Saturday, May 29, 2010

Weekend Cooking: Tortilla Pie

Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, is open to anyone with a food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button, head over to Beth Fish Reads, and link up anytime over the weekend.

Just a few years ago, menu planning amounted to little more than a rotation of fairly standard, boring recipes all three girls liked and my husband tolerated. Nothing too spicy, too colorful (green was to be especially avoided), or too saucy... and forget about seafood! As the girls have gotten older, the stringent "food rules" have relaxed, and I can happily indulge in a little culinary experimentation again.

My goal is to try at least one new recipe each week. A folder of possibilities gathered from magazines, newspapers, blogs and websites can be found alongside my cookbooks. Multi-colored post-it flags, marking recipes that have caught my attention, adorn the edges of most cookbooks, too!

Martha Stewart's recipes have been a huge success lately, and this week had us adding her Tortilla Pie recipe to the "keeper" file. The tortillas are trimmed to fit a springform pan and layered with a mixture of beef, corn, spinach, and cheese. This was delicious served with salsa and sour cream on the side! As you can see, my pie didn't look much like Martha's (shown below). Next time I'll layer the mixture more evenly, and really pack it down before baking. Thanks again, Martha!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lemon Butterfly Cupcakes

Like I said in a previous post, the Easter Bunny brought me the cookbook in which I found this recipe (500 Cupcakes). It's nice to know that he knows me so well. Anyway, these are called Lemon Butterfly Cupcakes because one is supposed to cut a thin slice from the top of each cupcake, cut the slice in half, and then position the halves on the frosting so that they look like wings. I was short on time so I skipped this step. Needless to say, they tasted just the same and still looked wonderful. And they were perfect -- very delicate and very yummy. The frosting, which calls for lemon zest, was amazing!

Ingredients for the Cupcakes:
1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter, softened
1 cup superfine sugar
2 cups self-rising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients for the Frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. lemon zest


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place 18 paper baking cups in muffins pans. Combine all ingredients for the cupcakes in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and pale (about 2 to 3 minutes). Spoon the batter into the cups.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pans from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Then remove the cupcakes and cool on a rack. Prepare the frosting by beating the butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest until smooth. Wait until the cupcakes have cooled completely, then frost.

Sweet butter is just unsalted butter.
Fill the baking cups 2/3 of the way full.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Weekend Cooking: Exploring in New York

Lakeside posts have been few and far between the last couple of weeks. Around the Kitchen, Margaret has finally finished her AP exams, but is gearing up for finals in a couple of weeks. Over at Lakeside Musing, my reading has taken a hit from recent trips to New York City (one more coming up tomorrow) and preparing for the arrival of our new greyhound, Zelda.

Last weekend we were in New York City for Daughter #1's summer internship orientation at ESPN. She will be living in the New York University dorms, but cannot move in until tomorrow (we'll leave early and drive down for the day). In our spare time, we explored the area around the dorm looking for the basics (ATM, grocery, pharmacy), but found so much more...

First, the Strand Bookstore is literally two blocks away. I'm so envious...

A few blocks beyond that we found both Trader Joe's and Whole Foods! I may have mentioned how much I love Wegman's (my husband says Danny sends out a search party if three days elapse without a visit!), but it sure would be nice to have either of those in our area.

In another direction, there were restaurants galore. Whatever cuisine you are craving can be found along this block! We chose Saigon Grill the first evening (there aren't many good Vietnamese restaurants in my area).
From the shared spring roll appetizers, to our entrees of chicken (prepared various ways - mine was lemongrass), seafood, and Margaret's bamboo steamed vegetables - we were in heaven! Even the rice (brown, white, or sticky) was a treat.

The following evening, we were attracted by the outdoor seating at Jack restaurant. Al fresco dining in New York City is a whole different experience from eating a meal overlooking our little lake! Jack offers American cuisine and comfort food. I had a wonderful salad topped with chicken, apples, brie, and walnuts. According to Daughter #1, the mashed potatoes the accompanied her chicken topped with a pineapple salsa were to die for.

We also made a stop or two at a nearby Starbucks and had breakfast at a neighborhood diner. I'm already thinking about the luncheon possibilities for after we unload the car tomorrow...

Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, is open to anyone with a food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button, head over to Beth Fish Reads, and link up anytime over the weekend.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Mini Muffin Tin!

After the Easter Bunny brought me the 500 Cupcakes cookbook and a friend gave me the Hello, Cupcake! cookbook for my birthday, I got pretty excited about all of the new cupcake and muffin recipes.

So while shopping in Target with my mom, I saw this mini muffin tin and felt compelled to buy it.

I'm planning on spending a good amount of time in the kitchen this weekend. I can't wait to use this tin and try some new recipes.

Is it just me, or are mini muffins simply more fun than regular sized muffins?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Three Cheers for Martha!

Martha Stewart's Everyday FOOD is a great magazine. The recipes are straight-forward, the ingredients are readily available, and the results are almost always satisfying. Her new cookbook Everyday FOOD: Fresh Flavor Fast is a collection featuring 250 "easy, delicious recipes for any time of day".

Since space for our ever-expanding cookbook collection is at a premium, I've begun using my library to screen possible additions. It took a couple months to reach the top of the hold list, but it was worth the wait. Over the past couple weeks, I've tried three recipes: a chicken entrée, a vegetarian pasta dish, and a dessert. All were very well-received.

First we tried Peanut-Crusted Chicken Breasts. The recipe called for unsalted peanuts, but I couldn't find them and used unsalted cashews instead. Delicious! This will become one of my 'go to' dishes. The recipe can be found here.

Next up was Farfalle with Arugula and White Beans. Again, I substituted a couple of ingredients - spinach for arugula and pine nuts for walnuts. This dish was very good, but a little bland. The recipe called for a "generous amount" of salt in the pasta cooking water (some reserved water is used in the sauce), but I probably wasn't generous enough. Walnuts may have been a little more flavorful than the pine nuts, too. This recipe is also available online.

Finally, our Mother's Day Dessert...The Lemon-Ricotta Tart was rich, but not too sweet or lemony. You'd never guess such an elegant dessert was so simple to prepare. Margaret plans to make it again for her AP Lang class. This recipe is also available on Martha Stewart's website.

Everyday FOOD: Fresh Flavor Fast is very well done. There is a wide variety of recipes, the directions are clear and concise, and there is a picture of each dish - a big plus in my book! However, since so many of the recipes available online, I doubt I will purchase the book. Instead, I will spend more time browsing Martha Stewart's website.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Oat-rageous Chocolate Chip Pancakes

One Saturday afternoon, my mom and I decided to take a trip to Barnes & Noble, a.k.a. the best store ever. After grabbing a couple of lattes from the in-store Starbucks, we started browsing. As my mom was trying to choose which Edith Wharton book to read next, I started to walk toward the cookbooks. Halfway there, I stopped at a display of Hungry Girl cookbooks. Catchy,I thought, so I picked up Hungry Girl: 200 under 200. Flipping through, I found quick, easy, and low-cal recipes. I thought it would be fun, so I bought it. I never actually made it to the cookbook section.

Of all of the recipes I've tried in this cookbook, this one is my favorite. (I'm planning on doing a review of the cookbook in the future.) I couldn't tell you how many times I've made these for an after-school snack.

After a long day, my mom and I were driving home in the car. I was exhausted. "I just want to be in my chair with my pancakes," I said. And these are those pancakes.


3 tablespoons regular oats (not instant)
3 tablespoons fat-free liquid egg substitutes
2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon light vanilla soy milk
1/2 tablespoon mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt
Dash of cinnamon


Place all ingredients in a small bowl, except for chocolate chips. Mix well, and then fold in the chocolate chips.

Bring a large pan sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat. Pour batter in the pan, forming two pancakes. Once pancakes begin to bubble on the top, gently flip. Cook until both sides are lightly browned and the insides are cooked through.

This recipe makes two pancakes for 210 calories. Now, I know this is from the 200 under 200 cookbook, but I substitute 2 teaspoons of sugar (30 calories) for one packet of Splenda (0 calories). I like to put Fat Free Reddi Wip on top (5 calories a serving), but you could also use maple syrup or whatever else you please!

When I make this, I always double the recipe. That way I can have my favorite pancakes that day and the next!