Saturday, April 28, 2007

I'm Such a BrownieBabe!

I have to are fun...especially when I've made something already and I can just post it! I wanted to find a way to use up all the leftover Easter candy we had, and brownies were a perfect way!

This event is hosted by Myriam at Once Upon a Tart, and because I LOVE chocolate, I couldn't pass it up!

I used the bakers unsweetened chocolate recipe from the back of the box, modifying it a little by subbing some of the sugar for Splenda and adding some whole wheat flour. I also put in some vanilla centered Hershey kisses and chopped chunks of a Cadbury dark chocolate bar (see previous Easter candy post).

Triple Chocolate Brownies with a Hint of Vanilla

4 squares Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
2 cups sugar (Or 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup baking sugar substitute-I used Splenda)
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
About 3 oz coarsely chopped semi-sweet chocolate
1 to 1 1/2 cup of vanilla centered Hersheys kisses

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Line 13x9-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Grease foil.
MICROWAVE chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour; mix well. Mix in kisses and chopped semi sweet chocolate. Spread into prepared pan making sure chocolate additions are spread evenly around pan.
BAKE 30 to 35 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgey crumbs. (Do not over bake.) Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove brownies from pan, using foil handles. Cut into squares. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.

NOTE: Because I used whole wheat flour, I got a few small grainy pieces in the brownies, but once I realized what it was it didn't affect the taste, and there wasn't that much of it. Also, you can add whatever "stir ins" you want but I don't like nuts in my brownies, just a bunch of chocolate! The fudgey-er and richer, the better! These weren't as rich as I'd like (they would be perfect who likes an average density brownie), but I loved the dark chocolate chips and the hidden surprise of vanilla in every few bites. Let's just say they were so good I had to give most of them away because my fiance and I started inhaling them!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Waiter there's something in my...BREAD!

This is my first blog event ever...hooray for me!
I made my first ever rising bread with yeast, and I am pretty happy with the results. Andrew over at Spitton Extra announced the theme for this round as bread, and because I hadn't made REAL bread before, the task loomed before me. I found a couple recipes (one to follow) that would use this Healthy Cinnamon Raisin Bread, and got to work!

Mostly Whole Wheat Raisin Bread
(adapted from BakingBites formerly Bakingsheet)

1 Tblspn active dry yeast (1 package)
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 cup buttermilk, room temp. (I had none so I added a tspn of lemon juice to regular milk)
1/4 cup of honey (I used a bit less)
2 tspn salt
2 1/2 tspn cinnamon
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups AP flour
2/3 cup raisins
1 tspn sugar

Up to 1/2 cup AP flour while mixing/kneading

1) In a large bowl combine yeast and warm water. Let stand 5-10 min until foamy.
2) Mix in buttermilk, honey, salt, cinnamon, sugar, and whole wheat flour. Stir well.
3) Gradually mix in AP flour by hand (or with a wooden spoon) until dough pulls away from sides of bowl.
4) Put out on a lightly floured surface, adding flour as needed to prevent it from sticking, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5-7 more min. (Original recipe note: It wont get quite as smooth as breads made with other flours, but it will still be a bit stretchy.)
5) Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with first plastic wrap, then hand towel. Let stand in a warm area for 1 1/2- 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
6) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
7) Turn bread out onto a lightly floured surface and gently beat to deflate. Shape into a rectangle, than form a "log" by folding short ends into the center and pull long ends up and pinching them together. (Or just mold dough to desired loaf pan shape.)
8) Place dough seam side down into a greased 8 x 4 in. loaf pan. Let ride for about an hour until volume has nearly doubled again.
9) Bake at 375F for 35-40 minutes until outside is golden brown and crispy.
10) Remove from pan and cool completely before slicing.

Makes one loaf

Note: My bread came out a little dense at the bottom but I think that was because I didn't let it completely cool before cutting into it; I was too excited to taste! I find that turning on the dryer and placing the bowl with the unrisen dough near the area that gets the warmest from the dryer's heat, helps my dough to rise quicker. Also you don't have to use your hands to do the mixing, but since you'll be kneading with your hands anyway, I find it best and faster than using a spoon. Also I get to feel like some Medieval peasant.

And of course I couldn't just enjoy the bread by itself, I HAD to make something with it. Not only did I use it for the Apple-Cinnamon Raisin stuffing in some pork chops last week, but I also made a French Toast Strata for breakfast!

This was so good, like a bread pudding for breakfast. Because it was made with Splenda, it wasn't too sweet, but it got an extra kick of sugary goodness from the fresh sliced apples. There were also bits of cream cheese, a hint of rum, and a bunch of sprinkled cinnamon on top! The tasty recipe can be found here at the Splenda website.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Its my birthday and I'll eat if I want to.... birthday has arrive, well actually it was yesterday...and I turned the big 22! I had to go to school and work but I had an interesting time eating wise.

For breakfast my fiance and I invented these apple cider pancakes that included shredded apple and pear topped with apple butter....SO GOOOd-and healthy.

For lunch we went to Ruby Tuesday (Okay, so now I'm so over that place and probably wont go again). I had a coupon for their tall cake (with ice cream) if we bought an entree so Randy got the triple prime burger (you know the one they keep advertising in commercials) but it didn't taste too special to me. In fact the burger at Nicos Pier 38 is so much better! I had the salad bar, which went alright at first but I discovered a sharp and hard piece of plastic in the cottage cheese. That turned me off, maybe forever, and I'm glad they didn't make us pay for the salad bar. Now we took the tall cake home, and I was disappointed to find that it was an average chocolate cake with average chocolate butter cream filling, with average chocolate and caramel sauce, and average vanilla ice cream. Do not be fooled by chain restaurant desserts that look amazing, because chances are that they're not.

I came home to discover some Papa Beard cream puffs that my dad had been given, Randy and I had one each and froze the rest. For dinner I attempted my favorite dinner that my mom used to cook for me when I was little. Pork Chops with Tomato Rice Casserole. I substituted and added a few things and it came out just as good, if not better! I also made a broccoli casserole thing that was similar to a broccoli cheese bake we have around thanksgiving. We had special wine I had bought and my 2 person cake from cold stone for dessert, but I was tired and didn't want to waste the special-ness, so we will have it on Saturday. I instead had another cream puff...and was proved yet again that everything is better (or just as good in a different way) frozen!

THE WHOLE REASON FOR THIS POST IS TO BRAG! I get to go to Chef Mavro tonight (named one of the 10 best restaurants in the world by frommers, or fodors, can't remember which)!!!!!! I will be having their 11 course tasting menu where everything is small portioned and paired with wine. It will be quite an event!

One other great meal I'm looking forward to is the champagne brunch I will have on Sunday morning....but I'll tell more about these later! Have a good weekend folks!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Good Morning Star-Shine...

The Earth Says Hello!

50 monopoly dollars to anyone who can tell me where the above quote comes from! This post is all about breakfasts...that get you out of bed and into the dining room.

The first breakfast on our list is something I made on Easter morning. It's called a Boca Sausage Skillet, made with soy protein boca sausages. This is really good and before you get all scared over using a meatless product, try it. In this skillet it tastes like real sausage because its mixed in with so many things. You can find the recipe here. It is supposed to serve 6 but it only served 4 people at my house because some of the guys HAD to have seconds. I made a few modifications to the recipe. Instead of using egg product, I used actual eggs, I added chopped plum tomatos, and I stupidly forgot to add the cheese at the end. This is almost like a breakfast pizza and it tasted really good with ketchup on it!


The other breakfast food I made can also be eaten as part of a light spring/summery lunch. It is a chilled fruit soup that I saw Paula Deen making on the Food Network. The recipe is simple and the presentation is adorable, you can even add a little strawberry on top of the cour cream dollop for a bigger "cuteness factor".

Paula's Fruit Soup
2 cups coarsely ground cantaloupe
2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries
1/4 cup seedless green grapes
3 cups coarsely chopped apple
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup orange juice S
our cream, for garnish
Orange rind strips, for garnish

Combine cantaloupe, strawberries, grapes, apple, sugar, water, and lemon juice in a large Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Pour half of fruit mixture into blender. Blend until smooth. Repeat with the remaining mixture. Add orange juice to fruit mixture, stir and chill.
Spoon into bowls, garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream.

Flavor/Taste Notes: It tastes almost like a smoothie but not as cold, and with a more complex flavor, considerably more texture, and less of a creamy/milky feel. It also reminds me of other cold soups I’ve had like vichyssoise, but a fruit version. I could taste and feel the apple’s texture, and the flavors of the strawberry and grape really came out. Randy’s comment was that “it tastes kinda like applesauce”. The lite sour cream gave a cool creaminess to whatever bite it seeped into.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Midterm Tomorrow

So this is how I spend the night before a midterm is due....avoiding it by talking about food. Hehehe. Anyways, just thought I'd make an amendment about my Jackie Chan's Kitchen post and say that I've found a BETTER batch of Sweet Potato fries at Ryan's Bar and Grill at Ward Center. The fries (though more expensive) are not too salty and have a special Jamaican Jerk Spice blend on them. These sweet potato fries also come with a dipping saucy that is creamy with a appetiser that goes perfectly with any fruity drink. My poison of choice...a combo of two of my favorite drinks, A Cosmo Bellini.


I spent Saturday evening at a Caledonian Society event with my step mother tasting 5 different blends of Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky. The price range was from $25 dollars a bottle (I think) for the Red Label to $200 dollars for the Blue label. I actually prefered the Gold Label ($50 a bottle) to the most expensive Blue Label. It was smoother and had less of a bite going down.

Here's a picture of one of the members pouring the Blue Label:

Homemade Pizza, Two Ways

I found a recipe for whole wheat pizza dough on a fellow foodie blog's site (can't think of whose at the moment-if it is you, please speak up), and proceeded to make two incredibly delicious (and healthy) pizzas over the last week and a half.

The first of them I stupidly deleted off my camera so I do not have the lovely pictures of, but I will give you the basic recipe gist. It was a tuna (yes-strange I know) pizza but it tasted like my mothers open-faced tuna melts, only on pizza dough. After rolling prepared pizza dough to desired size, take 2 small cans (10 oz) of tuna, 1/2 cup minced onion, 1/3 cup mayo (I used light), salt and pepper, sliced tomato, and 4-5 slices of American cheese. Mix the tuna, salt, pepper, onions, and mayo together, spread over crust. Arrange tomato slices in 3 rows leaving space between rows (for proper cooking I assume). Bake on 425 degrees F for 10-12 min. Cut American cheese into strips and place on pizza once done and let stand for 5 min so cheese can melt. We all loved this recipe!

Oooh...oooh....Randy took a crappy picture of it with his cell phone....its not that clear, but it's a picture nonetheless!:


The other pizza was an improv. pizza that is supposed to be similar to a BBQ chicken salad. In fact I'm sure and improvement would be a drizzle of ranch dressing. I spread the pizza dough with BBQ sauce and topped it with canned chicken, a frozen southwestern veggie mix (broccoli, black beans, red bell pepper, corn), more corn, chopped tomato, and shredded cheddar cheese. This was SO GOOD, and my fiance couldn't keep his hands off it! I call it my Southwestern BBQ Chicken Pizza!

Eating on Saturdays

The last two Saturdays I have made visits to two new eateries, The Patisserie and Lox of Bagels (on Kathy's recommendation).

The Patisserie
This diner/bakery is located in Kahala mall and is a bakery by day, but by night they feature amazing, hard-to-find European dishes. Honestly, the atmosphere/location/inside isn't much at all, but who can blame them, they are mostly a bakery for the mall's day shoppers. It is fairly clean and well lit with a humble row of tables and chairs pushed to one side of the wall opposite a large display case of the daily bakery specials. On the evening we went there was a selection of cheesecake, chocolate "rum cake", bakalava, a few fruit tarts, sacher torte, and a couple other things. I had been searching for a place where I could try some German food without paying an arm and a leg at The Chef's Table at Hawaii Kai. I am so glad I came across this place that has not only German dinners and pasta, but Hungarian Gulash (something else I've wanted to try-I AM part hungarian, after all). The menu was small, but well priced with all entrees below $21 and all coming with a salad and fresh baked assorted rolls and butter. Another great thing was that though they did not serve alcohol, there wasn't a corkage fee and we grabbed a bottle of wine from the neaby Longs.

The bread was hot and fresh, and very good. One of them (I only had a bite) was almost like a sweetbread but I didn't get to investigate further because it was devoured right away by the other members of my party. The salad was average, no fancy ingredients, but the dressing tasted significantly of ginger and was very pleasant.

I was quick to be adventurous and ordered the "Chef's Specialty" (as quoted on the menu) of Hungarian Gulash. It came with fettucini noodles, tangy red cabbage, steamed vegetables, and a fanned pickle on top of the meat. I don't care too much for spicy/hot food, but this was an exception. The flavor of the meat behind the spice was so good, I couldn't stop eating it. The noodles helped to take the heat away from my tongue. I may just be a wuss, but all I know is that my nose was running by the time I switched plates after eating half of it. I also enjoyed the cabbage which had a nice flavor and I finished not only mine, but my fiance's as well. I would recommend this to anyone who likes spicy food.

My fiance's dinner was the winner. I absolutely loved his order of Saurbraten and this is without a doubt what I will order when I come back someday. Now being ignorant, I always thought a "braten" was a sausage, but this was no bratwurst (which I haven't had either). There were 4-5 slices of beef flank that had been marinated in a red wine sauce with rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves, then stove-top braised (took this from the menu). It was served in the savory gravy created by its cooking and was accompanied by a dollop of sour cream, spaetzle (a wonderfully flavored Parmesan tasting noodle), veggies, and more of that cabbage. This meat not only tasted incredible-similar to the Osso Bucco I had at Ka Ikena, but the meat just fell apart in my mouth. It was so wonderful that my fiance didn't even want to give it up.

Now for the desserts! My fiance got the rum cake and I ordered the sacher torte. They were beautiful to look at, but unfortunately taste-wise they were hit and miss. The sacher was very good and the rich chocolate ganache layer on the outside and inside complemented the moist cake that was the body. Now I didn't know that Sacher is traditionally made with apricot preserves (so I may have tasted that) but the man behind the counter said it had raspberry, and I definitely didn't taste that. The mini rum cake didn't taste like rum whatsoever and the chocolate outer layer wasn't even a ganache as much as it was that tasteless outer layer of a Hostess HoHo. Inside was a thick paste that was hard to swallow that didn't even taste much like chocolate. It had the consistency and slight taste of azuki bean paste, only not as sweet and thicker. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture because the owner was rushing us out; it was the store's closing time. Something that I did get a taste of that I would like to try more of next time would be the Rahm Schnitzel, a veal sirloin in cream sauce; but I think I'll skip the desserts.

Lox of Bagels
I was excited to come to this bagel shop on Sand Island Access road because of the great review that Kathy (a Passion for Food) gave it when she was home for spring break. When we arrived there was a line (of 3 people) in front of us and the few tables and chairs inside were already taken. They have a WIDE selection of bagels from a Hawaiian inspired pineapple bagel, banana and walnut bagels, blueberry bagels, to a few different puffs (circular bagels with fillings). I decided that we needed to try unique things (not your average onion bagel) and proceeded to order a blueberry bagel danish, a peanut butter puff, a chocolate puff, a strawberry guava bagel (with guava cream cheese), and a cinnamon sugar bagel (with cinnamon walnut cream cheese). They were all out of the banana walnut which was my first choice, but eventually was glad I had picked the sweet cinnamon bagel. Another gripe I had was that they didn't even ask if we wanted ours toasted even though they were clearly toasting the bagels of the customers before us. We took our bagels to Ward Centers with a quart of milk, but we didn't even make it before we were tempted by the brown paper bags and had to pull out the blueberry danish bagel.

This was one of the better items, though it seemed a little strange to me. A deflated bagel ball (filled with cream cheese) was covered in cinnamon and sugar and had a good helping of blueberry danish filling in the deflated crater in the middle of the ball. This medley of flavors was a little too much for me I think. If it had been just the blueberry and cream cheese (maybe even the sugar-but NO cinnamon) I think I would have liked it better. But the flavor combination was somewhat more cacophonous and less harmonic. In the pastry's defense though, it was my fiance's favorite.

Next we tried the puffs. These are an ingenious idea and probably make bagel eating a lot easier (you don't have to deal with all the cutting and spreading). The first one I tried was the peanut butter puff that was plain bagel dough with a filling of cream cheese and melted peanut butter chips. This was really good, one of my two favorites in fact. Next time I have plain bagels I am definitely going for the peanut butter cream cheese combo. The two fillings hadn't mixed much, but they were softened and smooth when I took a bite. The peanut butter (I guess because of it being made with peanut butter chips) was slightly sweet and it almost tasted like something I would eat as a dessert. Being the chocolate lover I am, I was more than slightly chagrined in the chocolate puff. It seemed as if ordinary hot fudge or hershey's syrup was squirted in there with the cream cheese and I didn't care for this one much at all.

The bagels we had to save for lunch because we were so full on the first items. The strawberry guava bagel didn't taste like guava and the accompanying cream cheese wasn't much better. I thought that the pair would taste good together but the cream cheese didn't have much of a guava taste and it was barely sweet at all. I was disappointed in this and came to the realization that the philly commercial cream cheese with strawberry was tastier. The cinnamon sugar bagel turned out to be the right choice and other favorite of mine. The sweetness and flavor was that of cinnamon-sugar toast and the cinnamon walnut cream cheese went well with it (not being sweet in the least). I think that I probably wouldn't have enjoyed the banana walnut bagel with the cinnamon cream cheese because it wouldn't have been sweet enough.

Maybe my expectations were too high, or maybe I'm just used to more savory bagel options at home (onion bagels with plain cream cheese and lox), but I think it will be a while before I make a special trip out to this shop.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Delayed Easter Candy

Okay here is my review/post on Easter Candy. And no, it didn't take this long because I have been eating for this long. It took my fiance and I no time to clean up the Easter spoils. Pictured above is my Easter Basket, lovingly prepared by my fiance. It holds many of my favorite goodies (minus dark chocolate): Whopper Robin Eggs, Reeses Pieces, Chocolate covered marshmallow (egg), peeps, and my most FAVORITE non-chocolate candy ever, Rasberries and Blackberries by Jelly Belly. Has anyone had these? They are amazing little red and black jellies (which are usually not my piece of cake) that have these flavors that are indescribable (Randy says they remind him of what really good smelling soap would taste like, but that just makes them sound bad). They are covered in sprinkles and remind me of childhood and candy stores.

I know you're all familiar with Cadbury Creme Eggs (personally not my fave, or even close), but what about Cadbury Chocolate bars. I finally got my missing dark chocolate from my step mom. She also gave us a bar of Irish Creme filled milk chocolate. As you can see we finished the milk off pretty fast. The little chocolate squares (to break off) were filled with pockets of ooey gooey irish cream that taste very much like the liqour. It was so good and surprisingly not THAT sweet. We tried to drink a little of the liquour with it and the REAL Bailey's Irish Cream was sweeter. Anyways, it was heaven. The dark chocolate was very good as well but we didn't use it all because I'm saving it to make a Easter candy cookie/brownie later. (I know I said I didn't have any left over but I was talking about the candy I couldn't keep my chocolate stained paws off. I'm stashing some vanilla filled kisses, regular kisses, the reeses, and 1/2 of the dark chocolate bar.)

I didn't have a lot of time and money to go out and buy a bunch of Easter goodies for my fiance, so I decided that it would be a lot more special if I made him some Easter candy. While he was sleeping on saturday (last), I melted some Nutella and milk/creme to attempt to make some dipping chocolate according to a recipe I found online. It didn't turn out like I wanted it to, smooth and silky liquid perfect for dipping like a regular dark chocolate would, but instead became kind of pastey. Maybe because of the nut-component. Anyway, I couldn't dip, but sort of ended up frosting the Nutella on with a spoon. It still tasted wonderful and I had trouble keeping my hands to myself after he had opened them on Easter.

My True crowning glory was peanut butter fudge. My fiance (and I) LOVE peanut butter and I decided to use some to make some fudge. Since I have only made rocky road fudge, I searched for a recipe online. Now the only peanut butter fudge I have had were from stores at malls and touristy places (on the mainland), and they were only tastes at that, but I was shocked at how much mine tasted like the real thing! The recipe was so easy and the fudge came out thick and rich, sweet and peanut buttery, just like store bought fudge. I got GREAT reviews on this and the only qualm I had was the amount of oil that appeared to be on the top once it had cooled. I tried to blot it off but not much came off...oh well, it didn't affect the taste at all!

Easter's Favorite Peanut Butter Fudge

Makes 30 pieces (I halved my recipe so we didn't have too much yield and get fat!)

Ingredients: 1/2 cup butter
2 and 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
3 and 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Directions: Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Pour over confectioners sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth, pour into an 8 x 8 dish or pan. Chill until firm and cut into squares.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Springtime Cakes

This week was very eventful food-wise for me as you will be able to see from the next couple posts. My sweet tooth led me to try out a couple cake recipes that I have had my eyes on. The first was a kraft foods recipe that can be found here.

As you can see (or not cause I was too embarrassed to take a picture of the finished product before we cut into it) it didn't turn out to pretty. But I'm going to blame it on the fact that I was very tipsy/drunk, we didn't use store bought angel cake, and our knives are dull so the cake started to fall apart as I tried to cut it into layers. This is the way its supposed to look:

The cake itself is an angel food cake that I made from a box mix with a filling and topping of cool whip, crushed pineapple, and vanilla pudding mix. It was really sweet but very good and my taste-testers loved it. It was even better frozen. Not like that's a suprise though, becuase I like most of my desserts frozen. Here is the angel food cake cool upsidedown like it said to on the package. It looked kinda funny, expecially because of the alcohol in my system.

The second cake I had planned to try was a Carrot Cake Roll I made for Easter. It was my first carrot cake and my first roll cake and it could have turned out worse (but also better). I took half to my step-mother's Easter gathering and the other half to my mother's dinner (where I got to have half a piece). Taste wise it was wonderful. The cake was very moist, fluffy, and light. And the frosting was thick and rich (WAY better than store bought frosting). The top/outside is decorated with walnuts and mini carrot designs piped on with colored frosting. I took lots of pictures to document my first semi-difficult assembly cake. I didn't adapt the recipe much at all except for using some splenda and some whole wheat flour in addition to the normal ingredients.

Carrot Patch Cake Roll
Taken from Woman's Day 4/05

3/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used 2/4 cup ap flour and 1/4 cup whole wheat)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs, at room temp.
White from one large egg, at room temp.
2/3 cup granulated sugar (I used a little under 1/3 cup splenda and a little over 1/3 cup reg sugar)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 and 2/3 cup finely shredded carrots
Confectioner's sugar for dusting

6 oz cram cheese, not softened
3/4 stick (6 Tbspn) butter, softened (I used 4 tblspns margarine, 2 tblspn butter)
2 and 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Green, red, and yellow food coloring

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1) Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat bottom and sides of a 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1-in rimmed baking sheet (or jelly roll pan) with non stick spray. Line bottom with wax paper; spray paper.
2) Have ready a medium or large fine meshed strainer or sifter. Stir flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl until combined.
3) Beat eggs, egg white, granulated sugar, vanilla and spices in a large bowl with a mixer on high speed for 8 to 10 in until thick and tripled in volume. Fold in carrots. Holding strainer or sifter over bowl, shake or sift flour mixture over egg mixture. With a rubber spatula gradually fold into eggs until just blended. Spread in prepared pan.
4) Bake 15 min. or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes or until pan is cool enough to handle.

5) Meanwhile lay a clean kitchen towel (not terrycloth) on countertop. Dust confectioners sugar evenly over towel, covering area the size of the cake. Invert cake on towel, remove pan, and carefully peel off paper. Dust cake with confectioners sugar. Starting at narrow end, roll up cake and towel. Place on wire rack, cool completely.

6) Meanwhile make frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with mixer on medium speed until blended and smooth. On low speed beat in confectioners and vanilla until blended; increase speed to medium and beat one minute. Remove 3 Tblspn to a cup; cover and refrigerate remaining frosting 30 minutes to firm.
7) For carrot decoration: Spoon 1 Tblspn frosting from cup into another cup, tint green and scrape into a 1 quart zip top freezer bag. Tint remaining 2 Tblspn frosting orange using red and yellow food coloring. Scrape into another ziplock bag. Seal bags, refrigerate until use.
8) To assemble: Carefully unroll log. Spread evenly with 1 and 1/3 cup frosting. Roll up same end as before using towel as an aid. Carefully transfer to a platter, coat with remaining frosting and sprinkle with nuts. Rerigerate 20 min before piping carrots onto nuts. (I had a little trouble with the cake sticking to the towel, you might want to put a lot of powdered sugar on the towel especially towards the edges and corners)

9) To decorate: Briefly warm refrigerated bags of frosting between hands. Snip off corner of each bag and pipe carrots and carrot tops randomly on cake. Refrigerate until serving.

Serves 12

Friday, April 6, 2007

Mac N Cheese Chili and Banana Fosters in a Muffin

Even though I will be making a lot more over the next few days: Manacotti, Angel Lush Cake, Carrot Cake Roll, Soup, etc. I wanted to post two successful recipes that I made this past week.

The first is from a Kraft Food and Family Recipe Magazine. I liked it a lot, it pairs two of my favorites: Mac and cheese, and chili, into a dinner that is only 370 cals per serving! My family liked it so much that my dad said I could make this every night of the week and he would be happy. It is really comforting and makes a hearty, filling meal with just a few steps.

Chuckwagon Chili Mac

1 pkg (Kraft) Macaroni and Cheese Dinner

1 lb extra lean ground beef (I used ground turkey)

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 can (14.5oz) stewed tomatoes, undrained

1 can (about 16oz.) kidney beans, drained

Reduced fat or light cream cheese, for serving suggestion

2% milk shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, for serving suggestion

Prepare Dinner as directed on package, using margarine or light butter and skim milk.

Meanwhile, brown meat with chili powder and cumin in large non stick skillet on medium heat. Add tomatoes with their liquid and the beans, ; simmer 3 min., stirring occasionally.

Stir in prepared dinner, cook 3 to 5 min more or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Top with dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of cheddar cheese.

Makes 6 servings.

I had a couple of bananas browning in my kitchen and I hadn't made banana bread or muffins in a while so I decided on a recipe card I had from a while ago for banana nut muffins. In the middle of making them, I had a quick idea that turned these into a healthy version of a classic dessert in a muffin.

Banana Fosters Nut Muffins

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar (I used Splenda sugar substitute)
1 Tblspn baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup dark rum
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup mashed banana (my 2 bananas made a little more)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1) Preheat oven to 400 degreesF. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt into medium bowl; make a well in center.
2) Mix milk, rum, egg, oil, banana, and walnuts in a small bowl. Pour mixture into well.
3) Fold banana mixture into flour mixture just until moistened; do not overmix.
4) Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 15 min.

Makes 12 muffins

For optional drizzle: 1/3 cup cofectioners sugar and 1 Tblspn skim milk, stir together, add 1/2 tsp rum for flavor, stir until smooth, flavor more to taste. Drizzle over warm muffins.

Note: They turn out very moist and good for breakfast. These muffins have a profound rum taste but aren't significantly sweet; their muffins, not cupcakes. That is why I made the drizzle, but it doesn't do much. I will experiment by making banana fosters cupcakes sometime, but if anyone comes up with a recipe for that before I do, please share it with me!

Spring Break was Campy

I love's just so much effort to set up everything, take down everything, and then unpack it when you get home. Especially if its raining when you set up and take down. Nonetheless, we had a good time camping last weekend for 2 days and 2 nights at the windward beachside location of bellows. And now that I'm a wannabe chef, it was fun to see what we could concoct on a camping budget.

The first night, as you can tell, it was raining and we had a little trouble completely cooking our beef kabobs. They were still delicious, so soft and tender, even though they were a bit rare in the middle. We paired them with mushrooms, bell peppers, sweet onion, and carrots. We had rubbed and marinated the meat in this special kona coffee meat rub my stepdad gave us (he is a Kona coffee roaster) and the flavor of the spices and coffee really came through after being cooked. We also had Jim Beam steak sauce for the cooked meat and some went on the rice that we had bought pre-cooked. For dessert we were going to grill bananas (in their peels) and put melted chocolate in a slice in the middle of the banana, and put it over plain mcdonalds icecream, but since it was raining we had to have the banana raw (which was still good). We also tried the McDonalds Haupia pie (like the apple pie but with coconut custard filling) and the filling was tasty, just like Haupia!

The next night we had friends over and Randy and I made Hobo Packs. I learned how to make these while camping with my highschool church youth group. You take any type of ground meat and combine it with your choice of fresh or canned veggies, and spices, and wrap it all up in foil and throw it on the grill. By the time the meat has cooked through, it is nice and juicey and you have yourself a stew. The best part about it is that each time its different and you can customize it however you want. This time we used ground turkey, fresh carrots, fresh onions, fresh celery, canned corn, canned tomatos, canned mushrooms, and a bunch of different spices. For dessert we stayed in the giant tent my friends had bought and used their propane gas grill for s'mores. We made them the only way I like them, and the only way to keep them from being too sickly sweet- with dark chocolate!

With the dawning of the next day, we had pancakes and mimosas. My friends made pancakes with bisquick and for extra flavor and texture we added crumbled up graham crackers. Maybe next time I'll experiment with putting chocolate chunks in it and use pre melted marshmallows and have s'mores pancakes.

I had never had a mimosa before, so we used left over champagne from the night before and mixed it with orange juice for a nice "wake me up".

Ala Moana Restaurant Hopping

Last week for our "meal out" we decided to splurge and loll around Ala Moana (our biggest mall). It was fun, and the food was good, but don't even make me remember how much it cost cause I'd rather have a fine dinner at the price we paid. We First started with pupus and drinks at Mai Tai's, an open air lounge with an island feel. I had to wait forever for my fiance at a table that seats four, so I nursed a drink and finished off a whole mini-bowl of Maui onion potato chips (complimentary) while listening to Fiji live. I got a Li Hing Mui martini, and also a Tropical Mojito. The Mojito was good but the only thing that was li hing mui about the martini was the bland and poorly made li hing mui powder on the edge. Randy on the other hand got a really amazing apple-melon martini (which is cliche, I know) but had apple vodka, midori, and grenadine. It looked beautiful and I can't wait to try and duplicate this at home.

The appetisers we ordered were only five dollars each, and though they gave me a small tummy ache (too much fried stuff) they were really good. We ordered the Calamari Fritti that came with chili ancho sauce. (Actually two sauces, one opaque and spicy and another creamy one with a kick) Not only were there calamari pieces, but there were also fried chunks of red bell pepper, and some fried jalapenos. (We didn't know what they were until we took a bite...and realized they were peppers! Yowza!) The only thing I would have changed with this would be the size of the calamari. They were pretty tiny, and I felt that there was almost more batter than squid. The other appetizer we ordered was the recommended coconut shrimp. There were five shrimp on skewers, battered and dipped in toasted coconut. It came with a sweet and spicy cajun marmalade sauce. I liked them a lot, but I wished there had been more since we fought over the last one. I also enjoyed dipping the calamari in the cajun sauce meant for the shrimp. Breaking the rules, as always!

Next we went off to the Italian, Romano's Macaroni Grill for "dinner". I really wanted to go there because I've eaten there a couple times and have always got the Insalata Rossa, and it has become one of my favorite restaurant salads (next to the CPK Waldorf chicken salad). I have been doing my research on California restaurants and I have come to find that all LA Macaroni Grill's don't have this salad on the menus! :( So I had to have it "one last time". Since we were getting full from the pupus and drinks we shared one of my favorite drinks in the world (so glad I found a recipe), the Raspberry "leaning" Bellini. This drink is a little pricey but it is pretty huge and seems to be the special of the restaurant. It comes in a beautifully etched glass with a sketch of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. This is a Bellini (champagne and peach puree blended with ice) with a swirl and bottom of Chambord (one of my fave liquors). It is rather sweet, but so good.

Then we shared my salad! It is a little on the sweet side; I love salads with fruit and sweet vinaigrettes. It has a base of mixed greens (mostly spinach), thinly sliced red onions, feta (?) cheese, sliced strawberries, shreds of chicken, and a strawberry vinaigrette. The chicken was on the cool side, which was alright because the rest of the salad was 'cold' items. The dressing drowns out the sharpness that would have belonged to the onions, and lends itself as a great sauce for the chicken. We had no problem scarfing this down. Unfortunately we had reservations at our next destination so we didn't have time to pop in the bathroom, which is my favorite part of the restaurant. They have an audio playing in the bathroom that teaches you phrases in Italian. It definitely beats the elevator music found in other restaurants!

We waited for our 8:30pm Jackie Chan's Kitchen reservation and since being addicted to all my fellow foodie bloggers there have been some curious cookies (?) dancing around in my brain, begging me to try them to find out what all the fuss is about. There was a small cafe near both restaurants (that served various tea concoctions and blends) and it had a couple of varieties of macrons. Now I always thought of macaroons when I see this word typed out, those coconut covered ball like cookies (that I don't care much for). But all the pictures that I have seen on other blogs look nothing like the coconut cookies. I HAD to see what all the hype was so I ordered one guava (though I would have liked to try their green tea one also). Randy and I split it and I was surprised to find the wafer like consistency gave as soon as I bit into it. Keeping these two light sandwich sides together was a thin spread of cream that had a light flavor of guava. Honestly, it was good, and I would like to eat some more, but it just isn't something that has me completely enraptured. Now to find the mystery behind the madeline!

Our last adventure lay at the Jackie Chan's viewing party for LOST that happens every Wednesday night. Jackie Chan's Kitchen is a Asian fusion restaurant with hip decor. It features the founder and namesake by Jackie Chan memorabilia and having tv screens around the restaurant play his movies at all times. Except for Wednesdays. Every Wednesday night they offer pupus with LOST inspired names and turn of the normal movies to simultaneously view LOST. At commercials there are trivia questions with prizes. We ordered a mojito (it was actually barely sweet and rather unpalatable) and a Jim and coke. And even though we were full, we HAD to try their sweet potato shoe string fries. Sweet potatoes, as fries???? What a genius idea! Sweet potatoes are some of my favorite veggies (10 times better than any other potato) and we just were dying to know what they were like in fry form. They came out thin and half crispy/half soft, just how I like them. The sweetness of the potato was really good, but there was too much salt that took away from the potato's taste. If I ever go again, I will ask for no salt, or salt on the side.

The coolest part of this night was watching lost next to one of the assistant directors of the show. It was neat having him watch our reactions and having him confirm some of our curiosities. Randy and I had a couple of debates going on about the lyrics to Charlie's Driveshaft song, "You are Everybody", and who it was that was the doctor that came in when Claire's mom was dying. Randy seems to think that Claire's dad is also Jack's surgeon father. Some of these debates remain, but others have been put to rest. We probably won't go back for another party, but I might at least attempt to make the sweet potato fries at home!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Loco Moco...Zippy's style

I have another post to write, about last week, but that will have to come later because I just had a delicious lunch of the returned Zippy's chili loco moco. For those of you who don't know what Zippy's is, it is a local chain diner that has a cult following (including me) of their incredible chili. It is not hot and spicy like a proper Texan chili (or so I'm told) but is sweet and sinful with pieces of portuguese sausage mixed in to the meat sauce. Now a loco moco is rice, a hamburger patty, egg, and gravy all stacked up in a bowl and is the local comfort food. I must not be very local because the last time I had one was over 3 yrs ago. But I have good reason...the last one i had was from L & L and had not one, but two hairs in it...DISGUSTING!

Anyways...this meal was tweaked (and improved) by zippys to where the gravy was replaced by their oh-so-good chili and a layer of "secret sauce" (the mac salad sauce) covered the rice. MMM My fiance and I split one and we were it was pretty big. The patty didn't have much flavor but thesweet chili and salty "sauce" added enough flavor and the different textures of rice, sunny side up egg, and chili with beans were perfect.

Let's just say I have a happy little bulge in my tummy right now. Too badI have to work, otherwise I'd slip into a long food-coma. :)
*Thanks to food blogger "The Tasty Island" for pictures...I didn't have my camera on me*