Sunday, July 29, 2012

Italian Cream Cake

I have made this cake maybe four or five times now.  It was a hit at my family's Sunday dinner, and a hit at my uncle's 50th birthday party too.  I also made it for my friend Kristin's ( 30th birthday celebration.  My brother recently requested this cake for his birthday cake, so I was more than happy to make it.  This recipe comes from my Cooking Light Way to Bake cook book.

For the cake you'll need:
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons cake flour
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
8 ounces cake flour (about 2 cups)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 large egg whites

For the frosting you'll need:
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat the bottoms of 2 (9 inch) round cake pans with cooking spray, wax paper, more cooking spray, and dust 1 teaspoon on each pan.  I don't know why they are asking for wax paper after already coating the bottoms of the pans with cooking spray, but I never like taking chances so I follow the recipe each time.  I would hate to get this delicious cake stuck to pans. 

Place 1/3 butter in a large bowl and beat with a mixer at medium speed until creamy.

Gradually add granulated sugar, beating well.

Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Combine 8 ounces flour, baking soda, and salt to a large bowl; stir well.  Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.   

Stir in pecans, coconut extract, and vanilla extract.

Beat egg whites with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form.

Fold egg whites into batter.  Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake for 23 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool.  Wait for the pans to be cool, then remove cakes from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

To prepare frosting, place 1 tablespoon butter and cream cheese in a large bowl;  beat with mixer at high speed until fluffy.  Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until smooth (don't over beat).  Add 1 teaspoon vanilla;  beat well.

Place 1 cake layer on a plate;  spread with one-third of frosting.  Top with remaining cake layer.  Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Cinnamon Graham Cracker Ice Cream

So I tried to use my ice cream maker last week and I should have read the directions because I did not get to use it at that time.  So the next time I make ice cream I will now know not to put the ingredients in before I put the part that actually churns the ice cream.  I thought this ice cream turned out well with out the ice cream maker so if you don't have one, don't worry.

You'll need:
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
12 oz. non-fat plain Greek yogurt (or any plain vanilla yogurt would work too)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large rectangular graham crackers, broken into pieces
2 1.4-oz. bars chocolate-covered toffee, broken into small bits

Beat the heavy cream in a large bowl until thick (2-3 minutes).

Fold in yogurt, vanilla, honey, maple syrup, and cinnamon.

Pour into ice cream maker, and add remaining ingredients a couple minutes before the ice cream is fully thickened.  Pour into a 1 1/2-quart freezer-safe bowl with a lid and chill until hardened.

Or you can put the original mixture in a freezer-safe bowl and freeze for 2 hours.  Stir the mixture and add the graham crackers and toffee bits.  Continue to stir it every 2 hours, for up to 6 hours.  Then chill until hardened.

Then eat and enjoy!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Cake from Penzeys Catalog

Many people, including myself wondered how vegans made cakes with out eggs.  Every recipe I have used to make cake or cupcakes I had to use eggs.  Eggs create that stickiness so all the ingredients get combined, right?  Yes, I believe so.  When I have made vegan cupcakes in replace of eggs I would use applesauce or canned pumpkin (depending on the recipe).  This recipe didn't call for any of that.  It came out very yummy, moist but not overly moist, and the frosting was sweet but not overly sweet.  It was the best chocolate cake I have ever made thus far.  It was also the easiest. 

This recipe is from the Penzeys catalog.  One thing I forgot to mention in a previous post is that the catalog has recipes in it from the Penzeys customers, and every catalog has new recipes.  :-)

What you'll need for the cake:

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons of Penzeys Dutch Cocoa Powder
2/3 cup vegetable oil (it's suggested to use canola)
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons Penzeys Double Strength Pure Vanilla Extract
2 cups water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9"x13" pan.  In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cocoa.
In a second bowl, combine oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water.
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.
                               (I love how it bubbled from the combination of vinegar and baking soda.)

Pour into the pan and bake until the cake is firm in the center and begins to pull away from pan, about 35-40 minutes.  I think I had my timer at 38 minutes and a toothpick came out clean from the middle.

For the icing:
4 tablespoons oil (canola)
4 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons sifted cocoa powder 
2 cups sifted powdered sugar

Using a double boiler, heat the water and oil to boiling (it won't come to a rolling boil, but bubbles will appear).
Remove from heat. Blend in the cocoa and sugar.
Beat until smooth.
Pour over the cake, spreading the icing to the edges, and let it cool.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Grilled Scallops and Grilled Aspargus

Last Sunday I made grilled scallops and grilled asparagus for dinner.  I found the recipe from a Penzeys Spices catalog.  I love Penzeys, their spices have a much more fragrant smell and stronger taste than McCormick.  If there's a Penzeys close to where you live, I highly recommend buying spices from them.  The supermarket brands just don't have the same zing.

Anyway, here's the recipe.  Enjoy!

Grilled Scallops:
8 large sea scallops, rinsed well (You can probably use as many as twelve though.)
4 teaspoons sugar substitute or 2 teaspoons regular sugar (I used the regular sugar.)
2-3 fresh garlic cloves, minced or 1/2-3/4 teaspoons Penzeys Minced Garlic (I used the regular cloves)
2 green onions, minced
1 teaspoon Hungarian-Style Sweet Paprika (Penzeys)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4-1 teaspoon ground pepper to taste

Wash scallops and pat dry.  Brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Combine the sugar or sugar alternative, garlic, green onions, paprika, 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper.  Mix well.

Heat your grill or grill pan to high heat.

Carefully place the scallops on the grill for 3-5 minutes per side (or if you have a double sided grill like mine shown above, 3-5 minutes total), basting generously and frequently with the prepared sauce.  You want the scallops lightly browned on each side.  Be careful not to leave them on too long.  They should be firm but not overcooked, which can make them rubbery.

Grilled Asparagus:
1 lb. bunch asparagus
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Sunny Spain or Florida Seasoned Pepper (both from Penzeys, I used Sunny Spain)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

The asparagus should cook on the cooler side of your grill.  If you have a grill with a side burner, you should use that.  Place an open-holed vegetable pan on the grill to heat or be ready to chase the asparagus around the regular grill top as it tries to fall through!  Rinse asparagus and trim off the woody ends.  Combine the cheese and seasoning, set aside.  Spray or brush the asparagus with olive oil and lay in the pan or on the grill top in a single layer.  Char slightly, moving the pan around to cook evenly, or turning a few times with tongs.  Remove when done and place in a casserole dish.  While still hot, lightly sprinkle with the cheese mix so that the cheese melts onto the asparagus.  Cover with foil.  Lay another batch of asparagus on the grill and repeat the process.  Serve warm.

Since I don't have an outdoor grill and the scallop sauce made a mess on my little indoor grill I used a deep frying pan.  I put the 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and let it warm.  I then put in the asparagus and cooked it until it was soft but not mushy.

Once finished, I put it in a casserole dish and tossed with seasoned cheese topping.

The whole meal came out great and I will definitely be making this again in the future. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

No-Sugar Apricot Applesauce

Yesterday afternoon I decided to finally try this yummy sounding applesauce recipe.  It's from  The Everything Vegan Cookbook.   It was very easy to make, and came out delicious! I highly recommend using all the spices listed below if you like a bold spicy flavor. 

You'll need:
6 apples (the recipe says you don't have to peel them but your applesauce won't be as smooth, I peeled my apples)
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
4 dates, chopped
Cinnamon to taste (optional)
Nutmeg to taste (optional)
Pumpkin Pie Spice to taste (optional)

First you'll want to peel, core, and chop the apples.

Add the apples and 1/3 cup of water to a large soup or stock pot and bring to a low boil.  Simmer, covered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  I know it sounds like a very small amount of water but the water from the apples leaks out once covered.

Next add chopped apricots and dates to the pot and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
After that you can either mash the fruit in the pot with a potato masher or large fork.  Another option is to put the fruit in a food processor and puree until smooth or desired consistency is reached.

I put the spices in before the sauce was completely pureed, just to get an all over even taste, but you could sprinkle as much on once you are finished.

The recipe makes about 4 cups. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Barley Casserole

Hello, last Sunday night I made a barley casserole, a recipe from Chloe's Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli.  She was on Cupcake Wars on the Food Network and won in the episode she was in.  I never saw that episode and only watch the Food Network occasionally because it makes me hungry when I watch it too much. 

Anyway, here's the recipe, Barley Bliss Casserole (serves 8):

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
8 ounces baby bella or crimini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced (I used baby bella)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1.5 cups pearled barley
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2.5 cups soy, almond, or rice milk (I used unsweetened vanilla flavored Almond Milk from Trader Joe's)
2 cups water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and saute onions, green peppers, and mushrooms until soft and lightly browned.

Add garlic powder, thyme, salt, and pepper and let cook a few more minutes.
Transfer vegetables to a 9" x 13" pan.  Gently stir in tomatoes, beans, barley, nutritional yeast, non-dairy milk, and water.  The pan will be very full (and it was).
Cover pan with foil and carefully place in the oven.  Let cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, and then remove the foil.
Let bake, uncovered, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for 20 to 30 minutes more (I kept it in for 30 minutes), or until barley is cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
It turned out great and heated up in the microwave well the next day.  If you prefer dairy milk instead I'm sure it'll taste just fine.