Tuesday, April 24, 2012

all natural red velvet cake


First made April 2012 - DELICIOUS and RED!


2 large beets (enough for 1 1/2 cups puree) 
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 
1 tablespoon vinegar 
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened 
1 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened slightly 
2 1/3 cups sugar 
4 eggs 
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 
4 tablespoons natural (not dark or dutch processed) cocoa powder 
cream cheese frosting (recipe follows) 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place beets in a small baking dish and add a 1/2 cup of water. Cover with parchment paper and foil, and roast until quite tender, about 60-90 minutes. Allow to cool completely. 

 2. Butter 3 8 inch cake pans. Cut out parchment paper circles and place in the bottoms of the pans. Butter the parchment paper and dust with flour. Set aside. Peel the beets and cut into large chunks. Place in a food processor (or a very good blender) with the lemon juice, and pulse until smooth and pureed. Stir in the vinegar. 

3. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and cream cheese. Pour in sugar and mix until smooth. Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing well until each is incorporated. Mix in vanilla. 

4. While ingredients are mixing, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder in a separate bowl. Slowly add flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of the beet puree mixture, and fold into the cake batter. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans. Tap pans on the counter to remove any air bubbles. 

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Invert cakes onto cooling racks, and allow to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until ready to frost. 

*Some people have commented and said that their cake has turned out maroon in color, instead of the red like the picture. I just tested the recipe again, to see if I could recreate what happened. It could be the cocoa. In the photographs, I used only 2 tablespoons of cocoa because the red color was my main objective, not the chocolate flavor. So, if you’re more concerned about the color than the chocolate flavor, then just use 2 tablespoons of cocoa instead of the 1/4 cup. 

**The other thing I discovered while testing it today, is that I didn’t make my puree as fine. In the pictures from last time, you can see that the texture of the beet puree is very smooth, almost like baby food. I think that may have affected the color. Each tiny piece of beet adds to the color, and if there’s more surface area surrounding each teeny tiny piece, then you’ll get a stronger red. I think. 

cream cheese frosting 

2 packages cream cheese, at room temperature 
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
1 pound (4 cups) confectioner’s (powdered) sugar 
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1 teaspoon pure almond extract 

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Switch to the whisk attachment, and mix until smooth and slightly fluffy.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Orange-Pecan French Toast Casserole

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup
Cooking spray
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup fat-free milk
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg whites
2 large eggs
12 (1-inch-thick) slices French bread (about 1 pound)

Combine brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup; pour into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle chopped pecans evenly over sugar mixture.
Combine rind and next 7 ingredients (rind through eggs); stir with a whisk. Arrange bread slices over pecans in dish; pour egg mixture over bread. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or up to overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°.

Carefully turn bread slices over to absorb excess egg mixture. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until lightly browned.

I found that a 9x13 inch dish was a little small for many pieces of french toast, and I used a smaller roll.  However, if you did a larger dish, the pecan topping might be a bit thin.  Also, the orange flavor was very subtle, so I think you could up the orange a bit.
Otherwise, very easy and turned out well.  I'm curious if you broke up the French toast into random pieces how it would be.  I kept the toast intact.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pistachio Cupcakes

These are delicious and aren't too sweet. They almost taste like muffins. The icing makes enough for two batches (24 cupcakes), so beware. I also made the second batch with a little extra milk to keep the cupcakes more moist.

1/3 cup pistachio nuts
1 stick butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup self-rising flour
2 tablespoons of milk

Preheat the oven to 350 F, then line the muffin pan with paper liners.

Put the pistachio nuts in a food processor and process until finely ground.  Set aside.  Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Stir in the ground nuts, then sift the flour into the mixture and fold in.  Stir in the milk and spoon the mixture into the muffin cups.

Bake for about 18 minutes until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

1 egg white
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
green food coloring

To decorate, put the egg white in a bowl and gradually sift over the confectioners' sugar, beating in as you go until thick and glossy, then beat in the lemon juice.  The icing should be thick but spoonable.

Add a few drops of food coloring to the icing and beat to make a pale pistachio green icing.  Spoon on top of the cupcakes.  Let set before serving.  Icing will harden.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


8 oz. Sharp cheddar cheese 8 oz. Monterrry Jack cheese
4 oz diced pimento, undrained 1 Tablespoon sugar
3 Tablespoons whole grain mustard 1/4 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Grate both cheeses. In small bowl, mash pimento, so there are no large lumps. Mix in sugar, mustard, and manyonnaise (start with 1/4 cup and add more to taste). Pour mixture over cheese, mix well and season to taste.

I grate cheese into mixer bowl. Then place all other ingredients in food processor and pulse a couple of times; then pour mixture into cheese. Mix until thoroughly blended

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pork Tenderloin, Pear and Cranberry Salad

OH MY! This salad is delicious! Good thing it's not many calories, because I ate two helpings!


1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic, divided
1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme, divided
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1/4 cup sliced shallots
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup cranberry juice cocktail
6 cups baby spinach leaves
1 ripe red Anjou pear, thinly sliced


1. Combine vinegar, mustard, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon thyme; set aside.

2. Combine pork and remaining 1 teaspoon garlic, remaining 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; toss well to coat. Sprinkle pork mixture with flour; toss well. Let stand 5 minutes.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots to saucepan; cook 3 minutes or until shallots are tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add cranberries and juice; cook until liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons (about 2 minutes). Reduce heat to medium-low. Add vinegar mixture; cook 1 minute. Gradually add 1 tablespoon oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, stirring well with a whisk. Cover and keep warm.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of pork to skillet; cook 3 minutes or until browned, turning once. Remove pork from skillet. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and remaining pork. Toss pork with 1 tablespoon warm cranberry mixture.

5. Combine spinach and pear in a large bowl. Drizzle with remaining cranberry mixture; toss well to coat. Arrange about 2 cups spinach mixture on each of 4 plates; top evenly with pork.

Nutritional Information

17.7g (sat 3.3g,mono 11.6g,poly 1.9g)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bacon, Ranch, and Chicken Mac and Cheese

I got this from the Cooking Light Marcy 2010 issue. Better than previous Mac and Cheese. Of course, I added more bacon than it calls for.

I'm also not a big fan of pan frying anything. It says to cook the chicken in the bacon fat, which sounds good, but what a mess! Grease spewed everywhere! Any tips on how to better pan fry things would be appreciated.


8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
1 slice applewood-smoked bacon
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
1/3 cup condensed 45% reduced-sodium 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded six-cheese Italian blend (such as Sargento)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded colby-Jack cheese


1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

2. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings in pan. Finely chop bacon; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add chicken to drippings in pan; sauté 6 minutes or until done.

3. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; sprinkle flour evenly into pan. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Combine milk and soup, stirring with a whisk; gradually add milk mixture to saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat; let stand 4 minutes or until sauce cools to 155°. Add Italian cheese blend, onion powder, garlic powder, dill, and salt, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in pasta and chicken.

4. Preheat broiler.

5. Spoon mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with reserved bacon and colby-Jack cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts.

4 servings, 497 calories, 17g fat

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dulce De Leche Pumpkin Cupcakes

I made these for Halloween this year. I just randomly looked for a pumpkin cupcake recipe online and found this one. They are SO DELICIOUS. Even without the dulce de leche filling - I made a mini batch without the filling and they were equally as tasty.


Dulce De Leche Pumpkin Cupcakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
7.5 ounces pureed pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree.

Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Once cooled, using the cone method, fill each cupcake with a dollop of dulce de leche and frost with dulce de leche buttercream. If desired, decorate cupcake with spiderweb design using 3 tablespoons chocolate chips melted together with 1/4 teaspoon shortening.

Dulce De Leche
Adapted from Recipe Girl
Makes just enough to fill cupcakes and use in frosting

1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
boiling water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Open up the can and pour the sweetened-condensed milk into a pie pan. Cover tightly with foil. Place into a larger pan and pour boiling water in larger pan & around pie plate (level of water should be about halfway up the pie plate). Don’t let any water seep up and into the pie plate.

Place in oven and bake for 1 hour. At the one hour point, peel off foil and check for progress. If the mixture has thickened and turned a caramelly color, it’s done. If it doesn’t quite look thick enough or dark enough, cover it up and bake it a little longer (mine took 75 minutes).

When the mixture appears to have turned into a nice, thick caramel, remove from the oven. Let sit for a few minutes, and then beat with an electric mixer until smooth.

Dulce De Leche Buttercream
Adapted from Joy The Baker
Makes enough to generously frost 12 cupcakes

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons prepared dulce de leche

Cream together softened butter and powdered sugar on low using an electric mixer. Add cream and vanilla and beat on medium speed until smooth and no lumps appear. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the prepared dulce de leche and beat to incorporate.