Posts Tagged 'Family Friendly'

Roasted Chicken and Butternut Soup

Hi, all! Long time, no post. Since my husband and I started eating a mostly Paleo diet last year, I just haven’t been as inclined to write. Most meals are simple foods, simply prepared (but delicious!). I definitely repeat recipes a lot these days, whereas I used to try something new almost every day. Still, I had a friend request dinner ideas recently, so I’ll try to get back into the swing of things. (And I make no promise that absolutely everything I post will be healthy. A girl’s gotta live a little!)

Since we’re having another snow day here in Denver, I thought it would be the perfect time to post Roasted Chicken and Butternut Soup from the October 2010 issue of Everyday Food. This recipe – like so many of my favorites these days – is what I like to call “accidentally Paleo.” It wasn’t created with the Paleo diet in mind, but the ingredients comply perfectly.

Roasted Chicken and Butternut Soup
Serves 4
Prep time: 15 min. | Total time: 55 min.

Ingredients:
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (boneless, skinless will work fine too)
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and diced medium
1 small yellow onion, diced medium
2 tablespoons olive oil (or coconut oil)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water (I use Costco’s organic chicken stock)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Fresh cilantro (optional)

Method:
Preheat oven to 425°. In a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet, toss together chicken, squash, onion, and oil; season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer and roast until squash and chicken are cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a plate and let cool. Transfer squash and onions to a medium pot and add broth, cumin, and coriander. Bring to a simmer over medium-high. With a potato masher or back of a wooden spoon, mash some vegetables until soup is thick and chunky. (I just give it a few pulses with my immersion blender.) Discard skin and bones from chicken; cut meat into small pieces and add to soup. Stir in lemon juice; season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, top with fresh cilantro, if desired.

roasted_chicken_and_butternut_soup

I do love this soup. It’s hearty and filling thanks to the chicken, but it certainly isn’t heavy; the squash and lemon create a light texture and bright flavor. This one of several recipes I make in big batches and then freeze individual portions for future lunches. (I’m no longer a Lean Cuisine addict – hooray!)

Recipe link: Roasted Chicken and Butternut Soup

Slow-Cooked Vanilla Spice Oatmeal

Recently, I received a treat in the mail: a promotional copy of Pure Vanilla, a new vanilla-centered cookbook by Piece of Cake blogger Shauna Sever. As much as I love chocolate, vanilla has always been my favorite flavor, so I couldn’t wait to dig in and check out the recipes. In a cruel twist of fate, we’re trying to avoid eating too much refined sugar and dairy at this point, so I longingly skipped over Vanilla Bean Bread Pudding, Big Mama Vanilla Cheesecake, Salted Vanilla Chip Oatmeal Cookies, and Candied Vanilla Popcorn. I did manage to find a recipe, though, that (a) is relatively low sugar, (b) is made (almost entirely) with things I already had on hand, and (c) solves a problem we’ve been tackling recently, which is that it’s hard to make breakfast every morning with Dr. O’s ever-changing (and sometimes painfully early) work hours.

Shauna says adding a vanilla bean “transforms this humble food (oats) into something otherworldly,” and she’s right. Throw this one together before bed and wake up to one fantastic breakfast.

Slow-Cooked Vanilla Spice Oatmeal
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup steel-cut oats
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 tablespoons light brown sugar (optional), plus more for serving
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
Half-and-half or heavy cream, for serving

Method:
Coat the sleeve of a 5-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Place sleeve in slow cooker and combine all ingredients in it; add 3 1/2 cups water and stir to blend. Set slow cooker to low and cook for 8 hours. Remove vanilla bean and scrape any remaining caviar into oatmeal. Stir well and serve with brown sugar to taste and a drizzle of half-and-half or heavy cream.

Variation: Increase the water to 4 cups and add 2/3 cup of dried fruit before cooking.

Source: Pure Vanilla

Slow-Cooked Vanilla Spice Oatmeal

Talk about an incredibly easy, super tasty breakfast. I tried the variation, upping the water to four cups and adding 1/3 cup of dried tart cherries and 1/3 cup of dried apricots. The fruit cooked down to a lusciously soft consistency and the spices were just right. Dr. O said it was like eating cobbler for breakfast (a good thing in our house!).

My only complaint? I lost about a serving of oatmeal to crust on the sides of my slow cooker sleeve, even with a coating of canola cooking spray.  Maybe next time I’ll combine the ingredients in a separate bowl and dump them in to avoid disturbing the cooking spray.  (Or maybe my slow cooker is a bit too warm, even on low?)  I’m very interested to try this as a single serving in my Crock-Pot Little Dipper.  I’ll post an update when I do.

Thanks for the book and the amazing recipes, Shauna!  Can’t wait to try them all.

Acorn Squash Bisque

Last week’s kitchen equation: Dr. O had sinus surgery and deserved some liquid TLC + two lovely acorn squashes in my refrigerator (the very end of my final CSA delivery!) = a batch of Acorn Squash Bisque.  It’s easy, delicious, and perfect for comforting someone you love (including yourself!).

Acorn Squash Bisque
Prep time: 20 min. | Total time: 35 min.
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 acorn squashes (3 pounds total)
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup half-and-half

Method:
Place squashes on a paper towel and microwave on high just until tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove from the microwave, and halve each squash lengthwise (to speed cooling).  When cool enough to handle, scoop out and discard the seeds.  Scrape out flesh into a bowl; discard skin.  (To prepare in oven, preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Halve squash lengthwise; scoop out and discard seeds.  Place squash, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet; cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Roast until almost tender when pierced with a knife, 15 to 25 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, scrape out flesh, discard skin, and proceed with step 2.)

In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium.  Add onion; season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add squash, thyme, broth, and 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce to medium, and cook until squash is very tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Working in batches, puree mixture in a blender until very smooth, about 1 minute. Return to pan; add half-and-half, and season generously with salt and pepper.  Thin bisque, if needed, by adding more water.  Serve garnished with thyme.

Source: Everyday Food, November 2007

My notes:

  • I prepared my squash in the microwave.  Mine were two different sizes, and one of them needed more like 10 – 12 minutes for the flesh to be tender enough to scoop out.  The flesh will still be a lot firmer than you’re used to if you’ve roasted squash before, but it will finish cooking in the broth and water.
  • I used my immersion blender instead of transferring the soup to a regular blender.  (Best tool ever!)
  • I did not need to thin my bisque.

Acorn Squash Bisque

Yum!  This soup was creamy and comforting – just what we needed.  I’ve written before about not being super crazy about acorn squash, but this had such a mild flavor.  If I hadn’t made it myself, I might have thought we were eating potato soup… Perhaps this recipe would be good for pulling a fast one on the squash averse.

Anyway, we loved it, and I’ll certainly make it again.

Recipe link: Acorn Squash Bisque

Emeril’s Nutty Granola Bars

In my mind, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  It doesn’t have to be a big production, but it’s essential that it happens.  We go through phases at my house, but common breakfasts include egg sandwiches, smoothies, and oatmeal with fresh fruit.  All delicious, all easy, all prepared by me since my darling husband doesn’t cook.  (His line: “Why should I learn when you’re so good at it?” 🙂  I suppose this is why I haven’t “learned” to haul the trash to the curb on Tuesday mornings.)  Anyway, I’m happy to help him get a good start to the day during the first part of the week when his office opens a bit later, but Thursday and Friday mornings are killer.  In trying to come up with a grab-and-go solution that was more substantial than a banana or a cup of yogurt, I found a great recipe: Emeril’s Nutty Granola Bars.  They’re soft, chewy, delicious, and filling, and the recipe is infinitely adaptable depending on what you have in the pantry.

Emeril’s Nutty Granola Bars
Prep time: 10 minutes | Total time: 40 minutes plus cooling | Yield: 16 bars

Ingredients:
3/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/3 cups slivered almonds (6 ounces)
Coarse salt
1 cup raisins or other dried fruit
1/3 cup creamy almond butter or other nut butter
1/4 cup light-brown sugar

Method:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a small saucepan, heat 1/4 cup honey and butter over low.  Cook, stirring, until butter melts, 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, and pinch of salt.  Drizzle honey mixture over oat mixture and stir to combine; wipe saucepan clean.  Spread mixture evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Let cool completely on sheet, 10 minutes.  Return to large bowl and add raisins; stir to combine.

Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish.  In saucepan, combine 1/2 cup honey, almond butter, and brown sugar over medium.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a boil and sugar dissolves, 10 minutes.  Drizzle over oat mixture and stir until combined; transfer to baking dish.  With a spatula, firmly press granola into dish.  Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour, then cut into 16 bars or squares.

Source: Everyday Food, March 2011

Emeril's Nutty Granola Bars

Emeril's Nutty Granola Bars

Holy deliciousness, these are good.  The taste is very similar to the soft packaged granola bars you can buy at the store, but I think they hold their shape better because they aren’t as gooey.  Plus, you get to skip all the preservatives that keep the store-bought ones edible for months; these will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for five days (unless they’re gobbled up sooner!).  I ended up using creamy peanut butter, slivered almonds, and a combination of raisins, dried cherries, and dried cranberries for my bars.  The flavor profile was terrific.  I can’t wait to experiment with other combinations like cashew and cherry or maybe macadamia nut with coconut and dried apricots.  The possibilities are endless!

Update 7/29/11: I made these again last night, and they were terrible.  I re-made them this morning, and they were wonderful.  The difference?  I cooked the honey/almond butter/brown sugar mixture for too long last night.  If you’ve ever made candy before, you know the longer you cook sugar and the hotter it gets, the thicker and firmer it gets when it cools.  For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to cook the mixture for 10 minutes once it began to boil.  I knew something was wrong when I added the cooked mixture to the oats and fruit; it didn’t incorporate very well and some of the oats still seemed dry even after I had stirred and stirred.  When I went to cut the bars after I had chilled them, they were crispy (in a hard-to-eat way, not a good way).  This morning, I cooked the honey/almond butter/brown sugar mixture for 10 minutes total, starting with the moment I turned on the burner.  You could even shave a minute or two off if you want your bars to be super soft; just make sure the sugar is fully dissolved and you have a homogenous mixture.  Live and learn!

Recipe link: Emeril’s Nutty Granola Bars

Watermelon Lemonade

I love watermelon, and I love serving it as part of a summer menu.  (Does it get any easier?  Slice, cover, refrigerate, uncover, serve.)  I usually need more than a personal-size watermelon to feed my guests, but Dr. O and I seem to have a heck of a time finishing the leftovers from a full-size watermelon on our own. Thankfully, I found a delicious solution: Watermelon Lemonade.  It’s pretty simple to make and it keeps in the refrigerator for three days.  Here’s the recipe:

Watermelon Lemonade
Serves 8

Ingredients:
2 lemons, quartered
1 cup fresh mint leaves (mine were loosely packed)
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 medium seedless watermelon (about 9 pounds), rind removed, flesh cut into chunks
1 cup vodka (optional)

Method:
Squeeze lemons into a large pitcher; add squeezed lemon quarters.  Add mint and sugar; mash with a wooden spoon until mint is bruised and sugar is dissolved.

In a blender, purée watermelon in batches until smooth; pour through a fine-mesh sieve into pitcher (you should have about 8 cups of juice).  Stir to combine. Refrigerate, covered, up to 3 days.  Add vodka, if using; serve over ice.

Source: Everyday Food, July 2008

Watermelon Lemonade

Refreshing and deeeeelicious.  Watermelon is absolutely the dominant flavor here. The drink is sweet from the watermelon and the brown sugar, and while you can taste the lemon and the mint, neither are overwhelming.  We tried it with and without vodka and enjoyed it both ways.

My only complaints are: (1) they say it takes 5 minutes to make this (maybe if your watermelon is already cut and you can get it puréed in just two batches), and (2) the lemonade does separate over time in the pitcher (easy enough to solve with a quick stir before serving).  It’s tasty and perfect for summer, though!

Recipe link: Watermelon Lemonade

Peanut Butter Waffles

How do I love thee, peanut butter?  Next to apple slices, tucked inside a chocolate cup, sandwiched with homemade jam, and now, in waffles.  As someone who consumes peanut butter almost daily, I saw this recipe in the May 2011 issue of Everyday Food and couldn’t resist.

The recipe isn’t on Martha Stewart’s site yet, so I’ve posted it for you.  I was able to get 20 small heart-shaped waffles out of the batter.  Two waffles (before you add bananas and syrup) are 6 Weight Watchers PointsPlus points.

Peanut Butter Waffles
Yield varies with waffle maker

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for brushing waffle iron
6 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 bananas, sliced, for serving
3/4 cup pure maple syrup, for serving

Method:
Heat waffle iron and preheat oven to 275°F; set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet and place in oven.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a blender, blend butter and peanut butter until smooth, 1 minute.  Add buttermilk and eggs and blend until combined, 1 minute. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir just until batter is combined.

Brush waffle iron with butter and pour in 1/2 to 3/4 cup batter, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides.  Close iron and cook until waffles are golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes.  Transfer waffles to rack in oven to keep warm; repeat with remaining batter.  Serve with bananas and maple syrup.

Note: Waffles can be frozen in zip-top bags, up to 1 month; reheat in the toaster or a 325°F oven.

Source: Everyday Food, May 2011

Peanut Butter Waffles

I’m not sure I’ve ever had a bad waffle, but these are tastier than most.  They have a subtle peanut butter flavor when eaten plain; I think the bananas and syrup bring out the peanut butter a bit more.  In terms of texture, they’re pretty light and fluffy. The oven time crisps the outside edge a bit (a plus in my book!).  Since I am always looking for good make-ahead recipes to take the stress out of entertaining (or even just getting Dr. O out the door in the morning), I love that I can make a whole batch and either hold them in the oven or freeze them for later.

These aren’t going to dethrone my favorite classic waffle recipe, but they are certainly delicious and a nice change of pace.  Give them a try!

Homemade Peeps for Easter

Let me start by saying that as I was cutting and sugaring my homemade Peeps, I was thinking of angles for this post.  The thing that kept consistently coming to mind is that this project is solely for people with entirely too much time on their hands who like to make messes.  Grumble, grumble, moan, moan.  Then, I tasted one and realized that the mess and effort was worth it.  The Easter Bunny can keep his Peeps!

I spotted this project in the April 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living.  Though I’m not big on Peeps (Reese’s peanut butter eggs are the best!), I am big on homemade marshmallows, so I had to give them a try.  If you like super fresh, fluffy, gooey marshmallow and crunchy sanding sugar, this one’s for you.

Marshmallow Easter Critters
Yield varies based on cookie cutters used

Ingredients:
Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
2 envelopes (1/4 ounce each) gelatin (1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons)
2/3 cup cold water, plus 1/2 cup room-temperature water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Fine colored sanding sugar, for sprinkling and rolling

Method:
Coat a 9 1/2-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, and dust with confectioners’ sugar, tapping out excess. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in the bowl of a mixer. Let stand for 5 minutes to soften.

Meanwhile, heat granulated sugar and room-temperature water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush. Cook until syrup reaches 238 degrees on a candy thermometer. Stir syrup into softened gelatin, and keep stirring for a few minutes to cool. Whisk on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, 8 to 10 minutes. Whisk in vanilla. Spread mixture into baking sheet using an offset spatula; sprinkle with sanding sugar. Let stand for 1 hour to set.

Cut out marshmallows using your favorite Easter cookie cutters (wipe cutters clean between each cut), and roll cut sides in sanding sugar to coat.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, April 2011

My notes:

  • To account for altitude, I cooked my sugar syrup to 228 degrees instead of 238 degrees.  My marshmallow was pretty soft, though…  We were jokingly calling the treats “Jeeps” (as in a cross between Jigglers and Peeps).  I enjoyed the texture, but I might take the syrup up to 232 or 234 next time to see how the marshmallow changes.  All you sea level people have it so easy. 😉
  • I needed the full 10 minutes to get my marshmallow to soft peaks.
  • If you want your treats to be thoroughly coated in the sanding sugar, make sure you cover the top quickly and well when you initially spread the marshmallow onto the baking sheet.  The sugar is only going to adhere to sticky surfaces, and the exposed marshmallow begins to set within a minute or two.
  • I dipped my cookie cutter in confectioners’ sugar between cuts so I didn’t have to wipe it off for every single treat.  I probably wiped it after every third or fourth cut.
  • I really wanted to use Wilton’s mini Easter cookie cutters for this project, but I couldn’t track down a set.  Instead, I used my smallest Easter-themed cookie cutter, which was a 2-inch-by-3-inch baby chick.  I was able to get 26 treats out of the sheet of marshmallow with quite a few scraps.

Homemade Peeps

Peep Interior

Recipe link: Marshmallow Easter Critters

Coconut-Key Lime Pie

We are slowly and steadily working our way through the leftover party beverages, but I planned a dinner party for last Friday to help speed up the process.  The weather was relatively nice last week, which (1) motivated me to spring clean my grill, and (2) put me in the mood to serve brighter, lighter food for my party.  To keep things relatively stress free, I went with a menu I served to my family last summer: Cilantro Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken, Southwestern Two-Bean Salad, and Hill Country Coleslaw. Watermelon wasn’t going to work as dessert this time around, though, since it’s hardly the season.  I knew several of my guests were coconut fans and that lime would go well with the meal, so I decided to try a recipe from the November 2010 issue of Everyday Food: Coconut-Key Lime Pie.

I actually made the pie twice; I experimented on my family when they came to dinner two Sundays ago (I’m glad they welcome my tests!), and then I served it at the dinner party mentioned above.  I got fantastic results both times, but I have to admit I made a significant substitution.  Knowing that there are 50 calories and 5 grams of fat per tablespoon of heavy cream, I just couldn’t pile 32 tablespoons worth onto my pie.  Couldn’t do it.  I used an 8-ounce container of Cool Whip Lite instead and saved 37 Weight Watchers PointsPlus points for the entire pie.  I would probably dig out the cream if I planned to serve the pie to hardcore foodies, but my guests certainly didn’t have any complaints.  Here’s the recipe:

Easy Press-In Pie Crust
Prep time: 10 minutes | Total time: 20 minutes plus cooling | Yield: One nine-inch pie crust

Ingredients:
6 ounces cookies (about 12 graham crackers, 46 vanilla wafers, or 30 chocolate wafers, such as Famous)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a food processor, pulse cookies until finely ground (you should have about 1 1/2 cups).  Add sugar, salt, and butter and pulse until combined.

Firmly press crumb mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate.  (If using a springform pan, press crumbs halfway up sides.)  Bake until crust is dry and set, about 12 minutes.  Let cool completely in plate on a wire rack before filling.

Coconut-Key Lime Pie
Serves 8

Ingredients:
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (13.5 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup fresh or bottled Key lime juice
7 large egg yolks
1 Easy Press-In Pie Crust, made with graham crackers
2 cups cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

Method:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a medium bowl, whisk together condensed milk, coconut milk, lime juice, and egg yolks until smooth.  Pour into crust and bake until set but still slightly wobbly in center, 40 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, then refrigerate 3 hours (or up to 1 day).

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream and sugar on high until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.  To serve, top pie with whipped cream and sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Source: Everyday Food, November 2010

My notes:

  • When making the crust, I would recommend adding the salt while you’re grinding the graham crackers for the best distribution.  I often enjoy being able to taste the salt in sweet things, but you might want to cut the salt to 1/8 teaspoon if salt isn’t your thing.
  • Beware the unsweetened coconut milk!  I’m used to using sweetened coconut milk, which is pretty smooth and creamy.  The unsweetened, first press stuff is basically chunks and water; I still haven’t figured out how to successfully get it all out of the can without splashing coconut water somewhere.  Also, I would recommend whisking it separately until smooth before adding it to the sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and egg yolks.  My filling came together much more easily when I did this.
  • I’m usually a from-scratch-all-the-way kind of gal, but when the two grocery stores I visited didn’t have key limes, I just went with the bottled stuff (although it was specifically key lime juice, not just lime juice).  One of my guests commented that he wasn’t usually into citrus desserts because the flavor is typically too intense, but he liked the mellow flavor of this pie.  The coconut probably helped as well.
  • My pie needed 45 minutes (instead of 40) at 325 degrees to be reasonably set with a wobbly center.
  • I already mentioned the heavy cream swap.

Coconut Key Lime Pie

This pie is seriously yummy.  The graham cracker crust is divine – sweet, buttery, salty, crunchy – and I love the bright but mellow citrus-coconut filling.  The cream (real or not!) and toasted coconut on top are great textural elements.  This recipe is perfect for summer, for Southwestern or tropical menus, or for any time you need a little sunshine in the form of dessert.  I’ll be making this one again for sure.

Recipe links: Easy Press-In Pie Crust and Coconut Key-Lime Pie

Simple Strawberry Smoothie

Dr. O and I have been in an undeniable breakfast rut.  I love egg sandwiches, but we’ve been eating them for breakfast almost every morning (weekends included) for months and months and months now.  I broke the monotony a bit last week because I needed to use strawberries left over from my party, but my go-to strawberry recipe (oatmeal with macerated strawberries) takes almost 15 minutes. In my quest to find a quick breakfast that would make use of the leftover fruit, I came up with a simple smoothie recipe.  Now that the party berries are gone, I’ve bought more so I can keep making this healthy, filling breakfast.

Simple Strawberry Smoothie
Makes about 20 ounces

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulls removed
1/2 cup milk (I use 1%)
1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, or agave nectar  (or more to taste)
6 ice cubes (exclude if using frozen fruit)

Method:
Combine all ingredients in a blender.  Process on the highest setting until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Simple Strawberry Smoothie

I love this smoothie!  The consistency is just right: thin enough to be drinkable, but thick enough to feel like a satisfying meal.  With just a hint of added sweetener, the flavor of the berries really shines through.  Plus, it’s infinitely adaptable since you can substitute any type of fruit for the strawberries.  I made one yesterday using a banana and some frozen mixed berries I had in the freezer.

The recipe does make enough for two people to share, but I’ll admit that I can put down a whole recipe by myself.  With only 6 Weight Watchers PointsPlus points for the whole smoothie, I figure it’s a great source protein, calcium, and vitamin C and a healthy way to start the day.

TIPS:  If you’re really in a hurry in the mornings, put all of the ingredients (except the ice cubes) in the blender jar the night before, put the lid on, and stash it in the refrigerator.  All you’ll have to do the next morning is blend for two minutes and go.

Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

The March 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged the Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted meringue coffee cake.
_____________________________________________

I very nearly missed this one with all of the craziness leading up to our weekend trip for Dr. O’s birthday, but I didn’t want to skip two months in a row.  Thankfully, this was easy enough to make in an afternoon and it turned out on the first try.

Here are my notes:

  • I made a half recipe.
  • I measured all of my ingredients by weight.
  • I chose my filling based on what I had in the pantry: almonds, dried plums, white chocolate, and cinnamon-sugar.
  • I completely forgot to make the cuts in my cake before baking (I realized this about an hour later after the cake had cooled, of course), but it turned out just fine anyway.
  • I baked my cake for the full 30 minutes at 350°F.
Unbaked Meringue Coffee Cake

Unbaked Meringue Coffee Cake

Baked Meringue Coffee Cake

Baked Meringue Coffee Cake

Sugared Meringue Coffee Cake

Sugared Meringue Coffee Cake

Meringue Coffee Cake Interior

Meringue Coffee Cake Interior

This was a delicious and relatively easy cake.  I especially liked the crunchiness of the almonds and the fact that the cake wasn’t overly sweet.  However, the king cake I made last month is incredibly similar in concept, and I have to say I preferred the king cake.  I liked the crumb of the king cake a bit better and for me, cream cheese filling trumps meringue filling any day.  I loved the versatility of the meringue coffee cake recipe, though, and it was definitely fun to make and compare such similar cakes in a short period of time.

Thanks for a great challenge, Ria and Jamie!

Recipe link: Jamie’s version or Ria’s version




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