Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: brownies

I am sharing with you some of my most favorite and popular party foods. They will quickly disappear. Try some of them for your next get-together.

Mixed Olives, Sliced Cheese and Breadsticks

Serve with your favorite cheese, cut into slices, and breadsticks.

Olives

1 cup mixed Italian olives
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped mixed fresh herbs, (flat-leaf parsley, basil, oregano)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

To prepare the olives:

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and let sit for 1 hour. Serve at room temperature. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Deviled Eggs and Smoked Salmon

Ingredients

6 large eggs
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup finely chopped celery
¼ cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
6 oz smoked salmon slices
2 tablespoons chopped chives

Directions

Place the eggs in a saucepan just large enough to hold the six eggs. Cover with cold water and place the pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and cover the saucepan.

Let the eggs rest in the hot water for 12 minutes. Drain the water from the pot and add some ice cubes and cold water to cover the cooked eggs.

Let them cool until you can handle the eggs without burning your fingers.

Gently tap the eggs in several places and remove the shells. Place the peeled eggs on paper towels to dry.

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Carefully remove the yolks and place in a mixing bowl. Mash the yolks with a fork. Add the onion, celery, mayonnaise, mustard and salt and pepper. Mix well.

With a spoon fill each egg where the yolk had been with some of the mixture.

Place the eggs on a platter and chill.

To serve:

Arrange the eggs and salmon on a serving platter. Sprinkle chives over both and serve.

Asian Meatballs

To make this ahead: cook the meatballs and prepare the sauce separately. Refrigerate separately until serving time. Then reheat the sauce, add the meatballs and cook until the meatballs are hot. Pour into a serving bowl.

For the Meatballs

1 lb organic ground pork
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup almond flour
1 egg
Peanut oil

For the Sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil
6 tablespoon unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
4 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
1 tablespoon Gochujang (red chili paste)
1/2 cup water
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions

To make the meatballs:

Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.

Using a cookie scoop form into 21-22 one inch balls and saute in peanut oil over medium heat until cooked through and crispy. Drain on paper towels.

To make the sauce:

Combine the sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauces, chili paste, water, sugar and arrowroot in a small saucepan. Reserve the scallions.

Whisk until combined and bring to a boil.

Simmer for five minutes until thickened.

To serve:

Add the cooked meatballs and scallions to the thickened sauce and stir to coat. Heat for a few minutes. Pour into a shallow serving dish.

Tuna Dip

Serve with fresh celery and carrot sticks and thinly cut radish rounds.

Makes 8 servings.

8-ounces canned tuna
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup chopped red onion
3/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tablespoon capers, washed and drained
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, onion, parsley, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

Place the tuna in a food processor and pulse to break it up.

Turn the speed to low-speed and add the olive oil mixture, a little at a time, until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and the mixture is smooth.

Pour into a small serving bowl and chill. Serve with fresh-cut vegetables and crackers on the side.

Mediterranean Bruschetta

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for the bread
1 clove minced garlic
2 large tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped oil cured Italian olives
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1 baguette, cut diagonally into 1/4 inch-thick slices

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl; except the bread slices. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Lightly grill the bread slices and then brush them with olive oil. Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of the tomato mixture onto each bread slice and arrange on a serving plate.

Brownies

Ingredients

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon cold leftover brewed coffee
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

Position rack in the lower third of the oven and heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Use an 8 by 8 silicone baking pan or line a similar sized metal or glass baking dish with foil or parchment paper so it hangs over the edges by about 1 inch. Spray the prepared pan completely with cooking spray.

Put the butter, oil and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat at 75 percent power for 2 minutes. Stir and microwave again until completely melted, about 2 minutes more. (Alternatively put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1 inch of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, not touching, the water, and stir occasionally until melted and smooth.)

Stir the brown and white sugars, vanilla and salt into the chocolate mixture with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs and coffee and beat vigorously by hand until fully incorporated and the batter is thick and glossy. Add the cocoa, flour and baking soda and stir just until it disappears.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake until the top is crispy and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with a few crumbs, about 30 minutes (40 minutes if not using a silicone pan).

Cool the brownies in the pan on the counter. Lift brownies out of the pan by the foil, if needed. Peel off the foil and cut into 16-2-inch squares.

Store extra brownies in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to 3 days.


A low-carb diet is a diet that restricts carbohydrates, such as those found in sugary foods, pasta and bread. It is high in protein, fat and healthy vegetables. A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Some people who eliminate gluten from their diet end up following a low-carbohydrate diet, but not always. Many people who follow a low-carb lifestyle do eliminate gluten because they choose to keep their carbohydrates low. However, they are not the same. A gluten-free diet does not ensure one is on the right plan to lose body fat. A low-carb lifestyle does not ensure one is avoiding gluten. However, with a little label reading, the two can work well together in managing health and long-term weight management.

These recipes are made to fit a gluten-free/low carb diet. They are made with nut or gluten-free flours . In order to keep the recipes low carb you must eliminate regular sugar and use a sugar substitute. If you only want a gluten-free recipe, then you can use regular sugar. Either way, I can tell you that they all taste very good.

Lemon Ginger Scones

Makes 8 scones

Dry Ingredients

2 ½ cups almond flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute or sugar substitute blend, divided
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Lemon zest from 2 lemons, divided

Wet Ingredients

3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream, divided
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with sides with parchment paper.

Mix the 2 tablespoons of sugar substitute with half of the lemon zest in a small bowl and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the almond flour, ¼ cup sugar substitute, the ginger, salt, baking soda and the remaining lemon zest.

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, eggs, ¼ cup cream and vanilla.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Turn the mixture out onto a cutting board dusted with almond flour. Pat into a half-inch thick round.

Brush the top of the dough with the 1 tablespoon cream and sprinkle the dough evenly with the sugar/lemon zest mixture. Cut the dough into 8 equal triangles.

Carefully place them on the prepared pan. Bake in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. These scones freeze well.

Coffee Nut Muffins

Makes 12

Ingredients

1 cup pecan flour (meal), divided
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup soy flour
1/4 cup sugar or sugar substitute or sugar substitute blend
1/4 cup whey protein powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (4 oz) sour cream
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules

Topping

1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
2 tablespoons brown sugar or brown sugar substitute

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or coat with cooking spray.

Stir together the brown sugar substitute and chopped pecans. Set aside.

Dissolve the coffee granules in the brewed coffee and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the pecan flour, almond flour, soy flour, sugar substitute, protein powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a medium bowl, beat with a hand mixer the sour cream with the butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs. Then beat in the coffee mixture.

With a wide spatula, fold the coffee mixture into the nut flour mixture. thoroughly combine.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups and sprinkle each with the topping.

Bake 25-30 minutes, or until set and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the muffins cool in the pan for ten minutes and then remove them to a wire rack.

Low Carb Gluten Free Brownies

Ingredients

1/2 cup (3.5 oz) sugar-free milk chocolate squares (I use Lily brand)
1/2 cup (3.5 oz) sugar-free dark chocolate chips (I use Lily brand)
2/3 cup (5 ¼ oz) butter
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar or sugar substitute or sugar substitute blend
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Pinch of salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Line the bottom of an 8×8 or 7×11 baking dish with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray.

Put the chocolate and chocolate chips in a saucepan with the butter and melt them together. Add the vanilla. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool slightly.

With a hand mixer beat the sugar substitute and eggs (about 2-3 minutes until the mixture is creamy). Add the chocolate mixture and stir.

Gradually stir in the almond flour, salt and baking powder.

Fold the nuts into the mixture and pour into the prepared pan. Spread the mixture evenly in the pan.

Bake for about 45 minutes until the mixture is no longer wiggly and beginning to crack in the middle. Remove the pan from the oven to a wire rack to cool.

When cool, cut into small squares.


homemadegifts

When it comes to giving this holiday season, be creative and make a truly personal gift for your friends and family. Homemade mixes are also one of the best Christmas gifts. There’s nothing like a homemade food gift, beautifully packaged along with recipe cards, to add warmth to the holidays.

homemadegifts1

Almond Granola

Makes about 8 cups

  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 cups raw almonds, sliced

Directions

Adjust the oven rack to an upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and cinnamon in large bowl. Whisk in oil. Fold in oats and almonds until thoroughly coated.

Transfer oat mixture to prepared baking sheet, spread across sheet into a thin, even layer (about 3/8-inch thick). Using a stiff metal spatula, compress oat mixture until very compact.

Bake until lightly browned, 50 minutes, rotating pan once halfway through baking. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 1 hour. Break into pieces of desired size and package in decorative containers for gifts.

homemadegifts2

Apple Tea Mix

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons loose green tea
  • 2 tablespoons snipped crystallized ginger
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 6 dried apple slices
  • 6 3-inch cinnamon sticks

Directions
In a small bowl combine tea, crystallized ginger, allspice and cloves. Divide tea mixture and dried apple slices among six paper tea filters. Tie the tops of the filters with kitchen string, tying a cinnamon stick at the top of each. Place filled tea filters inside six decorative heat-proof mugs.

Attach the following directions for serving:

To Make Spiced Apple Tea: Add 6 to 8 ounces of hot water to one mug. Add a tea bag and let steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and discard the tea bag. Place cinnamon stick in the mug and serve.

homemadegifts3

Hazelnut Brownie Mix

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ounces milk or dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts
  • 1/3 cup mini marshmallows

Directions

In a 1-quart decorative  jar layer sugar, cocoa powder and chopped chocolate. In a small bowl stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Spoon over chocolate in the jar. Top with hazelnuts and marshmallows; fasten lid.

Attach the following directions for making brownies.

To Make Brownies:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over the edges of the pan. Grease the foil; set pan aside.

In a large bowl whisk together 2/3 cup melted butter and 3 eggs until well combined. Add the contents of the jar to the butter mixture; stir until well combined. Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes. (Moist crumbs will remain attached to wooden toothpick inserted near center of brownies). Cool brownies in the pan on a wire rack. Use foil to lift uncut brownies out of the pan. Place on a cutting board. Cut into bars.

homemadegifts4

Coconut-Pecan Muffin Mix

Makes: 1 gift (4½ cups)

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • One 7-ounce package sweetened shredded coconut (2 2/3 cups)
  • 3/4 cup pecans (chopped)
  • 12 muffin paper cup liners

Directions
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugars and salt. Mix in the coconut and pecans.
Transfer the mix to a resealable decorative paper bag.  Wrap with ribbon and affix with a label and a gift tag with the baking instructions.

Copy the following instructions on a gift tag or label to include with your gift:

“Heat oven to 350º F. In a large bowl, whisk together 3 large eggs and ¾ cup canola oil. Add the muffin mix and stir just until combined. Divide among the cups of a 12-cup muffin tin lined with the paper liners. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.”

homemadegifts6

Chocolate Truffles

4 dozen truffles

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 pound good-quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream or whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
  • 2 tablespoons coffee flavored liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions

Coarsely chop both chocolates and set aside.

Heat the cream and instant coffee in a saucepan, stirring to blend. When bubbles start to form along the edge of the pan, remove from the heat. Scatter the chocolate over the cream, stirring gently until melted. Set aside for 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the liqueur and vanilla. Stir gently, just until evenly blended. Scrape the chocolate into a shallow bowl. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours or up to 1 week.

Using a teaspoon or a melon baller, scoop up enough chocolate to make balls 1 inch in diameter. Place the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Thoroughly combine the cocoa and powdered sugar in a bowl, making sure all the lumps are removed. Roll the balls in the cocoa mixture, shaking off the excess, then transfer to wax paper. Place each truffle in a candy paper cup and package in a decorative gift boxes.


party time 6

This is the season for graduations, showers and a host of other occasions – all reasons to have a spring get together with friends and family.  To entertain with elegance, not extravagance, host a dessert party. People will love you for giving them the chance to be just a bit indulgent. A dessert buffet works well in the late afternoon or as an after dinner event. You can easily make the buffet smaller or larger simply by subtracting or adding desserts.

Keep the setting simple: Let single-flower arrangements and the beautiful desserts displayed at interesting levels in plain sight put the focus on what the guests really came for – a good time. Set up the buffet table―minus the desserts and beverages―the night before.

Before setting out your dessert spread, keep these table tips in mind.

  • If you have a cake stand, use it. The height will add visual impact to the table and will offer a bit of extra space on the crowded buffet table.
  • Set out dishes of your favorite chocolates or chocolate-covered nuts.
  • Place the plates at the far end of the table, the desserts in the middle and the beverages, cutlery and napkins at the other end of the buffet table.
  • Depending on how many guests you’ve invited, you may or may not have enough “real” dessert-sized plates, beverage glasses and wine goblets. Disposable serveware is perfectly okay. You could also borrow some plates and glasses from friends—that’s okay too. It’s not essential that all the glasses and plates match
  • You can never have too many cocktail napkins, both on the buffet and on end tables.

Beverages and Desserts 

There’s no need to offer a full bar – regular and decaffeinated coffee, several kinds of tea and a sparkling wine and a fruity white wine are more than enough.

Select desserts with contrasting and complementary textures and flavors. Mix sweet and tart, smooth and crunchy, add a pleasing spice or highlight a big, bold taste — like dark chocolate!

Make one showstopping dessert to dazzle your guests and let the others play minor, but still important, roles.

It’s smart to provide some lighter sweets to go along with the decadent ones — for example, a fresh fruit platter. Cookies are always a big hit — especially if children are present.

Plan as many make-ahead desserts as will work well on your menu. All of the desserts below can be made well in advance of your party.

Preslice cakes, pies and tarts, but do not separate the slices. Arrange cookies in baskets, plates or unique decorative containers.

party time 1

Honey Cheesecake

To keep the cheesecake from cracking, run a knife between the crust and pan a few minutes after removing it from the oven. The cheesecake will cool and condense without sticking to the pan’s sides.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup finely ground walnuts
  • 1/4 cup vanilla wafer crumbs
  • 1 1/2 pounds light cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup honey, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup regular evaporated milk (not low-fat) (you may also use heavy cream)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh berries

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Brush the inside of 8 or 9 inch springform pan with melted butter.

Mix walnuts and cookie crumbs in small bowl; spread evenly in the pan, coating the bottom and sides.

Beat cream cheese and 3/4 cup honey with a mixer at medium speed until smooth, scraping down bowl’s sides occasionally, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time; beat in milk and vanilla. Beat in flour, cinnamon and salt.

Pour into the crumb covered pan.

Bake about 1 hour and 10 minutes or until lightly browned and a little puffed. Cheesecake will jiggle in the center but will set as it cools.

Cool on a wire rack 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate. To serve, drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons honey and garnish with fresh berries.

party time 2

Hazelnut Truffles

Makes 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 3 dozen hazelnuts
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon hazelnut liqueur
  • 1 (6-ounce) package white chocolate baking squares
  • 2 (2-ounce) chocolate candy coating squares

Directions

Bake hazelnuts in a shallow pan at 350°F, stirring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes or until toasted.

Microwave chocolate chips and whipping cream in a 2-cup glass measuring cup at HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes or until chips melt, stirring twice. Stir in liqueur.

Pour into a wax paper-lined 15 x 10 inch jelly roll pan; freeze 2 hours or until firm to touch.

Shape 1/2 teaspoon chocolate mixture around each hazelnut, coating completely and place on wax paper.

Microwave white chocolate baking squares in a 1-quart microwave-safe bowl at HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes or until melted, stirring twice.

spring party 1

Truffle Mold

 

Coat plastic candy molds with a thin layer of white chocolate using a small paintbrush; let stand 1 hour or until firm. Place coated hazelnuts in molds; brush with remaining white chocolate, sealing to edges of molds. Let stand at room temperature 1 1/2 hours or until firm.

Invert molds; tap firmly on cutting board to remove candy.

Microwave coating in a 1-cup glass measuring cup 1 minute or until melted, stirring once. Pour into a small heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; seal. Snip a tiny hole in 1 corner of bag; drizzle over truffles. Let stand until firm.

spring party 2

 

Lemon-Coconut Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, divided

Lemon Glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Stir together flour, salt and baking soda. Add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low-speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in lemon zest and 1/2 cup coconut.

Pour batter into a greased and floured 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack and cool completely (about 1 hour).

To make glaze:

Whisk together powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk and fresh lemon juice, adding an additional 1 tablespoon milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, for desired consistency

Spoon Lemon Glaze over cake and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup coconut.

Watermelon Salad. Moreton's House 712 Greenwood, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-5923. W: 919 967 2185 C: 919 260 7465 www.nealsdeli.com A100527_F&W_NealsDeli_Sept_2010

Watermelon Salad with Mint and Lime

Lightly salting the watermelon brings out its flavor.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups seedless watermelon chunks (1 inch), from a 6-pound melon
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, torn
  • Salt

Directions

In a large bowl, toss the watermelon chunks with the lime juice and cayenne. Fold in the mint leaves. Season lightly with salt and chill until serving time.

MAKE AHEAD The watermelon salad can be refrigerated overnight. Fold in the torn mint leaves just before serving.

party time 5

Bourbon-Brownie Petit Fours

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup bourbon 
  • 3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Milk Chocolate Frosting/Semisweet Chocolate Glaze

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • One 5 3/4 ounce package milk chocolate chips
  • 16 ounce package semisweet chocolate chips or 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions

In a medium saucepan melt and stir butter and unsweetened chocolate over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat; cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 x 8 x 2 inch baking pan with foil, extending the foil over the edges of the pan. Grease foil; set aside.

In a small bowl stir together bourbon and coffee granules; set aside.

Stir sugar into cooled chocolate mixture in the saucepan. Add eggs, one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon just until combined. Stir in vanilla and bourbon mixture.

In a small bowl stir together flour and baking soda. Add flour mixture to the chocolate mixture, stirring just until combined.

Spread batter evenly in the prepared baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

Using the edges of the foil, lift the uncut brownies out of the pan. Cut off the edges of brownie and save for another use.

For the frosting:

In a small saucepan bring whipping cream just to boiling over medium-high heat. Remove from heat.

For Milk Chocolate Frosting:

Transfer 1/2 cup of the hot cream to a small bowl. Add milk chocolate chips (do not stir). Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Cover loosely and chill for 1 to 2 hours.

For Semisweet Chocolate Glaze:

Add semisweet chocolate chips to the remaining hot cream in the saucepan, stirring until smooth. Set aside.

When ready to glaze petits fours, reheat Semisweet Chocolate Glaze over medium-low heat to reach pouring consistency, stirring constantly.

For petits fours:

Cut brownies into 1- to 1-1/2-inch squares. Coat petits fours with Semisweet Chocolate Glaze.

For Milk Chocolate Rosettes:

Beat the reserved cooled milk chocolate mixture with an electric mixer about 30 seconds or until fluffy. Spoon frosting into a decorating bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe large rosettes in the center of each petit four.

spring party 7

Oatmeal-Cherry Cookies

Yield: about 60 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup snipped dried red cherries (6 ounces)

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high-speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.

Beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in the remaining flour. Stir in oats and dried cherries.

Drop the dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake in a 350 degree F oven about 12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheets for 1 minute. Transfer to wire racks and let cool.

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With the US economy in the doldrums, many Americans are struggling to stretch every dollar as far as possible and that includes their food dollars. It is in times like these that imagination and creativity in the kitchen become especially important. With the right amount of thought and planning, it is possible to create delicious low-cost meals. And if the need to spend money more carefully leads to more nutritious, home-cooked meals in American households, that is a “good thing”.

Of course, many cooks, past and present, have had to economize at certain points in their lives. They’ve done it by comparison shopping, buying produce in season and adding more vegetables and less meat to the pot. Frugal cooks also bypass convenience items such as fruits and vegetables that are pre-washed and pre-cut and some buy extra produce, when the price is right for canning and freezing.

Hectic schedules and the readily available convenience foods have paved the way to less-healthful eating habits. In much of the United States, it is just as easy — or easier — to order out or pick something up for the evening meal, as it is to prepare the meal at home.

One way for Americans to spend less money on food is to choose unprocessed (or less-processed) foods, with a few fresh ingredients added, as the basis of a meal. Packaged and prepared meals cost you considerably more than cooking with raw ingredients at home. Focus on the products stocked along the perimeter of the store. This is where healthy foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese, meat and fish are usually located. Preparing meals at home allows you to control the amount of salt and fats you use in your recipes.

Another suggestion is to buy produce that is in season to keep costs down. In American supermarkets, it is not uncommon to find certain items, such as broccoli, cucumbers and apples, on produce shelves year-round. But unless these items are in season in your area, they are being shipped from somewhere else or are being pulled from cold storage. When fresh produce is shipped long distances, it tends to lose some nutrients along the way and flavor often suffers. It also tends to be more expensive. Frozen fruits and vegetables can also taste fresh and provide high amounts of nutrients, if they were processed immediately after picking. In the winter, especially, frozen fruits and vegetables may be a nutritious and economical option.

Taking the time to plan your weekly menu not only helps to save time and money, but also provides a way to create meals with a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat, plus all the essential vitamins and minerals needed by adults and children. When eating balanced meals your body feels satisfied, has fewer cravings and, this in turn, prevents late-night snacking. Make a shopping list before you go to the supermarket and stick to it.

Tougher cuts of beef and pork are a lot cheaper than steaks and chops ($2 to $6 per pound for many cuts compared with $10 or more per pound for steaks and don’t forget to watch for sales), but no one wants to eat a piece of leather for dinner. The best way to cook tough cuts of meat is low and slow, usually for 3 or more hours, often in liquid, to make them melt-in-your-mouth tender.

When you’re making dinner, think about what you’re going to eat for lunch tomorrow. If you’re making a salad for dinner, make a little extra and put it in a container, undressed, for lunch the next day. And what about your leftovers from dinner? Is there a little extra chicken or maybe part of a can of beans? Toss that in with your lunch salad. Packing lunch is a great way to make sure you’re not wasting any leftovers—and to help you eat healthy, save money and save time throughout the day.

Italian Beef Stew

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

Ingredients:

  • 7 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed of fat and cut into cubes
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 26-28 oz. containers Italian chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups lower-sodium beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (8-ounce) package mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3/4 cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices carrot
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Directions

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to the pan. Add onion and chopped carrot; sauté 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté for 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from pan to a bowl and set aside.

Add 3 teaspoons oil to pan. Place 1/4 cup flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle beef with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper; dredge in flour. Add half the beef to pan and sauté about 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure.

Add water to pan and bring to a boil, scraping pan. Return meat and the onion mixture to pan. Add tomato and next 4 ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and stir in sliced carrot, mushrooms and potato. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour or until meat is very tender, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaf. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, basil and parsley.

Slow Cooker Chicken Osso Buco

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 pounds chicken thighs, skinned
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • Snipped fresh parsley

Directions

Place flour, salt and pepper in a resealable plastic bag. Add chicken, a few pieces at time, shaking to coat.

In a large skillet brown chicken, half at a time, in hot oil over medium heat about 10 minutes or until golden, turning once. Remove to a plate.

In a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker combine carrots, onion, celery and garlic. Sprinkle with tapioca. Place chicken on top of vegetables.

In a medium bowl stir together tomato sauce, broth, lemon peel, lemon juice and thyme; pour over chicken.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Serve chicken and sauce over hot cooked pasta or rice and garnish with snipped parsley.

Baked Spinach Casserole

Serve this vegetable pasta dish as an entree or as a side to perk up baked chicken or meatloaf.

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 lasagna sheets, traditional or no-boil
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 bunches fresh spinach (about 12 ounces total), washed, thoroughly drained and coarsely chopped;
  • or 1 package (9-10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, thoroughly squeezed and drained to remove all water
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a 9” x 13” baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Cook the lasagna sheets according to package instructions, drain, and layer in the bottom of the baking pan. (If using no-boil lasagna sheets, soak for 5 minutes in hot water to soften before layering.)

Heat the olive oil over low heat in a large frying pan or Dutch oven. Add the spinach and onion. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Add the ricotta, milk, salt, nutmeg and the spinach and onion mixture. Mix well.

Pour the mixture over the lasagna sheets. Spread evenly. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top. Bake for 40 minutes or until a golden crust forms on the top. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield: 4 servings

Tomato Lentil Chili

Some good bread, homemade corn bread or biscuits would be a nice addition to this meal. Make extra to take for lunch.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup dry lentils (red or brown)
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking bulgur, whole wheat couscous or quick-cooking (pearled) barley
  • 2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans reduced sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Yogurt, chopped red onion, hot sauce (optional)

Directions

Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic; cook 7 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except the toppings. Simmer 30 minutes. Serve with optional toppings: yogurt, red onion and hot sauce.

Pasta with Tuna Tomato Sauce

Salad and some homemade garlic bread is all that is needed to complete this quick meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 can (26-28 ounces) peeled plum tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 large whole cloves garlic, peeled 
  • 2 anchovy fillets (optional)
  • 2 cans (6 ounces each) tuna in oil, drained, retaining oil separately
  • 8 ounces penne or spaghetti, uncooked
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • Chopped parsley or other herbs for garnish

Directions

Empty the tomatoes and their juice into a large skillet. Add the whole garlic cloves. Cook over low heat for 25 minutes, stirring frequently, breaking the tomatoes into small pieces with the back of a wooden spoon or fork. Remove from heat. Remove and discard the garlic. Add the anchovies, if desired; use a fork to break them up and mix them into the tomato sauce.

Break up the tuna chunks in a small bowl using a fork, then add to the tomato sauce, stirring in gently.

Cook the pasta according to package instructions. When the pasta is ready, drain thoroughly. Return it briefly to the pot, add a little of the tuna olive oil and mix well. Add the pasta to the sauce in the skillet. Using tongs to lift the long strands, fold it gently into the sauce. Stir in the breadcrumbs and garnish with parsley.

Yield: 4 servings

Better For You Brownies

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons canola or other neutral tasting oil
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1 tablespoon cold leftover brewed coffee
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

Position rack in the lower third of the oven and heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Use an 8 by 8 silicon baking pan or line a similar sized metal or glass baking dish with foil or parchment paper so it hangs over the edges by about 1 inch. Spray the prepared pan completely with cooking spray.

Put the butter, oil and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat at 75 percent power for 2 minutes. Stir and microwave again until completely melted, about 2 minutes more. (Alternatively put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1 inch of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, not touching, the water, and stir occasionally until melted and smooth.)

Stir the brown and white sugars, vanilla and salt into the chocolate mixture with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs and coffee and beat vigorously by hand until fully incorporated and the batter is thick and glossy. Add the cocoa, flour and baking soda and stir just until it disappears.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake until the top is crispy and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with a few crumbs, about 30 minutes (40 minutes if not using a silicon pan).

Cool the brownies in the pan on the counter. Lift brownies out of the pan by the foil, if needed. Peel off the foil and cut into 16-2-inch squares.

Store extra brownies in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to 3 days.



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