Sunday, May 30, 2010

Shrimp Herb Fettuccine Alfredo and Cookies 'n' Zing Cheesecake

These dishes were so yummy :)  My favorite was the Shrimp Alfredo. I cannot stand shrimp, it seriously makes me gag. But after making this dish today, I realized that the reason why I hate shrimp so much is because of the way it is cooked. Most people overcook it so it ends up having a chewy/sponge-like texture...bleh. The key is to cook the shrimp only until it is slightly white and pink, (but still has a little transparency), about 3 minutes, and then add the hot alfredo sauce to it. It makes all the difference in the world. For the Cookies 'n' Zing Cheesecake, it was really tasty and had an assortment of flavors and textures. But I realized something, I do not like chocolate. I love fruity things, but not rich chocolate. So if you like chocolate, try this cheesecake because it is delish.

Shrimp Herb Fettuccine Alfredo
1 pound fettuccine pasta
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
basil and oregano
1 pound raw shrimp (it should be gray, not pink!)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
basil and oregano
1 Tablespoon cornstarch mixed in 1 Tablespoon water (may be optional) 
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
*Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute shrimp, garlic, and herbs in butter for about 2-3 minutes. In a saucepan, whisk together cream, milk, and sour cream. Bring to a small boil, slowly whisk in cheeses. Reduce heat and continue to stir for about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic, salt and pepper, and basil and oregano. Stir until cheeses are melted. You may need to whisk in cornstarch mixture if the sauce does not thicken completely. (I added the cornstarch mixture because I am hate waiting for a sauce to thicken.) When sauce has thickened, pour into skillet full of shrimp. Stir in parsley and cook for about 1 additional minute. Serve over pasta.

Cookies 'n' Zing Cheesecake
2 cups chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 pounds cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups chocolate sandwich cookie pieces
16 ounces sour cream
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*Combine 2 cups cookie crumbs, melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl; firmly press evenly onto bottom of a 10-inch spring-form pan. (Note: only use the wafer part of the cookie if using Oreos, the cream filling makes the crust soggy.) Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes; set aside and cool. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually mix in 1 1/4 cups sugar, 1/3 cup cream, flour, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Pour 1/3 of batter into prepared pan. Top with 1 1/2 cups cookie pieces. Pour in remaining batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove cake from oven. Combine sour cream, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Spread evenly on cheesecake. Continue baking for 7 minutes. Turn oven off and leave in oven for 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake and let cool completely on a wire rack. When cheesecake is cooled, remove ring from spring-form pan. (Note: run a knife along edge of ring before removing.) Combine 1 cup cream and chocolate chips in a saucepan. (I would recommend using milk chocolate chips or white chocolate chips. For me, the semisweet chocolate chips made the cheesecake way too rich.) Stir over low heat or until chocolate melts, and then stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pour mixture over cheesecake while still warm. Refrigerate until serving time. (This should be about 4-6 hours.) Remove 1/2 hour before serving, and enjoy!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sweet-Tart Salmon and Fruit Salsa

I got this recipe from my good friend and fellow blogger, Elizabeth Swartzberg (you may know her as Lizzy Cook). Her joint cooking blog is so cute, check it out:  Anyway, this recipe is super easy and yummy. The salmon is moist and almost "buttery" (if that is even a word). The salsa is also delish.

Sweet-Tart Salmon and Fruit Salsa

Salmon (however much you like)
Honey or brown sugar
Lime/lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1 mango, chopped
2 cups pineapple, chopped (fresh, frozen, or canned)
2 cups black beans (1-15 oz can is fine)
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon lime/lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey or brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (if using dried, use 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 heaping teaspoon cumin
A few dashes of salt
*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle a baking dish with olive oil. Place the salmon in the baking dish. (You can either remove the skin or leave it on--I prefer no skin.) Sprinkle the salmon with brown sugar or honey. Drizzle some lemon or lime juice on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, add the remaining ingredients into a medium-sized bowl for the fruit salsa. Refrigerate salsa until the salmon is done cooking. Top the salmon with the salsa. Enjoy :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Thai Wraps

Spicy, tasty, warm, and toasted. Thai wraps are so gooooood! These are unique and easy to put together. The key is to let the filling marinate for a few hours before serving.

Thai Wraps
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup white vinegar
6 Tablespoons sugar
6 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 cups chopped cilantro
4 Tablespoons salsa
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeno chiles, minced
1 1/2-2 heads green cabbage, cubed
1-2 carrots, grated
6 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
8 green onions, chopped
Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce
1/3 cup white vinegar
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup green chiles
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
*Combine oil, vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce together in a bowl. Stir in the salsa, garlic, jalapenos, and cilantro. Set aside. In a very large bowl, stir together the cabbage, carrots, chicken, and green onions. Pour the vinegar/cilantro mixture over these ingredients. Stir well and marinate in the fridge for a few hours. (The longer you marinate, the better.) For the dipping sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in the blender and puree until smooth. For the wraps, place a spoonful of filling in the middle of a wrap. Place any type of cheese in the center (white cheeses are best tasting for this wrap). Tuck and roll. Heat in the microwave for 2 minutes. Place wrap(s) on a baking sheet and toast on broil for about 1 minute, until lightly browned and toasty. Serve with dipping sauce. Makes about 12 wraps.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Black Bean Brownies

Right now you may be thinking...Black Bean Brownies? Gross! But don't discriminate against these little guys. These brownies are moist, flavorful, and surprisingly taste like actual brownies. It's a miracle. I like them because for one, they are made with black beans. Two, no sugar is added (honey is used). Third, no flour is added. So this recipe is pretty friendly to many diets.

Black Bean Brownies

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter (you can use applesauce for a portion of the butter)
2 cups soft-cooked black beans, drained well (canned is fine)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
4 large eggs
1½ cups honey
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 9x12 glass baking pan with parchment paper.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl in the microwave for 30 second intervals for 2 minutes, stirring between each interval. Stir with a spoon to melt the chocolate completely. Place the beans, 1/2 cup of the walnuts, the vanilla extract, and a couple of spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Blend about 2 minutes, or until smooth. The batter should be thick and the beans smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts, remaining melted chocolate mixture and salt. Mix well and set aside.

In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer beat the eggs until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the honey and beat well. Set aside.

Add the bean/chocolate mixture to the walnut/chocolate mixture. Stir until blended well.

Add the egg mixture, reserving about 1/2 cup. Mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1/2 cup egg mixture until light and fluffy. Drizzle over the brownie batter. Use a wooden toothpick to pull the egg mixture through the batter, creating a marbled effect. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the brownies are set. Let cool in the pan completely before cutting into squares. (They will be soft until refrigerated.) Makes 45 (2-inch) brownies. *Note: these MUST be refrigerated and cooled completely or they will not have a brownie-like texture. Trust me, I made the mistake of thinking they would be okay warm.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Indian Chicken Curry

I absolutely love curry and I thought this turned out great! It was too hot for mom (of course). Dad and Isaac even thought it was a bit too spicy. I only got one word for them: "weaksauce!" :) Well I loved this, so give it a try and enjoy.

Indian Chicken Curry

6 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 Tablespoons curry powder
1 Tablespoon garam masala (optional)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons paprika
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste
4 skinless/boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups plain yogurt
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until lightly browned. Stir in garlic, curry powder, garam masala, cinnamon, paprika, bay leaves, ginger, sugar, and salt. Continue stirring for two minutes. Add chicken pieces, tomato paste, yogurt, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Remove bay leaves and stir in lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Simmer 5 minutes. Eat over rice. (I cook brown rice seasoned with cumin, salt, pepper, garlic, and basil.) Serves 6.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Blueberry Waffles

Waffles...hmmm. Here's a trick when making fruit filled waffles: when pouring the batter into the waffle-iron, make a swirl, sprinkle the fruit, then swirl some more batter on top. This way, the fruit won't sink to the bottom, and in this case, the blueberries won't dye the batter an unappetizing green color if using frozen berries. Enjoy :)

Blueberry Waffles
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour (I prefer whole wheat)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup blueberries
*Blend together the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl. Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Gradually add the wet and dry ingredients together. Let the batter sit for a few minutes to thicken. Heat a sprayed waffle-iron. When cooking waffles: pour batter into a swirl, sprinkle on a few blueberries, swirl more batter on top. serve with whipped cream and more blueberries. Serves 4-6 people.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there! Hope it was wonderful. Well, I found out that Isaac has never made a meal for the family. I immediately took action and forced Isaac to make a meal today. It was fun to be joined by another chef in the Hinckley Kitchen. We made Pork Chops with an Apple Compote, Steamed Artichoke with Herbed-Butter for dipping, Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes, and the Most Delicious Gravy Ever (yeah, dorky I know... that's the only name I could think of). And for Dessert? Drumroll please...Tropical Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting. To sum it all up, the Mother's Day dinner was a big hit. It was absolutely scrumptious :)

Pork Chops with an Apple Compote

Pork Chops:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sea or Kosher salt
  • 1 quart apple juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 4 double-cut bone-in loin pork chops (we simply cut a pork roast into 4 thick slices)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Apple Compote:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced in 1/2-inch-thick chunks
  • Leaves from 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch dry mustard
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl combine the brown sugar, sea salt, apple juice, peppercorns, and thyme. Give it a good stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Transfer the mixture to an extra-large re-sealable plastic bag. Submerge the pork chops in the brine, seal up the bag, and put it in the refrigerator for 2 hours to tenderize the meat. Do not brine longer than that or the meat will break down too much and get mushy.
Remove the pork chops from the brine and pat them dry with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides of the meat with salt and pepper. Put a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add a 3-count drizzle of olive oil and get it hot. Lay 2 pork chops in the pan (most likely only 2 of these pork chops will fit comfortably) and brown 4 minutes per side. Remove the pork chops to a large baking pan; brown the remaining 2 chops and add them to the others in the pan. Put the baking pan in the oven and roast the chops for 20-30 minutes. The pork is done when the center is still rosy.
While the chops cook, melt the butter in a clean skillet over medium-low heat. Add the apples and thyme and coat in the butter; cook and stir for 8 minutes to give them some color. Toss in the raisins and add the apple juice, stirring to scrape up the brown bits. Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and dry mustard; season with salt and pepper. Add in the lemon juice to wake up the flavor and simmer for 10 minutes or until the apples break down and soften. Spoon the apple compote over the pork chops.

Steamed Whole Artichokes
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken broth or water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 whole artichoke


Put the parsley, garlic, bay leaf, lemon juice, oil and broth in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Season the liquid with salt and pepper. In the meantime prepare the artichokes.
Wash artichokes under cold water. Using a heavy stainless steel knife, cut off the stems close to the base. Pull off the lower petals that are small and tough. Cut off the top inch of the artichoke. If you wish, trim the thorny tips of the petals with kitchen shears.
Place the artichokes in the steaming liquid, bottom up. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. The artichokes are done when a knife is inserted into the base and there is no resistance (almost like butter).
To eat, pull off a leaf and scrape the meat off the tender end with your front teeth. Dip the ends of the leaves in Herbed-Butter if desired. (Herbed-Butter is simply 1/2 cup butter melted with basil, oregano, and garlic.) When you reach the center cone of purple prickly leaves, remove it. This is the choke that protects the heart. Now, scrape away the thistle fuzz covering the artichoke heart. The heart is the meatiest part of the artichoke.

Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

  • 10 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated


Put the potatoes into a large pot, add the bay leaf, 1 tablespoon salt, and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain them well and remove the bay leaf. Immediately start to mash the potatoes. Add the butter, cream, garlic and season with salt and pepper. Mash the potatoes until you reach a smooth/chunky texture (or however you like them). Mix in the Parmesan with a spoon at the end.

The Most Delicious Gravy Ever
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream


In a saucepan, cook the butter and onions over medium-low heat for 12 to 15 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Don't rush this step; it makes all the difference when the onions are well-cooked.
Sprinkle the flour into the pan, whisk in, then add the salt and pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and cook uncovered for 4 to 5 minutes until thickened. Add the cream. Season, to taste, and serve.

Tropical Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
*This cake recipe is healthy, moist, and so delicious. (Sorry, but unfortunately the frosting is not healthy, but it sure tastes good!)
3 cups sifted whole wheat flour (sifted, then measured)
1 cup sweetened dried coconut
1 cup crushed walnuts
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 large eggs
1/2 vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups finely grated carrots
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, well drained
1 1/2 packages cream cheese (8-oz), room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons coconut extract
3 cups powdered sugar (more or less)
1/2 cup sweetened dried coconut
For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Combine the flour, dried coconut, and walnuts. Add in the ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
Using electric mixer or fork, beat honey, sugar, and oil in a bowl to blend. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Beat into the dry mixture. Add in the carrots and crushed pineapple.
Divide batter among pans. Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in pans on racks about 10 minutes. Run knife around edge of pans to loosen cakes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.
For frosting:
Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in coconut milk and both extracts. Gradually add in powdered sugar. Stir in dried coconut. You may need to chill until firm enough to spread.
Place 1 cake layer on platter. Spread 1/3 of frosting over top of cake. Top with second cake layer. Spread another 1/3 of frosting over. Top with third cake layer, pressing slightly to adhere. Spread the remaining frosting over top.  Sprinkle of crushed walnuts and dried coconut. Chill cake for 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead--this will give it a better flavor.) Cover with cake dome or plastic wrap and chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Greek Gyros

Gyros (pronounced "yeeros") is a Greek dish. It consists of meat, tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce, served with pita bread. One traditional meat to use is lamb, and that is what I cooked up to go inside these babies. I hate everything about lamb--the smell, the taste, the sight of those poor woolly animals being slaughtered...Anyway, I cooked lamb because it's customary and dad thought that this dish sounded tasty. To my surprise, the lamb was yummy. The result: a succulent meat resting beside grilled onions and red peppers, lettuce, feta cheese, tzatziki sauce (and even a little bit of hummus) inside a pita...delish. 


3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
2 pounds lamb rib chops
2 red bell peppers, cored and sliced
1 onion, sliced
4 large (or 6 small) pita pockets
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
lettuce or arugula
*In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil, the vinegar, red pepper flakes, dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Carefully cut the meat from the bones, then add the meat to the bowl. Toss well to coat, then refrigerate for 2-6 hours. Heat the grill to medium high, coat the grates with cooking spray. Use the remaining 1 Tablespoon of oil to rub all sides of the red bell peppers and onion slices. (You can either broil these or grill them, but grilling is a bit more challenging.) Cook the lamb on the grill, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side. To assemble the wraps, slice the cooked lamb and place it down the center of each pita. Top with grilled peppers, onions, crumbled feta, lettuce, and tzatziki sauce.

Tzatziki Sauce

2 cups plain yogurt (Greek yogurt is best)
Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint (or 1 teaspoon dried mint)
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon minced onion
*Stir the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl until thoroughly combined. (You can also put this in the blender if you don't like the chunkiness of the cucumbers.)
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