Sunday, December 20, 2015

Softening Brown Sugar

This is what I found on my package of brown sugar. If you have time, you can resoften brown sugar by placing in a closed container over night with a slice of bread. Works every time and it stays soft after you remove the bread! Remember to keep your brown sugar in an airtight container. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Pan Coating

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Veggie lasagna

To make the veggie lasagna: 

I first chopped all the veggies into bite size pieces.

Next, I sauteed one chopped onion in olive oil and butter. Then, added in a few crushed cloves of garlic. After a few minutes, I added in the squash, mushrooms, tomatoes, and bell peppers. Salt and pepper to taste. After the vegetables were mostly cooked I added in the spinach and fresh herbs: basil, oregano, thyme.

Next I stirred this cooked veggie mixture into a pound of ricotta cheese. 

I layered the cheesy veggie mixture between no-boil lasagna noodles with a little shredded cheese and marinara sauce. Top with shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees, covered for 35 min. Check for doneness. If the noodles are done. Remove the cover or foil and bake until the cheese is melted.

Allow it to cool a few minutes before cutting. 

Serve with homemade bread! :)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Too good too be true (WW Cake Recipe)

Cleaning out the filing cabinet, I found this recipe. It was in a notebook circa 2003. First of all, let me say that I do not remember this recipe. So, I don't know if it's too good to be true or not. The paper does look as if I used it at least once in the kitchen. Perhaps I will try it again. 

Here is the recipe: 
1 yellow butter recipe cake mix
6 oz. very vanilla low-fat yogurt
2 eggs or egg substitute
1/4 c. unsweetened apple sauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. melted butter

Mix together all ingredients and pour into a greased and floured 9"x13" cake pan.

Then, stir together:
2 eggs or egg substitute
1/2 tsp. vinegar
1 lb. powdered sugar
16 oz. fat free cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla

Pour this mixture over the cake batter. Bake at 325 degrees for 35-45 min. or until it bubbles in the center and it begins to brown.

Top with sliced fruit of your choice. Makes 12 servings.

The points calculated on the notebook paper are not valid under the current WW points plan. As they were calculated under the old system. 

Bon appétit! 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tales of a Frustrated Bilingual Baker

Tonight, I am flustered and frustrated over a seemingly easy recipe. 

Nutella Tart


Tarte tiède au chocolat et au Nutella

I am the proud owner of two lovely choco-rrific books: Larousse du Chocolat and Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme by Dorie Greenspan. These books have lots of overlapping recipes... or so it seems.

My husband says my frustration is a little over the top, but I'm annoyed. 
The ingredient ratios are different. Not only that the "translation" of amounts is off. 

Example: according to Greenspan 3 1/2 ounces of butter = 7 tablespoons = 200 grams. I'm not buying it! A regular stick of butter is 8 TBS = 4 oz = approx. 113 g. 

la recette de Larousse du Chocolat
250 g de pâte sucrée (Sweet pastry dough)
150 g de Nutella 
150 g de chocolat à 55% de cacao (bittersweet chocolat)
150 g de beurre (butter)
1 œuf (egg)
2 jaunes d’œufs (egg yolks)
20 g de sucre en poudre (granulated sugar)
80 g noisette (hazelnuts)

The recipe of Chocolate Desserts
1 baked 8 3/4 in (22 cm) tart shell made from Sweet Tart dough
2/3 c. (200g) Nutella
4 3/4 oz (140 g.) bittersweet chocolate
7 TBSP (3.5 oz; 200 g.) unsalted butter
1 large egg
3 egg yolks
2 TBSP sugar
1 c (140 g.) hazelnuts

Oh but why should the differences stop there? They both say to melt the butter and chocolate separately. However, one asks you to whisk the sugar into the egg and then fold in the chocolate, then the butter. The other asks that you fold everything into the chocolate. YIKES! 

This is too much after a day of teaching little ones! 
I hope my tart comes out of the oven okay. Wish me luck! I mean I was the one brazen enough to make this for the first time for guests. LOL

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Salmon Pizza with Creme Fraiche

I thought a Salmon pizza sounded good, so I looked around and compared some recipes and ingredients. I found this recipe online and made a few tweaks to make it my own. The original called for some things we don't eat. After making it, I wonder if it would be good with caramelized onion or confit d'oignon and just a squeeze of lemon juice. I also saw recipes with cream cheese. So maybe cubes of cream cheese instead of dollops of creme fraiche? I may try it again. I might add some crushed red pepper flakes for heat. This recipe has lots of steps but it is very easy. See below for a link to the original. It may be what you are looking for. :)

Salmon Pizza


10 oz. sockeye salmon (pin bones and skin removed)*
pizza dough
olive oil
1 lemon
1 cup sugar, divided
1 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 red onion, sliced thinly
2 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. each fresh dill, parsley, basil, and thyme
mozzarella cheese
Crème Fraîche**


Make pizza dough. If frozen, defrost salmon. Pre-heat your oven to 475°F. (The original recipe says "as hot as it will go", but I backed off just a little.)

Heat up a skillet on medium high heat with a little olive oil. Slice the 1 lemon thin, coating the slices in about ½ cup sugar and place in the skillet to caramelize. Once some color develops, remove the lemon slices with tongs and let cool (HOT SUGAR makes nasty burns!) on a plate, then finely chop and set aside.

REMOVE AS SOON AS COLOR DEVELOPS! I left mine a little too long and I got caramel with lemon. It wasn't burned, but difficult to handle. 

Next, in a bowl combine 1 ½ cup red wine vinegar, ½ cup sugar and 2 Tbsp salt in a bowl. Add in your thinly sliced red onion and let it marinate. I suggest breaking the rings apart so you get an even marinade on the onion.

Chop up the herbs, When the oven is way hot, drizzle the salmon with olive oil and salt it to taste. Place the fish on a baking dish and place in the oven, baking until medium rare. Remove and tent with tin foil.

While the fish cooks, shape dough and top with mozzarella and dot with crème fraîche, or do what I did: Smear on creme fraiche and top with mozzarella. When you pull the salmon out, put the pizza in and bake until it looks like you want it to. (This will depend on the thickness of your crust and your oven, so check it after 8 to 10 minutes.)

Dollops? oops. I don't follow directions well, do I? 

Once it's done, slice your pizza and then break up the salmon onto the pizza, topping it with the caramelized lemon, freshly ground pepper, and herbs. Drain the red onion and squeeze it to remove excess vinegar and throw it on your pizza and drizzle with some olive oil. ENJOY!

Sorry, it's blurry! I was excited! 

*I used a 10 oz. frozen bag because that's all I could find here in the desert. I baked my salmon with the skin on, skin side down. It is easy to remove from cooked fish.

**Crème fraîche: You could buy it, but it's easy to make it yourself: 1 part buttermilk to 2 parts heavy cream. Let sit covered at room temp for 24 hrs. then refrigerate. If you use "whipping cream" and not "heavy whipping cream" your product will turn out too liquid. It should be the consistency of a soft sour cream. If this is scary to you, I knew a chef that made mock crème fraîche by stirring lemon juice and a pinch of salt into heavy cream. It's quick, it's easy and the health dept. doesn't yell at you for it.☻ 

Easy One Bowl Pizza Crust

For a long time I couldn't remember or find the original source of this recipe. I had just jotted it down and tweaked it here and there each time I made it. I found the original today. It's from Fleischmann's® Yeast.  I had it stashed in my "recipe box" on AllRecipes. I use weigh measurements because to me it's easier than digging out all sorts of measuring cups and spoons. I just pull out my bowl, put it on the scale, and start dumping ingredients in.

Here in my version:

Easy Pizza Crust

Makes 1 pizza crust: 15x10 in., 9x13 in., 14 in. thin, 12 in. thick or two 9 in. deep dish

310 g. (about 2.5 cups) All-Purpose flour
8 g. (about 2 1/4 tsp.) instant yeast
5 g. (about 1 tsp.) kosher salt
pinch of brown sugar
220 g. (about 1 c.) water at 110°F 
26 g. (about 2 tbsp.) olive or vegetable oil
*Semolina flour + bread flour for the bench

The instructions are simple. Stir the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Make a well and add in the oil and water. Then I use my wooden spoon. to stir until a dough forms. I flour my hands and knead in the bowl until it forms a smooth ball.** Then, cover will plastic wrap and let it hang out until double, about 30-45 min. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425°F.

Next, I sprinkle a 50/50 mixture of semolina and bread flour on my bench and stretch it out by hand to the size and shape I want. Some times, I get out the rolling pin. Some times, not! Sprinkle semolina or cornmeal on your pizza stone or pan. 

Top crust as desired and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Note the rustic look of the edge. I'm still working on technique!

*The original calls for oil & cornmeal on the pan, but I find that like the taste and texture of fine semolina better. I rarely remember to oil the pan, and I'm not sure it needs it. Really, it depends on what you have. I wouldn't buy semolina just for this recipe, but if I have some I use it.

**I've been lazy before and not kneaded it as much. This will give you a pillowy, soft dough. S

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Stuffed Bell Peppers


I cleaned and baked the bell peppers like Rachael Ray suggests. Cut in half, slat and peppered, bake cut side down in a hot oven or until tender and slightly charred.

Next, I made the quinoa according to package directions. I used Roland brand Roasted Garlic flavor.

Then,  I sauteed together: 
a pat of butter and a bit of olive oil
a small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
a small egg plant, cubed
1 yellow squash, cubed
2 zucchini squash, cubed.
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 roma tomatoes
Salt & pepper to taste

Next, I cooked up a package of mild italian sausage. The ground kind without casing. 

Next, I drizzled a bit of olive oil in my baking dish. I placed the peppers in the dish and then layered everything: quinoa, veggies, cheese, sausage. I used only a tablespoon at a time continuing layers until they were full. Then I topped with cheese.

I baked at 350 until warmed through.

Got the idea from Rachael Ray's recipe, which you can find here.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tarte aux Epinards et aux Oeufs / Spinach Egg Pie

My husband made dinner!! I was a little surprised that he chose to make this:

He chose a recipe from the January 2015 issue of Cuisine Actuelle. Yes, my friends, it looks strange, but it was actually quite tasty. It was cheesy and the golden, delicious, liquid egg yolk made it sing. We both agreed that this did turn out a little bland as is. If we make it again, I think a little onion or garlic added to the spinach would do the trick.  

Translated recipe:

Spinach Egg Pie
Serves 4, 30 min. prep time, 55 min. cook time.

1 refrigerated pie crust
250 g.(roughly 8 oz or 1/2 lb.)fresh, baby spinach*
4 eggs
50 g. of butter (about 1/2 stick)
30 cl. whole milk
125 g. (about 4 oz.) grated cheese**
2 tbsp. flour
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 210°C (~ 410°F). If your pie crust is the rolled kind, roll it out into your pie pan. Dock the dough with a fork several times and place it in the fridge.
Melt 30 g. of your butter in a sauce pan. Add in the flour and stir. Add in the milk, little by little stirring constantly until it thickens about 3 min. on low heat. Add salt and pepper.

Rinse your spinach and place them in a pan with a pinch of salt. Cook, covered about 3 min. or until wilted. Drain and squeeze out spinach. Give them a rough chop.

Place Spinach into the milk mixture. Mix in one beaten egg and the grated cheese. 

Pour this mixture into the prepared pie shell. Place it in the oven and cook for 20 min. Then, lower the oven temperature to 180°C (~350°F). Cook 15 minutes more. 

Remove the pie from the oven and top with the 3 remaining whole eggs. Return to the oven for about 7 min, or until the eggs reach the desired doneness. Salt and pepper the eggs to taste. 

*You can substitute 1 small pkg. of frozen spinach
**Pick a cheese you like. Usually in France, this would be Emmental. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Spiced Kettle Corn

I love this recipe!
2 tablespoons corn oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn
4 tablespoons sugar
fine salt, to taste
ground cinnamon, to taste
cayenne, to taste

Read the original recipe and directions here.

I always use unsalted butter, so I have control over the amount of sodium.
I like to use corn, canola or light olive oil.
More sugar. Hey, I have a sweet tooth, ok?!
Less salt. Really I don't measure the seasoning. I spread the popped corn onto a sheet of wax paper and shake on the salt, cinnamon and cayenne to taste. I don't always remember to put salt!

Update 2-18-15, FOR MYSELF. Please double check your points with your ingredients! 
WW Points: whole recipe 27 points!! Oh, ok, maybe I don't have to eat the whole thing! If I eat 1/8 of the recipe that's 3 points, 1/4 is 7 points. I guess I have to see what I can afford!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Taco Soup

I don't make this often, but it's easy to fix. I originally got the recipe from a Weight Watchers group member, but I'm sorry to tell you I don't remember the points value. If you want to be really bad (since we didn't count points) you can top a bowl of this with a dollop of sour cream, some shredded cheese and tortilla strips or tortilla chips.

There are a few versions out there, but this is the way I fix it. I don't eat hominy so those got nixed. so did the pinto beans. If I have to eat beans they need SOMETHING to help me not taste them. I've also seen versions with Rotel tomatoes in them. I've used ground buffalo or turkey in place of the beef. So as you can see, you could make this with what you have on hand. I told you, it's EASY! 

Taco Soup

1 lb. lean hamburger meat (90% or 94%)
1 small onion, chopped
1 can sweet onion Ranch-Style beans
1 can black beans 
2 cans stewed tomatoes
2 cans of whole kernel corn 
1 can chopped green chilies
1 packet (dry) taco seasoning
1 packet (dry) ranch dressing mix
1 can water

Brown hamburger meat with onion. If you used a meat with a higher fat content, drain the grease. Combine all ingredients together and simmer until well heated. I do not drain vegetables, but you can if you would like. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Attempt at Chicken Curry Soup

I looked at several recipes online and I wasn't truly satisfied with any of them, so I kind of came up with my own. 

Yes, I know. I should follow directions, and maybe I would be more happy with my work. I call this an attempt because while I found it edible, it was not quite what I was after. 

I used:
1 tbsp or so of corn oil
3 scallions (white and green separated), sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon yellow curry
1 sweet potato, cubed
Lemon Grass Paste
Ginger Paste
1 chicken breast, cubed
1 carton chicken stock
1 tbsp lime juice
1 c. Jasmine Rice

I started by cooking the rice (1 c. rice + 2 c. water). 

While the rice was cooking, in a soup pot I sauteed the white part of the scallions and the garlic for about a minute in the oil. I used just enough oil to get it going. Next, I added the bell pepper. After another minute or two, the lemon grass paste and ginger paste joined the party. About a 3 inch squeeze of each. I didn't really measure. Then, add in the curry paste, to taste. Careful because it can get spicy FAST! Continue cooking and stir frequently until you can smell the curry goodness! 

Next, I slowly stirred in the chicken stock. I added the coconut milk at this point, too, but I later thought that I should have done that later. (It's not a good idea to boil that, ya know.) I tasted at this point and it was little flat, so I added some salt and pepper. 

Next time, I will add the chicken and cubed sweet potato in after the stock. After the chicken and sweet potato are cooked, I will stir in the coconut milk.

I actually ended up stirring in a corn starch slurry in an attempt to make this a thicker soup, but I don't think that really added anything to it. 

Serve this soup over rice. 

No I don't claim this to be authentic to anything, but it's an authentic Kae experiment.