Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pirate Ship Cake

My son wanted a pirate theme for his 5th birthday party. I found instructions online to make this great pirate ship cake. It took a while to make the whole thing, but none of it was too difficult. The actual ship part of the cake is just two 9" round cakes cut in half and then all four pieces are glued together with icing.  The base is a 10" round, and then lots of candy to decorate. One of the favorite parts for all the kids was the "cannon balls" which are just whoppers. They all wanted "cannon balls" with their cake.  My favorite part was the candles coming out of the cannon ports. I thought that looked so cool when they were lit. Needless to say my son loved it.

I used a sturdy orange cake recipe with blue tinted icing on the base, and chocolate icing for the ship. I have made the recipe before as a wedding cake so I knew it would be able to hold up the ship. It is also low fat, moist and tastes fantastic. 

Orange Cake Recipe
2 1/4 cup flour
1 1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3 large egg white, room temp
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1/3 cup nonfat sour cream
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 Tbs vanilla
1 tsp orange extract
1 Tbs orange zest
1/2 cup orange juice

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350. Coat one Bundt pan or two loaf pans or round cake pans with cooking spray and then dust with flour.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, set aside.
  3. In a large grease-free bowl, whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add ¼ cup of the sugar, whipping until the whites are stiff but not dry. Remove the bowl from the mixer, shake the beaters into the bowl, then return the beaters to the mixer. Set the whites aside.
  4. Using the same beaters with another bowl, combine and beat together the oil, remaining 1 cup of sugar, the whole egg, sour cream, applesauce, vanilla and orange extracts, grated orange zest, and orange juice. Gradually beat in the flour mixture in several additions. Scrape down the bowl and beaters. Fold in the whipped whites.
  5. Turn the batter into the prepared pans. Bake the Bundt for 40-45 minutes, the loaf pans or rounds for 30-35 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and springy to the touch. Cool the cake in the pans on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then remove cake from pan and cool completely on the rack.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Chickpea and Chard

I was looking for a recipe to use some of the beautiful chard that I have in my garden. This sounded delicious and healthy. The original recipe called for spinach, but substituting the fresh chard was no problem. It turned out really delicious and is even better the next day when the flavors have had a chance to meld a bit more. I also added the tomato paste to the recipe to thicken it up a bit becuase I wanted it to be a side dish rather than a stew. 

12 oz chopped chard
3 cloves garlic, minced
pinch saffron
2 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground cloves
pinch cayenne pepper
two 15 oz cans chickpeas with liquid
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small can chopped tomatoes
1/2 can tomato paste
1/4 cup golden raisins

1. In a large deep skillet boil 1 cup water. Add the chard and cook about 2 minutes until wilted.  Drain the chard. 
2. In a small bowl, mash minced garlic with 1/2 tsp salt and the saffron. Stir in the paprika, cumin, cloves, pepper and 1/4 chickpea liquid.
3. Add 2 Tbs olive oil to the skillet and heat. Add the onion and tomato and cook until softened. Add the spiced/garlic sauce and cook for 1 minute. Add the chickpeas and remaining liquid to the skillet along with the raisins and tomato paste and bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes then add spinach and simmer another 5 minutes. 

Source:Food and Wine, Sept 2008

Monday, March 30, 2009

Low Fat Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon Glaze

This is a delicious pumpkin cake that I have made many times. I wanted to cut the fat a bit so I substituted some applesauce for 1/2 of the butter and cut out some of the egg yolk. It tasted great and was really moist. I will make it like this from now on!

3 cups cake flour
2 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3 egg whites
1 can (15oz) pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 12-cup bundt pan. 
2. Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
3. In a large mixer bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs individually and beat well. Add vanilla and applesauce and mix well. 
4. Gradually add flour mixture to wet ingredients. 
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. 

Bake for about 60 minutes. After removing from the oven, cool for 10 minutes and remove from the pan. Let cool completely and then pour the cinnamon glaze over cake. 

Cinnamon Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs. milk

Mix milk and cinnamon in a bowl. Add powdered sugar. If it is too stiff, add milk until you reach the desired consistency.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Turkey & Veggie Lasagna

This was a pretty tasty lasagna that I made the other night. I had some ground turkey that I wanted to use so I added it to my usual vegetarian lasagna. It was delicious, but I think next time I will try shredded chicken instead of the turkey. 

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 large onion

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 lb ground turkey


2 bell peppers, diced

1 ½ lb zucchini, sliced (green and yellow)

3 cups fresh spinach, chopped


1.5  tsp salt and pepper

1 tsp Italian seasoning

15oz low fat ricotta

1 egg and 1 egg white, beaten

3 fresh tomatoes, sliced

½ cup grated parmesan

2 jars marinara sauce

1.5 cup part skim mozzarella, grated

16 oz no-boil lasagna noodles


  1. Sauté the peppers with a little olive oil and salt/pepper until just tender.  Set aside in a bowl.
  2. Sauté the zucchini with a little olive oil and salt/pepper until just tender.  Set aside in a bowl.
  3. In a large skillet, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until onions are soft; add ground turkey and brown. Add the marinara sauce and stir well.  
  4. In a bowl, mix the ricotta with eggs, spices, and salt and pepper. Mix in the chopped spinach.



Coat the bottom of a 13x9” and a pan with spaghetti sauce

  1. Put a layer of lasagna noodles in pan..In turns layer the meat sauce, noodles, veggies, noodles, ricotta, noodles and so on until you use up all the ingredients., ending with lasagna noodles on top.
  2. Top with a layer of marinara sauce, then mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.
  3. Garnish with sliced tomatoes.
  4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover, and then bake 10 more minutes. Let it cool and set up for about 10 minutes before serving. 

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Double Chocolate Layer Cake

This is the cake that I made for my husband's birthday, but I forgot to take a picture. Drat! So I remade the cake for my birthday. Yea! It is a cake recipe from Ina Garten, so moist and delicious. The frosting is pretty basic, and the ganache recipe is from Nick Malgieri's book just titled Chocolate. All together it is pretty delicious. You definitely need a glass of milk with this one.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper; butter the paper. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out any excess.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt at low speed.

In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the oil, eggs and vanilla. Slowly beat the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then slowly beat in the hot coffee until fully incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a rack to cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper.

Coffee Buttercream Frosting (for filling)

2 sticks butter
4-5 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
¼ cup kahlua
3 Tbs really strong coffee, or dissolve instant espresso in Kahlua

Beat the butter and vanilla on medium speed until smooth. Slowly add sugar, Kahlua and coffee, and beat on low. Add sugar and Kahlua until consistency and taste are what you want.

Chocolate Ganache (whipped for frosting)

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 pound (16 ounces) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup light corn syrup (sweeter, shinier)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened (richer, more flavorful)

Let the butter stand at room temperature until softened but still cool. Add the butter in chunks to combine during mixing.

To make ganache:

Place chopped chocolate in a medium-sized, heat proof bowl. Note that hot cream will eventually be poured over it and must cover it entirely. If whipping later, use a stand mixer bowl, which is perfect.

Pour cream into a medium saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour over chocolate. Shake bowl, and allow to stand for about 2 minutes.

Stir with a whisk until smooth. If using ganache for a frosting, whisk in the optional room temperature butter chunks and corn syrup until smooth.

* To whip, place ganache in a mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer on medium-high, until mixture is fluffy and has lightened in color. Do not overwhip or mixture will become grainy. Use whipped ganache immediately.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Leftover Turkey Chili

I had a lot of leftover turkey this year, which I am not complaining about because I love leftover turkey. We had some friends coming over for dinner the Sunday after Thanksgiving so I was looking for something a little different to do with the turkey, not just soup or sandwiches. This turkey chili turned out delicious, so I served it with a salad and some bread.

2 Tbs. olive oil
2 green peppers, chopped
2 cups of celery, chopped
2 med. onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced

1  4oz can diced green chiles (roasted and peeled) 
3 cups diced turkey, (cooked, light and dark meat)
3 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin powder
pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried oregano

1 28oz can chopped tomatoes in juice
1 small can tomato paste
2 cups turkey stock (or chicken broth)
1 tsp brown sugar
2 Tbs cider vinegar
1 can white kidney beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained

1. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion,garlic, celery and green peppers. Stir over medium heat for 5 minutes, until soft.

2. Add the turkey, spices and chipotle pepper. Stir well and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes in juice, 2 cups stock, and the tomato paste and stir well. Mix in the beans, brown sugar and vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

 3. Simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Taste, and add additional spice and or broth if needed. Serve topped with grated cheese and/or sour cream.

(Or at step three, you can put it in a crock pot on high for 30 minutes, then leave it on low or warm as long as needed.)

You can find the canned chiles in the Mexican foods section at most grocery stores.

Anadama Bread

This is a traditional bread from New England, sometimes called Colonial Bread. It is  made with molasses and cornmeal which makes it a little sweet. This is a great bread to serve with soup. This recipe makes two loaves.


5 cups flour

½ cup cornmeal

¼ oz yeast (1 pack)

2 ½  cups water

1 tsp salt

2 Tbs butter

½ cup molasses

Stir 1 cup of cold water into the cornmeal. Bring another cup of water to a boil in a saucepan and add the cornmeal mixture. Cook to thick, about 10 minutes. Add salt, butter, molasses and then cool to tepid.

Add ¼ cup warm water to the yeast and then mix that into the cornmeal mixture.

Add 4.5 cups flour and knead to stiff, about 10 minutes. If sticky, add more flour. Shape the dough into a ball and put in a buttered bowl, cover and let rise 1 ½ hour until doubled.

Punch down and divide in two pieces. Shape in loaves and put in buttered loaf pans. Cover and let rise to double.

Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger

This is a really delicious soup to make on a fall day. I added freshly grated ginger at two different times in the recipe to give it a lot of flavor and a little kick. 

After pureeing the whole batch in the blender in little tiny increments, I am really longing for an immersion blender so I can just puree right in the pan. If you use a blender with hot soup, remember to puree in SMALL batches, just about 2 inches worth of soup in the blender at one time. Otherwise, for some reason, the heat or steam from the hot soup will cause the lid of the blender to fly off and hot soup will spray all over the kitchen. Yes, this is learned from personal experience. 

2 or 3 butternut squash (about 4-5 pounds total)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup diced onion
2 leeks chopped
1 Tbs. light brown sugar
2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 can light coconut milk
4-6 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper
minced chives or green onion

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and clean out the seeds. Rub squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet. (It is best to use a baking sheet with sides on it to keep the oven clean.) Bake until the squash is very soft, about 45 minutes.  

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-low heat. Mix in the onions and leeks and cover the pot and cook about 15 minutes until tender.  Add the brown sugar, 1 tsp. ginger and the garlic. Saute another 2 minutes.

Using a large spoon, scoop the inside out of the squash and add it to the pot. Add the coconut milk and about 4 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Puree the soup, adding additional broth as desired. Season the soup with salt and pepper, and add the remaining 1 tsp ginger and bring the soup to a simmer again. Serve in bowls garnished with chives.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Shrimp Purses

These are a  fancy looking appetizer that is actually pretty easy to make. They are baked instead of fried so they are low in fat and not greasy like fried wontons. I found the recipe in a magazine, but it is also on the Contessa foods website under "Kid approved foods".  My kids wouldn't eat them, but friends of mine who have more adventurous eater, loved them. The creator of the recipe called them Shrimp Krispies, but I think they look more like little purses.

It says to chop all the ingredients and then mix them. I minced the ginger root, and then just put it all in the food processor, which was much faster and worked really well. The package of wontons that I bought (in the produce area of the grocery store) came with about 48 wrappers and the amount of filling the recipe makes was exactly enough to fill them all.  The photo is a professional one from the Contessa website, but mine looked just about exactly like this. Not bad considering my 6 year old son "helped" me with them. 

  • 12 ounces cooked shrimp
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (low fat works fine)
  • 2 shallots, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon ginger root, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Wonton wrappers
  • Sesame seeds

  • Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon cold water

Wet the edges of the wontons and then the corners together, twist and pinch tight.  Place on a cookie sheet, brush with water, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown. 

Serve with dipping sauce made by combining soy sauce, rice wine and cold water.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Not so great Peanut Butter Cookies

My youngest son is a peanut butter fanatic, so when he wanted to make cookies, we decided to make peanut butter ones. I put chocolate chips in some of the cookies which my kids loved, but I prefer the straight peanut butter cookies, no chips, nuts or anything like that. 

Well, they looked pretty tasty, but they were actually kind of dry. I won't bother to post the recipe because I don't think it is worth repeating. Fortunately high school students will eat virtually anything, so my husband took them into his school and they disappeared.