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Megans Cookin: March 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Daring Bakers: Lasagna and Ravioli

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

I have to admit, I wasn't so thrilled when I saw this months challenge. But after thinking about it for awhile, I realized I could also make ravioli with half the recipe. I'm having a 7 course dinner party next month, and this would make a perfect course. A little attitude adjustment, and I was pretty excited to give this long, and I do mean long, recipe a try.

The recipe consisted of three elements.

A Ragu sauce,
Spinach Pasta,
White sauce.

Lets start with the ragu!

I thought it was delicious!!!
The recipe actually called for beef, pork, and veal. I opted to just go for the beef. I bought some skirt steak and ground it in the food processor. So much better then hamburger!!!

It's got onions, celery, carrots in there with tomatoes, wine, and seasonings. Simmered for hours, it wasn't hard to make, just hours of simmering time. I'll make it again. Perfect for one of those stay at home rainy kind of days!!!

The second element was the pasta. It was fun to mix this together. Just three ingredients.

But if I ever do this again, I'll invest in a pasta roller.
In fact, I think I'll start pricing me one! ;)

It seems I had pasta every where but it was so fun to look at. MY PASTA!!!
It was so exciting to see my results.

And I cut out little circles and filled them some ragu.

Sealed and crimped with my umpteen year old Pampered Chef thingamajig that I have never used. Glad I'm a pack rat! Look how beautiful! Let's just pause for a moment and...
and admire them!

The third element of this challenge was the Bechamel sauce AKA white sauce. Simple white sauce with a dash of fresh nutmeg. That is what I'm going to use as the sauce for these beautiful raviolis. They're in the freezer just waiting for the party. They will get a quick dip in the hot tub, then be dressed in white for their presentation. I can't wait!

If you would like this recipe, you can click here

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Chocolate Angel Torte

With Springs arrival, I wanted something light yet sweet. When I came across this recipe in one of my cookbooks, I new this was just the recipe to welcome the sun drenched days of a perfect weekend. A chocolate angel food cake with strawberry cream layered between slices. It's a quick and easy cake to make, that's pretty enough to impress your guests. And it all starts with an angel food cake mix.

After baking, you just slice it into four layers and start layering that strawberry cream. I was going to dip strawberries in chocolate to garnish the cake but I messed up the chocolate and while trying to save it, it turned into a glaze. An accident that turned into a success story.
I love when that happens!

This is a "must make" recipe that's sure to please.
Sinfully delicious!

Chocolate Angel Torte
1/3 Cup Cocoa
1 PKG (about 16 oz) angel food cake mix
2 envelopes (1.3 oz each) dry whip topping mix (like Dream Whip)
1 Cup cold nonfat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Cup strawberry puree (see note)

1. Move oven rack to lowest position.

2. Sift cocoa over dry cake mix in large bowl,stir to blend. Proceed to make cake as directed on package. Bake and cool as directed for 10 inch tube pan. Carefully, run knife around along side of pan to loosen; remove from pan. Using serrated knife, slice cake horizontally into four layers.

3. Prepare whip topping as directed on package, using 1 cup nonfat milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Fold in strawberry puree.

4. Place bottom cake layer on serving plate; spread with 1/3 of the strawberry topping. Set next cake layer on top and spread with 1/3 of the topping. Continue layering cake and topping. Garnish with strawberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice cake with long serrated knife, cutting with gentle sawing motions. Cover; refrigerate leftover cake.

Strawberry puree
Mash 2 cups fresh strawberries (or frozen berries, thawed) in blender or food processor. Cover and blend till smooth. Puree should measure one cup.

Chocolate glaze
Melt one cup chocolate chips with 3 tablespoons fat free half and half. Pour over cake

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Thin Mint Brownies

I have spent my fair share of time sitting outside stores, trying to sell cases of Girl Scout cookies. I told myself when I was no longer in scouts, I would a least buy a box of two and help support these little girls. Every box sold helps. So when I found them selling their baked goods outside the grocery store, I picked up a box of Thin Mints to make these delicious brownies.

You just crush a sleeve of Thin Mint cookies and add them to your brownie batter. You could use a boxed brownie mix, but I made one of my favorite home made recipes. I used the Baker's Chocolate One Bowl Brownie recipe. It makes a delicious brownie, it only dirtys one bowl, and I usually have the ingredients on hand. Next time you run into a Girl Scout selling her cookies, pick up an extra box of Thin Mints. You must try these brownies!

Thin Mint Brownies

4 squares BAKER'S Unsweetened Chocolate
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1 sleeve (1/2 box) Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies, crushed

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9-inch baking pan.

MICROWAVE chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, and crushed Thin Mint Cookies, mix well. Spread into prepared pan.

BAKE 30 to 35 min. or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Naughty or Nice?

I woke up this morning and found this note
taped to the inside of my computer.
My sick kid wanted scones and devonshire cream.
How could I say no?
scones and strawberries for breakfast!

I started out with a cream scone recipe that I found here.
I used Splenda for the sugar and fat free half and half for the heavy cream.
I was going to lighten it up.
Be the good girl that I've been trying to be...
till I came across the TCHO chocolate.
What the heck, it's a rainy Sunday morning.
Lets SPLURGE!!! Chocolate chunk scones.

And if we're gonna splurge, let's go all the way.
"Mock" Devonshire cream.
Because let's face it... it's all about the cream.
The scone is only a utensil to get the cream to your mouth.

So... what do you think? Was I
naughty or nice?

Cream Scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated white sugar (I used Splenda)
2 teaspoonsbaking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whipping cream(I used FatFree half and half)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and place the rack in the middle of the oven. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. In a small measuring cup combine the whipping cream, beaten egg and vanilla. Add this mixture to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined. Do not over mix.

Knead dough gently on a lightly floured surface. Roll or pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches (18 cm) round.
Brush the tops of the scones with a little cream and sprinkle with a course sugar if desired. This helps to brown the tops of the scones during baking.

Bake for about 15 - 18 minutes or until nicely browned

Mock Devonshire Cream
4 oz marcarspone cheese
1 cup heavey cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 Tablespoon granulated sugar

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and beat until the mixture holds its shape and looks like softly whipped cream. Use right away or cover and refrigerate the cream until serving time.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Grilled Salmon With Pineapple-Banana Salsa

Last week my girlfriend and I went to lunch together. We decided to check out the menu before we went as she is a very picky eater. On the website, there was a section labeled "Recipes". Well, as you can guess, that was my first click. As soon as I found this recipe, I hit the print button. And I wasted no time when I got home to make it. It was Paradise on a plate!

A few simple ingredients and a trip to the fish market, this dish was a perfect weekday meal. It's fresh and fast, and best of all, HEALTHY! Three months into the new year, and I'm still doing healthy! I'm pretty proud that I'm still on the health wagon. Well, If you don't count the muffins I made last night. But I gave some away! That's like cutting the calories in half, right? RIGHT???

Grilled Salmon With Pineapple-Banana Salsa
6 (6-8 oz each) Salmon Fillets
Kosher salt and pepper
1 Cup pineapple, fresh, diced
1 Cup Banana, diced
1/4 Cup red onion
1/4 Cup red bell pepper
3 Tablespoons sweet chili sauce
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped
mix all salsa ingredients together and chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes before putting fillets on the grill. Make sure the grill is very hot. Spray the salmon with a cooking spray and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill the fillets for 2-3 minutes per side. Top with salsa.

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Cinnamon Banana Snack Cake

I like bananas, really I do. The long slim fruit that pack a punch of potassium.

I like them best sliced in a bowl of cereal or just by them selves.
But I have a dirty little secret.

Shh! Come closer and I'll tell!

I don't care for them all that much when they turn black and mushy. When it's time to turn them into beautiful baked goods, they don't tease my taste buds.

They don't bark at me to bake. They just don't do much for me.
Banana baked goods are just...


I actually prefer them to be a secondary flavor. Mix in some chocolate chips, or coconut, or in this case some cinnamon and then were talking.

I knew the minute that I saw Marie's post on her Banana Cinnamon Chip Cake that I was making it. And believe it or not, I just happened to have three black mushy bananas sitting on my table. I saw her post first thing in the morning and I had this delicious snack cake baked by that afternoon. It was the easiest cake to throw together. And look at that crispy, crunchy topping! I even went and bought more bananas that evening in anticipation of watching them
become black and mushy.

I want to hear them bark at me!

This lovely little cake has no butter or oil. I used half Splenda to replace some of the sugar and I used whole wheat flour. I'm willing to bet it's a bit more hearty then the original recipe. But this way I can have my cake and eat it too! And my taste testers agree.

It's a winner!!!

This cinnamon banana snack cake barks at me! It teases my taste buds.

Cinnamon Banana Snack Cake
3 very ripe bananas
2 large eggs
1½ cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 Splenda
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup cinnamon chips
For topping:
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Butter or spray an 8-inch square pan.In a medium mixing bowl, mash the bananas well with a fork or potato masher. Add the eggs, and stir well to combine. Add the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and vanilla, and stir to mix. Add ¾ cup of the cinnamon chips, and stir briefly. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and set aside.In a small bowl, stir together the topping ingredients. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the batter in the pan, and top with the remaining ¼ cup chips.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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