Monday, April 29, 2013
Last June (yes, shame on me for taking so long to post this!), my mom and I went to Philadelphia for a long weekend vacation. We like to travel to spots that have a lot of history and good food. It was a big plus that the National Constitution Center was having a Bruce Springsteen exhibit as my mom happens to be a huge fan. The weather was perfect the entire weekend and we had a blast. So much that we both had Philly withdrawals for days after and I was convinced I needed to move there. Here’s a recap of what we ate and a few of the spots we visited. If you’ve never been, it’s time to put Philly on your list of places to visit!
Our first place to eat was the Philadelphia Bar & Restaurant. I picked the special for the day, Fish and Chips. Boy, did I select wrong. It was pretty disgusting actually. Extremely greasy and tasteless for both the fish and the fries. I ended up scraping the batter off the fish and ate what I could. Such a bummer for our first stop to be so yucky.
Thankfully, they also had Fried Oreos on the menu. Since I barely ate my dinner, I was so game for fried Oreos! They serve them with a caramel dipping sauce. The plate decoration was a little ridiculous with the powdered sugar and cocoa and it ended up all over my lap and purse.
They tasted fantastic though! Warm and gooey and sweet and decadent. They may not fry fish and chips right, but they got the Oreos right!
Here’s a view of the National Constitution Center as we were walking up. See how gorgeous the day was!
We loved the Bruce Springsteen exhibit. Very cool.
We checked out the Reading Terminal Market and I was in love! Everything you could imagine. Meats, breads, cheeses, ice cream, sandwiches, bakeries, this list goes on. I could’ve spent the entire trip inside there. We had lunch at the Hatville Deli. I had their Famous Corned Beef Sandwich. It was delicious. Piles of thinly sliced corned beef, tons of sauce (I like a messy sandwich), and delicious bread. I was completely stuffed.
Also in the Reading Terminal Market is The Famous 4th Street Cookie Company. They had the most amazing selection of cookies. I’m usually a chocolate chip girl, but something drew me in to the Black & White. I still dream about this cookie today. It was perfectly soft and just enough chocolate and white icing. If this was the last cookie I’d ever eat, I’d be happy.
Of course when you’re in Philadelphia, you have to visit the Liberty Bell.
And the Rocky steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Yes, we walked up and down them just to say we did.
And the Rocky statue!
For lunch one day, we found our way into Moriarty’s Restaurant & Irish Pub. We were in the mood for burgers and I had the Onion Burger. Caramelized onions, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, and garlic mayo. It was pretty good. Not mind-blowing, but a good burger nonetheless.
I bet you’ll recognize this sign. It’s in Love Park (officially JFK Plaza).
I’ve saved the best three spots for last. We had dinner at El Vez one night and we still talk about it. In honor of Bruce, we ordered the Pink Cadillac Margarita. Jose Cuervo Classico, triple sec, fresh orange, lime, and cranberry juices. It was awesome!
Mom and I both ordered from the specials that day. We got two different enchiladas, and both tasted spectacular. Mine had chicken inside with a chile verde sauce. Mom’s had beef with a roasted red pepper sauce.
Of course we got dessert! We ordered the El Vez. Flourless chocolate cake, peanut custard with caramelized bananas, chocolate sauce, and peanut butter ice cream. It tasted as phenomenal as it sounds. Now you see why we enjoyed this place so much!
My favorite part of Philadelphia was touring the Eastern State Penitentiary. It’s super spooky, but very interesting and huge! You could really spend a few days there. I thought this pic my mom took of me in one of the cell blocks was cool. I am dying to go back for Halloween when they do Terror Behind the Walls. Can you imagine how scary that would be?!
Al Capone’s cell. Not quite like the others.
Last but not least, the Franklin Fountain! I could not wait to go here. It’s such a cute shop with that old timey soda fountain feel. The hardest part was deciding what to order. I finally picked the Hydrox Cookie Ice Cream Cone. Probably the best cookies & cream I’ve ever had!
There are several cities on my list to visit, but I cannot wait to get back to Philadelphia!
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
The other day I was thinking about my Veggie Quiche Cups and had the idea that they’d be fantastic as a sandwich. A Healthy Breakfast Sandwich to be exact. I eat breakfast twice these days (say it in your LOTR accent: Second Breakfast!) since I get up so early for work and I wanted something tasty, filling, and low calorie. I was madly in love with Kellogg’s breakfast sandwich, but it was time to cut out the processed food and save some money making my own. I recently got into kale and had to buy a huge bag, so I improvised on my Veggie Quiche Cups and used a ton of kale and spinach.
So, how’s it taste?
I was expecting them to be just ok and that I would miss my processed sandwich. Nope! These were fantastic! I couldn’t believe how much flavor they packed. Such a simple recipe, piled high with greens and a touch of Sriracha and I was sold. I made the first batch with English muffins, the low-calorie wheat/fiber kind. The English muffins probably hold the contents better, but I can’t resist a good everything bagel. Now they they make Bagel Thins, they are more calorie-friendly as well. I used a low-fat American cheese on some and a low-fat cream cheese on the other. Both are delicious and give the sandwich that extra little something beyond the egg muffins.
I put a lot of kale and spinach in my egg muffins. So much so, that the greens stick up in the pan, but that turned out great because you know how kale gets crunchy when you bake it! The carrots are a bit crunchy still too, which I like. There’s all kinds of textures going on in this sandwich. I bake my egg muffins on Sunday and prep for an entire week of second breakfast. Simply wrap the sandwiches in foil (after they’ve cooled from toasting) and store in the refrigerator. Wrap in a paper napkin and reheat for about 45 seconds in the microwave. Easy and healthy breakfast!
Healthy Breakfast Sandwiches
1 cup egg substitute (I use Egg Beaters)
1/2 cup chopped fresh carrots
1 cup chopped fresh kale
1 cup chopped fresh baby spinach
1 tsp. Sriracha (or more if you want it spicier)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
6 English muffins or Bagel Thins
6 slices of low-fat American cheese or 6 tbsp. low-fat cream cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Combine the egg substitute and all the veggies in a medium mixing bowl. Add the Sriracha, salt, and pepper. Stir until the spices are mixed and the veggies are coated with the egg substitute.
3. Spoon the mixture into 6 wells of the muffin tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one egg muffin comes out clean. (Mine overflowed a bit, so just in case, put a baking sheet underneath.) Let cool 5 minutes on wire rack. Use a knife to loosen the edges and remove the egg muffins.
4. Toast both halves of each English muffin or Bagel Thin. Place one slice of cheese (or 1 tbsp. each of cream cheese) on one English muffin or Bagel Thin half. Top with one egg muffin each and other half of English muffin or Bagel Thin. Eat immediately or wrap in foil and store in fridge. Wrap in a paper napkin and reheat for 45 seconds in the microwave.
Friday, April 19, 2013
First, let me profusely apologize for the picture. My pictures aren’t ever stellar anyway, but this one “takes the cake” (tee hee!) as being just plain awful. I forgot to charge my nice camera’s battery and it was uber o’clock in the morning while I was trying to scurry out the door for work. So I grabbed my cell phone and snapped away. I made this Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake for my boss’s birthday a few weeks ago. I was trying to top the Tunnel of Fudge cake from another coworker’s birthday, and let me tell you that was no easy feat.
So, how’s it taste?
When I opened the cake dome lid, it was peanut butter chocolate heaven. The aroma was intoxicating. The peanut butter frosting/filling is spot on. It’s amazing. It’s really fluffy, so much so that I almost want to call it a mousse. It wasn’t too peanut buttery, wasn’t too sweet, it was perfect. I will definitely make it again for other sweet treats.
The cake tasted really good and chocolately, but I think it’s all wrong for the frosting. I also had a problem with them sinking, which going back to the source I see a lot of comments that had that same issue, and mine were not underbaked. The cake is pretty dense and since it has to be stored in the fridge, it was really hard to cut a slice. The dense cake kind of squished the frosting everywhere. It got better at room temperature, but then the frosting was too greasy at room temperature, so they just don’t match. I was surprised at how the cake turned out because they seemed to be really moist when I took them out of the pans. Don’t get me wrong, the cake tasted awesome (hello PB and chocolate!), but I’d like to see this frosting with a lighter cake. I think it would work fantastically with the Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe (see my Blackberry Chocolate Cupcakes).
I also wish I had used more of the frosting/filling. I felt like I was adding too much in between the layers, but I really could have used all of it. I ended up not using about 1 1/2 cups and that was a mistake. Don’t be shy when filling between the layers! This frosting is also really easy to pipe and spread. Although you’ll never get it perfectly smooth, but it kind of adds to the look with the mousse-like texture. I think I’d like to make chocolate cupcakes and use this frosting. Don’t be surprised if you see that concoction soon on the blog!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting the pans
1 tbsp. instant espresso or coffee powder
1 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp. sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
Filling and Frosting
3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
3 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted, divided
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of coarse salt
Mini peanut butter cups, halved
1. For the cake, preheat oven to 350F. Butter edges of three 8-inch round cake pans and dust with cocoa powder. Shake the pans to remove excess. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, add cocoa powder, espresso powder, and boiling water. Whisk until smooth and set aside to cool. After cooling a bit, whisk in sour cream and vanilla. Set mixture aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add sugar and whip on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Add eggs one at a time. In another medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt with a whisk until blended.
2. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three additions alternating with sour cream mixture. Mix each addition just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between pans. Bake about 30-32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, rotating the pans during halfway through to ensure even baking. Transfer the cake to wire racks and cool in the pans at least 30 minutes. Next invert cake onto the racks to cool completely.
3. To make the filling and frosting, combine the heavy cream and 1/4 cup of the confectioners' sugar in a clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, being careful not to over mix. Transfer a separate bowl; set aside. In mixer bowl, now fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter and peanut butter. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 45 seconds. Add the rest of the confectioners' sugar and mix, slowly at first until incorporated, then increasing the mixer speed to high. Add vanilla extract and salt. Continue to whip on high speed until very fluffy, about 4-5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Using a large spatula, gently fold whipped cream into peanut butter frosting until no streaks remain.
4. Assemble the cake, placing one cake layer on a serving platter. Spread a layer of the frosting over the top of the cake. Top with a second cake and another layer of frosting. Place the last cake on top. Frost the top and sides using a thin crumb coat. Place in the freezer or fridge for 30 minutes to set. Reserve about 1 cup of the remaining frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip (Wilton #21 recommended). Once the crumb cake is set, frost the top and sides of the cake again using an offset spatula. Using the reserved frosting, pipe a border around the base of the cake. Pipe swirls evenly around the top border of the cake and one in the middle. Finish by garnishing with halved peanut butter cups. (Freezing the candy for a bit beforehand helps them stay looking nice while you cut them.) Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I’ve been focusing on eating better lately. Yes, counting calories, but really trying to add a lot more veggies and better foods into my diet. Before I attempted the 1-day juice cleanse, I’d had this plan to go to the grocery store and load up on good-for-me food. I came across a salad in Eating Well, but couldn’t find quinoa at the grocery store so I substituted brown rice and made Snap Pea & Brown Rice Salad.
So, how’s it taste?
I only intended to have a small bite when I made it because I had already broken the cleanse and was trying to push through it. One bite and I was gone! It’s so amazingly good. I always had a bad impression of sugar snap peas, that they were boring and had a “funny crunch.” What was I thinking? I tasted a few before I popped them into the salad and yum! Slightly sweet and they added a great texture to this already texture-loaded dish. Brown rice is a great vehicle for veggies and dressing. The lemon and olive oil keep it simple, with the dill adding an extra oomph. I used dried and this salad would be even more incredible with fresh. The mushrooms soaked up the dressing and I loved the bite from the red onion slivers (plus the pop of purple).
I loved it made fresh with brown rice…seriously went gaga over it, but the leftovers were awful. You know how reheated rice is just not the same as cooked fresh? The rice is too stiff and the mushrooms got too gushy and made it watery and tasteless the next day. I was surprised it didn’t keep well. I want to make this again with quinoa as the original recipe calls for to see if it holds up better. Although this salad would be very easy to make a few servings at a time.
Snap Pea & Brown Rice Salad
2 1/2 cups water
1 cup brown rice
2 cups fresh sugar snap peas, trimmed & cut diagonally into thirds
1 1/2 cups button mushrooms, cut into quarters if large
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill (or 1/2 tbsp. dried)
1/3 cup white balsamic or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
1 tbsp. lemon juice
honey to taste, optional
1. Heat water to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Stir in rice, cover, reduce heat to a simmer.
2. Simmer 45 minutes or until all water is absorbed and rice is tender. Fluff lightly with a fork and set aside.
3. Combine peas, mushrooms, onion, and dill in a medium bowl. Whisk vinegar, oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Stir the dressing into the cooled rice until evenly dispersed. Add the rice to the vegetable mixture and toss. Taste to see if you'd prefer a touch of sweetness from the honey. (I did this in a serving size because I enjoyed it with and without honey.) Serve immediately.
Monday, April 15, 2013
Yesterday I started my first ever 1-day juice cleanse. I wasn’t brave enough to commit to a 3-day, but I wanted to find out what all the buzz was about. I was also curious as to which camp I would fall into. Would I absolutely love it and feel great? Or would I hate every second of it? I had tasted several of Juice Nashville‘s juices and loved them, so I was really looking forward to it. My friend Beth over at Eat. Drink. Smile. had done the 3-day and loved it.
The timing was perfect. A few days before I started feeling just blah. My clothes were too tight (and these were my “roomy” clothes) and I was just downright uncomfortable. I had managed to escape my usual weight gain over the holidays and I guess I thought that made me immune to ever gaining an extra pound or two. Wrong! I’ve slowly let them creep on and it’s not making me happy. I know juicing isn’t just for weight loss, it’s supposed to make you feel awesome and give your body a recharge. I definitely needed a boost!
Instead of ordering the 1-day cleanse as packaged, I picked 5 bottles of juice that sounded good to me plus the almond milk. I am not a beet eater, so I didn’t want to bother with Whoa (kale, beets, apple, ginger). If it tasted like beets I’d hate it, and if I hated it, I’d blow the whole cleanse. I also skipped I Heart Carrots (nothing but carrots). All the bottles are 16 ounces of juice. I ordered:
Zing – cucumber, spinach, green apple, parsley – 140 calories
Snap – apple, carrot, ginger – 220 calories
Sing – kale, green apple, spinach, lemon – 220 calories
C Ya – orange, grapefruit, apple, ginger – 220 calories
Oh Yeah – kale, collard, apple, lemon – 180 calories
Almond Milk – almonds, filtered water
So, how’s it taste?
8:30 a.m. Woke up. I purposely chose a weekend day to try my first cleanse since I sleep later. My theory is that I’d be awake less hours than during the week, so by my calculations, I’d be drinking a juice every 2-3 hours. I started with Oh Yeah! It’s a green one and the one I was most unsure about because of the kale and collards. It was actually really good. It had a slight greens taste to it, but the apple made it sweet and the lemon was a nice touch to brighten it.
11:40 a.m. Time for juice #2! I picked Snap. It’s sweet and has a nice kick of ginger. I thought the ginger would be more subtle, but I liked how it was front and center. I waited a bit too long to drink a second juice. I had a meeting at 10 and brought water with me. I didn’t feel hungry at all until right at 11 and was wishing I had brought juice with me. I resisted the temptation of food at the meeting, which wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but even on juice #2 I can tell that I would not enjoy a 3-day cleanse! I don’t think I have that kind of willpower no matter how delicious the juice!
12:20 p.m. Opened the Almond Milk and took two swigs. I drank about half of the Snap and it’s really, really sweet, so I wanted to taste something different. The almond milk is really good but thinner than what I drink from the grocery store. I can’t turn my brain off into wanting something to chew and something savory. I’m also going to the bathroom every 10 minutes. It’s A LOT of juice!
1:45 p.m. Drinking Zing, juice #3. I really like it. It’s heavy on the cucumber and I can taste the parsley, which I love. It’s incredibly fresh. I’m not enjoying the cleanse though. I feel light-headed and I’m wasting my Sunday thinking about food instead getting the laundry list of items I need to do off my list. I’m not hungry and my stomach isn’t growling, but I’m not satisfied.
2:04 p.m. Well, I cracked. I really wanted to push through it, but I could not drink any more juice. I couldn’t finish the Zing. Not because it didn’t taste good, but I needed something else. I heated up a small serving of leftover low-cal macaroni & cheese. Yep, I’m a wuss. I feel a million times better and it only took a few bites to finally feel full and satisfied. Plus I’m not dreading going to the grocery store now. Before my hiccup, I consumed a little over 400 calories, which isn’t bad, but could explain why I wasn’t feeling awesome.
3:45 p.m. Back from the grocery store. I had some prep to do for my lunches and snacks at work during the week. I mixed my leftover Zing and Almond Milk together and sipped on it while I was in the kitchen. It’s crazy good mixed together! I liked how it was a tad bit creamier. Thanks for this tip from Beth!
6:18 p.m. I’m officially off the cleanse. I made an awesome cold salad with brown rice and fresh veggies and had to taste it. Then I couldn’t resist having a small bowl for dinner. I’m washing it down with Sing. This one is my favorite of the three green ones. The lemon and green apple make it taste so good.
I’ve got C Ya left, but I think I’ll save that for later today. I’m a little bummed I couldn’t make it through the cleanse, but glad I didn’t spend my Sunday dreaming about food either! I didn’t lose any weight, and I could feel a headache coming on right before I went to bed. Thankfully it never turned in to a full blown one. So the juice cleanse wasn’t for me, but I got to try a bunch of the juices I had never had before and pretty much liked all of them. I’ve also had their Refresh and it is by far my favorite! I encourage you to try Juice Nashville. Their juices are amazing and they take such care in making them. Order online and have them delivered or pick them up at several locations. They’re also opening a store in the Gulch very soon.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Juice Nashville and purchased the juices on my own. All opinions are 100% my own, as always. I am not selling the product, nor will I receive any compensation for this post. I just enjoyed their juices and wanted to share my experience with the 1-day cleanse. I am not suggesting to do the cleanse and am not a medical professional. Please do your own research and seek medical advice, if necessary, before attempting your own cleanse.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Don’t you love when flipping through recipes, you stop on one and happen to have all the ingredients already? I feel like I’ve won the lottery when that happens. I try to keep a well-stocked pantry, especially for baking, so it’s happening more and more these days. (If only the lottery win was happening, too!) I’ll settle for a batch of these Granola Cookie Wedges though!
So, how’s it taste?
ZOMG, heaven! You’d never believe these came out of Cooking Light magazine. At first, I flipped right on by them because they looked crispy in the picture and I’m not a crisp-cookie kind of person. I was itching to bake something last weekend, but didn’t want anything too involved. I also wanted something I could work into my calorie counting, so I gave these a second look. I’m glad I did!
They’re chewy and just the right amount of something sweet. Really just your basic oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, but I like that they’re in wedges and they were much easier to make since you use a pie plate. Mix the ingredients in a bowl, dump into a pie plate, spread out, bake, and you’ve got cookies in no time. The recipe only makes eight, which is perfect so I won’t be tempted like when there’s two dozen cookies in the house.
I like the crunch of the pecans with the sweet bites of chocolate chips. I think some cinnamon would work in this recipe, too. I could also see changing up the combinations and doing a white chip/cranberry or butterscotch/walnut. This recipe is a keeper.
Granola Cookie Wedges
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 large egg white
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 tbsp. semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Combine first 7 ingredients (through egg white) in a large bowl; stir until well combined. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Add flour, oats, nuts, and chocolate chips to sugar mixture; stir until just combined.
3. Scrape the dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate coated with cooking spray, and spread to edges using a spatula. Bake for 13 minutes or until set. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Cut into 8 wedges.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Mashed potatoes. I love them. I love the real deal and I love instant. I could (and have) had a bowlful of mashed potatoes for dinner on several occasions. They are one carb I will never give up (although for the record, mashed cauliflower is darn delicious, too). You have to admit, making the real deal can be quite time consuming, and a lot of folks refuse to do instant. Enter Quick Chive Mashed Potatoes. They’re quick and easy, yet not from the powdered stuff. A nice middle ground for when you’re short on time for dinner.
So, how’s it taste?
Really good. I was shocked you could get the flavor and texture from frozen mashed potatoes. I had never heard of Ore Ida Steam n’ Mash until I found this recipe. I try to stay away from the frozen potato aisle and all those fries begging to get in my cart. The Steam n’ Mash are cubes of potatoes and you steam them right in the bag (or in a bowl if you don’t want the whole thing) in the microwave and then mash with a fork. Pretty simple and you can have them as chunky or as smooth as you like. I like mine with a few big chunks. For this recipe, sour cream, fat-free milk, and butter are added. I left out the butter to save calories and it works great without it. I also used reduced-fat sour cream. AND…I used almond milk. I forgot to buy regular milk and that was all I had on hand but guess what? It totally worked! You couldn’t detect anything different at all. Saving on calories again! The flavor is spectacular with the chives. Chives and sour cream, sign me up!
I will note that a few of the chunks didn’t cook through as much as the others. While I was mashing with a fork, I noticed some were harder to mash. To remedy that, pop your bowl back in the microwave for a few seconds and they’ll cook more.
I served these Quick Chive Mashed Potatoes with Hamburger Steak and Onion Gravy. It’s a meat and potatoes meal you’ll love and won’t feel guilty about eating since the meal is under 400 calories. Add some cooked carrots and you’ve got a winning dinner in no time.
Quick Chive Mashed Potatoes
2 cups frozen mashed potatoes (such as Ore Ida Steam n' Mash)
2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
2 tbsp. sour cream (reduced fat works well)
2 tbsp. fat-free milk (almond milk works well)
1 tbsp. butter (can omit if preferred)
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat mashed potatoes according to microwave instructions.
2. Stir in chives, sour cream, milk, butter, and pepper.
Monday, April 8, 2013
Let’s talk about hamburger steak. Yes, it’s a burger without a bun and it’s not going to compete with say a filet, but don’t overlook it. I remember having hamburger steak as a kid and I’d smother it in ketchup. It’s the only time I put ketchup on anything really (I take my fries with BBQ sauce). I’m happy to have found this grownup version, Hamburger Steak with Onion Gravy. It’s a little more refined than dousing with the red stuff and oh my the flavor!
So, how’s it taste?
It’s so ridiculously simple to put together that I was expecting good, but not super whoa knock my socks off. What makes it so great is that you can really taste the beef. The hamburger steak is seasoned with only salt and pepper, and making sure you don’t overwork it when shaping into a patty, it’s fantastic. Simple, but it lets you really taste it. The onion gravy just ups it a level without stealing the show. I am an onion lover and can’t relate to anyone that doesn’t like them. They add oomph to so many dishes and when they’re caramelized…get out of town! The gravy is simple and not too thick, but full of beefy, oniony goodness. I almost wish I had doubled the gravy recipe so I could smother more of it on the hamburger steak.
I served this meal with Quick Chive Mashed Potatoes. Low calorie and easy to make without skimping on taste or texture. Both together were under 400 calories. Yep, meat and potatoes gone low cal!
Hamburger Steak with Onion Gravy
1 lb. ground sirloin
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tbsp. canola oil, divided $
1 1/2 cups vertically sliced onion $
2 tsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted beef stock
2 tbsp. thinly sliced green onions, optional
1. Divide beef into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Sprinkle patties evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; swirl to coat. Add patties; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned; remove from pan.
2. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add vertically sliced onion; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned and tender. Sprinkle onion with flour; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add stock and remaining salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Return patties to pan; reduce heat to medium, partially cover, and cook 5 minutes or until gravy is slightly thickened. Sprinkle with green onions, if desired.
Friday, April 5, 2013
I’m the official birthday treat maker at work…and I have no problem with that role. Matter of fact, I live for that kind of stuff. I will use any excuse to make something sweet and I love seeing everyone get excited over cake. However, I think I set the bar crazy high with this Tunnel of Fudge Cake. I don’t know how I’m going to top it. This is seriously one of the best chocolate cakes I have ever tasted. If you’re a chocoholic like me, you’ll fall madly in love. It’s a chocolate cake with a thick ganache topping, and a tunnel of gooey, fudgy chocolate in the middle. Brace yourselves.
So, how’s it taste?
I hope you like chocolate! See that glaze? It’s madness. Complete madness. It slowly gets thicker and becomes almost like a truffle. I will say that it’s too much for the cake. (What? Too much chocolate?) Yes, it’s too much. You see what a mess that cake looks like, and that isn’t even all of the glaze. I couldn’t bring myself to pour on anymore. So I highly, highly recommend making 1/2 the amount of glaze…unless you are going for this crazy, hot mess of chocolate look. Now back to the flavor…
No one cared how sloppy the cake looked. I mean it’s chocolate, and it’s way over the top. When I think I glaze, I think of a thin coating. This stuff is thick and rich and decadent. It truly is like someone melted truffles over the top. The cake is super moist and chocolatey. It’s got five eggs and a boatload of butter and different types of sugar. It is sugar coma inducing at first bite. But the best part is the tunnel of fudge. I have no idea how it works. The batter looks like any ordinary batter and there’s no special instructions, but somehow during baking the tunnel forms. I almost want to disagree with calling it fudge. The consistency is more like pudding. It’s not regular pudding though, it’s the best pudding you’ll ever taste. Rich, rich, rich.
Cutting the cake was a little difficult due to all of the glaze, so the pieces ended up a bit smushed and it’s hard to see the tunnel. But if someone handed you a slice, would you care? Nope! As the cake is cooling in the pan, it starts to really sink in. So much that I was worried I had ruined it. Don’t fear though, that’s just the tunnel of chocolate. Once you flip the cake over, it will hold its shape and you’ll be the new best friend of anyone you share a piece with.
Tunnel of Fudge Cake
Prep the pan
1 tbsp. Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup boiling water
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. salt
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
*Note: I would suggest making half the amount of glaze. It's plenty for the cake without going overboard and wasting some.
1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and melted butter. Using a pastry brush, evenly coat the inside of a 12-cup Bundt pan.
2. In a medium bowl, pour the boiling water over the chopped chocolate. Let stand 1 minute; whisk until smooth. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. In a liquid measuring cup, combine eggs and vanilla; beat lightly.
3. Using an electric mixer, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, add the egg mixture until combined. Add the chocolate mixture and mix until incorporated. Blend in dry ingredients until combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the edges of the cake begin to pull away from the pan.
4. Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 1 1/2 hours. The cake will begin to sink, but that's ok (that's the tunnel of fudge!). Invert onto a cake platter and allow to cool completely for 2 hours.
5. To make the glaze, combine the cream, corn syrup, and chocolate in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until smooth. Blend in the vanilla. Set aside for about 30 minutes, until slightly thickened. Drizzle the glaze over the cake and let set for at least 10 minutes before slicing. The glaze will set and become thick like a ganache.
*Note: I highly suggest dividing the glaze in half. It's too much glaze and will look better if you use less.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Taco Spaghetti? That sounds weird. That’s what you’re thinking right? I’ve mentioned this dish before to friends and they turn their noses up as if I’d said, “Hey for dessert let’s dip broccoli in chocolate.” I know it sounds strange, but trust me, merging taco salad and spaghetti is magnificent. There’s no tomato sauce involved, no Parmesan, so it’s not a true merging, but that probably helps you picture it’s goodness better. It’s like taco salad with the added bonus of pasta.
So, how’s it taste?
I’ve been making taco spaghetti for a long time. It really is just like taco salad, but with spaghetti. I love everything about it, all the cheese, the hearty beef, tangy olives. Plus any dish I can top with sour cream is always a winner. You can turn up the heat level with the type of salsa you use and certainly a great addition would be jalapenos. This dish is fairly low calorie for quite a big serving using beef, but if you make it with turkey it’s even lower. Both meats are fantastic.
It’s a really filling casserole and the leftovers are even better. It sounds strange, but I’m telling you, it’s worth trying. A great conversation piece when someone asks, “What’s for dinner?”
5 oz. dried spaghetti, broken
1 lb. ground beef (or turkey)
1 large onion, chopped
3/4 cup water
2 tbsp. taco seasoning mix
11 oz. can whole kernel corn with peppers, drained
1 cup sliced pitted black olives
1 cup colby jack or cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup salsa
4 oz. can diced green chili peppers, drained
sour cream, optional
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a 12-inch skillet, cook beef and onion until meat is brown. Drain fat. Stir in water and taco seasoning. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cooked pasta, corn, olives, half of the cheese, salsa, and green chili peppers.
3. Transfer mixture to lightly greased 2-quart round casserole. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake until melted.
4. Serve with shredded lettuce, tortilla chips, tomatoes, and sour cream, if desired.