Friday, June 29, 2012

Sweet Potato & Spinach Hash

Looking for an easy to make good for you side's one I love. It's a simple combination of two healthy ingredients kicked up a notch with a taste of pure maple syrup.

According to a study done by the Center For Science In the Public Interest both sweet potatoes and spinach rank in the top 5 for nutrition of all vegetables. Sweet Potatoes actually ranks number 1 due to the fact that it has almost twice the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, 42 percent of the recommendation for vitamin C, four times the RDA for beta carotene, and, when eaten with the skin, sweet potatoes have more fiber than oatmeal.

Sweet Potato & Spinach Hash
2 sweet potatoes, peeled & shredded
1 8oz package of spinach
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tsp olive oil

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add sweet potatoes, stirring for 8-10 minutes or until they are tender. Add spinach and maple syrup. Cook, stirring 1-2 minutes or until spinach is just wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Thoroughly Modern Milkshake Party

Thick, frothy, ice-cold goodness in a glass...that's right I'm talking about milkshakes. And who doesn't love a good milkshake?  Though they might not be something you eat on a regular basis...or maybe you do but when that craving for a milkshake arises there's no stopping it.

Whether it's a traditional chocolate, vanilla or strawberry shake your craving; or something more out there like Lemon Buttermilk or Vanilla Rum and Salted Cashew Adam Ried's Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes has you covered.  With just over 100 recipes in this book there's sure to be something that will please everyone.

When it comes to ice cream I'm a standard mint chocolate chip with hot fudge girl.  So I'm not really sure what I was thinking when I was asked to join the Thoroughly Modern Milkshake party being held on Twitter 6/25 at 7pm EST (you can follow hashtag #GreatShakes) but I'm so glad I decided to take part.  Ried's book has opened the door for me to so many new and wonderful shake flavors.

Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes starts out talking about the history of the milkshake and continues with a great explanation of the equipment and ingredients needed to make the perfect shake.There's a lot of fun and interesting facts in between all the yummy recipes.

The book is then broken into chapters by types of milkshakes. There's a chapter for vanilla, chocolate and  even fruit. But  it was the tea and coffee chapter that caught my eye so that's what I decided to focus on. Ried states in his introduction that any store bought ice cream will do when making his shakes.  But being the purest that I am I decided to make my own.  Coffee ice cream it is.

The shake I made was the Caffee Corretto Shake and it was ever bit as yummy as I expected it to be. If you're into ice cream at all or just like to "shake" things up every once in awhile I would suggest getting a copy of this wonderful little book. 

Caffee Corretto Shake

1/4 cup of cold milk
2 Tbs of Sambuca
2 shots of fresh brewed espresso cooled.
8 scoops of coffee ice cream

Place everything in a blender and pulse several times to begin breaking up the ice cream. With the motor off, us a spatula to mash the mixture down towards the blades.  Continue pulsing, stopping and mashing until the mixture is well blended and thick.  roughly 90 seconds. Pour and serve at once.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cherry Vanilla Layer Cake, Another Birthday & A Few Things I'd Tell My Younger Self

A few years back, when I turned 37, my mom sent me this in an email:

“37 years ago today an angel was born. She cried an awful lot but she was beautiful and she has grown up to be a wonderful daughter”

With another birthday behind me this email got me thinking about how truly lucky I am and how much I am loved. Looking back on my life and knowing all that I know now there are a few things I wish I could tell my younger self:

1. Life is NOT going to be easy. There are going to be lots of ups and downs. Some days you are going to need more chocolate than others to get by. Don’t be afraid on those days to indulge…it will help. You will make it through.

2. Oil is for cooking…not for lathering on your skin and baking in the sun. So skip the oil and use sunscreen instead. Someday you will wish you did.

3. Hug the people you love everyday…your time with them is precious. Enjoy them while you can and never ever go to sleep mad.

4. Stop smoking now. The damage is reversible.

5. Your body was made to move…you might not be athletic or even coordinated but you can still exercise. Be kind to your body and it will do things you never expected it could do.

6. Make wise choices. What you decide today will follow you through the rest of your life. And whatever you decide don’t have any regrets. Just know that at one time it was exactly what you wanted and move on.

7. Don’t let fear ever hold you back. Do it all and do it now. You don’t want to be 42 and rock climbing for the first time….(trust me on this one)

8. Stop worrying about your weight and your age. You are so much more than a number. Neither of these numbers matter to anyone that really matters to you.

9. Stop dieting. Instead make an effort to eat healthier. Eat less processed foods and more fruits and vegetables now and you will see changes…guaranteed.

10. Eat cake...lots of it. And it doesn't always have to be chocolate.  I know it's hard to believe but you will one day love this Cherry Vanilla Layer Cake.

Cherry Vanilla Layer Cake
(recipe adapted from Heather @FarmgirlGourmet)

1 cup fat free milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
7 large egg whites, room temperature
1 whole egg, room temperature
3 vanilla beans
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 cups cake flour, sifted twice
2 1/4 cups white granulated sugar
1 3/4 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature cut into pieces
6 tablespoons shortening

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line two 9" cake pans with parchment and butter parchment. Set aside.

In a 2 cup glass measure, add the milk and heavy cream. In a medium bowl combine the egg whites, whole egg, 1/2 cup of milk mixture, vanilla beans and almond extract. Stir to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add all of the dry ingredients (cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt). Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to combine.

Add the butter and shortening to the flour mixture and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds. Add the remaining 1 cup of milk/cream mixture and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 90 seconds.

Scrape down the sides and add the egg mixture in 3 additions, beating on medium for 20 seconds after each addition.

Divide the batter and pour into the prepared pans.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes in the pan before turning out to cool completely.

Butter Cream Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar), sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed.

Add remaining ingredients and mix on low for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and whip for 6 minutes.

Cherry Filling
1 pound bag frozen pitted cherries, or pound fresh pitted cherries
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 tbsp lemon juice
Place frozen cherries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice in a heavy-bottomed medium-sized pan. Heat on medium until cherries begin to release their liquid. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce to a simmer and heat until cherry mixture has thickened. Allow to cool.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Chef Fabio Viviani's Flank Steak with Pineapple Salsa

Bravo TV's Top Chef's Fabio Viviani and Bertolli Brand Olive oil are coming together this summer to give you  It's a site dedicated to summer grilling recipes that were created by Chef Viviani specially for Bertolli oil. And what's even more awesome is that my Virtual Potluck group has been asked to preview some of these recipes.  Be sure to check out all the VP posts.

With so many delicious recipes to choose from it was hard to pick just one. I decided on the Flank Steak with Pineapple Salsa. I'll admit when it comes to steak I am very traditional. I like to taste the meat; so my preferred way to eat it is grilled straight condiments necessary.

But since I'm always ready to try something new I went ahead and made this yummy pineapple salsa.  I loved it.  It really complimented the steak well and didn't take away from the flavor at all.  Would definitely make this one again. I'm thinking it would go beautifully on top a grilled chicken breast.

A little background on Chef Viviani:  He was born and raised in Florence Italy. Having traveled and trained all across Europe he takes pride in creating healthy, easy to prepare gourmet recipes.   He likes to describe his style of cooking as "Italian comfort food" but also incorporates many other Mediterranean flavors in each dish.

I'm sure you've all heard of  Bertolli brand Olive Oil.  But did you know that Bertolli is the world's #1 brand for olive oil (according to Euromonitor International).  I had no idea.  And did you know it's been around since the early 1800' either. 

One more thing before I share the recipe.   Be sure to check out the Let's Cook Summer Sweepstakes on the Bertolli Facebook page for a chance to win a trip to Los Angeles and one on one cooking lessons with Chef Viviani. 

Good Luck and Happy Grilling!

Flank Steak with Pinapple Salsa
 by Chef Fabio Viviani

  • 1 ½ cups chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • Juice from ½ lime
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 lb. flank steak
  • 1 Tbsp. Bertolli Classico Olive Oil

Combine pineapple, red pepper, green onions, jalapeno pepper, lime juice, basil and salt in medium bowl; set aside.
Brush beef with Bertollli Classico Olive Oil. Season beef, if desired, with salt and black pepper. Grill, turning once, 10 minutes or until desired doneness. Serve with pineapple salsa.


Monday, June 11, 2012

All Nuts: All The Time

I'm pretty positive I've been bitten by a squirrel. There's been one lurking in our back yard for a few months now and I'm fairly certain it's nipped at me when I wasn't looking.  How else would you explain my new found passion for nuts. Like a vampire craving blood....I am constantly craving nuts.

I keep trying to tell myself it's not a bad thing...there is so much worse I could be craving. Nuts are a heart healthy food packed with lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.They make a great portable snack and unlike most fruits and vegetables they have a long shelf life.

Back to my craving.  It's constant...morning, noon and night.  Whenever I'm hungry and looking for food I immediately reach for nuts. It doesn't matter what variety....I love them all.  I add them to my morning oatmeal; spread nut butter on whole wheat bread at lunch; pop them in my mouth as a mid afternoon snack and toss them with my salad in the evenings.

Knowing this about me you can imagine my excitement when I was offered a chance to review any product I wanted from Of course it was going to be nuts.  But I have to admit with so many cool food products to choose from I did have a hard time focusing on just nuts. There's all kinds of chocolate snacks, dried fruits, granola and so many other fun things to eat and drink.  In the end the nuts won out; as I knew they would.

I placed an order for the one pound bag of raw organic nuts. When it arrived I wished I would've ordered the 25lb case. That's how much I enjoyed them.  The delectable combination of organic cashews, Brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, macadamia nuts, and filberts are sure to please everyone. All raw and all organic.

So why this huge nut craving all of a sudden....there can be no other explanation other than I've been bitten by a squirrel. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pumpernickel Rosemary Grissini & A Baker's Dream Give Away

According to Wikipedia: Pumpernickel is a very heavy, slightly sweet, rye. It originates from Germany where it was derived using a combination of rye flour and whole rye berries.  Traditionally made with a sour dough starter it got its dark color from the long baking period. Now a days the North American version is darkened by adding molasses, coffee or often cocoa powder.

Why am I telling you this?  Well first because I find it very interesting and secondly because today's recipe features pumpernickel four. Remember I told you early in the week that my Virtual Potluck group was teaming up with King Arthur Flour and Red Star Yeast to bring you some awesome recipes and a give away...this is another one of those recipes.

One of the ingredients I was given to work with was pumpernickel flour. And one of the first things I thought to make was bread sticks. Why bread sticks. Well I'll be honest. I needed something to bring to a dinner party.  I was in charge of the appetizer...the theme was Italian. Hence Pumpernickel Rosemary Grissini were born.

Pumpernickel Rosemary Grissini

6.75 ounces bread flour
3.375 ounces pumpernickel
3/4 teaspoons salt
 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1.5 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup water
sea salt

Preheat your oven to 325.
Mix all of your dry ingredients together in the bowl of a food processor.  Mix your water and oil together. With the processor running slowly add your liquids and continue to mix until a ball forms.  Turn out onto a floured surface and gently kneed by hand.

Place dough in a nonreactive bowl and cover.  Let rise about 90 mins. Dough should double in size. When ready cut dough into two equal pieces. Working with one at a time roll dough out into a rectangle. Using a pizza cutter slice dough into 1/4 inch thick strips.

Roll each strip between your fingers to create a rope effect.  Lay ropes in a pan lined with parchment.  Brush each rope with olive oil and sprinkle with course sea salt.

Bake for 30 mins. rotating mid way so that the grissini cook evenly.

***Don't forget there's a give away going on. You can win the Baker's Dream Give Away. Check my previous post for details.*** 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tea Biscuits & A Baker's Dream Giveaway

Let me take you back in time for a few minutes….

The year is somewhere between 1980-1984. The place is South Philadelphia. The scene is my mom and I; early on Sunday mornings walking the 7 blocks from our row home to the Termini Brother’s Bakery (a Philadelphia institution). Waiting in line for the tea biscuits that would come fresh out of the oven. I remember this as if it were yesterday…Sunday morning tea biscuits were a special treat. We would eat these flakey raisin studded scones toasted and spread with butter.

Fast forward:

It’s 2012. I’m living in Phoenix Arizona. My mom who now lives just a few miles away is seated with me at my kitchen table. In front of us is a plate of tea biscuits. Not Termini’s but ones I recreated during a recent Virtual Potluck event with King Arthur Flour and Red Star Yeast.

All of the VP bloggers were given products from both Red Star Yeast and King Arthur’s Flour…two quality companies for obtaining all of your baking needs. The task was to come up with a recipe using these products. Sounds easy, right? Well one of the items I was given was a sourdough starter. And I've never worked with a starter before so this was a challenge for me.

There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with a sourdough starter…or so it seemed at first. Care and feeding of dough; is not something I was used to.  But I quickly realized that there really isn’t much too it and the possibilities are endless of what you can make with it. (there are over 2,000 recipes available online)

Anyway, back to the tea biscuits. I went with a pretty basic sourdough scone recipe; added some golden raisins and did an egg wash on top to get the brown color I remembered. The result was delicious....not quite the flakey texture of Termini's but still really good. I will definitely make these again. 

Tea Biscuits

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tarter
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into slices
1 1/4 cups sourdough starter
egg wash

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle two baking sheets lightly with flour.

Whisk together the flour, salt, cream of tartar, baking soda, sugar, and golden raisins. Cut in the slices of butter with a knife or pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the sourdough starter and mix by hand to form a soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll dough into a 1/2-inch thick round. Use a biscuit cutter to cut into circles and place the scones on the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Re-roll dough if needed.

Lightly brush the tops of each scone with the egg wash. Bake until the scones just start to turn golden ~15 minutes. Remove from baking sheets and cool.

Enter to win A Baker's Dream Giveaway!

One lucky winner will receive from King Arthur Flour one (1) dough whisk, one (1) coupon for a bag of flour in the supermarket, one (1) sourdough starter, and one (1) bag of Pumpernickel Flour. But that's not all! Red Star Yeast is adding three (3) strips of yeast, one (1) bread loaf pan, one (1) apron, and one (1) bread knife to this baking package!

There are several ways to enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post; tell me what you would make if you win.
2. Follow King Arthur Flour on Facebook or Twitter and let me know you did
3. Follow Red Star Yeast on Facebook or Twitter and let me know here
4. Comment on one of the other VP posts and don't forget to let me know
5. Tweet about the contest and let me know

Contest ends midnight EST on 6/10/2012.