Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pear Cake with Pine Nuts

I tore this recipe out of Cooking Light about 10 years ago. I am so glad I finally made it! Until now, I just never had pine nuts on hand but since I bought them for the pesto pasta salad, I knew it was the perfect time to make this cake! Now I know why I never had them on hand before - I think they're made of gold - at least the price would indicate as much! They are delicious whether in a salad or on a cake, so once you've taken the plunge and purchased them, you might as well use them. (I store them in the freezer to keep them fresh.)

This cake is kind of like a coffeecake but could also pass for dessert.

The first step of this cake is to cut butter into the flour mixture. My new favorite way to do this is with the food processor. You can also do it the "regular" way by using a pastry blender or your fingers.

Combine the flour, sugar,

and salt in a large bowl, or in your food processor.

Add the butter chunks (they need to be cold!)

and pulse a few times until the mixture resembles coarse meal - or use your fingers.

Remove 1/3 cup of the flour mixture to a small bowl, and add the cinnamon

and the pine nuts.

(Mine are in the same cake pan I'll use for this cake - I toasted the pine nuts while the oven was heating up. Be sure to watch carefully if you toast them in the oven - you do not want to burn them and have to use more of your precious pine nut inventory!)

Remove the rest of the flour mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the sour cream,

milk, egg, baking powder, baking soda and vanilla.

Beat on medium speed until well blended, then pour into a greased 9-inch round cake pan.

Peel and slice the pears.

Arrange the pear slices over the batter.

Give the topping mixture a good stir to incorporate the cinnamon and pine nuts, then sprinkle the topping over the pears.

Bake for 45 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.

This cake freezes well - either whole, or cut in wedges and wrapped in plastic wrap.

Get more recipes that have fruit at the Ultimate Recipe Swap. Also be sure to visit Cooking Thursday, Foodie Friday, Food on Fridays and Friday Food.

Pear Cake with Pine Nuts

1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
2 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup fat free sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
2 cups thinly sliced peeled pear

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a food processor or large bowl. Pulse to combine or whisk well to combine. Cut in butter with a pastry blender, your fingers, or by pulsing several times until mixture resembles coarse meal. Remove 1/3 cup to a small bowl, stir in cinnamon and pine nuts.

Combine the remaining flour mixture, sour cream, milk, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda and egg in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.

Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch round cake pan. Arrange pear slices over the batter and sprinkle with topping.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack. Serves 8.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Balsamic Chicken with Spring Vegetables

This easy and delightful meal in a crock pot comes to us from the "crock pot lady." I liked it because it features so many vegetables. The balsamic is very flavorful but not too strong, and the chicken turns out beautifully in the crock, swimming in all the sauce. You will spend about 15 minutes chopping all the vegetables, but after that, you're done!

First, prepare all the vegetables. You can change the vegetable assortment if you like; use what you have, or what is on sale!

I sliced the zucchinis into thick slices, and the summer squash slices then moons. I don't like veggies that are too mushy, and this was just perfect, since they cook a long time in the crock pot.

Cut the peppers in large chunks.

Same with the onions.

Cut the mushrooms in half or quarters, depending on how large they are.

Place all the vegetables in a large mixing bowl, then add some cloves of garlic. Peel the cloves, but don't mince or chop them.

Then measure out the balsamic vinegar and worcestershire sauce. Pour this over the vegetables

and then stir well to coat them.

Place the chicken in the bottom of the crock. Mine was still partially frozen, which is fine - chicken cooks quickly in the crock pot.

Top with the saucy vegetables

Look at all those beautiful veggies!

Cook this on low for about 6 hours. Mine took only 5 but I have a "hot" crock pot and it cooks fast.

Serve over rice, couscous or potatoes to soak up all the delicious sauce!

Get inspired at Tuesdays at the Table, Tasty Tuesday , Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Hunk of Meat Mondays.

Balsamic Chicken with Spring Vegetables

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 whole head garlic
2 medium zucchinis
1 medium yellow squash
2 sweet bell peppers (your favorite colors!)
1 medium red onion
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Cut the vegetables into large chunks and place them in a mixing bowl. Peel the cloves of garlic but leave them whole; add to the vegetables. Combine the vinegar and worcestershire sauce and pour over vegetables; stir to coat. Place the chicken in the bottom of the crock. Top with the vegetable mixture. Cook on low for 6 hours. Serve over rice, couscous or potatoes. Serves 4-6.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Carrot Souffle

My preferred carrot vehicles are bread and cake. But I thought it was high time to make a recipe using carrots (a VEGETABLE!) that didn't involve cream cheese frosting! And this is delicious. It's a nice addition to a traditional pot roast meal, adding beautiful color, interesting texture and a slightly sweet flavor.

You will need a food processor or blender. Start by boiling the carrots until they are very tender. I used two 1-pound bags of baby carrots and it took almost 25 minutes. Drain the carrots and then place them in a food processor and process until smooth. I did this in two batches, since the 2 pounds wouldn't fit in my 7-cup processor.

Once they're pureed, put them all back in the work bowl and then add the melted butter


flour, baking powder, salt and eggs

sour cream

and vanilla.

Pulse to combine all the ingredients, then spoon mixture into a 2-quart greased baking dish.

Bake for 40 minutes or until puffed and set. Pass the carrots!

There are lots of great vegetable recipes at the Ultimate Recipe Swap. Get a great variety of recipes at Foodie Friday, Food on Fridays and Friday Food.

Carrot Souffle

2 pounds peeled, chopped carrots (about 7 cups)
2/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup fat free sour cream
3 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs

Cook carrots in boiling water until very tender, about 15-25 minutes. Drain. Place carrots in a food processor and process until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and pulse to combine.

Spoon mixture into a 2 quart greased baking dish. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until puffed and set. Serves 8.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Shrimp Melts

I cut this recipe out of a magazine several years ago. I finally made it. And now I can't wait to make it again and again. This is a delicious sandwich or appetizer, and will make a wonderful weeknight supper during the summer when I don't want to use the oven.

And it takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish! Did I mention it is absolutely scrumptious?

Start by dicing up the shrimp, then adding them to a large skillet along with the salsa.

Saute together over medium heat for a few minutes, just until heated through. (I used cooked shrimp. If you're using uncooked, you'll need to saute for about 4 minutes until shrimp are pink and cooked through.)

Arrange the bread on a baking sheet (if you'll broil in the oven) or on your toaster oven tray if you'll broil in that. You should cut the ends off the french bread, the slice it lengthwise. Note that I did not do this; I sliced crosswise. I think it would be much easier to follow the "real" directions and slice lengthwise...

Then slice the avocado

and top the bread with the slices.

Next spoon the shrimp mixture over the avocado slices.

(This is why I think it would be easier to use the lengthwise pieces of bread! See what a mess I made!)

Lastly, sprinkle the slices with cheese.

Broil for just about 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melted. If you've used the lengthwise bread, slice it into more individual pieces, either sandwich sized or appetizer sized depending on your preference.

Get more ideas at This Week's Cravings, the Krazy Kitchen, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday at the Table, and Tasty Tuesday.

Shrimp Melts

1-16oz. loaf french bread
1 pound cleaned shrimp, diced
1 cup salsa
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
2 cups (8 oz. package) shredded Mexican blend cheese

Cut the ends of the bread loaf and then slice lengthwise and place on a baking sheet. Combine the shrimp and salsa in a skillet and saute until shrimp is cooked and heated through, about 4 minutes over medium heat.

Layer avocado slices on bread, then stop with shrimp mixture. Sprinkle cheese over shrimp. Broil 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cut into slices for sandwich servings or appetizers. Makes 4-6 servings as a main dish and 12-16 as an appetizer.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chocolate Raisin Cake

I love chocolate covered raisins. So when I found this recipe for chocolate cake with raisins, I KNEW I had to try it. Not only is it delicious, it's economical, simple and you probably have all the ingredients in your cupboards right now! So, make this cake!

Start by creaming together the butter and sugar. Next add in the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after adding each egg.

Beat in the applesauce, coffee,

and cocoa.

Next add the flour, salt, baking soda and all the delicious spices! I love the depth of flavor in this cake - just look at all the wonderful spices. First

the cloves,

then cinnamon,

and finally allspice.

Mix just until all combined. Lastly, stir in the raisins.

Pour the batter into a greased bundt pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until it passes the "toothpick test." Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

For the icing, combine the powdered sugar, cocoa

and coffee

and whisk well to combine and get out any lumps. I don't like the icing to drip and all end up on the plate (!) so I made mine a little thicker by adding more powdered sugar. Pour the icing on the cake, and spread it around if necessary.

Those of you who have eagle eyes will notice that the "pouring" bowl is much different than the mixing bowl. Ahem. My first batch of frosting tasted like dishsoap - there was something very wrong with the powdered sugar. Luckily I tasted it before putting it on the cake, especially since the cake was being served at a luncheon! A trip to the store and a new bag of sugar later, the frosting was delicious! I hope I'm not the only one to have a recipe mis-hap!


Need more chocolate? Visit Would you like Chocolate with that?

There are other great ideas at Cooking Thursday, Food on Friday, Friday Food and Foodie Friday.

Chocolate Raisin Cake

1/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup brewed strong coffee
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 1/2 cup raisins

1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. cocoa
3 Tbsp. brewed strong coffee

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in applesauce and coffee. Combine the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, allspice, salt and cloves; gradually beat into creamed mixture until blended. Fold in raisins.

Pour into a 10-inch fluted tube pan (bundt pan) coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan and cooling completely on a wire rack.

For icing, in a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, coffee and cocoa. Whisk well to combine and drizzle over cake. Serves 12-16.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sesame Pork Tenderloin

I really love pork tenderloin. Whether you grill it or roast it, just about anyway you slice it, it's a delicious cut of meat that does well under any preparation!

This is a restaurant-quality dish that's perfect for company, or just for yourselves. And it's easy! And it's quick.

Start by preparing the marinade.

Combine the soy sauce, oil, ginger and garlic

and mix well. Place the pork in a large zip top bag, then pour the marinade over the pork.

Seal the bag, and turn it a few times to coat the pork. Put it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

When it's time to cook, line a baking sheet, or a shallow roasting pan, with foil. Then combine the honey and brown sugar and spoon it over the tenderloin.

Toast the sesame seeds in a skillet over medium heat, being careful to shake it often so they don't burn.

Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the pork.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until done. If you're using a meat thermometer, it should read 160. I make tenderloin a lot, so I just look for a little pink left in the center. Let the pork stand for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Get more ideas at Mouthwatering Mondays , the Krazy Kitchen, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday and Tuesdays at the Table.

Sesame Pork Tenderloin

2 pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp. olive or canola oil
1/2 tsp. ground ginger (or 2 tsp. minced fresh gingerroot)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sesame seeds, toasted

Combine soy sauce, oil, ginger and garlic; stir to combine. Place pork in a resealable zip top bag and cover with marinade. Seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

Remove pork from bag and discard marinade. Place pork on a foil-lined baking sheet or on a rack in a shallow foil-lined roasting pan. Combine honey and brown sugar; spoon over pork. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes or until the internal temperature is 160. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before slicing. Serves 6.
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