Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce

Today is the first Whatcha Got Cooking Wednesday that my friend Mama Bird has over at her nest today so I had to give her some love over here, too.  For this entry, I'm going to share a flourless chocolate cake that I've been dying to try that I found on recently.  I'm planning (plotting???) a way to get rid of some eggs that are going to go bad this week, and it seemed like a perfect way to do it.  I was inspired to do the flourless chocolate cake after having a sliver of one when I was in Chicago this past weekend.  I decided to pair with a raspberry sauce that I found with another recipe to create a sinfully yummy dessert. I searched and found my double boiler which was hiding in one of those hard-to-reach cabinets in my know, the one over the stove that a short person like me often forgets that it exists because it is not in my sight line.  I dusted it off, and it's ready to got.
Attention all MUSC employees...yes, this cake will be coming soon to a conference room near you! 
Flourless Chocolate Cake
4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper and butter paper.

Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth. Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk well. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate.
Dust cake with additional cocoa powder and serve with sorbet if desired. (Cake keeps, after being cooled completely, in an airtight container, 1 week.)

Raspberry Sauce
1 (12-ounce) package frozen raspberries, partially thawed
1/3 cup light corn syrup

Process raspberries and 1/3 cup corn syrup in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Pour raspberry mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into a 2-cup glass measuring cup, discarding seeds. Cover and chill until ready to serve.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Crispy Skin Salmon with Fiery Asian Slaw

I have to apologize again for being somewhat MIA this past week, but a business trip took me to Chicago for several days and away from our kitchen.  Something kinda amusing happened, though. This seafood place near the hotel where I was staying was featuring catfish from my hometown, Hickory, North Carolina one night.  Since I've moved to the coast, I rarely eat seafood away from home except for the occasional trip to a one of the local fish camps when I head inland to visit my parents in Hickory.  Anyway, I had to laugh a little bit to myself when I saw that they were featuring catfish from Hickory, and I immediately emailed my mom to let her know and ask her about it.  Where did these catfish come from?  Lake Hickory?  Umm, yuck.  She said that she thought they were probably farm raised which would make sense (and sound much more appealing to me).  

Anyway, when I returned from Chicago, Rick and I planned our meals for the weekend.  I headed to Publix to get the groceries while he headed to his place to clean up the mess that the people who had come to view his place earlier that day.  One of the meals that we planned on doing was from a recipe on from the September 2009 issue of Cooking Light.  It was another one featuring and Asian style slaw, and this one added a little heat to it.  Once again, didn't let us down, and the meal turned out great!  Rick wants to add it to our repertoire because it was delicious and good for us, too!  I really liked the orange juice with the fish.  I can't wait to make it.  Now, just gotta figure out what to go with the extra cole slaw!  I did up the vinegars and chili sauce in the slaw, and I added a little bit of sesame oil to it. The piece of salmon that I used was smaller than the original recipe required, and it turned out to be perfect for the two of us!  All in all, a very yummy and super quick meal...perfect for the week nights!
Here's what we did...

Crispy Skin Salmon with Fiery Asian Slaw
1 piece 12 oz of salmon
Cooking spray
1/4  cup  fresh orange juice
2  tablespoons  rice vinegar
2  tablespoons  balsamic vinegar
1  tablespoon  olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2  teaspoons  Sriracha (hot chile sauce)
1  teaspoon  ground ginger
1/2  teaspoon  honey
1/2  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
1  16 oz package cole slaw
1  tablespoon  toasted sesame seeds
Salt and pepper

Combine rice vinegar and next 6 ingredients (through honey) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add  1/2 teaspoon salt, cilantro, and coleslaw; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sesame seeds. Place in the refrigerator while cooking the fish.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle salmon fillets evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add salmon to pan, skin side down; cook 4 minutes. Turn salmon over; cook 3 minutes. Add orange juice to pan; cook until liquid almost evaporates and fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Breakfast Casserole!

This month's Pot Luck at work had the theme of breakfast food, and I decided that I'd make my favorite breakfast casserole.  I've been making it since I was a fledgling cook back in the 90s, and it's always a hit with whomever gets to indulge!  I totally forgot to start it until after 9 last night, and Rick was wondering what I was doing because I had already made us dinner (quesadillas!).  It's really easy and minus the time that it has to cook, it's pretty quick to make.  You can also make it the night before and pop it in the oven.  

I had several requests for the recipe, and if anyone from work is stopping by, I want to say a quick hello!  I hope that you enjoy the blog!  

Here's the recipe

Breakfast Casserole

1 pound bulk breakfast sausage
2 tablespoons all purpose flout
1 1/2 cups milk (you can use low-fat)
1/2 of a frozen shredded hash brown potatoes bag
3 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. 

Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat until brown, breaking into small pieces with back of spoon. Mix in flour, then milk. Cook until mixture thickens and comes to boil, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
Arrange potatoes in prepared dish. Layer with 1/2 of green onions, 1/2 of cup cheese, rest of green onions, sausage mixture and remaining cheese (you can add more cheese if you'd like).  Bake casserole for 45 minutes.  


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Three Cheese Pasta Salad

Tomorrow is the lupus walk, and afterward, the M.U.S.C.L.E group is getting together for a little fellowship.  This group is made out of rheumatologists, nurses, study coordinators, and other cool people who work at MUSC with people who have lupus.  We all signed up to bring a dish, and I decided to dust off this old recipe for a pasta salad that I used to take to all potlucks that I attended before I got on the orzo kick.  Over the years, I have made several changes that have become the recipe below.  I gave Rick a little sample taste after it was put together, and he wants me to start making it weekly for him to take to work as part of his lunch.  I hope that you enjoy it, too!
Three-Cheese Pasta Salad

10 oz tricolor rotini pasta

  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper

  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces)

  • 1/2 cup diced sharp white cheddar cheese ( about 2 1/2 ounces)

  • 1/2 cup grated Gouda cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)

  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper (around 1 red bell pepper)
    1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
    1/2 cup diced sharp white cheddar cheese
    1/2 cup grated Gouda cheese
    6 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

    Cook pasta in pot of boiling water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Rinse with cold water and drain well.

    Mix pasta, olives, bell pepper, all cheeses, balsamic dressing, and basil in large bowl and toss to combine.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.


  • 1 cup chopped pitted brine-cured black olives (such as Kalamata)

  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper

  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces)

  • 1/2 cup diced sharp white cheddar cheese ( about 2 1/2 ounces)

  • 1/2 cup grated Gouda cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)

  • 1 cup chopped pitted brine-cured black olives (such as Kalamata)

  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper

  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces)

  • 1/2 cup diced sharp white cheddar cheese ( about 2 1/2 ounces)

  • 1/2 cup grated Gouda cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)

  • 1 cup chopped pitted brine-cured black olives (such as Kalamata)

  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper

  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces)

  • 1/2 cup diced sharp white cheddar cheese ( about 2 1/2 ounces)

  • 1/2 cup grated Gouda cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)

  • Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    Crab Wontons

    In honor of the season premiere of Deadliest Catch, we are having crab night.  This season is the last one that Captain Phil of the Cornelia Marie will be on since he passed away in February.  My heart goes out to his family, and I hope that they know how special he was to those of us loved the show.  When Rick and I first started dating, he introduced me to the show, and I fell in love with it (much like him!).  Tonight, it's crab legs and crab wontons!  I kinda made it up as I went as far as the wontons go, but here is what I did for them!  I used the sauce that we used for the shrimp on Thai Night the other night.

    The wontons themselves were really tasty, but I did run into a small they got hot, some of them busted!  I don't know if I put too much crab-cream cheese mixture or what, but quite a few of them blew up!  I have to admit that I was rather distraught when this happened, and I apologized to Rick several times for ruining dinner.  Rick came up with the great idea to put holes in them before we fried them, and that seemed to work (most of the time...a few still busted).  So if anyone out there has any suggestions on how to do this successfully, I'd LOVE to hear from you!

    Crab Wontons
    3/4 cup crab meat
    3/4 cup light cream cheese
    1 tablespoon basil, chopped
    1 tablespoon green onion, chopped
    1 glove of garlic, pressed
    20 wonton skins
    1 egg

    Mix first 6 ingredients in a small bowl. In another small bowl, beat the egg.

    Take one wonton skin and brush the edges the egg.  Scoop 1 over-sized teaspoon on mixture into wonton skin.  Fold the wonton over to form a triangle and fold the edges over to seal it.  Repeat with the remaining wonton skins and crab mixture.

    Heat oil to 350F in a large, heavy bottomed pan (I used my deep cast iron skillet), with enough oil to cover the wontons.

    Fry wontons until golden about 2-3 minutes per side. To avoid lowering the temperature of the oil, do not attempt to fry too many at once. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.


    Monday, April 12, 2010

    Flank Steak with Cucumber-Pepperoncini Relish...yep, it's another Greek inspired grillin' night

    Rick was away for most of the weekend at the Masters, and while I had toyed with making some sort of mushroom-centric meal, I opted to go out to dinner with a friend on Friday and then had Homecoming for the College of Nursing on Saturday.  Oh well.  For dinner this evening, I had tossed around a couple of ideas...some sort of casserole, but the weather is so nice that it would've been a shame not to spend part of it at the grill.  I went searching for something new to try, and I came across this recipe for flank steak with cucumber-pepperoncini relish.  It was featured in Cooking Light magazine so it would be perfect for our goal of eating better!  I also liked it because it gave me an excuse to make my famous tzatziki sauce
    to serve with grilled pitas that we brushed with olive oil and Italian Seasoning (from the grinder).  This time, I also added a little bit of the Garlic and Herb grinder that we used with the Brussels sprouts.  Instead of serving the cucumber relish on top of the steak, we ate it on the side.  And I gotta say, it made fabulous leftovers today!

    Here's what we did...

    Flank Steak with Cucumber-Pepperoncini Relish
    • 1  (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed
    • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
    • 1/2  teaspoon  black pepper
    • Cooking spray
    • 2  tablespoons pickled pepperoncini pepper pickling liquid
    • 2  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon  Dijon mustard
    • 1  pickled pepperoncini pepper, chopped
    • 2  tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    • 2  tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
    • 1/2  English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced (about 1 cup)
    Sprinkle both sides of flank steak evenly with garlic, salt, and black pepper. Massage seasoning into steak.

    Combine pepperoncini pickling liquid, olive oil, and mustard in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add chopped pepperoncini pepper, parsley, cheese, and cucumber to oil mixture in bowl; toss well to combine. 

    Grill steak 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Place steak on a cutting board; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Uncover; cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices.

    Serve steak with relish.


    Friday, April 09, 2010

    Bad habits

    Over the past month or so, I've gotten into the really bad habit of posting blogs before I attach the pictures that go with them. I blame my netbook since I mainly use it, and I have to upload pics onto my desktop. Really, it's just laziness, but eventually, they do get there.  In reality, I started this blog so that I would have a more convenient place to find my favorite recipes, and I have been known to pull up the recipes while I'm making dinner.  One of the reasons that I mention this bad habit of mine is that while I was making dinner, I took a couple pictures of the kitties who were lounging around the kitchen.  I wanted to post them here for you since when I originally posted last night's dinner, I included a cute picture of Ty.  Here we are almost 7 months later, and our babies are growing up! 

    (note kitchen floor that needs to be mopped ;) )
    For dinner last night, I made one of Rick's favorite meals....the tilapia and green beans.  Rick was in charge of cooking the green beans while I did the fish.  As usual, the meal came out wonderfully which is one of the reasons that it is on our favorites list!  Next time, he's doing the fish, though!

    So, I promise that I will post the pics this weekend so that everyone can see our babies for all the world to see!  Thanks to all of the Friday Follow people who are stopping by and all my other followers, too!  I'm planning a cool little giveaway in the near future to go along with a change that I've been thinking about making to the blog!  Y'all have a great weekend!!!

    Take care,

    Wednesday, April 07, 2010

    Italian Meatloaf

    A couple of weeks ago, Rick and I were talking about what to do for dinner, and he said that we should try doing meatloaf.  I've never made meatloaf before so I figured that it would be kinda cool to try out.  I decided to try this recipe from  I made some changes which are reflected in the recipe below.  We paired it with mashed potatoes.  It turned out wonderfully, and it was definitely the best meatloaf that both of us have ever had.  Can't wait to have the leftovers tomorrow for lunch!

    Here's what we did....

    Italian Meatloaf
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 red pepper, seeded, small diced
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 pound ground beef
    • 2 eggs
    • 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
    • 1 cup grated Parmesan
    • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
    • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley leaves
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 cup marinara sauce
    • 6 cheese blend
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat and add the peppers, onions and garlic. Saute until just soft, remove to a plate and cool.

    When the peppers and onions are cool, combine all of the remaining ingredients together except for the marinara. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Pack the meat mixture into a loaf pan, if you do not have a loaf pan, form the meat mixture into a loaf shape on an oiled oven tray or baking dish.

    Bake for approximately 50 to 60 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 155 F in the middle of the meatloaf. Top the meatloaf with the marinara sauce, and then put it back in the oven to broil for around 5 minutes (or until it is about 160 F). 

    Remove from the oven, sprinkle a little 6 cheese blend on top, and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.


    Sunday, April 04, 2010

    Happy Easter!!!

    Today has been a wonderful day.  My mom is in town.  I spoke to my dad this morning.  The weather was perfect for an after-church lunch at Vickery's Shem Creek.  And thanks to the inspiration from some of the other bloggers out there, I've decided to take on baking (again) and make cupcakes!  I've got a card up my sleeve today because my mom is here, and unlike me, she's an avid baker.  I am too impatient, but luckily, I have her here to admonish me when I want to open the oven and take a peek.  Sorry, but looking in from the outside just doesn't seem to be enough for me. I'm trying, though.  While the cupcakes were in the oven, mom took a nap. 

    Rick's suggestion for my first cupcake adventure is to color each of them for each ACC team because he thinks that the ACC teams are cupcakes (football here, obviously), but I used the McCormick's Neon food coloring to make cool colors for the icing (and ignored him ;) ).

    For the cupcakes, I used the recipe for Basic White Cupcakes from  For the icing, I used a recipe that I found on a blog that I recently started following, Pumpkin Tart, for Vanilla Cupcakes.  The result was amazing!!!  I am taking the majority of them to work tomorrow because I would probably eat them until I popped.  I gave a couple to Rick to enjoy before he heads to the Masters with his parents this week.  The recipe made 18.

    Here's what I did....

    Basic White Cupcakes
    1  (18.25-oz.) package white cake mix with pudding (I used Pillsbury)
    1 1/4  cups  buttermilk
    1/4  cup  butter, melted
    2  large eggs
    2  teaspoons  vanilla extract
    1/2  teaspoon  almond extract
    Vegetable cooking spray

    Beat first 6 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer just until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase speed to medium, and beat 2 minutes or until batter is smooth, stopping to scrape bowl as needed.
    Place paper baking cups in muffin pans, and coat with cooking spray; spoon batter evenly into baking cups, filling each two-thirds full.

    Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove cupcakes from pans to wire racks, and cool 1 hour or until completely cool.

    Billy's Buttercream Frosting
    1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
    1/2 cup milk or half and half
    1 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract

    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add 6 cups sugar, milk, and vanilla; mix until light and fluffy. If necessary, gradually add remaining 2 cups sugar to reach desired consistency.  Seperate into bowls and color with food coloring.


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