Friday, December 28, 2012

Melissa's French Eggs

On Friday night I never plan an elaborate dinner. It's the end of the work week and I just like to let the chips fall and see what's leftover in the fridge or throw a quick sandwich together. So wasn't I delighted to read Melissa's blog post today for the simplest and most heavenly baked egg dish ever. She makes her eggs in a muffin pan. I still don't have one so used my new square "whatchmacallit" pan and the dish was great. I added spinach because I had some, and was very happy with the results. If you're looking for a quick breakfast, lunch or dinner, here it is.

Baked Eggs
Makes 2 servings

4 large eggs
1/4-1/3 cup fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Pre heat oven to 425 degrees and mist muffin pan with cooking spray. Melissa uses butter flavored spray, but I didn't have any so just used the regular canola. Add spinach to 4 of the cups.

Now crack an egg into each cup and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Top with parmesan cheese (or any cheese that you like with eggs). These are looking great already.

Bake for 9 minutes and serve on toast. I enjoyed mine on a slice of Arnold Sandwich Thins. Yummy delish! I could have eaten all 4 eggs but contained myself. I'm saving the other two for sometime over the weekend. Then I will nuke them for a minute, and enjoy the meal all over again.

Thanks Melissa, another fabulous recipe that tastes as good as it looks. You rock, fellow blogger!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Quick Four Cheese Lasagna

I've been playing around with egg roll wrappers for months and lovin' it. I've rolled them, baked them, sauced them, left them plain and have had such a good time discovering their versitility. I wanted to try a simple lasagna using them and I must say, "simple is the word to describe this lasagna". There's no boiling of noodles and you could actually make this on a weeknight if you do some prep the night before or on a lazy Sunday. That's what I did. I got most of my prep work done ahead of time, came home from work and assembled this light, yet complex tasting entree.  Here's the recipe. As with all lasagnas there are many components.

Four Cheese Egg Roll Lasagna
Serves between 8 and 12, depending who you're serving

For the meat sauce:
3/4 pound ground sirloin or the leanest meat you can find in your market
2 sweet Italian sausages removed from casings
1 T olive oil
1 small onion
1 large jar Paul Newman tomato basil sauce
1 8 oz jar tomato sauce

For the cheese layer:
1 15 oz container part skim Ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 box of frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
Salt and black pepper
1 large egg

Other ingredients:
8 egg roll wrappers
8 slices low fat Provolone cheese (I used Alpine Lace)
Fresh basil
Additional parmesan for topping
Additional mozzarella for topping

Ready to cook? Let's do it with the help of some pictures. In large sauce pan saute sirloin, sausage and onion with the olive oil.  I cook on medium to low heat. Drain fat.

As you can see, there's no pink left in the meat so it's time to add your Paul Newman's sauce and plain tomato sauce. I also added a bit of water, about 4 ounces.

If you're prepping ahead of time and making this the following day, let cool and refrigerate covered. If you're making this in one session, set aside and get ready to prepare the cheese mixture. I don't have a picture for this, but it's a quick mix of all the cheese ingredients. When all is combined, you're ready to assemble the lasagna.

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. In 9x13 inch baking dish (I still use my pyrex from the 80's) spray a little PAM or olive oil on the bottom of the dish. The egg roll wrappers become a little stickier than actual lasagna noodles and you don't want them to stick. Now add about a 1/3 cup of meat sauce to the bottom of the dish. Lay two egg roll wrapers over the sauce and spread on a thin layer of ricotta/spinach mixture. Top with 2 slices of provole cheese and sauce on top. Now add the fresh basil.

Continue to layer the lasagna until you've used all egg roll wrappers and cheese. You should have 3 layers of cheese/meat/basil and the top layer will be the last two egg roll wrappers. Top lasagna with remaining sauce.

Cover with aluminum foil and place on baking sheet (to avoid any spills) and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil, and top lasagna with additional cheese.

Bake an additional 15 minutes uncovered and remove from oven. Let cool  about 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

This is perfect with a crisp salad and crusty bread. Please check out my version of Ina Garten's chiabata garlic bread recipe, it's so tasty and simple. Since I made the lasagna a few days ago I can attest that the lasagna re-heats beautifully in the microwave or oven. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Raspberry Brownie Sundaes

I am so baked out. Really. In the last few years I have joined so many cooking groups/clubs, internet sites that celebrate every season/holiday that inspire me to try something new that I always seem to have one more thing to try. I think tonight (except for the dulce de leche cookies waiting to be baked tomorrow that are in my fridge) I am done with sweets for the season (at least until World Nutella Day and Valentines's Day) but that's in February so I think I might be ready again. So before I go back to posting salads and healthy dishes, I must share today's bit of decadence. And oh! it's so worth sharing. It all started with a candy bar my friend Mary Anne gave me.

And continued with a purchase I made at the supermarket today. A nine dollar mini "bar" baking pan.

I've been playing around with single serve desserts for a while now and knew I could put this little darling to good use. And that's exactly what I did this afternoon. How does Raspberry filled Ghirardelli dark chocolate filled brownies sound to you? Sounded right up my alley, and it was really simple since I used a boxed brownie mix and everything else that came after that just seemed to fall into place. This is a dessert I recommend to anyone who needs a chocolate fix or wants to make this their last hurrah before the new year, it's just that rich. Here's the recipe:

Individual Raspberry Brownie Sundaes
makes 8

1 box of your favorite brownie mix for 8x8 pan
2 large eggs
3 T cooled strong brewed coffee
1/3 cup canola oil

8 oz neufchatel cheese softened
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves (I like Polaner All Fruit)
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

Hershey's syrup (I used the lite)
Hershey's mini chocolate chips
Fresh raspberries (price was unreasonable so I nixed that, but they would be great if you feel rich)

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees and prep pan with cooking spray. Prepare brownie mix using my ingredients, not what is on the box. That would be 2 eggs instead of one and the coffee instead of the water.  Pour half the mixture into 8 of the 12 indentations in the pan. Place a square of the Ghirardelli chocolate on top of each brownie mixture.

Cover those heavenly pieces of raspberry chocolate goodness with more brownie mix, but don't over fill. You shouldn't have any brownie mix left over. Bake 17 minutes and let cool.

While brownies are cooling, prepare the creamy frosting. Mix all ingredients (I use a simple hand mixer) . When frosing is fluffy and brownies are cool or almost cool, it's time to assemble this little plate of decadence. Place brownie in individual bowl.

I tried the presentation a few ways and liked them served in ramekins, but for the blog I chose clear bowls so you could see the whole sequence. Time to add some chocolate syrup. I was conservative but you certainly don't haveto be.

Add a dollop or two of the raspberry cream.

Your brownie sundae is almost done. Add some mini chips like I did. Or try fresh raspberries, or even frozen raspberries with some natural juice. Great dessert to end the year or welcome a new one! Happy new year to all and thanks so much for reading.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


As I said in my last post, I'm always trying to come up with some fun, new treats for the holidays, so last night and a good part of today I spent experimenting and making what I'm calling Elvis Cupcakes. Yes, I'm an Elvis fan, check out an earlier post on Elvis Bread and you'll either like my puns or think I'm nuts. Since I  recently dove head first into the mini cupcake and mini cookie genre, I decided to try something in that realm, and between the banana, peanut butter and candied bacon in this recipe, I must say it's a little out there, and perfect for anyone who likes their taste buds to explode in delight. Is there anyone who doesn't like that feeling?

Elvis Mini Cupcakes
makes 36

Ingredients for Cupcakes:
2 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 T unsalted butter at room temp
2 T canola oil
3/4 cups Splenda no calorie sweetener
2 large eggs at room temp
1 large egg white at room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 ripe bananas, the browner the better
1/2 cup lite sour cream

Peanut Butter Filling:
Approximately 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

8 oz low fat cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cups confectioners sugar

Bacon Topping:
4 slices bacon
1/4 cup Splenda Brown Sugar Blend

This is an easy cupcake recipe to put together. Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with paper liners and lightly spray them with PAM or your choice of cooking spray.

To make the batter: In medium size bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Mix with a spoon or fork to combine and set aside.

In small bowl mash bananas and add sour cream. Mix well and set aside. I think the sour cream is what gives this batter the tender texture when it bakes.

Using an electric hand mixer beat butter, oil and Splenda until incorporated. I like to do this boring task for 3-5 minutes. Add eggs, egg white and vanilla. Mix until combined. Add half the dry ingredients and mix until almost incorporated. Now add the dreamy sour cream and banana mixture and gently fold into batter. Add the rest of your dry ingredients, mix well and  spoon into lined cupcake  pans.

As you can see I'm not the most consistant when adding the right amount of batter to the tins. It doesn't seem to matter in this recipe, but I try not to overfill the cups. Bake about 18 to 20 minutes and let cool.

After about a half hour/45 minutes of cooling and the cupcakes are no longer hot to the touch, you're going to do a little surgery. With a small paring knife, cut a circle in the middle of the top of the cupcakes to make a well. I used my mom's old grapefruit knife and it worked great. Here's are some pictures of what you're trying to acheive.

Just pull out the little plug and set it aside. You won't be using these so feel free to munch on them while you're finishing the rest of the cupcakes.

Fill each hole with peanut butter and try and be careful to stay in the hole. I know you'll be neater than I was.

Set these little darlings aside and get ready to make the toppings. That would be the frosting and the candied bacon. Let's start with the bacon first. I have many good friends who are far more experienced bakers than me, and thanks to Wendy and Jan, the final topping of the Elvis Cupcakes came out without a snag. I'd never candied bacon before, but it's simple and a good thing to know how to do. In medium size bowl, dredge both sides of bacon slices in Splenda Brown Sugar.

Place on foil lined baking sheet in 350 degree oven and bake 10 minutes. Turn and bake another 6-8 minutes more. Since this was my first time doing this, I checked my oven every two minutes. Your oven may cook it faster. Place on plate to cool. Do not put on paper towels as I'm used to doing with bacon, it will stick! Here's what my candied bacon looked like after it cooked and cooled.

I started chopping the bacon in chunks and then decided I might go with crumbles. So I did both. Set the bacon aside and let's make the easy frosting

In large bowl combine cream cheese, butter, peanut butter and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Add the confectioner's sugar, mix again and get ready to assemble the cupcakes.

Take a dollop of your frosting and place atop your banana peanut butter filled cupcake. You can fancy this up by using a piping bag, but I haven't mastered that yet, so I go with the dollop method. It works well for me. Now sprinkle on some candied bacon bits.

Or insert a larger slice of candied bacon to the yummy frosting and let it shine alone.

Either way you decide to serve these I think you, and everyone who tastes them will be pleased. I've got the whole batch (minus 5 which I had to sample along the way) going to work with me on Monday. I'm guessing they'll be gone by noon.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Raspberry Heaven

It's cookie baking season and every year I try to come up with a new cookie to share with friends and readers. Tonight I made a batch of creamy raspberry filled, white chocolate whoopie pies and OMG are they good!  They're a bit time consuming, but with the stereo blasting I could have made another batch or two, no problem. I have been making whoopie pies for quite a while, but this time I added white chocolate to the cookie dough, Polaner All Fruit raspberry preserves to the filling and  used Splenda Brown Sugar Blend. A few less calories, but the taste is full flavor for sure. I've been dreaming about these cookies and am so happy to share my recipe.

Creamy Raspberry Filled Whoopie Pies
makes about 16 servings

8 oz neufchatel cheese softened to room temp
1/2 cup butter softened
3 T confectioner's sugar
1 T Splenda Brown Sugar for baking
1/3 cup Polaner All Fruit raspberry preserves

Cookie dough:
3/4 cup butter softened
3/4 cup Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
2 large eggs room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, chopped (I used my spice mill)

Confectioners sugar for dusting finished cookies

To make the filling: In medium size bowl combine all ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge while you prepare and bake the cookies.

To make the cookies: Pre heat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In medium size bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir with a fork or spoon to combine. Set aside.

In large bowl , with hand or stand mixer combine butter and brown sugar and mix until smooth and airy (2-3 minutes). Add eggs and vanilla and continue to mix. Add half the dry ingredients into the wet and mix on low. Add the rest of the dry ingredients until dough is smooth. Add the crushed white chocolate and stir to combine. The dough will be very sticky. Place dough in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to let it firm up.

Form dough into small balls about 1 inch each. Place on baking sheets. These cookies spread a lot, so make sure there's enough room on your baking sheet to let them do their thing. Bake 11 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly on cooling rack, then remove to paper or kitchen towels to cool completely. You should get 34-36 single cookies.

Remove raspberry filling from fridge. Now the fun begins! Take a tablespoon or two of the filling and place on the flat side of a cookie.

Now take a second cookie and cover the filling to make a sandwich. 

Keep going, until you've matched up all the cookies with a mate. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and enjoy! I refrigerate them, take them out 30 minutes before serving and give another sprinkle of sugar.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

For Ladies who Lunch

I'm once again playing with egg roll wrappers and made a rather healthy dinner that would also be a great entree for lunch. It's fresh asparagus, chicken, mushrooms and Swiss cheese rolled up with a creamy tarragon wine sauce. Doesn't that sound good? It reminds me of the days when I used to frequent the restaurant The Magic Pan, but instead of crepes, the dish is made with egg rolls, which are easy to find in your supermarket, save a lot of time, and it's one less pan to clean at the end of the meal.

Asparagus Crepes
makes 5

5 egg roll wrappers
15 fresh asparagus spears
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp unsalted butter
4 oz mushrooms sliced
1 small onion diced
4 oz Swiss cheese shredded, I like Alpine Lace (lower fat)
1 chicken breast sliced, I use the rotisserie from my market
1 can cream of chicken soup, I use the 98% fat free
1/3 cup white wine, love chardonnay
1 T fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp dried tarragon
Black pepper to taste

Saute mushrooms and onions on medium low heat in oil and butter.

While the mushrooms are cooking, clean the asparagus. For this dish, I peeled the lower parts of the spears to get rid of the woodiness. You want them to be tender and this is the solution. Place asparagus in boiling salted water and cook 3-4 minutes. Run under cool water to stop the cooking. Slice the chicken breast and get ready to make the simple sauce.

In medium size sauce pan combine soup, wine, water, tarragon, lemon juice and pepper.  Heat until almost boiling. Turn heat off and get ready to assemble your egg roll crepes. Also, now's the time to pre heat your oven at 350 degrees.

Take one egg roll wrapper and place 3 asparagus in the middle. Top with mushroom onion mixture.

Top with sliced chicken and cheese. Looking good so far, don't you think?

Fold both sides of the wrapper over the asparagus mixture and place in baking pan (seam side down). I coated the pan with cookin spray, not sure that's even necessary.

Repeat the rolling process 4 more times, cover with sauce and bake 25 minutes. I covered mine with aluminum foil but I think you don't even have to do that.

Serve this with a green salad and a nice glass of wine. It's a bit dainty, but a perfect meal when you're planning on chocolate cake for dessert.