Thursday, May 29, 2008

Deluxe Mashed Potatoes

Adapted from
4 large potatoes, peeled & cubed
4 oz. fat free cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
3 Babybel Light Cheese Pieces
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Spray an au gratin dish with cooking spray.

Cover potatoes with water in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender; drain. Mash until smooth. Mix in cream cheese, sour cream, Babybel, garlic salt, onion salt, and pepper.

Spread in au gratin dish. Sprinkle top with paprika and Parmesan cheese.

Bake 35-40 minutes.

Caramel Apple Pork Chops

Adapted from
4 boneless pork chops
3 tablespoons Splenda brown sugar blend, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter
2 tart apples - peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup reduced sugar apple juice
3 tablespoons almonds

Preheat oven to 350. Line a casserole dish with foil.

Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons Spelnda Brown Sugar Blend. Add apples. Cook 5-6 minutes; turning often.

Place pork chops in prepared pan. Pour apple mixture evenly on top of pork chops. Pour apple juice over pork chops and apples. Cover with foil. Bake 20 minutes.

Remove foil sprinkle remaining brown sugar blend and almonds on top. Bake an additional 15 minutes.

Strawberry Vanilla Jam

2 cups crushed strawberries
2 cups Splenda Blend Sugar
3 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
2 packs Sure Jell
1 cup water
5-6 jelly containers

Combine strawberries, sugar, and vanilla bean paste in large bowl. Stir until well mixed. Let sit at least 10 minutes; stirring occasionally.

In a small saucepan combine Sure Jell and water. Bring to a boil on high. Boil 1 minute stirring constantly.

Pour Sure Jell mixture into fruit mixture. Stir constantly for 3 minutes or until Splenda Sugar Blend is completely dissolved.

Pour into prepared containers.

Let stand at room temperature 24 hours until set.

Can store in refrigerator 1 month or freezer 1 year.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Brown Sugar Apple Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours p.127
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, at room temperature (I used 1/2 regular, 1/2 light)
1/2 cup apple butter
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup finely ground pecans
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt and cloves.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Add the pecans and give the mixer a couple of turns, just to get the nuts into the dough.

Using a rubber spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9×10-1/2-inch rectangle that’s 1/4-inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1-1/2 inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale - they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack.

If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 package Pillsbury Reduced Sugar Devils Food Cake Mix
3/4 cup apple sauce
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 bag mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Chipotle BBQ Sauce

From People magazine

2 cups tomato sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp yellow mustard
1/3 cup chipotle hot sauce

In a medium saucepan, combine ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring often for 15 minutes or until well blended.

Dr BBQ's Sweet Potato Pie with Jack Daniels

From People magazine

3 large sweet potatoes
1/3 cup butter
1/3 sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 half and half
1-1/2 oz Jack Daniels
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 premade 9" pie crusts

Peel and cube sweet potatoes. Place them in a large saucepan and cover with salted water. Bring to a simmer and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Drain, mash and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, half and half, Jack Daniel's, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Add the sweet potatoes and mix until well blended.

Pour into the pie shells and bake for about 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream if desired.

Blue Cheese Cole Slaw

From People magazine

1- 16 oz package shredded cole slaw mix
1 cup mayo
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sugar

Place the cole slaw mix in a large bowl and toss to separate. In medium bowl mix together the remaining ingredients. Pour the mayo mixture over the slaw mix. Toss well to coat completely. Let rest for 5 minutes and toss again. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Key Lime Coconut Madeleines

Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours

(I don't have a Madeleine pan so I used a mini muffin pan.)

⅔ cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup sugar
Grated zest of 4 key limes
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
5 tablespoons light butter, melted and cooled
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Working in a mixer bowl, or in a large bowl, rub the sugar and key lime zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the eggs to the bowl. Working with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale, thick and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. With a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, or for up to 2 days. This long chill period will help the batter form the hump that is characteristic of madeleines. (For convenience, you can spoon the batter into the Madeleine molds, cover and refrigerate, then bake the cookies directly from the fridge; see below for instructions on prepping the pans.)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 12 full-size Madeleine molds, or up to 36 mini Madeleine molds, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Or, if you have a nonstick pan (or pans), give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. If you have a silicone pan, no prep is needed. Place the pan(s) on a baking sheet.

Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each one almost to the top. Don't worry about spreading the batter evenly, the oven's heat will take care of that. Bake large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes, and minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden and the tops spring back when touched. Remove the pan(s) from the oven and release the madeleines from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Gently pry any recalcitrant madeleines from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature.

If you are making minis and have more batter, bake the next batch(es), making certain that you cool, then properly prepare the pan(s) before baking.
Just before serving, dust the madeleines with confectioners' sugar.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Key Lime Coconut Cheesecake

Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours Tall & Creamy Cheesecake pg 235-237
For the crust:
2 cups reduced fat cinnamon graham cracker crumbs, finely crushed
1/2 cup toasted coconut
5 tablespoons lite butter, melted

For the filling:
3- 8 oz packages cream cheese, at room temp (I used two 1/3 less fat and 1 fat free)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
3 eggs (I used All Whites)
1 cup fat free sour cream
2 cups toasted coconut
5 key limes, zested & juiced

To toast the coconut:
Preheat oven to 300.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread coconut evenly on paper.

Bake tossing coconut every five minutes until coconut is nicely toasted.

To make the crust:
Spray a 9 inch springform pan generously with cooking spray. Wrap the bottom in a double layer of foil going up the sides.

In a small bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and butter with a fork until well combined. Dump crumb mixture into the bottom of the springform pan. Use your fingers to pan an even layer of crumbs over the bottom of the pan and about half way up the sides. Don't worry if the sides are not perfectly even.

Preheat oven to 350.

Place crust in freezer for 10 minutes. Remove crust from freezer and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust on a cooling rack to cool while making the filling.

Reduce oven temp to 325.

To make the cheesecake:
Boil 4 cups water.
Working with a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, and the sugar and salt and continue to beat for another four minutes, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla and key lime juice and zest. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the sour cream. Slowly add in the coconut.

Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in a roasting pan that is large enough to hold the pan with some space around uit.

Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that there is nothing left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour the water into it to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top should be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little over the edge of the pan. Turn the oven off and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. All the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.

After 1 hour, carefully remove from the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster - be careful there may be some hot water in the foil - and remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.

When the cake is cool, cover the top and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

At serving time, remove the sides of the springform pan using a hairdryer for easy release.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Recipe adapted from Cuisinart
1-1/2 cups fat free milk
1-1/2 cups fat free half and half
2 tablespoons pure vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup All Whites
1/3 cup Splenda Sugar Blend

Combine milk, half and half, and vanilla bean paste in a pot. Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a medium mixing bowl combine All Whites and Splenda. Mix until smooth.

Pour out one cup of the hot liquid. With the mixer on low speed and the hot liquid to the egg mixture.When thoroughly combined, pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Transfer to a bowl, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap placed directly on the custard, and chill completely.

Turn the machine ON, pour the chilled custard into the freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 25-30 minutes.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Florida Pie

Adapted from Baking From My Home To Yours

1 9-inch graham cracker crust, fully baked and cooled, or a store-bought crust
1 1/3 cups fat free evaporated milk
1 bag shredded sweetened coconut
4 large eggs, separated
1 14-ounce can fat free sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh Key Lime juice
1/4 cup of sugar

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment of a silicone mat.

Put the evaporated milk and 1 cup of the coconut in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring almost constantly. Continue to cook and stir until the milk is reduced by half and the mixture is slightly thickened. Scrape the coconut cream into a bowl and set it aside while you prepare the lime filling.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl beat the egg yolks at high speed until thick and pale. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the condensed milk. Still on low, add half of the lime juice. When it is incorporated, add the reaming juice, again mixing until it is blended.

Spread the coconut cream in the bottom of the graham cracker crust, and pour the lime filling on top.

Bake the pie for 12 minutes. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes, then freeze the pie for at least 1 hour.
To Finish the Pie with Meringue:
Put the 4 egg whites and the sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, whisking all the while, until the whites are hot to the touch.

Transfer the whites to a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer in a large bowl, and beat the whites at high speed until they reach room temperature and hold firm peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold the remaining coconut into the meringue.
Spread the meringue over the top of the pie, and run the pie under the broiler until the top of the meringue is golden brown. (Or, if you've got a blowtorch, you can use it to brown the meringue.)
Return the pie to the freezer for another 30 minutes or for up to 3 hours before serving.

Ranger Cookies

Adapted from What's Cooking Recipe Exchange Apr/May ‘08
1/2 c light butter or nonfat plain yogurt
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c Splenda brown sugar blend (packed)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 c oats
1 c Cinnamon Pecan Special K
1/4 c shredded coconut
1/4 c butterscotch chips

Heat oven to 375.

Blend first 9 ingredients. Stir in oats, cereal, coconut, and butterscotch chips.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for about 10 minutes.
***If using yogurt the cookies are best when they are warm. They get a little chewy after the first day.***

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Chicken, Ham, & Pineapple Kabobs

Chicken Breast Tenderloins, Cubed
Ham Steak, Cubed
Pineapple, Cubed
1 cup bbq sauce

Skewer pineapple, then chiken, then ham; repeat.

Brush with bbq sauce.

Grill until done.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Upside-Down Banana Pecan French Toast

Adapted from Betty Crocker Most Requested Recipes Brunch

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/8 cup brown sugar corn syrup
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 bananas, sliced
1 loaf sliced brown sugar cinnamon bread (I used Pepperidge Farm)
4 eggs (I used 3/4 cup All Whites)
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla

Spray bottom and sides of an 8 x 8 baking dish with cooking spray.

In a bowl combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and pecans; stir until smooth. Gently stir in bananas. Spoon mixture into the baking dish.

Reserve heels of the bread for another use. Arrange 2 layers of bread on banana mixture, tearing bread to fit if needed.

In a bowl combine eggs, milk, and vanilla until well mixed. Pour over bread.

Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 1 hour but no longer than 24 hours.

Heat oven to 325. Uncover casserole and bake 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve portions upside-down, spooning sauce from bottom of dish over each serving.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Baked Chipotle Beer Mac & Cheese

3 Tablespoons Flour
1 1/2 Cups Fat Free Buttermilk Milk
1/8 cup chipotle sauce
1 bottle beer
3 Cups 1% Shredded Cheese
1 box pasta
1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350.

Cook pasta according to directions on box. Drain; set aside.

In same pot combine buttermilk and flour; stir. Add in chipotle sauce and beer. Bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes stirring constantly.

Add in cheese; stir until melted. Mix in cooked pasta.

Pour in a casserole dish sprayed with Pam. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Amano Chocolates

I won free Amano Chocolates from Blake at I was hoping to get it in time for Andrew's birthday cake. But it didn't make it. It came FedEx first thing this morning. I don't eat chocolate. My first thought was to make Andrew chocolate ice cream. But my grandma was coming over so I decided to make chocolate chip cookies and have a taste test with the different chocolates.
Andrew and my grandma both liked the chocolates in the same order. Below they are ranked with #1 being their favorite:

#1 Cuyagua Limited Edition Dark Chocolate: Rich chocolate flavor with flavor notes of spice and melon.

#2 Ocumare Grand Cru Dark Chocolate: Rich chocolate flavor with flavor notes of red fruit.

#3 Madagascar Premium Dark Chocolate:Light chocolate flavor with intense flavor notes of citrus and raspberry.

Garlic Cheddar Biscuit Cups

1 cup self rising flour
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup fat free buttermilk
1 tsp minced roasted garlic

Combine above ingredients in a mixing bowl with a fork.

Fill greased muffin cups 3/4 full of batter.

Bake at 425 for 17-20 minutes or until golden brown.

***Makes 3 giant muffin cup biscuits. I baked them at 350 for 30-35 minutes.***

Self Rising Flour


To make 1 cup of self-rising flour, take 1 cup all-purpose flour and add 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Caramel Banana Bread

3 bananas, mashed
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons Buttershots
3 tablespoons All Whites
1 cup flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/3 cup Splenda Blend Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Sugar Free Caramel Ice Cream Topping
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Spray mini loaf pan with cooking spray.

Combine above ingredients with a mixer.

Fill wells of loaf pan 2/3 full. I used an ice cream scoop and put 2 scoops in each well.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Peanut Butter Torte

Recipe adapted from Baking From My Home To Yours
¾ c. finely chopped unsalted peanuts
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 c. mini chocolate chips
34 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender
5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt
2 ½ c. heavy cream
1 ¼ c confectioners’ sugar, sifted
12 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ c reduced sugar peanut butter
2 tablespoons fat free half and half
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped

Getting ready: center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Springform pan.

Toss ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan (they should go up about 2 inches on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in ¼ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.
Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, ¼ cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk.

Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Scrape the mouse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.
To Finish The Torte: put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan.

Bring the remaining ½ cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and, working with a a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy.

Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.

When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the Springform pan; it’s easiest to warm the pan with a hairdryer, and then remove the sides, but you can also wrap a kitchen towel damped with hot water around the pan and leave it there for 10 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Peanut Butter Crunch Pie

Recipe adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours
Reduced Fat Graham Cracker Crust
½ c. finely chopped unsalted peanuts
1 tsp Splenda blend sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 ¾ c. heavy cream
¼ c confectioners’ sugar
1/3 c confectioners’ sugar
4 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ c reduced sugar peanut butter

Toss the chopped peanuts, Splenda, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl set aside.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in ¼ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter.

Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Scrape the mouse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Veggie & Mozz Pasta Salad

1 box pasta
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 c. broccoli florets, diced
1 1/2 c. grape tomatoes, halved
1 c. petite carrots, halved
1 green bell pepper, diced
12 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed
1 bottle fat free Italian Dressing

In large pot, cook pasta according to manufacturers directions. Rinse with cold water. Toss with olive oil.

Toss pasta with vegetables and cheese. Slowly add in dressing. Toss and add more dressing as needed.

Chill until ready to serve.

Antipasto Pasta Salad

Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 box tricolor rotini pasta
1 tablespoon minced roasted garlic
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning (I used McCormick Grinders)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 package sliced provolone cheese, diced
1 package sliced salami, diced
1 package diced ham
2 tablespoons parsley
2 tablespoons basil

Combine 2 tablespoons salt, the olive oil, and 4 quarts water in a large pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the rotini and cook, stirring occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking together, until just al dente, about 9 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash together the garlic and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add the balsamic vinegar, Italian Seasoning, black pepper, red pepper, parsley, and basil. Whisk to blend. Gradually whisk in the olive oil.

Drain the rotini and rinse under cold running water until cool. Add to the vinaigrette, along with the provolone, salami, and ham. Toss to mix. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Let the salad return to room temperature before serving.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Butternut Squash and Vanilla Risotto

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
4 cups vegetable broth (I used 2 14 oz cans)
1 large vanilla bean
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (I used a melon baller to scoop it out. Much easier than peeling.)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

In a medium saucepan, warm the broth over medium-high heat. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and add them, and the bean, to the broth. When the broth comes to a simmer reduce the heat to low. Add the butternut squash to the simmering broth and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. (I cooked an additional 8 minutes in the microwave to soften it up.) Using a slotted spoon remove the butternut squash to a side dish. Turn the heat on the broth down to very low and cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition to of the broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total. Discard the vanilla bean. Turn off the heat. Gently stir in the butternut squash and Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Sweet Dinner Rolls

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons Splenda Blend sugar
3 tablespoons All Whites
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon spray butter
1 tablespoon honey

Place water and milk in microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute or until liquids reach (110 degrees F/45 degrees C). Stir in sugar to dissolve. Add in yeast and let set for 10-20 minutes to proof (the mixture will be foamy).

Mix 3 cups of the flour, the salt, egg, and butter in a food processor. Add in the yeast mixture. Add remaining flour. Once a dough ball forms run an additional 45 seconds.

Spray a bowl with cooking spray. Put the dough ball in turning to coat it. Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place for an hour.

Punch down dough and divide into balls. Let rise an additional 45-60 minutes.

Mix 1 tablespoon spray butter with 1 tablespoon honey. Microwave 45 seconds. Spread on tops of rolls.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and bake the rolls for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Strawberry Banana Trifle

4 cups strawberries, sliced
3 bananas, sliced
1 angel food cake, cubed
1 container fat free cool whip
1 package sugar free french vanilla pudding, mixed according to package directions

In trifle dish layer 1/2 cake, 1/2 strawberries, 1/2 pudding, 1/2 bananas, 1/2 Cool Whip. Repeat layers. Chill until ready to serve.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Kielbasa Fried Rice

cooking spray
1 heaping tablespoon dried minced onion
1 heaping tablespoon minced onion
1 can peas, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 package kielbasa sausage, cut into 1/2 inch dice (I used turkey)
3 cups white rice, cooked
1/4 cup soy sauce to taste, divided
4 eggs (I used All Whites)

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add in onions and garlic. Heat until garlic begins to brown. Add in 1/8 cup soy sauce. Stir in kielbasa; cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add rice, peas, and corn.

Beat 1 egg, and mix thoroughly into rice. One at a time, beat and stir the remaining eggs into the rice. Add in other half of soy sauce. Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and cook 10 minutes, stirring often.

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

For the strawberries:
3 cups strawberries, cut up
2 heaping tablespoons Splenda Sugar Blend
Juice from 1 lemon

For the ice cream:
1 cup skim milk
2 cups fat free half and half
1/3 cup Splenda Sugar Blend
1 tablespoon vanilla

Combine the ingredients for the strawberries in a large pourable measuring cup. Let sit for at least 2 hours.

Combine ice cream ingredients. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Pour juice from strawberries into mixture; stir.

Pour into ice cream machine. Run 25 minutes. Pour in strawberries. Run ice cream machine an additional 5 minutes.