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Fun Friday: Low-fat Lemon Pound Cake

6 Apr

This was a winner last year, so we brought it back for an encore performance this year.

 

Earlier this week, I wrote a blog post about a new dessert we tried (and tried again) for our Easter meal. In it, I referred to the fact that I also made a second dessert, so today I thought I’d share that one with you. It’s one that can be made all year long, and it’s gotten rave reviews from my family for two years in a row.

Last Easter we did not host, but we did contribute to the meal, and one of the items we contributed was a dessert. I am not even sure now, how I found this dessert from Angel in the Kitchen, but it was fitting for a springtime, Easter meal and it was one we’d all like, as well as one that I could easily transform to be gluten free by switching out the flour for the Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 baking flour that we use here.

When I read through the recipe, I was a little bit nervous because it used real lemon juice and lemon zest, and I’d always been a cheater and used a bottle of lemon juice in my recipes. I was also nervous because the directions start with, “Unload your dishwasher,” and states that this is a five-bowl recipe. So there was that. Additionally, I doubled my recipe both years in order to make two pound cakes—one for the potluck party after church on Saturday night and one for Easter dessert on Sunday. So for me that was ten bowls because in this case, with this particular recipe, it was easier for me to make two of everything than it was to try to figure out splitting it into two at the end.

It was a multi-bowl recipe, but it was worth it.

I have to say, it’s a fabulous dessert, and it gets amazing feedback each year, whether from our immediate and extended family or from our friends at church, and no one can ever tell it’s gluten free unless I tell them. The use of the fresh lemon juice and lemon zest are what make the difference, and it also makes our house smell delicious as I’m squeezing the juice and grating the lemon for the zest.

My one change that I had to implement was in regards to the glaze. Both years I had to increase it. I tripled it this year, in order to have what I felt was the right amount on top of the cake, even though a lot drips down to the plate below.

I used two lemons, one per cake, and it did not make the 1 ½ tablespoons of zest, but it made enough to make it work, and it makes plenty of juice to make what is needed for the cake and the glaze.

I encourage you to give this recipe a try. It’s not fast and easy, but it’s not incredibly hard and it’s worth every step, every bowl, every minute it it takes.

Have a wonderful weekend!

The taste of success is sweeter after failure

3 Apr

 

It took a lot of perseverance to get to this point.

Throughout their lives, whenever our kids have stumbled, fallen, failed, we’ve helped to support them in getting back up, maybe taking a quick break, and then trying again. It doesn’t matter whether it was learning to walk, riding a bike, passing a class, creating a project or practicing a role. At the end of their journey, we would celebrate their success with them, even if success looked different than they originally anticipated or took longer to achieve than they thought it would. In the end, that taste of victory was sweet.

Cooking can be like that. Sometimes you follow a recipe and make a creation that comes out right the first time. Sometimes you follow a recipe and even though you worked hard and did what you were supposed to do, it ends up having to go into the trash and you need to start all over again. No matter what though, it is my opinion that the taste at the end when you’ve finally gotten it right, is so much sweeter than it would have been the first time around.

It seemed to look okay coming out of the oven.

This Easter I had that experience. I wanted to try out a new recipe for an Italian Ricotta Cake, from “Tornadough Alli,” and to make it gluten free so we could all enjoy it. Because the cake called for using a cake mix, rather than making the entire thing from scratch, it would be easier for me to make a gluten free substitution in the ingredients.

I know that they say not to try out a new recipe for company, and I knew that it’s especially important when it’s for a holiday meal that you’re hosting, but I decided to try it out for Easter anyway. Our guests are forgiving, and really how bad could it go?

Luckily I gave myself an extra day for baking and started on Good Friday night. I had slept much later that morning than usual, so I could cook into the wee hours of the night and get ahead with my baking. It also gave me a buffer of a day or so in case I had to bake an entire cake recipe all over again.

I’m sure you can tell where this is going.

I followed the recipe to a “t” as they say. I only substituted out the white cake mix for a gluten free yellow cake mix so we could all eat it. I used a springform pan for probably the second time in my life.

As it cooled, it looked less and less promising.

However, after I cooked the cake according to the directions and had taken it out to cool, I had a sneaking suspicion that things weren’t going to go my way this time around with this new dessert.

The instructions had specifically stated to be sure the center of the cake was set when taking it out of the oven.

It seemed a little jiggly, but I used a cake tester to test it so many times that it seemed almost like polka dots on top of my cake. Each time, it came out clean, so I figured I was in the clear.

I wasn’t.

As the cake cooled, the center proceeded to sink and I knew the news was not going to be good.

At about 11pm I opted to try to slide the cake off of the bottom of the pan and onto a serving plate to see what would happen.

Not company-ready.

That happened.

Ugh.

I was so bummed out. I was going to have to toss this cake into the trash. There was still raw batter in the center and there was no way to salvage this dessert.

However, as I got ready to toss it, I tasted it. The cooked edges of the cake were delicious! I knew that if it had gone differently, this recipe could have been a keeper.

I still had a half container of ricotta cheese and of heavy cream. I had all the ingredients I needed, I just had to get a new box of gluten free cake mix.

Luckily I had my buffer of an extra day.

On Saturday, my husband picked up the cake mix as I made our other dessert and I mentally prepared myself to start this one all over again. I was determined to make it work.

I followed all of the steps. This time, on the advice of my mother, whom I was frantically texting out of state at almost midnight the night before, I cooked the cake much longer. Her own recipe usually takes almost 20 extra minutes to cook and set properly, so with that in mind, I cooked it until it no longer seemed jiggly in the middle-about 20 extra minutes-and then I pulled it out and crossed my fingers.

Seemed to look much better this time.

It had to work this time or else there was a gluten free bakery down the street that I’d soon be visiting instead.

I left it to cool, went to the mall to get the last kid their Easter dress for church that night (yes, day before Easter and night of when we needed it, I know) and hoped and prayed that when I got back it would still be solid in the middle.

And it was.

We arrived home in time to color our eggs and head off to church that night. I had my two desserts ready to be frosted the next day and I was good to go. I had managed to pull it all off.

On Easter morning, as I was frosting this cake and sprinkling the spring-colored sprinkles on top, I was glad I’d tried out something new, and glad I’d not quit after the first try. Had I not given myself that extra day for the trial run, I may not have had the chance to try a second time, but I’m glad I did.

That evening as we cut into the cake, I was so proud of it and everyone raved about how good it was. It was definitely a keeper, and I definitely think that I enjoyed it more than I would have if it was something I’d accomplished easily. My kids were definitely more proud of me, more complimentary of this particular cake, knowing how much of my time and effort and how many prayers had gone into making it.

I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, I’m pretty sure that this cake had that extra sweet taste of perseverance as it was going down.

Easter Sweet Bread

3 Apr

This recipe makes three “small” loaves of sweet bread for Easter. It’s wonderful when you grill it!

Originally posted April 4, 2012

This recipe is one that takes a while from start to finish- nine hours to be exact- but if you’re game, it’s SO worth it! It is, of course, from my mom. She received it from a woman she worked with. It’s dated April 1992.

My mom makes it every year and I have made it once or twice myself. Don’t let the number of steps scare you off. If you go step-by-step it’s not hard.

Colleen DeMoranville’s Sweet Bread

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 and 1/4 cups hot milk

1 pkg. dry yeast (Fleishman’s Active Dry or Rapid Rise or Red Star)

1 egg- well beaten

1 tsp. vanilla extract (can also use almond if desired)

7 cups flour (start with between five and six and add more if needed)

one 15 ounce can sliced peaches, drained and sliced thinner

DIRECTIONS

1) Mix butter, sugar, salt an d hot milk in a large bowl.

2) Let cool to lukewarm.

3) Stir yeast into 1/4 cup warm water and let stand 5 minutes. (If using a thermometer it’s 110-115 degrees. Add 1/4 tsp sugar or whatever the package of yeast says to add.

4) Add dissolved yeast, egg, the extract and three cups of flour to the butter, sugar, salt and milk. Mix vigorously with flat wooden spoon.

5) Add three more cups of flour and then mix well.

6) If too sticky, add more flour. It almost always needs more, but not more than 7 cups. Too much flour will make the bread tough.

7) Turn out onto floured surface and knead it for one or two minutes, then let rest for 10 minutes. Add remaining flour only if sticky.

8) Knead more until elastic.

9) Put into large buttered bowl . Turn over once so it doesn’t dry out. Cover with a dishtowel or two and let it rise in a warm place until doubled. (Takes a few hours.)

10) Punch down and knead for another minute or two. Cut in half for two long loaves or in thirds for smaller loaves and divide each of those portions into three pieces (for a total of six or nine pieces.)

11) Stretch and roll each piece until long and uniform, about 12-18 inches if divided into two portions. Shorter if divided into three.

12) Use the three pieces to make a braid with each portion.

13) Pinch ends together.

14) Insert peach slices between braids.

15) Place each loaf on a buttered cookie sheet and cover with a towel. Let rise until doubled in bulk. (Takes about 2 hours.)

16) Brush each with one egg yolk that is mixed with 1 tsp. cold water.

17) Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes (check at about 20 minutes) if making 2 large loaves or less if making three smaller loaves (usually between 17 and 18 minutes)

18) Remove loaves to cooling racks.

19) Cool and then glaze with mixture of:

3 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla

5-6 tablespoons milk

Sprinkle with colored sprinkles or non-pareils.

This photo was taken a couple of years back when Elizabeth helped me make the bread. She was probably in first grade at the time. My point is: there’s lots of opportunity for kids to help out here. There’s measuring, kneading, braiding and more, that they can help out with.

NOTE: The whole process takes about nine hours. Start in the morning, end in the evening. Mixing and kneading takes about one hour. First rising takes about two hours. Braiding takes about a half hour. Second rising takes about two hours. Baking takes about a half for each loaf, then cool and glaze.

My mom stores hers in gift boxes (like from a department store) on waxed paper.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Creamy Mushroom Orzo

4 Mar
I loved the texture and flavor of this recipe!

I loved the texture and flavor of this recipe!

ORIGINALLY POSTED JANUARY 15, 2014: Recently my friend Melissa shared a recipe that came through Facebook. Although Facebook is a great place to find and share recipes, you can’t always be sure where the recipe truly originated, so it’s hard to credit someone. It seems as this recipe for Creamy Mushroom Orzo may have originated on the page of Sharon Fox, who lists herself as author, food editor, radio personality and personal chef. However, even she says that the recipes found on her page are not from her own cookbooks, but are recipes she’s tried and loved. But, we do the best we can. I always like to give credit where credit is due, if I can.

No matter what, I’m so glad that someone, somewhere, originally made and share this recipe! I really loved it. I used it as a side dish for a kind of “boring” meal that we were having and to me, it made my meal so much more exciting.

The kids did not love it quite as much and I think it’s because it calls for white wine and it really holds the flavor.

I think that’s why I loved it so much!!

The recipe was fast, easy to make, and delicious; all my top qualifiers for a recipe.

I’m sharing it here, give it a try if you’re looking for something to jazz up one of your own meals!

This was an easy-to-make recipe, fast and delicious!

This was an easy-to-make recipe, fast and delicious!

CREAMY MUSHROOM ORZO

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 chopped onion

3 cloves chopped garlic

2/3 cups orzo

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon fresh sage

1 tablespoons butter

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (or water)

3/4 cup white wine

1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS
1.In medium sized skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic.

2.Stir, cooking until onions are golden and soft.

3.Add orzo, mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, sage, and butter. Cook, stirring about 5-6 minutes until mushrooms are tender.

4.Pour both chicken broth and wine into orzo mixture. Bring broth to a boil. Stirring often cook 10-15 minutes or until orzo is soft and liquid is absorbed.

5.Stir in Parmesan cheese before serving.

Fat Free Strawberry Muffins (vegan)

5 Apr
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Happy Easter!

This past weekend was Easter. Normally we host Easter but this year my parents decided to host, and I was looking for something new to bring to add to their spread.

Since embarking on our new fat-free menu plans, I’ve been doing a lot of what we like to call “healthifying” and “defatifying” of our old recipes in order to make them something we can all eat.

It’s easy enough to do to almost any recipe: wheat flour instead of white, or half wheat/half white, egg substitute instead of eggs, fat free plain yogurt instead of oil, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter instead of butter.

Even though it’s not hard to change over a recipe to make it healthy, it was such a great find when I came across the blog Fat Free Vegan Kitchen on Facebook. I was thrilled because it meant the work was done for me. The recipes are already fat free. What a relief.

When Susan posted some yummy looking strawberry muffins on her blog in the week leading up to Easter, I knew I’d found my new contribution for Easter brunch. The recipe called for everything I had on hand, including strawberries. For our brunch I doubled it and it made 15 muffins.

The response to this new recipe was outstanding. Everyone who tried them loved them, and there were only a few left at the end of the day. It’s definitely a recipe I’d make again, and I absolutely loved that for us they were worry-free because they were definitely fat free.

I hope you’ll venture on over to Fat Free Vegan Kitchen and check out some of Susan’s other recipes. And, I hope you’ll try these delicious muffins! You’d never know they were fat free. With summertime coming, we’re heading right into fresh strawberry season. Hang onto this recipe!

**For our modifications, I used skim milk instead of non-dairy. I used a dash of sugar instead of stevia, to sweeten the batter a bit, and I added more confectioner’s sugar to thicken up my glaze a bit. It seemed too runny to me at first.**

I’ve included all of Susan’s instructions as well as her notes and nutritional information. I find her blog very helpful and informative.

The glaze on these was delicious!

The glaze on these was delicious!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup strawberries, whole
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk (as needed)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar (optional)
  • 4 teaspoons strawberry puree or all-fruit spread (optional)
  • a few drops vanilla extract (optional)DIRECTIONS
  • Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a mini-muffin pan by oiling it lightly or filling with paper liners.
  • Place the strawberries in a food processor or blender and process until they are pureed. Measure out 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the puree into a small bowl and set aside any remaining puree for another use. Add the maple syrup, non-dairy milk, lemon juice, and vanilla.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the strawberry mixture. Mix until just blended–do not overmix. Fill mini-muffin cups with about 1 tablespoon of batter each. Bake at 350 F, checking after 10 minutes. When a toothpick comes out clean, remove and allow to cool completely. Frost if desired (see Notes below).

Notes

To prepare frosting, combine 6 tablespoons confectioners sugar, 4 teaspoons strawberry puree or strawberry all-fruit spread, and a few drops of vanilla extract. Stir well. If frosting seems too runny, add more sugar; if too stiff, add more puree. Frost center of muffins lightly just before serving (if you use too much, it will drip off), and refrigerate any leftovers.

To make these completely sugar-free, replace the maple syrup with more strawberry puree, and add stevia to taste.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s) | Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): about 20 mini-muffins or 6 regular-sized ones

Nutrition (per mini-muffin, without frosting): 35 calories, 2 calories from fat, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 73.9mg sodium, 48.4mg potassium, 7.8g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 2.8g sugar, <1g protein, 1 points.

Nutrition (per serving, with frosting): 47 calories, 2 calories from fat, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 74.1mg sodium, 48.5mg potassium, 10.9g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 5.7g sugar, <1g protein, 1.3 points.

Easter and Passover Recipes: Mom’s Beef Brisket

13 Mar

You can tell this wasn’t my plate because all of the food is VERY close together and the juices are all running onto each other. Yikes.

ORIGINALLY POSTED APRIL 3, 2012

Today’s recipe is one I’ve eaten tons of times but never actually made myself. It’s for my mom’s beef brisket. She makes it when she’s having a crowd, or having a holiday or if she wants to make something in advance to freeze. This recipe is good for all of those things and it’s so delicious. One of my friends, Sue, is Jewish and she has used this recipe for her holiday meals for years and years, ever since having it at my parents’ house a while back.

With Easter and Passover coming up this weekend, I thought today would be a good day to post this recipe in case you’re looking for something new and different and of course, delicious, to make for your holiday meal.

I’ve put the recipe below exactly as my mom has typed it up for us, back in 2006. Thanks Mom!

Enjoy!

My parents’ beef brisket is tender and delicious! Try it for yourself and see!

BEEF BRISKET

This recipe is a family favorite.  It’s easy to prepare and can also be made ahead and easily reheated, either from refrigerator or freezer.  It’s a dish that I’ve often been asked to bring to family gatherings, and it’s one of the first to disappear.  Leftovers, if there ever are any, are also delicious.

 INGREDIENTS

4 – 5 lb. (flat cut) fresh beef brisket  (not corned)

2 tsp. salt

1 small onion, sliced thin

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1/4 tsp. dry mustard

1/4 tsp. rosemary leaves

1/4 tsp. thyme leaves

1 c. ketchup

1/2 c. water

1 bay leaf

1 tbl. brown sugar

Place meat in baking dish (corning ware or pyrex) or pan that is close to same size as meat.  Mix all ingredients and pour over meat.  Cover with heavy duty aluminum foil and bake 3 1/2 to 4 hours at 300 to 325 (until fork pierces easily).  (I usually set oven at 325.)  Remove from baking dish, slice on the diagonal and place sliced beef in clean baking dish (either another one same size or same one washed out).  Strain pan juices, if desired, and if so, use spatula or spoon to push through strainer.  Add 1/3 cup Pale Dry Sherry to pan juices.  Pour over sliced beef, cover * and heat for an additional 30 minutes (or longer if it doesn’t seem tender enough at that point).

* (Can be prepared up to point where beef is sliced and sherry is added to liquid and poured over beef.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Then refrigerate until about an hour before serving time.  Remove from refrigerator and remove plastic wrap.  Cover with foil and heat for about 45 minutes or so at 325 — until pan juices are bubbling and meat is hot.)

NOTE:  Meat is easier to slice if cold.  If you decide to slice cold, then separate meat from juice and chill separately.  Then slice meat, add Sherry wine to juice and pour over meat.  Then either continue to cook or freeze and continue to cook later (when reheating).

This is good if served with either the pan juices or mustard.

4/5/06

Pizzelles: a special treat this Easter

9 Apr

Easter isn’t the same as Christmas, where we have a ton of different kinds of cookies, or even like Thanksgiving, where we have tons of homemade pies for dessert. We usually have Grandma Rose’s Rice Pie for dessert as well as the Easter Sweet Bread and that’s usually it (and don’t get me wrong, that’s plenty!!) This year though, we had a special treat: I made Pizzelles! Pizzelles bring me right back to my childhood whenever I eat them. Grandma Grello still makes them and I love them.

We’d been having a discussion about them with her recently and I realized that even though we received a Pizzelle Maker years ago from my mother-in-law as an anniversary gift, it’d been a really long time since I’d used it. I thought that this Easter would be a great time to make them for an extra-special treat.

The great thing about the Pizzelle Maker is that it comes with the recipe, several of them. The basic recipe is a quick and easy recipe and once you get the hang of how much batter to put on the machine, the pizzelles come quickly, about every 30 seconds. It says the recipe makes about 30, but I probably broke up at least six of the “mistakes” into bits for the kids to eat as I was getting the hang of how much batter and how long to cook them. I also let them each eat a whole one once I did get the hang of it. We ended up with about 20 of them at the end.

For the batter, they recommended using one heaping teaspoon in each of the two molds, but when I tried that, they were too small, only about half the size of a regular cookie. So I upped it to one heaping TABLESPOON instead and it worked out perfectly. They also recommended putting the batter into the center of the mold more towards the back, which seemed to work out well.

One important trick is to be sure to take them off and place them on a flat surface to cool (assuming you want them to be flat.) They come off the mold warm and soft, and they will form any shape you put them on, so even a plate that isn’t entirely flat will cause them to be off-kilter a bit. I put them directly onto a plate and then brought them to the cooling racks on the table and quickly slid them onto the racks to cool completely flat.

I think that’s all the important things to note. Here’s the basic pizzelle recipe I used as well as my adjustments to it.

INGREDIENTS

3 eggs

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1  3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup melted butter, margarine or oil (I used oil)

3/4 cup sugar

DIRECTIONS

Beat eggs and sugar.

Add cooled melted butter or margarine (or oil) and vanilla.

Sift flour and baking powder and add to egg mixture.

Batter will be stiff enough to be dropped by spoon. (Use one heaping tablespoonful per cookie.)

Batter can be refrigerated to be used at a later time.

Makes 30 pizzelles.

*For chocolate pizzelles add 3 tablespoons cocoa and 3 tablespoons sugar.