Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Low-Fat Strawberry-Cinnamon Muffins

I made these for a play date, and they worked out well. I didn't really taste a lot of the strawberry flavor (or raspberry flavor either, since I had to supplement the strawberry jam with raspberry jam), but that may have had to do with the fact that I mixed the jam in with the wet ingredients rather than putting dollops in the middle of each muffin (I was feeling lazy). I'm including the original recipe directions for the jam, but I do wonder what these would be like with fresh fruit mixed in...

I also used Greek yogurt with some vanilla extract since that's what I had available. I liked how moist and almost spongy the Greek yogurt made the muffins.

Low-Fat Strawberry-Cinnamon Muffins
A variation on this recipe from Cooking Light


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup strawberry jam
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 4 ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Make a well in center of flour mixture. Combine yogurt, butter, milk, and egg in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add yogurt mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Place 12 cup liners in muffin cups; coat liners with cooking spray. Spoon 1 tablespoon batter into each liner. Top each with 1 teaspoon jam. Top evenly with the remaining batter. Combine 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; sprinkle over batter. Bake at 375°F for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan; place on a wire rack.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Peach Pie

The pie-making continues... And this one was pretty awesome. The peaches tasted wonderful and were really the star of the dish. Jonathan had a hard time not hugging the pie straight out of the oven.

I've realized during this pie-making journey that I haven't always been using the Ina Garten pie crust every time... I had looked up other recipes to see what other people suggested and tried this one. And I think I may like it better. I didn't notice a big difference in the taste, but it's much easier to work with. I'm sure I could probably add a little more water to the Ina Garten crust and make it a little easier to work with, but I think I'll stick with this other one for at least sweet pies since it has a bit more sugar than the Ina Garten one.


Peach Pie
A variation on this recipe from Food Network Magazine

2 1/2 pounds peaches, cut into wedges
3/4 cup light brown sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
Heavy cream
Granulated sugar

Place a foil-lined baking sheet on a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 450°F.

Roll out first piece of dough and put in pie pan. Combine the first 8 ingredients (through salt) in a bowl. Pour into pie shell; dot with butter.

Roll out the other piece of dough and place over the filling; press the crust edges together and trim, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Roll up or pinch the overhang to seal.

Wrap an oiled, wide band of foil around the pie edge to protect the crust. Make slashes in the top of the crust; chill for 30 minutes.

Reduce the oven to 400°F. Bake the pie for 30 minutes. Remove the foil band, brush the crust with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes; cool before slicing.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash and Spinach

I actually didn't get a chance to try this before it was gone, but Jonathan said it was good. And it certainly smelled good. I'd never used saffron before, so it was fun to smell it and see how it really worked in a recipe after seeing it being used on Food Network so often.

I did end up adding some baby spinach since I had some, and it felt like it needed something green. I'm hoping I'll get to try it the next time around. Preferably when it's not hot outside... I made the mistake of making this on an 85°F day, so I'm thinking this won't be made again until Fall.

Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash and Spinach
A variation on this recipe by Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa)


1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces pancetta, diced
1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon saffron threads
2 ounces baby spinach
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.

In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the pancetta and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes, baby spinach, and Parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

These muffins were included in an online article from Cooking Light about post-workout snacks. They looked interesting, so I had to try them (didn't hurt that I had all the ingredients already in my pantry and fridge). They are awesome! Not too sweet, moist, with a subtle peanut butter flavor. All of the flavors blend together perfectly and actually improves on the peanut butter and jelly concoction concept (who knew that was possible?). Added bonus: They are relatively low in calories (under 200 per muffin). If you are a pb&j fan, try these as soon as possible.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins
Courtesy of Cooking Light


1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (about 3 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line muffin tin with muffin cups

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, sugars, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (through vanilla); add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Spoon batter into muffin tin. Fill each cup a little over half full with batter. Spoon 1 teaspoon jam into each cup. Spoon remaining batter on top to cover jam. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Let cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool on a wire rack.

Virgin Pomegranate and Cranberry Bellinis

This is a perfect addition to any summer picnic.

Virgin Pomegranate and Cranberry Bellinis
A variation on this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis

1 cup ice
1 1/2 cups simple syrup, recipe follows
1 1/4 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice, chilled
1 cup unsweetened cranberry juice, chilled
1 large bottle sparkling water, chilled
2 limes, thinly sliced

Simple syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

In a saucepan, combine water and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Take the pan off the heat and allow the syrup to cool.

Place the ice in a punch bowl or large pitcher. Add the simple syrup, pomegranate juice, and cranberry juice. Stir well. Slowly pour in the sparkling water. Garnish with lime slices and serve.

Couscous with Artichokes, Feta, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

This is a lovely dish for the summer. Very little cooking involved, especially if you use a rotisserie chicken to get the meat for the recipe. Or you could just leave it out altogether. I think it could very easily be a tasty vegetarian meal.

Couscous with Artichokes, Feta, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Courtesy of Cooking Light

2 1/3 cups water, divided
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth
1 3/4 cups uncooked Israeli couscous
3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 (6-ounce) jars marinated artichoke hearts, undrained
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine 2 cups water and tomatoes in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at high 3 minutes or until water boils; cover and let stand 10 minutes or until soft. Drain and chop; set aside.

Place 1/3 cup water and vegetable broth in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir in couscous. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat; stir in tomatoes and remaining ingredients.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie, Take 2

We were invited to the house of some of our dearest friends for dinner, and since I'm still feeling like I'm a pie kick, I offered to make pie for dessert. A strawberry-rhubarb pie was requested, so I searched out a new, possibly less sweet recipe. And I found, what was decided was, the recipe for the best strawberry-rhubarb ever. It really highlighted the strawberry flavor with a much more appropriate level of sweetness than the last one I made. And having a decent amount of cornstarch made for a thicker filling, which held together beautifully after some refrigeration.

Now on to the next pie... The kick continues... But first, here's the awesome strawberry-rhubarb pie recipe.

I used my tried-and-true pie crust recipe, so I'll just add the filling information that I found here on

3 1/2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices trimmed rhubarb (1 1/2 pounds untrimmed)
1 16-ounce container strawberries, hulled, halved (about 3 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine first 7 ingredients in large bowl. Toss gently to blend.

Roll out 1 dough disk on floured work surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim excess dough, leaving 3/4-inch overhang.

Roll out second dough disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Spoon filling into crust. Arrange second dough disc atop filling. Trim excess dough of top crust even with overhang of bottom crust. Fold overhang under, pressing to seal. Crimp edges decoratively.

Brush glaze over crust and transfer pie to baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake pie until golden and filling thickens, about 1 hour 25 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Stracciatella Semifreddo

Yeah, that's a funny way of saying a frozen Italian custard dessert. It looks like a light dessert, but don't let it fool you... It's extremely rich. And delicious. It made for an excellent addition to our Memorial Day weekend celebrations (as you can see by the washed-out Droid phone picture we took of it at my mom's house).

A change I made from the original recipe was that I used amaretti cookies rather than biscotti. I couldn't find plain or almond biscotti when I went to the grocery store. It was very tasty, but I would definitely like to try the biscotti next time.

The other change I made was that I used a springform pan rather than a loaf pan. I just figured it would make for a nice presentation, easier transport to my mom's house, and easier storage in our freezer since we didn't eat the whole thing in one sitting. Just make sure you still spray the springform pan with cooking spray to make sure that it comes out easily. And if you use the springform pan, you won't need the parchment paper but can just cover the whole thing in aluminum foil when you need to freeze it.

Stracciatella Semifreddo
Courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis


Vegetable oil cooking spray
3 (5 inches long by 3/4-inch wide) plain or almond biscotti (about 4 ounces) halved
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, see Cook's Note
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

8 egg yolks, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread at room temperature (recommended: Nutella)

For the crust: Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 by 5 by 3-inch nonstick loaf pan with vegetable oil cooking spray. Using 2 pieces of parchment paper, line the pan, allowing the excess to hang over the ends and sides.

In a food processor, blend the biscotti and hazelnuts together until finely ground. Add the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened. Using a flexible spatula, press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the edges of the crust are golden. Cool the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.

For the filling: In a medium stainless steel or glass bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla extract, and salt until smooth. Put the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk until the egg mixture is pale, thick and creamy, and an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F, about 10 to 15 minutes. Put the bowl into a larger bowl of iced water to cool completely.

In another medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream until thick. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until the cream holds stiff peaks. Mix 1/4 of the cream into the cooled custard. Using a spatula, gently fold the remaining cream into the custard. Drop spoonfuls of the chocolate-hazelnut spread over the custard mixture and gently fold until just incorporated but still chunky. Spoon the mixture onto the prepared crust. Fold the overhanging parchment paper over the custard and freeze for at least 8 hours or up to 3 days.

Run a thin-bladed spatula around the semifreddo between the parchment paper and the pan. Unfold the parchment paper and invert the semifreddo onto a platter. Peel off the paper and cut into 1-inch thick slices. Serve on chilled plates.

Cook's Note: To toast the hazelnuts, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly toasted. Cool completely before using.