Saturday, November 12, 2011

Little Fluffs of Heaven: Homemade marshmallows

These little babies are worth the effort... and the smokey kitchen after I burned the first batch of sugar!  Let them set for 12 hours and eat alone or on top of a cup of hot cocoa. Yummmmmm.

1 cup (240 ml) cold water, divided
3 - 1/4 ounce envelopes (21 grams) unflavored gelatin
2 cups (400 grams) granulated white sugar
1 cup (240 ml) light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4-5 cups (460 - 575 grams) confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

Homemade Marshmallows: Lightly butter, or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch (33x23x5-cm) baking pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Then sift about 3 tablespoons of confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar onto the bottom of the pan (this will help release the set marshmallow from the paper). Place 1/2 cup (120 ml) cold water into the bowl of your electric mixer that is fitted with a whisk attachment. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a heavy two quart saucepan, place the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup (120 ml) cold water. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil. Cover the saucepan with a lid and let boil for about three minutes to allow any sugar crystals to dissolve from the sides of the saucepan. Remove the lid and attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Increase heat to high and boil, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F (115 degrees C), about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
With mixer running at low speed, slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture in a thin stream down the side of the bowl. Gradually increase the speed to high and beat until mixture has tripled in volume and is very thick and stiff, about 10 minutes (looks like thick marshmallow cream). Add vanilla extract and beat to combine, about 30 seconds longer.
Scrape marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and spread with a damp offset spatula or rubber spatula. The mixture is very sticky so just smooth it out as best as you can. Dust the top of the marshmallow with another 3 tablespoons of confectioners' sugar and let stand, uncovered, at room temperature until set, about 12 hours.
Remove the marshmallow from the pan by first running a small sharp knife around the edge of the marshmallow to loosen it from the pan. Invert the pan onto a large cutting board that has been dusted with confectioners' sugar. You might have to use your fingers to help loosen the marshmallow from the pan. Peel off the parchment paper (the marshmallow will be sticky) and dust the top of the marshmallow with confectioners' sugar. Cut the marshmallow into squares using clean kitchen scissors, a pizza roller or a sharp knife. Dip the cut sides of the marshmallows in additional confectioners' sugar. Shake off excess sugar and store the marshmallows in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to two weeks.
Makes about 24 - 2 1/2 inch marshmallows.

Oven Roasted Pulled Pork

This is truly a down home pulled pork recipe. It's by Tyler Florence on the food network and he did his research on this one!  It tastes just like grandma used to make!


Dry Rub:

  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 3 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 1 (5 to 7 pound) pork roast, preferably shoulder or Boston butt

Cider Vinegar Barbecue Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 cup yellow or brown mustard
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 hamburger buns
  • 1 recipe Spicy Slaw, recipe follows
  • Pickle spears


Mix the paprika, garlic power, brown sugar, dry mustard, and salt together in a small bowl. Rub the spice blend all over the pork and marinate for as long as you have time for, as little as 1 hour or up to overnight, covered, in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Put the pork in a roasting pan and bake for about 6 hours. Basically, roast the pork until it's falling apart and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 170 degrees F.
To make the barbecue sauce: combine the vinegar, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, salt, cayenne, and black pepper in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer gently, stirring, for 10 minutes until the sugar dissolves.
Remove the pork roast from the oven and transfer to a large platter. Allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes. While still warm, take 2 forks and "pull" the meat to form shreds. Using 2 forks, shred the pork by steadying the meat with 1 fork and pulling it away with the other. Put the shredded pork in a bowl. Pour 1/2 of the sauce on the shredded pork and mix well to coat.
To serve, spoon the pulled pork mixture onto the bottom 1/2 of the hamburger bun, and top with the spicy slaw. Serve with pickle spears and the remaining sauce on the side.a

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chicken Scallopini with Broccoli Rabe

From Cooking Light Magazine.  This dish is quick and easy and tastes great!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast cutlets
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 pound broccoli rabe (rapini), cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • 4 lemon slices (optional)


  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Combine breadcrumbs and pepper in a shallow dish; dredge chicken in breadcrumb mixture. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; keep warm.
  • Add wine, broth, juice, and butter to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in broccoli rabe; cover and cook 3 minutes or until broccoli rabe is tender. Stir in parsley and capers. Serve chicken over broccoli rabe mixture. Garnish with lemon slices, if desired.

Roasted Pepper and Black Bean Burgers

I got this recipe online for the black bean burgers, and only changed a few things to up the flavor. They taste really fresh and John and I really like them. 

1 16oz can Black Beans
3 pieces roasted read pepper from the jar (1 if they are full size red peppers)
3 garlic cloves
1/2 sweet onion 
1 small bunch cilantro
1 tsp crushed red pepper or 1Tbsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Mash black beans in a large bowl. In a food processor,  blend red pepper, onion, garlic and cilantro until fine. Mix in with the mashed beans. Next, mix the egg, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, salt and egg until combined. Pour over bean mixture. Then drain any liquid from mixture by either setting over a colander, or squeezing with cheese cloth. Once liquid is removed, add 1/2 cup bread crumbs and stir.

Form patties (makes about 5). Roll patties in the leftover bread crumbs, and place in a skillet with olive oil. Cook until heated through, browned and firmed up. Serve with desired toppings. 


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Low Calorie Pumpkin Pie Muffins

I came up with this recipe today because I had some pumpkin pie mix left from the parfaits I made yesterday. I wanted a nice low fat and calorie muffin I can eat for breakfast. A lot of the recipes online were just too high in fat for me. These have a moist-spongy texture and are very mild in pumpkin flavor and sweetness. It actually reminded me a little of a corn muffin. Not the best, but good enough!

Hope you enjoy!


1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1 cup pumpkin pie mix (either left over from scratch or canned like lazy me!)
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 large organic eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup splenda
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
(1 t cinnamon and 1T sugar mixed together for sprinkling)

I honestly just dumped everything with the exception of the sprinkling sugar into my Kitchen Aid and whipped it. Once it was all combined and smooth I put it into 12 GREASED muffin tins (this is important) and sprinkled it with the sugar/cinnamon mixture. 

Whaala! Yum!

Calories: 110 
Carbs: 22 
Fat: 1g 
Sugar: 3g 
Protien: 3g

Pumpkin Pie Parfaits

This was inspired by a food network recipe. It is by no means, a low fat recipe. I am going to try to alter it next time and use Free Cool Whip instead of the heavy whipping cream. I'll let you know if it turns out!

Regardless of how awful these are for you (especially for those of you with lactose intolerance like myself!) , they are a crowd pleaser.




  • 13 gingersnaps
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin pie mix
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon


1. Put 7 cookies in a resealable plastic bag and crush into crumbs with a heavy pan. Brush the bottoms and about 1 inch up the sides of 6 parfait glasses with the butter. Add a spoonful of crumbs to each and roll them around the insides of the glasses reserve some for topping. Refrigerate the prepared glasses. 

2. Put the pumpkin mix and melted chocolate chips into a food prosessor and pulse until smooth. (To melt chips: in a microwave-safe bowl  microwave at 50% power until melted, about 1 minute, stirring halfway. Add to the pumpkin mixture and process until combined. Transfer to a large bowl.)

3. Beat 1 1/2 cups cream with a tablespoon of sugar in a bowl with a mixer until soft peaks form; fold into the pumpkin mixture until smooth. Divide among the prepared glasses and refrigerate until ready to serve.

4. Beat the remaining 1/2 cup cream with a mixer until foamy. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar, 1/8 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 a tsp cinnamon and beat until soft peaks form. Top the parfaits with the whipped cream, reserved cookie crumbs and the remaining 6 cookies.

Invasion of the Freezer Friendly Soups!

With fall in full swing, it's time to to stock my freezer with some winter soups and comfort foods. John and I like to spend our free time cross country skiing once the snow hits, so I like to have meals ready to go. 

Below are a few soups I've made in the past two weeks which are really freezer friendly, and honestly, get better with age!  Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
I got this recipe from my friend Marie two falls ago. It is by a guy named Michael Chiarello. It has since become a staple in our freezer. This soup is great for fall and into the winter. It's flavors intensify with time, even while freezing. The toasted walnuts are a must in this recipe!


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced leeks, white parts only
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 6 cups peeled and roughly diced butternut squash
  • 3 cups peeled and roughly diced apples
  • 2 teaspoons Toasted Spice Rub, recipe follows
  • 6 1/2 cups chicken stock or 2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans low-sodium chicken broth mixed with 3 cups water
  • Sea salt, preferably gray salt
  • 1 cup chopped Spiced Candied Walnuts, recipe follows, optional


Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat, and cook until it turns nut brown. Add the leeks and cook until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute briefly to release its fragrance.

Add the squash and apples, raise the heat to high, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Stir in the Toasted Spice Rub and cook briefly to toast it, about 1 minute.

Add the stock or broth-water mixture, bring to a simmer, and partially cover. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the squash and apples are tender, about 40 minutes.

Transfer in batches to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Return to the pot, reheat to serving temperature, and season with salt.

Divide the soup among warmed bowls and garnish each portion with some of the walnuts, if using. Serve immediately.

Toasted Spice Rub:

  • 1/4 cup fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup pure California chili powder (about 1-ounce)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
In a small heavy pan over medium heat, combine the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns. When the fennel turns light brown, work quickly. Turn on the exhaust fan, add the red pepper flakes, and toss, toss, toss, always under the fan. Immediately turn the spice mixture out onto a plate to cool. Put in a blender with the chili powder, salt, and cinnamon and blend until the spices are evenly ground. If you have a small spice mill or a coffee grinder dedicated to grinding spices, grind only the fennel, coriander, pepper, and chili flakes. Pour into a bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients.

Yield: about 1 cup

Spiced Candied Walnuts:

  • Peanut or canola oil
  • 4 cups walnut halves
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat about 1-inch of oil to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add walnuts and blanch for 30 seconds. Drain and transfer nuts to a medium bowl. While nuts are still hot and slightly wet, add confectioners' sugar and toss to coat nuts. Stir and toss until all the sugar has melted into the nuts; if bits of unmelted sugar remain on the nuts, they will not fry properly.

Stir the nuts again before frying. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer a few nuts to the hot oil, allowing the foam to subside before adding another spoonful. (Otherwise, the oil could foam over and burn you.) Fry in small batches until the nuts are medium brown, about 45 seconds per batch; be careful not to overcook. Scatter on an unlined baking sheet to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, stir together cayenne, cinnamon, a pinch of salt, and the pepper.

While the nuts are still warm, transfer them to a bowl and sprinkle evenly with about half of the spice mix. Toss well to distribute the spices and then taste a nut. Add more spice mix, to taste, and toss well after each addition. When cool, pack in an airtight jar. They will keep at room temperature for at least 2 weeks.

Yield: 4 cups

Johnny's Tortilla Soup
If you are looking for a garden-fresh tasting soup in the middle of winter, this one if for you! Originally given to me by a neighbor, this soup is a winner! 


3-4 chicken breasts, cubed
64 oz. chicken broth
2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 large white onion, quartered
1 large bunch cilantro, washed and stems removed
3-4 large cloves of garlic
4 Serrano peppers, cut in half, seeds removed (less pepper if you don't like spice!)
Hot Sauce
1 16 oz. bag frozen sweet corn (or canned or fresh)
1 14.5 oz. can black beans, drained
Corn tortillas (or tortilla chips)
olive oil
sea salt
sliced avocado
sharp cheddar, shredded
scallions, sliced

1. Put chicken into the bottom of a large soup pot, add a bit of oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and saute on high heat until lightly browned, with bits stuck to the bottom. 
2. Add chicken broth and stir making sure to remove any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil.
3. While broth begin to boil, in a blender or food processor, place cilantro, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and peppers. Add about a cup of broth and blend. You may need to do this in 2 batches.
4. Once blended, pour into soup pot with the broth and chicken.  Add corn and black beans, and hot sauce to taste.  Once hot, you can turn off heat. 

I usually just use whatever tortilla chips we have in the house but when I'm feeling frisky I make them from actual tortillas. 

1. Cut tortillas into 1/2in strips and place on a cookie sheet. 
2. Sprinkle with olive oil ad sea salt.
3. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes. 

Boom. Done. :)
Serving Instructions:
I like to top this soup with avocado, cheddar, and scallions. I also like to crumble the tortilla on top. Yum. 

Creamy Peanut-Pumpkin Soup
From Women's Health Magazine

2 tsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped (1 1/4 cups)
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
1 can solid-pack pumpkin puree (15 oz)
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 jar roasted red peppers (7 oz), drained, 1 tablespoon chopped and reserved for garnish
1/3 cup smooth reduced-fat natural peanut butter
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 Tbsp chopped roasted peanuts
2 Tbsp chopped scallion greens

1. Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.

2. Add turmeric, paprika, and chili flakes; stir. Add pumpkin puree, broth, peppers, and peanut butter; whisk to incorporate and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for 5 minutes, then stir in sugar, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

3. Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Divide among 4 bowls and garnish with sour cream, peanuts, reserved chopped peppers, and scallion greens.

Makes 4 Servings.
Per serving: 270 cal, 18 g fat (4 g sat), 22 g carbs,
450 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 10 g protein  

Back again

Well, not so good at posting to this blog!  I taught summer school this summer and am now teaching a brand new grade at my school for the 3rd year in a row. I have not been cooking as ofter as I'd like, but I'll throw some recipes on here I have cooked in the past two weeks.  Hope everyone is enjoying the first month of fall!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Great Gelato

This is the information on the Gelato I bought at meijer in the ice cream section. It came in a lot of different flavors. We had the Limoncello one but we will certainly be back for more of this!  It was so fluffy, and creamy. It tasted just like the gelato I get at Gelaterias. 

I found it in the ice cream section and it came in a 30 fl. oz small rectangular, plastic container. I'm serious people... try this stuff!

IL Vero Gelato Italiano
Gelateria Italiana
Product of Italy

Beef Enchiladas

My husband loves these enchiladas. I don't care for red meat so I rarely cook with it, but these enchiladas have always been a crowd pleaser. Also, I love to freeze these little guys for future dinners.

Beef Enchiladas

1/2 lb ground beef, chicken, or turkey
1/2 chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 packet taco seasoning
1 (16oz) can refried beans
2 (10oz) cans red enchilada sauce
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
1 package flour tortillas
2 cups shressed Mexican Style cheese

  1. Saute meat, onion, and garlic until lightly browned. Add taco seasoning and finish browning meat.
  2. Add refried beans, and a little enchilada sauce to moisten. 
  3. Put a little more sauce in the bottom of the baking dish you will be using. Grab a tortilla and fill the middle with the meat mixture and then roll. Place seam side down in the dish. Continue until you've used all the filling. 
  4. Cover enchiladas with the rest of the sauce and sprinkle cheese to the top of the dish.
  5. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and sides are turning brown. 
Serve with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sour cream or even tortilla chips. 

Mexican Rice

I got this recipe from a trusted cookbook of mine called: Mexican Cooking Made Easy by Diane Soliz Martese. It's in both English and Spanish and from what I can tell (and what the author claims), has extremely authentic Mexican dishes. This rice adds a colorful addition to any meal. Did I mention, it's supper healthy too?

Mexican Rice
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 cup each, chicken broth, water
  • 1 tsp. salt 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1 cup peas
  1. Heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium heat. Add rice and saute until lightly browned. Add onion and garlic and continue to saute until brown. 
  2. Add tomatoe, carrots, broth, water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Once boiling, simmer with lid for 20 minutes. 
  3. After 20 minutes, mix in peas and continue to simmer for another 10.

Vietnamese Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I believe these will continue to be a New Years Eve tradition. We made them last year as well and they are so tasty and pretty easy to make, minus the lettuce cups!  Marie and I both elected to use less cayenne pepper because these bad boys can get pretty spicy! For those of you who like spice, use the amount suggested.  
Vietnamese Chicken Lettuce Wraps

1 lb fresh ground chicken or turkey (we actually both used turkey)
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 carrot, chopped or grated
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup water chestnuts, finely chopped
5 mushrooms, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup cooked vermicielli or bean thread noodles
1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
16 iceberg lettuce leaves

Spicy Sauce:
5 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Thai or Vietnamese hot sauce, or any hot sauce
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoon sugar

  1. In large skillet over medium-high heat, warm peanut oil.  Add onion, ginger and garlic; sauté until onion begins to brown, about 3 minutes.  Add ground chicken and sauté until cooked throughout, about 5 minutes, breaking up chicken meat as it cooks.
  2. Add carrot, scallions, water chestnuts and mushrooms; cook for additional 3 minutes.  Add fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and cayenne pepper.  Mix well and remove from heat.  Stir in noodles, peanuts and chopped cilantro.  Toss well to combine.  Transfer to large serving bowl and keep warm.
  3. Combine all spicy sauce ingredients in small serving bowl; whisk well.  Place lettuce leaves on serving platter.  To serve, spoon 2 tablespoons chicken mixture over or on top of each lettuce leaf; drizzle with 1 teaspoon sauce.

New Years Party

Happy New Year!

Well, summer vacation has come and gone and now I'm winding down my last two days of Christmas vacation!  This post is long overdue to say the least but the dinner party I had last night inspired me to put the evenings menu on here!  We entertained some very special friends of ours, Marie (my very loyal workout partner, recipe swapper, and friend), her husband (my husbands twin separated at birth), and the coolest kid you'll ever meet, Mason. We rang in the new year together with an international cuisine:) You'll see what I mean!  

The menu was this:  
Vietnamese Chicken Lettuce Wraps (made by Marie)
Beef Enchiladas with red sauce
Chicken Enchiladas with green sauce
Mexican Rice
and for dessert...
Fresh Cannolis from a wonderful Italian market near my house as well as Limoncello Gelato that I bought at, get this, Meijer! And it was fabulous! If you haven't tried it, you must pick some up!

I will post each of these recipes separately. 

BTW, what did everyone else make to ring in the New Year?