Monday, February 22, 2010

Rainbow Cake

Sunny Day Rainbow Cake

2 boxes white cake mix
24 oz of clear Sprite Zero
gel food coloring

The Dieting
Mix the cake mix with the soda according to regular instructions on box. It will be lumpy afterward.

The Rainbowing
Measure into separate bowls.

Stir color into each bowl with its own spoon. For the first color into the pan, measure out 2/3 to 3/4 of your mix (in this case about 1 c) as close to the middle as you can. Drop in your first three colors, then work on the other pan with the last three colors. So if you’re doing rainbow order, the first pan should have red, then orange, then yellow, and now the purple, blue and green go into the second pan. As a recap, this is so both layers are roughly the same size.

Bake the cake for however long the box tells you to bake it. Check it when the box says to, but usually it’ll need an extra 5 or 10 minutes or maybe more because of the density of the soda method. Just keep baking, checking back every 5 minutes or so until a toothpick to the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before moving to a wire rack.

Rainbow Frosting

To get your frosting to go on in a swirl of color, dye regular buttercream frosting into separate colors. Place spoonfuls of each color side by side in a pastry bag working your way to the top of the bag. Starting at 12 o'clock on the outer edge of each cupcake and using constant pressure on the pastry bag, pipe frosting clockwise for three rotations, working your way toward the center ending in a little peak.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Caramelized Green Beans

1 lb. (actually, just a little bit more...maybe 1 1/8 lb.) fresh green beans
1/2 lb. bacon
1/2 red onion, sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
olive oil
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
Lots of freshly-ground pepper

Begin frying the bacon in a large skillet. Start boiling a large pot of water. Place beans in a colander and rinse them well. Then snap the ends off and snap them in half.

Prepare the sauce by mixing sugar, soy sauce, and salt in a small bowl.

Make sure your onions are sliced, garlic is pressed, and everything is ready to go.

Remove bacon from pan and drain on a paper towel. If you feel like it, you can crumble it now or wait until it's cooled off a little. Pour bacon drippings out of pan.

Now...if you want to be naughty (and who doesnt??), return a couple tablespoons of bacon drippings to the pan. Otherwise, just use some olive oil and heat pan to medium-high heat. When the pan is hot...

--Add onions and garlic. Give them a quick stir and then...

--Add beans to boiling water. Place colander in a clean sink. Boil for one minute; you're not cooking them until they're done, just blanching them to take the edge off. Meanwhile, stir the onions and garlic so they don't scorch. After one minute, drain beans in the colander in the sink.

--Once beans have been drained, add them to the onions and garlic. Stir fry 2-3 more minutes.

--Give your sauce a quick stir and then pour on top of the beans. Keep stir-frying until the beans get kind of glazy. Do this for another 2 minutes.

--Add crumbled bacon and lots of freshly-ground pepper to the beans. Keep stir frying until the sauce sticks to the beans and the bacon. Transfer to a serving dish and allow to stand a few minutes so the beans cool down a bit and the glaze thickens up a little.

Garlic-Herb Scalloped Potatoes

3 lb. red or Yukon Gold potatoes
1 small yellow onion (optional...but it adds a lot of flavor)
8-9 ounces of Garlic Herb creamy cheese like Rondele, Boursin, Alouette (available in the fancy cheese section of the grocery store). If you're in an absolute pinch either grocery store-wise or money-wise, garlic herb or chive cream cheese would work.
2 c. milk (anything but skim)
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley or chives

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9x13 (or slightly smaller, non-conforming dish from Ikea) baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Wash potatoes and onion and slice into 1/8"-1/4" slices. Toss to combine. Layer 1/2 of the potatoes and onions in the bottom of the baking dish and sprinkle with some black pepper. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add flour all at once and whisk to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, making a roux. Slowly add in milk and salt. Increase heat to medium and stir constantly until sauce starts to thicken, around 3-5 minutes. You don't want it too thick, but if you dip the back of a spoon in it and run your finger through it.

Add creamy cheese and stir until cheese is melted and combined. Pour 1/2 of the mixture over the potatoes in the pan. Add remaining potatoes to the pan, sprinkle with pepper, and pour remaining sauce over potatoes. Loosely cover with aluminum foil and bake 55-60 minutes or until potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork. Sprinkle with a couple tablespoons of fresh, chopped parsley or chives and serve! Serves about 6-8.

Asian BBQ Chicken

1/4 C packed brown sugar
1/4 C soy sauce
2 T lime juice (about 1 lime)
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t curry powder
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 t grated fresh ginger
8 boneless chicken

Combine everything but the chicken i
n a small bowl. Whisk to dissolve brown sugar. Reserve a couple of spoonfuls of the marinade in a small bowl and place the rest, with the chicken, in a zip-lock bag. Pop that bag in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours, but overnight is best.

Preheat a grill (or an indoor grill pan or broiler). Spray cooking surface with cooking spray and place chicken on it to cook. Cook for 5-10 minutes on each side depending on the thickness.

Spicy Honey Chicken

2 t vegetable oil


2 t granulated garlic
2 t chili powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t coriander
1 t kosher salt
1 t cumin
1/2 t chipotle chili powder

for extra heat, increase chipotle or add ground red pepper

8 boneless skinless chicken

1/2 C Honey
1T Cider Vinegar

Combine the rub spices in bowl and mix well.

Drizzle oil over chicken and rub in with your hands to lightly coat all the pieces. Then toss chicken with the spice rub to coat all sides well. Use your hands and get in there! Grill chicken a few minutes on each side, until cooked through.

While chicken is cooking, warm honey in the microwave so it's not so thick. Add the vinegar and combine well. Reserve 2T honey glaze for later. Take the rest and brush on chicken (both sides) in the final moments of grilling.

If you don't have a bbq, try it on an indoor grill pan or use your broiler.

Remember how I had you reserve that extra couple tablespoons of glaze? Ya, drizzle that on top now. Your taste buds will thank you.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

A serving has 147 calories, 5 g of fat, and 4 grams of fiber

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes*
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t coriander
1 t kosher salt
1 t parsley
fresh ground pepper (about 10 turns of a pepper mill)

*you want 1lb sweet potatoes after they are peeled, sliced, etc. If you weigh them at the store make sure you have a little more than a pound to allow for the peeling, and tossing of small pieces.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet lightly with cooking spray. Don't use a silpat, or parchment, or anything like that. You want them right on the cookie sheet.

Slice your sweet potatoes into french fry shape and size. I like mine to be 1/4", or maybe a tad bit bigger. It's important that all of the pieces are evenly sized to ensure even cooking.

Put the sweet potatoes in a bowl and drizzle the olive oil over them. Use your hands to make sure each one is coated. If you've got more than a pound of sweet potatoes, add a little extra olive oil. They should all be glistening, just eyeball it.

Then sprinkle on all of the herbs and spices and continue to toss until well coated.

Place the fries on the baking sheet. It's very important that they are not touching, but can place them pretty close together.

Place cookie sheet in pre-heated oven and set the timer for 15 minutes. Don't open the oven door.

After 15 minutes take pan out of oven and flip the fries. If you try to do it one at a time it will take forever, I take a long spatula and get a bunch at a time. It's super quick. Just flip, and then make sure they're spaced out again. Be careful because at this point they're quite soft.

Put the pan in the oven and cook for another 15-20 minutes. Just keep an eye on them. They should be nice and golden brown. Crispy crunchy on the outside, and sweet and soft in the middle.

Take them out of the oven and serve immediately.

Honey-Lime Dip for Sweet Potato Fries

6oz container plain, low-fat yogurt
1 T mayo (low cal is fine)
1/2 T honey
1/2 lime
1/4 t cumin
1/8 t oregano
1 t parsley
1/2 t granulated onion
3/4 t kosher salt

Mix honey and yogurt until combined and give it a big squeeze from the lime half. Add in spices and herbs and you have a dip.

Colorburst Cupcakes

Colorburst Cupcakes

1 white cake mix
2 eggs
1 C sour cream
1/2 C milk
1/3 C vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients until incorporated (about 30 seconds). Scrape sides of bowl and then beat on med-high speed for 3 minutes.

Divide batter according to how many colors you are using. I used 5 colors and it worked out to a little over 1 cup for each color.

Use food coloring to color batter to desired intensity. I used a 1/4 t and they were very bright! You could easily make pastel rainbows using a little less.

To get a layered stripe like I used, you'll want to put a spoonful of each color in the cupcake one at a time. The batter is thick, so it won't spread on it's own. A great tip is to set out a little bowl of water where you're working. Dip your finger in the water and then gently spread the batter out. The water will make it so the batter doesn't stick to your fingers.

Another tip is to use a measuring spoon and some water to measure out how many teaspoons/tablespoons are going to fit in your cupcake. Then divide that by how many colors you have so you know how much of each color to use for each cupcake. For my 5 colors, it worked out perfectly with 2 t of each color in each cupcake. So I put in 2 t of blue in the bottom of each cupcake and spread it out with my finger. Then I put in 2 t of green on top of that, then yellow, etc.

Bake them according to the package directions, until a toothpick comes out dry.

Candy Corn Cupcakes

Candy Corn Cupcakes

1 18.25-oz. white cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines)
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp. almond extract
Yellow and orange Wilton food gel (about a heaping 1/2 tsp. of each)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 24-cup muffin tins with white paper liners (although you may not make it to 24 cupcakes). Combine all ingredients except for food coloring in a large bowl and beat on low speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat on medium for 2 additional minutes.

Divide batter equally into two bowls; you should have about 2 1/4-2 1/2 c. of batter in each bowl.
Mix about 1/2 heaping tsp. of yellow coloring into one bowl of batter and 1/2 heaping tsp. of orange coloring into the other bowl.

Divide the yellow batter evenly among the muffin tins. I used a standard cookie scoop, which measures about 1 Tbsp. I only had enough to make 20 cupcakes with the cups filled about halfway. Holding the edges of each pan firmly, bang the pan a few times on the counter to level out the batter. Repeat the process with the orange batter. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes in the pan and then allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Rockin' Moroccan Stew

Serves 6

2 T olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup green bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups veggie broth
3 cups peeled, cubed sweet potatoes (butternut squash also works well)
1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 T lemon juice
2 tsp grated gingerroot
1 tsp each ground cumin, curry powder, ground coriander, chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 T each peanut butter & fresh cilantro

*Heat oil in a large, nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, pepper & garlic. Cook to soften, about 3 minutes.
*Add all other remaining ingredients, except peanut butter & cilantro. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
*Stir in peanut butter & cilantro. Mix well, simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve hot.

Garlic Dill New Potatoes


  • 6-1/2 medium red potatoes, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons and 1-1/4 teaspoons butter, melted
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Place the potatoes in a steamer basket, and set in a pan over an inch of boiling water. Cover, and steam for about 10 minutes, until potatoes are tender but not mushy.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the butter, dill, garlic, and salt. Transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl, and pour the seasoned butter over them. Toss gently until they are well-coated.

Clone of a Cinnabon


  • 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup margarine, melted
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.
  2. After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  4. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

French Onion Soup Gratinee


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 (48 fluid ounce) can chicken broth
  • 1/2 (14 ounce) can beef broth
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 sprig fresh parsley
  • 1/2 sprig fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 thick slices French or Italian bread
  • 4 slices Gruyere or Swiss cheese slices, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup shredded Asiago or mozzarella cheese, room temperature
  • 2 pinches paprika


  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir in salt, red onions and sweet onions. Cook 35 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are caramelized and almost syrupy.
  2. Mix chicken broth, beef broth, red wine and Worcestershire sauce into pot. Bundle the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf with twine and place in pot. Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard the herbs. Reduce the heat to low, mix in vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep over low heat to stay hot while you prepare the bread.
  3. Preheat oven broiler. Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet and broil 3 minutes, turning once, until well toasted on both sides. Remove from heat; do not turn off broiler.
  4. Arrange 4 large oven safe bowls or crocks on a rimmed baking sheet. Fill each bowl 2/3 full with hot soup. Top each bowl with 1 slice toasted bread, 2 slice Gruyere cheese and 1/4 of the Asiago or mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle a little bit of paprika over the top of each one.
  5. Broil 5 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown. As it softens, the cheese will cascade over the sides of the crock and form a beautifully melted crusty seal. Serve immediately!

Quickie French Onion Soup Ingredients


  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 (10.5 ounce) cans condensed chicken broth
  • 2 (10.5 ounce) cans condensed beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (1 ounce) package au jus gravy mix
  • 2 cups croutons
  • 8 slices Swiss cheese


  1. In a small skillet over medium heat, cook garlic until just golden. Set aside.
  2. In a skillet, cook sliced onions in butter, over medium low heat, until a caramel color is reached (any onion that is burned during this process should be discarded). Set aside.
  3. Combine chicken and beef broth in a 2 quart saucepan. Add fried garlic, fresh ground pepper and sauteed onions. Bring the soup mixture to a boil and then simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Stir in the packaged gravy mix and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  4. Turn on oven broiler and divide soup evenly among 4 oven safe soup crocks. Place several croutons on the top of the soup followed by two slices of Swiss cheese on top of the croutons. Make sure that the cheese does not sink into the soup. Place soup crocks on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler. Broil until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling. Let cool slightly before serving.

Pakistani Spicy Chickpeas


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 onion, chopped


  1. In a large pot over low heat, warm oil and cumin; heat until cumin turns a darker shade of brown.
  2. Add salt, chili powder and lemon and pepper seasoning; mix well. Stir in tomatoes; once the juice begins to thicken add in chickpeas and mix well.
  3. Add in lemon juice and mix well; add onions and stir until they become soft.
  4. Remove from heat and place into a serving bowl; serve immediately.