Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cheesy Italian Bread

Cheesy Italian Quick Bread

(adapted from Taste of Home)
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
  • Servings: Depends on how generous your slices are!
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
  • Optional: spray butter, an extra tbsp butter, or garlic spray
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch round baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the first 10 ingredients and mix well. Cut in cold butter with a pastry blender (or two knives/forks) until mixture is made up of fine crumbs.
In a small bowl, whisk together egg, Greek yogurt, and milk. Stir into dry ingredients until just moistened – do not over mix! (If your dough is still a little dry, add an extra splash of milk).
Spoon into prepared baking pan, sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and extra butter, if desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool slightly before serving. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Baked eggplant parmesan


  • Olive oil, for baking sheets
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 large eggplants (2 1/2 pounds total), peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 6 cups (48 ounces) store-bought chunky tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 2 baking sheets with oil; set aside. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and 2 tablespoons water. In another bowl, combine breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup Parmesan, oregano, and basil; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, coating well; place on baking sheets. Bake until golden brown on bottom, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn slices; continue baking until browned on other side, 20 to 25 minutes more. Remove from oven; raise oven heat to 400 degrees.
  3. Spread 2 cups sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange half the eggplant in dish; cover with 2 cups sauce, then 1/2 cup mozzarella. Repeat with remaining eggplant, sauce, and mozzarella; sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Pumpkin snack bread

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in flours, spices, salt, and baking soda, stirring just until moist. Stir in chocolate chips.
  • Spoon batter into a loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool. Makes 16 slices.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Moroccan Stew

Looks gross, tastes yummy.



  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • meat such as chicken sausage or ground turkey (optional)


  1. Place the onion, garlic, carrots, sweet potatoes, garbanzo beans, into a slow cooker. In a bowl, mix the cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, parsley, and salt, and sprinkle over the vegetables. Pour in the tomatoes and broth, and stir to combine.
  2. Cover the cooker, set to High, and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened, 4 to 5 hours.
  3. Serve over couscous.

Snackity snackers

  • 1 cup (dry) oatmeal (I used old-fashioned oats)
  • 1 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like. (Mine were about 1″ in diameter.) Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Surprise chocolate cookies

The best things come in surprise form. Small children are surprised when presents magically appear under the tree on Christmas morning, Easter baskets fill with chocolates overnight, and friends jump up from behind couches on your birthday. With this recipe cookies will be added to the list of all time great surprises. Who doesn't want to be surprised by cookies? 


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 12 large marshmallows, cut in half horizontally
  • Frosting
    • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
    • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
    • 1/4 cup milk
    • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • (optional: replace half of milk and vanilla with coffee liquor)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, milk, and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add reserved flour mixture; mix on low speed until combined.
  3. Using a tablespoon or 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto ungreased baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies begin to spread and become firm, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Remove baking sheets from oven, and place a marshmallow, cut-side down, in the center of each cookie, pressing down slightly. Return to oven, and continue baking until marshmallows begin to melt, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  5. Place confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in butter and cocoa powder. Add milk and vanilla, and whisk until well combined.
  6. Spread about 1 tablespoon of frosting over each marshmallow, starting in the center and continuing outward until marshmallow is covered.

Orange Spice Molasses Cookies


Rolling Sugar

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest

Cookie Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup light or dark molasses
  • 7 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
  2. To prepare the rolling sugar: Pulse 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon orange zest in a food processor until well combined. Place in a shallow dish and set aside.
  3. To prepare cookie dough: Grind oats in a blender until they look like a fine powder, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the sides as needed.
  4. Beat butter and 1/3 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Add brown sugar and 2 tablespoons orange zest and beat another 2 minutes. Add molasses, applesauce, egg yolk, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, pepper and salt; beat on medium-high until incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.
  5. Turn the mixer to medium and slowly add the ground oats. Scrape down the bowl; with the mixer on medium, slowly add whole-wheat flour. (The dough will be moderately sticky.)
  6. Using a slightly rounded tablespoon of dough, roll into balls, then roll in the rolling sugar to coat. (If necessary, wet your fingers to help roll without sticking.) The zest will make the mixture slightly wet and it will clump; lightly brush off the excess so that just a thin coat is on the cookie. Place cookies about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake the cookies in batches until the edges are set and the tops are cracked, but the centers are still soft and puffy, about 10 minutes.
  8. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 8 minutes. Serve warm or cool on a wire rack.

Roasted veggie and quinoa salad

  • 1 cup quinoa, well rinsed
  • 2 cups chicken stock (plus additional for steaming greens)
  • Fresh basil or other herbs, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into quarters
  • 1 yellow summer squash, sliced in half (remove seeds if you prefer)
  • 1 large portabello mushroom, sliced into large strips
  • 1/4-1/2 (depending on size) sweet onion, cut into rings
  • 1-2 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 ears corn, cooked and cut off cobb
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (plus extra for greens)
  • pepper
  • 8 cups mustard greens, rinsed and cut into large pieces
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions, substituting chicken stock for water. Stir in basil or additional herbs after cooking.
  2. In a large saucepan, saute garlic in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil until brown, but not burnt (You will have to watch closely). Add 1/4 cup of chicken stock to pot and top with greens. Cover and let steam for 25 minutes, or until greens are bright in color and tender.
  3. Toss remaining ingredients in a large pan until evenly coated with oil and vinegar. Spread out vegetables in a single layer. Place under broiler until veggies start to char. Turn once to darken both sides. As vegetables finish you may need to remove some from the pan before others. Chop cooked vegetables into smaller pieces.
  4. Layer dish starting with mustard greens, then quinoa, followed by vegetables. You may choose to add liquid from the vegetable pan or additional olive oil if dish is dry.

Danish chocolate biscuit cake

For Joe's birthday I decided to make him a brick cake. Unfortunately, I don't know how to make brick cake and I've only had one bite of this cake in my whole life. After an exhaustive internet search I decided upon the following recipe.

Kiksekage – Danish Biscuit Cake

1 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
8 oz. 70% chocolate
7 tbsp salted butter
7 oz biscuits

Line a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap or foil.

Combine whipping cream and powdered sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Slowly pour the hot cream mixture over the chopped chocolate. Stir the mixture until shiny and smooth. Let cool for 5 minutes. Cut butter into small pieces and add to chocolate mix, stir until completely melted. Place mixture in refrigerator for 10 minutes to cool.

Cover bottom of loaf pan with chocolate, then place a layer of biscuits, repeat chocolate, biscuit, ending with a layer of chocolate. Cover the top of chocolate with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tasty fish tacos with smokey guacamole and simmering black beans


Tasty Fish Filling
3 Talapia fillets
2 Tbsp Hot sauce (Frank's)
Marinade for Fish
1/4 cup Canola oil
Juice of two limes
1 tsp garlic salt
2 tbsp adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo)
Smokey Guacamole
3 Hass avocadoes
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
2 tomatoes, seeds removed, finely diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
2 chipotle peppers, finely diced
2 teaspoons adobo (from the chipotle can)
1 clove garlic, minced

Simmering Black Bean
1 15-ounce cans of black beans, not drained
1 teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 bay leaf

Toppings and shells
12 corn tortillas
lime wedges
jalapeno, diced
sour cream


For Fish
Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
Put the fish in a zip-top bag and add the marindade.
Slosh the fish and the marinade gently in the bag to ensure that all of the fish is coated.
Seal the bag (removing the excess air) and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
Remove the fish from the marinade and drain well.
Pat each filet dry with a paper towel.
Smear each side of each filet with a teaspoon of hot sauce, applying it as evenly as you can.
Oil the grill grate and both sides of the fish lightly with the canola oil. The oil on the grate will smoke, so wait for it to dissipate.
Put the fish on the grill and cook for three minutes.
Flip the fish over and cook for another minute.
Move the fish to a warm platter, drizzle the fish with lime juice, and cover the platter with plastic wrap.
Quickly warm each tortilla on the grill.

    For the Guacamole: Scoop the flesh of the avocado into a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, and use a wooden spoon to mash everything together.
    For the Beans: Add the beans and the sauce from the cans to a small saucepot, along with all the spices. Season with salt, cover, and heat on medium-low heat until hot and bubbling. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
    For the Tortillas: There are two methods to heating your tortillas. The easy one is to wrap the stack of tortillas in one or two damp paper towels. Then microwave them for a minute or two until soft and steamy. The better way is to preheat a cast iron or regular skillet on medium heat until it’s nice and hot. Spray the pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Dunk a tortilla in a bowl of water, and sear it on both sides until the tortilla is dry and flat (don’t keep turning them; just turn them once when ready). Keep the warm tortillas folded in aluminum foil, and just do the same thing for each tortilla.

    Sunday, February 5, 2012

    Chicken Piccata

    Piccata is an Italian word. And thus we conclude this week's Guide to Italian Cuisine by Jen and Joe. Come back next week when we will dive into the dessert menu. 



    • 6 ounces whole-wheat angel hair pasta
    • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, divided
    • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    • 4 chicken cutlets, (3/4-1 pound total), trimmed
    • 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • 1 10-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
    • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 cup white wine
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
    • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
    • 2 teaspoons butter


    1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and rinse.
    2. Meanwhile, whisk 5 teaspoons flour and broth in a small bowl until smooth. Place the remaining flour in a shallow dish. Season chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper and dredge both sides in the flour. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned and no longer pink in the middle, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; cover and keep warm.
    3. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they release their juices and begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add garlic and wine to the pan and cook until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the reserved broth-flour mixture, lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.
    4. Stir in parsley, capers, butter and the reserved mushrooms. Measure out 1/2 cup of the mushroom sauce. Toss the pasta in the pan with the remaining sauce. Serve the pasta topped with the chicken and the reserved sauce.

    Barley salad

    Do you like potlucks? Of course you do, who doesn't. Do you like Reser's salads? Of course you don't, NO one does! Then stop buying gross "picnic salads" from Safeway and start making delicious summer salads with veggies and grains.

    • 1 cup uncooked barley
    • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn (or about 3 ears fresh corn)
    • 1 red bell pepper, cut into small strips
    • 1 green bell pepper, diced
    • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 1/2 cup lemon juice
    • 1/4 cup cilantro
    • Salt and pepper
    1. Cook barley according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
    2. In a large bowl, mix barley, corn, peppers, and onion.
    3. Mix dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Double chocolate mocha cookies

    Cookies, check. Chocolate, double check. Espresso, check. These cookies have passed the quality check of the Joe test kitchen and are yumm approved. 

    • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
    • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons bitter, softened and divided
    • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 3/4 cup flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 3 ounces white chocolate
    1. Melt bittersweet chocolate and 2 tablespoons butter in small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring often. Add espresso powder; stir until dissolved. Remove mixture from heat; stir in vanilla. Let cool to room temperature.
    2. Beat remaining 1/2 cup butter and sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in bittersweet chocolate mixture and egg. Gradually add flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat at low speed until well blended. Cover; refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm.
    3. Preheat oven to 375. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten with fork dipped in sugar. Bake 9-10 minutes or until set. Immediately remove cookies to wire racks; cool completely.
    4. Place white chocolate in a small resealable plastic food storage bag; seal bag. Microwave 30 seconds per side. Knead bag until chocolate is smooth. Cut tip off bag and drizzle decoratively over cookies.