Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spinach, Artichoke and Goat Cheese Summer Rolls

For dinner tonight, I was inspired by a recipes I saw on Kelly's blog for Artichoke, Spinach and Goat Cheese Spring Rolls. I loved the east meets west feel of these rolls, different from anything I've ever seen! When I looked at the recipe, I was surprised to see that it still used asian flavors for the dipping sauce and roll contents. I decided to instead make it more of an Italian flavored roll because that was what I was craving. These rolls were delicious, like a salad in a wrap, very innovative and fun!

Spinach, Artichoke and Goat Cheese Summer Rolls

20 rice paper wrappers
1 bag of fresh baby spinach
1 14. oz can articokes, chopped
1/2 red onion, julienne
1 red bell pepper, julienne
1 6 oz. log of organic goat cheese, crumbled
40 basil leaves

Dipping sauce (not pictured):
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. honey
1/4 c. EVOO
Salt and pepper
Fresh oregano, minced

Prep all ingredients and set out on a cutting board.
Grease a serving platter with 1 tbsp. EVOO.
Fill a pie plate with warm water.
Dip a rice wrapper into water, soak for 30 seconds.
Pull out, place on a cutting board, add spinach, 2 basil leaves, pepper, artichokes, goat cheese and onion.
Roll up like a burrito, place on the greased serving platter.
Refrigerate until serving.

To make dipping sauce:
Whisk all ingredients in a small dish, taste and adjust seasonings.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Warm Yogurt Walnut Dip with Roasted Veggies

For dinner tonight, I wanted to showcase the SuperFood Walnuts. I thought about tossing some in a salad or crusting a chicken breast with them, but that's been done a million times, and doesn't really bring out the wonderful flavor of the walnut. I found a recipe in my Foods that Heal book for Yogurt Walnut dip with Roasted Vegetables... I was intrigued! I love that it's made with yogurt because Walnuts are high in fat, and the yogurt doesn't add more. I also love roasted veggies, and liked the idea of a fun appetizer like dinner. I served this with chicken sausage on the side and a tossed salad.

Warm Yogurt Walnut Dip
with Roasted Vegetables

1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 c. toasted walnut pieces
1 c. plain Oikos yogurt
1 egg white (this is important, keeps the yogurt from separating when warmed)
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
Pinch of cayenne
Salt and pepper

Add all ingredients to a blender, whirl until smooth.
Add to a nonstick sautee pan over low heat.
Warm through, do not boil, about 5 minutes.
Pour into a dish, top with extra paprika and walnuts.

Serve with roasted vegetables, such as sweet potato, zucchini, summer squash, red bell peppers, fennel, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, and hericot verts.

Monday, April 27, 2009

POM-Mango Compound Butter

For dinner tonight, I am cooking with POM Wonderful. I was contacted about a month ago by a representative and received a few bottles. Luckily, I was about to start my SuperFood month, and Pomegranates are a SuperFood. Fresh pomegranates aren't in season right now, so POM Wonderful is a great sub as it's 100% juice.
I decided to incorporate the juice into 3 recipes, the first being this compound butter. I knew I wanted to make a BBQ sauce for chicken with mango and pomegranate, so I thought I'd make a compound butter to top some sweet potatoes. JJ and I love sweet potatoes with BBQ chicken.
I love making compund butters because you can really stretch out the butter by incorporating other ingredients. It also dresses up a simple baked sweet potato but is very simple to make!

POM-Mango Compund Butter

4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter at room temp.
2 tbsp. POM Wonderful
1/2 mango, diced
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides a few times. It won't fully combine, but it should whip together pretty well. Serve right away, or store in tupperware in the fridge for up to a week.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

KU Cake and Cupcakes for Pumpkin!

I was asked to make a combo grooms cake/rehearsal dinner cake/30th birthday cake for my mom's friend's daughter over the weekend. The groom is from Kansas, and is a big KU and Chiefs fan, so she wanted me to incorporate that somehow and she wanted a red velvet sheet cake. I decided to put a big Jayhawk on the cake, and pipe arrows with the KC logo on the sides (you can just barely see them). I used my favorite Red Velvet cake, and baked off 2 - 1/2 sheet cakes. I used 1.5 batches of cake batter in each layer, and iced it in cream cheese frosting. I was so paranoid the cake would droop, colors would run and it would melt because it was in the upper 80's on Saturday, but it survived! (The space in the upper right corner is for the "3" and "0" candles, but they were put on after I delivered it.

Also over the weekend Pumpkin's new collar and leash arrived! She's had the same ladybug collar for 3 years, so I thought I'd get her something new for her birthday (June 1), and also, she was beginning to eat through her leash. She's spastic, have I mentioned that before???
So I was looking for dog collars on etsy (check it out if you've never shopped there, it's all homemade!), and I found this ADORABLE cupcake collar. Pumpkin has been known to jump on the table and eat cake/icing! (my graduation cake....) The only food she ever begs for is popcorn and buttercream - weird, I know. She can smell it from a mile away and stares a hole in me!

Anyway, the collar and leash were very well priced, and they look very durable. Also, I think I ordered them on Wednesday and got them Saturday, so Kerrie is very quick!
I didn't photograph the leash because if I pick it up, she'll think we're going on another walk :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Baked Falafel in Pita with Tzatziki

For dinner tonight, I decided to make falafel. I've had falafel in restaurants, but never made it at home. The main reason is because I don't like frying food. I love taking normally fried foods and finding a way to bake them and get similar results. I used this recipe from I followed the directions up until frying, where I baked it.
I served this with Tzatziki, which I've made in the past and love! This time I used Oikos plain yogurt, which made it thicker and better.

Baked Falafel in Pita with Tzatziki

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and patted dry
1/2 small onion, roughly chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves, about a handful

6 pita breads
Tomato slices
Lettuce leaves

Combine all falafel ingredients except oil in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
Pulse mixture until coarsely ground.
Transfer to a bowl or container and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Form the falafel mixture into 6 balls.
Place on a foil lined, nonstick sprayed baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes, turn, bake for another 5.
Place in a pita and serve.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cous Cous Stuffed Tomatoes

For dinner tonight, I'm showcasing the SuperFood Tomatoes. I thought I'd utilize tomatoes in two different forms, fresh heirloom tomatoes and herb sun dried tomatoes. I made a simple cous cous salad and stuffed fresh tomatoes. These are very versatile though, they can be baked off, but I don't like warm/cooked chunks of tomato, so I served mine cold/room temp.
I used Israeli cous cous because it's all they have in the bulk bins, and I didn't need a whole box, just 2/3 c.

Cous Cous Stuffed Tomatoes

2 large heirloom tomatoes, top sliced off and hollowed out
Salt and pepper

1 c. organic chicken or vegetable stock
2/3 c. Israeli cous cous
1/4 red onion, minced
10 oil packed sun dried tomatoes with herbs
2 oz crumbled feta
2 tbsp. minced parsley
1 tsp. minced oregano or 1/4 tsp. dried
Salt and pepper

Bring stock to a boil in a small soup pot.
Add cous cous, turn heat off, stir cous cous, cover.
Let it sit for 10 minutes, in the mean time, add remaining ingredients to a bowl.
Toss gently, add cous cous and toss.
Season tomatoes with salt and pepper, spoon in cous cous salad.
Refrigerate until eating or bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Beckon Desire Pizza Copycat - Gorgonzola and Artichoke Pizza with Spinach Pesto

For dinner tonight, I am using the SuperFood artichokes. I had this pizza from Avers a few months ago, and loved it. For some reason, I was craving it last weekend. It's not a complex pizza to make, but the flavors are complex and delicious. It's an interesting combo when you look at the ingredients list, but they're amazing together.
I made my own pizza crust, and I think it's the best I've ever made. I'm guessing because I used no whole wheat flour... which always makes it a bit gummy and off tasting. Instead, I used organic unbleached flour. I made up the crust recipe based on the average recipe.
Overall, a delicious, and pretty healthy pizza!

or Gorgonzola and Artichoke Pizza with Spinach Pesto

1 recipe pizza crust, recipe below
1 recipe spinach pesto, recipe below
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 can artichoke hearts, sliced
4 oz. creamy gorgonzola wedge, crumbled
(don't use pre crumbled, go for a soft, melty gorgonzola)
1 tsp. Penzey's pizza seasoning

1 c. warm water
1 packet dry active yeast
1 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. organic unbleached flour

spinach pesto:
3 c. packed spinach leaves
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp EVOO
salt and pepper

Add water, yeast and honey to a stand mixer bowl. Proof yeast 10 minutes.
Add flour and salt, turn mixer on low (with dough hook).
Mix for 5 minutes.
Pick up dough ball, it should be slightly sticky.
Spray the bowl with nonstick spray, place dough ball back in, cover with saran wrap.
Proof for 1 hour, punch down, proof for another hour.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Press dough into a pizza pan.
Bake for 7 minutes.
While crusts bakes, prepare other ingredients.
Add all pesto ingredients to a food processor and pulse until it becomes a paste.
Slice onion and artichokes.
Take pizza crust out, slather with pesto, top with artichokes, onions, and crumbled gorgonzola.
Sprinkle with pizza seasoning.
Bake for another 10 minutes.
If the pesto is a bit soupy and the cheese isn't completely melted, broil for 2-3 minutes.
Remove from the oven, cool for 5 minutes, then slice.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Eggplant and Cannelini Ragout over Herbed Polenta

I made this recipe up to pack in with the Dinners for Dad. He loves eggplant, and grows some beautiful ones in his garden. I love serving ragouts over polenta (here and here), I've made a few others, but I thought dad would like eggplant the best. I ate a few bites of this and it was great!

Eggplant and Cannelini Ragout
over Herbed Polenta

1 tbsp. EVOO
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large eggplant, diced
1 spring of rosemary
1 15oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 c. dry red wine
1 15 oz. can cannelini beans, drained
salt and pepper

2 c. vegetable stock
1 c. skim milk
1 c. polenta
1 tbsp. fresh minced herbs
salt and pepper

Heat a large skillet over medium, add EVOO.
Saute' onions and garlic for 3-4 minutes, or until softened.
Add eggplant, season with salt and pepper.
Sautee for 5 more minutes.
Turn heat to high, add wine, reduce.
Turn heat to low, add tomatoes, rosemary and beans.
Stir gently to combine.

Heat a stockpot over medium-high.
Add stock and milk. Bring to a simmer.
Sprinkle in polenta, whisking as you add it.
Turn heat to low, cover and stir every 2-3 minutes.
Cook for 20 minutes, add herbs, salt and pepper.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Carrot Raisin Salad

Yesterday I grabbed some lunch at Bloomingfoods to take to the baseball game. I saw carrot salad, and it sounded interesting, so I grabbed it. OMG! It was so delicious! It was a little bit pricey though at 6.99/lb, so I knew I'd have to try to make it at home. Lucky for me, the package had the ingredients listed, so I just had to figure out the amounts. I think I pretty much nailed this one!

Carrot Raisin Salad

4 large carrots, peeled and sliced very thin (I used the food processor blade opposite the grater)
2 tbsp. White wine vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tbsp. EVOO
2 scallions, minced
1/2" ginger root, grated
1 tbsp. minced parsley
1 tsp. minced dill
1 tsp. minced marjoram
1/4 c. raisins

Whisk together vinegar, sugar, mustard and EVOO.
Add carrots, herbs and raisins, toss to coat.
Season with salt and pepper.
Chill for 30 minutes before serving.

A Year Ago: Thai Chicken Pizza, one of my favorites!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Vegetarian Fajita Pasta

For dinner last night, I wanted to make my dad and I some pasta to carbo-load for the big race. Really, I didn't need to, but he did I guess :)
I created this dish months ago, and I love it. I knew dad would love it too because he loves veggies, especially zucchini and spicy things. He's pescetarian though, so I subbed black beans for the ground turkey, and I added a few extra spices!

Vegetarian Fajita Pasta
Makes 4 servings

1 lb. Ronzoni Smart Taste Penne
2 cloves minced garlic
1 red onion, sliced
8 oz. sliced button mushrooms
1 zucchini, sliced
2 red bell peppers, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 jalapeno, sliced
Salt and Pepper
1 15 oz. can organic tomato sauce
1 15 oz. can organic black beans, drained
2 tsp. Dark Chili Powder
2 tbsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 c. 2% shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped cilantro, Sour Cream or Guacamole for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt heavily, cook pasta until al dente. Drain.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high, add mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, onion, and garlic. Sautee veggies for 10-15 minutes, until they’re tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Add tomatoes, black beans, spices and pasta. Stir to combine.
Pour into a casserole dish.
Bake for 15 minutes, until cheese is melted and pasta is bubbly.
Plate and serve with garnishes.

Sweet Potato Fries with Avocado Dipping Sauce

Tonight I am blogging about the SuperFood Avocado! Usually I just chop it up and put it on salads, or make guacamole, but I wanted to do something different. I saw this recipe on Kelly's blog, originally by Ingrid Hoffman of Food Network.
The fries have delicious flavor, and the avocado dipping sauce was superb! I changed it a bit by subbing yogurt to make it low fat/cal. JJ absolutely loved it, and we'll definitely be using it as a sandwich spread and dip.
I served it with Mango Chicken Sausage from TJ's and broccoli because I loaded up last week - it was on sale :)

Sweet Potato Fries with Avocado Dipping Sauce
as see on The Pink Apron

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled or unpeeled, cut into 4-inch long and 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick fries
2 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Coarse ground rock salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Avocado Dip, recipe follows

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
Place the sweet potatoes in a large bowl and toss with olive oil until the sweet potatoes are coated.
Add the paprika, chili powder, coriander, salt, and pepper; toss to distribute evenly.
Arrange the coated fries in a single layer on the prepared pan.
Bake for 20 minutes on the lower rack until the sweet potatoes soften.
Transfer the pan to the upper rack of the oven and bake 10 minutes longer, until fries are crispy. Serve with Avocado Dip.

Avocado Dip:
1 Haas avocado,
1/2 cup plain lowfat organic yogurt
2 tbsp. light sour cream
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped.
2 scallions, white and light green part only, chopped
1 lime, juiced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the avocado, yogurt, sour cream, jalapeno, scallions, and lime juice into a blender or small food processor.
Blend for 1 minute or until you have a smooth paste.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve as a dip for the Sweet Potato Oven Fries.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Garden Harvest Muffins

I found this recipe in Cooking Light and ripped it out right away. I love zucchini bread, and JJ loves carrot cake, so this bread seemed to be perfect for us. As I read through it, I noticed it also had apples, which we both love. The best part is the moisture from the fruit and veggies adds so much moisture that you barely need any oil.
The original recipe is written for a loaf cake, but I made it into muffins. They are super moist, full of flavor, and contain SuperFoods Apple and Cinnamon!

from Cooking Light

4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (1 cup)
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated peeled Granny Smith apple (about 1 medium)
1/2 cup grated carrot (about 1 medium)
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
2 large eggs
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife.
Combine flour and the next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.
Add grated apple, grated carrot, shredded zucchini, and walnuts to flour mixture; toss well.
Combine canola oil, buttermilk, and eggs in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.
Add egg mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined.
Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups lined with papers, coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 350° for 22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan.
Cool completely on wire rack before slicing.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dinners for Dad

Every Spring, my mom flies down to Florida to visit her parents and my dad stays home to work. This year, mom is flying out of Indy, so my dad decided to come visit me and run a 5k with me this weekend.
Since my mom will be out of town all week, my dad was going to be reduced to making Ramen noodles and tuna sandwiches, his specialties. I decided that I wanted to make my dad a weeks worth of dinners for a few reasons...

1. He is a great dad

2. He promotes my blog like no one else to the entire congregation (he's a pastor)

3. He works really hard all week long, and should eat healthy dinners

4. He recently became a pescetarian, which means I get to make some of my favorite vegetarian dinners for him

5. I love to cook tons of food all day long (2 hours in the kitchen to make these 5 dinners, it was heaven!)

Some of these dinners I have made before, and some are new. I often have people asking me what they can make ahead of time and freeze, or what they can bring to neighbors or friends that will stay well, so here are a few ideas for you!

For my dad, I wrote out instructions for each meal on how to reheat it, so I'll post that too.
Here's the menu for him for the week:

-Eggplant and Bean Ragout over Polenta

I found out that you can put corningware directly in the oven from the freezer, but I instructed my dad to thaw what he's having for dinner in the fridge each day.

When you do put corningware directly from freezer to oven, it's best to put it in the oven, then turn the oven on so as the oven warms up, the corningware gradually warms and won't crack.

It looks crazy, but the more pots/pans going, the better!

For the Minestrone, I made the soup base, but didn't add the stock or pasta. I cooked the ditalini, and then packed it in a seperate tupperware so the pasta doesn't get mushy. I also packed the vegetable stock seperately so my dad can add how much he wants to get the soup to the consistency he wants.
I wrapped the bread in foil, then put it in a freezer safe plastic bag.

Here are the directions I gave Dad:
Minestrone Stew with Beer Bread
Heat a soup pot over medium; add soup to it. Bring to a simmer. Add the pasta and the stock. Bring to a simmer again and heat the pasta through.
If you want your bread warm, place it in the oven, still wrapped in foil, at 300 for 15 minutes, while the stew cooks.
Serve with some grated parmesan cheese on top.

For the enchiladas, I used Refried Black Beans rather than regular canned black beans. They add a nice texture to the enchiladas. I added extra cayenne because Dad loves spicy food!
Black Bean and Pepper Enchiladas -

Take the plastic lid off the casserole and place in the oven.
Turn the oven on to 400 degrees.
Bake enchiladas for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.
Serve with sour cream and shredded lettuce.

For the lentils and rice and veggies, I cooked the rice and lentils completely, but left the veggies raw so they wouldn't over cook. I simply added a pinch of saffron to the rice, and cooked it in vegetable stock.

Spiced Lentils, Saffron Rice and Veggies

Take the lid off the casserole and place it in the oven.
Turn the oven on to 350 degrees.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the veggies are tender.

I decided to make my dad a dinner with seafood once for the week. I've never cooked shrimp before, but I found a recipe in cooking light that i thought he'd like. I thought it would be good with some orzo with peas. My mom hates peas, but I love them, and so does my dad!
Feta and Tomato Baked Shrimp, Herbed Orzo with Peas

Place the foil covered shrimp dish in the oven, do not take the cover off.
Bake for 15 minutes at 400, take cover off, cheese should be melted and tomato sauce should be bubbly.
Spoon pasta and peas onto a plate, break up and microwave for 2 minutes.
Spoon shrimp and tomato over the pasta and peas.

For the final dish, I decided to make a ragout over polenta. My dad loves eggplant, and I thought the eggplant and cannelini beans would be a great combo. I'll be blogging this recipe soon!

Eggplant and Bean Ragout over Polenta

Uncover, place in the oven and turn it on to 350 degrees.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until bubbly and heated through.
Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Big Ken's Cedar Plank Salmon with Honey-Lime Sauce

For Easter dinner, it's tradition that we go to the Smith's house. Mr. Smith, or Big Ken as we like to call him, cooked some salmon for dinner. I honestly tried to take a bite, but I can't do it. I have tried so hard to will myself to eat fish, but I can't. They told me this salmon was delicious, but I'm a big baby and I just can't eat fish. I'm really just meant to be a vegetarian... what can I say?
However, salmon is a SuperFood, and the only one I was planning on NOT blogging because I wasn't going to make it, but since Big Ken did, I just had to get this in the blog!
This recipe comes from the Weber Grill cookbook. He buys his cedar plans at Costco (pictured under the salmon dish above), I think 6 to a pack. He made 2 large fillets, one board for each, and cooked it on his gas grill. The cedar smelled delicious, as did the sauce, but I'm not going to comment on the salmon ;) Dawn would also like for everyone to notice her beautful springy china, and the lovely parsley garnish!

Cedar Planked Salmon
with Honey-Lime Sauce

1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. fresh minced chives
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. granulated garlic
½ tsp. fresh black pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne
¼ c. EVOO

1 large samon fillet (with skin), 2 ½ to 3 lbs., 16 in. long and ¾” thick
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. fresh black pepper
1 untreated cedar plank 16”x8” soaked in water for 1 hour

To Make Dressing:
Combine all ingredients (except EVOO) in a blender.
With the blender running, stream in EVOO until it emulsifies.

Place the salmon on a cutting board, remove any pin bones.
Season the flesh side with salt and pepper. Pour half the dressing over the salmon, distribute evenly.

Remove the cedar plank from water, place it over DIRECT HIGH heat until the edges smoke and char, 3-10 minutes (don’t let it flame)
Move the plank over INDIRECT HEAT and place the salmon, skin side down, on the plank.
Grill until the salmon is just slightly pink in the center and brown on the edges, 20-25 minutes.
Remove the plank and salmon to a heatproof surface. Serve warm with remaining dressing on the side.

Restaurant Review: BLU Boy Cafe & Cakery

BLU Boy Chocolate Cafe & Cakery
112 E. Kirkwood Ave.
Bloomington, IN
(812) 334-8460

Location: Downtown on E. Kirkwood next to Chumley Theater, near Walnut
Cuisine: Gourmet Chocolates, Baked Goods in store and to order
Price: From what I can remember, chocolates were about $3-4 each,
Cake slices and cupcakes were about $4.50 each

BLU Boy Chocolate Cafe and Cakery is a newer bakery and chocolatier in Bloomington, opening in 2008. After doing my research, I learned that Blu Boy is very focused on buying locally and using fresh ingredients without preservatives. They have a blog where they show some of the visits to their ingredient suppliers:
I first tried their chocolates right after they opened. They are decadent, melt in your mouth, and many are very beautiful (hand painted!). They are expensive if you compare them to a Hershey's bar, but the quality is superior and they make a very thoughful and delicious gift.
Blu Boy currently has a promotion if you bring back an empty chocolate container for refill, they will give you one space free!
Because chocolates are such a popular hostess and holiday gift, why not buy local and support Blu Boy or any chocolatier in your city rather than buy a box of Godiva?
I recently learned that Blu Boy teaches chocolate classes on the 1st Tuesday of the month from 7-9pm, I wish I could have gone to one!

I have had a few desserts from Blu Boy including chocolate cake and hummingbird cake.
The chocolate cake iself was very moist, rich and velvety. The icing was a little too buttery for my taste. It was borderline eating a stick of chocolate butter. The icing was a little thick, too. I scraped most of it off and just ate the cake.
Hummingbird cake was something I've never had before, so I decided to go for it. It looked beautiful and chock full of flavor, which it was. If you've never had hummingbird cake, this is place to try it! It has bananas, pineapple, pecans, cinnamon, and lots of flavor! It's like a carrot cake for banana lovers.

I was a little disappointed the last time I went there because it closes at 6pm Monday thru Thursday, so if you want to drop in after dinner for a treat, it has to be on the weekend when they're open until 10pm (Sunday's they're closed).
I don't know that I'd go to Bluboy specifically for a pastry or cake, but their chocolates are definitely something special!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lemon Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake

For Easter dessert, I decided to make a cheesecake since the one I made for Valentine's Day was so good. I used lemon zest in the batter and swirled in 2 layers of raspberry jam, and the flavor was fantastic.

Lemon Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Tall and Creamy Cheesecake

2 packages of Chocolate Graham crackers (out of a box of 3), crushed
1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted

4 8 oz. bricks of Cream Cheese
1 1/3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 c. sour cream
1 lemon, zested
1 c. Rasberry Jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter in a bowl, toss in graham cracker crumbs and sugar.
Line the springform pan with a parchment paper circle.
Spray a springform pan wrapped in foil with nonstick spray.
Press graham cracker mixture into the bottom and up the sides, about 2" (I use a glass to help me press in the sides).
Bake for 10 minutes.
Remove, set aside.
Reduce oven temp. to 325 degrees.
While crust bakes, prepare filling.
Boil a kettle full of water.

Beat the cream cheese at a medium speed until soft and creamy (about 4 minutes).
With the mixer still running add the sugar and salt and continue to beat for another 4 minutes or so, the cream cheese should appear light and creamy.
Add the vanilla and the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition, about 1 minute.
Reduce speed to low, add the sour cream and lemon zest and beat for 1 minute.
Pour the water into a large roasting pan (I used a steel sautee pan with high sides)
Place the spring form pan in, then pour half the batter in the crust.
Put the jam in a piping bag and make a swirl of it over the batter.
Pour the remaining batter in, it will go above the crust.
Pipe a cross-hatch pattern on the top with jam, use a toothpick to swirl at a 45 degree.
Bake the cheesecake for about 1 hour and 30 minutes. It will be a little golden on top, and will puff up above the rim.
Turn off the oven, prop open, and allow to cool gently for a further hour.
Remove the tin from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature on a cooling rack, about another hour.
When the cake has cooled to room temperature refridgerate for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter Treats!

I'll be taking the next few days off from blogging as I'll be in Cincinnati for Easter. I decided to make some candy and cookies for the family, so here they all are!
I absolutely LOVE Bakerella's Cake Pops...they're just amazing. I decided to make them, but use fudge balls rather than cake balls... I think the fudge balls have a longer shelf life, and they're easier to make smooth than cake.

Here's what I put in the baskets:
Easter M&M Cookies
Triple Chocolate Brownies with Chocolate Buttercream and Easter Sprinkles
Spritz Daisies with Pink Chocolate Centers
Rolled Carrot Cake Bunny Cookies with Coconut
Peanut Butter Fudge Balls

Peanut Butter Fudge Balls:
3 1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. butter
1/2 tsp. Salt
2/3 c. (5 1/3 fl. oz. can) Carnation evaporated milk
14 oz. Peanut Butter Chips
2 c. Kraft marshmallow crème
¼ c. Peanut Butter

In a saucepot over medium heat, bring sugar, butter, salt and milk to a boil. Stir, and cook for 5 minutes, constantly simmering.
Turn heat off, add chips, creme and peanut butter. Whisk until fully combined.
Pour into a bowl, and cool for 3-4 hours.
Use a cookie scoop to portion out into balls.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Waldorf Salad

Today's featured SuperFood is yogurt! A few weeks ago, Stonyfield Farms contacted me and offered me coupons to try the new Oikos Greek yogurt. Greek Yogurt is a great sub for sour cream, mayo, or even oil in common dishes, like egg/chicken salad, dressing, marinades, and sauces. I decided to make Waldorf Salad for dinner tonight because organic apples were on sale, I had some leftover mint, and I had my yogurt coupon!

This salad was light, refreshing, and very flavorful!

Waldorf Salad

1 batch of whole wheat pita
1/2 lb. organic chicken breasts, poached
1 granny smith apple, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 c. pecans or walnuts, toasted
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper

1 c. greek yogurt
2 tbsp. mint
1 tsp. dried dill
1 tbsp. chives
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. sugar or honey
Zest of 1 lemon, juice of half

Add all dressing ingredients to a blender, blend until smooth.
Add all salad ingredients to a bowl, toss in dressing.
Serve in pitas.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Mu Shu Vegetables

My absolute favorite thing to order when we get Chinese take out is Mu Shu Vegetables. I love the cabbage in the sweet and smoky hoisin sauce with the shredded egg and mushrooms, it's delicious! However, I'm sure when I order it out there's lots of extra fat and salt, so I decided to try making it at home. Usually we also order a few other things, so there's extra rice, and I usually eat my mu shu mixture over rice and don't use the pancakes, but tonight I had some extra whole wheat wraps that needed to be used.
The reason I made this dish is because today on Ash if Fit, the featured SuperFood is cabbage!
One thing I used in this recipe that's traditional in Mu Shu is black chinese mushrooms, often found dried in the market. After I reconstituted the whole package in water, I had tons of mushrooms! I had no idea the tiny dried up bits would grow like they did! I left the extras in the water and froze it to use at a later time. I have no idea if that was what I should do, but we'll see!

Mu Shu Vegetables

4 dried black mushrooms
2 eggs, beaten with salt and pepper
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, grated
½” grated ginger
4 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage
2 large carrot, shredded
3 scallions, sliced
¼ c. soy sauce
1 tbsp dry sherry
2 tbsp. Hoisin sauce
½ c. edamame
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Mandarin Pancake Wrappers or Brown Rice
Hoisin sauce
Chinese Mustard

Place mushrooms in a bowl, cover with boiling water, let sit for 20 minutes.
Beat eggs in a small dish, set aside.
Prepare all vegetables.
Heat a wok over medium. Spray with nonstick spray, add eggs and cook for 2 minutes, flip and cook for 30 seconds.
Fold into thirds, slice thinly and set aside.
Heat wok over high, add sesame oil and crushed red pepper flakes.
Grate in garlic and ginger, sauté for 1 minute.
Add cabbage, carrots, and scallions. Toss and cook for 3 minutes.
Add soy sauce, sherry and hoisin.
Toss to coat, all water should be cooked out.
Turn heat off, add edamame and sliced egg.
To serve, smear extra hoisin and mustard in a mandarin pancake, top with some of the cabbage mixture, fold like a burrito and serve.

SuperFoods: Cabbage, Edamame (soy), Ginger, Garlic

Sidekicks: Carrots, Scallions, Mushrooms

A Year Ago - Fiji! Roti, Pea and Potato Curry, Curried Citrus Chicken Papaya, Rum Currant Scones

Friday, April 3, 2009

Balsamic Veggie Quesadillas

Last weekend when I was visiting my parents in Cincinnati, they took me out to lunch at Unos. I wanted to get something healthy, and the roasted vegetable quesadilla looked pretty good. It tasted great, but it was a bit oily. I decided to look up the nutritional info when I got home. Well, the servings per quesadilla are 3 at 300 calories and 13 g. of fat each, so my whole quesadilla was 900 calories and 39 g. of fat! I knew I could lighten it up, and so that was the plan for tonight. The SuperFood featured in this, however, was something I added - Spinach! The spinach helps bulk up the vegetables to fill the quesadilla more. I also added tofu in the cheese spread to add some protein and to bulk it up without adding so much fat and calories.
I think the end result was fantsatic, and much healthier!
This recipe makes 4 quesadillas, at around 300 calories each. The tortillas I used were low carb, high fiber mission at 80 calories each.

Balsamic Veggie Quesadillas

4 whole wheat tortillas
Vegetable filling:
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium summer squash, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. white button mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 c. packed baby spinach
salt and pepper
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

4 oz. organic goat cheese
10 sun dried tomato pieces, reconstituted in hot water
2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
2 oz. soft tofu
10 basil leaves
Salt and pepper
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
Add 1 tbsp. EVOO, zucchini, squash, onion, garlic and bell pepper. Sautee' for 10 minutes, or until vegetables have sweat out all of their moisture. Season with salt and pepper, again, cook out the liquid the salt draws out.
While veggies sweat out, put all spread ingredients in a food processor.
Pulse until the ingredients are combined and make a spread.
Set aside.
Add spinach and toss, again, cook out all of the liquid.
Turn heat to high, add balsamic vinegar, glaze veggies, turn heat off.
Preheat a large nonstick skillet to medium heat. Spray with nonstick spray.
Lay out tortillas, add 1/4 of the spread to each, top each with 1/4 of the veggies.
Fold over, place in the skillet. Cook for 4-5 minutes, flip and cook for another 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve with sour cream and sprinkle with cayenne.

SuperFoods: Spinach, Onions, Garlic
Sidekicks: Zucchini, Summer Squash, Red Bell Pepper

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Lentil, Barley and Goat Cheese Patties

Tonight I am blogging about the SuperFood Lentils. You can read all about the health benefits of lentils on Ash is Fit. I decided to go with patties because I haven't made lentil patties before, but have made them with many other beans. The lentils are very hearty, a bit al dente, and the barley adds a really nice meaty texture. The goat cheese keeps them moist and creamy, and they are just very savory and delicious.
I served these with rasperry jam glazed hericot verts and mashed cauliflower, my favorite mashed potato alternative. This meal was extremely healthy and delicious!

Lentil, Barley and Goat Cheese Patties

1/2 c. dried brown lentils
1/4 c. dried pearl barley
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
1 egg white
2 tbsp. bread crumbs
4 oz. herbed goat cheese
1/2 tsp. dried or 1 tsp. fresh minced rosemary

Put lentils and barley in a small saucepan. Add 2 c. water, bring to a simmer, cover and turn to low. Simmer for 30 minutes.
In a large saute' pan over medium-low heat, add 1 tbsp. EVOO, shallot and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, sautee' for 5 minutes, or until softened.
In a mixing bowl, whisk egg white until foamy.
Drain lentils and barley, add to egg white, add shallot mixture, breadcrumbs, rosemary, and crumble in goat cheese.
Mix with a fork, and mash the lentils up a bit until the mixture will form together, it may need to sit for a minute or two.
Heat the sautee pan over medium heat again, spray with nonstick spray.
Spoon 1/4 c. of the lentil mixture onto the pan, press down into a patty.
Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until brown and crisp.
Flip, and brown the other side for another 5 minutes.

Contains SuperFoods: Lentils, Shallots, Garlic

Contains Sidekick: Barley

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sweet Pea Ravioli

About a week ago, I saw this recipe on Kelly's Blog. I absolutely love peas, so I checked out the recipe she linked. All of the components of the dish are so healthy and contain so many superfoods and sidekicks!
I chose this recipe to showcase soy, today's SuperFood. I have never used tofu in place of something like ricotta in ravioli, or as part of a sauce. I generally don't branch out from asian cuisine with tofu!
One element to this dish that I loved was the chili oil. I made the regular sized batch, which I plan on using often! It really balanced out the creamy tofu and sweet peas, and cut through the sauce on the bottom, which is really earthy from the spinach and asparagus.
I used wonton wrappers, like Kelly, because I didn't feel like making pasta - this dish is pretty labor intensive - but next time I think i'd make the pasta because some of the wontons didn't hold up well.

Sweet Pea Ravioli
Great Chefs Cook Vegan, Linda Long

Ravioli Dough:
1 pound all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
1 cup water
6 tablespoons olive oil

Ravioli Filling:
3 shallots, minced
3 cups English peas, blanched
4 ounces soft tofu
1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Pea Cream:
1 bunch asparagus
3 ounces soft tofu
4 bunches baby spinach, cleaned
2 cups English peas, blanched

Chili Oil:
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
11⁄2 teaspoons chopped green onion
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1⁄2 tablespoon coarse or kosher salt
11⁄2 cups olive oil

To make the Ravioli Dough: Mix the dough ingredients together to form a smooth dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the Ravioli Filling: Sweat shallots in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until soft and translucent. Add peas and tofu and slowly heat. Purée in a food processor with oil until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble the Ravioli: Roll out Ravioli Dough on a flour-coated surface until paper-thin. Cut into 1-inch strips. Spoon 1 tablespoon filling onto strips of dough at 1 inch intervals. Moisten edges with oil and lay strips of dough on top of filling. Press lightly around each filling mound to seal and then cut into squares.

To make the Pea Cream: Cut asparagus into 1-inch lengths, place in a saucepan, and cover with water. Slowly bring to a simmer. Add tofu and spinach leaves along with the peas. Purée, strain, and set aside.

To make the Chili Oil: Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Simmer over very low heat for about 10 minutes, or until flavors are extracted from ingredients. Be careful not to let spices brown. The chili flavor will be enjoyed in a subtle taste suspended in the oil.

2 shallots, minced
1 cup English peas
1⁄2 pound pea tendrils and popcorn shoots (available in the summer)

SuperFoods : Soy (Tofu), Spinach, Capsaicin (Chili Peppers)

Sidekicks: Peas, Asparagus, Shallots