Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chocolate Yogurt Loaf Cake

Also from

This is probably my second favorite loaf cake (only to the previously posted Banana Gingerbread). It's moist (without being soggy wet), relatively dense like pound cake, and oh-so-chocolatey. Simply amazing. The suggestion was also made to add 3/4 c chocolate chips to the batter before baking if you want a seirous chocolate overload, but I found this cake perfect as-is. For the seriousle chocolate lover, I may add the chips, but for me, I love this as it is in the morning with a nice hot cup of coffee. It also freezes well. Perfect for someone like me who bakes four loaves in one day. Can't possibly eat them all, can I?

Chocolate Yogurt Loaf Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plain yogurt (low fat is fine)

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until the mixture is fluffy and resembles wet sand. Beat in egg and egg white. Mix in 1/3 of the flour mixture.
In a small bowl, whisk together water, cocoa powder, vanilla and yogurt until mixture is smooth. Add half of this mixture to the sugar mixture, followed by another 1/3 of the flour mixture. Stir in remaining yogurt and remaining flour, stirring only until no streaks of flour remain.
Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let cake cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then carefully cut along the sides of the pan to release the cake and turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Serves 10.

Banana Gingerbread

I've made so many new things, but haven't posted the recipes. Only one main 'failure' (I call them that because it was simply too soupy, and with the addition of more spices it could be great, but for something that spends all day in the crock pot, it definitely isn't worth trying again to see if I can get better results. There are so many better recipes out there.) I've been trying stuff from everywhere, food blogs, newspaper clippings, my cookbooks, everything.

I've made a ton of things but have yet to get around to posting them: lasagna, gnocchi, three types of pizza crusts (with another crust tonight - because I'm trying to find that 'perfect' one!), decorated cookies for a National Food Blogger's Bake Sale, cookies 'just because,' baked oatmeal, granola bars, puffy caramel apple pancakes, lemon red pepper chicken and pasta, stout cupcakes with whiskey ganache and baileys buttercream (can you say yum?), bread pudding with a whiskey caramel cream sauce, sweet cream scones, banana bread, chocolate banana bread, asian chicken lettuce wraps (think PF Changs), ham and cheese (and salmon and cream cheese) filled buns, etc, etc. I think you get the point.

Most of the things I make are in the 'sweet' category, but I do enjoy making dinners and other meals as well. My 'meals' are focused on quick and easy - something that we can put together and have on the table after I'm finished running or within 45 minutes. So that defintely limits the menu a bit. I love weekends because I can really spend a lot more time on a meal.

This recipe is from It is so amazingly tasty. Definitely best once it's first cooled from the oven, but I've frozen it and eaten it after it's rethawed, and it's still good, just a little bit drier. I pretty much followed this recipe to a "t" and it's wonderful. This is probably one of my favorite quick breads out there - maybe because it's more like a banana ginger spice cake? Probably.

Banana Gingerbread

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon (sub for 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice)
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
pinch freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup banana, mashed (about 2 large)
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
In a medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar, banana, molasses, buttermilk and vegetable oil. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until just ombined. Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired.
Bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Makes 1 loaf, 8-10 slices.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spaghetti Sauce

This is from an old grade school friend. Super easy, and really good!

Okay, first decide if you want any veggies in it like zucchini, onion, mushrooms, etc. If you do, chop them up and sauté them FIRST in a separate skillet with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. This marinara recipe will give you enough to keep and freeze.

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
3 6 oz. cans of tomato paste
4 tablespoons sugar
6-8 tablespoons crushed basil
2-3 tablespoons fennel seeds (optional)
2-4 tablespoons oregano
black pepper to taste
pinch of salt
crushed red pepper to taste (optional)
1/4 cup red wine

In a large pot, heat olive oil. Crush the garlic and add when oil is hot. Sauté garlic about one minute - careful not to let it burn. Pour in can of crushed tomatoes and fill the can with water. Add one 28 oz can of water. Add each can of tomato paste with a can of water for each as well. Make sure you get all of the tomato paste out of the can with a spoon. Use a whisk to break up the chunks and let the tomatoes cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add sugar, basil, fennel seeds (optional), oregano, black pepper, salt, red pepper (optiional), and red wine. Mix all ingredients together with a whisk and let cook for a good 10 minutes. Alter seasonings to taste if needed. Then, add sautéed veggies if you want.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Asian pork shoulder

This recipe appeared in the February 2010 issue of Real Simple and is a very delicious, real simple dinner!!

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 to 2 TBSP chili-garlic sauce
1 TBSP grated fresh ginger
1 tsp chinese five spice powder (optional)
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 medium head bok choy thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
2 scallions, sliced

In a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker, combine the soy sauce, sugar, chili-garlic sauce, ginger, five-spice powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Add the pork and toss to coat. Cook, covered, until the pork is tender, on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.

Twenty-five minutes before serving, cook the rice according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, skim off and discard any fat from the pork. Gently fold the bok choy into the pork and cook, covered, until heated through, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve with rice and sprinkle with the scallions.
Serves 4

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cheesecake Factory Carrot Cake Cheesecake

It's hard to believe Easter was already a few weeks ago. I made some classics (deviled eggs) and also put my spin on a few menu items. The idea was that we could incorporate both our family traditions, while starting some new holiday traditions of our own. the menu I came up with:

Deviled Eggs
Lemony Dill Sour Cream Dip and Raw Vegetables
Easter Bunny Bread (more on that, later)
Maryland Crab Dip (Thank you, Mom!)

Main Course:
Honeybaked Ham

Prosciutto-wrapped asparagus with parmesan
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Jalepeno Corn Casserole

Cheesecake Factory Carrot Cheesecake Copycat
Orange Tapioca Pudding (Thanks to my mother-in-law)

Easter Biscotti (Jelly Bean Biscotti)
Easter Bunny Bread (using a sweet buttermilk bread - doubled as a dip try and dinner rolls)
Classic Coconut Macaroons
Colored Macaroons
Toasted Coconut Meringue Macaroons
Chewy Chocolate Macaroons

Yes, you read that right - 4 macaroon recipes. It was a bit of a bake-off to see if there was a 'best macaroon.' You know what? There isn't. They were all so very good. Though I think the top two based on comments from family were the Toasted Coconut Meringue Macaroons and the Chewy Chocolate Macaroons. They were just so different from normal and were just a nice change of pace. The Easter (Jelly Bean) Biscotti sounds strange, and that first bite or two is a little strange to eat. It's like a shortbready-butter cookie with jelly beans inside. There is not only a textural interest, but the jelly bean flavors definitely add a unique flair to this recipe as well. That being said, they were strangely addictive - though I'm sure that isn't the case for everyone. I can see this definitely being a "love it or leave it" kind of dessert, but it was just too festive to pass up.

This recipe I'm sharing has been around for a while - it's a copycat recipe trying to replicate the Cheesecake Factory's version of this cake. Though I haven't had their version, this version is wonderful. This was one of the Easter Desserts and my very first cheesecake attempt. Ah-may-zing. I posed the nutrition information, but it's not entirely accurate. I know that if you're going to indulge, indulge, but I couldn't help myself. I changed the recipe to make it a smidgen healthier, from using reduced fat cream cheese, applesauce instead of some oil and whole wheat flour instead of AP. My changes are in parenthesis.


Cheesecake Factory Carrot Cake Cheesecake


16 ounces cream cheese (at room temp - I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon flour (AP)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup vegetable oil (used 1/4 c oil and 1/2 c applesauce)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour (used whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
(1/4 tsp nutmeg)
(1/4 tsp ginger)
1 dash salt
1 (8 1/2 ounce) can crushed pineapple, well drained with juice reserved
1 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans here)

2 ounces cream cheese, softened (1/3 less fat)
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon reserved pineapple juice

I also used extra crushed pecans to put on top of the pineapple cream cheese frosting to make it prettier to serve.


To make cheesecake:
In large bowl of electric mixer, beat together 2 pkgs cream cheese and 3/4 cup sugar until smooth.
Beat in 1 tablespoon flour, 3 eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla until smooth. Set aside.
Meanwhile prepare Carrot Cake: In large bowl, combine oil, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla, blending thoroughly.
Stir in 1 cup flour, baking soda, cinnamon, (nutmeg, ginger) and dash salt, mixing well.
Stir in drained pineapple, carrots, coconut and walnuts (i used pecans).
Spread 1 1/2 cups carrot cake batter over bottom of greased 9-or 9 1/2-inch springform pan.
Drop large spoonfuls of cream cheese batter over carrot cake batter; top with large spoonfuls of remaining carrot cake batter.
Repeat with remaining cream cheese batter, spreading evenly with a knife.
Do not marble with a knife.
Bake in preheated 350 (I backed it down to 300) degree oven 50 to 65 (it cooked for a LOT longer, I wasn't really keeping track, but it did set up) minutes or until cake is set and cooked through.
Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate. (I waited for mine to cool completely, then wrapped it heavily so I could freeze it for a week. I thawed it out 3 days before easter to let the flavors combine before serving it.)
When cake is cold, prepare Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting.
In a bowl of electric mixer, combine 2 oz cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1 tablespoon reserved pineapple juice and dash of salt.
Beat until smooth and of spreading consistency.
Frost top of cheesecake.
Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours before serving.

Nutrition Information for the unmodified Cheesecake recipe (not that you want to see it for this...haha)
Serving Size 1 (175g)
Recipe makes 12 servings
Calories 595
Calories from Fat 322
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat 35.8g
Saturated Fat 13.6g
Monounsaturated Fat 9.5g
Polyunsaturated Fat 10.7g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 137mg
Sodium 294mg
Potassium 180mg
Total Carbohydrate 62.9g
Dietary Fiber 1.3g
Sugars 51.6g
Protein 8.0g

Marinated and grilled pork medallions

We clipped this recipe from the Chicago Tribune and tried it out last night. This recipe adapted from the book "Chef on a Shoestring," edited by Andrew Friedman, works for both grill and grill pan. It's a good choice for kids because the vegetables stay colorful and a bit crunchy, and because the parts work together but can be enjoyed apart.

Our notes on this recipe are in parenthesis. Note, we only used 1/3 of the pork called for in the recipe, but quartered the marinade and vegetable components. We also grilled zucchini in addition to the peppers and onions.

Marinated and Grilled Pork Medallions

Prep: 20 minutes

Marinate: 2 hours
Cook: 14 minutes
Makes: 8 servings

3 pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each (we used 1 that was about 3/4 lb before trimming off excess fat)
1 cup apple cider (used apple juice)
1/4 cup each: soy sauce, honey
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger (we grated it)
2 red bell peppers, seeded, cut into wedges
2 onions, cut into wedges, skewered
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt Freshly ground pepper

1. Cut the tenderloins into 1/2-inch-thick medallions. Combine the cider, soy, honey, ketchup and ginger in a bowl. Place the medallions in a large, flat dish; pour the cider mixture over them. Cover; marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. (We did overnight)

2. Heat grill or grill pan until hot. Brush the vegetables lightly with oil; season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill 8 minutes. (If you are using a grill pan, you will have to work in batches.) Remove the pork from the marinade, discarding marinade; drain pork for a moment. (We used our Griddler/Panini Press since it was cruddy outside. We opened it up flat for a dual grilling surface and it worked great.)

3. Grill the pork 3 to 4 minutes on each side over high heat to coincide with the end of the vegetable cooking time. (If you are using the grill pan, remove the vegetables and cover to keep warm while you cook the pork.) Watch the medallions closely; they will cook quickly because they are thinly sliced. Be sure the pork's juices run clear when removed from the grill. If they do not, return to the grill and cook for another 30 seconds or so on each side.

Nutrition information

Per serving: 335 calories, 40% of calories from fat, 15 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 113 mg cholesterol, 12 g carbohydrates, 38 g protein, 432 mg sodium, 1 g fiber