Friday, February 25, 2011

Babies, Beans and Bars


Today I hosted a baby shower for two moms in my play group that will be having baby boys very soon.
One of the mommies has a gluten intolerance, so the challenge for this party was to have snacks available that she was able to enjoy with us. There are many gluten free boxed cake mixes and gluten free cakes to buy at bakeries, but for anyone that knows me that was just not an option. In researching the gluten free recipes out there many of them called for ingredients that you couldn't pronounce and if I can't pronounce it, I don't want to be eating it. I finally came across a recipe with normal ingredients, that had great reviews and I had all the ingredients already. Can you guess the secret ingredient that was used in place of flour????
Black Beans!
Yep, you read it right!
For a cake with no flour in it that is high in fiber and protein, I thought it turned out really well. Especially with heaps of peanut butter icing on top

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
recipe adapted from here
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray two 6″ round cake pans with baker's cooking spray. Blend the beans, 2 eggs, vanilla and sugar in a blender on high until completely blended. In a small bowl whisk together the cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda. In a large bowl, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the remaining two eggs and beat well after each egg. Beat in the bean mixture. Beat in the dry ingredients. Beat for 1-2 minutes. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 40-45 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Flip the cake out onto a cooling rack. Allow for both layers to cool completely before icing.

I also made these Cranberry White Chocolate Bars...........just in case the black beans flopped on me!

White Chocolate Cranberry Bars
recipe adapted from here

1 box (18.25 oz.) yellow cake mix
1 box (3.25 oz.) instant vanilla pudding
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 c white chocolate chips
3/4 c dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine first five ingredients and stir until well combined. Add chocolate chips and cranberries and stir until they are evenly mixed in.

Spread batter into a lightly greased 9 x 13" pan. The mixture will be really thick.

Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until top is a light, golden brown, and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan and cut into bars.

The fish taco contest is almost halfway over! If you have a moment please vote for my "Jerk Fish Taco with Maple Mango Slaw" here on facebook until March 15th. There is no limit on the amount of times you can vote, and the prize is an iPad!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Alaska Fish Taco

A couple of months ago I saw an add for a fish taco recipe contest put on by the Alaska Fish Board. Fish tacos are one of my favorite things, so I decided to give the contest a try. The grand prize was a 3 day trip to Santa Monica, a nice dinner out, a video camera and Olympus camera, a trip to Universal Studios and a Visa gift card!

I didn't win the grand prize, but my recipe was chosen as one of twenty to be in the "fan favorite" portion of the contest. From now until March 15th, you can vote every day, and the recipe with the most votes wins an apple iPad!

Here is my recipe, and the link to vote:

Alaska Jerk Fish Tacos with Maple Mango Slaw
Lauren, Austin, TX
Serves: 4 (2 tacos per serving)
1/8 cup Mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. Orange juice
1 Tbsp. Maple syrup
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 3/4 cup Jicama, julienned
1 cup shredded Red cabbage
1/2 cup Green onion, thinly
Mango, peeled and diced
1 1/2 # Alaska Cod
2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Jerk Seasoning blend
1/2 tsp. salt
Non-stick cooking spray, as needed
8 Yellow corn tortillas
1 lime, sliced into wedges


To make the slaw whisk the mayonnaise, orange juice, maple syrup, salt and pepper until well combined in a medium mixing bowl. Add jicama, cabbage, green onion, and mango and stir until vegetables are coated with the dressing. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.For the fish, pre-heat a large non stick skillet over medium high heat and coat with cooking spray. Cut cod into 1-inch thick finger like pieces, and sprinkle evenly with salt and Jerk Seasoning. Place half of the fish in the pan and cook three-five minutes.Flip fish pieces, and cook another three minutes or until fish begins to flake. Remove cooked pieces from the pan, and wrap in foil to keep warm. Cook second batch and place in foil to keep warm. While fish is cooking wrap tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave 30 seconds or until warmed through and pliable. To assemble tacos, place fish on warmed tortillas, top with slaw and serve with lime wedges to be squeezed on top.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

In my son's class today they will be exchanging Valentine's and having a Valentine's Day party. I thought it might be a little sweeter to pass out something homemade to his classmates instead of the typical sucker and card combo. My kids had a lot of fun helping me bake these and I love any reason to bake! I hope everyone has a great Valentine's Day!

On The Menu this Week:
Monday: Roasted Eggplant and Zucchini Baked Rigatoni with Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Wednesday: Tacos Al Pastor with Pico de Gallo Rice

Friday: Meatloaf with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Lemon Steamed Broccoli

If you would like to order any meals this week, or get on the weekly e mail list just let me know!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Iron Man Muffins

February 5 was "World Nutella Day" so of course every food blog I love was featuring a new and inventive way to use Nutella. Muffins, cookies, pies, milkshakes, fried pies, you get the idea!

I came across a recipe for Banana Nutella Muffins, and as soon as I saw them I knew I had to make them........and give them away. You see, I have a friend that is full on addicted to the Nutella and banana combo. Iron Mikey is the most love-able and inspiring person I have ever met, and I am blessed to be able to consider him a friend. I would adopt him if that were possible. So if you knew a person like that, wouldn't you make him a muffin filled with his favorite things?

I thought so.
So that's what I did.

After Louis' birthday dinner got canceled we planned to head to Uchiko on a double date with Mikey, and I brought these along with me. I really hope he liked them, I know my kids gobbled them up!

Banana Nutella Muffins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
About 1/2 cup Nutella

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture. In well, mix together butter, oil, bananas, eggs and vanilla. Stir to incorporate flour mixture (do not overmix). Dividing evenly, spoon batter into muffin cups. With a toothpick, swirl in the Nutella, about 1 teaspoon each. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes. Remove muffins from pan; cool completely on a wire rack.

Ham and Cheddar Pretzel Bites

I was on the hunt for a recipe for a snack to bring to a Valentine's themed play date on Friday and while looking through all of my recipes I realized I had this recipe saved in four different places. I didn't want to make anything sweet since I knew cookies and brownies were already going to be there, so this was perfect. The steps may seem long, but they were really easy to pull together and I think the result was well worth it.

Ham and Cheddar Pretzel Bites
adapted from Gourmet magazine

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water (110-115°F)
1 cup warm milk (110-115°F)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped ham
1/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Stir together yeast, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, and warm water in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, 5 to 8 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.) In a separate bowl, stir remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar into warm milk until dissolved.
Add 2 1/2 cups flour and milk mixture to yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a soft dough forms, adding up to 1/2 cup additional flour, a little at a time, if necessary. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times to form a smooth ball. Transfer to a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and bubbles appear on surface, about 2 hours.
just mixed dough:
after rising:
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in upper and lower thirds. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust your hands with flour, then gently roll and stretch 1 piece of dough to form a 12-inch-long rope. Flatten dough and arrange so a long side is nearest you, then roll out to a roughly 12- by 4-inch rectangle with a lightly floured rolling pin. Gently press one fourth of ham and cheese into lower third of rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border along bottom edge. Stretch bottom edge of dough up over filling and press tightly to seal, then roll up as tightly as possible to form a rope. Cut rope into 12 pieces and transfer to a sheet pan. Make 3 more ropes with remaining dough, ham, and cheese and cut into pieces, transferring to sheet pans. Let rest at room temperature, uncovered, 30 minutes (dough will rise slightly).
Bring water (6 cups) to a boil in a 4-to 5-quart saucepan. Reduce heat and stir in baking soda. Cook pretzel bites in batches in gently simmering water, turning once, until slightly puffed, about 20 seconds. Transfer with a slotted spoon to sheet pans.

Bake until puffed and golden-brown, about 15 minutes

Brush warm pretzel bites with butter and sprinkle with kosher salt

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

More Adorable Sweaters


There is another great giveaway on Evy's Tree blog. Be sure to check out her adorable clothes and enter to win one for yourself!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Superbowl Snacks and Supper for the Week

Shouldn't every day start out this way?
The morning of Super Bowl Sunday I got up and started prepping for the various snacks we would have that evening:
Guacamole and Chips
Red Pepper Hummus and Pita Chips
Crescent Wrapped Turkey Dogs with Honey Mustard dip
Asian Sesame Slaw
Creamy Veggie Ranch Pasta Salad
Bacon Stuffed Deviled Eggs
Ribs and The Pioneer Woman's Salsa brought by some friends
I've seen the recipe for The Pioneer Woman's salsa before but never made it myself. Now that I've tasted it, I'll probably be making it tomorrow.........yes, it's that good!

One of the many snacks I decided to make for our Super Bowl get together were these Bacon Cheese Spirals
Lay out Crescent dough and mash together all the seams. Then spread with a mixture of cream cheese and mashed roasted garlic. Layer on top of that smoked gouda cheese, crumbled bacon and green onions. Roll the whole thing up, slice into 1/2 inch slices and bake until golden.

What's on the Menu for dinners this week:
Monday- Creamy Artichoke and Lemon Chicken Pasta

Wednesday- Chipotle Honey Pork Cutlets with Southwest Quinoa Salad
(I'll post a picture once I make it)

Friday- Beef and Black Bean Chili

Watermelon Obsession

I have never been very fond of watermelon. I know some people live for watermelon on a hot summer day, but I could take it or leave it.
Usually I leave it.
But today I think I found the sweetest watermelon out there........
The Watermelon Brilla
Pale, pale pink polka on white ruffles, sewn on with watermelon thread and finished with a lime green and bubblegum pink flower.
This is quite possibly the cutest thing I've seen in a long time and until midnight tonight if you stop by Evy's Tree you could enter to win one for yourself!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

This past weekend was my husband's birthday and I was determined to surprise him and make it the best weekend I could. I researched bike stands and bike tool kits weeks before making sure I was getting the right thing even though I know nothing about bikes or what would make them work better. I found, interviewed and set up a fabulous new babysitter without him having a clue all so I could bring him to an amazing restaurant that he swears everyone in Austin has been to except him.

Uchi is "that" restaurant in Austin. Everyone raves about it; the service, the decor, the food and especially the desserts. Even knowing that we were going to one of the best restaurants in Austin with a fantastic pastry chef creating one of a kind desserts, I just couldn't let there be no cake at home waiting for us. I just couldn't.

Knowing how much my husband loves chocolate I decided to make a triple chocolate mousse cake. It is a rich, dense bittersweet chocolate cake topped with a chocolate mousse and then a layer of white chocolate mousse. Of course, for any sane person it would be perfectly acceptable to stop here..........but no, I also decided to make chocolate ice cream to go with it.

Saturday night comes, the fabulous new babysitter gets here, I come downstairs dressed and ready to show her last minute things before heading out the door, and it happens...............our son starts puking everywhere. Apparently there is a really bad stomach bug being passed around right now, and Saturday was our night to be hit with it. I am sure this will not be the last time one of our kids being sick will cause us to change our plans for the evening, but I am so glad we had this waiting for us in the fridge when it happened!

Pickle Baked Chicken Tenders with Creamy Chili Honey Sauce

Thanks to Hellmann’s 100% Recycled Plastic Bottles and the “Real Taste, Less Waste” challenge I get to share with you a kitchen hack that...