Monday, August 22, 2011

Banana-Rama Cake

This evil jungle cake comes courtesy of ze Cooking Channel ( Bananas...check. Chocolate...check. Cream cheese, pecans, sugar, NUTELLA....CHECK! This cake is ridiculous and best when served ice cold. At home and at the office...this cake did NOT last long.

The original recipe calls for three layers. I cut mine down to two layers and used the rest to make two mini loaves. I would also double the recipe for the cream cheese whipped cream frosting...because you eat most of it before it even goes on the cake. least some of you will. Lastly...I added coconut flavoring instead of vanilla to the frosting.

This cake is so's dumb.

3/4 cup softened salted butter
1.5 cups packed light brown sugar
1.5 cups sugar
3 large eggs
6 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4.5 cups wheat flour
1 tb baking soda
1 cup chopped pecans, optional
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1 (13-ounce) container Nutella)

1 softened block cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla OR coconut extract
2 cups heavy whipping cream

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease 2-3 (9-inch) round cake pans with butter or cooking spray. In large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, bananas, sour cream, and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the dry ingredients to the batter.

Stir in pecans and chocolate chips. Divide the batter among the baking pans. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes.

For the frosting: Prepare the frosting by whipping the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until creamy....omg don't eat it all yet. Increase the mixing speed, then slowly pour in the heavy cream and beat until smooth and thick and the frosting is the consistency of whipped cream....OK now dig in as this is the best part! Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.

To assemble the cake, place 1 cake layer on a cake plate. Spread with 1/2 the container of chocolate-hazelnut spread. (Really only use as much Nutella as you like...this calls for an entire jar to which I only used half). Repeat with the second layer, using the remaining 1/2 of the chocolate-hazelnut spread. Frost the rest of the cake with the cream cheese frosting and garnish. Place in the fridge to chill until ready to serve.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fried Zucchini Flowers with Goat Cheese

Every summer, my gardening friends shower me with loads of zucchini because they've grown too many and don't know what to do with all of it...other than make bread or kabobs. Lame. Rather than killing yourself over trying to avoid wasting your precious home grown vegetable...pick the flowers BEFORE they grow into zucchini. can eat those flowers without feeling like a vegan. Cooking with zucchini flowers is a completely new ingredient to me...and so far the results are fab. I was able to pick up a bunch for about $4 at Detroit's Eastern Market. The woman that sold them to me said to check inside each flower to make sure no bees are in I've seen chef's use them on cooking shows so I had an idea as to what I wanted to do with them. Stuff em and fry em. It is a bit labor intensive, but myself and fellow taste testers would give them are calling them freakin' delicious! It's a cheap and creative way to serve a mini crowd of friends!

What you'll need:

- About 12 fresh zucchini flowers (avoid ones that are opened, torn, mushy...ew)
- About 3.5 oz of softened plain goat cheese
- Fresh basil, flat-leaf parsley and chives
- Salt and pepper
- 1 lemon
- 1 cup of whole wheat flour (or whatever flour you have around)
- 1 cup of ice cold water
- 2 egg yolks
- 1-2 cups of canola or vegetable oil for frying

Prep your flowers by gently rinsing under cold water and pat dry. Gently pull back the petals, but not all the way...maybe half way down. Leave a short stem as this acts as a little handle. Next...make your goat cheese.

Chop up your herbs and throw about 2 tablespoons in a small bowl. Add in the goat cheese and mix together. Add your salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Set aside.

To make the batter, in a large bowl add your egg yolks and slowly whisk in the ice water until the mixture becomes frothy. Add the flour and stir until it becomes like a pancake batter.

Start heating up the oil over medium-high heat.

Stuffing the flowers is easy....add your cheese mixture to a ziploc bag and nip off a corner of the bag so that you can pipe the cheese into each flower. I piped about 1 tablespoon into each flower and press the petals together so that it is sealed. When the oil is ready for frying, take the stem of the flower and dip into the batter so that it is fully coated and add to the oil. Repeat for each flower. You can use more oil so that each flower is submerged or pan fry. If pan frying, flip when one side is nicely browned. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel or drain rack and immediately hit them with some salt. Serve with some wedges of lemon.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Almost Summer Mini Meatball Soup with Bok Choy

Mmm MMM! Indeed summer is JUST around the corner and who wants to hide their bodies from the sunshine? Not me! Therefore this Asian inspired soup is not only ridiculously filling, it's LOW CARB which is perfect to help lose those last couple of pounds before vacation! Once I make this soup...the entire pot is devoured leaving not one meatball or vegetable behind. This receipe makes a lot of if you have some can freeze em!

For the meatballs:

1/2lb ground sirloin

1/2lb ground pork (unseasoned)

1 egg

4 Tblsp unseasoned bread crumbs

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp Chinese five spice

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 scallion (minced)

Throw all of those ingredients in a big bowl and mixed the heck out of it with your hands or a fork. Form into small meatballs and set aside for later.

For the soup:

64 oz or 8 cups of low sodium chicken broth

1 cup of sliced mushrooms

1/4 cup of shredded carrots

4 sliced scallions

1 head of bok choy (leaves only)

2 Tblsp grape seed or canola oil

Over medium-low heat, add the oil and green onions and cook for about 5 minutes. Raise the heat a little and add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Add in the meatballs, lower heat and bring to a nice simmer for about 20 minutes until meatballs are thoroughly cooked. Do a taste test ;) ... Once the meatballs are cooked, add in the remaining vegetables and bring to a simmer again for about 15 minutes. Garnish with slice scallions.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

Other than making crappy processed food that comes from a box...or getting carry out...soups are probably the easiest meal to make AND the most healthiest depending on what you put in it. After scarfing down on all the holiday chocolates, cookies, cheeses and White jeans utterly hate me. So we all know what January is for and that is to start pouting and complaining about the number on the scale, breaking out the fat clothes and forcing ourselves to get back on track. Which for some mean less bad carbs, smaller portions and more veggies. UGH RIGHT? Soup always helps me to get back to the old me because I know what I am putting in it, very little fat, a lot of vegetables and lots of flavor that I can make in large batches and eat whenever.

Butternut squash soup is so easy to make and it's fast....takes less than an hour to make a large pot of it and you can freeze it too!

1 large butternut squash (peeled and cut into large pieces)
2 large shallots or 1 large red onion (chopped)
2 celery stalks (chopped)
2 carrots (peeled and chopped)
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
2 quarts (2 cans) of vegetable or chicken stock
1/4 cup Half and half

Heat oil over medium heat and add the shallots...cook for about 7 minutes. Add in the rest of the vegetables, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Cook for about 12 minutes or until vegetable a slightly soft. Add in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until vegetables are fork tender. Use an emulsion blender or processor to puree. Stir in half and half. Garnish with a drizzle of honey or yogurt!