Sunday, December 28, 2008

Homemade Gifts

Chocolate Covered Pretzels...
they look easier to make than they are.

I found these cute containers at the Christmas Tree Shop. I usually find something there every year. I filled them with milk and dark chocolate covered pretzel nuggets. Not the easiest pretzel to cover. Because they are so small it was difficult get them out of the chocolate and to let them drip after dipping.

I filled these ornaments and small holiday trays with large sour dough pretzels dipped in dark chocolate. These were a little easier to manage.

Oh did I tell you that my first batch all turned gray?? Yeah, what a nightmare. I guess it had something to do with not tempering the chocolate. I have never tempered chocolate before and never really had a problem. I think I just left the chocolate on the heat (in the double boiler) too long. So anyway, I had to unwrap everything and start all over again. What a back ache~ literally! My back is killing me and this disaster didn't help.

Oh well, at least they turned out nice in the end! I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Penne with Roasted Eggplant, Peppers and Olives

Really Tasty Pasta Dish!

I know it doesn't look like much, but this was a really flavorful dish. Roasting the vegetables is the trick. It brings out the sweetness and creates a yummy sauce from all the juices.

My inspiration for this recipe came from Ina Garden's recipe Orzo with Roasted Vegetables.
I used the same dressing and it really gives the pasta a nice zing!

With the holiday fast approaching things have been pretty hectic lately. Between nursing a back ache and now trying to get over a cold, it has been a real challenge to get anything done. I did manage to bake my usual cookie marathon. I made so many cookies, bars and brownies that my head is still spinning. I spent all day Saturday from 9:30am to 9:30pm decorating and packaging them all. Now I have to figure out how to deliver all of them in the mist of all these snow storms. I got over a foot of snow in my neck of the woods.

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy holiday!
Happy cooking and baking!

Penne with Roasted Eggplant, Peppers and Olives

1 medium/large eggplant, peeled and 3/4-inch diced
2 red bell peppers, 1-inch diced
1 large leek, ends cut off, cut vertically, 3/4 inch sliced and washed thoroughly
2 cups black olives, pitted and left whole
3 medium shallots, quartered
8 garlic cloves, left whole
1/3 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound penne or your favorite pasta shape
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts), toasted
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/3 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Toss the eggplant, bell peppers, leeks, shallots, olives and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large sheet pan. Roast for 45 minutes, until browned, turning once halfway through cooking.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid; drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.

For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables. If the pasta is a little dry add some of the cooking liquid. Add the pignolis, Pecorino, and parsley. Taste for seasoning and serve. May also be served at room temperature.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cinnamon Breakfast Biscotti

Breakfast Anyone?

I have been craving anything with cinnamon lately. It must be the crisp December air. Cold weather always makes me think of all the warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, etc. So it got me thinking of cinnamon cookies. Of course cookies are always on my mind, so this was not a far reach. ;) I was going to make snickerdoodles since I have never made them before, but I decided to go with biscotti at the last minute.

Biscotti are like a guilt free cookie to me. Because there is not a lot of fat used in most biscotti recipes, I feel like I can eat more of them. I made this recipe on an even healthier note. I used a lot less sugar than in a traditional biscotti. It also has lots of heart healthy whole grains in it. Since these biscotti are not overly sweet, they are perfect for breakfast or even a late night snack!

Cinnamon Breakfast Biscotti

by Mixed Salad Annie

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons wheat germ
3/4 cup natural sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large egg whites and 1 whole large egg
2 tablespoons tub margarine, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325°.

Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; set aside.

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl, mixing with a whisk. With an electric mixer combine eggs, margarine, and vanilla on low speed. Add to flour mixture, mixing just until moist.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly for about 1 minute. Shape dough into 2 16-inch-long rolls. Place rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; flatten slightly and square off ends. Sprinkle reserved cinnamon sugar over dough; pushing down lightly with fingers.

Bake at 325° for 20 minutes. Place rolls on a cutting board; let cool 10 minutes. Cut each roll diagonally into (1/2-inch) slices. Place cookies on their sides back onto the baking sheet. Bake at 325° for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from baking sheet; let cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Apricot-Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

A Classic with a Twist...

When ever you are unsure of what type of cookie to make for a party or to give to someone for a gift, stick with the classics. The thumb print cookie is surely that. They are pretty easy to make and everyone seems to love them. You can fill it with any jam or preserves you like, but apricot and raspberry are tried and true.
I added a surprise element to these cookies by drizzling them with chocolate. I love the way chocolate and apricots or even raspberry taste together. It also dresses them up a bit for the holidays! But you could omit it or even use white chocolate if you want.

Even though my blog is usually healthy versions of classic recipes, this one was a little hard to change without altering the flavor. So I kept half the butter and used a healthier (non-hydrogenated) margarine to replace the other 1/2 cup of butter. So I did replace some of the saturated fat. Oh well, it's the holidays, not every recipe can be healthy. So just eat in moderation! I'll try, but no promises ;)
Apricot-Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup tub margarine (such as smart balance), softened
3 /4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or almond extract)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup apricot jam/preserves (or raspberry)
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

Beat butter, margarine and sugar on medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy and fluffy. Add egg yolks and vanilla; beat well.

Add combined flour and salt to butter mixture and beat until just blended. Lightly beat egg whites in a small bowl. Set aside. Put chopped walnuts in another small bowl.

Form rounded teaspoons of dough into balls; dipping each ball in beaten egg white, then roll in the chopped walnuts. Place cookies on parchment lined cookie sheets. Press thumb or the back of a 1/2 teaspoon gently into center of each ball, to make an indention; fill each cookie with about 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon preserves.

Bake at 350° for 10 to 15 minutes or until light brown. Let cookies cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets before moving to wire racks to cool completely.

With a spoon, drizzle melted chocolate over cooled cookies. Let dry and store in airtight container.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stuffed Zucchini and Bell Peppers

Hearty and Satisfying!

If you like meatloaf and you like stuffed peppers, than you will love this recipe. It is very different from the stuffed peppers that I was brought up eating. My mom used to make stuffed peppers with ground beef (or sometimes ground turkey), onion, garlic, rice and tomato sauce. And of course I followed suit, making them pretty much the same way.

In this recipe you actually make a meatloaf filling and stuff the peppers and zucchini with it. No rice at all. It is really good. The other thing I like about this recipe is that if someone in the family doesn't like peppers, they can eat the stuffed zucchini instead. The only thing I might change the next time I make them is to lightly saute the shallots (or in the original recipe, onion) before adding it to the meat mixture. It had a little bit of a raw bite to it. But other than that, I enjoyed them thoroughly.

Stuffed Zucchini and Bell Peppers

adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

1 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, grated
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 large egg
3 tablespoons ketchup
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup dried seasoned bread crumbs
1 1/4 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
2 zucchini, ends removed, halved lengthwise and crosswise
2 short bell peppers (any color), halved and seeded
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Carefully scrape out the seeds and inner flesh from the zucchini with a melon baller or spoon, leaving 1/8-inch-thick shells, making sure not to cut through the skin.

Lightly drizzle the olive oil into a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Whisk the shallot, parsley, egg, ketchup, garlic, salt, pepper, cheese and bread crumbs in a large bowl to blend. Mix in the turkey and combine with your hands.

Fill the zucchini and pepper halves with the turkey mixture, dividing equally and mounding slightly. Arrange the stuffed vegetables in the baking dish. Pour the marinara sauce over the stuffed vegetables.

Bake uncovered until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown and a thermometer inserted into the filling registers 165 degrees F, about 40-50 minutes. Transfer the stuffed vegetables to a platter and serve.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Cream Cheese Cookies

Candy Corn, Bleh.
Candy Corn on a Cream Cheese Cookie...
Yes In Deedy!!

I could take or leave candy corn. I have never really cared for it too much. But I feel compelled to buy it every fall for some reason. It just seems like the right thing to do. I kind of liken it to buying lemonade in the summer. It just wouldn't be summer without a lemonade. Although I really like lemonade... but I don't really like candy corn. Well you get the point. At least I hope so! ;0)

So anyway I had left over candy corn and needed to find a palatable way to eat it. So I decided to make cream cheese cookies. Makes sense to me. I would eat just about anything if cream cheese was involved. But in keeping with my "healthy" eating theme, I had to find a way to cut the fat and calories without cutting out the flavor...

I think I succeeded! These cookies were simply delicious. And if you don't have candy corn, no worries, they work well with a variety of toppings and or additions. I also made some with chocolate chips and almonds, even better!

By the way, I owed a friend of mine a thank you for a favor, so I wrapped up a few of these cookies (as pictured above) and they were a hit!

I think these cookies would be perfect on a festive plate set out for Santa, so I sent the recipe over to Susan at Food Blogga who is hosting a Food Blog(ga) event called Eat Christmas Cookies, Season 2. So if you're thinking about making cookies for Christmas, check it out. You'll find some great recipes of Christmas Cookies From Around The World!

Cream Cheese Cookies

by Mixed Salad Annie

8 oz. pkg 1/3 less fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup tub margarine or butter, softened
1/8 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon fat-free creamer or milk
1 1/2 tablespoons pure almond extract
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/3 cup candy corn, chocolate chips or almond slices

Heat oven to 350 F

Blend cream cheese, butter, oil and milk with an electric mixer until smooth. Add sugar and almond extract; mix well.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder & salt. Add to cream cheese mixture; stir until blended and smooth.

Drop dough from a tablespoon or cookie scoop onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Top with candy corn, chocolate chips or sliced almonds.

Bake 10 to 11 minutes or until set but not brown. Cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet and transfer to wire rack.

Savory Butternut Squash Lasagna

A Whole New Way to Look at Butternut Squash!

Lately I have been into winter squash. Especially pumpkin and as of late, butternut squash. When most people think of butternut squash they usually think of a sweet dish that's made with sugar and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. For me, I prefer sweetened squash as a dessert not as a meal.
I recently made a delicious baked squash gratin by Giada DiLaurentiis that I haven't made since last year. It is layers of butternut squash, basil pesto and grated cheese. In my opinion it takes butternut squash to a whole new dimension. Giada also makes a Butternut Squash Lasagna with similar flavors. It was the inspiration for my Savory Butternut Squash Lasagna. I made mine low-fat and it was absolutely delicious. So I can imagine what the full fat version would taste like. This would make a perfect side dish for Thanksgiving dinner, or even the main entree if you are a vegetarian.Savory Butternut Squash Lasagna (Reduced Fat)
by Mixed Salad Annie

1 (1 1/2 to 2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small cubes
1 large leek, halved lengthwise, sliced, washed and dried or large onion halved and sliced, both are optional
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fat-free or reduced-fat ricotta, I recommend Calabro brand which is all natural and contains nothing but cheese and starters
1/4 teaspoon, plus a pinch nutmeg, divided
2 whole garlic cloves, smashed with the back of your knife
1/4 cup butter, don't substitute here it really makes the whole dish work!
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups fat-free creamer or skim milk
1/3 cup pesto sauce
14 no-boil lasagna noodles
1 1/4 cups shredded reduced-fat Italian four cheese blend or mozzarella cheese
1 1/4 cups cup grated Parmesan

Preheat to 375 degrees F. and adjust the rack to the center of the oven.

Toss leeks, olive oil and salt and pepper in a bowl. Place leeks on a foil lined bake sheet and bake for about 15 minutes until softened and lightly browned, stirring half way through. Set aside.

Set a steamer basket in a large pot and fill with a small amount of water making sure not to touch the bottom of the basket. Add the squash and steam over medium high heat until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes*. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, dash of pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and ricotta cheese. Transfer the squash mixture to a food processor (let cool slightly) and blend until smooth and creamy or use a hand held blender and blend right in the same pan.
Add the butter and garlic to a large saucepan over low heat. Cook for about 3 minutes until garlic is very fragrant. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the creamer/milk, turn the heat up to medium/high and continue whisking until smooth and mixture comes to a boil. Continue whisking, reduce the heat to medium/low and allow the sauce to simmer and slightly thicken, about 5 minutes. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt, dash of pepper and pinch of nutmeg. Strain out garlic and set aside.

Spray a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Place 3 1/2 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/3 of the squash mixture over the lasagna noodles. Spread 1/3 of the pesto over the squash mixture and sprinkle 1/3 of the leeks over the top. Add 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese and 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup of sauce over the top and arrange the next layer of noodles. Add another 1/3 of the squash mixture, 1/3 of the pesto, 1/3 of the leeks and 1/4 of each cheese. Add 1/2 cup of the sauce over the top of the noodles and repeat layering 1 more time. Top the last layer of noodles with the remaining sauce, 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and 1/2 cup of parmesan.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the sauce bubbles and the top is browned, about 15-20 minutes longer. Let the lasagna rest for 20-30 minutes before serving.

*You could also roast the butternut squash along with the leeks/onions, just add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a bit more sea salt and pepper and bake; mix a few times until soft and light brown, approx. 45 minutes.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Dipalicous Chocolate-Caramel Covered Apples

It's Apple Time!

What could be better than a nice crisp apple in Autumn?
A chocolate covered crisp apple, that's what! If you have never tried one, make sure you put it on your things to do before you die list. Hahahha! Seriously though, these things are fabulous. And they make great gifts too. I made these for my brother's and my nieces and nephew's birthdays. They also make great hostess gifts for Halloween parties and Thanksgiving.

Gourmet apples of this caliber ;) usually sell anywhere from $10 to $20 bucks in a gourmet shop. And I guess I can see why. Not that they are hard to make, but it is very time consuming and a little messy. You gotta love doing it. Which I do. So for me, it is so worth the trouble! YUM...

I made these once last year and I used Granny Smith apples which is what most recipes call for. This time I used Mutzu apples because I saw a show on the food network that talked about how this variety was the best to use for dipping. It is not supposed to turn brown when it is cut. I haven't tried one myself so I can't tell you if it is true. When my brother eats his I will have to get the verdict from him and I'll let you all know. Either that or I will have to cut into one that's in my fridge if I don't end up giving it away. We'll see how strong my will power is. :P

Here is the recipe.

Friday, October 31, 2008

More Pumpkin Seeds

Happy Pumpkins Make Yummy Seeds

For something a little different, try sweet flavored pumpkin seeds. I used ground vanilla powder (a new product I just bought). But if you don't have it on hand you could use cinnamon which works just as well.

Sweet Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds from medium pumpkin, around 1 cup
Canola oil spray
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar, or more, to taste
1 teaspoon ground vanilla powder or cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with oil. Add the seeds to the baking sheet and spray lightly with oil. Sprinkle with salt, sugar and vanilla powder or cinnamon.

Cook for 15 minutes, stir and reduce the heat to 300 degrees. Cook for an additional 30 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

Happy Halloween!

YUM!!! Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Recipe - go here

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies AND Bars

The Reason For the Season!

Every Fall I think we all go a little pumpkin crazy. And why not? It is delicious and healthy for you too. Pumpkin is a member of the winter squash family and it is known to be an excellent source of essential vitamins and nutrients. For starters it contains copious amounts of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene). It is also a very good source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber and manganese. And just to mention a few more; it's a good source of folate, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, copper, vitamin B6, niacin-vitamin B3 and pantothenic acid. For more information on the health benefits visit The World's Healthiest Foods.

It is also very versatile. It can be used in both savory and sweet recipes. IT'S ALL GOOD! I decided to go with the sweet. This recipe is enough for a batch of cookies and bars. I made both. You could make one or the other but I liked the variation. I took the cookies to work to share and ate most of the bars myself for a nighttime snack!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies AND Bars
by Mixed Salad Annie

2 cups AP flour
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups old fashioned oats
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (optional)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup tub margarine
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup, plus 2 teaspoons canola oil
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar (you could increase this up to 1 cup if you want them sweeter)
3 tablespoons molasses
1 egg
1 egg white
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (16 ounce) can pumpkin
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
1 cup chocolate chips, white chocolate chips or butterscotch chips or a combination
1 cup raisins

Line a 13 x 9 inch baking pan and two cookie sheets with parchment or spray with cooking spray. Cream together butter and sugars, until light and fluffy.
Combine flour, oats, ground flax seeds, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt; set aside.
Add egg, egg white and vanilla; mix well.
Alternately add dry ingredients and pumpkin, mixing well between each addition. Add nuts and mix to combine.

Divide batter and place half in a separate large bowl. Stir chips in one bowl and raisins in the other.

Fill the 13 x 9 inch baking pan with the raisin batter and smooth to even it out. Set aside.

For each cookie, drop a heaping tablespoon of cookie dough onto the cookie sheet leaving an inch between each cookie.

For cookies bake at 350 degrees F for 9-12 minutes; check at 9 minutes (it's better to under bake than over bake or they will be dry).
For bars bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out with a few crumbs on it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Braised Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage

Simple and Sweet!

Sometimes I just like to eat simply and cook simply. Just a few ingredients and an easy recipe is perfect for dinner after a busy day. I don't know about you, but I really don't feel like cooking anything too complicated when I get home from work. But I do like to sit down to a hearty and healthy meal. It just makes you feel better after a hectic and stressful day. This recipe was inspired by Rachel Ray. It is a great technique of braising using only 6 ingredients. That I can handle!

Braised Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage

Adapted from Rachel Ray

1 pound fresh chicken sausage
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 large leek, sliced and washed
1/4 cup dry white wine

Put all ingredients in a medium/large high sided saute pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook until broth has evaporated and a glaze has formed. Turn sausages after 10 minutes and continue cooking. Remove sausage and leeks and place in a serving dish; cover with foil. Add 1/4 cup dry white wine to the pan, scrap up browned bits and cook for about 3-5 minutes until reduced. Pour over sausage and leeks and serve.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pistachio Meringue Cookies

The Easiest Cookie I Have Ever Made!

With only 4 to 5 ingredients, how can you go wrong? Lately my inspiration for cooking has been do to having something that needed to be used before it expired. Not the most creative way to start a recipe but it seems to be working. In this case it was PISTACHIOS.

If you are a pistachio lover as I am, you're probably thinking that your bag of pistachios would never last in the house that long to even get close to an expiration date. Mine normally would'nt either, but I bought 2 large bags a few months ago and threw one of them in the back of a cabinet and forgot about it. It was like I hit the lottery when I happened upon it. So I started thinking of all the possibilities of what to do with this treasure as I pain stakingly shelled each beautiful green nut. After two broken nails and bits of shell under the others, I decided on cookies. Maybe a meringue for a change. So I started looking on line for inspiration and found this amazing recipe. Apparently it is of Syrian Jewish origin. I got the recipe from Off The Broiler who in turn found it in a 2004 article on

Whether you are Jewish or not, I am not, you will love these cookies! I did make a few alterations to the original recipe which only had 3 ingredients. I added almond extract and Nutella hazelnut spread. So I guess in my case they are Jewish/Italian Cookies! LOL...
Pistachio Meringue Cookies
1 1/2 cups shelled Pistachio nuts
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Nutella hazel nut spread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the pistachios in a food processor and blend until finely ground. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed with an electric hand-held mixer, until peaks start to form. Slowly add sugar to the egg whites and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Add almond extract and continue beating for about 30 seconds. Add the ground pistachios and fold in with a spatula or wooden spoon, until fully incorporated.

With a cookie scoop or tablespoon, place the pistachio dough on a greased baking sheet (or line with parchment paper), leaving 1 inch between each cookie. Bake until lightly golden around the edges, about 13 to 15 minutes. Cool 30 minutes before removing from the sheet or cookies may break.

Now the fun part, spread some Nutella on the tops of some of the cookies and top with a pistachio nut. Or, spread Nutella on the bottom of two cookies and press together to form pistachio meringue nutella sandwich. Enjoy. I know I did!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Eggplant and Tomato Tart

Beautiful, Delicious but...
Slightly Flawed

This tart was inspired by a recipe from Cooking Light. First I have to say, the topping was phenomenal. The flavors were just fantastic! All of the fresh veggies and herbs were complimented by the flavorful cheeses. It was a like a party where everyone got along, right in your mouth.

In the CL recipe a cracker-like crust was the base for the tart. It didn't seem too complicated, actually it was very easy to make, but I thought I would be different and make a fillo crust since I had some in the freezer.

BIG MISTAKE. Of course the outer edges look golden and beautiful, but the underneath was soft and soggy. I should have known better. I mean it was edible, but I was disappointed that you couldn't pick up a piece and take a bite like a pizza. :( So If you want to make this recipe, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to use a fillo crust, but if you're like me and prefer a crunchy crust, use one of your own tried and true crust recipes.

Eggplant and Tomato Tart


16 - 20 sheets of fillo
Butter flavored cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Cut a half circle through 16-20 sheets of fillo, 1" larger than the tart pan. Overlap the 1/2 circle sheets in the center to form a full circle to fit the pan (the fillo circle should be large enough to go completely up the sides of the pan), spraying each layer with cooking spray as you go along.

Bake empty tart shell for about 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.


1 large or 2 medium eggplants (about 1 lb), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
2 garden tomatoes, thinly sliced (about 6 ounces)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded scamorza or mozzarella cheese, divided
2 tablespoons grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese
Butter flavored cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375°.
Arrange eggplant on several layers of paper towels. Sprinkle eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon salt; let stand 15 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels; brush eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Arrange eggplant in a single layer on 2 baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes. Stack eggplant slices on a plate; cover with plastic wrap. Let eggplant stand to steam while preparing next ingredients.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-low heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, basil, oregano, parsley, and mint. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons scamorza on bottom of baked crust. Layer eggplant and tomatoes in crust, sprinkling evenly with garlic-herb mixture; sprinkle with remaining scamorza and Romano cheese. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Cut into 4 large wedges.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Strawberry Limoncello Delight

No Time? Try this No Bake...
No Brainer

Sometimes you just want a decedent dessert that you don't have to work too hard for. And this was my time. I wanted something a little different from the usual (but easy) strawberries over angel food cake.

Liquor always seems appropriate in these cases. It just makes anything seem gourmet when you add a little boose to it. LOL!

I guess you could use any of your favorite liquors here, but the limoncello really worked well. By marinating the strawberries in it, they take on a great lemony flavor. By adding it to the water and sugar (simple syrup), it mellowed out a little and sweetened up just enough.

Strawberry Limoncello Delight

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
50 ml limoncello,(one nip bottle), divided
1 - 15 0z store bought angel food cake
Lite Cool Whip or light whipped cream
1lb strawberries - sliced

Place the strawberries in a bowl and pour half of the limoncello over them. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight for the flavors to infuse.

Place 1/4 cup sugar, remaining limoncello and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Set aside and allow to cool completely.

Cut cake into individual slices and place on dessert plates or small bowls. Brush the lemon syrup all over the tops of the slices, allowing the syrup to absorb. Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.

Dollup some cool whip or spray some whipped cream over the cake, add some of the strawberries, more of the cool whip or whipped cream and finally top off with more strawberries.

Garnish with one more small dollup or cool whip or spray of whipped cream.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pesto Now or Pesto Later

Lovely Arrangement With a Beautiful Scent...

Basil Herb Arrangements. I like the sound of that. I should start up my own business sending them out for birthdays, anniversaries and graduations. Ok maybe not those special occasions but how about for get well bouquets. I mean basil does have medicinal properties.

I'm sad because it is the end of the season for garden basil or any other herb for that matter. So you know what that means... Get your food processors and blenders out because we're making PESTO! And enough to last well into the winter months.

With this recipe you can enjoy it now or bring a little summer back into the kitchen by storing it away in the freezer. Either way, you will feel like you just received a get well bouquet, only this one really will make you feel great. And, you can eat it!

Pesto Now or Pesto Later

4 c. packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup toasted walnuts (roast nuts in 325 degree oven until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 10 minutes)
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
about 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese (For the best flavor, use freshly grated cheese)

In a food processor pulse basil, nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper until finely chopped. Gradually add enough oil to form a smooth, thick consistency (while blender is running). Transfer to bowl and add cheese*. Season with more salt and pepper as necessary. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

*Note: If you don't plan on using the whole batch right away, put some aside and do not add the cheese. Spoon the pesto without the cheese into an ice cube try and freeze. (The cheese tends to break down in the freezer). When frozen, transfer the pesto cubes to a freezer bag. When you are ready to use them, just thaw them in the refrigerator and then add the cheese. If you choose to use one or two cubes at a time, just a tablespoon of cheese per cube or to your own taste.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Apple Cobbler & Crisp

It's Apple Season...
Cobbler or Crisp? Why not both.

I love apple pie but I very rarely make pie crust. I leave that to my Mom. Instead I like to make apple cobbler or apple crisp, both are quicker and easier to make than a pie crust, and in my opinion a little healthier too.

Cobblers are so named for the cobbled look of the crust when it's cooked. It usually consists of flour, sugar, eggs and butter; similar to a biscuit topping. This time I added toasted walnuts and I loved it.

Crisps are more of a crunchy or "crispy" topping usually made up of butter, flour, oatmeal and sometimes nuts. The inspiration for my crisp came from Susan over at Food Blogga. She has a great recipe for a Triple Berry Rhubarb Crisp. Susan has a knack for making the most delicious recipes without over loading them with too much butter and/or sugar. I changed her crisp topping recipe a little by adding organic unsweetened coconut (because I am alergic to the sulfites in the sweetened coconut) and flax seeds to healthy it up a little bit more. I also used toasted walnuts instead of almonds because I had them on hand.
Since I was making a cobbler and not an apple pie, I had to make sure my apples weren't plied too high in the pie plate so the topping wouldn't just slide off. I used just enough apples to fill the pie plate for my cobbler and then I filled a small casserole dish with the remaining apples and topped it with my crisp topping mixture. So in the end I had the best of both worlds!

Apple Cobbler & Crisp

8-10 peeled and sliced Apples (I used 5 macintoch and 5 golden variety)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons tapioka

Cobbler Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 tablespoons butter or margarine (softened)
1 large egg and 1 egg white (beaten)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Crisp Topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/8 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 teaspoons flax seeds
1/8 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons Smart Balance Buttery Spread or butter

Preheat oven to 4oo degrees.

In a very large bowl, mix the apples and lemon juice. Add the sugar, cinnamon, apple pie spice and tapioka. Set aside for about 10 minutes.

To prepare topping, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter and eggs.
Grease a pie plate with butter or margarine and fill with enough apple mixture so that it is even with the top of the pie plate. Spoon cobbler topping over fruit.

Add the remaining apples to a small greased casserole dish and top with the crisp topping.

Bake cobbler and crisp until topping is lightly golden and apple mixture is bubbling, about 35-45 minutes. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Fairy Tale Vegetable Casserole

Eat Your Vegetables...And Live Happily Ever After

I finally made it to my local farmers market this year. I know pretty sad, huh. I don't know what took me so long. I actually do love shopping at the local farms, stands and farmers markets for garden fresh produce. It is more of an experience, than a shopping trip. You get to see and smell all the fabulous fruits and vegetables bursting with color at their absolute freshest state!

You also get to learn about produce that you've never had before, like the fairy tale eggplant. These beautiful mini purple and white eggplant caught my eye right away. And what a perfect name for them. They are so fun and whimsical that they could be in a "fairy tale". There were several "regular shoppers" of the farmers market ready to give out their recipes using this little gem. They all sounded great, but the one I liked the sound of, involved steaming the eggplant along with zucchini, summer squash, garden tomatoes, and fresh herbs together and then baking it all in a casserole with cheese. YUM! I came up with my own healthy version and it was fantastic!

Fairy Tale Vegetable Casserole
by Mixed Salad Annie

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large shallot, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 fairy tale eggplant, 1/2 inch thick crosswise slices
1 medium zucchini, 1/2 inch thick crosswise slices
1 small summer squash, 1/2 inch thick crosswise slices
1 large garden tomato, diced
1 can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and quartered, Optional
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped and divided
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped and divided
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 small bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup pecorino Romano cheese, grated

Place a heavy pan or dutch oven over medium heat; add the oil, shallot and garlic. Stir and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the eggplant, squash, zucchini, artichokes, tomatoes, 6 tablespoons basil, 3 tablespoons parsley, pepper flakes, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Stir to combine; cover and cook over low heat until vegetables are softened, about 10-13 minutes.

Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and add the vegetable mixture. Top with the breadcrumbs and grated cheese. Spray the top lightly with cooking spray and place baking dish in oven. Bake for about 10 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Sprinkle the remaining basil and parsley on top and serve.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Chick Pea Salad

Great For a Light Lunch!

I have been bringing salads to work for lunch for about a year now. Usually it's a classic salad with romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, black and green olives, croutons, and chic peas. I make my own dressing with organic raw apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and a lemon dill seasoning. It is so refreshing and extremely good for you. I am really surprised that I haven't gotten sick of eating salad everyday yet.

This past week I changed things up a bit, however. Not because I didn't want my usual salad, but because I forgot the romaine this week. Also, my friend and avid gardener extraordinaire, Jen, has been supplying me with fresh cucumbers and tomatoes from her garden. So I decided to feature the cucumbers and tomatoes along with my usual protein packed chick peas. I pretty much just adapted the recipe on the back of the Goya Chick Pea can. It turned out delicious, light and refreshing!

Chick Pea Salad

1 15.5 oz can of Goya Low Sodium Chick Peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup red pepper, sliced in 1 inch strips
1 small shallot, chopped
1 medium cucumber, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds removed and cut into half moons
1/4 cup mixed kalamata and green manzanilla olives, sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
1/3 cup organic raw apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon lemon-dill seasoning

Toss all ingredients together and refrigerate until chilled and flavors combine.
Serves 5 - 6

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blueberry Orange Sponge Cake with Blueberry "Pie" Filling

Living on Sponge Cake...

As you all may recall, I made a peppermint chocolate chip sponge cake for my sister's birthday a few weeks ago. Everyone loved it, including me, so I decided to make another one for my Mom's birthday. I had adapted a recipe I got from Ciao Italia's Mary Ann Esposito.

This time I went with her original flavoring of orange, but added blueberries (my Mom's favorite). I also made a blueberry "pie" filling for the center. The reason I call it blueberry "pie" filling is because it is basically all the ingredients I use for my blueberry pies. The frosting couldn't be easier~ low-fat cool whip!

Blueberry Orange Sponge Cake
Cake recipe adapted from Mary Ann Esposito

5 large eggs at room temperature, separated
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pint of fresh blueberries

Blueberry "Pie" Filling
by Mixed Salad Annie

1 pint of fresh blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon tapioka pudding

Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and mix well and let stand for 15 minutes. Place saucepan over medium heat. Break up blueberries with a fork and stir until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool; transfer mixture to a small bowl and refrigerate until cold and thickened.

Preheat the oven to 350F
Use a stand or hand mixer to beat the egg whites until foamy; beat in half of the sugar, two tablespoons at a time, until soft glossy peaks form. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon colored, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually beat in remaining sugar, orange peel, orange juice, vanilla extract, and salt.

Sift the flour over the whites. Add the yolk mixture and gently fold in with a spatula without deflating the batter. Fold in half of the blueberries. Scoop 1/2 the batter into a (un-greased)
9 x 3 inch tube pan. Sprinkle half of the remaining blueberries evenly over the batter and top with the remaining batter. Sprinkle the rest of the blueberries on the batter and smooth with a spatula. Tap the pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles and settle the batter so it is even.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until a cake skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Invert cake pan over the neck of a bottle or, if the pan has prongs, invert it on a cooling rack. Cool completely.

Loosen cake all around the inside of the pan and around the tube with a butter knife. Gently shake cake out. If the cake is stuck on the bottom, gently insert a flexible spatula along the sides of the pan and slide under all sides of the cake to loosen. Remove from pan and set aside.

Cut the cake into two layers.

Place one layer on a cake stand and spread all of the blueberry "pie" filling over the layer. Place the other layer on top and spread a layer of cool whip on top. Spread more cool whip all over the sides and smooth.

Garnish the top with fresh blueberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Use a serrated knife to cut the cake into wedges.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Orange-Maple Glazed Baby Carrots

Always a Hit!

If you need a side dish to wow guests or to bring to a function, this is it. I mean who doesn't love carrots? Ok, mom I know you don't, but everyone else does. This is also the perfect dish to get your kids to eat their veggies. The carrots are slightly sweetened and the warm spiciness from the cinnamon is so comforting.
Now that fall is quickly approaching, it just seemed an appropriate dish to make, to sort of get used to the idea of the cooler weather coming. Plus, it goes well with all those cool weather roasts (especially Ham) that we'll be making sooner than we think...
Ok now that I've totally depressed everyone talking about fall and the end of summer, here is the recipe... :P

Orange-Maple Glazed Baby Carrots

3 (1-pound) bags baby carrots
1/2 stick unsalted butter (4 tbls.)
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon orange rind
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (optional)

Steam baby carrots for about 8-10 minutes or until tender. Set aside.
Place other ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce becomes thickened, about 15 minutes. Add the carrots and mix to coat evenly. Transfer to a serving platter and top with fresh mint.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Peppermint Patty Sponge Cake

When You Care Enough to Only Bake The Best..

So it's that time of year again when I have to wrack my brain to think of something different and delicious for the special people in my life with late summer and early fall birthdays. I like to make up themes for the birthday cakes that best represent the birthday person. Since my sister has always liked peppermint patties, I decided to go with the peppermint theme this year.

Of course it would have been easy to just use some peppermint extract in the cake and frosting, and call it a day, but that wouldn't be special, now would it? Only fresh mint picked straight from the garden seemed fitting enough for such a special day. So that's exactly what I did. I made a peppermint simple syrup which I used in the cake and in the frosting. A sprig of mint was even part of the garnish.

The inspiration for the type of cake came from Mary Ann Esposito of Ciao Italia. On a recent episode she made a delicious looking sponge cake with citrus and raspberry whipped cream frosting. I loved the idea of the sponge cake since it is light and airy, perfect for the summer months. So I decided to re-create the cake with a peppermint-chocolate combo. It turned out really yummy, everyone including sis, loved it.

I always like to try a sample of a new recipe before presenting it, so I just scooped out a little batter to make a few mini cup cakes.
(She'll never know!)

Peppermint Patty Sponge Cake

5 large eggs at room temperature, separated
1 cup sugar minus 3 tablespoons, divided
3 tablespoons peppermint simple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup sifted unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
chopped mint leaves from simple syrup
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Peppermint Simple Syrup

2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 cups peppermint leaves, stems removed

Bring the water to a boil; add the peppermint leaves. Remove the mixture from the heat and whisk in the sugar until it's dissolved. Return to the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the peppermint leaves from the liquid and set them aside to cool and chop for use in the cake. Place the simple syrup in the fridge to cool.

12 Minute Peppermint Frosting

3 egg whites

1/4 cup cold water
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup peppermint simple syrup
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

Dash of salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted for drizzle
2 peppermint patties, preferably Newman's Own Organic
Mint leaves for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350F
Use a stand or hand mixer to beat the egg whites until foamy; beat in half of the sugar, two tablespoons at a time, until soft glossy peaks form. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon colored, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually beat in remaining sugar, peppermint simple syrup, vanilla extract, and salt. Stir in the peppermint leaves.

Sift the flour over the whites. Add the yolk mixture and gently fold in with a spatula without deflating the batter. Fold in the chocolate chips. Scoop the batter into a (un-greased) 9 x 3 inch tube pan. Tap the pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles and settle the batter so it is even.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until a cake skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Invert cake pan over the neck of a bottle or, if the pan has prongs, invert it on a cooling rack. Cool completely.

Loosen cake all around the inside of the pan and around the tube with a butter knife. Gently shake cake out. Set aside.

For Frosting: Place the egg whites, sugar, peppermint simple syrup, water, cream of tartar and salt into a medium size-mixing bowl. Set bowl over a pot of simmering water; do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water. Begin beating with a hand mixer set to low speed. Beat for 1 minute; increase the speed to medium and continue to beat until frosting is stiff and holds soft peaks (about 10 minutes). Set aside to cool.

Cut the cake into two layers.

Place one layer on a cake stand and spread 1/3 of the frosting over the layer. Place the other layer on top and spread another 1/3 of the frosting. Spread the remaining frosting all over the sides and smooth.

Garnish the top with the melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and add mint leaves and mint patties for decoration. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Use a serrated knife to cut the cake into wedges.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Green Bean and Red Roasted Pepper Salad

Great for a crowd!

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a luau a 2 weekends ago and I made quite a few things to bring with me. This was one of them. You really can't go wrong with green beans. I think most people like them and with the addition of black olives, red roasted peppers and a great basil red wine vinaigrette, it was a hit.

Disposable aluminum pans like the one in the photo are really great for stuff like this. They even come with plastic covers to fit. You can even cook in them too!

P.S. Don't forget to save yourself a small plate before packing it up to go or you may not even get to try it!

Green Bean and Red Roasted Pepper Salad

2 lbs. fresh green beans, washed, ends trimmed and snapped in half
2 cans black olives, sliced in half lengthwise
1 - 15 oz. jar red roasted peppers, sliced in thin strips

Basil Red Wine Vinaigrette:

1 1/2 cups fresh basil, stems removed
1/2 cup fresh parsley, stems removed
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil

Place all vinaigrette ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth
; set aside.
Steam green beans for about 5-7 minutes or until crisp tender. Plunge in ice water to stop cooking; drain and place in large bowl. Add the olives, peppers and vinaigrette; stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least one hour to let all the flavors blend. Serve at room temperature.
Best if made a day ahead.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Zucchini Appetizer

Yummy Appetizer!

A friend of mine had a luau party last weekend and I wanted to bring something everyone would like, but was also easy to make. As luck would have it, a recipe sort of fell into my lap a few days before the luau. I got it from a wonderful farm and country store in Hope, RI, called Confreda Greenhouses and Farms. They grow their own fresh produce and sell it all in their country store front. I got "just picked" corn and zucchini. Yum!

The recipe is simple and very delicious. I adapted it a bit. It is sort of like a quiche, only no crust to worry about and a whole lot tastier.

Zucchini Bites

3 cups thinly sliced zucchini (about 4 small or 1 1/2- 2 medium)
1 cup Biscuit baking mix
1/2 cup chopped vidalia onion
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
3 tbls. fresh Italian parsley, minced
1/4 cup fresh Italian basil, minced
1 tsp. fresh oregano, minced or 1/2 tsp. dried
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
4 eggs beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom of a 9 x 13 x 2 pan with cooking spray.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Spread mixture evenly in pan. Bake for around 22-25 minutes. Turn on broiler and brown the top for about 2 minutes until golden. Cut into
2 x 1 inch pieces. Makes about 4 dozen.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Three Bean Salad

Sweet, Tangy and a Little Squeaky!

I love fresh green beans and I'm always on the lookout for a new way to prepare them. Although this recipe is not a new concept, it's new for me. I have never made three bean salad, nor have I ever even eaten a homemade version. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I've only had the one that comes in a jar. I don't buy it too often because it's not very nutritious and has way too many chemicals.
Have you ever noticed that the beans in this type of salad become squeaky when you bite into them? I wonder what makes this happen. It doesn't bother me, as a matter of fact it kind of adds to the playfulness of this recipe. Since it is sweet and a little tangy, so why not squeaky!

Three Bean Salad

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

1 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 medium cloves garlic, grated on microplane or pressed through a garlic press
1 teaspoon sea salt
Ground black pepper
8 ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch-long pieces
8 ounces yellow wax beans, cut into 1-inch-long pieces
1 (16-ounce) can red kidney beans , rinsed and drained
1 medium/large shallot, chopped medium dice
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

1. Heat vinegar, sugar, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste in small nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large nonreactive bowl and cool to room temperature.
2. Steam green and yellow beans in water with 1 tablespoon salt added to it; cook until crisp-tender, about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, fill medium bowl with ice water. When beans are done, immediately plunge into ice water to stop cooking process; let sit until chilled, about 2 minutes. Drain well.
3. Add green and yellow beans, kidney beans, shallot, and parsley to vinegar mixture; toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight to let flavors meld. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving. (Salad can be covered and refrigerated up to 4 days.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Hate Zucchini?
No problem. Have a piece, I promise
you won't taste it.

This is my favorite kind of recipe. The kind that allows you to "hide" something healthy like vegetables, in this case zucchini, in something seemingly unhealthy like a double chocolate loaf. If just the thought of zucchini with chocolate makes you shiver, fear not, you will absolutely not taste the zucchini. In fact, just forget it's even in there and enjoy a nice piece of double chocolate loaf.

You might remember the Chocolate Zucchini Muffins that I posted a while ago, well this is basically the same recipe with just a few minor changes. Sometimes it's just easier to make a loaf than muffins. By the way, you could even add some walnuts for an added crunch and a boost of omega 3!

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

by Mixed Salad Annie

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1/3 cup tub margarine or butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 tsps. vanilla
3/4 cup fat-free plain yogurt
2 cups grated zucchini
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees or 325 degrees for glass pans. Spray loaf pans with cooking spray and dust by sifting a tablespoon of cocoa over the pans. Shake pans to evenly cover.

Melt the margarine or butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cocoa and heat until fragrant, stirring constantly about 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Cream together cocoa butter mixture and sugars in mixing bowl until light and fluffy,
using electric mixer at medium speed. Beat in oil; add yogurt, then blend in eggs and vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients and blend until just combined. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean. Cool in pans on rack for 10 minutes.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Grilled Chicken Fingers with Dipping Sauce

Finger Dipping Good!

Finally! I finally got my blog header up. Hope you like it. It was really hard to decide what to put up for a photo, because it will ultimately define you...
That is why it was empty for so long. I couldn't decide how to define my blog. Is it healthy food, lightened up desserts, lower-fat entrees, quick and easy dinners? Or a little of all of those things?

So I thought maybe I should put up a bunch of different photos of all different things. But then I thought it would probably just confuse people and look like a hodge podge. So I decided on the fresh veggies. They're colorful, healthy, low-fat, quick to prepare and truly represent healthy eating! I'm still tweaking it, so be patient, better things are yet to come.

Speaking of better things, let me tell you about these chicken fingers and "chimchurri inspired" marinade and dipping sauce. Very easy to prepare, very health conscious, and super delicious. The marinade is very similar to a chimichurri marinade. I included a few different herbs and I used my signature leek instead of an onion. And for the sauce, I added low-fat sour cream. Very luscious!

Grilled Chicken Fingers with Dipping Sauce
by Mixed Salad Annie

1 pound chicken tenders, cut in half

Leaves from 2-3 sprigs fresh oregano
Leaves from 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 fresh sage leave, torn into several pieces
1 cup Italian parsley
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 of medium leek, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press or grated on microplane
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice from half a fresh lemon
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
3/4 cup low-fat sour cream

Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat.

In a food processor or using a hand held immersion blender combine parsley, oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, paprika, leek, garlic, lemon juice and vinegar. Pulse until everything is thoroughly combined.

Continue pulsing and slowly add in all of the olive oil.

Place chicken tenders in a shallow dish and add half of the marinade. Mix to completely cover chicken pieces. May be refrigerated overnight if desired.

Add the sour cream to the reserved marinade and mix well. Transfer to a small dipping bowl. Set aside.

Place the chicken pieces on the pre-heated grill and cook 3-5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve with reserved dipping sauce.