Monday, May 28, 2012
I pinned this “cake” a while back on Pinterest and I’m so glad I finally made it. This No-Bake Strawberry Icebox Cake is heavenly. It’s seriously no bake. The “cake” is really graham crackers that have gotten soft thanks to the whipped topping and strawberries. It takes minutes to put together, but the willpower comes in having to wait four hours for the graham crackers to soften. As soon as the timer went off, I ate one piece…and then I immediately ate another.
So, how’s it taste?
I’m madly in love with this dessert. It’s crazy simple, but it’s out of this world good, especially when you use really ripe strawberries. It’s almost like a strawberry s’more with the whipped topping acting like the marshmallow. It might sound odd to want a dessert made of soggy graham crackers, but it works. It really does turn into the texture of cake.
You could certainly make homemade whipped cream if you like, but I don’t mind whipped topping from a tub and it’s so easy (plus using fat-free makes me feel less guilty). I think the dessert could do without the chocolate drizzle on top. I do like the combination of chocolate and strawberry, but it’s almost too heavy for this dessert. It’s a really light and summery cake, so the chocolate isn’t necessary. Good grief, I never thought I’d type that!
The dessert only lasts about three days and on the third day, it doesn’t look very pretty with the strawberry juice starting to run through the whipped topping. It still tastes great, but if you’re making this for an event, I’d make it ahead with just enough time to let the graham crackers get soft.
No-Bake Strawberry Icebox Cake
3 lbs. fresh strawberries, sliced
2 (8 oz.) tubs fat-free whipped topping (or use regular or light)
1 (14.4 oz.) box graham crackers
1/4 cup milk chocolate chip morsels
1. Spread a small amount of whipped topping on the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan. Place 5 graham cracker sheets down the middle and break 2 more sheets into crackers to fit down the sides. Lightly cover the top of the graham crackers with more whipped topping and then a layer of sliced strawberries. Repeat three times, until you have four layers of graham crackers (you may be a few crackers short on the top layer, but that's ok). You'll end with a layer of strawberries on top.
2. Place milk chocolate chip morsels in a plastic bag. Microwave in 10 second intervals until melted. Snip the end of the plastic bag and drizzle chocolate over top of cake.
3. Refrigerate covered for at least four hours, or until the crackers have softened completely. Cake will last well for two days. It will still be good on the third day, but the strawberries will start to get juicy and leak into the whipped topping. It will still taste good, but it won't be as pretty.
Friday, May 25, 2012
You know my love affair with scones, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that one of the dishes I made with my fresh-picked strawberries was Strawberry Scones. Plus I had to have something not-too-sweet to drizzle (er, smother) that incredible Strawberry Curd over! The two were made for each other. These scones are great by themselves, too. Crunchy on top and fluffy inside. Slightly sweet from the coarse sugar and just a hint of orange inside.
So, how’s it taste?
As far as scones go, these are pretty top notch. You can’t beat a crunchy crust, pillowy inside, and bursts of strawberries. The recipe calls for frozen strawberries so that the scones don’t get mushy too quickly. You can certainly use frozen strawberries from the grocery store, or freeze your own if you’re a strawberry picker like me. These scones are barely sweet, so if you’re not going to top them with curd, I’d probably add a bit of glaze. I think an orange glaze would be fantastic as I was a bit disappointed the orange wasn’t more prominent in the final product. You can find a great scone glaze recipe here, just substitute orange for the lemon (or lemon glaze would be tasty, too).
They’ll keep for a few days in a tightly covered container or wrap them individually in plastic wrap and put them in a freezer bag and freeze. Pop them in the microwave for 15-20 seconds and you’ve got breakfast (or late night treat) in no time!
1 1/2 cups chopped frozen strawberries
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 large orange, zested and juiced (to produce 1/4 cup of juice)
3/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
2 tbsp. coarse sugar
1. Preheat oven to 400. In a mixer, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt on low speed. With mixer running, gradually add cubes of butter and orange zest until the mixture is crumbly.
2. Add frozen strawberries, orange juice, and yogurt. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated. The dough will be very stiff.
3. Turn dough out onto a lightly-floured surface. Pat dough into a 1-inch-thick rectangle Cut in half down the long side and then into thirds down the short side. Cut each square into triangles for 12 scones.
4. Sprinkle scones with coarse sugar. Place scones on a lined baking sheet and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
I’ve gone strawberry crazy in my kitchen, and I’m quite happy about it. I’ve now made two trips to Bradley Kountry Acres and have heaps of fresh strawberries. Unbelievably sweet, juicy, local strawberries. Completely different from anything you can buy in the grocery store. After having a successful attempt at making lemon curd last year, I wanted to try Strawberry Curd. Curd is such an unfortunate name for such a decadent sauce. It’s excellent over any kind of pastry, especially scones, or try eating it right off the spoon!
So, how’s it taste?
Strawberry-licious! The sweetness of the strawberries really comes through in this sauce. It’s not quite as rich and thick as the lemon curd, but I enjoyed it. It’s a fairly thin sauce, which is perfect for drizzling over scones or if you’re like me, drowning your scones in it! It’s not a perfectly smooth texture since I left the seeds in, but you could certainly strain the puree if you wanted. I love the pretty, pale pink color. While I think I would like it a bit thicker, I do like that it’s not sickeningly rich. It’s not full of egg yolks and a ton of butter, which surprised me compared to the lemon curd I made. It’s a simple strawberry sauce with a touch of luxury.
Coming up next on the blog, a recipe for strawberry scones that pair beautifully with this strawberry curd!
14 oz. fresh strawberries
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Puree the strawberries in a food processor. In a small, heavy saucepan, bring the puree to a slight simmer.
2. In a double boiler, or in a glass bowl that fits over a saucepan, whisk the eggs, yolks, and sugar. Slowly add the hot strawberry puree in a thin stream while whisking. Place the double boiler or the glass bowl with the egg mixture over a medium pan of simmering water and heat, whisking constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until thick.
3. Stir in the butter and lemon juice. Pour in a glass container and let come to room temperature then chill in the refrigerator.
Monday, May 21, 2012
Oh look, it’s another food that I can’t photograph well…at all. I had high hopes of this Layered Italian Sandwich photographing beautifully with that green pesto and layers of salami, red leaf lettuce, and tomato. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, but there was no way I wasn’t going to tell you about this sandwich. It’s so stinkin’ good and unlike similar sandwiches at sub shops that can blow your calories out of the water, you don’t have to feel guilty when eating this one. I’ve made this sandwich several times in the past few weeks for lunch and dinner. It’s got so much flavor and texture, I couldn’t quit craving it!
So, how’s it taste?
I was really surprised how much I liked this sandwich. You just never know until you take that first bite if your efforts at cutting a few calories will pay off or be completely gross. Thankfully this one was a winner. The standout flavors are the salami and the pesto, so make sure you buy the good stuff (or try making your own pesto). The smoked turkey bulks out the sandwich adding very little fat and calories. The pesto is an excellent condiment instead of the regular ol’ mayo and mustard. I like to pile my sandwich high with crunchy lettuce and juicy tomatoes. Adding freshly ground pepper right on top of the tomato is my seasoning secret. Red onions add another layer of crunch and some bite! I love red onions on sandwiches and burgers. Of course, no sandwich is complete without cheese. Right after I toast the bread, I top one half with the cheese and put it back in the warm toaster oven. It slowly melts while I’m getting the rest of my ingredients ready. I know it’s called an Italian Layered Sandwich and I’m using French bread, but that’s how I kept the calories low. The original recipe calls for using focaccia, so if you’re not watching the calories, make it using that bread. I’m sure it’s even more fantastic!
Layered Italian Sandwich
1 package twin French bread (I use Pepperidge Farm)
1/2 cup basil pesto
8 slices reduced-fat provolone cheese
1 lb. thinly sliced smoked turkey
8 slices hard salami
8 slices tomato (I use roma tomatoes)
8 red lettuce leaves
8 thin slices red onion
freshly ground black pepper
1. Cut each loaf of French bread into four pieces. Cut each piece in half and toast both halves of each piece. Spread 1 tablespoon of pesto onto one toasted half of each piece.
2. Layer provolone, turkey, salami, tomato, lettuce, red onion on bottom piece. I like to add black pepper on top of the tomato slice. Add top of French bread.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
It’s no secret I love whiskey. I like to drink it, and I like to cook and make candy with it. Last week when I asked my cousin Jeanie to pick a birthday dessert from a list, I was secretly hoping she’d pick Whiskey Cream Cheese Brownies. Luckily, she did! The original recipe uses bourbon, which would work fine, but I almost always substitute Jack Daniel’s when it calls for bourbon. Use whatever you prefer to drink. It’s kind of like using wine in a recipe. Don’t use one you wouldn’t drink.
So, how’s it taste?
Good grief they were good! Super rich and fudgy. I could sure smell the whiskey when these were baking, but the flavor mellows out a bit in the finished product. The chocolate is really prominent, which isn’t a problem for me! I could only taste a hint of the whiskey if I got a bite that was heavy on the cream cheese part, but it’s still fantastic. The cream cheese swirled into chocolate with a slight background of Jack Daniel’s…I wouldn’t turn down this brownie for anything. Matter of fact, it’s been the reason I’ve gotten my butt off the couch and gone on a run for the past two evenings! These brownies are also excellent with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. They’d also probably be excellent with a drizzle of hot fudge sauce over that ice cream, but I had to stop the dessert decadence somewhere, lol!
Whiskey Cream Cheese Brownies
4 (1 oz.) unsweetened chocolate baking squares
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 large eggs, divided
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whiskey or bourbon (I used Jack Daniel's)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over sides; lightly grease foil.
2. Microwave chocolate squares and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl at high 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals. Whisk in brown sugar and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar. Add 3 eggs, 1 at a time, whisking just until blended after each addition. Whisk in vanilla, salt, and 1 cup flour. Spread half of batter in prepared pan.
3. Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth; add 2 Tbsp. flour and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, beating until blended. Add bourbon and remaining 1 egg, beating until blended.
4. Pour cream cheese mixture over brownie batter in pan; top with remaining brownie batter, and swirl together.
5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Lift brownies from pan, using foil sides as handles. Gently remove foil; cut into squares.
Monday, May 14, 2012
I can’t believe this recipe is my first time cooking with leeks. I’ve had them before in restaurants, but never really gave them a thought for home until I found a recipe for leek quiche, which I turned into Ham & Leek Quiche. I’m happy to report it turned out really well, and most people may hate cleaning leeks, but I had fun with it. It was almost like being in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and handling giant green onions, ha ha!
So, how’s it taste?
I was a little worried that the quiche would be a big leek fest and I’d come away with some serious onion breath. Four cups of uncooked leeks is a huge amount. Luckily, they cook down beautifully and they aren’t as strong as some of their oniony cousins. The leeks soak up the butter and become really tender. The perfect vegetable for a delicate quiche. I added ham simply because I have a ton of it frozen and I thought the flavors would go well together. I only added a 1/2 cup of ham because I didn’t want to overflow my quiche or take away from the leeks. You could probably add up to a cup, if you wanted. This quiche would also be fantastic without the ham. Simply leave it out if you want a leek quiche.
Ham & Leek Quiche
2 medium leeks
1 refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box
2 tbsp. butter
3/4 cup fat-free egg substitute
1 cup skim milk
1 1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 cup cooked ham, chopped
1. Heat oven to 400F. Wash leeks; remove any tough outer leaves. Trim roots from white bulb portion; cut leeks lengthwise and wash well. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices to make about 4 cups; set aside.
2. Place pie crust in 9-inch glass pie pan as directed on box. Partially bake crust 8 minutes or until very lightly browned.
3. Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add leeks; cook 7 to 9 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender but not brown. Remove from heat; set aside.
4. In small bowl, whisk eggs, milk, cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until blended. Add cooked leeks and ham. Pour mixture into partially baked crust.
5. Bake quiche 10 minutes. Cover crust edges with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Reduce oven to 300F, bake 20 to 25 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes before serving.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Savor Nashville is back for its second year May 19th & 20th and I couldn’t be more excited. It kicks off next Saturday night with a Celebrity Chef Dinner. I went to this dinner last year and I left with a very happy full belly. The food and wine pairings were incredible and it kept coming. There’s something to be said for a night out enjoying a multi-course dinner. I didn’t blog about it last year, but luckily my friend Beth over at Eat. Drink. Smile. did! Check out her recap but make sure you’re wearing a bib to catch all the drool. What blew everyone away was the halibut. I’m usually not one to pick fish over steak, but the flavor combinations were stunning. Of course, a close second was dessert. I was so full at this point, but I was determined to finish. It’s definitely worth the price tag to attend this dinner. Another bonus was I discovered several new wines I enjoy thanks to the wine pairings with each course!
On Sunday is the Challenge to the Chefs. Local chefs will compete by creating unique dishes that must feature at least one of these Tennessee products: Benton’s Bacon, Goo Goo Clusters, and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey whiskey. Attendees get to taste the creations by all competing chefs and there also will be a Bloody Mary bar. Sign me up! What really got me looking forward to this event was watching Chef Deb Paquette make Goo Goo Quesadillas on News Channel 5 the other day. She used all three ingredients in one dish! If that’s the kind of food I have to look forward to that Sunday, I’ll be the first person there!
Competing chefs include Jeremy Barlow of Tayst and SloCo, Thomas Cook of Prime 108, Brandon Frohne of Rutland Place Catering and Nashville Urban Gardeners, Giovanni Giosa of Porta Via Italian Kitchen, Matthew Lackey of Flyte World Dining, Deb Paquette of Etch, Kevin Ramquist of F. Scott’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar, Jarvan Springer of West End Café, Robert Spinelli of perl Catering, Keith West of Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant, Toby Willis of Nashville City Club, and Robbie Wilson of Kayne Prime, Tavern, Whiskey Kitchen, and Virago.
Individual tickets are $150 for the Celebrity Chef Dinner and $35 for Challenge to the Chefs. An all-access pass is available for $175 person. Tables of 10 for the Celebrity Chef Dinner are available for $1,250, providing a savings of $250. For tickets and more information, visit www.nashvillelifestyles.com.
Friday, May 11, 2012
I made this Tuscan White Bean Soup a few weeks back when Nashville got a break from the hot weather and had a few days of cool. Now that we’re having another few days of cooler temperatures, I thought I’d introduce you to it. It’s creamy, rich, and has bacon! To top the soup, garlic, red pepper flakes, and basil are cooked in olive oil. These four ingredients bring the wow factor. I didn’t mind when the weather got hot again and a bowl of this soup was my dinner.
So, how’s it taste?
It’s fantastic! The bacon adds so much flavor, along with onion and carrots (I left out the celery). What surprised me was how rich and creamy the soup was without adding any cream or any dairy. The cannellini beans do it all. I could taste a subtle hint of the white wine, too. I was short on time when I made the soup, so I skipped the topping and made it the next day. Without the topping, the soup is pretty tasty. So much so, that I almost didn’t bother with the topping. But out of curiosity and an abundance of basil, I made it and whoa! I couldn’t believe how much it changed the soup…for the better. A little heat from the red pepper flakes and intense garlic and basil from cooking in the olive oil. Definitely do not skip the topping! I’ll be making this soup again, and I may not wait for cooler weather next time!
Tuscan White Bean Soup
4 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, quartered lengthwise
1 medium stalk celery, quartered crosswise
1 medium carrot, quartered crosswise
2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
3 cans (19 oz. each) cannellini beans, drained
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 cup white wine
1 carton (32 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken broth (4 cups)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. finely chopped garlic
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, sliced
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1. In 4-quart Dutch oven, cook bacon, onion, celery, carrot, and 2 cloves garlic over medium-high heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium. Add beans, bay leaf, wine, and broth; cover and cook 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat; cool about 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in 8-inch skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon chopped garlic; cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until garlic begins to brown. Stir in red pepper flakes; cook a few seconds. Stir in basil; cook until basil wilts.
3. Remove bay leaf from bean mixture. Puree mixture with an immersion blender directly in the Dutch oven. Stir in salt and pepper. Simmer over medium heat 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until thoroughly heated.
4. Ladle soup into individual soup bowls. Top each with basil mixture.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
I love this time of year in Nashville. It seems like there’s a continuous stream of food events and most of them benefit a local charity. Generous Helpings is an annual event featuring tastings of appetizers, entrees, and desserts from local restaurants, as well as fine wines and specialty beers from local distributors. This year, it’s on Thursday, May 17th at 5:30 p.m. at the Nashville Farmers’ Market. The best part about Generous Helpings is that all proceeds benefit Middle Tennessee’s Table, Second Harvest Food Bank‘s grocery rescue program. This program rescues and redistributes nearly 5 million pounds of food from more than 200 grocery stores annually. That’s an impressive amount of food saved each year!
Tickets for Generous Helpings are $40 in advance and $50 at the door. Quite a bargain when you see the list of restaurants that are participating:
Amerigo Italian Restaurant
Chappy’s on Church
Fish & Co.
F. Scott’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Kickin’ Coffee and Tea
Kohana Japanese Restaurant
Kroger Chef Shoppes
Marche Artisan Foods
Margot Café & Bar
Nashville State Community College Culinary Arts
Porta Via Italian Kitchen
Porter Road Butcher
Provence Breads and Café
Riff’s Fine Street Food
Second Harvest Food Bank Culinary Arts Center
Sol on Main
Sweet 16th Bakery
The Bloomy Rind
The Local Taco
The Mad Platter
The Turnip Truck
The Wild Hare
Are you drooling yet? It’s a great opportunity to sample food from your favorite restaurants or restaurants you’ve never tried, and you’re helping a fantastic local charity!
For one lucky reader, I’ve got two tickets to this year’s Generous Helpings!
1. Mandatory Entry: Join Second Harvest’s email list at secondharvestmidtn.org and leave a comment on this post saying you did so.
Optional entries: For up to three additional entries, do any of the following and leave a separate comment for each optional entry you do.
2. Like Second Harvest on Facebook.
3. Follow Second Harvest on Twitter.
4. Follow So, How’s It Taste on Twitter and tweet the following: “Win tickets to Generous Helpings benefitting @2HarvestMidTN from @SoHowsItTaste! http://bit.ly/helpings”
Contest ends on Friday, May 11th at 5 p.m. central. Please make sure you enter a valid email address as an alternate winner will be chosen if I don’t hear from you within 48 hours. Good luck!
Congratulations to comment #6 from Heather!
I know you’re going to enjoy the event!
Winner chosen using Random.org
Monday, May 7, 2012
It’s definitely been hot enough outside lately for ice cream. Here in Nashville we’ve been close to 90 with high humidity. Absolutely time to enjoy a scoop of this Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet! I was instantly intrigued by the flavor combination, the fact it only has five ingredients, and a pretty decent scoop size is only 135 calories.
So, how’s it taste?
It’s magic. A few weekends ago, my mom and I went strawberry picking at Bradley Kountry Acres and it was a blast. I used to eat fresh-picked strawberries as a kid, but I’ve been led astray by those strawberries in the grocery store. Never again. The flavor of locally grown strawberries compared to those bland, barely ripe counterparts is night and day. The Bradley strawberries were so rich and sweet. I couldn’t wait to use them in this sherbet. The recipe is really simple, but I like that because it lets each part shine, yet comes together so perfectly for a scoop of cold heaven. The strawberries, of course, are the most prominent with the Chambord kicking them up a notch in the berry department. The aftertaste is a shot of rich honey and a slight creamy tanginess from the buttermilk. The lemon brings it all together and brightens it up. It’s quite addicting. I used fat-free buttermilk in my version, so the texture was a little more crumbly than what the whole buttermilk version would be. The nutrition information is calculated using whole buttermilk.
Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet
2 cups chopped strawberries
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 cups whole or fat-free buttermilk
3 tbsp. Chambord (black raspberry-flavored liqueur)
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1. Combine berries and honey in a blender; process until smooth (about 1 minute). Add buttermilk; process until well blended. Add liqueur and lemon juice; pulse to mix. Freeze using an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.