Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Absolute Best Birthday Cake of All Time Ever

My family is not one that has a ton of traditions that we absolutely must adhere to every time a holiday rolls around, but there are several that are absolutely non-negotiable: my mom and dad's stuffing at Thanksgiving, setting up Dickens village at Christmas, and making my dad this incredible penuche cake for his birthday.  Now I know that my blog is usually meant for healthy recipes, but I need to say that not only is this not at all healthy, it is also not for the weak.  A legit sweet tooth is an absolute requirement.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Brussels Sprouts and Barley Soup

We have reached the point in winter where I am over wearing shoes with rubber soles and eating warm, hearty dishes.  Not to say that there aren't many, many incredible warm hearty dishes, but is anyone else with me in craving a real red tomato?!  To cheer myself up I found some incredible spring and summer dresses to hold myself over until the weather decides to join my state of mind.  I know that this is a blog about food, but let's be honest, I am a lady.

Despite my desires, it is still necessary to eat warm, hearty meals while maintaining a slim and healthy lifestyle.  This Brussels sprouts and barley soup recipe from allrecipes.com has been moderately adapted to suit my tastes.  True, it does use some butter, but it makes a gigantic amount of soup and is loaded with vegetables so it's not all that bad.

To start, you will need lots of vegetables and they are all easy to find in the winter.  If you're lucky, and you frequent Green City Market, you may even find some brussels sprouts and turnips there!  The recipe calls for one cup of chopped green beans, one and a quarter cups chopped turnip, one half cup chopped leeks,  and one half cup chopped carrots to start.  I just use a handful of green beans (I like a lot), a whole chopped turnip, one whole leek, and 3-4 medium sized carrots.  If you like other veggies more, substitute!  Put 12 cups of chicken stock (or vegetable to make it a vegetarian dish) into a pot and bring it to a boil.  Add the vegetables and one third of a cup of barley, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 30 minutes gently.

While the vegetables are simmering, trim and chop one and a half pounds of brussels sprouts.  Peel off the outer leaves if they are looking a little droopy and cut off the tough bottom part where it was attached to the stalk.  Add the brussels sprouts to the pot and allow to simmer for 30 more minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender.  Melt a quarter of a cup of butter in a sauce pan.  Whisk in a half of a cup of flour until it is a smooth paste type of a goo.  Add it to the soup and simmer until it's thickened, 10 - 15 minutes.  Take a spatula and smush the flour and butter into the pot if it's not melting easily.

Yep that's a pot of thick soup right there.  But you can sort of see how thick it gets in that picture!

The greens and oranges offset the creamy color and make it look pretty!  It is delicious, filling, and fairly healthy, and I got probably 8 full meals out of one pot of soup!  Make this one night when you're watching TV (may I suggest The Big Bang Theory or Downton Abbey?)  Oh and while we're on the subject of Downton Abbey, this blog series from Bon Appetit is amazing!  If you're in a current state of hibernation, this will keep you occupied for awhile!

Brussels Sprout and Barley Soup
12 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1 whole turnip
1 leek
3-4 medium carrots
1 handful of green beans
1/3 cup barley
1 1/2 pounds of brussels sprouts
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup salt

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Stuffed Mushroom Delights

It has been awhile since my last post.  The holidays almost feel like they never even happened, which makes me sad.  I have cooked wonderful food with the best friends and family in the world.  And I am very eager to share it with you!  I am also eager to share a challenging but exciting piece of news.  I have probably mentioned it briefly, but now it's official.  Ladies, this is my dream come true and I'm sure you can understand why.  At the end of February, my best friend and I will be making the trek to Disney World to run in the DISNEY PRINCESSES HALF MARATHON.  We will be dressing as our favorite princesses (Emily will be Cinderella and I will be Belle).  I can hardly wait... except for the whole I've never run 13.1 miles in my life part.  But it's OK because I have been eating wonderful meals that are fairly healthy and delicious.

Now this isn't the healthiest of recipes, but this is delicious.  We made this for my birthday party (the big 2 5...) and it was a huge success.  I actually made it again for dinner after the holidays had passed.  It's really quite simple so if you're in a pinch and you need a great appetizer that's not too high in calories, this is it!  I found this recipe on the Mark Bittman How to Cook Everything app.

Pre-heat the oven to 400.  First you will need a pound of button or cremini mushrooms (I always use cremini when I can).  Separate the stems from the tops.  Combine the stems in a bowl with an egg.

Using a fork, break up the stems and combine the egg.  Then stir in a half cup of bread crumbs (you could make them with whole wheat bread if you wanted to get crazy), a half cup of grated Parmesan cheese, a half cup of chopped parsley, a clove of minced garlic and salt and pepper.  Then stir in a tablespoon or so of olive oil to make it "shine" as Mr. Bittman says.

Stuff the mushroom caps with the mixture and place on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake, stuffed side up for 15 minutes until they are just a little browned on top.  Serve them warm because the cheese is all melty and gooey and awesome (my words)!

What is your favorite party appetizer treat?

Stuffed Mushrooms

1 pound button or cremini mushrooms
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 minced garlic clove
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste