Sunday, April 27, 2008

Homemade Pancakes

I've had this recipe bookmarked in my Google Reader for sometime now, but I'm embarrassed to admit that it was more for the heartfelt story that accompanied the recipe that the actual recipe. See, I'm an Aunt Jemima box mix kind of girl. And this morning, when I woke up and craved pancakes for breakfast (after eating matzoh for breakfast for a week straight), I was heartbroked to see that we were out of pancake mix. But then I remembered that I had this recipe filed in the back of my mind, and more importantly, all the ingredients in my pantry.

These pancakes were perfect. Equal to or better than Aunt Jemima. I made one small change: I left out the pecans and added a few chocolate chips for my husband.

Thank you to the Homesick Texan for sharing her story and her recipe. Thanks to her grandpa, I need not ever buy pancake mix in a box ever again.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Almond Thumbprint Cookies

In an effort to bring something for everyone to my in-laws for Passover (because not everyone likes cheesecake, including myself), I decided to attempt...the cookie. For those loyal readers of my blog, you know that "the cookie" and I have a history. Basically, they never come out right. They don't spread when they are supposed, they spread when they aren't supposed to...its a never-ending battle.

These cookies were a HIT. Gobbled up. Gone. I doubled the recipe, which should have yielded 48 cookies. I got 42, so I guess some were bigger than others.

3/4 cup sliced raw almonds, toasted and cooled
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup matzo cake meal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup apricot jam

Pulse almonds, sugar, matzo cake meal, and salt in a food processor until finely ground. (Be careful not to grind to a paste.) Transfer to a bowl and stir in butter, egg, and extracts until combined well. Chill dough, covered, until firm, about 30 minutes.

While dough chills, put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Drop level tablespoons of dough 1 inch apart onto 2 ungreased baking sheets. Roll dough into balls, then chill until slightly firm, about 10 minutes. Make a 1/2-inch-wide (1/3-inch-deep) indentation in center of each ball using your thumb, index finger, or the rounded end of a wooden spoon. Fill each indentation with 1/4 teaspoon jam and bake, 1 sheet at a time, until tops are pale golden and undersides are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack and cool completely.

Cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature 3 days.

Yields 48 cookies.

WW info:
Click here

Monday, April 14, 2008

Semi-Homemade "Vodka Sauce" with Me

So for some ungodly reason, one of favorite quick fix meals is one of those salt packets known as Knorr Pasta Sauces. The parma rosa is my sauce of choice. I haven't eaten in about a year, but when I saw them on sale for fifty cents each, I had to grab a few. But my husband HATES this stuff. So I decided to fancy it up a little with a few fresh ingredients. And voila....Semi Homemade "Vodka Sauce" with me.

8 ounces penne, rigatoni, or other ridged macaroni
1 1/4 cups skim milk
1 packet Knorr Parma Rosa sauce mix
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon grated Pecorino Romano cheese
15-20 basil leaves, cut into thin strips

Cook pasta al dente per instructions on the box.

Mix milk and sauce mix together in a saucepan until well-blended. Heat over medium heat and butter. Bring a boil and turn down to a simmer; cook for 4 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes and Romano cheese. Cover sauce and turn heat down to low to keep warm until pasta is ready. Add pasta water (1 tablespoon at a time) to thin sauce out if necessary.

Stir sauce and half the basil leaf strips into drained pasta and stir until the pasta is well coated. Garnish each bowl of pasta with remaining basil leaves

Yields 4 servings.

WW info: 7 points per serving.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Chocolate Chip Italian-Style Cheesecake

My mother-in-law asked me to bring a dessert for Passover next weekend. Seeing as how I am not a dessert person (I mean in cooking, not eating), this was a whole new challenge for me and required a practice run this weekend. Cheesecake seemed to be a very scary attempt but a safe one for the holiday since it can easily be adjusted to accomodate, as the only thing that needs to be altered is the crust.

Cara from Cara's Cravings suggested a crust of ground up macaroons, which proved to be tasty on the final outcome, but I think it needs some work. It came out a little soggy and not quite deep enough, as the lip on the base of the springform pan prevented me from removing the cake from the base. I also think some water from the water bath seeped in, but thats easily prevented next time by better sealing the pan. I think that when I make this for next weekend, I will add more macaroons, not use the butter (as the macaroons are extremely moist as is), and brush some egg white over it when I pre-bake the crust. I will post again if I am successful with that attempt!

10 Passover chocolate macaroons (about 1" in diameter)
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
cooking spray

1 (15-ounce) carton fat-free ricotta cheese
1 (8-ounce) block light (50% less fat) cream cheese
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (cake meal for Passover)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup Splenda
3/8 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1 (4 oz) bar of semi-sweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Place macaroons and cold butter in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Spray a 9" spring form pan with non-stick cooking spray and press macaroom crumbs into base to create an even crust. Place in center of oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven ad set aside.

To prepare filling, place cheeses in a bowl, and beat at medium speed of a mixer until smooth. Lightly spoon 1/4 cup flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Add cake meal, sugar, vanilla, and yogurt to cheese mixture; beat until smooth. Add eggs and egg whites and beat in until just mixed (careful not to overbeat).

Wrap the base of the spring form pan tightly with tinfoil. Place in a large roasting pan. Pour filling over crust; gently stir in chocolate chips ensuring they are evenly distributed top to bottom. Fill roasting pan with hot water just enough to cover half the tin foil. Place roasting pan in oven and bake for 60 minutes.

After 60 minutes, turn oven up to 350°F and bake for an additional 30 minutes until set. Remove from water bath and place on a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely until removing the springform pan.

To make the ganache, mix the Splenda, cocoa, and milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until it comes to a light boil. Remove from heat and stir the entire chocolate bar, broken into pieces. If necessary, add more milk 1 teaspoon at a time as needed to keep the consistency (I had to add about 3). Spread evenly over the cake and chill until serving.

Yields 12 servings.

WW info: To come later

Monday, April 7, 2008

Vegetable Tortellini Soup

picture coming soon....
Ladies and gentlemen, the Foodie Fashionista is back....for now. I haven't been cooking much at all over the past month as I have been very busy with work and somewhat under the weather, so when I am cooking, it's usually stuff I've already made in the past, which requires very little thinking.

So, while I've fallen behind in my cooking, I've also fallen behind in reading about other people's cooking. I must have near 1,000 blog updates to sort through in my Google Reader. While digging through some earlier today, I found this kitchen sink–type soup in Apples and Oranges. I altered it slightly (for instance, I added more tortellini to beef it up and make it more a meal). It came out delicious. I can't wait for lunch tomorrow!

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, sliced into discs
1 celery stalk, diced
3 small white or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 (15 oz) can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup frozen corn niblets
3/4 cup frozen green beans
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 (15 oz) cans reduced sodium, fat-free chicken broth
3/4 cup crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 cup dried tortellini
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a stock pot. Add onions; cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add garlic, carrots, celery, and potatoes. Cook for another few minutes; add beans, corn, green beans, diced tomatoes (with liquid), broth, and crushed tomatoes. Stir well. Add seasonings and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and add the tortellini. Cook until the tortellini is cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper (and basil, oregano, and thyme if desired).

Yields 6 servings.

WW info:
core: 1 point (for tortellini); all included (without tortellini)*
flex: 3 points
*To beef up the soup without tortellini, try 2/3 cup of whole-wheat elbow or alphabet macaroni