Wish Upon A Dish: July 2011

July 24, 2011

Information on Nuts and Type 2 Diabetes

Every week I get an Email newsletter from Diabetic Gourmet Magazine. Usually it is filled with advertisements and non-essential information but this article caught my eye and I thought it was worthwhile enough to share with my readers......

Eating Nuts Every Day Could Help Control Type 2 Diabetes and Even Prevent Complications

July 2011 - Eating nuts every day could help control Type 2 diabetes and prevent its complications, according to new research from St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto.

In the research, published online by the journal Diabetes Care, a team of researchers led by Dr. David Jenkins (University of Toronto Department of Nutritional Sciences; St. Michael's Hospital Risk Factor Modification Centre) reports that consuming two ounces of nuts daily as a replacement for carbohydrates proved effective at glycemic and serum lipid control for people with Type 2 diabetes. The article, entitled "Nuts as a Replacement for Carbohydrates in the Diabetic Diet," is available here.

"Mixed, unsalted, raw, or dry-roasted nuts have benefits for both blood glucose control and blood lipids and may be used as part of a strategy to improve diabetes control without weight gain," said Dr. Jenkins, who also has appointments with St. Michael's Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism and the U of T's Department of Medicine. He also serves as Canada Research Chair in Nutrition and Metabolism.

Jenkins and his colleagues provided three different diet supplements to subjects with Type 2 diabetes. One group was given muffins,
one was provided with a mixture of nuts including raw almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts, cashews, and macadamias, and one group was given a mixture of muffins and nuts.

Subjects receiving the nut-only supplement reported the greatest improvement in blood glucose control using the glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) test. The nut diet subjects also experienced a reduction in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (known as LDL, or "bad cholesterol"). The subjects provided the muffin supplement or mixed muffin-and-nut supplement experienced no significant improvement in gylcemic control but those receiving the muffin-nut mixture also significantly lowered their serum LDL levels.

"Those receiving the full dose of nuts reduced their HbA1c [the long-term marker of glycemic control] by two-thirds of what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recognizes as being clinically meaningful for therapeutic agents. Furthermore, neither in the current study nor in previous reports has nut consumption been associated with weight gain. If anything, nuts appear to be well suited as part of weight-reducing diets," Dr. Jenkins said.

"The study indicates that nuts can provide a specific food option for people with Type 2 diabetes wishing to reduce their carbohydrate intake."

I use ground nut flours in as many ways as I can....often adding them to whole wheat pastry flour when I bake banana and zucchini breads and crusts for tarts, both savory and sweet. You can find most nut flours in the baking aisle under the Hodgson Mill's label, in health food stores and in Whole Foods.
My favorites are chestnut, almond and corn. They can sometimes be labeled as a meal or a flour so look for both. Meals are a larger grind and flours usually are ground to a fine powder.

July 21, 2011

30 Minute Meals from America's Test Kitchen

I an effort to help my Dad revise his eating habits and get him to eat three full meals a day and 2 snack's, I have been ordering cookbooks from America's Test Kitchen.

He needs recipes with low-salt, low-fat and low-acidic ingredients that are easy to prepare and cook. I have my work cut out for me on this one.

My Dad, unlike many Seniors in this country, has refused to get a computer, so saying to him, "Dad, just go into Google and look up low salt recipes" will fall on deaf ears.

Cookbooks were the best way to go...but he's not getting them. He won't open them. His sight isn't all that great and he doesn't like to strain his eyes reading small print. I will copy and past them and enlarge the print.

Hey, he's my Dad and my best buddy. Nothing's too good for him.

I will make a binder for him with copied recipes from each book that I think he will prepare and eat.

The first one I bought was the Slow Cooker Revolution, with 200 recipes in a family-friendly collection that delivers a revolution in slow cooking like only America's Test Kitchen can.

I bought him a Crockpot right after his open heart surgery, gave him a few lessons but he forgot everything I taught him and really has no idea what to do with it.

The majority of the recipes that will go into his binder from this book will be soups, stocks and large pieces of meat that will be portioned into single meals.

The second one was The Best Slow & Easy Recipes, which has more than 250 foolproof, flavor-packed roasts, stews, and braises that let the oven do the work.

This will be used for recipes that don't do well in a Crockpot.

Lasagnas, oven fried chicken, healthy meatloaves, roasted loins etc.

The final book, arrived yesterday.
I had forgotten I ordered it. Their cookbooks are as slow in arriving as the time it takes to test each recipe.

The Best Simple Recipes is one that I will enjoy cooking from and have already earmarked 5-6 recipes I will be making after returning from New England in two weeks.

These will be dishes that he can make when he forgets to use the other two books....lol.

What I love about the America's Test Kitchen cookbooks is that they give very good directions for each recipe with hints and tips along the way.

Something I know will be extremely appreciated by my Dad.

I will take a pic of each recipe that he makes and post it under my new label Senior Moments in Food Economics 101.
If you also need to start preparing your parents for those senior years, at least you will be armed with recipes that will already have been tested by "Senior Hands".

July 19, 2011

When life gives you no ripe tomatoes....make Chicken 'n Dumplings

I planted 6 tomato plants of various types Memorial Day weekend. They are all almost 5' tall, but I have maybe one heirloom just starting to turn red, two grape tomatoes ready to turn yellow and a half dozen small green ones, but, sorry to say, that's it!!

I am either going to get a ton all at the same time or this year will be a total bust.

I do envy everyone I see who is already picking produce from their gardens.
I will have to settle for pesto I guess.

It is so hot & humid today that I will have no choice but to put the AC on all day, upstairs and down. Eating outside tonight will he a horror story with all the flies and mosquitoes that nowadays continuously frequent this area. Without a breeze they hover like helicopters and are as huge.

I am already reading posts about berries starting to disappear from the farmer's market and that depresses me, so I have been buying pints and freezing them. I haven't even made my first raspberry sorbet yet.

The end of July I will be in Maine for a week at a wedding and visiting family, so I know when I get home all the berries will be gone. The robins have stripped our wild raspberry bushes clean and raspberries in my market are up $.50 a pound (highway robbery, I say).

I know Chicken 'N Dumplings are not summer fare, but I have lots of leftover cooked chicken, a package of carrots I need to use, the last of a bag of frozen peas and 2 cups of stock in the carton. I need to desperately clean out my fridge. Sounds like the makin's for chicken 'n dumplings to me.

I'm sorry but, this has to be one of our favorite dishes of all time and it's made in one pot....Yay, for me!!

Chicken and Dumplings
* 1 teaspoon olive oil
* 1/2 onion, chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
* 5 small carrots, cut into coins
* 1 bay leaf
* 2 sprigs fresh thyme
* 2 T olive oil
* 2 cups chicken broth
* 1/2 packet Goya Chicken Broth
* 1 cup water
* 1/2 cup peas
* 1/2 cup mushrooms
* 1-2 cups leftover cooked chicken (whatever you have)
* 1 tablespoon goat cheese or Boursin cheese
* salt & pepper to taste
* fresh parsley for garnish

1. Saute onions & garlic in olive oil until softened. Add carrots and cook another 2 minutes. Sprinkle flour on top and stir in.
2. Add chicken broth, chicken packet and water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and add in peas, mushrooms and sherry. Cook until the carrots are tender. Add chicken, cheese and salt & pepper.
3. Spoon in the dumplings, cover and simmer for 10 minutes until the dumplings are puffy and steamed through.

OK, ok...I will give you my fast and easy dumpling recipe also....

* 1 1/2 cup self rising flour or Bisquick (heart smart version please) if you have too.
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/2 tsp pepper
* 1/2 tsp fresh thyme and fresh parsley, minced
* 1/2 cup buttermilk + more if needed (I used 1% milk because I was out of buttermilk)

Mix dry ingredients together and pour in milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is moist but not wet.

Using two spoons, scrape off 1 tablespoon of mixture from one spoon to the other until you have a football-shaped quenelle of dough.

Drop into the broth and simmer until you push it with your finger, and it springs back.

This blog is not about the perfect picture of a dish, it is not about the perfect dish with a stylized picture, this blog is what we eat in my house on a day to day basis, good, gourmet, and healthy dishes that taste great.

If I can control my sugar and my weight and still eat tasty, gourmet meals, why should I not want to share that with others??

Sooner or later, diabetics will find this site and learn that having Diabetes is not a death sentence....food-wise.

What I cook, with a diabetic twist of course, is healthier then what some families eat on an average night. Anyone who says healthy food doesn't taste good, is using that as an excuse to not cook good food but to go out to eat instead.

July 18, 2011

Grilled Mahi Mahi

I made this recipe when The Nudge was traveling, so I made it again for him.

I like that the sauce is all one pot, a grill on the fish and a boil on the pasta. At over 90 degrees it was the perfect meal for dinner. I made the sauce ahead of time, nuked it for 7 minutes while the pasta was boiling and the Mahi Mahi was grilling.

All done at the same time in under 30 minutes.

If you have never had Mahi Mahi you should try to find a source. Our market stores them in 4oz frozen, sealed packages and it is always in my freezer.

Not very expensive, it will go on sale and that's when I stock up.

Traditionally from the Pacific waters, it is best known up & down the Baja Peninsula for the fish tacos of the same name.

The Nudge loves angel hair pasta, so I boiled up 2oz for him.

I ate a large garden salad 30 minutes before dinner and I picked at dinner. The leftovers will make a very nice lunch today. You could not get any healthier then this recipe.

This recipe is from my Wolfgang Puck cookbook Adventures in the Kitchen, published way back in 1991.

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Tomatoes and Sweet Peppers
Adapted from Adventures in the Kitchen, Wolfgang Puck

* 1/3 cup olive oil
* 1 medium onion, minced
* 4 garlic cloves, minced
* Pinch of chili pepper flakes to taste
* 3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced (I used the canned Petite Cut Hunt's)
* 1 red bell pepper, diced
* Pinch of Saffron
* Pinch of chopped fresh thyme leaves
* Pinch of chopped fresh basil leaves plus whole for garnish
* 1/2 cup dry white wine
* Salt & Pepper to taste
* 2 pounds of firm fish (Halibut, Mahi Mahi, Snapper, Bass)

Heat the grill.
In a heavy saute pan, heat 1/4 cup olive oil. Saute the onion, garlic and chili flakes for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, bell pepper, saffron, thyme and basil, pour in the wine, and cook over medium heat until the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Keep warm.
Brush the remaining oil over the fish and season with salt & pepper. Grill until medium, about 3 1/2 minutes each side.

Spoon the tomato and bell pepper mixture in the center of 4 heated dinner plates. Place a fish fillet on top and garnish with basil leaves.

July 17, 2011

In honor of National Peach Ice Cream Day & finally mastering my new Cuisinart

I am wrestling with my ice cream maker.

I know that the first time you try something new, it can take a few times to get it right but making ice cream seemed so risk free.

Let's not talk about the first time.

I tried a recipe that wasn't a recommended recipe for my maker and it never got creamy.

The second time I made sure I followed the directions to the "T" and picked a recipe made for my brand maker. I choose a custard based mixture and the recipe said, makes enough for a 1 1/2 quart ice cream maker.
That's what I have.

Everything looked like it was working well, so I add the pureed peaches to the almost frozen ice cream.

So far, so good. It was getting frozen, it was churning and staying creamy so I came back to my desk.

About 10 minutes later The Nudge comes into the room and says..."the ice cream machine is over flowing".


"Yeah, come look". "Oh, geez, now what?"

I guess the recipe was wrong. It was making enough for 2 quarts.

I scooped out what was still in the bowl, into 2 plastic quart containers, placed them in the freezer and washed the whole machine, inside and out. It had spilled all over the counter and under the machine.....sigh.

At least it made a really good batch of peach ice cream, just too much of it.

That's not a bad thing, is it? I think the next time I will wait till I scoop out the soft-freeze custard and then fold in the fruits.

Lesson 2 learned the hard way. I really was excited when this batch actually looked like soft-serve ice cream. Whooo Hooo!! I did it.

No stopping me now.

I have fate on my side, isn't the third time always the charm?

Peach Ice Cream
Adapted from Food Network, recipe by Curtis Aikens
makes 1 generous quart

* 2 cups chopped fresh or frozen peaches, peeled if preferred
* 1 1/4 cups sugar
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons peach brandy
* 2 cups heavy cream
* 1 cup milk
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 4 egg yolks

1. In a bowl combine peaches, 1/2 cup sugar, lemon juice and peach brandy. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally. Remove peach mixture from refrigerator and drain juice into a cup. Return peaches to refrigerator.

2. In a saucepan combine 3/4 cup sugar, heavy cream, milk and vanilla. Bring just to a boil.

3. In bowl whisk egg yolks. While whisking stream in about 1/3 of the boiled cream mixture. While whisking cream and sugar mixture, stream in egg and cream mixture. Return to the heat and continue to heat while stirring. Mixture will thicken as it returns to a boil. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl set over ice. Add the reserved peach juice.

4. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. After the ice cream begins to stiffen, when very close to done, add the peaches and continue to freeze until done. Variation: Use fresh raspberries

The Nudge already requested Banana (which are on sale this week), a Sorbet and Vanilla Fudge....LOL

July 14, 2011

Very Crabby Salad

Many, many years ago while accompanying The Nudge on a business meeting in Baltimore, we extended our stay to scope out the inner harbor and the brand new stadium they built (I said it was many x2). We managed to hit a few restaurants recommended by Gourmet and then hit the local crab shacks. The crab was sweet and spicy and right out of the steamer. I could have eaten a dozen more but my lips were numb from the spices....Yummy!!

Back then you could actually buy a bushel of crabs from the NJ shore for $5.00, but not today, go to a crab shack in Wildwood and they import their's from Baltimore, imagine that.

We done fished them out and what is left comes out of polluted swamps.

I decided that since Baltimore is the home of crab cakes I would make it my mission to find the BEST CRAB CAKES between Baltimore and Annapolis.

The winner was a little dinky place called John Stevens LTD. right in the inner harbor. Only way to get there is to take the ferry and if you didn't know it was there you would have walked right past it. It is still there and as great as when we where there. If you go, you have to also get their mussels. OMG and that's all I will say.

They made theirs the way you always hear the aficionados tell you they like them made. Just a little filler to keep them moist and together. I actually like it when it is a pile of seasoned crab with a lite hand on buttered panko for crunch and baked in the oven till heated through. Plenty of spice from the Old Bay and Tobasco or Hot Sauce (my new love being Frank's Original).

Simple, tasty and really good.

So, in honor of those crab cakes I made these.

Very Crabby Salad
Adapted from a Memory
Makes 4 - 1/3 cup cakes
* 1 pound lump crab meat, picked over
* 1 teaspoon Old Bay
* 1 scallion, diced
* 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
* 1 1/2 teaspoons Frank's Hot Sauce
* 1 tablespoon minced roasted red pepper
* 1 egg, beaten
* 1 tablespoon Dijonaise
* 1/4 cup panko
* 1 tablespoon butter (I use Bummel & Brown's Yogurt Spread)
* salt & pepper to taste

The amount of spice and heat may seem like too much, but trust me, these were delicious and perfectly seasoned.

Blend all the ingredients, let them sit to marry the flavors and using a 1/3 cup measuring cup as a mold, make 4 mounds of crab mixture. Top with a nob of butter (or spread) and bake a 375F oven for 20 minutes.

If I was going to serve them on a bun I would saute them, but I felt I wanted to go in a healthier, lighter direction and serve them on a basic garden salad (cucumber, red onion, romaine and tomatoes) with Litehouse bleu cheese dressing (which I thin out with a few glubs of white wine).

I am currently eating half of what I normally eat so I had one cake with my salad and The Nudge had two.
I love that the dressing only has 150 calories in 2 tablespoons and it is thick and creamy with lots of blue cheese flavor and bits.
The outside had a nice crust and they were moist on the inside. The Nudge was surprised they were healthy for him because they were so flavorful.

July 12, 2011

We went Mediterranean last night

About a week ago, Mary from One Perfect Bite posted a watermelon gazpacho recipe.

I have never tasted a gazpacho. Until a year ago, I was not a fan of fresh tomatoes. Mostly because unless you grow your own, they are flavorless and hard...yuck.

I would eat them with a fresh mozzarella salad and basil, but the majority of the ones I grew in my garden always ended up in a sauce. I just didn't appreciate a good fresh tomato.

Last year I made a promise to eat as many fresh tomatoes as I could get my hands on. They were just too good nutrition-wise to not eat them.

Now, one year later, I absolutely love tomatoes, and can't get enough. Grapes being my favs by far, but I am trying to grow heirlooms as well as yellow grape tomatoes.
While I wait patiently for them to ripen, I thought this recipe would be a good introduction to gazpacho.

We both love watermelon, but I wasn't sure how The Nudge would react when I told him I was making a watermelon gazpacho. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised at his total acceptance to having it for dinner.

I love that it is all done in the processor or blender. A perfect dish for a warm summer night.

If you want it with texture, use the processor, a completely smooth one requires the use of a blender. I will use the blender and top it with diced cucumber, feta cheese and since I do not like cilantro, fresh chervil from my garden.

Watermelon Gazpacho
Adapted from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

2 cups chopped ripe red tomatoes, seeds removed
1 small jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
5 cups cubed fresh water melon, divided use
1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon minced red onion
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced cilantro, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

In a blender, puree tomatoes, chile, and 4 cups of watermelon. Pour in sherry wine vinegar and olive oil and pulse. Add onion, cucumber and cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Pour into chilled bowls and sprinkle with cilantro, feta, and remaining watermelon. Serve. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

I halved the recipe for the two of us and he still had enough for a lunch today.

Thank you Mary, for introducing me to gazpacho with a recipe that was easy and delicious to eat.

I also had leftover makings for an Traditional Bistro Artichoke, Kale and Ricotta Pie. A quick & easy throw together, no crust pie which is more like a fritatta.

I just was not sure a soup would be enough food for dinner for The Nudge, so I popped the pie in the oven.

Artichoke, Kale and Ricotta Pie
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck Recipes
Serves 4-6.

* Oil to grease the cake pan
* 4 eggs beaten
* 8 ounces ricotta cheese
* 4 ounces Parmesan
* 1 cup canned artichokes, chopped
* 1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
* 1/4 cup sauteed mushrooms
* salt & pepper to taste
* splash of hot sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a cake pan lightly with olive oil. In a large bowl, combine the eggs and cheeses. Roughly chop the veggies and add to the cheese/egg mixture. Stir until combined.

Pour contents of bowl into the greased cake pan and cook until custard is set, about 40-50 minutes. Cool on a wire wrack for 5-10 minutes and serve.

Review: These two dishes work well together. The gazpacho is slightly sweet from the watermelon and the feta gives it that salty quality. The pie is salty from the cheese and sweet from the kale & ricotta. Makes sense to eat a spoonful of one then a forkful of the other. Serve with dinner rolls if you want. I thought about making croutons for the soup but went with the rolls instead.

If you have never tried a gazpacho, you have got to make this dish.

July 11, 2011

National Blueberry Muffin Day

I still had a pint of blueberries to use up after making Stacey's Blueberry-Ricotta Cake.

I love corn muffins so I decided to combine the two. The fact that it's from a Whole Living site and Martha, this is a win-win all around.

I can send The Nudge off to work with something healthy to start his day with, and he probably won't even know it.

I will wrap each one in plastic wrap and freeze them. By the time he gets to work, it will have defrosted and just in time to eat with his morning Joe.

Blueberry-Cornmeal Muffins
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Whole Living
Makes 12

* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 3/4 cup cornmeal
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used Ideal)
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
* 1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk, plus about 2 tablespoons for tops
* 2 large eggs, separated
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (I used applesauce)
* 1 1/2 cups blueberries (about 1/2 pound), picked over and rinsed
* 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse sanding sugar (optional) (I used Palm Sugar)
* Nonstick cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in center. Lightly coat a standard muffin tin with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and orange zest, if using.
1. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg yolks, and butter. Stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture until just blended. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until just stiff. Gently fold whites and blueberries into the batter until just combined.
3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling each cup three-quarters full. Bake 12 minutes. Remove from oven; gently brush tops with buttermilk, and sprinkle with sanding sugar, if desired. Continue baking until tops are golden and a cake tester inserted in a muffin center comes out clean, 6 to 8 minutes more. Let muffins cool slightly, about 10 minutes, before turning out of tin.

I not only sprayed with Pam, I also used liners. Will be easier for The Nudge to transport to work in his lunch bag.

My Little Boy and My Big Joy

It was a beautiful day yesterday. After doing some yard work, we settled in on our back deck with a pitcher of Sangria and my camera.

Raven spent the better part of the afternoon trying to terrorize the birds in our feeder. He just isn't all that quick and after about 3 hours he finally give up and decided to take a well deserved nap.

What amazes me is cats love of sun. Could be 100 degrees and they will lay right in the sun.

I will touch that black fur of his and it's as hot as a cup of coffee, and he just doesn't care.

When I looked up from the grill, this was what I saw on our back patio.
Doesn't he look comfortable?
He just loves to stretch out on that patio. It's like his private little space. He really doesn't care that he's laying in a pile of old stems, and bushes and branches. Total oblivion.

I guess he wasn't comfortable on his side.
Or he had an itch on his back, either way, look at that fat belly.

I just want to squeeze it!!

Oops, he heard me laughing and got embarrassed but...

.....I think he realized I was watching him and snapping pics.....

....so he decided to do a few flips for me.

Now he was downright playing for the camera.
What an actor.
There was no stopping him now, he was on a roll (sorry for the pun).

Could he get any cuter?

Yeah, he could and he did. SHOW-OFF!!!
Hey Ma, look at me, take my pic, please.....

How's this?
Did you get it? Should I do it again?

And this?.....

Oh, hell.
I'm really tired after that workout....think I'll take a nap now.


July 10, 2011

Chocolate Creme Brulee with Toasted Almonds

I was hoping I could coordinate the National Chocolate and Almonds Day with something on my Wish List but the only day I could do it was today.

Slightly late, but I guess, better than never.

I had my first Creme Brulee at Bobby Flay Steak on The Nudge's birthday and we both fell in love with them.
So simple, so good and so easy. Why did I not plan to make one sooner?

Well, two reasons, I do not have a gas broiler and I do not have a torch.

It is time I got one. Like, right now, today, this weekend, yup.

I know that a torch at a Kitchen Store will cost you around $40.00. I went to Home Depot and found this pocket-sized torch for $9.00, a refill canister for $5.00 and was perfectly happy with it. It was exactly what I wanted. It works just like a butane lighter. One fill was enough for 2 brulees.

How often will I need a torch? Probably 2-3x a year.

Now that I had the equipment I needed a good recipe.
If you want something that is perfect, you need to go to Martha. So, I did, and it was.

I let The Nudge do the first one. I knew he would have fun with it.

The recipe said 4 servings, but I got 5 ramekins and only used 1/2 teaspoon of sugar each for the brulee.

Chocolate Creme Brulee

* 2 cups heavy cream
* 1/4 cup Splenda No Calorie plus 2 teaspoons granulated cane sugar
* 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (1/2 cup)
* 5 large egg yolks

* 4 tablespoons sugar

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Make the creme brulee: Heat cream and 1/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves and the cream just begins to simmer. Add chocolate, and whisk until melted and smooth.
3. Whisk remaining 3 tablespoons sugar with the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Slowly pour cream mixture into yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Strain custard through a fine sieve.
4. Pour custard into four 4-ounce ramekins. Transfer ramekins to a roasting pan, and fill pan with enough boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of ramekins.
5. Bake until custards are just set, 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. Carefully remove from water, and let custards cool.
6. Assemble the cremes brulees: Refrigerate for 1 hour. Top each with 1 tablespoon sugar. Hold a small handheld kitchen torch at a 90-degree angle 3 to 4 inches from surface of custard. Move flame back and forth until surface is caramelized. Alternatively, broil custards on top rack until caramelized, 1 to 2 minutes.

Cook's Note
Baked cremes brulees can be refrigerated overnight. Caramelize tops before serving.

These were yummy, not overly sweet at all and the bittersweet chocolate plays off the sugar wonderfully. As easy as you can get, if I can make these anyone can and using Splenda in the Creme part and only 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar for the Brulee, even us Diabetics can enjoy without worry.

July 7, 2011

Fettucine with Squash ♥ National Macaroni Day but pasta is what we call it

I imagine when they deemed today as National Macaroni Day, it was way back when pasta was called macaroni and I am going with that.

It just so happens I was planning on making this dish before I knew it was the Dish of the Day.

I have quite a bit of kobacha squash left and this is one recipe that I easily could eat every week.
It's right up there in the simplistic section of Mario Batali's gazillion recipe collection but it has big fat flavor.

Do all the prep work ahead and the actual cooking time is under 20 minutes. You could use any squash you can get, but I wouldn't use frozen. You really need to caramelize the cubed squash and with frozen you can not.

Fettuccini with Squash
• 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 red onion, finely chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
• 6 salt-packed anchovy fillets, soaked in milk for 20 minutes, rinsed and drained
• 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
• Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 1 pound fettuccine
• 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
• 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs, toasted

Bring 6 quarts water to boil and add salt to taste.
In a 12 to 14-inch sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil
over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and anchovies. Cook
over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion and garlic
are softened and the anchovies have begun to break up. Turn the
heat up to high and add the squash cubes. Cook over high heat
for 5 minutes or until the cubes are tender and browned at the
edges. Season with the salt and pepper and remove from
the heat.
Cook the fettuccine in the boiling water for 1 minute less
than according to the package directions. While the pasta is
cooking, warm the squash mixture. Drain the pasta and add it to
the pan with the squash. Add the parsley and remaining 2
tablespoons of olive oil and toss over high heat for 1 minute.
Divide the pasta and squash evenly among four warmed pasta
bowls, top with bread crumbs and serve immediately.

July 4, 2011

Blueberry Ricotta Cake and a Screen Porch To Die For

Happy 4th everyone!!!

I really wanted a picnic yesterday, yes, I did. Unfortunately the Man upstairs had different plans for me.

That's OK, I'm very adaptable. We called my SIL and BIL and took our picnic to Pennsylvania. She just built this wonderful deck and screened-in porch to the back of her house. A ceiling fan kept the dense, humid air moving and when it continued to rain on and off till 3:30, we were dry and having a nice visit.

I took my hot capicola, Prosciutto de Parma, roasted peppers, buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and the pasta and broccoli salad, laid it on a platter and made a simple vinaigrette. So, instead of sandwiches we had a nice salad with grilled chicken and potatoes and the whole meal came together in 30 minutes.

I am glad I made the blueberry ricotta cake from a post I read this week at Stacey Snacks.

This cake is everything she said it was. I will be making this one often.
You don't need an electric mixer, this can simply be mixed in 2 bowls and by layering the cake part, the fruit layer (I can't wait to try different fruits) and the cheese layer.

As the cake bakes the bottom layer rises around the outside and then up to the top to bake halfway over the top. The cake gets a golden, slightly crunchy crust while the cheese part peeks out the middle. It's delicious.

When you cut a slice, you can see the interior. This cake tasted as good as it looked. When we left last night, there were two saran wrapped pieces in her fridge.

You have got to make this cake. If I can successfully bake this recipe, anyone can.

We all know I can't bake to save my life.

Best Blueberry Ricotta Cake Ever (posted by Stacey Snacks as adapted from King Arthur Flour)

* 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/3 cup milk
* 1/4 cup shortening
* 1 large egg
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
* Zest of a lemon
* 3/4 cup fresh blueberries, tossed in flour

* 2 large eggs
* 1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 9 x 2-inch pan (use a spring form pan lined with parchment).
2. For the batter: In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the milk, shortening, egg and vanilla, beating till smooth. Spoon the batter into a greased 9 x 9 x 2-inch pan.
3. Sprinkle the blueberries over the batter.

For the topping:
1. In a small bowl, beat the eggs till frothy, then beat in the cheese, sugar
and vanilla. Spread this mixture evenly over the blueberries.
2. Bake the cake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until it's golden brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and cool to lukewarm before serving.

The Nudge thanks you, my SIL thanks you, my BIL and niece thank you and me? Well, I simply adore you.

You can be sure I will pass this recipe on.