Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cherry Cornmeal Upside Down Cake

I follow several cooking and food related blogs.  This recipe was on one of the blogs that I follow and it spoke to me.  I don't think I've had upside down cake, other than the standby pineapple (which is also good).  Since I had fresh cherries in the fridge, I decided to give it a try today.

While I was washing the cherries, I glanced at the bag they were in.  Normally I don't give a second glance to the standard plastic bag but this one caught my attention.  The cherries I used came from Washington State, specifically Jackass Mt. Ranch.  I looked up their website and it was interesting.  There is a video about raising cherries and the labor involved.


I used Bordeaux Cherry Balsamic Vinegar from the Olive Tree and it gave the cherry topping a wonderful richness.  I was sampling it right out of the skillet!  Of course you can use regular Balsamic, but I'd recommend if you are nearby go pick up this wonderful Balsamic or order a bottle online.

This cake takes a little time and effort to prepare and it is a huge help if you have a cherry pitter.  I got mine at Bed Bath & Beyond for under $20 and it has proven to be worth every penny.  It removes the pits from four cherries at a time, has a handy catch tray for the seeds,  saves a ton of time and cleans up in the dishwasher. 


Let's get down to cooking!

Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
Serves 10
Ingredients:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp Bordeaux Cherry Balsamic Vinegar  
4 cups whole pitted fresh sweet cherries
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Directions:
1. Position rack in the center of the oven. Preheat to 350.  Combine 1/4 cup butter with brown sugar and vinegar in a heavy skillet.  Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves.  Increase heat to high.  Add cherries and bring to a boil.  Set aside.

2. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.


3.Separate  Eggs.  Using clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until foamy.  Add cream of tartar and beat until whites are stiff  but not dry.  Set Aside

4. Using an electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter in a separate large bowl.  Add sugar.  Beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in egg yolks, vanilla and almond extracts.  Add flour mixture alternatively with almond milk in two additions each, beating just until blended and scraping down the sides after each addition.

5. Using a rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of the egg white mix into the batter.  Fold in remaining whites in three additions.

6. Pour the batter over the cherries, spreading evenly to cover the cherries.  Bake cake until top is golden and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. 

7. Cool in pan, on rack, for 5 minutes.  Run a spatula around the sides to loosen.  Place a large serving platter on top of the cake, and flip over.  Let sit for 5 minutes to make sure all the cherries release.  Let cake cool at least 45 minutes.  Cut into wedges and serve.  Add a scoop of ice cream on the side or a little whipped cream to make it extra special!



 Enjoy!








Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Stuffed Peppers



Stuffed peppers is not something we ever had when I was growing up, or at least not that I can remember, but they are something that I really like and they are easy to make, taste good and are good for you!

I was having a craving for stuffed peppers and like many of the things I make, my stuffed peppers are something I just throw together and as a result they never taste quite the same way twice.  Today's recipe was no different, but now that I'm blogging to share recipes that I make, adapt or create, I keep a notepad and pen alongside the camera in the kitchen so I can easily jot down the ingredients and measurements I go.

Maybe this time I was so hungry for  stuffed peppers that the filling tasted extra good, or maybe I just hit upon a combo that is extra special.  I have to admit that I had enough filling to fill another pepper, so what to do with the leftover filling?  Hum..I must confess that I got myself a spoon and shamelessly ate the rest of the filling while standing over the kitchen sink. 

I cooked the filling and baked these peppers in my new Le Creuset 3 1/2 quart Buffet Pan.  If you have something similar, this recipe makes and bakes in one pan and clean up is a whiz!

Some recipes you find will instructions to preboil the peppers.  Personally, I like my veggies to be a bit more crispy and less wimpy, so I prefer to just let mine cook in the oven. If you prefer yours precooked, you can certainly do that in addition to steps listed below.  If you do precook the peppers, lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and reduce baking time to approximately 30 minutes.

I did not specify the color of the peppers.  I will leave that choice up to you. I personally prefer the red, yellow or orange to the green, but any color will do. You will see from the photos that I used mostly red but did have a green one thrown in for variation. 

Give this recipe a try.  I hope you like it as much as I do!

Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

5 Bell Peppers, any color
1 Tablespoon Garlic Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, chopped
1.25 lbs. lean ground Turkey
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon medium Chili Powder
1 cup shredded Carrot
1 box of frozen shoe peg corn (or 2 ears of fresh cut corn)
1/4 cup Taco Sauce (your favorite)
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese










Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Wash and cut bell peppers in half, top to bottom so you have 2 halves to fill later.
  3. Remove the seeds and membranes and rinse to remove all the seeds.
  4. Heat a heavy oven proof skillet over medium heat.  Drizzle in the garlic infused extra virgin olive oil.
  5. Add the onions, ground turkey, salt, cumin and chili powder and stir, cooking until turkey is done. Continue to cook until all liquid (water) has evaporated.
  6. Chop one of the 5 bell peppers and add it to the turkey along with the carrots, corn and taco sauce.
  7. Mix over medium heat just to warm everything through.
  8. Remove stuffing mixture to another bowl.
  9. Spoon stuffing into each bell pepper half and arrange them in the heavy ovenproof skillet or a separate casserole dish, repeating until all of the peppers are full.
  10. Put an extra teaspoon of taco sauce on the top of each pepper (my sauce has a squirt top, so I just squirt some on).
  11. Top with shredded cheese.
  12. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.

Enjoy!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Creamy Lime Freezer Pops

Recently, I was craving popsicles...maybe I was regressing back to childhood days or maybe it was because a friend and I had talked about freezer pops.  Rather than buy something full of preservatives, I made freezer pops, otherwise known as popsicles. As a kid our homemade popsicles growing up were made with Kool-Aid. The kind with real sugar.  I remember my favorite was  Rootbeer.  

Today's recipe is more of a grown up freezer pop and would be a unique dessert for a BBQ.  I adore key lime pie and that is exactly what the unfrozen mixture tastes like.  I was really anxious for these to freeze I could try one.  When I finally did try one, I was blown away by how good they were.  I wanted seconds immediately!  I will be making these over and over again this summer. 

Ingredients

I lightened this up on calories (a little) by using fat free sweetened condensed milk and substituted 1/4 cup fat free yogurt and 3/4 cup 1% milk for the half-and-half.    The unfrozen version was decadent.

Be sure to thoroughly wash the limes before you zest them and have them at room temperature so you get the best juice yield.  You can always use the trick of rolling them on the countertop to help boost the juice yield. 


Creamy Lime Freezer Pops

Lime Zest
 Makes 8-10 pops

Ingredients:

1 14-ounce can of fat free sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup fat free plain yogurt
3/4 cup skim or 1% milk
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 4 large limes)
Zest of two limes
pinch of salt

Mixed and Ready to Freeze
Directions:

Put all of the ingredients into the blender and mix thoroughly.  Divide the mixture among the molds and snap on the lids.  Freeze until solid, about 5 hours or so.  Unmold and enjoy!



Alternate serving suggestion:
If you don't have molds and you could pour this into your ice cream freezer and freeze it according to the directions. Top with a sprinkling of crushed cinnamon graham crackers and a dollop of whipped cream.  

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Carrot Cake Cookies

Carrot Cake Cookies
I don't know about you, but I really enjoy good carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  When I found this recipe, I kept it to try "someday".  It had never made it to the top of my list because it is a sandwich cookie which requires the cookies to be reasonably the same size and shape so they sandwich together nicely.  That is a bit more trouble than I typically want to fuss with for cookies.  To help achieve uniform cookies, I used a small ice cream scoop that produces melon ball sized dollops of cookie dough and it worked out very well for this recipe.

When I knew I'd be going home over the July 4th holiday and attending a friends annual holiday cookout, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try this recipe out.  Because of the heat and the cream cheese frosting, I almost didn't take them because I didn't think they would hold up well in the heat, so I put them in tupperware and stuck them in the fridge and made some different cookies that wouldn't wilt in the heat and humidity.
When I was packing up to leave, I decided to go ahead and take them along.  I packed them in an insulated grocery bag (the reuseable kind) and they made the 8 hour trip just fine and I ended up taking them to the cookout after all. 

The cookies received a big stamp of approval from the folks attending the cookout.

I hope you enjoy them as much as they did!

Carrot Cake Cookies

Ingredients:

3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained and the juice reserved
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease 4 cookie sheets
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and salt together in a mixing bowl and set aside.
  4. Beat the butter, shortening, white and brown sugar together until smooth. 
  5. Add 1 egg and allow to blend into the butter mixture before adding the second egg and vanilla.
  6. Mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated.
  7. Fold in the crushed pineapple, carrot, raisins and nuts.
  8. Mix just enough to evenly combine.
  9. Drop onto the prepared baking sheets by heaping teaspoonful, allowing 2 inches of space between the cookies.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven until the edges are golden 10-12 minutes.  Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.



Cream Cheese Frosting:


Ingredients:

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon softened butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon reserved pineapple juice

Directions:

  1. Beat the cream cheese and 1 tablespoon of butter with an electric mixer until smooth.
  2. Add the powdered sugar and pineapple juice.
  3. Beat until no lumps remain.
  4. Spread the frosting on the cooled cookies and allow to dry completely before storing.




Friday, July 1, 2011

Crusty Fish Fillets

I learned about this recipe a couple of years ago and it has been one of my go-to recipes when I have fresh fish to prepare since that time.

Most recently, I had Tilapia and it works great.

Wheat Germ is readily available in the supermarket.  I had to buy some the first time I made this because it wasn't something I had stocked in my pantry.  I would recommend that when you toast it in the oven, watch it very closely so it doesn't burn.  I've had to toss burned wheat germ and start over on occasion when I was busy and wasn't paying close attention.  Another tip is once you open the wheat germ, keep it in the refrigerator.  It will get funky after a while, so avoid that and extend the shelf life by putting it in the fridge.

Crusty Fish Fillets

Ingredients:

4 4-oz. fillets, such as catfish or flounder or Tilapia
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
2 Tablespoons finely chopped pecans
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 minced garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teeaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Toast the wheat germ in a foil lined pan in the oven, watching closely to avoid burning.
  3. In a pie pan, combine all ingredients except the fish.
  4. Dredge the fish fillets in the mixture.
  5. Bake on a lightly oiled baking sheet for 15 minutes or until opaque in the center.
  6. Serve with lemon wedges.

I flip the fish over after 10 minutes.

Toasted Wheat Germ and Spices
Ready for Baking

Hot from the Oven


Steamed Broccoli

Here is my quick and easy way to steam broccoli. 
I cut up the amount I want to eat.  Wrap it in a paper towel.  Run it under the cold water and wet the toweling.  Place it on a plate and microwave in high for 2 minutes.
Remove it from the microwave, tear it open (be careful because you can get burned from the steam), remove the toweling, season and serve.  You retain all the lovely nutrients , beautiful color and have absolutely no mess to clean up!


Enjoy!

About Me

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My career is in IT.  Cooking and photography are among a few of my hobbies. In my spare time, which is most weekends I tie on my apron and exercise my creativity by trying new recipes and adapting them to my tastes. I also have a passion for photography that I incorporate by taking photographs to go along with the recipes I post on my blog.  
I also enjoy travel, both near and abroad. Meeting new people, new experiences and cultures and oh, not to mention the food! I hope you enjoy my blog.