Thursday, September 30, 2010

He I Cleaned

The whole title of this blog post gives perfect lead into why I named my blog the way I named it.  I'm sure a lot of couples have this theory in the kitchen, then again, maybe not.  It has been our rule since moving in together.  I like the way it works because often we come home from the gym, one of us goes to shower while the other gets dinner started, once dinner is done the other gets to do the shower routine...and cleaning occurs AFTER the second showerer or that person gets mad...I'm just sayin' cold water is not fun!  Lately that gym time has been consummed by work or studying as we are both taking big exams within the next two months (wish us lots of luck!).
Dinner in action
 Before I left for New York three weeks ago, the Hubby had a recipe he wanted to try from his Men's Health Magazine.  We usually have good success with recipes we tear out of the Men's/Women's Health magazines so I was excited about the prospects.  This particular recipe sounded...interesting at first, tasted OK, and maybe, with more tweaking we'll try it again later.

Now more often than not our kitchen is I cook he when he cooks he doesn't like to deviate from the recipe in front of him, and that is A-OK, he also had the defense that he likes to try a recipe the way it was intended before adding his touch/tastes to it...I can't argue with that but I do like to be creative when I get into the kitchen so tweak away I go...but again as I said, he cooked so I tried not to tweak his cooking. :)

OK so I'll stop beating around the bush and just share the recipe.  We had Greek Yogurt Alfredo Sauce with Whole Wheat Pasta, I requested that we also add peas and a chicken breast with it...and he agreed.  The sauce was pretty similar to a true Alfredo sauce BUUUUT I do think that it was pretty obvious we were trying to eat a healthier version of it...aka I like the fatty goodness the real Parmesan and cream make.

We picked a pretty good whole wheat pasta to go with the sauce, I think that since whole wheat pastas have become the big thing over the last few years their taste factor has definitely increased from cardboard to edible.  What do you think?

Well, there's not much else I can say about the was three weeks ago that we had it, and I had a two-week trip to New York in between that, so without further ado, here is the recipe...

Rocco's (DiSpirito author of Now Eat This!) Fettuccine Alfredo
adapted from the April 2010 Men's Health Magazine, The Athlete's Palate

8 ounces whole wheat fettuccine
1 tablespoon butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Pinch of ground nutmeg yep I have yet to stock nutmeg, whether ground or not in our spice cabinet
3/4 cup low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup grated Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese
3/4 cup 5% Greek yogurt
Salt and Pepper to taste

Bring pot of salted water to a boil.  Add fettuccine; cook according to package directions.  While pasta cooks, melt butter in a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook two minutes.  Combine cornstarch and nutmeg in a small bowl; whisk in chicken broth until smooth.  Pour into saute pan, raise the heat, and bring sauce to a simmer, whisking occasionally.  Whisk in 1/2 cup of the cheese until melted.  Remove pan from heat.  Whisk in yogurt until smooth.  Toss fettuccine with Alfredo sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top pasta with remaining cheese.  Serves four.

Calories per serving: 336 Carbs: 47 G Protein: 18 G Fat: 10 G

Yum! I'm hungry now!
Bon Appétit

Monday, September 27, 2010

September's Challenge

Wow I have been extremely bad at updating my blog here lately!  Opps!  I try, but it's hard with traveling so much!  I just got back from a two week trip to New York and I'll be on the road again mid-October.  This month's challenge for the Facebook group was a Lemon Yogurt Cake by Ina Garten from the Food Network.  Let me just tell you, this was a DE-licious cake!  Those who got to eat it were pretty happy with the results too!  I made this cake over Labor Day weekend at my mother-in-law's house.  I don't have too many pictures of process to share, but I do have the beautiful end results.

To be honest with you, with everything I have going on at the moment I didn't think I would have time to make this cake, but it sounded so good and we were seeing family at my mother-in-law's that I figured it would be the perfect time to make the cake.  It was an A+ decision!

The Result!  I took advantage of a gorgeous
day and beautiful fresh-cut roses at
my Mother-in-Law's house
Lemon Yogurt Cake adapted from The Barefoot Contessa

Cake Ingredients
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt I used Vanilla Fit Active Yogurt, I'd be interested to try a berry yogurt in this cake, what do you think?
• 1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
• 3 extra-large eggs
• 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Glaze Ingredients
• 1 cup confectioners' sugar
• 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

The How To
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.  I didn't line the pan and the cake popped out just fine.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.  50 minutes...55 minutes...65 about when the cake is done, my cake browned evenly, however, some of my fellow bakers said their cakes were getting too brown around the edges and had to put foil around the sides to make sure it didn't get too burnt.  Know your oven, know your cake, and work with both I guess.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.  I got excited and made the juice right after I put the cake in, then I think I kept it just a little warm on the stovetop.  I didn't think I had enough to pour onto the cake so I took some bottled lemon juice and sugar and nuked it for a few minutes to add a little more flavor.  I also poked my cake with a fork thinking maybe it would absorb better.
For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.  I definitely did not wait until my cake was completely cool, which I think made it all the better, warm lemony pound cake with a pretty glaze...yuuuuuuuuuuuum!
All Ooey Gooey Goodness!! :)
Results were great on this cake, as I said, everyone enjoyed it!  Another challenge a great success :)  Now go to the kitchen and get baking!

Ready to Eat!
Bon Appétit!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

August Challenge

So August came and went...a little too quickly.  I'm not sure where it went, if you see it, send it my way, I think I left some to do's with it.  One thing I did get to do, but did not post about, was the monthly baking challenge with my friends.  August's challenge was an Inside-Out German Chocolate Cake.  I've never even had a piece of German Chocolate cake, let alone made one.  I was ready for the challenge.

The key ingredients:
The Cake
The Filling

The Icing
This go-around I made sure I read up on the comments from other bakers on the recipe.  I think this was a step in the right direction.  I got some good tips, especially on the Dulce de Leche process.  The cake was a little intimidating after I read through what the process involved, but I got through it without any problems.

I tackled this project as some commenters suggested, which is not the way the recipe would like you to do it.  I started with heating water for the Dulce de Leche.  I put two cans of evaporated milk (I doubled the filling) into a dutch oven full of water.  I made sure the cans were completely covered with water as cans can explode when heated directly.  I was confident that if I kept an eye on the water level and made sure it was over the cans I'd be OK. I turned the water on so that it hit a decent boil, but then I turned it down to low and kept it going at a slower boil, not quite simmer though.  I checked the water level every 15 minutes.
I've never even opened my dutch oven before
I started the cake, I was super excited to use it.
It's so pretty and orange.
After the Dulce de leche was on the stove I put the coconut and pecans into the oven, I took my time with this and put them in one at a time, rather than putting them in together.  I am still trying to get the hang of toasting pecans, I'm not sure, but I feel like I burn the pecans every time I toast them.  The coconut was beautifully brown after I was done toasting it.
Toasted Coconut
Toasted Pecans

Dulce de Leche Ready
for the Coconut and Pecans
Once the coconut and pecans were toasted I started on the cake batter, I kept the recipe as is, but only put it into two 9-inch pans, I didn't have a third pan as the recipe called for, and I was not too excited to work with the extremely thin layers that other bakers had reported about.
After my cakes were done I put them onto the rack to cool, I put them into the fridge so that they were sufficiently cool and then popped them into the freezer for about 20 minutes right before I was ready to fill and ice the cake.  When I combined the Dulce de leche, coconut, and pecans I was nervous about having to spread it onto the cake.  Some posters reported that it was difficult to spread...correction, it didn't spread at all due to the consistency of the filling.  I ended up taking a page from my rice crispy treat knowledge and I sprayed a spatula with cooking spray and pressed the filling down onto the cake.  The only problem I encountered there was that I think I pushed the cake down and might have flattened it out a little if it wasn't flat enough to begin with.

The icing I made at the end of the whole process.  I was not confident in the glaze and I ended up putting it into the fridge too get a bit thicker and I used it as a ganache/icing for the entire cake.  This worked out really well.  I ended up taking a tooth pick and writing "We'll Miss You" to some friends who were getting ready to move, they liked the cake and then I sent it in with the Husband to class to feed his class.  He said they enjoyed it...although it might have had too much sugar in it, one of his buddies said he was ready to bounce off the walls, haha.

Another successful baking adventure!