Archive for June, 2007

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

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Some of my earliest memories of cooking involve leafing through my mom’s bright orange Betty Crocker cookbook (now I have my own purchased on Ebay) with it’s loose binding and influx of random recipes of notecards spilling out and finding some recipe to try. Whether it was cream puffs or pancakes or chocolate chip cookies (still the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve ever made), Betty Crocker was a big influence in my cooking.  One of the recipes I remember my mother always making was Pineapple Upside-Down Cake from the Betty Crocker cookbook. How could you not love brown sugar carmelized with butter soaked into the cake and pineapple slices? It’s a little piece of heaven on a plate.

Because I know how my mom loves this cake, I decided to make it for her for Mother’s Day. (Yes, I know, Mom’s Day was over a month ago…) This cake not only tastes yummy, but it looks lovely too. It could have been lovlier if I had picked up the right can of pineapple. I mistakenly purchased crushed pineapple instead of the pineapple rings that are typically placed on this cake. But it still tasted the same nonetheless. She was surprised to see this retro dessert and we all enjoyed it!

Here’s the recipe from the Betty Crocker website. If you have the groovy orange Betty Crocker cookbook, you’ll have to make the Dinette Cake for the batter and then follow the rest of the directions for Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. Enjoy!

Overall rating – 5 stars

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(mine above, below from Betty Crocker site- what it should really look like….but it still tastes the same!)

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Bake a classic dessert! It’s easier than you may think.

Prep Time:15 min

Start to Finish:1 hr 10 min

Makes:9 servings

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23 Ratings : 8 Reviews
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1/4 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
9 slices pineapple in juice (from 14-oz can), drained
9 maraschino cherries without stems, if desired
1 1/3 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 egg

1. Heat oven to 350°F. In 9-inch square pan, melt butter in oven. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over melted butter. Arrange pineapple slices over brown sugar. Place cherry in center of each pineapple slice.
2. In medium bowl, beat remaining ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour batter over pineapple and cherries.
3. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately place heatproof serving plate upside down over pan; turn plate and pan over. Leave pan over cake a few minutes so brown sugar mixture can drizzle over cake; remove pan. Serve warm. Store cake loosely covered.
High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): Increase flour to 1 1/2 cups and baking powder to 1 teaspoon. Bake 50 to 55 minutes.

 

Nutrition Information:

1 Serving: Calories 390 (Calories from Fat 125); Total Fat 14g (Saturated Fat 6g, Trans Fat ncg); Cholesterol 40mg; Sodium 270mg; Total Carbohydrate 62g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars ncg); Protein 4Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 6%; Vitamin C 4%; Calcium 10%; Iron 8Exchanges: 1 1/2 Starch; 1 Fruit; 1 1/2 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Vegetable; 2 1/2

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Grilled Salmon with Roasted Corn Relish

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Nothing says summer more than grilling for me. Although, admittenly, my husband does all the grilling. Heck, I don’t even know how to get the grill started. We love not only grilling burgers, steaks, chicken, fish but also veggies. Something about grilled vegetables makes them all the more tastier.

We enjoy having some kind of grilled protein with a nice, cool salad. This great recipe from Cooking Light for Grilled Salmon with Roasted Corn Relish fit the bill. I did take quite a few liberties with this recipe to make it more towards my tastes and because I was missing some ingredients.

First, I did not use Anaheim chiles. Instead I used cubano peppers. Secondly, I added avocado to the salad because I had one and wanted to use it. I heart avocados. I also had to omit cumin from the recipe which, unfortunately seemed to be one of the main seasonings. I actually was out of cumin and didn’t realize it. I also used dried cilantro because I didn’t have fresh and threw in some fresh parsley.

It was a nice, refreshing summer meal and I’d definitely make it again. I’d even make the salad for other meals. My favorite part of the meal was the roasted corn, which really brings out the flavors.

This recipe got pretty high reviews over at Cooking Light. I do hope you try it. Enjoy!

Overall rating – 4 stars

Grilled Salmon with Roasted Corn Relish


This entire dish is prepared on the grill, infusing both the relish and salmon with a bit of smokiness.


4 Anaheim chiles
Cooking spray
2 shucked ears corn
1 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets
Prepare grill. Place chiles on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes on each side or until blackened. Place chiles in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 5 minutes. Peel chiles; cut in half lengthwise. Discard seeds and membranes. Cut chiles into 1/4-inch strips.Place corn on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 10 minutes or until lightly browned, turning occasionally. Cool slightly. Cut kernels from cobs.

Combine chiles, corn, tomato, cilantro, and juice; toss gently. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and cumin, stirring well. Rub spice mixture evenly over both sides of salmon. Place salmon on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with relish.

Yield:  4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet and 3/4 cup relish)CALORIES 304 (33% from fat); FAT 11.3g (sat 2.6g,mono 4.8g,poly 2.9g); PROTEIN 33.9g; CHOLESTEROL 80mg; CALCIUM 39mg; SODIUM 671mg; FIBER 2.7g; IRON 1.7mg; CARBOHYDRATE 18.1g

Cooking Light, JUNE 2007

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Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole

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Breakfast is probably my favorite meal to cook and eat. I love having guests over for brunch and creating all sorts of culinary treats. I usually end up serving something sweet and savory, like a sausage-egg-cheese casserole and cranberry scones. I’ve probably spent too much time at bed and breakfasts who tend to do the same thing.

I love breakfast casseroles because they are usually assembled the night before and just need to be popped in the oven first thing in the morning. I’ve made a ton of breakfast casseroles over the years and am always looking for new and different ones. This particular recipe from the May 2007 issue of Cooking Light for the Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole wasn’t very different than some I’ve made in the past but seemed lighter in ingredients so I decided to give it a try. This is probably one of the first casseroles I’ve made with green onions instead of white or yellow onions in it but other than that it was the typical egg-cheese-meat-bread casserole you often see in cookbooks.

The casserole was alright, not the greatest, but it was flavorful and simple. I didn’t like the flavor of the green onions in this and I usually like green onions. I’ve made better and tasted better so this one will likely not be made again for those reasons.

 Overall rating – 3

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Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole




8 ounces ciabatta bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
Cooking spray
1 pound turkey breakfast sausage
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
1 cup (4 ounces) reduced-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 large eggs
1 (8-ounce) carton egg substitute
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 400°. Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 8 minutes or until toasted.Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sausage to pan; cook 6 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Combine sausage, bread, and onions in a large bowl. Combine milk, cheese, eggs, and egg substitute in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to bread mixture, tossing to coat bread. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.Preheat oven to 350°.Uncover casserole. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Sprinkle with parsley; serve immediately.

Yield:  6 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)CALORIES 344 (28% from fat); FAT 10.8g (sat 4.2g,mono 2.2g,poly 1g); PROTEIN 28.7g; CHOLESTEROL 123mg; CALCIUM 227mg; SODIUM 983mg; FIBER 1g; IRON 3.3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 26.4g Cooking Light, MAY 2007

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Restaurant Review – P.F. Chang’s

Let me first say that I am not a big fan of Chinese food, I can take it or leave it. I almost never dine at Chinese restaurants or get take-out despite my husband’s protests who could eat Chinese food every day. I am also extremely picky about the Chinese food I do eat which is very limited. I almost always have Shrimp Chow Mein but occassionally will have Pepper Steak. I like egg rolls and shrimp toast too (I know, not even authentic), but that’s about it. Therefore, please take this review with a grain of salt as far as the food is concerned, the service on the other hand, well…keep reading.

I recently dined at P.F. Chang’s in Princeton for a luncheon for a co-worker who was leaving. I just started working in the area so I am quite unfamiliar with the surroundings but had been told that P.F. Chang’s (a chain Chinese-fusion restaurant) was so popular it was next to impossible to get reservations usually. It is located in a strip mall and it’s quite an interesting structure to behold. There are two giant Chinese warriors on horseback sculptures outside the building and inside is a ultra stylish, hip bistro-type décor. The place was very crowded and noisy and I had a hard time hearing my co-workers.

The first odd thing that happened was that even though there was a party of 8 of us, we were only given four menus. Ok, I understand it’s busy, but I’ve never had to share a menu?? When the waiter approached us, he offered to “create” a menu for us of appetizers and entrees that we could pass around and “share.” Another oddity to me. Most of the group was ok with this except myself and one other co-worker, who pretty much feels the same way about Chinese food as I. We let the watier know that the two of us would like to order our own meal. Maybe I was being a pain in the tush, but between adhereing to my low-carb diet, my acid-reflux limitations, and my overall feelings towards Chinese food, I couldn’t take a risk letting a waiter decide what I’ll eat. I ordered Shrimp Chow Mein to be on the safe side, while my co-worker order Chicken Fried Rice.

The appetizers came and I will admit they were ok to pretty good, nothing outstanding. I tasted Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Crab Wontons, and Steamed Peking Dumplings. I think the best of the three was the Crab Wontons. Nothing was too greasy or too heavy. The Chicken Lettuce Wraps were a little messy to eat though. Next the sharable entrees came out. What was missing was my Shrimp Chow Mein and my co-worker’s Chicken Fried Rice. When we asked the waiter, he seem baffled as if we were just ordering these for the first time. He placed the order in and told me in the meantime, why don’t I start on the entrees that already came out. Hello?? There was a reason I ordered my own entrée. Moving along….When he finally did bring out our food, the rest of the table was just about done. What he placed in front of me looked nothing like the Shrimp Chow Mein I am used to (shrimp with celery, bok choy (?), onions, and water chestnuts in a white sauce). It was with noodles in a soy sauce. I asked him, “This is Shrimp Chow Mein? I’ve never had it like that.” He then explained to me that mein means noodles in Chinese and this was authentic Chow Mein, unlike what I order at take-out places. This is probably my fault because on the menu, it does say egg nooodles with stir-fried shrimp and I missed that. But here’s the kicker: it wasn’t even shrimp chow mein – it was chicken chow mein. What if I was a vegetarian?! Several of my co-workers remarked they would never risk taking someone here with food allergies. He offered to take it back and get me shrimp chow mein. At this point, I am beyond frustrated so I say no, I don’t want anything, my table mates are just about done. I was just going to eat a granola bar back at my desk. My co-workers graciously insisted that I order something. The waiter offered to bring me stir-fry veggies, no rice, very quickly, which he did. By then, everyone was completely done. The stir-fry veggies were semi-cooked in a soy sauce, woop-dee-doo. I ate them because I was hungry, but I’ve had better Lean Cuisine frozen entrees. (yuck)

When it came time to order dessert, everyone ordered coffee and I requested tea. When he repeated back the order, he said, “Ok, so 7 coffees, right?” By then, my co-workers picked up on how much this guy must have had it with me so they yelled back at him, “AND ONE TEA!” Thanks girls.

The desserts came and surprisingly,  my tea! The desserts were the best part of the meal. I tried Banana Spring Rolls which are pretty much fried bananas, but very yummy with a crispy texture outside and warm, soft banana inside. I also had a small bite of the Flourless Chocolate dome, which was just the basic very chocolatey fudgy cakes that a lot of restaurants carry now. It was good and chocolately. Neither dessert were anything to write home about, but I did enjoy tasting them.

Overall, as you pretty much figured out, I had a horrible dining experience. I would not recommend this place nor would I ever go back. I don’t see what the appeal is, I think it is completely overrated. The food was mediocre, the service horrendous, and the ambiance, well, I think they are trying to hard to be hip. I’ll take the tiny, little take-out Chinese place in the Millburn Mall in Millburn, NJ anyday. Well, not anyday, maybe just that once every few months, when I give into my husband’s craving for Chinese food.

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Flank Steak with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Here’s a hearty, filling recipe I made a while ago (let’s say probably March or April!) and never got around to reviewing. My  husband is a huge fan of Beef Stroganoff and I never eat nor made it until I met him. One day several years ago, I stumbled upon a recipe in Cooking Light and voila! I was hooked. The recipe for Flank Steak with Creamy Mushroom Sauce from the March 2007 issue of Cooking Light, was basically Beef Stroganoff more or less with a few dissimilarities. For example, the use of Dijon mustard and shallots are typically not in Beef Stroganoff. I prefer Cooking Light’s Beef Stroganoff recipe you can find on their website to this alternative (I’ve made the 2005 and 2007 versions and prefer 2007). My husband thoroughly enjoyed it but I found it to be just okay. The creamy sauce had an odd flavor to it that I believe had something to do with the Dijon. Alterations to the recipe were using dried thyme instead of fresh and using white mushrooms instead of a gourmet (read: expensive) mix.

Overall rating: 3.5 stars

Flank Steak with Creamy Mushroom Sauce


This recipe calls for a gourmet mushroom mix, but most mushrooms will work. Total time: 23 minutes.


1 (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 (4-ounce) package gourmet mushroom mix
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream

Preheat broiler.Sprinkle steak evenly with salt and pepper. Place steak on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 6 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness; let stand 10 minutes.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shallots to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms to pan. Cover and cook 4 minutes or until mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/3 cup water, mustard, Worcestershire, and thyme. Cover and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream.

Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices. Serve with mushroom sauce.

Yield:  4 servings (serving size: 3 ounces steak and about 1/3 cup sauce)

CALORIES 186 (27% from fat); FAT 5.6g (sat 2.3g,mono 2.2g,poly 0.3g); PROTEIN 25.6g; CHOLESTEROL 38mg; CALCIUM 49mg; SODIUM 443mg; FIBER 0.5g; IRON 2.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 7.5g

Cooking Light, MARCH 2007

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The Foodie Blogroll

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I recently stumbled upon this great tool while visiting some food sites. The Foodie Blogroll as described from the creator’s own words (The Leftover Queen) is:

…especially designed for people who have a passion about food. If you have a blog about food, whether you cook it, or just like to talk about it, this blogroll is for you! It will be our way to create a community of Foodies!

But it just doesn’t benefit bloggers trying to get their site more traffic. It benefits the reader because it exposes you to a ton of wonderful, yummy food blogs!

Unfortunately, due to something with WordPress (the site I use to post this blog), you can’t see the other blogs on the blogroll like you can on other people’s site.

I urge you to click on the Foodie Blogroll on the right to explore some tasty reads. I’ve already found some awesome sites that have made me quite hungry!

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Le Cellier’s Maple-Glazed Salmon, WDW-Epcot

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As I mentioned in a previous post, Le Cellier at Walt Disney World’s Epcot is one of my favorite restaurants. It’s a fabulous steakhouse located in the Canadian pavilion in World Showcase and one of the toughest reservations to get. I’ve actually never had the Maple-Glazed Salmon at the restaurant but I remembered they had it on their menu. Over at one of my favorite Disney info sites, www.allearsnet.com, they just happened to have the recipe for it. The recipe has three parts for it: candied pecans, the salmon portion, and the maple glaze. I did not make the candied pecans or follow the directions for the salmon. I simply broiled the salmon and topped it off with the glaze. My guess is that Le Cellier’s version comes out much better. Mine came out pretty good, but due to the amount of carbs in the maple syrup, I probably won’t make it again. The sauce was quite sweet and tasty and I think most people would enjoy it, however, I like my salmon more basic.

Overall rating – 3 stars

Le Cellier’s Maple-Glazed Salmon

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

Candied Pecans:

2 oz. pecans, shelled, pieces
2 tsp. whole butter, unsalted
1 tbs. apple juice
* ½ tbs. turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)
* pinch kosher salt

Salmon:

8 3-oz. salmon pieces (scales removed, skin on)
2 fl. oz. canola oil
6 oz. cleaned watercress
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 oz. candied pecans
8 fl oz. maple glaze
kosher salt
black pepper

Maple Glaze:

7 fl oz. maple syrup, pure
1 tbs. honey, orange blossom
2 tbs. brown sugar, light
pinch kosher salt
pinch black pepper, fresh ground

Method of Preparation

for Pecans:

1. Heat butter in a small saucepan over a medium high heat, until it just starts brown. Immediately add pecans stirring continuously. Stir 5-7 minutes until pecans are toasted.

2. Once pecans have toasted, add apple juice stirring constantly. When nearly all the apple juice has been reduced add the sugar and keep stirring until the pecans have been well coated, take caution not to burn the sugar.

3. Once pecans are well coated, turn out on to a cooling tray are all spaced apart to even cool. Allow pecans to completely cool in a low humidity environment. Reserve for salmon.


for Glaze:

Combine all ingredients in small saucepan and heat over low heat. Heat just long enough to incorporate all ingredients and for sugar to liquefy. Remove from heat and reserve warm for salmon.


for Salmon:

1. Pre-heat oven to 425º. Place watercress in lightly iced water, to rinse and refresh. Remove from iced water and completely dry in salad spinner or between paper towels, set aside.

2. Remove any moisture from the salmon pieces by lightly using 1/4 of the canola oil. Season both sides of the salmon with kosher salt and pepper. Heat remaining 1.5 ounces canola oil in large heavy bottomed non-stick frying pan, large enough to accommodate salmon pieces without overcrowding, over medium high heat. Ensure that oil is evenly coating bottom of frying pan. Once the oil has just began to smoke carefully place the salmon pieces in the pan, skin side down, and lower heat to medium. Cook salmon on skin side until skin is evenly golden brown, turn salmon over and repeat. Remove salmon from pan and blot on paper towels to remove any oil or fat.

3. Transfer salmon to baking pan with raised sides, and drizzle each piece with half of the maple glaze, place in oven and bake until desired doneness. Time will vary depending on the thickness of salmon, average 5-10 minutes.

4. While salmon is baking, toss watercress with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Arrange watercress on four plates. When salmon is done place two pieces on each mound of watercress, drizzle with maple glazed and sprinkle with pecans.

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