Tuesday, April 26, 2016

~Blueberry Torte~

Blueberry Torte
Do you enjoy desserts filled with blueberries?  Our supply of the local fruit in the freezer is almost gone!  How did that happen?  There are only 3 bags left.  I had plans for one bag this past week. 

The blueberries were defrosted & good to go!  One stick of unsalted butter was on my counter along with my springform pan.  A Blueberry Torte was on my mind.  This yummy light dessert is filled with 2 cups of blueberries.  Marian Burros' & Lois Levine's very popular Plum Torte is enjoyed by so many people, you've probably seen the basic recipe before.  But, I don't use plums when baking this dessert.  I use blueberries.  Blueberries are just the best with my family, so we enjoy a Blueberry Torte!  It's so delicious!  I've changed the original recipe a bit, but always use a stick of unsalted butter.  Margarine just doesn't make it, here.

My Changes:
  • Use 2 Egg Whites + 1 Whole Egg.
  • Add 1 teaspoon Cinnamon into batter.
  • Add 1/4 Cup Milk (I use Soy Milk) into batter.
  • Sprinkle less Cinnamon/ Sugar on top.
After prepping the batter, spoon into a springform pan that has been sprayed with PAM.  Use fresh washed blueberries or defrosted drained frozen blueberries.  Scatter on top of the batter & slightly push in.  Sprinkle on the cinnamon/ sugar mixture & place in the preheated 350°F oven.  In 45- 50 Minutes a yummy dessert is baked!
Ready to be placed in the 350°F oven.

Blueberry Torte
     adapted from Marian Burros' 
     & Lois Levine's Plum Torte recipe

Oven:  350°F          Baking Time:  45- 50 Minutes

1/4 lb. unsalted Butter, softened  
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Cinnamon- can use a little less.
pinch of salt
1 Whole Egg + 2 Egg Whites
1/4 Cup Milk- can be Soy, Whole or Low Fat
2 Cups Blueberries- defrosted, drained frozen or fresh washed 

For Cinnamon/ Sugar Mixture, combine:  
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
***I've saved an empty Cinnamon container with shaker top to make/ store my Cinnamon/ Sugar Mixture.  
      This comes in very handy!  

    1. Using a mixer, combine Butter & 3/4 Cup Sugar, beat.
    2. To creamed Butter/ Sugar add Flour, Baking Powder, Cinnamon, Salt, Egg + Egg Whites.
    3. Beat with mixer.  Batter will be stiff. 
    4. Slowly add 1/4 Cup Milk & beat.
    5. Using a large spoon place batter in springform pan that has been sprayed with PAM.  Spread evenly.
    6. Place Blueberries on top of batter & gently press in slightly.
    7. Sprinkle Cinnamon/ Sugar Mixture on top.
    8. Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 45- 50 Minutes.
    9. Use toothpick or cake tester to test for "doneness".
    10. Place on cooling rack for 10 Minutes.
    11. Remove sides from springform pan.  Cool longer.
    12. When cooled, carefully use a knife to slide between torte & bottom of pan to separate torte easily.
    13. Place another cooling rack on top of torte, flip over.  Remove bottom of pan.
    14. Then place plate on torte bottom & flip again.
    15. Serve slices with vanilla ice cream or dollop of whipped cream.
    Slices of this Blueberry Torte also freeze very well!  It's a great dessert surprise to locate in the freezer after a busy day!  However, this time there were no extra slices to freeze.  There are a couple more bags of local blueberries in our freezer!  :)


    Friday, April 15, 2016

    Bowties n Cheese

    Bowties n Cheese
    Someone just might think that I haven't been cooking/ baking lately!  Well, not so.  Lots of good stuff going on here!  Our temps are warmer, so a daily walk is on the agenda.  Daily walks also include chatting it up with neighbors that we haven't seen all winter.  That sounds like a long time. Maybe it's not that long, but extended conversations have not taken place, either.  Spring is here!

    This past year I've been working on my family's Genealogy.  It's both fascinating & answering questions that I've always been curious about.  I've learned that it also comes in very handy to be able to read/ write cursive writing.  Some penmanship on records is very legible.  Other times- not so much.  You know how I like History, so I'm determined to learn more!  It's a good time to share one of my family's comfort foods from my childhood.  Now, when I prep it, I use Bowtie (Farfelle) Noodles.   

    Any time of year Bowties n Cheese are always enjoyed at dinner.  If a starch such as potatoes or corn are not found in my kitchen/ freezer to prep as part of dinner, this is a very tasty side dish!  The Farfelle Noodles are cooked according to directions on the package.  After draining them, return to the pot.  Add 1 Tablespoon Butter/ Margarine & 8 oz. Cottage Cheese.  Stir.  Warm over a Low Heat for about 2 minutes.  The Cottage Cheese melts a bit & blends with the cooked noodles.    

    Bowties n Cheese

    Farfelle (Bowtie) Noodles
    1 Tablespoon Butter/ Margarine
    8 oz. Cottage Cheese- I use Low Fat with Chives.
    Dash of Pepper

    1. Cook desired amount of Farfelle Noodles according to package directions.
    2. Drain & return hot noodles to pot.
    3. Add 1 Tablespoon Butter/ Margarine & stir.
    4. Then, add 8 ounces of Cottage Cheese to pot, stirring.
    5. Sprinkle on a Dash of Pepper, stir.
    6. Cover.
    7. Before serving, heat over a Low Heat for about 1- 2 Minutes, stirring constantly.
    8. Stir, serve & enjoy!
    This is such a tasty side dish!  Any extra portions can be covered & placed in the fridge.  Add a little more Cottage Cheese & reheat before serving again.


    Monday, April 4, 2016

    February in April!

    First Flowers, Then Snowflakes!
    Sure is February in April!  At least that's what it looks like & how it's felt yesterday & today.  Oh wait- I live in New England!  

    Last week we were enjoying the colorful flowering bulbs in our back perennial garden.  Some of us stored away the snow shovels & snow blowers for next winter.  However, yesterday & today the back perennial garden has an absence of color.   There were a lot of flakes floating down! 

    Spring is just around the corner- again.  :)

    Enjoying the seasons,

    Friday, March 25, 2016

    Sassy Raisin Sauce

    Two ingredients in Sassy Raisin Sauce
    Raisins & Apple Juice
    Are you serving Baked Ham this Sunday for dinner?  If you are, Sassy Raisin Sauce is a yummy topping for the tender slices of Ham!  Filled with Raisins, it's an easy sauce to prepare at the last minute.  You probably already have the ingredients:  Apple Juice, Raisins, Cornstarch & Butter/ Margarine

    Think Sunday- you are almost ready to serve dinner.  It's at this time that a tasty topping that comes together so quickly is needed!  What a great added touch!  And- it tastes so good. 

    I also like to serve this topping over Butternut Squash Ravioli!

    Sassy Raisin Sauce
    Yield: about 2 and 1/2 Cups

    3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
    2 Cups Apple Juice
    2 Tablespoons Butter/ Margarine
    1 Cup Raisins

    1. Place Cornstarch in small saucepan.
    2. Slowly add in 1/2 Cup Apple Juice.
    3. Stir, dissolving Cornstarch.
    4. Then, add remaining Apple Juice to saucepan, stir.
    5. Add 2 Tablespoons Butter/ Margarine.
    6. Add Raisins.
    7. Stir constantly while cooking over medium heat.
    8. Sauce will thicken & boil.
    9. Boil & stir for 1 Minute.
    10. Serve hot.
    If a smaller amount is desired use directions above & the ingredients below-  

         For 2 Servings:  
         1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
         2/3 Cup Apple Juice
         About 1 Tablespoon Butter/ Margarine
         1 Handful Raisins

    This is always a great addition to a Baked Ham Dinner!  Or as a Butternut Squash Ravioli Topping!


    Happy Easter!!!

    Tuesday, March 15, 2016

    Irish Soda Bread

    Irish Soda Bread
    Unsalted Butter
    Fat Free/ Low Fat Buttermilk

    Those 3 ingredients need to be added to your grocery list if you do not already have them!  The other ingredients are in your pantry.  Why???  St. Patrick's Day is this Thursday & it's time to bake an Irish Soda Bread!  That yummy bread that's also called Spotted Dog.  Sure, you'll find them in bakeries & grocery stores, but why not bake your own?  Once you bake it the first time it will be a tradition for you as it is for me.

    I'll always remember the year I was "googling" for an Irish Soda Bread recipe that used 1 Cup of Buttermilk.  That's all I had in the fridge.  There was the recipe on the blog Charli and Me written by Carol.  Carol shared that this great recipe originally came from the Will O'Glenn Irish Bed and Breakfast in Michigan with Mrs. Biddy Gahan sharing it.  I'm always so happy that all of these kind folks passed it along!  I use unsalted & fat free/ low fat ingredients & it's so good!  Every year I bake this Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day & also a couple of other times during the year. 

    I've learned a couple hints to make this an even easier bread to bake:
    • Melt & then cool the Butter before using.
    • Before placing the sticky dough in the pie plate, rub a little Butter on the palms of your hands.  The dough will then be easier to work with.      

    Sticky Dough  ready to be placed in my oven.

    Irish Soda Bread
    Oven: 400°F, then lowered to 375°F

    Total baking time: 40- 45 Minutes

    1 and 1/2 Cups Raisins
    1 Cup boiling Water

    1 stick Butter - I use unsalted.
    2 and 1/2 Cups Flour
    1 teaspoon Baking Soda
    1 teaspoon Baking Powder
    5 Tablespoons Sugar
    1 Cup Buttermilk, can be low fat/fat free

    1.  Preheat oven to 400°F.
    2.  Spray a 8" or 9 " Pyrex Pie Plate with PAM.
    3.  In a small bowl combine Raisins and boiling Water.  Let sit while preparing dough.
    4.  Melt Butter.  Cool.
    5.  In larger bowl, combine Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder & Sugar.
    6.  Add melted Butter to dry ingredients, stir in.
    7.  Add Buttermilk, stir.
    8.   Add drained Raisins, stir.
    9.   Shape into a ball after placing dough into pie plate.  Dough will be sticky.
    10.   Bake 15 Minutes at 400°F.
    11.  Lower oven to 375°F.  Bake 25- 30 Minutes longer.
    12.  Remove the bread from pie plate after using cake tester or toothpick to test for done and cool on rack.
    13.  Cool. 
    14. Wait at least 5 hours before cutting into slices and eating.
    After cutting the bread into slices, I place it in two sealed Ziploc Bags.

    This is a very tasty treat!  Heat a half slice or a slice in the microwave for a few seconds.  Yum!

    An added treat is to open the freezer door 3 weeks later & find 2 slices in a freezer bag.  Yes, slices do freeze well.   Will you be adding Raisins, unsalted Butter & fat free Buttermilk to your grocery list?  If you do not have a chance to bake this in the next 2 days, it would be a great treat to bake this weekend!



    Friday, March 11, 2016

    Baked Seafood Casserole

    Baked Seafood Casserole
    with Scallops, Shrimp & Haddock

    Baked Seafood Casserole!  Oh, yum!  For many years whenever this entree was on the menu at a seafood restaurant I thought well, maybe, mmm, but not today.  I'd order the Broiled Seafood Platter.  Well, that changed a couple of years ago.  We were at the Rock Harbor Grill at the Cape (Cape Cod, MA).  The restaurant was totally packed with couples & families on a September weekday evening.  Everyone was chatting & enjoying their dinners.  Once again one choice on the menu was Seafood Casserole.  I took the plunge & decided to try it.  Let me tell you- it was so yummy!  From that day on I bake Seafood Casseroles at home!  No need to enjoy this delicious entree only at a restaurant.  Why did it take me so long to taste it???
    The first time I was thinking about baking this, I realized that the much needed individual baking dishes were not in my cabinet!  It was time to get 4 pieces of colorful FiestawareIt's been on my wish list.  I needed individual casserole dishes, so the time had come to purchase some.  They sure work well when baking a Seafood Casserole!    

    After looking at so many recipes for this yummy dish, I decided to include 3 types of seafood that are easily available to me.  Uncooked Shrimp is always in my freezer & only needed to be defrosted (the  microwave works here).  Scallops & a piece of Haddock can be purchased quickly.

    A Baked Seafood Casserole is so easy to make!  The seafood is placed in the bottom of buttered individual serving/ baking dishes.  Add a little shredded Cheese.  Crush hint of salt Ritz Crackers & combine with Worcestershire Sauce, Garlic Powder & melted Butter to sprinkle on top.  Bake in the oven for 45 minutes & the yummy Seafood Casserole is ready.  How easy can this be?  Absolutely delicious, too!

    Tender Baked Seafood
    under the Bubbly Topping

    Baked Seafood Casserole
         2 servings

    Oven Temperature:  350°F            Time: 45 Minutes

    6 small Scallops
    8 medium uncooked Shrimp, peeled & deveined
    about 2/3 lbs. Haddock fillet
    3-4 ounces shredded Cheese (Mozzarella or Cheddar Combo)
    15 with a hint of salt Ritz Crackers, crushed
    3 Tablespoons melted Butter/ Margarine
    1/3 teaspoon Garlic Powder
    1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce

    1. Butter individual baking dishes.
    2. Remove shells from Shrimp, devein.
    3. Cut Haddock Fillet in half.
    4. Rinse seafood under cool running water, drain.
    5. Place Scallops & Shrimp in baking dishes.
    6. Place Haddock on top, folding narrow ends under.
    7. Cover with shredded Cheese.
    8. In a small bowl combine crushed Ritz Crackers & Garlic Powder.
    9. Add Worcestershire Sauce & melted Butter/ Margarine, combine all.
    10. Spread half of Topping Mixture on seafood in each baking dish.
    11. Bake at 350°F for 45 Minutes.
    ***I placed the individual baking dishes on a cookie pan before baking.  It prevented any possible spills when taking out of my oven.  :)

    We enjoyed this Seafood Casserole at dinner, again tonight.  Working quickly, it took about 30 Minutes to prepare before baking.  This is one great entree!  Don't wait to order it at a restaurant!  It's that good!  Served with Rice & a veggie, yum! 

    Have you baked a Seafood Casserole? 


    Friday, March 4, 2016

    Lowering LDL Cholesterol!

    Dinner Salad Platter
    with Chunks of Avocados & Pears
    For a very long time (years) I've been very conscious of eating more healthy foods.    Using Olive Oil while cooking & drizzling Balsamic Vinaigrette containing Olive Oil over veggie salads has been my thing.  Canisters of Oats are replaced often with newly filled canisters.  We like Oatmeal Cookies, Creamy Oatmeal at breakfast & also Apple Crisp with the oat topping.  Peanuts & Pecans are great snacks, here.  Fresh salads at dinner are enjoyed.  Seafood grilled or baked is so good!  Very rarely do I bake a dessert that contains more sugar than flour (or an equal amount) in the recipe.  These past few months I've learned about the benefits of adding Avocados & fresh Pears into our diets.  Both also help with lowering bad (LDL) cholesterol.

    Avocados are definitely not grown here in New England.  But hey, if eating Avocados helps in lowering the bad (LDL) Cholesterol, I'm definitely in.  They ripen quickly while sitting on the kitchen counter.  Pears can be ripened in a couple of days by placing in a closed brown paper lunch bag & also placing on the counter.

    During the winter season the tomatoes purchased in the produce departments of grocery stores are not juicy & tasty as they are in the summer.  In the summer we have locally grown tomatoes to enjoy!  I've learned that Pears are a tasty substitute in a salad!  

    So, there are 2 new additions to any dinner salad or dinner salad platter that we enjoy- chunks of Avocados & chunks of Pears.  This coming week promises to bring warm grilling weather, so chicken will be grilling one evening!  Any extra grilled chicken will add to a dinner salad platter with chunks Avocados & Pears the following night!  The dressing?  Oh, Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette, of course!

    Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

    1/2 Cup Olive Oil for salads & marinades
    1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
    Dash Black Pepper
    1 Tablespoon Raspberry Jam or Jelly

    ***Salad Dressing Mixing/ Shaking Container

    1.  Place Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar in shaker container.
    2.  Add dash of Black Pepper.
    3.  Add 1 Tablespoon Raspberry Jam or Jelly.
    4.  Place cover on container.
    5.  Shake, shake, shake & shake again. 
    6.  Drizzle over salad.
    ***After adding Raspberry Jam or Jelly, shake container until Jam or Jelly is dissolved.

    After dinner this Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette is stored in my fridge.  About 1/2 hour before using again, I place the salad dressing container on my counter.  It will come to room temperature.  All it needs will be a few shakes & it will blend together to be enjoyed again.