Saturday, June 25, 2011


Courtney, this recipe is for you! It's a re-mix of the blueberry cake you enjoyed two years ago which I'm finally getting around to posting. It has the right amount of sour cream and non-fat half and half which makes it tender and moist. And it's pretty easy to make. Here's the recipe.

Blueberry Coffee Cake

Topping (Crumble)
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup AP flour
2 T unsalted butter
2T canola oil
1/4 cup Splenda no calorie sweetener (granulated sugar works fine too)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Dry Ingredients
1-1/2 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients
6 T unsalted butter softened
2 T canola oil
1 cup Splenda no calorie sweetener (or sugar)
1/4 cup fat free half and half
1/2 cup light sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pint blueberries, washed and patted dry

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8" x 8" pan with cooking spray and dust lightly with flour. I like the disposable aluminum pans from the grocery store. Place blueberries in a strainer and sprinkle with a tablespoon of flour. Shake out excess flour. This coating will prevent the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the cake. Set the berries aside.

I like to prepare the topping first. In small bowl combine all crumble ingredients and set aside.

Now on to the cake. In mid size bowl combine the dry ingredients and whip with a whisk to incorporate.

In large bowl, with hand mixer combine butter, canola oil and Splenda and mix until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and mix, then vanilla, sour cream and half and half. Combine well. Add the dry ingredients in two batches, scraping down the sides of your bowl as you go and mix until smooth. Fold in blueberries and pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle the topping on the cake and press down lightly with your clean hands to make it stick to the batter. Bake 35 to 45 minutes and remove to cooling rack. Let cool at least 30 minutes before you dig in.

Slice into 9 portions and enjoy. I can't think of a better way to kick off the summer fruit season!

Re-mix: If you're feeling nutty, add some chopped walnuts to the batter (1/2 cup). And if that isn't enough nuts for you, add 2 tablespoons to the topping. Also, I have made this recipe with fresh peaches as the star and some haphazard blueberries thrown into the mix and it's also quite good. Tip- If you want to make this with frozen blueberries, don't defrost them or your batter has the chance of turning blue.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Vegetable Rice Pilaf

It was time to go through the fridge and do something with last weeks unused produce. I had half an onion, one lonely carrot, a green pepper and a package of button mushrooms that were desperately looking for attention. I also had an abundance of Near East Rice Pilaf bought on sale for a dollar a box that somehow seemed to fit into the mix. I decided to try a vegetable pilaf (you know how I love the combo of rice and orzo) and figured vegetable pilaf would go great with the two chicken breasts that also needed to be cooked. The chicken recipe- so easy I'm embarrased to post it. You can find it on any can of French's Onion Rings. It's quite good and I recommend it.

The pilaf, that's my contribution and it turned out great. Simple, versatile, yummy and a quick fix.

Vegetable Pilaf

1 box Near East Rice Pilaf Original flavor

1-1/2 tsp canola oil

1/2 medium size onion diced

1 carrot diced

1 green pepper diced

8 oz mushrooms chopped



1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Cook rice according to package directions (I add 1 T of butter to the boiling water for richness and flavor). While rice is cooking, warm canola oil in large skillet on medium heat, then add diced onion, carrot and green pepper. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes if using. Cook a few minutes and add chopped mushrooms. Cook all vegetables until soft. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

When rice is done, fluff with a fork and combine the veggies with the rice. If you're a fan of Parmesan, top the pilaf with a teaspoon or two of cheese.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Last night I made a macaroni salad that's devilishly good. It's a marriage of deviled eggs and macaroni and is the perfect side for burgers, hot dogs or anything grilled. It's easy to make and you most likely have all the ingredients in your fridge and pantry.

Deviled Macaroni Salad

5 eggs hard boiled and diced
2 cups uncooked macaroni (I use Dreamfield's low carb)
2 celery stalks diced
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
2 T yellow mustard
2 T sweet relish
1/4 cup light sour cream
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp hot sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper

Hard boil the eggs.

To get nice looking eggs with no green ring around the yolk, put the eggs in a medium sized pot, cover with cold water and cook on high heat. When water boils, cover pot and remove from heat. Let eggs sit covered for 8 minutes. Run cooked eggs under cold water or cool them in an ice bath. When cool, peel and dice. I promise you...perfect eggs.

Cook macaroni according to package directions and run under cold water to cool. In large bowl add macaroni, chopped eggs and diced celery. To make the dressing combine the remainder of the ingredients and whisk until incorporated. Pour dressing over macaroni mixture and combine. Chill and serve. This recipe's a keeper.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Caesar Salad (no raw eggs invited)

Anne Burrell is possibly my favorite chef on the Food Network. Her flavors are as bold and big as her personality and her recipes never disappoint. A few months ago she did a show that featured a Caesar dressing that didn't include raw eggs. I bookmarked that in my memory and finally made it today. Delish. I changed her recipe slightly because I didn't have all the ingredients she specified. However success was achieved. It was cheesy, garlicky and as good as the real thing!

Caesar Dresssing
1/2 cup shredded Romano cheese (Anne used 1 cup grated Parmesan- that sounded like a lot to me so I cut back on the amount, plus I only had shredded in my fridge)
2 lemons juiced
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1-1/2 T Dijon mustard (Anne used 2 T)
1 tsp anchovy paste (Anne used 3-4 anchovies)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

In large bowl combine all ingredents and whisk until combined. Anne used a food processor but I chose the old fashioned method.

4 slices Italian bread sliced into 1/2 to 1 inch squares
2 cloves of garlic smashed
1/2 cup olive oil
Kosher salt

In medium to large skillet, on medium heat, add oil and smashed garlic. Cook the garlic until it becomes warm and amber colored and the aroma permeates the room. Do not cook the garlic too long or it will burn. Remove garlic from oil, lower heat slightly and add bread cubes and a pinch or two of salt. Cook cubes until golden. This happens pretty quickly, so don't take your eyes away from the pan. Remove croutons and drain on paper towels.

To assemble the salad for 4 people I used one Romaine lettuce heart and left the leaves whole (that's what Anne did) and I loved the informality of the presentation. Drizzle lettuce with dressing and garnish with croutons. Add freshly ground pepper if desired.