at the IHOP. I just did not believe this would work out. My family was skeptical and sort of wary looking as I presented the beautifully plated food in front of them. That being said, I surprised myself and renewed my faith in blueberries! I can take no credit for this recipe as I pulled it directly from a Weight Watchers magazine. I only made a couple of tweaks here and there, but not enough to call it my own. This recipe was too good to not share though and because I love y’all I will pass it along. It is a bit fancy for every day, but sure to impress when you are having guests over or just want to do something totally different. I realize chicken can get boring!
Chicken with Blueberry Sauce
· 1 tablespoon butter, divided
· ¾ lb. chicken cutlets (about four cutlets) I used the extra thin sliced cutlets because I like at least feeling like I am getting more even if I am not.
· ½ teaspoon salt
· ¼ teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
· ½ cup (2 oz.) shredded Fontina cheese. I used Mozzarella, as I had no Fontina on hand.
· 3 tablespoons apple juice
· 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
· ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
· 1 cup fresh blueberries, I tossed in a little extra.
· 1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme
How to:
1. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in large skillet over medium high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. (Never forget to pat your meat with paper towels, it helps the cooking process) Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Sprinkle with cheese. Keep warm.chicken cutletscheesey chicken
2. Combine apple juice, vinegar, and mustard in small bowl (I just did this in my sauce pan, why dirty up more dishes); stir well with a whisk. Add apple juice mixture to sauce pan (or in my case leave in sauce pan). Simmer one minute. Add blueberries and thyme; simmer two minutes. Stir in remaining 2 teaspoons of butter. Spoon blueberry sauce over chicken.
sauce before blueberriescompleted blueberry sauce
Yield: 4 servings (about one chicken cutlet, or in my extra thin cutlets case two, and 2 tablespoons sauce.
**Weight Watchers points value of 5**
Ginger Green Beans
· 1 12 oz. package of pre-trimmed green beans (I used French style beans)
· 2 tablespoons olive oil
· 2 teaspoons grated, peeled, fresh ginger. (I could not find any at the store, odd I know, so I used my powdered ginger and added 2 extra teaspoons and got a good flavor.)
· Salt and Pepper to taste
How To:
1. Pre-heat oven to 450˚.
2. Combine green beans, olive oil, ginger, salt, and pepper on a foil lined roasting pan or baking sheet. Toss well to coat.Green beans
3. Spread beans into single layer. Bake about 10 minutes or until crisp but tender.greenbeans and olive oil
Yield: 4 servings
**Weight Watchers points value of 1**
plated blueberry chicken
As always enjoy!  Let me know how yours turns out!  Be creative and trust your instincts!  

"Five Ingredient 15 minute Recipes" from Weight Watchers

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Soul Baring and Salmon Cakes

When I started this blog I didn’t intend to only give you food, but a bit of myself as well. (Food is boring without personality, and I have personality in spades.) I do not want to be one of those bloggers who glosses over their life and makes everything sound like it is perfectly fabulous all the time. Life just is not that way. So I will share the good, the bad, and the ugly with you. Honesty is the best policy, right? I am only human after all. As you may already know I am working to lose some weight; it is one of my New Year’s resolutions. Growing up I danced ballet and was quite fit and in shape.I actually have no idea why I am wearing a headband. In fact I was rail thin. Too thin sometimes, but I was proud of my body, especially my abs. I do not believe I owned a shirt that covered my stomach. I worked really hard to look that way; ballet is not an easy sport (yes, I said sport). I dreamt of being a professional dancer. Two bad knees and the threat of surgery caused me to give up that dream and only dance a few classes in college and eventually just around the house.

As much as it pains me to disclose the next fact to you, especially my readers who knew me in those glory days; I am no longer rail thin. (I find this humiliating) Not even close to thin, though not unattractive, just outside the “norm” or current standard of beauty.0718091959 It started when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease; they give you steroids to treat “flare ups” and apparently my body and steroids do not agree with one another. On the plus side I finally developed a chest, and could put away the “chicken cutlets” I had been using to fill out my bra. The downside is I become ravenously hungry for those long periods of steroid treatments. Each time I am put on a steroid treatment I gain weight and every time have to work the weight back off. This last summer (for my 30th birthday) I was in the hospital again and back on steroid treatments and took some home for further treatment. This time I gained around 30 pounds without even trying. I fell into a deep depression because I hadn’t finished getting the last weight gain off from the previous treatment. I swear to you I could eat anything and gain weight. A bag of carrotscarrots could mean five pounds. It is insane what steroids do to my metabolism. I have come to the conclusion that the next time I have a flare up I am going to refuse steroids and tell them to work their medical magic some other way. So now I weigh around 200 pounds, though no one believes me when I reveal that fact, I guess that is a good thing… it means I carry it well. (I am pretty tall for a girl. My measurements remain proportionate, which is a plus.) However having a bra size that could be a vowel except for my refusal to accept that… is all getting to be a bit much and I do not believe I should feel humiliated by my body if I can change it.

I am also working to give up another bad habit… I tend to turn to smoking when I get stressed out. (Bad habit I picked up when I lived with a total loser). quitSmoking is bad for anyone, but especially “foodies” because it alters how you taste foods. (Also makes you stinky, which as a perfume junkie I find repulsive, don’t ask me how I got started in the first damn place.) It is especially bad for me and my Crohn’s disease. My quit date is set for the 31st of January… I am working a program online.  So this New Year is full of changes! Good ones. I look forward to sharing my progress with you along the way.

Being a foodie queen however there are certain things I cannot give up entirely. For example Fat Free cheese is just nasty plastic and I refuse to eat it. You will also not find me ever buying skim milk unless I am having a house guest who drinks it. nastySkim milk is not milk, in my opinion, it is blue water. I will still use butter when necessary, but not as much. I have given it up all together except in baking, or if a recipe specifically calls for it. I also refuse to give up my “mini” cokes. I love Coca Cola and I am not ashamed to admit it. While I have certainly decreased the amount I drink; 12 fl. Oz. is a far cry from the liters of it I could drink in my younger years. Increasing my intake of water and Crystal Light has really helped me cut that habit. So if you are still reading at this point then you probably know more about me than you ever bargained to. But this is what my life is, and what drives my cooking.

Without further ado, my recipes for Salmon Cakes and Cucumber and Grape Tomato salad.

Salmon Cakes


2 5 or 6 oz. cans of Boneless Skinless Pink Salmon, like Bumble Bee.

1/3 cups dry bread crumbs (plain)

3 tablespoons chopped green onions

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (or dried, I didn’t have any fresh)

1 large egg

½ cup finely chopped pine nuts (can increase or decrease this based on preference)

Salt and pepper to taste

Garlic Powder to taste

How to:

1.) Combine ingredients in medium bowl. Make sure the chunks of salmon are good and broken up and all ingredients are mixed well.salmon mix

2.) Shape mixture into small patties.


3.) Heat about two tablespoons of either canola or olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat.

4.) Place patties in heated oil, they should sizzle, cook patties until browned; about 4 minutes on each side.browned

I serve these with a quick and easy Low Fat Tzatziki Sauce. They would be equally good alone though.

Serves three to four people based on how big your patties are.

**Worth 9 Weight Watchers points.**

Cucumber and Tomato Salad


1 package (1 pint) of grape tomatoes, halved.

1-2 large sliced cucumbers (based on your preference)

½ cup 2% Mozzarella Cheese Shredded (Or you could buy the really good stuff and slice it into chunks)

2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice (based on your taste)

1-2 tablespoons of fresh chopped basil (again more or less based on your taste)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.

How To:

1.) Mix your cucumbers and tomatoes in a bowl cumcumber tomato mix

2.) Add seasonings, including chopped basilwith seasoning

3.) Pour lemon juice and olive oil over the salad and mix well.

4.) Stir in Mozzarella cheese.

5.) Allow to sit for a while. (Frankly this was even better the second day!) finished salad

This will serve about five people and is worth an amazing 2 Weight Watcher points! Thus the reason I serve it with the higher point salmon cakes!

Quick and Easy Tzatziki Sauce


¼ - ½ cup of plain low fat yogurtyogurt

1 peeled, seeded, and grated cucumber

½ teaspoon grated lemon rind

1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (based on how tart you like it)

Salt to your preference

(The recipe does not call for it but I always throw in some dill, because I love, LOVE dill.)

How to:

1.) Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Tzatziki

2.) Serving size to stick with points is ¼ of a cup. (Though you could use up to a half cup)

**Worth 2 Weight Watchers points. **

Salmon Cake Plated