Saturday, September 28, 2013

Orange-Banana Protein Shake

Nutritious, delicious, and quick to make.
Perfect for rushed mornings!

Orange-Banana Protein Shake
(yields 1 to 2 servings)


8 ounces (1 cup) premium orange juice
1 ripe banana (fresh or frozen)
1 heaping scoop (approx. 1/3 cup) vanilla whey protein powder
2 cups ice
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar (optional)

Place all ingredients (with ice on top) in blender.
Pulse or blend until mixture is thick and ice is blended.
Serve immediately.

My notes & preferences:
1) I like "Simply Orange" brand juice
2) Peel ripe in freezer baggies ahead of time for usage in shake
3) I purchase the protein powder from Wal-mart 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Meyer Lemon-Buttermilk Loaf

This wonderful quick bread has a delicate crumb containing just the right amount of real lemon flavor and a simple lemon glaze. 

Use Meyer lemons if you can find them, but regular lemons will work too.

Adapted from Dixie Crystals

Meyer Lemon-Buttermilk Loaf 
(Yields: 1 loaf)

Bread Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
Grated rind of 2 Meyer lemons
1 Tablespoon lemon juice from Meyer lemon
1/2 cup buttermilk

Lemon Glaze Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons lemon juice from Meyer lemon
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. (335° degrees F. for dark pans)
In a large mixer bowl, cream together butter, sugar and eggs.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Add to butter/sugar mixture, along with lemon rind, lemon juice, and buttermilk. Stir until thoroughly blended.
Pour into large greased loaf pan and bake for 43 to 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean or with a couple of crumbs attached. (If baking at 335 degrees, baking time will probably be at the higher end.)

For glaze: Stir together the lemon juice and powdered sugar until smooth and drizzle over the hot loaf.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Tender Cinnamon Rolls

The latest in my quest to make the perfect cinnamon roll. This may be the winner...soft, soft, soft!

Tender Cinnamon Rolls
(Yield: 9x13 pan)

Dough Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (or 2 pkgs. yeast)
2 Tablespoons warm water (115 degrees)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs or 3/4 cup Egg Beaters product
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup slightly warm buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sweet dough emulsion, optional (purchased from KAF)
4 to 6 cups all-purpose flour

Filling Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
    4 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened
    3 Tablespoons butter
    1-1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


Vanilla Frosting Ingredients:
    4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, unsalted
    Few grains of salt, optional
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 cups powdered sugar
    Milk to desired consistency


Glaze Ingredients: (may want to double glaze ingredients)
    1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
    3 to 4 Tablespoons milk
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional   

Add 1 Tablespoon sugar and yeast to water. Stir to dissolve yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Mix together butter, 1/2 cup sugar, eggs and salt. Beat well.
Add buttermilk, vanilla extract, sweet dough emulsion (if using), and yeast mixture to butter/sugar mixture.
Using a dough hook, mix in flour, 1 cup at a time, until dough pulls away from side of bowl. Continue to mix for 5 minutes.
Remove dough from bowl and knead on lightly floured surface for about a minute.
Place dough in lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and then a clean towel.
Let rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.

Roll out dough into a large rectangle.
Spread dough with butter and then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
Begin rolling dough by starting at the opposite side of rectangle and rolling tightly towards you.
Seal seam by pinching together. Slice dough log in half, then in half again, then in thirds, making 12 rolls. Place rolls in greased pan and allow to rise about 30 minutes.

After 20 minutes of rising time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, approximately 22 to 30 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F. on an instant read thermometer.

Mix the frosting ingredients for approximately 5 minutes...OR, if using glaze, whisk ingredients with fork until smooth. Glaze rolls while still warm, but wait till rolls are cool if using frosting instead of glaze.

Refrigerate baked rolls if using cream cheese frosting
Powdered (confectioner's) sugar yields best results when fresh.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Velvety Cheesecake

Creamy, decadent, and elegant! Made with a sour cream topping, but feel free to add an additional topping, such as strawberry, blueberry, lemon, lime, or caramel.

Velvety Cheesecake 

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
3 eggs, room temperature
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

16 ounces minus 1/3 cup (1-2/3 cups sour cream)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil, and then pour water into a 9x13 pan placed on the bottom rack of the oven*. This will remain in the oven the entire cooking time.
*Place the 9x13 pan on bottom rack and then pour water into pan, being careful not to splash.

To make crust:
Line the (inside) bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with aluminum foil. Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray.
Thoroughly combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a medium bowl, and then press mixture into the entire bottom and 1 inch up the sides to form crust.

To make filling:
In a large bowl, beat together the softened cream cheese and sugar on medium-high until smooth and fluffy.
Gently and thoroughly fold in the eggs, vanilla extract, and cream of tartar to the cream cheese mixture with a fork and then with a rubber spatula. Pour into the prepared crust.
Place in preheated oven on middle rack. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes.
The cheesecake may appear undone, but it is not. Remove cheesecake from oven (leave oven on) and cool for 10 minutes (in the pan).

To make topping:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, vanilla extract, and sugar.
Pour mixture over baked cheesecake. Bake additional 10 minutes. Turn oven off and immediately remove cheesecake from oven. Set on wire rack to cool to room temperature, approximately 2 hours.
Refrigerate cheesecake (while still in pan) for at least 4 hours, and when ready to serve, remove side of springform pan. 
Refrigerate leftovers in springform pan.

RECIPE: Fresh Strawberry Sauce 

Fresh Strawberry Sauce

Great sauce for topping cheesecake, pound cake, 
pancakes, crepes, ice cream, and more.

Fresh Strawberry Sauce 

2 pounds fresh strawberries

1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Wash strawberries and remove stems. Cut largest berries in half.

Combine strawberries, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently.
Cook until sauce thickens.
Remove some of the berry mixture and set aside.
Mash remaining berries with a potato masher a couple of times, and then add the separated berries back in to the mixture, along with the vanilla extract.
Remove from heat. Store the sauce in refrigerator.

Authentic Mexican Salsa


Authentic Mexican Salsa 

6 to 8 Ripe Roma Tomatoes
1/2 Fresh Jalapeno Pepper, or to taste
1/2 Fresh Serrano Pepper*, or to taste
1 Clove of Garlic
1 to 2 teaspoons Lime Juice
1 to 2 Tablespoons canned Tomato Sauce, optional

Add all to blender and puree. If you like chunks of tomato, add in additional diced tomatoes after blending. 

Store salsa in refrigerator; it will last up to 3 days.

*Serrano peppers are hotter than jalapenos.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Sweet Italian Sausage Lasagna

Great dish for the cold winter nights ahead and to share with a crowd; I also enjoy this as spaghetti sauce!

adapted from

Sweet Italian Sausage Lasagna 
(makes 9x13 pan)

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
3/4 pound lean ground beef*
1/2 cup minced or chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

16 ounces ricotta cheese
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, optional
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsely 

3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, grated
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Several handfuls of freshly washed and dried spinach leaves, optional

12 lasagna noodles

In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat, breaking up meat with a spoon, and until meat is no longer pink. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 2 teaspoons salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 7 minutes (noodles will cook some more while in oven). Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with nutmeg, egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

To assemble:
Spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
Arrange 3 to 6 noodles (or however many it takes to cover bottom of pan) lengthwise over meat sauce.
Spread with a third of the ricotta cheese mixture, and top with a third of the spinach leaves in a single layer.
Top with a third of the shredded mozzarella cheese.
Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Repeat layers (up to twice more), and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Cover pan with non-stick foil, or spray regular foil with non-stick cooking spray to prevent cheese from sticking. Place pan on baking sheet to catch any drips.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes.
Cool for 15 minutes before serving.  Optional: Sprinkle fresh or dried parsley on top before serving.

*Definitely use lean ground beef, as this will result in less grease and prevent the need to drain the meat.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies

Soft, Chewy, and Not-Too-Gooey!

I'm not a big fan of the Toll-House Chocolate Chip cookies, partly because of burnout.
These are a great alternative.

Levain Bakery (New York) is famous for their chocolate chip cookies, and this is a copycat recipe, which I found on Michelle's blog, "Brown Eyed Baker." I left out the walnuts and used milk chocolate chips rather than dark chocolate chips. 

Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies
(yield: 2 to 3 dozen, depending on size)

3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
¾ cup plus 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, cold, lightly beaten in a separate bowl
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups milk chocolate chips

Do not preheat oven until after dough has refrigerated for 20 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed for 1 minute...will be one big ball.

Add both sugars and mix for 2 minutes.

Add the eggs and vanilla and continue mixing on medium speed for 1 minute; batter will be lumpy.
Scrape sides of bowl and stir gently.

Reduce mixer speed to medium-low and gradually add flour mixture until just a little bit of flour still remains.

Add chocolate chips to remaining flour and stir to coat...add chips to dough and stir thorougly to combine.

Drop 2 Tablespoons of dough (for each cookie) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; do not smooth the dough.

Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until very light golden brown. Remove immediately from cookie sheet and let cool.

Store cookies in airtight container.