Thursday, March 25, 2010

So much sugar....

It has been brought to my attention recently that I have never posted my b.t.s. cake recipe. Basically, I was told it was complete selfishness on my part to not share.

I am asked to make this cake for nearly every social function I host. And, there is never any left. Ever.

Some recipes out there make a golden b.t.s. cake, they involve pineapple and yellow cake. If I am making a sinfully delicious cake I am not messing around with any fruity flavors. If we are gonna do this, we are doing it right- chocolate, carmel, more chocolate, toffee, and.... oh yea! more chocolate.

Bake, present cake, sit back and watch people go into a sugar induced coma with the happiest mouths ever. :)

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Better Than Sex Cake (BTS cake)
Serves 16-20
Calories- you don't wanna know honey...

1 German chocolate or devils food cake mix
1 1/2 cups special dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips- divided
1 can sweetened condensed milk
8 oz cool whip
1 cup toffee or heath candy bar bits
carmel topping

Preheat oven to 350.

Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Add about 1/4 cup flour. Shake all over pan to apply a thin coat. Empty extra flour out into garbage.

Mix batter according to package directions.

Bake 10 minutes. Sprinkle with 1 cup of chocolate chips over cake. Finish baking until done.

While cake is still warm, using a wooden handled cooking spoon, poke holes over cake. Pour milk over entire cake. Cool completely.

Spread a thin layer of carmel over the cake. I usually end up using about 1/4-1/3 cup.

Chop remaining chips and toffee bits together. Fold HALF into the cool whip. Top cake with cool whip.

Just before serving, sprinkle remaining bits over the top of the cake.

* Baker's note: I have made this recipe using reduced sugar cake mix, special dark chips, fat free sweetened condensed milk, reduced sugar carmel, and sugar free cool whip. It still flew out of the pan.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lets spice things up a bit!

I love a little kick in my food. Not enough for it to kick back, but enough to know there's some heat there.

I am a big fan of enchiladas. There are almost as many recipes out there as there are people in the world. As a person who is eating lighter, healthier meals, it can be very difficult to find an enchilada recipe that matches my dietary needs and is still tasty.

I am still rather active on a website called and search for recipes daily. I stumbled upon this delightful little recipe from a user named TALESIN. It's a three cheese enchilada that is friendly on both financial and calorie budgets.

I did tweak it slightly, only because I am not a fan of raw onions and I like to shred my own cheese. If you prefer, you can leave the onions raw and use shredded Mexican Four cheese. If you use the four cheese, it will change the calorie count.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Three Cheese Enchiladas
Serves 6
131 calories per enchilada

6 (6-inch) Azteca Corn Tortillas
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup fat-free cottage cheese
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta
1 can (10 ounces) enchilada sauce
1 Tbsp diced green chilies

Soften the tortillas. Normally, tortillas are softened by lightly frying them in hot oil. Skinny enchiladas skips this step...and all the fat!

Spray a pan with cooking spray. Saute onion until soft. Remove from pan to cool.

Pour the enchilada sauce in a skillet and heat. Dip each tortilla in the hot sauce, coating each side, for a few seconds. Shake off and place on microwavable platter, 3 or 4 at a time, making sure that they do not overlap. Microwave for 20-40 seconds, until soft. (Time will vary according to your microwave oven.) Set aside to cool.

In a bowl mix onion, ricotta, cottage cheese, diced green chilies, salt and pepper to taste. Add half the shredded cheese. Mix with fork until ingredients are blended.

Spray a rectangular casserole dish with non-stick spray.

Place approximately 1/6 of the cheese mixture on a tortilla and loosely roll. Place seam side down in casserole dish. Repeat until all tortillas are filled. Spread remaining enchilada sauce evenly over the enchiladas.

Bake for 15 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F.

After 15 minutes, remove and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Return to oven for 10 more minutes.

Let set 5-10 minutes before serving.

Monday, March 15, 2010

On the hunt...

I am always on the hunt for new recipes. I came across a lightened version of chicken cordon bleu in the readers digest this month. Jon and I gave it a try. It was wonderful.

As usual, I tweaked it slightly to fit our likes. I also decreased the amount from four servings to two. Jon requested it go in the saved files to have again. :)

Be sure to read the entire recipe as the sauce must be prepared ahead of time.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Chicken Cordon Bleu
Serves 2
349 calories per

1/4 cup evaporated skim milk
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 1/2 TBS chopped fresh scallions
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Nonstick cooking spray

2 chicken cutlets (4 oz. each), pounded very thin
1 1/2 oz. thinly sliced lean ham (from the deli counter)
2 1/2 TBS flour
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 TBS seasoned bread crumbs
2 large egg whites

In small saucepan, whisk evaporated milk into cornstarch. Bring milk mixture to boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until mixture has thickened, about 1 minute. Then whisk cheese into sauce until melted and smooth. Whisk in chives, garlic, and salt/pepper to taste.

Spray ice cube tray with cooking spray and divide cheese sauce equally among 4 cube holes. Freeze sauce until hard, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place wire rack on foil-lined baking sheet. Set aside.

Lay chicken cutlets on work surface and season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange ham slices over chicken. Remove frozen cheese sauce cubes from trays, using a fork if necessary to pry them out. Place 2 cubes in center of each piece of chicken. Roll up chicken to encase filling, and secure each package with 2 toothpicks.

Put flour in shallow dish. Mix bread crumbs in another shallow dish. In medium bowl, whip egg whites with whisk until they are extremely foamy but not holding peaks.

Working in batches, dredge chicken bundles in flour, shaking off any excess. Dip into egg whites to coat completely. Then dredge in bread crumbs to coat completely.

Place chicken bundles on wire rack. Spray chicken lightly with cooking spray and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bake until breading is golden brown and crispy outside and cheese sauce is fully melted, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Into the looking glass

I've been cooking a lot of new things lately.

My cooking has always been a looking glass for the way I feel, inside. Some days it's chaotic, other days it's very simple and clean.

The last few weeks I've been feeling very courageous. I can't wait to get in the kitchen and try new things. It's a genuine reflection of how I feel. I am ready for adventure and to try the unknown.

My great exploration of life is in full swing, so it only makes sense that my culinary exploration has followed suit.

The recipe I have today was named by my husband. It's a little long, but he was very excited to contribute. So, Shrimp and Crab Wonton Flowers it is. :)

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Shrimp and Crab Wonton Flowers
Makes 24
56 calories per flower

24 square wonton skins/wraps
1 TBS butter, melted
1 (6oz) can medium shrimp, drained and roughly chopped
1 (6oz) can white crab meat, drained
2 small scallions, finely chopped
1/4 cup carrot, finely grated
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp salt
Dash of Franks hot sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F)

With a pastry brush, lightly brush both sides of each wonton square with melted butter and gently press into muffin cups.

Bake 8 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Remove from oven. Leave in muffin tin.

While the cups are baking, combine cream cheese and remaining ingredients, mixing well.

Using a small spoon or scoop, fill each baked wonton cup with a rounded scoop of shrimp mixture.

Once all the cups are full, bake for 5 to 6 minutes, or until filling is hot and bubbling around edges.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A taste of vacation

When my husband and I were in Florida in January we went to Fisherman's Village. It's a collection of little shops and restaurants down at the fishing pier. There were giant, beautiful yachts lining the docks. It was fun to think about what those boats had seen on the open ocean.

As we wondered through the shops we happened upon a small kiosk in the middle of the walkway. You couldn't miss it if you wanted to. The aroma of glazed nuts filled the entire area. It was heavenly. The gal was making fresh batches of cinnamon glazed pecans, vanilla glazed almonds, Cajun style mixed nuts, honey glazed cashews and so much more. We tried some samples and brought home two small bags of vanilla almonds and cinnamon almonds. They were a great semi-healthy treat.

When we got home, I got to thinking about making my own glazed almonds. I searched endless food blogs looking for just the right recipe. I finally found one that looked like it was what I wanted.

I made a few changes, as usual :) and whipped up a batch. They turned out AMAZING! The house was filled with the intoxicating aroma of vanilla and toasted almonds. If I could have bottled the smell, I would have. The best part? When I woke up this morning the sweet fragrance was still lingering in the air.

Jon tells me these little puppies won't last long. If I didn't put them in individual baggies, he would be right. These sweet and slightly salty almonds are so easy to pop into your mouth. We will definately be adding these to our holiday snacks list.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures friend. Cheers!

Vanilla Glazed Almonds
Makes 3 cups; Serves 24 (1/8 cup serving)
111 calories per serving

1 ½ TBS butter
4 ½ TBS sugar
3 ½ TBS water
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
3 TBS vanilla extract*
3 cups whole blanched or natural Almonds
1/4 + 2 TBS cup turbinado sugar (Sugar In The Raw)

Preheat the oven to 225°F.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium sized nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the sugar, water, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; then cook, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves, for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Add the almonds and stir to coat.

Spread the almond mixture in a single layer onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Cool slightly and transfer to a large bowl. While still slightly warm, sprinkle with the turbinado sugar and toss to coat.

Spread out on a clean sheet of parchment or foil. Cool completely while stirring occasionally. Store in an airtight container.

* I used 2 TBS of imitation vanilla and 1 TBS of pure vanilla extract.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hunger Pangs

When I get home from work, I like to have a routine. Part of my routine has always been to eat a snack.

It goes back to when I was a kid. After school my brother and I would get home from school, fight over who got to bring in the mail, call Mom to tell her how unfair the fight was, then raid the cupboards. (See, routine! LOL)

Mom and Dad decided that the raids had to end when my brother hit a growth spurt and could eat for weeks on end and never be full. We had a snack bin in the bread box with Little Debbie's, granola bars, fruit snacks, etc. We always called them"treaps" (treats).

Sunday was grocery shopping day; when groceries were being put away it was my job to label the snacks for the week. Each person got a set number of "treaps" and they could only eat the ones with their own initial (M for mom, D for Dad, A for Adam, and B for Becca- pretty cheesy I know. But, it worked.) Once your snacks were gone for the week you were S.O.L.

As an adult I don't label my treaps. With no teenagers in my house yet I only have to worry about my husband and my niece eating my snacks, and they just know better.

My deeply ingrained routine has changed in the last few months. I try not to eat snack when I come home now. Jon gets up at about 4pm. I try to have supper on the table by 5:15pm. He's starving waiting for "breakfast" and I'm starving for my dinner.

Today I was looking for something quick and easy with only a few ingredients. (It's time to buy groceries kiddies) I remembered an old standby I haven't had in a while, chicken Parmesan bake. I used to make it with canned chicken since that was super quick. But, the sodium content can get a bit high if you don't take the time to rinse the chicken. So, I made some changes to make the recipe a bit healthier. It was a true winner. Jon was hovering over the leftovers asking what the plans were for them. :)

Amazing what a few staple ingredients and a little imagination can do for your dinner plate.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Easy Chicken Baked Parmesan
270 Calories per serving
Serves 4

2 cups dry rotini pasta
1/2 cup spaghetti sauce
9 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/3 cup part skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 tsp dry Italian seasoning
salt and pepper

Dice chicken into small bite sized chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Saute, with garlic, in a hot skillet sprayed with cooking spray. Cook until no longer pink.

Cook pasta in lightly salted water. Drain. Return to pot.

Add chicken, sauce, and cheeses to pasta. Stir until well mixed.

Pour into a small casserole dish that has been lightly prepared with cooking spray.

Mix seasoning into breadcrumbs.Top with bread crumbs.

Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 20 minutes to warm through and toast bread crumbs.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sunshine on my shoulders...

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high

If I had a day that I could give you
I’d give to you a day just like today
If I had a song that I could sing for you
I’d sing a song to make you feel this way

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high

If I had a tale that I could tell you
I’d tell a tale sure to make you smile
If I had a wish that I could wish for you
I’d make a wish for sunshine all the while

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high
Sunshine almost all the time makes me high
Sunshine almost always

Words by John Denver, Music by John Denver, Dick Kniss and Mike Taylor


This song popped into my head today as I was watching the sunshine stream through the windows at work. It was beautiful.

I needed to see the sun today. As a woman who loves the idea of sunshine 80% of the year, today was a welcome break from the cold, gray skies, and snow that usually blankets this part of the country. It was unseasonably warm, 40 degrees today!

So what to do on a beautiful mock spring day? (I say mock because we will inevitably get another giant blast of snow before spring actually arrives.)

I will be re-potting a few plants that desperately need new pots, opening up the kitchen window to let some fresh air in and let the stale air out (with the heat running...), and do some spring(ok mid-winter) cleaning while the gettin' is good. Then, at my husband's request we will grill for dinner.

It's shaping up to be a busy day. I like busy days. It means it's not so frigid outside that my eyelashes will freeze in 2 minutes. It means there is hope on the horizon.

Enjoy your day knowing that the sun does still shine, even if it's only in a song for today.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend.

Grilled Pizza Chicken
(Grill version of previously posted recipe)
Serves 3
241 cal per serving

12 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, part skim
2 cloves garlic, minced
black pepper
dry Italian seasoning

Cut chicken into 3 equal pieces about 4 oz each. Pound thin. Rub with garlic. Sprinkle with pepper and Italian seasoning.

Rub the grate of a grill with oil. Heat grill to medium high heat.

Place chicken on grate. Cook halfway through, about 5 minutes.

Move chicken to one side of the grill. Lay a piece of foil on the grill. Place, grilled-side up, on foil. Top with sauce and cheese. Close lid. Grill 8 min. or until chicken is done.

Serve with grilled potatoes.

To make grilled potatoes: par boil baby fingerling potatoes in lightly salted water. Toss lightly in olive oil. Season with garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Wrap loosely in foil. Grill until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.