Sunday, April 27, 2008

Daring Bakers: Cheesecake Pops

It is here again, the monthly Daring Bakers recipe. Elle said that this month recipe was going to be good, so I was excited to find out what it was. When I found out it was cheesecake pops, I was thrilled.
Last month's Perfect Party Cake was thrown out after a week because no one ate it. Not that they didn't like it, but chocolate always goes faster than cake in this house. So I decided to make half the recipe this month, but how do you half 5 eggs? So I used two. Plus, cheesecake doesn't come in 20 oz containers, so I settled for 16 oz. When I started mixing, I was a little scared. Did I have enough eggs in the batter? Was it going to rise? Was it going to taste like cheesecake?
Well, it rose, then fell. I cooled it and tried rolling into balls. It didn't go so well. A lot of the cake ended up on my hands. I froze them overnight. In the morning, I melted dark and milk chocolates and then rolled the little balls in chocalote, covering them with sprinkles. Oh and then I bit into one of them.
Oh it was heaven! Plus, no disasters again this month. Whew! I just don't know if I can share.

For the Cheesecake Pop recipe visit Deborah's Taste and Tell.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Spring Soup

In Texas, spring and summer doesn't usually mean soup. It means tomates, bar-b-que and grilling, but I'm not a normal Texan. I use to be a vegetarian and still have those tendancies. So when I make a weekly menu, I try to include one or two.
When I went through recipes this week, I looked into Super Natural Cooking, a cookbook I bought when I was a vegetarian. One that I rarely looked at the past couple of months. However, with a new vegan friend I'm trying to cook for her, too because I know how hard it is to be a vegan in Texas. It is now turning into weekly Saturdays meals before our long runs on Sundays. But tonight is Friday, why am I cooking vegetarian?
Because fresh vegetables go bad quickly and with them in the fridge I decided to go to the cookbook to find my next meal. What I found was Heidi's Spring Ministrone. It looked perfect for a light meal and tasted great. Next dish, BLT's when tomatoes are ripe.

Spring Ministrone
(Adopted from Super Natural cooking)
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup rice
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
1/2 lb asparagus
1/4 lb snap or sugar peas
1/4 cup peas

Saute garlic in olive oil in a pot, after the aroma permeates the kitchen, toast the rice. Add stock and water, cook rice for about 35-45 minutes. After rice is cooked, add vegetables, cook them until tender. Season salt and pepper. Serve.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Blogging by Mail

Dear Dani,
Thank you for the package. It had quite a trip. First, it was to be sent to my Alabama address, then changed to an austin address. But by the time it arrived in Austin, my boyfriend and I had broken up so it made an extra trip to Dallas.
Oh and the things that you love, I love too! Especially the chocolate covered pretezels, I almost died! I couldn't get enough of them! Too bad I don't have a Trader Joe's in Texas! Pretty sad! And the Crab Chips tasted like the crab I had in D.C. last august. It just reminded me so much of being reluctant to shuck the crabs, but they were already dead! I haven't made any of the dips yet, but they look yummy as well! Oh and I use the mug every morning, its wonderful!
I know you are getting ready for your wedding, Congratulations! So I wanted to give you a healthy recipe that I'm sure you'll love!
I'm a pasta and pizza addict. Sometimes I wonder if I'm not Italian, but I'm more Eastern European than anything. So I always look for healthy recipes for pasta dishes. So looking in the fridge today, I found Italian turkey sausages. So I decided to make a meat sauce with that. It was yummy! Hope you enjoy!

Jerry M. Allison

Turkey Tomato Sauce and Pasta

2 turkey sausages or 1/2 lb ground turkey
1/4 c chopped carrots
1/4 c chopped celery
1/4 onion, chopped
garlic cloves (up to you the number of cloves)
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 small can of tomato sauce
italian seasoning
salt, pepper
red pepper (optional)
Whatever pasta you like

Cook sausages or ground turkey in deep sauce pan with seasoning and red pepper. Once it starts to brown add vegetables and garlic, cook until tender. Then add stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce to sauce pan. Let simmer for about an hour or longer.
While sauce is cooking, boil water and add pasta. Cook until tender, then drain. You can either add the pasta to the sauce, or plate the pasta and put sauce on top. Serve.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

LiveSTRONG with a Taste Of Yellow

I've run past Lance Armstrong in Austin. I've seen him in person at UT for a CNN Fit Nation tapping. I've heard the stories of his ego. My friends and I don't like him very much. But his foundation LiveSTRONG is huge.
You might not see a lot of yellow bracelets around anymore, but thousands come out for Armstong's Race event in Austin every fall. He is the man of cancer. He is the stand out. But if we look around, we'll see thousands others who have survived. They give hope to others fighting the battle currently.
I am lucky my mother has survived cancer. They caught it early and because it was in Stage 1, only surgery was needed. But she continues blood tests every 6 month to make sure it isn't back. Soon I will be doing the same as a precaution because doctors have told her I may have it one day, too. So I am a possible survivor.
So to celebrate the survivors, I have choosen to go away from the sweets like many others go to and make an entree. Rather a Lemon Chicken recipe I created last year. It consists of a few ingredients and its baked. An easy, healthy dinner. Perfect for one or many. Make it for the survivor in your life and let them know how much they mean to you.

Spring Lemon Chicken
2 chicken breasts
olive oil
lemon slices

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place aluminum foil in baking dish. Pick fresh herbs or use dry. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper, top with herbs. Drizzle olive oil over and place lemon slices on top. Bake for about 45 minutes, let rest 5 minutes. Serve.

To Learn More about the LiveSTRONG challenge visit:

Friday, April 11, 2008

Finding Home

Austin is my second home. I moved here when I was 18 years old and I automatically transitioned into life here. The liberal, free spirit embraced me. In my second semester in school, I was at Posse East, chilling with friends and a waiter told me that "I looked happy and that I fit into the Austin scene." I smiled. I had finally found a home that would accept me for being wild and a little crazy.
Now back here for the second time sense the break up and I fill that sense of home I first felt. As a friend told me, "Your ex might have broken up with you, but Austin didn't." And I feel now like the city hasn't. I have friends here, I still have a life here. I have Townlake, the Farmer's Market, and my yoga studio. Those haven't left. They are still here.
As, I come to realize this today, I also realize that I have grown so much in the past month. Things I wouldn't have done before I am doing now. Like drumming, dancing, eating weird things, making new friends. I am allowing myself to explore and see life and I haven't been happier. I do not regret anything, these mistakes are what I needed. Whatever happens, happens.
So tonight in my friends kitchen, I make Lemon Risotto. A twist on my new favorite dish. Of course you can't just have risotto for dinner. I chatted up the cute boy at Whole Foods on a salad. He agreed that my thoughts of a spinach, strawberries, candied pecans, and cheese. So off I went around the store to get everything.
Went home and immediately again made my friends kitchen my own. Started the risotto, made the salad dressing, and stirred the rice. I was in my zone. The scent of the rice and broth wafted through the apartment. My friend and I sat down and ate the meal, enjoying wine, a nice meal, and good company. To me that is home.

Lemon risotto
(adapted from Bon Appetit)
3 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

Meltbutter with oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine and stir until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cups hot broth; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is creamy and tender, about 35 minutes. Stir in cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in lemon juice and lemon peel. Season risotto with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Rabbit Food

I love salads! Of course something more than just lettuce or greens. Like apples, cranberries and blue cheese. Or salsa, cheese, and tortilla chips. I haven't had a lot of salads lately. Often the question was where is the meat?
As a former vegetarian/vegan, I have no problem excluding meat. So now I'm back to salads. And yes they do include meat.
Last week, I was playing ideas in my head for a new salad. I had a craving for blue cheese, pecans, and cranberries. However, I often don't get enough meat, so I always try to have some sort of protein during the day. So I knew I needed to add that to the salad.
What did I come up with?
A pecan-encrusted chicken with cranberries and blue cheese drizzled with a raspberry vinaigrette. I had floated around the idea of a balsamic vinaigrette, but I had no Dijon mustard and no shallots. So I came up with the raspberry, which personally I loved.
It was a hit at the dinner table. Every plate was empty. I almost licked mine, but refrained. Now I need to come up with an exciting vegan meal?

Pecan Encrusted Chicken Salad with Cranberries, Blue Cheese and Raspberry Vinaigrette

1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup bread crumbs
garlic powder

1 Tbsp raspberry jelly
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
salt pepper

mixed greens
blue cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Marinate the chicken in buttermilk for at least 30 minutes, can be longer. While marinating, mix pecans, bread crumbs, and spices to your liking. After marinating the chicken, encrust chicken with pecan mixture. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes.

While chicken is baking, whisk together jelly, vinegar, and oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When chicken is done, let rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting. Mix greens, cranberries and blue cheese in bowl and then put on plates. Add chicken on top of the salad mixture, then drizzle with dressing. Serve.