Summer Vegetable Pizza

29 Jul

This pizza is bursting with fresh summer flavors … from the fresh basil pesto to the toppings of zucchini, tomato, red pepper, and mushrooms. I’ve never used the refrigerated dough balls before, but I figured if it was good enough for this Cooking Light recipe, I’d give it a shot. Sure, it’s a little more work than the ready-made pizza crusts, but the payoff is worth it! For only $1.70, I got one of the Safeway Select traditional pizza dough balls, which yielded a thick, chewy crust. I used my pizza stone to get a nice crunchy bottom to support all of my toppings and cheese. As with most moms, I was chasing after two kids while trying to make dinner—hence, the burned cheese. Oh well, it was still delicious!

Summer Vegetable Pizza

1 refrigerated fresh pizza dough
1 tbsp cornmeal
2-3 tbsp fresh basil pesto
½ red bell pepper, diced
1 small tomato, sliced
1 cup fresh mushrooms
½ zucchini, diced
Olive oil
1½ cups shredded mozzarella

1. Place a pizza stone or heavy baking sheet in oven. Preheat oven to 500° (keep pizza stone or baking sheet in oven as it preheats).

2. Put a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal on a flat cookie sheet (using a cookie sheet will allow you to pick up and easily slide the pizza onto the pizza stone). With a little olive oil on your hands, form dough into a 14-inch circle.

3. Pierce the entire surface of the pizza dough liberally with a fork. Spread pesto sauce over crust, leaving a ½-inch border. Arrange the vegetables over the dough, and sprinkle evenly with cheese.

4. Carefully remove pizza stone from oven and slide pizza on top, parchment paper and all. Bake at 500° for 15-17 minutes or until the crust and cheese are browned. Brush edge of dough with olive oil. Slice and serve!

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Cannoli Stuffed French Toast

17 Jul

My husband loves cannoli, so when I saw that Two Peas & Their Pod had a recipe for cannoli stuffed french toast, I was all over it. I actually made this for him for Father’s Day breakfast. It was definitely a treat—like having dessert first thing in the morning! I wouldn’t recommend this on a regular basis (holy calories Batman!), but it is fabulous for a special occasion.

Cannoli Stuffed French Toast

Cannoli Stuffed French Toast

Yield: Serves 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes

1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream (or milk)
4 slices French bread
2 tbsp butter
Powdered sugar-for serving

1. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Stir in the mini chocolate chips. Set aside.

2. In a shallow bowl or pie plate, whisk the eggs and heavy cream together. Spread 2 slices of the bread with the ricotta mixture, about 1/2 cup per slice. Place the other slices of bread on top and gently press them together. Carefully dip both sides of each sandwich into the egg mixture until well coated.

3. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the French toast sandwiches and cook until golden, about 4 minutes per side. Cut the sandwiches in half on the diagonal and transfer to plates. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately.

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Lemon Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

15 Jul

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I’m not a huge baker—not from scratch anyway. I make no secret of the fact that I think boxed cake mixes are not only acceptable but quite delicious. Sure, I doctor them up and get creative, but it’s not everyday that I make a cake from scratch. When I saw this recipe for lemon cake from Cooking Light (and the great reviews it got), however, I decided it was worth the effort.

I did stray from the original recipe when it came to the frosting, choosing instead to use my go-to recipe for cream cheese frosting. The result was ah-mazing! Seriously, this is one of the best cakes I have had. I love lemon desserts, so maybe I am just a sucker for the tart mixed with the sweet, but this was really, really good. Yes, my cake was a little lopsided and not the prettiest thing I’ve ever made, but I somehow didn’t mind that too much as I was shoveling it into my mouth!

lemon cake with cream cheese frosting

Lemon Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cake:

2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½tsp salt
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 cup nonfat buttermilk
2 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Frosting:

16 oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Lemon rind spirals (optional, for garnish)

 

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. To prepare cake, grease and flour 2 (8-inch) round cake pans and set aside.

3. Lightly spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

4. Place granulated sugar and ½ cup butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and nonfat buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat in 2 tbsp lemon rind and 2 tbsp lemon juice.

5. Pour batter into prepared pans; sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 32 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

6. To prepare icing, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the powdered sugar.

7. Place 1 cake layer on a plate and carefully level with a knife if necessary; spread half of icing on top of cake. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining half of icing over top of cake and around sides. Garnish with lemon rind strips, if desired. Store cake loosely covered in the refrigerator.

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Chocolate-Dipped Cheesecake Pops

19 Jun

Olivia got a Ballerina Cookbook for Christmas and about once a week asks if we can make one of the recipes. This usually translates to, “Mommy, I’ll pick it out and pretend that I’m going to help. You do everything else.” Her latest pick was Sugar Plum Fairy Pops, or little balls of cheesecake, dipped in chocolate, and covered in various toppings.

After a couple of failed attempts at balling up sticky, mushy cheesecake, I gave up and just cut the cake into bite-sized squares. Tasted just the same but WAY easier. Once I stopped trying to roll impossible cheesecake balls, these were really easy.

Cheesecake Pops

Chocolate-Dipped Cheesecake Pops

1 prepared cheesecake
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp shortening
Lollipop sticks
Sprinkles, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, and any other toppings you’d like

 

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut the cheesecake into 1½ inch squares and place on the baking sheet. Put a lollipop stick in the top of each square and push down so that it goes almost through the other side but not quite. Freeze for about 3 hours or until hard.
  3. Place chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat until chocolate is melted and smooth.
  4. Remove the cheesecake pops from the freezer and dip each one, making sure the chocolate covers them entirely. Return each pop to the baking sheet and sprinkle with toppings.
  5. Let set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or until ready to eat.

Makes about 24 cheesecake pops.

Cheesecake Pops

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Baba Ghanoush

17 Jun

Baba Ghanoush is a Middle Eastern spread made of roasted eggplant and tiny bits of Heaven. It is also really fun to say. I have no more words—just make it, eat it, love it.

Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ghanoush

1 large eggplant
¼ cup tahini, plus more as needed
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
1 pinch ground cumin
salt, to taste
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

 

  1. Heat your grill to medium-high heat, and preheat your oven to 375°F.
  2. Prick the eggplant with a fork in several places and place on the grill 4 to 5 inches from the fire. Grill, turning frequently, until the skin blackens and blisters and the flesh just begins to feel soft, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet and bake until very soft, another 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and peel off and discard the skin.
  4. Place the eggplant flesh in a bowl. Using a fork, mash the eggplant to a paste. Add the 1/4 cup tahini, the garlic, the 1/4 cup lemon juice and the cumin and mix well. Season with salt, then taste and add more tahini and/or lemon juice, if needed.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and spread with the back of a spoon to form a shallow well. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the parsley.
Baba Ghanoush

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Summer Rolls

6 Jun

Summer rolls are an easy and refreshing appetizer that are fun to make, so this is a great recipe to get your little ones involved in the kitchen. This recipe uses lots of “leaves” as my three year old would say, so feel free to modify your filling to suit your family’s tastes. You can fill these with mango, crispy rice vermicelli noodles, julienned carrots, cucumber … get creative!

Summer Rolls

You can find the rice paper rounds at most international supermarkets if you don’t have any luck at your local grocery store. Keep in mind that you’ll get a bunch in the package, so you won’t use them all in one go (unless you are making these for a party or something along those lines).

A huge THANK YOU to my brother, Josh, for this recipe and for teaching me how to make these—definitely easier than I ever imagined!

Summer Rolls

1 package of 8-inch rice paper rounds
1 bunch fresh mint
1 bunch fresh basil
1 bunch scallions
1 head of romaine lettuce
½ lb small shrimp
Peanut sauce for dipping

 

1. Steam shrimp and set aside.

2. Slice scallions into 3-inch pieces. Clean and separate lettuce leaves. Pull mint leaves and discard the stems.

3. Fill a large pie plate with water. Submerge one rice paper round in the water for 5-10 seconds. Place on a clean surface and place a lettuce leaf, 2-4 scallions, a few mint leaves, and 4-6 shrimp.

4. Carefully lift the edge of the rice paper and fold over, pulling back gently towards you to tuck in the fillings. Fold in the edges and continue rolling, burrito-style.

5. Allow the roll to sit for a minute before slicing in half. Serve with peanut sauce for dipping.

Summer Rolls

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Hands-Free (Almost) Risotto

2 Jun

If you’ve read this blog before, you know that I love risotto. I tend to turn this side dish into the star by adding vegetables and protein for a one-dish meal. Is risotto versatile and kid-friendly? Absolutely. Is it easy to make when you are home alone with a three year old and an infant? Not so much.

The problem with risotto is that you have to stir it, constantly, for about 30 minutes while you gradually add small amounts of warmed broth. So if the baby spits up everywhere or your preschooler yells from the bathroom that she needs you … well, you (or more aptly, your dinner) are screwed.

So when Kenji Lopez-Alt wrote in Cooking Light how he makes the creamiest risotto (and it doesn’t involve constant stirring), I was all over it.

It all starts by rinsing the rice. Mix together the broth and wine and add the rice, agitating to loosen the starchy coating on the grains. When you strain the rice out, you’re left with a liquid that’s already infused with the essential starch that makes risotto thick and creamy.

Toast the rice with some garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil, just as you normally would. But instead of adding a small amount of the liquid and stirring until it absorbs, you add almost all of the broth (saving one cup for the end), bring it to a boil, give everything a quick stir, and cover. Then you cook it for 20 minutes, stirring just once halfway through. Add the final cup of broth at the end with a touch of cream and Parmesan cheese. That’s it.

I was skeptical that this easier method could yield the same quality risotto that I was used to getting with the more tedious approach. I am thrilled to report that I am now able to balance babies and risotto because this method ROCKS!

Risotto

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Are you a Fit Foodie?

27 May

For all of my readers in the DC metro area, here’s your chance to get in some exercise while indulging your inner foodie. The Fit Foodie 5K is coming to the Mosaic District June 20-22!

The Fit Foodie 5K Race Weekend is jam-packed with celebrity chef tastings, cooking and fitness demonstrations, a yoga session with celebrity trainer Kristin McGee, and a Power Systems fitness obstacle course and bootcamp, led by celebrity trainer Patrick Goudeau. Also expect to rub elbows with editors and contributors from Cooking Light and Health magazines who will be on hand to share tips and tricks for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Additionally, 10% of the sale of each ticket for the 2014 series will benefit City of Hope, a leading treatment and research center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases.

Tickets range from $35-$60 per event, or $155 for the whole weekend. But if you use the discount code MOMMACHINE, you can get a 10% off advance online ticket sales! To purchase tickets, go to: www.fitfoodierun.com.

Be sure to follow The Fit Foodie Race Weekend on Facebook or on Twitter at @FitFoodieRun for the latest news, contests, and promotions!

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Edamame Orzo Salad

1 May

My mom first made this dish for my brother and sister-in-law’s family wedding shower last summer. I promised in that post that I would share the recipe soon. Unfortunately, I never took any pictures of the dish during the shower, so I had to make it again (twist my arm) to photograph it for this post. Fast forward eight months and I have FINALLY gotten around to it. The good news is that you now have the recipe just in time to make it for your summer cookouts—enjoy!

Note: The picture below does not include the olives. The ones I had on hand were not pitted and I just don’t have that much patience.

Edamame Orzo Salad

Mediterranean Edamame Orzo Salad

Vinaigrette:
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Pasta:
1/3 box orzo pasta
2 cups cooked, shelled edamame
2/3 cup thinly sliced sundried tomatoes
¼ cup diced red onion
½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half
1/3 cup feta cheese

1. For vinaigrette, combine vinegar, garlic and oregano, and mix with a whisk or in the blender. Slowly add olive oil and mix well. Add salt and pepper.

2. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box and drain.

3. Add all of the remaining ingredients, including the vinaigrette, to the pasta and mix well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving (the longer it refrigerates, the better).

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Carrot Cake Mini Whoopie Pies

28 Apr

I made these carrot cake mini whoopie pies for Easter dessert, and they were a huge hit! The original Cooking Light recipe calls them sandwich cookies, but for all intents and purposes, they’re whoppie pies. The kids gobbled them up, despite the fact that they were very obviously full of veggies. The fact that there was delicious cream cheese frosting oozing out from the middle probably didn’t hurt. I will absolutely be making these again (though next time I am doubling the recipe)!

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

2 cups shredded carrot
2/3 cup packed brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup unsalted butter, divided
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp grated orange rind
3/4 tsp vanilla extract, divided
1 large egg
4.5 oz unbleached all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/8 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp baking soda
4 oz 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar

 

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

2. Combine carrot and 3 tablespoons brown sugar in a bowl; toss to coat. Place carrot mixture in a fine mesh sieve; let stand to drain for 10 minutes. Discard liquid.

3. Place 2 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 45 seconds or until melted. Add oil, rind, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and egg; stir with a whisk until well combined.

4. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, remaining brown sugar (about 1/2 cup), cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and baking soda in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add carrot mixture and butter mixture; stir until just combined. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets for a total of 28 cookies (14 per baking sheet); gently pat dough down to form 2-inch circles. Bake at 350° for 11 minutes or until set. Remove pans from oven; let stand 3 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on a wire rack.

5. Combine cream cheese, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, remaining 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 3 minutes or until fluffy. Add powdered sugar; beat at low speed 1 minute or until well combined (do not overbeat). Spread about 1 tablespoon icing on flat side of 1 cookie; top with another cookie, flat side down. Repeat the procedure with remaining cookies and filling.

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